History of Uttar Pradesh

By Srinidhi Murthy

Uttar Pradesh is home to one of the most mesmerizing human creations and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Taj Mahal. That is a fact known to many but this wonderful state has a fascinating history. Let’s dive into the pages of the past. Uttar Pradesh comprises the districts of Allahabad, Moradabad, Ghaziabad, Azamgarh, Lucknow, Kanpur and Bareilly in the northern plains of the country. This state, along with Uttarakhand, formed the United Provinces of India under British rule. This entire area was renamed Uttar Pradesh (UP) in 1950. The regions of Kumaon and Garhwal formed the new state of Uttarakhand in 2000 and were no longer a part of Uttar Pradesh. 

Mythology 

The Kosala Kingdom was located within the boundaries of present Uttar Pradesh. According to the Hindu epic Ramayana, Rama was born in and reigned over Ayodhya, the capital of Kosala. Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is said to have been born in Mathura, also a part of Uttar Pradesh. 

Pre-Historic Era

It is said that there were sixteen Mahajanapadas or republics of the people in North India in ancient times (around 6th BCE). Seven of those were present within the boundaries of present-day Uttar Pradesh.

From the 5th century BCE, Uttar Pradesh was under the rule of great dynasties such as Maurya and Gupta. Some of the great kings who ruled this region were Chandragupta, Ashoka, Samudra Gupta, and Chandra Gupta II. Another popular ruler, Harsha also known as Harshavardhana, was also based within the present borders of the state. He was a member of the Vardhana dynasty. Harsha was able to reign over Uttar Pradesh along with parts of Bihar, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh, from his capital at present-day Kannauj.

Mughal and Maratha Empire

In 1540 Sher Shah Suri took over Uttar Pradesh after defeating Humayun, the Mughal king.  Later, Islam Shah, son of Sher Shah Suri ruled Uttar Pradesh from Gwalior, which was their capital. After the demise of Islam Shah Suri, his prime minister Hemu became ruler of Uttar Pradesh. When Hemu died in the second battle of Panipat, Uttar Pradesh came under the rule of Emperor Akbar. Akbar ruled from Agra and also from Fatehpur Sikri, his newly established city. Jahangir’s son Shah Jahan built the famous Monument Taj Mahal for his queen Mumtaz Mahal in Agra.

After the fall of the Mughal Empire in the 18th century, the Maratha rulers seized the region of Uttar Pradesh. Following the second Anglo-Maratha war in 1803, when the East India Company defeated the Maratha Empire, most of the region came under British rule.

The British Period

Indians were dissatisfied with the rule of the East India Company. Revolts erupted in various parts of India. Mangal Pandey, Sepoy of Bengal Regiment stationed at Meerut cantonment in UP, is widely credited for the start of the First War of Independence in 1857. Inspired by this uprising of the soldiers at Meerut on 10th May 1857, the revolution spread all over the nation within months. In 1858, the revolt was completely crushed and India’s administration rights were transferred from the East India Company to the British crown.

Uttar Pradesh continued to be vital to Indian politics and the Indian independence movement. After the First War of Independence in 1857, the British reorganized the administrative boundaries of the region in an attempt to divide the most rebellious regions of the country. The new state was named North-Western Provinces of Agra and Oudh, which were later renamed the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh in 1902. It was popularly known as the United Provinces. The All India Kisan Sabha was formed at the Lucknow session of the Congress in 1936. Freedom fighters such as Chandra Sekhar Azad, Rani Lakshmibai, Mangal Panday and Begum Hazarat Mahal are also from Uttar Pradesh.

Uttar Pradesh after independence

After the independence of India, the United Provinces were renamed Uttar Pradesh in 1950. The state has given the country seven prime ministers and also occupies the largest number of seats in the Lok Sabha.

Stories of Sweets of India

By Srinidhi Murthy  

In India, sweets are a vital part of social, religious and cultural gatherings as well as celebrations. Some of the sweets have some interesting origin stories associated with them. Here is a list of some popular Indian sweets and legends behind them.

Mysore Pak
Design: ACK Design Team

As the name suggests, this Indian sweet originated in the city of Mysore, Karnataka. The story of the invention of this dish occurred during the reign of Mysore King Krishnaraja Wodeyar. One day, the royal chef Kakasura Madappa realized that he had not made any sweets for the king and the time was running out since the king would arrive at any moment to have his lunch. The desperate chef made a sweet by adding gram flour, ghee and sugar. The king loved the sweet and enquired about the name of the sweet. Kakasura named it Mysore Pak as Paka means concoction.

Rasgulla 
Design: ACK Design Team

The legend goes like this: When Lord Jagannath was going for Rath Yatra, Lakshmi was upset that he didn’t ask her to accompany him. Lord Jagannath offered her Rasgulla to pacify her. Hence on the ninth day of Rath Yatra, Rasgulla is offered to Goddess Lakshmi as tradition. After she savoured this desert, the three deities Jagannath, Balaram, Subhadra entered the temple.

Shahi Tukda

Shahi Tukda is a dessert that is said to have its origin during the Mughal period. It is said to be inspired by an Egyptian dessert named Um Ali. As per a legend, a king and his troupe went for a hunt and stopped at the Nile river to have some refreshments. The villagers were excited about hearing this and decided to arrange a chef to cook a delicious meal for the king. As they lacked resources, the village cook took some stale bread, dipped them in a rich gravy, and made a dessert using nuts, sugar, cream, and milk. Here, it came to be known as Shahi Tukda, meaning ‘the royal piece’. It was said to be a favourite of the Mughal emperors, who used to break their Ramzan fasts with the dessert.

Gulab Jamun
Design: ACK Design Team

Gulab Jamun is one of the most popular and loved dishes in India. Though it is believed that the sweet originated in India, it actually has its roots in Persia. The word ‘Gulab’ was derived from a Persian word that meant ‘flower’. Gulab Jamun was first introduced during the Mughal period and was inspired by the Persian dish Bamieh and Turkish sweet Tulumba.

Puran Poli
Design: ACK Design Team

Puran Poli has its origins in the south of India. The recipe of Puran Poli is mentioned in the 14th century Telugu Encyclopedia composed by Allasani Peddana named Manucharitra. Different names were in use to refer to Puran Poli in different states. It is known as Holige or Obbattu in Karnataka, Uppitu in Tamilnadu and Kerala, Bobbattu or Baksham in Andhra Pradesh and Puran Poli in Maharashtra.

Agra Ka Petha

Agra is famous for its delicious Petha. These Pethas known as Agra Ka Petha originated in the royal kitchen of the Mughal Empire. The dish was made to please Emperor Shah Jahan, who wanted a sweet white in color. It is said that five hundred chefs were appointed to prepare the Petha as per the emperor’s commands. Also, it is believed that Petha was prepared to provide refreshments for the twenty-one thousand workers who were working on the Taj Mahal.

Ghevar
Design: ACK Design Team

Ghevar is a disc-shaped sweet made with wheat flour and fully soaked in sugar syrup. Ghevar was traditionally prepared during the Rajasthani festival of Teej. According to Ayurveda, the months of July and August are predominated by Vata and Pitta disorders respectively, leading to ailments causing dryness, acidity, restlessness, and mood swings. Ghevar has Vata and Pitta calming properties due to its ghee content and also has a calming effect on both mind and body. It is specially prepared during the months of July and August in Rajasthan and also for the festive occasion of Raksha Bandhan and Teej.

The Faith and Beliefs of Christianity

By Srinidhi Murthy

The faith of Christianity is based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The followers are known as Christians who believe that Jesus is the Christ whose arrival was prophesied in the Old Testament and chronicled in the New Testament of the Bible.

Illustration: Pratap Mullick
Jesus Christ

According to the Bible, Jesus was born as a son to Joseph and the Virgin Mary through the Holy Spirit’s power in Bethlehem, Judea. Jesus was regarded as the awaited Messiah, the Christ whose arrival was promised in the Old Testament. Jesus moved from place to place preaching to the people. He had twelve disciples during his lifetime. He was arrested for violating the Jewish laws and tried by the Jewish authorities. He was crucified and left to die on a cross on the orders of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate. Crucifixion was a way of executing criminals at that time. It is believed by all Christians that Jesus resurrected from the dead, three days later, and met his disciples. He was then taken up to Heaven. This belief and the belief in his teachings are the foundations of Christianity.

Illustration: Pratap Mullick
The Bible

The English word ‘Bible’ is coined from the Latin word ‘Biblia‘ meaning ‘holy book‘. It is a collection of religious texts sacred not only to Christians but also to Jews, Samaritans and others. The collection of text in the Bible is treated as the revelations of God. The Bible has been translated into various languages from the original writings in Armani, Greek, and Hebrew. As of September 2020, the Bible has been translated into 704 languages. Thus, the Bible is regarded as the most translated book in the world.

History of Christianity

According to the Bible, the first church was established fifty days after Jesus’s death in Judea. Most of the early Christians were Jews. Shortly after the establishment of the church, many non-Jews also began to embrace Christianity. Early Christians considered it their duty to spread the teachings of Christ to more people. One of the most important preachers was the apostle Paul who was a former persecutor of Christians. Paul converted to Christianity after he had a vision about Jesus. Paul preached the gospel and established churches throughout the Roman Empire, Europe, and Africa. Paul is also thought to have written thirteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament. Roman Emperor Constantine also converted to Christianity and tried to spread Christianity in his region.

Illustration: Anvita Tekriwal
Types and Beliefs of Christianity

Christians accept Jesus as the Son of God who was sent to save mankind from sin. Christians also believe in the Trinity that is in God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Christianity is divided into three branches – Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox. The Pope governs the Catholic Church and Catholic bishops all over the world. The Orthodox branch is divided into independent units governed by a Holy Synod. Protestant Christianity differs in its views and interpretation of the Bible and the church from the Catholics.

Christianity in Modern Era

Christianity is one of the world’s biggest religions with about two billion followers all over the world. Christians form a majority of the population in nearly 157 countries. Christmas, the day that marks the birth of Jesus Christ, is celebrated throughout the world by Christians and by people of all religions.

Here are a few teachings of Christ:

Love God.

 

Love your neighbour as you love yourself.

 

It is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

 

Whatever you do for the poorest of your brothers and sisters, you will be doing it for me.

 

Forgive those who wrong you. Bless those who curse you.

Sunderlal Bahuguna (1927 – 2021)

By Komal Narwani

It is a tragic irony that the man who fought to provide a breath of fresh air to people lost his life struggling for oxygen amidst the pandemic. A pioneering environmentalist, Sunderlal Bahuguna who taught Indians to hug trees breathed his last on May 21, 2021. Throughout his life, he led numerous environmental movements that gained momentum and spread worldwide. Let’s take a look at some of the most impactful work of the legendary activist. 

Early Age 

Born in Maroda village near Tehri, Uttarakhand, on January 9, 1927, Sunderlal Bahuguna was concerned about many social causes from an early age. When he was thirteen he started a campaign to spread the message of nonviolence, under the leadership of Dev Suman who was a national activist and a follower of Gandhi’s philosophies. Like his leader, Sunderlal and his wife, Vimla, also lived by Gandhian principles. In fact, Vimla married Sunderlal on the condition that the two would live in the rural area, establish an ashram there and dedicate their lives to educating and empowering the people of the village. Before 1947, the couple educated people to stand up against colonial rule. Over the years, they also fought against untouchability and encouraged rural women to participate in the anti-liquor drive. 

Illustration: Narendra Pardhi
The Chipko Movement 

Until the 1970s, forests continued to be viewed as commodities. This was an idea that had passed down from colonial times. The contract felling of trees and massive deforestation for development had led to severe devastation of the mighty Himalayan mountains. A few villagers noticed and reported their concern to the local government authorities. Though there were many such small groups, they were far apart and unaware of each other’s plight. Sunderlal and his wife took this issue upon themselves. Torchbearers of peaceful non-cooperation, the couple educated the villagers about the importance of trees in maintaining the ecology. Sunderlal expressed his love and care for mother nature by hugging trees and encouraged the people of Chamoli district to do the same. This resulted in a unified mass forest conservation movement, which went down in Indian history by the name of the Chipko Movement. Chipko literally translates to ‘hug’ or ‘embrace’.

Late 1946, was a turning point in the movement when the government announced an auction of 2,500 trees overlooking the Alaknanda River. Agitated villagers were determined to protect their forests at the cost of their lives. Implementing the most powerful Gandhian tool, Satyagraha, the villagers formed human chains and encircled the trees. When the loggers arrived with their machinery to cut the trees, the villagers embraced every possible tree, forcing the loggers to give in. 

The Resounding Success 

There were a number of reasons behind the success of the Chipko movement. Sunderlal resorted to the influential tools of nonviolence and non-cooperation, which were easy to adopt and practice. He incorporated folk songs to spread awareness.

His slogan, “Ecology is permanent economy” resonated with the masses.

The agrarian women were at the forefront of this movement. Formidable leaders like Suraksha Devi, Bachni Devi, Virushka Devi, Sudesha Devi, Chandi Prasad Bhatt and Gaura Devi, among others, played a vital role in unifying the village women and encouraging them to confront the government through their resilience. 

The villagers understood the impact that deforestation had on their livelihood and on the environment as a whole. They became aware of the forest rights and conservation laws which, until then, were only hidden in the books. The movement unveiled the influence of mass activism in modifying and defining new conservation laws. Sunderlal’s efforts led to a ban, under certain conditions, on commercial felling of trees in 1981. For its dedication to the conservation and restoration of India’s natural resources, The Chipko Movement was awarded the ‘Right Livelihood Award’ in 1987. 

The Fight Continued And Still Continues 

The success of the Chipko movement was merely a start to a long-drawn battle against many authorities and ignorance. In 1984, Sunderlal marched from Kashmir to Kohima on foot, covering a distance of about 4800 km, to call attention to the deteriorating state of the fragile ecosystems of the entire Himalayan region. He collected a detailed report of the region through this padayatra (foot march) and submitted his findings to the United Nations.

Sunderlal campaigned against the mega-project of Tehri Dam on the river Bhagirathi through numerous hunger strikes. The project did not pay any heed to the devastating impact it would have on the environment and on the relocation of the displaced population. Most of his hungry strikes lasted over 4 weeks. He undertook one of the longest fasts after Indian independence. Despite two decades of relentless efforts, he only received false promises and the dam activities were resumed in 2001. This led to him refusing the Padma Shri in 1981. He was later awarded the Padma Vibushan in 2009. 

Until his last breath, Sunderlal fought and encouraged others to fight for mother earth. His legacy will continue to inspire millions in the years to come. Here is a letter he once wrote to his friends who worried for his life. The letter beautifully encompasses the true meaning of his life. 

“Himalaya is a land of penance. Nothing in the world can be achieved without penance. I am doing this on behalf of all who are striving to save our dying planet. Why should a river, a mountain and forest or the ocean be killed, while we cling to life?”

 

The Kalinga War

By Srinidhi Murthy and Vijita Mukherjee

The Kalinga War was fought between the Mauryan Empire of Magadha and the independent and prosperous state of Kalinga. It was a turning point in the life of Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan Dynasty. The terrible outcome of the war made him question the price of his victory and its worth. 

Illustration: Ram Waeerkar | Script: Meena Talim
Background

Kalinga was a prosperous nation with artistically skilled and peaceful people. It was under the Nanda Empire until 321 BCE. With important ports for trade and a strong navy, Kalinga controlled its coastline and played a crucial role in the trading world of the Bay of Bengal. The king of Kalinga was referred to as ‘Mahodadhi Pati’ or ‘the lord of the ocean’ by the poet Kalidasa in one of his works. The Mauryan Empire perceived Kalinga as a threat because Kalinga could interrupt communications between Patliputra, the Mauryan capital and its possessions in the central Indian peninsula. Emperor Ashoka sent a message to the King of Kalinga asking him to submit to his overlordship, but the king was in no mood to bow to this authority.

The War
Illustration: Ram Waeerkar | Script: Meena Talim

Ashoka led a huge army against Kalinga in a historic battle in 261 BCE. Since it was the first major war after he acceded the throne, Ashoka was eager to win at all costs. However, it surprised him to find that the soldiers and the people of Kalinga fought with great valour to safeguard their independence.

The King of Kalinga himself commanded his army on the battlefield,  but his limited forces were no match for the vast Magadhan army. After a gruesome battle, victory ultimately favoured the Mauryan Empire. There was a huge loss of man and material due to the war of Kalinga. 150,000 soldiers were taken as prisoners by Asoka, 100,000 were slain, and many others died later because of their injuries. It is said that an equal number of soldiers from the army of Magadha were killed as well.

Aftermath
Illustration: Ram Waeerkar | Script: Meena Talim

Ashoka, who had set his heart on this victory over Kalinga was unprepared for the destruction caused by it. The scene of the war presented a heart-wrenching sight. The whole area was filled with the corpses of soldiers from both sides. The wounded soldiers, who escaped death groaned in severe pain. Orphaned children and widows mourned the loss of their near and dear ones. People looked listless and filled with despair, unable to recover from the damage this rampage had inflicted on their lives.

Change of Heart

Ashoka felt he was solely responsible for the destruction caused by this war. He embraced ‘ahimsa’ or non-violence  The Kalinga War prompted Ashoka, to devote the rest of his life to ahimsa ie. non-violence and ended further military expansion of the empire. The next era of his rule was filled with harmony, prosperity and peace.

Read the full story of Ashoka in our title Ashoka, now available on the ACK Comics App, Kindle, Flipkart, Amazon, and other major e-tailers. 

Medicine In Ancient India and Ayurveda

By Harini Gopalswami Srinivasan

From prehistoric times, human beings have treated their diseases with natural herbs and minerals, in much the same way that a dog will nibble grass to cure an upset stomach, or a deer will lick salt to keep all its organs in working order.

The first documented knowledge about medicines in India is found in the Rig Veda (Oshadhi Sooktam) and the Atharva Veda, which are believed to be more than 5000 years old. In addition to providing mantras against diseases and information about useful plants and herbs, the Atharva Veda says that diseases are caused by organisms called yatudhana, kimidin, krimi, etc.

Over the following centuries, the study of medicine grew more systematic, and became known as Ayur Veda (Life Science). Three important foundation texts of Ayurveda were compiled in the first millennium BCE: Atreya Samhita, Susruta Samhita, and Charaka Samhita. These texts cover all the branches of modern medicine, and describe over 600 drugs of animal, plant and mineral origin.

According to Ayurveda, an individual can enjoy good health only if the body, mind and soul are all properly nurtured. The human body, like the entire universe, is composed of five elements: Prithvi (earth), Apas (water), Tejas (energy/ fire), Vayu (air), and Akasa (empty space). When these are properly balanced, the body is said to be healthy. People are classified into three doshas or types — Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata has the qualities of air and space, and regulates all the movements of the body. Pitta has the qualities of fire and water, provides energy to the body and regulates our digestion, metabolism, temperature, sense organs and understanding. Kapha is composed of earth and water, and gives stability and structure to the skeleton and all the organs of the body. Depending on which of these elements are predominant in a person, cures are suggested.

The First War of Indian Independence

By Srinidhi Murthy and Vijita Mukherjee

The British historians may call it ‘The Sepoy Mutiny’ or ‘The Revolt of 1857’ or by any other name, but the uprising of 1857 will always be the First War of Independence in India. Even though it was unsuccessful, it heralded the struggle for freedom that continued for the next ninety years and ultimately led to the freedom of India.

The first spark

The First War of Indian Independence started as a result of various actions of the ruling East India Company. They recruited Indian soldiers in their army and there were three lakh Indian sepoys in the army to fifty thousand Britishers. The first spark for the rebellion came in the form of the Vellore Mutiny in 1806. Both Hindu and Muslim Sepoys resented the new uniform regulations imposed by the Company, in spite of earlier assurances to the contrary. These regulations prohibited the soldiers from wearing any religious marks on their foreheads and all of them were required to trim their beards and moustaches. Two soldiers who protested were first punished and then discharged from the army. The rebels captured the Vellore Fort and killed two hundred British troops. They were eventually subdued by the cavalry from Arcot. But this voice that was raised against the British rule, echoed through the land and was significant in paving the way for the stronger and more defiant revolt in 1857.

Causes of 1857 war

Even before the introduction of the Enfield rifle, which served as an immediate cause for the revolt, there was tension and discomfort among the Indians towards the British rule. There were many so-called ‘reforms’ introduced by the British in the taxation and revenue system that affected the people adversely. The expansion of the British in India had led to the propagation of many other unjust policies too. Many zamindars who lost their lands and power also joined the rebels and fought against the British. In addition to these political and economic causes, racial discrimination and the interference of the British in the religious matters of Indians were believed to be the other major cause of the war. Indians also feared a forced conversion to Christianity.

The introduction of the Enfield Pattern rifle in 1853 was the proverbial straw that broke the back of Indian restraint. Rumours circulated that the cartridges for the new rifles were greased with beef and pork that was a taboo for both Hindu and Muslim sepoys in the army of the East India Company. The Company was quick to contradict this rumour so that the unrest could be quelled. It issued a notice that the cartridges provided were free from grease and made modifications that the cartridge was to be now torn with the hands and not bitten. This, however, backfired as many sepoys were now convinced about the authenticity of the rumours and the justification of their fears.

Mangal Pandey
Illustration: Souren Roy | Script: Toni Patel

Mangal Pandey, of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry, is among the most recognised figures of the first war of independence. After the information about the Enfield rifle reached Barrackpore, he declared that he would rebel against the new rules and other atrocities of the Company. On 29 March 1857, this 29-year-old fired at Sergeant-Major James Hewson. Later Mangal Pandey was hanged to death, and all the soldiers of the 34th BNI were disbanded and removed from employment. This action spread the wave of rebellion rapidly across other parts of the country.

Seize of Delhi and Meerut

On May 10, 1857, the revolt broke in Meerut when eighty-five members of the 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry were released from prison by their comrades. The soldiers destroyed the military station and killed any Europeans they could find. Following the outbreak at Meerut, many more uprisings occurred across northern and central India. The rebels moved quickly and seized Delhi next. The Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was declared as the Emperor of Hindustan.

Illustration: Souren Roy | Script: Toni Patel

The East India Company acted swiftly and ruthlessly to control the rebellion. With help from reinforcements, Kanpur was retaken by the British in the middle of July of 1857, and Delhi by the end of September.

Impact

The First War of Indian Independence shook the foundations of the British East India Company. The major impact was the introduction of the Government of India Act. This act abolished the rule of the British East India Company and placed the entire country directly under the British monarchy. It also marked the beginning of the British Raj in India. The heroic bravery shown by all the fighters in 1857 and the death of many, inspired Indians across the breadth of the country to fight for their freedom.

The death and sacrifice of these martyrs did not go in vain and India finally gained independence in 1947.

Read the full story of Mangal Pandey in our title Mangal Pandey, now available on the ACK Comics App, Kindle, Amazon, and other major e-tailers. 

The Story Of Telangana

By Srinidhi Murthy 

The state of Telangana is situated in the south-central area of the country, on the Deccan plateau. The land is blessed by two major rivers, the Krishna and the Godavari. It has witnessed the passing of many powerful kings and dynasties. 

The Name

The name Telangana comes from the word ‘Trilinga Desa’ which means the land of the three lingas. Three ancient Shiva Temples at Srisailam, Draksharam, and Kaleshwarama are found in the state. Other scholars say that the etymology of this word lies in the Telugu word ‘Telugu Angana’ meaning a place where Telugu is spoken; to differentiate it from the areas where Marathi was spoken during the reign of Nizams. 

Image: Wikipedia
Early History

Telangana has been governed by various dynasties such as the Chalukyas, the Kakatiyas, the Mughals and the Qutub Shahis among others. The Satavahanas ruled over a large area of the peninsula including Telangana around 1000 BCE to 300 BCE. Art and literature flourished during this period. 

Next, the Kakatiya dynasty ruled over the present-day Andhra Pradesh and Telangana region for 240 years. Tremendous economic and cultural progress happened under their rule. A notable mention is Rudramadevi, a woman way ahead of her times and a well-loved monarch. The last ruler of this dynasty was Prataparudra II, who was defeated by the forces of Muhammad bin Tughluq. The dynasty collapsed in the year 1323.

The region came under the rule of the Delhi Sultanate after the victory of Quli Qutub Mulk. He established the Qutub Shahi dynasty in 1518. During his reign, the present Golkonda Fort was built. In 1687, the Golconda Sultanate ended when the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb took siege of the Golconda fort.

Illustration: ACK Design Team
Pre and Post-Independence

Towards the end of the eighteenth century, the Asif Jahi Nizams ruled over the region. They aided the East India Company in their war against Tipu Sultan. Nasir-ud-dawlah, Asaf Jah IV was compelled to sign a subsidiary alliance with the British in 1799. He had to give up the Rayalaseema regions and coastal Andhra to the British and lost control over the state’s defence and its external affairs. 

After the independence of India, the Nizam of Hyderabad wanted a separate and independent status for Hyderabad, but the Indian Government refused to entertain such a request. Operation Polo was initiated to merge the state of Hyderabad with the Indian Union. After successful completion of the operation, the Kannada speaking areas were merged with Karnataka, those speaking Marathi joined Maharashtra and the Telugu speaking regions were merged with Andhra Pradesh. In 1956, Hyderabad city was announced as the capital of united Andhra Pradesh.

Telangana in the Present Day

In the early 1950s, the demand for separate statehood for Telangana was initiated and slowly gained momentum. Finally, on June 2, 2014, Telangana became the 29th state of India. This youngest state of the country has a glorious legacy of art, culture, literature and economics. 

Pandit Ravi Shankar (1920 – 2021)

By Srinidhi Murthy 

Illustration: Rakesh C.S.

George Harrison, the lead guitarist of The Beatles, described Pandit Ravi Shankar as the godfather of world music. He has influenced many musicians all over the world through his music and was remembered as the popular Sitar virtuoso of the late twentieth century. Here are some of the interesting facts about Pandit Ravi Shankar, who was honoured with the prestigious Bharat Ratna for his extraordinary contribution to music.

His family 

Born as Ravindra Shankar Chowdhury, Ravi Shankar was the seventh son of Shyam Shankar Chowdhury and Hemagini Devi. He was the youngest of seven brothers in the family and spent ten years of his childhood in Banaras. His family fondly referred to him as Ravi.

Ravi Shankar’s interest in arts

When he was 10, Ravi Shankar went to Paris with his brother Uday Shankar’s dance group. At the age of 13, he joined the group and had the opportunity to travel to various countries on tour. Ravi Shankar learned to dance and speak French during this time but as he grew older, his interest shifted from dance to music due to his exposure to western classical music and customs.

He studied under the tutelage of Allaudin Khan

Ravi Shankar learned about Allaudin Khan, who was then the lead musician at the court of Maihar. He abandoned his dancing career to learn Indian classical music under the tutelage of Allaudin Khan. Ravi Shankar had training on both Sitar and Surbahar, which is basically bass sitar, with Allaudin’s children Annapurna and Ali Akbar. Shankar later married Annapurna Devi and had his debut performance along with Ali Akbar Khan.

Ravi recomposed Saare Jahan Se Accha 

After the completion of his training in 1944, Ravi Shankar recomposed the popular song Saare Jahan Se Accha at the age of 25. He also worked as a music director for All India Radio.

His international projects

Ravi Shankar befriended the founder of World Pacific Records, Richard Bock, and recorded his albums in 1950s and 60s. This made him familiar with George Harrison, the lead guitarist of The Beatles. Harrison visited India for six weeks to learn the Sitar under Ravi Shankar. They worked together on the album named Collaborations. Ravi Shankar’s association with George Harrison and violinist Yehudi Menuhin increased his popularity internationally.

He composed melodies for movies

Ravi Shankar composed the title track for Satyajit Ray’sApur Sansar’ and the memorable melody of the song Sanware Sanware for the 1960 movie Anuradha.

Awards and recognition

Ravi Shankar was nominated as a Rajya Sabha member by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He won the Grammy award for his album West Meets East, in which he collaborated with Yehudi Menuhin. He also wrote two autobiographies during his lifetime which received a positive response among readers. In 1999, the government of India bestowed upon him the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award, for his exceptional contribution.

His last performance was with his daughter

In 2012, Pandit Ravi Shankar gave his last performance with his daughter, Sitar player Anoushka Shankar, at Terrace Theatre in California.

Tansen – The Muscial Gem

By Srinidhi Murthy

Tansen is one of the greatest musicians India has produced. Under the patronage of first, Raja Ramchandra Singh of Rewa and later, Akbar, the Mughal emperor, Tansen’s contribution to Hindustani classical music remains matchless even to date.

Early life 
Illustration: Yusuf Bangalorewala | Script: Dolly Rizvi

Tansen was born to Mukundram Mishra, also known as Makarand Pandey, a wealthy and popular poet and singer in Gwalior. As a child, Tansen loved going for walks in the forest with the cows. He listened to the animals there and started mimicking their voices. One day, a famous singer, Swami Haridas was passing through the forest with his disciples. Tansen imitated the roar of a  lion to scare them but he was soon caught. Swami Haridas was impressed by the young Tansen’s talent. With the permission of Mukundram Mishra, Tansen became Swami’s disciple.

Training under Swami Haridas and Mohammad Gaus

Tansen dedicated the next eleven years of his life learning music from Swami Haridas in Vrindavan. Later, at the request of his dying father, he took leave of Swami Haridas and joined Mohammad Gaus, a Sufi saint and continued his musical journey.

The friendship with Rani Mrigananini

Mohammad Gaus introduced Tansen to Rani Mriganaini of Gwalior who was a gifted singer herself. After the death of Mohammad Gaus, his house and money got passed on to Tansen. 

Tansen changed his religion and became Ata Khan. He married Hussaini, the lady in waiting to Rani Mriganaini and went on to become a singer of great repute. His fame spread far and wide. Rajaram, the Maharaja of Rewa invited Tansen to be his court singer.

Patronage of Akbar
Illustration: Yusuf Bangalorewala | Script: Dolly Rizvi

When Akbar visited the court of Rewa, he was impressed with Tansen’s talent. He asked the Maharaja of Rewas to send Tansen to his court in Delhi as a token of their friendship. Hence, Tansen arrived in Agra in 1556 and became one of the nine gems of Akbar’s court. This was a  rare and coveted honour. Tansen soon became a favourite of the emperor. He would sing melodies at night near Akbar’s bed to help him sleep well and also gently awaken him with his soul-stirring music in the morning.

Deepak Raaga, Tansen’s Test

Some powerful courtiers were jealous of Tansen’s closeness to the emperor and were determined to ruin him. One of them, named Shaukat Mian, questioned Tansen’s genius in open court and instigated Emperor Akbar to let Tansen sing the Deepak raga. This raaga, if sung perfectly, would burn the singer. Shaukat Khan knew that Tansen’s singing was always flawless. 

Illustration: Yusuf Bangalorewala | Script: Dolly Rizvi

Tansen understood the courtiers evil intent and asked for two weeks to prepare himself before he performed the raaga. He then asked his daughter and Rupavati, a disciple of Swami Haridas to master Megh raaga in these two weeks. Megh raaga has the power to bring rain and cool everything down. 

On the proclaimed day, people gathered around the palace to witness the performance of Tansen. As Tansen sang, the air became warmer and warmer. Gradually the people were bathed in perspiration and they longed for a cool breeze. After a while, the women, as instructed by Tansen began to sing Megh raaga and the rain poured down on the parched earth. The city rejoiced. The emperor realised the intrigues of his court and punished the guilty courtiers.

Read the complete story of Tansen in our title Tansen, now available on the ACK Comics app, Kindle, Flipkart, and other major e-tailers.