- Feb 07, 2023
- Amit Agarwal
A few days back, the Mughal Garden in Rashtrapati Bhawan was renamed Amrit Udyan. While it sent some into deep throbbing orgasm, seculars went into a tailspin of depression, ruing the destruction of the history of their beloved Mughals. Nothing pains them more than the aspersions on invaders from Uzbekistan. Their main contention was that it was the Mughals who had to bring gardens, specifically charbaghs, to India as mool-nivasis were congenitally incapable of building even a manicured garden. Mughals, a cross between Mongols and Turks, were enamoured of Persian high culture, and it remained a cherished KPI of every sultan worth his salt to replicate Persia in India. In that sense, it was the Yellow men’s burden for them to civilise uncouth Indians. Seculars totally believe in this dictum. The charbaghs were not created ex nihilo and the genesis of such gardens originated in Persia in the Pre-Islamic period. However, even then, it was nothing extraordinary as it had a standard mundane design of two pathways or canals cutting a garden into four pieces, hence the name charbaghs. If a garden in four parts can be appreciated so much, we at Harappa conceptualised the entire city on a grid plan around 7000 years ago. In Pasargadae, Persia, the palace of Cyrus the Great (559–530 BCE) had such a royal garden that was divided cross-axially by intersecting watercourses. The viewing balcony was positioned in the centre of a wall, giving the royals an expansive view. The founders of Islam took an instant liking to such a design and adopted it as it is, and even documented it in their holy book. The rough and tumble of desert life of Arabia made them long for water, trees and attendant coolness, and they visualised them as important components of zannat. Even then, these gardens were meant as elite private spaces in the Islamic scheme of things and hoi polloi were shunned, as usual. These were also the places where aristocratic swordsmen of Islam were likely to relax and retreat after cold-hearted carnage. As Islam’s juggernaut continued all over Asia and Africa in the medieval era, the invaders created these gardens in the captured territories as a stamp of their political and military authority. In Delhi, Agra, Kashmir and Agra, the Mughals built many charbaghs that survive in their pristine beauty. However, in other Islamic countries, they barely exist today. Why is it so? Probably because of our governments which see to it that no such monuments or gardens or any other vestiges of foreign imperialism rot in a secular firmament of India that is Bharat. In contrast, ancient Hindu temples continue to decay and exist in dilapidated conditions as they were five centuries ago. There is not even a thought of repairing them, mostly under the pretext of persevering the history. Kashmir’s Sun temple is a prime example. There are thousands of other examples littering the landscape of India too. The concept of Charbagh was first implemented not in Persia, not in Central Asia, nor in Arabia but in India, that too on a monumental scale, when Humayun's Tomb in Delhi was built in 1558. Indians had money, architectural skills and project management techniques as for the past one and half thousand years, they have been making colossal temples, not only in India but in South East Asia too. In Persia, such a bagh was constructed half a century later, between 1598 and 1629, at its birthplace at Naghsh-i Jahan, the charbagh Royal Maidan in Isfahan. However, on a much smaller scale, Babur did build one in Kabul in 1528, then in Dholpur in Rajasthan too. However, the construction of such charbaghs was given an entirely different spin in Nehruvian history and made it look as if Hindus were living homeless and clothless in a desert and hadn't seen a tree in their entire life, discarding the common fact that India was once full of jungles. Every Hindu sacred text mentions the beauty of gardens and forests, like the Kama Sutra, the Mahabharata, the Rigveda, or the Ramayana. The historians quietly forgot about the van-upvan of Vrindavan where Krishna played with gopis. Many of the gardens, natural as well as man-made, were used for celebrating numerous festivals like Holi, vasantotsava, Deepawali etc. The four styles of ancient Hindu gardens were udyan, paramadodvana, vrikshavatika, and nandanavana. Udyan were gardens where kings could play chess and be entertained by dancers and comedians. The parks of Paramadodvana were designated for royal couples to enjoy. Vrikshavatika were created by royalty for the use of high-ranking courtiers within the kingdom. And there were gardens dedicated explicitly to Krishna. Margeshu vriksha was the practise of planting trees on the side of the road to provide shade. According to Buddhist accounts, King Bimbisara gave Buddha a whole bamboo grove. The Digha Nikaya, a Buddhist text, also mentions Buddha staying in the Jivaka monastery's mango orchard, which was given to him by the physician Jivaka. According to Lalit Vistara, Vaishali was a prosperous and populous town full of parks and gardens during Buddha's time. Inscriptions by Ashoka mention the establishment of botanical gardens for planting medicinal herbs, plants, and trees. They had pools of water, were laid out in grid patterns, and were usually accompanied by chattri pavilions. The Kama Sutra mentions details on house gardens and how to plant vegetables, bunches of sugarcane, various scented flowers like jasmine, rose, etc. be planted and seats and arbours should be made and the middle of the garden should have a well, a tank or a pond. Several other treatises mention the construction of lotus-shaped baths and seats, lakes, swings, roundabouts, and Menageries. Chinese traveller Xuanzang mentions accounts of Nalanda where "azure pool winds around the monasteries, adorned with the full-blown cups of the blue lotus; the dazzling red flowers of the lovely kanaka hang here and there, and outside groves of mango trees offer the inhabitants their dense and protective shade." Like everything else, Hindus even wrote several texts for building gardens. Poets like Kalidasa even described the lovers' rendezvous in a secluded garden erotically. According to the 16th century Hindu text Shilparatna, pushpavatika should be located in the northern part of town. A garden should be elaborately laid out with tanks, creeper arbours, Kridasaila, mock hills, swings, raised seats, or vedika under a large shady tree, according to Kalidasa. In painting and sculptures, women were named as Salabhanjika who plucked sala flowers and spent time in merry-making. Arthashastra, Sukraniti, and Kamandakanti mention public gardens located outside of town and provided by the government where people would go and spend the whole day in a picnic. Upavan Vinoda's chapter in the 14th-century encyclopaedia Sharngadhara-paddhati was dedicated to horticulture and gardening. In Sri Lanka, a part of Greater India in ancient times, a garden with quadrilateral mandala plan was discovered at Sigiriya, which might be the original charbagh. Moreover, Hindus and people of allied religions always took pleasure in natural forests, mountains, rivers and caves. Most of the monasteries and temples were constructed near rivers, oceans, valleys or even at the top of mountains. In a Hindu hierarchy, natural wilderness always trumps man-made landscapes. Wild, anarchy, and disorder are always appreciated and cherished in Hindu scheme of things and there has always been an eternal tussle between order and chaos. That is the beauty of Hinduism and that is why it survived a millennium of invasions. Image provided by the author.
Chinese Distant Water Fishing Fleet (DWF) vessels have been spotted fishing rare and protected species and disturbing the marine ecological balance. These DWFs are found in international waters near Japan and South Korea in the Asiatic continent and Ecuador, Chile, and Argentina in the South American continent, Geopolitica.info reported. Even after being 19,000 to 22,000 km away from China these DWF have been caught fishing near America's coastal regions. The report said that in early July 2020, the Ecuadorian navy reported the presence of about 260 fishing vessels at the edge of Ecuador's EEZ (exclusive economic zones). By the end of the month, the number increased to 340. These DWFs, according to the report, have been catching somewhere between 50-70 percent of the world's total squids. The Galapagos Islands a part of Ecuador's territory, are the worst victim. The EEZ of Ecuador's mainland and the Galapagos do not overlap, thus creating an international corridor where any country can fish. In the area, the DWFs from China openly fish and turn off their identity transponders to avoid detection, Geopolitica.info report stated. These ships containing rare and protected species of fish, sharks and turtles also dump huge amounts of waste into the ocean. The report said that experts estimate that almost 30 percent of the garbage collected on the shores of the Galapagos Islands comes from Chinese fleets. This includes bottles, containers of marine oil, Chinese-labeled jute bags and waste generate overboard the ships. Argentina a coastal country in the South American continent is the second-largest squid fishery in the world which makes it an ideal location for these DWFs. Argentine authorities have taken strict measures and even sunk a fishing trawler flying the Chinese flag after being caught illegally fishing within the country's EEZ. Their vessels have spent close to 600,000 hours 'dark-fishing' in the area. In Uruguay, a country located on the southeastern coast of South America caught a Chinese-flagged vessel within their EEZ, carrying 11 tons of Squid. These vessels are causing a lot of concern for Uruguayan authorities as well as locals as they are not only present near the EEZ but also dangerously close to their land boundary. In Peru, the local fishermen have complained about Chinese overfishing of giant squid, which is the country's second biggest marine resource after anchovies. And because of this locals are also losing their jobs and the fishing industry of the area is on the verge of being wiped out. Moreover, the Chinese presence has completely derailed Peru's thoughtful sustainability program for the squid population in the region. And there are legal protests are erupting all through the continent of South America against the Chinese DWF fleets. The report claimed that these fleets are often linked to illegal activities such as encroaching on other nations' territorial waters, abusing workers and catching protected and endangered species. Although Shark fishing is banned throughout Central and South America, Chinese communities consume it as a delicacy. These DWF vessels are not only disturbing the local marine ecosystem but are also disturbing the local fishing industry. The local fisherman then after losing their jobs in the fishing industry subsequently have to engage in illegal activities to make ends meet. Additionally, Colombia said an "object" had overflown its territory after Washington warned that a suspected Chinese spy balloon similar to the one shot down off the US coast had been spotted over Latin America, AFP reported. Colombia's Air Force said the object with "characteristics similar to those of a balloon" was detected on Friday and "monitored until it left the national air space." The object flew at an altitude of 55,000 feet (17,000 meters) and an average speed of 25 knots (29 miles per hour, 46 kilometers per hour), said an air force statement Saturday, adding it "did not constitute a threat to national security and defense or to aviation security." Image courtesy: Representative image
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