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The Controversial Differences of Opinion between Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi

Described as a “world poet,” Rabindranath Tagore is considered a mystifying ecumenical figure and an archetype of human creative possibility. Rabindranath Tagore bestowed the title of ‘Mahatma’ (“Great Soul”) on Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in 1915. Mahatma Gandhi called Tagore Gurudev (“Revered Master”) and he attained a certain classicality. Tagore’s literary works have universal appeal and that illuminates his complexity and “myriad-mindedness.”

Nevertheless, experts have said that although Tagore admired Gandhi, he differed with him on specific issues.

The Controversial Differences of Opinion between Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi

“Tagore admired Mahatma Gandhi immensely and expressed his admiration for his leadership time and again, but sharply differed with him when Gandhi was departing from adequate reasoning,” Nobel-prize winning economist Amartya Sen once said.

After the Nepal-Bihar earthquake of 1934, Gandhi credited the disaster to the custom of untouchability among Biharis. Gandhi had said the earthquake was “a divine chastisement for the great sin we have committed against those whom we describe as Harijans”.

Although Tagore was against untouchability, he found this line of reasoning on Gandhi’s part unfounded and irrational.

Apparantly, Tagore shot off a refutation on rationalist lines, with a appeal for it to be published in Gandhi’s periodical, Harijan. The correspondence expressed “painful surprise” at “this kind of unscientific view of things”. It was plainly erroneous, Gurudev argued, to “associate ethical principles with cosmic phenomena”:

In the Harijan issue of 16 February, 1934, Tagore wrote his article The Bihar Earthquake to which Gandhi wrote his rejoinder Superstitions vs. Faith (pp. 115-121). Tagore considered Gandhi’s view that untouchability had brought down God’s vengeance upon certain parts of Bihar in the form of an earthquake as ‘unfortunate’, ‘unscientific’ and “too readily accepted by a large section of countrymen” (pp. 115): “If we associate ethical principles with cosmic phenomena, we shall have to admit that human nature is superior to Providence that preaches its lessons in good in orgies of the worst behaviour possible” (p.116). This amounts to “making indiscriminate examples of casual victims…in order to impress other at a safe distance who possibly deserve severer condemnation” (p 116). He felt the kind of argument that Gandhi used by exploiting an event of cosmic disturbance far better suited the psychology of his opponents than his own; and, “We, who are immensely grateful to Mahatmaji for inducing, by his wonderworking inspiration, freedom from fear and feebleness in the minds of his countrymen, feel profoundly hurt when any words from his mouth may emphasize the elements of unreason in those very minds — unreason which is a source of all blind powers that drive us against freedom and self-respect”. (p117).

Differences of Opinion between Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi

To this, Gandhi had replied that he felt phenomena like droughts, floods, earthquakes et cetera, though they seem to have only physical origins, are somehow connected with man’s morality.

Gandhi replied by saying that he long believed phenomena produce results both physical and spiritual; and, “The converse I hold to be equally true … We do not know all the laws of God nor their working… I believe literally that not a leaf moves but by His will. Every breath I take depends upon His sufferance …. what appears to us as catastrophes are so only because we do not know the universal laws sufficiently … (catastrophic) visitations… though they seem to have only physical origins are, for me, somehow connected with man’s morals … My belief is a call to repentence and self-purification … even as I cannot help believing in God though I am unable to prove His existence to the sceptics, in like manner, I cannot prove the connection of the sin of untouchability with the Bihar visitation even though the connection is instinctively felt by me” (pp.118-l20). And the utilitarian then spoke and bared himself thus, “If my belief turns out to be ill-founded, it will still have done good to me and those who believe with me. For we shall have been spurred to more vigorous efforts towards self-purification…” (p.120). And answering Tagore’s stinging comment that “our own sins and errors, however enormous, have not got enough force to drag down the structure of creation to ruins” (p. 117), he said, “On the contrary I have the faith that our own sins have more force to ruin that structure than any mere physical phenomenon” (p, 120), And he concluded, ” …the connection between cosmic phenomena and human behaviour is a living faith that draws me nearer to my God, humbles me and makes me readier for facing Him”. Gandhi, in arguing thus, is proved one who must maximise utility and make use of every circumstance to forward ends he considers desirable. And his conviction about his belief obliterates from consciousness any apparent factual inconsistencies that his system of faith has with a physical phenomena as ordinarily understood. Both, in their own way, are relevant and unimpeachable.

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Get to Know the 12 Disciples of Jesus Christ: Apostle #6, Philip

Saint Philip the Apostle, Peter Paul Rubens' famous Apostle Series (Prado Museum in Madrid)

The name of holy apostle Philip derives from Greek, signifying “he who loves horses.” He was a resident of Bethsaida.

It seems this gentle man had a distinct relationship with the Greek-speaking Gentiles in the society. When they wanted to meet Jesus, he was contacted first. Distrustful his own assessment in the matter, Philip turned to Andrew, who took him to tell Jesus of the request.

On the occasion of the miracle of the loaves and fishes to test Philip, Jesus enquired him where they would get enough food to feed 5,000. Philip, thinking in pragmatic terms, answered, “Half a year’s wages wouldn’t buy enough bread for everyone to have a bite.” (John 6:7).

In John 14:8–9, Philip invited Jesus to reveal the Father, obtaining the answer, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father.” In later legends, he was often mistaken with St. Philip the Evangelist (Philip the Deacon), one of the seven deacons of the primitive church (Acts 6:5)

Philip replied Jesus’ call (“Follow me”), and was involved in the call of St. Nathanael (probably St. Bartholomew the Apostle), whom he brought to Jesus.

St. Philip by Giuseppe Mazzuoli. Nave of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome).Apart from these facts, nothing more is identified about the Apostle.

If as a vigorous apostle he lacked confidence, Philip mellowed, becoming an stimulated speaker and healer. After Pentecost, tradition tells that for twenty years he lived and preached in Scythia, and then in Asia Minor at Hierapolis, which in Greek means “Holy City.” His sister Miriam and his four daughters joined him in propagandizing the word of God.

When Philip the apostle went forth from Galilee, a widow was carrying out for burial her only child, who was all she had. Now the apostle was very concerned in his soul when he saw the poor old woman slashing out her hair and mutilating her face. He said to her: “What religion was your son practicing when he died so young?”

Hierapolis Tomb of the apostle Philip, Archive of the Italian Archaeological Mission to HierapolisToday Philip’s tomb can be found within the ruins of the Turkish city of Hierapolis. There, a constructive mineral spring of warm sparkling water pours forth from the rocks, establishing an enormous crystal clear falls that cascades over the side of a mountain, a wonder nearly as large as the Niagara. In Biblical times it was a famed spa, visited by the sick from all over the Near and Middle East. Looking out at the remains of this ancient city, it is easy to imagine Philip carrying out his ministry with his family. Undeniably, legend tells that once the tombs of his daughters, all prophetesses and well-known in the church during the first and early second centuries, could be discovered in Hierapolis as well. In Hierapolis two alphabetic oracles have been found, one, very fragmented, built into the Martyrium of Philip, the other, preserved almost complete, on a former statue pedestal that was reused in the foundation of the temple of Apollo.

  • In medieval art Philip’s symbol when not loaves of bread is a tall cross.
  • Holy days: in the East, November 14; in the West, May 1. May 1 is jointly with James the Younger; later transferred by the Roman Catholic church to May 3. The feast of the Apostle St. Philip, together with that of St. James the Less, was celebrated in the West on May 1 until 1955, when it was transferred to May 11; the Greeks celebrate it on May 14.
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Stepped Tank of the Vijayanagara Empire in Hampi, Karnataka

Stepped Tank, Hampi from the Vijayanagara Empire

Archaeological Survey of India and the Karnataka State Department of Archaeology and Museums have been conducting archaeological excavations at Hampi for the past many years and have discovered many interesting structures and antiquities of the Vijayanagara Empire, not known so far.

The Vijayanagara empire of South India extended over a massive area and assimilated diverse ethnic, linguistic, socioeconomic and political groups. Beyond the majestic bounds, Vijayanagara was also part of multifaceted subcontinental political and cultural nexus, with cooperative and antagonistic relations with bordering states and empires.

During such an excavation in 1984-85, officers of the Archaeological Survey of India laid bare a beautiful tank that was completely under the surface of the soil and was not at all visible from the outer surface. This is perhaps the most beautiful stepped tank at Hampi discovered so far. Archaeologists have been dated to fifteenth century AD.

The tank built of stone is a square structure with five steps. The steps become smaller as they go down; thus the topmost step is the longest while the lower most is the smallest. From the top, the length of each side of the step is 20.7, 16.10, 12.65, 9.2 and 6.9 meters respectively. Each side has very attractive pyramidal shaped flight of steps to get into the next lower side. These steps are 9, 7, 5, 3 and 1 respectively in each side and thus the entire tank has one hundred steps. Each tier is 1.05 meters and the total depth is 6.65 meters. The base of the tank has stone slabs below that is sand to purify the water. The symmetry of the pyramidal shaped steps at each tier of the tank makes the structure unique and elegant. After the construction of this stepped tank, the engineers working at Hampi had made proper arrangements for the flow of fresh water into the tank. It is believed that this tank was used for religious purposes including the teppotsava of the deities.

That the project of reclaiming cultural legacies as part of a regional or national inheritance was informed by a series of complex considerations of both affective pleasure and identity politics, wherein the idea of a reinvented tradition assumed a certain significance, is now well known.

Another unique feature of this tank is the technique of its construction. Each stone used for the construction has numerals, symbols and Kannada letters on it. For example letters u, da, tu and pa represent north (uttara), south (dakshina), east (turpu), and west (paschima). In five stages there are 36 steps and each step has been assigned a Kannada letter beginning from tna upto jna and ti. In addition to these numerals and Kannada letters some symbols also have been used, according to the four directions. Another interesting feature is the mark of measurement through symbols. Thus the stepped tank (pushkarini) is not only beautiful and elegant but also supplies the technical methodology adopted by the architects to transplant it from the workshop to the spot of the tank.

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Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau Poster

Art Nouveau is an artistic style characterized by free form, sinuous line, and organic motifs.

The Salon de l’Art Nouveau, opened in 1895 by art dealer Siegfried (aka Samuel) Bing (1838–1905) in Paris, was the first showcase for the “new” art style sweeping both Europe and the United States from 1890 onward. Before Art Nouveau, the late nineteenth century had been characterized by a balancing act between the strict order and historicism of the Neoclassicists and the emotional and visual chaos of the Romantics.

Looking to the natural world but moving beyond it for free-flowing, organic form allowed the practitioners of the “new art” to create graceful works that built on traditional styles but also transformed them. Some critics trace the visual style back to Celtic manuscript illumination with its interlacing knot patterns, others to the Rococo love of the curvilinear and extreme elaboration. Precursors include the works of English Aesthetic movement illustrator Aubrey Beardsley (1862–98), Arts and Crafts designer William Morris (1834–96), and ukiyo-e Japanese printmakers, such as Katsushika Hokusai (c. 1760–1849).

In his book Pioneers of Modem Design (1936), Nikolaus Pevsner (1902–83) wrote, “… the curve undulating, flowing, and interplaying with others … .” He suggests that Art Nouveau was the transitional style to the modern era. It certainly incorporated many of the philosophical and societal trends of the period from 1890 to 1910. Whether it was a reflection of artists wanting to break free of societal norms or a quest for aesthetic purity removed from moral judgments, the explorations of Art Nouveau touched everything from graphic design to furniture and began the modern era, foreshadowing later modern trends such as abstraction and Surrealism.

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The Architectural Beauty and Majestic of Ibrahim Rauza, Bijapur

The Architectural Beauty and Majestic of Ibrahim Rauza, Bijapur

The architectural styles developed by the Sultans of the Deccan plateau that are appreciated in Bijapur, Bidar, Gulbarga, and Hyderabad, are motivated from Persian and Turkish structures.

Ibrahim Adil Shah II ruled the kingdom of Bijapur from 1580 to 1627. He is reputed to be one of the most compassionate and multicultural rulers in history and was a generous patron of the arts.

The sultan of Bijapur was a descendant of the Ottoman dynasty of Istanbul, Turkey. The sultan of Golconda was a Turkman prince who had taken refuge in India. The sultans were adherents of the Shia sect of Islam and were close allies of the Safavid rulers of Iran. A distinctive culture thus developed in the pluralistic community of the Deccan plateau. In India, the Deccan plateau became the prominent center of Arabic literature and scholarship.

Ibrahim Rauza is another valuable and most stylish architectural example of the Adil Shahi style of architecture. Ibrahim Adil Shah II, one of the sultans of this dynasty, developed and organized his own final resting place.

Arched Verandah of row of pillars around the central chamber of of Ibrahim Rauza, BijapurIbrahim Rauza consists of two core constructions: a tomb and a mosque with several smaller structures. All these buildings are built within a square enclosure with an attractive garden in the front. Both the structures are built on a platform that is 360 feet long and 160 feet wide, around a walled enclosure.

At the eastern end is the tomb and at the western end is the mosque. In between is an open yard in which are found an decorative tank and a fountain. Though the size and purpose of these two structures are different, the architect has productively attempted to produce an equilibrium between them in volume and style. Nevertheless, the tomb seems to be a grander structure than the mosque. The tomb consists of a principal chamber within an arched verandah and both are scaled by a dome. Tall minar-shaped turrets are built at four corners of the building. However, the most beautiful and crowning part is the bulbous dome at the upper story.

Carved ceiling of the Mosque of Ibrahim Rauza in Bijapur

The interior has an arched verandah of row of pillars around the central chamber. They are all abundantly adorned with intricate patterns. The chamber room is a small square of 18 feet each side; but it is elegant because of the introduction of a charmingly carved ceiling at the correct height. Thus, the Ibrahim Rauza has a well-executed plan of a building in its entirety, harmonizing architecture with ornamentation.

Ibrahim Rauza of Bijapur: stylish architectural example of the Adil Shahi style of architectureThe mosque forming the other part of the Ibrahim Rauza relates harmoniously in the mass of its proportion and architectural treatment as well as width of frontage. Though it seems slightly smaller, the comparisons overlook in terms of minars at four directions and a slightly smaller elongated dome. This congruence is the real uniqueness of the Ibrahim Rauza. Between the two and in the center is a beautiful entrance with two minars at each corners. Thus, the whole composition is highly appealing.

Scholars have felt that if this were to be built of marble, the Ibrahim Rauza would have been a close challenger to the glory of the Taj Mahal.

Through architectural wonders such as the Ibrahim Rauza, the Adil Shahis immortalized themselves through this structure which is at once a combination of majesty and beauty.

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History and Architecture of the Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi, Capital of the Vijayanagara Empire

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

Achyutaraya (1530–42 A.D.) temple complex is an imposing and magnificent cluster of temples in Hampi. However, it is called Achyutaraya Temple, an inscription of 1534 A.D. refers to this as Tiruvengalanatha or Venkatesha temple, and King Achyutaraya built it in 1539 A.D.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The temple consists of a garbhagriha, antarala, pradakshinapatha, sabhamandapa, mahasabhamandapa, kalyanamandapa, Devi shrine etc. All these are enclosed in two prakaras one within the other.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The outer prakara has main gates at northern and western directions, whereas the inner prakara has the gateways at north, east, and west. All these gateways had gopuras, which are in ruined condition now.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The square garbhagriha, which originally had an image of Lord Venkatesha, is now empty. Its doorway is ornamented and has Vaishnava dvarapalas and Gajalakshmi at the lintel. Above the garbhagriha is a Dravida type sikhara. The square sabhamandapa has four pillars in the middle set on an elevated floor in the centre.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The mahasabhamandapa stands on thirty pillars set in five rows. The pillars exhibit typical Vijayanagara features. To the south-west is the Devi shrine and its garbhagriha is empty now. Its sabhamandapa has a sculpture, which has been identified as that of King Achyutaraya, the builder of this temple.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The sculptures of this temple exhibit good workmanship. The bass-reliefs of combination of bull and elephant arrest our attention. The pillars in general are neatly executed with elegantly carved sculptures of gods and goddesses.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

To the west is a large and rectangular kalyanamandapa or marriage pavilion. It has over one hundred pillars with sculptures of Garuda, Hanuman, and Vishnu etc.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

In front of this complex are low-pillared mandapas, which had bazaars, or markets where merchants used to stock in heaps pearls and other precious stones and sell them. Many foreign travelers have graphically described this pearl bazaar the type of which never existed anywhere in the world except Hampi. That was the glory of Vijayanagara.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

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Luxurious Living for the Adil Shah Royal Family in Bijapur’s Sath Manzil

Sath Manzil palace built by Ibrahim Adil Shah II

Sath Manzil as the name itself signifies is a seven storied structure and in this case a palace. It was built by Ibrahim Adil Shah II, one of the greatest rulers of the Adil Shahi dynasty in 1583 CE. Actually, Ibrahim II is better known for his massive creation of Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur.

Sath Manzil stands near Gagan Mahal to the southwest of the latter, and enclosing a vast quadrangle known as granary. Though named Sath Manzil, today it is a structure of five stories only with a height of about 97 ft. There is a narrow staircase which connected the fifth story to the sixth which does not exist now. In the same manner, there should have been a still smaller connection between sixth and seventh and this justifies the name Sath Manzil. Ibrahim was not satisfied by the previously built Gagan Mahal that was both a palace and a durbar hall. Hence, Ibrahim II planned exclusively a palace in keeping with his status. Naturally seven storied building did not exist in Bijapur and hence Ibrahim thought of building a seven storied palace.

Sath Manzil Bijapur - 1860 Steel Engraving - Print

Sath Manzil for royal family of the Adil Shahi dynastySath Manzil palace was far more extensive than it is today. Therefore, what we see today is only a partial palace and the remaining parts have been destroyed. The Chini Mahal or Faroukh Mahal, which is close by, formed a part of the original palace. A passage along the terrace above the range of rooms on the west side of the quadrangle connected the Chini Mahal. The building was specially erected for pleasure and royal bath as can be understood from the frequent occurrence of ornamental baths and cisterns in various rooms. They are all connected by the water pipes laid from story to story through masonry. Thus, this lavish distribution of water pipes and bathing cisterns is a unique feature of this building.

Jal Mandir or Water pavilion in BijapurWater cisterns are found on all the stories of this building. The walls of these bathrooms were painted with human figures and others decorative motifs. The walls were also gilded beautifully and luxuriously. Another noteworthy feature of this beautiful building is the extensive use of wood as in the case of pillars, window frames, window screens, and brackets. There is another building called Jal Mandir or Water pavilion, which originally formed a part of this grand palace. It also had floorings decorated with colored tiles of different designs. Thus, Sath Manzil is famous for luxurious living of the royal family of the Adil Shahi dynasty. Such buildings are rare.

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Herodotus and The Fountain of Youth

The Fountain of Youth, From mural at Manta Castle near Saluzzo, Italy

Herodotus introduced the concept of a mythological water source with the power of granting eternal youth

The Fountain of Youth is a mythical spring that is supposed to have the power of prolonging or restoring the youth of those who drink from or bathe in it.

Myths of such a fountain are to be found in various cultures, particularly throughout the Middle East. The first recorded mention of it is from the ancient Greek historian Herodotus (c. 484-435 BCE), who recounted a claim that there was such a fountain in Ethiopia. In the Middle Ages, stories about the Fountain of Youth circulated in the Islamic world and then spread to such European works as The Travels of Sir John Mandeville (c. 1356).

The Fountain of Youth, 1546 painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder

In the sixteenth century, the Spanish historian Peter Martyr d’Anghiera, who wrote early accounts of the European exploration of the New World, reported a native story of a miraculous fountain on an island in the Gulf of Honduras, an inlet of the Caribbean Sea. While the explorer Juan Ponce de Leon was indeed given a charter to discover and settle a legendary island (Beniny or Beimeni), the popular idea that he sought the Fountain of Youth there seems to have been invented by the sixteenth-century historian Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo, who maliciously added that Ponce de Leon hoped to cure his impotence.

However, the story about his search for the Fountain persists as a historical myth. Marcel Proust said in [[Remembrance of Things Past|Proust[Remembrance of Things Past, “The only bath in the Fountain of Youth would be … to possess other eyes.”

Few people take the story of the Fountain of Youth seriously today, but it remains a popular theme in literature and the arts (such as Darren Aronofsky’s film The Fountain, 2006).

It is also inevitable as a metaphor in discussing the modern concerns of prolonging lifespan and reducing the effects of aging.

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Chakravarti Rajagopalachari on the Judgement of Angry Men

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari on the Judgement of Angry MenChakravarti Rajagopalachari was the Governor General of India from 1948 to 1950 and one of the principal leaders in India’s fight for independence from the British. Widely known as Rajaji, Rajagopalachari joined Mahatma Gandhi in the anti-British movement in 1919. An enthusiastic supporter of his Satyagraha passive resistance tactic, Rajagopalachari was imprisoned five times in the years leading to India’s freedom. He departed briefly with the pro-independence Congress party of Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru in 1942, saying it took unjust advantage of Britain’s fixation with World War II. In 1959, he left the dominant Congress party for good and coordinated his own Swatantra Party founded on the notions of free enterprise and reduced state control.

Rajagopalachari’s daughter Lakshmi wedded Gandhi’s son, Devadas, in an inter-caste marriage which caused both parents some concern. So close did Rajagopalachari and Gandhi become that, until Gandhi picked the young Jawarharlal Nehru as his successor, Rajagopalachari was regarded broadly as his political heir apparent.

Rajagopalachari had an enormously refined intelligence, astoundingly widely versed in both Indian and Western culture. He was a superb craftsman of English prose. Among his many writings, one might single out his Tamil versions, translated into English, of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Because of the Rajagopalachari’s questioning spirit, Gandhi referred to Rajaji as his “conscience-keeper” on the eve of his 21-day fast in May 1933.

Rajagopalachari as Madras State Chief Minister

As Madras State Chief Minister between 1952 and 1954, Rajagopalachari launched an unusual new educational scheme in 1953. He called it the “Modified System of Elementary Education” and reduced schooling for elementary school students to three hours per day with students expected to learn the family vocation at home during the remainder of the day. The plan came in for sharp criticism and evoked strong protests from the Dravidian parties. Scholar Thanjai Nalankilli writes,

Madras State Chief Minister Rajagopalachari (Rajaji) brought forth a new educational scheme in 1953. According to this scheme, students went to school only for half-a-day and the rest of the day they learned what their parents did. It came as a shock to many non-Brahmin leaders. There were disproportionately far too many Brahmins in white-collar jobs from clerks to chief executive officers to judges to teachers to professors. In contrast there were far more farmers and low-wage blue-collar workers among non-Brahmin castes. According to Rajaji’s scheme, most non-Brahmin students would learn such skills as farming, barbering, laundering, shoemaking and other low-wage skills for half-a-day while most Brahmin students would spend half the day on “white collar skills” leading to higher paying white collar jobs which were already dominated by Brahmins for years. Non-Brahmin leaders feared that this would perpetuate the status qua, thus benefiting the Brahmin caste. (Rajaji was a Brahmin.) Some of the critics called the new education scheme “caste-based education” (in Tamil they called it kula vazhi kalvi thittam orkulaththozhil kalvi thittam or kula kalvi thittam). Many non-Brahmin leaders believed that only a full-day education would bring more non-Brahmins into higher-level jobs and uplift their lives. Opposition to Rajaji’s caste-based education scheme grew. Many non-Brahmin leaders and organizations vocally opposed it. Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) played active roles in the opposition.

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari at All India Radio Madras

Rajagopalachari was not an easy political collaborator, so merciless were the moral demands he made both on himself and others; he was no less commanding of his children. He was a man of slight build, always perfectly garbed. In later years, he softened, and his instinctive, aristocratic charm and straightforwardness of manner shone through. His was a far more Indian-based career than those of Gandhi or Nehru. His education was wholly home-based. His first journey outside India was, remarkably, as late as 1962, to visit President John F. Kennedy.

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari on the Judgement of Angry Men

When one carefully studies the career of Rajagopalachari, one vividly realises that there is a very thin line between success and failure in life. From 1941 to 1946, C. R. was one of the most unpopular figures in the political life of the country. In 1942, many of his colleagues cursed him, because his utterances peered them like arrows. The more he tried to placate the Muslim League and the British, the more he hurt his comrades.

For several years, C.R. ploughed a narrow furrow. During that period he was heckled at meetings, bitterly criticised in the press and once or twice mud and tar were thrown at him. Some angry men even questioned his motives. But undaunted, he faced public wrath with equanimity and patience.

In 1941, he passed through Allahabad and I casually met him in a train. I told him that his speeches and statements were being greatly resented by the public. He replied, “It does not mean that they are right and I am wrong. It only shows, they are angry and I am not. The judgement of angry men is not so sound as those who are not angry.” I could not pursue the argument further. He looked meditative and was lost in thought.

Source: Unknown

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Beauty and Majesty of Gagan Mahal in Bijapur, Karnataka

Gagan Mahal, Bijapur

Bijapur in the Deccan plateau of south-western India was the capital of a Muslim kingdom, founded by the Yadava dynasty in the 12th century. It fell under the jurisdiction of the Bahmani Muslims in the 14th century. Its era of independent magnificence was from 1489 to 1686 when the Adil Shahi sultans made it their capital and were in charge for Islamic architecture of exceptional quality. In 1686, the Mogul emperor Aurangzeb defeated Bijapur, but was powerless to exercise firm control and the region soon fell under Maratha sway, from which it elapsed into East India Company hands in the early 19th century.

Ali Adil Shah I ascended the throne and aligned his forces with other Muslim kings of Golconda, Ahmednagar and Bidar, and jointly, they brought down the Vijayanagara empire. With the loot gained, he instigated ambitious projects. He built the Gagan Mahal, the Ibrahim Rauza (his own tomb), Chand Bawdi (a large well), and the Jami Masjid.

The Shah was supreme power but in real practice, the Jagirdars, who acted as his counsellors or advisers, regulated his sovereignty. If the ruler possessed personality and keen intelligence, he could maneuver the chiefs by playing off one against the other, but if he was a minor, or did not fully devote himself to the affairs of the state, they dominated him. With the growth of the territories of the state after 1565 and the resultant increase in the Shah’s prestige and powers, he began to conduct the business of the state with the help of ministers who were placed in charge of various departments of the administration. These ministers held office during his pleasure only. However, whenever the Shah’s authority was weak, they assumed larger importance.

Spandrels of the Gagan Mahal arches in Bijapur, decorated with fish-like and other creatures Gagan Mahal, so called because of its tallness almost touching the sky, was built during the Adil Shahi Sultan Ali Adil Shah I who ruled from 1550 AD., to 1580 AD. In keeping with his victories and wealth that he amassed, he planned to make his capital Bijapur a beautiful and imposing city with many elegant buildings. Gagan Mahal is one such building.

Gagan Mahal was built in 1561 AD., at the order of the Sultan Ali Adil Shah as his palace as also for his durbar. Thus, it served the two fold purposes of Sultani residence and royal court hall. The greatness of the building lies in the fact that it is a congruent combination of both these purposes. The private residential area was on the first floor just above the royal assembly hall. Two massive wooden pillars supported its wooden floor. It had wooden projecting balconies from where the family members of the Sultan, particularly the ladies could watch the spectacle in front, be it royal assembly or sports or any other royal event, including watching the Sultan seated on the throne. Staircases were provided on the back wall for going up or coming down. The staircases also led the inmates to the living rooms, bathrooms, kitchen, and other parts of the residence without being watched by outsiders. Thus, it provided safety, refuge, and privacy to the royal family.

The description of a city in Persian language is one of its fascinating characteristics. For poets and writers, the subject matter gives the occasion to admix poetic imagination with historical realities as well as the actual existing features of the buildings, such as, gardens and water bodies. A beautiful description of Devgiri or Daulatabad in the works of Amir Khusrau is illustrative of the point. There are plentiful descriptions of the beautiful city of Hyderabad, Bijapur, and Aurangabad in the south, Kashmir, Lahore, Kangra, Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Lucknow, Narnol, Hissar and others in the north. Notwithstanding the abundance of material on cities in Persian literature in various libraries and museums, neither the works are well known nor were they used to reconstruct the cityscape.

Beauty and majesty of the Gagan Mahal in Bijapur

The beauty and majesty of the Gagan Mahal structure is the vast central arch, which has a span of over sixty feet. On its both sides were two smaller spanned arches thus giving a rare spectacle of three arches in a row of superhuman magnitudes. This was indispensable because it faced the Durbar hall and the Sultan and his ministers had to have full view of the happenings in front such as sports, wrestling, music etc. Thus, it served a convenient purpose and added majesty to the building. There is a great deal of woodwork in Gagan Mahal. The complete ceiling of the main hall was of wood being supported by heavy beams, wooden window frames and projecting balconies and eaves and pillars. Most of them were painted and gilded to give a royal effect. This palace had its significant periods also. When Mughal emperor Aurangazeb defeated the last Adil Shahi ruler Sikandar, Aurangazeb sat on the throne at this palace and Sikandar was brought before Aurangazeb in silver chains as a captive.

Regrettably, most of the Gagan Mahal is in ruins today except the three main majestic arches symbolizing the strength and glory of the Adil Shahis.

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