Modi Script: The oldest surviving Cursive Script

Modi and Balbodh (Devanagari) are the two scripts used to write the Marathi language. Among these two Modi scripts is the oldest and was prevalent until 20th century. It is a cursive script and designed for minimizing the lifting of pen from paper while writing.

There are many theories about the origin of Modi script and one of them is 13th century administration of Yadva Dynasty. From the 13th century to until 20th century Modi script was widely used.

Hemadri Pandit was the prime minister (1259 to 1274 C.E) in the empire of Seuna Yadav Dynasty of Devagiri. He is credited with inventing the Modi script for use in administrative work. Another theory suggests that Hemadri Pandit brought the Modi script from Sri Lanka to India and started its use in administration. The use of Modi has decreased since the independence of India, now the Balbodh style of Devanagari is the primary script used to write Marathi.

The shapes of some consonants, vowels, and vowel signs are similar to Balbodh script (ex. भ, घ, त,क्ष) Modi script differs considerably from Balbodh in terms of letterforms, rendering behaviors, and orthography. One characteristic feature of Modi script is its cursive nature. There are few fonts available for typing in Modi Script. Most documents in Modi script are handwritten and oldest of them are preserved at Bharat Itihas Sanshodhan Mandal (BISM) Pune.

In recent days local government bodies in Maharashtra had some difficulty in interpretation of old land records in Modi language. In British India, the printing machines were developed in large scale. The typesetting for Modi script was difficult so the printing in Devnagri script was done on a large scale which was easy for typesetting. Because of this printing revolution, the use of Modi script was discouraged and gradually it became out of use. During the rule of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the Modi script was used mainly for commercial documents.

The largest numbers of old documents in Modi script are at Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. Maharashtra government has assigned the task of developing the Modi script to C-DAC. The monthly Pune-based newspaper Vasundhara Vrutta is the only newspaper published in Modi script.

Understanding the history of Marathi Language

The Marathi language is predominantly spoken in Maharashtra (India) and neighboring areas. It is the 19th most spoken language in the world and 4th most spoken language in India. Marathi was the court language of Seuna dynasty kings of Devgiri in Maharashtra. Many religious texts have been written in Marathi, primarily to convey the religious knowledge to common people.

Most of the literature of Varkari Sampraday is in Marathi. In medieval period saint Dyaneshwar, saint Eknath has composed religious texts in Marathi. The treaties composed in Marathi on Bhagwad Gita saint Dyaneshwar is known as Dyaneshwari. Saint Tukaram also wrote many Abhang in the Marathi language.

With the rise of Maratha Empire, the importance of Marathi increased. Under the rule of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the use of Marathi was encouraged in administration rather than the Persian language.

In the colonial period, the Christian missionaries translated Bible in Marathi. These translations are done by William Carey, the American Marathi mission, and the Scottish missionaries. the first Marathi newspaper Durban was started by Balshastri Jambhekar in 1832. The Marathi poet Keshavasut published his first poem in the year 1885. After Indian independence Marathi was accorded the status of a scheduled language on the national level. A novel Yayati by Kandekar is one of the most works done in Marathi in the 20th century. Vijay Tendulkar, P.L.Deshpande, P.K.  Atre & Prabodhankar Thackeray were the notable Marathi writers of the 20th century.

Jihadi Boli, Southern Indian Marathi, Varhadiare are few of the Dialects of Marathi language.

Marathi is written in different scripts such as Devanagari, Balbodh, and Modi script. The reference of Devnagri script is found on the 11th-century inscriptions on stone and copper plates. Most of the records from the medieval period and until 1950 are in Modi Script. Even today also we see some official records are in Modi script which requires the language expert to read it.

Marathi phonology and grammar is similar to other Indo-Aryan languages.

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar the noted freedom fighter had coined Marathi words for words from the English language. Marathi borrows a lot of its vocabulary from Sanskrit. Marathi Language Day is celebrated on February 27. There are many organizations for the regulation, promotion, and enrichment of the Marathi language.

Top 8 Archaeological wonders of Ancient India

Indian culture is one of the oldest surviving cultures in the world with its rich archaeological heritage. There are numerous religious archeological sites which constructed in past two thousand years and some are even older than that. Below is the list of top 8 archaeological wonders of Ancient India.

  1. Ajanta Caves

            © Archaeological Survey of India

 These caves are situated at a distance of 107 Km from Aurangabad (Maharashtra, India). In the modern era, these caves have been first spotted by an army officer in the Madras Regiment of the British Army in 1819 during one of his hunting expeditions. The caves were excavated in a horseshoe shape in different periods (from 2nd century B.C. to 6th century A.D.). The caves were used for Buddhist monk’s religious purpose. These caves are known all over the world for its religious paintings and murals which are in good condition even today.

 2.     Mahabalipuram

© Archaeological Survey of India

Mahabalipuram is the group of Hindu religious monuments situated in coastal areas of Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu, India). The name Mahabalipuram has its origin with demon king Mahabali killed by one of the Avatars of Lord Vishnu. It is also known by another name Mamallapuram, the title used by the king of Pallava Narashima Varman (AD 630-68)who has got the title of Mamalla; the great wrestler. There are nine monolithic temples, cave temples and famous among them are known after the five Pandavas of Mahabharata.

 3.     Konarak – Sun Temple

© Archaeological Survey of India

Built in the 13th century, it consists of the gigantic Solar chariot, Mayadevi Temple, Vaishnava Temple and numerous small shrines. It is situated in Puri district (Odisha, India). The temple was desecrated by Mughal king Jahangir in the 17th century.

4. Hampi

© Archaeological Survey of India

It is situated on the southern bank of river Tungabhadra (Karnataka, India). This monument of Vijayanagara Empire was built between AD 1336-1570, from the times of Harihara-I to Sadasiva Raya. Many foreign travelers have written glorious descriptions of Vijayanagara Empire in their travel accounts.

Temples of this city are known for their large dimensions, bold and delicate carvings, traditional depictions which include subjects from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The monolithic statues of Lakshmi, Narasimha and Ganesa are noted for their massiveness and grace.

 5.     Rani ki Vav (The Queen’s Stepwell)

© UNESCO

 Rani ki Vav is an intricately constructed stepwell, built as a memorial to an 11th century AD king Bhimdev I by his widowed queen Udayamati.  It was added to the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites on 22 June 2014. It is situated in Patan (Gujrat, India). There are many Hindu religious sculptures. The steps begin at ground level and reach deep well below. There is also a 30 Km tunnel below the last step of the well which leads to the town of Sidhpur near Patan.

6.     Sanchi

© Archaeological Survey of India

The construction of Stupa at Sanchi was started by emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE. There are numerous Stupas within few miles of Sanchi. Emperor Ashoka ordered the construction of many stupas around the country where mortal remains of Lord Buddha were to be kept. Since the fourteenth century, Sanchi remained deserted and uncared for till 1818 when General Taylor rediscovered the site.

7.     Dholavira

© Archaeological Survey of India

 Dholavira is an archaeological site at Khadirbet in Kutch District (Gujarat, India). The name Dholavira was given in the name of a modern day village 1 kilometer from the location of the site. It is one among the five largest Harappan cities in the Indian subcontinent. There are identified seven major cultural stages at this site numbered Stage 1 to stage 7. The excavations at the site have helped to understand the Indus Valley Civilization.

8.     Nalanda

©wikipedia

Nalanda was an acclaimed Mahavihara, a large Buddhist monastery in the ancient kingdom of Magadha. It is situated. It is situated at 95 Km southeast of Patna (Bihar, India).Nalanda got its importance in 5th century A.D. as a great monastic cum educational institution for oriental art and learning. Students from all over the world came here to gain knowledge.

It was founded by Kumaragupta I (413-455 A.D.) of the great Gupta dynasty. Excavations at the site by Archaeological Survey of India during 1915-37 and 1974-82 have exposed six major brick temples and eleven monasteries.

From above examples, we know that ancient Indians were highly advanced in the art of building massive stone structures, Astrology, and irrigation system. The conservation of these sites will be great heritage for us and the attraction for the foreigners.

Indian Philosophy

India has always been a land of seekers. Hindu religious books have answered the most basic question ever occurred to mankind, Where do we come from and what should we do to attain salvation. For Hindus, the ultimate goal of life is to attain Moksha. Indian philosophical schools stressed on the fulfilment of four goals Arth, Dharma, Kama and Moksha.

The two major schools of Philosophy are Orthodox school and Heterodox school of thought. The orthodox school of thought is based on Vedas and has six sub schools called as Shada Darshana. The Heterodox school of thought questioned the Vedas and existence of God.

The six Orthodox subschools are,

Samkhya School:

The Samkhya Sutra written by great Indian sage Kapil Muni explains salvation through knowledge. It said lack of knowledge is the root cause of all the suffering. It believed in Dualism or Davitvada.

Yoga School:

the word Yoga literally means union. Yoga is the union of physicalmental, and spiritual practices which originated in ancient India.

Nyaya School:

This school explains salvation through the technique of Logical Thinking.

Vaisheshika School:

Vaisheshika school is known for its insights into Naturalism and it is a form of atomism in natural philosophy. Vaisheshika explains how ones experiences are derived from dravya (substance), guna(quality),karma (activity), samanya (commonness),vishesha (particularity), amavaya (inherence).

Mimamsa School:

the word Mimamsa literally means reasoning and interpretation. This school believes the eternal truth in Vedas and stresses on the fulfilment of duties prescribed by Vedas to attain salvation.

Vedanta School:

this school of thought is based on Upanishads. It explains the similarity of nature of the self and Bramh. This school believes if one attains the knowledge of the self then he automatically attains Bramha.

The three Heterodox sub Schools are,

Buddist Philosophy: this school is founded by Gautam Buddha who was born in 563 BCE at Lumbini (Nepal). Buddhism speaks of four noble truths. First, there is suffering in Human life. Second, the fundamental cause of all the suffering is Desire. Third, he advises us to destroy passion and love for materialistic life. Fourth, the liberation can be attained through eightfold path explained in Buddhism.

Jain Philosophy:

the Jain Philosophy first told by Rishabha Deva, the first Tirthankara ( wise Person). There are 24 tirthankar and twenty-fourth being the Mahavira around 500 BCE. Jainism believes that right perception and knowledge combined with right conduct can help to attain salvation.

Charvaka School or Lokayata Philosophy:

Brihaspati was the founder of this school of thought. It was among the first school of thought which propagated materialistic view to achieving salvation. This school does not consider ‘Eather’ as one of the elements of earth because it cannot be experienced through perception.

Indian Literature

Indian literature comprises of religious Sanskrit scripts as well as literature in regional languages. Since ancient times the religious knowledge in Sanskrit has been transferred orally through generations. Here in this article, we will summarize the work different sages, poets, philosophers in Sanskrit as well as regional languages.

*Vedic Literature

Vedic literature comprises of four Vedas, Upanishads and other Sanskrit literature.

Rig-Veda: Rig-Veda is the oldest of four Vedas consisting of 1028 Vedic Sanskrit hymns. It is mainly focused on the subject of life, death, creation and sacrifice.

Atharva Veda: It is mainly known for its focus on the treatment of different ailments, traditional Indian medicine and issues related to everyday life of a householder.  it is a collection of 730 hymns.

Yajur Veda: Yajurveda concentrates on rituals and sacrifices to be made in Yajna.

Sama Veda: It is the Veda of songs and ways of reciting the mantras. It consists of Hymns, Raga (musical notes) and Raginis.

*Literature in Pali and Prakrit

The Buddhist and Jain religious books are mainly written in Pali and Prakrit.

*Literature in regional languages:

Tamil (Sangam) Literature:

The kingdom of Pandya called assemblies of poets and writers. These assemblies are known as Sangam and the literature produced in these assemblies is called Sangam Literature. Thiruvalluvar was a celebrated Tamil Philosopher best known for his work ‘Tirukkuṛaḷ’ a collection of couplets on ethics, political and economic matters, and love.

Kokasandisan and Bhasa Kautilya are the major works of Malayalam Literature in the medival period.

Kannada Literature: the Ratnatraya or the three gems of Kannada Literature are the three renowned poets Pampa, Ponna and Ranna,

Bengali and Odia literature:

Mangal Kavyas are the Hindu religious text of Bengali literature written in medieval period. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee was the famous nationalist Bengali writer. Our national song Vande Mataram was an expert taken from his novel. Shankerdev composed devotional poetry in Assamese.

Gujarati, Rajasthani and Sindhi literature:

Gujarat was known for the Bhakti movement and this movement has influenced the Gujarati literature. The renowned saint Narsinh Mehta has composed devotional songs for Lord Krishna. Dingal and Pingal are the two main types of fictional writings in Rajasthani. Sant Mirabai’s devotional literature in Rajasthani is very famous. Sindhi literature is influenced by the culture of Rajasthan and Gujarat. One of the prominent writers of Sindhi literature was Dewan Kauramal.

Halloween: Another Christian Digestion of Pagan Festival

The time of the year when Christians around the world are waiting to experience the spirits of the dead in the living world is called Halloween, celebrated annually on 31 October.

The origin of Halloween dates back to the pre-Christian period of Pagan religion.

It is believed that Halloween (contraction of All Hallows‘ Evening) also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve is originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival “Samhain” . The ancient festival of Samhain marked the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter. It was seen as a darker period of the year when the spirits of the dead could visit the living world. The edible offerings such as food, drinks or portion of crops are used to be kept outside the home for the spirits.

The ‘Cultural Digestion’ as mentioned by Rajiv Malhotra (Infinity Foundation) is digestion of a less dominant culture by a more dominant culture is motivated by the desire to assimilate and reduce differences by asserting sameness. As a consequence, the less dominant culture is stripped of its distinctive, traditional cultural practices and values. These are now a component of the dominant culture and become associated with it. Memories of origins are erased and, eventually, the less dominant culture disappears.

In fact the Bible does not mention Halloween. The festival Samhain was Christianized by early Church and celebrated as Halloween. Today’s Halloween customs are largely influenced by Christian religious practices. The next day after Halloweens eve, Christians celebrate All Hallows’ Day (also known as All Saints’ or Hallowmas) on 1 November and All Souls’ Day on 2 November. This is the time of the year for honouring the saints and praying for the recently departed souls who have yet to reach the Heaven.

Over the years there were many changes in the way Halloween is being celebrated. People celebrate Halloween by making different food dishes, they buy Halloween costumes, play Halloween themed games and eat candy. We see people in Halloween costumes taking candy from door to door in the evening. At many places, Halloween parade with people dressed in different costumes is taken out. The festival Samhain marked the preparations for saving the crops and food for winter but today in Halloween we see wastage of food and resources. Earlier Halloween was about the spirits of dead ancestors, today it is all about Halloween costumes, candy and scary pranks. Billions of dollars are spent on Halloween costumes and candy. The National Retail Federation survey forecasted that spending on Halloween celebrations will be $9.1 billion in USA.

The obsession with ‘accumulating the things’ encouraged by various ad campaigns especially during festivals like Halloween is harmful not only to environment but also to mental health and happiness of the people.

A reasonable spending on spending on Halloween celebrations, less wastage of food and control over our eating habits will not only save environment but also increase our happiness in Halloween.