Thursday, 9 July 2015
Strong earthquakes in quick succession in the country have heightened the sensitivity of the common man towards this natural phenomenon. Effects of earthquakes can be so severe as to cause social and political upheavals apart from property damage. Thus mitigation of seismic risk in big cities is a matter of concern to engineers and administrators alike. All the current scientific approaches the world over, depend on historical records for estimating the seismic hazard in a given region. Unfortunately for the Indian subcontinent, reliable data on place and date are available for the past two hundred years only. A recent work undertaken by
Iyengar et al.1 has led to a reliable identification of another twenty earthquake occurrences in the medieval period (12–18th century AD). This still leaves the ancient period almost blank except for stray references. However, this does not mean that ancient Indians were not fascinated or not affected by earthquakes. The Vedas, Puranas and the epics contain many references to earthquakes and allied phenomena. But what may be of interest in the contemporary context, are the writings of persons who were acclaimed scholars of their days. There exist a large number of writings in Sanskrit on natural phenomena. Among these, at least two are available in print namely, Brihat Samhita (B.S.) of Varaha Mihira2 (5–6th century AD) and Adbhuta Sagara (A.S.) of Ballala Sena3(10–11th century AD).
Kirata, Kira, Abhisara, Hala, Madra,
Arbuda, Saurastra, Malva; A.S.: Kashmira, Dravida, Andhaka, China, Prachya, Shaka,
Pahlava, Dandaka, Kailasa, Malla, Vahala.
Discussion on causes of earthquakes had been a perennial topic in ancient Indian literature. According to A.S., the opinion of Kashyapa was that earthquakes were due to movement of sea creatures, whereas Garga opined that it was due to the sigh of elephants carrying the earth. According to Vasishta, tremors were due to interaction of two strong winds which eventually impacted the oceans and shook the earth. Another opinion was that earthquakes occurred due to chance or unseen forces. Finally, both B.S. and A.S. give an explanation due to Parashara that once upon a time mountains could fly and move. Thus they were frequently falling on the earth causing earthquakes continuously. At the request of the earth, the Creator ordered Indra (thunder) to cut the wings of the mountains so that the earth became stable. Yet, the four elements namely Wind, Fire and Water along with Indra cause the earth to shake. This explanation originating from the Rig Veda has been given in the two texts as a rudimentary theory on formation of stable continents and not in any religious sense. Ballala Sena quotes another writer Ushanas, who was categorical that the four elements shake the earth in the four quarters east, south, west and north, respectively. From the commentaries on B.S., we find that Parashara was of the opinion that eclipses and planetary aberrations could also cause earthquakes. Over the centuries this idea might have been given up since A.S. does not list this reason.
After discussing the causes, both the books turn their attention to classification of earthquakes into four groups, depending on the time of occurrence and the reigning stellar constellation. Thus, an earthquake which occurs from north in the last quarter of the night or in the first quarter of the day under any of the stars Asvini, Mrigasira, Punarvasu, Hasta, Chitta, Svati or Uttarapalguni belongs to the wind group (Vayavya). The directions of occurrence are not explicitly mentioned in B.S. These were given by Ushanas as quoted in A.S. It is also mentioned that many scholars do not accept the classification based on the time of occurrence. Similarly, earthquakes of the Agni (fire), Indra and Varuna (water) group originate from south, east and west, respectively and are governed by specific star groups. Neither of the books indicate how the directions are to be fixed. It is observed that so far the effort has been only to group the earthquakes after their occurrence, according to some recognizable attributes.
About the effects of earthquakes, Varaha Mihira does not mention about damages to buildings. However other writers are categorical that Vayu-type earthquakes lead to extensive destruction of houses, monasteries, temples, palaces, towers and forts. The after-effects mentioned are occurrences of windstorms within a week after such an earthquake. Similarly, the Agni-type earthquake induces surface fires engulfing villages and towns. Rivers and water sources dry up. Indra-type tremors, lead to rains and elimination of pest colonies. The Varuna-type earthquake kills people living along river and sea coasts. Earthquakes were also supposed to be a portent for impending death of kings, outbreak of wars and epidemics. In B.S. the list of regions affected, is short, whereas information given in A.S. from various sources including those of B.S. is more exhaustive. The geographical regions disturbed by earthquakes according to both the books are as follows.
B.S.: Saurashtra, Kuru, Magadha, Dasarna, Matsya; A.S.: Yavana, Dandaka, Salva, Sauvardhana, Pulinda, Videha, Nala, Darada, Anga, Vanga, Avanti, Malva, Trigarta, Sauvira, Yaudheya, Ksudraka, Shivika, Madraka, Shaka, Kamboja, Bahlika, Gandhara, Kalinga, Sabara, Mlechha, Tangana.
B.S.: Ashmaka, Anga, Bahlika, Tangana, Kalinga, Vanga, Dravida, Shabara; A.S.: Pulinda, Yavana, Odhra, Avanti, Iksvaku, Kuluta, Tushara, Shivika, Trigarta, Videha, Surastra, Madhyadesh, Dasarna.
B.S.: Kashi, Yugandhara, Paurava,
B.S.: Gonarda, Chedi, Kukkura, Kirata, Videha; A.S.: Kashmira, Parata, Vatsa, Abraka, Karusha, Sinhala.
It was recognized by all the authors that earthquakes may occur under any star at any time. Thus, combination-type earthquakes became possible. The places affected by such mixed-type tremors as mentioned by Parashara, are reported in A.S.
Vayu–Agni: Kuru, Salva, Matsya, Nishadha, Pundra, Andhra, Kalinga, Vindhya foothills.
Vayu–Indra: Prachya, Shaka, China, Pahlava, Yaudheya, Yavana, Magadha.
Vayu–Varuna: Avantika, Pulinda, Videha, Kashmira, Darada.
Agni–Indra: Ikshvaku, Patachara, Abhira, China, Barukacha.
Agni–Varuna: Gonarda, Anganarajya, Coastal regions.
Indra–Varuna: Kashi, Abhisara, Achyuta, Kachadvipa.
The effects of these earthquakes were supposed to be a combination of the effects of the primary types described earlier. Many of the places in the list given earlier are easily identifiable with their present-day equivalents. Several regions are outside the present-day Indian political boundary. In Figure 1, the regions are marked taking into account the ancient geography of India as described in the works of Kautilya, Varaha Mihira, Bana, Kalhana and others. A question may arise as to how widespread the knowledge was about seismic regions in ancient times, and whether Dravida was in South India. Fortunately, a book in Kannada, Lokopakarakam, written in 1025 AD by Chamunda Raya4 under the patronage of the Chalukyan king Jayasimha is available as a cross-reference. This author devotes briefly eight stanzas for describing the four types of earthquakes. For the Vayu-type earthquake, he indicates the affected places as Kurumagadha, Magadha, Dravida and Kuntala. In his own explanation, Chamunda Raya identifies Dravida with Tigula Desa
Tamil country). For Agni-type earthquakes he includes in his list Anga, Vanga, Kalinga, Kerala, Bahlika and Dravida. According to this book, Indra-type earthquakes affect only Saurashtra and Abhisara; whereas Varuna-type earthquakes affect Videha, Govardhana, Nishadha and Vihara.
Interpretation of old texts concerning natural phenomena is difficult. Still, seen critically from the present-day perspective the delineation of the country into four major seismic zones of differing damage types, 1500 years ago is no mean achievement. This indicates some kind of observation and data collection. All the regions listed are presently known to be susceptible to earthquakes. But it is interesting to note that Dravida (Tamil country), Kuntala (North Karnataka), Ashmaka (Maharashtra), Andhra and Odhra (Orissa) were considered to be earthquake prone to varying degrees.
A significantly quantitative approach to earthquakes is reflected in the ancient writings. Vayu-type earthquake was unanimously accepted as the most destructive. Opinions differed about the other three. Some held that Agni-, Varuna-, and Indra-type earthquakes in that order were decreasingly harmful. It was perhaps in this context that the ancient writings introduced the extent of ground shaking as a measure of the four types. Ballala Sena in his A.S. first cites the book Bhargaviya which perhaps belongs to a period earlier than B.S. According to this text, the extent of ground shaking is 200 yojanas during Vayu-type earthquake. The corresponding values for Agni-, Indra- and Varuna-type earthquakes are given as 90, 80 and 70 yojanas, respectively. It may be speculated that this order was a reflection of the descending order of socially harmful effects associated with the four types of tremors. Varaha Mihira agrees with only the first value and for the other three, his values are Varuna-type 180, Indra-type 160, and Agni-type 110. No information is available on how these were obtained or measured. However, these values are amenable for interpretation from a contemporary perspective. One yojana is equal to 6 miles or 9.6 km as per actual measurements carried out by Stein5, of distances mentioned by Kalhana in his Rajatarangini. Thus, Vayu-type earthquakes could have had a radius of area of perceptibility of (100 yojana) 960 km.This may be compared with some modern values. The mean radius of percep-tibility for the great earthquakes of Assam (1897) and Bihar (1934) were 1440 km and 1280 km, respectively6. The level of human perceptibility for ground acceleration is generally accepted as 1 cm/s2. For this level of acceleration, the attenuation results currently available lead to magnitude estimates of 6–8 for the Vayu-type earthquake. It is quite well known that damage to man-made structures generally occurs from shocks of magnitude 5 and above. Thus, the regions said to be affected by Vayu-type earthquakes, shown in Figure 1, are the most likely places where damage-causing earthquakes have been felt in the ancient past. About prediction of earthquakes, Varaha Mihira is essentially silent. In chapter 4 of B.S. he echoes a previous opinion that when the moon’s orb appears like the yoke of a cart stretched south to north, there would be an earthquake. There was also a belief that comets were precursors for earthquakes. Parashara mentions that the comet chala ketu which appears once in 5000 years shakes the earth and destroys a populated country in the Madhyadesha. Similarly, he held the opinion that the comet Dhruva Ketu which appears at irregular intervals also portends earthquakes There was also a strong belief about earthquakes being an omen for further tragedy. Ballala Sena would like us to believe earthquake citations from Puranas and Mahabharatha as historical evidence to this effect. The great epic cites earthquakes in Udyoga Parvan, in Drona Parvan, in Salya Parvan and three times in Gada Parvan. The graphic description in Salya Parvan is Chachala Sabdam Kurvana Saparvatavana Mahi (The earth moved along with mountains and forests making sound). At other places, the epic does not associate sound with the tremors. If accepted as factual, this would be the main shock accompanied by three aftershocks felt at Kurukshetra during the great war (circa 3000 BC). Apart from this speculation nothing more can be gleaned about the dates of earthquakes, from the books under reference. The belief of linking earthquakes with the demise of important personages, appears to be derived from Buddhist traditions. Narratives7 about Buddha’s life mention that immediately after Buddha attained Nirvana (at Kushinagara in 483 BC), the earth trembled, stars fell down and celestial music was heard. Three months prior to this final act, the traditional texts state that when Buddha was camping in a grove to the north of the village Upabhoga, there was an earthquake. Buddha himself is said to have interpreted the earthquake as the sign that he would soon pass away into Nirvana. Earthquakes have been occurring from ancient times in India and our ancestors took considerable interest in these as with other unusual phenomena. There has been an effort over centuries, to identify places which suffered from earthquakes. Varaha Mihira’s approach of describing earthquakes in terms of the extent of ground shaking is refreshingly scientific. The information available so far though very little, is valuable. It is quite likely that there are Sanskrit manuscripts with scientific information yet to be published. It is hoped that persons responsible for preparing seismic zonation maps of the country, study the relevant literature written prior to the colonial period before drawing conclusions on the subject. There was also a strong belief about earthquakes being an omen for further tragedy. Ballala Sena would like us to believe earthquake citations from Puranas and Mahabharatha as historical evidence to this effect. The great epic cites earthquakes in Udyoga Parvan, in Drona Parvan, in Salya Parvan and three times in Gada Parvan. The graphic description in Salya Parvan is Chachala Sabdam Kurvana Saparvatavana Mahi (The earth moved along with mountains and forests making sound). At other places, the epic does not associate sound with the tremors. If accepted as factual, this would be the main shock accompanied by three aftershocks felt at Kurukshetra during the great war (circa 3000 BC). Apart from this speculation nothing more can be gleaned about the dates of earthquakes, from the books under reference. The belief of linking earthquakes with the demise of important personages, appears to be derived from Buddhist traditions. Narratives7 about Buddha’s life mention that immediately after Buddha attained Nirvana (at Kushinagara in 483 BC), the earth trembled, stars fell down and celestial music was heard. Three months prior to this final act, the traditional texts state that when Buddha was camping in a grove to the north of the village Upabhoga, there was an earthquake. Buddha himself is said to have interpreted the earthquake as the sign that he would soon pass away into Nirvana. Earthquakes have been occurring from ancient times in India and our ancestors took considerable interest in these as with other unusual phenomena. There has been an effort over centuries, to identify places which suffered from earthquakes. Varaha Mihira’s approach of describing earthquakes in terms of the extent of ground shaking is refreshingly scientific. The information available so far though very little, is valuable. It is quite likely that there are Sanskrit manuscripts with scientific information yet to be published. It is hoped that persons responsible for preparing seismic zonation maps of the country, study the relevant literature written prior to the colonial period before drawing conclusions on the subject.
1. Iyengar, R. N. et al., Indian J. Hist. Sci., 1999, to appear.
2. Varaha Mihira, Brihat Samhita, Sanskrit text (English translation Bhat, M. R.), Motilal Banarsi Das, New Delhi, 1981.
3. Ballala Sena, Adbhuta Sagara, Sanskrit text (ed. Muralidhar Sharma), Prabhakari & Co. Benares, 1905.
4. Chamunda Raya, Lokopakarakam,Kannada text (ed. Sesha Iyengar), Publ. Govt. Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras, 1950.
5. Kalhana, Raja Tarangini, Sanskrit text (English translation M. A. Stein), 1900. Reprint 1989, Motilal Banarsi Das, New Delhi.
6. Richter, C. F., Elementary Seismology, W. H. Freeman & Co., San Francisco, 1958.
7. Bu-ston, History of Buddhism in India and Tibet, Tibetan text (English translation E. Obermiller), Reprint Satguru Publication, New Delhi, 1986. Source : R. N. Iyengar
Tuesday, 19 May 2015
RAJKOT: A spiritual leader Muktanand Bapu has adopted a village in Earthquake affected Nepal and started relief camps in 20 villages in the Himalayan country to help in rebuilding the nation in the time of natural calamity. Muktanand Bapu of Champarda village, some 30 km away from Junagadh, has adopted Dungana village, some 40 km away from Nepal's capital Kathmandu.
Muktanand Bapu has been camping in quake affected villages in Nepal and oversee the relief work undertaken by his followers.
"We have started relief work in 20 villages where we provide basic amenities like food, make shift arrangement for shelter and medical facility to victims. The food is immediate requirement to victims as they have no sources of income and they have lost everything. So, we have started the kitchens in these villages'' said Madhav Jasapara, a follower of Muktanand Bapu. "The adopted Dungana village will be rebuilt by volunteers where all the basic amenities for the villagers including 128 housing units will be provided.
Wednesday, 4 February 2015
Sunday, 25 January 2015
Social Life in Medieval Karnatakaby Jyotsna Kamat
Leisure and Pleasure
It was an era in which people had no difficulty in earning their livelihood, they had plenty of leisure at their disposal which they profitably used for their body-building and amusements. The importance of physical exercise was duly recognized by the Sastras and the scholars. Somadeva Suri says: ' Just as food is not well-cooked in a vessel that is neither covered nor stirred, so a man who has neither sleep nor exercise cannot digest what he eats According to the Agni Purana, a man should not take any physical exercise so long as the food remains undigested, or after a full meal ...., he should not bathe in cold water after coming out of a gymnasium.....Gymnastic exercises remove cold .
Inscrptions  [JBBRAS, X, no. viii, p. 234. ] and literature  [PP, III, v. 92; DA, III, v. 81.] refer to buffalo-fights (mahisha-yuddha). Buffaloes from Vidarbha, Karahata, Jalandhara and Saurashtra were considered the best. From the description of a dairy farm in the Yasastilaka, it is gathered that Karahata (Karhad in Maharashtra) was famous for excellent breeds of buffaloes . Saurashtra even today is a breeder of good species. These were fed on black gram and curds and allowed to enjoy long, cool baths. After five years, they were ready for fight. On the day of the contest, their bodies were smeared with mud and decorated with garlands of neem (nimba) leaves. The participants were allowed to mate before the commencement which gave them better concentration. They fought like elephants. The one wounded by its opponent's horns or trying to run away was declared beaten . Buffalo-fights and races have survived in the form of kambala in the South Kanara district of Karnataka.
Source : http://www.kamat.com/database/books/sociallife/leisure.htm
Tuesday, 20 January 2015
Naikidevi ( Queen Mother, Kingdom of Saurashtra, Gujarat )
The region of Saurashtra and Kachchh was under the reign of Solanki Dynasty (an offshoot of the Chalukya Rajputs) established by Mularaj Solanki in the year 961 AD.
In future it came to be ruled by his descendant Ajaypal who was married to Naikidevi daughter of Shivchitta Permardin - the Kadam dynasty chieftain who ruled Goa.
After the death of the king, his son Mulraj II, still a boy barely in his teens ascended the throne. In reality, the reigns of the Kingdom were in the hands of the Queen Mother Naikidevi, while his uncle Bhimdeva II was the commander of the army.
When the news of Sultan Ghori's march accompanied by a vast army, reached the Royal Darbar of Gujarat, the wise queen mother dispatched her envoys to all the kingdoms of North including Prithviraj Chauhan.
Not much is available in the terms of historical records, but seems she found no allies except the Rai of Narwhala, who dispatched a troop of War Elephants.
Even in the time of great adversity however, when odds heavily favoured the enemy, the Queen-Mother Naikidevi decided to put up a fight and refused to bow down to the demands of surrender put forth by Sultan Ghori.
Despite being heavily outnumbered, she realised that she had one distinct advantage over the enemy- the geography of the region, and the fact that she could choose the time & place of the battle, and not the enemy.
She laid out her defenses accordingly, at the hilly passes of Gadaranghatta, near the village of Kayadra about forty miles to the north-east of Anhilwara, at the base of Mount Abu. By the time numerous small chieftains had joined her ranks and her army swelled in size despite still being outnumbered.
The choice of battlefield greatly evened the odds. By this battle of the passes, one is instantly reminded of the Battle of 'Hot Gates of Thermopylae' where 300 odd Spartans and their handful of Athenean allies successfully withstood the onslaught of the massive Persian Army.
When Ghori arrived, Naikidevi and her defenders were more than ready for him and his Gazhis.
Mounted on an elephant herself, with the young boy-king by her side, The brave Naikidevi led the charge herself.
By the the time the dust settled, Ghori was seen retreating towards the desert of Multan, with only a handful of his bodyguards in tow.
The routing of his army was complete and thorough !
Some of the employed Ghuri court historians have deliberately omitted certain parts of this disastrous adventure but this deficiency is made up by Jaina sources.
Acharya Merutunga, famous Jaina Acharya and writer gives details of this encounter in his work called “Prabandha Chintanami”, he writes:-
"Muhammad Ghuri advanced upon Gujarat in AD 1178 with a large army by way of Multan. The mother of young Mulraja, queen Naikadevi, the daughter of Parmardin of Goa, taking her son in her lap, led the Solanki army against the Turushkas and defeated them at “Gadararaghatta” near (Kayadra) at the foot of Mount Abu. Mulraja II was a minor at that time. There are two Sanskrit inscriptions of Gujarat, where Mulraja-II is invariably mentioned as the conqueror of Garjanakas [dwellers of Ghazni]. One inscription states that “even a woman could defeat the Hammira [Amir], during the reign of Mulraja II.."
The defeat left such a terrible dent on Ghori's psyche that he never again dared to march towards Gujarat and instead planned of entering mainland India through Northern routes.
If only other chieftains of India had joined forces with the brave Naikidevi, history would have been different.
Kuramdevi and Defeat of Qutb-ud-din Aibak
Sometime in the 1170s, the young princess Kuramdevi daughter of Naikidevi (Regent Queen of Gujarat) was wedded to Samar Singh Deva, the Rawal of Chittorgarh. Samar Singh was a Chauhan Rajput, a descendant of the legendary Bappa Rawal.
Historical records suggest that Kuramdevi was Samar Singh’s second wife. In or about 1171, Samar Singh had married Prithabai, sister of Prithviraj III, the Chauhan maharaja of Ajmer and Delhi. Soon after her marriage, Prithabai had born a son, Kalyan Rai, but having failed to bear any further sons, fell out of favor of the King in the following years.
Rawal Samar Singh married again, hoping for more sons, in about 1178 or 1179, approximately around the same time Nayakidevi administered that resounding defeat to Muhammad Ghori.
Samar Singh was killed in the 2nd Battle Of Tarain (1191-92 AD) fought between the forces of Prithiviraj Chauhan and Muhammad Ghori, who had returned to conquer India.
Both Samar Singh Deva and his eldest son, Kalyan Rai, died in the second battle of Tarain, and, when Prithabai received the news of her double loss, she immediately mounted the pyre to rejoin her husband. Kuramdevi would eventually follow her, but first she had unfinished business to tend to. She had to ensure that her son Karna seamlessly succeeded his father and that his seat on the throne of Chittorgarh was secure.
By this time Mohammad of Ghori had retreated to Multan having left Qutub-ud-din Aibak, his chief general, in charge of Delhi and Ajaimeru (Ajmer). During this time Kuramdevi consolidated her forces, forging new alliances with Rajput rulers of the neighbourhood.
When his father Samar Singh died, Karna was still a minor, around 12 years of age. The succession encountered no serious obstacles, and Kuramdevi became regent during the remaining year of her son’s minority. Inspired by the example set by her own mother, young Kuramdevi was an able ruler and re-strengthened her forces following the loss suffered in the 2nd Battle of Tarain.
When the boy king Karna reached his 13th birthday , she led the army and marched northward in search of the man who had killed her husband — this probably in 1193 or 1194 in the month of Asoj (Asvin) following Dassera, the traditional beginning of the warfare season. Nine rajas and eleven chiefs with the title of rawat with their men accompanied her on her march towards Delhi.
As per the accounts of the battle in Prithvi Raj Raso- young KuramDevi and her forces encountered Qutb-ud-din and his army near the old Amber fort.
At the head of her army, leading the charge herself, just like her mother, brave Kuramdevi drove deep into the ranks of Qutub-ud-din's Army, deep enough for her to confront the general himself and to challenge him in a personal duel.
During the mounted duel, she managed to bury her sword deep into Qutb-ud-din's flesh, wounding him so severely that he tumbled from the saddle.
Seeing their General fall, and his body being carried away from the fight and, consequently, believing him dead, the Muslim army went into a complete disarray and fled from the battlefield.
Having believed She had killed Qtub-ud-din, and seeing his army fleeing the battlefield, Kuramdevi regrouped her army and led it back south.
Returning to Chittorgarh, she mounted the pyre and, like Prithabai, became Sati !!
Little did She know that Qtub-ud-din did not die from his wounds. He eventually recovered and returned to Delhi, and subsequently declared himself not viceroy but Sultan of Hind.
The tales of Indian chieftains of the medieval times do not lack the element of valour and courage in the face of insurmountable odds. It is evidently clear that they placed emphasis more on personal glory - what they lacked was strategic wisdom and foresight.
Alas, the History of India would have been very different otherwise