Monthly Archives: December 2014

Ravi Shankar

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Ravi Shankar

India: Great Sitarost

Ravi Shankar (7 April 1920 – 11 December 2012), his name often preceded by the title Pandit, was an Indian musician who was one of the best-known exponents of the sitar in the second half of the 20th century as well as a composer of Hindustani classical music.

Shankar was born in Varanasi (Kashi) and spent his youth touring Europe and India with the dance group of his brother Uday Shankar. He gave up dancing in 1938 to study sitar playing under court musician Allauddin Khan. After finishing his studies in 1944, Shankar worked as a composer, creating the music for the Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray, and was music director of All India Radio, New Delhi, from 1949 to 1956.

In 1956, he began to tour Europe and the Americas playing Indian classical music and increased its popularity there in the 1960s through teaching, performance, and his association with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and Beatles guitarist George Harrison. Shankar engaged Western music by writing concerti for sitar and orchestra, and toured the world in the 1970s and 1980s. From 1986 to 1992 he served as a nominated member of Rajya Sabha, the upper chamber of the Parliament of India. In 1999, Shankar was awarded India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna. He continued to perform up until the end of his life.

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Gautam Buddha

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Gautam Buddha      Gautam Buddha

India: Founder of “Buddhism”

Born: Kapilavastu, Nepal

Died: Kushinagar

Full name: Siddhartha Gautama

Parents: Queen Maha Maya, Mahapajapati Gotami, King Śuddhodana

Children: Rāhula

Siblings: Sundari, Nanda

Gautama Buddha, also known as Siddhārtha Gautama, Shakyamuni, or simply the Buddha, was a sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is believed to have lived and taught mostly in eastern India sometime between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE.

The word Buddha means “awakened one” or “the enlightened one”. “Buddha” is also used as a title for the first awakened being in an era. In most Buddhist traditions, Siddhartha Gautama is regarded as the Supreme Buddha (Pali sammāsambuddha, Sanskrit samyaksaṃbuddha) of our age. Gautama taught a Middle Way between sensual indulgence and the severe asceticism found in the Sramana movement common in his region. He later taught throughout regions of eastern India such as Magadha and Kośala.

Gautama is the primary figure in Buddhism and accounts of his life, discourses, and monastic rules are believed by Buddhists to have been summarized after his death and memorized by his followers. Various collections of teachings attributed to him were passed down by oral tradition and first committed to writing about 400 years later.

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Goswami Tulsidas

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Goswami Tulsidas     Tulsi Das

India: Great Hindi Poet

Born: 1497, Rajapur

Died: 1623, Assi Ghat, Varanasi

Full name: Rambola

Books: Hanuman Chalisa of Goswāmi Tulsidas dās

Parents: Atmaram Dubey, Hulsi Dubey

Children: Tarak

Tulsidas (Hindi pronunciation: also known as Goswami Tulsidas 1497/1532–1623) was a Hindu poet-saint, reformer and philosopher from Ramanandi Sampradaya renowned for his devotion to the god Rama . A composer of several popular works, he is best known as the author of the epic Ramcharitmanas, a retelling of the Sanskrit Ramayana based on Rama’s life in the vernacular Awadhi.

Tulsidas was acclaimed in his lifetime to be a reincarnation of Valmiki, the composer of the original Ramayana in Sanskrit. He is also considered to be the composer of the Hanuman Chalisa, a popular devotional hymn dedicated to Hanuman, the divine devotee of Rama.

Tulsidas spent most of his life in the city of Varanasi. The Tulsi Ghat on the Ganges River in Varanasi is named after him. He founded the Sankatmochan Temple dedicated to Hanuman in Varanasi, believed to stand at the place where he had the sight of Hanuman. Tulsidas started the Ramlila plays, a folk-theatre adaption of the Ramayana.

He has been acclaimed as one of the greatest poets in Hindi, Indian, and world literature. The impact of Tulsidas and his works on the art, culture and society in India is widespread and is seen to date in vernacular language, Ramlila plays, Hindustani classical music, popular music, and television series.

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Homer 9th Century BC

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Homer_British_Museum      Homer 9th Century BC

Greece: Classical Poet and Writer

Homer is best known as the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. He was believed by the ancient Greeks to have been the first and greatest of the epic poets. Author of the first known literature of Europe, he had a lasting effect on the Western canon.

Whether and when he lived is unknown. Herodotus estimates that Homer lived 400 years before his own time, which would place him at around 850 BCE. Pseudo-Herodotus estimates that he was born 622 years before Xerxes I placed a pontoon bridge over the Hellespont in 480 BCE, which would place him at 1102 BCE, 168 years after the fall of Troy in 1270 BCE. These two end points are 252 years apart, representative of the differences in dates given by the other sources.

The importance of Homer to the ancient Greeks is described in Plato’s “Republic”, which portrays him as the protos didaskalos, “first teacher,” of the tragedians, and the hegemon paideias, the “leader of Greek culture,” who ten Hellada pepaideukon, was “the teacher of Greece.” Homer’s works, which are about fifty percent speeches, provided models in persuasive speaking and writing that were emulated throughout the ancient and medieval Greek worlds. Fragments of Homer account for nearly half of all identifiable Greek literary papyrus finds in Egypt.

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Rabindranath Tagore

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Rabindranath Tagore    Rabindranath Tagore sign   Rabindranath Tagore

India: Great Poet and Litterateur  1861- 1941

Rabindranath Tagore (Bengali: রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর, Bengali), also written Rabīndranātha Thākura, (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941), sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali polymath who reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of Gitanjali and its “profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse”, he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. In translation his poetry was viewed as spiritual and mercurial; however, his “elegant prose and magical poetry” remain largely unknown outside Bengal. Tagore introduced new prose and verse forms and the use of colloquial language into Bengali literature, thereby freeing it from traditional models based on classical Sanskrit. He was highly influential in introducing the best of Indian culture to the West and vice versa, and he is generally regarded as the outstanding creative artist of the modern Indian subcontinent, being highly commemorated in India and Bangladesh, as well as in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan.

A Pirali Brahmin from Kolkata with ancestral gentry roots in Jessore, Tagore wrote poetry as an eight-year-old. At age sixteen, he released his first substantial poems under the pseudonym Bhānusiṃha (“Sun Lion”), which were seized upon by literary authorities as long-lost classics. He graduated to his first short stories and dramas—and the aegis of his birth name—by 1877. As a humanist, universalist internationalist, and strident nationalist he denounced the Raj and advocated independence from Britain. As an exponent of the Bengal Renaissance, he advanced a vast canon that comprised paintings, sketches and doodles, hundreds of texts, and some two thousand songs; his legacy endures also in the institution he founded, Visva-Bharati University.

Tagore modernised Bengali art by spurning rigid classical forms and resisting linguistic strictures. His novels, stories, songs, dance-dramas, and essays spoke to topics political and personal. Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced) and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World) are his best-known works, and his verse, short stories, and novels were acclaimed—or panned—for their lyricism, colloquialism, naturalism, and unnatural contemplation. His compositions were chosen by two nations as national anthems: India’s Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh’s Amar Shonar Bangla. The original song of Sri Lanka’s National Anthem was also written and tuned by Tagore.

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Plato B 428 BC – D 347 BC

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Plato_Silanion Plato2      Plato   B 428 BC – D 347 BC

Greece: idealist philosopher

Plato was a philosopher, as well as mathematician, in Classical Greece, and an influential figure in philosophy, central in Western philosophy. He was Socrates’ student, and founded the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with Socrates and his most famous student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the foundations of Western philosophy and science. Alfred North Whitehead once noted: “the safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”

Plato’s dialogues have been used to teach a range of subjects, including philosophy, logic, ethics, rhetoric, religion and mathematics. His theory of Forms began a unique perspective on abstract objects, and led to a school of thought called Platonism. Plato’s writings have been published in several fashions; this has led to several conventions regarding the naming and referencing of Plato’s texts.

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Mother Teresa India : embodiment of compassion

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MotherTeresa    Mother Teresa

26 August 1910 – 5th September 1997

India : embodiment of compassion

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, M.C., commonly known as Mother Teresa (26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997), was a Roman Catholic Religious Sister and missionary who lived most of her life in India. She was born in today’s Macedonia, with her family being of Albanian descent originating in Kosovo.

Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation, which in 2012 consisted of over 4,500 sisters and is active in 133 countries. They run hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; dispensaries and mobile clinics; children’s and family counseling programmers; orphanages; and schools. Members of the institute must adhere to the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and the fourth vow, to give “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor”.

Mother Teresa was the recipient of numerous honors including the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. In 2003, she was beatified as “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta”. A second miracle credited to her intercession is required before she can be recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church.

A controversial figure both during her life and after her death, Mother Teresa was widely admired by many for her charitable works, but also widely criticized, particularly for her efforts opposing contraception and for substandard conditions in the hospices for which she was responsible.

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Leonardo da Vinci

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Leonardo da Vinci        Leonardo da Vinci

Italy: Great Painter And Scientist

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519) was an Italian painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest polymaths of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived. His genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance Man, a man of “unquenchable curiosity” and “feverishly inventive imagination”. According to art historian Helen Gardner, the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent and “his mind and personality seem to us superhuman, the man himself mysterious and remote”. Marco Rosci states that while there is much speculation about Leonardo, his vision of the world is essentially logical rather than mysterious, and that the empirical methods he employed were unusual for his time.

Born out of wedlock to a notary, Piero da Vinci, and a peasant woman, Caterina, in Vinci in the region of Florence, Leonardo was educated in the studio of the renowned Florentine painter Verrocchio. Much of his earlier working life was spent in the service of Ludovico il Moro in Milan. He later worked in Rome, Bologna and Venice, and he spent his last years in France at the home awarded him by Francis I.

Leonardo was, and is, renowned as one of the greatest painters of all time. Among his works, the Mona Lisa is the most famous and most parodied portrait and The Last Supper the most reproduced religious painting of all time, with their fame approached only by Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. Leonardo’s drawing of the Vitruvian Man is also regarded as a cultural icon, being reproduced on items as varied as the euro coin, textbooks, and T-shirts. Perhaps fifteen of his paintings have survived, the small number because of his constant, and frequently disastrous, experimentation with new techniques, and his chronic procrastination. Nevertheless, these few works, together with his notebooks, which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and his thoughts on the nature of painting, compose a contribution to later generations of artists rivalled only by that of his contemporary, Michelangelo.

Leonardo is revered for his technological ingenuity. He conceptualised flying machines, an armoured vehicle, concentrated solar power, an adding machine, and the double hull, also outlining a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were even feasible during his lifetime, but some of his smaller inventions, such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire, entered the world of manufacturing unheralded. He made important discoveries in anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and hydrodynamics, but he did not publish his findings and they had no direct influence on later science.

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Dhyan chand

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Dhyan chand         Dhyan chand

India: Hockey Wizard

Dhyan Chand ( 29 August 1905 – 3 December 1979) was an Indian field hockey player, who is widely considered as the greatest field hockey player of all time. Chand is most remembered for his extraordinary goal-scoring feats, in addition to earning three Olympic gold medals (1928, 1932, and 1936) in field hockey, during an era where India was the most dominant team in Hockey.

Known as “The Wizard” for his superb ball control, Chand played his final international match in 1948, having scored more than 400 goals during his international career.

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Sunil Gavaskar

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Sunny Gavaskar      Sunil Gavaskar

India: Great Batsman

Sunil Manohar “Sunny” Gavaskar About this sound pronunciation (born 10 July 1949) is a former cricketer who played during the 1970s and 1980s for the Bombay cricket team and India. Widely regarded as one of the greatest opening batsmen in cricket history, Gavaskar set world records during his career for the most Test runs and most Test centuries scored by any batsman. He held the record of 34 Test centuries for almost two decades before it was broken by Sachin Tendulkar in December 2005.

Gavaskar was widely admired for his technique against fast bowling, with a particularly high average of 65.45 against the West Indies, who possessed a four-pronged fast bowling attack regarded as the most vicious in Test history. His captaincy of the Indian team, however, was less successful. The team at one stage went 31 Test matches without a victory. There were incidents like crowd displeasure at Eden Gardens in Calcutta leading to multiple matches being disrupted, in response to the poor performance of the Indian team. Turbulent performances of the team led to multiple exchanges of captaincy between Gavaskar and Kapil Dev, with one of Gavaskar’s sackings coming just six months before Kapil led India to victory at the 1983 Cricket World Cup.

In 2012 Gavaskar was awarded the Col CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award for Cricket in India.

On 28 March 2014, Supreme Court of India, appointed Gavaskar as the Interim BCCI President primarily to oversee 7th Season of Indian Premier League. The Court also directed him to relinquish his job as a Cricket Commentator.

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