- Koenraad Elst has a review of Tantra Illuminated. The Philosophy, History and Practice of a Timeless Tradition (Anusara Press, The Woodlands TX, 2012) by Christopher D. Wallis
A necessary explanation here is that Tantra has nothing to do with the Kāma Sūtra and very little with sexuality. (And to the extent it has, it teaches intercourse with retention of semen, so what most men look for in the sex act is the one thing to be avoided.) Of course, New Age channels and the internet are full of disinformation on the matter, and for some more time we will have to live with the Western conception of Tantra as related to sex. Sometimes workshop on Tantra are announced by teachers unconnected with the legitimate tradition: “If you feel like testing them, you can ask them what Tantra [scripture] they are drawing on (…) and which Tantric mantra they use in their daily sādhana [regular spiritual practice].” (p.432) But at least this gives the writer the opportunity to unchain his devils against the internet, an endless source of false claims about Indian religions.
- The Malayalam calendar starts in the year 824 CE and Maddy writes about various theories on why that was the first year
According to late Historian M.S. Jayaprakash the launch of Kollavarsham marked the complete transition of Kerala from the Dravidian-Buddhist tradition to the Aryan-Vedic system. According to him, Kollavarsham also marked the political transition of the land from the reign of Perumals to a caste-based rule. The commencement of Kollavarsham was in fact the declaration of a political and cultural change in Kerala. He also opines that the Kollavarsham declaration was made by two separate sessions of almanac experts and mathematicians held simultaneously at two places known by the same name Kollam – one the present headquarters of the southern district and the other one near Kozhikode in the north. So that is another train of thinking about the reasons for a new system, we need to get into. The implementation still follows the earlier theories. In conclusion, one can assume that the rather unique solar, current calendar was developed by the immigrants moving in from the North, perhaps the Namboothiri’s who settled down in Malabar and later in Quilon, and then the calendar got a little bit adjusted to what we know as the Kollam calendar. This has some traction due to the fact the calendar was first established in Malabar and a month later in Quilon, though it does not explain it satisfactorily. Nevertheless, due to the fact that it is also called Kolamba era, it is somehow more associated with Kurakkeni Kollam. But these are all assumptions based on obscure documents and you can perhaps imagine that with more research on the Buddhist – Jainist past of Kerala more facts will slowly come to light including the Sankaracharya aspects and you may even see the conclusions of Dr Jayaprakash gaining more credence.
- Fëanor writes about the world wide popularity of Abhijñānaśākuntalam in an illustrated post
Others have been fascinated with Kalidasa’ tale of the unfortunate Sakuntala. Nikolai Karamzin, the great Russian historian, translated the tale into his language, claiming that it was a literature for the world. Here he was joining the likes of Goethe, Schelling, Herder, William Jones and de Chézy, in celebrating the great poem. Indeed, Abhijñānaśākuntalam was incredibly popular – nearly 10% of all works translated from Indian literature into Russian between 1792-1965 were of it!  It’s not just the Hungarians who were inspired by Sakuntala. Camille Claudel sculpted the remarkable ‘Çacountala’ or ‘L’Abandon ou Vertumne et Pomone’ between 1886 and 1905. It received much attention, and was kept in storage for several years. Claudel, of course, was channelling her own passion for Auguste Rodin. From Çacountala, she made subsequent variations, one of which is this lovely Vertumnus and Pomona:
- Asian and African studies blog writes about a manuscript of Dīvān by the Persian lyric poet Ḥāfiẓ of Shiraz.
In the painting, it may be that the seemingly righteous are represented by the two figures seated to the right (our left) of the faqīh, one of whom seems to be remonstrating with him. Possibly they have brought the miscreants before him in the expectation of having them sentenced to the ḥadd punishment (in other words, a severe beating) for drunkenness. Imagine their surprise at having the moral tables turned upon them by the representative of Sacred Law! Meanwhile, in the foreground two figures struggle to hold up or resuscitate a beardless young man whom they may have been introducing to corrupt practices. There are no signs of spiritual ecstasy, or of spiritual practices of any kind. That the opposite is the case is amply shown in the figure on the far right, possibly the brother of the one on the left. His turban has unravelled in picturesque style. What is more, he is quite unmistakably throwing up on the floor of the madrasa courtyard.
- Mohini writes about Huzur Paga or the Royal Stables of the Marathas
The horses used in the campaigns were mostly procured from auctions and were gifted or looted from the losers of the battles. These were thoroughbreds. The Arabian Horse, The Neela (pure white), and the Panchakalyan (one with White hoofs). The other horses were used for purposes such as, pulling carriages, or carts or short rides to nearby destinations for personal reasons. These were mostly indigenous. Some of the Peshwa’s had their own favourite horse and had even named them. Nanasaheb Peshwa had a horse called ‘Varu’, and Madhavrao Peshwa had ‘Matvali’. The Huzur cavalry, at any given time housed about 2000 horses these were kept in ‘Paga’s’ in and around Pune, Chas (Close to Chakan), Kavadi and Pimpalwandi villages.
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