Frequently Asked Questions

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There are several questions that people ask me regarding the work I do in Wikipedia and in Wikidot. I am here answering some of the frequently asked questions.

Table of Contents

A few questions answered

Your plan seems to be to write an article for every noun encountered in Mahabharata. Why don't you add them in Wikipedia where you have already added good articles on the subject? Have you left Wikipedia?

Answering the last question first. I have not left Wikipedia. I have been contributing in Wikipedia for the last 4 years and I will continue to do so.

But there are certain limitations in adding the articles that I now plan to create, into Wikipedia. Firstly, Wikipedia has a policy of no-original-research, which states that it do not welcome material which are part of an original research of the author. It needs citations for every piece of information put into a Wikipedia article. For articles related to Mahabharata, reference information available elsewhere in Internet is very rare and so in most cases no citations can be given.

Secondly, there are going to be around 8000 articles, if all of the 7500 plus Mahabharata-nouns are to be expanded into pages. It is very difficult to manage that many number of articles in Wikipedia. It is frequently edited by other users. While many editors (thanks to them) improve your article, a few others deteriorate it through vandalism. I have around 150 articles added into Wikipedia and that itself has now become hard to manage. In Wikidot I have the freedom of having my own wiki and management of articles will be easy.

When ever I need to express my view point on a subject, I use Wikidot and when ever I feel my viewpoints need to be debated and stabilized with opposing views from others I put them in Wikipedia.

Why did you leave ISRO? Wasn't it the best place to do research?

ISRO: Indian Space Research Organization

Let me answer this question with a smile. My joining ISRO and leaving ISRO has nothing to do with my research activities. I had the habit of doing research on the topics interesting to me, well before I joined ISRO and it continued while I was in ISRO and it continues exactly like that even after I left ISRO.

Why don't you write a book on the subject and sell it and earn money rather than putting all these hard created data and art works freely into public domain?

By art work, I think you are referring to the paintings on Mahabharata that I put in Wikipedia. I am yet to add them to Wikidot.

It is true that there is a lot of hard work involved in creating the data and art works. But I create this art works and do research activities generating useful data, as a result of joyful self expression. While engaged thus in these acts of intellect, I forget the pains afflicting the body and the hurts affecting the mind.

Mbh.Bhagavat.Gita.3.42

indriyāṇi parāṇy āhur
indriyebhyaḥ paraḿ manaḥ
manasas tu parā buddhir
yo buddheḥ paratas tu saḥ

It is said in Bhagavad Gita verse 3.42, that the intellect is superior to the mind and the mind is superior to the body (with its sense organs). Intellect is second next to the soul and thus is very pure and is above all of the emotional turbulence of the mind and the physical strains of the body.

I think, like a tree that generate fruits no matter if the birds thank the tree for it, I should generate these art works and the data, which is naturally coming forth from me. It may or may not be beneficial to others depending the view point of others. I feel, in this way, by putting them in Wikidot, more people can benefit from my work. If situation demands, I will write all of them in a book and publish them, but certainly not for making money out of it.

At least for now, I am not burdened to think of what I get in return as a result of these activities:-

Mbh.Bhagavat.Gita.2.47

karmaṇy evādhikāras te
mā phaleṣu kadācana
mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr
mā te sańgo 'stv akarmaṇi

Mbh.Bhagavat.Gita.2.48

yoga-sthaḥ kuru karmāṇi
sańgaḿ tyaktvā dhanañjaya
siddhy-asiddhyoḥ samo bhūtvā
samatvaḿ yoga ucyate

Why don't you try to get a Doctorate on the subject of Mahabharata, with all your knowledge?

I don't think I am knowledgeable enough to pursue a doctorate on the subject of Mahabharata. There are many others who have a lot of more knowledge in the subject than me. Secondly, will anybody give a doctorate on the subject of Mahabharata? I don't know.

Why did you choose Ganguli's translation of Mahabharata for your analysis? Many say it has a lot of errors?

Ganguli's translation of Mahabharata is the only English translation of Mahabharata available in public domain. The parsing-software developed by me, can analyse only English text. I have not expanded it, for instance, to work with Unicode-Sanskrit text. I plan to expand the software in future for that. Secondly the errors in Ganguli's translation is not very frequent. My experience is that after detecting around 7500 nouns in Mahabharata by analysing Ganguli's translation I found only less than 40 nouns that are having errors. Some of them are spelling errors like Drona written as Dorna and some others like Sikhandi they written as Sikhandithey. Other errors reported by other researchers probably refer to the use of the names of Roman gods like Mercury and Pluto to refer to Budha and Yama of Mahabharata, and the use of the word Friday some where else! Unless the reader is a complete novice in the knowledge of Mahabharata, this never mislead the reader into thinking that the Roman gods Mercury and Pluto were part of the Mahabharata epic or that people used names like Friday and Saturday in those ancient periods. More serious errors are the deliberate use of the word Aryan as part of the translation, where it is not supposed to be translated thus, and the deliberate interpretations of some verses (especially in Santi and Anusasana Parvas) to suit Aryan theories, prevalent during the life time of Kisari Mohan Ganguli. These are addressed on case by case basis.

Have you done enough research while you created that paintings on Mahabharata? Any way they are very beautiful.

thumbnail.jpg thumbnail.jpg thumbnail.jpg thumbnail.jpg thumbnail.jpg thumbnail.jpg thumbnail.jpg

By paintings, I think you are referring to the paintings on Mahabharata that I put in Wikipedia.

While most of the textual matter (including the data sheets) are the result of my research activities, the paintings are NOT the result of my research activities. They are the expressions of the artist in me. Like I see many people outside me, I see many people inside me! Some call these people inside ones own self as "aspects of ones own self" or "personalities within a personality". ("Split-personality" will be too out of context). A Buddhist will call them aggregates. Among the many aspects of my personality, the artist, the scientist and the software-professional are very prominent. When I created the paintings, it was the sole expression of the artist in me, with out much connect with the scientist or the researcher in me.

I have not analysed, for example if the kings and other people wore so many ornaments as depicted in my paintings. I have not also verified if all of them possessed a crown. In Mahabharata only Arjuna is explicitly mentioned as wearing a crown (hence the name Kiriti). I am indeed planning to create images of the people mentioned in Mahabharata, backed with more research done into the dresses, the ornaments, the chariots, the weapons and other objects used in those periods. Similarly study is needed on the cities, roads and buildings of those periods and how they actually looked like.

However, the paintings are not completely devoid of a reality check. For example when painted the city of Indraprastha, the burning of Kahndava and the Maya Sabha, I had studied the geography of Delhi area, the flow of river Yamuna in the east of Indraprastha and Khandava, the possibility of a river connecting Yamuna to the partially dried up Saraswati river in the west during those days. When I painted the Initiation of Maya Sabha I have depicted Jatasura, an Asura not in dark hue, but like any body who is mentioned as a Deva, since both Asuras and Devas were closely related tribal groups, differing only in ideologies.

Similarly the maps created depicting the probable locations of the kingdoms, rivers, lakes, mountains, forests, cities and other places mentioned in Mahabharata, are actually backed up by many years of research I have done on the geographic reconstruction of the epics.

I am happy to know that you find the paintings beautiful.

You are probably influenced by the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma and those found in Amar Chitra Kathas that you claim you saw in your childhood days?

Yes. Amar Chitra Kathas were one among the many sources that influenced me to embark on a study of Mahabharata, which I have mentioned when I talked about the Research Material. Probably Amar Chitra Katha artists were themselves influenced by Raja Ravi Varma. It is true that Ravi Varma's influence among artists is profound. But see the positive aspect of it. He provided a way by which the ancient people can be visualized in a highly realistic manner, apart from the more symbolic cave paintings, floor paintings, ritual paintings, temple art and dance forms like Kathakali, Yakshagana etc. The role of Amar Chitra Katha can also be not diluted. It created a generation of young Indian people who will otherwise be completely cut of from the ancient civilization of India.

The influence of Ramanand Sagar's television serial "Ramayana" and that of BR Chopra's "Mahabharata" were also profound in this regard.

You says your native language is Malayalam. So you are a Dravidian and you should have hated these Aryan literature like the Mahabharata and the Vedas?

Since the answer to this question involves more details i have created an article for it:- The Myth of Aryan Dravidian Divide

First of all I do NOT believe in this philosophy of hate. Investigate the original Sanskrit and Vedic texts. There is no mention in any of them about the two opposing races called Aryan and Dravidian. The word Arya is used to designate a person as 'noble'. A wife will call her husband, 'O Arya' or 'O Arya-putra' meaning 'O my noble one' or 'O son of your noble father'. It is in this context that the word Arya is used in ancient Indian literature including Mahabharata. This appellation is given even if the husband is an a Rakshasa. The word 'Dravida' is used to denote a tribe of people. In Mahabharata it is used to denote a tribe living some where in modern-day southern Andhara Pradesh.

Are you trying to substitute history with mythology and fables?

No. I do not think mythology is equal to history and history can ever be substituted with mythology. Like I mentioned in the article on [Mahabharta Research], history transforms into mythology. When it thus get transformed, a lot of information is lost and to fill the gap or otherwise, a lot of other information is added. All these added information are not to be taken as truth.

In the absence of a well defined history, for a particular time period in a particular region, the reconstructed history, derived from the mythology referring to that time and place is preferred in comparison to having no history at all to represent that place and time. This reconstructed history will contain many gaps, since lost information is not completely recoverable.

Is Ancient Indian history based on AIT and AMT not enough?

AIT (Aryan Invasion Theory) and AMT (Aryan Migration Theory) had its merits. But they are loosing strength due to lack of solid evidence. The genetic studies conducted all over the world, has revealed that there has been no large scale genetic addition to India and regions around it, from other regions (except from Africa) to signify an invasion or migration. This is especially true for the 2000 BC to 1000 BC time period, which is mentioned as the time period within which the Aryans invaded or migrated to India. There was some migration from north or north west to India occurred as per genetic analysis, but earlier than 15000 BC. This time period is too early and the AIT or AMT theorists themselves have problem to choose such an early date for Aryan invasion or migration to India, since it will shatter other assumptions of the theory related to the spread of Indo-European languages to Europe and those related to other civilizations in Central Asia, West Asia, Greece and Eastern Europe.

On the contrary, the genetic studies as well as analysis of Ancient Indian literature, points to a large scale outflow from India to rest of Asia. Though there were some minor movements of people from north of Himalaya to India (which also is indicated in the literature, like I mentioned in the article Migration of the Aila tribe), the major movement of people was from India to the rest of Asia.

Please also see the article Human Migration and India for more on this topic.

In the article named Historical Krishna are you denying the divinity of Krishna?

Certainly not. As I mentioned in the article on Mahabharata Research, the divinity is in inherent in all beings and certain individuals express it at a higher amplitude so that they are identified with the divinity by others. All of us, I believe, is engaged in a quest to understand what we perceive as the reality, the reality about ourselves and the reality of what we consider as not ourselves. Our perception about the reality may differ. Our theories about the reality we perceive also may differ. That is why different religions differ among each other. That is why different sects of a single religion differ. It is the quest to understand the reality that unites all of us. While we can be aware of the differences we have, we should not forget this underlying quest that unites us.

There are some who believe that all of that we perceive as reality is actually NOTHINGNESS (Buddhism). There are others who believe that all of that we perceive as reality is just ONE thing (Adwaita). There are others who believe that all of that we perceive as reality is just TWO things:- God and the rest of us (Dwaita). There are yet others who believe that all of that we perceive as reality is just THREE things:- God, the Universe and all of us (Vishishtadvaita). There are other beliefs that believe in FOUR main entities:- God, the Universe, all of us and the mediator (Jesus in case of Christianity) or the guide (the Prophet or the Book of Quran in case of Islam) that lead us to God. There are then others who believe in the FIFTH and the SIXTH who guide people away from God and who work against God. There are others then who believe in many gods. Then are those who believe that there is no God but there is the Universe and all of us!

Thus we see a progression of n = 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, … and many, where n is the number of entities used to explain the complete reality perceived by us. The analogy that comes into my mind to describe this situation is the Quantum Superposition a concept in Quantum_physics. The actual reality is a superposition or a mixture of all these possible states. But when an observer (in this case a believer) try to observe (believe) the actual state of the reality, it breaks downs to one or the other possible states. Thus different observers or believers observe or believe what they want to observe or believe about the reality. It would have been nice if the matter ends there. But the different believers try to argue each other and try to make others believe what they believe since each one observe the reality differently.

I plan to write an article on what I believe, which may differ from your belief, but that is OK.

I kept the promise! Here it is:- My Belief

Will you not focus your attention on the epics of Tamil and Malayalam literature?

Certainly. That is in my wish list. I plan to study the epic literature of Tamil, Malayalam as well as those of the Greeks, Persians and Central Asians for a comparative analysis.

Can you put some light on the parsing software that you developed?

It parses the text, identify words, sentences, sections (chapters) of each book(volume) of Mahabharata and then links all of them as words belonging to sentences belonging to sections belonging to books (parvas). Then it identifies the unique nouns and count how many time each noun is repeated in each book of Mahabharata. It then searches for all instances of a single noun. It also searches how each noun is linked with other neighboring nouns in the text, what is the strength of the links between the nouns. Thus it creates a network of nouns found in Mahabharata. When visualized it looked like a giant cob-web of nouns with each noun forming a node in the form of a sphere, with several or single link(s) radiating out of each noun-sphere connecting with other noun-spheres. It then dumps all the data generated as wiki-dot formatted text files.

A wiki-dot page dedicated to a noun is logically equivalent to a single noun-sphere in the network of nouns. Each (html) link in the wiki-dot pages is equivalent to a single link that radiate out of a noun-sphere and connect with another noun-sphere. All such wiki-pages (7500 plus) together becomes then equivalent to the network of nouns. This is why I don't see it is a good idea to publish this info in printed books. Hyper-text feature is needed to represent this form of information properly. Only a wiki can represent all the complex interlinking between the nouns.

Thus these wiki-pages that I am creating /created for each of the Mahabharata nouns serve both as a representation-tool for me and as a forum for discussion.

How do you get time for all these?

Yes. It is difficult to find time to do all these. I have a demanding professional life, where I do work not related to Mahabharata research. After work I need to travel for a long time to reach home. Then I need to spent some time with my family. I owe a lot to my family for giving me this time for doing these activities as they sacrifice my presence and attention to them while I do these activities.

Then also there are friends and relatives who miss me. I owe to them also for accommodating my absence.

Are you sleeping properly?

Thanks brother for asking this intelligent question filled with love and compassion! Yes I also sacrifice some sleeping time to do the research work. I need to strike a balance with my health, life and this work I do.

What do you think about Wikidot?

Wikidot is the next best thing I found after Wikipedia.

Can I use the data sheets and images found in this site, in other sites?

Yes. You are free to use the material in this site like data-sheets and images in your web-sites. In that case I suggest you give a link or reference to this site, like I did by providing link to Sacred-Texts.com as that site is the source of Mahabharata I used for this analysis.

Where can I get data on Mahabharata and other ancient texts, unbiased by any theories like AIT, AMT or opposing theories like OIT?

Read the original Sanskrit texts. If possible, read multiple versions. If Internet is the only source of information for you and English is the preferred language, I am afraid, for the moment, the options are limited to the KM Ganguli's translation at Sacred-Texts.com. I have used that source for my software analysis though it have lot of limitations. You can also use the data sheets I generated in this site, which are pure software generated output, with not even my opinion imposed on it.

Why are you so obsessed with the past? Can we not focus on the present and the future?

In order to be firm on our present and step forward to the future, we should have a strong understanding of the past. It is information passed on to us from our older generations. It has value. Many other countries, do not possess such a rich past, like India possess. Hence they had to invent their Superman, Spiderman and Star Wars. People of India should be proud of such a vast ocean of information that they had received as inheritance from their past generations. Every single word, every single noun I found in Mahabharata or in other ancient text, I consider like precious gems. At the source of each of them is some unknown history occurred in some point of time in the past. They tell something valuable to us.

From another angle if I look at it, we see that the civilization that produced this literature was very advanced and yet is not to be seen now (of course some of it got transformed into us, or into the present Indians). Similarly is the civilization that produced the cities of Mohan-jo-daro and Harappa. (I am not for the moment, entering into the debate if both of these civilizations were actually the one single civilizations or two different one; this I leave for another thread). My point here is, that they disappeared from the face of Earth, leaving only traces (physical remnants of grant-cities in one case and a vast Vedic-Sanskrit literature in another case). This can happen to our civilization with Internet at its core. So there is value if we study what sustained them and what caused there decline. This knowledge can be used to understand what is going on with our current civilization and where is it heading to.

So, study of the past is not just a time pass. It has its practical value. Also, nobody will object or term the study as unscientific or unnecessary, if one is to study the ancient rivers and water-bodies on the planet Mars. The notion that the study of ancient Indian epics and other ancient texts is irrelevant is thus just a perception. I am studying the ancient rivers of information flow, that managed to reach us now in 21st century with the same intensity at the time of their origin. It is unbelievable, that so many generations of our forefathers had devoted their time and energy to transmit many hundred thousands of Vedic, Sanskrit and Tamil verses, by committing them into their memories and by taking utmost care to transfer it to the next generation, then write it down when writing became common, and we in our generation will simply discard them without ever thinking about its value. It will be very unfortunate to do so.

What is your ultimate goal by creating this site?

In one sentence, to increase the visibility of information on Mahabharata in internet. More on this later.

Can you provide guidance for individual Mahabharata Research Work?

Anyone can access this site and use the data in this site for their research work. Providing guidance for individual research work will not be possible at the moment due to time crunch.

Can you open the site for edit by visitors so that they can contribute? For example this FAQ section can be made editable by all?

Rather than we emailing you our comments and you adding it to the FAQ section can you let us add them directly in your site like blog comments? We also would like to contribute pages, blogs and articles to your site.

This is under consideration. I am happy to have others contributing to this site. Currently I am still building the site with more features and pages. After everything is stabilized, sections of the site will be made open for public edit in the form of public forums, public blogs and public articles.

Forum is now started. Here:- Forum, Recent Forum Posts. Guests can now directly post their comments at forum instead of emailing me. Now, interested guests can join as guest-authors and add their own articles too, here:- guest-author-page

Can you Wikify the whole of Mahabharata and add it to your site? It will be a very useful feature.

Good to see that the site has now a single wiki-page for each noun. There are more than 8000 pages! Huge effort! But it will be nice to have the whole of Mahabharata in wiki format. Single-line references for each noun are fine but some times not enough. Whole of Mahabharata will give context to the noun reference.

Yes. This is under consideration and the work on it is in progress.

This is now done. Mahabharata Wiki can be found here:- Mahabharata 18 Parvas Wikified

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Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 16 Feb 2010 08:54 and updated at 01 Jun 2010 15:28

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