Showing posts with label Ancient Maritime (Shipping & Navigation) History of Human Civilizations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ancient Maritime (Shipping & Navigation) History of Human Civilizations. Show all posts

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Ship building technology of Ancient India- Western lied about it

The old notion that the Hindus were essentially a landlocked people, lacking in a spirit of adventure and the heart to brave the seas, is now dispelled. The researches of a generation of scholars have proved that from very early times the people of India were distinguished by nautical skill and enterprise, that they went on trading voyages to distant shores across the seas, and even established settlements and colonies in numerous lands and islands.
In ancient India, owing to the geographical influence, nautical shill and enterprise seems to have been best developed in three widely separated region of the country. These were Bengal, the valley and delta of the Indus, and the extreme south of the Deccan peninsula, called Tamilagam.
Boat-making and ship-building industries were found in India since ancient times. In the Vedic period, sea was frequently used for trade purposes. The Rig Veda mentions "merchants who crowd the great waters with ships". The Ramayana speaks of merchants who crossed the sea and bought gifts for the king of Ayodhya. Manu legislates for safe carriage and freights by river and sea. In some of the earliest Buddhist literature we read of voyages ‘out of sight’ of land, some lasting six months or so.
In Kautalya Arthasastra the admiralty figures as a separate department of the War Office; and this is a striking testimony to the importance attached to it from very early times. In the Rg Veda Samhita boats and ships are frequently mentioned. The classical example often quoted by every writer on the subject is the naval expedition of Bhujya who was sent by his father with the ship which had a hundred oars (aritra). Being ship-wrecked he was rescued by the twin Asvins in their boat.
"There was also extensive intercourse of India with foreign countries, including the Mediterranean lands and the African continent, naturally led to piracy on the waters. There then arose the need for the protection of sea-borne trade, and we are told that “at the outset the merchant vessels of India carried a small body of trained archers armed with bows and arrows to repulse the attacks of the pirates, but later they employed guns, cannon and other more deadly weapons of warfare with a few wonderful and delusive contrivances.”
(source: The Commerce and Navigation of the Ancients In the Indian Ocean - William Vincent pp. 457). These are probably the beginnings of the ancient Indian navy.
In the Shanti Parvan (59, 41) of the Mahabharata it is said that the navy is one of the angas (part) of the complete army. Examples of ships being used for military purposes are not lacking. When Vidura scented danger to Kunti’s five sons, he made them escape to the forest with their mother, crossing the Ganges in a boat equipped with weapons having the power of withstanding wind and wave.
In the Dig Vijaya portion of the Sabha parva, it is said that Sahadeva crossed the sea and brought many islands under his sway after defeating the Mlecchas and other mixed tribes inhabiting them. If this be an historical fact the inference is irresistible that he could not have effected his conquest without the use of boats and vessels. We read in the Ramayana that Durmukha, a Raksasa, who had been fired by the impulse of anger at the deeds of Hanuman, offered his services to Ravana even to fight on the sea.
This is testimony enough of the use of a fleet for war purposes. There are other references here and there to ships in the Ramayana. When Hanuman was crossing the ocean to Lanka, he is compared to a ship tossed by winds on the high seas. Sugriva speaks of Sumatra, Java and even the Red Sea, when sending forth his monkey hosts in quest of Sita.
The Amarakosa, mentions a number of nautical terms which stand for ship, anchorage (naubandhana), the helm of the ship (naukarana), the helmsman (naukaranadhara). That there were ships-building yards in different parts could be inferred from a significant term navatakseni occurring in a copper plate grant of Dharmaditya dated 531. A.D.
About 517 B.C. according to Herodotus, Darius launched a maritime expedition under Skylax of Caryanda to the Indus Delta, and during Alexander’s time, again, we read of the people of the Punjab fitting out a fleet. We have the testimony of Arrian to show that the Xathroi (Kshatri), one of the Punjab tribes, supplied Alexander during his return voyage with thirty oared galleys and transport vessels which were built by them. (source: India and Its Invasion by Alexander p. 156)
In the Manusamhita (Vii. 192), it is laid down that boats should be employed for military purposes when the theatre of hostilities abounded in water. Kamandaka (XVI, 50) alludes to naval warfare when he says:
"By regular practice one becomes an adept in fighting from chariot, horses, elephants and boats, and a past-master in archery."
Manavadharmasastra refers to sea fights and attests to the use of boats for naval warfare. The sailor is called naukakarmajiva. Thus in Vedic, Epic and the Dharmasastra literature we find that naval warfare is mentioned as a distinct entity, attesting a continuous naval tradition from the earliest times. Yukti-kalpataru specifies one class of ships called agramandira (because they had their cabins towards the prows), as eminently adapted for naval warfare (rane kale ghanatyaye).
Passing on to other literary evidence, we find in the Raghuvamsa frequent reference to boats and ships. Raghu in the course of his digvijaya conquered Bengal which was protected by a fleet (nausadhanotyatan). In anther place it is mentioned that Raghu marched on Persia through the land route, and not by the sea route, thereby showing that the latter was the more common route.
Historian Dr. Vincent A. Smith says that ‘the creation of the Admiralty department was an innovation due to the genius of Chandragupta.
"The Admiralty as a department of the State may have been a creation of Chandragupta but there is evidence to show that the use of ships and boats was known to the people of the Rg Veda. "
(source: Early History of India - By Vincent Smith p 133).
In the following passage we have reference to a vessel with a hundred oats.
‘This exploit you achieved, Asvins in the ocean, where there is nothing to give support, nothing to rest upon, nothing to cling to, that you brought Bhujya, sailing in a hundred oared ship, to his father’s house.’
Further on in the Veda, this same vessel is described as a plava which was storm-proof and which presented a pleasing appearance and had wings on its sides. Another reference informs us that Tugra dispatched a fleet of four vessels (Catasro navah) among which was the one referred to above. We may infer from these passages that the Asvins were a great commercial people having their home in a far-off island, and that their ruler Tugra maintained a fleet in the interests of his State. There are also other references in the Rg Veda to show that the ancient Indians were acquainted with the art of navigation. For instance, Varuna is credited with a knowledge of the ocean routes along which vessels sailed.
The Baudhayana Dharmasastra speaks of Samudrasamyanam and interprets it as nava dvipantaragamanam, i.e. sailing to other lands by ships. This very term occurs in the navadhyaksa section of the Kautaliya Arthasastra.
The Puranas have several references to the use of ships and boats. The Markandeya Purana speaks of vessels tossing about on the sea. The Varahapurana refers to the people who sailed far into the ocean in search of pearls and oysters. The ships floated daily on the shoreless, deep and fearful waters of the ocean. We are on firmer ground when we see in the Andhra period their coins marked with ships. The ship building activities were great on the east coast, and the Coromandel coast in particular. From this period to about 15th century A.D. there was a regular intercourse with the islands of the Archipelago most of which were colonized and also with ancient America right across the Pacific as testified to us by the archaeological finds and inscriptions in those parts.
The Pali books of Sri Lanka like the Mahavamsa refers to ocean going vessels carrying 700 passengers. Such frequent intercourse and colonization through the ages could not have been effected without a powerful fleet.
Ships Landing of Prince Vijaya in Sri Lanka - 543 BC from Ajanta Frescos.
Ajanta painting of a later date depict horses and elephants aboard the ship which carried Prince Vijaya to Sri Lanka.
(source: India Through the ages - By K. M. Panikkar).
But it is in a later work, the Yuktikalpataru of Bhoja, that we have three classes of ships - the Sarvamandira, the Madhyamandira, and Agramandira. The first was called Sarvamandira because it had apartments all around. In the Sarvamandira were carried treasures, animals, and ladies of the court. This was the vessel ordinarily used by kings in times of peace. The Madhyamandira was so called because the living quarters were situated in the middle. It was a sporting vessel and generally used in the rainy season. The vessel of the third kind, the Agramandira, took its name from the circumstance that the living room was located in front or at the top of the vessel. The Agramandira was used for distant and perilous voyages and also sea-fights.
There are also in the Yuktikalpataru other references to vessels. There are 27 types of ships mentioned here, the largest having the measurement 276 ft X 36 ft X 27 ft weighing roughly 2,300 tons. The following passage points to the use of ships in warfare. The line: naukadyam vipadam jneyam makes it clear that naval expeditions were common. Under the heading of yanam or march mention is made of expeditions by land, water and air.
Kautilya remarks:
"Pirate ships (himsrika), boats from an enemy's country when they cross its territorial limits, as well as vessels violating the customs and rules enforced in port towns, should be pursued and destroyed."
It is obvious that the task set forth above could only be performed by armed vessels belonging to the state.
From this we may conclude that in ancient India ships were employed in warfare at least as early as the Rig Vedic times. It is an incontrovertible fact that there was a naval department in Mauryan times. We have the testimony of Megasthenes that the navy was under a special officer called the Superintendent of Navigation. This official was in turn controlled by the Admiralty department. The officer whom Megasthenes refers to as Superintendent of Navigation is called Navadhyaksa as already seen, in the Arthasastra.
The Greek accounts bear testimony to the fact that navigation had attained a very high development at the times of Alexander's invasion, for we are told that the invader was able to secure a fleet from the Punjab at short notice. The Arthasastra lays down some healthy regulations relating to navigation. Vessels which gave trouble or were bound for the enemy's country, or transgressed the regulations of port towns were to be destroyed.
A considerable ship building activity is evident on the west coast of India also as noted in the Sangam works of the Tamils. South India carried on political and commercial activities as far as the Mediterranean in the early centuries of the Christian era and before. The great Ceran Senguttavan had a fleet under him.
Turning to the history of South India, we have evidence to show that the country had trade and culture contacts with foreign countries like Rome in the west and Malay Archipelago and South east Asia in the east. Yavana ships laden with articles of merchandise visited the west coast frequently. There was active foreign trade between Tamil Indian and the outer world at least from the time of Soloman, i.e. about 1000 B.C. Roman historians refer to the commercial intercourse that existed between Rome and South India. In the first century before Christ we hear of a Pandyan embassy to Augustus Caesar. (refer to Periplus translated by Schoff p. 46).
The Sangam classics point to the profession of pearl-diving and sea-fisheries on a large scale. We hear of shipwrecks of the early Tamils saved now and then by Manimekhalai, the goddess of the sea.
(Note: ancient Tamil tradition traces its origins to a submerged island or continent, Kumari Kandam, situated to the south of India. The Tamil epics Shilappadikaram and Manimekhalai provide glorious descriptions of the legendary city and port of Puhar, which the second text says was swallowed by the sea.
As in the case of Dwaraka, (please refer to chapter on Dwaraka and Aryan Invasion Theory), initial findings at and off Poompuhar, at the mouth of the Cauvery, show that there may well be a historical basis to this legend: apart from several structures excavated near the shore, such as brick walls, water reservoirs, even a wharf (all dated 200-300 B.C.), a few years ago a structure tantalizingly described as a "U-shaped stone structure" was found five kilometers offshore, at a depth of twenty-three meters; it is about forty meters long and twenty wide, and fishermen traditionally believed that a submerged temple existed at that exact spot. If the structure is confirmed to be man-made (and not a natural formation), its great depth would certainly push back the antiquity of Puhar.
Only more systematic explorations along Tamil Nadu's coast, especially at Poompuhar, Mahabalipuram, and around Kanyakumari (where fishermen have long reported submerged structures too) can throw more light on the lost cities, and on the traditions of Kumari Kandam, which some have sought to identify with the mythical Lemuria).
ancient city in India.
We have the account of a Cera King conquering the Kadamba in the midst of sea waters. The Cera King Senguttuvan had a fleet with which he defeated the Yavanas who were punished with their hands being tied behind their backs and the pouring of oil on their heads. The Cholas also maintained a strong fleet with which they not only invaded and subjugated Lanka but also undertook overseas expeditions. Among the conquests of Rajaraja, Lanka was one, and his invasion of that island finds expression in the Tiruvalangadu plates, where it is described as follows:
"Rama built, with the aid of the monkeys, a causeway over the sea and then slew with great difficulty the king of Lanka by means of sharp-edged arrows. But Rama was excelled by this (king) whose powerful army crossed the ocean in ships and burnt the king of Lanka."
Rajaraja also sent an expedition against the Twelve Thousand Islands, obviously a reference to the Laccadives and Maldives. Friendly embassies were also sent by the Chola king to China.
From the evidence of the Mahvamsa as well as from a few inscriptions we are able to gather some information regarding the diplomatic relations that existed between India and Sri Lanka. We have the story of Vijaya and his followers occupying the island about 543 B.C. Vijaya was a prince of North India who was banished from the kingdom by his father. Passing through the southern Magadha country he sailed to Sri Lanka, according to the Rajavali, in a fleet carrying more than 700 soliders, defeated the Yaksas inhabiting it, and settled there permanently.
This story is illustrated in the Ajanta frescoes.
Numerous ships carried the troops of Rajendra to Sri Vijaya and its dependencies which he conquered. Among the places conquered were Pannai (Pani or Panei on the east coast of Sumatra), Malaiyur (at the southern end of the Malay Peninsula), Mappappalam ( a place in the Talaing country of Lower Burma), Mudammalingam (a place facing the gulf of Siam), Nakkavaram (the Nicobar islands. Besides, active trade was carried on between South India and China during this period.
At the end of the 10th century the Chinese emperor sent a mission to the Chola king with credentials under the imperial seal and provisions of gold and piece-goods to induce the foreign traders of the South Sea and those who went to foreign lands beyond the sea for trade to come to China.
The facts clearly show that the Cholas maintained supremacy over the sea and kept a strong and powerful navy which was useful not only for carrying on extensive commerce with foreign countries but also for conducting military expeditions. During the days of the Kakatiyas of Warangal, Motupalle (Guntur District) was the chief port, on the east coast. Ganapatideva, the Kakatiya ruler, extirpated piracy on the sea and made the sea safe for commerce with foreign countries like China and Zanzibar. This policy was pursued by Rudramba, his daughter.
Vijayanagar kingdom also claimed supremacy over the sea. Since the days of Harihara I the rulers of Vijayanagar took the title of the Lord of the Eastern, Western and Southern oceans; and there were 300 ports in the empire. The activities of the Vijayanagar fleet on the west coast are also referred to by the Portuguese in 1506.
The Vijayanagar kings sent friendly embassies to foreign courts. 'Bukka I sent an embassy through his chief explainer to the court of Taitsu, the King Emperor of China, with tributes and large presents, among which was a stone which was valuable in neutralizing poison.
Accounts of Foreign Travelers to India
Coming to later times we have the account of Hiuen Tsang who notices a fleet of 3,000 sail belonging to the King os Assam. There is inscriptional evidence of the possession of a fleet under the Kakatiyas and the Cholas in South india. Marco Polo testifies to the huge size and efficient construction of Indian vessels while Yule in his Cathey refers to Rajput ships en route to China.
Marco Polo, a famous Venetian traveler who visited India in 13th Century also visited Thane Port. The first chapter of his book which deals with India is almost devoted to shipbuilding industry in India. Friar Odoric of Pordenone, an Italian Monk who visited India in 14th Century, in his account of his voyage across the Indian Ocean, a mention is made of ships which can carry 700 people.
"Ships of size that carried Fahien from India to China (through stormy China water) were certainly capable of proceeding all the way to Mexico and Peru by crossing the Pacific. One thousand years before the birth of Columbus Indian ships were far superior to any made in Europe upto the 18th century."
(source: The Civilizations of Ancient America: The Selected Papers of the XXIXth International Congress of Americanists - edited Sol Tax 1951).
Ludovico di Varthema (1503 A. D) saw vessels of 1,000 tons burden built at Masulipatnam. According to Dr. Vincent, India built great sized vessels from the time of Agathareids (171 B.C.) to the 16th century. And no wonder the Portuguese, when they first landed at the west coast, were carried away by the excellent Indian vessels. Later still, the Vijayanagar Empire, which had as many as 300 ports, had a powerful fleet. The naval commander was styled Naviyadaprabhu.
India has a coastline of about 6300 km. Extensive new archaeological, epigraphical, sculptural and literary material has been added to our knowledge since the early decades of this century. Dr. Radha Kumud Mookerji's Book Indian Shipping - A History of the Sea-Borne Trade and Marine Activity of The Indians From The Earliest Times published in 1912 Orient, is the most comprehensive study of Indian Navigation up to that period.
We now know that many ports on both Eastern and Western Coast had navigational and trade links with almost all Continents of the world. There are many natural and technological reasons for this. Apart from Mathematics and Astronomy, India had excellent manufacturing skills in textile, metal works and paints. India had abundant supply of Timber. Indian - built ships were superior as they were built of Teak which resists the effect of salt water and weather for a very long time.
"The art of Navigation was born in river Sindhu 6000 years ago. The very word navigation is derived from Sanskrit word Nav (or Nav-ship) Gatih."
Lieut. Col. A.Walker's paper: "Considerations of the affairs of India" written in 1811 had excellent remarks on Bombay-built ships.
He notes,
"situated as she is between the forests of Malabar and Gujarat, she receives supplies of timber with every wind that blows."
Further he says, "it is calculated that every ship in the Navy of Great Britain is renewed every twelve years. It is well known that teakwood built ships last fifty years and upwards. Many ships Bombay-built after running fourteen or fifteen years have been brought into the Navy and were considered as stronger as ever. The Sir Edward Hughes performed, I believe, eight voyages as an Indiaman before she was purchased for the Navy. No Europe-built Indiaman is capable of going more than six voyages with safety."
He has also further noted that Bombay-built ships are at least one-fourth cheaper than those built in the docks of England. Francois Balazar Solvyns, a Belgian/Flemish maritime painter, wrote a book titled Les Hindous in 1811.
His remarks are,
"In ancient times, the Indians excelled in the art of constructing vessels, and the present Hindus can in this respect still offer models to Europe-so much so that the English, attentive to everything which relates to naval architecture, have borrowed from the Hindus many improvement which they have adopted with success to their own shipping.... The Indian vessels unite elegance and utility and are models of patience and fine workmanship."
Surprisingly, many earlier western traders and travelers have expressed the same views. Madapollum was a flourishing shipping centre. Thomas Bowrey, an English traveler who visited India during 1669-79, observes,
"many English merchants and others have their ships and vessels yearly built (at Madapollum). Here is the best and well grown timber in sufficient plenty, the best iron upon the coast, any sort of ironwork is ingeniously performed by the natives, as spikes, bolts, anchors, and the like. Very expert master-builders there are several here, they build very well, and launch with as much discretion as I have seen in any part of the world. They have an excellent way of making shrouds, stays, or any other rigging for ships".
A Venetian traveler of 16th Century Cesare de Federici, while commenting on the East Coast of India has noted that there is an abundance of material for ship building in this area and many Sultans of Constantinople found it cheaper to have their vessels built in India than at Alexandria.
Nicolo Conti who visited India in 15th century was impressed by the quality Indians had achieved in ship building. He observes:
"The nations of India build some ships larger than ours, capable of containing 2,000 butts, and with five sails and as many masts. The lower part is constructed with triple planks, in order to withstand the force of the tempests to which they are much exposed. But some ships are so built in compartments that should one part be shattered, the other portion remaining entire may accomplish the voyage."
J. Ovington, Chaplain to the British King, the seventeenth-century English traveler, who visited Surat, wrote a book A Voyage to Surat in the Year 1689. He was impressed by the skill of the Indians in ship-building and found that they even outshone Europeans. The timber used by the Indians was so strong that it would not ‘crack’ even by the force of a bullet so he urged the English to use that timber ‘to help them in war’. Indian Teak stood firmer than the English Oak, remarked Ovington.
Thomas Herbert, a traveler who visited Surat in 1627, has given an interesting account of the arrival, loading and unloading of ships through small boats at Swally marine (Sohaly), a few kilometres away from Surat. He remarked that between September and March every year, the port of Sohaly presented a very busy and noisy scene for there came many ships from foreign lands. The merchants (baniyas) erected their straw huts in large numbers all along the sea coast, making the whole place thus look like a country fair. The merchants sold various commodities like calicoes, ivory, agates, etc.
Many small boys engaged by the merchants were seen running about doing odd jobs. The English found that the small boats used and constructed by the natives could be of immense use. This was a definite gain for both nations. Boats and rafts were used as a means of conveyance for loading and unloading ships. There were about 4200 big and 4400 small boats. There were large-sized boats that could carry even elephants. The boats used by kings and nobles were designed to look artistic.
Abul Fazl writes about the "wonderfully fashioned boats with delightful quarters and decks and gardens"
Among the primitive Indian boats, the cattarmaran comes first. It consisted of three logs and three spreaders and cross lashings. The centre log was the largest, and pointed towards one end. Mainly fishermen used the cattarmaran for fishing. A little more skillfully made is the musoola boat, which has no iron fastening. It was mostly used in the Coromandel coast.
Dr John Fryer says,
"It is possible that the name musoola may be connected with Masulipatarn where boats seem to have been in use".
Another boat made in an indigenous manner was known as dingy. It was hollowed out from a single trunk. Lower down the Ganga, the name was applied to boats half-decked, half wagon-roofed and built of planks.
Purqoo was another type of boat described by Thomas Bowery. It plied between the Hooghly and Balasore. These boats were made very strong to carry ‘sufficient load’. They were also used for loading ships. they could remain in water for a long time without getting damaged. As compared to the purqoo, boora was a ‘lighter boat’ which rowed with 29 or 30 oars. These boats were also used for carrying saltpeter and other commodities. (source: Coastal trade flourished with Europeans - By Pramod Sangar).
Sir John Malcolm (1769 - 1833) was a Scottish soldier, statesman, and historian entered the service of the East India Company wrote about Indian vessels that they:
"Indian vessels are so admirably adapted to the purpose for which they are required that, notwithstanding their superior science, Europeans were unable, during an intercourse with India for two centuries, to suggest or to bring into successful practice one improvement."
(source: Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. I and India and World Civilization - By D P Singhal part II p. 76 - 77).
In the middle of the 18th century, John Grose noted that at Surat the Indian ship-building industry was very well established, indeed, “They built incomparably the best ships in the world for duration”, and of all sizes with a capacity of over a thousand tons. Their design appeared to him to be a “a bit clumsy” but their durability soundly impressed him. They lasted “for a century”.
Lord Grenville mentions, in this connection, a ship built in Surat which continued to navigate up the Red Sea from 1702 when it was first mentioned in Dutch letters as “the old ships” up to the year 1700.” Grenville also noted that ships of war and merchandise “not exceeding 500 tons” were being built” with facility, convenience and cheapness” at the ports of Coringa and Narsapore.
Dr. H. Scott sent samples of dammer to London, as this vegetable substance was used by the Indians to line the bottom of their ships; he thought it would be a good substitute,
“in this country for the materials which are brought from the northern nations for our navy…There can be no doubt that you would find dammer in this way an excellent substitute for pitch and tar and for many purposes much superior to them.”
source: Decolonizing History: Technology and Culture in India, China and the West 1492 to the Present Day - By Claude Alvares p. 68-69).
Alain Danielou (1907- 1994) son of French aristocracy, author of numerous books on philosophy, religion, history and arts of India has written:
"India's naval dockyards, which belonged to the state, were famous throughout history. The sailors were paid by the state, and the admiral of the fleet hired the ships and crew to tradesmen for transporting goods and passengers. When the British annexed the country much later on, they utilized the Indian dockyards - which were much better organized then those in the West - to build most of the ships for the British navy, for as long as ships were made of wood."
(source: A Brief History of India - By Alain Danielou p. 106).
" Indian naval pilot, named Kanha, was hired by Vasco da Gama to take him to India. Contrary to European portrayals that Indians knew only coastal navigation, deep-sea shipping had existed in India. Indian ships had been sailing to islands such as the Andamans, Lakshdweep and Maldives, around 2,000 years ago. Kautiliya's shastras describe the times that are good and bad for seafaring. In the medieval period, Arab sailors purchased their boats in India. The Portuguese also continued to get their boats from India, and not from Europe. Shipbuilding and exporting was a major Indian industry, until the British banned it. There is extensive archival material on the Indian Ocean trade in Greek, Roman, and Southeast Asian sources."
(source: History of Indian Science & Technology).
India became the first power to defeat a European power in a naval battle - The Battle of Colachel in 1742 CE.
A dramatic and virtually unknown past, in an area of bucolic calm surrounded by spectacular hills: that is Colachel, a name that should be better known to us. For this is where, in 1741, an extraordinary event took place -- the Battle of Colachel. For the first, and perhaps the only time in Indian history, an Indian kingdom defeated a European naval force.
The ruler of Travancore, Marthanda Varma, routed an invading Dutch fleet; the Dutch commander, Delannoy, joined the Travancore army and served for decades; the Dutch never recovered from this debacle and were never again a colonial threat to India.
The ruler of Travancore, Marthanda Varma, routed an invading Dutch fleet;
the Dutch commander, Delannoy, joined the Travancore army and served for decades;
the Dutch never recovered from this debacle and were never again a colonial threat to India.
The Battle of Colachel in 1742 CE, where Marthanda Varma of Travancore crushed a Dutch expeditionary fleet near Kanyakumari. The defeat was so total that the Dutch captain, Delannoy, joined the Travancore forces and served loyally for 35 years--and his tomb is still in a coastal fort there. So it wasn't the Japanese in the Yellow Sea in 1905 under Admiral Tojo who were the first Asian power to defeat a European power in a naval battle--it was little Travancore.
The Portuguese and the Dutch were trying to gain political power in India at that time. Marthanda Varma defeated the Dutch in 1741. He was an able ruler. He established peace in his country - Travancore. It was a remarkable achievement for a small princely state. (source: The Battle of Colachel: In remembrance of things past - By Rajeev Srinivasan - and
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Diplomacy and War
Not withstanding the elaborate rule of war laid down in the epics and the law-books, insisting in the main that to wage war was the duty and privilege of every true Ksatriya, in several cases the horrors of war made the belligerent think of the consequences and avoid outbreak of hostilities by a well calculated policy which we now term diplomacy.
King seeking counsel.
Negotiation, persuasion and conciliation were cardinal points of the ancient Indian diplomatic system, and were effective instruments in averting many a war, which would otherwise have realized in much bloodshed and economic distress.
The political term for diplomacy is naya, and the opinion of Kautalya, the eminent politician of the 4th century B.C., a king who understands the true implications of diplomacy conquers the whole earth.
The history of diplomacy in ancient India commences with the Rig Veda Samhita, and the date of its composition may be taken as far back as the Chalcolithic period. In the battles the help of Agni is invoked to overcome enemies. He is to be the deceiver of foes. In pursuing his mission to a successful end, the use of spies is mentioned. This bears eloquent testimony to the system of espionage prevalent so early as the time of the Rig Veda Samhita. In the battle of the Ten Kings described in the seventh mandala, we find diplomacy of rulers getting supplemented by its association with priestly diplomacy, which exercised a healthy influence on the constitutional evolution.
International Relations - The picture presented in the epics and the Arthasastra literature seems to be confined to the four corners of Bharatkhanda. The intercourse as envisaged in the literature, shows relations to be more commerical than political in character.
Strabo quotes Megasthenes and says that Indians were not engaged in wars with foreigners outside India nor was their country invaded by foreign power except by Hercules and Dionsysius and lately by the Macedonians. There were friendly relations of Chandragupta with Seleukos Nikator, of Bindusara with Antiochus, of Asoka and Samadragupta with Lanka, of Pulaskesi with Persians, of Harsha with Nepal and China, of the Cholas with Sri Vijaya.
"It was always regarded as a legitimate object of the ambition of every king to aim at the position of Cakravartin or Sarvabhuuma (paramount sovereign or of supreme monarch)."
This ambition was legitimate and had no narrow outlook about it. It was a fruit to be sought after by every one of the monarchs comprising the mandala. If the king is not actuated by this idea, he falls short of an ideal king according to the Hindu Rajadharma.

Diplomatic agents - ambassadors
Bhisma mentions seven qualifications as essential in an ambassador: he should come from a noble line, belong to a high family, be skilful, eloquent of speech, true in delivering the mission, and of excellent memory.

Espionage in War
Spies filled an important role in both the civil and military affairs of ancient India. The institution of spies had a greater utility, as the king could take action on the report of the spies. Spies were engaged to look after the home officials, including those of the royal household as well as to report on the doings in the enemy kingdoms. The Rig Veda Samhita, often speaks of spies (spasah) of Varuna.
Only men of wisdom and purity were sent on this errand, thus suggesting that they should be persons above corruption and temptation of any sort. In the epics and post-epic literature in general, spies have been described as the 'eyes of the king'. In the Udyoga-parva (33, 34) of Mahabharata, it is stated that "cows see by smell, priests by knowledge, kings by spies, and others through eyes."
Spies roamed about in foreign states under various disguises to collect reliable information. In the Ramayana, a king mentions the wise adage that "the enemy, whose secrets have been known through espionage, can be conquered without much effort." The Arthashastra, which predates Christ by centuries, dwells at length on the importance of espionage and the creation of an effective spy network.
Such details may indicate the high development of the science of diplomacy in ancient India. It was the famous Indian strategist of the fourth-century B.C, Kautilya in the Arthasastra, who gave the world the dictum:
"The enemy of my enemy is my friend."
"The same style of Indian thought" says Heinrich Zimmer in his book, Philosophies of India, p. 139, admiringly of Kautilya, "that invented the game of chess grasped with profound insight the rules of this larger game of power."
Attitude to war
The Sangam age of the Tamils was the heroic age of the Tamil Indians. If the men of the Tamil land were heroes, then their women were heroines. A certain mother was asked where her son was, and she replied, that she was sure that the tiger that had lain in her womb would be found in the field of battle. War was the pabulum on which our ancient warriors were great in name and fame.
A certain lady who gave birth to only one son and who sent him to the field of battle when there was the country's call for it. Okkurmasattiyar, a poetess, praises a certain lady dresses the hair of her only son and gives him the armor to get ready for action in the field of battle. This may be contrasted with another where a heroic mother heard the disquieting news that her son lost his courage in action and had fled in fear.
If it were true, she expressed that she would cut off her breasts that had fed him with milk. With this determination she entered the battle-field with sword in her hand and went on searching for her fallen son. When she saw her son's body cut in twain, she felt much more happy than when she gave birth to him. (source: Puram 277 and 279 - in Tamil ).
Flags - The origin and use of flags can be traced to the earliest Indian literature, the Rig Veda Samhita. The term deaja occurs twice in the Veda. Besides, dhvaja, we meet with a good number of expressions for a banner in Vedic literature. These are Akra, Krtadhvaja, Ketu, Brhatketu, Sahasraketu. It appears that the Vedic host aimed their arrows at the banners of the enemy.
The idea was that once the banner was captured, or struck, a claim was made for success in the battle over the enemy. Ketu was a small flag as contrasted with Brhatketu or the big flag. Sahasraketu may be a thousand flag, or as the knight who brought under control a thousand flags of enemies. We are told that banners and drums were counted among the insignia of ancient Vedic kings. In the Mahabharata war, every leader had his own insignia to distinguish one division from the other.
Arjuna had the Kapidhvaja or the flag with the figure of Hanuman, Bhisma, Taladhvaja, cognizance of a palmyra tree etc.
SOURCE : Bibliotecapleyades
Ancient Indian UFO

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ancient Maritime (Shipping & Navigation) History of Human Civilizations

ancient maritime shippingAncient history of shipping, trading on oceans date back to many years and evidence of trade between civilizations dates back at least two millennia are found.
Indians and Chinese have the oldest known history of shipping and during 3rd millennium BCE inhabitants of the Indus Valley initiated maritime trading contact with Mesopotamia.
After the Roman annexation of Egypt, roman trade with India increased.
Even in Puranas and Vedas, ships are mentioned. During Krishna’s regime in Dwaraka (more than 5000 years ago), maritime trading between india and mesopotamia existed. Silk and other commodities were traded.
Greeks were known to have travelled to India through searoute. Indians were present in Alexandria while Christian and Jew settlers from Rome continued to live in India long after the fall of the Roman empire, which resulted in Rome’s loss of the Red Sea ports, previously used to secure trade with India by the Greco-Roman world since the Ptolemaic dynasty.
The Indian commercial connection with South East Asia proved vital to the merchants of Arabia and Persia during the 7th–8th century
Later, Portugese, under the command of navigator Vasco da Gama started with trade of spices with indians through shipping.
Even Sumerians are known to have done shipping 4 millenia ago.

Ancient Vedic Shipcraft

The art of Navigation was born in the river Sindh more than 6000 years ago. The very word Navigation is derived from the Sanskrit word NAV Gatih.
The word navy is also derived from Sanskrit `Nou‘.
In Rigveda 1.25.7; 7.88.3 and other instances, Samudra (Ocean/Sea) is mentioned together with ships.
In RV 7.89.4 the rishi Vasishta is thirsting in the midst of water. Other verses mention oceanic waves (RV 4.58.1,11; 7.88.3). Some words that are used for ships are Nau, Peru, Dhi and Druma.
A ship with a hundred oars is mentioned in RV 1.116.
There were also ships with three masts or with ten oars.
RV 9.33.6 says: ‘From every side, O Soma, for our profit, pour thou forth four seas filled with a thousand-fold riches.
Rig Veda mentions the two oceans to the east and the west, (Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea) just as they mention ships and maritime trade.

Ships in Mythology

In Ramayana, Guha carries Ram, Sita, Lakshman in his boat while they were in exile. When Ram’s brother Bharat comes later to the same place along with the whole royal household, citizens of Ayodhya and a large army, with the intention of bringing Rama back to Ayodhya from exile, Guha, suspecting Bharata’s intentions, takes precautionary measures by ordering five hundred ships, each manned by one hundred youthful mariners to keep in readiness, should resistance be necessary. Those ships are described to have ‘Swastika’ sign on them.
In Mahabharata, the ship contrived by Vidura for the escape of Pandavas is described as : “the ship strong enough to withstand hurricanes, fitted with machinery and displaying flags“.
Greek Mythology describes war at Troy started with journey on many ships and it ended with Trojan Horse.

Ship building technology of Ancient India

Chandragupta Maurya’s minister, Chanakya alias Kautilya, around 320 BCE devotes a full chapter to waterways under a Navadhyaksha ‘Superintendent of ships’.
His duties included the examination of accounts relating to navigation, not only on oceans and rivers, but also on lakes (natural or artificial).
Fisheries, pearl fisheries, customs on ports, passengers and mercantile shipping, control and safety of ships and similar other affairs all came under his charge.
Jaina scriptures, Buddhist Jatakas and Avadanas, as well as classical Sanskrit literature, abound in references to sea-voyages. They have many interesting details about the sizes and shapes of ships, their furniture, decorations, articles of import and export, names of seaports and islands etc everything connected with navigation.
Yukti Kalpataru and Samarangana Sutradhara are two books written by paramara king bhoja of dhar (early 11th century AD), which described about construction of sailing large vessels which can travel in oceans or big rivers.
Evidence was found of a compass made by iron fish floating in a vessel of oil and pointing north, which was used by mariners of Indus Valley Civilization.
Yukti Kalpataru gives an account of four different kinds of wood.
The first class comprises wood, that is light and soft, and can be joined to any other wood. The second class is light and hard, but cannot be joined to any other class of wood. The third class of wood is soft and heavy.
Lastly the fourth kind is hard and heavy.
According to Bhoja, a ship made out of the second class of wood, brings wealth and happiness. Ships of this type can be safely used for crossing the oceans.
Ships made out of timbers containing different properties are not good, as they rot in water, and split and sink at the slightest shock.
Bhoja says that care should be taken that no iron be used, in joining planks, but they be subjected to the influence of magnetism, but they are to be fitted together with substances other than iron. Bhoja also gives names of the different classes of ships:
  • River-going ships – Samanya
  • Ocean-going ships – Visesa
Italian traveller of 15th century, Nicolo Conti described : “The natives of India build some ships larger than ours, capable of containing 2,000 butts, and with five sails and as many masts. The lower part is constructed with triple planks, in order to withstand the force of the tempests, to which they are much exposed.
But some ships are so built in compartments, that should one part be shattered, the other portion remaining whole may accomplish the journey.
In temple of Jagannath at Puri, a sculpture shows oarsmen paddling with all their strength and water is thrown into waves. The boat is of the Madhyamandira type, as defined by King Bhoja in the “Yukti Kalpataru”.
One of the Ajanta paintings is is of “a sea-going vessel with high stem and stern with three oblong sails attached to as many upright masts. Each masts is surrounded by a truck and there is carried a big sail. The jib is well filled with wind. A sort of bowspirit, projecting from a kind of gallows on deck is indicated with the outflying jib, square in form,” like that of Columbus ships. The ship is of the Agramandira type, as described in the “Yukti kalpataru”.
Another painting is of a royal pleasure boat which is “like the heraldic lymphad, with painted eyes at stem and stern, a pillard canopy amid ships, and an umbrella forward the steersman being accommodated on a sort of ladder, which remotely suggest the steerman’s chair, in the modern Burmese row boats, while a rower is in the bows.” The barge is of the Madhyamandira type.
Temple of Borobudur in Java contains sculptures recalling the colonization of Java by Indians. One of the ships tells more plainly than words, the perils, which the Prince of Gujarat and his companions encountered on the long and difficult voyages from the west coast of India.
The world’s first tidal dock was built in Lothal around 2500 BC during the Harappan civilisation at Lothal near the present day Mangrol harbour on the Gujarat coast.
Ancient Indians were the first to use maritime instruments like Sextants (used to measure angles of elevation above the horizon) and the Mariners compass (known as the Matysa (Maccha) Yantra in Sanskrit).
Historian Strabo says that in the time of Alexander, the River Oxus was so easily navigable that Indian wares were conducted down it, to the Caspian and the Euxine sea, hence to the Mediteranean Sea, and finally to Rome. Greeks and Indians began to meet at the newly established sea ports, and finally all these activities culminated in Indian embassies, being sent to Rome, from several Indian States, for Augustus himself says that Indian embassies came frequently.
Abundant Roman coins from Augustus right down to Nero, have been found in India.
Indian Kingdoms of Kalinga, Vijayanagara, Chola, Pandya, Chera, Pallava etc established maritime trading relations with Islands in Indian and Pacific oceans.
Apart from these, the Greek-Persian wars, Punic wars between Greek and Carthage (Tunisian), and Egyptian navigation have history of maritime since many years.