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The Paravars: Chapter 3 – The Pearl Fishery Coasts in the Gulf of Mannar


Myself

 By T. V. Antony Raj Fernando

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Previous:  The Paravars: Chapter 2 – The Jewish Lore

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The most ancient sources of pearl, the queen of jewellery, are believed to be the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Mannar that lies between India and Sri Lanka. Pre-historic people of these regions were probably the first to find the first pearls known to mankind, obviously during their quest for food.  However, to pinpoint an exact region where the discovery and appreciation of pearls first began may be difficult.

In 315 BC, the Greek philosopher Theophrastus, pupil and successor of Aristotle in the Peripatetic school wrote that pearls came from the waters off the coast of India, and certain islands in the Red Sea and in the Sinus Persicus (Persian Gulf).

Megasthenes, the Greek geographer and writer, who accompanied Alexander’s general Seleucus Nicator in his Asiatic conquests,  visited many regions of India, including Madurai, the capital of the Pandya kingdom. While in southern India, he also learnt about the neighbouring island of Sri Lanka which he called “Taprobane,” and its valuable resources, such as pearls and a variety of gemstones. Subsequently, in his famous work “Indica” he wrote that Taprobane was an important source of large pearls.

The Alexandrian-Roman geographer, Claudius Ptolemy ( c. AD 100 – c. 170)   wrote about the pearl fishery in the Gulf of Mannar, both on the South Indian side and the Sri Lankan side.

The Periplus Maris Erythraei (Periplus of the Erythrian Sea), written by an unknown Alexandrian-Greek author, in the second half of the 1st-century A.D (approximately 60 A.D.), mentions the route to the east coast of India, is through the Gulf of Mannar, between India and Sri Lanka. It provides an extensive account of the pearl fishery in the Gulf of Mannar, particularly on the Indian side of the Gulf, and the pearl fishery of Epidprus (Mannar Island) on the Sri Lankan side of the Gulf.

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The Gulf of Mannar

Gulf of Mannar (satellite image)

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The Gulf of Mannar is a large shallow bay, a part of the Lakshadweep Sea. It lies between the southeastern tip of India and the west coast of Sri Lanka. The estuaries of the river Thamirabarani of south India and the Malvathu Oya (Malvathu River) of Sri Lanka drain into the Gulf of Mannar.

Geological evidence suggests that in ancient times India and Sri Lanka were connected by land. An 18-miles (30 km) long isthmus composed of limestone shoals, and coral reefs, popularly known as Adam’s Bridge or Rama’s Bridge or Ramsethu, lies between the Rameswaram Island, off the southeastern coast of Tamil Nadu, India, and the Mannar Island, off the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka. Adam’s Bridge separates the Gulf of Mannar in the southwest from the Palk Strait in the northeast. The sea in the area is very shallow, only three to 30 feet (1 to 10 metres) deep in places, and hinders navigation. Some of the sandbanks are dry. Some claim that up to the 15th century, Adam’s Bridge was completely above sea level and people travelled between India and Sri Lanka on foot. The bridge they say was breached, fissured and the channel deepened by storms when a cyclone devastated the region in 1480.

In ancient times, this coast was known worldwide for its natural pearls. Greeks, Romans and Arabs sought the beautiful pearls harvested in these waters. From the time of the known history of the Tamils, pearl trading became one of the principal sources of revenue of the Tamil kings.

The bed of the Pearl Fishery Coast in the Gulf of Mannar is a fertile breeding ground for pearl oysters. There were two distinct fisheries in the Gulf of Mannar – one on the South Indian coast, the other on the northwestern Sri Lankan coast.

On the Indian side of the Gulf of Mannar, the Pearl Fishery Coast of southern India extended along the Coromandel Coast from Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) to Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin). This fishery coast has been known in different periods of time in various languages as the Cholamandalam coast, Colkhic Gulf, Comorin coast, Coromandel coast, Fishery Coast, Kuru-Mandala coast, Ma’bar coast, Paralia, Pescaria, Fishery coast, Tirunelveli coast, Madura coast, etc. The coast took its name from the presence of natural pearls in the bed which is a fertile breeding ground for pearl oysters.

The pearl banks on the Sri Lankan side of the Gulf of Mannar stretch from the island of Mannar, off the northwestern tip of Sri Lanka, south to Chilaw.

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Map of the Pearl Fishery Coast (1889)
Map of the Pearl Fishery Coast (1889)

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The Pearl Fishery Coast in Southern India and in Sri Lanka were predominantly populated by the Paravar caste. The Paravars were fishers, seamen and maritime traders. Majority of the Paravars specialised in the seasonal harvesting of pearl oysters and chank and for thousands of years.

The Pandyan kings allowed the Paravars to manage and operate the pearl fisheries because of their ancient skills in that activity, which required specialist seamanship abilities, knowledge of the location of the oyster beds and the art of tending them. The Pandyan kings exempted the Paravars from taxation and allowed them to govern themselves in return for being paid tribute from the harvested oysters.

In ancient times,  this Pearl Fishery Coast was known worldwide. Greeks, Romans and Arabs sought the beautiful pearls harvested in these waters by the many Parava fisheries that operated to exploit them. From the time of the known history of the Tamils, pearl trading became one of the principal sources of revenue of the Tamil kings. By the first century AD, pearls and shanks were among the important exports from southern India.

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Royal Flag of the Jaffna Kingdom.
Royal Flag of the Jaffna Kingdom.

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In the late 1270s, Maravarman Kulasekara Pandyan I sent an expedition to Sri Lanka under his minister Kulasekara Cinkaiariyan Aryachakravarti near the end of the Sri Lankan king Bhuvanaikabâhu I’s reign (1272-1285 AD). Aryachakravarti defeated Savakanmaindan of the Jaffna kingdom, a tributary to the Pandyans. He plundered the fortress of Subhagiri (Yapahuwa) and brought with him the Relic of the tooth of the Buddha. Bhuvanaika Bahu’s successor Parâkkamabâhu III went personally to King Kulasekaran’s court and persuaded him to return the tooth relic.

Most historians agree that on later expeditions it was this Arayachakravarti who stayed behind to create the Arayachakravrati dynasty in the Kingdom of Jaffna,  and raided the western Sri Lankan coast. From then on, the pearl banks came under the sole dominance of the Aryachakravarti line of kings of Jaffna kingdom.

Political and military leaders of the same family name left a number of inscriptions in the modern-day Tamil Nadu state, with dates ranging from 1272 to 1305, during the late Pandyan Empire. According to contemporary native literature, the family also claimed lineage from the Tamil Brahmins of Rameswaram in the modern Ramanathapuram District of India.

In 1450, a Tamil military leader named Chempaha Perumal under the directive of the Sinhalese king Sapumal Kumaraya of the Kotte kingdom  invaded  the region which remained under the control of the Kotte kingdom up to 1467. After that, the region once again came under the Jaffna kingdom.

The Arayachakravrati dynasty ruled the Jaffna kingdom from the 13th until the 17th century,  when the last ruler of the dynasty, Sankili II, also known as Sankili Kumaran confronted the Portuguese. Thereafter, the entire pearl fishery on both the Sri Lankan and the Indian side of the Gulf of Mannar came under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Portuguese.

The pearl fisheries of the Gulf of Mannar were controlled independently of one another, by the Pandya, the Chola or by the regional rulers on the Indian side, and by the Sinhalese or Tamil kings on the Sri Lankan side. Sometimes, the two fisheries came under the jurisdiction of the same authorities, such as the Pandyas, the Cholas, the Portuguese (in 1619), the Dutch (in 1658), and the British (1796), whoever controlled the regions on both sides of the Gulf of Mannar.

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Previous:  The Paravars: Chapter 2 – The Jewish Lore

Next: The Paravars: Chapter 4 – The Paravar Caste

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The Paravars: A Preamble


Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj Fernando

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Fishermen (Source: Heritage Vembaru)

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The people belonging to the Paravar caste in Tamil Nadu and Kerala in southern India, and in the west coast in Sri Lanka are coastal inhabitants, fishermen, seafarers, maritime traders. The Paravars are also known as Parava, Parathavar, Bharathar, Bharathakula Pandyar, Bharathakula Kshathriyar and so on.

There is a variety as well as a discordance of opinions about the origin of the Paravars. The available materials on the origin of the Parava communities are so full of contradictions that it is almost an impossible task to reduce them to order and coherence.

There are many theories – most of them myths from Hindu Vedas and Puranas and a few slanting towards Jewish. Many of these myths were readily accepted and endorsed by the affluent Paravars, who wish to remove the stigma placed on the occupation of their caste which was considered “low and ritually polluting occupations,” namely, fishing, diving for pearls and chanks, and producing salt.

In his book “The Madura Country: A Manual, Compiled by the Order of The Madras Government” published in 1868, James Henry Nelson of the Madras Civil Service states:

THE FISHERMEN belong to several castes. They are usually called Sembadavans if they fish in tanks and streams, and Savalakaarans if they fish in the sea. Those again who live on the sea-coast, karei, are also called Kareiyaans. Some of them are Mahometans and some of them are Paravans.

These last were the earliest converts made by the Portuguese: and resorted to the first Roman Catholic Church in Madura before the time of Robert de Nobilibus. They are constantly spoken of by the Jesuits. After they lost the protection of the Portuguese they sank into great poverty and wretchedness.

The Paravas of the District appear from the list to have numbered only five and thirty in 1850-51. This seems very strange. Formerly they were very numerous along the whole coast from Cape Comorin to the Paamban Pass, and I know of no reason why they should have died out. I can only account for the fact of their fewness (if indeed it is a fact, which I doubt) by supposing that most of them are now either Roman Catholics or Labbeis, i. e. Mahometan converts, and appear as such in the census returns.

It appears from a letter of Father Martin dated 1st June 1700, that when the Portuguese first came to India, they found the Paravas groaning under the yoke of the Mahometans, and assisted them to shake it off on condition of their becoming Christians.

The Paravas flourished after this and built many substantial villages. But they became poor and wretched after the decline of the Portuguese power: and when this letter was written, were in a very miserable condition.

Though works in the Tamil Sangam literature such as Ettuthokai, Pathupattu, Ahananuru, Maduraikkanci and Pattinappaalai refer to the lives of the Paravars, there are different views regarding events up to the early 16th century among the investigators of the Paravar history.

Simon Casie Chitty mentions in The Ceylon Gazetteer that the ancient name “Taprobane” for Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) might have been named after the Paravars:

Among the Greeks and Romans, it was known by the name of “Taprobane,” the etymology of which is disputed by many authors. Some deduce it from the Phoenician words “Tap-parvaim,” or “the shore of the Parvaim;” alleging that the latter (whom they identify with the modern Paravas) were at one time masters of the commerce of the Island; others, from “Tapo-rawan,” or “the Island of RAWANA,” the giant king who was conquered by RAMA; others from the Sanskrit term “Tepo-vana,” or “the wilderness of prayer;” while many, with more probability, suppose it to have originated from the Pali word “Tamaba-pannya,” which signifies a betel leaf, and to which the Island bears some resemblance in its figure.

Little is known about the Paravars from 5th to the 13th century. There are no native literary works with a developed sense of chronology, or places, before the arrival of the Portuguese, and the ‘en masse’ conversion of the Hindu Paravars to Roman Catholicism. Therefore, any historical observations have to be deduced using Arab, European and Chinese accounts.

Every origin myth is a tale of creation and they describe how some new reality came into existence. In some academic circles, the term “myth” properly refers only to the origin and cosmogonic myths. Many folklorists reserve the label “myth” for stories about creation. Traditional stories that do not focus on origins fall into the categories of “legend” and “folktale.”

According to Mircea Eliade (1907-1986), Romanian historian of religion, writer, philosopher, and professor at the University of Chicago, nearly every sacred story in many traditional cultures qualifies as an origin myth. By tradition, humans tend to model their behaviour after sacred events, seeing their life as an “eternal return” to the mythical age. Because of this conception, nearly all sacred stories describe events that established new paradigms for human behaviour, and thus nearly every sacred story is a story about a creation.

Mircea Eliade says that an origin myth often functions to offer an aura of sacredness to the current order. Here are some observations:

  • When the missionary and ethnologist C. Strehlow asked the Australian Arunta why they performed certain ceremonies, the answer was always: “Because the ancestors so commanded it.
  • The Kai of New Guinea refused to change their way of living and working, and they explained: “It was thus that the Nemu (the Mythical Ancestors) did, and we do likewise.
  • Asked the reason for a particular detail in a ceremony, a Navaho chanter answered: “Because the Holy People did it that way in the first place.

We find exactly the same justification in the prayer that accompanies a primitive Tibetan ritual: “As it has been handed down from the beginning of the earth’s creation, so must we sacrifice. … As our ancestors in ancient times did—so do we now.” 

This reminds us of the doxology, a short hymn of praises to God in various Christian worship services often added to the end of canticles, psalms and hymns. For example, the Catholics while praying The Rosary recite:

Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  As it was, in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

And so also are the glorified myths borrowed from the Hindu Vedas and Puranas and a few from the Jewish traditions that have been concocted, accepted, and endorsed by the affluent Paravars who wish to hide the stigma placed on their low and ritually polluting occupations namely, fishing, diving for pearls and chanks, and producing salt.

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Next:  The Paravars: Chapter 1 – The Hindu Myths

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The Peeping Tom of Our Lane


Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj

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The people in the lane where I live are all respectable. However, an old woman living on the first floor of a nearby apartment has been lately having trouble with a ‘Peeping Tom’ living in a nearby building. Every time she goes to her bathroom, this peeping tom looks through the Louvre and stares at her.

She complained to the old caretaker of the building about this annoying peeping Tom but he wanted positive proof before he could take any action.

So, the old woman went to a friend’s apartment in the adjoining building and took a photo of the culprit peeping into her bathroom!  

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Gotcha!!!

Chennai: Oil Spill at Ennore Port Blackens Beaches and Affects Fishing


Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Oil spill on the shores of Chennai (Source: indiatimes.com)
Oil spill on the shores of Chennai (Source: indiatimes.com)

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A large quantum of thick and dark oil washed ashore from Bharathiyar Nagar beach in Ernavur to Marina Light House in Chennai. Tonnes of tar-like thick black oil has polluted several square kilometres of sea in the Bay of Bengal.

According to fishermen, tar-like thick oil started to collect near the shore from Saturday evening. Fishermen around Marina complained that they found it difficult to navigate their boats in the sea because of the thick oil deposits. The fishermen are demanding compensation for loss of livelihood.

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board officials said the spill could be the result of the accidental collision of two ships, the inbound vessel MT Dawn Kanchipuram and the outbound vessel LPG/CBW Maple in the wee hours on Saturday at Ennore port’s anchorage.

“There was a collision between a LPG tanker vessel, BW Maple, Isle of Man flagship, and vessel MT Kancheepuram, an oil and chemicals tanker, on the outskirts of Ennore at 4 am (on Saturday). So, this could be a result of that. As it is so thick, we are not able to find out what type of oil it is. We are conducting an investigation,” said a senior official.

While a statement from Kamarajar Port claims that there was no damage to the environment, or casualty or injury, the Times of India reported that the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, Darya Ship Management and Kamarajar Port have been held responsible for damage to the environment.

The New Indian Express reports:

“The biggest challenge was that both Kamarajar Port and the vessel that caused the disaster remained in denial, leaving the official machinery clueless about what they were dealing with. Minister of State (Shipping) Pon Radhakrishnan visited the port and observed that ‘there were no spills/sheens in the area’, claims a release from the port.”

By Sunday morning the dark thick stagnant oil spread southward about 25km from the outskirts of Ennore where the accident occurred polluting several beaches, including the iconic Marina Beach in Chennai and beyond.

Now, the oil has converted sandy beaches, including the Marina, into a slushy ground, making it inaccessible to the public. Oily sludge. coats the rocks on the coast.

The mild smell of salt and fish that wafted in the air in the neighbourhoods along the beach has been replaced with a heavy, pungent emanation of petroleum and tar.

Hordes of fish and many turtles and hatchlings covered with thick oil were found dead near Ernavour and some were found washed ashore at Marina Beach.

According to environmental experts, the spill could have a long-lasting adverse impact on marine life. The shoreline is known for Olive Ridley turtles which nest on local beaches between January and April every year.

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The ill-equipped pollution response teams of the Indian Coast Guard are grappling with the oil spill (Source: ndtv.com)
The ill-equipped pollution response teams of the Indian Coast Guard are grappling with the oil spill (Source: ndtv.com)

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Now, the ill-equipped pollution response teams of the Indian Coast Guard are carrying out an impossible mopping operation. As the Indian Coast Guard lacks the technical expertise, the authorities have invited private companies to bid for the cleanup work.

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Oil Spill Near Chennai Blackens Beaches, Fishing Community Affected (ndtv.com)

Chennai: Fuel spill at Ennore Port spreads to Marina Beach, workers use buckets to scoop out oil (scroll.in)

Authorities Struggle To Contain Oil Spill Three Days After Two Vessels Collide Off Chennai Coast  (indiatimes.com)

Oil Spill In Ennore Has Now Covered Chennai’s Marina Beach, Experts Fear Severe Damage To Environment (huffingtonpost.in)

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The Tale of the Sanskrit Text “Vaimānika Shāstra”


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Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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A Vimana of Indian texts (Source : ceifan.org)
A Vimana of Indian texts (Source : ceifan.org) : ceifan.org)

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In 1951, a person named G.R. Josyer founded the “International Academy of Sanskrit Research” in Mysore. In 1952, he came across the Vaimānika Shāstra manuscripts written in Sanskrit. In 1959, a Hindi translation of Vaimānika Shāstra was published.

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Title page of the English translation of Vyamanika Shastra published in 1973.
Title page of the English translation of Vyamanika Shastra published in 1973.

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In 1973, Josyer published an English translation of the text along with the Sanskrit text titled VYMAANIKA-SHAASTRA OR SCIENCE OF AERONAUTICS.

The Vaimānika Shāstra contains 3000 slokas in 8 chapters. The 1973 edition came out with illustrations drawn by T. K. Ellappa, a draughtsman at a local engineering college in Bangalore, under the direction of Pandit Subbaraya Shastry.

 RUKMA VIMANA
Rukma Vimana Profile (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom) Rukma Vimana Plan of base or pitha (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
Rukma Vimana Plan of top and steering floors (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom) Rukma Vimana Vertical Section (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
 SUNDARA VIMANA
Sundara Vimana Vertical Section (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom) Sundara Vimana Plan of base or pitha (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
Sundara Vimana Floors (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom) Sundara Vimana Vertical Section - 2 (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
 TRIPURA VIMANA
 Tripura Vimana Cross Section (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)  Electrical Power Generator - Sectional Elevation (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
 Electrical Power Generator - Top View (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)  Tripura Vimana Perspective View and Vertical Section (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
SHAKUNA VIMANA
 Shakuna Vimana - Perspective view (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)  Shakuna Vimana - Vertical Section at the Wing Joint (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
 Shakuna Vimana - Vertical Section (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom) Shakuna Vimana - Horizontal Section - Lengthwise (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)

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The book Vymanika-Shastra gained favour among the proponents of theories about space travel by ancient Indians.

In the foreword to the 1973 edition of Vymanika-Shastra, Josyer wrote:

On 25-8-1952 the Mysore representative of the Press Trust of India, Sri N.N. Sastry, sent up the following report which was published in all the leading dailies of India, and was taken up by Reuter and other World Press News Services:

“Mr. G. R. Josyer, Director of the International Academy of Sanskrit Research in Mysore, in the course of an interview recently, showed some very ancient manuscripts which the Academy had collected. He claimed hat the manuscripts were several thousands of years old, compiled by ancient rishis. Bharadwaja, Narada and others, dealing, not with the mysticism of ancient Hindu philosophy of Atman or Brahman, but with more mundane things vital for the existence of man and progress of nations both in times of peace and war.

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“One manuscript dealt with Aeronautics, construction of various types of aircraft for civil aviation and for warfare. He showed me plans prepared according to directions contained in the manuscript on Aeronautics of three types of aircraft or Vimanas. namely, Rukma, Sundara and Shakuna Vimanas. Five hundred slokas or stanzas dealing with these go into such intricate details about choice and preparation of metals that would be suitable for various parts of vimanas of different types, constructional details, dimensions, designs and weight they could carry, and purposes they could be used for.

“Mr. Josyer showed some types of designs and drawing of a helicopter-type cargo-loading plane, specially meant for carrying combustibles and ammunition, passenger aircraft carrying 400 to 500 persons, double and treble-decked aircraft. Josyer showed some types of designs and drawing of a helicopter-type cargo-loading plane, specially meant for carrying combustibles and ammunition, passenger aircraft carrying 400 to 500 persons, double and treble-decked aircraft.
Each of these types had been fully described.

“In the section giving about preparation and choice of metals and other materials that should go into such construction of aircraft, details were specified that the aircraft, (these metals are of 16 different alloys), must be “unbreakable, which cannot be cut through, which would not catch fire, and cannot be destroyed by accidents.” Details as to how to make these vimanas in flight invisible through smoke screens are given in Vimanasastra of Maharshi Bharadwaja.

“Further description and method of manufacturing aircraft, which will enable pilots not only to spot enemy aircraft but also to hear what enemy pilots in their planes were speaking, on principles akin to radar, have all been given in elaborate detail with suitable explanatory notes. There are eight chapters in this book which deal with the construction of aircraft, which fly in the air,  go under water, or float on water.

TRAINING OF PILOTS

“A few slokas deal with qualifications and training of pilots to man these aircraft. These ancient types of aircraft are provided with necessary cameras to take pictures of approaching enemy planes. Yet another set of slokas deals with the kind of food and clothing to be provided for pilots to keep them efficient and fit in air flying conditions.

There is an enigma in this tale of Vaimānika Shāstra.

In 1974 five young Indian scientists – Mukunda, S.M. Deshpande, H.R. Nagendra, A. Prabhu, and S.P. Govindaraju – from the departments of aeronautical engineering and mechanical engineering of the prestigious Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore conducted a detailed study of Vaimānika Shāstra. The same year they published a paper titled “A Critical Study of the Work Vyamanika Shastra,” in the journal Scientific Opinion. They gave the reasons why the Vedic airplane theory according to Vaimānika Shāstra was not viable..

The Scientists concluded that the aircrafts described in the text were “poor concoctions” and that the author showed a complete lack of understanding of aeronautics. In fact, none of the technologies documented in the Vaimānika Shāstra would allow an object to lift off from the ground except one. The study stated:

“The Rukma Vimana was the only one which made sense. It had long vertical ducts with fans on the top to suck the air from the top and send it down the ducts, generating a lift in the process.”

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Pandit Subbaraya Shastry
Pandit Subbaraya Shastry

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The young scientists debunked the claim that this text is ancient. They said it was actually written between 1900 and 1922 by Pandit Subbaraya Shastry.

According to the young scientists from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore,  Pandit Subbaraya Shastry was born in a small village in Hosur Taluk. His parents died when he was young. As a destitute, he contracted diseases and wandered from place to place.

One day he met a great saint at Kolar. The saint initiated him into spirituality. He revealed to him several Shastras, including the Vaimānika Shāstra.

After Subbaraya Shastry settled into normal life, he started uttering slokas (verses) when inspired.

Subbaraya Shastry had no formal schooling and learned to read and write only after meeting the saint, so, it is unlikely the text was his own invention.

In the early 1900s, Pandit Subbaraya Shastry dictated the text of Vaimānika Shāstra to his aide G. Venkatachalam Sharma and completed the work in 1923. The Pandit claimed that the text was psychically delivered to him by the ancient Hindu sage Bharadvaja. The Vaimānika Shāstra contains 3,000 slokas in 8 chapters.

Though some described Pandit Subbaraya Shastry as “a walking lexicon gifted with occult perception,” he was unsure of the practicality of the ideas found in the text he had dictated.

Pandit Subbaraya Shastry died in 1941. His aide Venkatachala Sharma kept the manuscripts in his custody. By 1944, the Vaimānika Shāstra manuscript appeared at Rajakiya Sanskrit Library in Baroda.

When a Dr. Talpade of Bombay tried to make models under Shastry’s  guidance, none of them flew.

Now, you be the judge.

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Don’t Be Fooled by Posts about Chinese Plastic Rice on Facebook!


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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I saw the following video posted on Facebook without any description, leaving viewers to speculate.

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As of today, this video on Facebook has 4,310,649 views, 7.7K likes, 8,784 shares and 23 Comments.

The first comment that I saw at the top said, “What the hell is going on.”

This video of a woman stirring the contents in the pot over a fire was followed by a video that shows an easterner recycling plastic using machinery that produces rice-shaped plastic pellets for manufacturing plastic products.

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After the above videos  followed the image of a packet of Thai Milagrosa Scented Rice with Chinese letters displayed prominently .

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A packet of Thai Milagrosa Scented Rice with Chinese letters displayed prominently.
A packet of Thai Milagrosa Scented Rice with Chinese letters displayed prominently.

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Putting three and three together, almost 95% of the Facebook readers deduced that the woman in the first video was making plastic rice.

One wise person popped up the question, “What is happening in the world today?” and another, weak in geography said, “Read your labels at all times. If it was made in China leave it on the shelf.” And a ‘know-all’ person from Oba, Nigeria wrote a lengthy comment on “How to Identify Plastic Rice or Fake Rice“.

By the way, not all Facebook members are fools. A woman from Nassau City, New Providence, Bahamas, said, “There is fake plastic rice, however, that’s not what the lady is doing in this particular video… Yall so silly I would explain what that is but nah it’s so hilarious. ” But she never revealed what she knew. Maybe she herself did not know what it really was.

Finally,  a comment by Shana Wiltshire from Brooklyn, New York who said, “Lol.. this is how rice goes from brown to puffed white rice… nothing wrong with this… and it’s an Indian method not Chinese“, assuaged  my curiosity.

Yes. The woman in the first video was making popped puff rice.

Here is a video showing the indigenous method of making popped puff rice for sale in India.

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30 Pieces of Silver by Hank Williams


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Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.  (Matthew 26:14-16)

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Hank Williams Sr
Hank Williams Sr

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The greatest American country music artist of all time, Hiram Hank Williams Sr., a singer-songwriter and musician, was country music’s first superstar. He earned fame with songs like “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive,” “30 Pieces of Silver” etc.

Hank Williams loved the music broadcast over radio and the hymns sung by the church choir. He learned to sing folk and country music. His mother presented him his first guitar. It cost her $3.50 which she paid fifty cents a month. Young Hank, determined to play the guitar, contributed to the cost with the money he made as a shoeshine boy and selling peanuts on the street.

Along with this early success Hank’s behavior became erratic. He often showed up at live performances drunk. Later he became a regular on the “Louisiana Hayride,” a regular Saturday night performance hosted by a radio station in Shreveport. His performance on this show greatly increased his popularity. In 1949, the release of “Lovesick Blues,” carried him into the mainstream of music.

Hank Williams died suddenly of a heart attack in the back seat of his Cadillac in the early morning hours of New Years Day in 1953 (January 1, 1953) at the age of 29.

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Hank Williams Memorial
Hank Williams Memorial

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Despite his short life, Williams has had a major influence on country music. In all, Hank Williams recorded 35 singles. Of these, 11 songs ranked number one in the Billboard Country&Western Best Sellers chart. With five of the 35 songs released posthumously, he earned a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In 2010, 57 years after his death, the Pulitzer Board awarded Williams a special citation for song writing.

As an ardent fan of Hank Williams, I used his song “30 Pieces Of Silver” to create the following video clip as a tribute to him.

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Lyrics – 30 Pieces of Silver by Hank Williams, Sr.

Tis’ a sad but true story
From the Bible it came
And it tells us how Judas
Sold the Savior in shame

He planned with the council
Of high priest that day
30 pieces of silver
Was the price they would pay

30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain

Betrayed and forsaken
Unloved and unclaimed
In anger they pierced Him
But He died not in vein

‘Twas on there on the hillside
The multitude came
And found our dear Savior
Then took Him away

They bruised and they mocked Him
Thorns was crowned around His head
And His garment of purple
Showed the blood stains of red

Far off in the mountains
With his face towards the sun
Judas begged mercy
For what he had done

He gave back the silver
For his heart filled with strife
Then there in the mountain
He took his own life

30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain

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Black Friday and the United Stupids in America (USA)


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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People in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November. It is a national holiday in the United States and people celebrate the day with religious fervor.

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Thanksgiving Dinner (Photo: oldstrathcona.ca)
Thanksgiving Dinner (Photo: oldstrathcona.ca)

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People get together with their loved ones, invariably devour large amounts of food centered around an enormous roasted turkey, and like angels and saints praise and thank God for all that they have.

Traditionally, the beginning of the Christmas shopping season starts in the United States on the following day, the Black Friday. Most major retailers open their sales outlets extremely early on Black Friday to kick off the holiday shopping season and offer promotional sales.

The name “Black Friday” originated before 1961 in Philadelphia, after the disruptive movement of pedestrians and heavy vehicle traffic on the day-after-Thanksgiving Day and used broadly in other regions around 1975. Later, a new explanation of the term started circulating: “Black Friday” indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit and are back in the black.

Though Black Friday is not an official holiday, many non-retail employers give their employees the day off, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers.

Earlier, retailers opened shop on Black Friday at 6 am. However, in the late 2000s, many retailers opened their retail outlets at 5 am, and some opened at 4 am. Big names including Target, Kohls, Macy’s, Best Buy, etc. open at midnight. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, broke the Black Friday tradition in 2011 by opening its store on Thanksgiving evening.

Four years ago when I was in the United States, a week before Thanksgiving Day, a friend from India called me over the phone . He said that he had heard that on Black Friday electronic goods could be bought at bargain prices in the United States and requested me to buy a laptop for him. Little did he know about the madness that inundates the United Stupids of America (USA) on Black Friday.

On Black Friday, the American people unitedly become stupids by transmogrifying  from angels to demons.

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Black Friday - People waiting outside a mall.
Black Friday – People waiting outside a mall.

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They stubbornly gather outside malls, some from midnight on chattering and shivering, undaunted by the bitter winter cold, and wait for the shops to open.

When the shops open their doors, the stampede begins.

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Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall.
Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall.

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Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall (isource)
Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall (isource)

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Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall.
Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall.

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They behave like crazed animals. They barge into the malls like raging bulls. They trample and maul one another to buy more stuff that they already have or absolutely do not need; just 24 hours after offering thanks for how much they already have.

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Black Friday: Only in America, you find people, who just 24 hours after offering thanks for how much they already have behave like crazed animals frenziedly trampling each other to buy more stuff that they already have or absolutely do not need.
Frenzy buying on Black Friday (Photo: telegraph.co.uk)

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That is Black Friday for you in the United States of America. No other country in the world can boast of such a frenzied day.

Here is a video clip depicting the madness of the United Stupids of America for you to decide whether you too want to join these berserk folks and avail bargains on Black Friday.

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Taking Care of an Aging Parent


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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A young man lived with his wife, his four-year-old son and his frail elderly father – a widower with blurry eyes,  trembling hands, and faltering steps.

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The family would eat together at the dining table. The elderly person’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating rather difficult for him. Often, food fell off his spoon and dropped on the floor, and as he clutched his glass of milk with unsteady hands, milk spilled on the tablecloth and his lap.

The daughter-in-law irritated with the mess he created bawled out. “I have had enough of his spilling food and milk on the table and the floor. You must do something about your father,” she told her husband.

So, the son set a small table at the corner of the dining room. Since the elderly man had broken a number of ceramic dishes, the daughter-in-law served his food in wooden bowls.

The four-year-old boy watched his grandfather eat alone silently at the little table while he and his parents ate at the grand dining table. Sometimes he saw tears rolling down his grandfather’s cheeks whenever his parents admonished him for dropping his spoon, spilling food, milk, or water.

One evening, before supper, the father noticed his little son playing with wood scraps and strings.

“What are you making, son?” he asked.

“Oh, Dad, I’m making two little wooden bowls,” the boy replied.

“Bowls?”

“Yes.”

“What for?”

“For you and mama to eat your food from when I grow up.”

The boy’s parents were speechless.

The four-year-old smiled sweetly at his parents and went back to work. He did not see the tears that streamed down their cheeks.

That evening, the boy smiled as his father and mother led the venerable parent back to the grand dining table.

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The Worst Possible Ingredient We Consume Daily Could Be Sugar!


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Myself . 

By T.V. Antony Raj
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“It seems like every time I study an illness and trace a path to the first cause, I find my way back to sugar.”
Richard Johnson, nephrologist, University of Colorado Denver

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Sugar (Source - radhuslivet.blogg.se)

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The worst possible ingredient we consume daily could be sugar which everyone knows is detrimental to health and is the root cause of diseases, including diabetes and cancer, among many others.

Worldwide, people are consuming sugar equal to about 500 extra calories per day. That is just about what you would need to consume if you wanted to gain a pound a week. No wonder we have many obese men, women, and children around us.

Dietitians and nutritionists have established that four grams of white granulated sugar are equal to one teaspoon of sugar. In the United States, the American Heart Association recommends a daily allowance of no more than six teaspoons a day for the average woman and no more than nine teaspoons a day for the average male. However, an American consumes an average of 27 teaspoons of sugar per day.

Why do some people add sugar to almost everything they consume? Perhaps they think that the lack of sodium or fat in sugar makes it less harmful or harbor a false notion that the risk of excess sugar consumption is less than that of having too much saturated and trans fat, sodium or calories in their diet. Some even espouse the adage “what you don’t know won’t hurt you.”

Sugar specifically promotes obesity. In the past 30 years, obesity in children has doubled and the rate of adolescent obesity has tripled. The main factor is fat accumulation in the trunk of the body. One cause may be the wide consumption of fructose-laden beverages. In 2010, a study in children found that excess fructose intake (but not glucose intake) caused visceral fat cells to mature that set the stage for obesity at a young age leading to heart disease and diabetes.

In contrast, there are many who know that excessive sugar in the diet is not good for healthy living and consume it in recommended amounts and place it at the top of their list of “foods to avoid”. They know that sugar specifically promotes obesity.

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Amount of sugar in Coca-cola (Source: tribesports.com)
Amount of sugar in Coca-cola (Source: tribesports.com)

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A typical sugar packet in the United States contains two grams of sugar while all soft drinks have an excess amount of sugar with absolutely no nutritional advantage. For example, Coca-Cola contains 10.6 grams or five sachets of sugar per 100ml. So, a 250 ml can has 26.5 grams or 13 sachets of sugar and a 330 ml can has 31.8 grams or 16 sachets of sugar.

To curb rising obesity, some sectors want beverages having high sugar content taxed in the same way as cigarettes.

In the following video, Jeremy Paxman with his forthright and abrasive interviewing style speaks to James Quincey, president of Coca-Cola Europe about the sugar content in their regular Coke on BBC Two’s Newsnight.

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Gallup Analytics, the publisher of the Gallup Poll,  a widely recognized barometer of American opinion, provides market research and consulting services around the world.  In July 2015, as part of its annual Consumption Habits poll, Gallup asked 1,009 Americans about the foods they try to include or avoid in their diet.

Gallup Consumption Habits Poll, (Source - gallup.com)

In her article “Coca-Cola says its drinks don’t cause obesity. Science says otherwise“, Marion Nestle says:

Sales of sugar-sweetened and diet drinks have been falling for a decade in the United States, and a new Gallup Poll says 60% of Americans are trying to avoid drinking soda. In attempts to reverse these trends and deflect concerns about the health effects of sugary drinks, the soda industry invokes elements of the tobacco industry’s classic playbook: cast doubt on the science, discredit critics, invoke nanny statism and attribute obesity to personal irresponsibility.

In late September 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics ended its partnership with Coca-Cola after evidence emerged that the Coca-Cola company paid for research to downplay the role of Coke in obesity. The academy’s website, healthychildren.org was sponsored mainly by the Coca-Cola company. Of the $100 million the Coca-Cola company gives to various medical and health groups, the academy received $3 million.

Members of the American Academy of Pediatrics were upset after the New York Times looked at financial data that revealed the extent of the relationship between the Academy and the Coca-Cola company.

Many pediatricians aligned to the Academy who saw childhood health problems related to obesity on a daily basis, like type 2 diabetes and hypertension were surprised to find that their organization was aligned with Coke. New York Times reporter Anahad O’Connor said: “Some pediatricians said it was analogous to a major lung association group or university partnering with the tobacco industry.”

Recently I came across the following quote purported to be that of John D. Rockefeller:

Disgusting crap just like the idiots that drink it. More salt than a pizza. More sugar than a wedding cake to cover up the salt. Why salt? Cos it makes you thirsty and what do you do when you’re thirsty? Grab a Coke. The sugar makes you pile on the pounds. I hate this drink and all the other billion dollar fizzy brands that are filled with caffeine and other shit. Drink water for god sake. They did an experiment and took fizzy drink vending machines out of some school and guess what? The kids there were less fat than the ones that kept the vending machines. If you want to be fat, Coke is it! Just avoid it, guys… It’s what the Elites want us to do EAT & DRINK but not THINK.

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