Will someone kick the #StupidBucket

Imagine for a second, what would happen if  someone pours a bucket of ice-cold water over your head? A slight chill runs through the body, the hair gets spoilt, the dress gets wet, and god forbid if you are carrying your wallet or your phone on you, the person with the bucket would possibly be buried in one.

But what if you could have some fun, get publicity, and indulge in friendly ICB11bantering with your colleagues or friends, and finally, the beatific feeling of having contributed to a good cause, all at the same time. If imagine you could get all this by having a bucket of cold water poured over your head, would you not agree to it?

This is what essentially the Ice Bucket Challenge (or as it is known #IceBucketChallenge) is all about. Lots of fun, PR gimmicks, bantering and all this in the name of a charitable cause. Apparently the Ice Bucket Challenge is being taken for spreading awareness on ALS or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. A neurological disorder affecting the nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Patients suffering from ALS or Lou Gehrig Disease as it is also known suffer from a degenerative loss of control over their bodily functions, leading to total paralysis and subsequent death. Typically, the time-span between the onset of symptoms to death is around 2-5 years. It is a painful and traumatic disease, which leaves the person debilitated and is incurable. Hence, people having fun with cold water in the name of such a traumatic disorder must make you sick. Right?

Not really. In our disjointed world, something as abominable as this is repackaged as a philanthropic and social exercise. SO, the Ice Bucket Challenge has a social side, the participants in the challenge have a choice of donating $100 or having a bucket of ice-water poured over their heads. Ideally, you’d expect folks (especially the uber rich ones) to opt for donation, so that there can be more research on the disease, and the possibility of finding a cure. But no, in a sort of pseudo machismo, people will have water poured over their heads as if it is a very brave and gallant thing to do. The script is similar in almost all the videos posted, the person will ICB2“accept” the challenge, rattle of a few more names, steel himself/herself up, have the bucket emptied over self, smile, shriek or just look bewildered. The length of the video varies from 30 seconds to over 2 minutes, directly proportional to how desperate the person is for publicity. In fact, in many videos the celebs don’t even mention ALS or do it very casually, thereby defeating the whole purpose for taking up the challenge (remember the greater good of spreading awareness). Continue reading

Numismatics and its role in Indian history

The quest for past

The quest for truth has been innate in the human mind, since time immemorial. Right from the Vedic times, as the Nasadiya sukta tell us, man has been wondering as to whom and how did the universe appear as they do now.  While the quest has been undertaken on meta-physical levels, with questions being raised on the shashwatdccoin1practicality or impracticality of a supreme creator, this has in no way heeded the efforts to find the origins of the past. To know, from where it all began in a logical and chronological sequence. This quest for answers for roots lies at the very heart of archaeology.

In practical terms, archaeology is the physical effort undertaken to unravel the past. A scientific approach that either substantiates or debunks propositions from the past. The precise definition, reads something like this:

The systematic study of past human life and culture by the recovery and examination of remaining material evidence, such as graves, buildings, tools, and pottery.

But this quest for past has not been a recent one, many centuries yore, too people have been looking for answers in mythology, literature and religious books to discover the roots. The earliest historians, who documented India, were the religious or rather Buddhist travellers who came down to India with the objective of finding the real source of Buddhist literature.

Foreign nationals from across the shores or Himalayas have been frequent visitors to Indian since time immemorial as traders, travellers, scholars, and finally as rulers. One of the biggest fascinations for these travellers has been the immense wealth of epigraphical, architectural and sculptural material that is found in this region.

One of the first major documented visitors to Indian continent have been the shashwatdccoin2Chinese travellers Fa-hien (5th century CE) and Xuanzang (Hieun-Tsang-7th century CE) were interested in Buddhist remains and have left accounts of numerous cities and sites related with Buddhism, such as Nalanda, Bodh Gaya and Ajanta. Through their works, one is able to draw a clear anthropological picture of the time and lifestyles of Indians of those era.

In fact the name that stands out or comes to the memory is that of Hsuen Tsang – Xuanzang  [c.602 – 664] was a famous Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveler, and translator who described the interaction between China and India in the early Tang period.

Born in Henan province of China in 602 or 603, from boyhood he took to reading sacred books, mainly the Chinese Classics and the writings of the ancient sages. While residing in the city of Luoyang, Xuanzang entered Buddhist monkhood at the age of thirteen and developed the desire to visit India. He knew about Faxian’s visit to India and, like him, was concerned about the incomplete and misinterpreted nature of the Buddhist scriptures that reached China. Continue reading