February 28, 2008

Indian Carnival

Indian Carnival on history or in other words, Carnival of Indian History has appeared on the cyberspace. By now, two editions have appeared. It is notified that the new carnival will appear on 15th of every month.

It seems that it is well received by the world of bloggers. I have learned about it from an established blogger at Worldhisotryblog.com. Secondly, a noting is also made on the site of History News Network.

In the second carnival, JK of Varnam had included posts under twelve points. With such a carnival, the readers will find articles totally related to Indian history and historiography. It is a good thing to happen.

The Carnivals on history are there for some time by now. They are quite popular. It is an effective activity in the field of intellectual exchange in the field of history. As per the History Carnival Aggregator, there are eight such carnivals. All of them are quite popular. They are well organized and planned. I have found The History Carnival of great interest to me. It is also a fortnightly affair and well participated. Then there are carnivals like Carnivalesque, Asian History, Military history, Four Stone Hearth, Genealogy, Biblical Studies and Bad History.

Bill Turkel had once written a post similar to carnival which was well received.

I have found the appearance of Indian History Carnival quite interesting. However, it has made me to think about some related issues. Is it a sign of progress or a development in the field of carnivals? There is a carnival of Asian History. It appears quarterly. I have found that the organizers keep on encouraging the participant to host the next carnival. The Asian carnival is generally hosted by Frog in the well. They take up the posts which are mainly related to Fast East. In the recent carnival, there was no post on Indian History as such. They have covered the posts on China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and some related issues. But there are many regions which have never found any representation on the carnivals. Should it be believed that there is a kind of fragmentation in such an activity? Similarly, the History Carnival takes issues which are Euro Centric or Western world oriented. They do cover many issues. But there are some such topics about which the people of other regions are not familiar with. Similarly, there are some civilizations like Incas, Aztec and Mayas which are not commented upon or written about more frequently. I have found a little mention about the African continent. If we consider and welcome the Indian Carnival, then it can be appreciated only if we expect that it is a positive branching out of carnival culture in history. Soon, there may appear more carnivals dedicated to nations, regions, culture, civilization and trends. The carnivals like Military history, Four Stone Hearth, Genealogy, Biblical Studies and Bad History are dedicated carnivals. Therefore, similar branching out of carnivals should be welcomed and appreciated. I consider the coming of Indian History Carnival from that perspective. It is a branching out of the carnival culture.

However, some care should be taken about such branching out. There should not be overlapping of the carnivals. It has been taking place but it is a difficulty which can be well tackled if some activity continue to take place in that direction. I mean to say that there should be more branching out of similar carnivals. There should be carnival dedicated totally Chinese history. In case of H-Asia email listing, I have found scholars taking issues on Chinese history more than other issues. Similarly, there should be carnival on African continent and may be on Arab countries also. I hope that such carnival will remain in the realm of intellectual activity as the present carnivals have remained quite balanced and mostly unblemished.

Similarly, trend based and period based carnivals should also emerge. I suggest that the scholars may take a clue and tips from email listing on H-Net.

On the whole, I welcome the Indian History Carnival.

February 24, 2008

Macro History: A Definition

Mark Hall writes, “macro-histories are comparative studies of cultures and civilizations through time and across the globe. They often attempt to explain how the modern world came into existence, and they also often utilize an evolutionary perspective.”

The definition has been given by Mark Hall while writing a review on the book, “The Rhythms of History: A Universal Theory of Civilizations by Stephen Blaha, Auburn, New Hampshire: Pingree-Hill Publishing. ISBN 0-9720795-0-5”.

Rhythms of History: A Universal Theory of Civilizations by Stephen BlahaThe review is available at Human Nature Review.

I am starting a new category of Definitions in History. I will comment and collect such definitions under such category.

February 22, 2008

Historicism of World History was favoured by Dr. H. D. Mathur

Dr. H. D. Mathur is more popular as Lala Hardyal. Lala Hardyal was an Indian revolutionary. He was General Secretary of Ghadar Party which organised an armed revolt in 1914. The Ghadar was response of the Indian youth against the oppression of colonial rule of Britain. It had followed the Indian national response to the colonial rule which had been variably called as Moderate period of Indian freedom struggle and peaked in form of Wang Bang Movement of 1905. It is other thing that many historians had termed it as a regional affair. After the Ghadarist were arrested, the world war had started. During this period, the revolutionary movement passed a period of hiatus. Even the Indian nationalist gave full support to the war efforts. Thereafter, the Indian struggle was again taken over by leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak which reached its zenith in form of Lucknow Pact. It was followed by Gandhian form of struggle of freedom. In between, especially after 1922, a chapter of communal politics was added to Indian struggle for freedom. It was during this period that the revolutionaries had again organized themselves.

Dr. H. Mathur had written his book, “Hint of Self Culture” during this period which was finally published in 1934 or to adopt his idea of historicism, then in 6934 A. H. (The idea of Anno Historia or A.H., as propounded by Dr. H. Mathur, will be taken up in other post.). In the preface of the book he had written thus.

“In this little book, I have tried to indicate and explain some aspects of message of rationalism for the young men and women of all countries.”

It was with that motive and spirit, he had studied the Historiography in the chapter titled Intellectual Culture. While giving his views about the role of history in formation and development of the personality of an individual, he studies his idea of History. He is not in favour of Nationalist History. He believes that mere political history is no history. He does not reject the concept of Political history but believes that the subject of history covers many more important aspects of the achievements and evolution of man. He has studies the idea of intellectual culture from the perspective of space, time and matter which happens to be the vital functions in the study and writing of history. During the course of elaboration, he has given his idea of history for which he gives a list of topics which should be covered under the subject History. The syllabus, if it is permitted to put it like that, is rather a definition of the idea of World History. The list is reproduced below. The comments on the list as well the thought which has gone into making of this list will be taken up in other post. The list follows.


You should first read several good treaties on World-history in general, and then concentrate especially on the following periods, movements and personalities

(1) Early Egypt, Sculpture and Architecture.
(2) Akhanaton: his Life and Work.
(3) War between Persia and Hellas.
(4) Greek Democracy and Socialism.
(5) Greek Philosophy from Thales to Plotinus.
(6) Greek Art (Sculpture and Architecture).
(7) Homer's “Odyssey.''
(8) Greek Tragedy, (AEschylus, Sophocles, Euripides).
(9) The Scientists and Scholars of Alexandria in the third century B.C.
(10) The Hebrew Prophets.
(11) Origin and Growth of the Christian Church: its Martyrs and Apostles.
(12) Zoroaster and the Rise of Zoroastrianism.
(13) Buddha and Buddhism in India. Asoka. Jainism.
(14) Nagarjuna and the Mahayana. Gandhara Sculpture.
(15) Kung-fu-tzu (Confucius); Mencius, and their movements. Lao-tse and Taoism.
(16) Early History of Rome. Democracy and Republicanism.
(17) Class struggles in Rome.
(18) The Reign of Justinian. Roman Law. Byzantine Art.
(19) The Rise of Monasticism in Egypt. The Orders of St. Basil and St. Benedict.
(20) Spread of Christianity in Europe. Irish Saints and Scholars.
(21) St. Francis and his Order. The Spiritual Friars.
(22) Muhammad and early Islam.
(23) The Islamia Renaissance; Moslem Philosophy and Science. (Ninth to twelfth century)
(24) Sufism and its Saints.
(25) The Dervish Orders.
(26) Persian Didactic Poetry.
(27) The Tang Dynasty in China. Progress of Buddhism and Chinese Painting.
(28)The Gupta Empire in India. Indian Literature and Art. The Ramayana.
(29) The Sassanian Period in Persia.
(30) The Renaissance in the Byzantine (ninth A.D.). Photius and Arethas.
(31) Early Renaissance in Europe (second and third century) (Here in I have corrected the dates.)
(32) The war between the Communes of Lombardy and the Emperor.
(33) The Great Renaissance in Italy and Europe (fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. (Here again I have changed the terms)). The New Schools and Colleges. Democracy at Florence. Italian Painting. Sculpture, and Architecture.
(34) The Vaishnava Saints of N. India. Reformers. Modern Hindu Sects, Tamil Saints.
(35) The Buddhist Religious Leaders of China and Japan: their Sects and Schools. Japanese Sculpture.
(36) The Sung Philosophers in China.
(31) Discovery of the Cape route and of America, Columbia.
(38) The Protestant Reformation, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Anabaptists, Puritans, Socinians, Non-conformists in England and America. Gustavus Adolphus. The Dutch War of Independence.
(39) India's War of Independence against the Moguls. Mogul and Rajput Painting. Mogul Architecture in N. India. Hindu Architecture in S. India.
(40) Progress of Science since 1400 in Europe and America.
(41) German music from Bach to Wagner.
(42) Modern English Poetry. French Tragedy and Comedy. German Drama, Lyrics, and Short Stories. Russian Novels and Ballet. French and English Landscape-Painters.
(43) Modern Democracy. English, American and French Revolutions. European and South American National Movements. Parliaments. Abolition of Slavery.
(44) Socialism in Europe. The Russian Revolution. The Jesuits in Paraguay. The Communist Colonies of N. America.
(45) Modern Philosophy and Religion. Positivism. Spinoza. Spencer. Free thought and Ethical Movements in Europe and America. Theosophy. The Brahmo samaj. Bahaism. Oomoto in Japan.
(46) The Peace Movement. Esperanto. The League of Nations.

These are the really important and instructive periods and movements in history. If you wish to extract the very cream of History for your personal development, you may go further and concentrate only on the following abbreviated list.
(1) The "Odyssey," Greek Tragedy. Greek Philosophy. Greek Art (Sculpture and Architecture).
(2) Lives of Rama, Krishna, Zoroaster, Confucius, Mencius, Laotse, Mahavira, Buddha, Mani, Muhammad, Yuan Chwang, Rabia, Nanak, Bodhidharma, Chi-Kai, Luther, Calvin, Fox, Bab, Baha-ullah, Honen, Shinran, Nishiren, Wesley.
(3) History of Early Christianity.
(4) The Order of St. Benedict and its work.
(5) The lives of Petrarch, Erasmus and the other Scholars of the Renaissance. Vittorino and other Educationists.
(6) Chinese and Italian Painting. Japanese, Gandhara and Italian Sculpture. Goethic Cathedrals. Islamic Architecture in Spain and India.
(7) German Music.
(8) English Poetry. Shakespeare. French Comedy. German Lyrics. Goethe. Russian Novels. Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.
(9) Modern Democracy.
(10) History of Modern Science and Education.
(11) Modern Socialism and Communism.
(12) Modern Philosophy. Rationalism. Positivism and free thought.
(13) Modern Internationalism and the-League of Nations.

Hints of Self Culture by Har Dayal M. A. Ph.D. London, 1934.

February 11, 2008

A Storehouse of Primary Sources (Persian) on Medieval India

One can find a store of original sources on Medieval India translated into English from Persian, and Urdu at The Packard Humanities Institute, Persian Literature in Translation. The site of Packard Humanities Institute declares, “The Packard Humanities Institute (PHI) is a non-profit foundation dedicated to archaeology, music, film preservation, historic conservation, and early education. PHI is located in Los Altos, California.”

There are some of the established sources like the book by Eliot and Dowson titled “The History of India, as Told By Its Own Historians” also available on the site.

I had not studied any major work on Medieval India for sometime by now. I have copies of works by Irfan Habib, J. N. Sarkar and Alam with me but most of my time is taken by Modern India and American history. I have many questions on Medieval Period of India which have remained answered because I did not have access to original sources or some better book. I have just studied one of the chapter by Abbas Khan Sarwani in his book Tarikh-i Sher Shahi”. From there I found the answer to a question which had remained in my mind since my graduation years. I had studied A. L. Srivastva and then J. L. Mehta in detail. I was highly impressed by the personality of Sher Shah Suri. However, in A. L. Srivastva, it was written the ancestors of Sher Shah Suri had come from Afghanistan in search of employment. I was never satisfied with the explanation given in there. Now, after reading Sarwani account I have learned that how Behlol Lodhi encouraged that migration.

One can find nearly 140 authors starting from 1100 A. D. to 1750 A. D. Khafi Khan is not included but there are Abu Fazal, Utbi, Yahya Ahmad Sarhindi, Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi, Nurul Haq Dehlvi, Muhsin Fani (it is a pseudo Name, I did not know.), Sultan Jahangir, Harcharan Das, Gulbadan Begum, Farishta, Firdawsi, Fayzi, Faqir Delhvi, Munsi Sujan Rai Bhandari, Budh Singh Hatri, Barani and many more.

I acknowledge that I have located this source on the site of Wikipedia.

February 10, 2008

Personal Library of Arvind Gupta

Arvind Gupta Toys. This is the name of the personal library of Arvind Gupta which is available on line at Arvindguptatoys.

Who is Arvind Gupta? Well those who had been watching the UGC programmes on Dordarshan Network or presently watch Gyandarshan, they would have definitely watched his programmes. A Kadar clad lanky, broad headed and bearded person has been showing to the rural children how to make experiments with commonly found items. If one can remember, then recollect a person who had been using cardboard, pins, safety pins, glass of water, bottle straws etc to perform the general experiments in Physics which form the part of +2 syllabus even.

I suggested this site to one of my colleague who is professor of Physics. He himself is a highly versatile personality. One can just watch his lessons on Physics with amazement. He has used flash software to demonstrate the lessons on light, conduction, electricity current and many such items. He has also developed lessons in the field of biology explaining numerous process and diagrams which has been produced with the help of a Botany scholar who has recently completed his doctorate degree. After learning about the site of arvind gupta and you tube resources, one day he came back exulting with great happiness because he had filled his laptop with many live demonstration of topics in Physic. I casually remarked that many of them are available on the site of Arvind Gupta also. He retorted back that along with You Tube contents, the whole of Arvind Gupta site has been dumped on his laptop. He was beaming with energy as he felt that he could now show an active experiment virtually on every topic which he had been teaching undergraduate of science. This is what the Arvind Gupta Toys are all about.

However, being a history teacher, how I am interested in this site. Well, two of my posts, one on E. H. Carr and other on D. D. Kosambi, are based on the contents available on this site.

Then who is this Arvind Gupta? I straightway quote the whole citation on him which runs as follows:

“Shri Arvind Kumar Gupta, after graduating from IIT Kanpur, in 1975, joined TELCO, Pune and worked there for a few years. In 1978, he took one year’s study leave from TELCO to work with the grassroot village science teaching programme for children in the tribal district of Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh.
While working in Hoshangabad, he developed many useful low-cost teaching / science teaching aids using locally available materials. The possibilities of using ordinary things for doing science and recycling modern junk into joyous products appealed immensely to children. Shri Gupta’s first book “Matchstick Models
and other Science Experiments” was translated into 13 Indian languages by various Popular Science groups and sold more than half a million copies. His science models and toys were widely featured in daily newspapers and magazines across the country. Since then he has written 10 books and translated over 45 books on science, environment and education. He has conducted science workshops for children and teachers in over twelve hundred schools across the country. Shri Arvind Gupta has presented over 70 TV
programmes on science based fun activities, innovative toys and teaching aids on the national television. These films have been made by the NCERT and the UGC countrywide classroom. He was also featured as the Green Guru on the popular TV programme titled “Living on the Edge”.

Shri Arvind Gupta’s outstanding contribution in designing science teaching aids for young children has been recognized by several international organisations such as UNESCO, UNICEF, International Toy Research Association, Halmstad University, Boston Science Centre, MIT (Media Lab), Walt Disney Imagineering and Research, Auhof Rehabilitation Centre, Hilpolstien, Germany and the International Play Association, Finland. As a UNESCO consultant on science education he has been invited to share his experiences in science teaching with teachers of several developing countries. He has been actively associated with the Bombay Natural History Society, Conservation Society of Delhi, Spastic Society of North India and the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti. He is an advisor to the National Book Trust on popular science books. He has received several awards for his outstanding contributions. These include Eklavya Award (1982), the inaugral National Award for Science Popularisation amongst Children (1988), Hari Bhau Mote Award of the Marathi Vigyan Parishad (1988), a special award given by the National Association for the Blind for designing teaching aids for pre-school blind children (1991), Granthali award for his book Khel (1992), Ruchi Ram Sahni Award for science popularisation (1993) and the Hari Om Ashram Award by the UGC (1995).”

Gutenberg of India: Gutenberg of India, is the remark made by a reputed newspaper on the website of Arvind Gupta. Well it is not that. It has rather its own feature and contents.

The site as such is not attractive. However, the main page has three main section consisting of links. They are viz Books, Toys and Films. All the three sections can give there own introduction if one explore each link. However, I here point out the book section. The Book section has further four sections which are English, Hindi, Marathi and Combinations. Those who are interested in Hindi literature or Sahitya, they may explore Hindi and Combinations section. They may take months together to explore the literature available on those two links. The English Books section in itself is divided into subsections. The main sections are : Books by Arvind Gupta, Books on Maths/Science Activities, Books on Education, Books on Environment/Anti-War/Peace, Isaac Asimov’s “Science Fact” Masterpieces (Virtually whole of the work), Children’s Books, English Translations of Russian Classics, Newberry Medal Winners, Inspiring Books, Books by Laurie Baker, Science Comic/ Picture Books by Prof. Jean-Pierre Petit, Books by D. D. Kosambi, and some secondary links.

It is under the links “Inspiring Books” and “Books by D. D. Kosambi” hat the students of history may find some old books which can be used as secondary sources. These books are available in form of Zip files or PDF files. They are easily accessible, a feature which you do not find even on Digital Library of India, which aims at bring one million books online.

On the whole, as per one newspaper report, there are 7000 books available on this site. Remember that online Liberty Library has 1000 books and Gutenberg has by now 20000 books. In any case, apart from the contribution to the popularization of science in India, Arvind Gupta’s site is an example of best ICT source and model which can be developed in the field of learning, teaching and knowledge sharing.

Source of Photograph: A social Website promoted by Tina Munim Ambani (link will appear soon)

February 07, 2008

To the Readers of Munshi Premchand

I am made to write this post because I have been receiving too many visitors to this blog only because of the post on Munshi Premchand Ki Kahaniya.

Some of the visitors have left the comments to that post. It seems that after visiting the site Munshi premchand ki kahaniya, some visitors have developed this impression that blog of stories is my creation. They have left words of praise for me. First of all, I thank them for visiting my site. I also appreciate and thank them for putting words of praise on my blog.

Now, I categorically state that the above mentioned blog is not my creation. The real author of that blog is Raman Kaul, a Kashmiri Brahmin who is readily available at http://kaulonline.com/. It is his job and imagination that he has brought these stories on the net which the visitors have been enjoying a lot if I can rightly judge from the visitors log on the site meter. It is from his site that I can further substantiate that all these stories can be accessed at C-DAC Noida titled Dawaray Dawaray Gyan Sampada. The readers interested in more Hindi Sahitya (Hindi Literature online) may also find more authors and stories at the CDAC Noida website. They must have Window 2000/XP on their system to access the material provided by C-DAC. The visitors with older version can access the site of Raman Kaul.

Those of you, who are interested in writing in Hindi, they may visit the site of Raman Kaul at Kauloline.com, reach the lower portion of the main page and locate the title Miscellaneous pages. Under Miscellaneous, click Devnagari Editors. Download any of the editors recommended by Raman Kaul and try your hand at them. Give importance to the comments of Raman Kaul for each editor. They are based on practical experiences with each editor. Some of the editor not recommended by Raman are also useful. They may also visit his associates about whom he has referred to at the same site. Even I have developed my hindi blog titled Sumir Sharma Hindi Main with their help. I have been quite indulgingly assisted by Debashish Chakarborty, Shashi Singh and their friends for developing that blog. You may get to their blogs and websites from the main site of Raman Kaul already mentioned above. When I learnt it from them, the google blogger did not have the right device to write in UTF 8 directly on this blog service. It is only latter that they have added this device to their service. I have also written one story on that blog. If you enjoy reading hindi literature, I am sure you may like that story also. I will be obliged if you read and find one of my story titled Phagwara Ka Phataka at that blog which I believe the readers from Punjab may appreciate more.

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