History – An Unintended Consequence Of Migration.

As I wrote in my last Friday post, I am deeply into reading about history and here is something fascinating that I found which I am sure will be of interest to my readers too.

In the late 13th Century BC, a military elite called The Mitanni migrated from the East (India) into Northern Iraq and there are many war stories about them in that region’s history. A treaty that they entered into with the Hittites was solemnized in the name of Vedic Gods Indra, Varuna, Mitra and Nasatya. The Mitanni also took with them technology of Indian origin – Iron. Noteworthy is the fact that this was five centuries after mass production of iron took place in South India.

Interestingly, the Mitanni God Mitra would remain a popular deity in the Middle East and, centuries later, would witness a major revival in the Roman empire (where he would be known as the solar god Mithras). The cult of Mithras would become very widespread in the late Roman period, and would produce serious competition with Christianity. The pagan Romans used to celebrate a big festival called Saturnalia that went on for a week from December 17. At the end of the festival on 25th December, the Mithras cult would celebrate the feast of Sol Invictus or Unconquered Sun. Many scholars believe that when the Christians came to power they simply took over the popular pagan festival. (After all, the exactly date of birth of Jesus Christ is not known.)

Mind you,not every one agreed with this choice and the Orthodox Church still celebrated Christmas on 7th January. The Puritans would later disapprove of the unseemly heathen celebrations that clung to the festival and would try to ban Christmas in North America and Britain in the 17th and 18th Centuries. 25th December survived nevertheless as official Christmas day and a festival celebrated by Christians and non Christians alike. Thus one of the unintended consequences of early iron age migration seems to be that the world has come to celebrate the birthday of an ancient god from Haryana in India!

PS. Even today, the phrase Indo Aryan is used in many communications, like the Wikipedia article on Mitanni though the Aryan invasion / migration of India has been thoroughly disproved by archeological and genetic findings. This is a topic by itself for another post in the future.

PPS: My source – The Ocean Of Churn by Sanjeev Sanyal.

History.


All history is to some degree subjective, written by individuals who are above all people of their own time.

I am a kind of history buff and like to read as much as possible about our history which is now being rewritten from an Indian point of view rather than from a colonial / racist point of view. And as I write this, history is being made in India by renaming some places to remove Islamic names given by invaders to the original Indian names. Some kind of course correction as it were.

Similarly, there are stories of valiant women which have been kept hidden for centuries which are now being brought out in the open and using social media, spread among Indians so that they can be proud of their heritage. Here is one such about which no history text book ever wrote to my knowledge.

I am also currently reading an amazing book “The Educational Heritage Of Ancient India; How An Ecosystem Of Learning Was Laid To Waste” by Sahana Singh.  There are some more books on Indian history waiting to be read, all promising to be very stimulating.

In short, I was rather surprised at the serendipity of the topic for today’s post being suggested by Shackman for our weekly 2 on 1 posts and I have shared my reason for the surprise.  Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say about the same topic.

Office Equipment.

To understand the reason for this post, please go to my post Miscommunication and read the fascinating exchange between Catherine and me on the subject of working in offices.

It was in 1967 that I was first exposed to a manual calculating machine which helped in preparing invoices.

From that very versatile machine which some clerks could use at lightening speeds, we moved on to electric calucalators.

At the same time we were still using manual typewriters;

And electric typewriters were provided to the secretaries of the top honchos.

And what would we have done without the telex machine?

Then came the handheld calculators which were status symbols.  I still use one which is kept in a drawer in my table for my desk top computer.

If that was status symbol, the man who had a personal digital assistant was considered as having arrived.

In my time, I have used all these gadgets and was quite proficient too. Today’s youngsters cannot even understand how offices worked those days.

And then the era of computers, and cell phones came about which will take another post some other time.

There is nothing new, except what has been forgotten.

The title of this post is a quote that has been ascribed to Marie Antoinette,  a remarkable personality by all accounts. This quote has long been a favourite of mine when occasions arise when I can quote it.

Another similar adage is “History repeats itself”.

Let me give the latest instance when I used it.

I received an SOS from a young lad that his father, a friend of mine, is interfering in the bringing up of the former’s child. I called my friend to remonstrate and reminded him as to how he felt when his parents interfered in the bringing up of the same child that he was trying to influence now. And, I could not resist the temptation to use this quote for effect! And to add some spice to the discussion I also said that there is nothing called the generation gap and that there was only a memory gap.

This topic was chosen by me for the weekly Friday 2 on 1 blog post where Shackman and I post on the same subject. Please see what Shackman has to say too.

Could Communism Work Today?

There is a remarkable answer to this question by a responder in Quora. I find it quite logical except that the idealists of the communist movement overestimated the human factor. If human beings behaved as they morally ought to, perhaps communism would have worked.

I copy paste the response to make it easier for my readers to get the gist of the response.

“Yes.

Communism works—and has long worked—on the level of family. In a “normal” family, parents give to each other and to their kids according to their capacities and skills, often without expecting anything in return. Kids receive care according to their needs, often not giving anything in return. There’s an implicit promise that they will switch the roles when the parents get old and sick, and the kids become breadwinners. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” is a Communist principle.

The system often malfunctions. Negligent parents and thankless kids are the stuff of a zillion tales, stories and soap operas. Amazingly, however, the arrangement reproduces itself generation after generation. It also inspires a powerful dream of extending the arrangement to the entire society. Every attempt to do it has down like a lead balloon—yet the dream resurfaced generation after generation.

Much of the Communist principle is also reproduced in faith-based communities (e.g., monasteries) and altruistic or idealistic organizations. Relief workers and their backers who distribute food and necessities in areas of distress help people out of charity. The recipients are not expected to give something back, apart from the implicit expectation that they in turn will lend a hand to others in need when the occasion arises.

The cartoon below is from a Soviet satirical magazine in the 1970s. The wife says to her husband: “You need to find a second job. Our kid has grown; he’s got a lot of advanced needs”. The reluctance of younger Soviet generations to sacrifice themselves in accordance with to the austere commandments of Communist ideology caused much chagrin to Soviet rulers during the sunset years of the USSR.”

Never The Twain Shall Meet.

Rudyard Kipling wrote this famous poem The Ballad Of East And West in 1899 when The British Empire was a major factor to reckon with in wold affairs. The British found the natives of their far flung empire quite different from themselves and so such works of literature were not uncommon.

While the rest of the poem is hardly remembered, the start – “0h, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.” has been used to explain many instances of break down of communications or relationships between the West and the East.

If a Britisher thought that this was the situation, a not very different perceptive was brought to it, strangely enough in the same year of 1899, by an Indian of great stature in his own country and among his followers in the West, Swami Vivekananda. He is quoted by one of his Western admirers Sister Nivedita, as having said to her, “Social life in the West is like a peal of laughter; but underneath, it is a wail. It ends in a sob….Here in India, it is sad and gloomy on the surface, but underneath are carelessness and merriment. The West had tried to conquer the external and the East, the internal nature. Now, East and West must work hand in hand for the good of each other, without destroying the special characteristics of each. The West has much to learn from the East, and the East has much to learn from the West; in fact, the future has to be shaped by a proper fusion of the two ideals. Then there will be neither East nor West, but one humanity.”

Both Kipling and the Swami were observing that the East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet. While the former accepted that it is a permanent state of affairs, the latter felt that there was a possibility to change the situation.

Since then, the world saw two world wars and particularly after the second one, it saw a meeting of minds and cultures between the East and West like never before without the baggage of colonialism in the background. A lot of cross pollination of ideas, technology and values has taken place between the two to mutual benefit as Swami Vivekananda had opined. I for one am a product of such cross cultural and linguistic influences as are many of my relatives and friends all over the world. In fact, I have two nieces and a sister in love, all three Americans in Texas from where the other writer Shackman will write today on the same subject. I also have Scottish nephews and their families and another American sister in love and brother all British nationals. I worked for a British company for near a quarter of a century and still have friends made of colleagues of then now resident in many parts of the world. I have another cousin now an Australian citizen. The list is simply endless as I have friends and relatives in just about all the continents of the world now.

The vast majority of my readers who comment regularly are from the West and they would be puzzled as to why I chose this topic when in their and my personal lives, the East has met the West and have in fact established a healthy and interesting relationship. I chose it because in the last couple of years, there are very strong signs of nationalism and protectionism rising all over the world and I wonder if the cycle of globalisation and free trade has come to its nadir and a new cycle of a different world order is developing.

It would be interesting to read what my readers have to say here as well as at Shackman’s blog where he too would have written on the same topic as his take on our weekly Friday 2 on 1 exercise.