Tag Archives: greek

BOOK REVIEW: ‘SHIKHANDI … And Other Tales they don’t tell you’ by Devdutt Pattanaik

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Copyright@shravancharitymission

‘SHIKHANDI … and other tales they don’t tell you,’ by Devdutt Pattanaik.

The subject title was published in the year 2014 by Zubaan in collaboration with Penguin Books. The price of the book is Rs 299. Although, I had heard about this book some time ago I had not read it. I took the book to hand only recently. It comprises of some 176 pages.

    The book deals with the discovery or Invention of Queerness. There are different types of people in the world with different types of physiology. There are races, religions, communities who define queerness in their own peculiar manner. Before planning to write this book I’m sure the author must have done a great deal of homework. He must have studied various communities, races and religions to spin out the content of this particular book. I find a growing trend in some publishers these days where they place the name of the author more prominently on the cover page, and in bigger fonts, than the title of the book which only goes to show that the publisher has more confidence on the brand of the author on account of his or her accumulated titles than the subject book’s content. But this obviously comes after the author has made a mark for himself. Is this one such case I wonder?

    The subject title was published in the year 2014 by Zubaan in collaboration with Penguin Books. The price of the book is Rs 299. Although, I had heard about this book some time ago I had not read it. I took the book to hand only recently. It comprises of some 176 pages.

    The author has made a few daring attempts in the book to put Hindu Gods and Godesses in utter starkness that makes them look frivolous which the author could have avoided. And that also gives one a feeling that the intention behind that act of God is not comprehensively understood or narrowly missed by the author well enough, even when, he has gone through Hindu texts, and some fifty-four select bibliographies that he mentions in the book. The author runs all over. From queerness to hijras, cross-dressers, Gods, mythology and the short stories therein, and then finally it appears as if the author has lost direction. Where, one starts missing the central theme of the book, but was it even there one wonders. In some pages, one wonders, if it is just a collection and free-fall of short stories which is not what the book was intended to be.  Even the emotions of characters are not elaborately emoted. The author goes on to say that India is an agricultural community and so it was common to see women as mere fields with men as the farmers who sow seeds.

    The author has captured the content of this book in thirty chapters mostly out of Hindu mythology—Mahabharat, Ramayan including South Indian and other religious texts such as Purans, Bible and Greek mythology. The author builds the content of queerness on the premise that—Patriarchy asserts men are superior to women. Feminism clarifies women and men are equal. Queerness questions what constitutes male and female.    Queerness isn’t just modern, Western or sexual, says mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik. Take a close look at the vast written and oral traditions in Hinduism, some over two thousand years old, and you will find many overlooked tales, such as those of Shikhandi, who became a man to satisfy her wife being put under a cover. Playful and touching—and sometimes even disturbing—these stories, when compared with their Mesopotamian, Greek, Chinese and Biblical counterparts, reveal the unique Indian way of making sense of queerness. Net-net the book is about the queer retelling of, Indian myths, by the author. But I also have a different take on this book.

    The book would have been more powerful had ‘Queerness’ not been the title or the central theme of the book. For it is dominated more by short stories where queerness spins out as a by-product. And the stories needed to be presented with more of a foreground and background. Author ne dil khol ke nahin likha hai yeh kitab. He has tried to stuff in a lot of content in very few pages and therefore the book doesn’t impact you.

  I would give the book six out of ten.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

MIRAGE

(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories. It is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

BOOK REVIEW: INDIKA by Megasthenes

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    Indika is an account of Mauryan Empire by the Greek writer Megasthenes. The original book is now lost, but its fragments have survived in later Greek and Latin works. The earliest of these works are those by ancient Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, Strabo a Greek geographer, Pliny a magistrate of ancient Rome, and Arrian another Greek historian.

    Megasthenes’ Indica can be reconstructed using the portions preserved by later writers as direct quotations, rephrase or even paraphrase. The parts that belonged to the original text can be identified from the later works based on similar content, vocabulary and phrasing, even when the content has not been explicitly attributed to Megasthenes. There is a document of Felix Jacoby’s (Fragmente der griechischen Historiker) that contains 36 pages of content that can be traced to Megasthenes.

    E. A. Schwanbeck another historian traced several fragments of writings to Megasthenes, and based on his collection, John Watson McCrindle a Sottish philologist and educator published a reconstructed version of Indika in 1887. But this reconstructed version was not universally accepted.

    Schwanbeck and John Watson McCrindle attributed several fragments in the writings of the 1st century BCE writer Diodorus to Megasthenes. However, Diodorus does not mention Megasthenes even once, unlike Strabo, who explicitly mentions Megasthenes as one of his sources. There are several differences between the accounts of Megasthenes and Diodorus: for example, Diodorus describes India as 28,000 stadia long (a Greek unit of length from which the word stadium has come) from east to west, whereas, Megasthenes gives this number as 16,000. Diodorus states that Indus may be the world’s largest river after Nile, whereas, Megasthenes (as quoted by Arrian) states that Ganges is much larger than Nile.

    There is a description of Gangaridai that appears in the writings of Diodorus. Gangaridai is a term used by the ancient Greco-Roman writers to describe the people or a geographical region of the ancient Indian subcontinent. Some of these writers state that Alexander the Great withdrew from the Indian subcontinent because of the strong war elephant force of the Gangaridai. The writers variously mention Gangaridai as a distinct tribe, or a nation within a larger kingdom (presumably the Nanda Empire).

    A number of modern scholars locate Gangaridai in the Ganges Delta of the Bengal region, although alternative theories also exist. Gange or Ganges, the capital of the Gangaridai (according to Ptolemy a historian), has been identified with several sites in the region, including Chandraketugarh and Wari-bateshwar.

    McCrindle believed that Diodorus’ source for this description was the now-lost book of Megasthenes. However, according to A. B. Bosworth (1996), Diodorus obtained this information from Hieronymus of Cardia: Diodorus described Ganges as 30 stadia wide. It is well-attested by other sources that Megasthenes described the median or minimum width of Ganges as 100 stadia, about 185 to 192 metres.

    According to the text reconstructed by John Watson McCrindle, Megasthenes’ Indika describes India as follows:

    India is a quadrilateral-shaped country, bounded by the ocean on the southern and the eastern side. The Indus River forms the western and the north-western boundary of the country, as far as the ocean. India’s northern border reaches the extremities of Tauros the mountains of southern Turkey. From Ariana (the Latinized form of ancient Greek) to the Eastern Sea, it is bound by mountains that are called Kaukasos by the Macedonians. The various native names for these mountains include Parapamisos, Hemodos and Himaos (the Himalayas). Beyond Hemo-dos, lies Scythia (a region of central Eurasia) inhabited by the Scythians known as Sakai. Besides Scythia, the countries of Bactria, an ancient region in Central Asia. Bactria proper was north of the Hindu Kush mountain range and south of the Amu Darya River, covering the flat region that straddles modern-day Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. More broadly Bactria was the area north of the Hindu-Kush, west of the Pamirs and south of the Tian-Shan, with the Amu Darya flowing west through the center, and Ariana bordering India.

    At the extreme point of India, there is this gnomon the projecting piece of the sundial that often casts no shadow, and the Ursa Major constellation that is completely invisible at night. In the remotest parts, the shadows fall southward, when even Arcturus the brightest star is not visible.

    India has many large and navigable rivers, which arise in the mountains on its northern border. Many of these rivers merge into Ganges, which is 30 stadia wide at its source, and runs from north to south. The Ganges empties into the ocean that forms the eastern boundary of Gangaridai. Other nations feared Gangaridai’s huge force of the biggest elephants, and therefore, Gangaridai had never been conquered by any foreign king.

    Indus also runs from north to south, and has several navigable tributaries. The most notable tributaries are Hupanis, the Hudaspes, and the Akesines (all difficult names to pronounce). One peculiar river is Sillas, which originates from a fountain of the same name. Everything cast into this river sinks down to the bottom – nothing floats in it. In addition, there are a large number of other rivers, supplying abundant water for agriculture. According to the native philosophers and natural scientists, the reason for this is that the bordering countries are more elevated than India, so their waters run down to India, resulting in such a large number of rivers.

    In the primitive times, Indians lived on fruits and wore clothes made of animal skin, just like the Greeks. The most learned Indian scholars say that Dionysus the god of the grape-harvest, winemaking and wine of fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, and theatre in ancient Greek religion and myth invaded India, and conquered it. When his army was unable to bear the excessive heat, he led his soldiers to the mountains called Meros for recovery. This led to the Greek legend about Dionysus being bred in his father’s thigh Dionysus taught Indians several things including how to grow plants, make wine and worship. He founded several large cities, introduced laws and established courts. For this reason, he was regarded as a deity by the Indians. He ruled entire India for 52 years, before dying of old age. His descendants ruled India for several generations, before being dethroned and replaced by democratic city-states.

    The Indians who inhabit the hill country also claim that Herakles a Greek deity was one of them. Like the Greeks, they characterize him with the club and the lion’s skin. According to them, Her-akles was a powerful man who subjugated evil beasts. He had several sons and one daughter, who became rulers in different parts of his dominion. He founded several cities, the greatest of which was Patliputra. Herakles built several places in this city, fortified it with water-filled trenches and settled a number of people in the city. His descendants ruled India for several generations, but never launched an expedition beyond India. After several years, the royal rule was replaced by democratic city states, although there existed a few kings when Alexander invaded India.

    India has several mountains with fruit trees of every kind. There are a large number of animal species in India. The Indian elephants are far stronger than the Libyan elephants, because of the abundance of food on the Indian soil. The elephants are domesticated in large numbers, and trained for war. The gestation period of the elephants range from 16 to 18 months, and the oldest of the elephants live up to 200 years.

   Gold, silver, copper and iron are abundant on Indian soil. Tin and other metals are used for making a number of tools, weapons, ornaments, and other articles.

    India has very fertile plains, and irrigation is practised widely. The main crops include rice, millet, a crop called bosporum, other cereals, were pulses and other food plants. There are two crop cycles per year, since rain falls in both summer and winter. At the time of summer solstice, rice, millet, bosporum and sesamum are sown. During winter, wheat is sown.

    No famines have ever occurred in India because of the following reasons:

  • The Indians are always assured of at least one of the two seasonal crops
  • There are a number of spontaneously growing fruits and edible roots available.
  • The Indian warriors regard those engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry as sacred. Unlike the warriors in other countries, they do not ravage farms during war conquests. Moreover, the warring sides never destroy the enemy land with fire or cut down its trees.

    Because of its large size, India is inhabited by many diverse races, all of which are indigenous. India has no foreign colony, and Indians have not established any colonies outside India. The Indians are of pure air. They are well-skilled in art, above average stature, because of abundant food, fine water and air.

    A law, prescribed by ancient Indian philosophers, bans slavery. The law treats everyone equally, but allows the property to be unevenly distributed.

The population of India is divided into 7 endogamous and hereditary castes:

    One must appreciate Megasthenes who wrote such an illustrative books when knowledge was very limited. Unfortunately the original book is not available now. He was born in 350 BC and lived for 60 years.

Posted by Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

MIRAGE

(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories. It is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

SHORT STORY: Zeus … Prometheus and the Two Roads

Copyright@shravancharitymission

    Zeus and Prometheus are Greek Gods. In the olden days, the Greeks believed Zeus to be the King of all Gods, and Prometheus, the God who made man. Prometheus stole fire and gave it to mankind.

    One day, Zeus called Prometheus and said, “I command you, Prometheus, to show all human beings the way to freedom and the way to slavery.”

    Prometheus said, “The way to freedom will be rough in the beginning, with many blocks and steep climbs. There would be no water to drink. There would be no pathways, only thorns. It will be extremely tough. And there would be dangers on all sides. But the road would eventually become a smooth and plain. There will be fruit trees and streams on both sides of the path. The difficulty will end. People will be able to rest. And finally they will attain freedom.”

    Prometheus then added, “Contrary to this, the way to slavery will start out, as a smooth and plain in the beginning. The pathway will be full of beautiful flowers and very –comfortable. Just the opposite of the road leading to freedom. But later on, there will be only blocks, steep climbs and difficulty on all sides.”

    In simple terms what Prometheus said was, Good things in life do not come easy. All those successful people around you have struggled extremely hard to get there.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

INTERESTING FACTS FIGURES AND QUOTES–38

Copyright@shravancharitymission

The world moves with GPS. But how does GPS work? Let’s find out. GPS—global positioning system—is a space-age version of triangulation. Originally developed for military use, GPS has three components: satellites orbiting earth, master control stations around the world, and receivers installed in locations ranging from naval destroyers to private golf carts.             In the U.S. GPS system, two dozen Navstar satellites     orbit the planet every 12 hours, following six different orbits. Three additional satellites orbit as backup. The satellites contain atomic clocks that send precise times with each signal. The control stations monitor the satellites, using remote controlled on-board thrusters to manage their positions.     When a GPS user on land or sea calls for location information, signals pass from orbiting satellites to user’s receiver. The length of time taken by the transmissions—usually a fraction of a second—helps determine distance to a point on an imaginary sphere, and the user’s latitude and longitude can be calculated by using the mathematics and triangulation. Three satellites would suffice, but more provide redundancy and compensate for inaccuracies. GPS signals are broadcast on two different frequencies, one for military use and one for civilian use. Civilian augmentation can provide precise location to within 0.4 of an inch.

***

WHY ARE THERE 360 DEGREES IN A CIRCLE?

    A degree is a fraction of a circle, and there are 360 degrees in each of the imaginary circles that describe the surface of the Earth. The number 360, in this context, usually is, attributed to the Babylonians, (present day Iraq) who devised a base—60 number system. (Our modern system is 10). They probably were the first to divide a circle into 360 degrees (6 x 60). Some historians think that the base—60 system derives from the approximate length in days of a calendar year, but others claim that the Babylonians chose 60 because it is divisible by so many numbers. Hipparchus, the Greek astronomer, who invented the formal system of latitude and longitude, divided each Earth circle into 360 degrees, each degree, having 60 minutes. and each minute, having 60 seconds.

***

India Inc. is a common term used by the Indian media to refer to the formal sector (comprising government and corporate) sector of the nation. It employed 7 percent of the workforce in 2000 and contributed 60 per cent of the nominal GDP of the nation.

***

Famous English novelist George Orwell who wrote the famous novel ‘Animal Farm’ was born in Motihari, Bihar.

***

J&K became part of India 10 weeks after Independence when Maharaja Hari Singh, alarmed by the rapid advance of armed Pakistani tribesman, hurriedly signed the instrument of accession. In legal—if not moral—terms, the decision was his alone.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

BOOK CORNER:GODS AND ROBOTS: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology … by Adrienne Mayor

Copyright@shravancharitymission

 

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines and Ancient Dreams of Technology’

Adriyana Mayor in 2018.

Published by Princeton University Press, New Jersey

    Albert Einstein had once said. “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” So, let ‘imagination’ be the tagline of this write-up. As books are indeed an exercise of the author’s imagination. For who could first imagine the concepts of robots, automation, human enhancements, and Artificial Intelligence? Historians tend to trace the idea of automation back to the medieval craftsmen who developed self- moving machines.

    Let me now take you to a research scholar at Stanford University. Her name is Adrienne Mayor. She is a historian of ancient science and warfare, and a classical forklorist who investigates natural knowledge contained in pre-scientific myths and oral traditions. She has recently come out with a book titled, ‘Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines and Ancient Dreams of Technology.’ It’s a long title.

    Adrienne feels Hindu epics are full of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and robots, and legend has it, that they guarded Buddha’s relics.

    In this book the lady author explores how ancient culture imagined futuristic technologies and left behind those imaginations in epics and scriptures. She tells how Ashoka battled robots, and other tech tales from the past.    Faith can move mountains. There is a belief in India among the Hindus that ancient Indians had invented everything from spacecraft to missiles to the internet. Lady author tries to link this theory with her research work. She feels her research got her into the first inklings of the scientific impulse and that took her into the world of mythology, where ancient people first envisioned making artificial life, automation (or robots), self-moving devices, and other marvelous things long before the present day technology made them possible. She states these stories about robots and other machines in ancient oral traditions were first written down during the time of Homer, about some 2,700 years ago. But the Greeks were not the only people to imagine automation and machines in antiquity. Similar stories exist in the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and other epics. In Hindu myths, automations are made by the engineer God Vishwakarma and the sorceress or more appropriately the mystique of Maya. In Greek myths they are made by the God of technology. His name is Hephaestus—the Greek God of fire and metal working and the brilliant artisan Daedalus, a craftsman and artist again from Greek mythology. I consider such myths to be the world’s first science fiction stories. No single civilisation had a monopoly on such ancient dreams of advanced technology. Whether one looks at Greek, Egyptian, Hindu, Islamic, Chinese, Etruscan—the modern name given to the powerful and wealthy civilization of ancient Italy or any other ancient cultural myths about artificial life. They all contemplate what wonders might have been achieved if only one could possess the divine creativity and abilities of the Gods. But it’s not possible to draw a direct line of development from mythology over the millennia to the modern scientific knowledge.

    Further the lady author goes on to say that the Indian and Hellenistic cultures borrowed and influenced each other, beginning in about the fifth century BC, The syncretism only intensified, after Alexander of Macedon and King Porus began relations in the fourth century BC. Jain texts mention that the engineers of Ajatasatru, the  king of Haryanka dynasty of Magadha, invented armoured war chariots with spinning blades, which may have inspired later the Persian scythed chariots. Ajatasatru had powerful machines to hurl massive boulders,  even before Philip—II of Macedon obtained torsion catapults—those huge launchers. India was known for perpetually burning oil lamps, suggesting knowledge of naphtha, that was unknown to the Greeks and the Romans until much later. The travelling Greek sage Apollodorus of Tyana observed automated servants and self-propelled carts in the court of a ruler of India, and India was centuries ahead of Europe in the technologies of distillation and hydraulics. There was probably more give and take than we know about.

    Myths featuring flying chariots and synthetic swans, animated servants, giant robots, machines, and the like appear in the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Kathasaritasagara, Harivamsa, and other works. Self-navigating ships appear in Egyptian texts and Homer’s odyssey; android and animal automations are described in Homer’s Iliad and in Chinese chronicles. And further examples are myriad.

    The book goes on to share the story of android warriors guarding Buddha’s relics. The most detailed account is in the Lokapanatti, a complicated compilation of tales from Burma. After Buddha’s death, the story recounts that King Ajatasatru preserved his bodily remains in a hidden chamber under a stupa. The precious relics were guarded by ‘bhuta vahana yantra’ (spirit transporting machine). These were robotic warriors with whirling swords—reminiscent of the king’s novel war machines with spinning blades. Greek myths tell of automation guardians in human and animal form defending palaces and treasures, but the historical and technological details of this legend make it unique. The story says the robots were constructed from plans and were secretly transported to Patliputra from Romavisaya, the Greek-influenced west, by a yantrakara, that is a robot maker who was originally from Patliputra. The automation soldiers guarded Buddha’s relics until the great Indian emperor Ashoka heard about the secret chamber. Ashoka battled the robots and after he defeated them he learned how to control them. They obeyed him. Historically, we know that Ashoka did unearth and distribute long hidden relics of Buddha across the land.

    By third century BC, craftspeople and engineers in the Greek world, Alexandria, Arabia, India and China began making self-moving devices, flying bird models, animated machines, and automations like those described in myths. Some were miniature and some monumental, some had simple mechanisms but some were quite complex. These inventions were powered by springs, levers, pulleys, water, air, heat, and so on.

    Overall it’s an extremely interesting book of around three hundred pages. The book really impacts you and leaves you enlightened. Where, you might just be inclined to even change your mindset. But yes don’t rush through the book as it is a little complex in terms of old historical words and even geographies and names. You might even have to refer the glossary or even the dictionary a little too often. I would give the book eight out of ten.

Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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BEAUTIFUL LINES & INTERESTING THOUGHTS

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Kamlesh Tripathi

 

 

  • Mind without heart, intelligence without conduct, cleverness without goodness are tools, but only for mischief.
  • Behave the way you can always behave—Annonymous.
  • Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody—Benjamin Franklin
  • I would not wish any companion in the world but you—Shakespeare.
  • The Rig Veda tells us: “Let noble thoughts come to us from everywhere.”
  • “Nobody can tell what I suffer! But it is always so. Those who do not complain are never pitied.”
    ― Jane AustenPride and Prejudice
  • “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
    ― Jalaluddin Rumi
  • “One thing you can’t hide – is when you’re crippled inside.”
    ― John Lennon
  • Justice as Lord Atkin said is “no cloistered virtue”
  • Sometimes words that fail to make their effect at the time are remembered later—Agatha Christie
  • Give your clients the earliest delivery consistent with quality—whatever the inconvenience to us—Arthur Nielson
  • Opportunities present themselves every day. You just have to be alert and ready to act.—MARK OSTROFSKY, US ENTREPRENEUR
  • Sometimes it’s worse to win a fight than to lose—Billie Holiday
  • The best of us must sometimes eat our words—JK Rowling
  • The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation—BERTRAND RUSSELL
  • What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and value of nothing—Oscar Wilde
  • Slow down and steady up—annonymous
  • All work and no play/makes Jack a dull boy. To which the cautionary response goes ‘All play and no work/ Makes Jack a mere toy.’ TOI Editorial
  • Don’t talk about yourself; it will be done when you leave—Wilson Mazner, US playwright
  • Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgement- Mario Puzo- Godfather
  • We’ve seen over time that countries that have the best economic growth are those that have good governance- Ramez Naam US writer
  • A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue, That’s why there are so few good conversations- Truman
  • History does not repeat itself exactly but, as Mark Twain put it, it often rhymes.
  • If you have built castles in the air … now put the foundations under them—Henry David Thoureau
  • Margaret Thatcher’s warning that those standing in the middle of the road get run over.
  • The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation—Vladmir Lenin.
  • Carlyle- the history of the world is but biography of great men.’ Some so called great men have their hands deep in blood.
  • Boris Pasternak author of Dr Zhivago called silence the best sound on earth’
  • The greatest obstacle to excellence is you! A caddy once told a champion golfer, “There’s a perfect shot waiting out there. All you have to do is to get yourself out of the way.”
  • In short, I will part with anything for you but you- Mary Wortley Montagu, Writer.
  • There are good times and there are bad times, but one must never forget the hard times—Annonymous.
  • When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry—William Shakespeare.
  • Kritam Lokham Purushoabhijayte- Man himself builds his own world.
  • The boxer Muhammad Ali refused to wear his seat-belt on a plane. “Superman doesn’t need a belt,” he insisted. Tying his belt for him, the stewardess replied, “Superman doesn’t need a plane either.”
  • Exhibitionists: at a wedding they want to be the bride. At a funeral the corpse. Julius Caesar who was an incorrigible egotist, was kidnapped when he was a child. He was held for a ransom of 11,000 gold pieces. Horrified exhorted his captors to raise the sum to 250,000 gold pieces so as to preserve his prestige.
  • You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out—Warren Buffet
  • The whole of western science has developed from Greek philosophy. It stands on the foundations of Greek Philosophy, and one of Greek philosophy’s basic beliefs is that time travels in a straight line.
  • The bread that falls off your plate nearly always lands on the buttered side.
  • Evil manners live in brass, but our virtues we write in water.
  • There is a Mexican saying that we die three deaths: the first time we die is when our bodies die. The second is when our bodies are lowered into the earth, out of sight. The third time we die is when our loved ones forget us.
  • Being different and thinking different makes a person unforgettable. History does not remember the forgettable.- Suzy Kassem, US writer.

 

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