The Candid Eye

November 1, 2009

The fabulous wealth of Pre-British India

Filed under: Hinduism,India,Indian History — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
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Before the British came, India was a rich country and the fame of its wealth attracted both travelers and invaders. Minerals and Metals in Pre-Modern India by A.K. Biswas (2001) does give us a dazzling glimpse of this wealth, especially of the gemstones. The riches of India were mind-boggling indeed and Biswas tries to give a fair idea of its wealth. The British claimed that they came to ‘civilise’ India, but the reality was that they came to plunder its fabulous wealth and resources.

The wealth of nations in the past, in the absence of the modern day convertible currency, was generally evaluated in terms of the minerals and metals a kingdom controlled. The stories of the richness of India in the past had reached far and wide and were so alluring that as soon as explorer expeditions were undertaken in the medieval times, their main aim was to discover a route to India. The fantastic stories about the wealth of India in the past are so mystifying that ancient India was often referred to as the Golden Bird. Arun Kumar Biswas who had earlier done the book on Minerals and Metals in Ancient Indiahere takes a look at the gem-minerals in the pre-modern India. Gems are precious stones occurring along with other minerals below the surface of the earth.

Biswas looks into the gems in the pre-modern India mainly under the following heads:

(a) travelers’ accounts of Indian gems;

(b) the gem treasury of the Moguls;

(c) some specific gem minerals such as pearl, coral, ruby and sapphire, etc.;

(d) and the Indian diamond mines in the premodern era.

 

Ancient India - Maurya's kingdom

Ancient India - Maurya's kingdom

Travelers’ Accounts of Indian Gems

At the outset we are informed that India’s traditions in ancient and medieval gems are authenticated not so much by archaeological evidence as by the travelers’ accounts. There are numerous and rich accounts in this regard, some of which Biswas says were collected by Valentine Ball. As far back as AD 77, we are told, Pliny in his Historis Naturalis had given extraordinary information regarding precious stones and metals around the world, a large proportion of them being of Indian origin. He referred to Indian adamas (diamond), smaragdus (emerald), beryl, opal, etc. In AD 140-60 Ptolemy too referred to diamond mining on the Adamas

River. Besides others, the account of Hazrat Amir Khusrau, the famed poet who accompanied Malik Naib, Alauddin Khalji’s army general in AD 1310-1312 military expedition to south India,describes the colossal treasure of gold, emerald and other gems which had been collected during the earlier’ periods of ancient India. Khusrau, after the capture of the fort of Warangal says,The boxes carried by the elephants were full of valuables and gems, the excellence of which drove the onlookers mad. Every emerald (zabarzad) sparkled in the light of the sun. . . . The corundum/sapphire (yaqat) dazzled the eye in the sun. The cat’s eye (ainul hirrat) and the cock’s eye (ainul dzk) were so brilliant.

The lustre of the rubies illuminated the darkness of the night. The emeralds had a fineness of water that could eclipse the lawn of paradise. The diamonds (ilmas) would have penetrated into an iron heart like an arrow of steel. The other stones were such that the sun blushed to look at them. As for the pearls, you would not find the like of them,even if you kept diving into the sea through all eternity. The gold was like the full moon of the twelfth night; it seemed that in order to ripen it, the alchemist sun, had lighted its fire, and the morning had blown its breath,for years. . . .

The Ariz-Mumalik (gemmologist) divided the jewels into ‘genus’ and ‘species’, ‘class’ after ‘class’, and had everything written down. . . . Among them was a jewel (Koh-i-Nur ?), unparalleled in the whole world.The sack of the golden temple of Barmatpur was similarly described by Khusrau. He wrote:Its roofs and walls were inlaid with sparkling rubies and emeralds, and after gazing at them, red and yellow spots came before the spectator’s eye. . . . The heads of the idol-worshippers came dancing from their necks.The golden bricks rolled down and brought with them the plaster of sandalwood; the yellow gold became red with blood, and the white sandal turned scarlet. The foundations of the temple, which were mines of gold, were dug up, and its jeweled walls, which were mines of precious stones, pulled down. . . . There were five hundred mans of precious stones.

Read the full report here.

 

 

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July 16, 2009

Distortion of Indian history – Part 2

By Dr Radhasyam Brahmachari 

**** Excerpts from Faith Freedom ****

What is the utility of studying history? From history, one learns the achievements of his ancestoes and their successes and failures. It enables him to analyse the reasons that brought the said successes and failures and hence helps him taking correct steps in present crises. So, if that history is erroneous or distorted, one fails to take proper steps to confront the national problems.

 But in India today, this right is being pitiably denied. They are permitted to know the history which is horribly distorted due to political reasons. Particularly the history of Muslim conquest and the period of Muslim rule, that lasted for nearly eight centuries, has been so distorted that it is almost impossible for an individual to salvage the true history from those garbage of lies and deceits.

Agra Fort

Agra Fort

The Fort at Agra:

Like the Red Fort in Delhi, the fortress at Agra also suffers similar misrepresentation. The invincible fort at Agra, as we see it today, was not built by any foreign Muslim invader and its authorship is falsely atributed to Akbar.. This marvellous exhibit of Hindu architecture, was also built by the Hindu kings well before the arrival of the barbaric Muslim invaders in India. Like the Red Fort in Delhi, the Muslim invaders forcefully occupied it and used it as their royal court and residence. During the time of Mahabharata, Agra belonged to the kingdom of Mathura ruled by the oppressive king Kansa, who used the prison at Agra to incarcerate his political rivals. In this regard, the Muslim chronicler Abdulla in his Tarikh-i-Daudi writes, “He (Sultan Sikandar Lodi) generally resided at Agra; it is said by some that Agra became a city in his time, before which it had been a mere village , but one of the old standing. The Hindus, indeed, Assert that Agra was a strong place in the days of Raja Kansa, ruled in Mathura, and who confined everyone who displeased him, in the fort at that place, so that in course of time it had become the established state prison”.

But in the same work, chronicler Abdulla says that Muhammad of Ghazni captured Agra and reduced it to a heap of ruins and writes, “In the year when the army of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni invaded Hindustan, he so ruined Agra that it became one of the most insignificant villges of the land and  after that it improved from the times of Sultan Sikandar, and at length, in Akbar’s time, became the seat of the government of Delhi, and one of the chief cities of Hindustan”. It is important to note here that the above description admits that before the invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni, Agra was  city and not a village. 

It is important to note here that there are other evidence that suggest that the fort of Agra was there during the time of Babur. Babur set his foot at the fort of Agra for the first time on May 4, 1526, and before that his son Humayun had taken control of the fort. Thereafter, Babur left Agra on February 11, 1527, and proceeded to face Maharana Sangram Singh in the battle of Khanua, leaving the fort in the care of his son Humayun. So, the rational conclusion is that, there was a massive fort, made of stone, at Agra under the control of a Rajput King Jaipal and Muhammad Ghori occupied it by defeating Jaipal in the year 1192. Thereafter, when the fort came under the control of the Mughals, Akbar might have undertaken some repair and renovation work of the then existing fort.
Above all, there is no dispute among our historians that, whether it is the Red Fort in Delhi or the invincible fortress at Agra, Hindu style, particularly the Gujarati and Rajasthani style, is very prominent in the construction of the interior palaces, courts, halls and so on.

So, a group of historins, having more rational views, believe that all the historical monuments of Delhi and Agra, the authorship of which is at present being wrongly atributed to the Muslim rulers, were, in fact, built by the Hindu kings well before the arrival of the foreign Muslim invders. They also believe that in their endeavour to give these monuments an Islamic face, the Muslim rulers, in the name of repair and renovation, removed almost all the Hindu symbols from these monuments and buried them somewhere within the peripfery of those monuments. So a thorough scientific and archaeological investigations is urgently called for revealing the truth and settling all such contrary views.

Read the full article here.

References:

[1]  H. M. Elliot and J. Dowson, The History of India, as told by its own historians

(in 8 Volumes), Low Price Publications,  New Delhi (1996) IV, 450.

[2]  H. M. Elliot and J. Dowson (ibid)  V, 295.

[3]  H. M. Elliot and J. Dowson (ibid) IV, 522.

[4]  V. A. Smith, Akbar the Great Mogul, Oxford Clarendon Press (1982), 76.

[5]  H. M. Elliot and J. Dowson (ibid) IV, 263-64.

[6]  R. C. Majumdar, H. C. Raychaudhury and K. Datta, An Advanced History of India, MacMillan & Co (1980), 579.

Also read Distortion of Indian history – Part 1

July 8, 2009

Plunder of India

India was so prosperous before 1835 that these statements were required to be given in the British parliament:


MacCauleyThere are debates of the historical validity of these statements, however, it contains the essential attitude.

I attended a presentation on India by Sri D. K. Hari, in Vishalakshi Mandap, International Center of Art of Living in Bangalore. The title of the presentation was “Plunder of India“. Like what is mentioned in the MacCauley’s talk above, in British Parliament, India was a country which was urbanized, Literate, Rich and full of arts and crafts- which can prosper only in a peaceful, well established country. Sri Hari presented evidences from travelogues of tourists to India from Europe, Gulf, and other parts of the world. Marco Palo, was so thrilled by India’s plenitude, that he wrote everything about it in terms of Millions:- there are millions of diamonds, millions of jewels and so on.. He was even termed “Millionaire historian”! Much of this wealth was generated by merchandise of food grains, spices, fine silk – India didn’t need to have a gold/silver mine. There were 3200 cities. The entire country was filled with canal system for farming. Vasco da Gama did not find the route to India on his own! He was not used to traveling in open sea, he would navigate only close to shores. So starting from Europe he reached to south Africa, where he met a Gujarati Salesman. In his own records Vasco da Gama has mentioned of how huge and much bigger the ship of this salesman was, compared to his own. This Salesman took Vasco da Gama to India!

The East India company which started business in Bengal region, was actually a failure company in England. They entered here with mere investment of 72k. The ransom collected on the villages and territories they started governing, was huge and kind of extracting the entire wealth from the place. The taxation was for running their company, funding it, rather than governing the local administration. As the British took more and more hold on India, the taxation grew out of bound. There were 18 Famines in India in a span of 24 years. These were caused artificially by excessive taxing in terms of export of 3,20,000 of tons of grains that the farmers grew here. The local people were left with no food to eat, as whatever was grown was taken away as tax. Then Mr Lytton, then British governer of India, banned any relief work, and made any donations to affected area punishable. The famine caused deaths called as “Late Victorian Holocausts” and in four quarters from 1800 to 1900, 10k, 5lac,5lac and 2crore respectively, people died in India. All these news were reaching in the front pages of British papers. However no action was taken about it.

July 7, 2009

Triple eclipse interests rationals

Sri D. K. Hari has published a fantastic book combining Astronomy, History and Geography, Archeology and a huge literature survey (with Lots of color pictures!!) :-

The Triple Eclipse of 2009

 grahan

Here is a news summarizing view of Historian and Astrophysicist.

An article has appeared on rediff here.

The book is available in divine shops of Art of Living and major book stalls in the city. You are welcome to read the book and then participate in the comments on above rediff article.

June 18, 2009

History Retold

An article worth reading from the Frontline magazine.  The source is here.

April 15, 2009

When a big tree fell – True Story of 1984 Sikh Genocide!!

This revealing article by Kanchan Gupta says a lot about 1984 Sikh Genocide in Delhi by Congress goons.I have added additional links and emphasis with this article.

Manmohan Singh and Congress suffer from selective amnesia as they rake up the 2002 Gujarat violence to malign the BJP. But even if they choose to forget the 1984 pogrom that left more than 4,000 Sikhs dead, the story remains fresh in the minds of many, among them survivors waiting for justice for 25 years.

Check out the Testimony of Surinder Singh on 1984 Sikh Genocide. Jagdish Tytler, a sikh by birth, later was converted to Christianity by James Douglas Tytler, who was the founder of many public schools including the Delhi Public School and the Summer Fields School.How come a person brought up by an eminent personality like James Douglas Tytler,can do such an act in 1984 riots, that too on his own Sikh brothers?Does Christianity teach love or hatred?This reminds me of the Goa inquisition by Portuguese.

Caught on the wrong foot over the brazen manner in which it tried to absolve Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar of the serious charges that have been levelled against them by survivors of the 1984 pogrom that resulted in the slaughter of 4, 733 Sikhs, the Congress has struck back at its principal political adversary, the BJP, by once again raising the bogey of the 2002 post-Godhra violence in Gujarat.

Addressing a Press conference in Mumbai on Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who would like people to believe that he was “not informed, not consulted, over the CBI’s clean chit to Jagdish Tytler” although that is an impossibility, has said, “Nor will I be found wringing my hands in frustration while one of my Chief Ministers condones a pogrom targeted at minorities.”

Ironically, even as the Prime Minister was seeking to resurrect the Gujarat ‘pogrom’ and remind people of the ‘atrocities’ committed against Muslims, the Special Investigation Team set up by the Supreme Court and headed by former CBI director RK Raghavan submitted its report, refuting the allegations that have sustained the myth-making aimed at demonising Mr Narendra Modi and tarring the BJP’s image.

The SIT’s report shows Mr Singh’s description of the Gujarat violence as a “pogrom targeted at minorities” is as fanciful as his denial of any knowledge about the CBI exonerating those who are accused of leading murderous mobs during the 1984 violence, planned and executed by Congress ‘leaders’ to avenge the assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi. Noted writer and veteran journalist Khushwant Singh, recalling those terrible days of 1984, told the Nanavati Commission of Inquiry, set up by the BJP-led NDA Government, that the hideous bloodletting left him “feeling like a Jew in Nazi Germany”.

It is possible that Mr Manmohan Singh has no memories of that massacre; selective amnesia is a disease from which too-clever-by-half politicians tend to suffer. It is also possible that he and his patrons in the Congress believe that by pretending nothing of note happened in 1984, those born after Congress mobs ran amok on the streets of Delhi, garlanding Sikhs with burning tyres, can be persuaded to vote for a party which claims to stand against the BJP’s ‘divisive politics’.

Such sanctimonious self-righteousness is best avoided by the Congress, not least because its then president — and India’s Prime Minister — Rajiv Gandhi had no qualms about justifying the carnage. “Some riots took place in the country following the murder of Indiraji,” Rajiv Gandhi said on November 19, 1984, even as thousands of families grieved for their loved ones killed by Congress hoodlums, “We know the people were very angry and for a few days it seemed India had been shaken. But when a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shake a little.” Some riots? Only natural? Shake a little?

Of course, Mr Singh would claim no knowledge of any of this. Perhaps he would even insist that he was “not informed, not consulted” by Rajiv Gandhi, or, for that matter, the mobs that bayed for blood (and feasted on it) for four days before someone called the Army in.

Twenty-five years is a long time. Public memory is notoriously short and it is unlikely those who have attained the right to vote in these 25 years would know what the protest against the Congress deciding to give party tickets to Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar is all about. It would, therefore, be in order to recall the chain of events lest we be persuaded to believe that nothing of consequence happened by a Prime Minister who spends sleepless nights worrying about a terror suspect held in distant Australia but blithely disowns responsibility for the shocking attempt to whitewash the crimes of his party and its ‘leaders’ committed against thousands at home.

So, here is the story, briefly told, of how more than 4,000 Sikh men, women and children were slaughtered; in Delhi alone, 2,733 Sikhs were burned alive, butchered or beaten to death. Women were raped while their terrified families pleaded for mercy, little or none of which was shown by the Congress goons. In one of the numerous such incidents, a woman was gang-raped in front of her 17-year-old son; before leaving, the marauders torched the boy.

For three days and four nights the killing and pillaging continued without the police, the civil administration and the Union Government, which was then in direct charge of Delhi, lifting a finger in admonishment. The Congress was in power and could have prevented the violence, but the then Prime Minister, his Home Minister, indeed the entire Council of Ministers, twiddled their thumbs.

Even as stray dogs gorged on charred corpses and wailing women, clutching children too frightened to cry, fled mobs armed with iron rods, staves and gallons of kerosene, AIR and Doordarshan kept on broadcasting blood-curdling slogans like ‘Khoon ka badla khoon se lenge’ (We shall avenge blood with blood) raised by Congress workers grieving over their dear departed leader.

In mid-morning on October 31, 1984, Mrs Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two Sikh guards posted at her home. Her death was ‘officially’ confirmed at 6 pm, after due diligence had been exercised to ensure Rajiv Gandhi’s succession. By then, reports of stray incidents of violence against Sikhs, including the stoning of President Zail Singh’s car, had started trickling in at various police stations.

By the morning of November 1, hordes of men were on the rampage in south, east and west Delhi. They were armed with iron rods and carried old tyres and jerry cans filled with kerosene and petrol. Owners of petrol pumps and kerosene stores, beneficiaries of Congress largesse, provided petrol and kerosene free of cost. Some of the men went around on scooters and motorcycles, marking Sikh houses and business establishments with chalk for easy identification. They had been provided with electoral rolls to make their task easier.

By late afternoon that day, hundreds of taxis, trucks and shops owned by Sikhs had been set ablaze. By early evening, the murder, loot and rape began in right earnest. The worst butchery took place in Block 32 of Trilokpuri, a resettlement colony in east Delhi. The police either participated in the violence or merely watched from the sidelines.

Curfew was declared in south and central Delhi at 4 pm, and in east and west Delhi at 6 pm on November 1. But there was no attempt to enforce it. PV Narasimha Rao, the then Home Minister, remained unmoved by cries for help. In his affidavit to the Nanavati Commission of Inquiry, Lt-Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, decorated hero of the 1971 India-Pakistan war, said, “The Home Minister was grossly negligent in his approach, which clearly reflected his connivance with perpetrators of the heinous crimes being committed against the Sikhs.”

The first deployment of the Army took place around 6 pm on November 1 in south and central Delhi, which were comparatively unaffected, but in the absence of navigators, which should have been provided by the police and the civil authorities, the jawans found themselves lost in unfamiliar roads and avenues.

The Army was deployed in east and west Delhi in the afternoon of November 2, more than 24 hours after the killings began. But, here, too, the jawans were at a loss because there were no navigators to show them the way through byzantine lanes.

In any event, there was little the Army could have done: Magistrates were ‘not available’ to give permission to fire on the mobs. This mandatory requirement was kept pending till Mrs Indira Gandhi’s funeral was over. By then, 1,026 Sikhs had been killed in east Delhi. Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar were among Congress ‘leaders’ who, witnesses said, incited and led mobs. Both deny the allegation, but the evidence is overwhelming.

A report on the pogrom, jointly prepared by the PUCL and PUDR and published under the title, Who Are the Guilty? names both of them along with others. The report quotes well-known journalist Sudip Mazumdar: “The Police Commissioner, SC Tandon was briefing the Press (about 10 Indian reporters and five foreign journalists) in his office on November 6, at 5 pm. A reporter asked him to comment on the large number of complaints about local Congress MPs and lightweights trying to pressure the police to get their men released. The Police Commissioner totally denied the allegation… Just as he finished uttering these words, Jagdish Tytler, Congress MP from Sadar constituency, barged into the Police Commissioner’s office along with three other followers and on the top of his voice demanded, ‘What is this Mr Tandon? You still have not done what I asked you to do?’ The reporters were amused, the Police Commissioner embarrassed. Tytler kept on shouting and a reporter asked the Police Commissioner to ask that ‘shouting man’ to wait outside since a Press conference was on. Tytler shouted at the reporter, ‘This is more important.’ The reporter told the Police Commissioner that if Tytler wanted to sit in the office he would be welcome, but a lot of questions regarding his involvement would also be asked and he was welcome to hear them. Tytler was fuming…”

The slaughter was not limited to Delhi, though. Sikhs were killed in Gurgaon, Kanpur, Bokaro, Indore and many other towns and cities in States ruled by the Congress. In a replay of the mayhem in Delhi, 26 Sikh soldiers were pulled out of trains and killed.

After quenching their thirst for blood, the mobs retreated to savour their ‘revenge’. The flames died and the winter air blew away the stench of death. Rajiv Gandhi’s Government issued a statement placing the death toll at 425!

Demands for a judicial inquiry were stonewalled by Rajiv Gandhi. Human rights organisations petitioned the courts; the Government said courts were not empowered to order inquiries. Meanwhile, Rajiv Gandhi dissolved the Lok Sabha and went for an early election, which the Congress swept by using the ‘sympathy card’ and launching a vitriolic hate campaign.

Once in office, Rajiv Gandhi was desperate for a breakthrough in Punjab. He mollycoddled Akali leader Sant Harchand Singh Longowal into agreeing to sign a peace accord with him. Sant Longowal listed a set of pre-conditions; one of them was the setting up of a judicial commission to inquire into the pogrom.

Thus was born the Ranganath Misra Commission of Inquiry, which took on the job of crafting a report that would suggest extra-terrestrials were to be blamed for whatever had happened. Worse, submissions and affidavits were passed on to those accused of leading the mobs; some of these documents were later recovered from the house of Sajjan Kumar. Gag orders were issued, preventing the Press from reporting in-camera proceedings of the Commission.

For full six months, Rajiv Gandhi refused to make public the Ranganath Misra Commission’s report. When it was tabled in Parliament, the report was found to be an amazing travesty of the truth; neither were the guilty men of 1984 named, now was responsibility fixed.

Subsequently, nine commissions and committees were set up to get to the truth, but they were either disbanded midway or not allowed access to documents and evidence. India had to wait for the report of the Nanavati Commission for an approximate version of the real story.

Justice Nanavati’s report said, “The Commission considers it safe to record its finding that there is credible evidence against Jagdish Tytler to the effect that very probably he had a hand in organising attacks on Sikhs.” This is not an indictment, Mr Manmohan Singh and his Government decided, so why bother about it? Four years later they remain unrepentant, their attitude remains unchanged.

Two thousand seven hundred and thirty-three men, women and children killed in Delhi, another 2,000 killed elsewhere, scores of women raped, property worth crores of rupees looted or sacked. Families devastated forever, survivors scarred for the rest of their lives.

But the Congress doesn’t care!

Also see the complete report on 1984 Sikh Genocide.

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