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20140320_081528[1]Today is officially the start if the spring season – The spring equinox (also called the Vernal Equinox occurs today at 9:57 am PDT. (March 20th, 14:57 UTC).

According to Indian mythology, the spring season personified as Vasanta is a friend of Manmatha, the God of Love. Manmatha arrives along with Vasanta during the spring season to Earth. Manmatha carries a bow made of sugarcane, and arrows of five types of flowers, that are abundant during the season. How can any one hit with these arrows not fall in love?

Spring has been the inspiration of poets for ages. Here are a few Samskrta verses from Bhartrhari’s Sringarashataka and Kalidasa’s Rtusamhara, which have translated to Kannada:

ಕುಸುಮಿಸಿಹ ವೃಕ್ಷಗಳು ಕೊಳದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಮಲಗಳು
ನಸುಗಂಪು ಗಾಳಿ; ಜೊತೆ ಬಯಸುವೆಣ್ಣುಗಳು
ಮಸುಕು ಸಂಜೆಯ ನಲಿವು ಹಾಯಾದ ಹಗಲುಗಳು
ಎಸೆದಾವು ಮಿಗೆ ಗೆಳತಿ ಹಿತ ವಸಂತದಲಿ!
(Rtusamhara 6-2)

ಕೆಂಬಣ್ಣದಾ ಚಿಗುರ ಹೊತ್ತು ತಲೆಬಾಗಿರುವ
ಕೊಂಬೆಕೊಂಬೆಗೆ ಹೂತ ಮಾಮರಗಳೀಗ
ತಂಬೆಲರಿನಲಿ ತೂಗಿ ಹುಟ್ಟಿಸಿದ್ದಾವು ಮಿಗೆ
ಹಂಬಲವ ಹೆಣ್ಣುಗಳ ಮನದಿ ತವಕದಲಿ
(Rtusamhara 6-15)

ಹೊಮ್ಮಿರುವ ಮಾಂದಳಿರ ಮೊನಚು ಬಾಣಗಳನ್ನು
ಚಿಮ್ಮಿಸಲು ದುಂಬಿಸಾಲಿನ ಬಿಲ್ಲ ಹೆದೆಯ
ಹಮ್ಮುಗೊಳಿಸುತ ಯೋಧ ಬಂದಿಹ ವಸಂತನಿವ-
ನೊಮ್ಮೆಗೇ ಪ್ರಣಯಿಗಳ ಮನವ ಪೀಡಿಸಲು
(Rtusamhara 6-1)

ವಸಂತದಲಿಂಪಾದ ಕೋಗಿಲೆಗಳ ಗಾನ
ಮಲೆನಾಡ ಗಿರಿಗಳಲಿ ಸುಳಿವ ತಂಗಾಳಿ
ಅಗಲಿ ನೊಂದವರ ಜೀವವನೇ ಸೆಳೆದಾವು
ಕೇಡುಗಾಲದಲಮೃತವೂ ಆದಂತೆ ನಂಜು!
(Srngarashatakam – 38)

ಬೀಳ್ವ ಮಂಜನು ಬೀಳ್ಕೊಡುವುದಕೆ ಋತು ವಸಂತನು ಬಂದಿರೆ
ಹೂತ ಮಾಮರದಲ್ಲಿ ಮೆಲ್ಲಗೆ ಕೊಂಬೆರೆಂಬೆಯನಲುಗಿಸಿ
ಕೋಗಿಲೆಯ ಸವಿದನಿಯ ಹಾಡನು ದಿಕ್ಕುದಿಕ್ಕಲಿ ಪಸರಿಸಿ
ಮಂದ ಮಾರುತ ಹೃದಯಗಳನೂ ಜೊತೆಯಲೇ ಸೆಳೆದೊಯ್ದನೆ!
(Rtusamhara 6-22)

-neelanjana

p.s: Just noticed that I had a post with the same title a few years ago!

ಊರು ಸುತ್ತೋಕೆ ಮುಂಚೆ ಕಾಫೀ ತಿಂಡಿ ಮುಗಿಸೋಣ. ಅಮೆರಿಕೆಯಲ್ಲಿ “ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷ್ ಟೀ” ಇದ್ರೆ, ಇಂಗ್ಲೆಂಡ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ “ಕೆಫೆ ಅಮೆರಿಕಾನೋ”! ಹೇಗಿದೆ  ವರಸೆ ?

 

 

2013-06-05 23.03.33

 

ಊರ್ ಸುತ್ತೋಕೆ ಟೂರ್ ಬಸ್ ಬೇಡ್ವೇ?

 

2013-06-05 03.46.41

 

ಈಗಿನ ರಾಣೀ ರಾಜ್ಯಭಾರಕ್ಕೆ ಅರವತ್ತು ವರ್ಷವಂತೆ ಆಗಲೆ!

 

2013-06-05 03.53.17

 

ಸೈಕಲ್ ರಿಕ್ಷಾ ಸಾಲು, ಕೊವೆಂಟ್ ಗಾರ್ಡನ್

 

20130531_101407

 

ಅಬ್ಬಬ್ಬ ಮಹರಾಯ ಗಾಳೀಲೆ  ತೇಲ್ತಿದ್ದಾನಲ್ಲಪ್ಪ!

 

20130531_104024

 

ಕೊವೆಂಟ್ ಗಾರ್ಡನ್ ಟ್ಯೂಬ್ ಸ್ಟೇಷನ್

 

20130531_105906

 

ಲಂಡನ್ನಿಗೆ ಹೋದರೆ, ಮೌಸ್ ಟ್ರಾಪ್ ನಾಟಕ ನೋಡೋದು ಮರೀಬೇಡಿ!

 

20130531_110938

 

ಬಸ್ ಇಳಿದು, ಬಾಡಿಗೆ ಸೈಕಲ್ ಹತ್ತೋಣವೇ?

 

20130601_001121

 

ಅರರೆ! ಇದು ಲಂಡನ್ನೋ ಲಕ್ಷ್ಮೀಪುರಾನೋ? ಗಾಯತ್ರಿ ನ್ಯೂಸ್ ಪೇಪರ್ ಅಂಗಡಿ ಇದೆಯಲ್ಲ!

 

20130601_012711

 

ಚಟ್ನಿ ಕೆಫೆ ಇದ್ದ ಮೇಲೆ ಲಕ್ಷ್ಮೀಪುರ ಅನ್ನೋದೇ ಖಾತ್ರಿ ಆಯ್ತು ಬಿಡಿ.

 

IMG_2516

 

ಹೊಟ್ಟೆ ಹಸೀತಿದೆ, ಏನಾದರೂ ತಿನ್ನೋಣ, ಬಣ್ಣ ಬಣ್ಣವಾಗಿ.

 

IMG_2518

 

ಕೊವೆಂಟ್ ಗಾರ್ಡನ್ ಗೆ ಹತ್ತಿರದಲ್ಲೇ ಪಿಕಾಡೆಲಿ ಸ್ಟೇಷನ್

 

IMG_2558

 

ಕೆನ್ಸಿಂಗ್ ಟನ್ ಗೆ ಹೋಗೋ ಟ್ರೈನ್ ಇನ್ನೂ ಬಂದಿಲ್ಲ

 

IMG_2561

 

ಕೆನ್ಸಿಂಗ್ ಟನ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ ಮಹಾತ್ಮಾ ಗಾಂಧಿ ವಾಸವಾಗಿದ್ದ ಬಾಡಿಗೆ ಮನೆ

 

IMG_2669

 

ಲಂಡನ್ ತನಕ ಹೋಗಿ ಟೆಮ್ಸ್ ನದಿಗೆ ಹೋಗ್ದೇ ಇರೋಕಾಗತ್ತಾ?

 

IndiaTrip2013 863

 

ಲಂಡನ್ ಬ್ರಿಡ್ಜ್ ಈಸ್ ನಾಟ್ ಫಾಲಿಂಗ್ ಡೌನ್!

 

IndiaTrip2013 897

 

ಮೂಗಿಗಿಂತ ಮೂಗುತಿ ಭಾರ ಅನ್ನೋದು ಹಳೇ ಗಾದೆ. ತಲೆಗಿಂತ ಟೋಪಿ ಭಾರ ಅನ್ನೋದು ಹೊಸದು.

 

IndiaTrip2013 932

 

ಹೊರಡ್ತಪ್ಪ ಕುದುರೆ ಗಾಡಿ

 

IndiaTrip2013 941

 

ಹೊರಡಕ್ಕೆ ಮುಂಚೆ ಲಂಡನ್ ನೆನಪಿಗೆ ಅಂತ ಏನಾದ್ರೂ ಕೊಂಡುಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕಲ್ಲವೇ?

 

IndiaTrip2013 983

-neelanjana

(All pictures taken during a visit to London this summer. Photo courtesy: My Samsung S3)

Halebeedu is a little town in South Karnataka, famous for it’s twin temple- popularly known by the name Hoysaleshwara temple that enshrines two Shivalingas, called as Hoysaleshwara and Shantaleshwara. The town was the capital of the Hoysala dynasty that ruled parts of Southern Karnataka and parts of Tamil Nadu from 10th to early 14th century AD.

The old name of the town was Dorasamudra (ದೋರಸಮುದ್ರ / दोरसमुद्र). Although popular legend says the name came because of the enormous man made lake (tank) at the entry of the town (ದ್ವಾರ,dwAra), inscription evidence seems to point in another direction. The lake is actually from pre-Hoysala times, and was erected during the Rashtrakuta king Dhruva‘s reign. Dhruva is referred to as Dora (ದೋರ) in many inscriptions. The lake erected by King Dora was naturally called Dorasamudra. The name seems to gone out of vogue, and this place is known as Halebeedu (Old Place, literally). Right now it is not on the UNESCO list of places of world heritage, but  may be nominated to the list soon.  I consider this to be one of the Seven Wonders of India, nothing less!  The temples are maintained rather nicely by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

13

However, we don’t see any relics of Rashtrakuta times in Halebeedu today. Inscriptions have long gone into some museums! But luckily we are left with several temples of the Hoysala times of which Hoysaleshwara is the largest and grandest. It is quite natural being the capital of the Hoysala country that this site was selected for this magnificent temple.  The temple is said to have been damaged during Malik Kafur’s invasion in the year 1313AD.  In spite of the damage, it is still the best Hoysala temple, and probably one of the best temple in terms of architecture.

Oh well, today I’m not writing much about the temple architecture – but would focus on the musicians of Halebeedu.  The town being close to my hometown, I have visited this place several times and when I was looking at one of the pictures taken during a visit few years earlier, I was surprised to see a specific type of musical instrument in there and was rather intrigued by the looks of it.  I wasn’t sure if the picture I had was one of the mutilated sculpture, and hence I could not come to any conclusion  based on the picture. So when I revisited the temple few months ago, I made it a point to look at all those instruments and musicians from Halebeedu carefully.

Many of the sculptures that we find on the temple walls are of various Gods and Goddesses – and there are many that depict earthly, regular performing musicians. Hence we can make many inferences about the types of musical instruments being played in South India during those times.  Of course, we have descriptions of various musical instruments in different texts of those times, but a visual representation is much better than a text describing anything , Right?

Here you can see a sculpture of Saraswathi – the Goddess of learning. She is normally depicted in a sitting posture, playing a Veena. Veena is a generic term for string instruments and there are different types of Veenas depending on their structure. In this sculpture,  you can clearly see how Saraswathi is using the middle and the ring fingers on her right hand to pluck the strings and the fingers of the left hand to play on the fingerboard – which are true to this day on several Veenas in vogue.  Due to the angle, we can’t see whether the fingerboard has frets or not. All this very well matches with how a Sitar or Saraswathi Veena is played today ( discounting the fact that these days Saraswathi Veena is played more laying flat rather than being at an angle), but for one important difference. I’ll come to that point when I comment about another sculpture down below. Oh, I forgot to mention that Saraswathi Veena is one of the types of Veenas played today. Other Veenas include instruments such as Sitar, Rudra Veena, Chitra Veena (also called Vichitra Veena) and Mohan Veena ( actually a modified sliding guitar).

1


I’m not sure if the following picture depicts an earthly musician or a celestial one, but you can seem him playing a Dhakka  or a Muraja (a  Damaru-like drum instrument). Anyone who has heard any of DVG’s songs on the beauties at the Belur temple ( another Hoysala marvel, I should say) would definitely recall the song ‘naTanavADidaL taruNi’ (ನಟನವಾಡಿದಳ್ ತರುಣಿ ) about the sculpture called murajAmOde (ಮುರಜಾಮೋದೆ ) refers to a danseuse playing this drum in one of the charaNas.   This instrument is used even now with Kathakali music, in Kerala  and it is called by the name Idakka . (I got this reference from my good friend Sankaranarayanan, Thanks Sankara!)   The way the instrument is held by the player in the sculpture almost matches with how the Idakka  is played these days. The sculpture is so life-like that you fail to notice that it is made of stone, can easliy take the  twisted ropes to be real!

11

Now the following brings a few important points – Most Hoysala  temples are built on a multiple-point star patterned basement.  This type of structure provides a very large surface area for a given size of the temple.  Apparently individual sculptures were made elsewhere, probably at the sculptor’s workshops and were set in place at the right places in temple walls.  Here is one such corner where you see a musician ensemble.  The lady on the left is playing a Veena , this time held in a different positon. It is now in a vertical position and you can see the frets clearly. This matches with the position how the Veena was played even as late as early 18th century.  Indeed the construction of  RudraVeena  and the way it is held while playing today, almost matches with what is depicted in here, although the resonator in the sculpture seems to be much smaller than what’s used in these days. The lady on the right is playing a Dhakka – So together they form an ensemble, may be supporting a dancer.  Incidentally, on the left side you can see part of another sculpture, which I take it to be a form of Shiva, or a gaNa of Shiva – which also holds a real Damaru, which you can notice is much smaller than the Dhakka,  in it’s hand.

10

Here is another Veena player.  The fret-board is depicted very clearly.  The way she holds her instrument is very similar to how a Sitar player holds the instrument. Click here to see a picture of maestro Pandit Ravishankar playing his Sitar.  Are you surprised?

Another thing I noticed in the Veena in this sculpture and Saraswathi’s sculpture earlier in this post is that the resonator is not seen at all. Now, how such an instrument would sound? I have no clue, but may be I’m missing something.

9

Here is another interesting instrument. This is called the Naga Veena. Notice the snake like end of the instrument that gives its name. But notice the right hand of the player.  He seems to be using a bow of some sort, effectively making it somewhat like a violin. We know that the violin as used in Indian music today was due to Western influence during the early 18th century at Fort St George. But this instrument tells us although the form of Violin may have been new for Indian music, the structure and concept were not.

6

The following group of sculptures may represent performing musicians of Hoysala times, accompanying a dance.   One of them is playing a bell, essential for providing the dance syllables, one is playing a damaru providing the rhythm and one is seen playing the flute, which might have been the oldest musical instrument, not only in India, but for the whole mankind.

3



With that, let me stop my rant and let you take a good look at these beautiful sculptures once again –  Don’t you agree temples such as these are indeed time-capsules of history that help us recreate and appreciate history?

-neelanjana








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:

156909248-Mohenjo-Daro-s-New-story-Andrew-Lawler-2013

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!

-neelanjana

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.

indusmap

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.

22-235-1-PB

22-236-1-PB

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!

-neelanjana

(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)

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Ramaprasad K V

Ramaprasad K V

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

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