Friday, April 14, 2017

Review of Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus: An Alternative History

Best use of Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus: An Alternative History (read my review):

The meaning of April 14

April 14 is not only Bengali New Year, but also New Year in other parts of India: Odisha (Pana Sankranti), Tamil Nadu (Puthandu), Kerala (Vishu), Assam (Bihu), and Vaisakhi (Punjab). In Punjab, it also commemorates the formation of the Khalsa, or Sikh community, by Guru Gobind Singh.

Formation of the Khalsa

April 14 is Mesha Sankranti, the day that the sun transits into Aries. The picture below shows a painted relief of Zodiac symbols on the terrace of a Gopuram at Kanipakam Lord Shiva temple in Andhra Pradesh. 

By Adityamadhav83 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.
April 14 is also New Year in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Sri Lanka, parts of Vietnam, and Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China (borders Thailand).  These New Years are collectively referred to as Songkran (Songkran = Sankranti).

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Red River Delta

Cross-border riverine issues have long been of interest to me. In 1995, my husband and I visited Assam and even took a rafting trip on one of the Brahmputra's tributaries. In 1998, I had the privilege of going to Tibet, where I traveled along the Yarlung Tsangpo River, as the river is known in its upper reaches.

Last month, the East-West Center in Washington, DC hosted a seminar on The Upstream Superpower: China’s Transboundary River Policies, presented by Dr. Selina Ho of the National University of Singapore. The entire seminar is presented below (apologies for the video quality, but that’s what E-W Center provided):

An audience member raised the issue of the Red River, which flows through China and Vietnam. Naturally, I had to launch ArcMap to create a map. You may see the map of the Red River Delta and find information about how I created the map on the Bahu of Bengal Facebook page.

UNESCO has designated the Red River Delta as a biosphere reserve notable for mangroves and intertidal habitats.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Bahu of Bengal reviews Buddhisms by John S. Strong

Buddhisms: An IntroductionBuddhisms: An Introduction by John S. Strong
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Buddhisms is a fine reference book on Buddhism. Addition of a glossary would enhance its value as a reference book.

The title Buddhisms inspired me to create a Facebook photo album with the same name. The Buddhisms photo album shows how the Buddha is imagined across Asia.

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Saturday, January 03, 2015

Review of S.L. Bhyrappa's Aavarana

AavaranaAavarana by S.L. Bhyrappa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I discovered Aavarana through the article Rending the veil of historical negationism in India on the IndiaFacts web site. Interestingly, Sandeep Balakrishna, the "writer, columnist, translator, and recovering IT professional" who translated Aavarana from Kannada to English, heads IndiaFacts.

Much of the history of the Muslim conquest of India was already familiar to me, so initially I thought that this book was merely polemic. Indeed, I have read some of the references that Bhyrappa cleverly inserted in the narrative.

The book closes with the words of Swami Vivekananda on the dangers of stumbling upon an inspired superconscious state without undertaking yogic discipline. Swami ji used Muhammad as a prime example. I had attended a study sponsored by the Vedanta Center, in which the swami bypassed these words, perhaps out of embarrassment of Swami Vivekananda’s forthrightness.

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