Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sankhya vs. Yoga

In an earlier post, I had questioned why Sankhya was said to be inter-related with Karma Yoga in the Bhagwada Gita. While I haven't found anything on that, I have been able to find a discourse between Bhishma and Yudhishthira where Bhishma answers Yudhisthira on the difference between Sankhya and Yoga. This is from an unabridged version of the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata translated by Shri Kisari Mohan Ganguli.

Yudhishthira said: It behoveth thee to explain to me, O sire, what the difference is between the Sankhya and the Yoga system of philosophy. O foremost one of Kuru's race, everything is known to thee, O thou that art conversant with all duties!

Bhishma said: The followers of Sankhya praise the Sankhya system and those regenerate persons that are Yogis praise the Yoga system. For establishing the superiority of their respective systems, each calls his own system to be the better. Men of wisdom devoted to Yoga assign proper and very good reasons, O crusher of foes, for showing that one that does not believe in the existence of God cannot attain to Emancipation. Those regenerate persons, again, that are believers in the Sankhya doctrines advance good reasons for showing that one, by acquiring true knowledge of all ends, becomes dissociated from all worldly objects, and after departing from this body, it is plain, becomes emancipated and that it cannot be otherwise. Men of great wisdom have thus expounded the Sankhya philosophy of Emancipation.

When reasons are thus balanced on both sides, those that are assigned on that side which one is otherwise inclined to adopt as one's own, should be accepted. Indeed, those words that are said on that side should be regarded as beneficial. Good men may be found on both sides. Persons like thee may adopt either opinion. The evidences of Yoga are addressed to the direct ken of the senses those of Sankhya are based on the scriptures. Both systems of philosophy are approved by me, O Yudhishthira. Both those systems of science, O king, have my concurrence and are concurred in by those that are good and wise. If practised duly according to the instructions laid down, both would, O king, cause a person to attain to the highest end. In both systems purity is equally recommended as also compassion towards all creatures, O sinless one. In both, again, the observance of vows has been equally laid down. Only the scriptures that point out their paths are different.

Yudhishthira said: If the vows, the compassion, and the fruits thereof recommended in both systems be the same, tell me, O grandsire, for what reason then are not their scriptures (in respect of the paths recommended) the same?

I have quoted only the beginning of the conversation, the rest can be followed from here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A tribute.....

... to a person who cares a lot about our motherland.

The complete version is here: click . The whole conference was about 2 hours long.

I like the basic concept of the approach that there is someone out there, who is directly interacting with the people and coercing them to do something for the nation. However, there are a few flaws with the push of the arguments.

1) It heavily relies on information gathering.
2) It heavily relies on middle class action.
3) It ignores the masses and wants them to do nothing.
4) It ignores the spark to fire up the three Is - inspiration, information, involvement.

I doubt the existence of this middle class in the past, when we defeated the Bactrian Greeks, annihilated Scythians, Yueh-Chis, assimilated the Hephthaelites (ok this is still up in the air, one version is that we managed to destroy them as well), almost destroyed the Sultanate rule, almost destroyed the Mongol rule, forced the British to leave. I doubt a broad based information gathering system then.

So, how did these things happen and how did we fare better then than we are doing now? I will leave this question open to visitors.

I doubt the middle class will do anything to save the nation. Although they have the means, they feel the pangs of the nation being tore asunder by forces beyond their control, they have all the reason to stay quiet. A few genuinely concerned people will continue to struggle nonetheless. Anything that doesn't involve the masses will fail.

About information, how many would sincerely sit down and absorb all that is out there? How should an average person reading something for the first time confirm the veracity of facts? What or who will motivate him to get involved after getting informed and inspired?

Somewhere, people have left out the elephant in the room in their quest to reform India. In fact two elephants. The two elephants that Chanakya did not miss. Check the following videos:

(Edited on 31st October, 8:16 pm. At the advice of Karmasura, and since none have taken up the conversation so far, I am expanding on the following videos and what they mean in the present day context for India so as to make my point clearer to the audience)

1) Chanakya's speech at Kaikayiraj Sabha.

This is a speech Chanakya makes in the conference room of Kaikayiraj. Karmasura had provided the translation of this post here for the same purpose as mine. The purpose is to rally up support following the Greek invasion from different quarters of the society. Chanakya says that an important pillar of any society is the education system and its participants i.e. the teachers. To paraphrase, the lesson from the video is that a teacher should feel proud only when the nation is victorious. The nation will be victorious when its values and customs will be maintained. This is possible by the nation when the teacher follows his duties. Thus, to reform India, we need to reform the teacher, and the education system and instill them with a nationalist zeal. There is also a suggestion for arming the teacher and militaristic training in schools and rebellion against the state if force is required to restore national pride. Most likely, there will not be any need of a rebellion to reform India, but the military drill can instill good health among the youth, and good health will enhance productivity, and also keep them from stupor and other ills in the society.

2) Chanakya's speech to a friend's mother.

This video was also translated by Karmasura here. Chanakya talks to a mother of a person who wishes to volunteer for the revolt against the Greeks. The issue was about getting recruits to fight against the Greeks. Chanakya's younger brother wishes to join the military but his mother refuses to. In the video, Chanakya says that if a mother is attacked, her sons will not stay quiet. So, if the motherland is attacked, why should her sons stay quiet? This wins her over, and gets his younger brother to join the army. The video is a showcase of the powerful influence of a mother in a family. While the father is away at work for most of the day, it is from the mother that a child does basic schooling. Many great people on this god forsaken third rock have shown great regard for the lessons they have learnt from the mother. Thus, if the mother is instilled with a patriotic zeal, she will instill the same in her sons and daughters, and they will not betray her teachings when they grow older. And, an extra effort to train today's mothers is needed, because once the part in no. 1 is established, the resultant human females from the education system will have automatically imbibed the patriotic spirit.

Once the spirit of nationalism is instilled, people will be automatically inspired to get informed and then get involved in participating in national activities. No effort needs to be done to invoke the 3 "I"s as has been mentioned by Shantanuji in the video.

These two, I think, will do a tremendous good for the upliftment of the nation, rather than specifically bombarding the middle classes.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Understanding the Cosmic Dance in the Divine Amphitheatre: Sharad Poornima

Borrowed from a friend, and I have kept the whole note intact without any modifications. This is on understanding the Raas Leela and specially for those who have been thinking that Lord Krishna's Raas-Leela has sexual connotations.


Indian legends have it that Krishna danced with milkmaids on the banks of the river Yamuna on the full moon night of autumn. This dance is referred to as Raas-Leela. Western theologians tread this subject with caution, some ascertaining a sexual connotation to the mystery behind it. Indian philosophers have tried to read between the lines focusing on the symbolism of the same, digging for deeper spiritual meaning. To understand Raas-Leela, the dance of celebration, what is first necessary to know is that the whole of life is a meeting of contradictory forces, and that all its happiness comes from this union of the opposites. The very mystery and ecstasy of life lies hidden in this unio mystica. To begin with, it is good to understand the metaphysical meaning of the celebration that our universe holds. And then, together, we will go into the life of Krishna, a complete miniature of this celebrating universe.

Raise your sights and look at whatever is happening all around in this vast universe of ours. Is it anything other than a dance, a celebration, an abounding carnival of joy? It is all celebration, whether it is clouds gliding in the heavens or rivers rushing to the seas or seeds on their way to becoming flowers and fruit, or bees humming or birds on the wing or love affairs between men and women. It is all a panorama of play and dance and celebration.

Raas has a universal meaning; it has a cosmic connotation and significance.

Firstly, the meeting of opposite energies is the cornerstone of all creation, of the universe. To construct a house with a door, we put an arch at the top of the door with the help of opposite shapes of bricks to support it. It is just this placing of opposite kinds of bricks in the arch that upholds not only the door but the whole building. If we use uniform kinds of bricks in the arch, it will be impossible to construct a house. In the same way, the whole play of creation, at every level of life, begins when energy becomes divided into two opposite parts. This division of energy is at the root of all creation, of all life in the universe, and with the cessation of this division all life's play comes to a full stop. When the same energy becomes one, when it returns to its primordial state, total destruction, the ending of the universe happens. And when the same energy again divides itself into two, creation begins anew.

Raas, the dance of celebration, is the most profound attribute of the mighty stream of creation. And creation in itself is the interplay of polar opposites -- thesis and antithesis. When opposites collide with each other it results in conflict, hostility and war, and when they embrace each other there is love and friendship. Without the meeting of the two, creation is impossible. So we have to go into the significance of Krishna's raas in this context.

It is not all that we see when Krishna dances with the gopis, the milkmaids, but we can see only that much with our gross eyes. Krishna's raas with the milkmaids of his village is not an ordinary dance, on a small scale it really represents the universal dance of creation that, since eternity, goes on and on. It epitomizes the everlasting drama of the making and unmaking of the universe. It gives you a glimpse of that divine dance and that immense orchestra.

It is for this reason that Krishna's maharaas ceases to have a sexual connotation. If one literally believes the texts, Krishna was eight years old at the time of the maharaas on the full moon in autumn. It is hard to imagine any sexual interpretation in the mind of an eight year old. And he danced with the gopis. The term "gopi" in Sanskrit means someone who has turned inward to derive pleasure. Such milkmaids who have turned inward would not derive pleasure from ordinary sex. In reality or wider interpretation Krishna does not dance as a mere Krishna, he represents the whole of the male element in creation, known in Sanskrit as purusha. And similarly the gopis represent the entire female element, prakriti. The maharaas represents the combined dance of prakriti and purusha. People who take the maharaas as a sexual representation of life are mistaken; they really don't understand it. And I am afraid they will never understand it. To put it rightly, it is a dance of the meeting of the male and female energies, of purusha and prakriti. It has nothing to do with any individual man and woman; it represents the mighty cosmic dance.

Legend has it that it happened on the full moon night of autumn. The significance of autumn is the representation of balance; it's neither too hot nor too cold in autumn. The full moon represents completeness. The maharaas is Yog, merging of the individual self into the Supreme; call it Brahman, God, Nature, Higher Self or whatever you may. It is the dance of the electrons around the nucleus or the dance of the planets around the sun. The electrons are equally and oppositely attracted to the nucleus and so are the planets to the sun. Their relationship is unique and can be very well represented by the maharaas. Rutherford's model of the atomic structure or Copernicus's and Kepler's model of the solar system can easily be explained by the maharaas that was either conceived, or who knows, happened, thousands of years ago. The gopis represent the electrons and the planets and Krishna, the nucleus and the Sun, respectively.

It is because of this that a single Krishna is shown to dance with any number of gopis. Ordinarily it is not possible for a single man to dance with many women at a time. Ordinarily no man can be in love with many women together, but Krishna does it, and does it beautifully. It is amazing that every milkmaid, every gopi taking part in the maharaas, believes that Krishna is dancing with her, that he is hers. It seems Krishna has turned into a thousand Krishnas so that he pairs off with each of the thousand women present there. It is just a representation, an imagination to make humankind understand the great mysteries of chemistry and physics and astronomy in the simplest terms.

It is utterly wrong to take the maharaas, the celebration dance of Krishna, as that of an individual person. Krishna is not a person here; he represents the great male energy, purusha. The maharaas is a representation in dance of the great meeting between male and female energies. But the question is: Why is only dance chosen as a medium for this representation? The medium of dance comes nearest to the mysterious, to the non-dual, and to celebration. Nothing can express it better than dance. The celestial dance is happening every moment, every second, in every atom and the ethereal cosmos, whether we see it or not.

Let us look at it in another way. Dance is the most primitive form of human language, because when man had not yet learned to speak, he spoke through gestures. If one man had to communicate with another, he made gestures with his face, his eyes, his hands and feet. Even today a dumb person only expresses himself through gestures. Verbal language came much later. Birds don't know a language, but they know how to chirp and dance together. Gestures make up the whole language of nature. It is used and understood all over. So there is a reason why dance came to center stage for the raas, the celebration.

Gesture is the most profound medium of expression because it touches the deepest parts of man's mind and heart. Dance reaches where words fail. The sound of the ankle bells of a dancer says a lot even where speech is ineffective. Dance is more articulate than anything else. A dancer can go from one end of the earth to another and will, more or less, make himself understood through his dance. No language will be needed to understand and appreciate him. No particular level of civilization and culture will be required to understand a dance. Dance is a kind of universal language; it is understood everywhere on this planet. Wherever a dancer goes he will be understood. Man's collective unconscious is well aware of this language.

To me, the great raas happening in infinite space, with millions of stars like the sun and moon dancing rhythmically, is not an ordinary dance. The atomic "dance" is now known to everyone. It is not meant for entertainment; it is not show business. In a sense it should be described as overflowing bliss. There is such an abundance of bliss in the heart of existence that it is flowing, overflowing. That is what we call the river of existence. The presence of the polar opposites in the universe facilitates its flow.

There is a significant saying of Nietzsche's. He says, "It is out of chaos that stars are born." Where there is no system, no order, only the interplay of energies remains. In this interplay of energies, which is raas, Krishna and his milkmaids cease to be individuals, they move as pure energies. And this dance of opposite energies together brings deep contentment and bliss; it turns into an outpouring of joy and bliss. Rising from Krishna's raas this bliss expands and permeates every fiber of the universe.

Although Krishna and the gopis are no more with us as people, the moon and the stars under which they danced together are still with us, and so are the trees and the hills and the earth and the skies that were once so drunk with the bliss of the raas. So, although millenia have passed, the vibes of the maharaas are still with us.

Now scientists have come forward with a strange theory. They say although people come and go, the subtle vibes of their lives and their living remain suffused in existence forever. If someone goes to dance on the grounds in Vrindavan where Krishna once danced with his gopis he can hear the echoes of the maharaas even today. If someone can play a flute near the hills that in the past echoed with the music of Krishna's flute, he can hear those hills still echoing it, everlastingly.

In my view, the raas symbolizes the overflowing, outpouring of the primeval energy as it is divided between opposites. And if we accept this definition, the raas is as relevant today as it was in the times of Krishna. Then it becomes everlastingly relevant. May we always be blissful and perceive this cosmic dance, not just on the full moon of autumn (Sharad Poornima), but every day, every moment. May this maharaas fill us with joy and peace. Greetings on this auspicious festival!


Sharad Poornima (The autumn full moon) was yesterday on the 22nd October.

C.G. Jung on India

Been reading Jung of late. Following are few excerpts from the book "Psychology and the East" by renowned psychologist Carl Gustav Jung on what things India can teach the West (and these days, itself). For a first visit (in December 1937), he makes many good points which some of us are fast forgetting. I do not find fault with him yet for having wrong observations on the Indian dhoti (he thinks people cannot fight in it, perhaps he had not seen Kalaripayattu being practiced) and studying Buddhism separately, since he had little time to explore India properly. I however find two of these excerpts very important.

Below is an excerpt from the chapter "What Indians can teach us". Jung feels that Indians do not think as a Westerner does, but he perceives his thinking. In that way, he resembles a primitive person.

"I am now going to say something which may offend my Indian friends, but actually no offence is intended. I have, so it seems to me, observed the peculiar fact that an Indian, in as much as he is really Indian, does not think, at least not what we call "think". He rather perceives the thought. He resembles the primitive in this respect. I do not say that he is primitive, but that the process of his thinking reminds me of the primitive way of thought production. The primitive's reasoning is mainly an unconscious function, and he perceives its results. We should expect such a peculiarity in any civilization which has enjoyed an almost unbroken continuity from primitive times."


I am not quite sure how a Westerner thinks, but I do think by perceiving my thought, and imagining the results of my actions. But Jung says that this thought of the Westerner is the outcome of a split between the conscious and the unconscious personalities of a person, and while the Westerner tamed the conscious side, the unconscious remained barbarous. He adds that this is the reason why inspite of being technologically superior and scientifically advanced, the Occident can commit ferocious atrocities on human life. The Indian thought in comparison comes from having a union of the conscious and the unconscious sides, and his view of life is wholesome.

Jung also warns of the collapse of Eastern culture in "The Holy Men of India". This section on pages 184-6 of the book reads much like high school essays on the ill effects of Western life, but is one of the most relevant part of Jung's observations on the Orient:


"The Eastern peoples are threatened with a rapid collapse of their spiritual values, and what replaces them cannot always be counted among the best that the Western Civilization has produced. From this point of view, one could regard Ramakrishna and Shri Ramana as modern prophets, who play the same compensatory role in relation to their people as that of the Old Testament prophets in relation to the "unfaithful" children of Israel. Not only do they exhort their compatriots to remember their thousand year old spiritual culture, they actually embody it and thus serve as an impressive warning, lest the demands of the soul be forgotten amid the novelties of Western civilization with its materialistic technology and commercial acquisitiveness. The breathless drive for power and aggrandizement in the political, social, and intellectual sphere, gnawing at the soul of the Westerner with apparently insatiable greed, is spreading irresistibly in the East and threatens to have incalculable consequences. --- snip --- The externalization of life turns to incurable suffering, because no one can understand why he should suffer from himself. No one wonders at this insatiability, but regards it as his lawful right, never thinking that the one-sidedness of this psychic diet leads in the end to the gravest disturbances of equilibrium. That is the sickness of Western Man, and he will not rest until he has infected the whole world with his own greedy restlessness. "


Jung is greatly influenced by Ramana Maharishi to whom he had been introduced by Heinrich Zimmer through this book. Zimmer seems to be a bigger enthusiast on India, whom we will explore later if time and resources permit. Jung feels that solving the above problem of Western Culture can be done through a study of the East.


" The wisdom and mysticism of the East have, therefore, very much to say to us, even when they speak their own inimitable language. They serve to remind us that we in our culture possess something similar, which we have already forgotten, and to direct our attention to the fate of the inner man, which we set aside as trifling and teaching of Shri Ramana are of significance not only for India, but for the West too. They are more than a document humain: they are a warning message to a humanity which threatens to lose itself in unconsciousness and anarchy. It is perhaps, in the deeper sense, no accident that Heinrich Zimmer's last book should leave us as a testament, the life work of a modern Indian prophet who exemplifies so impressively the problem of psychic transformation"

On the above, anything that becomes a positive feedback loop will keep growing larger, until it burns out the resources and gets destroyed on its own. The solution to such a problem is for us to remove the causative factors before the burn out time arrives or device an inhibiting mechanism that converts it into a negative feedback control system and makes our culture of today arrive at an equilibrium. The path that Western Culture has put us on and it itself is on is a positive feedback cycle. At some point, this has to end or it will end us. The destruction of today's culture of never ending desire and greed is not only a moral problem, but is proven to be similar to problems in science and biology as well and it will be no surprise if it goes in a similar fashion.

How to solve the problem?

I do not know yet. Perhaps the awareness that this is wrong and needs to be corrected is sufficient to satiate today's desires. Perhaps more is required? To answer that must be one of the objectives of this blog.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A little bit of Machiavelli for the Hindu mind.

Serving the country at any cost is a vital Hindu thought, and several Hindu sages have spoken of it in different eras. But most of us assume it is about fighting on the day of war, serving the poor and so on. Indeed it is all that, but it is also about pre-planning for existential threats, for which few have any regard for. It is impossible to make a majority of people think in this fashion, because many people would look at the current strength of the Indian state and think that it has bright prospects and will keep going from one strength to another. What we need for the country to effect it into policy, is a critical mass of people having strategic consciousness and the ability to look ahead of their immediate needs. The pre-planning for national security involves among other things, peering into a competitor's mind and read his literature plus understand the foundations of his thought. Here's a post for the security conscious minority, a minority that will always be treated as social outcasts of a particular kind if they dare open their mouth among the majority, by laws that have little empirical basis.

Following is an excerpt from Machiavelli's "The Prince" which is considered one of his best pieces and is widely used in many places to determine foreign policy. It might very well be useful to determine our foreign policy too. I advise reading all of his classics. Most of them are almost free.

(Warning: If you're thinking that the Indian Subcontinent consists of only the Indian State, you can leave the post now. If you're thinking it is still a bunch of states that deserve to be united in favor of the most powerful state, you are my kind.)

From Ch. 3 Mixed Principalities:


Moreover, a prince who occupies a province which, as previously described, differs from his own, must become the leader and defender of the less powerful neighboring states and seek to weaken the more powerful among them. He must also be on guard lest by any chance a foreigner equal to him in power should enter them. Such an event always comes about through the help of discontented inhabitants who willingly admit a foreign power either through excessive ambition or through fear, as was the case with the Etolians, who admitted the Romans into Greece. So, it was also with every province that the Romans entered, they were brought in by the inhabitants themselves. It is in the nature of things that as soon as a powerful foreigner enters a province, all the weaker powers in it will become his allies through envy of those who have been ruling over them. This is so true that, with respect to minor powers, the invader need do nothing at all to win them, for they will all willingly merge in the state which he has acquired. He has but to see to it that they do not gain too much strength and authority. With his own forces and their support, he can very early reduce the stronger powers and then become arbiter of the entire province. Any ruler who does not succeed in doing this will soon loose what he has won, or so long as he does manage to hold it, will have a host of difficulties and annoyances. The Romans very carefully observed this policy in the provinces they conquered. They sent out colonies; they protected the lesser powers without increasing their strength; they reduced those who were strong, and they did not permit powerful foreigners to gain a footing. Their conduct in Greece will suffice as an example: there the Romans protected the Achaeans and the Etolians, reduced the kingdom of the Macedonians, and expelled Antiochus. Nor did they ever reward the Achaeans and the Etolians by allowing them to enlarge their states, or allow Philip to persuade them to become his friends until they had weakened him. Nor did the power of Antiochus ever induce them to permit his keeping any part of Greece. In this instance the Romans did everything that wise princes should do who must have regard not only for existing disorders but for future ones as well, avoiding them with all possible diligence.


If you've been following current trends in India's geopolitics, then as far as the Indian subcontinent is concerned, all the above actors are in place. What was the traditional reach of the Indian subcontinent, comprising of states - Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and as some say, even Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and some parts of modern day Iran, are all still splintered as was the case at the end of the Maurya Dynasty. Elsewhere in "The Prince", Machiavelli makes a point that a splintered people will be easy to conquer. A new wave of imperialism awaits us as the pressure applied on the rump state of India increases from all these sides and as the balance of military power shifts steadily from the Indian state onto the regions in its vicinities. We have missed out on the maneuvering phase of the enemy. Luckily, we have a democracy, and what an individual can do is to get informed, get others informed, vote for and give feedback to parties and people that are most security conscious. If there is any absence of such people, you have the opportunity to join the system and bring the change you wish. At the bare minimum, we can wish to enhance the military power of the Indian state, and keep the balance of military in our favor. Uniting with the lost states will happen if they happen to discover their roots at a later time, or the rising un-affordability of raising a modern military makes them fall within our ambit as autonomous states.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Introduction to the Ishavasya Upanishad

The following is a brief description of the Ishavasya Upanishad by Swami Suvijananda. The first clip below is a description of the opening stanza of the Upanishad as below, which is on the lines of Lavoisier's law of conservation of mass.


ॐ पुर्नामादाहा पुर्नामिदम पूर्णत पुर्नामुदाच्याते ।
पूर्णस्य पुर्नामदय पुर्नामेवावाशिश्यते ।

ॐ शांतिः शांतिः शांतिः ।।

This is complete, and what comes out of this is complete.
Though this has come out, and though this is complete, that is also complete.

When completeness is removed from completeness, what remains is completeness.
When completeness is added to completeness, what comes out is also completeness.

He goes on to describe this by the creation of a pot of clay from clay. Note his breakdown of the word Upanishad and his explanation of how Upanishad is about illumination and not instruction.

In the second part, he says that the Upanishads directs us to be heard and listened to, and not to be read and studied. According to him, "listening has to be done with the ear and the mind plastered behind the ear." Total silence is recommended to listen something. Another interesting point that he notes is that all the shastras are in the form of a dialogue and not a monologue, started with the student asking the teacher a question and the teacher answering him, which is exactly opposite to the examination system prevalent today. Also note his division of humanity into categories depending upon a person's inclination towards learning, and defining who can be a student to the Upanishad.

Conclude the video series by viewing this clip as well.

For more on the Ishavasya upanishad, refer here: click

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Meaning of History & Itihaasa

History has always been a second love after engineering for me. While I have briefly discussed different events in Hindu history on this blog, I haven't given a post on the philosophy of history till date. This post is meant to give a Hindu perspective of this philosophy, as has been elucidated in appendix D of "The Pernicious Effects of the Misinterpreted Greek Synchronism in Ancient Indian History" by Kosla Vepa which was a work presented in the "International Conference of Indian History", 2009. (Post is an abridged version of appendix D of the hyperlinked work & modified to suit our purpose)

"Historians & philosophers have been contemplating the meaning of history since the beginning of history. A simple definition of history is "remembering the past" or knowledge of what has happened from the start until the present. It is also the knowledge of the past since record keeping was initiated. The purpose of studying history in school text books is to teach the student understanding of what has taken place so that we may build upon and understand how a nation functions and how it came to be. We also study the history of other nations and how their history interacts with ours. A greater awareness of history results in a more enlightened and educated citizenry. Knowledge of our past helps us understand the present and prepare for the future. Knowing the history of the world helps the individual respect and appreciate one's form of government and society as well as become better informed about differences in civilizational ethos of other peoples of the world. (this also helps to better appreciate the evolution of diversity among us, and give an opportunity to make peace with people from different spheres of thought, culture and race)

The original meaning of Itihaasa had a more precise sense than the word history. The etymology attested to be Panini indicates itiha to mean "thus indeed, in this tradition". One of the earliest references to Itihasa is in Chanakya's Arthashastra. Investigations lead us to believe that the Maurya Empire for which he was the perceptor began in 1534 B.C. (please avoid chaos on this issue.) He defines Itihaasa, in the context of syllabus prescribed for training of a prince with the following words:

"Puraana (the chronicles of the ancients), itivrtta (history), akhyayika (tales), udahaarana (illustrative stories), dharmashastra (the canon of righteous conduct), and arthashastra (the science of government) (- and economics) are known as itihaasa (history)."
Kautilya's Arthashastra -- (Book 1, Ch. 5).

History (Itihaasa) in this definition takes on the meaning more akin to the sense of historiography and is perhaps more eclectic & appears to indicate a super set of political science and history as we use them today.

In the Mahabharata, which is itself considered itihaasa, Adi Parva 1.267-268 mentions that a knowledge of the Itihaasa and Purana is essential for the proper understanding of the veda. By the time the Brahmana and the Upanishada were written, & certainly by the time the Itihaasa and the Purana were written, there was such a well defined sense of history, that the Mahabharata cautions us that the Veda are afraid of those who would read it without a prior acquaintance of the Itihaasa and Purana.

Kalhana in the Rajatarngini states that: "History will be the narration of events as they happened, in the form of a story, which will be an advice to the reader to be followed in life, to gain the purushaarthas namely kama, the satiation of desires through artha, the tool, by following the path of dharma, the human code of conduct to gain moksha or liberation.""