Chandragupta Maurya

When Alexander the great entered India he crossed Hindu Kush occupied KabulĀ  and reached Indus and crossed it, it was 326 BC. The land of India thus attracted outsiders since times immemorial.Omphis, the king of Taxila had already submitted without much resistance. Beyond Jhelum river was the land ruled by warlike king of Punjab, Porus. Alexander was with great difficulty able to defeat Porus in a surprise attack. Porus was capturedĀ  and brought before his conqueror.

Porus was said to be very tall and handsome man. At the time he was brought before Alexander, he had nine wounds on his body and was barely able to stand. But when Alexander asked him how he should be treated, he had told “As befits me-like a king”. Alexander was so impressed with the answer, he restored him to his kingdom and made him a vassal when he retreated to Greek fearing a revolt in his armies.

Alexander had no intention of relinquishing the control of the areas he won in the battles. He installed satraps to govern the conquered territories. But these did not last long and local rulers again gained control of the lost lands.

There was at that time a young man called Sandrocottus -identical with Chandragupta Maurya, who sided with Greeks and advised Alexander to proceed East and attack the unpopular Nanda emperor in Patliputra. But his boldness of speech annoyed Alexander who ordered to kill him. But he escaped. Ultimately with the help of his Guru variously called Chanakya, Kautilya or Vishnugupta who was very able and unscrupulous Brahmin, Chandragupta overthrew the Nanda and became the king.

After the Alexander left, Chandragupta expanded his kingdom in all directions. His empire was the template for modern India. When Seleucus Nicator, the Greek general knocked at the doors of India again he was met by Chandragupta in 305 BC and suffered a humiliating defeat. He had to enter into matrimonial alliance with Chandragupta. Megasthenes was appointed ambassador to Patliputra.

It is surprising that such a great king would abdicate his throne to become a Jain monk and fast unto death in the South India at Sravan Belagola in the modern day Mysore.

Aloe

Aloe has a very long history of use. The sap was used medicinally by the Greeks and Romans, who obtained it from the island of Socotra. The Greek physician Dioscorides recorded the use of the leaves to treat wounds in the first century AD. Aloe had reached England by the 10th century, where it appears to have been one of the drugs recommended to Alfred the Great by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. In the early part of the 17th century, the records of the East India Company show payments for aloe being made to the King of Socotra, who held a monopoly on the production of drugs from the Socotrine aloe.

Spotted forms of Aloe vera are sometimes known...
Spotted forms of Aloe vera are sometimes known as Aloe vera var. chinensis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is not known whether the Socotrine aloe obtained in Greek and Roman times was from wild or cultivated populations. Today, however, African aloe (both Socotrine and Cape) is collected from wild plants, while in the West Indies, the plants are laid out in plantations like cabbages.

To prepare Aloe vera for market, the leaves are cut near the base of 24-36 year old plants. The resulting latex is collected and concentrated to the consistency of thick honey. A true concentrate produces a clear, translucent gel, which can be applied fresh, or it can be commercially converted into a more expensive ointment.

The gel can also be fermented to produce a tonic wine, to which honey and spices are added. In India, this is used to make a drink called kurmara or asava to treat anaemia and digestive and liver disorders.

The gel can also be inhaled in steam, and the powdered leaves can be used as a laxative. There is a danger that the huge tonnages of gel now sold in the developed world will mean that aloe is regarded as a cure-all for any ailment.

Malana Village

Today morning, I was watching DD Bharti channel on television. This channel is a repository of invaluable programs. It has a nostalgia attached to it due to its being the only channel which was first seen in Black and White and that too for few hours in the evening. It has grown up with us. It is the government controlled channel. The programs telecast on it are generally those which have recorded long back and relate to us. The faces of the presenters in some old programs send the mind in the old alleys.

Anyway, it was telecasting a documentary film on Malana village which is situated in the Parvati valley. As the name goes, Himachal is the abode of Gods, being so beautiful, it is like a heaven on the earth. The village has kept itself insulated from the outside world and its inhabitants have been guarding its their unique customs and culture closely. The village is situated on a plateau.

The documentary depicted the villagers. The women are very beautiful and men are very handsome, though it is all natural that they may not be aware of it. Outsiders tend to compare because they have seen different races of the people. One very prominent feature of their physique is the resemblance to the Greek people with sharp patrician noses and sturdy bodies. It is not surprising because the people living in colder places are generally fair colored. It is said that they are the descendants of the Greek soldiers of the Alexander’s army who settled in this beautiful valley.

The villagers has a Devta named Jamblu Devta which is supposed to be presiding over them through a council of members.The villagers follow the Devta in all the aspects of life and His decision is all abiding. The village follows democratic rules and is said to the oldest democracy in the world.

The customs are strictly followed. For example, the love marriages are considered very bad and an offense punished which is punished like the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Eden Garden for disobeying the God and eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge although in this case their was the snake who convinced the Eve that after eating the fruit they shall have the true knowledge and become as wise as the God itself.

Lets us hope that this village remains unaffected by the outside influences where so many bad things like corruption, crimes are happening and people are destroying the nature unawares that they are chopping off the very branches of the tree on which they are perched.