A little bit of history first. A magnificent ancient city has been unearthed in Chattisgarh, and the sheer scale of the discovery is quite astounding. Outlook writes about the find.
……Sirpur was the capital of the ancient South Kosala kingdom between the 4th and 6th centuries AD. Spread over an area of 25 sq km, the Sirpur archaeological complex is almost four times as big as Nalanda. Lengthwise, the Sirpur site extends almost seven km. In comparison, Bodh Gaya, also in Bihar, is less than three km long…….
The site also reflects the complex, tolerant, “multi-faith” society that India was, even 1500 years ago. Of course, “Hinduism” was never one single faith; it was and remains a medley of beliefs (though there seem to be too many trouble makers around who want to say otherwise).
……."It's an integrated multi-religious complex," says Indira Mishra, the bureaucrat who heads the task force on Sirpur. The fact that temples of Buddha, Shiva and Vishnu have all been unearthed here indicate a tolerant, harmonious society. The Shivalingas are in four colours—white, red, yellow and black—meant to be worshipped by the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras respectively.
If you have seen the magnificient monuments at Elephanta, imagine something many times that scale!
India seems to have so much history, that most people seem to need to forget some of it in order to learn some more. Sometimes, it amazes me that people continue to build and rebuild so much over the past, that soon the foundation itself is forgotten! This find seems to be another fitting addition to the UNESCO world heritage list.
Read this story here.
The second story is an excellent article by former Punjab supercop, K.P.S. Gill (who sometimes writes very well). Appropriately titled “When the sacred is profane”, it is a forceful essay on how we in India are ruining our own rivers. The same rivers that are considered “sacred” to Indians, that were named as Goddesses, and which quench the thirst of what would otherwise be a parched land.
……. It is, perhaps, unique to the contemporary culture of this region that we sully, pollute, deface and defile precisely what and where we worship. The ubiquitous stench and presence of garbage, of open sewers, of ordure and dung in the public street is virtually a hallmark of some of India's 'holiest' cities - including, for instance, Varanasi and Vrindavan. Nowhere in the world does piety cohabit so intimately with unmitigated filth…….
There is more, on how Delhi is ruining the Yamuna (which, against ALL odds, is STILL a “living river”).
…… Instead of helping to restore the purity of this holy river the Swaminarayan sect has chosen to manipulate and bend processes of law, to abuse its influence over particular sections of the political leadership, and exploit its great wealth to grab a large tract of land on the river's bed and flood plain, in order to build a monument to its own unseeing arrogance. But that is only the beginning of the damage it is doing.
In the process, it has justified and set into motion a race to overrun and build on every available acre of the river's banks, with little concern for the ecological impact of such 'development'. Since one major project has already been executed - taking fullest advantage of our false piety and the general disinclination to criticise anything ostensibly connected with religion - it will now prove difficult to resist the many other and potentially disastrous projects that are being planned to consume the river front in a frenzy of so-called 'development'……..
I cannot agree with him more. And then this.
” Barely two per cent of the length of the Yamuna lies within Delhi's confines, but it is here that the river is destroyed. It is widely conceded that the floodplain area is tectonically unstable, ..(snip).., and then sell these off to hapless eventual 'consumers' who will occupy them when the floods and earthquakes come….”
It has become fashionable in India to decry ANYTHING that preserves our environment as “Anti-development”, even if it is obvious that you are shooting yourself in the foot. Development does not mean you destroy the sources of your water, and clean air. These are essential for survival, and we need to do every thing we can to protect this.
There is no need for us to repeat all the mistakes of the West. London almost destroyed the Thames, and then spent millions cleaning it up. Now, it’s a thriving river once more. The same happened with the St. Louis in the US, or the Rhine in Germany. But do we really need to chop our own limb off, and then replace it with an expensive, artificial limb?
Read all about it here.
And, try to read both these stories before Outlook decides to move them to the “subscriber only/archives” section.