Friday, December 25, 2015

The Catalan Atlas

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Catalan Atlas – Record of the State-of-the Art


The best work from the Majorcan cartographic school of the14th century is the Catalan Atlas which was probably produced in 1375 and attributes but without certainty to Cresques Abraham. The atlas has been recorded already in Charles V’s library in the record drawn by Gilles Malet and in 1930, was copied by Jean Blanchet.

The Atlas is said to be historically important as a record of the `state of the art’ of geographic knowledge of the 14th century. It comprises of details drawn from Marco Polo’s narrative that had made it the most precise depiction of Asia. Moreover it also marked a departure from some mapmaking conventions of the middle Ages. Some though not all unverifiable information together with mythical being which had been includedin the maps for centuries had been omitted by the mapmaker.

The Catalan Atlas, in this respect, marks the transition to the empirical approach of the Renaissance. From around 1803 to 1838, Charles Simonneau was a French map publisher and a map seller in Paris, France and the label with his reprint of the Catalan Atlas portrays a location at 6 rue de la Paix, advertising `Globes, Spheres, Atlases, Geographic and Historical, Old and Modern as well as Geographic Maps, Topographical and Celestial, French and Foreign’.
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Composed of 6 Vellum Leaves


From 1839 till at least 1860, the firm’s maps were sold under the imprint of `Longuet, successor of Simonneau.The Catalan Atlas was initially composed of 6 vellum leaves which were folded down the middle, the leaves presently are cut into half and painted in different colours, silver and gold. Each of the half leaf has been mounted on one side of five wooden panels and the first half of the first leaf together with the second half of the last leaf seems to be mounted on the inner boards of a brown leather binding.

 Each of the leaf measures around 65 x 50 cm, an overall size of 65 x 300 cm. The first two leaves comprise of a compilation of cosmographical, astrological and astronomical text that is translated into Catalan. The texts seem to highlight the spherical shape and the state of the known world of the earth. Moreover they also offer useful information to sailors on tides and how to calculate time at night.
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Intended to be Read with the North at the Bottom


Besides this, the text are also supplemented by various illustrations, a tide table, the figure of a man marked with the signs of the zodiac, a perpetual calendar together with a large circular chart bordered by the four seasons that provide information on the zodiac, the seven known planets as well as a diagram of the constellations.

The remaining four leaves tend to make up the real map which is divided into two parts and portrays several illustrations of cities, where the governmental adherences are represented by a flag. Christian cities have been marked with a cross while the other cities are marked with a dome. Oceans and seas are signified by wavy blue vertical line. The nautical charts as usual have the place names of important ports recorded in red while the others are in black.

 The Catalan Atlas unlike several other nautical charts is intended to be read with the north at the bottom and hence the maps are adapted from left to right, from the Far East to the Atlantic.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo – Best Remaining Example of Inca Town Planning


Ollantaytambo, an attractive town is situated towards the western side of the Sacred Valley, around two and a half hours journey by bus from Cusco. The town is on top of the original Inca foundations and is one of the best remaining examples of Inca town planning.

It is divided in blocks or canchas which are completely undamaged. Each of the blocks have only a single entrance that tends to lead into a central courtyard and the houses seem to surround the courtyard. Controlled by two huge Inca ruins, the village of Ollantaytambo also known to the locals as well as the visitors as Ollanta is the best example of Inca city planning with narrow cobblestone streets which have been constantly inhabited since the 13th century.

Ollanta is an amazing place and is perfect for exploring the mazy narrow byways, stone buildings and babbling irrigation channels that takes you back in time. Moreover it also provides access for good hiking as well as biking. The town is placed at the foot of remarkable Inca ruins that protects the planned entrance of the lower Urubamba Valley and the temple area is towards the top of steep terracing.

Excellent Defence for the Town


This has provided an excellent defence for the town where the stones for these buildings was brought from a quarry high up from the opposite end of the Urubamba River. The complex was still under construction during the time of the conquest and has never seemed to be completed.

After the defeat of Manco Inca by the Spanish at Sacsayhuaman followed by the unsuccessful siege of Cusco he withdrew to Ollantaytambo. In order to capture Manco Inca, Hernando, the younger brother of Francisco Pizarro led a force of 70 cavalry, 30 foot soldiers together with a large contingent of natives.

The Inca’s forces that were joined by the neighbouring jungle tribes, showered down arrows, spears as well as rocks on the unfortunate Spanish troops. In a smart move, the Inca flooded the plains below their stronghold and made the movement difficult for the horses wherein Hernando unexpectedly ordered a hasty withdrawal. The only place which resisted attacks from the Spanish was Ollantaytambo.
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Qollqas Featuring Ventilation Systems


The Incas had built many storehouses out of fieldstones over the hills surrounding Ollantaytambo with their locations at high altitudes. This provided more wind and lower temperature thus saved their contents from being decayed. Furthermore, the Ollantaytambo qollqas featured ventilation systems which are believed to be utilised to store the production of the agricultural terraces that were built around the place.

 It was said that grains were poured through the windows on the uphill area of each building and emptied through the downhill side window. Presently Ollantaytambo is suffering for being an access for Cuzco and the jungle since there does not seems to be any alternate roads. Big semi-trucks as well as buses pass through the narrow main streets. Locals are concerned with the disruption of town life as well as the effect of extreme exhaust on the ruins and talks on alternative road does not seems to take any positive turn.

Ollantaytambo tends to have some of the oldest constantly occupied buildings in South America. Being a stronghold of Inca resistance, once upon a time, it seems to be strangely well preserved. Several of the tourist visits Ollantaytambo since it is the beginning of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and the ruins seems to be very fascinating.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Hidden Portrait 'Found Under Mona Lisa', says French Scientist


Second PortraitBeneath the Top Layer of Famous Painting


According to BBC reports, the art world is bustling with claims made by a French scientist who has discovered a portrait of another woman beneath the top layer of the most famous painting of the world, the Mona Lisa. According to Newsweek, a Paris-based company, Lumiere Technology, working closely with galleries and museums, co-founded by Pascal Cotte, digitised in fine art pieces, had been researching Da Vinci’s signature piece for 10 years utilising a technology known as the Layer amplification Method – LAM.

It involves shining `intense’ light to a painting and then measuring the bounced back reflection to scale what is beneath it. Its website claims to have digitized works by Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Claude Renoir and Vincent Van Gogh. BBC which is airing a documentary regarding the discovery reports thatCotte had gained access by the Louvre to the Mona Lisa in 2004.Cotte states that underneath the surface of the Mona Lisa is an image of a woman looking off to the side and not straight ahead with various physical characteristics than the model which tends to smile down on the crowds at the Louvre.

Image Lacks Famed Direct Gaze & Smile


Cotte informs that the hidden image lacks both the famed direct gaze and the smile of Mona Lisa which was observed by projecting it to intense light. A camera which measured the light’s reflection enabled Cotte to reconstruct what had been created with each layer of paint.

The Telegraph notes that the hidden portrait, for instance displays a woman who has a bigger head, nose, hands and smaller lips. BBC informed an Oxford University art history professor that the newly discovered model was probably not the beginning of a completely different painting but an evolution of the final Mona Lisa wherein Da Vinci had kept the painting over the previous version till he received the result he desired. He has commented that he is convinced that the Mona Lisa is Lisa.

According to BBC, that analysed the painting, the Louvre on its part, had refrained from commenting since it was not part of the scientific team. The theory seems to be controversial and not without its critics It is claimed that the hidden portrait represents the original `Lisa’ and what we see is believed to be Lisa Gherardine, the wife of a Florentine merchant and is a different being altogether.

Mona Lisa – Topic of Various Scientific Examinations


However, emeritus professor of History of Art at the University of Oxford, Martin Kemp, who is quoted by the BBC, had informed that though the images shown by Cotte, portrays Da Vinci’s artistic process, they tend to represent an evolution in the creation of the Mona Lisa instead of separate paintings. The Mona Lisa has been the topic of various scientific examinations for more than half a century.

 Recent techniques comprised of infrared inspections together with multi-spectral scanning. Andrew Graham-Dixon, an art historian has made a BBC documentary known as The Secrets of the Mona Lisa, researching historical documents connected to the painting together with Cotte’s scientific discoveries. He informs that he has no doubts that this is definitely one of the stories of the century and there would possibly be some reluctance on the authorities at the Louvers in changing the title of the painting since that is what all have been talking about and it will be goodbye Mona Lisa, she is somebody else’.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Enceladus’s Underground Ocean That Could Host Life

Enceladus

Saturn’s Enceladus – Similar to Deep Oceans on Earth

An enormous breakthrough in the search for life on other planets has been revealed by scientists. Spacecraft of Nasa’s Cassini had provided scientist with the first clear evidence that moon of Saturn, Enceladus tends to exhibit signs of current day hydrothermal activity which is similar to that seen in the deep oceans on Earth. If the same is confirmed, it would make the moon Enceladus, the only known body in the solar system beside the Earth where hot water as well as rocks tend to interact underground.

 It is said that the activity would make the moon a much more attractive place for hunting microbial life. Astrobiologist consider the 314 mile wide Enceladus as one of the best bets of the solar for hosting life beyond the Earth. The satellite is said to be covered by an icy shell and is geologically active, as proved by the powerful geysers which tend to blast constantly from its south polar region. The clouds tend to contain substantial amount of water, which according to the scientists have originated from a subsurface ocean. Earlier research recommended that the ocean is in contact with the rocky mantle of Enceladus with possibility of all kinds of interesting chemical reactions.

No Sunlight Flowing in Underground Sea

The scientists discovered weird life form in hydrothermal vents on the ocean bottom, on Earth, where there seems to be no sunlight flowing through the underground sea of Enceladus. However, any microbes which tend to exist there could gain access to two different sources metabolism-supporting energy sources, molecular hydrogen and the heat provided by hydrothermal vents.

NASA states that the implications of this activity on a world besides our planet tend to open up exceptional scientific possibilities. These discoveries add to the possibility that Enceladus which comprise of a subsurface ocean, displaying remarkable geologic activity could contain an atmosphere which could be suitable for living organisms, according to John Grunsfeld astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission directorate in Washington.He further added that the location in our solar system where the extreme environments takes place in which life could exist, may bring us closer to answering queries to : `are we alone in the Universe’.

Hydrothermal Activity – Seawater Infiltrates/Reacts with Rocky Crust

Hydrothermal activity tends to take place when the seawater infiltrates and reacts with rocky crust and arises as a heated mineral laden solution, which is a natural event in the ocean on Earth. As per two science papers, the effects were the first clear indications that an icy moon could have same on-going active processes. The first paper published in the journal Nature relates to microscopic grains of rock that were noticed by Cassini in the Saturn system.

A four year extensive analysis of data from the spacecraft, laboratory experiments and computer simulations directed the researchers to the conclusion that the tiny grains probably formed when the hot water containing dissolved minerals from the moon’s rocky interior travelled upwards coming in contact with cooler water. According to the researchers, the subsurface sea of Enceladus contains dissolved sodium chloride like the Earth’s ocean but is full of sodium carbonate, also known as washing soda or soda ash. Study team members state that this alien water body is possibly similar to terrestrial soda lakes like the Mono Lake in California than it is to the Atlantic as well as Pacific oceans.

Hypothetical Planet Vulcan

Vulcan

Planet Vulcan Presumed to Be Orbiting Around the Sun


In the present model of the solar system, the planet Mercury seems to be the closest to the Sun. Planet Vulcan was the planned planet presumed to be orbiting around the Sun in the area between Mercury and Sun. Based on the calculation of Le Verrier, the proposal of planet was done to explain the peculiarities in the orbit of Mercury and the French mathematician, Le Verrier was the one who had predicted the existence of the planet Neptune by calculations to clarify the orbit of Uranus.

He assumed that the peculiarities in the orbit of Mercury could be owing to some unknown planet orbiting between the Sun and Mercury. Numerous investigators were involved in the study of the new planet Vulcan though no such planet seemed to be found. Peculiarities in orbit of Mercury had been clarified by the Theory of General Relativity of Albert Einstein. Besides Mercury, asteroid 2007 EB with a semi-major axis of 0.55 AU has the smallest known semi-major axis revolving around the Sun. Director of the Paris Observatory, Francois Arago, had suggested to the French mathematician Urbain Le Verrier, in 1840, to work on the topic of orbital motion of the planet Mercury around the Sun.

Purpose – Recommend a Model for Planet Mercury


The purpose of the study was to recommend a model for the planet Mercury based on the laws of motion and gravitation of Sir Isaac Newton.Towards 1843, Le Verrier had published his provisional theory on the topic that would be tested at the time of transit of Mercury across the face of the Sun in 1843. However his theory failed in matching the observation.

 He then published a thorough study of Mercury’s motion again. The consistency of the study meant that any deviation from prediction would be the result of some unknown factor and there would still be some discrepancy. During the motion of Mercury, its perihelion progresses by a small amount each orbit, technically known as perihelion precession. The value observed differs from the value predicted by Classical mechanics by around 43 arc seconds per century. Le Verrier assumed that the unwarranted precession could be described with the presence of a small planet within the orbit of Mercury, proposing the name `Vulcan’ for this object.

Astronomer Denies the Passage of any Planet over the Sun


Lescarbault, a country doctor at Orgeres, France had reported Le Verrier that he had seen an object which was a size of a planet cross the disc of the Sun on March 26, 1859. Lee Verrier had been to Orgeres and had interviewed the amateur astronomer regarding the unidentified planetary object. Lescarbault had estimated the duration of the transit as 1 hour, 17 minutes and 9 seconds.

He was completely convinced from the observation of Lescarbault and believed that he had seen the transit of an earlier unknown planet. He announced the discovery of Vulcan on January 2, 1860, at a meeting of the Academic des Sciences in Paris. Apparently not all accepted the discovery of Vulcan and renowned French astronomer, Emmanuel and Liais claimed that they had been studying the surface of the sun through a telescope which as powerful as the telescope of Lescarbault at the same time when reported by him. Liais has strongly denied the passage of any planet over the Sun during the time indicated.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Why Nobel Prize was not Awarded Gandhi subsequently for 5 Times

Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi Continues to be Strongest Models of Peace/Non-Violence


Over 60 years after his death, the leader of India’s independence movement, Mahatma Gandhi still continues to be one of the strongest models of peace and non-violence all over the world. Yet the query remains answered as to why he was not granted the world’s greatest honour for peace inspite of being nominated five times as well as shortlisted thrice for the Nobel Prize?

The issue had come up when Kailash Satyarthi, children’s rights activists of India, had been awarded the prize jointly with Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai. Norwegian historian and Nobel Peace Prize expert, Oivind Stenersen, had informed The Wall Street Journal that awarding Mr. Satyarthi the peace prize had been a smart move by the committee.

He commented that it always had a guilty conscience since Gandhi did not get the prize and that they knew that the committee had been looking for an Indian for quite some time. The selection committee had provided a host of reasons on the official website of the Nobel Peace Prize on why Mr Gandhi had never received the popular prize.

In 1937, during Mr Gandhi’s first nomination, the adviser of the selection committee, Jacob Worm-Muller had been critical about him stating that according to the Nobel Foundation, `he was undoubtedly a good, noble and ascetic person, a prominent man who is deservedly honoured and loved by the masses of India’.

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Several Critics in International Peace Movement


Mr Worm-Muller, at the same time had written that ‘there were sharp turns in his policies that could hardly be satisfactorily explained by his followers. He is a freedom fighter and a dictator, an idealist and a nationalist; He is frequently a Christ, but then, suddenly an ordinary politician’.

He added that Mr Gandhi had several critics in the international peace movement and was not consistently pacifist and should have known that some of his non-violent campaigns towards the British could degenerate into terror and violence.

He also believed and had mentioned in his report to the selection committee, that Mr Gandhi was too much of an Indian nationalist and one could say that it is significant that his well-known struggle in South Africa was for the sake of the Indian only and not of the blacks whose conditions of living was even worse.

Mr Gandhi – First & Foremost a Patriot


One of the committees was also of the opinion that Mr Gandhi had not been a `real politician or supporter of international law, nor a humanitarian relief worker or an organizer of international peace congresses. Mr Gandhi had been nominated for the award again in 1938 and 1939, though was shortlisted a second time only in 1947 when the Nobel Peace Committee Advisor Jens Arup Seip had been less critical of Mr Gandhi than Mr Worm-Muller.

Selection committee chairman, Gunnar Jahn had mentioned in his diary that `while it is true that Gandhi is the greatest personality among the nominees, plenty of good things can be said about him, we should remember that he is not only an apostle for peace, he is first and foremost a patriot.

 Moreover, we have to bear in mindthat Gandhi is not naïve. He is an excellent jurist and a lawyer’. In 1948, Mr Gandhi had been shortlisted for the third time just days prior to his assassination which had prompted the selectors to think whether the awards could be given subsequently.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Building Hitler's SuperGun

V-3

V-3, Remarkable Weapon – Afflicted with Technical Difficulties


It is said that the V-3 was intended to win the war for Germany and for the first time in 1943, since the World War II began, Hitler was on the back foot. Big guns had shattered German cities and the Fuhrer was upset. The V-3, his proposed cannon would be the largest gun that the world had ever seen. However, the remarkable weapon had never been test fired and afflicted with technical difficulties.

The working of the German supergun was also a mystery since much of it was destroyed with only a few photographs and documents that survived. The V-3 had been built in a massive bunker that was buried deep in a chalk hill in northern France.

Millions of tonnes of rock had been excavated by hand and among the workers there were hundreds of slave labourers as well.In its original conception, 25 barrels were to point at London around 100 miles distance, delivering up to one bomb each minute, developing an atmosphere of fear which would turn the course of the war back in favour of Hitler.

It was said to be a destined secret `drone’ mission to end the V-3 which led to the death of Joe Kennedy, Junior, who was a pilot and the older brother of the future US president, John F. Kennedy.

Trouble in Achieving All-Important Timing


It was estimated that a missile reaching London should achieve speeds over 1,500 metres per second and each barrel of Hitler’s gun was said to be 130 metres long and inclined at 50 degrees that was worked out that this would be the perfect angle to reach London, which they seemed to have got it right.

The missile was said to be accelerated through a means of a sequence of charges along the barrel and accurate timing of these extra charges was an important element. This was presumed that this was done electrically. In a study for a TV documentary on Channel Four, PBS Nova and National Geographic International, no evidence was found for this.

Photographs from that time showed no signs of electrical wiring or triggering devices. From their experience it was recommended that the charges were triggered due to heat of the advancing gas behind the missile. The engineers of Hitler had great trouble achieving the all-important timing and it was presumed that it was due to leakage of hot gas past the seal behind the missile.

Project Anvil Ended as a Failure


They also faced various other issues with their design, especially to perfect a shape of missile which would be aerodynamic at supersonic speeds. It had to be steady without the assistance of spin. However, in the initial tests, the projectile was found to tumble uncontrollably and the issue never seemed to be solved.

The Partners had not known about the supergun till the Canadian forces had invaded the site after D-Day. However, they were aware that for the Germans to be spending that many resources on the site they were surely of no use. It was not easy to imagine how to destroy the supergun.

 The Americans had planned to attack the installation with a drone that was controlled remotely by heavy bomber packed with 12 tonnes of high explosives. The idea was to crash the unmanned aircraft directly into the site at Mimoyecques near Calais. However, the mission, code dubbed Project Anvil ended as a failure.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Yakshi

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Yakshi – Female Earth Spirit - Symbol of Fertility

Yakshi is female earth spirits which is considered as a symbol of fertility by the Hindu, Jain and the Buddhist faith and are portrayed as wide-hipped voluptuous women with narrow waists, broad shoulders who caused a tree to bear fruit by simply touching it with her foot.

Here the figure is depicted smartly unified in the form of a column, the centre of which takes the shape of a leafy tree. The yakshi is generally depicted with her upper hands holding a branch of the tree with a graceful pose which is a traditional gesture in sculptures of yakshi. The ashoka tree is closely linked with the Yakshini mythological beings.

Yakshi with her foot on the trunk and her hands holding the branch of anartificial flowering askoka or less often other tree with flowers of fruits, is one of the frequent elements in India art that is found at the gates of Buddhist as well as Hindu temples.The sculptures of yakshi are generally perceived in intricate architectural motifs on the porticoes of temples as well as stupas.

These types of figures recognized often as mother-goddesses date back to the Indus Valley civilization which is the earliest known Indian urban culture.
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Female Counterpart of Male Yaksha

Yakshi or Yakshini or Yakkhini are mythical beings and the female counterpart of the male Yaksha who are attendees of Kubera, the Hindu god of wealth. He rules in the mythical Himalayan kingdom of Alaka. They are considered to be guardians of the treasure that is hidden in the earth, resembling fairy.

 Thirty six Yakshinis, in Uddamareshvara Tantra, are described which include their mantras as well as ritual prescriptions. In early Buddhist monuments, Yakshis were considered important as decorative element and are found in several ancient Buddhist archaeological locations.

Yakshi
One will find an identical list of Yakshas and Yakshinis in the Tantraraja Tantra which states that these beings are givers of whatever is preferred.

 Though Yakshinis are generally generous, there are other yakshinis with spiteful characteristics in Indian folklore. In pre-Aryan days, the folk goddesses were protective deities in Indian religions and yakshis were worshipped by the rural folks with the expectations of boon or protection from evil.

Main Indian religions of later day considered these goddesses to attract the rural folks, making them accept these religions without reservation. Importance to yakshis in Jainism is seen from the fact, that there is a yakshi of each of the 24 tirthankaras and is the tirthankaras of the guardian deities.
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Yakshis Have Special Place in Art History of India

Five out of these 24 yakshis, are celebrated in sculptures, terracotta figurines and bronzes, the popular ones are Ambica, the yakshi of Neminatha, the 22nd tirthankara. The others are the Jwalamalini, Padmavathy, Siddhakkiya and Chakreswari, the protecting goddesses of Parsvanatha, Mahaveera, Chandraprabha and Adinatha, respectively, the 23rd and 24th - the last, the eighth and the first tirthankaras.

Yakshis have now become folk deities again due to the decline of Jainism. Retired senior epigraphist, V, Vedachalam, of Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department who has done perceptive research on the origin and the growth of the yakshi cult has commented that `yakshis have a special place in the art history of India’.

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From the fourth century B.C. during the time of the Mauryas, the Kushanas – second century B.C. and the Guptas – fourth century A.D. right to the 13th century A.D. yakshi has been celebrated in hundreds of standalone sculptures, terracotta figurines, bas-beliefs and stunning bronzes. Nonetheless, yakshis worship was recognized in a regular manner from the Gupta era. In Tamil Nadu one will find separate shrines for them dating from the 12th century.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Harem of the Mughals

Harem

The Mughal Harem – Sphere of Women, Men Prohibited


The Mughal Harem had been the harem of Mughal emperors of South Asia and the term was initiated with the Near East which meant a `forbidden place, sacrosanct, sanctum and was etymologically linked to the Arabic harim – a sacred inviolable place, female members of the family and forbidden, sacred. It meant the sphere of women which is generally a polygynous household and their set apart quarters were prohibited to men. Harems comprised of wives, female relatives, concubines and male infants.

Harems were not only a place where the women folklived; there were babies as well as children who grew up there. Within the confines of the harem, there were bazaars, markets, laundries, kitchens, school, playgrounds and baths. The harem had a hierarchy and its chief authorities were the wives and female relatives of the emperor and after them were the concubines and scullery slaves.

The mothers, step-mothers, grandmothers, aunts, step-sisters, sisters, daughters and the other female relatives also lived in the harem. The confines of this absolute city of women was so large that the lowest of these slave never lay eyes on the emperor Besides these, there were the ladies-in-waiting, maids, servants, cooks, women official and guards.
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Guarded by Three Lines of Defence


The harem of the Mughal Empire is said to be guarded by three lines of defence, namely the trained Tatar and Uzbek women deadly with spears and bows and then the eunuchs who maintained discipline in the harem. Some of the eunuchs had been recruited as children locally or received as gifts from Ottoman and North African kings.

Several of the women in the Mughal Harem were the native girls from South Asia. Most of the local rulers belonging to vassal states had sent their daughters to the Mughal Harem to strengthen political relations with the Mughal Empire. Central Asian, Afghani and Persian girls were preferred by the Mughals who were the chief wives and concubine while the Persian girls included Georgian and Armenian girls who had been part of Persian Safavid dynasty.

The lives of the harem ladies were administered by strict rules of purdah and the ladies generally did not have the freedom of moving out of the harem as they desired. If they would go out, their face had to be covered behind a veil.

Lived in Great Comfort/Luxury/Materialist Pleasure


However, within the harem they could move around as they pleased. Moreover they were also provided with different kinds of luxuries and comfort and they life in the harem was full of fun and laughter. The image portrayed by foreigners like Bernier and Manucci who had the opportunity of accessing the harem as physicians showed that they lived in great comfort, luxury with materialistic pleasure.

 The ladies resided in grand apartments which were luxuriously furnished together with beautiful gardens, fountains, tanks and water channels attached. They were attired in expensive clothing made from the finest material, adorning themselves with jewellery from head to toe.

 They seldom went out and when they did go out, most of the high ranked ladies travelled in style and comfort in richly decorated howdahs on elephant backs and palanquins. Their daily requirements of the emperor as well as his harem inmates were satisfied by the royal departments

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The slumdog Princess: Descendant of India's Last Emperor

Princess

Descendants of India’s Last Emperor – Confined to Life in a Slum (Kolkata)


The descendant of India’s last emperor would have lived in luxurious palaces when they ruled over a huge and wealthy kingdom. However the lifestyle of Sultana Begum is far from the luxuries enjoyed by the rulers during the Mughal times.

It is said that Sultana Begum has been confined to a life in a slum which is on the outskirts of Kolkata and the 60 year old is the great grand daughter-in-law of the last emperor of India, Bahadur Shah Zafar. She had to face difficulties to make ends meet on her basic pension inspite of her royal heritage. Since the death of her husband Prince in 1980, Mirza Bedar Bukht has been leading a life of poverty.

 This Mughal heiress has been compelled to reside in a miniature two-room hut in Howrah which is a slum area in Kolkata and shares a kitchen with her neighbour, washing in the street, utilising the water coming from public taps. Inspite of the fact that she is related to the 19th century royal family, she goes about her daily life on the pension of just about £60 each month. She has informed that her other daughters and husbands being poor are unable to help them.

Contributed to Architectural Legacy to Indian


The £60, according to Indian currency amounts to 6,000, by way of pension covers the expenses for herself, her six children, five daughters and a son. Her predicament, in recent years has been emphasized by several campaigners who had pushed authorities in providing more care for India’s royal descendants, most of which were left in the lurch after the British rule had ended the Mughal dynasty.

 Sultana has descended from the Mughal dynasty which had contributed to a great extent the architectural legacy to the Indian sub-continent from the 16th, 17th and the 18th centuries. The Taj Mahal is one such example of some of the finest monuments built by the Muslim emperors, though the Mughals had also built the Red Fort, the Agra Fort and the Lahore Shalimar Gardens most of which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

It is said that Sultana had spent years, appealing to the central and state government for help for basic living provision and a pension but till date the government has only provided her grand-daughter Roshan Ara with a job and a salary of £150.

1858 - Exiled to Rangoon


However, the other members of the household who seemed to be illiterate had failed the basic government test when they had been offered jobs. Sultana had spent several years running a tea stall before it was closed down and she then focused her attention in producing clothing for ladies. Sultana narrates that she is grateful to some who had come forward to support her.

Her husband, the late Muhammad Bedar Bakht, the son of Jamshid Bakht and the grandson of Jawan Bakht had informed her that they had come from respectable royal families who had never begged for a living. She stated that she had always asked governments to provide her with what her family deserves.

In 1837, the great grandfather of Sultana’s husband, Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar had been placed on the throne and was the last of the Mughal emperors who had ruled India for three centuries. Towards 1857, when the Indian soldiers had amalgamated and rebelled against their British master, Bahadur Shah Zafar was their commander-in-chief. In 1858, when the revolution was crushed by the British, he was exiled to Rangoon, where he lived there for five years till his death at the age of 87.

He had been accompanied by his wife, Zeenat Mahal during his exile together with some of the remaining family members. He had died in exile on 7th November 1862 in Rangoon, presently Yangon, and the capital of Burma.

Mughal Empire – Dominant Power In Indian Subcontinent

He was buried at the site which was later known as Bahadur Shah Zafar Dargah. Towards 1991, in the event of a restoration work-out, the original brick-lined graved was identified and he was honoured as a saint by the Burmese Muslims natives. Zeenat Mahal, his wife who died in 1886 and the granddaughter Raunaq Zamani were also buried alongside his burial. Though several of the children and grandchildren of Bahadur Shah had been killed as a result of the failed Indian Rebellion in 1857, the descendants of his surviving children had lived in Detroit Michigan in the United States and in various areas of India and Pakistan. The Mughal Empire which originated in Persia was the dominant power in the Indian subcontinent in the mid-16th century and the early 18th century. It ruled at its highest point, for around a quarter of the population of the world. Under the Mughals, the Indian economy was prosperous due to the development of road system and a uniform currency as well as with the union of the country. Town and cities grew under the Mughals, though for most part, the military and political centres had not been dedicated to commerce or industry.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Naachtun- A Lost City of the Maya

Maya

Ancient City of Naachtun – Heart of the Maya Region


Mayan civilization of Central America was very much advanced and flourishing during the period when Europe was yet in the dark ages. Some suggest that the climate changes could have been responsible for the collapse of the Mayas though several experts tend to disagree.

The Maya of the Classic period started around 250 AD and lived in the area in the Guatemala, Chiapas and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, towards the western area of Honduras, Belize and El Salvador. The ancient city of Naachtun is located in the heart of the Maya region, a kilometre south of the Mexican border towards the far northern area of Guatemala.

This Naachtun city was rediscovered by the western archaeologist Sylvanus Morley of the Carnegie Institution Washington on May 3 in 1922 and is one of the most remote sites of Maya location. Morley had heard of the site from a chiclero, one who collects sap that is used in making chewing gum from chicle trees, by the name Alfonso Ovando.

 He was the first who saw the site in 1916. Morley together with Filipino photographers, Juan Sopena had spent around seven days at the site wherein they explored several of the standing buildings and discovered 19 of the Naachtun’s 40 plus stelae.

Calakmul/Tikal – Superpowers of Classic Maya World


The city has also been the subject of only a few fleeting visits for the past 80 years. Inspite of its current isolation, Naachtun seems to be very much in the thick of things during the Classic era where the site lie around 44 km south-south-east of Calakmul and 65 km north if Tikal. These are the two superpowers of the classic Maya world.

Located directly between these two powerful entities, Naachtun besides holding a strategic position was also vulnerable during the frequent wars of that time and control of the city had been seen as an essential prologue to any effort by Tikal or Calakmul to attack the other.

Morley had named the huge Maya city Naachtun due to the site’s dangerous unapproachability where naach means `far’ and tun means `stone’ in Mayan. Naachtun till date is one of the most remote sites in the Yucatan peninsula as well as one of the least known among all the major Classic Maya centres.

Next Western Visitor – Cyprus Lundell


Cyrus Lundell was the next western visitorto Naachtun, who had reached the site on January 5 and spent three days mapping and exploring it with Garcia, a chiclero guide. In the process he also discovered eight new stelae and though Morley and company had reached Naachtun form the south, Lundell had reached it form the north and had mistakenly presumed that he had found a new site of around 20 km north of the Mexico-Guatemala border.

 He had named the apparently new site as `Nohoxna’. Towards 1933, presuming that Lundell had found a new site, the Carnegie Institution of Washington had sent an expedition to southern Mexico to find and document the same with members comprising of Karl Ruppert, John H. Denison Jr. and JP O’Neill who spent 12 days in May 1933.

 They discovered several new stelae together with other new buildings. O’Neill completed the map of the site which is being utilised till date. When Ruppert, Denison and O’Neill returned from their field and had compared their photos with those of Morley’s earlier expedition, did they realise that Nohoxna and Naachtun were one and the same place.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Hessdalen Lights

Hessdalen Lights

The Hessdalen Phenomenon – Unusual Lights


Hovering above a valley in central Norway, the presence of strange balls of lights has surprised scientists for years. It is known as Hessdalen Phenomenon, wherein the flashing orbs is considered to be as large as cars having drawn the attention from ufologist.

However, scientists now consider that the unusual lights could have be formed by natural battery which could be buried deep beneath the ground, and created by metallic minerals reacting with sulphurous river running through it. Should the theory be proved to be true, it could open up new way of storing energy.

New Science has reported that some of the lights tend to drift gradually through the sky for around two hours, while the others tend to flash white or blue, flashing through the valley and disappears within seconds.

Looking for the physics of the natural phenomenon since 1982, was Erling Strand, a computer engineer from Ostfold University in Norway, when the recurrent light showed up, it captured the attention of the press and scientists.It was revealed that the lights made no sound, appeared to be cool with no trace of any scorch marking on the ground unlike ball lightning.
Hessdalen_Lights

Geology Forms Electromagnetic Arena Lines


Moreover, it did not sterilise an area on contact, killing the soil microbes. From the Institute of Radio Astronomy in Medicina, Italy, Jader Monari had researched the Hessdalen site since 1996 and observed that rocks in the valley were rich in zinc and iron on one area of the river running through it and on the other side were rich in copper.

He commented that if there is sulphur in the water in the midst, it would make a perfect battery. Accompanied with a colleague from the University of Bologna, they used rock samples to develop a small valley and submerged them in river sediment and found that electricity flowed between the two rocks and this could help in lighting a lamp.

Dr Monari was of the belief that bubbles of ionised gas tend to develop when sulphurous fumes from the River Hesja react with the air which is humid in the valley. The geology also tends to form electromagnetic arena lines in the valley which provides the answer as to why the orbs of light seem to move around.

Various Theories – Light Being Formed


Dr Monari informed Caroline Williams that this electrical field tend to develop a path which could be the main way of the lights within the valley. An electrical engineer at Ostfold University, Bjorn Gitle Hauge, believes that the energy required to make the clouds glow, would be possible due to the charge built up. Some of the experts are of the opinion that some sort of plasma tends to cause light when a gas ionises it, creates a cloud of ions and electrons, plasma which produces light.

Plasmas could be cool to the touch and could also kill microbes, but they need extremely high temperatures with a huge amount of energy to be produced. Others were of the belief that the lights were a type of ball lightning since identical balls of light was spotted and analysed in China indicating that they were formed of silicon, iron and calcium that are seen in the Hessdalen light together with the addition of element known as scandium.

 However, the Hessdalen lights do not seem to appear where there is lightning, which has lead Dr Hauge to recommend another indication. Besides these, there are various other theories with regards to the light being formed though the battery theory seems to be the possibility based on the present evidence.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Archimedes and the Burning Mirror

Burning_Mirror

Archimedes – Turned His Skills on Invaders, Holding them at Bay


It was during the Second Punic War when the city of Syracuse in Sicily had made the serious mistake of supporting the Carthaginians against Rome and in 216 BC the huge Roman fleet set out to lay siege to Syracuse and capture it. It would have been a simple task for the well-drilled Romans though they had not figured out on the intervention of a 70 year old man, Archimedes, who was the greatest Greek technologist, a born and bred Syracusian.

Though he detested violence, having no interest absolutely in military campaigns, in the hour of need in his home town, he turned his skill on the invaders, helping in holding them at bay for almost four years. The Roman had not seen some of the war machines that were released on them.

A large pair of forceps had appeared from the city walls and had grasped the hull of the ship between its jaws, shook it and had sent it crashing in ruins in the sea. Giant catapults had hurled showers of heavy spears and stones on the vessels at anchor a few distances from the shore. However, there was one weapon which Archimedes is said to have used that defied integrity.

Comprehended Reflection


One of the writers worth mentioning was Plutarch who had an interest in making Greek brains far superior to the Romans. As per Plutarch, Archimedes redirected the Sun’s rays on to the Roman galleys setting them ablaze. This incident is not known whether it is true or not, but seemed too good for the medieval chroniclers over thousands of years later to resist.

Some of the later writers state that Archimedes used the published round shields of the Greek troops to reflect the sunlight while others claim that he had focused the rays with a giant single mirror, A Byzantine historian of the 12th century, Joannes Zonaras wrote that, at last in an incredible manner, he burned up the whole Roman fleet by tilting a kind of mirror, he ignited the air from the beam and kindled a great flame, he directed at the ships at anchors in the path of the fire till he consumed them all. Zonaras, obviously had only a weak grasp on the principles of optics but Archimedes on the other hand comprehended reflection as well as anyone till the time of Newton and even he would have struggled to exploit it as an combustible weapon.

Mirrors Used As Anti-Personnel Weapons


Possibly, mirrors might have been used as anti-personnel weapons. For instance, fifty mirrors, precisely trained on the steersman of a Roman galley could have given him a horrible burn but the scene of the total fleet being disabled in this way seems to be a bit unconvincing.

The ability of mirrors to concentrate the sun in obtaining high temperature is well-known. It is easy to envisage focusing the mirrors on a wooden ship rather than the tower to set it ablaze. The goal at the top of the tower could reach temperatures more than 1,000 Fahrenheit, about the auto-ignition point of most wood. But each of the installed mirrors were massive and could have been around 2000 of them, probably which Archimedes may have not arranged considering the technology during that time.

Probably the account of Archimedes together with his military mirrors could be the result of distraught imagination. The actual destruction of the Roman ships as claimed by Thucydides and Aeneas Tacitus was that they could have been due to burning gobbets of sulphur, pitch and charcoal tossed from shore-based catapults and this could have inspired the legend.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Aquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine – Powerful/Enthralling Personalities


Eleanor of Aquitaine was considered to be the most powerful as well as enthralling personalities of feudal Europe. She was a major figure in the middle ages as well as a prominent personality in women’s history.

She was the eldest daughter of William, Duke of Aquitaine and had married Louis VII, King of France at the age of 15 bringing with the union, her enormous possessions from the River Loire to the Pyrenees. At 19, she knelt in the cathedral of Vezelay before the celebrated Abbe Bernard of Clairvaux and offered him thousands of her vassals for the Second Crusade.

Queen Eleanor had appeared at Vezelay in the attire of an Amazon galloping through the crowd on a white horse, advising them to join the crusades. Though it is said that the church may have been delighted in receiving her thousand fighting vassals, they were not happy when they learned that Eleanor had along with 300 of her ladies planned to help and tend to the wounded. Her presence together with the ladies and wagons of female servants was disapproved by commentators throughout her adventure. Dressed in armour and carrying lances, the women did not fight.

Eleanor’s Announcement - Marriage Invalid


When they reached the city of Antioch, Eleanor was in deep renewed friendship with Raymond her uncle who had been appointed prince of the city. Raymond was only a few years older than Eleanor and was handsome and far more interesting than her husband, Louis.

Eleanor supported his views when he had decided that the best strategic objective of the Crusade was to recapture Edessa and protect the Western presence in the Holy Land. Louis however was more engrossed in reaching Jerusalem which seemed a less sound goal and demanded Eleanor to follow him to Jerusalem.

Eleanor furious, announced to all that their marriage did not seem to be valid in the eyes of God since they were related through some family links to the extent which was prohibited by the Church. Nonetheless Louis compelled Eleanor to honour her marriage vows and ride with him. The expedition resulted in failure and a defeated Louis and Eleanor returned to France in separate ships.
Eleanor

1152 – Officially Divorced – Married Henry of Anjou


During the Second Crusade, her relationship with her husband worsened and in 1152, they were officially divorced. Thereafter she married Henry of Anjou and over the next thirteen years, the royal couple had eight children, five sons and three daughters. Queen Eleanor was very much occupied in the ruling of King Henry II’s huge empire in France and England.

However Henry and Eleanor finally separated and Henry had her imprisoned in 1173 for supporting her son who had revolted against Henry and was not released till 7 July 1189 when Henry died. Their son ascended the English throne as Richard I. Eleanor acted as regent while Richard went on the Third Crusade when on his return he was captured and held a prisoner.

Eleanor lived well into the reigns of her son John, who was the youngest.By the time of her death she had outlived all her children except for King John and Queen Eleanor of Castile.Bestowed with intelligence, creative energy together with remarkably long life, she played a major role in the 12th century, an inspiring achievement since medieval women had been considered as nothing more than chattel.

As the queen partner of King Louis VII of France and of King Henry II of England and as the mother of King Richard I and King John, she was in the limelight exercising power over the most important men of her time.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Epic of Gilgamesh

Gilgamesh

Epic of Gilgamesh – Surprised Update


One of the oldest chronicles in the world, the Epic of Gilgamesh has recently got a surprised update when the Sulaymaniyah Museum in the Kurdistan region of Iraq reported that it had discovered 20 new line of the Babylonian Era poem of mortals, gods and monsters. Since the poem had prevailed in fragments from the 18th century BC, there has constantly been the likelihood of more turning up.

However the one which we seem to be familiar with was in 1853 in Ninevehand does not differ much over recent times. The text seems to be equally fixed which is till the fall of Baghdad in 2003 and the forceful pillaging that followed generated in something new.

 It is reported that an Assyriologist at the University of London – ULC had discovered a stolen clay tablet with inscription of ancient cuneiform text which was recently obtained by a museum in Iraq, comprising of 20 earlier unknown lines to the epic story of Gilgamesh.

Gilgamesh is the oldest known epic poem which is widely observed as the first great work of literature that was ever created. Though the precise origin of the tablet is not known, the style of the script as well as the circumstance of acquiring it has lead experts in believing that it was unearthed at Babylonian site and could date back as far as the Old Babylonian period.

Fascinating New Details – V Tablet


When the text seemed to be translated by a professor in the Department of Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East at UCL, Farouk Al-Rawi, together with the help of Andrew George, associate dean of languages and culture at UCL, they discovered that it comprised of fascinating new details to the fifth tablet in the Epic of Gilgamesh. This discovery provided new information with regards to Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk and Enkidu, a wild man created by the gods to freed Gilgamesh of his haughtiness, while they are travelling to the Cedar Forest, the home of the gods, in order to defeat Humbaba, the monstrous giant.

The Cedar Forest is the magnificent dominion of the gods of Mesopotamian mythology which is described in Tablets 4 – 6 of the Epic of Gilgamesh. The forest which is guarded by the demigod Humbaba was presumed to be a quiet as well as a reflective space, but the new segment of Tablet 5 which was translated by Al-Rawi, provides a totally diverse perspective

Humbaba Not a Barbarian Ogre – A Foreign Ruler Entertained with Music


Al-Rawi and George writes in their paper `Back to the Cedar Forest: The Beginning and End of Tablet V of the Standard Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, that more surprising was the revelation of the Cedar Forest which was in the Babylonian literary imagination, a dense jungle inhabited by unusual and noisy fauna.

The chatter of the monkeys, chorus of cicada and squawking of several types of birds created a symphony or cacophony which entertains the forest’s guardian, Humbaba, daily.Humbaba has emerged not as a barbarian ogre but as a foreign ruler entertained with music at court, like Babylonian kings but the music is of a more unusual type which is played by a band of equally unusual musicians.

According to Live Science, the tablet tends to measure 11 cm x 9.5 cm and was purchased in 2011 by Sulaymaniyah Museum in Slemani, Iraq.

 It was purchased from a known smuggler of Mesopotamian antiquities. Though such a move seems controversial and feed the black market with antiquities dealing, the museum debates that it is the only option of regaining some of the treasured artifacts that had been seized from historical sites in Iraq.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Mass Mammoth 'Grave' Discovered in Siberia

Mammoth

Mass Grave of Woolly Mammoths – Siberia


Mass grave of woolly mammoths was discovered in Siberia with about 550 bones from extinct creatures which have been recovered from this remote site. It is the fifth such necropolis to be found close to the 2,268 mile long Ob River in the Khaty-Mansi Autonomous Region. The latest mammoth cemetery is said to contain the remains of around 11 woolly beasts but more is likely to be revealed on further excavations.

Experts had also found the bones of extinct woolly prehistoric deer and rhinoceroses at the site and it is presumed that the bones date back between 10,000 and 30,000 years though detailed analysis would be carried out in order to verify their age as well as to establish why they seemed to die all together.

The head of the paleontological department of the KhantypMansiysk Museum of Nature and Man, Anton Rezvy informed that he had taken part in the expedition and the presence of this site had been reported long back but till now they could not specify its precise location. He further added that when they arrived they were lucky to locate the site swiftly and part of it had been washed away by the river with the bones lying on a flat surface of the riverbank.

Several Years - Bones Taken as Souvenirs


The bones amounting to 500 were collected, one from the woolly rhinoceros, three of reindeer and the remaining of the mammoth. It is said that for several years, the people had taken the bones as souvenirs resulting in no trace of any tusk, teeth and large bones.

 The most amazing thing was that the bones were found at a place from where they had been washed away by the river and a large scale excavation can be done there. Reports of the discovery in The Siberian Times, states that `One theory is that the mammoths suffered a mineral deficiency and were desperately seeking calcium at sites of the salt licks’ while another states that they had been trapped by ancient hunters.

Sergey Leshchinsky, palaeontologist, seems to be convinced that osteoporosis was the main cause of the death of the woolly mammoth on discovering thousands of ancient bones at several sites damaged by the disease.

Creatures Weakened Due to Lack of Calcium/Vital Minerals


His theory on the lack of key minerals in food for the mammoths over 10,000 years back has been supported by his latest discovery on two summer expedition to the `salt lick’. He revealed during his recent expedition, a necropolis which included instances of woolly rhinoceros and extinct species of ancient bison and horse.

 The Siberian Times reported that the site was similar to an ancient animal health spa though several had perished there. It could probably be due to the conditions which had made them seek mineral infusion or perhaps they got stuck in the clay or due to attacks by predators at the site.

The theory of Dr Leshchinsky is that all the creatures had been weakened due to lack of calcium as well as other vital minerals which owing to the climatic changes were not obtained in their food. According to the academic, from Tomsk State University states that the collection of paleontological remains at the site could be explained by the fact that there were salt licks which local animals tend to prefer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Caduceus

Hermes

Caduceus – Associated with Greek God Hermes


Caduceus is considered to be a winged staff with two snakes around it and was an ancient astrological symbol of commerce. It was associated with the Greek god Hermes, a messenger for the gods and conductor of the dead as well as the protector of merchants and thieves.

Originally, it was a herald’s staff, the staff that was carried by Hermes in the Greek mythology and at times had wings with two white ribbons attached to it which ultimately changed into snakes forming the shape of `eight’.The same staff is said to be borne also by heralds in general, for instance, by Iris, the messenger of Hera.

The number eight seems to be important to doctors of official astrology. To some extent, depictions of Greek kerykeion could differ drastically from the traditional caduceus. It features two snakes on the top of the rod and crossed, creating a circle with the heads of the snakes, resembling `horns’. This form looks similar to the symbol of the planet Mercury and Mercury the god is the Roman name for Hermes carrying the kerykeion or caduceus.
Caduceus

Used in Astrology & Alchemy


In the Roman iconography, it is often portrayed of being carried in the left hand of Mercury, the messenger of gods, guide of the dead and protector of shepherds, gamblers, and liars, besides merchants and thieves. As a symbolic object, it tends to characterize Hermes and is associated with the god by extension trades, occupations and undertakings.

The caduceus, in later antiquity, provided the basis for astrological symbol which represented the planet Mercury and through its use in astrology as well as alchemy; it signifies the elemental metal of the same name. It is also said that the wand could wake the sleeping and those awake to sleep. If it was applied to the dying, their death would tend to be gentle and if applied to the dying, they would come back to life.

The caduceus has also been a recognized symbol of commerce and negotiation, by extension of its association with Hermes and Mercury, the two realms wherein balanced exchange and reciprocity tend to be acknowledged as ideals. This association seems to be ancient as well as consistent right from the classical period till modern times. Moreover, the caduceus has also been utilised as a symbol, representing printing once again by extension of the attributes of Mercury, with eloquence and writing.

Origin of Symbol – 2600 BC


The two astrological symbols historically had separate meanings in alchemical and astrological values and some medical groups link the serpents of the caduceus with steps to recommend a DNA double twist. The origins of the symbols is presumed to date back to early 2600 BC in Mesopotamia, while there are many references to a caduceus like symbol in the Bible.

In the chapter of Exodus, Moses had been instructed by God to fashion a pole on which hung a bronze snake and anyone who had been bitten by a snake for complaining against God could be saved by looking at it. The intention was that people would look upwards and be reminded to pray to God though eventually the meaning seemed to be forgotten by the Hebrews.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Real Truth behind Indian Independence Will Leave You Speechless

Patel

Facts – Indian Independence


We now live in a democratic and a free nation, credits of which goes out to several freedom fighters against the British. We can get some insight to the real hidden truths behind our independence and know the facts about `Indian Independence’, as well as after the independence issues that came up. We are aware that Jana Gana Mana our national anthem was written by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore actually composed to praise King George V. The song was sung on the day of the Indian National Congress convention, on December 27, 1911, at Calcutta which King George had also attended.

Jana Gana Mana had been chosen by Jawaharlal Nehru as the national anthem against Vande Mataram since Nehru was of the opinion that it would be easier to play the band. Vande Mataram which was written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay was first sang on a stage in 1896 at the Indian National Congress session which was 15 years prior to Rabindranath Tagore’s Jana Gana Mana debut on the very same stage. On the day of the nomination from India Congress committee for the position of Prime Minister, 12 out of 15 Congress committees had nominated Sardar Vallabhbai Patel against the wish of Congress and the remaining 3 committees were neutral and did not nominate any other name.

It was Mahatma Gandhi who sought for nominator of Nehru and informed him that no PCC had nominated his name with the exception of few CWC members. Nehru seemed to be disappointed and did not want to lose. It is said that Mahatma Gandhi then had requested Sardar Patel to withdraw his name from the nominations and Patel with due respect to Gandhi did so without wasting any time.

He thus made the way clear for the coronation of Jawaharlal Nehru as the first Prime Minister of India. According to Mahatma Gandhi, he believed that Nehru who was foreign educated with modern thoughts would be far more eligible than Patel. Moreover, he was also concerned that Nehru would have revolted for being denied as the Prime Minister and this could have given rise for the British with an excuse to deny transfer of power. Besides this he was assured of Sardar Patel’s loyalty and that he would never oppose him.

The transfer of power agreement 1947 had been signed between Nehru and Mountbatten for the Independence of India and it was mentioned that India would be a member of commonwealth dominion for about 99 years. No British law would be amenable or removable. Besides this, the Queen of UK would be head of state above president of India by rank and would not require Passport/Visa in order to enter India.

The ultimate decision of Independence from Dominion status would be decided only after or during the end of the tenure of 99 years of agreement. Due to this and several other such law agreements, many Prime Minister failed in performing independently to UK. The first unofficial Indian National flag was hoisted at Parsi Bagan Square – Greer Park, Calcutta on August 7, 1906 and was designed by Sachindra Prasad Bose. The flag had three horizontal strips, equal in orange, yellow and green in colour from top to bottom.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Decoding the Mystery behind the Law of Attraction


Law of Attraction – Attract Whatever You Think


Many of us tend to have created our own reality and according to science it is true. We develop thoughts before leaving for work and when we find traffic on the road, we could be late in reaching there. We are somewhat to be blamed for this, since we tend to think negatively and what we conceive is also negative.

This could occur often and what we fear the most tends to be true. For instance, if we think that if one is not successful in their exams and does not do well, they tend to dwell on negative thoughts. If our thoughts tend to get negative, they also end up with negative results. There is no means in which we could anticipate the future but we could focus more on the positive aspects of life.

Instead of thinking on the negative aspects of a given situation we could think of something positive of the given situation being faced. Thus we are taking into account the positive side of the situation and not focusing on the negatives of a given circumstance. The law of attractions states that you attract whatever you think about, whether positive or negative. The law of attraction is all about `when you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you in achieving it’.

Universe Manifests Thoughts/Desires


As per this principle, whatever tends to go on in the mind is what is attracted and the universe manifests your thoughts as well as the desires and the significance of success is to have a positive outlook while operating towards one’s objective. However, the road to success may not seem to be an easy one and you could face hurdles all through, but all the same one should be strong-minded in achieving if intending to be successful.

The Law of Attraction does exist and explained by NASA Scientist in Layman’s term. For more than forty years, several writers have labelled and wondered the facets of The Law of Attraction in works like The Power of Positive Thinking, Creative Visualization and The Secret.

 According to Dr Taylor, a scientist, engineer as well as a science fiction writer, who had studied the mysterious nature of quantum physics and the universe, states that the Law of Attraction is not a law and that the `law’ is more of a motto, a philosophical or a psychological proverb and does not dismisses it. He states that it is not a law by severe scientific proof and there is no experimental evidence for it.

Influence Reality by How You Think


According to him, you can influence reality by how you think. He further explains new theories of the brain as well of reality, stating that one can influence reality by creating a though with emotions and imagery.

In spirit, what we are doing is sending qwiff - a quantum wave function in the energy field that we are in, which tends to go out and gets attracted to other similar qwiffs, the result of which is a new reality. We should know what we want and be confident in what one desires from the Universe and have a clear image of what one wants since it will attract what you think.

You should create a mental image of what is wanted as though you have already achieved it and focus on how it would feel. Most important is to be thankful of what is achieved and being grateful for what you have could further heighten the positive, sending good vibrations out in the universe.

Indian National Library

Indian_National_Library

National Library – Largest Library in India


The well-known National Library is one of the largest libraries in India and an institution of national importance under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The library is located on Belvedere Road, Kolkata and is known not only for its collection of books but is also known to be the haunted houses of Kolkata, a former residence of former Lieutenant Governor of Bengal. The library was designated to collect, disseminate as well as preserve the printed matter produced in the country which is situated on an attractive 30 acres Belvedere Estate in former Calcutta – Kolkata.

The Ministry of Culture, the owner of the library, decided to get the library building restored by the Archaeological Survey of India – ASI, in 2010. It was while taking stock of the library building, that a previously unknown room had been discovered by the conservation engineers. The ground floor room, the size of around 1000 sq. ft. did not have any kind of an opening. Search from the first floor area, forming the ceiling of the room, was carried out by the ASI archaeologists for a trap door, but they were not successful.

Mysterious Chamber Untouched for Over Two Centuries


Restoration of the building would be incomplete without being able to assess inside this enclosure according to Tapan Bhattacharya, deputy superintending archaeologist of ASI, stating that they had come across an arch on one side of the enclosure that had been walled up and speculations were common as per another archaeologist. Some speculated that the room could have been used as a punishment room used by Warren Hasting and other British officials or a place probably to store treasure.

It was a common practice with the British to `wall up’ offenders in death chambers and according to some sources, this enclosure has the same look and feel of such chambers. Besides this the British were also know to hide their riches in such type of blind chambers. It is said that the chamber had lain untouched for more than two centuries. After Independence, the National Library, then in Esplanade, had been shifted to Belvedere House which is of great architectural and heritage value and all the treasure of books were shifted to the new building on the 30 acre campus while the old building was getting restored

Historical & Cultural Importance


The building being of historical as well as cultural importance, ASI director D.V. Sharma informed that they bore a hole through the wall instead of breaking it to peer inside with searchlight. National Library authorities had written to the ministry of culture for permission. The director of National Library, Swapan Chakravorty, had commented that `the ASI cannot drill into a building of such great historical significance as this, without permission and assisted this as caretakers of the building.

Matter on the enclosure had been raised in a recent meeting of the committee of experts which had been formed by the Centre to advise the ASI on the restoration with regards to the National Library. Historian Barun De, chairman of the committee had commented that `the ASI raised the issue of the enclosure in the last meeting of the committee and were anxiously waiting for the first look inside.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Delos Birthplace of Artemis

Delos

Delos – Birthplace of Offspring of Zeus/Leto


According to the Greek mythology, Delos seemed to be the birthplace of Artemis and Apollo, the twin offspring of Zeus by Leto. Zeus jealous wife Hera had banished Leto from the earth when she found that she was pregnant. However, it was Poseidon who had taken pity on her and had provided Delos as a place for her to give birth to her offspring in peace.

The island of Delos near Mykonos towards the centre of the Cyclades archipelago was one of the most important mythological archaeological as well as historical sites in Greece. The excavations in the island is said to be the most extensive in the Mediterranean.

The excavations under the direction of the French School at Athens with several of the artifacts discovered are put on display at the Archaeological Museum of Delos as well as the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

Delos holds a position as a holy sanctuary for millennium prior to Olympian Greek mythology. The horizon portrays the two conical mounds from its Sacred Harbour which have known landscapes sacred to goddess in several other sites, one of which retains its pre-Greek name, Mount Kynthos which is crowned with a sanctuary of Zeus.

Festival Hosted in Honour of Apollo/Artemis/Leto


The Greek island of Delos was a major sacred site for the ancient Greeks, second in importance only to Delphi. The Sacred Island at its height was covered with various temples and sanctuaries which were dedicated to various gods and presently it is a captivating site placed two miles from Mykonos.

The island was considered so sacred that at one point of time, that no one was permitted to be born or to die there and those about to do so were rushed off to a nearby islet of Rinia. As described in Homeric Hymn 3, the festival, Delia had been hosted here in honour of Apollo, Artemis and Leto.

Delos by the 7th century became the political capital of the Amphictionic League and the Athenians joined the league gaining control. This led to trouble for the Delian daily till around 315 BC when the Egyptians became rulers over the Aegean Sea.

Prosperous in Late Hellenistic/Roman Times


Deloswas said to be prosperous in late Hellenistic and Roman times, when it had been declared as a free port becoming the financial as well as trading centre of the Mediterranean. Towards 100 BC, the island had a population of 30,000 including foreigners from places as far as Rome, Syria and Egypt. Each individual group had its own shrine and lived in harmony inspite of their differences.

However in 88 BC the attack of Mithridates, the king of Pontus, on the unfortified island revolted against the Roman rule. The entire population of 20,000 were killed or sold in slavery while the sanctuary treasures were burgled and the city had been razed to the ground.

The Roman had partly rebuilt the city but restoration had been prevented due to continuous pirate attacks. In 66 BC, a Roman envoy built defensive wall around the city but by then Delos was onits way out and was slowly abandoned. By the 2nd century AD, Pausanius recorded that it was occupied only by the temple guards.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Singing Sand Dunes

Singing_Sand_Dunes

Various Theories – Singing Sand Dunes


There are various theories regarding the singing sand dunes mechanism and it has been suggested that these sound frequency has been controlled by the cut off rate. Others indicate that the frequency of vibrations could be connected to the thickness of the dry surface layer of the sand.

The sound waves tend to bounce back and forth between the surface of the dunes and the surface of the moist layer. This gives rise to resonance which increases the volume of the sound. The sound could be generated by friction between the grains or it could be due to the compression of air between them. Some other sounds which are produced by sand have been described as roaring or booming.

Certain note which is produced between 60 and 105 hertz by the dune has been controlled by the rate of collision in the cut off band splitting the avalanche from the static area of the dune. For impulsive avalanche, frequency tends to be controlled by gravity as well as by the size of the sand grains and the entire length of the landform is around 185 km.

Sound – Roaring/Squeaking/Song of Dunes


Some sand dunes tend to make strange low frequency humming noise which may sound like a drone of a distant propeller aircraft. This sound could be quite loud and in some incidents, it could be heard from a distance of several kilometres.

Singing sand dunes an example of the phenomenon of singing sand, tends to produce sound which has been described as roaring, squeaking or the `Song of Dunes’. This is a natural occurrence of around 105 decibels which tend to last for several minutes.

It occurs in about 35 desert locations all over the world. It is said that the sound seems similar to a loud, low pitch, rumble and originates from the crescent shaped dunes or barchans. The sound which is produced is accompanied with a slumping or avalanching movement of the sand, generally activated by the wind passing over the dune or by someone probably walking near the crest.

Unusual/Eerie


The sound could be somewhat unusual and eerie significant to a bass musical instrument due to its relative purity and the drone is caused by the synchronised avalanche of the sand grains. The pitch of the note that is produced could be based on the size of the grains and each singing sand dune may have its own typical sound pitch.

One study had discovered that different notes created by the sand depended on the size of the grains as well as the speed at which they whistle through the wind and scientists have no clue as to how the flowing grains of sand tend to sound like music in the first place.

However, the precise reason for the grain synchronization is yet debated among various scientists and more research needs to be done and understood as to why a few of the dunes boom while the others tend to remain silent. Examples of singing sand dunes are in California’s Kelso Dunes, Eureka Dunes, sugar sand beaches and Warren Dunes in South-western Michigan, Sand Mountain in Nevada and much more.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Why do We Dream?

dream

Research of Dreaming - Oneirology


The research of dreaming is known as oneirology and is a field of inquiry which tends to span neuroscience, psychology as well as literature. The reason why one tends to dream is a mystery. However, it has not stopped scientist from researching and coming up with some great hypothesis. Science has made tremendous progress in the understanding of `dreaming’ but tend to speculate on `why do we dream’. Many theories have been explored and while some of the scientists speculate that dreaming does not have any direct function, but is a consequence of other biological processes which tend to take place during sleep. Several who study sleep and dreams are of the belief that dreaming serves a primary purpose. And theories of dreaming cover scientific disciplines from psychiatry and psychology to neurobiology. Some of the theories recommend that dreaming is –
  • A form and component of memory processing which aids in the consolidation of learning and short term memory to long term memory storage
  • Extension of waking consciousness, reflecting the experiences of waking life
  • A means by which the minds tends to work through the difficult, complicated together with unsettled thoughts, emotions and experiences, in achieving psychological as well as emotional balance.
  • The brain responds to biochemical changes as well as electrical impulses which may occur at the time one sleeps
  • A form of consciousness which combines past, present and the future in processing information from the first two and prepare for the third.
  • A protective act by the brain in preparing itself to face threats, danger and the challenges.

Dreams Susceptible to Disturbance


Similar to sleep, dreams are susceptible to disturbances from problems with the mental and the physical health and there are various conditions which could affect dreams and that would make dreams quite disturbing and difficult. Anxiety and depression often go together with nightmares and the occurrence of nightmares could be a sign of the harshness of depression. According to research, with patients with Major Depressive Disorder, the presence of regular nightmares is connected with suicidal tendencies. Those with depression or anxiety are more likely to have stressful, frightening or disturbing dreams and at times in the form of recurring dreams.

Drugs & Alcohol Affect Dreaming


Drugs and alcohol could also affect dreaming where alcohol tends to disrupt the normal, healthy sleep cycle leading to disjointed sleep. Heavy consumption of alcohol too close to bedtime could alter and diminish time spent in Rapid Eye Movement - REM sleep. Studies indicate that alcohol dependency is connected to dreams with more negative emotional content. Marijuana also tends to disrupt and reduce REM sleep and with withdrawal from marijuana and cocaine, it is said to induce strange dreams according to studies. Certain sleep disorders could be supplemented by altering dreaming. Insomnia tends to heighten dream recall, leading to more stressful as well as disturbing dreams.Dreaming is an enduring universal aspect of being human and is something which we tend to do often. Evidence recommends that dreams could assist in daytime functions as well as performances especially when they tend to relate to creativity and in solving problems. Dreams provide some insight about what could trouble us, what could be occupying our mind, our thoughts and emotions and tend to shape use and show who we are.