Mdeii Life - Anand Krishnamoorthi's blog
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Sethusamudram and India's fortunes
Even as I write this, the country is hotly debating the contentious Ramar-Sethu issue. On the one hand are government officials (since sacked) who have put on record their views that seem to purport that the entire stretch of the Sethu Bridge is not man made, and therefore by extension, and quite interestingly, the person who is believed to have organised its construction should have in fact been "man-made", so to say. On the other hand are groups of politically savvy religious zealots who would rather be comfortably ignorant of scientific opinion, and organise their belief system not on rationality, but on mythology (take the proponents of intelligent design in America for example).
Needless to explicitly state what side of the political, scientific and religious debate I find myself on, but nonetheless, rather than cloud the discussion with what could be my own prejudices and biases, and in the interest of the democratic political system we embrace, I would only like to bring some civility, rationality, and scientific facts to the table.
The ASI made certain uncalled-for comments in its deliberations, but the scientific and archaeological aspects of its findings are still valid. Those who oppose the destruction of the bridge, on the other hand, only use aspects of faith in their defence, and these would not stand up in a court of law.
It is quite ironic that there in fact exist a piece of scientific evidence to base their claims on, but the existence of which they are strangely not even aware of. This is actually a once renown, but now forgotten book that was published way back in 1894 by an even lesser known German Indologist Hans Schmertler. But in order to understand Schmertler's Die großartigen Indischen Vermögen we need to look further back in history.
William Tourniquette, the Al-Pais, and the bone-throwers of Rameshwaram
In the year 1754 under the direction of then governor of Madras Thomas Saunders, a delegation comprising of a Scottish Company accountant Ebenezer McCandy, an Armenian pearl trader Aram Achatourgian, an English geographer Andrew Handiwick and a Anglo-French scribe William Tourniquette travelled to the Sethu area to study the local economy. The aim was to establish a permanent pearl-trading zone along the Jaffna-Mannar area (currently in Sri Lanka) with direct links to the Rameshwaram-Pamban island outposts. While the prospectors studied the viability of their projects, Tourniquette made certain strange observations, which he recorded in his journals. These entries were published posthumously in Paris in the year 1767 after Tourniquette died after a he contracted venereal disease on an expedition to Egypt.
Tourniquette's Les Economie Curieux de Céthou contained detailed accounts of the religious practises of the Tamoul natives. Tourniquette observed that the fishermen on either side of the straights had the habit of depositing small amount of debris along the undersea formation everytime they caught fish in the area. While a meagre catch meant a few fishbones thrown in, an abundant catch sometimes resulted in mutton ribs, or sometimes (it has been said that Tourniquette was prone to exaggerate) even human hip bones, acquired from virgins who were sacrificed to the Tamil wave goddess Cadalai Devi (probably Kadal-alai Devi).
But what Tourniquette's strange observations does prove was that there was this almost obsessive preoccupation among the locals in preserving a physical geographic connection between Mannar and Rameshwaram. While the English dismissed this as merely superstition, and promptly suppressed the activity with the Fisherman's Bone-throwing (Prevention) Act of 1760, Tourniquette who dabbled with the occult could not be that easily convinced. The eternal ecologist in him would not rest until he found answers, and for which he travelled to Egypt where a similar custom had been observed amongst the then dwindling Al-Pais Bedouin tribe. The Al-Pais, whenever they encountered a rare oasis in the desert, would drink some water and in gratitude throw a lot of desert sand into the pool. While they were universally hated for this, and which also contributed to their dwindling numbers, Tourniquette suspected that their self-defeating belief system pointed to a probable maritime origin of the Al Pais. It is another story that he eventually took to them so much that he contracted syphilis in trying unsuccessfully to prevent their eventual extinction.
The case of the bone-throwers were forgotten by history until the arrival in India of Hans Schmertler in 1880. He was one of the first Europeans to extensively study the Parashurama Sutra of the Keralan Kingdom of Vaazhappazhaa. Schmertler immediately noticed how the Keralans were able to maintain a strangely high level of insularity despite the Malabar coast being on the crossroads of trade and civilization. While many attribute it to the compulsively closeted affinity-system of the Malayali (for example in Roshini Chinnappa's 1986 paper, The Keralan Republican Army (KRA) and its activities in Indian universities), Schmertler immediately identified other factors. The Political boundaries of Vaazahppazhaa were strictly defined by tenets laid down in the Prashurama Sutra.
Aagama Desha-Khanda Vaastu
Schmertler meticulously translated the difficult Sanskrit of the verses and travelled extensively in Bharatha Varsha to record his observations in Die großartigen Indischen Vermögen. He observed how the existence of hot deserts to the south and cold deserts to the north resulted in the volatile political situation of the frontier provinces west of the Punjab. The 15th Chapter of the Parasurama Sutra outlines the vedic science of Aagama Desha-Khanda Vaastu, or The Ritualistic Vaastu of the Nation.
Schmertler noted how the verse Uttharaantharam itham frigidam, dakshinaantram atham sijilam, gachathi atho gathi desham vayam, very accurately described the situation in the frontier lands. Also the geographic prescriptions regarding mountainous areas are very precise. Paschimadi shikharancha, ragalatham meghavarahahahahi ikistavaschiraanjalascha kesaram kabothukaam jalasam jambam, outlines the exact relationship between the height, foliage, directional orientation, cloud cover, and steepness of a western hill to the fertility of the women of a kingdom. By limiting their political boundaries to exact such points, the Kings of Vaazhappazha held a successful reign, until an unwise move in 1804 by the 17th Paasugandathil Thamburan to dredge a pond, resulted in complete annexation by the Therambikku Kozhiyachan of Travancore.
Schmertler then travelled to the Arakkan in the newly conquered British-Indian regions of Burma in 1887. There, he found texts quite similar to the Parashurama Sutra (probably originating from a Tibeto-Burman copy of the Sutra from the 4th Century). The Syaw Syaw Dok Than monastery had kept meticulous oral records of the Desan-Kan Vatu. Thebaw had not heeded his advisers request to move the capital to the south, and this had directly resulted in the British takeover. (It is said that the recent move of the Myanmarese Capital by its current rulers was indeed prompted by extensive belief in the Party of the teachings of the Desan-Kan Vatu)
Burma held immeasurable wealth, and Schmertler soon discovered that this was due to the geographic engineering carried out by its rulers in accordance with the Vatu verses. For example during the heights of the 4th Myaw Vyei Kingdom in the 12th century, an entire village was forced to dig up sea-bed silt from the south and carry it upland to create a new 13,4052nd hill at the very southern end of the Arakkan mountain chain. The hill was measured to be exactly 750meters high, and this by Vaastu standrads, placed at the Ishanya direction of the kingdom, helped immeasurably in the war against the Siamese aggression.
Geographic Engineering, and Desha-Vaastu in Europe
Having made this startling discovery, Schmertler had to hurriedly abandon his research as his estate near Zurich was under tremendous financial strain. As he went back to Europe to settle his affairs, he took with him several pages of handwritten transcripts of the Aagama Desha-Khanda Vaastu. It was in Zurich in 1889 that he met the French Occultist Francoise Finigrelesque. Finigrelesque introduced Hans Schmertler to Tourniquette's Les Economie Curieux de Céthou. Schmertler immediately and furiously began working on Die großartigen Indischen Vermögen. He concluded that the curious bone-throwing practice of the Tamil fishermen was in fact deeply connected to the political and economic continuity and prosperity of southern India. The maritime prescriptions in Aagama Desha-Khanda Vaastu stipulate the exact height of an underwater bridge with respect to tidal activity in a shallow sea region. This, Schmertler understood to be directly connected with wars and political freedoms of the nation under whose control these undersea formations happen to be in. Schmertler postulated in this text that any destruction of a feature such as Sethu would result in largescale economic calamity and wars.
This, is where the current debate becomes interesting. And before the anti-sethusamudram parties get hold of the Die großartigen Indischen Vermögen, I would like to preempt it by putting forward recent findings of my own that actually disagrees with Schmertler.
But before that I need to complete the curious history of the Die großartigen Indischen Vermögen. After its publication in 1894, Hans Schmertler disappeared from the records. Some say he went to live as hermit in the Alps while other say he became a pearldiver in Polynesia. One story even mentions him as having worked for a Belgian trading company in the Jungles of Congo. Nevertheless, the book itself became a cult artefact. Noted American Businessman Joseph Vanderbater purchased one of the only two known copies in 1911. The other copy was reputed to have been sold to English millionaire Lord Ernest Buttlechart who took it down with him when he drowned with the Titanic. The Vanderbater copy was donated by his widow to the Martha-Henry Constantine Museum in Boston in late 1922. This is where the story gets murkier with the book being lost amidst two alleged murders, erased records, and a marital scandal.
The Vanderbater resurfaced in Bonne in Germany in 1932. The Nazis were in fact so take in by Schmertler's transcripts of the Desha Vaastu texts, that Hitler personally authorised the secret Sophia project to study large-scale geographic engineering. The idea was to detonate nuclear bombs under ocean beds, mountain ranges, and woodlands in order to enhance the longevity of the Reich. Fortunately, the project ran out of funding as WWII protracted and after the fall of Germany, the book was brought to Moscow by the Red Army. This is where the reunion took place between the Parashurama Surta (the original source of the Aagama Desha-Khanda Vaastu), and the Vanderbater version of the Die großartigen Indischen Vermögen. Under my dear friend the late Prof. Varely Smirzkoff, the books were extensively studied, but unfortunately, the Soviet regime was dismissive of the scientific veracity of Desha Vaastu, and therefore did not fund the research really well.
My recent studies, and the Vedic Sciences Project
It was only in recent years have I had the good fortune of having done this very study. For this, thanks should go to the Vedic Sciences Project, instituted by noted British-Indian businessman Lord Kamlesh-Harilal 'Jack' Mehta.
Getting back to my findings, here is how I disagree with Schmertler, and prove that the destruction of the Sethu would not adversely affect India. In the 23rd Chapter of the Vanderbater, Ozeangeographie Vaaschtü, Schmertler mentions the Vaastu verse Karamatam kadalasya matsyaasti na vegam dumilam nikarathaha, and writes "Die Fishboneanordnung darf nicht für die Verhinderung des Unfalles gestört werden". Translated in English, "The fishbone (or coral) formation must not be disturbed for the prevention of disaster". He quotes the 42nd chapter of the Parashurama Sutra as the source.
Interestingly, Schmertler, when he wrote his book, was in Europe and did not have the original Vastu texts from the Sutra with him. He only had his handwritten transcripts to go by, and this is where a curious typo has affected his otherwise, very erudite analysis. The 42nd chapter of the Sutra actually reads thus: Karamatam kadalasya matsyaasti ana vegam dumilam nikarathaha. This means the whole meaning of the sentence is reversed. Also, there is another verse that says: Paschimam purvakam angalam krouranitha vikayatam dashaani vartam yudham nischayam. This makes an interesting cross-variable reference with regards to time of outbreak of war, coral orientation and direction (east or west). In fact there is grim empirical proof for these verses.
In 1954, the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka was defined by the "Sinhala Only Act". This can be said to be the real origin of the currently continuing civil war. In exactly 10 years, as mentioned in the verse, in 1964, the cyclone that hit Danushkodi submerged a substantial portion of the land thereby reducing the optimum height of the underwater formation. If the fish-bone-throwing practice had been continued, this effect of the cyclone would have been mitigated, but since that was not done, this spelt doom for the land to the "east". So, here we have proof that it is not India, but Sri Lanka which will be adversely affected by any damage to the Sethu formation. Ironically, India would actually prosper, especially because the kalasa paradigm outlined by Schmertler would take effect. The Kalasha effect, a yearly exponential increase in GDP, would be more pronounced in present day India, (Schmertler did not predict the partition of India). To India's west is in fact, a hostile nation, (yuddha jamakkalam) rather than Sunga surukkam (Persia/Iran). This accentuates the Kalsha effect. In fact the only way this favourable Vaastu can be broken is if the Himalayas were to become passable. This, I can confidently state will not happen as China has no such intentions. The People's Republic has even given oral commitment to respecting the northern territorial integrity of India, and we can trust them to keep their word.
As a researcher, a man of science, but also a man of conscience, it makes my situation quite unenviable. On one hand is a text such as the Vanderbater, which if it fell into the wrong hands would be wrongly read and become a stumbling block to the Sethu Samudram project, and also to the eventual super-wealth of India. On the other hand, is my conclusive investigation that though predicting considerable prosperity for India, spells disaster for Sri Lanka if the project is to go ahead.
I have laid out the facts for you my readers to absorb. Now it is up to those with the powers of decision, as well as discretion to do the needful, whatever that may be.
-- Dr. Acharya Somuchidononanda Pandey
PhD (corres.) M.A.S. University, Darjeeling
(The writer is Hon. Director, Smirzkoff Centre for Historical Speculation in Pune, India and Director, Mehta-Vedic Sciences Project in London. He lives with his wife Valentina Dimitrieva Pandey, and twenty two children in suburban St.Petersberg. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Osama Bin Laden also calls for OBC reservation
Well, OBL will ask for India to rethink the Indo-US Nuclear deal (but naturally), and by the looks of things will also demand the closure of all Reliance Fresh outlets in the country.
But Bin Laden will never get any support from us Tamils unless he also demands Cauvery water, and a statue of Thiruvalluvar in Bangalore!
Friday, September 07, 2007
Best, and the most depressing quote in a while
Ajay Shah writes
"A deep flaw of the intellectual landscape in India is that if you picked one topic, it isn't easy to find six good quality authors to debate it."
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