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244/365 – Varadharaja Perumal Temple

April 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Varadharaja Perumal Temple or Hastagiri or Attiyuran is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu located in the holy city of Kanchipuram, Tamilnadu, India.

It is one of the Divya Desams, the 108 temples of Vishnu believed to have been visited by the 12 poet saints, or Alwars. It is located in part of Kanchipuram called the Vishnu Kanchi that is a home for a lot of famous Vishnu temples, including this one.

One of the greatest Hindu scholars of Vaishnava VisishtAdvaita philosophy, Ramanuja is believed to have resided in this temple. The temple along with Ekambareswarar Temple and Kamakshi Amman Temple in Kanchipuram is called Mumurtivasam.

While Srirangam is referred to as ‘ The Koil’ and Tirupathi as the ‘Malai’ among Divya Desams, Kanchipuram Varadaraja Perumal temple is known as the ‘Perumal Koil’. This is one of the most sacred places for Vaishnavites.

History

Here is a belief that the temple was first built by the Pallava king Nandivarman II. Varadharaja Perumal Temple was originally built by the Cholas in 1053 and it was expanded during the reigns of the great Chola kings Kulottunga Chola I and Vikrama Chola.

In the 14th century another wall and a gopura was built by the later Chola kings. When there a Muslim invasion was expected in 1688, the main image of the deity was sent to Udayarpalayam, now part of Tiruchirapalli District.

It was brought back with greater difficulty after the involvement of local perceptor who enlisted the services of general Todarmal. Robert Clive, the British general during the colonial period visited the Garuda seva festival and presented a valuable necklace which is adorned during the special occasion every year.

The Temple

The Temple is a huge one on a 23-acre complex and shows the architectural skills of ancient Vishwakarma Sthapathis in temple architecture and is famous for its holiness and ancient history.

The temple has 3 outer precincts (prakaram) namely Azhwar Prakaram, Madai Palli Prakaram and Thiru Malai Prakaram. There are 32 shrines, 19 vimanams, 389 pillared halls and sacred sacred tanks some located outside the complex.

The main sanctum faces west and can be entered through a 130 feet tall, 7-tiered rajagopuram. The eastern gopuram is taller than the western gopuram, which is contrasting to large temples where the rajagopuram is the tallest one.

One of the most famous architectural pieces in the temple is the huge stone chain sculpted in a single stone. There is a 100 pillared hall has sculptures depicting Ramayana and Mahabarathastands the masterpiece of Vijayanagara architecture.

The shrine of Varadarajaswamy is on a small hillock 10m tall and a fleet of 24 stps, termed “Hasthagiri” and has murals of the late Vijayanagara empire is found on the ceiling.

Another significant thing about the temple are beautiful carved lizards and platted with gold, over the sanctum. The vimana over the sanctum of Vradaraja Swami is called Punyakoti Vimanam and the one over Perundevi Thayar shrine is called Kalyana Koti Vimanam.

Apart from the main stone idol, the temple has the wooden image of Varadarajaswamy preserved within a silver box in water pumped out every 40 years. There is a shrine of Narasimha on the hillock. The origin of the mask of Narasimha is mysterious and believed to possess inexplicable powers.

In the second precinct downstairs contains four shrines, the important one of which is of Malayala Nachiar (Kerala consort), presumably built during the Chera kings in the early 14th century.

The third precinct has the shrine of Goddess Perundevi Thayar – it is customary for devotess to visit the shrine first before visiting the Perumal shrine.

There are four small pillared halls identical in strcutre called Thulabara Mandapas built during the 1532 for a ceremony of Achutaraya of the Vijayanagara empire.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varadharaja_Perumal_Temple

Categories: General Knowledge, Temple

243/365 – CBSE

April 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Abbreviation: CBSE

Formation: November 3, 1962

Type: Governmental Board of Education

Headquarters: New Delhi, India

Official languages: Hindi & English

Chairman: Vineet Joshi Parent

organization: Ministry of Human Resource Development

Website: www.cbse.nic.in

The Central Board of Secondary Education (abbreviated CBSE) is a Board of Education for public and private schools, under the Union Government of India.

History

The first education board to be set up in India was the Uttar Pradesh Board of High School and Intermediate Education in 1921, which was under jurisdiction of Rajputana, Central India and Gwalior.

In 1929 the government of India set up a joint Board named “Board of High School and Intermediate Education, Rajputana”. This included Ajmer, Merwara, Central India and Gwalior.

Later it was confined to Ajmer, Bhopal and Vindhya Pradesh. In 1952, it became the “Central Board of Secondary Education”.

Affiliations

CBSE affiliates all Kendriya Vidyalayas, all Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, private schools, and most of the schools approved by central government of India

Examinations

The board conducts final examinations every spring for All India Senior School Certificate Examination (AISSCE) for Class 10 and 12.

The board also annually conducts the AIEEE exam for admission to undergraduate courses in engineering and architecture in numerous colleges spread over India.

It also conducts AIPMT All India Pre medical Test for admission to major medical colleges in India.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Board_of_Secondary_Education

242/365 – Wat Rong Khun

April 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Wat Rong Khun is a contemporary unconventional Buddhist and Hindu temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand. It was designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat. Construction began in 1997,finished in 2008.

Style and construction   Wat Rong Khun is different from any other temple in Thailand, as its ubosot is designed in white color with some use of white glass.

The white color stands for Lord Buddha’s purity; the white glass stands for Lord Buddha’s wisdom that “shines brightly all over the Earth and the Universe.”

The bridge leading to the temple represents the crossing over from the cycle of rebirth to the Abode of Buddha.

The small semicircle before the bridge stands for the human world. The big circle with fangs is the mouth of Rahu, meaning impurities in the mind, a representation of hell or suffering.

All the paintings inside the ubosot (assembly hall) have golden tones. The four walls, ceiling and floor contain paintings showing an escape from the defilements of temptation to reach a supramundane state.

On the roof, there are four kinds of animals representing earth, water, wind and fire. The elephant stands for the earth; the naga stands for water; the swan’s wings represent wind; and the lion’s mane represents fire.

Visitors will find it rather bizarre to find modern images throughout this temple. Images of the Predator from the Hollywood film, Spiderman, Batman, Keanu Reeves character in the Matrix, rocket ships, etc.

The sea of hands rising up towards the bridge to the temple, some holding skulls are very striking.   In 1997, Chalermchai Kositpipat volunteered his service to carry out the construction of the ubosot at his own expense as an offering to Lord Buddha, but he later altered the plan as he saw fit in such a way that Wat Rong Khun developed into a prominent site attracting both Thai and foreign visitors.

Nowadays, Wat Rong Khun is still being constructed. When completed, the construction project of Wat Rong Khun will consist of nine buildings: the ubosot, the hall containing Lord Buddha’s relics, the hall containing Buddha images, the preaching hall, the contemplation hall, the monk’s cell, the door façade of the Buddhavasa, the art gallery, and the toilets.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Rong_Khun

Categories: General Knowledge, Temple

241/365 – Partition of India

April 27, 2012 Leave a comment

The Partition of India was the partition of British India on the basis of religious demographics. This led to the creation of the sovereign states of the Dominion of Pakistan (later the Islamic Republic of Pakistan) and the Union of India (later Republic of India) which took place in 1947, on August 14 and 15, respectively.

The partition of India was set forth in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and resulted in the dissolution of the British Raj. It resulted in a struggle between the new states of India and Pakistan and displaced up to 12.5 million people in the former British Indian Empire, with estimates of loss of life varying from several hundred thousand to a million.

The violent nature of the partition created an atmosphere of mutual hostility and suspicion between India and Pakistan that plagues their relationship to this day.

The partition included the geographical division of the Bengal province of British India into East Bengal, which became part of the Dominion of Pakistan (from 1956, East Pakistan).

West Bengal became part of India, and a similar partition of the Punjab province became West Punjab (later the Pakistani Punjab and Islamabad Capital Territory) and East Punjab (later the Indian Punjab, as well as Haryana and Himachal Pradesh).

The partition agreement also included the division of Indian government assets, including the Indian Civil Service, the Indian Army, the Royal Indian Navy, the Indian railways and the central treasury, and other administrative services.

In the aftermath of the partition, the princely states of India, that had been left alone by the Indian Independence Act 1947 to choose whether to accede to India or to Pakistan or to remain outside them, were all incorporated into one or another of the new dominions, in all cases by the ruler signing an instrument of accession.

The choice between India and Pakistan to be made by Jammu and Kashmir led to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 immediately after the partition and they became part of the disputed territory. Other wars and conflicts between India and Pakistan have continued since then.

As a result of the Bangladesh Liberation War and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, East Pakistan became the independent state of Bangladesh in 1971.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partition_of_India

Categories: General Knowledge, History

240/365 – Jainism

April 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Jainism, is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation.

Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state of supreme being is called a jina (“conqueror” or “victor”).

The ultimate status of these perfect souls is called siddha. Ancient texts also refer to Jainism as shramana dharma (self-reliant) or the “path of the niganthas” (those without attachments or aversions).

Jain doctrine teaches that Jainism has always existed and will always exist, although historians date the foundation of the organized or present form of Jainism to sometime between the 9th and the 6th century BC.

Like most ancient Indian religions, Jainism may have its roots in the Indus Valley Civilization, reflecting native spirituality prior to the Indo-Aryan migration into India.

Other scholars suggested the shramana traditions were separate and contemporaneous with Indo-Aryan religious practices of the historical Vedic religion.

Contemporary Jainism is a small but influential religious minority with as many as 4.2 million followers in India, and successful growing immigrant communities in North America, Western Europe, the Far East, Australia and elsewhere.

Jains have significantly influenced and contributed to ethical, political and economic spheres in India. Jains have an ancient tradition of scholarship and have the highest degree of literacy for a religious community in India. Jain libraries are the oldest in the country.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism

Categories: Facts, General Knowledge

239/365 – Conquests of Alexander in India

April 25, 2012 Leave a comment

In 327 BCE Alexander the Great began his foray into Punjab. King Ambhi, ruler of Taxila, surrendered the city to Alexander. Many people had fled to a high fortress/rock called Aornos.

Aornos was taken by Alexander by storm after a successful siege. Alexander fought an epic battle against the Indian monarch Porus in the Battle of Hydaspes (326). After victory, Alexander made an alliance with Porus and appointed him as satrap of his own kingdom. Alexander continued on to conquer all the headwaters of the Indus River.

East of Porus’ kingdom, near the Ganges River, was the powerful kingdom of Magadha, under the Nanda Dynasty.

According to Plutarch, at the time of Alexander’s Battle of the Hydaspes River, the size of the Magadha’s army further east numbered 200,000 infantry, 80,000 cavalry, 8,000 chariots, and 6,000 war elephants, which was discouraging for Alexander’s men and stayed their further progress into India:

“ As for the Macedonians, however, their struggle with Porus blunted their courage and stayed their further advance into India. For having had all they could do to repulse an enemy who mustered only twenty thousand infantry and two thousand horse, they violently opposed Alexander when he insisted on crossing the river Ganges also, the width of which, as they learned, was •thirty-two furlongs, its depth •a hundred fathoms, while its banks on the further side were covered with multitudes of men-at‑arms and horsemen and elephants. For they were told that the kings of the Ganderites and Praesii were awaiting them with eighty thousand horsemen, two hundred thousand footmen, eight thousand chariots, and six thousand fighting elephants. And there was no boasting in these reports. For Androcottus, who reigned there not long afterwards, made a present to Seleucus of five hundred elephants, and with an army of six hundred thousand men overran and subdued all India. ”

–Plutarch, Parallel Lives, “Life of Alexander”

Exhausted and frightened by the prospect of facing another giant Indian army at the Ganges River, his army mutinied at the Hyphasis (modern Beas), refusing to march further East. Alexander, after the meeting with his officer Coenus, was convinced that it was better to return.

Alexander was forced to turn south, conquering his way down the Indus to the Indian Ocean. He sent much of his army to Carmania (modern southern Iran) with his general Craterus, and commissioned a fleet to explore the Persian Gulf shore under his admiral Nearchus, while he led the rest of his forces back to Persia by the southern route through the Gedrosia (modern Makran in southern Pakistan).

Alexander left behind Greek forces which established themselves in the city of Taxila, now in Pakistan. Several generals, such as Eudemus and Peithon governed the newly established province until around 316 BCE. One of them, Sophytes (305–294 BCE), was an independent Greek prince in the Punjab.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_conquests_in_India

Categories: General Knowledge, History

238/365 – Hepatitis B

April 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Hepatitis B is an infectious inflammatory illness of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) that affects hominoidea, including humans.

Originally known as “serum hepatitis”, the disease has caused epidemics in parts of Asia and Africa, and it is endemic inChina.

About a third of the world population has been infected at one point in their lives,[3] including 350 million who are chronic carriers.

The virus is transmitted by exposure to infectious blood or body fluids such as semen and vaginal fluids, while viral DNA has been detected in the saliva, tears, and urine of chronic carriers.

Perinatal infection is a major route of infection in endemic (mainly developing) countries. Other risk factors for developing HBV infection include working in a healthcare setting, transfusions, and dialysis, acupuncture, tattooing, extended overseas travel and residence in an institution.

However, Hepatitis B viruses cannot be spread by holding hands, sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses, kissing, hugging, coughing, sneezing, or breastfeeding.

The acute illness causes liver inflammation, vomiting, jaundice and, rarely, death. Chronic hepatitis B may eventually cause cirrhosis and liver cancer—a disease with poor response to all but a few current therapies. The infection is preventable by vaccination.

Hepatitis B virus is an hepadnavirus—hepa from hepatotropic (attracted to the liver) and dna because it is a DNA virus—and it has a circular genome of partially double-stranded DNA.

The viruses replicate through an RNA intermediate form by reverse transcription, which practice relates them to retroviruses.

Although replication takes place in the liver, the virus spreads to the blood where viral proteins and antibodies against them are found in infected people.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hepatitis_B

Categories: General Knowledge, Science