Agni Rigveda

This is the first richa ऋचा (couplet) of the Rigveda.

ॐ अग्निमीळे पुरोहितं यज्ञस्य देवमृत्विजम्  । होतारं रत्नधातमम्  ।।

agnimILe purohitaM yajñasya devamRtvijam | hotAraM ratnadhAtamam ||

I worship the Fire God, who is the divine priest of the ritual of the sacrifice, who bestows excellence.

‘Agnim’ = fire. ‘Agni‘ here refers to the fire god himself.

ILe = doing prayer

purohitaM = Priest exclusive for family (clan)

yajñasya= The ritual of sacrifice

devam= Devine

Rtvijam= Chief priests

hotAraM = Chief priest in leading or presiding role(The hot who recites invocations and litanies of the rigveda.

ratna = excellence, shining brilliance, literal meaning is gems

dhAtamam = who gives, bestows

Bharat to India, Indus to Sangam of Saraswati, Ganga & Yamuna

Bharatavarsha is the land of the great King Bharat, the son of Shakuntala and Dushyant, since long back in history. He was brave like lion.

The first known permanent settlements appeared over 9,000 years ago and gradually developed into the Indus Valley Civilization, dating back to 3300 BCE known to possess a sophisticated lifestyle, a knowledge of town planning and an undecipherable script language. It existed at the same time as the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Sumer but far outlasted them, surviving for nearly a thousand years. The Indus valley civilization fell to tectonic upheavals in about 1700 BC, which caused a series of floods. The name India originated from Indus River, so is the word Hindu (the religion) and the Hindi (the language), as a result of mispronunciations of River Sindhu by Persians and Greeks.

Aryans came from the North around 1500 BCE, and spread through large parts of India bringing with them their culture and religious beliefs. The Four Vedas, the important books of Hinduism were compiled in this period.

In 567 BCE, the founder of the Buddhist Religion Gautama Buddha was born. Two hundred years later, in the 4th century BCE, Emperor Ashoka, one of the greatest Kings of Indian history, led the Mauryan Empire to take over almost all of what is now modern India. This great leader embraced Buddhism and built the group of monuments. The 4 lions of Ashoka pillar at Sarnath has been adopted by India as its national emblem and the Dharma Chakra (the wheel) on the Ashoka Pillar adorns the National Flag.

They were followed by the Guptas in the north, while in the south part of India several different Hindu empires, the Cholas, the Pandyas and the Cheras spread and grew, trading with Europe and other parts of Asia till the end of the 1100s.

In 1192, Mohammed of Ghori, a ruler from Afghanistan, came into India and captured several places in the north including Delhi. The Dehli Sultanate gradually took control of more and more of North India over the next 200 years. Soon the Mughals, who were from Iran, came in and took control of the north.

The Europeans – Portuguese, French, Dutch, Danish and British – started arriving in the early 1600s. All of them held territories in India and made friends and enemies among India’s rulers, but it was the British who eventually controlled most of India and finally made it one of their colonies.

India got its independence from Britain in 1947 after a long struggle. In the process of becoming independent, India became two countries instead of one.

Since independence the republic of  India, Bharat (officially named in Hindi) or Bharat Varsha, which many people still prefer to call it by that ancient name, has made huge progress and coped with great problems, and has developed its industry and its agriculture, and has maintained a system of government which makes it the largest democracy in the world.

Vedic Saraswati

It is clear from the vedic texts, that the Rig Vedic people lived on the banks of a river called the Saraswati. There were about 300 cities (plus so many supporting towns & villages) along the banks of saraswati. It was called Saraswati-Sindhu Civilization.

The major rivers of north – west (Punjab, Sindh, Rajasthan & Gujrat) were: Saraswati, Sindhu (Indus), Shatadru (Sutlej), Vipasa (Beas), Vitasa (Jhelum), Parushni (Ravi), Asikni (Chenab), Yamuna, Drishadwati and Lavanavati. All rivers have changed their courses since Vedic times. Of these, three rivers: Saraswati, Drishadwati and Lavanavati no longer exist.

The Rig Veda praises the river Saraswati as: ambitambe naditambe devitambe, the best of mothers, best of rivers, best of goddesses

Saraswati and her tributary rivers: Yamuna, Sutlej, Drishadvati and Lavanavati formed the other channel from Himalayas flowing through Kurukshetra, Rann of Kutch to the Arabian Sea. Saraswati was a mighty river with her bed as vast as 10 km in some places.

Tectonic movements pushed up the Aravali hills, in northern Rajasthan. This changed the drainage pattern of the Northwest drastically. Saraswati lost her major tributaries, Yamuna and Sutlej. Sutlej turned west and joined Beas-Sindhu system, and Yamuna started migrating east to join Ganga.

During Mahabharat times: The volume of water flowing down the Saraswati had reduced. The waters of Saraswati did not make it upto the sea. Yamuna at this time, partly flowed westwards to meet Saraswati and partly flowed eastwards to meet Ganga. At the time of Krishna’s birth Yamuna was not as mighty as it is today. Hence it must have been possible for Vasudev to cross the river, with the new born Krishna in his arms.

After Mahabharat times: Yamuna flowed into Ganga. Because Yamuna brought the waters of Saraswati to Ganga, the Sagam is called as the Triveni Sangam (confluence of the three streams) of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. Ganga now took the importance of Saraswati and the title of goddess.

The demise of Saraswati, was near fatal for the Saraswati civilization. The scarcity of water forced people to migrate. to east to the Ganga-Yamuna plains, west, northwest and south to Godavari plains.

The Wonder Land That is India

Geological history of India, earth and life

The planet earth was formed about 4.54 billion years ago and life appeared on its surface within a billion years of its formation.

The mass of the Earth is approximately 6 × 1024 kg composed mostly of iron (32 %), oxygen (30 %), silicon (15%), magnesium (14%), sulfur (3 %), nickel (2 %), calcium (1.5%), aluminum (1.4%) and the remaining amounts of other elements.

Earth’s internal heat comes from a combination of residual heat from planetary accretion (about 20%) and heat produced through radioactive decay (80%). At the center of the planet, the temperature may be up to 7,000 C.

The outer layer of the Earth is a chemically distinct is solid crust, which is underlain by a highly viscous solid mantle. The thickness of the crust varies: averaging 6 km under the oceans and 30–50 km on the continents. Underneath the crust lies the much hotter mantle and plumes of super-heated rock occasionally erupt out of this layer, causing hotspots of volcanic activity. The temperature of the crust increases with depth, reaching values typically in the range from about 200° to 400°C at the boundary with the underlying mantle.

The average age of the current Earth’s continental crust has been estimated to be about 2.0 billion years. The Earth’s crust is not a stationary shell but an ever-shifting mosaic of tectonic plates that constantly (albeit slowly) reshape the face of the planet.

Around 600 million years ago (Ma), most of these plates came back together to form the relatively short-lived supercontinent of Pannotia, and only 60 million years after its formation, about 540 Ma, near the beginning of the Cambrian epoch, Pannotia broke up, giving rise to the continents of Laurentia, Baltica and the southern super continent of Gondwana which included Africa, Australia, South America, Antarctica, India and Arabia. Before that time, all organisms were aquatic, including simple algae, fungi, several phyla of invertebrates, and a few vertebrates such as fish and around that time the first land-dwelling organisms appeared, including simple plants and arthropods.

By about 180 Ma, nearly all the land was pretty much united in once again in a large continent called Pangea, and thus, all the water was in one large ocean called Panthalassa. This time period is the Jurassic Period of the Mesozoic Era, and has been nicknamed the “age of dinosaurs” because of their prominence. In addition to dinosaurs, there were many species of cockroaches, other reptiles, and gymnosperms including conifers and cycads. It is thought that the very first birds and mammals appeared near the end of this time period.

Sometime between 180 and 120 Ma, Pangea started to break apart. The northern continent formed from this was called Laurasia and consisted of what are now North America, Greenland, Europe, and Asia. The climate included warm, tropical and subtropical areas. Because of the warmth, the oceans were high and covered much of the land, limiting movement. During this time, angiosperms, mammals, birds, appeared.

At bout 120 Ma, Gondwana, the southern continent, broke into three pieces, including South America/Africa, India, and Australia/Antarctica. At this time, India started going its own way. At about 100 Ma, South America and Africa split. 90 Ma, India rifted away from Madagascar and began its rapid movement northward. During the late Cretaceous (80 – 65 Ma), India was moving at rates of more than 15 cm/year,  ultimately colliding with Asia between  55-50 Ma.   No modern plate moves that fast.  After India collided, Australia was released from Antarctica and it began to move northward towards S. E. Asia.

On the boundary between Cretaceous and Tertiary periods (65 Ma to 1.64 Ma), the Deccan traps, huge lava flows all over the Indian peninsula, were formed. During the transition between the Oligocene (35.4 Ma to 23.3 Ma) and Miocene (23.3 Ma to 5.2 Ma), the Himalayas started rising. The region between the peninsula and the Himalayas was the 2–6,000 meter deep Tethys sea which slowly got filled with silt from the preexisting rivers, and during the Pleistocene (1.8 Ma to 10 Ka) formed the Indus-Ganges-Brahamaputra plain.

Since that period, India has probably occupied the same latitudes, and hence a similar climate, except, of course, due to the vagaries of the global climactic conditions.

The ice ages occurred about 2 Ma. Ice sheets and glaciers separated populations of organisms which, being then in different habitats, had different selective pressures acting on their alleles and thus evolved into different species. This has resulted in the large variety/number of species we see today. During the ice age, the Himalayan snowline was probably down to 1800 meters instead of the current 4000 meters above sea level, and even in later Pleistocene, the sea level was probably 100 to 150 meters lower than what it is today, easily connecting all of Andamans into one island, and connecting the Ceylonese island to India. On the other hand during the interglacials, around 120 Ka and 30 Ka, the sea level might have been higher than now.