Father of Surgery


This post is in continuation to the previous one titled Three stages of scientific discovery.

At this age, we have an abundance of information on the origin of plastic surgery or surgery in general. In fact, I do not even need to give you a reference to ancient Indian scientists who adequately documented surgical procedures, including cataract surgeries. Charaka and Sushruta, two famous doctors, earned great fame in their fields, even before the birth of some civilizations who are currently claiming the discovery!

The knowledge they discovered through the trial-and-error method was transferred from generation to generation through both inheritances and formal education. For example, the nasal reconstruction procedure (seems) to be a standard routine during medieval India. But it looks like it was totally unknown to the west during then. And you know how all these validations work? Until it appears in one of the western publications, the legitimacy can be questioned freely and even denied.

Luckily for Sushruta, the certification was issued after 2000 years of his death. It came in the form of a report published in 1794 in the Gentleman’s Magazine, which describes the surgery of one Cowasjee.

Cowasjee was employed as a soldier in the British army. Unfortunately, he was one of those captured by Tipu Sultan’s Army during the Third Anglo-Mysore War. Unlike modern India, where even caught terrorists get to eat Biriyanis in lock-up, the medieval world wasn’t so kind. The soldier was, among others, were severely mutilated.

Lieutenant of Cowasjee probably wanted him to fight another battle for them and make himself useful. This led to shipping him to Pune to a cobler whose name appeared in word-of-mouth endorsements. Remember this, he was a cobler and not a doctor or a surgeon. Stitching dead goat leather is one thing and fixing live human skin is an entirely different thing. Apparently, to everyone’s surprise, they were not that different during 1794. The doctor set his nose with the skin removed from his forehead in the presence of awestruck British scribes, soldiers and career bureaucrats.

Nasal reconstructions had been practised as a relatively routine procedure in India for centuries. This was driven by the common use of nasal mutilation in India as a means of punishment or private vengeance for various forms of immorality. The procedures are described in two well-known early Indian medical works, the Suśruta Saṃhitā, thought to date to the middle of the first millennium BCE, and the Aṣṭāṅgahṛdayasaṃhitā, believed to date from the sixth century CE*. By the nineteenth century the technique had been handed down through separate families in three different parts of India.

Rhinoplasty by transfer of skin flaps from other body parts had also been practiced in Italy in the sixteenth century, most famously by the Bolognese surgeon Gaspare Tagliacozzi (1545-1599). The Indian technique probably spread to Italy via Arabic scholarship – it is probable that the Suśruta Saṃhitā was translated into Arabic in the later 8th century CE on the orders of the Vizier Yahya ibn Khalid.

– a couple of paragraphs from a blog post named Britain’s first nose job from British Library.

It is adequately registered through various sources that Arab enthusiast had translated procedures discovered by Sushruta and Charaka’s. So, any Arab surgeon a Millennium later had ready-made SOP to start with.

Statue of SushrutaRACS, Melbourne through wikipedia

Now, remember, we Indians, at least some of us, are still hold the mindset of “Nothing good came out of this sub-continent, we have invaders to thank for whatever we are”!

For these reasons , some of our history textbooks still point out to an Arab as the father of a Surgery!!

The Yazidis And India connection


If you happen to keep track of the seemingly never-ending middle eastern conflicts, you may find this post interesting. Evidently, there are no winners, only losers. However, if you were to assess who lost the most, that would be Yazidis and Kurds’ communities. They are perpetually at receiving end of the wars which has been running for decades now. Their men get killed, and women get sold. Very unfortunate, indeed, and I hope this conflict ends soon, and the desert will settle the score eventually.

The term Kurd was not unfamiliar before this conflict; however, at the time, Yazidis did not ring a bell to many. Only after targeted persecution, the scholars and academics scrambled to research every bit of information that they could find. This also means what the mainstream media and their collective knowledge on this topic are less than a decade old.

I was going through a few of the documentaries on Yezidism and Yazidis in general. The first thing that came to my mind was this community seem to have trapped at that location in a time capsule. If you evaluate their culture and practices, it is evident that they obviously do not belong to that region. Whatever the little assimilation to local culture seems to have achieved with the only purpose of living in harmony. This obviously did never to work and proven from time to time.

Remember the Kalash tribe we spoke about?

The academics’ conclusion is seemed hurried in the available documentaries and were taken based on the surface information available to them. They unimaginatively concluded without attending to outlier or information, which are many. Of course, I did not do as much research as those. But It does not require rocket science to see the pattern amongst linguistic and geological evidence, which near conclusively place them where they are currently present. Even then, a few things are not adding up, and I am shocked to find no mention of these facts in any documentaries.

Okay, this is a list of topics related to Yazidi cultures with the first look at documentaries. I hope some of those academics’ stumble upon my post and consider answering these strange correlations.

Religious Beliefs

  1. It’s an oral, documented and transferred religion. Yazidis pass on their myths through inheritance. There is not centralized text. Just like Vedic texts were propagated through inheritance.
  2. They have angels called Heft Sur. A basic understanding of Persian and Sanskrit can translate what it is – seven gods. Hefte is a Persian word with Sanskrit origin of Sapta for seven. During ancient ages, Indians called their gods Sur and demons Asurs. Exactly then, understandably, Persians called Gods as Asur’s and monsters as Sur. If you asked to put a straightforward logical conclusion, where would you put Yazidis?
  3. They believe in seven angels, the most important being Melek Tawus, a peacock. Here is an interesting trivia for you. Peacock never existed in the Kurdish region. If you need to find one, you need to travel east till you reach… You guessed it right! Indian subcontinent.
  4. Emanations, I.e., God, emanates as 7 transcended angels (haft Sur), sounds very similar to avatars. This is a remarkably similar concept to that of neighboring Zoroastrianism.
  5. Reincarnation based on karma in the current incarnation.

Architecture and artefacts

  1. The template towers mysteriously resemblance with conical shapes.
  2. Snakes guard the temple entrance.
  3. The Peacock lamp looks like Samay used in Indian traditions.

Practices

  1. They do not allow themselves to marry outside the religion or, most importantly, into it. It’s forbidden to convert out or in.
  2. Prayers are directed towards the sun. Sunrise. and sunset aligning the Sandhya Vandana.
  3. Castes. Marriage must be within the same group.
  4. Use of fire in religious practices, including an Aarti.
  5. Practice tilak/bindi between the brow for the forehead.
  6. Salute with folded hands.

The list goes on and on.

Let me know what you think.

Saree, Kachra and Rathore


This is a more of research paper for a blog post. I literally had to reside below a bodhi tree for a month to gain this knowledge. You better read it and like it. 🙂

If you recall a post I had Previously written, I had adequately addressed a few of my north Indian friends’ quintessential questions. It was “Why does Karnataka has a flag of its own, while other states don’t“. This is the second one in that series “Why do South-Indians add a letter h to ‘t‘ sound, such as Jayalalitha as against a proper Jayalalita“. Okay, let us get to it.

South-Indians consider four ‘t’ sounds a set of mutually exclusive and distinctive representations in their native languages. For this very reason, when written in a foreign script, such as English, they will get four different spellings.

  1. t for voiceless retroflex,
  2. tt for voiced retroflex,
  3. th for voiceless dental,
  4. and finally, tth or tthh for voiced dental.

North Indians, however, chose to manage it with two even though Devanagari still has the same combinations.

  1. t for both voiceless retroflex and dental
  2. th for both voiced retroflex and dental.

For example, the English spelling of an Atal and Atul for a north Indian will change to Atal and Athul for a south Indian.

Now, who is correct? The answer is neither, nor maybe both.

Please be aware that this cannot be a spelling bee. Indian native languages are exceptionally and perfectly capable of representing all their native sounds in their preferred scripts. The trouble comes only when one needs to write them in a foreign language such as English. In English, however, we simply do not have a one-to-one mapping for all the sounds of Indian origin. Why should they? Understandably this is by design.

If it is of any consolation, the vice versa is true as well. For instance, we can never write the word ‘acid’ in any Indian languages, convincingly. It can be either ‘A-sid’ or ‘aasid’, and that is the best you can get. Hence the verdict is, the argument itself is wrong. Unless we are talking about Unicode or international phonetic symbols as foreign languages of consideration, both representations should and are correct. Stop arguing now.

Now that we have settled that debate let me pose a counter-question on a related topic. Why do all North Indians write few words such as Saree, Rathore and Kachra with two different representations or even pronounce differently? You must be familiar with Saadi, Rathod and Kachda.

Most of the time, it is pronounced as a Sadi and written Saree? This is very annoying for a non-native.

Disclosure. I am not a native Hindi speaker; I did not even have proper formal education on Hindi. I studied Hindi as my fourth language, but my Hindi teacher was in a great hurry and skipped a topic or few, such as alphabet! Obviously, she could not answer may of such questions we had. Why such a level of imperfections

  1. Why does Hindi omit (or swallow) the final vowel, e.g., Kannad for Kannada?
  2. Why does turtle have strange spelling ending with a vowel KachuAA instead of Kachuva?
  3. Why does translation for Yesterday and Tomorrow has the same word leaving it to its verb to decide the fate?
  4. And the most crucial question is, why on earth Hindi does not end a word with a consonant and must be a vowel? I mean, Hindi’s mother Sanskrit does the proper ending of each word. E.g., In Hindi Jal and Jala written the same. At the same time, Sanskrit differentiates even with the same script of Devanagari.

What surprised me the most is my friends with proper education on Hindi could not explain this deviation of Hindi from her mother, (Samskrutam) Sanskrit.

In my quest for knowledge, I had asked many many of my friends on these discrepancies. I quizzed them precisely on the r spelling for d sound. Most of them dint have a clue but a few attempted explaining it to me. Apparently, the language Hindi has a sound/letter that falls somewhere between an ‘r‘ and a ‘d‘. Unfortunately, this consonant does not sit in a scientifically classified and tabulated alphabet of Indian languages. So, it has to be foreign.

It’s called Nuqta. Let me quote Manisha Kulshreshtha, and Ramkumar Mathur on what they wrote in Dialect Accent Features for Establishing Speaker Identity. A few sounds, borrowed from the other languages like Persian and Arabic, are written with a dot (Bindu or nuktā). Many people who speak Hindi as a second language, especially those who come from rural backgrounds and do not speak conventional Hindi (also called Khariboli), or speak in one of its dialects, pronounce these sounds as their nearest equivalents.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of a dot (period). You can bring this confusing sound by merely putting a period, below or on the side, wherever you find some space. It should be done for one and the only purpose – to represent a foreign sound, especially with loan words. By definition, anything and everything can be covered here, including click sound of African languages. Nuqta was introduced in Devanagari to accommodate pronunciation India’s invaders bought in.

This is brilliant stuff; I have full clarity now. Absolutely useless! But still brilliant!

This raises more questions than answers. Why on earth would you consider sadi/saree is a foreign loaned word? Have you seen anyone in central Asia or the middle east wearing it? The Saree, its style, its etymology – they all have origins in India. It existed even before Hindi was even born, let’s not even talk about loans.

Photo by Nivedita Singh on Pexels.com

The answer is very straightforward. This is the side effect of a hangover by Turkik and Persian speaking empires ruling us. We could not even decide if a piece of clothing we wore for a millennium, was foreign or Indian. Finally, we settled, and we decided its foreign. Well done there.

Let me know your thoughts, do write your opinion on the comments section.

India’s Cultural Invasions


It’s widely regarded that India did not invade any country and Switzerland never participated in a war or an armed conflict. While I am no expert on Switzerland’s military conquests, but, I certainly know a thing or two of India. 

As you are aware, India was repeatedly stress-tested by Military invasion of a range of other civilization or Tribes or even barbaric cults. Chronologically they list as Greek-Macedonians (Darius1, Alexander, Seleucid etc.), Scythian, Kushans, Huns, Arabs (Mohd bin Qasim), Afghans (Ghazni, Ghori), Mongols, Turco-Mongol (Timurlane, Babur), Persians (Nader Shah), Afghani’s again (Durrani), Europeans (British, Dutch, French), Pakistan and China post-independence. In return, never gathered her army beyond with thirst of more land. Well, almost. The only exception in recorded history was the Great Cholas sent their Armada to south-east Asian countries on a Naval expedition. 

If you take a step back, we almost always refer to military conflicts as an invasion resulted in bloodshed. What about those aren’t armed conflicts? India does certainly have many such in this category.!! Let’s include Collisions, migrations and cultural dominations. 

The First one was pretty pre-historic, it was those days when India was still an island which was many many million years ago. Subsequently and eventually India drifted along the Indian ocean and collided with Asia and pushed it hard, resulting in the creation of Himalayas. This had a devastating effect on the fundamental structure and ecology of Asia and Africa. The Himalayas blocked the natural air currents and India blocked natural ocean currents, permanently. Forests became savannas, and savannas become Saharas. If you are interested in reading more about this, please read- Bill Bryson’s book “A short history of everything”. 

The Second invasion was through human migration. Series of Hominoid species, foraging societies, once settled in India chose to migrate/invade most of south-east Asia and beyond. This happened despite unfavourable conditions such as 100s of miles of ocean on between. We still don’t know how did they do it even before inventing a basic raft; still, they did it. The results are again devastating; it resulted in the extinction of a large number of species. For example, 95% of Australia’s large animals were extinct within decades of arrivals of humans while they had been evolving there for millions of years before that. For a deeper understanding, please read “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” a book by Yuval Noah Harari.

The final Invasion was cultural. It is said, “India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.” This quote is attributed to Hu Shih, a Chinese Ambassador to the US. Let’s not delve into if he said it or not, but there is no dispute behind the sentiment. India culturally dominated almost entire eat Asia, south-east Asia, all the way till the Philippines for centuries. There is overwhelming evidence written on stones! They are indeed literally written on stones. Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia wherever you look. I recommend you start from here on How South East Asia Was Indianised

I intend to leave a running list of “Did you know.” on this cultural invasion. However, I will only provide the glimpse rather than full details. Please let me know if I have missed anything significant.

  1. Father of Zen school of Buddhism was Bodhidharma. It was argued that he is a son of Pallava king from South of India. 
  2. It is said that all Korean surnamed Kim trace their lineage back to Ayodhya! all 6 million of present-day Korean remember an Indian princess Heo Hwang-ok. Refer image above and link.
  3. If you are interested in linguistics and commonalities of languages, it’s a no brainer
  4. Let’s not miss out Japan! Some Japanese worship a goddess named Benzaiten (弁才天, 弁財天) is a Japanese Buddhist goddess who originated from the Hindu goddess Saraswati.

The Spelling Bee, Asian linguist Kings and Mendeleev table – Part2


(In continuation from my previous post)

Story of the Thai script is quite the opposite of that of Korean. The only similarity is It was also created by a Thai King (Rama Khamhaeng the Great ขุนรามคำแหงมหาราช). I really can’t provide you with an explanation on why any royalty gets into the business of creating the scripts.  I can’t pronounce his other names – so let me stick to Rama.

King Rama borrowed and derived Thai writing script from the cultural headquarters of Thailand from that time – India. It started off well and gotten into a lot of “expansion” as it was allowed to evolve to all radial directions and dimensions. Eventually, all hell broke loose, and now spellings for single sound can vary based on tone, context, position and maybe even mood of the speaker. For example, there are at least 8 ways you can write t (ฏ, ต, ฐ,ฒ, ถ, ท, ธ, ฑ) Take your pick. I am not even beginning to explain how difficult it is to learn.

VERDICT: Thai seems to make the best fit for Spelling Bee and maybe even for an enigma machine. !!

Finally, let’s come to India. India has a ‘table’ in its place for of alphabet system, and this feature is typical for most Indic languages. By Definition of ‘Table’, It’s literally a two-dimensional array of consonants arranged scientifically. No other way of writing will be a criminal misunderstanding of the reason behind. Unfortunately, a lot of native speakers do not why. Indians designed the 2D table of consonants based on the human mouth

  1. Rows represent how tongue, Lips and dental participation in sound.
  2. Columns represent if they are Voiced or not, aspirated or not and finally nasal! That’s it.
Did the Sanskrit alphabet influence Mendeleev’s periodic table?

It’s a shame that the science behind this arrangement is advertised enough.

Finally, let’s talk about the Mendeleev table. We all know Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev, a Russian physicist who had taken up a task to organize all basic elements of earth (or universe) in a precise scientific order. He eventually sequenced them in a tabular format based on atomic numbers/weight.

A beautiful bathtub curtain also attributed to him 🙂

While designing the table, Mendeleev had to leave a few cells blank as those elements were not invented by then. He had to give provisional names for those, and he chose Sanskrit number pre-fixes. They were precisely Eka, dvi and tri. Some of the elements he predicted were:  eka-boron, Eka-aluminium, eka-silicon, dvi-manganese and dvi-lanthanum and so on. This nomenclature system is well documented in academic circles. Still, I am guessing this is the first time you hear about.

Also, just there is an argument that Mendeleev was inspired by 2D alphabet design for Periodic table design. Just like an alphabet table; a few specific columns in the Mendeleev table have particular properties. E.g. Metal, or inert gases and so on. There is a detailed piece on it in Scientific American. Please go through. I am not vouching for this, but it’s hard to dismiss this.