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April 24th, 2014 marks the 450th birth anniversary of William Shakespeare.

Just thought of sharing some pictures from Stratford-upon-Avon. A timely tit-bit here – Avon, in old Welsh just meant “river”. So there are several Avons in England – and similarly there are several towns named Stratford. Shakespeare’s Stratford is on the banks of a river, and that’s how it ended up being called “Stratford-upon-Avon”.

The “Avon” in Stratford:


Stratford, Main Street:



Is Shakespeare still alive? A street performer:

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The main attraction at Stratford, obviously is the well preserved house where Shakespeare lived. It’s been converted to a very busy tourist place.

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Side view of Shakespeare’s house:

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Inside one of the rooms of the house:




Shakespeare’s father was a rich tanner by profession and was a rich man. Some leather in process, to bring back those times:

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Inside one of the bedrooms:

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How can you exit a “touristy” place, without entering the Gift Shop :) ?

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William Shakespeare

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p.s:How I wish we had similar memorials to artists and poets in India! Unfortunately we don’t seem to copy the good things from the West. For an example of how we have messed up, read here, and here.

This article by archaeologist Andrew Lawler has appeared in the January 2013 issue of the Archaeology magazine.  According to this article, the so-called Buddhist stupa in Mohenjo-Daro might have been a structure from much earlier than Buddhist times.  Read the article in the following link for more details:


It’s almost one century since the remains of Mohenjo-Daro were unearthed for the first time – but it certainly it still holds many secrets of Indian civilization!


Most ancient civilizations flourished in river valleys and flood plains. So when the digging for construction of a railway line in Northwestern British India revealed remains of an ancient civilization, archaeologists were not very surprised! Since the first two sites found were Harappa, and Mohen-jo-Daro, in the vicinity of the river Indus (Sindhu) and it’s tributaries, the civilization came to be known as the Harappa civilization or the Indus valley civilization.

Detailed excavations at these sites revealed that these indeed were huge cities with remains of several layers of city living, with the latest layers dated from around 2000 years before Christ, and the oldest, to about 3500 years before Christ.

A View of Mohen-jo-Daro

A View of Mohen-jo-Daro

Detailed excavations at these sites revealed that these indeed were huge cities with remains of several layers of city living, with the latest layers dated from around 2000 years before Christ, and the oldest, to about 3500 years before Christ.

The cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, as well as other smaller sites that were found later on, were very well planned with streets running at right angles, and laid with burnt bricks. The cities and had a sanitary system of well connected drains to carry the waste from every house.  The sites from this civilization occupied a vast area spread across in an area that now corresponds to parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.  19th century Indologists and archaeologists postulated that invading nomads from central Asia brought this civilization to an abrupt end, since most the sites showed a decline around about 1800-1500 BC, with no continued habitation in those locations.


As more sites were found by  archaeologists, they observed something strange found more and more sites, they found a strange thing.  A vast majority of them were in the area that now comprises of the Thar desert, far from the Sindhu (Indus) river system of Punjab, but along a dry river bed, what is now called as the Hakra or Ghaggar river. The Ghaggar is a seasonal stream which flows for a few months and which ultimately dries up in the desert without reaching the sea! This was a perplexing indeed.

For the solution of this problem, we have to go to ancient Indian texts called Vedas. Veda means Knowledge, derived from the verb, vid – to know, are the oldest poems in this world that are still extant. The Vedas, instead of talking about the five rivers of Punjab, spoke about “sapta sindhu” or the seven rivers, and the most important river among the seven was Saraswathi. The Rig Veda called Saraswati the “ Most beloved of mothers, the mightiest of all rivers, and the best among Goddesses.” It is also described as a river flowing from the Himalaya mountains to the ocean.  But today, the Saraswathi  river is  a small tributary to the seasonal Ghaggar.

As early as during early 1800s,  archaeologists who  had found parts of a dry river beds in the desert  had postulated a great river must have flown there. interestingly this river bed they had found  is the continuation of the Ghaggar, into which the current day Saraswathi river flows as a tributary.

The width of the dry riverbed is generally more than a mile wide, and at places it is as wide as 7-8 miles. But what was the source of the water to fill this huge river?  The current source of river Saraswathi could not have provided that vast amount of water!

Now science comes to the rescue: The satellite imagery from the late 20th century has ascertained these earlier observations. These have also confirmed the existence old river beds   belonging to two other major rivers, Yamuna, and Satluj which are now part of the Indus andSarasvati Ganges river systems, that once flowed into the old bed of now dry Ghaggar.

So what caused the drying up of Ghaggar or the historic Saraswathi? Sometime between the 6000 and 4000 years, due to tectonic movements the rivers Yamuna and Sutlej that were the main feeders for Saraswathi changed course.

The glacier fed Sutlej  moved westwards, and started flowing into the Indus river. The other glacier fed tributary of  Saraswati, the Yamuna started flowing eastward, into the Ganga river instead of Saraswathi. These events thus deprived Saraswathi a perennial water source.

Probably to support this movement of Yamuna  is the common belief held in India even today that the river Saraswathi flows as an invisible river, and joins the Ganga and Yamuna at their confluence at Prayaga (Allahabad).

With this river migration understood, we can easily understand  why there are far greater number of archaeological sites in the desert along the dry Saraswathi river compared to the Indus river valley. When the rivers migrated, the people living in the Saraswathi river area had to move to newer locations, and they did so.  There is no need to bring  in any fictitious “nomads from central Asia”  to describe a bloody and sudden ending to the civilization. Indeed a study of later archaeological sites shows that several aspects of the these sites were adapted there as well.



Today, the river Sarswathi may flow from the Himalaya all the way to the ocean. It may have become just a small monsoon rivulet. Or if you go by the  popular mindset,  the river Saraswathi might have become invisible.  But the culture of the people lived on it’s banks is still alive and well! For example, its very easy to find  artwork from this civilization, that looks almost the  same as some of the artworks created by current day craftsmen and artists!  This is but one of the many aspects where such parallels can be drawn.

Given all these facts, it truly befits to call this as the Saraswathi-Sindhu civilization rather than Indus Valley civilization or the Harappa civilization!


(All photo credits belong to their respective copyright holders)

(p.s: Enough material is available on the Internet about the Saraswathi-Sindhu civilization. Then question may arise why this post :) This was a speech I gave at my Toastmasters Club as part of the “Speaking to Inform” advance speaking manual. The project was : The Speech to Inform)


Balamukundashtakam is a collection of  8 Samskrta shlokas that describe some episodes from the childhood of Krishna. Although the first of the eight shlokas is found in Bilwamangala’s (also called Leelashuka) work Krishnakarnamrta, the rest of the shokas are not to be found there. I’m not aware if there is a agreement on the authorship of this work. Anyway, the ashTaka is very attractive, to say the least.

Here is the text in dEvanAgari script:

करारविन्देन पदारविन्दं मुखारविन्दे विनिवेशयन्तम् ।
वटस्य पत्रस्य पुटे शयानं बालं मुकुन्दं मनसा स्मरामि ॥१॥

संहृत्य लोकान्वटपत्रमध्ये शयानमाद्यन्तविहीनरूपम् ।
सर्वेश्वरं सर्वहितावतारं बालं मुकुन्दं मनसा स्मरामि ॥२॥

इन्दीवरश्यामलकोमलांगं इन्द्रादिदेवार्चितपादपद्मम् ।
सन्तानकल्पद्रुममाश्रितानां बालं मुकुन्दं मनसा स्मरामि ॥३॥

लम्बालकं लम्बितहारयष्टिं शृंगारलीलांकितदन्तपङ्क्तिम् ।
बिंबाधरं चारुविशालनेत्रं बालं मुकुन्दं मनसा स्मरामि ॥४॥

शिक्ये निधायाद्यपयोदधीनि बहिर्गतायां व्रजनायिकायाम् ।
भुक्त्वा यथेष्टं कपटेन सुप्तं बालं मुकुन्दं मनसा स्मरामि ॥५॥

कलिन्दजान्तस्थितकालियस्य फणाग्ररंगे नटनप्रियन्तम् ।
तत्पुच्छहस्तं शरदिन्दुवक्त्रं बालं मुकुन्दं मनसा स्मरामि ॥६॥

उलूखले बद्धमुदारशौर्यं उत्तुंगयुग्मार्जुन भंगलीलम् ।
उत्फुल्लपद्मायत चारुनेत्रं बालं मुकुन्दं मनसा स्मरामि ॥७॥

आलोक्य मातुर्मुखमादरेण स्तन्यं पिबन्तं सरसीरुहाक्षम् ।
सच्चिन्मयं देवमनन्तरूपं बालं मुकुन्दं मनसा स्मरामि ॥८॥

The shokas are notable for the extra-ordinary lilting quality, that makes even a simple reading of it makes you feel like you’re listening to a song! Such a delicate structure, does not make it an easy target for translation, and it is hard for any translation to make full justice to the original.

Anyway, I had made an attempt to translate this ashTaka into Kannada a  while ago. I see a translation as a means for someone who doesn’t understand the original to get some familiarity  and exposure. That translation features in my book Hamsanada as well.

Recently I made a renewed attempt to update the translation to follow metrical rules, thanks to Padyapaana – and here is the result. It is set in choupadi meter (4 liners):

ಕೈಯ ತಾವರೆಯಿಂದ ಕಾಲದಾವರೆಯನ್ನು
ಬಾಯ ತಾವರೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಇರಿಸಿದವನ
ಮಾಯದಾ ಶಿಶು ಆಲದೆಲೆ ಮೇಲೆ ಪವಡಿಸಿದೆ-
ಳೆಯ ಮುಕುಂದನ ನಾನು ನೆನೆವೆನಿಂದು ||೧||

ಜಗಗಳನೆ ಕೊನೆಗೊಳಿಸಿ ಆಲದೆಲೆ ಮೇಗಡೆ ಮ-
ಲಗಿಹಂಥ ಕೊನೆಮೊದಲು ಇಲ್ಲದವನ
ಜಗದೊಡೆಯ ಜನರೆಲ್ಲರೊಳಿತಿಗೈತಂದವನ
ಮಗುಮುಕುಂದನ ನಾನು ನೆನೆವೆ ಮನದಿ ||೨||

ಕನ್ನೈದಿಲೆಯ ನೀಲ ಕೋಮಲಾಂಗದ ಹರಿಯ
ಮುನ್ನ ಇಂದ್ರಾದಿಗಳ ಪೂಜೆವಡೆದ
ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿ ಆಸರೆಯಲಿಹರನ್ನು ಕಾಯ್ವಂಥ
ಚಿನ್ನ ಕಂದನ ನಾನು ನೆನೆವೆ ಮನದಿ ||೩||

ಮುಂಗುರಳಲೆಸೆಯುವನ ಸರಗಳಲಿ ಮೆರೆಯುವನ
ಸಿಂಗರದಿ ಮೂಡಿರುವ ಸುಲಿಪಲ್ಲ ಚೆಲುವ
ತೊಂಡೆತುಟಿಯಲಿ ಕೊಳಲ ನಾದವನು ತುಂಬಿರುವ
ಚಂದಚನ್ನಿಗ ಮುಕುಂದನ್ನ ನೆನೆವೆ ||೪||

ಚೆಲುವೆ ಗೋಪಿಯರೆಲ್ಲ ಮನೆಹೊರಗೆ ಹೋಗಿರಲು
ನಿಲುವಿನಲಿ ಹಾಲ್ಬೆಣ್ಣೆ ಮೊಸರೆಲ್ಲವನ್ನು
ಸುಳಿವು ಬಿಡದೆಲೆ ತಿಂದು ಕಪಟದಲಿ ಮಲಗಿರುವ
ಖಳನಿವನ ಮುಕುಂದನನೀಗ ನೆನೆವೆ || ೫||

ಕಾಳಿ ಯಮುನೆಯೊಳಗಡಗಿರುತಿದ್ದ ಕಾಳಿಯನ
ಏಳುಹೆಡೆಗಳ ಮೇಲೆ ಕುಣಿಯುತ್ತಲವನ
ಬಾಲವನು ಹಿಡಿದವನ ಚಂದಿರನ ಮೊಗದವನ
ಬಾಲಕನ ಮುಕುಂದನ ನಾನು ನೆನೆವೆ || ೬ ||

ಒರಳುಕಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ಬಿಗಿದು ಕಟ್ಟಿರಲು ಶೌರಿಯಿವ
ಮರವೆರಡನೊಟ್ಟಿಗೇ ಬೀಳಿಸಿಹನ
ಅರಳಿರುವ ಕಮಲ ಹೂದಳದಗಲ ಕಣ್ಣಿರುವ
ಪೋರನಿವ ಮುಕುಂದನ ನಾನು ನೆನೆವೆ ||೭||

ಮೊಲೆಹಾಲ ಕುಡಿಯುತಲಿ ತಾಯಮೊಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಂ-
ಡೆಳೆನಗುವ ನೋಡುತಿಹ ಕಮಲಾಕ್ಷನ
ಅಳವಿರದ ಮೊದಲುಕೊನೆಯಿಲ್ಲದಿಹ ಚಿನ್ಮಯನ
ಎಳೆಯನ್ನ ಮುಕುಂದನ ಮನದಿ ನೆನೆವೆ ||೮||

While in the original ashTaka, all the shlokas end with the same pAda –  बालं मुकुन्दं मनसा स्मरामि – in the translation they are all changed but in line with the rest of the content of the shloka.  Otherwise, I have tried to be follow the original as much as possible.

Your comments & feedback welcome!


Picture taken from:

Yugaadi marks the beginning of the traditional lunar new year celebrated in several states of India such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Literally, Yugaadi means Adi – “the beginning of” and  yuga – “an era”.  As per current understanding, a yuga  is a measure of time, associated the term with long periods – as in Krta, Treta, Dwapara & Kali yugas,  each spanning thousands of years.

However, if we go back in time for about thirty five centuries, we find Indians had a very different interpretation of the term yuga. Vedanga Jyothisha  compiled by Laagadha  around ~1400BC very clearly defines a yuga as a period of five years. The very opening verse of Vedanga Jyotisha has the following verse:

pa~ncha saMvatsaramayam yughAdhyakSham prajApatim |

dinartvayana mAsAngaM praNamya shirasA shuchih ||

which approximately translated to the following:

“I bow to thee, Oh Prajapati, one who has the day, season and the half-year as limbs,   the over-seer of the five-year long yuga”

Vedanga Jyotisha also tells us when the five-year yuga began based on the alignment of the Sun, Moon and stars (specifically both meeting at the star Shravishta) in the sky.  Also, according to the text, five years of a yuga were called samvatsara, parivatsara, idaavatsara, anuvatsara and idvatsara. Incidentally, this beginning of a new yuga took place at winter solstice, and not at (or close to) Vernal equinox as the current yugaadi is.

Things change over time. Now, we call every year a samvatsara, and the five-year long yuga is almost unknown to most people! If you are more interested on this topic, I suggest you to read this paper by B.N.Narahari Achar is a good resource.

Wishing a very happy Yugaadi to all visitors at ಅಲ್ಲಿದೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆ!



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My book “Hamsanada” for iPad, iPhone or iPod

A Collection of  Samskrta Subhashitas, translated to Kannada

My Book, on Google Play!

My Book Hamsanada, on Google Play

My Book Hamsanada, on Google Play

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Ramaprasad K V

Ramaprasad K V

ಕನ್ನಡಿಗ. Musicphile. Bibliophile. Astrophile. Blogophile. Twitterphile.



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