Indian politics remains one of those intriguing contradictions. Young nation-Old Civilization, Land of Dharma-Many Sampradayas, and with the commencement of Navaratri, it is key to note that it is also a nation of both Kaali and Sita. Yet no dichotomy remains more pertinent than Politically Independent-Mentally Colonised. Part of this is due to the nature of macro-politics, but much of it is due to the simplistic and even childish approach many Indians take to what is a strategic and highly sophisticated game.
Politics is not so simple as “Kalki Avatar!”. For starters, many of the self-proclaimed traditionalists themselves don’t realise that Kalki Bhagavan isn’t scheduled to arrive for another 427,000 years. What will you do until then? Many of the same ‘traditionalists’ are anointing Hindu beef-eating promoters as ‘pure satvic‘, so perhaps the time has come for people to look within.
Perhaps the problems are so great that not a single government—elected or otherwise—is capable of actually ensuring Dharma samsthapana. How is this possible you ask? Look no further than the world’s oldest democracy, and understand the debate that is going on there.
To properly understand the nature of sub-national, pan-national, and international politics, one must understand the nature of macro-politics. If you still believe this is a clash of civilizations rather than a clash for civilization, you are still clueless. If you still believe that prime actors are national actors rather than transnational actors, you are still clueless. If you still believe that only your caste, and no other caste will restore Dharma, than you are dumber than a post . Rather than doing 24/7 tom-tom (or supporting those who do), shouldn’t you being doing or promoting useful things?
The British were famous for the sociopathic pleasure that took in insulting people to their faces…and Indians, for their unique talent in being oblivious to that. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.
If Bharatiyas, and other nations of humanity, are in the doldrums today, it is their own rejection of Virtue all while wearing their religiosity or anti-religiosity on their sleeves.
Problems specific to Indians in general and Hindus in particular have already been diagnosed here and here. But the main problem is an international one. It is one that plagues humanity as a species. Rather than not getting enough pleasure, it is getting too much of it.
Head-up-your-ass-itis may be a universal condition, but its Indian strain is particularly virulent. Exhibit A: Moron hindus RT’ing non-Hindus referring to “moron hindus”, albeit, by quotation.
Supporting people who proffer apologia for the well-known and well-documented British role in the Partition of India only shows how the so-called “RW” is as colonised as the “LW”. Ceding space to outsiders to a degree where they actually call you morons to your face while arrogating the position to lecture you on how to “decolonise” only shows RW Hindus are no less moronic than their “left” or “Hindu Left” counterparts. Getting respect starts with self-respect.
Far be it from me to support anything he writes, but it is the height of stupidity for RW’ers to knee-jerk respond by publishing the self-same british partition apologist’s mockery of not only Pattanaik’s thesis, but any Hindu calling into question the role of Foreign Saviours—a well-documented phenomenon even in the West. This left-wing bigot’s caste caricature should be condemned, but isn’t his general point about “Right-wingers” here correct?
Having to discuss nationality is unseemly & unfortunate when one is faced with not a clash of civilizations but in fact a clash for civilization; nevertheless, it is necessary. One cannot ignore the historic, well-documented and well-known role of De Nobili and other such foreign saviours used by foreign “universal” institutions to coopt and ultimately replace first native “spiritual leadership”
Perhaps that is the greatest oddity:The worst casteists are often the biggest foreign slaves. That is the true danger of Aryan Invasion Theory. It pits Indian against Indian, while giving justification for wannabe Indian elites to become mental, spiritual, and ultimately political slaves of supposedly more “genetically pure” Aryan foreigners…Just as FC Casteist needs BC Casteist, Right Wing needs Left Wing. All this is Liberalism anyway (Classical Liberalism (RW) vs Progressive Liberalism (LW). All this is why the casteist Right Wing is as colonised as the casteist Left Wing, and why a true Dharma Paksa—a Bharatiya Dharma Paksa—is what is required.
It is fine to question our Acharyas—particularly in this questionable era—but even this must be done with respect and Maryada…or at the very least Sabhyata.
True, “holy men” aren’t above the law (let alone Dharma), but the standards of law vis-à-vis men of the cloth must be equally applied. Are they? More than that, society should not be so quick to judge those who are ministering to others—and rebuilding Rta in their own way. That is also why—contrary to ambitious casteists of all kinds—there is a distinction between religio-spiritual leadership and politico-strategic leadership. Each has its role to play and its own variety of intellectualism to embody. Let the real Bharatiya Acharyas do what they must to spread the Dharma, and let those creating risible mythologies of “greatest political genius” leave politics to the competent professionals. But that is precisely the problem—a surplus of Ego that focuses on ambitionsand (alleged) rights rather than necessities and duties.
Bharatiyas are infected by a pestilence of petulance so puerile that even a 1% disagreement with their own side results in a rhetorical (or actual) fight-to-the-death. The self-same hypocritical do-nothings whine about westerners misinterpreting our texts but don’t call out “native” Indians misinterpreting them to further Aryan Invasion Theory. The self-same hypocritical do nothings will whine about Bose’s promotion of urdu but then then double back and furnish apologia for M.F.Hussain’s bigoted and perverted paintings of Hindu goddesses. The very same M.F.Hussain’s who sins against Hindus go beyond overrated art (his initials are certainly apt). Funny how those who whine most about “cuckholdry” end up supporting those who further such an agenda. This is why your friends cannot be anointed to run your own homes. The great Kashmiri satirical writer Kshemendra wrote of such unwelcome guests who abuse and overstay their own welcome—despite coming in the guise of ‘acharyas’. That is why in the Kali Yuga, Atithi Devo Bhava does not apply. Observation of Atithi Dharma (by both sides) does.
There was a well-known criticism of Nehru that applies to self-appelled RW’ers and “trads” today: the type of intellectual pinhead who didn’t know which way was up. If you don’t know your interests, if you don’t’ know friend from foe—or at least have the sense to put someone in the “can’t be too sure/not one of us” category—then what business do you have giving advice to all and sundry?
Acharyas of old were of the mold of Acharya Vishnusarman. They had not only the command of spiritual texts, but had the practical sense to detect and distinguish the native from the foreign, friend from foe, the Daivik from the Asuric.
Rather than falling for threads and textual recitation, they had the good sense to understand capability and intentions—that is true realism. Rather than supporting Philip Goldberg & Sheldon Pollock over Rajiv Malhotra, they would have the good sense & virtue to prioritise Dharma over Rna.
Politics ain’t beanbag, and macro-politics ain’t for amateurs, intellectual or otherwise. The first qualification for this is the ability to shut up.
And this is single-biggest thing “moron hindus” lack understanding of today: the value of ‘shut up’.
Videshis aren’t here to save you because videshis aren’t interested in saving you. That is why they are always saving each other’s asseseven while on opposite sides of the same Indian dispute. Does this mean all of them are malevolent?—No. But it does mean a guest is just a guest—and not a family member. It does mean you can’t afford the risk of replacing your leadership, your primary advisors, with them. Kaakollukiyamwas written by Acharya Visnusarman—yet you recite his Panchatantra with out actually applying its lessons.
One set of morons exult in their own self-loathing embrace of English (in the name of ‘egalitarianism!’) and another set make matters worse by insulting the locals whose state in which they are living.
This childish need for external validation/inclusion is emblematic of esteem issues. This type of falling over each other to defend all things foreign, including foreigners poking their nose in your own politics, is part of the problem. Foreign friends have their politics and we have ours. It is fine to exchange notes in the clash for civilization. It is good to appreciate friends, and India does have many foreign friends of all shades who genuinely appreciate India and support its culture. But your friends cannot run your own house. They have their own house (which they must set in order) and you have yours. Many people choose to marry within their own castes—fine. But if you consider inter-caste marriage to be the same as inter-religious or inter-national marriage, no wonder many of you think you have more in common with other nations. Each nation has its own house.
Let foreigners practicing Dharma revive it in their own nations rather than ministering to India. If the above movie clip is emblematic of the real views in avowedly equality-oriented immigrant societies, what of non-immigrant societies like India? India and Europe are not immigrant societies, but old societies with their own long-established cultures or peoples. For all the talk of universalism, funny how the foreign commentators chased by LW and RW Indian publications are always North of the Equator…but never South. Leave aside African Acharyas, would an African Sonia Gandhi have been as successful among Indiots? Wouldn’t that be true internationalism and true racial non-discrimination?
Comparing notes is one thing, “outsourcing” leadership is quite another. Will this spark off xenophobia?—No, it’s just a healthy skepticism and self-respect that is required if all nations are to preserve their uniqueness. Rather than raising racial rhetoric, it will draw more attention to institutions making slaves of all races. In the guise of “freedom”, human beings are unwittingly being subjected to a hierarchy of slavery. Contrary to casteists, varnashrama dharma is not a hierarchy of slaves, but a framework for duties. No caste or class can be “respected without exception”—hypocrites and criminals of all castes and classes will be punished. If the most “classless” of communist societies simply ended up creating 3 new classes, then what is fundamentally the problem is classist and casteist attitude. So long as your approach is “kick the one who licks and lick the one who kicks”, hierarchy of slavery is all you’ll be re-establishing. So which are the institutions subjecting mankind of all colours to slavery? As Voltaire wrote, find out whom you cannot criticise, and that is who rules you…directly, or indirectly.
And that is what makes the ahankari-shikandi outrage over the Pradhan Mantri to so laughable. For all the claims of “political genius” they are utterly clueless of the macro-politics Modi faces. Many of his government’s policies are wrong: aadhar, gst, non-repeal of RTE, and yes, even demonitisation. But are many/most of these unique to him?—or part of the chillar-mukht policies proliferating around the world. Rather than threatening to vote for congress, perhaps clueless casteists should dismantle their own (substantial) ignorance and start asking…
This is why it is time for Bharatiyas to set aside nationalism and start promoting patriotism. Desa Dharma isn’t the same as Nationalism. Nationalism is “help my country, right or wrong”. Patriotism is “help my country distinguish right from wrong”. Nationalism is about superiority complexes; Patriotism is about loyalty to one’s native land. That is why the true patriot respects patriotism in others. It’s why a Scipio Africanus could meet Hannibal on the eve of Zama. Often times opposing generals, warriors, and even diplomats express admiration for the other side, and wonder how they might be have been friends were they on the same side.
There are many reasons to be upset at the Centre. But what are the international politics? What are the macro-politics? If the Centre is doing what it can do to buy you time—what are you doing with that time? Are you continuing to cavort in caste-cliques spreading asinine propaganda, or are you working together or with others to do your part for Dharma?
Daily news cycles and social media free-for-alls only accomplish so much. They are simple reactions to the greater strategic action of those subjecting you to slavery. Rather than asking “why not me?” when looking at others doing something you wish to do, ask “why me?”—to see if you are even qualified. What’s worse, is if you spend day in day out RT’ing videshis poking their noses into our own politics—what self-respect have you?
Subsequent to our preceding article on why the “Hindu Left” is an Oxymoron by Morons, it consequently became apparent that a methodical deconstruction of the origin & nature of this proposed political alignment would be required. This incipient movement by the insipid is neither something entirely new nor something entirely native.
To understand precisely why this re-igniting of the Left-Right dichotomy in the Hindu/Indic body politic is so dangerous, we will have to study the history of Socialism and Communism, which colour the connotation of “Left”, whether those ideologies are publicly professed or not.
A Case against the “Hindu Left”
The Case against the “Hindu Left”, an inchoate social media movement numbering in single digits, necessarily begins by studying the history behind not only it, but also the political ideologies that are intended to be revived by it. The funny thing about many socialist/communist revolutions is that they don’t always state upfront that their “Revolution” is meant to bring about Communism. After all, totalitarian forms of politics centrally and oppressively controlling every aspect of the citizenry isn’t exactly appealing. Vague calls for “Revolution” by label-less “Revolutionaries”, on the other hand, catch the interest of the disenchanted and disaffected. If things aren’t working, much simpler to just tear it all down.
Therefore, to properly understand exactly what the implications of a putative “Hindu Left” are, one must first study the history of this nebulous concept of “Leftism”.
A Brief History of “Leftism”
As with many phrases, labels, and typologies, concepts are not only purposefully opaque, but origins are often obscure and inapplicable to other contexts. As discussed by many intellectuals, the term Leftism originates in circa Reign of Terror Revolutionary France. It came to embody not only peasant interest or democracy & socialism, but also anti-clericalism. Hence our point in our previous article about how the inchoate Hindu Left’s demonisation of Hindu “mercantiles” will invariably be followed by demonisation of Hindu clericals. The bloody reign of terror in Revolutionary France also shows memetics affiliated with words such as “Revolution” and “Social Justice” and “Classless society”. The radical republicanism of France was soon followed by the even more virulent concept of socialism.
Often couched in literal utopian terms such as “utopian-socialism”, the origins and definitions of socialism are somewhat nebulous—likely by design. Though socialism, and some assert even communism, predates Marx, he and his associate/sponsor/sugar daddy Friedrich Engels would give these concepts a life and memeplex of their own. With the publication of the Communist Manifesto in 1848, the ground was paved for history’s bloodiest political movement. The pen truly is mightier than the sword.
A memorial to the victims of communism in Prague. There really should be a lot more of these all over Europe. pic.twitter.com/o6JwbauT4D
“In the later 1830s and 1840s the German-born Marx was as obsessed with the leg-acy of 1789 as any French intellectual, and he even planned to write the revolution’s history.” [2, 17] Thus Marx was plainly inspired by the French Revolution, showing the bloody inheritance of not only Napoleonic liberalism, but even Marxian Communism. The Reign of Terror (and the later Red Terror of Bolshevik Russia) are the norm, not the exception.
Though the more famous (and more successful) October Revolution of Russia is well-known today, there were two other months where “Revolutionaries” attempted to overturn the established order. First there were the Decembrists (of December Revolution fame in 1825). These pre-Marx “Revolutionaries” were in fact inspired by the “classical liberalism” of Post-Revolution Napoleonic France. This shows not only the etiology of socialism, but also the nature of even “classical liberalism” in overturning order and setting society aflame. It may be difficult to digest in the present time, even up until a few years ago, but it is worth considering. Along with this was the February Revolution of 1917 that resulted in Tsar Nicholas’ abdication, which immediately preceded the October Revolution in the same year. This is important because one sees the perpetual demands that are a part of perpetual revolution. As one will see later on with Critical Theory, it’s not about achieving objectives or even solving society’s problems, but applying a method. It’s the method that unites disparate objectives and motivations to form an overarching Revolution.
Ironically, Russia was considered the least likely candidate for successful Revolution by Marxists as it was not a fully developed capitalist/bourgeois society. Long considered semi-feudal, due to the only recent abolition of serfdom, Russia (which became the USSR under Lenin) was ill-positioned to implement Marx’s theory. Nevertheless, primarily due to the 5 year plans of Stalin, a massive and inhuman industrialisation drive took place. Though considered partially successful, the human toll was terrible. Above all, certain difficult facts also were suppressed.
Food productivity (meaning the ability to generate greater amounts of food) was actually higher on smaller privately-owned plots of land than on large collectivised farms. Industrialisation partially succeeded, but Soviets were barely able to feed themselves. For all the talk, Marxist theory did not deliver—but the person who discovered this in totalitarian socialist (sorry, I mean communist) Russia, was summarily shot. Incidentally, he had been arguing that the small farmer was not a “capitalist”. As we can see from our own “Hindu Left”, it’s a slippery slope with mercantiles, with mathas and small farms also being labeled so—as political expedience demands.
The spread of Communism into China (with its Maoism and Cultural Revolution), and Post-World War II, into Eastern Europe is well known. Various movements to assert even independence from Russian domination, such as in Czechoslovakia and Hungary, were summarily crushed. Moderate Socialists were displaced in Afghanistan, eventually setting the stage for the rise of the even more abominable Taliban (also showing how the “Left” and “Right” feed off each other, first eliminating true alternatives (such as the Afghan Monarchy) before falling upon each other).
Perhaps Cuba offers the most interesting case. As is typically the case with communists, they usually don’t begin by pursuing true Communism. It’s usually something more innocuous. But eventually, due to the requirements of expedience and pressures from big brother Mother Russia, Cuba went communist. That is the danger of any “Left Movement”. It starts off as one thing, but whether in France, Russia, China, or even Cuba, it eventually ends up another.
India, of course, is no stranger to ‘Leftism’. The very mention of the word conjures up images of not only the anti-national CPI (M) of “China’s Chairman is our Chairman” fame, but also the brutal Naxalites, originating from Bengal’s Naxalbari. Corporate interests have a pre-Independence History in India (the British East India Company, after all, was a Multi-national Corporation). Therefore, it is possible to oppose corporate/imperialist exploitation without allying with Leftist/Naxal movements. That’s the true meaning of Swadeshi (desa Dharma, which opposes not only corporatism and mercantilism, but also foreign imperialism).
Regardless, while links can and are made to the Ghadar “Revolutionary” movement and even great Independence fighters & veer-balidanis such as Bhagat Singh, it is Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose who has come to represent the Left’s greatest impact on India. Rather than an extensive bio, here are key insights into Neta ji’s vision for India, often in his own words.
It’s quite apparent, Netaji was not content merely with liberating India through his “Revolution”, but had every intention to use his powers under Socialist Authoritarianism to “mould farmers and workers according to socialism“. In short, rather than simply attaining independence and restoring a traditional Indic polity with some changes, his purpose was to change the very nature of Indic society itself. The desire to implement such ideas is seen in his own proposed solution.
Many would then argue that Nehru (hardly a profile in Dharmic leadership) also desired to establish “dams as the temples of modern India” and aimed to establish secularism in a religious country. True, but whatever asinine policies Nehru pushed through, they were done so in a parliamentary manner with some attempt at consensus. Opposition had at least some hope of legal or constitutional recourse. Nehru himself also was an advocate of democracy and individualism. Even if we think of them as both extensions of western liberalism, an elected socialist democrat is certainly less oppressive than a socialist authoritarian dictator.
Rather than turn to Dharma as his guiding political philosophy, it appears Neta ji had other philosophies in mind.
Would Subhas Chandra Bose have been a Lenin or a Stalin? Or perhaps a ‘kindly’ Benito Mussolini? Those who fancy dictators and dictatorships should consider the body count they also come with.
Ideologies of “Leftism”
As discussed in the previous section, the etiology of “Leftism” is itself rooted in the reactionary. That is, it is premised more about reacting against an existing order, be it feudalism or industrialised capitalism. That is why it targets specific classes to generate a class-war. Ironically, many “socialists” expressly chase after utopian ideals, because utopia actually means “nowhere”. Because such a workers’ paradise is possible nowhere, perpetual revolution becomes the only way forward. Hence the war against “mercantiles”, then “clericals”, then “aristocrats”.
Aristocracy does mean “rule of the best”—the problem is, it’s become associated with degenerate idiots from Bollywood. But the question of the best is premised not on the basis of nepotism, genetics or assorted luxury perversions the film industry is known for, but historically, premised on virtue (Dharma).
It was the most virtuous who had the right to rule. It was why whatever the legalities of the succession crisis of Hastinapura, the matter should have been settled the moment the question of “who is the most virtuous” came up. This need not be read as justification for monarchy, but rather an explanation of what aristocracy meant and means in the first place. Even American Revolutionary Thomas Jefferson spoke of a “natural aristocracy”. This is because the American concept of Revolution was something quite different than the one envisioned by Marx—and also communism proper hadn’t been invented and popularised yet.
De Tocqueville asserted that Lawyers were the natural aristocrats in the United States. The legal profession is one not premised on birth, but on qualification (specifically passage of the bar exam, and ideally, a Law Degree). One possibility for a Dharmic Polity would reorganise varnashrama dharma along qualification lines rather than pure birth lines—with individual merit being premised on the virtue (rather than coaching centre/genetic network based “merit”)—and banning birth-based “untouchability”, which discriminates against whole communities of Hindus. Whether one agrees or not, it is at least some viable solution that preserves freedom and dignity.
That is the Danger of the Hindu Left and the case against the Hindu Left. “The desire to turn unique human beings into identical socialist bricks explains why socialist regimes are often totalitarian [or authoritarian in Subhas Chandra Bose’s case]—because it is the only way they can make a serious attempt to achieve their aims. The socialist obsession with equality has always been at war with the division of labor and knowledge that comes naturally” [1, 32]
If varnashrama dharma (misnomer: caste) is a key part of Vedic Dharma, then the Hindu Left will forever be at war with “the division of labor”.Perpetual Revolution is built into the Hindu Left concept.
“Karl Marx, the most famous of socialism’s found-ing fathers, harshly condemned the division of labor and the inequality it produced, and sought to elimi-nate it precisely in order to destroy existing societies so that they could be replaced by presumed Commu-nist utopias. Marx and Marxian socialists sought (and seek) to use the coercive powers of government to stamp out all human differences, differences that Marx himself called a “contradiction” of the socialist ideal.” [1, 37]
The fundamental problem with socialism that in its obsession with Inequity it promotes Iniquity.
“Socialism can lead to the ‘end of truth,’ as Hayek called it, because socialists believe in indoctrinating people into ‘The Truth’. This is why socialists regimes have made us familiar with ‘reeducation camps’ and rigid, totalitarian ideological conformity. Socialists believe that there are no legitimate, alternative view-points.Socialists’ propaganda must dominate the educational system and the mass media so that, in Hayek’s words, ‘a pseudoscientific theory becomes part of the official creed’ which ‘directs everybody’s actions.” [1, 58]
Finally, India is a Truth-based society. It’s national motto is, not for nothing, Satyameva Jayate. It is the land of Satya Harishchandra who would not tell a lie, and Lord Rama, who ensured his father’s promise did not become a lie. Even when Krishna made Yudhisthira tell one small lie, the purpose was to protect the greater Truth. And even here, Yudhisthira accepted the sin associated with telling even a ‘white lie”. Red lies, on the other hand, are an whole other story.
“’Truth’in a socialist society is not something to be debated; it is mandated and enforced by the Social-ist regime, from which there is no alternative and no appeal.Once socialist ideology takes over and respect for actual truth is destroyed, wrote Hayek, then all morals are assaulted because all morality is based on respect for the truth.” [1,58]
Now Hayek and his Austrian school are no Saints. His Free-market Capitalism theories have also come under the scanner, not only in the aftermath of the 2008 Financial Crisis, but even through the association with Chile’s Pinochet. Again we see how LW and RW feed off each other, but capitalism can be critiqued at another time. If communism through Marx provides the most accessible critique of capitalism, capitalism through Hayek does the same for communism. Hence Hayek.
Irrespective, the following should now be clear:
“Socialists, of all varieties, tolerate no opposition, allow no competing authorities, and are at continual war with individuals, families, private organizations, churches, businesses, and local and regional authori-ties that might oppose or interfere with their grand vision for reordering society. Socialists believe in total control. They want to control you.” [1, 76]
But if a “Hindu Left” can be packaged and posited by those who promote the achievements of the “Revolutionary Socialist Party”, perhaps a brief overview of the various forms of Socialism is in order.
The most fundamental characteristic of socialism is an obsessive commitment to the creation of an egalitarian society, based on solidarity and collectivism. There is a general drive to remake the world, usually in their own image, by controlling the means of production. The term itself is thought to date back to Revolutionary France, with the first type:
Utopian-Socialism: Where has it ever been applied successfully? “Nowhere?”. It is a theory of social transformation of society, solving various issues in the vaguest of terms with some nebulous notion of universal equality. Etienne Cabet, Henri Saint Simon, and Charles Fourier were all utopian-socialists focused on revolutionising society. Saint-Simon agitated against idlers (such as the nobility, and surprise… the clergy). He was a French aristocrat himself. Self-loathing socialist hypocrisy did not start with Engels.
Anarchism: This particular form should send shivers down the spine of any WWI buff. It was an anarchist who assassinated Franz Ferdinand setting off the ‘Great War’. Though it does cover a wide range of views, it is embodied by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Mikhail Bakunin. Interestingly, Proudhon was anti-feminist, anti-homosexual, and very puritanical, but was also anti-property—securing his socialist credentials, despite his hatred of government. Bakunin’s main disagreement with Marx and Engels was on centralisation and on whether the Russia was the most likely candidate for Revolution, because its peasantry was more oppressed than factory workers in the West.
Communism (International Socialism):“a political system in which men live cooperatively and hold property in common“. [2, xxii] It offers a critique of capitalism ostensibly to provide a replacement. Its major proponent, often termed originator, is Karl Marx. He provided a simplistic analysis of history based on a simplistic linear progression from slave society, to feudalism, to capitalism, to socialism, to communism. Marx himself insulted Hinduism, likely resulting in the deep-seated hatred Indian Marxists, Communists, and Leftists have for Hinduism.
Maoism: A form of Communism based on the stipulations of Mao Tse-Tung. He developed a theoretical justification for the establishment of Communist power in non-industrial societies based on the backs of peasants and the petty bourgeoisie. Interestingly, Capitalists are known above all for turning small businessmen (petty bourgeoisie)into impoverished workers, creating a built-in base of alienation. Mao is also significant for his prioritisation of National over International Communism.
Fascism(National Socialism): Contrary to most people who view Fascism as the polar opposite of Socialism, it is in fact a form of socialism (a middle class socialism rather than a working class socialism). It is an internal dichotomy within socialism itself. In the communist form, workers take control directly and establish a dictatorship. In fascism, corporate interests capture the government and again ensure specific, sweeping policies are pushed through and concentrate resources in the hands of a few. Above all, like communism, it establishes a tyrannical centralised bureaucracy that eliminates power at the state and local levels.
“fascism is just another form of socialism” [1, 13]
Social Democracy: Most often characterised by Sweden and Swedish Social Democracy. In true Bastiat fashion, the regulative tyranny of the Bureaucrat replaces the tyranny of the Politburo.
Ostensibly what Indira Gandhi had in mind when she inserted “Secular” and “Socialist” into the Indian Constitution. Interestingly, she later suspended democracy to establish the “Socialist” Authoritarian Emergency in India.
No matter what the form, all you need to know is that 100 million people have died from Socialism. [1, 59]
Feminism: Though not a form of government (yet…), it seems to have taken on elements of perpetual revolution through its eventual pursuit of not only political equality but ostensibly biological equality. Interestingly, Friedrich Engels (sugar daddy of Karl Marx) could be considered the First modern Feminist due to his express desire to emancipate women through the destruction of private property. While the downsides and flipsides to Feminism are discussed here, the implications of Radfem should be jarring to all.
Critical Theory refers to the Frankfurt School of Marxism. It sought to effect cultural change through “social critique” and reexamination through the Marxist method. It is deeply rooted in Marxist notions of historical materialism. This arose out of Marx & Engels’ criticism of utopian-socialism’s inability to deal with the present based on use of the past.
Study of History is Important. But how it’s done, and how it’s even defined also matters. Those who mock the Indian approach to Itihaasa and life as “supernatural” deserve to be questioned on whether they are really Hindu at all. After all, all they seem to be doing is merely passing off the etic as the emic. Within the Marxian theory of history itself is a theory for change, and ultimately, the seeds for Revolution.
History to them is mere agit-prop.
This list is of course not exhaustive. But it is meant to show just how many-headed this Hydra truly is. It will also help readers understand the actual origin behind the “Hindu Left”, and why it is simply repackaging old (poisonous) wine in a new (saffron) bottle.
Origin of the “Hindu Left”
The origin of the “Hindu Left” is a curious case, much like that of Benjamin Button. It is an old concept that seems to be getting only younger with time.
Although many twitterati seem to be under the impression that the term originated with 3 “incorruptibly chankian” uber-patriots of bose-ian Hindu dispensation, the overt call for a Hindu Left starts with a publicly “out”, formerly Christian, cultural marxist lesbian who inserts Freudian interpretations into Hindu texts. While alternative lifestyles shouldn’t be an issue in discussing the origin of such ideas, there has been a noted pattern of individuals with such an orientation seeking to change the traditional interpretation of Hindu texts(often with videshi or evangelical sponsorship).
Ruth Vanita is a well-known author of books on queer studies, specifically in the Indian context. Interestingly enough, it is she who appears to have been the origin of this (polish the gold trumpets…) clarion call for a “Hindu Left”. On what basis, this is not clear. Though Dharma does not persecute people of alternative lifestyles it does not promote such lifestyles either. So if not Dharma, what could such an ostensibly “Hindu” Left entail? Here is an illuminating section from her Post:
“No one seems surprised that Hinduism is perhaps the only religion in the world today that is supposed to have a Right but not a Left. In Europe, the US, Canada, and in South American countries, there is a secular Right and Left, and also a Christian Right and Left. While the Catholic orthodoxy opposes abortion and homosexuality, there are many vociferous Catholic groups that support both. There is an organization of gay Catholics called Dignity. Almost every major Protestant sect has a left wing and a right wing. The tradition of organized Christian feminism dates back to the nineteenth century and many earlier Christian writers are clearly proto-feminist. Today, the secular, that is, atheist or agnostic, left routinely works and organizes in cooperation with the religious left.1 Both constitute a visible presence in left-wing demonstrations. Gay Pride parades, for instance, always have substantial contingents of gay Christians and Jews. Similarly, in most Islamic countries, there is a Muslim Right and a Muslim Left. In India, however, there is almost no Hindu organized Left.2 What does this mean and why is it so? Does it mean that there are no leftists who are practising Hindus? Not at all. It is well known that even in their most militant days, Calcutta’s communists migrated en masse to Durga Puja celebrations, and I personally know Marxist academics at Delhi University who are pious Hindus at home, regularly fasting and performing puja. But at the level of public theorizing and organizing, this aspect of their lives remains invisible and unspeakable. The number of Indian thinkers today who try to integrate religious and leftist thinking can be counted on the fingers of one hand – Ashis Nandy and Ramchandra Gandhi are among the very few who make this attempt with Hinduism.”
Ah, yes, Ashis Nandy, famed worthy of Leftism parodied here, is making an attempt at concocting a “Hindu Left”. Interestingly enough, the unofficial bio of Mr. Nandy here shows his affiliation with the Bengali Christian community, despite being a “non-believer”. So these are the eminence grises, the delicate geniuses behind the “brilliant” idea of “Hindu Leftism—an oxymoron apparently originated by morons who aren’t even originally Hindu.
Naysayers may argue that there are many “sincere conversions into Hinduism”, and that may be true, but for both to come from an avowedly abrahamic background and then seek to influence the Hindu body politic does strike one as more than a bit convenient. This is the case all-the-more so when one realises its aim at merely replicating the Abrahamic experience of Left vs Right, in India. Irrespective, one thing is clear, despite the Hindu label, based on this excerpt, the Hindu Left is mean to be non-Dharmic in orientation. Indeed, this is apparent in one of the concluding lines of her message:
If more liberal and leftist Hindus begin to acknowledge their Hindu identity and speak in defense of Hindu heritage, this can only strengthen, not weaken, the secular left.
Is this the real definition of “Hindu Left”. Will they bring the “true socialism” that the USSR and PRC failed to provide?
So the Hindu Left is merely a roundabout means to “strengthen, not weaken, the secular left.”How lovely. After all the hard work of cultural Hinduism exerting itself in the last 30 years, a plan b for the secular left to impose its politics on India has emerged in the form of, drumroll please, the ‘Hindu Left’.
Code words and Catchphrases include such common bon mots such as revolutionary, solidarity, worker vs bourgeoisie, peasant vs mercantile, solidarity, etc.
While the modus operandi of this triumvirate was discussed in our previous article, the first triumvir seemed to have picked up the baton (or proverbial hammer and sickle) from Ruth Vanita just after the LiveMint article was published. Her ‘nationalist credentials’ were established with her “timely” support for Narendra Modi to speak at UPenn. She soon allied with like-minds, including the previously mentioned slippery eel, and one ironically Kalhana-quoting dushtamatya. Opportunism, after all, needs no ideology, only a means to (academic) self-promotion. From there, she would then have the foundation from which to lead an effort to revive Leftism under a rebranded Hindu Left.
All these personalities and the movements or parties they were a part of speak of revolutionaries, socialism, and humanism—even if they don’t expressly support communism. The Bengali Rosa Luxemburg (the original one was a ‘revolutionary’ Marxist who led an abortive ‘revolutionary uprising’ centered around the German Communist Party), seems to pretend that Revolutionary is some innocuous, ideology free term.
Colour Revolutions are, of course, not a new concept. There was a “Cedar Revolution” in Lebanon, an “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine, and even a “Saffron Revolution” in Myanmar. What makes them concerning is not necessarily the degree of violence associated with them or the ideology, but rather, the questions of extra-national financing. That is the reason why any call for “Revolution” or “Revolutionaries” must be carefully examined. This is because any overturning of the existing political order (krama) benefits external actors (paradesis). Matsya Nyaya naturally breeds Marxists. Dharma, on the other hand, is about upholding order (Rta), which is the expression of Truth (Satya).
But for historical materialists such as this maven, anything dharmic or spiritual is invariably supernatural. Even fellow Bengali, Sri Aurobindo, does not escape critique from our resident Bengali Chauvinist.
Make no mistake, the Hindu Left is not some haphazard movement that came together by coincidental and happy circumstance. It is a concerted push to derail the return of cultural Hindus to political Dharma proper.
Cultural Marxism is a pestilence because it deconstructs (aka tears down) the status quo without offering a viable alternative. Sound familiar?It doesn’t take responsibility for providing solutions that can actually work, or for building a “pro-Hindu” party beyond the BJP—no, that would mean actual accountability. It’s why the brilliant idea to themselves work to build a transparent platform and new nationalist party never occurs to these delicate geniuses. Delicate genius can’t be bothered to see if its theories actually work in real life. Hence the need for simplistic agitprop, implicit support for Socialist Revolution, and explicit calls for a nebulous Hindu Left (meant to actually strengthen the Secular Left).
Nationalism is nothing new for socialism.As the Chinese and Vietnamese have shown, nationalism is nothing new for communism either. Socialists have in fact called for combining it with other traditions (such as the Hindu tradition) to make it and Marx relevant again.
Identity politics is nothing new to Marxism, Socialism, or Communism—Revolutionary or otherwise. Engels (the other half of the Marx-Engels Communist Manifesto) himself argued for the ‘emancipation of women’ through the elimination of private property (the Sex and the City lifestyle is apparently much more accessible if Carrie Bradshaw’s Manohlo Blahniks belong to all women…). Though the American Civil Rights movement featured many who drew upon the philosophy of Jefferson and Madison rather than Marx, a number of Marxist/Communist radicals would coopt or even spearhead anti-racist movements (sadly, the term racism itself owes its origin to the despicable Trotsky, who spoke the language of racial equality but had no respect for the sanctity of human life, unborn or adult).
"For us, we were never concerned with the Kantian-priestly…prattle about the 'sacredness of human life." Leon Trotsky pic.twitter.com/UCSU9BnArV
And the close association of Cultural Marxism with the RadFem and LGBT movements needs no introduction. If all these movements could be coopted (or even engineered), why can’t an Identity politics for Hindus? After all, all the requirements are there:
The reason is because to openly tout communism or even Socialist Authoritarianism would immediately alienate important and specific sections of the population. It is far easier to speak in vague terms about “revolutionaries” and “left” or even “hindu left” without providing an alternative to the common man. Thus, gradualism and communism are not strangers, but go hand in hand. Like certain religious extremists, they begin to assert that the problem was not too much socialism, but rather “not enough socialism or not real socialism”. The problem with socialism is that if you keep adding more and more socialism you eventually end up with communism. That is why socialist gradualists must be kept at arm’s length or even ostracised (along with their pinhead recommendations)—the end goal of these leftist movements is communism, plain and simple. They just can’t spell it out for you…yet. Cuba’s approach to full communism is proof of this.
Revolutionary martyrs such as Che in Cuba are invoked in a familiar template celebrating the “Revolutionary Spirit” and “Revolutionary Psyche”. Proponents will obviously draw comparisons with the American Revolution—but communism had not been created yet. The term Communist doesn’t even always appear in Party names.
The Communists Party in Russia formed around the “Social-Democratic Labour Party” (Bolshevik itself means ‘majority’), East German Communists relied on the Socialist Unity Party, Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge had the Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Party, and Poland had the Polish United Worker’s Party
“Indian academic Ruth Vanita posed the same question in an essay in Seminar magazine (2002) , titled Whatever happened to the Hindu Left?”
“What all this means is that there is still a huge political vacuum – a need gap, in free market terms – for the Hindu Left. A political formation that combines a genuinely Hindu religiosity – marked by pluralism and a respect for minorities – with an economic agenda oriented towards employment-generation rather than creating “an ideal investment climate”, is bound to resonate with an electorate tired of having to choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee at the national level.”
Most jarring is the history of appropriating unrelated Hindu Dharmic figures into the Hindu Left, starts from the very beginning.
“And the Hindu Left has a long and worthy tradition – going back to the Bhakti movement, with a continuous lineage all the way from the Nayanmars and Alwars to Kabir, Meera Bai, Surdas, Tulsidas, Namdev, Tukaram, Tyagaraja, and many others right till the arrival of Ramakrishna Paramahansa in the 19th century.”
Apparently Saints like Tulsidas and Thyagaraja are now Hindu Left “Revolutionaries” too!
Everyone can be a Revolutionary (ideological consistency need not be required!).Only a Hindu label and a leftist politburo or a socialist utopianism, and voila, a new party of political interests dedicated to the destruction of traditional culture!
Just as the “Hindu right” has been created to trot out Friedmanesque, Reagan-lite, objectivist drivel all in the name of “animal spirits” and the “miracle of capitalism”, so too is the other face of this Liberal Janus being debuted recreating the Left within the Hindu body politic
But since the days of Manu, same-gender relations have not been advocated. Whether or not they should or shouldn’t be criminalised in modern India is another matter, but pretending as though Dharma protected or even advocated same-gender relations is specious reasoning at its finest. Ruth Vanita, Saswati Sarkar and their “Hindu Left” embody everything that Dharma is not.
One need not speculate whether these 3 individuals of the Bose triumvirate lead such alternative lifestyles (hence their advocacy of “the Hindu Left”). Nevertheless, it is important that gullible Hindus easily falling for slogans, sloganeering, and slow-witted ideologies understand the ramifications of “Revolutionary” changes to society that would be brought by an ostensible “Revolutionary Socialist Party” or oxymoronic “Hindu Left”.
The Hindu Left is merely the agenda of liberalism in newly stitched garb. Old (poisoned) wine in a new bottle. Once upon a time “classical Liberalism” appeared to stand for something. It has now become apparent that liberalism is nothing but libertinism—a tool for the destruction of society and social morays.
If India is to remain the Land of Dharma,it must reject not only the oxymoronic”Hindu Left” of Ruth Vanita and the Bose Brigade, but must reject Liberalism (which is nothing but progressive initiation into Libertinism). All of these foreign ‘philosophies’ ultimately, like secularism, have their root in Protestantism. Do tell us, ye revolutionaries, if the “Hindu Left” project fails, will you bring about “Hindu Protestantism” next? Inquiring minds wish to know.
Is it any wonder the leader of the Bose Brigade called for the prostitution of women (royal or otherwise). Despite their undeserved arrogance on history, they even got the history wrong, as the Chachnama story of the Sindhi Princesses is considered apocryphal, and no “seduction” is required if one is sent to be a sex slave. As one can see here, Socialist countries place no value on the honour and dignity of women—who were degraded as sexual objects by men…and often other women. Is this the “Hindu” society that these “revolutionaries’ wish to recreate? That is why the word dharma/dharmic generally only appears in their dialogue sarcastically. Hinduism not being our word, it is only natural that these phoreign-sponsored “revolutionaries” would degrade our Dharma. Bhadralok is of course a sacred term—but Dharma? Who needs that? Since when is Dharma ‘revolutionary’?
And that is precisely the point. Dharma is not revolutionary, because Dharma itself seeks to uphold order Rta, which is the expression of Satya. The order may be adjusted to time and place, but the fundamental Saamaanya Dharma is common to all, and has a common interest of preserving Truth (in all ages). In contrast, Communists and Socialists are famous not only for their political assassinations, but also for their assassination of Truth. Can such a people be trusted to uphold Dharma, Rta, and Satya in their soon to be revived Revolutionary Socialist Party?
The recent deaths during the post-Dera Sacha Sauda ruling are truly tragic. The lives of people of all castes and communities matter and should be treated with dignity. Use of force must be restrained save in the gravest of circumstances, as there are non-lethal methods of crowd control as well. Sensitivities to the Dalit community in particular are crucial not just to Hindu society’s future, but to the true principles of Dharma.
Socialism is mealymouthed and ambiguous enough for them to attempt to weasel out of the fundamentalist and tyrannical baggage accompanying communism and totalitarianism. And yet, their hero Subhas Chandra Bose himself advocated Socialist Authoritarianism. Is it therefore not logical to infer that they too are advocating the same? Naturally, our three (J)eeniuses (with a capital J) would presumably to be on the politburo, dictating to “mercantile” (if any will be left), feudal, and clerical alike. The peasant, of course, would already have been easily fooled like the animals on Orwell’s farm. Because after all, no socialist society ever achieved perfectly equal, classless society. They only managed a “more equal” society. With various classes such as the “intelligentsia” forming to “guide” the worker and farmer alike.
Many people may be quick to aver that National Socialists in fact represent the Right rather than the Left. But this is why it’s called False Dichotomy. It’s a false choice between an International Socialism and National Socialism. The end result is still Socialism (itself a nebulous utopian concept that ensures those with the power have no accountability). Capitalism paves the path for oligopoly and monopoly, with Communism leading first to national expropriation then international expropriation, preferably by a suitable international body.
"@menkris:There is something of the oxymoron in Hindu right or left.Hinduism renders itself to the Absolute,not absolutism." Vry gd obs-
That is why both Leftist and Rightist rejects must be rejected.They both represent different brands of the same crummy product. The Hindu Left is simply creating a different starting point. While the Communist Party (Marxist) was very clear that “China’s Chairman is our Chairman”, the newly proposed “Hindu Left” merely mimics the original position of the Communist Party of India, in asserting the need for a Hindu Chairman. The Hindu Left still wants a Chairman, specifically a Socialist Authoritarian one.
If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. The “Hindu Left” is nothing but another hare-brained attempt to revive Socialism, except this time, rather than an anti-national socialism, the aim of these nitwits is a “National Socialism”. That is why their tactics, behaviour, & ill-conceived literature matches a certain Austrian circa 1920.
It has often been said that if fascism were to return, it would be in the guise of anti-fascism. Here is the face of the “hindu antifa”. Therein lies the problem with only focusing on “social justice”—such movements ignore the importance of other established aspects of Justice, such as forbidding crimes against humanity—whether in the name of socialism, etc. But when its socialism and social justice uber alles, it’s not simply Stalin vs Hitler, but Stalin & Hitler. What Hinduism, Hindu culture, or even Hindu dharma actually is risks becoming the sole purview of one man’s whims, beef-eater or otherwise.
That is the danger of super-imposing foreign typologies without regard for native philosophies. A square peg is force-fitted into a round hole, with predictable results. Contrary to critical theory, (Hindu) Poetry did not die with WWII and its accompanying atrocities. Hindu Philosophy wasn’t debunked with the discrediting of the (European Christian) Enlightenment. And Hindus need not struggle to harmonise the material with the metaphysical.
Long ago, Acharya Chanakya spelled out the prime directives of Rajadharma in his Arthasastra. These are:
Raksha (Protection from External Threat)
Palana (Internal Law & Order)
Yogakshema (citizen well-being).
Of course, many self-appointed Subandhus believe themselves to be Chanakya and attempt to rule by proxy due to “authority” ending up burnt like both. Ministers, as even Chanakya notes, are servants of the King. Raksha, Palana, and Yogakshema are the responsibilities of Kshatriya Dharma, and that core aspect of Kshatriya Dharma (Raja Dharma). Kshatriyas (by character, not necessarily birth) are not mere warriors, but traditional aristocrats who are responsible for protecting their people. This is the danger of separating the “intelligentsia’ from politico-military functions. Those who govern must understand the implications of the policies and even “political movements” that are being advocated.
The opposite of an aristocracy (rule of the best) is kakistocracy (rule of the worst). If the original notion of aristocracy was rooted in virtue or Dharma, then it is only natural that kakistocracy be rooted in Adharma.
“Government becomes more and more a government of the worst, by the worst, and for the worst. That is what socialism delivers.”[1, 63]
Socialism is nothing but kakistocracy in a supposedly ‘non-racist, non-misogynist, non-homophobic, non-transphobic, and non-whatever else you can [insert here]” form. The worst sanctimoniously assume the moral high ground by highlighting discrimination against increasingly micro-minorities, despite the bureaucrat or politburo collective effectively rejecting morality. Theories of racism or ill-treating people of other races or backgrounds is indeed unethical. But there are greater crimes, such as mass murder, which socialists have no compunction about.
Ironically, even Communist government was not free of class. Most socialists don’t even claim to have eliminated inequality, only to have formed a more equal society with less ‘antagonism’ between classes. Workers and peasants remained two classes of society with the ‘Intelligentsia’ forming the main component of a third called ‘stratum’. So 3 classes to replace 4?
Hindu society has come along way from the various forms of discrimination. But if its systems have become associated with pejorative words such as “collaborator”, “hypocritical”, “greedy”, and keeping the “chote log” down, it is due to the fall of cultural and political elites from their own values. It is adherence to values that determines virtue in society. The path to correction is not jumping from the frying pan into the fire via Revolution.
The plight of the Dalit is better today and there is a path for young and talented Dalit boys and girls to rise to see their potential come to fruition and succeed alongside others with dignity. But is the path to ensuring this to all Dalits through internally-driven reform or externally-funded revolution? These are the questions right-thinking Hindus of all castes must ask.
False dichotomies are nothing new to socialists of all sorts. “Joseph Stalin, engineered a rhetorical/propaganda coup (with the help of the worldwide socialist movement) by repeating the notion that the only alternative to Russian socialism was fas-cism”. [1, 65]
After all, there is no centralised Church or Papacy in Sanatana Dharma. True culturo-spiritual (adhyatmik) authority lies not with Nagpur, but in Dvaraka, Badrinath, Sringeri, Puri, and a panoply of other peethas, mathas, and even agraharas of different sampradayas. Each traditionally trained acharya is vedic voice of 1 by virtue of the deeksha and adhyapana they’ve undergone and the achara they are oath-bound to live—it is they who (together) clarify what traditional Vedic Dharma is, not Savarkar or even Swami Vivekananda for that matter. The sangh is merely a political organisation, whatever the relief work and social service of well-meaning karyakartas. That is the difference between RW “Hindutva” and actual Sanatana Dharma.
Thus, as we stated before, there is a clear basis for a proper Dharma paksha. A Contemporary Dharma paksha is what is required, not some anti-national left, or now notionally nationalist hindu left vs a nationalist hindu right. A Civilizational Dharmic fight is what we face, and a pragmatic and Contemporary Dharma Paksha is what we need. One not rooted in rhetoric or foreign invention or repressive ritualism or hide-bound traditionalism, but one that recognises the exigencies of the time while remaining rooted in and protecting the tradition and those who live it. It is one that neither scapegoats specific varnas nor discriminates against specific Bharatiyas nor imposes foreign ideologies, but respects Hindus (and Bharatiyas of all backgrounds) while restoring and preserving Dharma.
Merely applying a saffron teeka onto Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose will not paint over the background of accompanying red. The end goal of Socialism is Communism.Those arguing that the BJP’s philosophy was termed “Gandhian Socialism” ignore three key points.
Western Theory was the default characterisation of the time. Even until recently.
The BJP and ostensibly Gandhian philosophy both support Democracy
Subhas Chandra Bose not only favoured Socialist Authoritarianism, but expressly sought for something between Hitler’s Fascism and Stalin’s Communism
Many have assumed trappings of rajas without following true rajadharma, just as many have assumed trapping of Hinduism (as a mask for leftism) without following true Hinduism (more properly called Sanatana Dharma).
Nehru’s and Gandhi’s sins are well-known and deserve condemnation. Patel deserves fresh re-evaluation. The culture of hero worship itself should cease, and a culture of self-respect created rather than a perennial reliance on avatar-hood (genuine or otherwise). But Bose’s own words speak for themselves
And that is precisely the point. Both these totalitarian typologies of government, fascism and communism, are merely forms of socialist authoritarianism. The end goal of socialist authoritarianism is always in the end, totalitarian communism.
Socialism, Communism—and especially since 2008—Capitalism, have all become increasingly discredited systems of Political Economy. Whether it is Neo-Leftism or Neo-Liberalism, they all find their origin in Western Liberalism and ultimately Protestantism. But Hindus have their own basis for Economics and Political Economy (Arthasastra). Irrespective of the origin of Western Parliamentary Democracy, Ancient Hindus even had many forms of government, primarily Rajya (monarchy) and Ganajya (republic). The present Republic of India is called Bharat Ganarajya.
That is why the time has come for native Indic Systems inspired by native Indic Philosophies guiding native Indic Political Movements. Whether it is the Niti of Krishna, the Niti of Vidhura, the Niti of Chanakya, the Niti of Shivaji, or the Niti of Banda Bahadur Singh ji, there are many schools of Rajaniti in the Dharmic System of Governance: Rajadharma. Attempting to appropriate them into foolhardy rebranding movements is disingenuous in the least and despicable at worst.
The time has come, not for Neo-Liberalism, Hindu Leftism, or even Pseudo-Traditionalism, but rather, a Contemporary Dharma that treats with dignity all Bharatiya jatis, that preserves core tradition, but pragmatically faces the Exigencies of the Timeunder the civic mandates of Rajadharma:
Raksha, Palana, Yogakshema
DiLorenzo, Thomas J. The Problem with Socialism. Washington D.C.: Regnery. 2016
Priestland, David. The Red Flag: A History of Communism. London: Penguin. 2009
Bhalla, Praveen.The Life and Times of Subhas Chandra Bose. New Delhi: Ocean. 2016
The past 3 years of NDA government has left many Hindus feeling ambivalent about party politics. After all, for all the fanfare and rhetoric, there has been little dramatic change on the ground. Sure, there has been drastic policy pushed, but how much has it been in the Hindu interest? Demonetisation was hardly a priority, whatever black money fighting slogans were touted (and cashless society has been advocated for around the world with many advising against it).
As usual, our Internet Hindus miss the Woods for the Trees, and fail to factor in the background macro-politics that influence national politics the world over. Contrary to the narrative of Narasimha Rao or alternatively Manmohan Singh being the Father of Economic Reforms, the reality is that the Balance of Payments crisis led to a vulnerable India accepting pressures from “the International Community” (whatever that means…) to liberalise its economy. What has been the effect of this? Yes, malls and growth in retail consumption and satellite TV, but also NDTV and a host of other nominally national but phoreign owned economic realities, and ultimately political realities. That is the whole point of ‘Breaking India’. Indians need to understand that simply studying party politics or foreign-sponsored history textbooks or foreign doctored historical sources will not tell us the whole story. Critical thinking and following the money trail is required to understand exactly who is pro-Indic and who is not.
That is why it is so ironic to see the same sanctimonious voices, making pretence to incorruptibility, equate Modi with Mamta. Seriously? TMC=BJP? I mean, really, it takes either a special kind of stupidity (or a behind the scenes complicity) to cause so-called “scholars” to mislead gullible internet hindus into believing such false equivalency. Any criticism of their positions immediately leads to echo-chamber tactics (followed by cowardly blocks) or generally labeling of people as “Right wing” or “RSS” or “mercantile”. But what of those who reject both Right wing and Left wing politics as mirror images of each other, and what of those who prefer decentralised Dharma to “hindutva”? Such uncomfortable realities can’t be acknowledged by those with private agendas. After all, if “all parties are same”, what objection is there to this?
The reality, there is a concerted effort to reconstitute Socialist/Communist politics not under the unpopular Marxist/Communist label, but under the “Hindu Left” label. A methodical approach of first appearing to stand up for the Hindu cause…through needed documentation of Human Rights violations of Hindus…followed by deconstruction of various Indian Independence Movement Figures…to reasserting the contributions of Subhas Chandra Bose…
…before ultimately using that legacy to call for a “Revolutionary” model for Hindus. How Revolutionary! Recreate the RW-LW false dichotomy by recasting them as Hindu Right vs Hindu Left.
But Dharma being their glaring weakness, they ignore the reality that the Hindu Left (as well as the Hindu Right) is oxymoronic. There is no Hindu Right or Hindu Left because Hindu isn’t even our word—Dharma is. And Dharma transcends such simplistic notions by asserting adaptability to the times not through contradictory L/R forces, but through Saamaanya Dharma, Sanatana Dharma and Yuga Dharma. Dharma may need to be updated for the times, but there is no “Dharmic left” and Dharmic right. There is only the Dharma for the times.
The RW-LW binary is product of liberal politics dating to the French Revolution (a notably ‘peaceful’ and non-tyrannical transition overthrowing aristocratic elites our temperamental triad wishes to recreate…). But before ye unwashed masses sharpen your guillotines, perhaps a deconstruction of our deconstructors is in order.
Revolution is a severe danger to any society.The irony of these recalcitrant Revolutionaries is they forget the very meaning of a “revolution”—you end up exactly where you start—crisis. Rather than circle around 360 degrees, the question before us involves understanding not only who we were and who we want to be, but what genuinely faces us today. Micro-brained micro-specialists who don’t understand the inter-disciplinary relationships between not only politics and history and culture, but even those between politico-strategic and economic/financial domains, really have no business making pretence to leadership—especially given their own poor leadership abilities and self-proclaimed dearth of serious solutions.
Further, had these one-note nincompoops come out of their echo-chambers and set aside their kupamanduka literature for a second, they would understand the danger of factions and of revolution itself.
There are major issues facing Indian society in general but Hindu society in particular.Despite the rank denialism and the obvious hypocrisy of political operators, casteism still exists particularly in the intellectual domain (only recast under the mantle of IQ theories, genetics, and AIT). Pure traditionalism instinctively will alienate large sections of the Hindu population, and with good reason. What stake would the masses have in simply reviving the past? Scheduled Castes clearly have cause to pause. At the same time, continuing to map the Indian polity onto a western blueprint of Right and Left, is a bait-and-switch obvious to all but the most buffoonish.
Citation of the historic American “Left” ignores the reality that the modern Democratic party is itself fielding overt Socialists in its primaries. But before Bernie bros get too excited, the hypocrisy of socialism was unveiled by their hero yet again.
The reality is, both the Left and the Right wings need each other to demonise all while continuing to exploit the unsuspecting masses. Both communists and capitalists thrive while accusing each other of being the devil—what happens when both are? What happens when socialism is merely a means to an end?
What if the laundry list of ideologies that are touted in the “intellectual marketplace” are virtually all intellectually bankrupt . It is why traditional thinkers reject ideology itself, favouring philosophy, and especially, political philosophy.
Let me be perfectly clear:dignity of labour & entrepreneurial spirit should be protected. Neither workers nor honest businesspeople are the enemy. Unlike the neo-Leninists hell-bent on demonising an entire varna, those with a modicum of foresight know that in a country where Brahmins are so openly demonised by the media, any such “leftist revolution” will ultimately target the “clericals”. After all, following the political revolution is the cultural revolution—why would the traditional custodians of culture escape unscathed?
Once the financial “bania” are dealt with, what’s to stop those ‘Revolutionary’ attacks on the other half of the B-B party? What of the traditional brahmin?
This is the danger not only of casteism, but selective vilification, rather than society-wide introspection. Those who promote such selective thinking should be ashamed of themselves, and not only lack the moral integrity to lead, but despite their jstor driven twitter rantings, the intellectual heft to lead society. The less said about publications that persist to publish such petulant drivel the better. Those who prioritise daily hits and traffic over journalistic ethics and the ramifications of a varna-based witch hunt would do well to remember exactly why Kashmiri Pandits were targeted with such ferocity in the first place. A community that preserves not only the historical memory but also the living culture of their region and civilization is an impediment to any cultural revolution, be it for desert-based or Leftist-based ideologies.
Further, if one were to do an honest accounting of all the collaborators (better termed ‘cooperators’), why stop only with the mercantile or even feudal? How many clericals and ministerials collaborated to bring down their legitimate ruler for personal gain or worked for foreign occupier governments? The name Purniahitself should ring a bell and put to pause such increasingly caste-motivated attacks. The fact is, traitors and patriots can be found in all communities.
Puerile notions of “perpetual revolution” ignore the fact that most individuals are neither traitors nor self-sacrificing patriots, but are in the middle. They simply want to live in peace and live out their lives as comfortably as they can. They will rise up if there is sufficient cause or possibility of success, or they will find ways to accommodate a foreign power when facing total destruction. Hindsight is 20-20 and so is passing judgment on entire communities. Dushtamatyas perennially quoting Kalhana would do well to remember his view of them.
The reality is neither hypocritical traditionalism nor left or right-ism are the way forward. India has its own political philosophies. There are conservative elements and free-thinking elements in any society, but constructing a polity around such binary-thinking is beyond idiotic. Thousands of years ago, Acharya Kautilya clearly enunciated the 3 purposes of government (not 2):
Raksha, Palana, Yogakshema.
Any real Hindu society must bear these 3 directives in mind. Raksha is protection from external threat, Palana is internal law & order, and Yogakshema looks at citizen well-being.
A simplistic L/R false dichotomy is for the simple-minded, geared toward falsehood. Ironically, the only dichotomy that doesn’t matter for this bunch is dharma vs adharma. That is why rather than import obsolete, un-Indian thinking—rather than trying to appropriateShivaji and Banda Bahadur into some inapplicable “Hindu/Indic Left”—let us recognise what they actually stood for: Rajadharma.
Rajdharma and even Svarajya can take different forms: whether is a ganarajya or samrajya, government should be premised on Dharma, not Dictatorship of the Proletariat.
The Left’s concern for the peasantry is automatically covered by Yogakshema (welfare of citizens) and the putative right’s concerns covered by Palana (law and order) and Raksha common to both (though the Communist Party (Marxist) shows ideology comes first here too). The question is of balance, with Dharma as the ultimate guide. Here merely spouting off citations of Dharmasastra alone will not do, nor will pompous proclamations by ardha-purushas of “Purandara wreaking havoc on the Dasyu”.
One must take the precedents provided by real Acharyas such as Apastamba and Kautilya and Dharma Svarupa’s such as Rama and Krishna and apply them to the present context. That is the limitation of rote-memorisation and read-and-regurgitation. It doesn’t teach application. There is a difference between critical thinkingand critical theory, and the sooner some ideologues understand it the better. Critical theory is another asuric construction coming out of the intellectual cul-de-sac of Marxist thought. But critical thinking is an highly necessary, and dare I say, critical skill set in this era of pervasive untruth.
Make no mistake: the Hindu Left is a too-clever by half rebranding effort by half-wits at reconstituting the Left’s ideological moorings within the Hindu body politic. But Hindu Right (Hindutva) and Hindu Left (pseudo-intellectual pinhead rantings) are both ideologies commanding centralised unthinking obedience rather than positing contextual cultural ethics. After all, both Nagpur and Naxalbari have rightly come under criticism for hypocrisy—not only for their self-serving interpretations of culture and history, but also for the casteist natures of their respective leaderships.
Varnashrama Dharma (whatever its demerits and merits) has always posited a decentralised body politic—and with good reason. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The religio-cultural and politico-strategicmust work together, but must also be divided among different classes. Philosopher-kings are well and good as are Vedic-warriors, but constructing a new “Hindu Papacy” or “Hindu Politburo” is not in the interests of real Hindus—and neither is a Hindu Right or Hindu Left.
Open attempts are made to caste (spelling intentional) only the “mercantiles” as the main collaborators of foreign rule (as though feudals and clericals did not have a hand). But who exactly is a mercantile? True to the politics of Animal Farm, apparently even some mathas are more mercantile than others (only the ‘intellectually superior’ politburo will decide!)
Be it Animals or Humans, the Chinese know no mercy so this is how a Communist State Operate sans freedom. Now u'll understand democracy.
Unlike our Revolutionary Triumvirate, however, the author of the article actually had the intelligence and common sense to offer a number of small local solutions as well. It is easy to dismantle any structure—until you have to answer what the alternative is. That article, on the other hand, also did a fine job of identifying a few of the macro-political forces that make it difficult for any government, let alone politician, to enact national wide civilizational change. In an era of fibre-optics, satellite tv, and quantum computing, foreign influence is even greater than the days of Shivaji. Those proffering simplistic courses of action are proving just how simple-minded they really are.
In fact, in perpetual over-compensation regarding “Bong jokes”, they ignore criticism of Bengal courtesy of a son of the Soil. What will they say of this?
What’s more, this self-touted mod squad of manic-depressives will quickly go mute when asked who financed the Russian Revolution to begin with? After all, it is ok if petty traders are packed off to the gallows held by proletariat courts, but international financiers and big business must escape scrutiny.
Anyone disagreeing with them is touted “conspiracy theorist”, “misogynist” and a laundry list of other totalitarian touted labels meant to muzzle dissent. Anyone with a sound understand of international politics would quickly recognise the widespread influence of Big Business and Multinational Corporations in politics. Why is the petty Hindu trader being branded as a “mercantile traitor”? And is the poor Hindu priest next on the agenda when the political revolution is followed by a cultural revolution? Right-thinking Hindus would be right to ask.
Right-thinking Hindus would also do well to reject both the “Hindu right” and proposed “Hindu Left” as obvious Oxymorons pushed by Morons. Right-thinking Hindus, better termed Sensible Hindus, are aware that our native civilizational tradition is not ideological but philosophical in nature. Any theory of the Hindu Left will only seek to digest Hinduism into the same memetic pattern of “revolution“, “socialism”, “brotherhood”, and a laundry list of other code words and memes meant to spark general overthrow of traditional values.
If the politburo brooks no dissent, what protection for diversity?
Whatever Bose’s contributions to the freedom movement, his Socialist Authoritarian “Revolutionary” model would have been an utter disaster for India’s traditional culture. Casteism and ill-treatment of women must be condemned.But this must be done within Dharma rather than through importation and injection of a foreign ideology within Hindu Society’s polity.
There are indeed serious issues facing Hindus from Jammu & Kashmir down to Kerala, and from Alwar to Assam:Demographic aggression, RTE driven destruction of Hindu schools, Temple ownership, Safety of Women, stifled entrepreneurship, growing unemployment, declining privacy, and colonial legacy within the armed forces, all number in the expanding list of concerns that Hindu society has. But is the silver bullet to all our problems to chase after some hare-brained, ill-defined “Revolutionary” approach that doesn’t even have the courage to posit solutions to our political problems?
Socialist authoritarianism and national socialism are not the answers. Hindu society rejects leftism and fascism, because Dharma is our guide, not Marxism rebranded by “Marxians”. For those who wish to replace Kautilya Vishnugupta with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, let us get one thing straight: only the only actual Indian in this list touted a system of political philosophy that actually worked. Marx on the other hand depended on handouts from Engels for most of his life and was a career failure.
Even his understanding of economics was poor, with Engels preferring to call him a “philosopher”. But the truth is, he wasn’t even really that. He was an ideologue posing as a philosopher who created the literary agit-prop in plainspeak for peasants to spark the bloodiest political movements in the history of man. For advocates of a “Hindu Left”, here is the death toll of Socialism.
Marx’s only value is in his critique of Capitalism.Capitalism itself is a questionable system as we have previously written, because it only prioritises 1 factor of production—capital (ignoring the other 3: entrepreneurship, land, and labour). Communism does the same, prioritising only labour instead. But the truth is, for a functioning economy, all four are required. A student of Hegel, Marx was no stranger to the Hegelian dialectic. Between Capitalism and Communism is “Socialism”.
Socialist revolutionaries are merely a halfway house to outright communism. Whatever the marxian mod squad’s artificial “critiques” of communist totalitarianism, their artifice is not as skilled as they would believe.
Gandhi’s questionable legacy deserves (dharmic) deconstruction, Indian Independence figures from Nehru to Patel all deserve fresh (dharmic) reevaluation, the jarring history of Jagat Seths deserves honest (dharmic) documentation, but Bose is not beyond critique. Shivaji and Banda Bahadur Singh are not figures of some imaginary “Hindu Left”. Both practiced Kshatriya Dharma, and reorganised society in accordance with the needs of Dharma.
Like a vampire squidseeking to attach itself to Sanatana Dharma, the “Hindu Left”/Marxians are merely a political parasitism seeking to reinvent the dying Indian left through some half-hearted appeal to the Hindu Right. I mean for God’s sake, Mamta is the same as Modi? Sensational news items and terrible crimes exist in any state or society, but the question is one of scale. Can any serious and honest person actually believe that both the border states of Gujarat and West Bengal are as bad for Hindus? Is the level of women’s safety at all the same?
False equivalency, agit-prop, echo-chamber tactics, and sophistry are all tools used by politburo tools. Academics and “intellectuals” are themselves often pens-for-hire on the payrolls of their political handlers. Anti-semitism does deserve condemnation, but can such figures who showcase Hindus for the sake of foreign audiences be trusted to safeguard Hindu interests?
Can scatter-brained, regurgitators be competent to provide Hindu leadership?
Glib bromides, census analysis, and twitter outrage are all easy. But actual competent and strategic leadership is hard. The reality is, if Hindus have become cynics, it’s because politics itself is so cynical—and social media is no exception.
Rather than simply running after what appears seemingly popular, it is high time Internet Hindus use their common sense and stop being so gullible. Reject this nonsense and the nonsensical poseurs reinventing and reimposing socialist/leftist theories. Both the RW and LW (Hindu Left or otherwise) are mimic men. They recreate the foreign within the domestic, that is why they don’t develop Dharma or a proper Dharma Paksha.
Make no mistake: India is the Land of Dharma. The Dharma of Sri Krishna, Rana Pratap, Chhatrapati Shivaji, and Banda Bahadur Singh ji is what drives our political philosophy. Not some failed ideology of some failed newspaper editor of some increasingly flailing civilization.
The ‘Hindu Left’ is an oxymoron pushed by morons. Right thinking Hindus would do well to reject it and them.
Please learn the difference between leftism/statism and class-free socialism. They are TOTALLY DIFFERENT. pic.twitter.com/mk9vJcCXre
“The Economist weekly, in a 2013 article titled “Can India Become a Great Power”, seemed to put its finger on the reason: “India has the world’s 4th largest military,” it said, “and yet its political class shows little sign of knowing or caring how the country’s military clout should be deployed.” Warning India against “an unstable but dangerous Pakistan and a swaggering and intimidating China“, it observed: “The absence of a strategic culture and the distrust between civilian-run ministries and the armed forces has undermined military effectiveness.”
This quote relies on a famous critique of India by Rand in the early 90s. While it is historically inaccurate, it nevertheless has a large kernel of truth in the present era.
The root of this lies in all theory-but-little-practice armchair chanakyas who over-emphasise the venerable Acharya Chanakya. Pure strategy in fact does not begin with his Arthasastra, but with Lord Krishna and Krishna Niti. This is because strategy is directly (not indirectly) connected with on the ground operations (institutional, military, covert, or overt). If you don’t have “skin in the game”, if you don’t have a track record of competence, you don’t count. The “Intellectual Yet Idiot” has no accountability if his theory fails. The general, the political leader, or executive does. It’s his neck that’s on the line.
Arthasastra is absolutely a foundational text on Indic Statecraft, and it is not that Strategy didn’t exist in it in some form. But Statecraft isn’t Strategy, and certainly not Pure Strategy. If Politics translates to Rajaniti, then Statecraft is connected to Arthasastra, because Arthasastra, like Soopa Sastra, means more than the literal translation. Arthasastra is translated as Science of Wealth but it is fundamentally a work of Political Economy and Statecraft. While there are elements of strategy and strategic education—just as there are in Panchatantraand Hitopadesa—it is not the same as Pure Strategy, which requires flexibility and asymmetric creativity rather than formulae and minutiae.
Sun Tsu’s Art of War is more a work of Pure Strategy than Statecraft, and the Arthasastra is the reverse. To understand Pure Strategy (Koota Niti in Sanskrit or Kruttik Niti in Shuddh Hindi), one must first understand its true definition: Winning or managing the competitive landscape by developing asymmetric advantages through long-term planning & application.
“Know yourself and Know your enemy and you will be victorious in a hundred battles”
To fathom China's strategy, read Sun Tzu: “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” pic.twitter.com/yf2esiKW4S
Asymmetry necessarily requires not only knowledge and competence,but creativity and imagination: Deployment of small ships in the tight Salamis straits to defeat larger Persian triremes, the Roman corvus to defeat the Carthaginian navy, light cavalry and Maratha forts to ground down the pondering Mughals, and the Vietnamese tunnel system to tackle adversaries with air superiority. Such solutions are indeed given inspiration by historical study, but are nevertheless produced by application of imagination. That is the importance of competence, creativity, and courage in Strategic matters. Our current Kautilyas-wannabe lack all 3.
The Art of War does not list out every solution for every situation, but rather, provides the principles which inspire new solutions that fit the new situation. Most militaries (and armchair chanakyas) are busy fighting the last war, rather than developing the foresight to win the next one. This takes more than just memorisation of current and developing armaments/technologies or reading and recitation of historical trivia, but also requires understanding what capabilities need to be developed in the first place and understanding whether they are deployable and exploitable—and then following through.
Fortunately, though few in number, there are examples of competent strategists in modern India. Sardar Patel was one, Indira Gandhi another, certainly Sam Maneckshaw and Krishnaswamy Sunderji (of Chequerboard fame), and definitely K.P.S. Gill and P.V.Narasimha Rao. More recently, Brahma Chellaney and Ajit Doval. The common denominator is neither religion, nor caste, nor regional/ancestral background, nor gender, nor even education/intellectual proclivity. It is competence, creativity, & courage proven by practice.
Start with tackling small problems to qualify yourself to tackle bigger ones. Whether Ajit Doval has a successful term as NSA is not as important as the fact that his background in the IPS & IB qualified him rather than social media pontification and gyaani-fication. All this is food for thought for our bloviating bloggers and their impuissant iq-genetics theories. Leadership, Dharmic or otherwise, is necessarily with the politico-strategic branch.
Last year’s unprovoked attack on Rajiv Malhotra was emblematic of it. Those touting “traditional learning” attempted to take down a hardened and proven strategist like Malhotra, all in the name of ego. Those who don’t correctly understand our Dharma (and who tout nonsense like ‘beef in vedas’ have no right to preach dharma let alone lead it). Until we understand exactly how our dharmic culture feeds into strategic culture, our division of labour will continue to suffer.
Why did u expect solutions to problems in Bhagvadgeetha ,rather it makes you stronger to face all problems and find solutions https://t.co/bWqbir6Cc5
Religion and culture give us strength. Veda protects the truth, in fact, Veda is Truth itself (which is why its preservers are so respected). But solutions to strategic problems come from competence, creativity, and courage. It is for this reason that the lead up to and the Mahabharata War itself was essentially a battle of wits between two Kshatriyas, Krishna and Shakuni—who outwitted everyone from Duryodhana to Drona. Shakuni himself embodies the dangers of internal enemies using strategic thinking. And the kaakollukiyam in the Panchatantra is itself emblematic of this lesson.
Whatever your caste, it is this Dharma of Kshatriyas you must follow if you wish to have a role in strategic affairs and governance and political leadership. Every theory, every strategic plan, every battle plan is brilliant, until you make contact with the enemy (or the real world). That is the difference between pseudo-academics spouting off and a leader running a serious organization. So if you are an intellectual, do give advice when asked. But the ultimate decision remains with the strategic command, be it a Kanwar Pal Singh Gill or a Pamulaparthi Venkata Narasimha Rao.
What then is the proper training ground for the would-be strategist? Surely not digital echo-chambers where one lives in a world of assumptions. Rather it is a track record of countering the adversary through solutions application. This doesn’t necessitate being a combat veteran, but it does require the development of direct institutional responses to current strategic exigencies. Rather than trollish reaction and reactiveness, it requires measured action and pro-activeness. Rather than brainlessly complaining and yapping after a car like a dog, it’s asking what do you do when you get it? More importantly, it’s wondering “Where is the shatru going next?”
This is where our “Internet Hindus” fail. They focus on daily news-cycle and personal (caste, college, bosom-buddy relationships) rather than working as a professional collaborative team or helping those meeting team needs. Oh sure, if you pay them or put a pistol to their scrawny necks, they will work like the dickens—but what do you do when there is neither carrot nor stick…and only principle? This is the difference between men and mere boys. This the danger of the spoiled brat mentality—it leads to strategic disaster. The Jaichand-Purniah too clever-by-half emotional ahankari-shikandi approach is what destroys civilizations, countries, communities, & families. This is the importance of team sports. You understand how futile it is to win today, but lose tomorrow.
Rather than settling a score, better to protect long-term team interest. And if your caste is your team, you are part of the problem. Garbing caste interest in state interest or national interest may fool the average fool on the street, but not the patient political observer.
In fact, part of the reason why Bharat remains hamstrung in dealing with adversaries is due to the continued and baleful influence of ahankari-shikandi intellectuals who don’t know their place. The King and General are superior to ministers and have no obligation to take their advice—because it is they who have “skin in the game”. Giving gyaan is easy, developing and implementing actionable solutions is hard.
Just as in the corporate world, it is general management and the Chief Executive that governs an organization, so too in the politico-strategic realm, it is the executive wing that governs policy and that must balance interests between Dharmaand Niti. It is the King who rules and the minister who merely advises, not the other way around. It is not for nothing that the great brahmana Pandit Kalhana decried the dushtamatyas who be-deviled Kashmiri kings.
If you are perverting Dharma in the name of “intellectualism”, you are part of the problem
If you operate based on popularity rather than principle, you are part of the problem
If you legitimise Socialist Revolutionaries via history salons, you are part of the problem
The laundry list of commie jnu know-it-alls today who tie themselves in knots, due to all theory and no practice, must recognise that a pound of practice is worth more than a tonne of theory. There is no place for entitlement or sentimentality on the strategic landscape. Professional breast-beaters and assorted ‘absolutist’ rudaalis and “men-of-conscience” aren’t fit for Statecraft let alone strategy. The politico-strategic realm demands mental and emotional discipline backed up by fortitude and courage of Character. It requires both foresight and prudence. Spineless, gutless opportunists, back-biting court eunuchs, and assorted hypocrites are better suited for academia (and remaining there).
Outraging over outrageously outrageous outrage is easy. Providing actual solutions to serious strategic problems is hard.
All things have their place: religion & culture have one & the politico-strategic has another.
But for a strategic culture to properly re-emerge, the current ailments have to be identified:
While cooperation with shatrus must become a bad word, collaborationwith own countrymen must become a good one. While personality-cults and fanboy-ism must go out of fashion, team loyalty must enter into fashion. While intellect is a good characteristic, characteris an even better one. While knowledge is great, wisdom is even greater. Indians must grow from becoming masters of the small picture to painters of the big one. Vision, execution, and accountability—these are the drivers and definers of leadership.
Vision doesn’t mean fantasy or day-dreaming or “chooparpavar” bravado or brainless bragging. It means understanding what good government means in the first place and brainstorming solutions and strategy to achieve it. But a vision-less, caste-obsessed, band of clique-tards (pun-intended) can’t provide vision—only the empty braggadocio of those who hate their enemies so much, they become like them. Hate is not a solution, it is stupidity.
Scipio Africanus didn’t hate his enemy, he didn’t hate Hannibal. Scipio admired him so much he became better than him and beat him (even meeting him just before the Battle of Zama). He understood himself and his country, understood his enemy and what made him successful, and hit him where it hurt.
The same type of practical study was conducted by Shivaji. This doesn’t mean loving your enemies, but it means having a healthy respect for them so you can honestly evaluate them. One must neither be cowed down nor contemptuous of foes as it is as dangerous to over-estimate as it is to under-estimate. Sometimes it necessitates tactical adaptation (as in Vijayanagara and modification favouring of cavalry) and sometimes it needs a complete strategic-reorientation, as in the case of the Maratha Empire. But this isn’t done through history books and textbooks (many of which are falsified) but through training and action. Knowing what to do is easy, understanding how to do it and following through is another matter altogether. Any idiot can sit down and identify needs—do you have the competence, creativity, and courage to meet them? This is the uncomfortable question facing would-be Indic strategists today. Quick fixes and knee-jerk reactions don’t solve problems, nor do untimely power struggles.
During the Kamakura Shogunate, real power was not held by the Emperor of Japan or even the Shogun, but the shikken. The head of council (regent) was able to defeat Kublai Khan’s invasion forces at the Battle of Hakata Bay, not merely through the Divine Wind (Kamikaze), but through foresight and prudence. A wise and experienced general, Hojo Masamura, was entrusted with the defence of the Japanese home islands.
The Mongols sent an embassy in 1268 demanding submission, but rather than hew to protocol, Regent Hojo Tokimune and the Council of State simply bought time by refusing to send an answer (a strategem incidentally used by the Bahmanis against the Musunuri Nayaks and Vijayanagara). A terrifying force was being prepared in 1272 by the Mongols, and all the Kyushu vassals were recalled by the shikken. When the attack finally came in 1274, Japan was ready. After a hard-fought victory they didn’t bust out the dhol and break into bhangra/lungi dance like so many Indians, but took advantage of the respite to build a stone defensive wall at Hakata Bay. They then levied/drilled more troops in the event of a second attack. Japan’s vigilance did not slacken even after victory! For that reason, they were even better prepared in 1281, and won again against an even more terrifying 140,000. Even then, the expensive bakufu defences were maintained for another 20 years.
They studied the enemy, bought time, prepared their ground, and acted when opportunity presented itself, rather than engaging in pompous chest thumping or loudmouth rhetoric. The Hojo regency knew it faced a dangerous enemy, and even after winning two wars over the Mongols, preparation and vigilance continued for 20 years (no matter the expense). That is the difference between strategeryand strategy, navel-gazing and serious preparation. Are we a Serious People?
Security of state or civilization belongs in the hands of serious people. Not navel-gazing pseudo-intellectuals, nor spelling bee poodles, but serious thinkers whose ability is proven by practice (unlike Nehru who appointed the incompetent Brij Mohan Kaul due to nepotism and the even more incompetent V.K.Krishna Menon due to ideology). Terrifying problems require experienced, competent people who inspire others rather than merely coast on (alleged) pedigree. Learning must be balanced by training/application, and in matters of war, by training in arms and tactics. This works the other way too. Centuries after Hakata Bay, Tokugawa Ieyasu issued ordinances known as buje sho-hatto, where samurai were required to give themselves both to the art of war as well as to the pursuit of ‘polite learning’. This is what is lacking today.
Absence of emotional-discipline leads to team indiscipline.Ego-maniacs, forever obsessed with proving their intellectual superiority, or that of their family or caste or region stupidly risk the safety of what they care about the most due to their own ambition.
The recent hullabaloo of halfwits over the “national language” is emblematic of another set of genetic dead-ends. “Youth aspiration for english”, “it is not the language, but the imposition!”, and my personal favourite,”no need for link language”.
No need for link language??! What else could better reflect the attitude of court eunuchs and pseudo-intellectual vidusaka-samalochakas than to ignore the national need to issue orders to the national army on the nation’s battlefields? Are jawans from rural areas supposed to use universal translators? Surely state languages should be the language of state administration, but a central administrative language is needed, for simple governmental practicality. It is this lack of pragmatism among all-theory no practice pinheads that continues to perpetuate a 70 year old debate.
There may be a case for Hindi as National Language, but even if there isn’t (and Sanskrit should replace it), surely Shuddh Hindi has a case as Central Administrative Language, out of sheer pragmatism. Anglicised elites promote English to retain their elite privileges. Global lingua francas change given global zeitgeists, as demonstrated by the phrase itself. French was once the “global language”, or at least the European language of communication. Today it is English, and tomorrow it very well could be Mandarin. Are Indians expecting to switch their national administrative language based on global fashion? Can our people be any more idiotic?
Is ego worth risking the lives and well-being of one’s children or womenfolk? This is the question our gasbag gyaanis need to start asking themselves. Their emotional indiscipline and mind-boggling moronery in the face of the gravest of threats hardens even the softest of hearts. Preferring slogan to prudence and ambitionto accomplishment, even the most Nippon-esque of fanbois forgets that the word samurai actually means ‘one who serves’.
This is the attitude that is required. One of service in the state, national, civilizational, and dharmic interest. Realpolitik is not rhetoric or tough talk. Can a bunch of clowns prioritising their position and social media celebrity have the manhood to actual defend their families, or do what it takes to ensure their defence? This is the problem today. Tough talk over tangible strategic action, fan clubs over professionalism, machine gun bursts of buffoonery over calm/measured behaviour, individual last minute heroics over collaborative collective strategy. Armchair chanakyas can clip all the books they want, but if they wish to master Koota Niti, they must first understand and practice the basics.
The man who united independent India was epitome of Gujjuness. Do learn the art of strategic checkmating. This is land of Shri Krishna. pic.twitter.com/tNnUrpmLVX
As an appropriate aside to our recent article on the History of Sangeeta, is a Post on a particular work of Literature said by some to pre-date the work of the great Bharata Muni himself.
The Dattilam of Dattila is an oft-cited but little known work on Ancient Indian Music that, even more than the music theory it covers, is critical for what it actually represents.
In his seal for brevity, Dattila becomes so laconic in his descriptions that they often read like obscure mathematical formulae. Fortunately, Bharata and also later authors have given details enabling us to interpret Dattila meaningfully. [1, 143]
Not much is known about the eponymous author of the Dattilam. Though the composer ends with a standard colophon announcing his name, he does not provide the traditional background and lineage one is used to encountering in such works. Like Bharata before (or after) him, he is more concerned with the content.
One of the reasons for the ambiguous speculation regarding Dattila’s contemporaneity with Bharata is because Bharata muni himself refers to the text Dattilam. At the same time, one of the one hundred sons list by him includes a Dattila. Was this a namesake of the original or the original himself? All this leads to the conclusion that it is best to avoid assertion where nothing is concrete.
Nevertheless, we know Dattila and his text are indeed authentic and influential as none other than the great Acharya Abhinavagupta refers to him and even quotes from the Dattilam. [1, 49]
The author sets out to describe not only what gandharva is but its purpose as well. He tells us of 18 jatis (proto-melodies) and 7 gitikas (structured song forms) and the importance of pada (words) and taala (beat pattern).
We see many of these common elements in Natya Sastra as well indicating the common tradition from which both Dattila and Bharata were working from.
The work begins with the traditional invocation to deity. It too ultimately is constructed upon the foundation of the Saama Veda.
Consisting of 244 slokas, Dattilam is divided into a preamble, two sections, and twelve chapters, with topics ranging from technical aspects of tala and varna to methodology suggested by others. It is a terse and aphoristic treatise, that reads as a manual for experts, rather than an introduction to students. As the translator of the current edition himself notes, it not only requires the use of later texts (such as Natya Sastra or Sangeeta Ratnakara) but also begs a commentary. So concise is the text that a number of scholars have suggested that it is only part of a greater work. Irrespective…
The Dattilam is a very suitable starting point for research into the theory of ancient Indian music, as it is a concise compendium of almost all the musical terms. [3, 5]
The manuscriptology behind the Dattilam is an interesting story in and of itself. Found in a collection sponsored by Travancore’s Royal Family, it was discovered by the curator, Pandit K. Sambasiva Sastri. The manuscript he came upon was attached to a copy of the Sangeetasamayasaara. It is said to have been written in Sanskrit with Malayalam script.
The first translation into English was by a Dutch scholar named Nijenhuis. A subsequent one also conducted by a Dutchman, with the present one completed by Mukund Lath. All of them are in effective agreement however that…
Dattilam assumes a series of purvacaryas, preceding masters, and specifically names three: Narada, Kohala and Visakhila. [1, xii]
This is an important point as it establishes the existence of a tradition prior to even Bharata muni (who himself refers to previous musical masters). Dattila, does not refer to Bharata, leading to the conclusion that they were both from the same time period, or Dattila was likely senior. While Natya Sastra is presently dated to 400-100 BCE, the Dattilam is at least as older if not older.
Further evidence adduced to this point is that the text is seen as rather independent of Bharata. Nevertheless…
gandharva stands for ‘music’—all music. But the gaandharva Dattila speaks of was a specific body of music, a sacred form. It was conceived as akin to a musical yajna, and like a yajna, it could result in transcendental merit (adrsta) leading to svarga. [1, xiii]
As such, whether it is Bharata or Dattila, it is clear that the sacred is not only the origin of music, but very much immanent in the Indic musical tradition.
Another point of interest is Dattila’s reference to various regions and musical aspects attached to regions. He makes frequent mention of jatis called udeecyava (meaning from the north), and also refers to andhri (Andhra), takka raga (from NW Punjab), maalavi (from Malava/Malwa), kambhoji (from ancient Kambhoja), gaudi (from Gauda/Bengal), and gandhara jatis, in verses 70-79. [1, 117]
Other concepts beyond jati discussed include varna. “Varna was the general term used to indicate musical or melodic movement over notes.” [1, 125] Varnas are inextricably linked to padas (words) in a gita (song). In contrast, a jati is of pure note structure, laying the foundation for later ragas. Tala (a term meaning beat or beat pattern) is also discussed. It is a time measure based on beats ensuring the note (svara) was saamya (in equilibrium).
Dattilam is a fine example of a saastric text and is of living value to us in that respect. It has striking affinities of approach and spirit with many other saastras, such [a]s those of Paanini on grammar, Pingala on the science of metrics and Tandu on the dance-form taandava. [1, xiv]
I. [Pranamya paramesaanam] Brahmaadhaamscha gurumstatha |
Gaandharva-saastra-sankshepah saarathoyam mayochyathe || sl. 1
[After having made my obeisance to the Supreme Lord] and to all the gurus, the first of whom is Brahmaa, I shall now enunciate in its essence the saastra concerning gaandharva in a concise form. [1, 1]
II. Gandharvam naaradaadibhyah pratthamaadhau svayambhuvaa |
Next, micro-intervals(sruthi), notes (svara), the two-tone systems (graama), scales (moorchanaa) consisting of series of notes (taana), the registers (sthaana), styles (vrtti), pure instrumental music (sushka), and the two ways of overlapping
modes (jaati) and ways of ornamentation (varna) connected with various graces (alamkaara). This is a mere description of the things relating to the notes…[3,2]
V. This exposition is no more than a pointer towards the system of the earlier acaryas. The knowing expert (sudhee) should look up their views and reach his own conclusions if he still has any doubts. sl. 244
Iti Dattilam samaaptam
Dattila (thus) composed a saastra known by the name Dattilam [1, 47]
In the preliminary article in our Series on Classical Indic Music, we re-asserted the native canon of Saastriya Sangeeta and its historical Pan-India nature. The next installment will discuss the history of Sangeeta itself, and how the various regional notes compose the classical national scale.
First off, why a survey of Indian music chronology at all?The antiquity of Ancient Indian Music may be difficult to calculate, but it is foolish to contest. As previously established, the indigenous classical canon of India is a matter of great discussion, but its integral unity cannot be denied. Ironically, the greatest revisionists of Indian Music history and even Indian history itself, accuse others of historical revisionism. Everything from the sitar to the tabla to classical music itself has been projected as being introduced by outsiders—eager to establish their own primacy and dominance. That foreign accounts can be given greater credence than native ones is the greatest sleight-of-hand of present times. All this makes a study of the History of Sangeeta all the more relevant to our times.
“The ancient history of Indian Music is funda-mentally the history of her people, civilization and culture. The continuity of Indian civilization and culture, from the most ancient time uptil now, has one of its sources in the geographical configuration of the country. Many historians are of the opinion that as Hinduism was a common faith and the Hindu kings were in power, there was a religious and cultural unity and affinity among the Indian people as a whole.” [4,1]
As such, to properly understand ourselves and where we are going, we must first properly understand who we were and where we came from. Music History is crucially important to this.
Second, what is a history of music?“A history of music is, therefore, a systematic and chronological records of musical thoughts and materials that evolved in different ages in a gradual process. It requires collection, arrange-ment and preservation of the facts and findings relating to music in a systematic order. ” [4, 9]
Rather than mere recitation and regurgitation of what has been taught by self-appointed “eminent experts”, it necessitates an investigation of the facts as available to us. This means not only questioning existing factoids, but questioning existing paradigms as well.
Third, what is the nature of a history of music? “A history of Indian music is a saga of musical thoughts of the Indian people, as written in their subconcious mind. It has its birth, growth and progress in Indian society, and has religious and spiritual out-look. A history of Indian music is a wide subject, the range of which is extended from remote antiquity upto the present time.” [4, 9]
Thus, a proper history of Indian music must be a history of music rooted in Indian society and values and especially Indic Civilization. This then leads to the matter of valid sources of history.
Historical materials can be gathered from the following in order of descending importance:
Various texts and treatises of music compiled from various authors across the ages
Archeological evidence. These include rock and architectural inscriptions, copper-plate proclamations and tablets from various kings and aristocrats, coins and paintings.
Private diaries of the local musicians and local folklores, including anecdotal evidence.
Foreign accounts as well as the history of music from other nations
The native accounts must be given highest priority.Foreign accounts, which lack the insider understanding of a culture or civilization, can only be used to fill gaps or facilitate in the verification of facts.
Most of the historians both of the East and the West admit that many of the civilized nations of the world are indebted to India for their materials of civilization, art and culture. India does not lack in authentic materials for constructing a history of music of her own, for putting before the admiring gaze of the world, her glorious heritage in the field of art education and culture. [4, vii]
This then leads us to the imperative of challenging the false notion of indigenous Indian music being only ritual temple chants. Since apparently anything favourable to ancient India is considered jingoistic these days, let us turn then to the foreign-sponsored’s favourite sources: foreign: “From the writings of the Greek historians we come to know that in the Royal courts of Champaa, Raajgriha, Koshala, Vaishaali, Kau-shamvi, Paataliputra, Kalinga (in Southern Orissaa), classical dances and music were fully encouraged… even the ladies of the Royal household allowed to culture dance and music. In the 2nd century B.C.” [4, 99]
Indeed, as far back as Paanini (presently dated to 500 BCE) and Patanjali (3rd Century BCE), we find descriptions of the practice of music and use of various musical instruments. In the Mahabhasya, there are a multitude of musical instruments listed including the mridanga, veena, and dundubhi. From the Buddhist canon we find Avadanas, Jatakas, and Pithakas reffering to music, musical instruments, and mudras. Hymns such as the thera, theri and sthavir were sung by Bhikkus. 107 poems and 1279 gathas make up the theras.
Further, we know from our own sources that music was highly encouraged, particularly within certain conventions, to virtually all classes. “In the 2nd century B.C., Vaastyaayana has mentioned about 64 kinds of art including dance music, and has said that they were freely cultured even by the married and unmarried girls“. [4,99] Whatever the traditional rules between castes, it appears that within castes—particularly the most orthodox—there were fewer taboos regarding performance of sangeeta and natya. This also provides further illumination into the nature of the conservatism of Hindus in the medieval period.
But a proper history is more than just a mere chronology or chronicle. It provides a systematic understanding and analysis of the nature and origin of events and realities. To properly do so, one must study the theoretical foundations.
The materials for history of Indian music of the ancient period can be collected from the Vedas and specially from the Saamaveda, the womb of music, the Shikshaas and the Praatishaakhyas, the Naatyasaastra and its commentaries, the classical Sanskrit dramas and literature, the Buddhist literature and the Jaatakas, the Brihaddeshi and the Sangitasamayasaara, the Silappadikaram and the Tevaram and other ancient Tamil literature, as well as from the rock-cut instructions and sculp-tures, chiselled on the railings, facades and walls of different Buddhist, Hindu and Jain Stupas, Vihaaras and temples. [4, 4]
Traditionally, Indian music has been divided not only into marga and desi but also vaidika and laukika. The Sama Veda in particular is considered the root of all music.
The Vedas are considered by the orthodox to be apaurusheya, that is, without human origin. Therefore, dating a specific period according to the conventional Western timeline becomes difficult. This is because they are considered the very embodiment of the Divine itself, hence all the rules and rituals related to paaraayanam (chanting).
“In the Ka[u]shitaki-braahmana (29.5), it has been stated that the arts of dancing, singing and playing the musical instruments formed and important part of certain Vedic rites“. [4, 90]
Nada-brahma is considered the origin of the Universe and Paraa-Barahman emanating from the vibrations themselves. There is a famous quote in Matanga Muni’s Brihaddesi on precisely this point. Along with the Shruthi (Veda) is the notion of shruti (harmony/micro-tones.
“The microtones (shrutis) are the minute percep-tible (“shravanayogya”) tones or musical sound-units that constitute the structures of seven tones like shadja, rishabha, gaandhaara, madhyama, pan-chama, dhaivata and nishaada (corresponding Vedic tones, chaturtha, mandra, atisvaarya, krusta, pra-thama, dvitiya, trituya).” [4,15]
Saamagaana is considered the earliest systematic method of singing in india. It had three base tones (anudaatta, svarita, and udaatta). According to Professor Sambamoorthy, “The Rigveda was recited to the three notes, udaatta, anudaatta and svarita, corresponding to ri, ni and sa of frequencies.” [4, 19] These partial and middle tones are considered the nucleus of the Classical Indic Scale (thaata, mela/melakarta).
Interestingly while the Sapta svara of Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Da Ni which is dated to Bharata Muni (6th-3rd centuries BCE, if not much earlier), the solfa system of Europe dates only to the 10th century CE, credited to Guido d’Areezzo. [4, 20]
Saama Veda is considered the foundational source of all music. It is divided into the purvaarchika and uttaraarchika. Songs of common people were known as graamageya, songs of the forest people known as aranyageya, and those of the mystics, rahasyageya.
“The saamagaana or singing process of the saamans was divided into six or seven categories, and they were (1) humkaara, i.e., the priest will utter ‘hum’ (yes) at the beginning of the singing: (2) prastora i.e., which the Prastotris (prastotri—priest) used to sing at the beginning of the saamagaana: (3) udgitha, i.e., which the Udgaatris used to repeat to the tune of the saamagaana; (4) pratihaara, i.e., the Pratihaatris used to sing the part of the song after the third stanza of the saamagana; (5) upadrava, i.e., which the Udgaatris used to sing at the end of the third stanza; (6) nidhaana, i..e., that used to be sun by the sacrificial priests at the end of the saamans; and (7) pranava, i.e., omkaara. The saama-gaana sued to be sung in this way before the blazing fire on the sacrificial alt[a]rs, invoking the presiding deities.” [4, 93]
However, all this remains in the realm of the sacred. What of the material world and the inclination to sing and celebrate the world and worldly things? This is where the Divine descends into the semi-divine and celestial.
Sometimes attached as an upaveda, Gandharva Veda is often simply known as Gandharva. Such is its connection with those semi-divine beings. Per the tradition it is reputed that the microtones were devised by Brahma or Brahmabharata, the first promulgator of the gandharva type of music, and afterwards it was made perfect by Naarada and finally Bharata muni. [4, 16]
Considered to have been collected from the Sama Veda, Gandharva Veda since took on a character of its own. In line with the pleasure-seeking ways of the Gandharvas it is named after, it adapted to the tastes and needs of more material humans. It created pleasure and enjoyable auditory sensations and good vibrations for all. It is the original systemised form of the systemised form of music we have today.
Nevertheless, it is considered the origin for the laukika (material world) music that has definite historical records dating back to 600 BCE, if not long before. Interestingly, the Ramayana makes reference to the tradition of wandering bards skilled in the science of gandharva, when it mentions Lava and Kusha singing of their parents travails. This ultimately brings us to saastra.
Although there are works and personalities considered anterior to this magnum opus and its composer, the Natya Sastra is considered the foundational text of Saastriya Sangeeta, and takes us from the realm of Sacred History to Pure History.
Bharata Muni propounds the existence of 22 microtones with associated jatis. The seven svaras (notes) each cover a set of these shrutis. For example tivraa, kumudvati, manda, and chandovati shrutis are all attached to the preliminary svara Sa. This division of shrutis is accepted by the Carnatic System to this day.
This then leads to the 10 essentials, or dasa-lakshanas, for qualities in determining the genuine nature of ragas. These are initials (graha), sonant (amsha), higher (taara), lower (mandra), concluding (nyaasa), medial (apanyaasa), rare (alptva), abundance (vahutva), hexatonic (shaadava), and pentatonic (audava). Through these qualities, raagas can be examined and their real forms ascertained. All of these date back to Bharata Muni, though he himself says he is indebted to Brahma. All of these are also better discussed in detail in a future article. For our purposes, however, the saastric understanding of raaga is important.
A raaga is the product of permutation and com-bination of tones which creates sweet and sooth-ing impressions (samskaara) in the mind. This definition we get from Matanga’s Brihaddeshi [4, 33]
The 72 melakartha ragas have been listed in the introductory article of this series. What is interesting here for our purposes is when the gandharva or marga type of music began formalising the various ragas. The Ramayana (parsimoniously dated to 400 BCE) contains 7 jaati-raagas in its gaana. “Jaatis are the causal or basic raagas, from which evolved all kinds of raagas, maarga and desi“. [4,35] In the Mahabharata and Harivamsa we find 6 graamaraagas.We see these extend into the Naatya Saastra, where 18 jaatiraagas are mentioned.
Incidentally graamaraagas are found in Naarada’s Sikshaa as well as in Pallava dynasty rock inscriptions, attributed to King Mahendravarman, at Kudumiaamaalai in Tamil Nadu. [4, 36] Interestingly, we see that 2 of the 18 jati-raagas are named after regions (Andhri and Gaandhara-panchami). As such, we see not only a continuity, but a Pan-India pervasiveness, literally from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. By the time of Sarngadeva, a Kashmiri residing South of the Vindhyas at the Maharashtrian court, we find a total of 264 raagas evolving from the original melodic structures.
This of course leads to another modern concocted controversy over the origin of the melakartha system (or thaat of the North). Ever eager to find a foreign origin to all things Indian (even Indians!), Europeans and their current sepoys-at-arms have attributed a Persian background to the thaat on account of the name and the first emphatic definition of mela coming from Pandit Somanatha in the 1600s. But this is a risible notion, as Swami Vidyaranya, known for his native orthodoxy and revivalism, had formulated 15 melas by the 1300s itself. Somanatha asserted that 960 melas could be evolved, though eventually 72 were settled upon by Venkatamakhi.
The history of Classical Indic Musical Instruments could be an article, or series of articles, in and of itself (incidentally, we already started one here). Nevertheless, no discussion of the History of Music is complete without mention of the vaadya or atodya of Sangeeta.
Basic stringed instruments are found in Lothal dating at least to 2000 BCE and are described in great detail not only by Natya Saastra, but reverential commentators on it, such as the Andhra Nayaka, Jaya Senapatiin his Nrtta Ratnavali. [8, 437]
Generally classed as sushira (winds), thantri/thatha (strings), avanadha (percussion), ghana (metal), here are the most traditional of traditional vaadyas in the Indian vaadyabrnda (orchestra).
Veena—Arguably the most ancient and most Indian of all Ancient Indian instruments, the veena is the vaadya of legends. Said to have evolved from the dhanuryantram (a bow instrument), it has since multiplied into varied forms and types. The shata-tantri is a 100 stringed veena, and the vaana veena is one with grass. These are known in the Kalpasutras with the former fittingly called kaatyaayani-veena. The sitar is itself a chitra-veena, tweaked for Turkic tastes.
Dundubhi—A very ancient and imposing atodya, the Dundubhi is associated with war drums of old and often foretells of a coming cataclysm. Often shaped from the hollow trunk of a tree and covered with leather skin, it has a deep and resonant sound that captivates audiences and armies alike, as it can be heard from great distances. The bhumi-dundubhi form is thought to be the oldest of percussion instruments.
Mridangam—The most pervasive of the classical percussion vaadyas is the mridangam. Still used today in carnatic, it is part of the standard repertoire of classical conclaves and katcheris. A related instrument is of course the Damaru, but this is better discussed elsewhere. Interestingly, there is an old folk story about how the tabla is merely a mridangam cut in half.
Tabla—Believe it or not, the tabla is not as young as we’ve been told. Whatever cute little ‘syncretic’ stories have been concocted by communist ‘mythologists’, the tabla is not a recently rendered percussion instrument. It very likely doesn’t even date to the medieval period. “These drums are known as pushkara. The two drums of identical-size, that have been depicted in the temple-halls of Muktesvara and Baadaami are the forebears of the modern tabal and baayaan, which are erroneously taken to be the two halves of the mridanga (or paakhawaaj), introduced…by Amir Khusrau“.[4, 106] While final confirmation of the modern tabla originating in the ancient pushkara drums found in these sculptures and bas-reliefs of Late Antiquity, one can quite obviously see that seeing foreign influence in all things Indian is more than a little suspect.
Tambura—Erroneously called “tanpura”, Tambura has a lineage of great antiquity and is associated with the Rishi Tamburu. It is used by Sages such as Narada, to keep sruthi. In modern times, the violin has taken its place, but the time may be approaching to restore the prominence of Tamburu’s namesake.
Venu—The bamboo flute, also known as vamsee or now bansuri (in Hindustani), rose to everlasting fame through that eternal romantic of Vrindavan. The murali may be forever associated with Lord Krishna, but its use is even more ancient.
However, we know them better today, not in India, but among those Indic people properly called Romani (commonly known as Gypsy). This instrument has taken a distinctly romantic flavour in the flamenco music of Spain. But of course, as wikipedia will currently tell you…place of origin is…”unknown”…
Known as the Nagaswaram in the South and the Shehnai in the North, Nadasvaram is the original and is a pan-Indian pipe-reed instrument that can stop even the bagpipe in its tracks.
There are numerous other instruments that could be discussed. Nevertheless, for historical purposes, these serve for now.
But along with understanding the foundations and instruments is gaining a grasp of the common Indic terminology.
Shruti—(literally sound, generally Vedas, but in music specifically, microtones).
Svara—Notes or tonal sounds. Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Da Ni
Sthaana—Registers in music
Jati—Pronounced jaathee. Organised tones. Depending on context, proto-melodies. A tune type or species. [5, 19]
Raga—Pronounced raaga, it is defined as “‘ranjayata it raaga.’ i.e., that, which produces pleasing and soothing impressions in the mind, is a raaga.” [4, 98] It is the basic melody of music and made up of various permutations and combinations of tones. There are 72 melakarta ragas.
Murcchana—elaboration of the seed-form of a raga. This is made possible when 7 tones of a raga manifest themselves via ascent (arohana) and descent (avarohana). It possess a unit of aesthetic sentiment. Bharata states there were 14 murcchanas.
Tana—Pronounced thaana. Similar to murcchana. The difference is that tana only has arohana [5, 69]
Varna—Manifesting of a song. There are 4 kinds: aarohi, avarohi, sthaayi and sanchari. They typically consist of pallavi, anupallavi, charanam, muktayisvara and chittasvara. [1, 57] The term is also used to refer to the syllables of a svara.
Kaaku—variation of vocal sounds. These are used to express the Nava Rasa.
Tala—Pronounced thaala, it means beat. While traditionally these reached as high as 108 different types, in Carnatic there are now 35 (i.e. dhruvaa, mantha, rupaka, jhampa, triputa, adda, ekataala) and are made up of different maatras (finger positions).
Laya—Rhythm or tempo. These are generally divided into 3: vilambita (slow), madhya (medium) and druta (rapid). [4, 73]
Vaadyabrnda—Orchestra. Also known as kutapa, the vaadyabrnda is distinctly mentioned in Saastra. The Indian orchestra is certainly nothing new, only has a different set of instruments.
Sangeetha-shaala—Music hall for singing and dancing. Found since at least the court of Pushyamitra Sunga.
Prekshagriha—Threatre auditorium for dramatic performances, musical and otherwise. The first Sunga ruler had a separate premises for these as well.
Personalities in the History of Music are myriad and manifold. Indeed, many are bracketed in the category of ‘mythological’. Being concerned with serious history, we will merely make reference to those sacred historical figures as legendary, and begin with Bharata, Kohala, and Dattila as the first confirmed historical figures with associated texts.
Nandikeshvara is known by many names and must be mentioned as he is the originator of one of the three original sampradayas of Sangeeta. The texts Nandikeshvara-samhita, Bharataarnava, Abhinaya-darpana, Kaishikaavritti are credited to him, but do all of them refer to the same person? It is indeed very possible that there were many so-called historical (and human!) Nandis who were responsible for the texts associated with this figure, and yet, they have not been confirmed or even fully theorised. As such, Nandikeshvara along with Lord Brahma will have to be placed, rather than in the purely historical, in the realm of the sacred instead, but with textual attributions intact, much like the son of Brahma himself.
Much like Nandeeshvara, many are reluctant to consider conflating the mythical Narada muni with the texts associated with him: Naaradi Sikshasaastra, Sangita-makaranda, Raaga-nirupana, and the Gandharva-rahasyam (on dance, drama, and music). Is he the great Sage of our stories, forever singing the glories of Lord Vishnu, or were there many ‘historical’ Naradas? When in doubt, it is better to preserve the chronology assigned in the tradition, and merely assert what has been confirmed by historical evidence. It is also important to catalogue his contributions as he is the second of the great sampradaya founders.
The third and most historical of the three founders of the original schools of Sangeeta, Sage Bharata is a storied name in not only music, but literature, dance, drama, poetry, and indeed, aestheticsitself. Though he mentioned only 8 of the Nava Rasas, the theory of 9 sentiment itself is said to commence with him.
“Muni Bharata brought a renaissance in the domain of dance, drama and music, and scientifically devised laws and priciples of twenty-two mircortones (shrutis) or subtle tones on the basis of five mircrotones (jaati-shrutis), as promulgated by Naarada of the Siksha.” [4, 118]
Most important of all, this sagacious sage propounded his theory of Sangeeta for the purpose of Natya. There are a number of musicologists considered to have been either immediate contemporaries or successors to Bharat. These include Kohala (wrote Sangitameru), Durgashakti, Yaashtika (Sarvaagama-samhita), Shaardula , Svaati (considered the inventor of the pushakara drum), Vaayu, and Vishvavasu. One name associated with the significantly later King Vikramaditya of Ujjain is Matrgupta (appointed to rule Kashmir in the name of his Avanti overlord). Nevertheless, the most immediately relevant name is one who is often thought to perhaps even precede Bharata.
The eponymous work Dattilam is the legacy of this sage. He is said to have continued in the tradition of Bharata, and discusses sangeeta in the context of natya. He lists 18 jatiraagas, various murcchanas and 66 thaanas. Not much is known about him, but he is considered to be a contemporary of Bharata Muni.
The contemporary paradigm parsimoniously dates this great musicologist to the 5th or 7th centuries CE; however, to traditional Hindus, he is no mere Matanga, but Matanga Muni. Considered an ancient Sage, his background dates back, in all likelihood, to not too much after the Natya Sastra himself. He makes references to the most ancient commentators, including Bharata Muni, Kohala, and Dattila. Where he stands out, however, is in his treatment of the desi ragas and styles of music (hence the name of his work Brihaddesi, discussed below).
Though he is clear on the central nature of Marga, Matanga nevertheless discusses the different regional and national styles of music. For those wondering whether the orthodox ever admit to foreign influence, it is here that contemporary yet conservative commentators of India note that while the classical marga style of saastriya sangeeta remains indigenous, different national styles such as those of the Sakas found their way into myriad quilt of desi regional music and folk music. 
It is a long gap between Matanga Muni and Maharaja Bhoja, but given the antiquity of Indian history, a single article Chronology is better focused on the reified names of history, rather than those who are still being confirmed. Though Fa Hien records the splendour of Indian music during the Gupta Period (no doubt due in no small part to the great veena playing Emperor Samudra), musicologists and evidence of direct contribution will better help mark the historical record.
Maharaja Bhoja Paramara
King Bhoj of Dhar is one such contributor. The storied lord of Dhaarangagari was arguably the most talented and scholarly of Royal Commentators on the Arts, including music, and is considered a true polymath. Though better associated with literature and architecture, his contributions to sangeeta cannot be gainsayed. Sringara-Prakasa is a work of his containing precepts of dramaturgy. Though only some of his 84 books are known to have survived, he was considered an authority on music by Maharana Kumbha.
Undoubtedly one of the towering polymaths of Indian history, the great Kashmiri Acharya Abhinavagupta widely commentated on everything from Tantra to the Arts. His commentary on the Natya Sastra, is known as Abhinava Bharati. This Bharatabhasyam elaborates the various issues pertaining to drama, dance, and music. He not only cites Bharata Muni, but also Kohala, considered an ancient authority in naatyaadhikaara and geyaadhikaara. His 1000th Birth anniversary took place this past year.
He is credited with the Sangita-ratnamaalaa, and is dated to the 11th century. Also hailing rom Kashmir, he categorised raagas per the janya-janaka (genus-species) method. He lists a number of principal ragas suh as karnata and maalava. [4, 158]
In a long list of names, stands this prominent Jain musicologist who wrote Sangeeta-samayasaara. Thought to date back to between the 9th and 11th centuries, Parshvadeva gives us a full description of various kinds of prabandhas. These were further elaborated upon by Sarngadeva. Nevertheless, the prabandha-gitis took inspiration from the ancient form of dhruvapada and eventually is known today in Hindustani as the dhrupad. The dhrupad is a shortened name for the saalaga-suda dhruva-prabandha, given patronage by Raja Man Tanwar. [4, 56] In Maharashtra, we find abhangas as the prized musical form instead.
Better known as King Nanyadeva, he is one of many royal comentators on music. A descendant of the Kannada Rashtrakuta dynasty, his kingdom was situated in land straddling Bihar and modern Nepal. Nanyadeva is notable for his commentary on Bharata’s Natya Sastra, called Sarasvati-hridayaalankaara. Other influences include Naarada, Yashtika, Kaasyapa and Matanga. He discussed various raagagitis and jati-ragas
Author of the Abhilasha-Chintamani, the Chalukya Emperor Someshvara more closely associated with the alternate name of the same work: Manasollasa. This veritable encyclopadia deals with many topics ranging from Classical Cuisineto Music. He is considered one of the prominent Royal authorities on Natya and Sangeeta.
Subject to a great war between Odias and Bengalis, as on the rasagolla front, Jayadeva the musical and literary personality appears almost certainly to go in favour of Odisha as well. His ashtapadis were heavily popularised at the court of the Odia King Prataparudra Deva Gajapathi. Jayadeva’s great Gita-Govinda had an impact as far as western India, with none other than Maharana Kumbha later commentating on it.
One undeniable Bengali, however, is Chaitanya Mahaprabhu of the 16th century. His impact extended beyond the Gaudiya Vaishnavism, a guru-sishya parampara that extends to that founder of the Hare Krishna movement, Srila Prabhupada (whose translation of the Gita remains the most widely read today). Nevertheless, it was the founder of his own parampara, who would have the greatest impact on the folk music of Eastern India. The Bhakti songs of Bengal very much bears the stamp of Sri Chaitanya to this day.
Known as ‘Nissanka’ (one who is doubtless), Sarngadeva was born in Varshagana gotra to Soddala Deva. His grandfather was Bhaskara, a Kashmiri Pandit who settled in Maharashtra.
He is regarded as an outstanding Sanskrit scholar and wrote the Vedanta work called Adhyatma Viveka. But he is best known for his Sangeeta Ratnakara (13 th century), which he wrote while residing at the Seuna Court at Devagiri. This soon became the classical standard in the medieval period, influencing both Hindustani and Carnatic.
Maharashtra musician Gopala Nayaka of Devagiri was eventually to Delhi some time in the late 13th century. [9,27] This is said to have laid the actual foundation for what is known as the Hindustani School today.
Considered by many to be a foundational influence on Carnatic music, the Vijayanagara Samrajya Sthapanacharya made an incalculable contribution to the revival of Saastriya Sangeeta at a time when Saastriya Samskruthi was under threat. His Sangeeta-Saram of the 1300s mentions 50 janya ragas originating from 15 melakartha ragas. The head of the Sringeri Peetham, he oversaw a commission of scholars to revive traditional sangeeta that was under threat from destruction by invaders.
A musicologist from the Vijayanagara Court, he wrote an authoritative commentary on Sarngadeva’s influential work.
One of the most beloved classical musicians of Andhra, Annamacharya (1408-1503 CE) remains one of the critical bridges between the ancient Saastriya Sangeeta of old and the birth of the Carnatic Tradition.
Though his story and advocacy for upanayana for women and lower caste temple entry is what he had been remembered for throughout history by the masses, it was only recently that his keerthanas were rediscovered and set to music by Carnatic stalwart, Nedunuri Krishnamurthy.
The sheer volume of Annamacharya’s contribution remains virtually inmatched. Though less than half of his estimated 32,000 padams have been found, compositions such as this one below, reverberate throughout the Telugu states to this day.
Karnataka Sangeeta Pitamaha Purandara Dasa is a name known to all South Indians, and is one that should soon be known to all Indians. He re-established the native canon of authentic Classical Indic Music at a time when it was subject to many external influences and even outright corruptions.
Born Srinivasa Nayaka in 1484 at Pandaripur (Karnataka), he became the disciple of Sri Vyasa Teertha in 1525. He composed thousands of songs and codified the Carnatic Music Tradition. He passed away in 1564.
If ever there were proof that a fierce warrior, gifted general, and dignified king could be talented musician and musicologist as well, it is Maharana Kumbhakaran Singh of illustrious Mewar. Dreaded by his opponents, beloved by his subjects, and honoured by his scholars, one of Mevaad’s most ferocious veeras was also the author of the Sangeeta-raja and Sangeeta-krama-deepika.
He is also credited with re-setting the tune to Jayadeva’s Geeta-Govinda. Though Jayadeva was considered singularly skilled poet, the ragas he set his poems to were re-adjusted in what is widely considered to be a Rajasthani improvement on the Odia original. In any event, the skilled deputee of Eklingji held Jayadeva in high esteem, and thus, is credited with a commentary on the Gita-Govinda.
Narayana Teertha Yatindra is the author of Sri Krishna Leela Tarangini. Living in the 16th century, he was another stalwart of Andhra, hailing from its Krishna district.
Krishna Leela Tarangini is considered a standard of Sanskrit opera. It is composes in 12 cantos with its various songs preceded by slokas and short prose passages. KLT is ranked with Geeta Govinda as work of Sringara. Its theme is the story of Krishna and Rukmini. [6, 83]
Celebrated across divides and boundaries, Tansen is often considered to be the real founder of the Hindustani tradition. Born to Makarand Pandey at Gwalior, he learnt music from Swami Haridas. Rajput royals such as Rani Mrignayani (also of Gwalior) and Raja Sanmukhan Singh of Ajmer, were classmates. He later went to the Agra Court in the 1600s and wrote the Sangeeta Sara and Rajmala.
Tansen is said to have standardised 300 ragas in Hindustani. Miyan ki Todi is one of the ragas attributed to him. He had 5 children including a daughter named Sarasvati, who was a veena player. His sons played the rhabab—a string instrument modified by the great musician himself. 
“Ramamatya, Somanatha and Venkatamakhi consti-tude a group by themselves. They are respectively the authors of the following standard works in Sanskrit on Karnatic music: Svaramelakalanidhi, Raga Vibodha, and Chaturdandi Prakasika” [6, 85]
Ramayamatya is the earliest, dating back to the 1500s. At the request of Emperor of Vijayanagara, he wrote the svaramela kalanidhi and enumerated 20 melas and their janya ragas. He rejects Sarngadeva’s theory of 12 vikrta svaras in favour of 7.
Somanatha was another traditional scholar from Andhra desa. His Raga vibodha picks up from where Ramamatya left off. In contrast, he elected to posit a scheme of 960 melas with 15 vikrta svaras.
Finally, the most impactful of the 3 was Venkatamakhi. The second son of Govinda Dixitar, he studied under his brother Yajna Narayana. He later came under the tutelage of Tanapapacharya, a famous musician from Northern India. With the patronage of Vijaya Raghava Nayaka, Venkatamakhin wrote the Chaturdandi Prakasika in 1660. This Comprehensive work covers the gamut of the usual traditional concepts, but is credited most for standardising the 72 melakarta ragas used in Carnatic music today. [6, 86]
Mewar’s musical contribution to India includes the female as well as the male. The storied Princess Meerabai gave up all for her love of Lord Krishna. She is remembered today not only for her skill with the tambura and khartal, but for her voice as well. This songstress of Sri Krishna is known for devotional ballads such as these.
Lochana Kavi is another notable scholar. Hailing from Mithila (in Bihar), he is best known for his Raga Tarangini, which deals with Indian music in a time of great change. He mentions 12 janaka melas and uses 12 svaras to describe his ragas. A fitting homage to the historical Rajatarangini is the musical Ragatarangini. It is considered a useful study on the music of Northern Indian during a time of foreign ascendancy.
A celebrated composer of Telugu padas, Kshetreyya was born in Muvvapuri graamam, near Chandragiri (Chittoor district). He was a tremendous singer, scholar, and litterateur. Dedicated to Lord Gopala, he worth 4000 padas in honour of his ishta devata. He travelled throughout peninsular India, and made his greatest impacts at the court of Madurai and Thanjavur.
The most famous of the Carnatic Trinity, Thyagaraja was born as Kakarla, Thyagabrahmam in a Telugu Brahmin family that migrated to Thiruvaiyaru from Prakasamdistrict in 1767. He received his early music lessons from his guru Sonti, Venkata Ramanayya.
Thyagayya composed close to 24,000 kirthanas in his life time but only 700 kirthanas survived the vagaries of time. He also wrote two musical plays in Telugu “Prahlada bhakthi Vijayam” and “Nauka Charitram”. His Pancharatna (five gems) Krithis are considered finest gems of Carnatic music.
Every year in the month of January and February a music festival, Thyagaraja Aradhana, is held in Thiruvaiyaru to celebrate and honour his musical genius. On Pushya Bahula Panchami thousands sing his Pancharatnas together. Now it’s a worldwide event, Thyagaraja aradhana is conducted world wide by the patrons and practitioners of Carnatic music and attended by thousands of music lovers and devotees.
The language of Thyagaraja compositions is simple but yet beautiful, and the choice of words in the compositions add to the melody of raga and the rhythm of tala to create the ecstasy of bhava and rasa.
Syama Sastri hailed from the Vadamar community connected to Tamil Nadu, but originally hailing from Andhra. He was born in Thiruvarur to Visvanatha Iyer, in 1762. He was a friend of Thyagaraja and guru to the third of the Carnatic Trinity, who will be discussed subsequently.
Syama Sastri’s achievements in classical music include around 300 total compositions, 9 kritis to Meenakshi Devi, and humbling a number of court musicians in sangeeta contests. His works are known for their intricate taalas. Above all, he refused royal patronage and never deigned to engage in nara-stuti, saving his musical talents to sing the praises of the Divine. He was a great sangeeta and spiritual power, the like of which rarely walks in this modern world. His most famous composition is considered to be Devi Brova Samayam Idhe.
The most famous student of the second of the Carnatic Trinity is the only true blue Tamilian among 2 Telugus. Nevertheless, he set a tradition that would continue on to make his home state the greatest patron of Saastriya Sangeeta in this era. This legacy continues on to the present day in the great Carnatic sabhas of Chennai.
Rajas Shahaji & Tuloji
The Maratha rulers of Madurai would continue the outstanding legacy of its previous Nayak rulers, and become tremendous patrons of Sangeeta themselves.
Tuloji (1765-1787) wrote the treatise Sangeeta Saramritam in 1770. He too was a great supporter of Saastriya Sangeeta.
Raja Swati Thirunal
The ruler of the Kerala kingdom of Travancore between 1829 and 1847, he is considered one of the great Royal composers of Saastriya Sangeeta (in both Carnatic & Hindustani schools). He was a poet, scholar and linguist, with songs credited to him in the Sanskrit, Malayalam, Marathi, Hindustani, Tamil, and Telugu languages. Considered a genius and generous patron of music, his court was adorned with musicians such as Paramesvara Bhagavatar, Govinda Marar and Vadivel. He is highly respected for his technical beauty (svarakshara) and composed more than 300 kirthanas, padas, varna, thillanas, and raga mallikas under the ankitam Padmanabha. [6, 71]
There are, of course, many, many more personalities who could be discussed. But the ones above have had the most noted impact on Saastriya Sangeeta across the spectrum.
Let us now commence with a more detailed survey of the Important Texts of the Classical Indic tradition.
Natya Sastra, 400 BCE (or earlier) [2,8]
The Naatya Saastra has already been discussed in detail in this previous article. Nevertheless, for those short on time and long on interest, here is a brief description of its impact on music. “Saaradatanaya (1175-1250 A.D.), the author of the Bhaavaprakaashan, informs us that the original editon of the Naatyasaastra consisted 12,000 shlokas and afterwards it was reduced to 6,000.” [4, 123] It 37 chapters make up one of the most systematic treatments on the arts. The 22nd chapter is considered the most important to music. There are at least 9 commentaries on it, with Abhinavagupta’s considered the most incisive. [6, 76]
Dattilam, 400 BCE (or earlier)
Brihaddesi, 400 CE (or earlier)
Quoted in numerous texts from the ancient period down through the 17th century, Brihaddesi is considered an exquisite exegesis on how classical Indic music balances between marga and desi. It demonstrates how the native tradition preserves its indigenous character, while allowing the tunes of various Indic desas and the folk music of the non-Indic to contribute to the Civilizational body. “The source of musical structure and composition, both of Hindustani and Carnatic, has to be traced back to the Br[i]haddesi“.  It is here that we first see clear distinctions between Jatis, Murchanas, and Raga.
Perhaps the best known quote from the Brihaddesi is the one on nada:
There is no geeta (song, music) wiithout naada, there are no svaras (musical notes) without naada, there is no nrtta (dance) without naada, hence the world is of the essence of naada. [5, 7]
Silappadikaram ~2nd Century BCE-5th Century CE
Arguably the most famous work of Sangam Literature, Silappadikaram is a Tamizhepic that is also authoritative on poetry, music , and drama. It allong with the Tivaakaram and Paripadal is used to divine the divine music of that era in the Tamil regions. The Silappadikaram in particular describes 22 alaku (shrutis, much like the earlier Bharata Muni). There are also descriptions of various musical instruments such as the yazh and the kudamulabu.
Natyalochana, 800-1000 CE
Composed by an uncredited author, it is a text on drama and music that is wide in scope. Ragas are divided into shuddha (pure), saalanka (impure) and sankeerna (mixed). A total of 44 ragas are listed, with only 8 pure ragas.
Manasollasa of Somesvara III (Karnataka), 1131 CE
Abhinava Bharati (Kashmir), 1000CE
Composed by Saaradaatanaya, it is another work of Natya and Rasalankaara (aesthetics). Interestingly, he makes provision for acoustic enhancement through prescription of various shapes of theatres. For example, a circular theatre is ideal for a mishra dance (where marga and desi are mixed), and a triangular theatre is ideal for marga. [4, 164]
Gita Govinda, 1100 CE
Songs of Geetha Govinda are called prabandha-gitis. This is because they are characterised by saahithya, raaga, thaala, dhaatu, anga, murcchana, rasa, and bhaava. Gitinaatya as a genre in the present era is traced to this work due to its widespread influence. Written in the ashtapadi form (8 stanzas), popularised by the author itself, Gita Govinda celebrates the Rasa-leela of Krishna with Radha and the Gopikas.
Considered a classic work of Sringara Mahakavya, it contains 24 songs in 12 sanskrit sargas. Ramashtapadi of Ramakavi and Sivashtapadi of Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati are said to have taken after it. [6, 78]
Sangeeta Samayasaara of Parsvadeva (Karnataka) 1100 CE
Better known for his Nrtta Ratnavali (above), Jaya Senapati’s Geeta Ratnavali was a great text on music lost to us during the pillage of Warangal by Delhi Turks. While his treatise on dance leaves us to wonder what musical wonders were lost to us, the commander of the Kakatiya King’s elephant corps deserves mention for his contributions to music (glimpses of which can be found in his surviving work).
Bharatabhaasya of Naanyadeva
Sangeeta-Sudhakara ofJagadekamalla, ~1300 CE
Another work by a Chalukya sovereign, the Sangeeta-Sudhakara was written by the son of Someshvara III (of Manasollasa fame). Prince Jagadekamalla is therefore another key royal musicologist and patron of music.
Sangeeta-Saram by Swami Vidyaranya, 1300 CE
Saaroddhara of Sudhaakalasa (Gujarat), 1350 CE
Dasar Padams (Karnataka), 1400 CE
Sangeetaraja & Sangeet-krama-dipaka by Maharana Kumbha (Rajasthan), 1400 CE
Sangeeta Kaumudi (Odisha)
Svaramela-kalandhi by Rama Amatya, 1500 CE
Raaga Vibodam of Somanatha, 1500 CE
Sangeetha Sudha of Govinda Dixitar, 1600 CE
Chaturdandi Prakaasikai of Venkatamakhin, 1600 CE
Sangitadarpana of Daamodara
Sangitataranga of Radhamohan Sen
Krishna-leela-tarangini (Andhra), 1600 CE
Ragatarangini of Lochanakavi (Bihar), 1620 CE
Kshetragna Padams (Andhra), 1600 CE
Sangita Parijata, 1650 CE
Written by Pandit Ahobala, it is a popular treatise on North Indian music. Ahobala is reputed to be the first writer to refer to the svaras by the lengths of veena wires. The kaphi raaga of Hindustani is attributed to him. His work was subsequently translated from Sanskrit into Persian in 1724.
Sangeetha Saaraamrutham by Tuloji Maharaj (Maharashtra/Tamil Nadu), 1700 CE
A comparatively recent but valuable work for students sand scholars of Carnatic music, its author is unknown. It appears to date after Venkatamakhin and has an expanded system of 4,624 melakartas. This is divided into 136 chakras, with each chakra containing 34 melas.
This concludes the discussion of traditional texts on music. While any complete list is putatively longer (and any elaboration on the treatises even more so), these should suffice to provide an historical foundation for textual sangeeta.
We end as we began, with a discussion of not only the History of Classical Indic Music, but the pervasiveness of its influence. In fact, no discussion of Indian music is complete without mention of the expansive travels and tragic story of those wandering minstrels of global fame: the Romani. Though pejoratively called Gypsy or Gitanos, their musical influence is undeniable, not only via their own stories which they tell, but in the obvious impact they had on music wherever they went.
Nevertheless, the history of Indian Music and its spread predates these nomads of Northwestern India.
Specially the music of greece was indebted to indian music, which was introduced to Greece by Pythaagoras and the Pythaagoreans. It is said that Pythaagoras visited India and returned to Greece, carrying with him the cultural, religious, and philosophical ideas of India. [4, 110]
Furthermore, the Emperor of North India, Harshavardhana Shiladitya was a renowned supporter of classical music and dance. “In 581 A.D., a band of musicians was sent from India to China at the invitation of the Chinese Emperor, and it is said that music missions weres sent to distant lands like Samarkanda, Bukhaara, Japan, Corea, Kaamboja (Cambodia) and other Middle and East Asian countries.” [4, 111-112]
Another trend of late is to create false cultural distinctions within India. Contrary to progressively-regressive revisionistas, time assignation for ragas exist in Carnatic. Of course, one does not expect them to have read the works of Karnataka Sangeeta Vidwans like A.S. Panchapakesa Iyer, but here is what he had to say:
“27. Time for Singing Ragas
In a day consisting of 24 hours, we have morning, afternoon, evening and night….
There are some ragas meant for waking people up from deep slumber. The ragas Bhupalam, Bowli and Revagupti are fit for being sun during this period….
In the afternoon, that is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., people will be busy engaged in their work…Begada, Danyasi, Madhyamavathi, Manirangu, Bhairavi are the ragas suitable for this time…
In the evening, that is from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. when people return home after work, they would like to be happy in the company of their wives and children. Ragas like Sankarabharanam, Kalyani, Kambhiji, Bhairavi, Thodi, Kharaharapriya and Pantuvarali are suitable for this time.
During the night around 8 p.m. after taking food, one prepares to go to sleep. Ragas like Nilambari, Ananda Bhairavi and Edukula Kambhoji are suitable for this period” [ 1, 62-63]
Other names and concepts will become more relevant, particularly when discussing the distinctions between Carnatic and Hindustani, which incidentally had many intentional recent origins rather than historically organic ones. Hindustani, much like a particular persianised register of Hindustani (the language), is very much a product of politically driven motivation. Even the sitar (originating in the ancient chitra veena) and the tabla (clearly visible in ancient sculpture as the pushkara) have not been left untouched by colonial and neo-colonial revisionism. That is the importance of studying classical texts with the emic lens, rather than the etic. 
But perhaps it is best to conclude, not in our own words, but in those of the experts.
“In conclusion, it can be said that ancient period is the most important, nay, the golden age in the history of Indian music. The cultural history of this period is glorious and eventful, and the age has undoubtedly a charm, beauty and value of its own for the historians as well as for the students of the history of music. The most remarkable aspect of this period is this that most of the valuable and essential materials of music evolved during this period…So the ancient period of history of Indian music must be given special attention and be studied with proper care.” [4, 190]
Appa Rao, P.S.R. A Monograph on Bharata’s Natya Sastra. Hyderabad: Natyakala Press.1967
Iyer, A.S. Panchapakesa. Karnataka Sangeeta Sastra: Theory of Carnatic Music. Chennai: Ganamrutha Prachuram.2008
Lavezolli, Peter. The Dawn of Indian Music in the West. New York: Continuum.2006
Prajnanananda, Swami. A History of Indian Music. Volume 1. Calcutta: Ramakrishna Vedanta Math. 1997
Sharma, Prem Lata, asst. by Anil Bihari Beohar. Brihaddesi of Sri Matanga Muni. Delhi: IGNCA. 1992
Sambamurthy, P. Syama Sastri and other Famous Figures of South Indian Music. Chennai: The Indian Music Publishing House. 1999
Vatsyayan, Kapila. Bharata: The Natyasastra. Sahitya Akademi.2007
Continuing Food Week here on the Indic Civilizational Portal is a work of Literature mentioned in our preceding Post on Classical Indic Cuisine.
The Paaka Darpana of King Nala of the Nishadas is the oldest available text on Indian Cookery. Although we already conducted a brief expository on it, it’s important to—pardon the pun—flesh out the details of this little known composition.
Any mention of Culinary Literature is incomplete without discussion of the Paaka Darpana. Meaning ‘Culinary Mirror’, it is an ancient work with modern applications. It helps us understand not only what unites Indian cooking—real Indian cooking—from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, but also gives insight into what many Ancient Bharatiyas actually ate.
The legendary lord of the Nishaadas, Nala is a famed hero mentioned in the Mahabharata as the other half of that Pauranic Power Couple Nala & Damayanti.
It is said that he was extremely good looking, truthful, brave, just and endowed with eight boons. 
Nevertheless, as is famously recounted in the Naisadheeya or Naisadha Charita of Sriharsa , Nala (like another famous Mahabharata character) was not good at dice. He lost his kingdom in a wager with his brother Pushkara, and he too had to go into exile. It was in these circumstances that he became a chef in the Royal Kitchen of Rtuparna, King of Ayodhya. To preserve his real identity, Nala took the name Bahuka, and explained the Art of Cuisine to Rtuparna.
Interestingly enough, Nala later mentions his name in the Paaka Darpana and describes his travails. Damayanti is also discussed as is her later svayamvara.
King Nala himself is a member of the Nishada tribe. While the tale he is best known for is for another time, some of the slokas in this work give us insight into not only his surface-qualities, but also his substantive ones as well.
“The king (Rtuparna), addressing Nala, asked him many questions regard-ing the dietics and regimens to be observed in various seasons. He puts forth many epithets to Nala…O, supreme one amongst the expert cooks having parexcellence knowl-edge of the science of cookery, authority of science of cooking, all round expert of sorts, of cooking procedures, O observer of auster-ity, O, proficient O, personified lion among the elepha[nts]. O, Baahuka (Nala), kindly exhibit the procedure of consumable articles, beneficial to everybody, to be taken in various seasons.” [1, 79]
The traditional seasons per the Indic Science of Time-Keeping are “the seasons of spring (Vasanta), summer (greeshma), early rains (praavrt), rains (vaarshikaa), autumn (saarad) and winter (hemanta) are observed in fore-noon (purvaahna), midnoon (madhyaahna), afternoon (aparaahna), evening (pradosha), midnight (ardharaatra) and dawn (pratyushas) respectively.” [1, 79] It’s clear the great Nala of the Nishaadas has a solution for every season.
Whatever your tastes, however, it’s quite clear what he had in mind for good food was the Royal Rajbhogand all the intricacies of its preparation. However, the composition itself explicates the breadth of his knowledge more than any would-be biographer could do.
Credited to Nala of Nishada rajya, Paaka Darpana is a Sanskrit work. It contains 761 slokas and is divided into 11 chapters.
In this wonderful book the author has described the recipes of vegetable & non-veg. preparations. Dishes prepared from Neem, Mandan, Guduchi, Jackfruit etc. become cures also besides being very tasty, the dishes are made fragrant before being served.[2,1]
A manuscript exists at the Saraswati Bhavan Library of Sampurnanand Sanskrit University at Varanasi.
Chapter 1: By far the longest chapter (half the work), it introduces the topic and deals with the five key categories of food: pulses, rice, and meat.
Chapter 2:Discusses the various seasons and the food regimens to be observed. The influence of Ayurveda is obvious here.
Chapter 3:Treats the item of Bhaksyaraaja and various other dishes containing Egg
Chapter 4: Focused on Phirni (kheer). Interestingly, different varieties of Paayasa are mentioned, as well as syrups such as Paanaka (Sri Rama‘s favourite).
Chapter 5: Surveys the process pertaining to the preparation of different varieties of soft beverage, particularly their storage.
Chapter 6: Presents the various processes and properties of different soups (yoosa)
Chapter 7: Discusses the aspects of various Ghee preparations (Ghrtannapaaka) & Cereals.
Chapter 8:Lehya (lickable) foods, such as the mango, are mentioned
Chapter 9:Surveys the process of cooling water, giving fragrance, and preparing delicacies
Chapter 10: Ksheera-paaka, or general cooking of mixed dish milk preparations
Chapter 11:The last chapter overviews the processes of creating curd from milk
As a matter of interest, the original manuscript does not have these 11 paricchedas, and was found as one continuous composition (without punctuation).
Nala describes the various qualities of a cook (sooda ) and expert chef (soodaraat), which the reader can review among the selections. Nevertheless, the Nishaada king also describes the qualities of a proper waiter. Here is the gist below:
The waiter-at-meals (parivesaka) should attend to ablu-tions…followed by cleanliness of the feet and hands. He should be a fulfiller of culinary desires, attentitive to mind, firm/adherent, familiar with the timing of the meals of the king. Thereafter, he should serve the meals and food-prepara-tion in set order having come to know the appropriate time set for a king and considering its wholesomeness. [1,9]
The importance of cleanliness is quite apparent from the outset. Uniquely the cleanliness specified is not only a physical one, but a mental and even spiritual one. While the feasibility of ensuring such a level of sauchamay indeed stretch credulity in our era, the emphasis on hygiene should, nonetheless, be feted and emulated. Whether chef or waiter or sommelier, one who furnishes food for others should take care to honour their trust. There is an implied guarantee of cleanliness.
In the same chapter, Nala also outlines the work in slokas 28-32, albeit in greater detail than the list at the top:
“The first section of the treatise deals with boiled rice (odana) with its various preparations; second one appraises the variet-ies of pulse (soopa); third one describes the clarified butter (sarpis); fourth one presents various varieties of recipes (vyanjana); fifth one depicts several preparations of meat (maamsa) and vegetables (shaaka); sixth one narrates a number of preparations of semi-hard food (bhakshya); seventh one introduces the preparations of Paayasa (rice cooked in milk with sugar added to it); eighth one elucidates an elixir (rasaayana); ninth one describes the preparation of syrup (paana) with its varieties; tenth one considers the varieties of soup (yoosa); eleventh one contemplates the food and its varieties processed by clarified but-ter; twelfth one exhibits the lickable (lehya) articles with its varieties; thirteenth one focuses the various beverages (paaneeya); thirteenth con-fines to several preparation of milk (ksheera); fifteenth one puts forth various preparation of curd (dadhi) and the last sixteenth one states the various preparations of butter-milk (takra).” [1,9]
Thus, one can see from this exegesis an inclusion of not only common staples such as rice, supplemented by vegetables, but also different types of meat.
Meat (maamsa) is reviewed with precision, particularly with regard to preparation and cleaning. Many different exotic meats are also discussed (it is not known if Nala’s tribal background influenced the selection). These range from curries to rice dishes. The most important however is referred to as simply maamsodana.
“Preparation process of Maamsodana (Pulaava)—The cook skilled in processing should fill up the 3/4 part of the cauldron (Sthaali) by the water hereafter it should be kept on fire place (stove or chulha). When water becomes heated the well-washed rice should be dropped in the quantity of one fourth of the [vessel]. When the Sali rice becomes semi-cooked, meat either, completely cooked or semi-cooked in the form of minute pieces alike rice should be mixed along with salt. This cooked rice should be fired with clarified ghee. After disappearance of watery residue, it should be put on the coalfire (Angar). Afterwards the coconut water and new ghee should also b[e] mixed and should be scented with the flower of screw pine (Ketaki). Hereafter the pieces of Parpata should be dropped and it should be made scented through the product of Camphor and Musk (Kastooree).” [1,22]
A rice dish known as chitrapaaka is discussed, and a full recipe given (sl.86). It is to be prepared in a special non-metal vessel known as Pugapada. It is mixed with salt, musk and ketaki flower, camphor, saffron and water. Lemon, mushroom, coriander, ringer and onion are also to be included. Option of adding meat after all this is prepared exists as well.
There are many, many other recipes including those for kukkutamaamsatailodana (chicken pulao with asafoetida, sl.100), sooksmaamsoddana (minced chicken pulao, sl.103), etc.
As such, many of the items he mentions are not only non-traditional to modern Hindus, but also notable for lacking any dishes with cow meat. Thus, even a tribal king with even fewer restrictions than so called “savarna” Kshatriyas, did not advocate beef. Therefore, we can see an integral unity in this myriad diversity.
The cow remains sacred for all Dharmic peoples.
Slokas 341-344 also discuss different spices. It appears the addition of ginger and garlic is nothing new to Indian cookery, as there is clear mention of it here. But shakaharis and sattvik chefs need not fear. There are also a number of vegetarian main courses mentioned as well.
Preparation of pulses is discussed in great detail with the mixing of turmeric and asafoetida. Different types of pulses are also described such as horse-gram (kulattha), black-gram (masa), flat bean (nispava) in sl.121. Pulse itself is described as an alleviator of pitta and a promoter of health [1, 27]. Thus, we again see the background influence of Ayurveda here.
Shigruphalam (drum-stick), plantain (kadhalee), audambara (Indian fig), tiktaalaabu (bitter gourd), are all vegetarian options and their dishes all discussed as well. For sake of familiarity, a recipe for a brinjal (vrnthaakam) dish will be described here:
“Method of preparing the vegetable of Brinzal and its properties. The lovely young fruit of brinzal should be taken and its upper portion should be cut by a sharp-edged knife. After cutting the brinzal into two parts, it should be dropped into a pot filled with water. The round brinzal fruit should be cleansed by the water and it should be dipped into the water medicated with ginger. It should be mixed with asafoetida, Kaayaphala (Kaidarya) and coriander powder. It should be added by the pieces of garlic and ginger and it should be kept on fire. The round brinzal fruit cut into pieces should be kept in hot water for a while and it should be brought out of the water. After making the paste of spices containing black pepper coriander, cumin seeds (jeera) mixed with ripe tamarind and curd should be pasted on the pieces of brinzal fruit and it should be fried in cow’s ghee (clarified butter). After taking it out, it should be made fragrant with the camphor. Hereafter it should be kept in clean pipe of puga-putta boiling ghee. After taking out it should be eaten.” [1, 38] It is praised as “an alleviator of Tridosha” and an enhancer of strength. [1, 38]
But the best of all vegetarian dishes is described as Bhakshyaraaja, King of the Edibles:
“The cook should take on part of the pieces of raw wheat along with the one part of fragrant article in order to cook it properly. The well cooked pulse of Bengal gram (canaka) taken as half part and one part of fat and one part of the flat bean (Nispaava) along with the five pieces of co[co]nut, fruit mixed with cardamom (elaa) and salt in appropriate quantity. All the above substances should be cooked properly and the butter ex-tracted from the scented milk should be mixed in boiled milk. after mixing all these, the pills should be prepared like seeds of lemon and these should be kept in pugapatta. These pills, after some time should be again cooked and dropped in the ghee. This preparation is called Bhakshyaraaja.” “It is celebrated as an alleviator of vaata and pitta, promoter of digestive power, palatable, and a strength promoter.” [1, 86]
In terms of vegetarian items of regional interest, Odias would be interested to hear about the preparation of the Kalinga fruit (sl. 444). Kashmiris might relish the description of Lotus flower, Padma-patra-shaaka (sl.477), as a dish.
Rasa & Ayurveda
The editor’s note gives a detailed discussion of rasabhinivritti (Manifestation of taste) and expounds on how “Location (desa) plays a great role in manifestation of various tastes in one substance, e.g.grapes and pomegranates growing in the Himaalayas are sweet in taste whereas those growing elsewhere are sour“. [1, 11] Taste which manifests immediately is referred to as rasa, while that which manifests later and slightly is called anurasa. Nala himself specifically mentions 8 demerits in food, along with various characteristics of starch.
Medicinal aspects are also discussed, such as how to alleviate pain from a scorpion-sting. This circles back to the overall connection to Ayurveda. Although naturally Nala being not just an ordinary cook, but a royal chef is expected to be mindful of taste, the centrality of nutrition and health is apparent. Incidentally, seasonal regimes (for purposes of health) are avidly described in chapter 2. Special care is taken to assert the need for more caution during the changing of seasons.
Nala himself recommends certain meats in certain seasons, suggesting deer in spring, goat in summer, chicken in rainy season, fish in autumn, pork in winter, and sparrow in late winter (sl.31).
Of course, no discussion of the composition would be complete without mention of the desserts. While foreign attribution of all things Indian may be popular (even phirni!), here is King Nala’s recipe for Kheer, better known as Ksheerapaaka.
“Milk, unmixed with water, should be kept in a milk vessel. it should be cooked in slow heat in cauldron and stirred with ladle…Milk which has become drinkable is to be added by the jack-fruit. in the milk, which has become more solidified, the ginger should be added by another fruit. Later on the flowers of Punnaga should also be added to it. the milk known as ghatika is to be added by the mango fruit along with ghee and honey. In this way, the flower of pomegranate and rice should be added, when the milk becomes in ‘Sarkara’ form, banana fruit is to be added along with sugar.” [1,109] It is described as glorified by the Gods and alleviates the disorders of Tridosha.
(I know the food-stuff classified into five categories viz., bhakshya [semihard food like sweet-ball (laddu) etc.] bhojya (soft food like rice, pulse etc.), lehya (relishable or lickable articles like sauce), cosva (suckable articles like sugarcane, pomegranate etc.) and peya (drinkables or beverages like fruit-juice, wines etc.) possessing either the six tastes (sweet, sour, salt, bitter, pungent and astringent) on the basis of preparation and processing. [1,2]
Person, who relishes the aforesaid dishes (citrapaaka) with care and prepared by me, gets positive sound health. If this preparation is taken even once, alleviates the diseases caused by Vaata, Pitta and Sleshman as Lord Siva (Tryambaka) had killed the demon Tripura.” [1,3]
O lord (prabhu) king Rtuparna. I have composed a trea-tise entitled Paakadarpana in this regard by the grace of gods (lokapaalas) for the benefit of people. All the process of (cooking) would be conspicuous by going through it. Now, I shall narrate the characteristics of cook (sooda) succinctly).
The cook (soodha) appointed in a particular place, must belong to that habitat. He should be intellectual, endowed with all the required merits and characteristics, possessing the moral and ethical values, hailing from a respectable family, qu[iet], subdued, generous, honored by the royal families, pious, smiling, devoted to his wife, averted from other’s wife, holy, speaking measured words, liberal, com-passionate, soft spoken, familiar with various metalic utensils, conversant with place and seasons and detector of age and phases of life and also wise. [1,8]
Food is primarily said as sustainer of vital force (Praana) of all living beings. Food, containing the sixtythree types (on the basis of combinations and permutations) of rasa (tastes) is factually personi-fied as Brahma (creator of the universe). The best food is that which is devoid of eight types of impurities. [1, 10]
Attainment of the post of expert cook. The best cook is one, who, having gone through cookery very attentively and pre-cisely from all the aspects; possesses the knowledge of all sorts of cooking by heart. He is also known as the king of the cooks. [1,78]
Why Soopa Sastra? Elsewhere cooking is referred to specifically as Paaka, in Sanskrit. The rationale for this is manifold. The first Sanskrit text known to us on the culinary arts is in fact called Soopa Sastra, and is credited to Sage Sukesa. In addition, “The cook went by many names, such as alarika, soopakaara, odanika, bhojanadatr, and sudas”. [1, 108] Further, much like Dhanurveda refers to the Military Arts (despite Dhanur being ‘bow’), Soopa Sastra refers to the Culinary Arts despite soopa meaning only Soup (or broth). Finally, Paaka refers to cooking, but Soopa is a broader term encompassing Cuisine in general. Thus, Soopa Sastra is Culinary Science which encompasses not only Cooking, but Civilized Dining as well.
For all these reasons, Soopa Sastra is the more preferable phrase for the present time.
What did our ancestors eat? Was it similar to what we eat now? Is it all a patchwork of regional cuisines or are there Pan-Indian commonalities?
More importantly, as one culinary author asks, “What do you mean by ‘good food’? Good to the taste? By ‘good’ do you mean food which has inherent values, i.e. values which are good for the well-being of the eater?”. [7, 16] Or does this merely mean food which satisfies? As in all things, the key to life is balance. It is only when there is imbalance that man either becomes deprived or depraved. Between being dull and being diseased is the middle path.
“Food was also part of the ‘discipline’ in daily living of the Hindu way of life….The peak of ascetic glory was to be able to live on air and water and the perfect ‘yogi’ was revered because he had taught himself to subsist on a mi[n]imum of food. The bogi learnt the pleasures of eating, and descended to eating two meals a day, while the rogi was the gourmet given to self-indulgence and excess which resulted in ill-health. Hence the same word rogi is used for a man sick with disease (from roga=disease).” [7,17]
Thus, one need not be a yogi to live a healthy life. The wise man or wise woman finds balance and eats in moderation—knowing to generally eat healthy, while responsibly indulging on special occasions. Thus, between the yogi and the rogi is the bhogi. Herein lies the importance of the Rajbhog.
Whether it was the Rajabhoga (King’s meal) or the saamaanya bhojana, food was so important that cities themselves have been named after food items. One such prominent example is Vidarbha‘s Amraoti (not to be confused with Andhra’s Amaravati). The original named of this Maharashtrian municipality was in fact Audambaravati, named after the Indian fig (udambara). [1. 35]
Vegetarianism is also a frequent flower in the garland of Dharma. Not only those following the Sattvic way of life, but also The Buddha favoured ahimsa to animals, though he permitted non-veg in cases of unintentional slaughter. [1,55] Jainism of course stands as the most dedicated to the concept of non-injury to animals, and many Sikhs observe vegetarianism (except in times of war).
Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism crystallized out of a Hindu matrix. In terms of food practices they have naturally many features in common with the Hindu ethos. [1.70]
Despite the large contingents of vegetarians (sakaharis) and non-vegetarians (maamsahaaris), one dietary thread is common to them: the sanctity of the cow.
the Rigveda has a whole hymn to nutrition (peelu) in which only vegetable foods are listed, and carries two verses in praise of ‘the cow, Aditi, the sinless’. The word gau is used for the cow, and the term aghnyaa (‘not to be eaten, inviolable’) is employed no less than sixteen times, in contrast to three references to the bull, using the masculine form aghnya [1, 55]
These go-bhakshaks advocating a go-mamsa theory of Dharma are high on Ego and low on Sattva guna. This age old food restriction characterises our Dharmic way of life, yet nevertheless leaves a wide variety of not only other meats, but also a myriad of fruits, vegetables, grains, beverages, divine dishes, and savoury sweets. Whether veg or non-veg, let us all survey together what is common in their presentation and preparation.
“May for me prosper, through the sacrifice, milk, sap, ghee, honey, eating and drinking at the com-mon table, ploughing, rains, conquest, victory, wealth, riches. May for me prosper, through the sacrifice, low-grade food, freedom from hunger, rice, barley sesame, kidney beans, vetches, wheat, lentils, millets, panicum grains and wild rice. May for me prosper, through the sacrifice, trees, plants, that which grows in ploughed land, and that which grows in unploughed land.” —Yajurveda [1, 28]
The influence of the Vedas on disparate spheres of life is so widespread that even food and agriculture are not untouched by it.We see from this quote from the Yajur Veda that agriculture was very much a part of Vedic Society. Rather than a Central Asian pastoral culture, we see the mark of an agricultural one. This centrality of settled life would be seen in later periods as well, and we see the sophistication of irrigation driven farming.
In the Ramayana, the land of Kosala is eulogized by Rama as adhsvamatrakah, that is, as relying on irrigation rather than rainfall for its fecundi-ty. The Arthashastra of Kautilya (c.300 BCE) has many references to an extensive system of irrigation. [1, 29]
What’s more, one notes the antiquity of rice consumption in Indic Society. Various texts attest not only to its import, but to the technical details of cultivation and crop protection as well.
“The Kashyapa Samhita (c.200BC) has detailed accounts of every aspect of rice cultivation: sowing, irrigation, seed transplanting, weeding, watering, protection from birds like parrots (us-ing buffalo skeletons as scarecrows), defence against vermin like rats, locusts and borer in-sects, reaping and finally threshing. Even the conditions needed to take a second crop are elaborated. The collection of cowdung (sarishaka or sakrit) is noted in the Rigveda…Fodder crops are silaged as early as the Rigveda, the process being called sujavas.” [1, 29]
As such, it is only natural that the predominant Pan-India aspects of Subcontinental cuisine be driven by the native approach to agriculture. Ironically, it is that honoured bovine whose meat is forbidden that provides us with the most Civilizational of ingredients. More than any other animal, it is the dhenuh, the Indian Cow, whose produce embodies the most central ingredients to Classical Indic Cuisine: milk (ksheera), curd (dadhi), butter-milk (thakram), butter (navaneetham), and ghee (ghrtam).
In addition to the lactic aspects of core Indic food, are the grain (dhaanya) aspects. Staple is very important to virtually any urban/semi-urban cuisine. Here are the traditional grains.
“The Brihadaranyaka Samhita states that there are ten foodgrains. These were rice, barley, sesame, kidney beans, (masha), mil-let, panic seed (priyangu), wheat, lentils (khalva) and horsegram (khalakhula, later kulattha, now kulthi. The Arthashastra lists sugarcane and mustard (both known from much earlier, but not mentioned in ritual lists), linseed (atasi), safflower (kusumbha), and kodhrava.” [1, 31]
Chickpeas, aman rice, wild rice, and Bengal gram are also listed, as are Pumpkins, other gourds, grapes, and long peppers (pippali). Spices include turmeric (haridra), fenugreek (methi), ginger, and garlic. “Others like pepper and cardamom came from south India, and asa-foetida from Afghanistan.” [1,33]
Speaking of sugar, one notes the dietary superiority of traditional sweeteners such as cane sugar, honey, and jaggery, versus the current obsession with visham-variety refined sugar(and the diabetes/obesity epidemic sweeping India & the rest of the world). Incidentally, “Sushruta’s observations suggest that as sugar products became purer and whiter, they also became ‘cooler’ but more difficult to digest.” [1,85] Health must come before Taste, but as traditional Indic cuisine (real Indic cuisine) shows, the two need not be antipodes (especially with the guidance of Ayurveda).
While simple Sattvic fare is indeed “sresth“, it is also important that Dharmic society begin rolling out the Ancient Indian Red carpet, and its Royal Rajbhog of Rajadhirajas.
Kingly Texts on Culinary Arts
There were many other masters of food preparation, perhaps none more famous than that mighty Pandava Bheemasena. His appetite for feats of strength was matched only by his literal appetite for feasts of savories. Those familiar with the film Maya Bazaarmight enjoy this song, which captures the spirit (though Ghatotkacha will stand in for his father here).
While Bheemasena is credited with a text called Bheema Paaka Sastra, it is the Paaka Darpana of King Nala (of Damayanti fame) that is the most ancient text we have recovered to date.
Nala wasn’t the only King with culinary sophistication. King Somesvara III of the Western Chalukya dynasty of Karnataka wrote the well-known work Abhilashitarthachinthaamani. Better known as Manasollasa, meaning ‘refresher of the mind’, it is a veritable tome on not only knowledge, but also the pleasures of Royalty—with food naturally included in it. At 100 chapters divided among 5 books, it is a topic for another article. Nevertheless, there is a chapter titled Annabhoga stipulating varieties of dishes and methods of preparation (still common today throughout the Dakshinapatha).[1,89] King Basavaraja of Keladi (also in Karnataka) was another such who wrote on a wide range of topics, including food, in his Shivatattvaratnaakara. There is also the Soopa Sastra of Mangarasa III, King of the Kannada state of Kallalli, who wrote in Old Kannada.[1,88] It appears the Kings of Karnata were exemplars at promoting the culinary arts. Nevertheless, Nala set the original standard.
Paaka Darpana of King Nala.
Nala & Damayanti may be famous for their love story (poetically recounted by Sriharsa in his Naishadha Charita), but the Nishada King was legendary for more than being merely a love-lorn lover. Before the great Bheemasena himself, was Master Chef King Nala. His conversation with Maharaja Rtuparna of Ayodhya and subsequent employment in Kosala’s Royal Kitchen gives us insight into not only a mature and even Imperial Indic Cuisine, but also the continuity of tradition from that ancient time to present-day.
Paaka Darpanam means Mirror of Cooking, and it is an ancient book on culinary science. It has 761 sanskrit slokas contained in 11 chapters (paricchedas).
In this wonderful book the author has described the recipes of vegetable & non-veg. preparations. Dishes preparated from Neem, Mandan, Guduchi, Jackfruit etc. become cures also besides being very tasty, the dishes are made fragrant before being served.[2,1]
The cook is referred to as sooda and the waiter as parivesaka. Both are required to have good qualities and practice the utmost cleanliness. [3, 8] Nala then outlines the work discussing various aspects of food taxonomy, dividing his work into 16 aspects: boiled rice (odana), pulses/broths ( soopa), clarified butter (sarpis), curries (vyanjana), meat (maamsa) and vegetables (shaaka), semi-hard food (bhaksya), sweet rice dish (kheer), elixir (rasaayana), syrup (paana), soup (yoosa), lickable foods (lehya), beverages (paaneeya) milk (ksheera), curd (dadhi) , and butter-milk preparations (thakra). [2,9]
He also states that “Food is primarily said as sustainer of vital force (Praana) of all living beings. Food, containing the sixtythree types (on the basis of combinations & permutations) of rasa (tastes) is factually personi-fied as Brahma (creator of the universe). the best food is that which is devoid of eight types of impurities.” [2,10]
Nevertheless, of all the notable aspects of Nala’s treatise on Paaka, none more is important than that most healthful of Sciences: Ayurveda.
Person, who relishes the aforesaid dishes (citrapaaka) with care and prepared by me, gets positive sound health. If this preparation is taken even once, alleviates the diseases caused by Vaata, Pitta and Sleshman as Lord Siva (Tryambaka) had killed the demon Tripura.” [2,3]
Certain fundamentals are obvious from the outset. We see that even in this most ancient period, Ayurveda is a driving factor. The mention of Vaata, Pitta, and Kapha (Sleshman) are clear demonstrations of the theory motivating the Classical Indic philosophy of Cookery.
The Classical Indic Approach to food not only managed to balance the needs of the ascetic yogi with the royal bhogi, but also balanced health with taste. Nutrition and satisfaction need not be diametrically opposed. What matters is what you have, how you have it, and how it balances with not only the rest of your diet, but also with the rest of your lifestyle.
“‘There is no disaster in life’ the adult is admonished, ‘if one eats in mod-eration food that is not disagreeable. As pleasure dwells with him who eats mod-erately, so disease is the lot of the glutton who eats voraciously.’ Moderation in Ayurvedic terms is designated tripti, liter-ally satisfaction, but here connoting the appeasement of hunger and thirst. In contrast is atisauhitya meaning overeating to satiety.” [1, 79]
Texts such as Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita are classic works on Ayurveda (the science itself said to originate from Brahma, via Dhanvantari). Does this in fact work? Well, as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
Shadruchi: The six tastes are sweet (madhuram), sour (aamla), salty (lavanam), bitter (tikta), pungent (kaatu) and astringent (kashaaya). Incidentally, among Telugu families during New Year (Ugadi), it is common to have Ugadi Pacchadi (New Year Chutney) featuring the six tastes to symbolise all the aspects of life to be experienced in the coming year. Some families are known to rig the system by adding more sweet!
While there are 6 pure tastes (shadruchi), there are as many as 63 mixed tastes according to Charaka. [1,79]
Regarding alcohol, Charaka counselled moderation, since alcohol increases pittha (the mental principle) while lessening both kapha (the physical principle) and vaatha (the vitality principle). 
Due to the importance of Pavitrata (purity) and suchi and muchi, the kitchen is considered a near consecrated portion of the orthodox Hindu household. Various rules are stipulated in the grhyasutras. Nevertheless, long story short, cleanliness is next to godliness. Many examples of traditional and modern wisdom have been passed on today.
Food taxonomy is typically divided into foods not requiring fire and those that require fire. Various other aspects are also mentioned, but these are the key ones. As seen above, King Nala gave us a more detailed division of foods as well.
Several cooking operations were in use since very early times. These were thaalanam (drying), kvaathanam (parboiling), pachanam (cooking in water), svedanam (steaming), bhavita (seasoning), apakva (frying), bharjanam (dry roasting), thandooram (grilling) and putapaaka (baking). Devices for these operations developed in parallel. [1, 101]
Various methods of meat preparation also existed. Sour meats were marinated with ghee, curd and fermented rice gruel, along with acidic fruits and various aromatic spices. Meat when dried and roasted was called parisukamaamsam, while minced meat was called ulluplamaamsam. [1,54]
An ancient history! The earliest documentation of the beverage #tea being consumed in India, is given in the epic Ramayana (750-500 BC) pic.twitter.com/tdTj6hJrwR
Beverages (alcoholic and otherwise) could also be a Blog Post in and of themselves. But for our “Madyam, apeyam, adeyam, agrahyam!” types…fear not! —I will commence with the non-alcoholic first.
“Buddhist texts enjoin the use of pure rain water for consumption. Water meant for drinking had to be ‘clear, cool, shining like silver, health-giving and with the fragrance of the lotus’. In fact, the lotus was frequently grown in tanks to purify the surrounding water.” [1, 39]
Beyond water there were a variety of juices. These refreshing drinks include mango, jamoon, banana, grapes, phaalsa, coconut, edible waterlily roots, and diluted honey. There was also sugarcane juice and licorice leaf along with a host of others.
Although the brits (and their Indian leftovers (pun-intended)) would have us believe they brought Indians tea, present research appears to indicate otherwise. The specific varieties may have varied, but tea in some form did exist (with the word chai itself having a sanskrit equivalent via chaayam). Kashmir has its own distinct aromatic kaahwaah tea brewed in a khandakari (samovar). [1,107] Coffee is, of course, an Ethiopian import, via middle easterners. Nevertheless, it has taken a special flavour in South India “filter kaaphi” (As Nilambari would attest).
Different types of alcoholic beverages are also listed. The famous Soma is one such intoxicant, reputedly brewed from the ephedra plant for yagnas, particularly for those whom intoxicants are otherwise prohibited. Suraa is the most common name for alcoholic beverage. The word for wine usually from grapes is madhya. Wines from honey, rice, palm, flowers, and jaggery were also known. The spiced wine maireya is also mentioned in the Ramayana. While abstention from alcohol was and is considered a virtue, its restrained consumption was nevertheless permissible to most classes of society. Some examples of ancient liquors:
Madhira—Wine of high quality
Kaadambaree—Distilled liquor made from kadamba flowers
Thaallaka—Wine made from palm fruit juice
Haarahooraka—”Wine made from white grapes, imported from Haarahur, Afghanistan“[1,59]
Khajooraasava—Wine from dates
Shahakaarasuraa—Wine brewed from the juice of Mango
Mahaasuraa—”Mango juice win with a high proportion of fruit extract, perhaps modified with spices” [1, 59]
While reading all this one must remember what a middle eastern traveler wrote on the Indic view of Alcohol:
“The Indi-ans abstain from drinking wine, and censure those who consume it; not because their religion forbids it, but in the dread of its clouding their reason and depriving them of its powers.” [1, 60]
With apologies to oenophiles, as there are many more aspects that can be discussed at another time, we must move on to that other guilty pleasure…open to all classes!
Honey is considered the earliest sweetener. “Guests were welcomed to a household with madhuparka, a honey-sweetened concoction of curd and ghee.” [1, 37] Rock sugar (kand) is thought to have been known at least by 800 BCE, with modern exemplars such as Gulkand (Rose-jam) being used to this day. Confectionary may date back to the Vedic period with different combinations including cardamom, ginger, and ground barley/wheat with jaggery to make abhyusa.
“Some of these confections were artisti-cally shaped. The rice-flour sweet preparation, modaka or madhugolaka, looked like a fig, and the barley flour confection, shastika, was cone-shaped and had delicate surface markings. By late Buddhist times, some sophisticated sweets are mentioned. The mandaka, now called mande, was a large parata suffed with a sweetened pulse paste, which was then (as now) baked on an inverted pot: madhusarika was a sweet cake; morendaka, made from khoa, was shaped like the eggs of a mora (peacock); gulala-laavaniya was perhaps the modern gole-papadi, a tiny fully-expanded puri…Rice cooked in milk and sugar was payasa, a popular sweet even now“. [1, 39]
Rice, of course, is so central to Indic cuisine that it was cooked in a variety of ways and forms. Rice cultivation has been radio-carbon-dated at Prayag going back to at least 5000 BCE, though terraced fields for rice cultivation have been dated to 10,000 BCE in Kashmir. As for types of rice, the most common is Oddana (boiled rice). Pruthukam is beaten rice (poha) and neevaraa is wild rice [1,184]. Then there is laajaah, the ritually pure form of parched rice, mentioned in the Ramayana as well.
“The early canonical literature of the Buddhists and Jains (c.400 BC) again reveals extensive use of fine rice (shaali) or ordinary rice (vreehi), either boiled, or cooked with til seeds, or made into gruel (yaagu).” [1, 34]
Tea—Chaayam (now Chai)
Vada—Vataka (these are mentioned in the Dharmasutras as being fried in ghee)
This article will naturally focus more on the traditional native fare of Bharatavarsha. While it is true that food, like most aspects of culture, is not static, it is also important for native identity to not be lost to syncretism. It is possible to admire what is good about others while appreciating your own uniqueness.
If at all u want to promote ur state cuisines.. U have to stop this appeasement 😑 Building a brand needs continuos effort for years. https://t.co/bNA7MKWNvK
Therefore, rather than hewing to the hyperactive hungama of invented “Ganga-Jamuni Nautanki“, this Post will focus on the core Indic aspects that can be traced back with continuity to Ancient India. These elements are very much alive today, and in regions such as Andhra and Odisha, predominant.
§ Focus on Food as part of an holistic System of health. Application of Ayurveda pervades Paaka Darpana of King Nala.
§ Use of Mustard seeds, Turmeric, Cumin. These essential ingredients to “Curries” are as ubiquitous in ancient Harappa as they are in modern Himayatnagar.
§ Tandoor (originated in either Rajasthan or Punjab ). [1,107] The word comes from the Sanskrit “Kandu”. Thandoora is the word for grilling.
§ Khichadi/Khichdi/Khichri. In the Vedic period, rice cooked with milk and sesame seed was called krsaara, and is considered to be a forefrunner to khichdi, which is made from rice and dhaal. [1,33]
§ Thali is the common word for the round plate of plenty throughout India. The word comes from the Sanskrit Sthaalikaa.
There, of course, countless other culinary aspects to discuss. But food history (as with history in general) is subject to great controversy. In order to separate the genuinely Indic from the colonially syncretic, we will discuss some of the issues here:
Biryani is foreign origin (coming from the Persian Beryan), but…
Pulao is definitely native to India and comes from the Sanskrit word Pulaka.
…meat cooked with rice is referred to in the Yagnavalkya Smriti as pallao-mevach, and the word palao also occurs in early Tamil literature [1, 54]
Other varieties of savoury meat & rice dishes are mentioned in the Ramayana. On such dish was called maamsabhutadana: rice cooked with deer meat, vegetables, and spices. The Mahabharata mentions pishthauddana, another rice dish, this time cooked with minced meat (other kinds include, sour meat, fried meat, ground meat, grilled meat, and meat for stuffing). [1, 54] In fact, rice being the major staple, it is only natural it was cooked in many forms. Odana is rice boiled in water or milk, often along with curds and honey. When this combination is cooked with meat it was called mamsaudana. Khichadi is another common denominator throughout most of India. So much so is this the case that the term “Khichadi couple” has been invented by NRI/PIO desis to refer to couples coming from “2 States” or more, but being 100% Bharatiya.
Traditional Indic sweets are called madhuraani in Sanskrit (or mithai in Hindi). Some sweet items such as Rooh Afza and Jalebi (zlabia) are obviously foreign origin. But many, many more are local (and given foreign origin by sepoys). In fact, the whole assortment of traditional Bengali sweets are said to be “phoreign” because apparently “yeverything kayme from mughal”. This is of course ridiculous. Many have argued that Kulfi is a recent addition, and that is probably a fair assessment, though iced dishes were certainly well-known in snowy Kashmir. It is, therefore, here that we shall begin:
Each region (indeed, state) of historic Bharatavarsha has evolved unique aspects of aahaaram while hewing to integral aspects of Saastric gastronomy that unify the Subcontinent. While all can’t be covered in a single (digestible!) article, here are some highlights to give a Gastronomical Survey of India (GSI).
From Rogan Josh to its eponymous Pulao, Kashmiri Cuisine is rightly appreciated by sophisticates of all sorts. Although the ancient nobility of this famous region is now diminished, Kashmiri Pandits have maintained most of the traditional fare, with rare dilution. Known for its Wazwan (multi-course) meals, the Crown of India’s cuisine features such spices as asafoetida, methi, and ginger. Nevertheless, as evidenced by Kashmiri Pulao, saffron (kesara) is the signature spice, and has been cultivated here since ancient times. Though arguments are often made supporting foreign introduction, it’s fairly clear the use of saffron is indigenous. Here are some of the finer points of this cuisine:
“The Kashmeerees have been bons viveurs and are proud of their cuisine which is justly famous. ‘Snigdha’ sug-gests the use of oil to which the Kash-meeree chef de cuisine still adheres in preference to the melted butter (ghee) used in the Panjaab. The Kashmeeree Brahman is a lover of meat and fish and in ancient times grape wine was in common use. The Nilamata Puraana mentions the use of wine for ceremonial purposes.” [5, 555]
“The nobility and courtiers in the typical bon viveur style enjoyed the Kashmiri cuisines which is justly famous; they had ‘fried meat’ and ‘delightful light wine cooled with ice and per-fumed with flowers.’…As for the common people, they subsisted on rice and hakh (Kashmiri greens)” [5, 23]
One “could not do without the soft and unctuous fare of Kashmeer, which is easy to digest when washed down with sugared water whit-ened with chunks of ice.” [5,555]
Interestingly, the lotus is not just a symbol of prosperity, but also a focus of the dietary.“Vegetables start in the Rigveda with the lotus stem (visa) and cucumber (urvaaruka), fol-lowed in the later Vedas by lotus roots (shaaluka)“. [1, 35]
“Lotus roots is a favourite dish of the Kashmeeree Brahmans. In the plains of India the dried roots from the homeland are imported as a delicacy. Seeds of the lotus…are also eaten.” [5,459]
Regardless, conventional staples are also popular in Svarga’s own Aahaara. Plain rice and assorted sweet pulaos (featuring fruits and nuts) are popular, as are breads such as kulcha, tsachvaru, and girda.
Jammu and Ladakh, naturally have their own notable contributions. Dogras typically eat wheat, bajra, and maize along with rice as staple.
Andhra Cuisinestands out for a number of specialities, first and foremost is the use of spice. While mirchi is a near-Pan India practice, it reaches its fever pitch in Bahubali’s own Country, hence the justifiable reputation of having the spiciest food.
In fact, it packs suchgharam dharamthat the following saying has become a saamethaof sorts about Andhra men.
Andhra men like their food as they like their women: Presentation is very important…and they prefer a little Spice.
Roselle leaf (gongura) is another key ingredient. While use of the green gram (mudga) dates back to King Nala’s time, it has taken a unique incarnation in that Andhra specialty known as Pesarattu:
Though tamarind is used widely in the rest of the South as well, it is a critical part of the Telugu dish known as the pulusu ( a tamarind sauce/stew).
The new state of Telangana also has some regional, yet truly native, specialities, such as sarvapindi and sakinalu. But these snacks, and more robust entree-fare, can be covered separately. The notable aspect is what unifies undivided Andhra in the food department.
The South (in General)
Beyond Andhra, the regions of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu all have that have their own local specialities. Whether it is the Bisi-bela-baath of KT, the Coconut Aviyal of KE, or the Chettinad Chicken of TN, special dishes for each state can be found. Nevertheless, for the sake of brevity, this article will provide a general discussion instead (though native Kannadigas, Keralites, & Tamilians are welcome to comment on their states below).
The use of pickles (uragaaya/urakai) is quite common throughout the south, and are the ideal complement for daddojanam (curd rice), preferably with a little mustard seed.
The all-India favourite, Dosa, is seen as Udipi-derived (so there’s a win for Karnataka), but if that’s the case, you Kannadigas will have to take the blame for Bisi-bela-baath (sorry guys). Before the other side of that great Kaveri war gets upset, yes Idli is very likely a Tamizh contribution (though our sepoys are doing their utmost toinvent an Arab origin…probably while smoking some pretty powerful hookah). Though it should be noted that the Manasollasa mentions both the dhosaka (dosa) and idarikaa (idli).
And before our Mallu friends think I’ve forgotten them, there is much that Kerala has to offer—especially when it comes to all things coconut. Unni-aapam (jackfruit-rice pancake) and coconut aviyal are two must haves from the land of Kalaripayattu. The ancient Chera country was also famous for its pepper.
The Kodavas of Coorg also have a distinctive cuisine, and are known for their preparation of pork-based dishes. Tulu cuisine is embodied by various Mangalorean fish curries.
South Indian fare is not all vegetarian as has popularly come to be believed. In fact, the most carnivorous (or more correctly omnivorous) states are found south of the Vindhyas, with Kerala leading the pack. Rasam is of course common to pretty much all the Southern states, but I would argue that Andhra’s Tomato Chaaru is the most sophisticated form of this savoury soup of Soopa Sastra.
Core components of Maharashtrian cuisine are discussed below; nevertheless, Amba Kesari Bhaat is one signature dish. Maharashtra is likely the place of origin for Shrikand (in its present form). The etymology of the word comes from, yes, Sanskrit. “Shikar-ini, the modern shrikhand, also employed strained curds, curstal sugar and spices.” [1, 35]
Konkani khaana is close related to Maharashtra’s, though distinctive in its own way. Tambli (bondi chutney) and Banana flower chutney are standouts. There is also Amlechi Uddamethi, which is a raw mango curry. Fish is an important component as well.
Though Madhur Jaffrey has posited it as “Haute Vegetarian Cuisine”, something that Rajasthanis and Vegetarian Punjabis will contest ipso facto, there is a distinct variety of dishes that come from this ancient commercial entrepot.
Arguably the most entrepreneurial region in India, this partially dry but mostly coastal state in India has given and taken influences throughout the millennia and developed its own style of foods too. Dhokla and Rotli are common markers of the Gujju menu (as is sweetness even in staples), and Daakor na ghota (spicy fried dumpling) is another gujarati item. Saboodana shakes are recent addition too. Namkeen is the notable western Indian snack specialty, one which Gujaratis raise to a high artform with various kinds of Chaat that reach their peak in heavily Gujarati Mumbai (sorry Thackerays, its true).
Rajasthan features many different varieties of food. Its vegetarianism is predominant, though not universal. It has produced many popular traditional items such as Baati (Rajasthani bread) and Bikaneri Pulao and Bhindi Jaipuri. Kalakand is considered a native Rajasthani mithai. Undhiu is undoubtedly a western Indian dish, but Rajasthan and Gujarat can fight over it.
And because regional jokes (when tasteful & clever) are the flavour of the month, here is one proffered by Marwaris themselves:
If you are born in a Marwari household, 30% of your body fluid is water and the remaining 70% is Ghee. My Blood Group is Ghee Positive.
Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, and Jharkhand all have their own flavours and cultures. MP itself prominently features two key regions: Malwa (ancient Avanti) and Bundelkhand (ancient Chedi). Jowar has traditionally been common in this part of the country. For the sake of article limitations, a few quick mentions will be made here, to be expanded upon at a later date:
Admittedly this is a very large region to cover, particularly if one includes now separate state Uttarakhand in the mix. Nevertheless, distinctions can be discussed in a different Post as there are some broad similarities in this core Gangetic region that has traditionally grouped them together (those hailing from this parts are welcome to give their thoughts via comments). Roti, barley, and even raagi are all in use. Baath (boiled rice), however, seems to be the core staple. “Boiled rice flour cakes were termed khir-aura, phara meant steamed rice balls, and phu-lauri was a steam-cooked roll of coarse flour.” [1,140]
As for Bihar in particular, a plump rice known as shaali was grown in ancient Magadha and was served to honoured guests. Sattu (flour of roasted pulses) is commonly used as are barley grits, combined with salt or sugar. Sattu as drink is considered the marquee beverage for biharis.
Other dishes include laai (parched rice), chiuri (parched barley), lawaa (parched maize), and lapsi (flour of any grain boiled in milk and sugar). As for desserts, various laddoos are favoured, such as fine-grained motichoor and sesame-seed tilkut.
Nepali cuisine shares much in common with Pahari food. The standard Nepali Thali is Dal-Bhaat (rice and dhaal). Dhido is a traditional wheat staple from Nepal made from water and grains like buckwheat.
Due to the long-running (and justifiable!) Odisha irritation with Bengal claiming Rasagolla (and Jayadeva!), we shall begin with the Land of the Lingaraja Temple and their unique cuisine. The Kalingas may have Konark and Kharavela, but the state famous for Swami Jagannath of Puri also packs a punch in the food department. Indeed, the origin of the Rasagolla is said to be Lord Vishnu’s way of saying sorry to Lakshmi Devi for his going on yatra without her granting leave (an abject lesson to all the non-divine husbands out there!).
Nevertheless, as in most other states, rice, wheat, and barley are all state staples. Pakhala (boiled rice covered with water and kept over night) is one item unique to Utkala.
And if you’re in the mood for something more casual, the state has plenty of snack foods to offer as well
The very mention of Bengal and Food may bring to mind not only “jal pushp”—better known to the rest of us as fish—but one of the most celebrated varieties of sweets on the subcontinent: Mishti-doi (sweet curds for dessert), malpua, khoa, Sitabhog, nadu, and of course, the state sweet, Sandesh. Another notable confectionary factoid: “Krishna Chandra Das invented the rasamalai, flattened chhaana patties floating in thickened milk”.[1,132]
These are just some of the scintillating sweetmeats and salivational (portmanteau) savouries south of the Siliguri. These confections are well-known to most Indians, though some are the subject to squabbles (such as the now confirmed Odia claim to Rasagollaalready mentioned). In any event, there are other aspects that merit mention as well.
There are two distinct styles: East and West Bengali. East Bengali is low on dhaal and high on fish, while the West is known for use of poppy seeds (posto). [1,129]
Barley’s importance in the Vedic period is preserved in modern Bengali cuisine.
It was fried and consumed in the form of cakes dipped in ghee, or as sweet cakes called apupa fashioned out of the flour, boiled in water or fried in ghee, and then dipped in honey. The modern Bengali sweets pua and malpua preserve both the name and the essen-tials of this prepartion. [1, 33]
Rice is a big part of the Bengali diet, with a medieval text (Shunya Purana) stating there were 50 varieties grown in Bengal. [1,128]
The Seven Sisters of the Northeast have their own offerings of civilizational savouries to offer, starting with Assam (The other sisters being Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya & Arunachal Pradesh—though we can include Sikkim so no one is left out).
While distinct dishes exist in the various cuisines here, pork is common throughout. Rice is the staple for the most part and fish very popular. Given the diversity of offerings, they are best treated in a separate piece.
The good people of Sinhala are very much Indic in blood and culture, and so, their food also deserves a mention here.
While rice is also a staple, the island of Ceylon features many heavy influences, notably South Indian, Indonesian, and European. Seafood is obviously a key component. Some unique dishes include Pittu (cylinders of steamed rice mixed with coconut) and kokis (coconut biscuits).
With a taste that will make you say “Jai Jhulelal!” even when it’s not Chetichand, Dal Pakhwan is one of the most beloved breakfasts in India. Rice is obviously a staple of Sindhi food, but flat-breads such as roti and koki are also common.
Hilsa fish curry is a signature dish and Thadal is a signature beverage. Sanha pakoras and chola dhabal are other notable food items. There is also a special Sindhi Papad that is well-known among most Indic gourmets.
Last but certainly not least is the Land of the Five Rivers (surely, Punjabi mundian aur kudian, you didn’t think we’d forget you?!)
Punjabi khaana deserves a separate article (or series!) of its own. Along with the putative trend of Punjabification throughout India since the 90s (some would say for better or for worse), Apna Punjab has been at the forefront of marketing Indian Culture. But while Bollywood, Bhangra dance, and Punjabi Pop music can be discussed at another time, Punjabi food is very much a topic for the present. In fact, as recent research has determined (and as many Indians have long suspected), much of much-vaunted “Mughlai cuisine” is in fact from Apna Punjab originally. One Professor from the University of California Los Angeles wrote that:
“There are a hundred different cuisines all over the country, each claiming to be the best in the country, if not the world, yet two styles have become popular among visitors to most major cities and towns countrywide: Mughlai, which is vegetar-ian and nonvegetarian, largely Punjabi, with a somewhat liberal use of ghee (clarified butter) and the use of a tandoor (an oven usually implanted in the ground), and South Indian vegetarian cuisine, which is somewhat less oily but spicier.” [8, 6-7]
Rich in butter, such favourites as mattar paneer, murgh makhani, and makkhi roti all hail from the Pancha-naada. As such, perhaps the time has come to give credit where credit is due. Surely kheema and and haleem are not native, but paneer, paratha, bhatoora, tandoori, along with that Punjabi favourite, Lassi, definitely are. In fact, the most ancient tandoor to date dates back to it.
The word Paneer (like the word Kalamkari) may have foreign word origins, but both are very much native Indic and very ancient. Whether it was common throughout ancient India or not, it has certainly come to refer to the Punjabi farmer’s cheese that is beloved by vegetarians the world over, and certainly within Bharat.
Perhaps most interesting is the question of whether the conventional wisdom itself has things correct. Is a paradigm shift required on recently ascribed beliefs regarding the origins of many Indianised foods? One example is the kebab. Noted Indian food authority K.T. Achaya writes:
Meat roasted on a spit (shula) is graphically described in the Mahabharata…and in south Indian literature…The modern kabab has therefore a long history in India [1,101-102]
As seen above, whether it is crediting for biryani or for falooda, the truth matters more to us than any nationalistic claim. And yet, as we have seen with the idli, appropriation has been the frequent aim of Non-Indian Residents (NIRs). Is the kebab actually bhaditraka as one Oxford press pustakam prescribes?—or is it qualitatively something else? The time has come for Food Historians (and Tandoori Nationalists) to do serious research into these issues. Contrary to “yeverything kayme from mughals” types, Ancient Indian Culinary texts do exist (much to their dismay, no doubt). But it is equally important to carefully study claims (whether pro or anti) so that the authentic is revived from the quagmire of the syncretic. The best way to appreciate other cultures is to first appreciate your own—that is true cosmopolitanism.
Are chillies and tomatoes and potatoes all foreign origin? Evidence would suggest that chillies may not be (it was known to Purandara Dasa [1,227]), tomatoes likely are, and potatoes almost definitely so. In fact, in the Andhra-bhasha, potatoes are referred to as bangal-dhumpa (or Bengali rhizome) indicating their arrival via British-ruled Bengal. Nevertheless, the very likely foreign origin Aloo has certainly been indianised over the years. Yams were likely the native precursors to it. And what about that modern favourite, Samosa? Sorry folks, evidence points to the mid-east. But that being said, Pakoda, Bhajji, and Bhelpuri are all Bharatiya…pakka.
Nevertheless, appropriation of all things Indian under the neo-construct of “Mughlai” is well known. One can see here that malpua, phirni, and pulao (all Classical Indic classics) are being appropriated under the “mughlai” label. This doesn’t mean going the other way and not acknowledging obvious imports (falooda, jalebi/zlabia, biryani), but it does mean intelligent and discrete people must start asserting rightful claims over their state’s cuisine culture. Odias have shown the way with rasagolla.
All Indians, vegetarian and non-vegetarian, should come together to preserve their ancient claims to pulao, tandoori, and a litany of other culinary contributions to world cuisine. Just because some foreign or foreign-sponsored professor wrote a food book, doesn’t mean everything in it is true. Appreciate what is native, acknowledge what is foreign, and reserve judgment on what we genuinely don’t know. That is the proper path not only for wise people, but connoisseurs of all kinds—culinary or otherwise.
Since others are trying to serve us humble pie on a platter, let us show them our capacity for good digestion. So rather than say bon appetit, we sign off with that signature line from that sacred Saptarishi Agasthya Mahamuni: Jeernam vaatapi, vaataapi jeernam.
Annam means food. According to Hindu scriptures, annam is a form of Brahman (annam parabrahma swaroopam). Hindu… http://t.co/MkphQ9q6xK
The Great King Suchi of MagadhaHis calendar was a royal mess
because the equinoxes precessuntil he learned 'the lore of time' from Sage Lagadha.
Jyotihsastra is the ancient Indian ‘science of light’ . It includes within it the field of astronomy, which was known as Nakshatra Vidya (the science of the stars). Jyotihsastra is used fordik-desa-kala nirnaya (triprasna), i.e. to determine (direction, location, time) . The Vedanga Jyotisha is an ancient text focused on Jyotisha, one of the six Vedangas. The Vedic texts, including the Upavedas and Vedangas, are harmoniously interlinked into an integrally united knowledge system. No one part of this system can be properly understood through an isolated study . A key purpose of the Vedas is the performance of Yagnas correctly and on time. Time-keeping is the goal of Vedanga Jyotisha.
We resume our study of Ganitasastra at ICP through an inquiry into Jyotihsastra. This post is not an exhaustive restatement of facts. Instead, we try to understand the motivation and intuition behind the Ganita features of Vedanga Jyotisha (VJ). The Shulbasutras, which are part of the Kalpa Vedanga are also rich in Ganita, and will be discussed separately.
College students asked a professor 'Sir, what is time?' who replied "I can tell you what is the time, but I cannot tell you what is time".
VJ is the earliest extant Indic work on time-keeping in the form of a handbook that is devoted to Kalavidhanasastra, the science of time-keeping. It provides the calculations associated with a lunisolar calendar derived from the Brahmanas and the Vedic Samhitas. VJ is not a self-contained treatise and any missing definitions, unstated assumptions, etc., are to be inferred from prior Indic sources and commentaries .
Vedanga Jyotisha has absolutely nothing to do with Phalita Jyotisha or Astrology .
The VJ was compiled around 1350 BCE (between 1150-1550 BCE) and is attributed in its verse to Lagadha, and key ideas in the VJ have been shown to belong to the Vedic texts and derived from earlier periods. VJ is in verse form while the other 5 Vedangas (Nirukta, Chandas, Kalpa, Vyakarana, & Siksha) are in Sutras indicating that it is the earliest of the six . VJ was neither the first nor the last word in Indic time-keeping and astronomy as the Indians continued to make pioneering contributions to Ganita and Jyotihsastra over three millennia. These techniques enabled the Indics to produce a stable working calendar that could be employed for diverse purposes, and was sought after by the rest the world. The ancient Indic calendar traveled to China, and many other places .
VJ is available in the form of two ‘rescensions’ denoted as Rigveda Jyotisha (Arca Jyotisha, RVJ, 36 verses, earlier version) and Yajurveda Jyotisha (Yajusa Jyotisha, YVJ, 43 verses), which significantly overlap. Deciphering these rescensions turned out to be a challenging task. This effort started in the 1830s, culminating in the authoritative work of Prof. Kuppanna Sastry  in the 1980s who succeeded in meaningfully explaining all verses. Virtually every contemporary study of VJ cites his scholarship.
We will devote considerable space discussing the unbroken traditions of astronomy and time-keeping that preceded Vedanga Jyotisha.
The Indic approach to discovery quite naturally arises from Rta, the cosmic order that is an expression of Satya, the ultimate reality. This cosmic order is experienced at every level from the microcosm to macrocosm. Time is sacred in this cosmology, and we have the kalachakra representing cyclic time, and it is intuitive that elapsed time can be tracked using precisely recurring rhythms of different durations that abound in nature. 18th century British scientist John Playfair who studied Hindu time-keeping in a manuscript obtained from Thailand, wrote an extensive treatise and was amazed by the Indic conception of cyclical nature . He made several other important observations, which can be found within the cited references.
The second is the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium 133 atom.
- Physical Measurement Lab at NIST
Our solar system is quite flat, and hence the moon and most of the planets are located in a narrow region around the ecliptic, the apparent path of the sun in the sky during the day. This is really convenient for observation since it eliminates the need to focus on the innumerable luminaries that are away from the ecliptic. The moon’s path is within 5% of the ecliptic. The Ancient Indics kept time based on the periodicity of the (apparent) motion of the sun and the real motion of the moon. The study of planetary movements was not necessary to achieve this goal and does not concern VJ.
Careful observation was a critical component of Vedic astronomy and this became the hallmark of the Indic approach to discovery and obtaining valid knowledge in general, where all schools of dharma unanimously accept PratyakshaPramana . From the perspective of accurate time-keeping required for Yagnas, kalavidhanasastra is a pratyaksha sastra , and is not deduced from a ‘black box’ math model.
By the early Rig Vedic period, one or more calendars were already in use for managing day to day activities. Time-keeping is critical for agricultural planning, e.g. to coordinate activities associated with the beginning and end of seasons, and continues to be important to the Indian economy .
The earth's equatorial plane is tilted at an angle of 23.5° with respect to the ecliptic plane. This results in varying seasons and daylight hours.
The Vedic people knew about the solstices and employed a six-season calendar which is special to India (it included a rainy season: VarshaRtu with months Nabha and Nabhasya). Obviously, the ability to accurately predict the arrival date of monsoons has always had significant economic value in India. The twelve tropical months along with their seasons in the Yajurveda are :
Madhu, Maadhava in vasanta (spring),
Sukra, Suci in greeshma (summer),
Nabha, Nabhasya in varshaa (rainy),
Isa, Urja in sarada (autumn),
Saha, Sahasya in hemanta (winter), and
Tapa, Tapasya in sishira (freezing).
In 2004, agricultural operations were mistimed in India. Why? The monsoon was officially considered 'delayed' in the government calendar. In reality, it arrived on time per the traditional Indic calendar .
The trinity of adhidaiva, adhibhuta, and adhyatma are integrally united via Bandhus in the Vedic knowledge system [2, 9]. There exists a deep and ancient connection between Yagna (‘ the workshop where Bandhus are forged between the microcosm and macrocosm’ ) and time-keeping. Knowledge of the luminary phases was used to ensure that the monthly (Darshapuranamaasa) and seasonal (Chaturmasya) Yagnas were performed at the correct times . The Atri family priests had the knowledge required to predict solar eclipses. By the time of the Yajurveda, the Hindus knew that a solar year was slightly more than 365 days. And importantly from a VJ perspective, a five year Yuga was already known, along with the need for two intercalary months to complete a Yuga .
pic source. By careful and patient daily observation of the sun at the same time in the sky, one can find out when the solstices occur (‘when the sun stands still’).
Prajapati as Time
Prajapati the creator is central to Vedic tradition. In his book ‘Being Different’, Rajiv Malhotra quotes the Rig Veda: “yajna is the very navel of the universe. It was Lord Prajapati who first fashioned yajna, and through it he wove into one fabric the warp and weft of the three worlds (Rig Veda I,164,33-35).” . Prajapati creates and embodies a self-sustainable, self-correcting universe using the correspondence principle of bandhuta to achieve a balance between homogeneity and heterogeneity . Prajapati is time, the very creator of the Vedas, signifying that the knowledge within the Vedas has no beginning or end . He is Rta, the cosmic rhythm moving in a spiral, which indicates the Kalachakra, cyclical time .
Prajapati and Yagna are central to Vedanga Jyotisha, and receive the first respects in the starting verses of the VJ. The natural periodic events such as seasons, days, etc. are the five limbs of Prajapati, who personifies and presides over the five-year Yuga . The separated faculties and limbs of Prajapati unite to form the infinite diversity of the universe, and the Yagna becomes a time-design to unite this multiplicity and continue the cosmic rhythm . This five year Yuga is mirrored in Yagna through the constructed five-layered Agnicayana altar . The Aahavaniya altar is built using 396 bricks that represent the days of the year: 360 to represent the Vedic ritual year and an additional 36 to represent the thirteenth (intercalary) month . Many such bandhus arise through Yagnas . The five-year Yuga is also a feature of Jain astronomy .
VJ states that those who correctly understand the effect of time on movements of the luminaries in the sky can fully grasp the impact of the Yagnas. One who truly understands the Vedas and Vedanga Jyotisha can experience transcendental bliss. These verses underline the integral unity  of the outer-material and inner-spiritual realms. We can see this dharmic concept re-asserted two thousand years later in the initial verses of Aryabhatiya, and more recently in Ramanujan’s approach as well.
The Indics were more than pattern seeking enthusiasts; they sought within patterns the deepest unity underlying nature’s diversity, and from this emerged the Yuga. Yaga, Yoga, and Yuga (or the 3 Ys, with apologies to Modi ji) – all have a root meaning ‘to unite’. In , Prof Subhash Kak notes: “the ancient Indian calendar is an attempt to harmonize the motions of the Sun and the Moon…. Yoga may be seen as the harmonization of the motions of the inner planets of the body. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra speaks of how meditation on the Sun reveals the nature of the world-system and meditation on the Moon and the Polestar reveals the arrangement and the motion of the planets and the stars. Such assertions imply that turning inward can provide insights.”.
Nakshatras in Vedic Tradition
Since the most ancient time, Hindu astronomy adopted the sidereal system. This was done implicitly using Nakshatras (stars or asterisms) in the Vedic period, and explicitly in the VJ, as well shall see later . The Vedics used 27 Nakshatras in the vicinity of the ecliptic to track the lunar passage where the moon takes 27.32 days to return to a fixed reference point (sidereal lunar month). To identify the Nakshatra location of the sun, a heliacal rising and setting of a Nakshatra seems to have been employed, i.e., a Nakshatra may be visible near the horizon just before sunrise or sunset. Texts point to a multi-disciplinary approach to Jyotisha employing a Nakshatra Darsha (expert observer/astronomer) and Ganaka (a calculation expert). The term ‘Nakshatra Vidya’ is mentioned in the Chandogya Upanishad .
Mentions of Nakshatra observations in ancient texts are useful because they allow us to date these events using the earth’s precession rate. For example, Kuppanna Sastry quotes the Satapatha Brahman, mentioning that ‘the asterismal group Kritika never swerve from the east while others do’, which was also confirmed by the commentator Sayana. This yields a date of around 3000 BCE. Independent studies using modern astronomical simulation software and mathematical calculations (statistical best-fit models) indicate that the Nakshatras were closest to the path of the moon around 3000 BCE . Subhash Kak has written extensively on the astronomical codes embedded within the Vedas .
It is clear that long before Vedanga Jyotisha, there was significant progress in time-keeping. It confirms the epistemological continuity in Indic sciences, including Astronomy and Ganitasince the most ancient of times .
Epistemological continuity is also evident in other India's diverse traditions including art, music, dance, etc.
These prior developments are the foundation on which VJ’s calendar stands. Let us see how VJ improves upon the prior work.
Vedanga Jyotisha’s Methods
VJ introduced an analytical time-tracking (deterministic) framework that works in tandem with astronomical observations of the real, uncertain world. Hence VJ’s Ganita calculates the timings of lunar and solar events, while alsoretaining and working in sync with the traditional pratyaksha sastra. The Ganaka can make predictions, and the Nakshatra Darsa can visually confirm the degree of accuracy of these estimates, and corrections effected as needed. The diagram below illustrates how the VJ methodology can be useful in taking the science of time-keeping forward and provide increasingly accurate answers to triprasna.
Contemporary time-keeping adopts a similar approach. The atomic clock serves as an unnaturally perfect model for daily usage, but is corrected by nature. Without the latter, the model-based time would very slowly but surely drift away from reality.
The most recent leap second was added on December 31, 2016.
Nakshatra-sector Coordinate system (NCS)
Nakshatras (as stars or star groups) have been an integral part of Indic culture and some of them serve as exemplars. Dhruva (a northern pole star) and the Vashishta-Arundati (Mizar-Alcor) pair are good examples.
Prior to the VJ, the Nakshatras were used to denote visible stars or constellations (27 or 28 in number) dotting the moon’s path. Hence, it was limited by visibility. Furthermore, these Nakshatras served as approximately fixed positions for time-keeping but were not truly invariant due to earth’s precession (‘precession of the equinoxes’). The designated pole star, for example, changes over time and cycles every 25,920 years (about a 1° shift every 71.6 years).
The Ancient Indics must have been aware of the impact of earth’s precession on the Nakshatra locations because, by the time of the VJ, the nakshatra-sectors were taken as 27 equal sections of the ecliptic (about 13.3° wide) rather than specific stars or asterisms in the background . This change yields multiple benefits.
The NCS is an invariant and uniquely Indic coordinate system that comes with a clearly specified origin (zero-point) that gives us a fixed starting coordinate. It is unaffected by the earth’s precession. The NCS resembles the modern-day ecliptic coordinate system calculation of the celestial longitude (since the moon’s path is very close to the ecliptic, tracking longitude was practically sufficient) .
The NCS represents a virtualized analytical framework that allows the time-keepers to algorithmically enumerate the ecliptic sector locations of all the full and new moons in a Yuga, aswell as the position of the sun. This was not possible in prior Vedic traditions since theirs was a purely physical coordinate system indentified by stars and asterisms along the moon’s path. This VJ system is free of visibility issues . The VJ specifies a coordinate system using an ingenious ‘Jāvādiarrangement‘. Of course, pratyaksha continues to guide accurate time-keeping.
This NCS helps us carry out the VJ calculations unambiguously.
The VJ Yuga is a time cycle of 5 years of 366 days each. A five year Yuga was already present in Vedic tradition. The Yuga is an integral unit of time-keeping in the Vedanga Jyotisha and all calculations are given based on this Yuga and the NCS. VJ assumes 12 synodic months in a synodic year plus two intercalary months (adhimasa or adhikamasa) over a Yuga to harmonize the lunar and solar calendars, giving us a total of 62 synodic months in a Yuga. The VJ specifically includes the adhimasa as synodic months #31 and #62 of the Yuga.
A VJ Yuga is completed when the sun and moon are observed to return to the pre-specified origin region of the NCS. This is the key definition in the VJ. Here is Sri Kuppanna Sastry’s description :
In other words, the Yuga begins when the Sun and the Moon are observed together in the Sravistha Nakshatra sector of the ecliptic .
The Parameters of a Yuga (YVJ)
Tracking the movements of spherical objects rotating and revolving around other moving spherical objects can be tricky. Here is a ‘coin rolling on a coin’ puzzle, where the inner circle serves as a fixed frame of reference. If the inner circle also rotates, then the answer is relative to the chosen frame of reference.
Earth-Sun System (days and years)
Saavana durations represent the time of the (apparent) motion of the sun relative to the earth as the frame of reference. Each saavana year in VJ lasts 366 days, giving a total of 1830 civil days in a Yuga. In reality, this frame of reference is itself slowly revolving around the sun in the same direction, and therefore saavana calculations ignore the resultant additional earth rotation (one per year). Sidereal periods are calculated with respect to a fixed reference point (e.g. distant star). The sidereal year includes this ‘missing’ rotation, giving us 367*5 = 1835 sidereal days in a Yuga. VJ’s Nakshatra Darshas would’ve observed 1835 risings of a Nakshatra (an invariant ecliptic sector) in a Yuga.
Earth-Moon System (months and fortnights)
The moon is ‘tidally locked‘ to the earth. The actual time the moon takes to go round the earth (sidereal lunar month) is the time it takes to complete a full rotation around its own axis. So one side of the moon always faces us as if it never rotates, and we never get to see the mysterious far side of the moon (photographed for the first time in 1959).
"And if the dam breaks open many years too soon And if there is no room upon the hill And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too I'll see you on the dark side of the moon". - Pink Floyd.
Let us calculate the number of moon rises and the number of sidereal lunar months in a Yuga.This visible side of the moon will be partially or fully observable on all sidereal days except the new moon days, of which there are 62 (one per synodic month). This gives us 1835-62 = 1768 moonrises in a Yuga, and 1830/1768 saavana days per moon rise on average.
Similar to the earth-sun system, the earth-moon system also yields an extra rotation per year depending on the frame of reference. Due to the earth’s revolution, the moon takes a couple of days extra to complete the synodic month (~29.53 days) relative to the earth. There will be 62+5 = 67 sidereal lunar months in a Yuga.
Since there are 27 sectors of the ecliptic, the moon visits 67*27 = 1809 Nakshatra sectors in a Yuga. Therefore, the moon traverses one sector in 1830/1809 = (1 and 7/603) Saavana days. The sun apparently visits 27*5 = 135 Nakshatra sectors, spending 13 and 5/9 days in a sector.
We now examine some of the larger units used in the VJ to keep time.
Larger Time Units
Saavana day: measured from sunrise to sunrise. The VJ takes the civil year to be 366 days long. Each day is divided into 124 Bhaagas (day-parts). 31 parts make a pada.
Tithi: This is a fundamental unit of the VJ equal to (1/30) of a synodic month. Hence a lunar month lasts 30 tithis, and the VJ assumes 360 tithis or 12 synodic months in a year in harmony with Vedic tradition. Thus, a Yuga has 1860 tithis and 1830 saavana days. From this, we can calculate the VJ mean value for a tithi = 1830/1860 or 61/62 of a day. The duration of a tithi depends on the moon’s orbit and is a variable quantity (+/- 15% the mean value), with the tithi at sunrise representing a day’s tithi . Sometimes, the same tithi can mark two successive sunrises or a tithi can be lost between two sunrises. Tithi was already used in prior traditions. In the Rig Veda, atithi is a guest – one who arrives without a tithi, i.e. without prior notice .
A tithi can go AWOLIt can be a really close callAll ye star-crossed suitors bewareDate your Nakshatras with care!
Given the diversity of India, its calendars are also diverse. Reckoning dates for dharmic events can be tricky even in 2017. This informative subtitled video asks ‘When is Ugadi?’. Yugadi ~ start of a new yuga (new year), Hevilambi, per current Hindu lunisolar calendars.
Rtu (season): Its duration is 62 tithis long, and therefore a Yuga will have 30 rtus, and 6 rtus a year. An important and unique feature of the Indian calendar is the use of six seasons including the all-important rainy season, the most celebrated and joyous of all rtus. The monsoons are governed by the annual wind patterns influenced by the Coriolis force . The first rtu of the Yuga is Sishira rtu (winter).
The VJ also specifies the duration of rtu using the NCS (4 and 1/2 Nakshatra sectors per Rtu). Knowing the start date of a rtu is also important because of the Chaturmasya rite that has to be performed.
Ayana (solstice): Ayanas divide the sidereal year into two halves. There are 10 ayanas in a Yuga.
Paksha: half a synodic month, equal to 15 tithis. The bright half is the Shukla Paksha and the dark half is the Krishna Paksha. A Yuga has 62 Shukla and 62 Krishna Pakshas.
Parva: The Yuga is divided into 124 Parvas. Therefore it is equal in duration to a Paksha. The Parva Raashi (R) is the accumulated heap of Parvas since the start of a Yuga and is quantified as follows : R = 2(12(y-1)+m) + p + K,
where y = current year of the Yuga, m = elapsed months in the current year, p is the elapsed parvas in the current month, K is an conditional correction factor (2 per 60 elapsed parvas) to adjust for intercalation.
Visuva (Equinoxes): The day when the sun apparently starts to move south or north and they occur at the mid points of each of the 10 Ayanas in a Yuga.
The interval between two successive Visuvas will be 124/10 Parvas = 12 Parvas and 6 Tithis. Hence the time elapsed in a Yuga until the N-th Equinox can be obtained by multiplying this inter-Visuva number by (N-1) and simplifying.
Bhaamsa (Amsa): To track the position of the sun and moon, every ecliptic sector is also divided into 124 equal Bhaamsas, mirroring the Parva time division of the Yuga. Hence, there are 27*124 Bhaamsas that spans the 360°. The Bhaamsa after p parvas is the remainder obtained after dividing 11p/124 . The VJ rescensions state an equivalent conditional and arithmetic rule that anyone can use, similar to the previous expression for parva raashi R.
Kalaa: A day is divided into 603 parts. This number is chosen so that the time taken by the moon to traverse one of the 27 nakshatra sectors (1 and 7/603 days) = 610 Kalaas, a whole number.
VJ gives many ingenious algorithms (abhiyukti) to keep track of the number of Parva, Bhaamsa, Paksha, etc. that have passed since the start of the Yuga. The interested reader is referred to Prof. Kuppanna Sastry’s work.
Intra-day Units of Time Keeping
Researchers point to 4 different kinds of times tracked by VJ  apart from the cosmic time. We point these out while listing the different time-keeping units.
Akshara (2 Maatraa) ~ 0.57 seconds. Time taken to pronounce a long vowel. This time-unit is interesting and suggests the existence of a long and well-established oral tradition.
Kaastaa (5 Aksharas) ~ 1.15 seconds.
Kalaa revisited (124 Kaastaas) ~ 2 minutes, 23 seconds. Kalaa establishes a link between the rate of speech to the average rate of lunar motion.
Naadika (10.05 Kalaas) ~ 24 minutes. Mechanically-kept time using a water clock. Passages in the Vedas  suggest the use of a particular water clock of the ‘overflowing type’.
Muhurta (2 Naadikas) ~ 48 minutes. Solar time based on the Sun’s apparent motion. Amazingly, the ancient muhurta measure has been preserved and passed through several generations and is used in India the exact same way, to this day.
Length of local daylight time in Muhurtas = (12 + 2N/61), where N is the number of days after the winter solstice. Since there are 183 days in an Ayana, the maximum increase is 6 Muhurtas. Using this, the ratio of the longest to shortest day is 18/12 = 3:2. This number depends on the latitude, and therefore helps us identify the source location of VJ.
Ahoratra (30 Muhurtas) ~ ‘day and night’, or 24 hours.
Bhaaga: The local time given in 124-th parts of a day starting from sunrise. Thus we see three divisions of ‘124’ in the VJ: Parvas in a Yuga, Bhaamsas in a Nakshatra sector, and Bhaagas of a day.
Note how a speech rate is linked to lunar time, then to mechanical time, and solar time. These physical temporal cycles of varying durations are ultimately united with the cyclical cosmic time through periodic Yagna performed at the right times.
The VJ approach to specifying numerical constants is pretty elegant. The high-level parameters, which are fewer in number, are enumerated. For the myriad of lower level constants that proceed down to the intra-day level, it cleverly specifies algorithms based on a linear estimate (mean motion), using rules derived from modulo arithmetic. By specifying any three independent parameters of a Yuga, all other Yuga parameters can be calculated as derived values . YVJ rescension’s second verse is famous for asserting the position of Ganita as the pinnacle of sciences .
VJ’s methods demonstrate ancient Indic abhiyukti. They do not provide a proof of correctness, but are to be validated by pramana. When a Ganaka’s analytically predicted quantity is in conflict with observation (pratyaksha), it is the model result that is discarded, and this also forces the model to improve.
Rule of Three: Linear Estimate
The VJ uses mean motion (average rate) as a first-order approximation within its calculations using the “rule of three“.
For example: Suppose we have a known average increment for a quantity ΔQ over a time period Δt, we can calculate an average rate of change = ΔQ/Δt. What will be the accumulated value of Q after T time units? A linear estimate will simply multiply this rate by time to obtain Q = (ΔQ/Δt)*T. The VJ states the rule of three in verse, so that it can be used repeatedly as a subroutine: calculate an average rate and multiply the increment by this rate to generate the desired output.
The VJ works with periodic quantities that get reset to 0 after reaching a maximum value. Doing calculations with such quantities requires expertise with modular arithmetic. 3000+ years before Gauss introduced formal modular arithmetic in 1801, the Hindus were actively applying modular arithmetic for calculating a variety of elapsed and remaining time values and the positions of the full and new moons over a Yuga.
The Javadi arrangement is an important contribution from a Ganita and VJ calendar perspective. It represents a virtualized (independent of stars in the background) invariant ecliptic coordinate system with a zero point taken as the new moon near the Winter Solstice, which is tied to the start of a Yuga . Javadi~ Jau Adi, i.e., arrangement of Nakshatras starting from Jau (Ashvayujau) . The position of the sun and new/full moon can be located unambiguously by the Javadi name of the Nakshatra sector and Bhaamsa within that sector. The table exhibits compact data organization and a circular ordering of the NCS data so that Sravistha represents Nakshatra sector 0 (or 27).
From the Yuga parameters and the NCS, the ‘distance’ between successive full (new) moons can be calculated as follows:
The moon passes through 1809 Nakshatra sectors in a Yuga. There are 62 full moons and 124 pakshas in a Yuga. There, the distance between two full moons is 1809/62 = 29 and 22/124 Nakshatra sectors, and a paksha length is half this value (14 and 73/124). By partitioning a sector into 124 bhaamsas, we obtain a simple (sector, bhaamsa) coordinate system using the original Vedic ordering of Nakshatras = (N_original, B) of new and full moons, where N_original and B are whole numbers.
The ganita properties of the full and new moon’s bhaamsas are interesting and we did not find much discussion on this, so we make an attempt here. A brief ganita description is in the appendix at the end of the post. Let us start from a new moon at bhaamsa B(0) = 0, and add 73 bhaamsas to obtain B(1) = 73 for the first full moon, and further 73 bhaamsas to get the bhaamsa B(2) of the second new moon, and so on. We can observe the following patterns:
The full or new moon will be wandering around, visiting each and every bhaamsa number exactly once. A full or new moon will never be seen twice in the exact same location (bhaamsa) of the ecliptic within a Yuga. When it does so at bhaamsa 0 in the Sravistha sector, the Yuga is reborn (reminiscent of Kolam patterns).
The 62 full moons of a Yuga occur at odd numbered bhaamsas, and new moons at even bhaamsas (if we start the Yuga at bhaamsa zero). At the full moons, the Sun’s coordinates will be 13.5 Nakshatras apart, i.e 13 sectors and 62 bhaamsas away.
The nakshatra sector and bhaamsa are themselves linked, so if you specify just the bhaamsa, you can obtain the corresponding N_original value:
N_original = 5B mod 27
N_original is remainder we get when we divide 5 times its bhaamsa by 27.
Of course, one can also calculate the N_original values directly as an independent check in case the input bhaamsa values are off. The VJ authors next transform the original Nakshatra sector list into the Javadi arrangement. It simplifies the required Ganita a bit (B instead of 5B).
The Nakshatra sector numbers can be transformed into a certain Javadi arrangement (N_original→N) using the following equation:
N = 11 N_original mod 27
Successive (original) Nakshatra sectors are 11 sectors apart in the Javadi arrangement. Conversely, successive sectors in the Javadi arrangement are 5 sectors apart in the original table. The Javadi arrangement starts from Ashvini and the final list is shown below . The Sanskrit verse form of the Javadi representation is depicted at the top of this post.
Bhaamsa Generation Algorithm
This transformed N is related to B in this Javadi arrangement through a simpler modular equation compared to N_original. The (N, B) Javadi coordinates for all full and new moons of a Yuga can be iteratively generated (see appendix) and are shown in the plot below (X-axis = Javadi nakshatra sector indices, Y-axis = bhaamsa numbers). These coordinates would repeat every Yuga.
The first full moon in a Yuga is at B = 73, which gives us a remainder N = 19 when divided by 27⇒ coordinates (19, 73). Therefore, the full moon occurs in the Magha sector per the Javadi table. The next full moon will be at bhaamsa B = 73+22 = 95. Applying N = 95 mod 27 ⇒ N = 14, i.e. Uttaraphalguni (14, 95). Multiple full moons (2 or 3) can fall in the same Nakshatra sector, but always at different bhaamsas. For example, the next and only other full moon (38-th) in the Magha sector will occur when B = (73-54) = 19. The two full moons that occur in Magha are circled in light-blue in the above picture. Note that the 3 new moons along the Y-axis at Sravistha (X = 0) are at least 54 bhaamsas (about 5.8°) apart.
Ecliptical Coordinate System
The (N, B) from Javadi are equivalent to an ecliptic longitude. These results have been compared with those generated using the modern ecliptic coordinate system, and they are quite close . Tracking the bhaamsas empirically is important and this can be done mechanically using a water clock. The Javadi table is deterministic and assumes fixed synodic month duration , so that every Yuga starts at coordinates (0, 0). This is not so in reality, and in the next section, we can see the maximum error that is possible. Since the origin is shifted, so will the calculation for every successive full moon. While the full moons may occur in the same Nakshatra sector, the bhaamsas will be off unless the origin-shift is accounted for. The Javadi table can be used as an approximate framework/guide for the Yagna calendar and supplemented with direct observation.
We have only discussed only a few of the high-level VJ calculations. For a detailed discussion, refer to .
Accuracy of some VJ calculations
VJ Value = 61/62 of a saavana day.
Modern estimate of an average synodic month ~ 29.5306 days
Modern value of tithi ~ (29.5306 * 12)/360 ~ 354.367/360
Absolute Error = |354.367/360 – 61/62| < 0.05%
A Yuga has 1860 tithis, so accumulated error ~ 0.896, or less than a tithi per Yuga .
Mean Moonrise Rate
VJ value = 1830/1768 ~ 24 Hours 50.4864 minutes , i.e., the moon rises about 50.4 minutes later every day. This agrees with the modern average moonrise value really well.
Start time of a Yuga
The new moon at the start of a new Yuga may not be exactly at bhaamsa 0 of the Sravistha sector. It has been shown that up to 46 bhaamsas error can accumulate over a period of 500 years . Since the moon traverses a Nakshatra sector (124 bhaamsas) in 610/603 saavana days, using the rule of three, we find that the moon traverses 46 bhaamsas in 9 hours. This is less than the minimum gap (54 bhaamsas) between successive full or new moons in the same Nakshatra sector. The maximum possible cumulative error in the start time of a Yuga after 100 Yugas is 9 hours .
Yuga: Self-Organizing System
In general, the VJ seems to be relatively more accurate while calculating lunar periods compared to solar periods . Over the next two millennium, the Hindu lunisolar calendars were significantly upgraded. The Ancient Indics were aware of the uncertainty in the true motions of the sun, earth, and moon, and the need for corrections. The Indian comfort with uncertainty  is perhaps reflected in the fact that the civil calendar was deliberately set up as a simple, convenient, and approximate framework for the astronomical (Yagna) calendar. The discrepancy between the arithmetic and astronomical calendar can be fixed using an intercalary day at the end of the Yuga . They also synchronized the sidereal and tropical year using appropriate corrections. Beyond these basic corrections, the lunar-solar year gap can accumulate over Yugas. It has been discovered by researchers [1, 3, 6] that the properties of the VJ Yuga yields a self-correcting system that automatically cancels out these errors.
Five tropical years at 1350 BCE = 5*365.1734 ~ 1825.9 days
Duration of a Yuga = 62 * 29.5306 ~1830.9 days
Difference ~ −5 days per Yuga or roughly one extra day per tropical year.
If this discrepancy is allowed to accumulate over 6 Yugas (sometimes 7), the total gap will be approximately a synodic month. A Nakshatra Darsha doesn’t even need to know the Ganita behind this. He/she simply sees the sun and moon together in the Sravistha sector to signal a new Yuga. The unnecessary intercalary month 61 is automatically skipped, which resets the accumulated error.
Some corrections were made by observation of the moon phase. At the new moon the moon rises and sets with the sun. If the moon rises just after sunrise, it indicates a time near new moon. Such observations enabled the Vedics to develop the rules required for an accurate timing of the Yagnas since certain Yagna performers would incur a penalty if they erred in the timing . Thus Vedic Yagna is the creative driving force that inspires this self-correcting calendar. A self-harmonizing Yuga seems natural in Prajapathi’s self-organizing universe.
Date and Source of VJ
Embedded within VJ’s verses is an astronomical date-stamp about Sravistha. If α-delphini is taken as the Yogatara (principal star) of Sravistha, then between 1550 BCE and 1150 BCE, the nakshatra Sravistha and the sun would have been close at the winter solstice, i.e., the Nakshatra rises and sets heliacally at the winter solstice, and this is not possible for dates outside this period . If a certain other star other than α-delphini is chosen as the Yogatara, the date gets pushed back beyond 1800 BCE . Kuppanna Sastry’s ganita calculations using the earth’s precession rate, and based on the observation of the VJ author that the winter solstice was at the start of the Sravistha segment, yields dates in the range [1150, 1400] BCE. Statistical analysis of the Nakshatra system shows that a maximal proportion (80%) of the Yogataras occupy their respective Nakshatra sectors in [1300 +/-300] BCE, indicating the finalization of the NCS during this period . From , we find mention of a date of 1255 BCE when King Suchi of Magadha, a student of Lagadha  set forth VJ and dated it by including an astronomical note about the summer solstice. When combined with other independent considerations such as the visibility of the Saptha Rishi (Ursa Major) from Bharatvarsha, the timing of Yagnas in conjunction with seasons, full moon, and prescribed Nakshatras, we obtain a date range [1400 +/- 300] BCE for Vedanga Jyotisha .
Multiple works show that the Nakshatra (star) system was most likely designed around 3000 BCE [2, 3, 10]. There is clear evidence of a continuous unbroken epistemology of time-keeping from the Rigveda Samhitas to the Vedanga Jyotisha.
Independent researchers have studied the 3:2 ratio of longest to shortest day, which is only possible around a certain latitude. This includes locations in far-northern India as well as other places. The calendar with a rainy season is also special to India. By also taking into account VJ’s date, several locations get eliminated from consideration, and Kashmir appears to be a likely location of the VJ author among the feasible candidates. This has been an independent conclusion reached by multiple scholars.
The Challenge of Vedanga Jyotisha
Kuppanna Sastry has listed three fundamental requirements for a scholar who wants to study and interpret Vendanga Jyotisha in its original Sanskrit verse :
Sound scholarship in Sanskrit
Knowledge of Western Astronomy
Full understanding of the concepts and practices of Hindu Astronomy
Those who have been frustrated in this task have lacked one or more of the requirements stated above. It is not necessary for one person to have all three skillsets. We have a precedent from 3000 years ago, when Nakshatra Darshas and Ganakas combined their skills to take Indic science and technology forward. Today, traditional Vedic Pandits grounded in Sanskrit and Hindu cosmology, and STEM professionals can work as a team to overcome new challenges in many areas. The first and third requirements involve dharmic tradition, which requires shraddha and sadhana, something every team member must imbibe. The Swadeshi Indology initiative serves as an inspiring example in this regard.
Several luminaries have contributed their expertise toward explaining the time-keeping ideas of Jyotihsastra. This post summarizes the student notes compiled while learning from and exploring these truly enlightening works, which are listed in the references below.
'If you were in Darkness, what would you want more than anything else; what would it be that every instinct would call for? Light, darn you, light!' - Nightfall, Isaac Asimov.
KV Sarma and Kuppanna Sastry. Vedanga Jyotisa of Lagadha In its Rk and Yajus Rescensions. With the Translation and Notes of Prof. T. S. Kuppanna Sastry. Critically edited by K. V. Sarma. Indian National Science Academy. 1985.
Subhash Kak. Astronomy and its Role in Vedic Culture. Chapter 23 in Science and Civilization in India, Vol. 1. The Dawn of Indian Civilization, Part 1, edited by G.C. Pande. ICPR/Munshiram Manoharlal, Delhi, 2000.
Prabhakar Gondhalekar. The Timekeepers of the Vedas: History of the Calendar of the Vedic Period (From Rgveda to Vedanga Jyotisa). Manohar Publishers. 2013.
K. Ramasubramanian. Perspectives on Indian Astronomical Tradition. HH Dalai Lama Premises. Dharmasala. 2016.
Kosla Vepa. The Origins of Astronomy, the Calendar, and Time. Lulu.com. 2011.
Narahari Achar. Enigma of the Five Year Yuga of the Vedanga Jyotisa. Indian Journal of the History of Science (33). 1998.
Narahari Achar. A Case for Revising the Date of Vedanga Jyotisa. Indian Journal of the History of Science (35). 2000.
John Playfair. The Works of John Playfair (Vol. 3).. with a memoir of the author. Edinburgh, A. Constable & Co. 1822.
Rajiv Malhotra. Being Different: India’s Challenge to Western Universalism. Harper Collins. 2011.
Sudha Bhujle and MN Vahia. Possible Period of the Design of Nakshatras and Abhijit. Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 2006.
C. K. Raju. The Cultural Foundations of Mathematics: The Nature of Mathematical Proof and the Transmission of the Calculus from India to Europe in the 16 c. CE. Pearson Education. 2007.
Subhash Kak. The Astronomical Code of the Rig Veda. Oklahoma State University, Stillwater. 2011.
Subhash Kak. The Wishing Tree: Presence and Promise of India. iUniverse Inc. 2008.
Kapila Vatsyayan. The Square and The Circle of The Indian Arts. Abhinav Publications. 1997.
R. N. Iyengar. A Profile of Indian Astronomy before the Siddhāntic Period. ISERVE Conference, Hyderabad, India. 2007.
Kuppanna Sastry. The Main Characteristics of Hindu Astronomy in the Period Corresponding to Pre-Copernican European Astronomy. Indian Journal of the History of Science (Vol 9). 1974.
Appendix & Acknowledgements
Acknowledgments: Thanks to N.r.i.pathi garu for encouraging me to write this post, and for his Baahubali-esque patience and valuable feedback.
The bhaamsas of the full or new moon are generated using the recurrence relation:
B(k+1) = B(k)+73 mod 124.
This is an example of a linear congruential generator (LCG) that is commonly used in computer simulation models. The sequence of bhaamsas visited by the full or new moon in a Yuga are pseudo-random numbers. Since 73 and 124 are relatively prime, this LCG is guaranteed to have a full period (124) that exactly spans a Yuga. The Hull-Dobell theorem (1962) proves the result for the general case. It is also easy to see that if B(k) is even, then B(k+1) will be odd, and vice versa. We can simply generate the bhaamsas to verify this. The following algorithm generates the chronological sequence (N(k), B(k)) of all new and full moon positions of a Yuga in Javadi coordinates:
1. Initialize: k = 0, B(0) = 0.
2. N(k) = B(k) mod 27. If B(k) is even, it is a new moon, else full moon.
3. B(k+1) = B(k) + 73 mod 124.
4. if k=123 stop. Else, k=k+1; go to step 2.
“How regressive!”, they may say. “MGTOW!” they will retort. “Tactic to guilt women into becoming Ladies!”, they might argue. Yes, even the last one is true courtesy feminists in our topsy turvy age. But the reality is, whatever radfem activists argue, whatever redpill [do]tards retort, and whatever post-modern popinjays might protest, for a civilised society, Gentlemen not only Matter but are, in fact, Foundational.
Pickup/Seduction artists may protest that “nice guys finish last” and “girls like bad boys”—and incidentally, I’m not actually contesting your point. But the problem is, you’re not asking why it might be true. The reason why nice guys finish last & many (not all) girls like bad boys is because when most people lead boring lives, it’s natural to want a little excitement, even if it is stupid or even dangerous. But none of this means a gentleman has to be boring. None of this means a gentleman can’t deliver a good ass-kicking to bad boys. And none of this means a gentleman can’t be popular with the ladies as well.
Mera rath par tumhara swagat hai, Rajkumari
And this is precisely the problem. Most young men forget that in a world dominated by bad boys, theNiti of Krishna is required. The attitude of bad boys (most of whom are usually cowards with attitude) is misconstrued as confidence and strength and excitement. That’s why nice guys finish last. If you still look like your mummy picks your outfits, why would any girl want you?
But this is the conundrum, the false dichotomy if you will, in a long line of confused bipolarity facing modern society. Boring Nice guy vs Bad boy, Libertinism vs Slavery, Communism vs Capitalism, and of course, that all time classic, Virgin vs Whore. The Madonna-Magdalene dichotomy is one of the most injurious to civilised society, and yes, even one that prizes chastity. Simply because a woman is not “Mary-mother-of Jesus” or Sita Devi, does not mean it is “open season”.
I have used these two examples because contrary to attempts by Western Academia and Mainstream Media, it is not just Indian society that faces an issue with exploitation of women. In fact it is far, far worse in the Developed World , East Asia, and the Middle East. The difference is, unlike “Modern/Secular/Capitalist” India, Traditional Ancient Dharmic Indiaemphasised the dignity of a woman, no matter who she was. And there were brutal consequences for men who tried to violate it (Google: Dushasana).
Our society even works law of dharma. Not contract based civil law. Thats why we have just 12800 police stations for 6.7 lac villages/towns
vaatho’pi naasraam-sayada-sukaani ko lambayed aaharanaaya hastham || (S. 6,sl.75)
While he [Dilipa ancestor of Rama] was ruler of the earth, even the very breeze dared not disturb the skirts of drunken women who sank to sleep on the road when half-way they had strayed to the place of enjoyment; far less dared any one to extend his hand for theft. [1,115]
Why is only India targeted via “India’s Daughter” and other such politically-motivated documentaries? After all, all is not healthy in the infallible West. What of this culture?
This is the danger of racial stereotyping and negative imaging.Narratives are invented and individuals are judged on the basis of pre-conceived notions (usually by the ignorant). Unlike the intellectually dishonest doyennes of the Western Ivory Tower, we won’t stereotype this as emblematic of Western culture, despite the historically confirmed misogynist reputation of a certain “Universal” Institution that happens to be the world’s oldest bureaucracy. The fact is, there is an even deeper sickness, and that is called post-modernity.
If Post-Modern Society is a Bastard Society, is it any wonder there are few gentlemen anymore, in any part of the world? Yes, much like boys complain, nice guys are finishing last (so women do have some part of the blame), but the time has come to put an end to the Virgin-Whore dichotomy. This is damaging not only to the vast majority of women who are in the middle (just like the vast majority of men), but is damaging to society as well, as it degrades the dignity of all women.
Sita Mata once asserted the unfairness of all women being judged by the behaviour of a few vulgar women. And this is true. That is the reason why we split character into three parts.
Character is 3 parts:
1.Moral Character (living according to Moral Standards, religious, sexual, etc)
2.Personal Integrity (holding true to your obligations, beliefs, and promises)
3.Ethical Civility (treating other with respect and acting for societal good)
If we ask how many men have what it takes to be Ram, isn’t the corollary how many women have what it takes to be Sita?
Contrary to absinthe-addicted activists, if you have no loyalty to your own society “because patriarchy!”, don’t expect to not be civilly criticised for your ridiculous views. And for those ritualistic twenty something twits on twitter who say “We are not Sri Rama to treat Surpanakha with respect”—well dear ritualistic twenty something twit on twitter, then don’t expect to marry a woman who is like Sita either. Whether you believe in probability or divinity, we get in life (generally) what we ourselves deserve.
As such, whether it is the reprehensible behaviour of members of that so called “Secular” Political Party AAP, or the corporate culture of that American Jewelry corporation, one can see how the absence of gentlemen creates conditions for the exploitation of women—whatever the rule of law.
Bad boys are “bad” for a reason, ladies.No matter how they look, no matter what they say, what’s important is how they see…you. But these scenarios also show that it is not a simple matter of a “chaste religious girl” vs “office floozy”. If most men are of middling character, so too are most women. And as we illustrated, character is more than just moral character, it is also strength of belief and willingness to endure (even in the face of hardship or authority).
This is the importance of Sabhyata, Saujanya, & Maryada. All of these are an integral part of Nara Dharma. It is also why Bhagvan Ram was called Maryada Purushottam. It didn’t matter whether it she was Sita or Surpanakha, Rama treated all women with respect. It is only when Surpanakha threatened to kill Sita that Rama had Lakshmana punish her.
A man behaves like a gentleman not because of what it says about her, but because of what it says about him.
The American jewelry store chain had many more women whose maternal or economic or office hierarchical cares kicked in allowing their vulnerability to be exploited by bad men. There was probably a small percentage of vulgar women who were delighted to go along with the advances of men—but even if it was as much as 33%, that means still 67% didn’t want to and were pressured by these American men who should have treated their colleagues and employees with respect. Some may say the middling 33% submitted to this pressure probably just found an excuse—but to that, the answer is “who’s to say?”. Do you have student loan debt you can’t pay if you lose your job? Do you have a parent whose life depends on expensive medical care? Are you a single mother with a child to feed?
That last one Should sound familiar.
Most guys may say “Really? Problem solved, and I get sex too?” and most social contract sybarites may attest “It is simply a transaction resulting mutual gain“, but then society doesn’t judge men and women the same way in matters of sex, so neither judgmental men nor their feminist/objectivist analogues have it right. Others may then argue “well, there were women who resist even that pressure”—and to that I say yes. There were women who resisted and there are women who resist. But both women and men are subject to blackmail, it’s just that they are usually blackmailed for different things. The women and men of highest character resist blackmail even in the face of dire circumstances, but also in the case of authority.
The story of Ahalya is illustrative here:
Most people believe that Ahalya was fooled by Indra into thinking he was her husband Gautama, and that is why she had physical relations with him. But as the Valmiki Ramayana itself confirms, Ahalya was in fact very clever, and was intelligent enough to realize it wasn’t her husband. So why then did she agree? Well, most men have a ready answer and claim all women are like this when they get the chance. But that is not actually the case. Ahalya agreed to the tryst because in her respect for authority she believed a Brahmin or King or King of the Gods could not be disobeyed. But this of course is not Dharma, as we know Ravana who was a brahmin & a king & defeated the King of the Gods, was rightly refused. Authority, whether that of a brahmin, a king, or deva cannot be misused to exploit a person. And as both Indra and Ravana found out, they too would have to be punished and suffer the consequences, whatever their status or position.
That is also why Ahalya was cursed to turn into a stone. Just because in her delicateness woman may be more amenable to authority is no excuse to engage in immorality. She may be delicate like a flower or vine, but when faced with immorality and evil, woman must also be able to turn into a stone—and the men who would devilishly exploit them, must get hit by one.
That is why in the case of Sita we see that she not only turned into a stone (metaphorically speaking), but over the course of a year of torment, seduction attempts, pleading, and threats by Ravana, she became a veritable diamond. That is why both she and her only love, Rama, were described as follows:
Vajradapi katorani mrudooni kusumadapi |
Lokotharaanaam chetaamsi ko nu vigyathu marhaati ||
Harder than a diamond and softer than a flower
Who can gauge the conduct of super-eminent persons?
It is this middle endurance that is lacking in both women AND men today, whether it is morality-obsessed Indian society or decency driven American society.
It is the courage of conviction that allows you to keep your character, even in difficult circumstances. And it is also the absence of gentlemen to intervene when the law fails or even a culture collapses, that creates bastards and the cycle of bastardy.
But as we’ve emphasized, contrary to what MSM, Cultural Anthropologists, and Native informants tell you, this problem is not specific to a specific culture, but as we’ve seen and will see now, an issue that all societies face when they become decadent or immoral.
“The Rape of Lucretia” is a famous episode from Italian History. It is all the more illustrative because the son of the Roman King Tarquinius Superbus threatened her that if she resisted, he would lie and tell everyone she willingly slept with a slave. The bad boys of today of course are even worse because unlike young Tarquin, they would have lied anyway. Nevertheless, it was the rape of Lucretia that caused Roman society to raise arms against the oppression of the Tyrannical Tarquins, and under Lucius Junius Brutus, established the Roman Republic. But the issue here is not the form of government, or even the specific culture, but the state of moral culture in society, especially in its elites.
And for those “human rights activists” who only seem to have Indian culture in their sights with regard to women and misogyny and Agni Pareeksha, tell me again which civilization produced this celebrated figure who said this:
This is the problem with double standards and selective application.Justice for my friends and the full extent of the law for my enemies may be the rule that “exceptionalists” live by (and a concept which sentimental protocol droids have yet to learn), but the essential aspect that all parties are forgetting, is the justice part.
This is the case whether it is ritual-obsessed India or PC-obsessed America. Morality matters, and Decency matters, but it is Character that ultimately makes both possible. That is why Rule of Justice that matters more than Rule of Law. That is why the Rule of Dharma must be restored.
Voluntary discipline based on morals & norms brings about convergence & relations. We called that discipline as dharma. Law is coercive
When law and order breaks down, when a culture collapses, when the vulnerable are unprotected, forces of criminality don’t think of responsibility, but rather, think of opportunity.
That is why force requires counter-force. That is why gentlemen matter. Because whether it is in a corporation or in a political party or at a social party, rather than opportunity, gentlemen see responsibility.