Martial Art form of Pataa

Pataa was the name given to the most prevalent martial art form of lands surrounding Delhi and the Gangetic plains. `Pataa hilaana’ was a form of athletic sword fighting. The name of this martial art form may have been derived from a traditional Indian sword called `Pataa’ which was a gauntlet hilt straight sword and within the terminology of the martial art form the word pataa is used as a synonym for sword, thus it is sword play as the name suggests.

A master of this art who could swing his pataa or sword with proficient skill was said to have been capable of stopping ten swordsmen from getting near him. This art appears to have been practiced by most social groups of northern India, including service classes like weavers.

In the present day, the primary weapons used in this martial art form are a long stick or `lathi’, a short stick and a few other miscellaneous implements. The short stick can be used alone or a player can use one short stick in each hand.

Dr. Amit Pathak has been instrumental in undertaking steps for the preservation of the last proponents of this ancient martial art form in the region of Western Uttar Pradesh


Historical Tablets in St. John’s Church, Meerut

The St. John’s Church has some amazing tablets recording interesting facts of history. One of this concerns the famous regiment The Royal Scots Greys which was known to gone to battle in their cavalry days riding only grey horses and thus also carried the title of Grey Dragoons. They were posted in India between 1922 and 1927, probably the only photograph of their stay here was taken at Meerut.



How many of us have seen an Indian face in any book, movie of comic strip based on the First or Second World War? The racial bias that existed in the world during those days has completely wiped out Indian contribution during the World Wars (we were clubbed with `Commonwealth Soldiers and forgotten). The truth is that lakhs of Indian soldiers fought, died and many of them won gallantry awards during the Great Wars, more than most nations of that time.
It is the duty of us all to study and propagate historical facts related to Indian contribution to recent world history, only if we remember our own contribution to the creation of this world order will others give any importance to us. If we forget our own fallen soldiers, the world will also forget us...


A clean Gypsy household, Parikshitgarh, Dist. Meerut

The cart and the bed.

The clean and painted chulha

Vegetables neatly cut and cleanly cooked. I have seen many `large well-made kitchens' which cannot stand in front of this `small kitchen' in terms of cleanliness

I was really surprised at the cleanliness displayed in this small gypsy household – check the clothes / pillow on the bed and on the cart, the painted cart and floor. Also specially observe the cleanliness with which the vegetables are being cut and prepared.

The lady of the house, a young woman, was exceptionally beautiful and had no fear of the camera.

Gypsies of India have been able to preserve their unique cultural identity even in the present millennium. They earn their livelihood though making iron implements, though in older times references are there of them being used as transporters of goods as every Indian gypsy family owns its own cart.

The Indian gypsies appear to have distant links to the gypsies of Europe.



Photographs of houses of Kashmiri Pandits taken by me last April. They were shot, threatened and thrown out by religious fundamentalists from Kashmir valley. They were the indigenous inhabitants of the valley and were forced to leave their original homes by Pakistani sponsored terrorists. On 19th of January, 1990, loudspeakers blared out all over the valley threatening them to either convert or leave. Surprisingly this happened not in Pakistan, Afghanistan or POK but in the part of Kashmir which is under the control of the Govt. of India. No liberal has cried out for them ever in all these years. As for the rest of the Indian population, well, less said the better...



I am not able to read the complete inscription in French on the postcard but few words can me made out - magnificent soldiers .. brave! The first Indian troops to participate in the western front in Europe in 1914 were of the Meerut or 7th Indian Infantry Division and Lahore Division. 

The regiments as well as stations under Meerut Division varied from time to time. On the eve of the First World War, the headquarters of Meerut Division were at Landaur, Mussoorie with the following brigades forming part of this division Meerut Cavalry Brigade and Bareilly Brigade (headquarters Ranikhet), Dehradun and Garhwal (headquarters Lansdowne) Infantry Brigades.

The 7th (Meerut) Indian Cavalry Brigade operated as a formation of the British Indian Army on the Western Front initially as part of the 2nd Indian Cavalry Division, fighting both in France and Flanders. Subsequently the Meerut Cavalry Brigade operated as an independent brigade during the Mesopotamian Campaign. Near the end of the war it fought in the Battle of Shargat in 1918 and later was present during the occupation of Mosul.

At Brockenhurst, Hampshire in the United Kingdom, a 500 bed hospital was built for injured Indian soldiers which was called the Meerut Indian General Hospital (Lady Hardinge Hospital for Wounded Indian Soldiers). The hospital was later used by soldiers from New Zealand as the No1 New Zealand General Hospital. Interestingly, Brockenhurst also had a Hindu cremation ground.



The early morning breakfast at 7 AM on 25th of April was jointly organized by the Australian and New Zealand High Commissions to commemorate the camaraderie and friendship between soldiers from their countries and India in the tough and difficult battles that were fought during the campaigns of Gallipoli a hundred years ago.

Anzac Day is celebrated every year on the 25th of April in memory of all Australian and New Zealand soldiers who died in war. The day was chosen because of the Anzac operations in the Battles at Gallipoli which became the defining moment in the evolution of the national identities of Australia and New Zealand. `Anzac' stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.




Anzac Day is celebrated every year on the 25th of April in memory of all Australian and New Zealand soldiers who died in war. The day was chosen because of the Anzac operations in the Battles at Gallipoli which became the defining moment in the evolution of the national identities of Australia and New Zealand. `Anzac' stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Nearly 15000 Indian troops participated in Gallipoli and they made their presence felt during operations. As can be gleaned from the posters made out of original photographs on display at the Australian High Commission, Indian soldiers had developed a real close bonding with the Anzacs, a bonding which needs to be fostered and grown in this new millennium.

anged from the tree under which the temple was built subsequently.



The genocide in Bangladesh began on 26 March 1971 with the launch of Operation Searchlight with West Pakistan starting a military crackdown in East Pakistan, presently Bangladesh, to suppress Bengali calls for self-determination. During the nine-month long Bangladesh war for independence, members of the Pakistani military and supporting militias killed between 300,000 - 3,000,000 people (figures can never be confirmed) and raped between 200,000 - 400,000 Bangladeshi women in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape.

Participants - Over and above the Pakistani army, according to political scientist Peter Tomsen Pakistan's secret service ISI, in conjunction with the political party Jamaat-e-Islami, formed militias such as Al-Badr ("the moon") and the Al-Shams ("the sun") to conduct operations against the nationalist movement. These militias targeted noncombatants and committed rapes as well as other crimes. Local collaborators known as Razakars also took part in the atrocities.

Killing of intellectuals - During the war, the Pakistan Army and its local collaborators undertook a systematic execution of the leading Bengali intellectuals. A number of professors from Dhaka University were killed during the first few days of the war. Professors, journalists, doctors, artists, engineers and writers were rounded up by Pakistan Army and the Razakar militia in Dhaka, blindfolded, taken to torture cells in Mirpur, Mohammadpur, Nakhalpara, Rajarbagh etc to be executed en masse, most notably at Rayerbazar and Mirpur. The Pakistani Army and its collaborators made a list of doctors, teachers, poets, and scholars. According to one analysis during the nine-month duration of the war, the Pakistani army, with its collaborators systematically executed an estimated 991 teachers, 13 journalists, 49 physicians, 42 lawyers, and 16 writers, artists and engineers.

Genocidal rape by Pakistan Army - Numerous women were tortured, raped and killed during the war. Exact numbers are not known and are a subject of debate. Bangladeshi sources cite a figure of 200,000 women raped, giving birth to thousands of war - babies. The Pakistani Army also kept numerous Bengali women as sex-slaves inside the Dhaka Cantonment. Most of the girls were captured from Dhaka University and private homes.

In a New York Times report named 'Horrors of East Pakistan Turning Hope into Despair', Malcom W. Browne wrote : 'One tale that is widely believed and seems to come from many different sources is that 563 women picked up by the army in March and April and held in military brothels are not being released because they are pregnant beyond the point at which abortions are possible.'

Attacks on minorities - The minorities of Bangladesh were specific targets of the Pakistani army. There was widespread killing of Hindu males, and rapes of women. Documented incidents in which Hindus were massacred in large numbers include the Chuknagar massacre, the Jathibhanga massacre, and the Shankharipara massacre.

According to R.J. Rummel, professor of Political Science at the University of Hawaii - The genocide and gendercidal atrocities were also perpetrated by lower-ranking officers and ordinary soldiers. These "willing executioners" were fueled by an abiding anti -Bengali racism, especially against the Hindu minority. "Bengalis were often compared with monkeys and chickens. Said General Niazi, 'It was a low lying land of low lying people.' The Hindus among the Bengalis were as Jews to theNazis: scum and vermin that [should] best be exterminated. As to the Moslem Bengalis, they were to live only on the sufferance of the soldiers: any infraction, any suspicion cast on them, any need for reprisal, could mean their death. And the soldiers were free to kill at will. The journalist Dan Coggin quoted one Pakistani captain as telling him, "We can kill anyone for anything. We are accountable to no one." This is the arrogance of Power.



With real heroes and not `reel' heroes. India has a tradition of many generations serving one after the other in the armed forces. Here are two great veterans whose grandfathers served in the First World War and they served the Indian army. They are wearing the medals of their grandfathers also in this picture as they were specially invited to attend the centenary celebrations of Indian participation in the Great War. It was an honour for me to have my photo clicked with them.


The impossible made possible at Zojial Pass

1st November, 1948 - One of the greatest battles in history was undertaken - Battle of Zojila Pass. The Indian Army did what had never ever been done before. The story of this battle should be in school books of Indian children. Zojila Pass lies on the road connecting Srinagar to Kargil, Dras and Leh. It lies at 3529 meters (11578 feet) and is even today the toughest stretch to travel on in 2016 (as informed by my friend Dheeraj who travelled by motorbike from Manali to Leh and down to Srinagar last month). The Pakistani forces had taken over Kargil and Dras in 1947 and by late 1948 they were just 30 km from Leh, capital of Laddakh. Leh was defended by a small contingent of 70 armed men who could be easily annihilated in no time by the toughened infiltrators from Waziristan, NWFP mixed with Pakistani army regulars. The emergency was understood by the Indian army commanders as Zojila was in complete occupation of Pakistanis who had established posts high up on the pass preventing anyone to pass through. The initial attack on Zojila, codenamed `Operation Duck’, was launched by 77 Para under Brig. K.L. Atal on the 29th of August, 1948. The troops had no acclimatisation and they had only light clothing, the operation failed. Major General K S Thimayya is known to have said “…the fall of Leh will be a strategic blow to India. It has to be saved at all cost….. I will be on that flight in your cock-pit. So let’s go.” The GOC-in-C Western Command, Lieut. Gen. K.M. Cariappa (we have Carriapa street in Meerut), now understood that something drastic had to be done and an audacious plan was made. Gen. Cariappa now ordered – “Change the name of the operation from Duck to Bison, but continue we must with our plan with Zojila and capture Kargil.” Tanks had never ever been used at such heights in the history of warfare, but the Indian army was to do what was never done before. Stuart Mk-VI tanks of the 7th Cavalry commanded by Lt-Col Rajinder Singh "Sparrow'' were given this task. Utmost secrecy was essential. Turrets of the tanks were removed and they were moved through the valley at night after curfew had been declared so that no one would know what was happening. The 4th Engineer Regiment of the Bengal Sappers did the impossible task of converting 8 km of mule tract (khacchur track) into a road on which tans weighing 11 tons could move. Sappers of the Indian Army cut the mountains and made a road capable of taking tanks in just 20 days. Now the tanks were moved forward, jawans had to push them initially on the steep slopes manually to position them for the final assault. The assault was undertaken on the 1st of November, 1948. The Pakistanis were shocked to see tanks at that height and their officers further inland could not believe the messages that they were getting from the front. The tanks blew away the pickets at the heights and Indian infantry than moved in to clear the rest of the infiltrators. Tanks now moved forward and by 12th November they had reached near Kargil and by 24th November 1948 Kargil was taken and Leh was safe.


Brig Chandpuri

Selfies of a lifetime - with Brig (retd) Kuldeep Singh Chandpuri (then Maj), the hero of Longewala played by Sunny Deol in the movie `Border’ and Col (retd) Dharamveer (then Cap) who was his second in command.
120 Indian soldiers of the 23rd Punjab Regiment (consisting of about 50% Sikh and 50% Dogras) held their post against more than 2000 Pakistani infantry and 45 Pakistani tanks.
As opposed to a casualty of 2 Indian soldiers, casualty rate (including the morning Indian Air Force strikes) of Pakistanis was 200 dead, 34 tanks destroyed (12 out of these by men of 23 Punjab) and 500 vehicles destroyed or abandoned.



This is something very interesting which exists at this temple. This is called a `dhoni'. It is basically a perpetual sacred fire. Ignited ambers lie beneath the mound of ash. This was one way of worshiping fire, but all things necessary for human survival were sacred to ancient man. In times before the matchbox, village people would go to the nearest dhoni and bring an amber back to the house to kindle fire for household activities. The dhoni was both a sacred cult object and a necessity for people of our ancient past. 

A cake of cowdung is in the foreground which is used as fuel for the fire....



The picture is an artist's impression of the complex reality of a Higgs Boson. Continuing on what we had thought 5 days ago regarding the vastness of the universe outside ourselves, if we start travelling in the opposite direction and inside ourselves, beyond cells, then atoms and beyond, a completely new world of subatomic particles opens up, a world which we only recently have started to discover... . a world where energy and matter tend to become one... . Our mind can never ever comprehend this subatomic world, let alone understand it.

Through the past many years, physicists have understood the fact that all principles of physics on which we base our machines and our life go haywire at this level of existence. The principles of Newtonian Physics just simply collapse - so much for all those who talk as if we already know what all had to be known, as if `science as we know it today is the beginning and end of all knowledge!!! The evolution of Quantum Physics has shown that all our older models of science were flawed... . This universe transcends standard mathematical. The whole Hadron Collider project is the first step in trying to look into that 95% black blank space, because there is something there and we with all our present scientific models just do not know what it is!!!

Where do we as humans stand in this vastness? We are like a drop of water of an ocean, and as a drop of water when analysed carries all the properties of an ocean within itself, so does a human being she / he carries every aspect of this universe within herself / himself. From this principle arose the final words of Vedic knowledge - Aham Brahmasmi, I am Brahma, I am the Universe. And if the whole universe, every aspect of the universe resides within us, then each one of us humans has the potential of this universe locked within ourselves.... Unimaginable power which needs to be tapped to understand, learn, change, evolve and grow ourselves as well as well as improve what lies beyond our physical bodies....