Songtsen Gampo : The First Emperor & Dharam Rajah of Tibet


History that our parents knew but was never taught to us and may never be taught to our descendants!

Tibetan Empire

Tibet before Emperor Songtsen Gampo’s Reign

Prior to the rule of Songtsen Gampo Tibet was ruled by the Yarlung Dynasty.

The Pre-Imperial Tibet refers to the Yarlung Dynasty Era of Tibet, before the rise of the Tibetan Empire in the 7th century.

Yarlung, located 55 miles south east of Lhasa, is a place that figures prominently in both Tibetan history and the Tibetan identity. Yarlung was home to the first king of Tibet, Nyatri Tsenpo, and remained the capital of the Tibetan empire until it was moved to Lhasa in the seventh century by Emperor Songsten Gampo.

The Yarlung Dynasty reached its peak during the military successes of the seventh and eighth centuries and abruptly came to an end in 842 due to the assassination of King Lang Darma’s. This event threw the empire into a century-long period of political fragmentation and chaos.

Despite that the Yarlung dynasty would never recover its previous glory, it was nevertheless nostalgically portrayed by Tibetan historiographers as the “Golden Age” of Tibetan history. The tombs of the great Yarlung Emperors are still located in the Yarlung region to this day, and are important destinations of pilgrimage.

According to the traditional account, the first king of the Yarlung Dynasty (Yar-klungs) in Central Tibet came there from the central North Indian kingdom of Magadha.

He was called Nyatri Tsenpo (gNya’-khri btsan-po) and it was thought that he descended from the sky. [The Tibetan calendar starts its count of “Tibetan royal years” (bod rgyal-lo) from this date, 127 BCE.] He and the next six kings were said to have returned to the sky by a “sky-rope” at their deaths, since they were not buried in tombs. From the time of the eighth Yarlung king, Drigum Tsenpo (Gri-gum btsan-po), however, there are tombs and so, in a sense, Tibetan history begins here.

Drigum Tsenpo’s successor, Chatri Tsenpo (Bya-khri btsan-po), also called Pudekungyel (Pu-de kun-rgyal or Pu-de gung-rgyal), the ninth in this line of kings, was a contemporary of the Han Emperor of China, Han Wudi (140 – 85 BCE). Pudekungyel brought much material progress to Tibet. He is famous for having commissioned the building of canals and bridges. Under him, iron and copper ore were discovered in Tibet.

Eighteen generations of kings later, the twenty-eighth Yarlung king, Lhatotori Nyentsen (Lha-tho-tho-ri gNyan-btsan) (b. 173 CE) received [a basket of] Buddhist scriptures from India, written in Sanskrit. It was known as “The Tough Mystery” (gNyan-po gsang-ba), [According to other traditional sources, a basket fell from the sky. In it, was a Sanskrit sutra, called Sutra on the Array Like a Woven Basket (Za-ma-tog bkod-pa’i mdo, Skt. Karandavyuha Sutra), concerning the altruistic deeds of the Buddha-figure of compassion, Avalokiteshvara.

The basket also contained the six-syllable mantra of Avalokiteshvara, The Sutra of the Seal for Ridding and Restoring (Spang-skong phyag-rgya-pa’i mdo) concerning methods for taming half-human half-serpent nagas, and a golden reliquary stupa. “The Tough Mystery” refers to all four objects in the basket.] This occurred in 233 CE.

To commemorate this important event, Tibetan currency notes are dated according to the number of years that have passed since then.


The Rule of Emperor Songtsen Gampo

Songtsen Gampo (reigned 617-650) was the First Emperor & Dharmaraja of Tibet.

Songtsen Gampo was born at Gyama in Meldro, a region to the northeast of modern Lhasa), the son of  Yarlung king Namri Songtsen.

The book “The Holder of the White Lotus” says that it is believed that he was a manifestation of Avalokitesvara, of whom the Dalai Lamas are similarly believed to be manifestations.

His identification as a chakravartin and incarnation of Avalokitesvara began in earnest in the indigenous Buddhist literary histories of the 11th century. He is regarded as responsible for the creation of Tibetan alphabet and therefore the establishment of Classical Tibetan, the language spoken in his region at the time, as the literary language of Tibet.

He is also credited with the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet and laying the foundation of the Jokhang Temple.The temple’s architectural style is a mixture of Indian vihara design, Tibetan and Nepalese design.

According to tradition, the temple was built for the king’s two brides: Princess Wencheng of the Chinese Tang dynasty and Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal. Both are said to have brought important Buddhist statues and images from China and Nepal to Tibet, which were housed here, as part of their dowries. The oldest part of the temple was built-in 652.


Songtsen Gampo ascended the throne at the age of thirteen. To arrange an alliance with Nepal, he sent a minister there to arrange a marriage for him with the Princess Bhrikuti Devi (Lha-mo Khro-gnyer-can-ma). When she came to Tibet for the marriage, she brought with her a statue of the Buddha-figure Akshobhya.

Songtsän Gampo is said to have sent his minister Thonmi Sambhota to India to devise a script for Classical Tibetan, which led to the creation of the first Tibetan literary works and translations, court records and a constitution. It is unclear when Songtsen Gampo sent his minister Tonmi Sambhota (Thon-mi Sambhota) to learn Sanskrit.

He studied it, however, in Kashmir, from the tutors Lipikara (Li-byin) and Devavidyasimha (Lha rig-pa’i seng-ge). When Tonmi Sambhota returned to Tibet, he developed a script for writing the Tibetan language, based on the Indian Brahmi and Gupta scripts. Consequently, he translated The Tough Mystery texts into Tibetan.

After Thonmi Sambhota returned from India,Songtsen Gampo stayed in a cave for three years with Thonmi Sambhota to learn whatever he had learned in India.

After securing the alliance with Nepal, Songtsen Gampo now sought a similar alliance with China through a marriage with Princess Wencheng (Tib.: Win-chang Kong-jo, Wun-shing Kong-jo), the daughter of the Tang Emperor Taizong (r. 627 – 650).

This arrangement was delayed, however, because Thokiki (Tho-ki-ki), the ruler of the Tuyuhun (Thu-lu-hun,‘A-zha) Kingdom in the Kokonor region [of northern Amdo, present-day Qinghai Province of China], was also seeking a marriage with the princess. The Tuyuhun had ruled this region from the beginning of the fourth century.

These two wives are credited in Tibetan tradition in playing crucial roles in the adoption of Buddhism in Tibet and held to explain the two great influences on Tibetan Buddhism, Indo-Nepali and Chinese.

Songsten Gampo

Songtsen Gampo was intent on building an extensive empire beyond Central Tibet, first to the north and the east. A long period of wars ensued, during which he conquered the Qiang (Cang), Bailan (sBa’i-lang), and Dangxian (Thang-shang) tribes.

Now the ruler of a much greater realm, the Tibetan Emperor Songtsen-gampo asked the Chinese Emperor Taizong once more for his princess in marriage. When he was refused, Songtsen-gampo attacked the Chinese frontier province of Songzhou in present-day Sizhuan Province. Finally, he received the Chinese princess as his bride in 641. She brought with her to Tibet another Buddha image.

The Tibetan Emperor built two temples in the city of Rasa (Ra-sa), later known as Lhasa (Lha-sa), to house the two Buddha images brought by his Nepali and Chinese wives. Ramoche Tsuglagkang (Ra-mo-che tsug-lag-khang) was constructed for the Nepali statue and Rasa Trulnang Tsuglagkang (Ra-sa ‘phrul-snang tsug-lag-khang), later called the Jokang (Jo-khang), for the Chinese one. For security reasons, the location of the two statues was interchanged during the next generation.

During this period, Songtsen Gampo further extended the Tibetan Empire to parts of northern Burma and, in 640, to Nepal as well.

This was the origin of the Tibetan family clans in Nepal of Tsang (gTsang), Lama (Bla-ma), Sherpa (Shar-pa), and Tamang (rTa-mang).

Songtsen Gampo’s two queens can be credited for a great part of his cultural awareness. Bhirkuti, from Kathmandu, brought the traditions of Himalayan Buddhism. Princess Wengchin, daughter of the Tang emperor, brought a treasure trove of ancient Chinese wisdom. She travelled across the steppes to her husband with a collection of Chinese classic literature and texts on sacred astrology, geomancy, and medicine.

Paro Tshechu

In 643, the Tibetan Empire further expanded as Legmi (Legs-mi) [more commonly known in Tibetan as Li Migkya (Li Mig-rkya, Zhang-zhung: Lig-myi-rhya)], the last ruler of Zhang-zhung, submitted and Zhang-zhung became a vassal state.

Taking advantage of the good relations between Tibet and China, Songtsen Gampo, in 645, sent a request to the Tang Emperor and subsequently built a temple on Wutaishan (Ri-bo rtse-lnga), the five-peaked sacred mountain of the Buddha-figure Manjushri [in present-day Shanxi Province].

In 648, the Chinese Emperor Taizong sent a good-will mission to the Indian Emperor Harsha (r. 606 – 647). When the mission arrived, Harsha had already passed away and had been succeeded by Arjuna, his minister. Arjuna was intolerant of Buddhism, and accordingly, had most of the Chinese mission killed.

The survivors fled to Nepal and sought Tibetan help there. Subsequently, the Tibetan armies invaded and defeated Arjuna in Bihar.

This defeat was not recorded, however, in Indian histories. Songtsen Gampo died shortly thereafter in 649.


Additional Information:

The Tibetan Script

According to A. F. Rudolf Hoernle (Manuscript Remains of Buddhist Literature Found in Eastern Turkistan), the Tibetan script was developed primarily from the Khotanese adaptation of the Indian Upright Gupta script.

This is inferred from the Tibetan and Khotanese scripts employing similar manners for indicating initial and long vowels and for placing vowels in the order of their alphabets. These manners differ significantly from those used in most other Indian-derived scripts.

Khotan (Li-yul) was a Buddhist kingdom on the Silk Route along the southwestern rim of the Tarim Basin, just north of western Tibet. Its people were of Iranian origin and its form of Buddhism derived from India.

A trade route ran from Khotan to Tibet via Kashmir and therefore, as A. H. Francke asserts (“The Tibetan Alphabet,” Epigraphia India, vol. 11), it is not unreasonable that Tonmi Sambhota met and studied with a Khotanese tutor in Kashmir.

“Li-byin,” the Tibetan name for the tutor Lipikara, translates as “Script-maker” or “Script-Giver.” He is traditionally said to have been a South Indian Brahmin. The first syllable in his Tibetan name, however, could indicate this Khotanese origin, since “Li” is the Tibetan name for “Khotan.” Thus, “Li-byin” could mean “The (Script)-giver from Khotan.” But “Li” could also be the transliteration of the first syllable of “Lipikara,” since the Tibetan language would not have had an indigenous word for “script” at that time.

In Necklace of Gzi, Namkhai Norbu asserts that the form of the letters in the Tibetan script was derived from an older Zhang-zhung alphabet, called “Maryig” (smar-yig), which ultimately would have also derived from an Indian script. Zhang-zhung (Zhang-zhung) was a kingdom in Ngari (mNga-‘ris), Western Tibet, that predated Songtsen Gampo and was the homeland of the native Tibetan Bon religion.

It had eighteen kings before the first Yarlung ruler, Nyatri Tsenpo. Tonmi Sambhota would have needed to pass through Zhang-zhung in order to reach Kashmir. “Li” is also the name of a district in Zhang-zhung and was part of the name of the Zhang-zhung royal family. Thus, “Li-byin” could alternatively mean “The (Script)-giver from the Zhang-zhung Royal Family.” More likely, then, the Tibetan script was influenced by all three sources: Indian, Khotanese, and Zhang-zhung.

Bhod Gyalo!

Tibetan Script

Further Reading :

Songtsen Gampo : First Emperor of a Unified Tibet

Dharma Kings: Recalling the Tibetan Empire Era

Tibetan Invasion of North India

Authenticating Tibet: Answers to China’s 100 Questions

Extracts of the book – Authenticating Tibet

Tibet Dance

My Support for Gorkhaland State

Gorkhaland People

“If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gorkha.”

– Indian Army Chief of Staff Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw ( 1914-2008 )

Gorkhaland Demand

The demand for Gorkhaland State is not a recent event but has existed since 1907; two mass movements for Gorkhaland largely ignored by the “mainstream” print and television media have taken place under the Gorkha National Liberation Front (1986–1988) and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (2007–present).

There was no “West Bengal” in 1907 & it remains a matter of surprise that how did a region that was part of Chogyal Kingdom of Sikkim, later conquered and lost by Gorkhas of Nepal, handed over to British Imperialists ended up with Bengal???

Like Bodoland, my support is also for Gorkhaland State, again I don’t care what others think, as they feel Gorkhaland is too far & not our problem to be concerned about.

The region now known as Gorkhaland was never a part of any Bengali land!

Gorkhaland Map

The Bengalis are being very naive when they raise hue & cry calling Gorkhaland’s creation as “Partition of Bengal”!

Oh for God’s sake this is laughable as what were the Bengali “Bhadralok” doing in 1947 during the communal partition of India  when Hindu majority Khulna ended up with East Pakistan & Muslim majority Murshidabad that celebrated Pakistan’s Independence Day in August 14 1947 end up with West Bengal!

Also Bengal got territory after the Kingdom of Cooch Behar was dissolved & merged with West Bengal in 1950 which was another impulsive move by the then Government of India as the Kingdom of Cooch Behar could have become the present day Kamtapur State!

Like Bodoland, successive Governments of India are ignoring Gorkhaland which is not right, it seems irrespective of which party or coalition rules from New Delhi they all seem to avoid confrontation with All India Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee whose party currently rules West Bengal.

Mamata Didi  thunders now and then from Nabanna and earlier Alimuddin Street warning the Central Government to stay away from the “Hills of Bengal” and Gorkhaland agitators to stop the protest come what may, as if anybody cares or gives two hoots to what she think!

Gorkhaland Protest II

The Bengali arrogance over Gorkhaland is likely to complicate matters in the coming days, as little or no effort has been made either by the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front government that ruled West Bengal for 34 years or the present All India Trinamool Congress  to understand the reasons behind the demand for Gorkhaland.

Chief Ministers of West Bengal irrespective of which party or ideology they hail from have long been rejected as leaders in Gorkhaland!

There are also rumors being spread by Anti Gorkhaland Bengali groups that claim Gorkhaland if created may join Nepal which is absurd, to this my counter point is that Sikkim is a good example of a Nepali majority state that is doing quite well on its own and is not even talking about any “merger” with Nepal.

Also the Government of India needs not to be very caution when it deals with the Gorkhaland demand and must never forget the sacrifices of Gorkha Regiment in defending India’s honor against foreign aggression, doubting the Gorkhas will make India nail its own head!

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha

My suggestion is that if the Government of India is confused about Gorkhaland then they can initially merge the areas with Nepali Majority Sikkim, and check the outcome!

The way lawlessness and anarchy is spreading in the two Bengals one headed by Shaikh Hasina and other by Mamata Banerjee it is very important that India’s Eastern border with Bangladesh is secured and defended most important is to defend the Siliguri corridor ie “Chicken Neck” area of India, If the area falls under those hostile to India, once captured Silguri Corridor, the rest of North East India will be cut from the Indian land.

In such a situation the Gorkhas would be the best to defend and push Bangladeshi Miyas who now have a free run due to Bengali Dalals who for some commission allow Bangladeshis to enter and exit as if it’s their own backyard with no accountability to the Nations security concerns! Security agencies must take note of the importance of “Chicken’s neck” in defending India’s eastern border!

When will Gorkhaland be established?, I don’t know, Will it happen in our lifetime?, I dont know but I know for sure that more Government after Government in New Delhi delays the more complicated it will get.  A time might come when negotiation table policy won’t work!

Gorkhaland Women

The Congress party’s unique “vote bank politics” makes them shy away from Gorkhaland as in Bodoland they know that their incompetent administration based on “commission dalal’s”, two timers, mafia middlemen and racketeers will gradually be pushed off like it’s happened in Sikkim so they are shy to discuss the state hood demand!

They know they won’t be voted back to power in the state even if they helped in creating it, most likely in a strange turn of tragic events they lose in both, the state they partition ( Andhra Pradesh ) and the new state they create ( Telangana ).

The BJP on the other hand that fielded its experienced blue-chip leaders like Surendrajeet Singh Ahluwalia and Jaswant Singh from Darjeeling must come up with more competitive assurances than empty slogans & mixed signals and like Telangana the BJP needs to be outright honest with the people of Darjeeling whether they will establish or at least assist in establishing Gorkhaland now that they have been voted into power by the people!

All talk and no action will not work for the BJP in Gorkhaland, patience is wearing thin, and the BJP must act and at least initiate the groundwork for the establishment of Gorkhaland State. It will help in a big way and provide much-needed comfort to the agitating and restless people of Darjeeling ( and me ) who are very anxious to see Gorkhaland established!

My support for Gorkhaland will always be there for my Gorkha brethren in the same way as I support my Bodo brethren for Bodoland.

Jai Maha Kali, Ayo Gorkhali (Hail, Goddess Kali, The Gorkhas are here)

Gorkhaland Protest

Further Reading :

My article on Darjeeling Times, The Darjeeling Chronicle and Gorkha Youth and Students Association of India site

Gorkhaland: Facts and FAQs

Indian Gorkhas

Struggle for Gorkhaland

The Battles for Gorkhaland

Gorkhaland – the second coming

A New Gorkhaland State: How Justified is the Demand?

New Ray of Hope?

In Darjeeling, Mamata banks on identity politics

Why I support Gorkhaland: The tale of a Non-Gorkhali

Demand for Gorkhaland: What Is It and Why?

Why Gorkhaland is still a hot issue?

Narendra Modi invokes Gorhaland in Darjeeling rally

GJM triumph: Darjeeling hills vote for Gorkhaland, reject Mamata’s TMC

Why There’s A Demand For Gorkhaland State In India?

State against a new state, the Gorkhaland story

Is there an economic case for Gorkhaland?

Gorkhaland demand, ethnic politics still key cards in Darjeeling

Gorkhaland Tea

Plastic – Our Creation,Legacy and Poison on the Planet


If we humans are Earth’s worst creations, then Plastic is our worst creation!

Request you to please spare some time and read the article ( and check the image “How Long Until It’s Gone” ) as it concerns the environment, please try to reduce the use of plastic bags & feel free to tag and share the info.

Considering the extinction of various species on Earth that was facilitated by humans, its clear that we are neither sensitive or compassionate in any way and that we really really really don’t care about the planet we don’t own but in fact share with those who have been here longer than we have!

India is a developing country mind you and its not developed yet in the right terms, However ironically many behave like they are living in la la land & that they will live forever.

The reason I mention the above is cos the way i see people across me take things for granted, for example water which is scarce is treated as a commodity rather a resource!

Buying more than one fancy car that crowd the roads are a ego issue rather than necessity!

The desire to posses more than what we already have and need is a impulsive habit that is now hard to do away. We are a awfully greedy unhappy lot! Shopping is a “stress buster” or leisure for some.


Shopping happens to be a favorite mundane pastime for us, be it shopping for brands in shopping malls or be it handful of groceries, plastic bags happen to be our best buddies, we are ready for forsake the essential groceries we need if we don’t have a plastic bag to carry them!

My personal experience about use of plastic bags has disgusted and disappointed me.

I must say that as a kid I was never surrounded by so much plastic as I am now.

The bread, biscuit and chocolates were paper wrapped, not too much fancy junk was around those days, maybe cos we didn’t have so many TV channels babbling junk as they do now.

Things probably changed due to Cable TV and the Mall Lifestyle that hit the country in the beginning of 21st Century.

Mall shopping a decade ago was once a month occurrence thanks to the pricing gimmicks and host of junk food all at one place, I would see hordes of shoppers flaunting cars, card and cash stuffing themselves to glory carrying an average 4-5 bags minimum, if every month they ended up with 5 bags then what about a year and what do they do with all that plastic, certainly not plant tree or purify water?

Then came a time when fancy malls went bankrupt, even though shopping from them became a weekly affair and plastic bags were no longer free but are charged. I was surprised that some are willing to pay for plastic bag rather than carrying them from home which is bizarre, are people so lazy and arrogant or just forgetful and absentminded?

Some are so finicky, can’t name any particular state or city since I’ve had similar experiences across this country, people shop for vegetables from different vendors, demand plastic packets and prefer different vegetables in different bags which is atrocious if not stupid!

If onions or garlic mixed with other vegetables are in danger of being wet then why can’t radish, carrot and beet be in one bag?

Why do we need a plastic bag for a mere matchbox, incense stick, masala packet and shampoo sachet?


When I ask the shopkeepers or vendors that why do they dole out so many plastic bags without a moment of thought they answer it affects their biz, cos they have come across spoilt stupid customers that refuse to buy the product even if its just a mere matchbox or oil bottle if they are not given a plastic bag and some have the audacity to ask for 2 bags and not one! Hard to digest but I’m not surprised.

We must ask ourselves, what do we need so much plastic bags for? Why can we not carry the matchbox in our pockets if not hands? Why can’t we use the same plastic bag by washing and drying it, right never thought and who has so much time, such disappointing response.

For heavens sake why end up collecting plastic bags in the first place? Plastic bags are not money, we continue to horde plastic bags like money but it has no commercial value like coin or stamp collection.

I am sorry but rarely have i come across sensible sensitive people who either carry the same plastic bag / refuse plastic bags / use cloth bags that are environment friendly.

Personally, I abhor the use of plastic bags, never demand plastic bags from shopkeeper ‘s or vendors, carry my own bag ( I don’t shop if I forget to carry my bag ),request paper bag or wrap and try to the farthest limit to reuse whatever little plastic ironically finds it way eg. Bread packets, Oil and Juice bottles.

Recycling that’s being touted as the savior doesn’t work in many western societies then how do we expect it to work  for  in an already “relaxed” take for granted country like ours?

Most of the plastic that we use so freely  and discard thinking it will be recycled, many don’t even bother as to what happens, I’m upset to inform that the plastic that we discard in the end ends up in the earths water and soil and finally as poison on our plates, not bad and we deserve this as we are poisoning the planet and the planet gives it back to us!


Can we not do anything about the plastic menace? Or are we just living off this planet as if we own the universe?

Frankly, it doesn’t need much of an effort to give up use of plastic bags, if I could do it and have been continuing for so many years, so can you!

Change is possible, it starts with us!

When turtles and birds choke to death on our plastic waste

The use of plastic products dominates our daily lives. It is probably one the most versatile household items, used as carry bags, utensils, toys and you name it. It’s an easy-go-grab option when you step outdoors, for containing beverages and food items.

However this ‘glorious’ item you think is time and energy saving is the main reason for the death and extinction of a number of animals, birds and marine life, in particular. A large chunk of the discarded plastic items end up in the oceans. And all this at the cost of our convenience!

For the ones who feel that slight hint of guilt while using it, are in some way convinced that most of the discarded plastic products end up getting recycled, but this is hardly the truth. Only one fourth of it is recycled into other plastic products, again only to satiate the never ending human greed. The unrecycled waste is typically dumped in landfills where it never decomposes.

A Seattle-based photographer, Chris Jordan exposed a gut-wrenching picture of plastic products found in the stomach a bird species, called Laysan Albastross Chick found in the Mid-way Atoll, a stretch of sand and coral in the Northern Pacific Ocean. Most of these birds ingested bottle caps, cigarette lighters, toys, fishing lines and other garbage which ultimately led to their slow and excruciating death.

This group of Marine biologists from Costa-rica were appalled when they pulled out a 10-12 cm long straw out of a Turtle’s nostril. They removed the straw with a Swiss army knife.

Is it really worth the convenience that we keep harping about? All that one can do is to find ways to reduce dependence on plastic products by switching to more environmental friendly alternatives like reusable paper bags.

Think about this poor turtle the next time you mindlessly throw away plastic!


Additional Information :

Mankind is a plague upon this Earth; death and destruction are wrought in our wake with calculated precision and consistency.

Wherever we go, we bring with us the stench of plastic and waste and disregard.  The few of us who recognize our responsibility are overwhelmed, as is Mother Nature, by the horde of consumers among whom we live.

Those are harsh words, but issues such as these deserve harsh words, do they not?  Soft words are easy to ignore, easy to overlook.  But when one calls the entirety of humanity a plague, it begs a little more attention.

It can hardly be denied though that we are responsible for the poisoning of our world.


Further Reading :

India Uses Plastic Waste In New Road Construction

India Makes It Mandatory To Use Plastic Waste In Road Construction

The Terrifying True Story Of The Garbage That Could Kill The Whole Human Race

Ninety-Nine Percent Of The Ocean’s Plastic Is Missing

Plastic Oceans

Marine Microbes Digest Plastic

Plastic Debris In The Open Ocean

An Anthropogenic Marker Horizon In The Future Rock Record

Plastic Bags and Animals

Plastic Breaks Down in Ocean, After All — And Fast

The Trash Vortex

Choking the Ocean with Plastic

How to save India’s plastic-eating cows?


The Epic of Silappatikaram

Madurai Main

Silappatikaram,the forgotten ignored epic of Ancient India that was ignored to be gradually forgotten by so called mainstream secular scholars!

Silappatikaram / Silappadhigaram / Silappatikaram, republished as “The Tale of an Anklet” is one of the Five Great Epics of Tamil literature and written / composed during Sangam Period ( 3rd Century BC – 4th Century AD ).

A Jain poet-prince from Kochi (in modern Kerala) referred to by the pseudonym Ilango Adigal is credited with this work. He is reputed to have been the brother of Vel Kelu Kuttuvan, the Chera dynasty king.


As a literary work, Silappatikaram is held in high regard by the Tamil people. The nature of the book is non-religious, narrative and has a moralistic undertone. It contains three chapters and a total of 5270 lines of poetry. The epic revolves around Kannagi, who having lost her husband to a miscarriage of justice at the court of the Pandyan Dynasty, wreaks her revenge on his kingdom.

Regarded as one of the great achievements of Tamil genius, the Silappatikaram is a poetic rendition with details of Tamil culture; its varied religions; its town plans and city types; the mingling of different people; and the arts of dance and music.

Silappatikaram has been dated to likely belong to the beginning of Common era,although the author might have built upon a pre-existing folklore to spin this tale. The story involves the three Tamil kingdoms of the ancient era, which were ruled by the Chola, Pandyan and Chera dynasties.

Silappatikaram has many references to historical events and personalities, although it has not been accepted as a reliable source of history by many historians because of the inclusion of many exaggerated events and achievements to the ancient Tamil kings.

At the end of the Sangam epoch (second – third centuries CE), the Tamil country was in political confusion. The older order of the three Tamil dynasties was replaced by the invasion of the Kalabhras.

These new kings and others encouraged the religions of Buddhism and Jainism. Ilango Adigal, the author of Silappatikaram, probably lived in this period and was one of the vast numbers of Jain and Buddhist authors in Tamil poetry.

These authors, perhaps influenced by their monastic faiths, wrote books based on moralistic values to illustrate the futility of secular pleasures. Silappatikaram used akaval meter (monologue), a style adopted from Sangam literature.

Silappatikaram does not use the convention of regarding the land divisions becoming part of description of life among various communities of hero and heroine.

The epic mentions the evenings and spring season in particular as time and season that aggravates the feelings in those who are separated.

These patterns are found only in the later works of Sanskrit by Kalidasa (4th century CE).

These authors went beyond the nature of Sangam poems, which contain descriptions of human emotions and feelings in an abstract fashion, and employed fictional characters in a well-conceived narrative incorporating personal and social ramifications thus inventing Tamil Epics.

Meenakshi Temple3

Silappatikaram, The story

Kovalan, the son of a wealthy merchant in Kavirippattinam, married Kannagi, the lovely daughter of another merchant. They lived together happily, until, at a festival at the royal court, Kovalan met the dancer Madhavi and fell in love with her.

In his infatuation he forgot Kannagi and gradually spent all his wealth on the dancer. At last he was penniless, and returned repentantly to his uncomplaining wife. Their only fortune was a precious pair of anklets (cilambu— hence the name of the epic), filled with pearls, which she gave to him willingly.

With these as their capital they went to the great city of Madurai, where Kovalan hoped to recoup his fortunes by trade.

On their arrival at Madurai they found shelter in a cottage, and Kovalan went to the market to sell one of Kannagi’s anklets. But the queen of Nedunjeliyan (king of Pandyas), had just been robbed of a similar anklet by a wicked court jeweler.

The jeweler happened to see Kovalan with Kannagi’s anklet, and immediately seized it and informed the King. Guards were sent to apprehend Kovalan, who was then killed on the King’s orders.

When the news was brought to Kannagi, she went to the king, her eyes ablaze with anger. She asked him what the queen’s anklets contained – gemstones, and broke hers to reveal the pearls there, proving her husband’s innocence.

But her anger not abated, she tore out her left breast in her strong emotion. At this cue, a fire erupted and spread through Madurai and proceeded to destroy the city. Meanwhile, weakened, Kannagi made her way to a hillock outside the city, where she soon died.

Amar Chitra Katha

Silappatikaram teaches three eternal truths:

* A king failing in his duty will be punished by Dharma or justice.
* A chaste woman will be worshipped by all.
* Fate is powerful. One’s past actions will have their repercussions in the next birth.

Prince Ilango Adigal brings a heady sensuality and all-embracing humanity to his tale of a woman’s vengeance. His is an exotic South India of sandalwood breezes and dancers with ropes of pearls around their waists. In this colorful world live Buddhists, Jains, and Hindus. The streets of Puhar teem with priests and smiths and parrot-sellers.

The heroine Kannagi is the last word in dutiful wives. Not only does she forgive her husband Kovalan for spending all their money on a courtesan, she gives Kovalan her anklet to sell when he returns to her.

He tries to sell it to the king’s goldsmith, who coincidentally had stolen the queen’s anklet and decided to frame Kovalan for the theft. Without a trial, without inquiry, the king orders the execution of Kovalan.

Possessed by a semi-divine fury, Kannagi avenges her husband by torching the king’s city of Madurai. The fire only burns the evil and the corrupt.

Along with scenes of erotic dalliance and fiery vengeance, the Silappatikaram celebrates the land where, in the poet’s words, farmers are the children of the river Kauveri.

Meenakshi Temple

Further Reading:

History of Madurai

Sangam Literature

Excavations prove spread of Buddhism in TN: ASI

Buddhism In Tamil Nadu

Jainism in Tamil Nadu

Tamil Jain?


Syrian “Refugees” & Migration to Western Europe


How can you forget the Crusades??? Were they fought over nothing??? Oh I see, you simply just don’t care! Seriously, I mean who cares??

This note was originally written on September 2015 when the Syrian Refugee crisis was in its peak; it was then posted on my Facebook page and removed as per Facebook “guidelines” and I lost access to my account for over a week!

Despite writing to Facebook requesting reason for the deletion, I received no response!

Thank fully I managed to not throw the rough paper transcripts I had written but the original flavor is unfortunately lost! Blame it on writer’s block, I’m unable to re-write the exact article, However here are some of the “extracts” of the original article.

What I can’t believe is the double standards that I have to go through! Talk about Freedom of Expression or talk about Sharia on the World Wide Web! We live in strange times!

While Muslims have openly been posting hate messages,lewd photographs, ISIS and Hamas glorifying messages,threats, views of a bearded logic all to intimidate Non Muslims, they simply get away with it! No deletion, no blocks just keep posting and sharing!

I am deeply saddened and upset with the “Sharia Compliant” policy of Facebook that allows Muslim hackers or those having objections about what I write and feel  to get into my account, make my account inaccessible for days or sometimes weeks to me and then remove the articles I write!

Sadly, I don’t hope much from Facebook or its “managers”, some day I will wake up erased from Facebook, if not this world! Till then let me keep writing….

Syria Death

Migration and Immigrants are back in global headlines, thanks to the destabilization and conflicts across the Middle East initiated by the local Islamist gangs in conflict with local Governments, United States and its allies.

Particularly catchy are the headlines and accompanied frenzy news reports about Syrian refugees trying to make it from the borders of Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Italy to the Western European Union or the Euro zone Countries.

While it’s a different topic to debate that how much the European countries abhor and have a distaste for the Syrian refugees or immigrants in general or those fleeing conflict from forcing into their countries by complaining that the immigrants are bringing in disease, poverty, conflict, radical Islam and other social evils right on their “progressive” door step!

Europe now faces a very awkward moment in its History ( perhaps the last time it witnessed immigrations in such a  scale  was during World War II ) of playing the reluctant host to immigrant’s that it really doesn’t want, refugees from Syria & other conflict inflicted areas.

Since Iraq has now become too repetitive and monotonous to talk and debate, Syria (and partially Libya and Yemen) is the new focus of interest. The Western interference began in Syria during the course of Syrian Civil War ( I have covered the Syrian Civil War on a separate note, unfortunately that note written in June 2015 is no longer available as it was also deleted and removed per Facebook “guidelines”  ), the Western countries in particular the United States wants Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad out the same way as they wanted Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi  of Libya, what happened and is continuing to happen  to Iraq, Yemen and Libya’s is dreadful and is best left not discussed as of now.

Syria Kill

What remains to be answered are that are these group of thousands soon to be millions Syrian refuges really fleeing conflict due to The Syrian Civil War areas from ISIL( Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) or ISIS,NATO or Syrian Government under President Bashar al-Assad’s or there is more to it that we don’t know or are not being told?

The reason I mention the above is cos the Syrian Refugees state that along with them are also traveling Afghans, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Somalis, Ethiopians and Sudanese.

So why are so many fleeing Syria?

The unrest in Syria began in the early spring of 2011 within the context of Arab Spring protests, with nationwide protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s government, whose forces responded with violent crackdowns. The conflict gradually morphed from prominent protests to an armed rebellion after months of military sieges.

As rival Muslim factions battle over Syria, life has hit rock bottom for the common people of Syria.

Human geography has been transformed in just four years, the report warns. Syria’s population has been hollowed out by 15%; more than half of Syrians have been displaced from their homes by violence. More than 3.3 million have fled Syria as refugees, with an additional 1.5 million migrating to find work and safer terrain in other countries.

The violence in Syria has caused millions to flee their homes. As of March 2015, Al-Jeers estimates 10.9 million Syrians, or almost half the population, have been displaced.3.8 million have been made refugees.

As of 2013, 1 in 3 of Syrian refugees (about 667,000 people) sought safety in tiny Lebanon (normally 4.8 million populations).

Middle East

Others have fled to Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq. Turkey has accepted +1.000.000 (2014) Syrian refugees, half of whom are spread around cities and dozen camps placed under the direct authority of the Turkish Government. Satellite images confirmed that the first Syrian camps appeared in Turkey in July 2011, shortly after the towns of Deraa, Homs, and Hama were besieged in September 2014, the UN stated that the number of Syrian refugees had exceeded 3 million.

However, now the Syrian refugees are not confined to the camps in Turkey but now want to move further west crossing the Mediterranean and the Balkans to finally arrive in the lands they desire – Western European Union Countries.

Currently as I write this many have completed their first leg of the trip which is crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Turkey or Libya and arrive in Italy or Greece and now they start the second leg of the trip which is to cross the Balkan countries like Macedonia, Serbia, Albania and Hungary and arrive on the doorstep of countries like Austria,Czech Republic and Germany!

When the Syrians are questioned where they are headed to they inform that they would like to “settle down” in Sweden, United Kingdom, Netherlands or Germany, on being asked why only these particular counties and why not stay put in the Balkans or Turkey, the Syrians atrociously inform that they want to go to richer European Countries that are a part of the European Union, have Euro as the currency and are a part of the Schengen Area Visa travel agreement!

(The Schengen Area is the area comprising 26 European countries that have abolished passport and any other type of border control at their common borders, also referred to as internal borders.)

After hearing the above I can vouch that the look on the face of politicians in Western European countries must be priceless!

Syrian Stats

When the Syrian Refugees are probed further that why they did not attempt to move to their South or East ( Better placed and well off Muslim countries like the Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Bahrain or Iran ),the refugees informed that the “road” is too full of risks and besides they would not be welcomed in those countries even though they are run by their Muslim brethren, it seems  the fault lines of History that shaped the Middle East run deep soaked in apathy and prejudice!

The Syrian Refugees also add that since Westerners are responsible for the terrible things that have happened to their country, it is up to the Western Countries to help them!

Of all the countries where the Syrian Refugees have imposed themselves on, Serbia is the most interesting case, Serbia inherited the legacy of Yugoslavia and faced brutal Western intervention in what is known as The Yugoslav Wars that lasted 10 long years from 31 March 1991 – 12 November 2001 and ended with the complete breakup of Yugoslavia and destruction of a multicultural state in the Balkans.

After 2001, Yugoslavia became Serbia a shadow of itself and suffered further breakdowns with continued Civil Wars between Muslims & Christians, to this day tensions remain high especially when it comes to Kosovo & Albania.

Though suffering so much through its wars and occupation by the Ottoman Turks of their country in the past, Serbians have been the most generous and open to the Syrian Refugees with some even inviting the refugees for dinner in their homes!

Yet will the Syrian refugees thank Serbia remains to be seen.


Recollecting the Refuge Crisis closer home in India, we must never forget the Muslim Refugee crisis that India was dragged into due to the conflicts between Muslim majority East and West Pakistan that finally escalated to Pakistan’s crafty invasion on India and the Pakistan – India War of 1971.

The Pakistan Civil War and India – Pakistan War ended with the partition of Pakistan, then separation of East Pakistan and creation of new Islamic country of Bangladesh.

However, even after Bangladesh was established the refugees from Pakistan’s War refused to leave India and already populated India inherited the Muslim Refugee Crisis.

India to this day battles the menace of East Pakistan Refugees now known as Bangladeshis and heavens forbid if India will sooner go through another refugee crisis either from Pakistan or Bangladesh collapses due to Civil War or is invaded by an External Force!

What the Bangladeshi refugees / immigrants have been doing in India esp North East India is no secret to anyone!

I hope Serbia & its people are wiser and do not end up with the errors that India ended up making after the 1971 War allowing the Bangladeshis to stay put where they are & not go back.

What the Western countries do not realize is that countries cannot be “reformed” or “democratized” the way they want them to be, last of all being Muslim majority countries. What is equally atrocious (besides the fact that Western countries continue to pamper and support Pakistan, which is the factory of global terrorism and frauds) is that while Iran is being talked into making peace, preparations of war are on with Syria!

Sadly our local “mainstream” media that are deep down busy with reports and debates of Radhe Maa or Sheena Bora don’t really have time to highlight the issue of Syrian Refugees!

Guess it’s now left to us..


Additional Information :

Why aren’t rich Gulf states welcoming Syrian refugees…or are they?

How the five wealthiest Gulf Nations have so far refused to take a single Syrian refugee

Saudi Arabia Refuses To Take Even A Single Syrian Refugee

Muslim countries refuse to take Muslim refugees, fear terrorism

The Islamic State Had Warned Europe They Would Send 500,000 ‘Migrants’ as ‘Weapon’

Syrian “Refugees” Complain About Slow Internet, No Cigarettes, And Food Only Fit For A Dog Or A Woman

Germany: Jihadis working to recruit Syrian refugees

“Refugees” in Europe young, fit and overwhelmingly male

Paris jihad mass murderer was a Syrian refugee who arrived in Greece last month

Denmark: Syrian refugee breaks into house, tries to rape 8-year-old

Muslim “refugees” flooding Europe, shouting ”Allahu Akbar”

Raging Horror: Muslim Migrants Go On Rampage at Austria/Italy Border, Eyewitness Account

Germany shocked by Cologne New Year gang assaults on women

Name ONE MUSLIM COUNTRY that will generously accommodate so many NON-MUSLIMS and allow them to remain practicing their religion and not convert to Islam, obey Sharia and pay Jizya!

Need I say more?


Thoughts on Roma Gypsy Persecution in Europe


Chapter of History that will never be taught to us,let alone discussed,maybe the educationists feel it’s not very important!

The persecution of Roma Gypsy/Romani people in Europe is an ongoing continuous pogrom that unfortunately does not find mention in the mainstream media of our country.

The Romani/Roma Gypsy are widely known among English-speaking people by the exonym “Gypsies” (or “Gipsies”), which many Romani people consider a racial slur due to its connotations of illegality and irregularity. Other exonyms are Ashkali and Sinti.

It’s interesting to see the reaction of European countries on the migration of Syrian Refugees to their countries, while Greece, Italy and Malta are by now frustrated but helplessly welcome / host refugees, countries like  Slovakia, Serbia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Romania & Croatia don’t really know how to deal with the ever growing tide of Refugees on their borders.

Equally strange are reactions from Germany, Austria, Spain and Iceland that seem to be welcoming refugees, the dead silence from countries like UK & France is also cryptic that’s what seems to be as of now!

The only vocal reactions have come from two countries Hungary and Denmark.

Hungary, that has expressed its displeasure openly against Syrian Refuges along with hordes of lay offs from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iraq and Africa camping on its border with Serbia & also against the European Union that so far has no policy on Syrian Refugees!

The other country is Denmark that has openly issued a warning to Syrian Refugees asking them to back off & not take the trouble to arrive on its borders.

While Europeans across countries debate on the presence of Syrian Refugees & continued arrivals many forget or ignore similar migration / expulsions from Europe during the 1930s and that continued till World War II was that of the European Gypsies who along with the Jews were expelled & exterminated in large numbers.

Since most of us are aware of Jewish expulsion of the 1930s under Nazi controlled Germany and occupied territories under the Reich, not much is known about the Gypsies of Europe who faced and continue to face discrimination & expulsion to this day.

After reading what happened to the Gypsies also known as Roma in Europe, one wonders what’s so different about the Syrians ( and Afghans, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Iraqis & African’s ) that is making the Europeans react!

Why so much hostility for the Roma?


Roma Gypsy & India connection

Roma, the largest ethnic minority in Eastern Europe, are perhaps the region’s most misunderstood, most persecuted, and maligned minority. Since their migration from India approximately six hundred years ago, Roma have suffered economic, political and cultural discrimination at the hands of both communist and capitalist and both democratic and totalitarian societies.

The post-1989 transition in Eastern Europe has created a huge ethnic underclass consisting of over 5 million Roma who by every statistical indicator – political, social, and economic (literacy, income, life span, infant mortality, diet, representation in government, access to health care and legal aid, education, employment) have the lowest status of any ethnic group in Eastern Europe.

This phenomenon presents a formidable barrier to building a unified political movement. Furthermore, Roma are a unique people in Europe in that they are a diaspora people with no claimed homeland. Although India is their place of origin, they do not adhere to a notion of homeland, nor do they wish to establish an independent state.

Linguistic evidence reveals that Roma are originally from northern India and that they migrated out of the area sometime between 800-950 AD. Romani, the Rom language, is descended from Sanskrit and closely related to Hindi.

Today Romani exists in many dialects, reflecting the paths of Rom dispersion. Some Rom groups, however, do not presently communicate in Romani, although it is likely that they did at an earlier time.

Roma have always been bilingual and in many cases are multilingual. In the southern Balkans, Roma speak Romani plus the local south Slavic language or Turkish, Albanian or Greek.

Although scholars differ as to the first reliable documentation of Roma in Europe, we can say with certainty that Roma were established in large numbers throughout the Balkans by the fourteenth century.

Most Roma settled on the outskirts of existing communities while others remained nomadic. Reported dates of a Rom presence include 1322 in Crete, 1348 in Serbia, 1370 in Wallachia, 1407 in Germany, 1418 in Zurich, 1419 in France, 1422 in Italy, and 1425 in Spain. Since this time, Roma have been indispensable suppliers of diverse services to non-Roma, such as music, entertainment, fortune-telling, metal working, horse dealing, wood working, sieve making, basket weaving, comb making, seasonal agricultural work, and middleman marketing.

Many of these trades required nomadism. Roma are extremely adaptable in the area of occupations and they often practice two or three occupations simultaneously or serially.


Roma and Europe

Eastern Europe is home to a largely overlooked population of 12 million people who speak a unique language and follow a culture quite distinct from the European norm. While spread out across Europe (primarily in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Slovakia), the Roma people constitute a bigger European nation than the Czechs, Hungarians, or the Dutch — and yet have little political voice or cultural presence in the wider society.

The once-common term “Gypsy” (derived from “Egypt,” from where they were thought to have originated) is now considered not just inaccurate but derogatory. The Roma now thought to be descended from several low north-Indian castes. (The language still spoken by about two-thirds of today’s European Roma — called “Romany” — is related to contemporary Indian languages.)

A thousand years ago, the Roma began to migrate through Persia and Armenia into the Ottoman Empire, which later stretched across much of southeastern Europe. Known for their itinerant lifestyle, expertise in horse trading, skilled artisanship, and flexibility regarding private property, the Roma were both sought out and suspected in medieval Europe. Similarly, the gadjos (non-Roma) and their customs came to be distrusted by the Roma.

The Industrial Revolution removed the Roma’s few traditional means of earning a livelihood, making their wandering lifestyle difficult to sustain. Roma became entertainers (fortune telling, music and dancing, horse shows, dancing bears), outlaws, and metalworkers.


Roma were initially not allowed to enter Austrian territory, but as the Habsburgs recaptured lands once controlled by the Ottomans (including Slovakia and Hungary), they permitted the Roma already living there to stay. In the 18th and 19th centuries, as “Gypsy music” funneled into the theaters of Vienna and Budapest, a romantic image of the Roma emerged: a happy-go-lucky nomadic lifestyle; intoxicating music, with dancers swirling around a campfire; and mystical powers over white Europeans.

But white Europe’s image of the Roma also had a sinister side. Even today, people might warn their children, “If you don’t behave, I’ll sell you to the Gypsies!” And when someone is cheated, many English speakers say they’ve been “gypped” — an ethnic slur so deeply ingrained most don’t even realize its origin.

The widespread bigotry had long been encoded in many legal restrictions that kept the Roma from enjoying full citizenship. In the 1930s they were stripped of all citizenship in Nazi Germany, and in the 1940s, Hitler addressed what the Nazis called the “Gypsy question” (how to deal with the Roma population) with full-on genocide, sending hundreds of thousands of Roma to the gas chambers purely on the basis of ethnicity.

After the war, communist governments in Eastern Europe implemented a policy of forced assimilation: Roma were required to speak the country’s major language, settle in towns, and work in new industrial jobs.

Rather than producing well-adjusted citizens, the policy eroded time-honored Roma values and shattered the cohesiveness of their traditional communities. It left the new Roma generation prone to sexual, alcohol, and drug abuse, and filled state-run orphanages with deprived Roma toddlers. When the obligation and right to work disappeared with the communist regimes in 1989, rampant unemployment and dependence on welfare joined the list of Roma afflictions.


As people all over former communist Europe found it difficult to adjust to the new economic realities, they again turned on the Roma as scapegoats, and state-sanctioned persecution continued in many areas.

For example, obstetrician in the Czech Republic were accused of sterilizing their female Roma patients without their informed consent. One small Czech town tried to build a wall between its wealthy neighborhood and the Roma ghetto.

Many Roma resist assimilation and live in segregated ghettos, such as in the Spiš Region of Slovakia, where many Roma live in small, remote, self-contained villages — a long walk up a dirt road away from the mainstream “civilization.”

Polygamy is not uncommon, and both girls and boys marry and begin having children at a very early age. Most children start attending school, but a high percentage drop out. Those who make it against the odds and succeed in mainstream society typically do so by turning their backs on their Roma heritage.



The large Roma population also puts an enormous strain on the already overtaxed social-welfare networks.

Unemployment in the Spiš Region among Roma is about 50 percent in the summer (when some seasonal work is available) to 80 percent in the winter.

What emerges is a seemingly unsolvable problem — a fundamental cultural misunderstanding, tinged with racist undertones, that separates the Roma people with those they live among.

Courtesy : Notes from Cameron Hewitt


Additional Information:

Genetic Sequencing Traces Gypsies Back to Ancient Indian Origin

Gypsy History and Folklore

Genocide Of European Roma (Gypsies), 1939–1945

Roma Gypsies: The original travelers

Roma face persecution in Europe, says Amnesty

Roma in Europe: Persecuted and Misunderstood

Why did the Nazis persecute Roma? – The Holocaust Explained

Five Intriguing Facts About the Roma

European Roma descended from India

The Gypsy Chronicles

Roma in the Czech Republic : A History

Roma in Poland : Gypsies Out

Roma in Bulgaria : Left Behind

Roma in Hungary : Waste of Human Potential

Roma in Germany : Unwanted

Wikipedia Page – Romani People



The Empire of Sri Vijaya


Our Dharmic History that was deleted by the “Secularists”, Nehruvians, Leftists and Apologists!

Homage to Dharmakirti and Dharmic Teachers!!! Indonesia Raya!!!


As an Indian you’ve probably never even heard of Sri Vijaya? Well, that’s all right I don’t blame you, we can blame it on our rotten debased social studies curriculum or bland textbook chapters that ever so loudly yelled only on certain era and personalities!

Sadly, not many Indians I’ve met or known have heard or know or are interested about this empire or for that matter are embarrassed when they are made known about ‘Greater India’, not surprising for a country that is obsessed with medicine, software, hardware technology, banking, cricket score, construction and real estate and hence considers social sciences as mundane fantasy or pretty waste of time subject!

For those who have no idea, in short Sri Vijaya was a powerful ancient thalassocratic city state based on the island of Sumatra, modern day Indonesia, which influenced much of Southeast Asia and traded with the ancient empire of India and China.The earliest solid proof of existence dates from the 7th century; a Chinese monk, I-Tsing,wrote that he visited Srivijaya in 671 AD for 6 months.

Interesting?, so now let’s get into some elaborate History.


Extent of the Empire

Among the great maritime trading empires of history, the Kingdom of Sri Vijaya, based on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, ranks among the wealthiest and most splendid. Early records from the area are scarce – archaeological evidence suggests that the kingdom may have begun to coalesce as early as 200 CE, and likely was an organized political entity by the year 500. Its capital was near what is now Palembang, Indonesia.

The kingdom included parts of Sumatra, the Malay, Peninsula, Western Java, Sulawesi, the Moluccas, Borneo and the Philippines, most notably the Sulu Archipelago and the Visayas islands (and indeed the latter island group, as well as its population, is named after the empire).

Though the Empire of Sri Vijaya was based in Indonesia, the influence was felt across South East Asia – Malaysia, Thailand, The Philippines, Singapore ,Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam, Cambodia ,Brunei, Laos and even far away Madagascar!

Historiography and Legacy

After the Islamic conquest and the gradual fall of Hindu-Buddhist Majapahit Empire in late 15th century, most of Pre-Islamic history of Indonesia was largely ignored and forgotten. There is no continuous knowledge of Srivijaya in Indonesian histories; its forgotten past has been recreated thanks to foreign scholars.

No modern Indonesians, not even those of the Palembang area around which the kingdom was based, had heard of Srivijaya until the 1920s, when French scholar and epigraphist George Coedès published his discoveries and interpretations in Dutch and Indonesian-language newspapers.

Coedès noted that the Chinese references to “Sanfoqi,” previously read as “Sribhoja,” and the inscriptions in Old Malay refer to the same empire.

In 1918, George Coedès linked a large maritime state identified in seventh-century Chinese sources as Shilifoshih, and described in later Indian and Arabic texts, to a group of stone inscriptions written in Old Malay which told about the foundation of a polity named Srivijaya, for which Shilifoshih was a regular Chinese transcription. These inscriptions were all dated between 683 and 686, and had been found around the city of Palembang, on Sumatra.


A few Hindu and Buddhist statues had been found in the region, but there was little archaeological evidence to document the existence of a large state with a wealthy and prestigious ruler and a center of Buddhist scholarship. Such evidence was found at other sites on the isthmus of the Malay Peninsula, and suggested that they may have been the capital of Srivijaya.

Finally, in the 1980s, enough archaeological evidence was found in Southern Sumatra and around Palembang to support Coedès’ theory that a large trading settlement, with manufacturing, religious, commercial and political centers, had existed there for several centuries prior to the fourteenth century. Most of the information about Srivijaya has been deduced from these archaeological finds, plus stone inscriptions found in Sumatra, Java, and Malaysia, and the historical records and diaries of Arab and Chinese traders and Buddhist travelers.

Srivijaya and by extension Sumatra had been known by different names to different people. The Chinese called it Sanfotsi or San Fo Qi, and at one time there was an even older kingdom of Kantoli that could be considered as the predecessor of Srivijaya.

In Sanskrit and Pali, it was referred to as Yavadesh and Javadeh respectively. The Arabs called it Zabag and the Khmer called it Melayu. The confusion over names is another reason why the discovery of Srivijaya was so difficult.

While some of these names are strongly reminiscent of the name of Java, there is a distinct possibility that they may have referred to Sumatra instead.


Formation and Growth

Unfortunately, little physical evidence of Srivijaya remains.

According to the Kedukan Bukit Inscription, the empire of Srivijaya was founded by Dapunta Hyang Çri Yacanaca (Dapunta Hyang Sri Jayanasa). He led twenty thousand troops (mainly land troopers and a few hundred ships) from Minanga Tamwan (speculated to be Minangkabau) to Palembang, Jambi, and Bengkulu.

The empire was a coastal trading centre and was a thalassocracy (sea-based empire). It did not extend its influence far beyond the coastal areas of the islands of Southeast Asia, with the exception of contributing to the population of Madagascar 3,300 miles to the west.

Around the year 500, Srivijayan roots began to develop around present-day Palembang, Sumatra, in modern Indonesia.

The empire was organized in three main zones—the estuarine capital region centred on Palembang, the Musi River basin which served as hinterland and rival estuarine areas capable of forming rival power centers. The areas upstream of the Musi river were rich in various commodities valuable to Chinese traders.

The capital was administered directly by the ruler while the hinterland remained under its own local datus or chiefs, who were organized into a network of allegiance to the Srivijaya maharaja or king. Force was the dominant element in the empire’s relations with rival river systems such as the Batang Hari, which centered in Jambi. The ruling lineage intermarried with the Sailendras of Central Java.


Under the leadership of Jayanasa, the kingdom of Malayu became the first kingdom to be integrated into the Srivijayan Empire. This possibly occurred in the 680s. Malayu, also known as Jambi, was rich in gold and was held in high esteem. Srivijaya recognized that the submission of Malayu to them would increase their own prestige.

Chinese records dated in the late seventh century mention two Sumatran kingdoms as well as three other kingdoms on Java as being part of Srivijaya. By the end of the eighth century, many Javanese kingdoms, such as Tarumanagara and Holing, were within the Srivijayan sphere of influence. It has also been recorded that a Buddhist family related to Srivijaya, probably the Sailendras, dominated central Java at that time.

According to the Kota Kapur Inscription, the empire conquered Southern Sumatra as far as Lampung. The empire thus grew to control the trade on the Strait of Malacca, the South China Sea and Karimata Strait.

During the same century, Langkasuka on the Malay Peninsula became part of Srivijaya.

Soon after this, Pan Pan and Trambralinga, which were located north of Langkasuka, came under Srivijayan influence. These kingdoms on the peninsula were major trading nations that transported goods across the peninsula’s isthmus.

With the expansion to Java as well as the Malay Peninsula, Srivijaya controlled two major trade choke points in Southeast Asia. Some Srivijayan temple ruins are observable in Thailand, Cambodia and on the Malay Peninsula.

At some point in the seventh century, Cham ports in eastern Indochina started to attract traders, diverting the flow of trade from Srivijaya. In an effort to redirect the flow of trade back to Srivijaya, the Srivijayan king or maharaja, Dharmasetu, launched various raids against the coastal cities of Indochina. The city of Indrapura by the Mekong River was temporarily controlled from Palembang in the early eighth century.

The Srivijayans continued to dominate areas around present-day Cambodia until the Khmer King Jayavarman II, the founder of the Khmer Empire dynasty, severed the Srivijayan link later in the same century.

After Dharmasetu, Samaratungga, the last ruler of the Sailendra dynasty, married Dharmasetu’s daughter, Dewi Tara, the princess of Srivijaya, and became the next Maharaja of Srivijaya. He reigned as ruler from 792 to 835.

Unlike the expansionist Dharmasetu, Samaratuga did not indulge in military expansion, but preferred to strengthen the Srivijayan hold of Java. He personally oversaw the construction of Borobudur; the temple was completed in 825, during his reign.

By the twelfth century, the Srivijyan kingdom included parts of Sumatra, Ceylon, the Malay Peninsula, Western Java, Sulawesi, the Moluccas, Borneo and the Philippines, most notably the Sulu Archipelago and the Visayas islands (the latter island group, as well as its population, is named after the empire).

Srivijaya remained a formidable sea power until the thirteenth century.


Vajrayana Buddhism and Sri Vijaya

A stronghold of Vajrayana Buddhism, Srivijaya attracted pilgrims and scholars from other parts of Asia. These included the Chinese monk Yijing, who made several lengthy visits to Sumatra on his way to study at Nalanda University in India in 671 and 695, and the eleventh century Bengali Buddhist scholar Atisha, who played a major role in the development of Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet. In the year 687, Yi Jing stopped in the kingdom of Srivijaya on his way back to Tang (China), and stayed there for two years to translate original Sanskrit Buddhist scriptures to Chinese.

In the year 689 he returned to Guangzhou to obtain ink and papers and returned again to Srivijaya the same year. Yijing reports that the kingdom was home to more than a thousand Buddhist scholars; it was in Srivijaya that he wrote his memoir of Buddhism during his own lifetime. Travelers to these islands mentioned that gold coinage was in use on the coasts, but not inland.

Relationship with Regional Powers

During the sixth and seventh centuries, the reunification of China under the Sui (590 – 618) and T’ang dynasties, and the demise of long-distance trade with Persia, created new opportunity for Southeast Asian traders.

Although historical records and archaeological evidence are scarce, it appears that by the seventh century, Srivijaya had established suzerainty over large areas of Sumatra, western Java and much of the Malay Peninsula. Dominating the Malacca and Sunda straits, Srivijaya controlled both the spice route traffic and local trade, charging a toll on passing ships.

Serving as an entrepôt for Chinese, Malay, and Indian markets, the port of Palembang, accessible from the coast by way of a river, accumulated great wealth. Envoys traveled to and from China frequently.

Borobudur 2

The domination of the region through trade and conquest in the seventh and ninth centuries began with the absorption of the first rival power center, the Jambi kingdom. Jambi’s gold mines were a crucial economic resource and may be the origin of the word Suvarnadvipa (island of gold), the Sanskrit name for Sumatra.

Srivijaya helped spread the Malay culture throughout Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula, and Western Borneo. Srivijaya’s influence waned in the eleventh century, as it came into frequent conflict with, and was ultimately subjugated by, Javanese kingdoms, first Singhasari and then Majapahit. The seat of the empire moved to Jambi in the last centuries of Srivijaya’s existence.

Some historians claim that Chaiya in the Surat Thani province in Southern Thailand was at least temporarily the capital of Srivijaya, but this claim is widely disputed. However, Chaiya was probably a regional center of the kingdom. The temple of Borom That in Chaiya contains a reconstructed pagoda in Srivijaya style. The Khmer Empire may also have been a tributary in its early stages.

Srivijaya also maintained close relations with the Pala Empire in Bengal, and an 860 inscription records that the Maharaja of Srivijaya dedicated a monastery at the Nalanda university in Pala territory. Relations with the Chola dynasty of southern India were initially friendly but deteriorated into actual warfare in the eleventh century.

Borobudur 3

The Golden Age of Sri Vijaya

After trade disruption at Canton between 820 and 850, the ruler of Jambi was able to assert enough independence to send missions to China in 853 and 871. Jambi’s independence coincided with the troubled time when the Sailendran Balaputra, expelled from Java, seized the throne of Srivijaya. The new maharaja was able to dispatch a tributary mission to China by 902. Only two years later, the expiring Tang Dynasty conferred a title on a Srivijayan envoy.

In the first half of the tenth century, between the fall of Tang Dynasty and the rise of Song, there was brisk trade between the overseas world and the Fujian kingdom of Min and the rich Guangdong kingdom of Nan Han.

Srivijaya undoubtedly benefited from this, in anticipation of the prosperity it was to enjoy under the early Song. Around 903, the Persian explorer and geographer Ibn Rustah who wrote extensively of his travels was so impressed with the wealth of Srivijaya’s ruler that he declared one would not hear of a king who was richer, stronger or with more revenue. The main urban centers were at Palembang (especially the Bukit Seguntang area), Muara Jambi and Kedah.


The Decline & Fall of Sri Vijaya

In 1025, Rajendra Chola, the Chola king from Coromandel in South India, conquered Kedah from Srivijaya and occupied it for some time. The Cholas continued a series of raids and conquests throughout what is now Indonesia and Malaysia for the next 20 years. Although the Chola invasion was ultimately unsuccessful, it gravely weakened the Srivijayan hegemony and enabled the formation of regional kingdoms based, like Kediri, on intensive agriculture rather than coastal and long-distance trade.

Between 1079 and 1088, Chinese records show that Srivijaya sent ambassadors from Jambi and Palembang. In 1079 in particular, an ambassador from Jambi and Palembang each visited China. Jambi sent two more ambassadors to China in 1082 and 1088. This suggests that the center of Srivijaya frequently shifted between the two major cities during that period.

The Chola expedition as well as changing trade routes weakened Palembang, allowing Jambi to take the leadership of Srivijaya from the eleventh century on.In 1288, Singhasari conquered Palembang, Jambi and much of Srivijaya during the Pamalayu expedition.

In the year 1293, Majapahit ruled much of Sumatra as the successor of Singhasari. Prince Adityawarman was given responsibilities over Sumatra in 1347 by Hayam Wuruk, the fourth king of Majapahit. A rebellion in 1377 was suppressed by Majapahit but it left the area of southern Sumatra in chaos and desolation.

In the following years, sedimentation on the Musi river estuary cut the kingdom’s capital off from direct sea access. This strategic disadvantage crippled the trade in the Kingdom’s capital.

As the decline continued, Islam made its way to the Aceh region of Sumatra, spreading through contacts with Arab and Indian traders. By the late thirteenth century, the kingdom of Pasai in northern Sumatra converted to Islam. At the same time, Srivijaya was briefly a tributary state of the Khmer Empire and later the Sukhothai kingdom. The last inscription, on which a crown prince, Ananggavarman, son of Adityawarman, is mentioned, dates from 1374.

By 1402, Parameswara (the great-great-grandson of Raden Wijaya, the first king of Majapahit), the last prince of Srivijaya had founded the Sultanate of Malacca on the Malay Peninsula.


Additional Information :

Indonesia and Sri Vijaya

A History of the Malay Peninsula

A more complex history of ‘Malay’

The Kingdom of Srivijaya in Thailand

The Laguna Copperplate Inscription : The Philippines

Sri Vijaya and the Philippines

Dharma and The Philippines

Sri Vijaya and Madagascar