Indian History Carnival–74: Puranas, Mughals, Orissa, Anandi Gopal Joshi, Selden Map

  1. Dr. Sunil Deepak writes about ancient Indian history based on the Puranas. His post is based on the book Pracheen Brahmin Kahaniyan by Rangey Raghav

    Ancient Indians used logic and had the capacity to categorize and analyse knowledge. Thus, Panini could work on Sanskrit grammar in a way that is understandable to linguistic experts even today. Or Vatsyayan could work on the theme of sexuality, that can be understood scientifically even today. Even esoteric subjects like meditation, yoga and the nature of human soul, were looked at in logical terms, analysed and discussed. Then, why those ancient Indians, did not use that kind of logic for writing history? Why did they make a mish-mash of actual events with mythological stories? Perhaps for ancient Indians, the worlds of gods and spirits were as real as their daily physical world, because that was the only way they could make a sense out of the events? Thus their ideas of history were impossible to separate from these fantasy worlds? Perhaps it had something to do with Indian concept of time as being cyclical (and not linear), where worlds were created and destroyed in cycles,and thus history was understood differently?

  2. Saptarshi Dutta writes in WSJ India about a Mughal Art collection which depicts life before the British arrived. The post has few paintings from that collection.

    Ghulam Ali Khan, one of the most accomplished Indian painters from that era, drew some of the paintings. He was the last royal Mughal artist and was employed in the courts of Mughal rulers Akbar II and Bahadur Shah Zafar. Other works are believed to have been drawn by some of Khan’s family members. One of Khan’s paintings featuring in the sale on April 8, captures what life was like for many workers during the Mughal era. It shows a man, his mouth covered with a cloth, working with a string to fluff up cotton

  3. We know very little about Orissa, says Fëanor

    Five hundred years earlier, Orissa was ruled by a Hindu raja. Orissa was a Shaivite state – the God Shiva was supposed to be its lord, and the kingdom was dotted with grandly ornamented Shiva temples. One particularly magnificent sculpture – of Shiva and Parvati – likely stood at the entrance to one of the great temples. It found its way to Stuart and thence to the British Museum. This was a life-size sculpture, and originally would have been brightly painted. Shiva would have been white, signifying the ash with which the ascetic God adorned himself, with a blue throat, from the poison he swallowed during the churning of the ocean for amrit. Observe the tenderness and devotion between him and his consort – this was no impersonal deity thundering abstinence and damnation upon his followers. Ganesha, their son, appears at the bottom, while figures representing the donor of the sculpture and his wife appear to the left and right of the Gods.

  4. Jai Virdi writes about Dr. Anandi Gopal Joshi, a Brahmin, who went to United States in the 1880s to study medicine.

    Born in 1865 in Kaylan, a small town near Bombay (Mumbai), she was married off at 9 years old to 229 year old postmaster Gopalro (Gopal Vinayak Joshi), a widower. Gopal renamed Joshi, shifting her birth name from Yamuna to Anandi (“the happy one”). He was also a supporter of women’s education and started teaching his young wife shortly after they got married. She eventually learned Sanskrit and English. The marriage completely ideal; there’s sources indicating that Gopal often abused his young wife in order to keep her focused on her education. In the 1880s, with the help of a Philadelphia missionary, Joshi was sent to the United States to receive an education in medicine, a decision made after the tragic death of her son when she was 14. She enrolled in the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, then the first hospital for women; her thesis was titled Obstetrics among Aryan Hindoos.

  5. The rediscovered Selden map shows Calicut in what would be Rangoon. Maddy explains the story behind the map.

    The map itself was constructed towards the end of the Ming period, i.e. early 1600’s. Calicut though still important had slipped out of the early prominence and the Arabian seas were mostly in the control of first the Portuguese and later the Dutch. The English were waiting to slip in at an opportune time. The Moplah, Marakkar and Arab sailors still plied the waters of the Arabian Sea and the Western powers i.e. Dutch, English and Portuguese ran their own shipping vessels through these waters carrying tons of spices and other goods back and forth to red sea ports. The Ming Chinese voyages had ceased in the 15th century, a full 100 years or more before the Selden map was created. The junk trade was mostly restricted to the SE Asian areas (the area depicted in the map). So why place Gu Li at the corner or even mention it? It is not possible to discuss this topic without covering the Chinese trade with Malabar through the ages, albeit briefly.

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