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5 Top Things My History Teacher Never Taught Me

This blog is an attempt to present many of the interesting facets of our country's history that was not taught to us. Ultimately truth will triumph.


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#1   IN ANCIENT TIMES THE PRIME MERIDIAN WAS NOT THE ONE PASSING THROUGH GREENWICH. IT WAS THE ONE PASSING THROUGH UJJAIN.

Today we measure the time difference between various time zones with reference to the time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. The longitude passing through Greenwich is considered as zero degrees. But centuries before this observatory was even built the civilized world was using the meridian/longitude passing through the ancient city of Ujjain located in today’s Madhya Pradesh. Meridian or longitude is the imaginary vertical lines on a world map or globe passing through the North Pole and the South Pole.

Ptolemy is considered to be the father of Western Astronomy. In recent times when astronomers with knowledge of both Greek and Sanskrit did comparative research on ancient astronomy, they found that the first Greek book on Astronomy, Syntaxis, written by Ptolemy, was based on a very ancient Indian book called Surya Siddhantam. Ptolemy is credited with having developed the first World Map. In this map, he has prominently shown Ujjain, named as Ozene in the Greek language.

Ujjain was known for its astronomers. The Vedic astronomers Varahamihira, Brahmagupta, and Bhaskaracharya were all from Ujjain. The prime meridian (0 degrees Longitude) was passing through the idol of Kaal Bhairav in the Mahakal Temple of Ujjain. Kaal Bhairav as the name suggests is Shiva in the form of Controller of Time. This reference meridian is required for measuring the difference of time as one moves Eastwards or Westwards at the rate of 4 minutes variation for every one-degree movement. This important information is something my History teacher never taught me.

#2   ZORAVAR SINGH

Zoravar Singh was the commander of the army of Raja Gulab Singh, a Dogra king of Jammu. Raja Gulab Singh was himself reporting to Maharaja Ranjit Singh of the Sikh empire. Zoravar Singh was an able military strategist who was an expert in mountain warfare. Zoravar Singh fought against the Qing Dynasty of China and took control of Ladhak in 1840 and brought it under the Sikh empire ruled by Maharaja Ranjit Singh from Lahore. 

So famous and respected Zoravar Singh was that when he died in the Dogra Tibetan war in 1841 the Tibetans who were his enemies raised a cenotaph in his honor. Today the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladhak sit like a crown over the rest of India. If it had not been for General Zorawar Singh Kahluria’s brilliant military campaigns and victories these two Union Territories may have become part of Afghanistan, Tibet, and China.  Why are we forgetting our real heroes and not teaching our children about them? My History teacher definitely did not even mention his name. 

#3   MAHARAJA MARTHANDA VARMA OF TRAVANCORE 

Before going into the history of Maharaja Marthanda Varma we need to first look into the history of the Dutch East India Company. This company was established in 1602 with headquarters in Amsterdam. The Dutch East India Company is to date the biggest company in world history. It had a value of $ 7.9 Trillion which is Rs. 5.9 Crore Crores. No, that is not a typing mistake. There are two crores which make it Rs. 5.9 x 10 raised to 14. It was richer than Apple, Google and Facebook combined. Its value was roughly the present-day GDP of Japan and Germany combined. Apple which is today the most valuable company in the world is 11% of the value of the Dutch East India Company at its peak. The Dutch East India Company had 70,000 employees across the world making it the first truly multinational company in the world. They were so rich that they had their own military.

This company decided to take over the highly profitable spice trade by attacking the kingdom of Travancore (present day southern Kerala). The Dutch had already established a number of ports in key areas of the kingdom’s coast. In the famous Battle of Colachal (10 Aug. 1741) Maharaja Marthanda Varma and his army won a resounding victory against the Dutch. Finally, the Dutch had to sign a peace treaty with Marthanda Varma by which the Dutch could never again attack any part of the Travancore kingdom. Thus the Maharaja of a small kingdom in India defeated the most powerful company in the history of mankind. It may be a small part of the history of our country but considering the brute strength and economic power of the enemy, this was one of the greatest victories by an Indian ruler. None of these achievements are known to people outside Kerala. Even the people of Kerala did not learn it from their History teachers.

#4   NAVAL CONQUESTS OF CHOLA DYNASTY FROM INDONESIA TO PHILIPPINES

The Chola dynasty of Tamil Nadu was perhaps the longest ruling dynasty in the world having ruled over large parts of Eastern Tamil Nadu, Kerala, southern Karnataka, Odisha, and parts of West Bengal from 300 BCE  right up to 1300 CE. They had one of the most powerful navies of those times. They conquered Sri Lanka, Maldive Islands, Indonesia, the southern part of Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and parts of the Philippines. 

At its peak, the Chola navy was the most powerful one in Asia with blue water capabilities and strength of one million men. Rajendra Chola I, son of Raja Raja Chola I, went northwards till he reached the river Ganga and won a battle against the Pala king of Pataliputra. He brought some water from the river Ganga back to Tamil Nadu. Since he brought the waters of the river he is also referred to as Gangaikondachola (the Chola who brought the water of river Ganga to his kingdom). He established a new capital in Tamil Nadu and named it Gangaikondacholapuram. This town still exists with the same name. The Cholas were trading with the Tang dynasty of China, the Srivijaya empire on the Malayan peninsula, and the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad. The Chola navy was transporting goods from China to present day Iraq.  None of these facts about the naval achievements of the Chola emperors was taught to me by my History teacher.

#5   THE EUROPEAN WATER CLOSET WAS INVENTED IN THE INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION

Today we take our water closets for granted. The British told us that they invented it and as usual we blindly believe what they said. But the same model of water closet was in use in Mohenjadaro a city in the Indus Valley Civilization. It was shaped like a throne with a backrest and armrests on either side and a hole in the seat. It may have been crude. But like many other things (including #1 in this article) the British copied this design many centuries later and improved on that design. This was not taught to me by my History teacher probably because she too blindly believed whatever the British said.



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  1. Wow Sir. This is really amazing facts. If we include them in our history books it would have been a different ball game.

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