Tuesday, March 31, 2009

India's Freedom Struggle

In ancient times, people from all over the world were keen to come to India. The Aryans came from Central Europe. The Persians followed by the Iranians and Parsis immigrated to India. Then came the Mughals. Alexander the Great too, came to conquer India but went back after a battle with Porus. Hu-en Tsang from China came in pursuit of knowledge and to visit the ancient Indian universities of Nalanda and Takshila. Vasco da Gama from Portugal came to trade his country's goods in return for Indian species. The French came and established their colonies in India. Lastly, the Britishers came and ruled over India for nearly 200 years.

Timeline of India’s freedom struggle: A brief time line of Indian freedom struggle from The early European when the East India company was formed (1600) to the freedom of India(1947) is as follows

The Early European

1498 - Vasco-da-gama arrived in India.

1600 – East India Company was formed.

1748 - Anglo-French War in India.

1757 - Battle of Plassey(After the battle of Plassey in 1757, the British achieved political power in India.).

The East India Company

1799 - British defeat Tipu Sultan.

1805 - Anglo-Maratha War.

1846 - Anglo-Sikh War- Sikhs Defeated.

1856 - The British conquest and its authority were firmly established.

1857 - First Indian War of Independence.

The conquest of India, which could be said to have begun with the Battle of Plassey (1757), was practically completed by the end of Dalhousie's tenure in 1856. It had been by no means a smooth affair as the simmering discontent of the people manifested itself in many localized revolt during this period. However, the Mutiny of 1857, which began with a revolt of the military soldiers at Meerut, soon became widespread and posed a grave challenge to the British rule. The revolt was controlled by the British within one year, it began from Meerut on 10 May 1857 and ended in Gwalior on 20 June 1858

1858 – End of East India Company (November 1, 1858 declared that thereafter India would be governed by and in the name of the British Monarch through a Secretary of State.)

Indian National Congress

1885 - Indian National Congress was formed by Allen Octavian Hume.

The Indian National Congress became the leader of the Indian Independence Movement, with over 15 million members and over 70 million participants in its struggle against British rule in India.

1915 - Home Rule League was founded by Annie Besent.

1919 - Khilafat Movement, Jalianwala Bagh Massacre, The Rowlat Act.

1921 - Rise of Gandhi and his Civil Disobedience Movement.

1922 - Gandhi Suspended movement after the Chauri-Chura violence.

1928 - Murder of Lala Lajpat Rai and subsequent revolutionary activities.

1929 - Singh and Dutt threw a bomp onto the corridor of the assemnbly and shouted "Inquilab Zindabad".

1930 - The Dandi Salt March, The Simon Commission, First Round Table Conference.

1931 - Second Round Table Conference, Gandhi-Irvin Pact.

1937 - Provincial Autonomy Begins with Congress winning power in many states. WWII breaks out and  political deadlock in India.

1942 - The Quit India Movement, Rise of Subhas Chandra Bose.

1946 - INA men tried. Muslim League Adamant about Pakistan.

1947 - India was Partioned. Britishers Left India - Freedom at Midnight.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

World's Highest Battle Field

The Siachen Glacier is located in the eastern Karakoram range in the Himalaya Mountains along the disputed India-Pakistan border at about 35°30′N 77°00′E / 35.5°N 77.0°E. India controls all of the Siachen Glacier itself, including all tributary glaciers. The Siachen Glacier (Siachen meaning "Black Rose" in Balti), discovered in 1907, is the world´s longest glacier outside the polar regions.
Justify Full
The Siachen measures approximately 75km in length and 4.8km in width, and rises to about 4,800m. The glacier originates near the Indra Koli Pass on the Pakistan-China border, about 70km southeast of K-2 (Chogori), the second highest peak in the world; From here it runs along the Saltoro Range in a southeasterly direction till it turns into the Nubra River near Dzingrulma, a small village in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) near Ladakh.

The glacier's region is the highest battleground on earth, where India and Pakistan have fought intermittently since April 1984. Both countries maintain permanent military personnel in the region at a height of over 6,000 metres (20,000 ft). The site is a prime example of mountain warfare.

In spite of the severe climate, the word 'Siachen' ironically means 'the place of wild roses', a reference some people attribute to the abundance of Himalayan wildflowers found in the valleys below the glacier, but which specifically refers to the thorny wild plants which grow on the rocky outcrops.

In spite of the severe climate, the word 'Siachen' ironically means 'the place of wild roses', a reference some people attribute to the abundance of Himalayan wildflowers found in the valleys below the glacier, but which specifically refers to the thorny wild plants which grow on the rocky outcrops.

On top of the world's highest battlefield, the soldier's biggest foe is the weather. Bone-chilling winds whip the landscape and avalanches sweep soldiers into 30-foot-deep crevasses. The harsh sun burns their skin and, combined with the thin air and sub-zero temperatures, can induce acute depression. The last village in Siachen area had just seven houses - beyond that there is only the army.

Cold statistics tell you that more lives have been lost to the weather than to the enemy since 1984, when the Indian army first occupied the Siachen glacier. Some 7,000 Indian soldiers are stationed on the disputed glacier - at 5,500 metres above sea level - bordering Pakistani and Indian-administered portions of Kashmir. Pakistan has some 150 manned posts and about 3,500 soldiers there. Most soldiers are posted on the higher ridges for just three months. So, the Siachen battle school trains around 7,000 soldiers every year.

The glacier is a major source of the river Indus. Global warming has had one of its worst impacts here in the Himalayas with the glaciers melting at an unprecedented rate and monsoon rains now appearing north of the mountains. The volume of the glacier has been reduced by 35 percent over the last twenty years; military activity since 1984 has also been blamed for much of the degradation of the glacier.
On June 12, 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the area, calling for a peaceful resolution of the problem. In the previous year, the President of India, Abdul Kalam became the first head of state to visit the area.

India based Jet Airways plans to open a chartered service to the glacier's nearest airlink, the Thoise airbase, mainly for military purposes. Since September 2007, India has opened up mountaineering and trekking expeditions to the forbidding glacial heights.

There is a famous local saying, "The land is so barren and passes so high that only the best of friends and fiercest of enemies come by.'' The dispute over Siachen, which began more than 20 years ago, is testimony to this saying.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Indian Vastu Shastra

Vaastu shastra,  an ancient art and science of Indian architecture,  explains the practices of constructing buildings which ensures a harmony between man and the five elements and thereby bring all round peace, health, wealth and prosperity. Vaastu Shastra is a Sanskrit name, where 'vaastu' means nature, surrounding or environment, and 'shastra' means science. Vaastu Shastra evolved during Vedic times in India. Vastu Shastra, a part of Vedas is believed to have originated four to five thousand years ago. Excerpted from the Stapatya Veda, a part of the Atharva Veda. It is believed that Mayan, the great architect of ancient India, was the author of Vaastu Shastra. 

Vastu study acquires a complete command over the knowledge of directions. As per Vaasthu shashtra rules, the point at which two different directions meet, it is more powerful, as it combines the forces coming from two distinctive directions. Vastu shashtra is the scientific study of directions that takes into consideration that everything in the universe is constructed by the five elements called Panchamabhoota (earth, water, fire, air and space) and that gravitational and magnetic effects and rotational influences of planets and other celestial bodies with cosmic rays, affects us and controls the way we live.

Vaastu as the actual physical manifestation of the dwelling is categorized into four

  • Bhoomi - the dwelling place or the main structural ground
  • Prasada - the structures on the earth 
  • Yaana - movable objects like vehicles, etc. 
  • Sayana – furniture

These categories suggests that the principles of Vaastu Shastra extend from property selection, planning and orientation to zonal segmentation and disposition of rooms, proportional relationships between the various parts of buildings and the character of buildings. Vaastu considered as a science forms the basis of each construction and experts who deal with it recommend that it has to be followed from the initial level of choosing a plot, construction of the house, interior decoration to the final stage of relocating to the house.

The principles of Vaastu are derived from Vaastu Purush Mandala; a man lying with his head-pointing North-East, in a grid of 64 squares dedicated to different Gods. Vaastu Purusha is present in each and every plot whether it is big or small. He has a fixed and peculiar body. 

According to Vaastu Shastra, after we have a selected a plot/ house we have to consider its Vaastu Purusha Mandala. Vaastu Purusha Mandala is the basic model on which the house is based. 'Vaastu' means environment, 'Purush' means energy, 'Mandala' means the astrological chart which relates the layout to the orientation.  Just like the earth with its magnetic field is centered to its core, the plot should have everything epic centered to it,  in the concept of Vaastu Purush Mandala. We should consider the plot and all the items in it having a mystic power, like the earth, items within the earth and its planets. 

Today, Vaastu Shastra is looked upon as a highly evolved, building philosophy in which directions and shapes are the most vital aspects of designing. The four directions of the plot are decided, based on the epic centre of the plot.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Holi Festival in India

Festivals in India are an integral part of people's life. Festivals of India portray the rich cultural heritage of the country. Holi is one of the Major festivel of India. Holi has different aspects to its celebration. Like it is a celebration of good over evil, a carnival of colors, a community festival, a secular festival and a tradition of ancient spring rites.

As the festival of Holi comes it brings with it the colors of life and colors of love. We all celebrate holi with full of enthusiasm. It is the time to play with colors. It is the time for fun and feasting. It's the time to enjoy some delicious delicacies to bright up the festive mood. As we cannot think of any Indian festival without food. Gujhia is one of the most popular desserts of Holi. It is a must for every North Indian home during the festival of Holi. There are 'papris' and 'dahi vade' to add to the lists. There intoxicating 'bhang-ke-vade' but it should be taken in small quantities.

When does we celebrate Holi? The festival of Holi is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March every year. In India the Spring Festival is called Holi the festival of colors. Celebrated in March or April according to the Hindu calendar. The festival mainly started to welcome the Spring season and win the blessings of Gods for good harvests and fertility of the land. As with all the Hindu festivals, there are many interesting legends attached to Holi.

Let we take a brief overview of History of Holi

History of Holi: Originally Holi is a Spring festival. It is celebrated for good harvests and fertility of the land. There are many legends and history associated with the originof this spring festival. The most popular among these legends is the one about the story of Prahlad, the son of the evil King Hiranyakasipu and the devotee of lord Vishnu. He tried hard to kill him but every time Lord Vishnu saved him. One of the sisters of the king named Holika had a boon to remain unscathed by fire, so she followed her brother's wishes. However, with this sinful act against Lord Narayana's devotee, Holika's boon ended and she was burnt to ashes, while Prahlad came out safe. From that day onwards Holi is celebrated as the festival of the victory of good over evil. Even today, bonfires are lit on the night before Holi in memory of the event and burning of the evil Holika. It symbolizes the victory of Good over evil. Holi commemorates this event from mythology, and huge bonfires are burnt on the eve of Holi as its symbolic representation.

Holi also celebrates colors. It is called the festival of colors. Lord Krishna and Radha is associated with the celebration of colors. It is the immortal love of Krishna and Radha, which is associated with the celebration of colors in Holi. Holi is also called Vasant Utsav or the festival of spring. The day after burning the Holika people put the ashes from the fire as Vibhuti on their forehead often mixed with Chandan paste (Sandalwood paste). Around the same time of the year as Holi, Catholics also celebrate ash ceremony called, Ash Wednesday. It is believed that on the day Holika was burnt Lord Shiva opened his third eye and burnt Kaamdev (the God of Love) to ashes because once Kaamdev in his foolish pride aimed his love arrow at Lord Shiv who was in deep meditation. Sensing his presence Lord Shiv opened his third eye and burnt Kaamdev to ashes. Rati, Kaamdev's wife, beseeched Lord Shiv to take pity on her and restore her husband to life. Shiv relented and granted her the boon that she could see her husband but he would remain without a physical form. Hence, the songs sung during Holi tell the tale of Rati and her lamentations. These are the few legends, which tells us the origin of Holi festival and its celebration.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sushruta---Father of surgery

Sushruta was a surgeon and teacher of Ayurveda who flourished in the Indian city of Kashi by the 6th century BC. Sushruta served as a surgeon in Kashi, where he practiced medicine and identified the treatment and origin of several diseases. He is well recognized for his innovative method of rhinoplasty, extra capsular lens extraction in cataract, anal and dental surgeries. However, little is known regarding his vivid description of diabetes (madhumeha), angina (hritshoola) and obesity (medoroga).

He was a disciple of Dhanwantari, who is recognized as the Lord deity of Ayurveda (science of life) the Indian system of medicine. He was identified as the son of the Vedic sage Visvamitra.

The medical treatise Sushruta Samhita—compiled in Vedic Sanskrit—is attributed to him. The Sushruta Samhita refers to the eight branches of Ayurvedic medicine. The text is divided into six sections and 184 chapters. Sushruta details about 650 drugs of animal, plant, and mineral origin. In addition, it describes more than 300 kinds of operations that call for 42 different surgical processes and 121 different types of instruments. Other chapters in Sushruta make clear the high value put on the well-being of children, and on that of expectant mothers. Sushruta's coverage of toxicology (the study of poisons) is more extensive than that in Charaka, and goes into great detail regarding symptoms, first-aid measures, and long-term treatment, as well as classification of poisons and methods of poisoning. His samhita discusses in minute detail how to perform prosthetic surgery to replace limbs, cosmetic surgery on different parts of the body, cesarean operations, setting of compound fractures, and even brain surgery.

Sushruta details about 125 surgical instruments used by him, mostly made of stones, wood and other such natural materials. Use of shalaka, meaning foreign body (rods or probe), is also mentioned by Sushruta. Some classifications found in the Sushruta Samhita are not even traced by modern medical science. He is the first surgeon in medical history who systematically and elaborately dealt with the anatomical structure of the eye.

Sushruta described diabetes (madhumeha) as a disease characterized by passage of large amount of urine, sweet in taste, hence the name “madhumeha” — honey like urine. He goes on to say that diabetes primarily affects obese people who are sedentary and emphasized the role of physical activity in amelioration of diabetes.

Though the discovery of circulation is attributed to William Harvey; it is interesting to note that Sushruta had the knowledge of a structure like heart and its role in circulation of “vital fluids” through the ‘channels’. His vivid account of angina (“hritshoola “, meaning heart pain) is marvelous, though he did not use the exact term as angina. It embodies all the essential components of present day definition, i.e. site, nature, aggravating and relieving factors and referral. According to him angina is chest pain which is precordial, temporary, exertional, emotional, burning like and relieved by rest. He also linked this kind of pain to obesity (medoroga). Besides these, he has also described the symptoms of “vatarakta” which are similar to that of hypertension.

Sushruta describes the day-to-day life of the physician in ancient India, who made the rounds of patient's residences and also maintained a consulting room in his own home, complete with a storeroom of drugs and equipment. According to him, although doctors could command a good living, they might also treat learned brahmins, priests and the poor for free. Sushruta describes the ideal qualities of a nurse, and suggests that doctors may have been required to have licenses.

Sushruta extols the benefits of clean living, pure thinking, good habits and regular exercise, and special diets and drug preparations. A plant called soma that is described in the early texts but has never been clearly identified was recommended as a treatment for rejuvenating body and mind. Sushruta explains the need of all living creatures to sleep and to dream as a function of two principles of the mind that give glimpses of previous existences or warn of future ill health. When both principles are weakened, results in coma.

Sushruta is also the father of Plastic Surgery and Cosmetic Surgery since his technique of forehead flap rhinoplasty that he used to reconstruct noses that were amputated, is practiced almost unchanged in technique to this day.

Sushruta had become very famous and his work was translated first into Arabic. Subsequently it reached Europe through Latin and English. Long before the so-called modern medicine and its surgical wing acquired its professional dimensions, Sushruta had traversed a long way ahead of the rest of the world of medical practice and training.

Because of his seminal and numerous contributions to the science and art of surgery he is also known by the title "Father of Surgery”.

Sushruta’s name is synonymous with India’s surgical inheritance, as correctly summarized by the ‘Legacy of Sushruta” (by Dr. M.S. Valiathan) and in proclaiming the greatness of India’s great heritage of its culture.
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