Serial Bus

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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Into the Sepapu They Went

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Cliff Palace

Cliff Palace

The stones are stacked upon each other in a very ordinary fashion. Per se, nothing impresses except for the round sunken pithouses (called kiva) which have an ingenious ventilation system and a mysterious small hole on the floor (called sepapu). In a poor rural area of a developing country, the above-ground structures would easily pass off as present-day dwellings. However, we are in the richest country of the world where people no longer live like this. That partly explains the awe and admiration with which visitors around us react when they see these places. The otherness of these structures is pronounced by their provenance (700 years old), place of construction (under a rock overhang in a remote mesa) and our ignorance about the dwellers (the Anasazi left suddenly and left no records). Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by serialbus

December 13, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Why I Know English Better Than I Know Sanskrit

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The following is a faux excerpt of the famous ‘Minute on Indian Education’ by Lord Macaulay doing rounds on the internet. It struck as a bit incredulous to me. Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay was a highly learned man and 1835 was hardly the Golden Age of the Indian subcontinent. Unrest must have been rife – beggars and thieves might have commonplace. But, someone has taken the pain of creating an authentic-looking excerpt from his famous minute to the British Parliament on 02Feb1835.

Macaulay

Macaulay

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Written by serialbus

November 1, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Posted in Development, History, India

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Debate as the Test of Faith

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Recently, I happened to read the wikipedia entry about Adi Shankara. Although his story is well-known to those who grew up in India, I kind of re-discovered his larger-than-life personality. His iconoclastic thought, the legends of his childhood, his deep yet humble intellect, his travels across India, his enterprise in establishing lasting centers of learning came across as heroic.¬†While reading about him, one learns of how he single-handedly reversed the declining course of Hinduism against the formidable school of thought that was Buddhism in the 8th-9th century AD. He did that largely by inviting people to engage in Shastrartha (Scholastic Debate) with him. Whoever lost the debate would accept the supremacy of the winner’s philosophy / religion and convert to it. Typical of Shankara’s times, whenever a big Buddhist scholar lost a debate, several of his followers would automatically convert to Advaita (non-dualism), Shankara’s brand of Hinduism. I imagine this method of winning over people is perhaps passe in today’s times – today, politeness (and political correctness) demands that you can not even broach religion with anyone.

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Written by serialbus

June 21, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Primitive and Modern

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I am going to describe two very different places below. I want you to guess which one is primitive and which one modern.

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Written by serialbus

April 26, 2009 at 2:57 pm

The Passion of Dalai Lama

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I have great respect for Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, also a Nobel Laureate. This post is not about him. It’s about one of his predecessors, the 6th Dalai Lama whose earthly name was Tsangyang Gyatso. He was unlike any other Dalai Lama before or after him; he was a poet and a romantic. He led a playboy lifestyle and lived for only 9 years after ascending to the throne.

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Written by serialbus

November 9, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Persians & Incas

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Recently I visited Peru and also read the excellent NatGeo cover story about the Persian soul of Iran. It is interesting how most people have no clue of Cyrus or Pachacutec. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by serialbus

August 24, 2008 at 10:04 pm

Posted in History

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