This Day in History (14-Jan-3102BC) – Epoch (origin) of the Kali Yuga

Kali Yuga or “age of Kali”, or “age of vice” is the last of the four stages the world goes through as part of the cycle of yugas described in the Sanskrit scriptures. The other ages are Satya or Krita Yuga (Golden Age), Treta Yuga (Silver Age) and the Dwapara Yuga (Bronze Age). The Krita Yuga was so named because there was but one religion, and all men were saintly: therefore they were not required to perform religious ceremonies. Men neither bought nor sold; there were no poor and no rich; there was no need to labour, because all that men required was obtained by the power of will.  In the Treta Yuga sacrifices began; virtue lessened a quarter. Mankind sought truth and performed religious ceremonies; they obtained what they desired by giving and by doing. In the Dwapara Yuga, religion lessened one-half. The Veda was divided into four parts, and although some had knowledge of the four Vedas, others knew but three or one. Mind lessened, Truth declined, and there came desire and diseases and calamities; because of these men had to undergo penances. It was a decadent Age by reason of the prevalence of sin.

The duration and chronological starting point in human history of Kali Yuga has given rise to different evaluations and interpretations. According to the Surya Siddhanta, Kali Yuga began at midnight (00:00) on 18 February 3102 BCE  in the proleptic Julian calendar, or 14 January 3102 BC in the proleptic Gregorian calendar. It is supposed to have started thirty-five years after the conclusion of the great battle of the Mahabharata. This date is also considered by many Hindus to be the day that Lord Krishna left Earth to return to his abode.

The Kali Yuga is sometimes thought to last 432,000 years, although other durations like 1200 years have been proposed. Hindus believe that human civilization degenerates spiritually during the Kali Yuga because in it people are as far away as possible from God.

 

Reference:

http://www.historyorb.com/day/january/14

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kali_Yuga

http://www.grahamhancock.com/forum/DMisraB6.php#ednref_1

This Day in History (11-Jan-630) – The Prophet Muhammad Conquers Mecca

Once a resident of Mecca, Prophet Muhammad was forced to flee in 622 after being persecuted and threatened with assassination. In 628, the Prophet Muhammad set out with about 1400 Muslims from Medina to perform umrah, the minor pilgrimage. When they reached the outskirts of Mecca, the Prophet sent an emissary to the Meccans for peace agreement. The Muslims were not permitted to perform the pilgrimage that year, but an agreement was reached between the Muslims and Quraysh called ‘Treaty of Hudaybiyah’. According to the treaty, when the Muslims returned for the pilgrimage, the Meccans would clear the city so that the Muslims could perform the ritual peacefully. Finally, the treaty outlined a plan for 10 years of peace between the two sides, preventing any bloodshed. However, two years later there was a violation of the agreement. One of the tribes allied with the Meccans attacked and killed some members of a tribe allied with the Muslims. This incident dissolved the treaty.

By this time, the Muslims had become a formidable force and so in 630 the Prophet Muhammad decided to take an army of 10,000 towards Mecca. Once the Muslims had reached Mecca, the leaders of Quraysh surrendered.  The Meccans were afraid about the impending conquest of their. When the Prophet Muhammad and the Muslims entered the area of the Kaba, he announced clemency for everyone in Mecca who no longer wished to fight the Muslims: “This day no reproach shall be on you. God will forgive you; He is the Most Merciful of the Merciful. You can go away!”

Many of the Meccans, who were expecting some sort of punishment, were surprised by the Prophet’s statement and some decided to become Muslim. Thus, the conquest of Mecca was bloodless and ended years of warfare and violence between Quraysh and the Muslims. Prophet Muhammad could have exacted revenge, in accordance with the traditions of the Arabs, but instead he showed mercy on the Meccans. This is an important reminder for Muslims even to the present day about how conflict should be addressed. Finally, the conquest was a defining moment because it established Islam on the Arabian Peninsula, from there it spread to become a major world religion.

Reference:

http://www.mapsofworld.com/on-this-day/january-11-630-the-prophet-muhammad-conquers-mecca

http://insideislam.wisc.edu/2012/04/important-events-the-conquest-of-mecca/

This Day in History (8-Jan-1025) – Mehmud of Ghazni completely destroyed the Temple of Somnath

Until the rise of the west, India was possibly the richest country in the world. Such a country presented an irresistible target for the ravening Mongols and their descendants who settled in present day Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, all within comparatively easy reach of north-western India. The northwest was, at this time, a mish-mash of warring kingdoms, more interested in sending scores with their neighbours than in unifying against the Mongols. It is then unsurprising that Mahmud Ghazni’s armies so handily defeated those of the Indian kings. Mahmud began a series of seventeen raids into northwestern India at the end of the 10th century. Nonetheless, he did not attempt to rule Indian Territory except for Punjab, which was his gateway to India.

Somnath Temple located in the Kathiarwar region of Gujarat, is one of the twelve Jyotiriings symbols of the God Shiva. It is mentioned in the Rig Veda. Somnath mean “The Protector of Moon God’. It is known as “the Shrine Eternal’ as although the temple has been destroyed six times it has been rebuilt every single time. The first temple of Somnath is said to have existed before the beginning of the Christian era. The second temple, built by the Maitraka kings of Vallabhi in Gujarat, replaced the first one on the same site around 649 AD. In 725 Junayad, the Arab governor of Sind sent his armies to destroy the second temple. The Pratihara king Nagabhata II constructed the third temple in 815 AD, a large structure of red sandstone.

Mahmud of Ghazni attacked this temple in 1025 AD, and looted it of gems and precious stones. He then massacred the worshippers and had the temple burnt. It was then that the famous Shiva lingam of the temple was entirely destroyed. The temple and citadel were sacked, and most of its defenders massacred; Mahmud personally hammered the temple’s gilded lingam to pieces and the stone fragments were carted back to Ghazni, where they were incorporated into the steps of the city’s new Jamiah Masjid.

However as very little evidences or descriptions of said era are available, there are multiple versions of this raid and what was probably looted during the raid.

 

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://www.winentrance.com/general_knowledge/history/mahumud-ghazni.html

This Day in History (6-Jan-1929) – Mother Teresa Arrives in India

Mother Teresa, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, was resident of Macedonia. At the age of 18 she joined a group of nuns in Ireland. After a few months of training, she was given permission to travel to India. On her arrival in India, she began by working as a teacher. She took her formal religious vows in 1931 at Darjeeling, and chose to be named after St Therese of Lisieux – the patron saint of missionaries. The widespread poverty of Calcutta made a deep impression on her; and this led to her starting a new order called “The Missionaries of Charity”. The primary objective of this mission was to look after people, who nobody else was prepared to look after.

She experienced two particularly traumatic periods in Calcutta. The first was the Bengal famine of 1943 and the second was the Hindu/Muslim violence in 1946 – before the partition of India. In 1948, she left the convent to live full time amongst the poorest of Calcutta. She chose to wear a white Indian Sari, with blue trimmings – out of respect for the traditional Indian dress. For many years, Mother Teresa and a small band of fellow nuns survived on minimal income and food, often having to beg for funds. Slowly her efforts with the poorest were noted and appreciated by the local community and Indian politicians.

In 1952, she opened her first home for the dying, which allowed people to die with dignity. Mother Teresa often spent time with those who were dying. It afforded many neglected people the opportunity to die knowing someone cared. Those in her dying homes were given the religious rites appropriate to their faith. Over the course of the 1950s and 1960s, she established a leper colony, an orphanage, a nursing home, a family clinic and a string of mobile health clinics. The Missionaries of Charity now has branches throughout the world including branches in the developed world where they work with the homeless and people affected with AIDS.

In 1979, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitutes a threat to peace”. Following her death, Mother Teresa was formally beatified in October 2003 by Pope John Paul II and is now known as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

Reference:

http://www.mapsofworld.com/on-this-day/january-6-1929-mother-teresa-arrives-in-india

http://www.biographyonline.net/nobelprize/mother_teresa.html

http://www.biography.com/people/mother-teresa-9504160#religious-calling

This Day in History (25-Dec-1651) – Massachusetts General Court ordered a five shilling fine for “observing any such day as Christmas”

Puritanism was a religious reform movement in the late 16th and 17th centuries that sought to “purify” the Church of England of remnants of the Roman Catholic “popery”. They had firm views on religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Scripture did not name any holiday except the Sabbath, they argued, and the very concept of “holy days” implied that some days were not holy. “They for whom all days are holy can have no holiday,” was a common Puritan maxim.

Puritans did not like Christmas as it did not originate as a Christian holiday. The upper classes in ancient Rome celebrated Dec. 25 as the birthday of the sun god Mithra. The date fell right in the middle of Saturnalia, a monthlong holiday dedicated to food, drink, and revelry.  Pope Julius I is said to have chosen that day to celebrate Christ’s birth as a way of co-opting the pagan rituals. Beyond that, the Puritans considered it historically inaccurate to place the Messiah’s arrival on Dec. 25. They thought Jesus had been born sometime in September. Also during Christmas, as a ritual, the rich people offer drinks to poor causing them into bawdy drunkenness. Such decadence never impressed religious purists. “Men dishonor Christ more in the 12 days of Christmas,” wrote the 16th-century clergyman Hugh Latimer, “than in all the 12 months besides.”

Puritans in the English Parliament eliminated Christmas as a national holiday in 1645, amid widespread anti-Christmas sentiment. Settlers in New England (six states in Northeast part of USA including Massachusetts) went even further, outlawing Christmas celebrations entirely. Anyone caught shirking their work duties or feasting on Christmas day was forced to pay a significant penalty of five shillings. Christmas returned to England in 1660, but in New England it remained banned until the 1680s. Christmas Day was formally declared a federal holiday in US by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1870.

Reference:

 http://theweek.com/article/index/222676/when-americans-banned-christmas

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/484034/Puritanism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puritan

This Day in History (6-Nov-1979) – Ayatolla Khomeini takes over in Iran

Ruhollah Khomeini became a religious scholar and in the early 1920s rose to become an ‘ayatollah’, a term for a leading Shia scholar. In 1962, Khomeini began protesting the intentions of the Shah, then ruler of Iran who was promoting secularism. Khomeini’s first act of defiance was to organize the ulama (religious leaders) against a proposed law of the Shah’s that would effectively end the requirement for elected officials to be sworn in on the Qu’ran.  Khomeini was arrested by the shah’s security service for his outspoken opposition to the pro-Western regime of the Shah. His arrest elevated him to the status of national hero. In 1964, he was exiled, living in Turkey, Iraq and then France, from where he urged his supporters to overthrow the shah. By the late 1970s, the shah had become deeply unpopular and there were riots, strikes and mass demonstrations across the country.

In January 1979, the shah’s government collapsed and he and his family fled into exile. On 1 February, Khomeini returned to Iran in triumph. There was a national referendum and Khomeini won a landslide victory. He declared an Islamic republic and was appointed Iran’s political and religious leader for life. Islamic law was introduced across the country. His denunciation of American influence led to militant Islamic students storming the US Embassy in Teheran in November 1979. Some of the American hostages were held captive for more than a year.

In September 1980, after a territorial dispute over the Shatt al-Arab waterway, Iraq launched a surprise invasion of Iran. The resulting war lasted eight years and between half and one-and-a-half million people died. Neither side achieved their aim of toppling the other’s regime. The war extinguished some of the zeal of the Islamic revolution in Iran and led some Iranians to question the capabilities of their leaders. In February 1989 Khomeini provoked international controversy by issuing a ‘fatwa’, ordering Muslims to kill the writer Salman Rushdie for his novel ‘The Satanic Verses’. Khomeini died the same year. Iran remains a religion-based society, and Khomeini’s life’s work and decade of rule will no doubt continue to influence the country far into the future.

 

Reference:

http://www.historyorb.com/day/november/6?p=2

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/khomeini_ayatollah.shtml

http://www.biography.com/people/ayatollah-ruhollah-khomeini-13680544#political-and-religious-leader

This Day in History (2-Nov-1953) – Pakistan becomes Islamic republic

When India and Pakistan became independent states in 1947, each inherited a bristling minority problem. Twelve million apprehensive Hindus stayed in Pakistan; 43 million Muslims stayed in India. The Indian Parliament guaranteed its minorities equality, and Prime Minister Nehru conspicuously appointed Muslims and Christians to his Cabinet. But Pakistan, in framing its own constitution, chose the dark path which might lead to theocracy and fear. The Constituent Assembly ruled that the nation should become “the Islamic Republic of Pakistan” (presumably within the British Commonwealth, like India)

Pakistan became independent of the United Kingdom in 1947, but remained a British Dominion like Canada or Australia until 1956. Under Section 8 of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, with certain adaptations, served as the working constitution of Pakistan, but the need of a full independence and a constitution to be framed by the elected representatives of the people was all the more necessary for the free citizens of a sovereign state. Since India became a republic in 1950, the feeling had increased that Pakistan should assume the same special status that India felt she had attained. Republican sentiment had almost certainly been further strengthened by what many Pakistanis consider Britain’s failure to support her openly in the Kashmir dispute. Even so, Pakistan had no present intention of dissociating herself from the Commonwealth. A proposal to do so was quietly dropped.

There was no indication of what precisely the term ‘Islamic Republic’ would mean, but the leader of the Hindu members of the Constituent Assembly, who walked out in protest, had already labelled it as.” an attempt to make Pakistan a theocratic State,” in which Hindus (13 per cent of the population) would be placed on a separate electoral rolls, denied the highest office of State, and forced into a position of inferiority. Certainly it would not help to solve the problem of the Hindus of East Bengal, nor improve relations with India.

Pakistan was the first country to become Islamic Republic, followed by Mauritania, Iran and Afganistan over a period.

 

Reference:

http://www.historyorb.com/day/november/2

http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,819249,00.html

http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/6th-november-1953/4/the-islamic-republic-of-pakistan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_republic