Magh Shukla 9, Vik.Samvat 2072. Yugabda 5117: 16 February 2016





1. FESTIVALS: Vijaya Ekadashi, the 11th tithi of the Krishna Paksha in the month of Falgun, corresponding to March 5 this year, is dedicated to Bhagwan  Vishnu. The day of Vijaya Ekadashi is considered highly auspicious, as it is believed that observing fast on this special day will lead to victory over all the evil powers.

As per the legend, when Bhagwan Ram reached to the sea, he was unaware of the route ahead. Hence, Bhagwan Ram requested the lord of sea to show the correct path to Lanka, but the Lord didn't reply. Then, both, Rama and Laxmana, visited a saint, Balada Bhaya. Saint Balada Bhaya advised Bhagwaqn Ram to observe the fast of Vijaya Ekadashi. The saint also mentioned that the Vijaya Ekadashi fast will also help them in winning over the evil powers of Ravana. Bhagwan Ram observed the fast of Vijaya Ekadashi and successfully rescued his wife Sita, from the clutches of Ravana.

On this auspicious day, 110 years before in Vikrami Samvat 1962, February 19, 1906, Madhav, the second Sarasanghchalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was born. After Doctor Keshav Baliram Hedgewar's death on June 21, 1940, Shri Guruji, Madhav Sadashivrao Golwalkar, travelling ceaselessly all over the country, gave a powerful impetus to the organization everywhere. Moving from place to place and garnering individual after individual he spread the network of Sangh all over the country. -goTop


2. DEAR GRAVITY, WE HEAR YOU NOW: "We have detected gravitational waves. We did it," said David Reitze, executive director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (Ligo), at a press conference in Washington on February 11. The phenomenon detected was the collision of two black holes. The observation signals the opening of a new window on to the universe.

Bharatiya groups contributed significantly to the historic search for gravitational waves with specific tasks being carried out in high performance computing facilities led by  Bala Iyer at the Raman Research Institute, Bengaluru and Sanjeev Dhurandhar at IUCAA Pune. -goTop


3. HUNDREDS JOIN SURYA NAMASKAR YOGATHON: Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA (HSS) concluded the tenth annual "Yoga for Health, Health for Humanity Yogathon" or "Surya Namaskar Yajna". from January 16 to January 31.Participants from all walks of life performed surya namaskar.

HSS initiated this health awareness project in 2006. Since its inception, participants from 40 states actively took part via various Yoga Centers, community organizations, schools and colleges regardless of individual faiths and beliefs, have participated and collectively performed over 4 million Surya Namaskars. Community leaders and many elected officials across the nation have appreciated this initiative and encouraged their residents to participate and gain the benefits of an overall healthy life style. As a part of this nationwide event, Houston HSS chapter had organized unique 24 hour "surya namasker" yogathon at Keshav Smruti in Southwest Houston.

At the Yogathon, 215 young men, women and children from 26 different organizations participated, performing more than 15,000 Surya Namaskars. Vivek Singh from Sugarland branch of HSS was the highest performer with 403 Surya Namaskars. 4 year old Charvi Damani was one of the youngest to perform surya namaskar.

Subhash Gupta, President of Houston HSS chapter and well known yoga practitioner Shekhar Agrawal from Patanjali Yog Peeth were present during the concluding session of the yogathon. -goTop


4. THOUSANDS TAKE PART IN YOGATHON AT SHARJAH: Thousands of volunteers and students came together in Sharjah on February 5 to attempt a Guinness World Record for making the longest Yoga Wave at the Skyline University College. The event witnessed by more than 400 volunteers and over 5,000 people was organized under the patronage of the Bharatiya Consulate in Dubai and supported by the Indian Association, Sharjah and Skyline University College.

It was followed by a walkathon organized to create awareness against tobacco, alcohol and drugs among the younger generation. Anurag Bhushan, Consul General of Bharat, who was the chief guest on the occasion, said, "The Indian Consulate had organized Yoga Day in 2015 which saw participation of 20,000 people and this event is the continuation of the same. This event will further promote and popularise yoga as a path to healthy living."Also attending the event was Dr. K. J Yesudas, a renowned Bharatiya musician and playback singer. -goTop


5. TN GOVERNOR HONOURS SEWA BHARATI FOR EXCELLENT SEWA DURING CHENNAI FLOODS: Tamil Nadu Governor Shri K Rosaiha felicitated Sewa Bharati for outstanding service during Chennai floods. Shri Duraisankar, president of Tamil Nadu Sewa Bharati, received the Special Achievement Award. Congratulating the awardees the Governor said it is the history of Tamil Nadu people to excel in work. The function was organized by World Tamil Chamber of Commerce on 10th January to celebrate World Tamil Day. It was a celebration of Tamil art, music and culture of Tamil people across Bharat and world. -goTop


6. WHY A SOFTWARE ENGINEER LEFT AMERICA TO RUN A FARMERS' CO-OP IN RURAL BHARAT: Madhuchandan SC, a software engineer, started his own company, Verifya, in San Jose, a few years ago. This firm's software is now used all over the world. So, in terms of professional success, Madhuchandan felt he had achieved everything he wanted to. It was around this time that he contemplated coming back home. Madhuchandan and his wife decided it was better to return while they were in their 30s, at an age where they could work towards making a difference in Bharat, rather than wait for retirement. So they packed their bags and headed to Mandya, Karnataka, in 2014. "I came home with the plan of becoming a farmer. However, once I got to my hometown in Mandya, I realised that the farmers here were facing a lot of problems. This is when I decided to work for their welfare," says Madhu.      

Madhuchandan set up the Mandya Organic Farmers' Cooperative Society in 2015, with the aim of bringing organic farming to the forefront again. The membership fee to join the cooperative is Rs. 1,000. The Society, which started with 270 farmers, has now grown to include 350 farmers.  "We have a lot of membership applications. However, we have a thorough selection process. We strictly accept only those farmers who practise organic farming," he says. These farmers have a passion for organic farming and the Society educates them on the best organic practices they can take up. Only marginal or small land-holding farmers -- with holdings ranging from 0.5 to 2.5 acres -- are part of the Society. -goTop


7. INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION IN SRI LANKA PLAYS TAMIL VERSION OF NATIONAL ANTHEM: An uncommon but appreciable event took place in Sri Lanka, when the Tamil version of National Anthem was played during the 68th Independence ceremony in the country on 4th February. The event which lasted for nearly two-and-a-half hours, sought traditional practice of demonstration of might of the security forces followed by the national flag hoisting by President Maithripala Sirisena along with Sinhala version being played. Surprisingly, a Tamil version of the National Anthem 'Sri Lanka Matha' was also sung by a group of school students on the occasion. This happened after a long gap and it seems to be part of the present government's efforts towards national reconciliation and ethnic harmony. The State-controlled English newspaper, "Daily News," in a report stated that the national anthem was sung in Tamil since 1949. -goTop


8. THIRD PHASE OF REHABILITATION OF FLOOD VICTIMS IN CHENNAI: Under the third phase of rehabilitation of flood victims in Chennai the Sewa Bharati on January 10 distributed livelihood material at Mathur, Manali, one of the worst flood affected areas in Chennai. Prior to distributing the material, a survey was conducted by the volunteers to assess the need of the victims. Material worth Rs 6 lakh was distributed. In a unique way, cow along with calf were distributed to the locals who requested for the same. Items like printer, scanner, Xerox machine, tailoring tools, electrical tools etc. were also distributed. Items including Iron box, grinder, water tank, tricycle, electrical tools, and chairs for saloon shop, fish net, rickshaw, plastic table, chair etc worth 14 lakh was distributed to nearly 700 flood affected people who lost their essential tools/machines for their job surviving. -goTop


9. WE ARE PROUD OF YOU: SUSHMA SWARAJ IN ROMA CONFERENCE: 33 scholars and 12 cultural performers from 12 countries attended 3 day international Roma conference and cultural festival 2016 organised by by Indian Council for cultural relations  and Antar Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad  - Bharat in Delhi from 12-14 February. 15 Bharatiya scholars also participated in the conference.

At her inaugural speech, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj pitched for documentation of links of the 20-million strong migrant community spread over 30 countries with Bharat. Calling Romas "children of India", she said, "I am very happy to meet Roma delegates. You are the children of India who migrated and lived in challenging circumstances in foreign lands for centuries. Yet, you maintained your Indian identity," "We, in India, are proud of you. Your 'Baro Than' India once again welcomes you with an open heart," she said.

Scholars have estimated at least 20 million Roma community mostly in Balkan countries. In Romania and Bulgaria   12 percent of population are Roma people , while a sizable numbers exists in America,  North Africa, former Soviet Union and West Asia. In Turkey, it has  a population of 2.5 million and has significant presence in Russia ,Hungry, Serbia, Spain and France. Romas are descendants of Chauhan, Gujjar, Banjara communities. Lingustic evidence in 1782 and genetic information in 1990 have confirmed the Bharatiya origin of Romas. Joval Damjannovic, president of World Roma Organisation - Romanipen said that "We Romas use same Indian words and we want India to accept us as their diaspora". ICCR president Dr. Lokesh Chandra described 'Romas have been community of craftsmen...have been ironsmiths, coppersmiths who made weapons in 15th century.' It is believed they migrated with Alexander the Great to Europe in the 5th century. Over the course of time, the community spread across the world with a major chunk of its population in Turkey, besides Romania, Bulgaria, Russia and the US.

The community has produced eminent personalities such as artist Pablo Picasso, comedian Sir Charlie Chaplin, singer Elvis Presley and Oscar-winning actor Sir Michael Caine. -goTop


10. VIDYA BHARTI CAN BE A CATALYST FOR CHANGE: MODI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 12th February urged the school principals of Vidya Bharti, to work towards addressing the social challenges.

"Vidya Bharti can be a catalyst for the change. Principals should work towards instilling excellence in every aspect of students' lives so that image of the institution can be further raised," Modi said at Akhil Bharatiya Pracharya Sammelan organised by the Vidya Bharati Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan.

"We should focus how the schools of Vidya Bharti reach the top. We succeeded in expanding the number of schools but what about quality. Let's make one Vidya Bharti in every state and make it the top school in that state. Why can't we prepare sportspersons who could win gold medals at the olympics," he said. Modi said that students of Vidya Bharati schools can also work towards bringing positive changes in society especially in areas such as cleanliness and energy conservation. -goTop


11. RAMAKRISHNAN PROFESSORSHIP TO SUPPORT STUDY OF SANSKRIT: As the University of Chicago prepares to celebrate two major anniversaries in South Asian studies, a new gift will help to ensure its continued leadership in the study of the Bharatiya subcontinent. The Anupama and Guru Ramakrishnan Professorship in Sanskrit Studies, established by a $3.5 million gift from Guru and Anupama Ramakrishnan, supports a faculty member whose work focuses on the ancient classical language. Gary Tubb, professor in South Asian Languages and Civilizations and faculty director of the University of Chicago Center in Delhi, will be the first scholar to hold the new position.

"The University of Chicago is world renowned for its excellence in the scholarship of South Asia," said Martha T. Roth, the Chauncey S. Boucher Distinguished Service Professor and dean of the Division of the Humanities. Sanskrit is the longest continuously taught South Asian language at University of Chicago, having been offered since the first classes were held in 1892. -goTop


12. BHARATIYA BUDDHIST MONKS MARCH FOR PEACE IN MYANMAR: As Myanmar moves towards new government formation, Bharatiya Buddhist monks initiated a 'Peace Yatra' in Yangon, Myanmar on January 31. Presiding over a special prayer ceremony at the world-renowned Shwedagon Pagoda, His Eminence Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche, a spiritual regent to His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa shared the blessings of the Buddha and messages of compassion, wisdom and loving-kindness.  "The Buddha's teachings transcend all time, therefore in today's times of multiple conflicts, we can still rely on the wisdom of Lord Buddha to resolve modern day crisis and to achieve peace and harmony," he said.

The peace padyatra also witnessed tens of thousands gathered at the 2,500 years old Shwedagon Pagoda, to seek the blessings of the sacred 2,600 year- old-bone relic of the Buddha specially brought for the event.  The relic contains the strands of Buddha's hair and other holy relics.  Sitagu Sayadaw, the elderly spiritual guru of Myanmar, said that the visit of the Bharatiya monks would help strengthen relations between the two countries. -goTop


13. 37 MILLION YOGA PRACTITIONERS IN US: The number of yoga practitioners in the United States of America has reached to about 37 million according to a recently released "2016 Yoga in America Study" conducted by Yoga Journal & Yoga Alliance. According to USA's National Institutes of Health; yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress. This comprehensive national Study points out that there is about 50  percent increase in the number of yoga practitioners in the last four years; raising the annual practitioner spending on yoga classes, clothing, equipment, and accessories to $16 billion. -goTop


14. SIMHASTHA MELA: Swami Satyamitranand, founder of Bharatmata Mandir, Haridwar initiated Simhastha mela proceedings by performing bhoomi pujan of land pieces allotted to him at Barnagar road, Ujjain on February 4. Home minister Babulal Gaur, RSS Sarkaryvaha (general secretary) Bhaiyyaji Joshi, Mahant Narendra Giri, and others took part in the event. The Bharatmata trust under guidance of Swami Satyamitranand will organise discourse, Bhagwat Katha, and other religious events in the camp.

Main snan days of Simhastha or Kumbh Mela are as follows: 22 April 2016 (Purnima) Shahi Snaan, 3rd, 6th, 9th, 11th, 15th, 17th, 19th and 20th May for Kumbh Snan, 21 May for (Purnima)Shahi Snan. -goTop


15. MEALS TO PATIENTS AT NO PROFIT NO LOSS BASIS BY SEWA BHARATI: Jaipur unit of Sewa Bharati launched a project in Jaipur on January 30 to provide meals to the patients of mental hospital run at Sethi Colony. Apart from patients, their attendants will also be provided meals at just Rs 10 per person. The project was formally launched by Health Minister of Rajasthan Rajendra Singh Rathore. State BJP president Ashok Parnami, Principal of SMS Medical College Dr US Agrawal, businessman Mahendra Derawala and Sewa Bharati karyakartas were also present on the occasion. It is the third project of this nature run by Sewa Bharati in Rajasthan. Two other projects are run in Bikaner and Ajmer. -goTop


16. 2 BILLION MEALS FOR SCHOOLKIDS, THIS IITIAN SHOWS THE WAY: Its 12 noon at the government school in DJ Halli, northeast Bengaluru. Hundreds of little faces are fixed on the van that has carried their lunch. For 15 years, every afternoon, the Bengaluru headquartered Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF) has been bringing smiles on faces of 1.4 million children. And in a few weeks, it will serve its two billionth meals. APF, founded by IITian Madhu Pandit Dasa who was conferred the Padma Shri last month, is the world's largest school lunch programme.

"I still remember the day when I took the first meal to a government school. The children loved it. I did not believe that we would go with the food the next day. But for 15 years now, we have been able to sustain," Dasa said. From ensuring that no child in Bharat shall be deprived of education because of hunger, the scheme has won many accolades for its transparency, hygiene and tech savvy delivery of cooked meals. -goTop


17. SWAMI GHANANDA SARASWATI ATTAINED MAHASAMADHI: H.H. Swami Ghananand Saraswati, the first African Hindu monk,  who has been the head of the Hindu Monastery of Africa, Accra, Ghana since it was founded by H.H. Swami Krishnanand Saraswati in March 1975 attained Mahasamadhi on 18th January.

His Holiness Swami Ghanand Saraswati was until his initiation known as Guide Kwesi Essel. He was born of humble parentage of Senya Beraku in the central region of Ghana in 1937.

In 1962 he moved to Accra and formed the Divine Mystic Path Society. He then started correspondence courses on the Hindu way of life (Sanatana Dharma) with the Divine Life Society of Rishikesh, Himalayas, in Bharat . As a result of his urge to search for God and with the assistance and support of some well-meaning elders of the society to whom he had greatly endeared himself, he left in August, 1970 for the Himalayas, Bharat, where he sat at the feet of masters at Sivananda Ashram.

Under Swami Ghananand's leadership the monastery has established branches in five cities in Ghana, with another in Lome-Togo. More than 2,500 families from Ghana and Togo have embraced Hinduism, not to mention those who practice the principles of Hinduism privately.

The monastery supports orphanages, schools for the handicapped and destitute, and also undertakes various social services in the form of monthly free medical services and occasional eye screening camps for the poor and needy as part of her social responsibility. Swamiji has to his credit the authorship of fourteen books on Hinduism. H.H Swamiji has by the grace of Guruji laid a very solid foundation for the development of Hinduism in Ghana and indeed the whole of the African continent. -goTop


18. MUSLIM GIRLS MASTER SANSKRIT IN BIHAR SCHOOL: Shri Radha Krishna Sanskrit High School, located at the Kuchaikote block of Gopalganj district, 190 km north of Patna, has more than 85 Muslim girl students out of the 125 girls studying there. The rest 50 students are boys. All the students are learning Sanskrit and can converse in the language proficiently. The school was built in the 1930s and is meant for students from Class 6 to Class 10.Shabnam Khatun, a Class 10 student said that she has never faced any resistance from her family about studying in a school specialising in Sanskrit. "My father is a welder and he admitted me to this school. My family knows that I learn Sanskrit here and they have also heard me speaking in Sanskrit with my friends, but they have never stopped me," said Shabnam, who wants to become a teacher. Similarly, Ashia Khatun, a student of Class 8, whose father is a tailor replied to the queries in flawless Sanskrit and also recited long Sanskrit verses. "I understand Sanskrit better than Urdu. I also listen to Sanskrit news on radio daily. I want to make a career in the education field with specialization in Sanskrit," she said. -goTop


19. DHAKA CANCELS PORT TO BE BUILT BY CHINA, BHARAT EYES ANOTHER: With Bharat's relations with Bangladesh on an upswing, New Delhi has expressed interest in developing the neighbour's newest deep sea port, Payra.

It's a big move by Bharat and an expression of the trajectory of strategic ties between the two countries. Separately, Japan may develop another deep sea port, Matarbari, in Cox's Bazar. As the Asian allies synergize converging interests, Bangladesh has quietly killed the Sonadia project in Cox's Bazar, which was to be built by China.

For Bharat, the Sonadia port, as the Hambantota and Gwadar ports, were deemed to be part of China's much talked about "string of pearls" strategy to encircle Bharat in its maritime neighbourhood.

The Payra seaport, which is on the south-western corner of Bangladesh, close to Chittagong, is much closer to the Bharatiya coastline. -goTop


20. DEENDAYAL KATHA: Deendayal Research Institute celebrated the 49th Nirvan Divas of Deendayal Upadhyaya by organizing a 3-day recital of Katha based on life and ideals on February 9, 10 and 11. The Katha was told by Shri Aalok Kumar, Saha Sanghachalak of Delhi Prant. First day was devoted to the life of Shri Deendayalji, the second day was devoted to 'Ekatma Manavavad' theory as propounded by Deendayal Upadhyaya to reach upto the last man in the row. On the third day, Shri Aalok Kumar explained the concept of Rashtra Purush. Madan Das ji Devi, Krishna Gopalji, Saha Sara Karyavaha, Dattatreya Hosbale, Saha Sara Karyavaha, Prof. Om Prakash Kohli, Governor, Gujarat, Tarun Vijay MP, Ashwini Kumar MP and many other distinguished persons were among the large audience drawn from all strata of the society. -goTop


21. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Shri Saumitra Gokhale. Samyjak vishwa Vibhga will return from pravas to Singapore and Malaysia. Dr Ram Vaidya, sahsamyojak will tour Nepal in February. Visitors: Dr Radheshyam Dwiwedi - USA

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Service with a spiritual orientation results in man making which is invariably and inseparably connected with nation building. It is the core or all our thoughts behind this organization - Eknathji Ranade  -goTop





For the first time, the Chinese are going to talk about the influence of the Gupta period on their art at the Forbidden Palace in Beijing no less. An acknowledgement of Indianness, albeit in the cultural space, is indeed a way ahead in bilateral relations. "Creating such cultural events, which bring us closer to different countries who got their inspiration from India, will result in dynamic dialogues," says ICCR president Lokesh Chandra.

The ICCR is at the forefront of the Modi Government's cultural diplomacy and is using shared civilisational heritage, particularly the Ashokan legacy of Buddhism, in softening the rough edges of contention with China and claiming its space in the consciousness of South and South-East Asia.

This is being done by expanding the bouquet of cultural exchanges from just performances and arts showcases to interactive dialogues and Indology conferences on the Buddhist heritage in the region. "Culture has always taken a backseat since Independence. We must realise that it becomes effective and relevant in a multi-polar world. By engaging with China on the shared Silk Route and Buddhist history, we can create goodwill at a very fundamental level. China has to feel it owes a lot to India as well. Needless to say they have used cultural contiguity to expand their sway in the region. China has been aggressive about pushing its cultural diplomacy from the time of President Hu Jintao. President Xi Jinping too quotes liberally from history when he talks about the One Belt One Road initiative, a revival of the old Silk Route conglomeration of economic, political and cultural engagement. China has posited itself as the propagator and disseminator of common linkages and followed it up with swift economic hard talk. It is time we told them of common linkages that would work towards changing perceptions about us," Prof Chandra told The Pioneer.

Emphasising the need to build on shared templates, Prof Chandra says the National Museum will be showcasing a major exhibition of Gupta art and its influence on Chinese art later this year. "We will be sending 150 pieces and the Chinese will be bringing in 150 pieces which show the Gupta influence. I have written a paper on the mission of Indian emissaries who went during the Gupta period."

The linkages begin with the construction of the Ashokan stupa. "Ashoka started making brick chaityas in place of clay stupas. The stupas had to be of an imperial size with 84,000 bricks. What has so far been interpreted as 84,000 stupas are actually 84,000 bricks in one stupa. These stupas became very popular throughout China because they represented the imperial concept. In China, particularly, the imperial concept was important. So they wanted to have a stupa not just made of clay but of imperial bricks. The Thunder Hill pagoda is a good example." Prof Chandra said.

The Chinese have restored that pagoda in a modern style, Hangzhou being an important tourist spot with beautiful lakes. According to him, Hangzhou was actually founded by an Indian in the 10th century, who felt the hills there resembled the Gridhakuta hills in Bihar, where Lord Buddha delivered many sermons. For the last 1,000 years, many monasteries have been constructed in this area.

"Other than the Buddhist legacy, key Ashokan concepts trickled into China too. Ashoka exiled some of his kinsmen to Khotan in Central Asia after his son Kunala was blinded. This outpost was looked after by one of his ministers. He had to encounter the hostility of the Chinese, who were already there since 800 BC and declared that only a bhumiputra or son of the soil could be king, neither an Indian, nor a Chinese. This concept of localised, home-grown leadership still survives in Malaysia. The Chinese are citizens in Malaysia but they are not bhumiputras. No major commercial undertaking can be run by a Chinese citizen unless there is a bhumiputra heading the organisation. The idea of a bhumiputra has been very important in history and even today it is important, without going into the politics of it," Prof Chandra said.

The Ashokan paradigm was very important in China. Some ancient Chinese texts say Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who built the Great Wall and unified territories, had Ashokan blood. "It could be physical blood inherited through descendants of Ashoka in Khotan. Besides, he introduced the idea of bureaucracy in China for the first time, perhaps in the world. He assessed the ability of his officials through an examination, which continued till 1911," he added, suggesting much of imperial China incorporated his philosophy.

Ashoka has been very important in the Sanskritic worldview. "We have legends in Thailand, Myanmar and parts of southeast Asia to show that Ashoka sent the first missionaries. He sent his son and daughter to Sri Lanka for the propagation of Buddhism. The other emissaries went up to Africa, Macedonia and five western states. Rock edict 13 has names of these five states. Somebody should work on the global vision and mission of Ashoka to resurrect a lot of goodwill," urged Prof Chandra.

Culture, he believes, "doesn't move without virtue and power… When Buddhism went to China, the Chinese emperor sent a mission to get Buddhist teachers, who came on horses. The first monastery was called the White Horse monastery. Horses were sold in the monasteries, so these were not just about religion, they were also about power. The Chinese did not merely translate but transcreated the Indic inspiration because things had to merge with their own perception. They had to be relevant to their people, their governance, their philosophical systems. Anything we borrow has to be transcreated. The Chinese are clear that culture is power. Honouring the Ashokan Buddhist legacy has helped it expand its appeal in Central Asia."

The first Gupta emperor, Sri Gupta, is the founder of the dynasty in inscriptions. He made a Cheen Vihara, monastery for Chinese monks, and donated 24 big villages for its maintenance. Why did he do it? "He had trade relations with China via the southern and southeast Asian coast, beginning from Kanchipuram, to Sri Lanka and from there going upwards. The sea-faring route extended to Burma, Cambodia, Champa (Vietnam coastline) and Canton. Most of the translators went up to Canton and must've carried images to influence the local grammar of art," said Prof Chandra.

For a dialogue to start, Prof Chandra recommends that Chinese studies here should also include India's cultural interaction with our big neighbour. "A Chinese professor once told me that Indians had borrowed sugar from us because the word is cheeni. I told him the history of the Tang dynasty documents how emperors sent successive missions to Magadha to learn sugar technology in the 8th century."

It's not just Buddhism but Hinduism itself which has had a far-reaching contribution to eclectic societies in southeast Asia. Prof Chandra talks about a temple to the monkey god in Beijing where modern women still go to pray for sons. "Asking for a son from a monkey is an old tradition in China, may be 600 odd years. A Chinese scholar, Prof Ji Xianlin, has proven that it is Hanuman from the Ramayana. The cultural relationship is that integral. Similarly, the only chariot with Lord Krishna and Arjuna is in Jakarta, about 40 feet-long. We should have a function in Indonesia and go there every year to pay homage. In the same way, we should participate in the lighting of a 100,000 lamps in Thailand coinciding with our Magha puja rituals. We should celebrate them in the participatory spirit of a shared heritage. We should do what we've done before," suggests the ICCR president.

The ICCR is planning a conference on Buddhist philosophy in relativistic mathematics and quantum physics. About six Western physicists and mathematicians will be coming to discuss quantum physics theories in the light of the Rig Veda's observations on being and non-being, existent and non-existent. "Zeroism doesn't exist in Western thinking but only in India," said Prof Chandra.  (By Rinku Ghosh, Daily Pioneer 1 Feb 2016)  -goTop

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