Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Iron pillar of Delhi.

Ancient India vis-à-vis Modern Science.'s photo.Iron pillar of Delhi.
The Iron Pillar located in Delhi, India, is a 7 m (23 ft) column in the Qutb complex, notable for the rust-resistant composition of the metals used in its construction.
The pillar has attracted the attention of archaeologists and materials scientists and has been called "a testament to the skill of ancient Indian blacksmiths" because of its high resistance to corrosion. The corrosion resistance results from an even layer of crystalline iron hydrogen phosphate forming on the high phosphorus content iron, which serves to protect it from the effects of the local Delhi climate.
The pillar carries a number of inscriptions and graffiti of different dates which have not been studied systematically despite the pillar's prominent location and easy access. The oldest inscription on the pillar is in Sanskrit, written in Gupta-period Brahmi script.[10] This states that the pillar was erected as a standard in honour of Viṣṇu. It also praises the valor and qualities of a king referred to simply as Candra, now generally identified with the Gupta King Candragupta II. Some authors attempted to identify Candra with Chandragupta Maurya and yet others have claimed the pillar dates as early as 912 BCE. These views are no longer accepted.[citation needed]
The dating of the inscription is supported by the nature of the script and the Sanskrit poetics, both of which reflect the conventions of Gupta times. Thanks to the tablets installed on the building in 1903 by Pandit Banke Rai, the reading provided by him enjoys wide currency. His interpretation has, however, been overtaken by more recent scholarship. The 1903 tablets read as follows:
He, on whose arm fame was inscribed by the sword, when, in battle in the Vanga countries (Bengal), he kneaded (and turned) back with (his) breast the enemies who, uniting together, came against (him);-he, by whom, having crossed in warfare the seven mouths of the (river) Sindhu, the Vahlikas were conquered;-he, by the breezes of whose prowess the southern ocean is even still perfumed;-
Ancient India vis-à-vis Modern Science.'s photo.Ancient India vis-à-vis Modern Science.'s photo. He, the remnant of the great zeal of whose energy, which utterly destroyed (his) enemies, like (the remnant of the great glowing heat) of a burned-out fire in a great forest, even now leaves not the earth; though he, the king, as if wearied, has quit this earth, and has gone to the other world, moving in (bodily) from to the land (of paradise) won by (the merit of his) actions, (but) remaining on (this) earth by (the memory of his) fame;- (L. 5.)-By him, the king,-who attained sole supreme sovereignty in the world, acquired by his own arm and (enjoyed) for a very long time; (and) who, having the name of Chandra, carried a beauty of countenance like (the beauty of) the full-moon,-having in faith fixed his mind upon (the god) Vishnu, this lofty standard of the divine Vishnu was set up on the hill (called) Vishnupada.
The inscription has been revisited by Michael Willis in his book Archaeology of Hindu Ritual, his special concern being the nature of the king's spiritual identity after death. His reading and translation is as follows:
Ancient India vis-à-vis Modern Science.'s photo. [khi]nnasyeva visṛjya gāṃ narapater ggām āśritasyetarāṃ mūrtyā karrmajitāvaniṃ gatavataḥ kīrtyā sthitasya kṣitau [*|]
śāntasyeva mahāvane hutabhujo yasya pratāpo mahān nādyāpy utsṛjati praṇāśitaripor yyatnasya śeṣaḥ kṣitim [||*]
The residue of the king's effort – a burning splendour which utterly destroyed his enemies – leaves not the earth even now, just like (the residual heat of) a burned-out conflagration in a great forest. He, as if wearied, has abandoned this world, and resorted in actual form to the other world – a place won by the merit of his deeds – (and although) he has departed, he remains on earth through (the memory of his) fame (kīrti).

He concludes: "Candragupta may have passed away but the legacy of his achievement is so great that he seems to remain on earth by virtue of his fame. Emphasis is placed on Candragupta’s conquest of enemies and the merit of his deeds, ideas which are also found in coin legends: kṣitim avajitya sucaritair divaṃ jayati vikramādityaḥ, i.e. ‘Having conquered the earth with good conduct, Vikramāditya conquered heaven’. The king’s conquest of heaven combined with the description of him resorting to the other world in bodily form (gām āśritasyetarāṃ mūrtyā), confirms our understanding of the worthy dead as autonomous theomorphic entities."
One of the later inscriptions dates to A.D. 1052 mentions Tomara king Anangpal II. This has suggested by some, without any substantial basis, that the pillar was installed in its current location by Vigraha Rāja, the ruling Tomar king.
A significant indentation on the middle section of the pillar, approximately 156 inches (396 centimeters) from the current courtyard ground level, has been shown to be the result of a cannonball fired at close range. The impact caused horizontal fissuring of the column in the area diametrically opposite to the indentation site, but the column itself remained intact. While no contemporaneous records, inscriptions, or documents describing the event are known to exist, historians generally agree that Nadir Shah is likely to have ordered the pillar's destruction during his invasion of Delhi in 1739 AD, as he would have considered a Hindu temple monument undesirable within an Islamic mosque complex. Alternatively, he may have sought to dislodge the decorative top portion of the pillar in search of hidden precious stones or other items of value.
The Free Encyclopedia.

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