Tag Archives: India

Catch Pokémon For A Living Now!

“Wanted Pokémon trainer dexterous at finding and catching Pokémons.” That’s a listing on Babajob.com, seeking a Pokémon Catcher!

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The Bengaluru-based job portal has created a new category for Pokémon Catcher. It allows people to hire others to play #PokémonGo, the vastly popular augmented reality-based game, in their stead.

The company says that it expects this to become a trend soon. The job has currently been posted by Ash Ketchum. Pokémon fans will know that this is the lead character in the original anime series. According to Babajob, the company’s co-founder and COO, Vir Kashyap, is going to hire someone to play in his place.

In an email interaction with Digit, Kashyap explained that he and CEO, Sean Blagsvedt, started a friendly competition amongst themselves in the game. Kashyap however injured himself midway, rendering him unable to play. He plans to hire someone to play in his place, and the person will be paid Rs. 1,999 for reaching a particular level in the game.

The job posting states that the remuneration can go up to Rs, 25,000 per month. A sum that is equivalent to starting salaries for freshers in many specialised fields.

“One should be alert and swift. Also, the user should have enough knowledge about the Pokémon world to become a successful Pokémon Catcher,” said Kashyap, on being asked what the criteria for employment will be.

The opening is currently in Bengaluru, but the company said it has received lots of applications from across the country. The one selected will currently be going around Bengaluru, collecting Pokémon, and visiting other startup offices, which may appear as Pokéstops in the game.

It was only a matter of time before #PokemonGo opened up opportunities for others to earn money off of it. Interestingly, the game isn’t even officially available in India yet, although, the country is generating a hefty load off the traffic on Niantic’s servers. The website shows that many applicants have already applied for the job, and Babajob is currently reviewing the applications to hire a Pokémon Catcher for Kashyap.


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Free Basics – Why You Shouldn’t Support It!

There’s a lot of buzz going around ‘Free Basics’ – A platform that Facebook is trying to get it launched full-fledged in India. But what exactly is Free Basics? Does it really mean that Indians will now have access to basic Internet for free? Let’s find that out in detail. Whether the claims are too good to be true or it’s just another scam that can prove to be really disastrous in future!

Why ‘Internet.org’ was renamed to ‘Free Basics’?

About a year ago, when Internet.org was launched in India, countless netizens protested as it was against net neutrality. Shocked by this response, the marketing department of Facebook renamed it to ‘Free Basics’ and re-launched it here as they thought Indians would never say ‘no’ to anything that says ‘free’. Facebook has been aggressively marketing to get it accepted by India’s Telecom regulator. Right from publishing full page newspaper ads, roadside banners and online ads, they have also started sending constant notifications to all their Indian Users to click a button which will direct an email to TRAI saying that you support ‘Free Basics’. They ‘accidentally’ sent these notifications to foreign users as well. And, if you do not accept their pesky notifications, they make you feel guilty for not supporting ‘digital equality’ by showing the list of your friends who support it. By the look of these ads, it seems like Facebook is doing a huge favor for India through ‘Free Basics’ and our government is acting all evil trying to put a stop to their good efforts. But is that so?

What is Free Basics?

Free Basics is a platform given by Facebook in association with telecom operators, where certain basic internet websites will be available free of cost. This means, if you are visiting Facebook or its partner websites, you don’t have to pay internet charges at all. However, if you are visiting other websites such as Google, you need to pay data charges as you have been doing all this while. In India, Facebook has tied up with Reliance to make certain websites free of cost. However, while Facebook claimed that the initiative would allow people who cannot afford the Internet to get access to ‘information’ and connect with the world, a number of people and organizations have been opposing it. And this is because ‘Free Basics’ does not mean free access to the whole of Internet.

What is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differently by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication. It is one of the fundamental principle due to which Internet exists in the form we see today. Source: Net neutrality- Wikipedia

Internet Access v/s Services on the Internet

Google is a service and so is “Internet access” – and if many of you are using Google service for free – then there is no point in fighting or debating for “Internet access” which is also a service. Google service also requires infrastructure and Internet Access also requires infrastructure – it depends on the business model of the companies on how they generate revenue.  Internet is an open protocol and there is difference between protocols and infrastructures. What we pay for is “Internet access” because that requires a lot of infrastructure and we pay rent for using that infrastructure. Gmail or Facebook are services but not the internet. Internet is collection of those services from which the user should be allowed to choose what he/she likes.

What does Reliance gain from this?

Here’s the deal. You have two options to access Facebook: (1) You can choose Reliance network, and access it for free; or (2) You can choose other telecom operators and pay for the same service. What will you do? It is obvious that people would prefer to go for Reliance. However, once you register on the Reliance network, you realize that actually you need more than just the websites available on Free Basics. Free Basics does not have Google, YouTube, Amazon, Flipkart, Yahoo, LinkedIn,Twitter, Snapdeal, HDFC, ICICI, PayTM, eBay, IRCTC, NDTV, Rediff, Quora, Quikr, RedBus, BSE/NSE and the list goes on. The basics of Indian internet is not on Free “Basics” and you will soon realize, (Click on the image below) that it offers nothing significant, and you will anyway need to pay for the other services.

websites freebasics

When these people, who are now interested in internet, get converted to full payment service, then Reliance becomes their obvious choice. Therefore, telecom operators gain from Free Basics because it increases their subscribers.

What happens if other Telecom Operators join?

We now know Reliance is interested in Free Basics as it gives them an edge over other telecom providers. However, what if other telecom operators also join in? Imagine if all the major telecom operators in India such as Idea, Airtel, Vodafone etc. join the Free Basics platform, what happens then? Reliance will not have any inherent advantage and in that sense, all the websites listed above will be available for free on all the networks. In that case, these telecom operators will gain nothing and will all be just killing themselves? The fact is that these telecom operators are interested in this initiative because it gives them more subscribers. It increases the size of the market as a whole. A lot of people from rural India who have never used internet on their mobile phones will now start using internet. In this whole initiative, the telecom operators will eventually win, because their subscriber base will go up. You may argue that they are not charging for it (because it is free basics). But this argument is foolish because you and I both appreciate that the websites offered by Free Basics are not even basics. They are not offering useful websites like Khan Academy or Amazon or Quora or even Google for that matter. Therefore, anyone who subscribes to Free Basics will eventually want to shift to the full version of internet.

Why is Free Basics a problem?

One thing we must understand is that internet has always been free, fair and democratic in terms of access of information and usage. But today with the dawn of Free Basics, this space is under threat. Even though we do not discuss or see it around us, the World Wide Web dictates our present and future in a manner more real than we can imagine. The ones who are joining the internet today or in the future should be able to use the internet without any restriction, just the way it is meant to be. The issue here is that Facebook’s Free Basics app offers some Internet services (like Facebook) for free, but doesn’t offer the entire Internet for free. This violates net neutrality, the concept that all content online should be treated equally.

Plus no competitor of Facebook would use free basics for obvious reasons. We must never forget that it’s a public company. Even if Marks intentions are good, in difficult times they would use everything they have like targeted ads, big data and many more. Facebook at present sells your data to NSA (source) and this is a security issue for India. So you can anticipate what they can do in future. But the major problem is the ecosystem which is what they are trying to create over the coming years.

Today, there are nearly 1 billion websites and if we consider that there are 3.5 billion users of the Internet, 1 (which could be you) out of every 3.5 such users also offer content or services. The reason that the Internet has become such an influential force for change in such a short period of time is precisely because anybody can connect to anyone, anywhere in the world, not only to receive, but also to provide content or service. This gives both sides equal access to the Internet. But unfortunately, all this would stop if the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or telecom companies (Telcos) are given the right to act as gatekeepers.

No ISP or Telco can decide what part of the Internet or which websites we can access. Tim Wu, the father of net neutrality, has written that keeping the two sides of the Internet free of gatekeepers is what has given a huge incentive for generating innovation and creating content. This is what has made the Internet, as a platform, so different from other mass communications platforms such as radio and television. Essentially, it has unleashed the creativity of the masses; and it is this creativity we see in the hundreds of millions of active websites. Facebook’s ads and Mark Zuckerberg’s advertorials talk about education, health and other services being provided by Free Basics, without telling us how on earth are we going to access education or doctors and medicines through the Internet? It forgets that while English is spoken by only about 12 per cent of the world’s population, 53 per cent of the Internet’s content is English. If Indians need to access education or health services, they need to access it in their own languages and not in English. No education can succeed without teachers. The Internet is not a substitute for schools and colleges but only complements and that too if the material exists in the languages understandable by the students. Similarly, health demands clinics, hospitals and doctors and not just a few websites on a private Facebook platform.

The danger of privileging Free Basics over a public Internet is that it initiates a new kind of digital divide among the people. A large fraction of people who join Free Basics may come to believe that Facebook is indeed ‘The Internet’. Just the way the British Empire was based on the control of the seas, whoever controls the vast oceans of data today, controls the global economy.

Net neutrality is not an obscure subject which concerns only a few netizens. It is fundamental to the world, in which the Internet is a fountainhead of knowledge, a platform for communication and an artery of commerce. The one who wheels access to the Internet will control our future ultimately. This is what the current battle over Facebook’s Free Basics is all about.

Why hasn’t Free Basics launched in the US or other major economies?

This scam has been pushed through these poor, mostly helpless African nations who have no experience of anything better and who have no ‘activists’ like us who tell their governments they’re raising a generation of deprived children with no access to the real internet. The more online-progressive countries like Japan, Norway, Finland, Estonia and Netherlands have banned programs such as Free Basics. With over 12 lakh emails to TRAI last year, we worked our way towards a ban for it in India too – but Facebook has since spent a large amount of cash in ads, lobbying, diplomacy and PR to try to get it unbanned here. They’ve managed to re-open a closed issue, again. And now we need to re-shut Free Basics.  This program, call it digital apartheid if you will, has been roundly condemned by experts ranging from Tim Berners-Lee, the gentleman who invented the world-wide web, to Ph. D. researchers to civil society officials working in the field, globally. Just because countries like South Africa did not know how to say no to Facebook doesn’t mean India has to say yes. In fact, India saying no to this digital apartheid should hopefully inspire the African and other poor nations to kick out this evil program that serves no one but Facebook at their government’s expense. The issue in India is big, not only because it is home to Facebook’s second-biggest user base outside the U.S., but because whatever happens in India will likely set a precedent in other important countries, like Indonesia and Brazil.

Click on the image below for the list of countries where Free Basics has been launched.

FREEBASICS COUNTRIES 3

FREEBASICS COUNTRIES 2

FREEBASICS COUNTRIES 1

In the US, Facebook is strongly on the side of net neutrality – but in the developing and undeveloped world, they speak from the other side of their mouth, blatantly seeking to violate net neutrality and to give our citizens here a second-rate online experience that they wouldn’t even dream of offering people in their home country.  There are almost 50 million unconnected people in the US. Why haven’t Facebook tried offering them this shoddy program and see how the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) responds to them? We Indians do not need a “bridge” to the full internet, when we can have the full internet itself. The “bridge” is a fancy invention by Facebook to refer to a holding area where Facebook holds, numbers and tracks people before they pay up and wander off into the real internet. Study after study has shown that the poor and the less fortunate in undeveloped nations vastly prefer limited access to the full internet (for example a data limit or a speed limit) rather than full access to a few limited sites – like the one ‘Facebook Free Basics’ offers. They want the freedom of choice. Why hasn’t Facebook chosen the other, proven options to bring people to the internet that do not violate Net Neutrality?

Is Facebook doing this as charity?

Forget their lies about “wanting to connect India” – if they really did, they would offer the open and full internet to everybody for free. The real reason is something they have never denied: their rivalry with Google and their questionable stock price. Both companies have 1.5 billion users, but Google makes Rs. 70,000 crores while Facebook does less than one-fifth as well. In other words, for every new user that comes on the internet, Facebook makes Rs. 8, while Google makes around Rs. 48. Facebook’s stock is valued at a much higher multiple than Google. With no reason to support the extreme price, it will fall. For Facebook to keep their stock price high, and to keep Zuckerberg and wife as rich as they are, they need to find new users who sign up for Facebook, but at the same time do not use Google. Thus a strategy via this program was planned out to offer Facebook but not Google at the mass, poor people level. Who is outside the first 1.5 billion people? It’s mostly people in India and China. But since Facebook is banned in China, the essential to Mark Zuckerberg’s balance sheet becomes us, Indians! Hundreds of crores of ad spend, against tens of thousands of crores of valuation is just nothing!

The internet market growth is getting saturated in the western world as most people are already using internet. India and other Asian countries have a large untapped population who are yet to use internet. Facebook wants to acquire these users by any means possible. One easy way to make Facebook popular among these users is to give it for free. Do you know how drug-agents get college students addicted to their drugs? They first give it for completely free. Then once the students get addicted to it, they start charging them heftily. Free basics is launched for Facebook’s best interests. Otherwise why are they so pushy about this and investing millions for the ad campaign itself, when people are clearly protesting against it? Reliance – the official network partner of Free basics advertises it as ‘Free Facebook’ on newspapers (Source)

Who will get affected?

There are many other reasons why Facebook’s Free Basics Digital Apartheid is bad. We need to get this fact across to people that Free Basics is not offering anyone internet but only sponsored content. We must understand that internet will stand true to its name only if it gives equal opportunities to all the people. If Free Basics starts operating full-fledged, it will be unfair because those websites will now have more viewers than others. And in this way, the other websites will suffer. And the very premise on which internet flourished, will be destroyed. Why is a company like Flipkart able to compete with Amazon today. This is because they have an equal platform called the internet. Today, they are competing only on the basis of their services. This is a healthy competition and it is beneficial for everyone. Startups like Ola are able to efficiently compete with established taxi companies such as Uber. Just imagine what would have happened if Ola did not have an equal opportunity? What would have happened if Uber was available for free and not Ola? Internet is giving an equal opportunity to a number of people because all of them can reach so many users at the same time. This is the magic of the internet. Therefore, with the advent of internet, people are able to genuinely compete only on the basis of services that they offer. Free Basics is going to destroy that. This model will give some companies an edge over the others and will therefore discourage other innovative ideas.

It’s bad for entrepreneurs – your business can’t be discovered by these new potential users on the Internet until you advertise on Facebook. The same goes for big businesses. If a lot of people switch to free internet and Free Basics – then paid-subscribers can be hurt big time. Suppose you start a website that caters to the weather forecast requirements of farmers. With the help of Free Basics, a lot of farmers are able to use internet. However, they cannot access your application because your website is not available in the Free Basics platform. On the other hand, assume a farmer wants to buy a television set for his family. He has an option of buying from A or B. However, he can only access A, because other websites like B are not available for free. Maybe, he ends up paying more for that TV set. The issue with Free Basics is that, it is controlling the content available for the subscribers of internet. Therefore, your website will not be able to reach a lot of subscribers just because you don’t have a tie up with Free Basics. This is outright unfair – both to the website owners (such as the person who works hard to create a useful website for farmers) and also the subscribers (such as the farmer who doesn’t even know that he can have better facilities on other websites). This is against the principle of net neutrality. This is applicable to urban India/metros where the mobile internet is exhausted. Having understood the scenario pretty well, Facebook can slowly take control of the internet by arm-twisting all telecoms into being the sole provider of free internet bundle.

Facebook or Whatsapp wasn’t a basic internet service 10 years ago. If some other company X had offered their service free from past 15 years then Facebook/ Whatsapp wouldn’t have even existed. The things which may look basic now may not be basic in the next 10 years. By giving Facebook control of which apps to give for free, we are creating a monopoly. New startups won’t be able to compete as everyone will use the Facebook’s free alternative. For example:- If free basics was launched in 2010, then Whatsapp would never have been so popular as ‘Facebook Messenger’ would have been free, while you would have to pay data charges to use ‘Whatsapp’ or any other service. This creates a monopolistic environment where only Facebook will thrive.

Have any other telecom companies offered a Zero-Rating platform?

Earlier, Airtel had offered a similar platform called Airtel Zero, using the zero-rating concept. Zero-rating is a practice where internet service providers (ISPs) do not charge customers on data for select applications that they use. Following a public outcry from those who want a free and equal internet, a number of firms, including Flipkart, pulled out of Airtel Zero. Similarly, Cleartrip and NDTV had also pulled out of internet.org. Free Basics operates on the zero-rating principle.

What we really need to get India digitally connected?

There is no denying that a lot of users in India are not connected to the internet, and we know that they would be better off if they were genuinely connected to all the plethora of services that internet can offer them. But this cannot be done by differentiating between some websites over others. Moreover, the power of differentiation cannot be controlled by a single entity (Facebook). This is the case of too much power in the hands of too few people, and this is always disastrous.

While the Free Basics platform has connected only 15 million people in different parts of the world, in India, we have had 60 million people join the Internet using mobiles in the last 12 months alone. And this is in spite of the high cost of mobile data charges. There are 300 million mobile broadband users in the country, an increase fuelled by the falling price of smart phones. In spite of this increase in connectivity, we have another 600 million mobile subscribers who need to be connected to the Internet. Instead of providing Facebook and its few partner websites and calling it “basic” Internet, we need to provide full Internet at prices that people can afford. This is where the regulatory system of the country has to step in. The main barrier to Internet connectivity is the high cost of data services in the country. If we use purchasing power parity as a basis, India has expensive data services compared to most countries. That is the main barrier to Internet penetration. Till now, TRAI has not regulated data tariffs. It is time it addresses the high price of data in the country and not let such prices lead to a completely truncated Internet for the poor. There are various ways of providing free Internet, or cost-effective Internet, to the low-end subscribers. They could be provided some free data with their data connection, or get some free time slots when the traffic on the network is low. 2G data prices can and should be brought down drastically, as the telcos have already made their investments and recovered costs from the subscribers.

Ways Facebook can help without violating Net Neutrality, but they won’t!

There are many, many proven and better ways to get the less fortunate on the Internet – rather than wearing the Facebook Free Basics handcuffs. Schemes such as Gigato offer free data for normal usage of apps. The Mozilla Foundation runs two programs for free and neutral Internet access. Facebook could work with them. Mozilla in partnership with Grameenphone in Bangladesh allows users to receive 20 MB of data usage for free each day, in exchange for viewing an advertisement. In Africa, Orange users get 500 MB of free access on buying a $37 handset. In India, Aircel has begun providing full internet access for free at 64 kbps download speed for the first three months. Facebook could sponsor and expand that. Facebook can give all Indian users free full access to internet upto a certain data limit every month. For instance, 100MB data free for everyone every month without any restrictions. They can give Free internet at low speeds upto a certain data limit. They can also provide ad supported free internet, without restrictions. They could give subsidized data coupons like Rs.10 for first 200MB of the month. Facebook could help lay the infrastructure (cables, routers etc) to connect villages/rural towns. They could offer free unrestricted internet to poor people in selected regions. They can create something like ‘Google Web Light for Slow Internet’ which will reduce the data size of all websites and provide it for free. Facebook can help doing something like these organizations have done, as part of their philanthropic effort.

What is ‘Free basics’/’Internet Dot Org’ according to Facebook?

Free Basics by Facebook provides free access to basic internet services to a billion people all over the world. It makes the internet accessible to more people by providing them access to a range of free basic services like news, maternal health, travel, local jobs, sports, communication, and local government information. To date, we’ve been able to offer these services to a billion people across Asia, Africa and Latin America. By introducing people to the benefits of the internet through these services, we hope to bring more people online and help improve their lives.

That really makes it look so good, right? Who doesn’t want free unlimited internet? You can imagine that a poor kid in a village in central India should be able to see Khan Academy videos, her Dad should be able to look up agricultural spot prices on Google or a commodity exchange and perhaps her Mom could look for a better-paying jobs at a top job board. But no, none of these are a part of the so-called “Free Basics” that Facebook offers the poor. Videos in fact, are not available at all, presumably to conserve bandwidth so it can be retained for more important things like villagers sending each other Candy Crush requests. There is no place these folks can buy, or sell or trade. There’s no Kiva or other bottom-of-pyramid money service. No loans they can receive. No government sites, no banks. No Coursera or EdX or Khan Academy – so it’s not about education either. Forget about entertainment – there’s absolutely none of that. You name any possible site of importance to someone who needs information and opportunities, and it’s not there. But, hey, I guess then you can always poke folks in the next village!

Who is paying for Free Basics?

Telecom operators pay for Free Basics and they get this money from users who pay. By encouraging people to choose Free Basics, Facebook reduces the tendency to bring down data costs for paid Internet access. Free Basics isn’t about bringing people online. It’s about keeping Facebook and its partners free, while everything else remains paid. Users who pay for Internet access can still access Free Basics for free, giving Facebook and its partners an advantage. Internet access is growing rapidly in India. Free Basics is not an open platform. Facebook defines the technical guidelines for Free Basics, and reserves the right to change them. They reserve the right to reject applicants, who are forced to comply with Facebook’s terms. In contrast they support ‘Permissionless Innovation’ in the US. Facebook was criticized in Brazil for misleading advertising (source). Their communication in India is misleading. People find the “Free” part of Free Basics advertising from Facebook from Reliance misleading (source). Facebook says that Free Basics doesn’t have ads, but does not say that it will never have ads on Free Basics.

How Facebook got you to support Free Basics – A sly move!

FREEBASICS FACEBOOK MESSAGE

 

What can you do to stop ‘Free basics’?

They may claim 3.2 million in support, but how many of those mails are legitimate?  Remember this. Internet exists in its current form because of net neutrality. (It is not just a buzz word.) If it wasn’t neutral then you wouldn’t be reading opposing opinions. You can go to Save The Internet! and send an email to TRAI saying you are against this. You can spread this information and ask your friends to also do the same. It is important for the people who know the truth to help others understand it.

Say No To Free Basics! Save The Internet!

Popular Games & Sports That Originated In Ancient India!

Ancient India had a rich tradition of games that were played and passed on through generations and cultures for not only leisure but also to develop mental capabilities and maintain physical fitness. During ancient times, physical fitness was given prime importance, especially by the kings and the higher-class warriors.

Here is a list of well-known indoor & outdoor games that took birth in the soils of Ancient India, many of which are still actively played throughout the world.

Chess

The game of chess was invented in India and was originally called Ashtapada (sixty-four squares). “Ashtapada” in Sanskrit denotes a spider -“a legendary being with eight legs” and this game was played with a dice on an 8×8 checkered board. 1000 years back, the squares weren’t black and white like we see in the presently used chess board. Other Indian boards included the 10×10 Dasapada and the 9×9 Saturankam. Later this game came to be known as Chaturanga. The Sanskrit name Chaturanga means ‘quadripartite’ — the four Angas (divided into four parts) which symbolize “the 4 branches of the army.” Like real Indian armies at that time, the pieces were called elephants, chariots, horses and foot soldiers. Unlike modern chess, Chaturanga was mainly a game of chance where results depended on how well you rolled the dice. Played on an authentic cloth  by 2, 3 or 4 players, Chaturanga combines the basic strategy of chess with the dynamic challenge of chance as each move is determined by the random roll of a wooden dice. In fact,  in the Mahabharata, Yudhishthira and Duryodhana played a version of Chaturanga using a dice. The game Chaturanga was a battle simulation game which rendered Indian military strategy of the time.

In 600 AD this game was learned by Persians who named it Shatranj. The word ‘checkmate’ is derived from the Persian term Shah-Mat which means ‘The King is Dead!’. The Sanskrit translation of this term would be Kshatra-Mruta. Another term viz. ‘The Rooks’ which is the name for one set of the counters used in chess, originated from the Persian term Roth which means a soldier. The Persian term is derived from the Indian term Rukh, which obviously seems to have originated in the Sanskrit word Rakshak which means a soldier which is again derived from Raksha which means ‘to protect’. About the introduction of this game into Persia, the Encylopedia Britannica says that the Persian poet Firdousi, in his historical poem, the Shahnama, gives an account of the introduction of Shatranj into Persia in the reign of Chosroes I Anushirwan, to whom came ambassadors from the sovereign of Hind (India), with a chess-board with men asking him to solve the secrets of the game. The king asked for seven days grace, during which, the wise men vainly tried to discover the secret. Finally, the king’s minister took the pieces home and discovered the secret in a day and a night’s time. The Encyclopedia Britannica concludes that “Other Persian and Arabian writers state that Shatranj came into Persia from India and there appears to be a consensus of opinion that may be considered to settle the question. Thus we have the game passing from the Hindus to the Persians and then to the Arabians, after the capture of Persia by the Caliphs in the 7th century, and from them, directly or indirectly, to various parts of Europe, at a time which cannot be definitely fixed, but either in or before the 10th century. Tamil variations of Chaturanga are ‘Puliattam’ (Goat and Tiger game), where careful moves on a triangle decide whether the tiger captures the goats or the goats escape;  ‘Nakshatraattam’ (Star game) is the one where each player cuts out the other and the game named ‘Dayakattam’ with four, eight or ten squares, is similar to modern day Ludo. Variations of the ‘dayakattam’ include ‘dayakaram’, the North Indian ‘pachisi’ and ‘champar’ along with many more local variations.

Carrom Board

It is a “strike and pocket” table game of Eastern origin similar to billiards and table shuffleboard. It is found throughout the East under different names, though most non-eastern people know it by the East Asian name of Carrom (or Karrom). Carrom is widely played in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and surrounding areas and in the Middle East as well. In South Asia, many clubs and cafés hold regular tournaments. Carrom is popularly played with families including children, especially at social gatherings. Different standards and rules exist in different areas. The game of carrom is believed to have originated from the Indian subcontinent. Although no concrete evidence is available, it is believed that carrom was invented by the Indian Maharajas. One Carrom Board with its surface made of glass is still available in one of the palaces in Patiala, India. It became very popular among the masses after World War I.

Ludo

Also known as Pachisi, the earliest evidence of this game in India is the depiction of boards on the caves of Ajanta. This game was played by the Mughal Emperors of India; a notable example being that of Akbar. Variations of the game made it to England during the late 19th century. The one which appeared around 1896 under the name of Ludo was successfully patented.

Cards

The popular game of cards originated in ancient India and was known as Krida-Patram.  These cards were made of cloth and depicted motifs from the Ramayana, Mahabharata along with ancient artwork. The tradition is still carried on today with floral motifs and natural scenery.This game was patronized especially by the royal and noble class. In medieval India, playing cards were known as ‘Ganjifa’ cards and were played in practically all royal courts. It is recorded to have been played in Rajputana, Kashyapa Meru (Kashmir), Utkala (Orissa), the Deccan and even in Nepal. The Mughals also patronized this game, but the Mughal card-sets differed from those of the ancient Indian royal courts. According to Abul Fazal’s (Author of the Ain-e-Akbari) description of the game, the following cards were used. The first was Ashvapati which is the ‘lord of horses’. The Ashvapati which was ranked the highest card in the pack, represented the picture of the king on a horseback. The second represented a General (Senapati) on a horseback. After this card came ten other cards with pictures of horses from one to ten. Another set of cards had the Gajapati (lord of elephants) which represented the king whose power lay in the number of elephants. The other eleven cards in this pack represented the Senapati and ten others with a soldier astride an elephant. Another pack had the Narpati, a king whose power lies in his infantry. The other cards  were known as the Dhanpati, the lord of treasures, Dalpati the lord of the squadron, Navapati, the lord of the navy, Surapati, the lord of divinities, Asrapati, the lord of genii, Vanapati, the king of the forest, Ahipati, the lord of snakes and so on. Based on reports by Abul Fazal, we can say that the game of playing cards was invented by sages in ancient times who took the number 12 as the basis and made a set of 12 cards. Every king had 11 followers, thus a pack had 144 cards. The Mughals retained 12 sets, and so they had 96 cards. The Mughal Ganjifa sets have representations of diverse trades like Nakkash painter, Mujallid book binder, Rangrez dyer, etc. In addition to this, there were also the Padishah-i-Qimash, the king of the manufacturers and Padishah-izar-i-Safid, the king of silver, and many more. The pre-Mughal origin of the game of cards is evident if we examine the pattern of painting on the cards. We also find that despite the observation of Abul Fazal that Akbar introduced the pack with 8 sets, we find that even earlier, in Indian (Hindu) courts we have packs with 8, 9 and 10 sets apart from the usual 12. The numbers were derived from the eight cardinal directions Ashtadikpala, for the pack with 8 set; from the nine planets Navagraha for the one with 9 sets and from ten incarnations Dashavatara of Vishnu for the pack with 10 sets.  The largest number of such cards are to be found in Orrisa. The painters from Orissa have represented various illustrations like the Navagunjara, a mythical bird-human animal which was the form assumed by Sri Krishna to test Arjuna’s fidelity.  Illustrations from the Dashavatara of Vishnu are also portrayed.

All these cards were hand-made and were painted traditionally. This required considerable patience and hard meticulous work. The kings usually commissioned painters to make cards as per their preference. The commoners got their cards made by local artists who were found in urban and rural areas. In order to obtain the required thickness, a number of sheets of pieces of cloth were glued together. The outlines of the rim were painted in black and then the figures were filled with colors. As cards were played by members of all strata of the society, we find a variety of cards. Cards were made of ivory, tortoise shell, mother of pearls, inlaid or enameled with precious metals. The circular cards were more common but there were different shapes like oval & rectangular as well. The cards were usually kept in a wooden box with a lid painted with mythological figures. This art of handmade, hand painted cards which survived for hundreds of years, decayed gradually and thus became extinct with the introduction of printed paper cards by the Europeans in the 17-18th centuries. With the extinction of the art of making and painting cards, the memory that Indians played the game of cards with their own specific representations of the Narapati, Gajapati and Ashvapati was forgotten too.

Snakes & Ladders

This game had its origin in India and was known as Moksha Patam, Parama Padam and Mokshapat. It was used to teach Hindu Dharma and Hindu values to children. The British renamed it as Snakes and Ladders. The game was created by the 13th century poet Sant (Saint) Gyandev. The ladders in the game represented virtues and the snakes indicated vices. The game was played with cowrie shells and dices. Later through time, the game underwent several modifications but the meaning remained the same – good deeds take us to heaven & evil takes us through a cycle of re-births. There are certain references which take the game back to the 2nd century BC. In the original game, the squares where the ladders were found were referred as follows – Square 12 was Faith, 51 was Reliability, 57 was Generosity, 76 was Knowledge, and 78 was Asceticism. The squares where snakes were found depicted the vices like Square 41 was for Disobedience, 44 for Arrogance, 49 for Vulgarity, 52 for Theft, 58 for Lying, 62 for Intoxication, 69 for Debt, 84 for Anger, 92 for Greed, 95 for Pride, 73 for Murder and 99 for Lust. Square 100 represented Nirvana or Moksha.

In another version known as ‘Paramapadam’, there are a hundred squares on a board, where the ladders take you up and the snakes bring you down. The difference here is that the squares are illustrated. The top of the ladder depicts a God, or one of the various heavens (Kailasa, Vaikuntha, Brahmaloka) and so on, while the bottom describes good qualities. Conversely, each snake’s head is a negative quality or an asura (demon). As the game progresses, the various karma and samskara, which are the good and bad deeds, take you up and down the board. Interspersed are plants, people and animals. The game serves a dual purpose: entertainment being one and the other being the learning that one gets with regards to the do’s and don’ts of life, divine rewards and punishment, ethical values and morality and so on. The final goal leads to Vaikuntha (heaven) which is depicted by Vishnu who is surrounded by his devotees or Kailasa with Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha and Skanda with their devotees. In the present age of moral and ethical degeneration, this game would prove to be a brilliant way to instill values in children who are way too exposed to the highly influential world. The British took the game to England in 1892, named it Snakes and Ladders and changed it according to Victorian values.

Mancala

If Paramapadam teaches us moral values, Mancala (Pallankuli) develops mental skill and quick thinking. Two players compete on a board consisting between seven to twenty pits per player, where each player has to collect the coins or shells or seeds with which the game is played. The player with the maximum number is declared the winner. There are nine variations of this game, each with regional, caste and religious significance. This game was extremely popular among women and required a good memory and an alert mind since they had to count and remember the number of coins or seeds accumulated by the opponent. This is a traditional mancala game played in South India (especially Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala), Sri Lanka and Malaysia. This game is also known as Ali guli mane (in Kannada), Vamana guntalu (in Telugu), Pallanghuzi (inTamil) and Kuzhipara (in Malayalam).

The game is played by two players, with a wooden board that has fourteen pits in all (hence the name from the words fourteen pits (pathinaalam kuzhi). There have been several variations in the layout of the pits, one among them being seven pits on each player’s side. The pits contain Cowry shells, seeds or small pebbles used as counters. There are several variations of the game depending on the number of shells each player starts with.This board game with 14 cups is set out with six seeds in each cup; the players distribute these seeds into the other cups until there are no seeds left. The person who reaches two consecutive cups without seeds has to bow out of the game. This game is popular among the kids as well as the old. Kids are encouraged to play this game as it teaches how to count, improves eye–hand coordination and develops concentration while playing. And for the older people of the house, it is a god way to spend time in the company of the young members of the family. In Indonesia, this is known as Congkak or Congklakin. It is somwhat similar to Brainvita.

Dice

The dice is attributed to India based on certain accounts. Some of the earliest archaeological evidence of oblong dice have been found in  the Harrapan sites such as Kalibangan, Lothal, Ropar, Alamgirpur, Desalpur and the surrounding territories. Some of these oblong dice that were used for gambling, date back to the third millennium BCE. The oblong or cubical dice (akṣa) is the precursor of the more primitive vibhīṣaka—small, hard nuts drawn randomly to obtain factors of a certain integer. Dicing is believed to have later spread towards the west to Persia, influencing Persian board games. Early references to dicing can be found in the Ṛig Veda as well as the Atharva Veda.

Polo

India is said to have set the base for modern Polo. In the 15th century, Babur made the sport popular when he founded the Mughal Empire. Later, the Britishers globalized the sport which was only played in the areas of Manipur, Jammu & Kashmir and other states. Another variation of polo is the one played with Elephants and is known as ‘Elephant Polo’. It is played in India (Rajasthan), Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, England and Scotland. Since very ancient times, Elephants have been a part of Indian culture. They were representatives of the strength and power of Kings and Emperors. It was therefore natural that polo “The King of Sports”and simultaneously “The Sport of the Kings” was included to be played on elephants as well.

It was invented in India during the early 1900s when we were a part of the British Empire and the first people to play were members of the English aristocracy. Elephant polo is played between two teams of three or four elephants. Each elephant is ridden by two people, a player and a mahout. Mahouts are professional elephant handlers who work for many years with an individual animal to develop a close rapport. They are able to communicate quickly and effectively by using spoken commands and by pressing behind the elephant’s ears with their feet. Players are tied onto the back of their elephant in rope harnesses, so they can concentrate on hitting the ball without the fear of falling off. The players give directions to the mahouts and the mahouts give directions to the elephants.

Bull Fighting

Bull Fighting which is also known as JallikattuEruthazhuvuthal or Manju viraṭṭu, is a bull taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day. Bulls are bred specifically for the sporting event and a specific breed of cattle bred for this purpose is known as “Jellicut“. In May 2014, the Supreme Court banned the sport citing animal welfare issues. Bullfighting was common among the ancient tribes who lived in the ‘Mullai’ geographical division of the ancient Tamil country. Later, the sport became a platform to display bravery, win prize money and a form of entertainment. The term “Jallikattu” originated from the words “Jalli” and “Kattu“, referring to silver or gold coins tied to the bulls’ horns. A seal from the Indus Valley Civilization depicting the sport is preserved in the National Museum, New Delhi. A single painting discovered in a cave about 35 km west of Madurai shows a lone man trying to control a bull. The painting, done in white kaolin is estimated to be about 1,500 years old.

Kho Kho

Kho Kho was started in India way back and  it was played by the people of Maharashtra. Kho-Kho ranks as one of the most popular traditional sports in India. The origin of Kho-Kho is difficult to trace, but many historians believe, that it is a modified form of ‘Run Chase’, which in its simplest form involves chasing and touching a person. With its origins in Maharashtra, Kho-Kho in ancient times, was played on ‘raths’ or chariots, and was known as Rathera.

It is an ancient game of the undivided India, pssibly derived from the different strategy and tactics of the “Kurukshetra” war in the Mahabharta. The chariot fight during the war and the zigzag pathways followed by the retreating soldiers indicates the formation of Chain Play-Defense Skill in the game of Kho-Kho. On the 11th day of the war, the Chief of Kaurava Army, Guru Dronacharya drew a typical strategic circular formation- Chakravyuh, keeping Jayadratha at the main entrance with seven soldiers to draw in and kill the enemy. Veer Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna, entered into the trap but could not get his way out and in the process got killed. He fought gallantly alone against seven soldiers. The method adopted by Abhimanyu resembles the idea of “Ring Play” – a Defense tactic in Kho-Kho. It became popular in 1935 when the first edition of the rules were published by Akhil Maharashtra Shareerika Shikshan Mandal. It is also called “Game of Chase” . Over the years the rules have gone under a major change. The first Indian Kho-Kho Championship was held in 1959 under the Kho-Kho federation of india. In the year 1982, the game was included in the Indian Olympic Association.

Gilli Danda

Gilli Danda is an ancient sport of India, possibly with origins over 2500 years ago. It is believed to be the origin of Western games such as Cricket, Baseball and Softball. It is called dānggűli in Bangla, chinni-dandu in Kannada, kuttiyum kolum in Malayalam, viti-dandu in Marathi, kitIti-pullu in Tamil, gooti-billa in Telugu, and Lappa-Duggi in Pashto. This sport is generally played in the rural and small towns of the Indian subcontinent. It is widely played in Punjab and rural areas of the North-West Frontier Province and Sindh (Pakistan) and Sultanpur district, Uttar Pradesh. The game requires two sticks. The bigger one is called “danda” and the smaller one is called “gilli“. The player then uses the danda to hit the gilli at the raised end, which flips it into the air. While it is in the air, the player strikes the gilli, hitting it as far as possible. Having struck the gilli, the player is required to run and touch a pre-agreed point outside the circle before the gilli is retrieved by an opponent.

Kabaddi

Kabaddi is a contact sport that originated in Ancient India. There is concrete evidence that the game is 4,000 years old. It originated in the state of Tamil Nadu. The game is derived from group hunting and village defense tactics. Kabaddi is an umbrella term which encompasses various forms of the game including International rules of Kabaddi and the Indian Kabaddi styles – Sanjeevani, Gaminee, Amar and Punjabi. Kabaddi also encompasses similar sports known by their regional names, such as hadudu in Bangladesh, baibalaa in Maldives, chedugudu in Andhra Pradesh, sadugudu in Tamil Nadu and hututu in Maharashtra. India is the most successful team on the world stage, having won every World Cup and Asian Games title so far, in both men’s and women’s categories.

It is a combative sport with seven players on each side and is played for a period of 40 mins. The basic concept of the game is touching a player on the other side and eliminating him by coming back to the origin side of the player. It is a team sport, which requires both skill and power, and combines the characteristics of wrestling and rugby. The game originated from Ancient India and the modern Kabaddi became popular in 1930. Dhopkel is also a similar to Kabbadi but is played more in Assam areas. Dhop is the name given to a rubber ball that two teams throw across a central line into each other’s courts. Each team sends a player into the opponent’s court; the aim is to catch the ball his team throws and make his way back to his team without allowing the opponents to touch him to earn points.

Rugby

Yubi Lakpi, a traditional football game played in Manipur using a coconut, has some notable similarities to Rugby. Despite these similarities, the name is not related to the game of Rugby or the Rugby School in England. It is in fact of Manipuri origin, and means literally “coconut snatching”. Perhaps this was the root of modern Rugby. Most Manipuris are quite adamant that the modern world stole the idea from them and made it into Rugby . This game which has been around for centuries is so similar to Rugby, which evolved a great deal later, that it must be more than just a coincidence. The game is traditionally associated with autochthonous forms of Hinduism. It is said to have started as a ceremonial re-enactment of the celestial snatching of the pot of nectar after the Samundra Manthan. An official game is held on the occasion of the Yaoshang Festival of Shri Shri Govindajee at palace ground with Royal presence.

Unlike Rugby, it is an individual sport and not a team one. Before the start of the game, players rub their bodies with mustard oil and water to make it slippery to catch each other.  Each side has 7 players in a field and one of the ends of the field has a rectangular box, a side of which forms the central portion of the goal line. To score a goal a player has to approach the goal from the front with his oiled coconut and pass the goal line. The coconut serves the purpose of a ball and is offered to the king or the judges who sit just beyond the goal line. However, in ancient times the teams were not equally matched but the player with the coconut had to tackle the rest of the players. The ultimate goal of yubi lakpi is to present the coconut to the King or the head of the tribe . It is a game of individuals because each player is vying to win the coconut and get the reward. In the original games, the King would watch the players to see who was the most skillful and who possessed qualities for the battlefield . Each player would therefore try to impress.

Martial Arts

Martial arts is a part of India’s ancient culture and is a traditional game. Originally, the traditional form of martial arts started in the southern part of India and now it not only has different names but also has different forms that’s practiced in the different regions of India. Khusti – The Indian Wrestling is also a part of Indian Martial Arts and is found throughout India. Indian martial arts has an important influence in the development of modern Asian martial arts. Nowadays, people have started opting martial arts training for self-defense as well as for for fitness. Indian martial arts can be roughly divided into northern and southern styles. A detailed list of the various forms of Martial Arts that has its origins in India will be discussed in the next blog!

Happy Playing!

9 Nights, 9 Goddesses, 9 Stories! That’s Navratri!

One of the most sacred festivals of India, Navratri is here! And as we all know, this festival is spread over 9 nights and 10 days in worship of Goddess Durga or Shakti which represents the energy of the universe, in her 9 beautiful forms with great reverence. In Hinduism, Mother Goddess is honored in all her manifestations and the celebration culminates on the 10th day with Dussehra, which symbolizes the victory of good over evil.

As the ten-armed Goddess, Mata Durga presents a radiantly beautiful form that is bewitching to behold. The 9-day period from the new moon day to the 9th day of Lunar month of Ashwin is considered the most auspicious time of the Hindu calendar and is hence the most celebrated occasion of the year.

The 9 different forms of Devi are worshiped over the 9 days. These are the most popular forms under which she is worshiped.

Durga Shailputri 

She is a daughter of Himalaya and the first among 9 avatars of Goddess Durgas. In her previous birth, she was the daughter of Daksha. Her name was Sati – Bhavani. i.e. the wife of Lord Shiva. Once Daksha had organized a big Yagna and did not invite Shiva. But Sati being obstinate, went for the Yagna. There upon Daksha insulted Shiva.

Sati could not tolerate the insult of her husband and burnt herself in the fire of Yagna. In her next birth she became the daughter of Himalaya in the name of Parvati – Hemvati and got married to Lord Shiva. As per the Upanishads, she had destroyed the ego of many Devtas like Lord Indra. Being ashamed, they bowed and realized that in fact, she is Shakti and everyone including Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh are capable of who they are by only after receiving Shakti (Energy) from the Goddess.

Brahmacharini

The second avatar of Goddess Durga is Brahmacharini. Brahma is that who observes penance (tapa) and good conduct. Here “Brahma” means “Tapa”. The idol of this Goddess is a very gorgeous one with a rosary (maala) in her right hand and a Kamandal in her left.

In her previous birth she was Parvati Hemavati, the daughter of Himalay. As the story goes, Brahmacharini was busy playing games with her friends when Naradaji came to her and by reading her Palm-lines he predicted that she would get married to a naked and terrible ‘Bhole baba’ who was her husband in her previous birth as Sati, the daughter of Daksha. He also told her that she had to perform penance for him now. There upon Parvati told her mother Menaka that she would marry only Shambhu or she would remain unmarried for life. Saying this she went to observe penance. And that’s how she became famously known as Tapacharini or Brahmacharini. Thereon, her name Uma became familiar too.

Chandraghanta 

The name of the third Shakti is Chandraghanta. Her name means “one who has a half-moon shaped like a bell. She has ten hands holding a trident, mace, arrow, bow, sword, lotus, goad, bell and waterpot and one of her hands remain in a blessing posture. She rides a tiger or a lion as her vehicle, which represents bravery and courage. She wears a half moon on her forehead and has a third eye in the middle of her forehead. Her complexion is golden.

After Lord Shiva gives Parvati his word that he wouldn’t marry any woman, her sufferings overwhelm him so much that he gives up and followed by a tearful reunion he agrees to get married to her. Soon, the joyous moment of Parvati’s life starts when Shiva brings a procession of gods, mortals, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, sages, ascetics, Aghoris and Shivaganas to the gates of King Himavan’s palace to take away his bride Parvati. Shiva arrives at King Himavan’s palace in a terrorizing form and seeing this, Parvati’s mother faints in terror. Parvati appears to Shiva and sees his fearsome form. To save her parents and other family members, she transforms herself into Goddess Chandraghanta.

Chandraghanta persuades Shiva to re-appear in a charming avatar and thus he appears as a prince decorated with countless jewels. Parvati revives her mother, father and friends and they both get married to one another.

 

Kushmanda

The fourth form of Goddess Durga is Kushmanda. Ku means “little,” Ushma means “warmth” or “energy”, and Anda means “cosmic egg.” She is considered to have created this universe with her divine smile.

When the universe was non-existent and darkness prevailed everywhere, Maa Kushmanda produced the Cosmic egg with her smile, bringing light to the universe. Kushmanda has the power and strength to live in the core of the Sun. Her luminosity gives the Sun its brightness. She is said to give direction to the Sun God, Surya.

Kushmanda is Goddess Shakti herself, the first being of the entire universe and she is believed to be the only one who created this universe by transforming half of her being as Shiva. They thus created the universe and other Gods and Goddesses too. Adi Shakti took herself into three forms. One of the three splits was her own form Kali and hence we find Adi Shakti as well as Kali as the wives of Shiva.

Skanda Mata

The fifth form of Goddess Durga is “Skanda Mata”. Skanda is another name for Kartikeya and Mata denotes mother. Skandamata rides on a lion and possesses four arms, out of which two often hold the lotus flowers. One of her hands is always in the boon-conferring gesture and with the other she holds her son Skanda in her lap. Her complexion is white and she is also seen seated on the lotus, which is why she is also called the Goddess with a lotus-seat.

As per the belief, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati’s energy combines into their own forms of nature while in deep meditation. On knowing this, Lord Indra assigns Lord Agni (Fire) to kidnap the ball of energy and keep it for safety from Demon Tarakasur. After meditation, Parvati realizes what happened and chases after Lord Agni who vanishes with the divine energy to Goddess Ganga. Parvati comes out of her cave and questions the Gods on why Lord Agni stole the divine energy. Parvati gets angry and attains the form of Goddess Durga, when they tell her the reason. She curses the Gods that their wives will never be able to enjoy the happiness with their children and with that, curses Lord Agni that he will be an all-burner, unable to differentiate the differences between right and wrong, his food will have impurities, that he will always be surrounded by black smoke and anyone who touches him in one of the three worlds, will get reduced to ash. Meanwhile, Shiva comes out of the cave and calms her down. Later, Shiva’s son Kartikeya (Murugan or Skand) is born from the six Krittikas (Mothers) and not Parvati. But still, the Goddess accepts him as her own child, thus setting an example of a great mother before the world. In her Durga avatar, she takes Kartikeya from Kritika Lok (Krittika World) to Kailash riding this Lion. Upon growing up, Kartikeya learns about the boon of special powers and weapons given by Lord Bhrahma to kill Demon Tarakasur. Before going to the battlefield, Parvati transforms herself as Goddess Durga to bless Kartikeya. With her blessings, he manages to kill Tarakasur and his army! The Gods thus make him their commander-in-chief.

Katyayani

The sixth form of Goddess Durga is Katyayani. She is called Katyayani as she was born to Sage Katya of the Katya clan. This is the daughter form of Durga. A loving daughter, she is the epitome of love but won’t hesitate to rise up in anger to defend righteousness and Dharma. It is believed that Maa Katyayani persistently battled against the evil and deceitful entities.

Sage Katyayan performed severe penance to please Maa Bhagvati and wished for Maa Durga to be born as his daughter. The Goddess acceded to his request. Meanwhile, an army of the powerful demon Mahishasura, who could only be killed by a warrior Goddess, had reached heaven to overthrow the Gods from their abode! The trinity of Gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, were infuriated and they create Goddess Durga, who was a culmination of the powers of all the deities. Sage Katyayana had the first privilege to worship her and so she was also named Katyayani.

Kalratri

The seventh form of Goddess Durga is Kalratri. She is black like the night. Hairs unlocked, her necklaces shine as bright as the lightening! She has three bright eyes that are round like the universe and thousands of flames of fire come out of her nose while she breathes. Kalaratri is the one of the fiercest forms of Durga and her appearance itself evokes fear. This form of Goddess is believed to be the destroyer of all demon entities.

She rides on Shava (dead body). She holds a sharp sword in her right hand while her lower hand is in blessing gesture. The burning torch (mashal) is in her left hand and her lower left hand is in a fearless gesture by which she makes her devotees fearless. She is known as “Shubhamkari” in her auspicious state.

There were two demons named Shumbha and Nishumbha, who invaded devaloka and defeated the demigods. Indra, the ruler of the demigods, along with the demigods went to The Himalayas to seek help in getting back their abode. They prayed to Goddess Parvati. She heard their prayer, while she was bathing and she therefore created another goddess Chandi or Ambika to help them out by killing the demons. In the battlefield when Chanda-Munda who was sent by Shumbha and Nishumbha, came to battle Chandi, she created a dark Goddess Kali or Kaalratri. Kali killed them, thus acquiring the name Chamunda. A demon named Raktveej had a special boon. If his drop of blood fell on the ground, another Raktveej would get created. When Kaalratri attacked him, his blood started creating several clones of him. This way it was impossible to defeat him. During the battle, furious Kaalratri attacked him and immediately drank his blood to prevent it from falling down. She thus killed Raktveej and helped goddess Chandi kill Shumbha and Nishumbha! This way, they gave back the demigods a safe place to live.

Maha Gauri

The eighth form of Goddess Durga is “Maha Gauri.” She is as white as a Conch, Moon and Jasmine. She is usually depicted with four hands, three of which hold a trident, lotus and drum, while the fourth is in a blessing gesture. The lotus is sometimes replaced with a rosary. She rides a white bull, usually shown wearing white clothes. The top left hand is in “Fearless – Mudra” and her lower left hand holds “Trishul.” 

She is calm and peaceful and exists in a peaceful form. It is said that while observing penance, the dust and earth made Gauri’s body really dirty. Shiva cleans her with the water of River Ganga and Immediately her body transforms into a bright form like the lightning! Thus she is known as “Maha Gauri” as well.

Siddhidatri

The ninth form of Goddess Durga is Siddhidatri. There are eight Siddhis which are Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Iishitva & Vashitva and these Siddhi’s are given by Maha Shakti.

It is said in the “Devipuran” that the Supreme God Shiva got all these Siddhi’s by worshiping Maha Shakti. With her gratitude, Lord Shiva’s half self was transformed into a Goddess and therefore his name “Ardhanarishvar” became well known. The Goddess drives on a Lion, has four hands and looks pleased. This form of Durga is worshiped by all Gods, Rishis-Munis, Siddhas, Yogis, Sadhakas and devotees for attaining the best religious asset.

Happy Navratri!