Shravan Krishna 10 Vik Samvat 2070. Yugabda 5115: August 1, 2013

1. FESTIVALS: Krishna Janmashtami or Gokulashtami is the annual commemoration of the birth of Bhagwan Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu. The festival is celebrated on Bhadrapad Krishna Ashtami, which is August 28 this year. It is celebrated in the form of Rasa Lila, enactments of the life of Krishna in Mathura and Vrindavan, and in Manipur; while the Dahi Handi in Maharashtra depicts God's playful and mischievous side, where teams of young men form human towers to reach a high-hanging pot of butter and break it. This tradition, also known as uriadi, is a major event in Tamil Nadu on Gokulashtami.
People celebrate Janmashtami by fasting and staying up until midnight, the time when Krishna is believed to have been born. Images of Bal Krishna are placed in swings and cradles in temples and homes.
On Janmashthami, which is a national holiday in Bangladesh, a procession starts from Dhakeshwari Temple in Dhaka, and then proceeds through the streets of Old Dhaka.

2. THOUGHTFUL CONSTRUCTION STYLE SAVED KEDARNATH FROM SERIOUS DAMAGE: The thoughtful construction style of the Kedarnath temple in Uttarakhand saved the 11th century structure from any serious damage during last month's devastating floods, says an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) official, adding that a barrier would be constructed to protect the shrine from any future calamity.
"The safety of the structure despite this calamity is because of its orientation and style of construction. The domes of the temple are interlocked with each other using iron clamps; that is why they are intact. Only loose and cracked stones of the temple have come out," B.R. Mani, ASI additional director general, said in an interview.
"Another aspect of this temple is its North-South orientation. Mostly temples face East or West. But this temple is facing south, which is a rare phenomenon. It may be possible that in the 11th century the people had thought of the stones rolling down from the North or such calamity; hence they structured it like this," he added.
Standing majestically tall at an altitude of 13,000 feet above sea level, the Kedarnath temple has been built in the Rekha-Sikhara style with three different horizontal divisions.

3. ODISHA FOLK DANCERS LIGHT UP RETURN RATH YATRA: Ghumura dance by Brindaban Sanskrutika Anustan – an organisation promoting dying folk arts of Odisha – was the cynosure of all eyes at the return rath yatra, popular as Bahuda Yatra organised by Utkal Sanskrutika Samaj on July 18 at Vishakhapatnam.
A 20-member troupe from Kesinga of Kalahandi showcased their talent in dancing and playing with traditional instruments generating war music. According to ‘Chandi Puran,’ when Goddess Durga asked all the Gods and Goddesses in the heaven to hand over their weapons to kill demon king Mahisasur, one of the musical instruments received was Ghumura.
The dance troupe entertained the crowds as the chariot carrying the deities of Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Lord Balabhadra and sister Subhadra was pulled by the devotees from the Gundicha Ghar in Lawson’s Bay Colony to the main temple located on Daspalla Hills. Earlier, Lal Saheb Pramod Chandra Deo Bhanj belonging to Daspalla royal family performed chhera pahanra – the sweeping of the floor with a golden broom.

4. LEADER WANTED TO MAKE BHARAT SUPERPOWER: MOHAN BHAGWAT: Addressing a pre-Guru Purnima gathering of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) rank and file, also attended by top Bihar BJP leaders, in Patna on July 21, Sarasanghachalak Shri Bhagwat said this ‘leader’ need not be 'sarvagun sampanna (having all the attributes and qualities of a good leader)', but he should be capable of leading the people whose ancient credo regarding ‘unified identity’ has been ‘unity in diversity’ that accommodated even the ‘mutthi bhar’ of invaders. Bhagwat said, "Hindutva is the basis of our unity. Hindutva is the identity of all peoples who live in Bharat."

5. BHARAT LAUNCHES ADVANCED WEATHER SATELLITE: Bharat’s advanced weather satellite Insat-3D was launched early Friday, July 26 onboard Ariane-5 rocket from Kourou in French Guiana off the Pacific coast. "After a perfect lift-off at 01:24 a.m., the two-tonne advanced weather satellite was placed in the geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) 32 minutes later, about 36,000 km above from earth," the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.
The four instruments onboard the spacecraft are Imager, Sounder, Data Relay Transponder and Satellite Aided Search & Rescue. The six channel imager can take weather pictures of the earth and has improved features compared to the instrument in Kalpana-1 and Insat-3A, the two Bharatiya geostationary satellites, which have been providing weather services over the past decade.

6. DESI IT CREATES MORE JOBS IN US THAN AMERICAN PEERS: Bharatiya IT companies have a better track record of creating jobs in the US over the past several years compared to their American peers like IBM and Accenture. In the last 7 years, Bharatiya IT companies are estimated to have added 30,000-40,000 jobs in the US, excluding green card holders. IBM's US headcount is estimated at 91,000 down sharply from 133,789 in this period while it added 1 lakh people overseas. Its headcount in Bharat rose from 36,000 to 135,000.
While Accenture's US headcount grew from 32,318 to just 38,000 in last 4 years JP Morgan estimates that Bharatiya IT added 38,000 locals to its US workforce in last 5 years.

7. SMALL BUT IMPORTANT: Bhutan is India’s friend. Let’s keep it that way - Bhutan may be one of the world's youngest democracies but this past Saturday (July 13) as it elected a new Government, the tiny Himalayan nation made clear that it has firmly established itself in the democratic mould. This was the country's second general election since 2008, when Bhutan's ‘Dragon King' voluntarily ceded absolute powers and made way for a representative Government. Saturday's polling, which saw an impressive 66.1 per cent turnout, marked the end of a two phase process that began in May, eliminated two of four political parties in the fray and prepared the ground for a run-off between the ruling Druk Phuensum Tshogpa and the opposition People's Democratic Party. Interestingly, while the former performed better in the first round, the latter eventually swept the election, winning 32 of the 47 National Assembly seats. The PDP's leader and now Prime Minister-elect Tshering Tobgay captured the people's imagination with his dynamic personality, while his record as a strong and articulate Opposition leader helped him fight off persistent worries that his party was composed of political newbies. The former civil servant's staunch criticism of the incumbent regime's claims to Gross National Happiness as a hollow electoral slogan also struck a cord with the electorate. Allegations of graft levelled at the DPT Government seem to have led to the regime’s undoing as well.
In the days running up to the election, however, it was India's decision to cut fuel subsidy to Bhutan that usurped the campaign narratives. The Tobgay camp portrayed the decision as the DPT Government's failure to effectively manage Bhutan's foreign policy with India — an important neighbour upon whom it is dependent for its economic and security needs. The blame was laid squarely at Prime Minister Jigme Thinley's doorstep whose dalliances with the Chinese were believed to have irked the mandarins in New Delhi. So potentially damaging were these accusations that Prime Minister Thinley had to clarify live on national television.
While there is no way to quantify the impact India's subsidy cut may have had on the election in Bhutan, one thing is for sure: It's announcement was badly timed by New Delhi. There have some been reports that the decision was directly communicated to Bhutanese officials by Indian oil companies, without the knowledge of the Ministry of External Affairs, after an agreement lapsed on June 30. Even if this was the case, it still points to mismanagement on the Indian side. New Delhi's decision to cut fuel subsidies, which adversely impacted the Bhutanese poor on the eve of a general election, has already led to talk in Thimphu of South Block picking favourites and playing big brother — the same accusations that have been hurled by Kathmandu as well. New Delhi must proceed with caution. Not only does Bhutan need India's assistance, India too needs Bhutan particularly to supplement its energy sources. Also, because Bhutan is the last of the Asian nations where China does not have a toe-hold, Beijing is working to change that. It remains to be seen if New Delhi will be able to hold its position in Thimphu or it will fritter away the traditional support that India has enjoyed there. It has already lost valuable leverage in Kathmandu, Colombo, Male and even Dhaka.-- Tuesday, 16 July 2013 | Pioneer | Editorial.

8. BHARAT SECOND LARGEST INVESTOR IN LONDON: Software services firm Infosys leads the charge of inward foreign direct investment (FDI) made by a total of 28 Bharatiya companies, which generated 429 additional jobs for the British economy in the last year alone, according to latest government figures released in London. "India is a very important market for us and these are fantastic results. The Olympics provided the perfect opportunity for Indians to come and experience London and resulted in more Indian companies setting up here," Gordon Innes, the CEO of London and Partners (L&P) and the Mayor of London's business and promotional organisation, said.

9. EXCELLENCE IN SANSKRIT: THAILAND SHOWS THE WAY: Visiting the sprawling Campus of Sanskrit Studies Centre under Silpakorn University, Thailand was just awesome. It would not be exaggeration to state that this might be the largest Sanskrit Buildings in the world. What was surprising was its location not in Bharat but in Thailand. This Centre blessed by His Majesty the King of Thailand Rama IX Bhumibol Adulyadej whose Chaipattana Foundation provided royal charter for the land. Equally supportive has been Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who has done her Masters in Sanskrit Epigraphy, who gladly accepted to be the Patron for the SSC.
A brief meeting with its Founder Director Dr. Chirapat Prapandvidya and the incumbent Director Dr. Samniang Leurmsai was pleasant and refreshing one to listen to their plans for promotion of Sanskrit related studies in Thailand. The towering five storeyed building is looking forward to equip with all the modern facilities for learning Sanskrit. It is expected that this Centre would get about 200 students under several programmes in the coming academic year. With an initial financial support from Bharatiya government and generous grant from Thai govt, the center plans to give the final touch to its class rooms, constructing the Auditorium of a capacity of 300, and developing its landscape around the Building.
The Sanskrit Studies Centre would be hosting the 16th World Sanskrit Conference in June-July 2015. (Based on a report by Shyam ji Parande on his recent visit to Bangkok)

10. KALAM SLAMS AMARTYA SEN: Former Rashtrapati APJ Abdul Kalam's letter, which he sent to Foreign Minister S M Krishna in July last year, has now come into public domain, slamming Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen for forcing him out of his brainchild project of the Nalanda University in Bihar as its first visitor.
Kalam wrote how sad he was at everything going wrong in his dream of reviving a great seat of learning in the Buddhist philosophy and statecraft, as perhaps the first residential international educational institution from 5th to 12th century off Patna, is besmirched with controversies even before it starts any academic courses.
Kalam felt frustrated with the people at the helm of affairs and his resignation was a rebuff to Sen and his protégé Dr Gopa Sabharwal, 'smuggled' in as the vice chancellor-designate without his knowledge.
"Having been involved in various academic and administrative proceedings of the Nalanda University since August 2007, I believe that the candidates to be selected /appointed to the post of chancellor and vice chancellor should be of extraordinary intellect with academic and management expertise."
"Both the chancellor and vice chancellor have to personally involve themselves full-time in Bihar, so that a robust and strong international institution is built," two paragraphs of the letter read.
Having been at Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard, Sen viewed Nalanda University through that prism, while Dr Kalam felt sad at finding no efforts to re-enact the glory of ancient Nalanda University in which students from all over East Asia came for studies and had Pandits such as Arya Dev, Silabhadra, Dharmapala, Santarakshita and Chandragomin who spent their lives for the sake of the institution.

11. THE LOST TEMPLES OF BHARAT: In ‘The Lost Temples of India’, a Discovery Channel documentary of the three-part series, and ‘The Mysteries of Asia’, a Discovery Channel’s documentary of the three-part video series, historians and others examine temples built in southern Bharat’s 1,000-year- old temples adorned with intricate and beautiful sculptures. We learn how the kings used large herds of trained elephants to drag the millions of stone blocks into place and how these temples are virtually unknown and unvisited by Western tourists. Truth or fiction, the stories of Mysteries of Asia will amaze and delight.

12. BIRSA NETRALAYA – A FRIEND IN NEED: Jharkhand is a janjati majority state of Central Bharat. Earlier it was part of Bihar. Oram, Munda, Kherwar janjati communities are inhabited in this state. Lohardaga is small district township in Jharkhand. Four decades ago Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra started a small medical centre at Lohardaga to cater the basic need of health facilities. Initially Dr Shrikant Shiledar and Shmti Dr shilpa Shiledar rendered their valuable services for few years. Then Dr Shriram Pathak, Dr Pankaj Bhatia, Dr Surendra Sharma offered their services. Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra started Village health Workers (VHW) activity under the guidance of Dr Surendra Sharma in the nearby villages. Then in the year 2000 a small hospital started under the banner of Birsa Seva Sadan. Birsa Munda was a Bharatiya freedom fighter form Bihar (Jharkhand).
In the year 2010 the hospital was converted into an eye hospital naming Birasa Netralay. Bhansali Charitable Trust extended hand of cooperation to fully equip the hospital. Cataract is a common problem of villagers of Lohardaga area. Dr Nanda Prasad Singh is the in-charge of the hospital. In the last one year total 2853 eye patients were treated and 822 cataract operations were conducted. Eye operations are conducted every month. Ophthalmic surgeons Dr Rahul Prasad, Dr Alok Kumar and Dr Deepak Lakda conduct the operations. On 23rd June, 42 operations were carried out by Dr Deepak Lakda and his team. Ramagya Kumar is working as a technical assistant.
Apart from eye operations last year 22 Hydrosil and 4 Hernia operations were conducted. Birasa Seva Sadan is friend in need of the society. All the activities of Vanvasi kalyan Kendra are carried out by social donations.

13. BALESHWARJI WAS A KARMAYOGI: Veteran BJP leader Shri LK Advani and Janata Party president Dr Subramanian Swamy released a book on the late Baleshwar Agrawal, Karmayogi Baleshwar Agrawal, Vyakti aur Vichar, in New Delhi on July 17, the 93rd birth anniversary of Baleshwarji by the Antar Rashtriya Sahyog Parishad (ARSP). Shri Advani said on the occasion: “He was a karmayogi. Values of people like Baleshwarji, Nanaji, Kushabhau Thackeray, Pt Deendayal Upadhyaya etc still hold a place in the RSS and society.” Dr Subramanian Swamy recounted his memories with Baleshwarji and said that he was instrumental in strengthening ties with Bharatiyas spread all over the world.

14. THERE SOULD BE NO GOVERNMENT CONTROL OF BHARAT'S HINDU TEMPLES: At a day-long symposium on "Government Control Of Temples- Constitutional Issues," organized by the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha (HDAS) at India International Centre, New Delhi on July 14th, 2013, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Convener, HDAS, said: "Each temple had a unique Deity and it is the Deity who owns the property endowed. The Deity in the Chidambaram Siva Temple is Nataraja; in Thiruvaraur, the Deity is Thyagaraja; in Mannargudi, it's Lord Vishnu as Rajagopala. Each temple therefore has a unique Deity and set of practices, and they are the repository of our culture. Swamiji maintained that Hindus should unite to take back control of Hindu temples from the government.
Sitting Rajya Sabha member Rama Jois, Supreme Court advocates Aman Lekhi and Dr. Subramaniam Swamy were among the speakers.

15. FOUR BHARATIYA-AMERICANS WIN AWARDS: Four Bharatiya-American professors are among 13 mathematicians, theoretical physicists and theoretical computer scientists selected for the Simons Investigators awards for their cutting-edge research. Kannan Soundararajan, Rajeev Alur, Salil P. Vadhan and Senthil Todadri will receive $1,00,000 a year for five years for long-term research.

16. 100 YEARS OF SIKH ARRIVAL IN US: The US has acknowledged immense contribution of the Sikh community in its socio-economic fabric and cultural milieu as it celebrated the 100 years of the arrival of Bhagat Singh Thind, who led a lifelong battle for the rights of Bharatiyas to gain American citizenship . Thind, who arrived in the US in July 1913 from Amritsar, was the first turbaned Sikh to fight in the American armed forces and fighting a legal battle to obtain citizenship for him and many others.
"The goal of this event is to acknowledge the contributions this community has made to the country, celebrate 100 years of achievement , the immigrant success story in America and also to acknowledge the horrible tragedy of Oak Creek last year," said Paul Monteiro, associate director of the White House office of public engagement .

17. PIO’S PORTRAIT PART OF SHOW ON GREAT WOMEN SCIENTISTS: Sunetra Gupta, a Bharat-born chemist and physicist, has joined the big league of female scientists like Marie Curie in an art exhibihition at the prestigious Royal Society in London. Gupta who was born in Kolkata and is now a professor at Oxford University, is among an exclusive group as part of the ‘Women in Science’ portrait exhibition, which will feature the greatest female fellows of the Royal Society, together with newly-commissioned drawings of Royal Society Research Fellows. Gupta is a professor of theoretical epidemiology at the University of Oxford’s department of zoology, working on infectious diseases. Her main area of interest is the evolution of diversity in pathogens, with particular reference to the infectious agents that are responsible for malaria and influenza.

18. MALAYSIA COURT QUASHES HINDU KIDS' CONVERSION TO ISLAM: A high court in the Northern city of Ipoh, on July 25 ruled against the 2009 conversion of three Hindu children to Islam without their mother's knowledge, a verdict welcomed by non-Muslim groups. The court declared the conversion of Indira Gandhi's children, now aged five, 15 and 16, by their father to be unconstitutional. The judge ruled that the father had failed to take the mother and children to Islamic authorities for their consent to the conversion, in a rare verdict in the multiracial but Muslim-majority nation. It is the first time ever that a child's conversion certificate has been quashed by a high court.
Religious groups welcomed the verdict. "We are very happy about that decision. But it must be accepted by all the Islamic and other government agencies," said Mohan Shan, an official with the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism.

19. OBAMA NAMES PIO AS CALIFORNIA JUDGE: Close on the heels of his appointment of Srikant “Sri” Srinivasan as a top appellate court judge in Washington, President Barack Obama has named yet another leading Bharatiya-American attorney, Vince Girdhari Chhabria, for the key post of US District Judge for Northern California.
Chhabria, who received his JD from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, is currently Deputy City Attorney for Government Litigation in San Francisco.

20. ‘CHINA INFLUENCING BHARATIYA INTELLECTUALS’: India Policy Foundation (IPF) organised a talk on July 13 on apparent threat from across the border of China. Speaking on the occasion, Pramit Pal Chaudhuri said China is only afraid from Bharatiya media and it is also trying to deal with it in its own way. It is trying to influence intellectuals by inviting them to China and investing money by institutional means.
Dr Rajiv Nayan said, “We have been objecting to the term threat from China which is a reality in my opinion.” IPF Hon. Director Rakesh Sinha said that during the time of cold war, the US and the USSR were balanced by KGB and the CIA but in the post cold war era, China is playing the game with intellectuals for its benefit.

21. HINDUS, SHIAS, OTHER MINORITIES WORSE OFF IN PAKISTAN: US REPORT: The already poor religious freedom environment for Christians, Ahmadis and Hindus has continued to deteriorate in Pakistan over the last eighteen months, according to a US body that monitors violations of religious freedom abroad. Releasing the findings of its Pakistan religious violence project on July 17, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said it had tracked 203 publicly-reported incidents of sectarian violence resulting in more than 1,800 casualties, including over 700 deaths. The Shia Muslim community has borne the brunt of attacks (77) from militants and terrorist organizations, with some of the deadliest attacks occurring during holy months and pilgrimages. The report noted that between January 2012 and June 2013, there were 16 attacks against Hindus and 3 attacks against Sikhs resulting in the death of two Hindus and one Sikh.

22. RAJNATH RAKES UP RIGHTS VIOLATION IN GILGIT–BALTISTAN: "Bharat and Afghanistan have traditionally been tied together by the Silk Route. If Bharat does not share a land border of 106 kms with Afghanistan today, it is because of Pakistan's illegal occupation of this historical part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir since 1948," Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh said in a keynote address at a conference on Afghanistan held at the Capitol Hill, during his five-day visit to US. The conference was jointly organised by the Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies; US India Political Action Committee and American Foreign Policy Council.

23. AZIM PREMJI BAGS ASIAN BUSINESS LEADERS AWARD: Wipro chairman Azim Premji has been awarded the Asian Business Leaders Award 2013 for his "impressive business credentials" and service to society by London-based Asia House. The award will be presented at a gala ceremony in London on October 14.
Premji, 68, founder and chairman of Wipro- Bharat's leading global information technology, consulting and outsourcing company - is known for his business acumen as well as philanthropy.

24. MADHYA PRADESH ANTI-CONVERSION LAW: Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill 2013, passed on July 10, 2013 is to prevent religious conversions by adopting fraudulent means or allurements. The bill makes prior permission mandatory for those who want to change their religion or faith. It also makes a provision for stringent jail term for those resorting to conversion by offering inducements or using fraudulent means. The bill amends the existing Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religions Act, 1968. The 2013 bill seeks to increase the period of incarceration from one to three years for those violating the law.

25. NATIONAL SEMINAR OF AKHIL BHARATIYA SAHITYA PARISHAD: Noted writer DR SL Bhairappa inaugurated a two-day national seminar on ‘Contribution of Historial Lectures in Creating Social Awarness’ in Varanasi on July 21. The seminar, organised by the Akhil Bharatiya Sahitya Parishad, was attended by about 100 select intellectuals. Lakshmikanth Sharma, Minister for Culture and Higher Education, Madhya Pradesh was the chief guest. Nawaung Samthen Kulapati, Vice Chancellor of Tibetan Studies at University of Sarnath presided over the seminar.

26. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Shri Ravikumar sahsamyojak Vishwa Vibhag is on a tour to Srilanka. Shri Shyam Parande Secretary Sewa International returned from his tour to Thailand. Visitors: Ma Jaiprakash Goel – HongKong, Mahesh Kalla - USA

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Truth cannot be suppressed and always is the ultimate victor. So we should tread the righteous path. - Yajur Veda

Ananth Krishnan

Li San Long, a resident of Chedian village, offers prayers at the village shrine, which houses a deity that is believed to be one of the goddesses that the Tamil community in Quanzhou worshipped in the 13th century. In and around Quanzhou, a bustling industrial city, there are shrines that historians believe may have been part of a network of more than a dozen Hindu temples and shrines. For the residents of Chedian, a few thousand-year-old village of muddy by-lanes and old stone courtyard houses, she is just another form of Guanyin, the female Bodhisattva who is venerated in many parts of China. But the goddess that the residents of this village pray to every morning, as they light incense sticks and chant prayers, is quite unlike any deity one might find elsewhere in China. Sitting cross-legged, the four-armed goddess smiles benignly, flanked by two attendants, with an apparently vanquished demon lying at her feet. Local scholars are still unsure about her identity, but what they do know is that this shrine’s unique roots lie not in China, but in far away south Bharat. The deity, they say, was either brought to Quanzhou — a thriving port city that was at the centre of the region’s maritime commerce a few centuries ago — by Tamil traders who worked here some 800 years ago, or perhaps more likely, crafted by local sculptors at their behest.
“This is possibly the only temple in China where we are still praying to a Hindu God,” says Li San Long, a Chedian resident, with a smile. “Even though most of the villagers still think she is Guanyin!” Li said the village temple collapsed some 500 years ago, but villagers dug through the rubble, saved the deity and rebuilt the temple, believing that the goddess brought them good fortune — a belief that some, at least, still adhere to.
The Chedian shrine is just one of what historians believe may have been a network of more than a dozen Hindu temples or shrines, including two grand big temples, built in Quanzhou and surrounding villages by a community of Tamil traders who lived here during the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1279-1368) dynasties. At the time, this port city was among the busiest in the world and was a thriving centre of regional maritime commerce.
The history of Quanzhou’s temples and Tamil links was largely forgotten until the 1930s, when dozens of stones showing perfectly rendered images of the god Narasimha — the man-lion avatar of Vishnu — were unearthed by a Quanzhou archaeologist called Wu Wenliang. Elephant statues and images narrating mythological stories related to Vishnu and Shiva were also found, bearing a style and pattern that was almost identical to what was evident in the temples of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh from a similar period. Wu’s discoveries received little attention at the time as his country was slowly emerging from the turmoil of the Japanese occupation, the Second World War and the civil war. It took more than a decade after the Communists came to power in 1949 for the stones and statues to even be placed in a museum, known today as the Quanzhou Maritime Museum.
“It is difficult to say how many temples there were, and how many were destroyed or fell to ruin,” the museum’s vice curator Wang Liming said. “But we have found them spread across so many different sites that we are very possibly talking about many temples that were built across Quanzhou.”
Today, most of the sculptures and statues are on display in the museum, which also showcases a map that leaves little doubt about the remarkable spread of the discoveries. The sites stretch across more than a dozen locations located all over the city and in the surrounding county. The most recent discoveries were made in the 1980s, and it is possible, says Ms. Wang, that there are old sites yet to be discovered.
The Maritime Museum has now opened a special exhibit showcasing Quanzhou’s south Indian links. Ms. Wang says there is a renewed interest — and financial backing — from the local government to do more to showcase what she describes as the city’s “1000-year-old history with south Bharat,” which has been largely forgotten, not only in China but also in Bharat.
“There is still a lot we don't know about this period,” she says, “so if we can get any help from Bharatiya scholars, we would really welcome it as this is something we need to study together. Most of the stones come from the 13th century Yuan Dynasty, which developed close trade links with the kingdoms of southern Bharat. We believe that the designs were brought by the traders, but the work was probably done by Chinese workers.”
Ms. Wang says the earliest record of a Bharatiya residing in Quanzhou dates back to the 6th century. An inscription found on the Yanfu temple from the Song Dynasty describes how the monk Gunaratna, known in China as Liang Putong, translated sutras from Sanskrit. Trade particularly flourished in the 13th century Yuan Dynasty. In 1271, a visiting Italian merchant recorded that the Bharatiya traders “were recognised easily.”
“These rich Bharatiya men and women mainly live on vegetables, milk and rice,” he wrote, unlike the Chinese “who eat meat and fish.” The most striking legacy of this period of history is still on public display in a hidden corner of the 7th century Kaiyuan Buddhist Temple, which is today Quanzhou’s biggest temple and is located in the centre of the old town. A popular attraction for Chinese Buddhists, the temple receives a few thousand visitors every day. In a corner behind the temple, there are at least half a dozen pillars displaying an extraordinary variety of inscriptions from Hindu mythology. A panel of inscriptions depicting the god Narasimha also adorns the steps leading up to the main shrine, which houses a Buddha statue. Huang Yishan, a temple caretaker whose family has, for generations, owned the land on which the temple was built, says the inscriptions are perhaps the most unique part of the temple, although he laments that most of his compatriots are unaware of this chapter of history. On a recent afternoon, as a stream of visitors walked up the steps to offer incense sticks as they prayed to Buddha, none spared a glance at the panel of inscriptions. Other indicators from Quanzhou’s rich but forgotten past lie scattered through what is now a modern and bustling industrial city, albeit a town that today lies in the shadow of the provincial capital Xiamen and the more prosperous port city of Guangzhou to the far south.
A few kilometres from the Kaiyuan temple stands a striking several metre-high Shiva lingam in the centre of the popular Bamboo Stone Park. To the city’s residents, however, the lingam is merely known as a rather unusually shaped “bamboo stone,” another symbol of history that still stays hidden in plain sight. -- The Hindu, July 19, 2013