India’s Impact on the World
Siddhartha was born in Lumbini and raised in the small kingdom or principality of Kapilvastu, both of which are in modern day Nepal. At the time of the Buddha’s birth, the area was at or beyond the boundary of Vedic civilization, the dominant culture of northern India at the time; it is even possible that his mother tongue was not an Indo-Aryan language According to the traditional story he had a cloistered upbringing, but was jolted out of complacency on understanding that life includes the harsh facts of old age, sickness, and death.He left home to follow the traditional Indian path of the wandering holy man, a seeker after Truth. He practised meditation under various teachers and then took to asceticism. Eventually he practised austerities so severe that he was on the point of death – but true understanding seemed as far away as ever. He decided to abandon this path and to look into his own heart and mind. He sat down beneath the pipal tree and vowed that ‘flesh may wither, blood may dry up, but I shall not rise from this spot until Enlightenment has been won.’ After forty days, the Buddha finally attained Enlightenment.
Buddhists believe that he attained a state of being that goes beyond anything else in the world. If normal experience is based on conditions – upbringing, psychology, opinions, perceptions, and so on – Enlightenment is Unconditioned. It was a state in which the Buddha gained Insight into the deepest workings of life and therefore into the cause of human suffering, the problem that had set him on his spiritual quest in the first place.
During the remaining 45 years of his life he travelled through much of northern India, spreading his teaching of the way to Enlightenment. The teaching is known in the East as the Buddha-dharma – ‘the teaching of the Enlightened One’. Travelling from place to place, the Buddha taught numerous disciples, many of whom gained Enlightenment in their own right. They, in turn, taught others and in this way an unbroken chain of teaching has continued, right down to the present day. His enduring influence on the world continues till this day.
Mohandas K. Gandhi was born in India in 1869. This birth was the beginning of a life that would change the course of India and places as far away as The United States and South Africa. Called Mahatma (meaning “Great Soul”) by his followers, Gandhi fought for equality and harmony. It was the unbelievable example that he set for the whole world. He tried to teach the world to treat each other decency. He tried to teach us to be the civilized world that we pretend to be. He showed us by example that we did not need war & that we did not need to kill each other to settle our differences. He is an icon to be venerated as the man who inspired the Indian independence struggle and who did it without resorting to arms. As a man who stood for ahimsa, non violence and courage amidst all odds.
As an indomitable fighter against injustice, against all forms of injustice and violence from caste oppression, the emancipation of the untouchables , to injustice against minorities, against the discrimination of women, to the degradation of our planet. Gandhi stood primarily for truth and the search for truth was a spiritual quest based on his own experiences. He was inspired by the Bhagavat Gita, that extraordinary epic of man’s quest for truth and meaning, as well as by the teachings of Buddhism and Christianity and Thoreau, the great American anarchist. What is non-violence? Gandhi suggests that: “Non-violence is a creative, planned, positive active force which, because it does not use violence as a means of resolving conflict, is a truly revolutionary approach for those who seek social or political change”. This very principle of non-violence, has shown the alternative method to bring peace and hormony, a legacy that is much followed and admired today in the world. India’s outstanding contributor for world peace and harmony.
It is India where the numerals and number system was born. About 650AD the use of zero as a number came into Indian mathematics. In around 500AD Aryabhata devised a number system which has no zero yet was a positional system. He used the word “kha” for position and it would be used later as the name for zero. There is evidence that a dot had been used in earlier Indian manuscripts to denote an empty place in positional notation. It is interesting that the same documents sometimes also used a dot to denote an unknown where we might use x. Later Indian mathematicians had names for zero in positional numbers yet had no symbol for it. The first record of the Indian use of zero which is dated and agreed by all to be genuine was written in 876. We have an inscription on a stone tablet which contains a date which translates to 876. The inscription concerns the town of Gwalior, 400 km south of Delhi, where they planted a garden 187 by 270 hastas which would produce enough flowers to allow 50 garlands per day to be given to the local temple. Both of the numbers 270 and 50 are denoted almost as they appear today although the 0 is smaller and slightly raised. Brahmagupta attempted to give the rules for arithmetic involving zero and negative numbers in the seventh century. He explained that given a number then if you subtract it from itself you obtain zero.
In 830, around 200 years after Brahmagupta wrote his masterpiece, Mahavira wrote Ganita Sara Samgraha which was designed as an updating of Brahmagupta’s book. He correctly states that:-… a number multiplied by zero is zero, and a number remains the same when zero is subtracted from it. The Indian ideas spread east to China as well as west to the Islamic countries.
A White marble tomb built-in 1631-48 in Agra, seat of the Mughal Empire, by Shah Jahan for his wife, Arjuman Banu Begam, the monument sums up many of the formal themes that have played through Islamic architecture. Its refined elegance is a conspicuous contrast both to Hindu architecture of pre-Islamic India. With its thick wall, corbelled arches, and heavy lintels, and to the Indo-Islamic styles, in which Hindu elements are combined with an eclectic assortment of motifs from Persian and Turkish sources. Base Platform: 22 ft high, 313 sq ft. Corner Minarets: 137 ft, Main structure: 186 ft on a side, dome to 187. The Mausoleum: 57 m (190 ft) square in plan. The Central inner dome: 24.5m (81 ft) high and 17.7 m (58 ft) in diameter, but is surmounted by an outer shell nearly 61 m (200 ft) in height. The interior of the building is dimly lit through pierced marble lattices and contains a virtuoso display of carved marble. Externally the building gains an ethereal quality from its marble facings which respond with extraordinary subtlety to changing light and weather. The construction of the Taj Mahal was entrusted to a board of architects under imperial supervision, as was customary during the reign of Shah Jahan. The architects involved included Abd ul-Karim Ma’mur Khan, Makramat Khan, and Ustad Ahmed Lahwari. Born in Lahore, Ustad Ahmed was not only a renowned architect but also a mathematician and astronomer of high repute. Besides the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort in Delhi should be attributed to him as well.
The Taj Mahal has restrained Pietra dura decoration that forms vining floral designs. The beauty of the pietra dura of the Taj Mahal and of the forts at Agra and Delhi still inspire numerous artists from all over the world.Taj Mahal, depicted with a stamp of realism and with a soft lyricism, captivate the visitor with their grace and colorful freshness. In Islamic culture, flowers and roses are often seen as symbols of the Kingdom of Allah. Thus, the Taj Mahal’s allusion to Paradise can be seen in the motif of flowers carved on the funerary chambers of the mausoleum. Accompanied by fruit or bunches of grapes, the vases of flowers express the abundance that awaits the faithful in Paradise. The court poet Abu Talib Kalim, wishing to pay homage to the virtuosity of the imperial lapidaries, wrote these verses to glorify their art: They set stone flowers in the marble that by their color, if not their perfume, surpass real flowers.
Above the beautiful floral patterns are extensive calligraphic inscriptions in black lettering. Most of the text is short verses from the Qur’an emphasizing eschatological themes, particularly the Day of Judgment. The epigraphic program designed by calligrapher Amanat Khan was meant to drive home the message implicit in the building’s form and location – that the tomb was an allegorical representation of the Throne of Allah above the Garden of Paradise on the Day of Judgment.
The Taj Mahal has not suffered from the injury of time, thanks to the excellence of the materials and the perfection of the workmanship. Since the time it was built have not spoiled the luster of the marble nor the countless wonders of the chiseling. All the defacement of the ornamental details is due to the hand of man. The invasions and diverse troubles from which the country has suffered for two centuries have left a deplorable mark on all the monuments of Agra. After the pillage and removal of the precious metals of the portals, balusters, and diverse ornaments, the greed of the grasping soldiery was aroused by the encrustations of semi precious stones decorating the two tombs and their enclosure. It would be difficult today to find a single flower, a single ornament intact. Tips of daggers, sabers, and bayonets have pierced and broken off fragments of these charming, delicate mosaics.
Poet Rabindranath Tagore describes the monument as rising above the banks of the river “like a solitary tear suspended on the cheek of time.”
Taj Mahal, the most beautiful monument in the world ever built
The word shatranj is derived from the Sanskrit language , for short Sanskrit is a historical Indo-Aryan language, a classical language of the Indian subcontinent and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism and Buddhism. Sanskrit Chaturanga (chatuḥ=”four”, anga=”arm”) is an ancient Indian game which is presumed to be the common ancestor of the games of chess , shogi, and makruk, and related to xiangqi and janggi. The game came to Persia from India, a gift from an Indian king (possibly a Maukhari Dynasty king of Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh. The game came with a challenge which was successfully resolved by Khosrau’s courtiers. This incident, originally referred to in the Mâdayân î chatrang (c. 620 AD), is also mentioned in Firdausi’s Shahnama (c. 1010 AD). In Persian folk etymology, the word is sometimes re-bracketed Rebracketing is a common process in historical linguistics where a word originally derived from one source is broken down or bracketed into a different set of factors…as sad (100) + ranj (worries), i.e. a hundred worries, which may appear quite meaningful to players. The word was adapted into Arabic as shatranj.
Health & Living
Lord Shiva is the Master of yoga. The three matted locks on the head of the Lord convey the idea that integration of the physical, mental and spiritual energies is the ideal of yoga. Represnting a complete system of social, physical, mental and spiritual development, yoga date to some 5,000 years ago in Indus-Saraswati civilisation of northern India. The first references to the history of yoga can be found in the Rig-Veda, text containing the songs and rituals of the Vedic priests. These same priests documented their practices and beliefs in a collection of 200 scriptures called the Upanishads which transformed the idea of ritual sacrifice and internalized it as the sacrifice of the ego. This was to accomplished through self-knowledge, karma yoga ( doing one’s duty) and gyana yoga (seeking knowledge). Modern yoga positions and principles have evolved from these earliest meditative practices. In the 2nd century the first systematic presentation of yoga was made by Patanjali, the father of yoga, in the Yoga Sutras. This organized the eight limbed path to quiet the mind and merge with the infinite still strongly influences the styles of modern yoga today. The eight limbs are moral codes of self purification and study, posture, breath control, sense control, concentration, contemplation and meditation.
The tradition of meditation dates back to the beginning of human history. Thousands of years ago, Patanjali, an Indian Sage of legend, described the process by which the capacity to meditate is actualized. He called it “Self Realisation” since, in the state of meditation, he experienced an absolute awareness of his “Self”. The mechanism by which “Self Realisation” occurred was a closely kept secret that was handed down from a Guru to his disciple after long penances, discipline and purification. In the 14 th century the great saint Gyaneshwara of Central India took permission from his Guru to translate the secret texts written in Sanskrit into the popular vernacular. Thus the tradition of mysticism and meditation began within the populace in India. Meditation is both an ancient spiritual practice and a contemporary mind-body technique for relaxing the body and calming the mind. In the West, the first view was that meditation induced a type of dissociative state or a type of catatonia. Thirty years ago, meditation was still considered a religious practice, not appropriate for healthcare settings. The first articles on the health benefits of meditation appeared in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology in 1970. Meditation is the first mind-body intervention to be widely adopted in mainstream health care. Yoga and Meditation, India’s extraordinary contribution for the rest of the world.