Thursday, July 26, 2018

Shocking Truth behind Isha's Deforestation allegations?

I have been wondering about the allegations that Isha encroached the forest lands. Many a person has told me that this is a lie being repeated by vested interests in the hope of making it sound like a truth. The unfortunate reality is that many common people also think this is the case because of the number of the times it has been said in media, though not a single person or group has been able to prove this over last 20 years!

What is Isha Foundation's Stand?

I checked the Isha Foundation website and they have given a clear notice that this is a lie being perpetrated against them. 

https://isha.sadhguru.org/in/en/blog/article/is-isha-encroaching-elephant-corridor

"Isha Yoga Center is not constructed on forest land or elephant corridor. It is constructed on 100% Patta land. In 2013, Tamil Nadu Forest Department officials verified this, and clearly documented that the center is only on Patta land and has not infringed onto forest land. The document reference number is CFCIT/07/2013."

My Findings from TN Forest Department website

I went to the Tamilnadu Forest Department website and found something very interesting. These definitions are quite important for us to note as it is from the Tamilnadu Forest Department itself. The relevant page link is: https://www.forests.tn.gov.in/pages/view/tn-state-profile


Forest Cover: All lands, more than one hectare in area, with a tree canopy density of more than 10 percent irrespective of ownership and legal status. Such lands may not necessarily be a recorded forest area. It also includes orchards, bamboo and palm. 
Forest Area: The area recorded as a forest in the Government records. It is also referred to as “recorded forest area”. 
Moderately Dense Forest: All lands with forest cover having a canopy density between 40 to 70 percent. 
Open Forest: Lands with forest cover having a canopy density between 10 to 40 percent. 
Protected Forest(PF): An area notified under the provisions of the Indian Forest Act or other State Forest Acts, having limited degree of protection. In protected forest all activities are permitted unless prohibited. 
Reserved Forest (RF): An area so constituted under the provisions of the Indian Forest Act or other State Forest Acts, having full degree of protection. In Reserved forests all activities are prohibited unless permitted. 
Scrub: Degraded forest lands having canopy density less than 10 percent. 
Tree Cover: It comprises of tree patches outside the recorded forest area exclusive of forest cover and less than the minimum mappable area (1 ha) and up to 0.1 ha. Such small patches comprising of block, linear and scattered trees are not delineated as forest cover during interpretation of satellite data. The areas of scattered trees are computed by notional numbers. 
Very Dense Forests: Lands with forest cover having a canopy density of 70 percent and above. 
Unclassed Forest: An area recorded as forest but not included in reserved or protected forest category. Ownership status of such forests varies from State to State.

Why are these definitions important for us to understand the context?

These definitions are important because we have three facts on hand:

(1) Isha Foundation lands are near the Booluvampatti Reserved Forest

(2) The definition of Forest cover is all encompassing irrespective of the ownership of the land

(3) The Tamilnadu Forest cover has actually increased from 2011 to 2017!

I will elaborate on each of these points below. But, I am going to first put you through a psychology experiment.

If I tell you that someone, say X, has cut down a 100 year old huge tree with an electric saw, you would immediately feel anger within you. Wouldn't you? And that is a genuine emotion! 

But you only heard me saying that! Did you actually see for yourself if X has indeed cut a tree down? Even if X had cut a tree, what was the context in which he / she did that?

What would be your reaction if I told you X is a rich person? Is your anger still there or is it increasing?

Would you still be angry if I told you that the tree had fallen down on X's child and if X had not cut the tree and removed it, her child would have been crushed to death under that tree? After all, you did not even know whether the cut tree was standing earlier or was on the ground already!! 

Do you see how easy it is to get our emotions manipulated?

So, the next time you hear something about someone, ascertain if such an incident actually happened and if it did, what was the context. If you do not get convincing answers for either question, you can best ignore such information.

(1) Isha Foundation lands are near the Booluvambatti Reserved Forest

The concerns raised against Isha Foundation initially could well have been legitimate but where it all became a slandering campaign was when the team used a map that was produced by Mr Saravanan Chandrasekeran on Facebook once. Saravanan had actually posted a Google Earth image of the Isha Foundation and incorrectly questioned if Isha was occupying the forest land. 



This is the image that is spread in various memes ... obviously a work of Photoshop because you cannot find such images on Google map's timelines! 

The first thing about this image is that it is at such a high level claiming to show the Isha Yoga Campus. Is the Isha Yoga Campus all over the map or is it a small place in the map? From 2006 to 2016, the campus might have grown. What is the exact size of the Isha Yoga premises in both years? People who only see and react to such meme photos emotionally don't ask this basic and logical question.

Secondly, as per the definition of Reserved Forest, nothing can be done in the forest without permission of Forest officials. So, it sounds incredulous that such a big organization shaping up within Forest lands, especially a Reserved Forest, would go unnoticed for so many years. If there is anybody who has access to the forest lands, it is the tribals living there and the Forest Officials. If somebody claims the tribals have cut the trees in the forest, it is even understandable. But how would Isha Foundation be held responsible for that?

If one is using Google Earth Images, did you ever wonder why they compare 2006 vs 2016? That is because it is easy to project the wrong figure that way. Why 2006 and 2016? Pick 1993 and 1995 instead!



I can argue that Isha Foundation has caused lot of afforestation in the Velliangiri Hills since they came to be in 1994!!

Check out: https://earthengine.google.com/timelapse/#v=10.98082,76.7275,11.973,latLng&t=1.95

Generally, clarity of Satellite images are subject to so many factors including:

- Season in which the photo is taken
- Time of the day
- Even the Algorithms that process the raw image taken

Why do you think pictures taken in recent years are sharper? Did someone go up and change the cameras in those satellites?

This is the Google maps image I picked up today (July 2018). See how different it looks from the alleged map of 2016 to now or even compared to the Google Earth images from 1993!



You can check it for yourself by visiting this link: https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/Isha+Foundation/@10.9785793,76.7325588,3015m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x3ba8576b1434d763:0x2327c3abe1d98040!8m2!3d10.9772294!4d76.7373321

Of course, Isha Foundation might have expanded their campus by buying the nearby lands to accommodate more people within their premises. That does not mean, they destroyed a whole forest as is being claimed!!

Saravanan himself had later published an apology that his initial analysis was incorrect!



No land of Isha Foundation is on forest area but the allegation had by then caught the attention of vested interests who spread it like wild-fire for gullible public to consume.

Here are some excellent posts by someone who had made extensive study about this topic:

http://qr.ae/TUIkjY

http://qr.ae/TUIkjP

To quote from these posts:




"There is one route going towards left and that is path to forest and in the junction, there is forest department check post. in the middle of the picture you can notice there is one path going left and that path is way to vellingiri temple and each year many people visit this place and climb vellingiri mountain and above that path is the start of velligiri mountain. Vertical road from bottom to top which connects these 2 path is boundary between forest and agriculture land. 
Between path to vellingiri temple and path towards forest is plains and it is covered by forest and there is a possibility of elephant in this area when weather is very dry. To reach isha we have to go 1 km from there. 
West side of isha is covered by mountains and east side is covered by agriculture lands. Mostly elephant will not walk in slopes and that restrict elephant movement after the path to vellingiri nathar temple. 
Only the path which goes to isha crossing vellingiri temple will be blocked after night 8 or 9 by forest department to ensure safety. Inside isha there is no warning or fear of elephants even in dark. No one reported elephant movement. Mountain slope should have restricted elephant movement. 
Towards east of isha yoga center you can see lot of agriculture lands if there are any elephant movement in those place people would not prefer it for agriculture. 
Now as visitors has increased isha has shifted the entrance to malai vasal which is away from this road."


"The whole area that extends to the left side of this road marked spottily by green and brown spots is the actual forest / hilly area. On this side of the picture, the brown spots indicate the rocky surface whereas the greenery indicates trees in the hilly area. 
It can be seen in the bottom right corner of where the AdiYogi statue is, well into the area where Agri lands are. In fact, right behind the AdiYogi statue is a place called ‘Karthik Farms’ which is someone’s private agricultural property. It is quite obvious from the map that the AdiYogi statue is not in forest area."


It is a shame that some of these people spreading such false information about the Isha Foundation claim to be environmentalists but are actually paid activists. People fall victim to such false allegations because of their own genuine concern towards the environment. But they do not know to ascertain the facts properly.

These lies about Isha cutting down trees or building statues in a forest land are easy to spread mainly because Isha Foundation’s lands are "near the forest" though it is not actually in the forest land itself.


(2) The definition of Forest cover is all encompassing irrespective of the ownership of the land

Since the Forest Department's definition of Forest Cover includes even private lands (> 1 hectare area with > 10% tree cover), easily Isha Foundation's lands fall into that category. But the Forest Department also says that legality & ownership of such lands can be private! It's clear in its definition that such places do not fall into the 'FOREST AREA' category. But general public might not be aware of such nuances. 

We have a fairly common vision in our minds on how a forest would appear, something like this ...




But each type of forest is different. A Dense Forest looks different from a Moderately Dense Forest which is again appearing different from an Open Forest area!




Now, the lands near (and outside) the Isha Foundation look like this:



This does not even seem close to what an Open Forest would be. But for people who do not know about all these types of forests, etc. it is easy to misunderstand and for vested interests quite easy to misrepresent that Isha Foundation's lands are indeed Forest lands whereas they seem to be clearly not!

(3) The Tamilnadu Forest cover has actually increased if you compare reports from 2011 to 2017!

Here are the links to the official Forest Department reports:

https://www.forests.tn.gov.in/tnforest/app/webroot/img/document/fsi-reports/2013/FOREST-COVER-2013.pdf

https://www.forests.tn.gov.in/app/webroot/img/document/fsi-reports/2017/FOREST-COVER.pdf

Let's look at the Forest cover areas of different types of forests in Tamilnadu:

VDF area in Sq Km -  2011: 2948    2013: 2948 2017: 3672
MDF area in Sq Km - 2011: 10321   2013: 10199 2017: 10979
OF area in   Sq Km -  2011: 10356   2013: 10697 2017: 11630



How can that be!? How has there been an increase in the actual forest area between 2011 and 2017 if we keep hearing that trees are being cut down and the dooms day is nearby?

Simple - because our minds like exaggeration, media feeds only such information to us. 

This rise in forest cover is due to active reforestation work done by several organizations across the state of Tamilnadu! 

The positive information like Isha Foundation's Project Green Hands team  distributing and taking care of over 3 crore tree saplings + efforts by individuals like Tamil Actor Vivek, Parthiban, etc. rarely makes it through media. And we are partly to blame for that. We ask for sensation only and media feeds it to us constantly!

Finally,

It is up to us to find the truth for ourselves. I have given all publicly available links here. This can all be easily verifiable. The next time someone tells you that Isha Foundation has caused environmental damage, please show them this detailed article. 

Let's spread around only Love!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Ramayana - Our Hidden History - Part 1

Why this series?

It has been a deep desire for long to bring out multiple aspects of the Indian culture in the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Many of us might have just read the abridged versions by authors like Rajaji, etc. and may not know the depth of science, social dynamics, historical aspects, geography, etc. depicted in these epics. This is a humble attempt at bringing such hidden aspects to the front..

Why Ramayana?

Ramayana is referred to as the 'Adi Kavya', the very first poem. The fascination to this epic has been there both in the Southern and Northern parts of the Indian subcontinent. Famous Sangam age poets like Kamban had translated the Ramayana from Sanskrit to Tamil to help reach more people. And no, there did not seem to be a conflict between Sanskrit and Tamil. The poets seem most of the time equally well-versed in both the languages.

So, my attempt starts here, but I may also refer to the other historical references while deciphering the Ramayana. Of course, I will provide the source in each case for the view am presenting here.

Reference to Varna system

राजवंशान्शतगुणान्स्थापयिष्यति राघव: ।
चातुर्वर्ण्यं च लोकेऽस्मिन् स्वे स्वे धर्मे नियोक्ष्यति ।।1.1.96।। 

Meaning: Rama will establish hundredfold royal dynasties and employ the four varnas to do their respective duties, in this world.

Corollary: This is the very first Sarga where briefly Sage Narada tells Sage Valmiki the essence of Rama's life history. Looking at this shloka, it is clear that the Varna system pre-dates Rama and that it was in some state of decay already. Hence he is called upon to employ people of the four Varnas to their respective duties - not by birth rights but by duties - in this world.

Source: https://www.valmiki.iitk.ac.in/sloka?field_kanda_tid=1&language=dv&field_sarga_value=1


Evolved Grammar of Sanskrit and Grammar in Ramayana

उदारवृत्तार्थपदैर्मनोरमैः
तदास्य रामस्य चकारकीर्तिमान् ।
समाक्षरैश्श्लोकशतैर्यशस्विनो 
यशस्करं काव्यमुदारधीर्मुनि: ।।1.2.42।।

Meaning: The renowned and sagacious sage composed a kavya with hundreds of charming verses, each containing equal number of syllables and excellent meaningful words set in metre, conferring glory on celebrated Rama.

Corollary: The grammar of the language should have been sufficiently advanced enough for one to write it in a certain metre. 

Source: https://www.valmiki.iitk.ac.in/sloka?field_kanda_tid=1&language=dv&field_sarga_value=2


चतुर्विंशत्सहस्राणि श्लोकानामुक्तवानृषि:।
तथा सर्गशतान्पञ्च षट्काण्डानि तथोत्तरम् ।।1.4.2।। 

Meaning: Sage Valmiki composed the Ramayanam in twentyfour thousand verses in six kandas and also Uttarakanda (consisting of five hundred cantos).

Corollary: People who are extremely proficient in English still struggle to get their words in a specific metre now. Yet here is Ramayana with 24000 shlokas in the same metre! It's a phenomenal achievement by any linguistic standards. That there are 24000 shlokas is mentioned in the Ramayana itself. This is like CRC checks in modern computer systems communication!

Source: https://www.valmiki.iitk.ac.in/sloka?field_kanda_tid=1&language=dv&field_sarga_value=4


Did the Vedas exist before Ramayana was written?

स तु मेधाविनौ दृष्ट्वा वेदेषु परिनिष्ठितौ।
वेदोपबृंहणार्थाय तावग्राहयत प्रभु:।।1.4.6।।

Meaning: Valmiki, the master, having found both Kusa and Lava endowed with intellect and accomplished in the Vedas initiated them into the Ramayana composed by him for the purpose of nourishing the Vedas.

Corollary: Some may get a question looking at this passage if it is true Vyasa was the one who compiled the Vedas! A very logical question - Krishna Dwaipayana was his name and he became Veda Vyasa because he 'classified' the Vedas into four as Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana. But it does not mean that Veda did not exist before Vyasa. It very much did. 

Vyasa himself talks about Valmiki and Ramayana in the Mahabharata. So, it is also clear that the Valmiki predates Vyasa and that Vedas predate even Rama's life story. Otherwise, there is no need for Valmiki to have mentioned it in this Shloka. It was also clear that even young children were taught Vedas because Lava and Kusa had already been proficient in Vedas before they took up the task of taking Ramayana to everywhere. 

Source: https://www.valmiki.iitk.ac.in/sloka?field_kanda_tid=1&language=dv&field_sarga_value=4

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Agricultural Tamilnadu or Industrial Tamilnadu - Way Forward!?

Is Tamilnadu really an Agriculture-based state?

We all love this wonderful picture. After all, who doesn't love the feel of lush green paddy fields.


We have seen it in enough Tamil movies and most families have heard stories of how their forefathers were once land owners. Those were dreamy days ... (in fact anything in past appears rosy!)

Love for this picture is also why every time there is a new 'industry' coming up, we see it as killing agriculture. We protest new industries, thinking we are right in protecting the 'agricultural state'.

Some people in IT are thinking that apart from them, everyone else is in farming. Same goes with some people working in industries. Let's address this misconception first. 

We will systematically see what is contributing to the state's growth.



Farming contributes to less than 10% of the state's GDP. If agriculture is not contributing much to the GSDP, what is causing the GDP to increase? The obvious answer is 'Services' sector and 'Manufacturing' industry. This statistic is enough to debunk the theory that 'everyone else' is into farming. Source: http://www.tn.gov.in/dear/Agriculture.pdf

Hmm ... that is alright, but surely this must be because we have destroyed agriculture over time, isn't it? 

The truth can again be found from Statistics published by the Agriculture department itself.

The average size of land holding in the State further reduced from 1.45 hectare in 1970-71 to 0.80 hectare in 2010-11. 


This clearly indicates that majority of people have moved away from Agriculture.

Does this mean, Agriculture production has fallen drastically in Tamilnadu? 

After all, it should be logical that since less cultivation is being done, we are heading towards a food famine! But is it a fact? Statistics again say 'NO'! 

We have in fact gone up from 75.04 Lakh tonnes in food production in 2009-10 to 85.46 Lakh tonnes in 2013-14 as a state! This is actually several times higher compared to what used to be in 1970-71 when the land usage was fairly high.


Rice production alone in Tamilnadu has gone up from 51.83 Lakh tonnes in 2008-09 to 57.26 Lakh tonnes in 2013-14. We have so much surplus that we are actually exporting rice.


Pulses production has gone up from 1.67 Lakh tonnes in 2008-09 to 3.20 Lakh tonnes in 2013-14. Similarly Cotton production has gone up from 1.88 Lakh tonnes in 2008-09 to 3.18 Lakh tonnes in 2013-14.

As per the Final Estimate of 2015-16, the food grain production of the State is 113.69 Lakh MT which is 43% increase over the food grain production achieved in 2010-11. Check the latest statistics: http://cms.tn.gov.in/sites/default/files/documents/agri_e_pn_2017_18.pdf

Anybody with some sense of inquisition will ask how the production increased if the land use for agriculture is decreasing. 

The simple answer lies in bringing better agricultural methods and mechanisation of farming that has happened over years. The state Government is already working on this as can be referred in the above document.

In fact, the biggest complaint for Tamilnadu farmers in 2018 is that there is surplus produce and they are not getting enough demand in the market due to which revenues are stagnant for them. Improving post-harvest management is one of the major challenges the sector is facing in 2018.

So, does it make sense now to have more people get into farming or away from it? 

It is definitely sensible for some more people to get away from a sector that is contributing to less than 10% of the state's GDP and into the sector that is actually contributing more - 'manufacturing'.

Where are the jobs then?

Agriculture is very much required for the state, but we are already doing very well there. Even if 25% more people move away from Agriculture, we will still be quite ok. In fact, the sector's loss making will come down.

Agriculture is not the most important problem the state should be addressing now. Tamilnadu as a state is doing pathetic (since before 2010) in terms of jobs creation. 

If you really want to know how jobs are being created across the nation, check this out: https://www.livemint.com/Opinion/lZu1VYv8LXeM8djd4UagMM/The-jobs-statistics-debate-A-good-starting-point.html



This is something every Tamil Youth should understand. Industrial development is required for jobs creation. 

Agriculture can sustain the economy only so much, simply because that is all the demand from rest of the world for our food products.

If we keep fighting industries from coming into Tamilnadu, the state will be doomed and nothing can be done to restore the damage after that. Already the damage is setting in and needs to be corrected.

Is Tamilnadu really losing out on industrial opportunities?

Every statistic and business magazine is screaming a big 'YES'!

“Our state lost opportunities, especially from Kia Motors (which has broken ground in Andhra Pradesh)” said CII-Tamil Nadu chairman P Ravichandran. While the share of investments attracted by Tamil Nadu has been on a downhill since 2015, it has been increasing in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat and Maharashtra, according to data compiled by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Union ministry of commerce & industry.


Check this out: https://www.financialexpress.com/economy/tamil-nadu-industrial-hub-or-bane/1152719/


Time to reverse this trend and welcome industrial growth and development in the state...

Should we blindly accept all industries?

No!

Every industry should be vetted out and environmental violation law enforcement has to be strict. But if for every single development step, protests are made, it will discourage industries from stepping into the state itself. 

Being emotional is ok but being rash and emotional is dangerous for you as well as the country!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Varna, Jati, Politics and Chaos

What was this caste discrimination in India called Varnas? Were Shudras really prevented from reading Vedas? 

Such questions are coming up because we do not know our own family history and our country's history well enough. Most people who gain their knowledge through social media memes suffer this disorder. This is also a common argument put forth by the ignorant ones blindly believing their Dravidian politicians in South India.

A Varna is not a Caste or Jati

First of all, one needs to understand that a Varna is not a Caste. Indian society all over the Indian subcontinent (including Tamilnadu) had  4 Varnas generally:

- Brahamana, propagators of knowledge
- Kshatriya, protectors of state & country
- Vaisya, one who indulges in commerce and agriculture
- Shudra, one who works on other tasks in society

One who is born to a Shudra father / mother need not be a Shudra. Even if you are born in a Brahmin family, if you are not a propagator of knowledge, you are not a Brahamana! Simple and straight forward ... Depending on one's daily work only, one was categorised in this manner.

One more thing - do you realize that one is not all the time a Brahmana or all the time a Kshatriya or Shudra for that matter? Let's say you are into agriculture as main business. By that virtue, you are a Vaisya. But you might also be into teaching others in your village. By that virtue, you are a Brahmana. One's Varna is known by the 'predominant' virtue of what they do and adopt.

Stephanie Jamison and Joel Brereton, a professor of Sanskrit and Religious studies, state, "there is no evidence in the Rigveda for an elaborate, much-subdivided and overarching caste system", and "the varna system seems to be embryonic in the Rigveda and, both then and later, a social ideal rather than a social reality". Source is Wikipedia page on this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varna_(Hinduism)

Historical examples

People might have exploited this whole system later by establishing rigidity around it and claiming their right by birth. That was not so earlier and I am going to give concrete examples from our history.

(1) Valmiki who wrote the Ramayana was a hunter / robber who later was reformed by Sage Narada. There is a caste of people called VALMIKIS in South India who are said to have come in the lineage of Sage Valmiki. Unfortunately, they take pride in identifying themselves as Shudras now! Anyway, Valmiki actually taught Vedas and the art of weaponry to Luv & Kush who are the sons of Rama. If he was not considered a Brahmana, who else was?

(2) Vyasa who wrote the Mahabharata and is known to have actually categorized the Vedas was born to Matsya Gandhi, a fisher woman. He was named Krishna Dwaipayana, the dark one born in an island, at birth. The very name VYASA means the 'Compiler' denoting his work on the Vedas. By birth, he should have been a Shudra. But by his deeds and dedication of life to teaching people, he was praised by everyone as a Brahmana only! There is a huge Guru Parampara that follows Vyasa muni. So, if he was a Shudra, how could he have learnt and work on the Vedas?

(3) Parashurama is known as someone who went about waging wars with Kshatriyas and killed many of them. Though he was born in a Brahmana family (to Sage Jamadagni), by his deeds he came to be a Kshatriya. Was he denied the knowledge of Vedas? No!

(4) Many of us know from Mahabhrata that Guru Dronacharya and King Drupada studied in the same Gurukul and learnt the same arts as children. Now Drona was a Brahmana and Drupada was a Kshatriya. But both of them were taught the Veda Mantras and art of weaponry by their Guru. Does this indicate a discrimination in teaching?

(5) There is a specific episode in Mahabharata where Yudhishthira and a Yaksha debate on the moral principles of that time. To the specific question by the Yaksha asking about one's Varna, Yudhisthira answers clearly and emphatically that nobody can claim their Varna by birth but it is by deeds only.

(6) A King born as Kaushika rules his kingdom for a long time as a Kshatriya but later gives it all up for severe penance. He is later recognized as Brahma-rishi and is now widely known by the name 'Vishwamitra'. Clearly Varna by birth did not decide what he would become.

(7) Krishna clearly states in Bhagavad Gita:

cāturvarṇyaṃ mayā sṛṣṭaṃ guṇakarmavibhāgaśaḥ .
tasya kartāramapi māṃ viddhyakartāramavyayam ... 4:13

"I have created this four-fold Varna order according to the quality of work."

Modern day's Interpretation

Going by these examples,

(1) If you have a good professor (not the leftist ones like in JNU) in your school or college, he / she would need to be recognized as a Brahmana.

(2) If you are in the IT industry in a menial job, at best you could be called a Vysya or a Shudra, even if you are born in a Brahmana family.

Is this Varna system explained only in the Hindu texts?

No! There is a Buddhist text called 'Digha Nikaya' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digha_Nikaya) which talks about an interesting discussion between Gautama Buddha and a Brahmana called Sonadanda that throws more light on how Varnas were treated in more recent times.

Buddha: By how many qualities do Brahmins recognize another Brahmin? How would one declare truthfully and without falling into falsehood?

Sonadanda: I will list five characteristics to recognize another Brahmin. He is of pure descent on both the mother's and the father's side, he is well versed in mantras, he is of fair color handsome and pleasing, he is virtuous learned and wise, and he is the first or second to hold the sacrificial ladle.

Buddha: If we omit one of these qualities you just listed, could not one be still a true Brahmin?

Sonadanda, one by one, eliminates fair colour and looks, then eliminates Varna in which one was born, and then eliminates the ability to recite mantra and do sacrifices as a requirement of being a Brahmin. Sonadanda asserts that just two qualities are necessary to truthfully and without falling into falsehoold identify a Brahmin; these two qualities are "being virtuous and being learned and wise".

Sonadanda then states that it is impossible to reduce the requirement for being a Brahmin any further, because "for wisdom is purified by morality, and morality is purified by wisdom; where one is, the other is, the moral man has wisdom and the wise man has morality, and the combination of morality and wisdom is called the highest thing in the world".

Sonadanda: We only know this much Gotama; it would be well if Holy Gotama would explain meaning of the two [morality, wisdom] more.

Interestingly, there is a text on Jainism called 'Adi Purana' by Janasena (8th Century AD) that talks about this too! The Adi purana text states "there is only one jati called manusyajati or the human caste, but divisions arise account of their different professions".

It is clear that at least the identification of one's predominant qualities formed the basis of Varna in Gautama Buddha's time and as late as the 8th Century AD. 

What should we do now?

Unfortunately, a lot of our scriptures and text were lost and burnt during the Islamic invasions thereafter (read about burning of Nalanda if you are interested) and we miss a precious lot of social thought and dynamics after 1000 AD. 

In my personal opinion, we should bring back everyone to the profession-based identification system and restore the societal balance accordingly. It is high time the current (and silly, may I add) caste system being endorsed by Indian politicians from 20th Century AD is discarded and thrown out of the window.

Kohinoor and the Kakatiya Connection

Many of us have heard about the #Kohinoor diamond and that it was looted away from India to Britain. But do you know that the diamond was unearthed in Kollur on the banks of Krishna river during the Kakatiya reign?

The #Kakatiya rule is said to be one of the golden ages of Telugu history and yet we hardly find any description of their rule over 250 years in our history books! 

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Rudramadevi or Rudramba is probably the only ruler one might have heard of Kakatiyas, and that too after the recent movies in her name 
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Rudramadevi is a glorious example of how women had to struggle to ascend to power despite being born in a royal family and how sheer will & grit can achieve it. Despite initial misgivings by some of her own generals who resented a female ruler, she suppressed the internal rebellions successfully. She made her valour well known by handing out defeats to Rajendra Chola's incursion and rebutting invasions from the Yadavas of Devagiri.

Despite having constant battles throughout their reign against either the internal rebels or the external foes, the #Kakatiya rulers were great patrons of art and music. The Thousand Pillars Rudreswara temple at Hanumkonda and Ramappa temple at Palampet are great examples of the art at that time.
Rudreshwar Swamy Temple

Oh, if you did not know it already, Warangal was the capital city of Kakatiyas for a long time and derives its name from 'Orugallu' or 'EkaSila', pointing to the huge boulder around which its fort was built. Those who know Tamil can immediately identify that 'Oru kallu' means 'one rock' 

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Did you know that Kohinoor diamond was originally weighing 793 carats. It was cut several times over centuries. In 1852, Queen Victoria decided to reshape the diamond and it was cut down to 108.93 carats. This is just like the Kakatiya kingdom which sadly very few people know about now, though at its peak, it was one of the biggest & richest kingdoms in India.

There are so many social and political dynamics that one can learn from Indian History. Let's not miss these gems.

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