Monday, September 30, 2013

Lost City of Dvaraka, SR Rao

Lost City of Dvaraka, S.R. Rao

One-line review: Mythology excavated, history re-incarnated.

Short review: Arguably the single most important archaeological excavation of the twentieth century, the offshore marine excavations off Dvaraka began with a humble eighty thousand rupee grant. It helped plug in a thousand-year hole in India's ancient history - of what happened after the decline of the Harappan civilization and before the advent of the Buddha in the fifth century BCE. In the process was also established the historicity of a certain gentleman named Krishna Devakiputra - also known as the eighth incarnation of Narayana, Lord Vishnu. These two stunning implications of the excavations have not yet been fully appreciated, thanks to a benign neglect of archaeology by the government, the warped revisionism practiced by Marxist historiographers in India, and the Indian's general apathy to history.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Mahabharata Ch 31-35, Adi Parva, Astika Parva

[Ch 26,27,28,29,30 « Ch 31,32,33,34,35 » Ch 36,37,38,39,40]

Parva:Adi; Upa-parva:Astika; Chapter:31; Shlokas:18
Shounaka now asks Souti to tell him about the names of the snakes (the sons of Kadru). Souti lists the main names. The first to be born was Shesha, followed by Vasuki. Then came others like Airavata, Takshaka, Kaliya, Elapatra, Padma, Pindaraka, Aparajita, etc... Souti ends by saying that there are too many snakes to be listed.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mahabharata Ch 26-30, Adi Parva, Astika Parva

[Ch 21,22,23,24,25 « Ch 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 » Ch 31,32,33,34,35]

Parva:Adi; Upa-parva:Astika; Chapter:26; Shlokas:47
As soon as Garuda landed on the tree, its branch broke, and as Garuda caught the falling branch, he saw the valakhilyas (वालखिल्य) ("Rishis who number 60,000 and were generated from the creator's body. They are the size of a thumb and precede the sun's chariot.") hanging upside down from the branch. Anxious to avoid hurting them, Garuda soared into the sky, looking for a safe place to set the branch, but couldn't find any. He then made his way to the Gandhamadana mountain.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Mahabharata Ch 21-25, Adi Parva, Astika Parva

[Ch 16,17,18,19,20 « Ch 21,22,23,24,25 » Ch 26,27,28,29,30]
Parva:Adi; Upa-parva:Astika; Chapter:21; Shlokas:17

Garuda arrived and lived with his mother. A few days later, at Kadru's bidding, Vinata took Kadru on her back, while Garuda carried her thousand naga sons on his back to the "lovely abode of the nagas situated in the heart of the ocean." Garuda rose so high that the the snakes became unconscious, "scorched by the rays of the sun." Kadru started to invoke Indra with hymns in his praise, asking that he save her sons with his showers.

Parva:Adi; Upa-parva:Astika; Chapter:22; Shlokas:05

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Mahabharata Ch 16-20, Adi Parva, Astika Parva

[Ch 11,12,13,14,15 « Ch 16,17,18,19,20 » Ch 21,22,23,24,25]
Parva:Adi; Upa-parva:Astika; Chapter:16; Shlokas:40
Continuing, Souti described the dimensions of Mount Mandara as 11,000 yojanas above and below. The gods failed to uproot the mountain, and approached Brahma for help. Directed by Narayana at Brahma's behest, Ananta (Sesha naag) uprooted the mountain, and the gods took Mount Mandara to the ocean. The lord of the rivers agreed to let the gods churn the ocean but demanded his share in return for bearing the churning. After which the gods and demons went to Akupara, the king of the tortoises to bear the mountain on his back. Akupara agreed and using instruments, Indra fixed the mountain to the tortoise's back, and using Vasuki as the rope the churning began. As the head of the naga Vasuki was raised up and down repeatedly, "black smoke and flaming winds issued from his mouth." However, this smoke gave rise to rain filled clouds, bringing relief to the gods.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Make Time for the Work That Matters

Make Time for the Work That Matters

"Make Time for the Work That Matters" is an article from the Sep 2013 issue of the Harvard Business Review, written by Julian Birkinshaw and Jordan Cohen. For the time being, the full article is available on the HBR site, and not behind a subscriber paywall.
The article promises to shed light on a problem that has defied a workable and lasting solution - how to spend more time on the really useful things. While the article does a good job of articulating the pressing need for to save time in the workplace, the proposed solutions however fall short of what would qualify as meaningful or workable.

Mahabharata Ch 11-15, Adi Parva, Pouloma,Astika Parva

[Ch 6,7,8,9,10 « Ch 11,12,13,14,15 » Ch 16,17,18,19,20]

Parva:Adi; Upa-parva:Pouloma; Chapter:11; Shlokas:17

The dundhuba told Ruru that he once had a brahmana friend named Khagama. Out of "juvenile playfulness" (क्रीडता बाल्ये) he once scared Khagama senseless with a snake made out of blades of grass. An angry Khagama cursed him to turn into a powerless snake for having used a powerless snake (made from blades of grass) to mock him. A penitent dundhubu asked for mercy. A softened Khagama prophesied that he would be freed from the curse on seeing Ruru.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Lost River: On The Trail of the Sarasvati, Michel Danino

The Lost River: On The Trail of the Sarasvati, by Michel Danino

The Lost River: On The Trail of the Sarasvati, by Michel Danino

 5 stars
 This is a notable book I read and reviewed. Click to see more such books.
One-line review: Remarkable book that tells the remarkable history of a remarkable river that sustained a remarkable civilization!

Short review: It is rare that a book flows with the same ease and felicity as the river it seeks to describe. This is that rare book. The river Saraswati, when it flowed some five thousand years ago, gave birth to the most massive and advanced ancient civilization that existed. The almost million square kilometers of land that formed the Indus Saraswati Civilization saw the development of the most advanced urban planning in the ancient world, a system of standardized weights and measures that boggles the mind, a social order that was more egalitarian than has ever existed anywhere since. When the river stopped flowing - severely depleted by the "double desertion" of the Sutlej and Yamuna - it caused a massive abandonment of the Indus Saraswati sites, with its residents migrating to the Gangetic plains and elsewhere, giving birth to a new phase in the evolution of the Vedic dharma which saw its birth amidst the fertile plains of the Indus Saraswati. That the existence of this once mighty river is in dispute is itself a sordid tale of ideologies polluting academics. Michel Danino writes fluidly, engagingly - makes this book a page-turner.

Long review: