november 2013 programmes

 

   

The Persian Empire  – an education in 12 evenings .Every Monday where possible.  An Attic video presentation from The Great Courses taught by Prof. John W.I. Lee, University of California, Santa Barbara.

In its time, the Persian Empire was the largest and greatest the world had ever seen. Beginning in 559 B.C under Cyrus the Great it lasted more than 2 centuries, until 330 BC encompassing lands stretching from Greece, Asia Minor and Egypt in the West, across Mesopotamia and Iran, through Central Asia, all the way to the Indus Valley in the East. The Empire developed an efficient bureaucracy, a postal service, a complex economy and a powerful army. The Persians numbered only about one million people and successfully ruled over a multi ethnic and multi cultural population of 25 million.

This series of 24 half hour lectures - 2 per evening (4 per month).  are free. The title of each lecture is listed below.

 

The Persian Empire: List of Lectures

1

Rethinking the Persian Empire

2

Questioning the Sources

3

The World before Cyrus

4

Cyrus and Cambyses—Founders of the Empire

5

Darius I—Creator of the Imperial System

6

Persian Capitals and Royal Palaces

7

The Great King—Images and Realities

8

Royal Roads and Provinces

9

East of Persepolis

10

Challenges in the West, 513–494 B.C.

11

Across the Bitter Sea, 493–490 B.C.

12

Xerxes Becomes King

13

Xerxes’s War, 480–479 B.C.

14

Cultures in Contact

15

Achaemenid Religion

16

From Expansion to Stability, 479–405 B.C.

17

The War of the Two Brothers

18

Persian Gold

19

City and Countryside

20

Women in the Persian Empire

21

Artaxerxes II—The Longest-Ruling King

22

Persia and Macedon, 359–333 B.C.

23

The End of an Empire, 333–323 B.C.

24

Legacies of the Persian Empire

 

monday 4th november
6.30 pm

Lecture 1-  Rethinking the Persian Empire

 Under the Empires’ founder Cyrus the Great, the Persians rose from relative obscurity to conquer vast territories in a very short space of time. By 500 BC, when Rome was still a small village on the banks of the Tiber river and China was still divided into warring states the Persian Empire stretched from Greece to the Indus Valley and was the single greatest power anywhere on earth.

This lecture reviews some of the accomplishments of the Achaemenid kings which included building an empire of world historical significance, bringing together the great civilizations of the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks and Jews, ruling with tolerance and bringing peace and stability to their empire.

Ironically it was the Great King Cyrus who released the Jewish people from captivity in Babylon, allowing them to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple and practice their religion unhindered.

 

Lecture 2 - Questioning the Sources

 In the study of the Persian Empire we need to .understand and evaluate the sources especially as most of them were biased Greek historians. The most important was Herodotus (485 BC). In the Histories he recounts the events that led to the wars between the Persians and Greeks from 499 to 479 BC , glorifying the Greeks.

Thucydides was mainly interested in the Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta. Xenophon was a mercenary in the army of the Persian prince, Cyrus the younger before returning to Greece to write. In the final years of the empire the historian Arrans Anabasis of Alexander describes the campaigns of the Macedonians against the Persians and King Darius 111 and Plutarch, though living under the Roman Empire, wrote in Greek and gives a great deal of valuable information.

Other sources include the Hebrew Bible and other biblical sources. In the early 1800’s a young German school teacher Georg Grotefend connected cuneiform inscriptions from which he reconstructed the old Persian alphabet. Even I  recent times excavations in Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey have turned up new archaeological evidence for Persian history.

 

monday 11th november
6.30 pm

Lecture 3- The World before Cyrus

 Take a tour of the ancient world before the Persian Empire. In the centuries leading up to the Persian Empire, the Assyrians were the major international power. When the Assyrian kingdom collapsed, it left a power vacuum in the region. Watch as the stage was set for a new power to seize the imperial mantle.

 

Lecture 4 - Cyrus and Cambyses—Founders of the Empire

 Learn how Cyrus, the first great king of the Persian Empire, expanded the empire through pragmatic leadership. You’ll see how he made use of local customs and traditions and thereby gained legitimacy over a wide territory—including central Asia and Babylon. His son Cambyses continued that method when he expanded the empire into Egypt.

 

tuesday 12th november
6.30 pmThe Sino-Indian Border dispute: A historical background” a talk by Claude Arpi

 On March 22, 1959 Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru wrote a long letter to his Chinese counterpart, Zhou En-lai about the emerging border differences between India and China.

As the basis for defining a common boundary, Nehru spoke of three sectors where India had a treaty with Tibet: Sikkim, Ladakh and the McMahon Line in the eastern part of the now Sino-Indian boundary. The Indian Prime Minister added: “Thus, in these three different sectors covering much the larger part of our boundary with China, there is sufficient authority based on geography, tradition as well as treaties for the boundary as shown in our published maps. The remaining sector from the tri-junction of the Nepal, India and Tibet boundary upto Ladakh is also traditional and follows well-defined geographical features. Here, too the boundary runs along well-defined watersheds between the river systems in the south and the west on the one hand and north and east on the other.”

A week after Nehru had sent his letter, India offered asylum to the Dalai Lama and thousands of his followers; it marked a definite turn in the formerly prevalent bhai-bhai relations with China.

In 1960, the first border talks between India and China were held. They lasted several months and went into the details of the alignments proposed by both sides. Tibet, whose ‘traditional’ border it had been for millennia, was not involved/invited to the talks.

The 1962 War

A direct consequence of the Dalai Lama’s flight was the border war between India and China in October 1962; for India, this tragic event has remained a deep scar in the country’s psyche.

During his peregrinations on the Himalayan border, Claude Arpi will go into some relatively little known issues, such as the chequered history of Tawang; the British India policy towards Tibet and even the possibility for India to militarily defend the Roof of the World.

Claude will also look into why the Government still keeps the Henderson Brooks Report under wraps and what were Mao’s motivations for ‘teaching India a lesson’. The main thread remains the Tibet-India frontier in the North-East and the Indo-Chinese conflict.

The more one digs into this question, the more one discovers that the entire issue is intimately linked with the history of modern Tibet; particularly its status as a de facto independent nation.

Claude Arpi is French-born author and journalist who lives in Auroville, India. He has interviewed many eminent personalities including the Dalai Lama. His most recent books include 1962 and The McMahon Line Saga ( 2013), Tibet: The Lost Frontier (2008), India and Her Neighbourhood: A French Observer’s Views (2005), Born in Sin: The Panchsheel Agreement (2004), The Fate of Tibet: When Small Insects Eat Big Insect (1999).  

 

wednesday 13th november
6.30 pm “Mindful Personalities: Mindful Leaders” a talk by Rachana Srivastava

 Rachana Srivastava seeks very simply to help people become uncomfortable with their mediocrity. A lot of people, she says, are content with their discontent. She wants to be the catalyst that enables them to see themselves, achieve more and be aware of their emotional, mental and professional selves.

This talk will also feature two short videos Charles & Ray Eames “Powers of 10" and Stephen Hawking’s "Train Ride to the Future".

Rachana is a double graduate in English Literature and Law from Bhopal. She practiced law for 8 years in the Nagpur High Court before moving to Delhi. She is a

•Life coach: specialization in situations arising out of lifestyles & relationships.

•Meditation coach: specialization is in guided theta wave meditation.

•Theta healer: specialization is in theta healing modality.

Currently she is a student of “Course in Miracles” a study of Metaphysics, which assists in spiritual transformation.

wednesday 16th november
11am to 1 pm “Chinese Tea Ceremony” by Bryan Mulvihill of World Tea Party

The tea plant (Camellia sinensis) was an ever green plant first cultivated in China solely as herbal medicine mostly within temples. Monks began to use tea to teach a respect for nature, humility and an overall sense of peace and calm. It is for that reason that the underlying philosophies of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism blend together through the Chinese Tea Ceremony.

The Chinese tea culture developed over 1200 years ago and was initially termed cha dao or the way of tea. It was taken by Japanese monks and refined into the exquisite tea ceremony as an important art form. In China it continued to develop as an important part of the social life of China with tea houses, wedding ceremonies and family gatherings.

When selecting the right tea one has to consider its fragrance, shape and taste. The tea should have a beautiful story and name, and should be served with pure water using the correct tea utensils. There are several types of tea:

  • Green tea contains catechins, antioxidants that fight and may even prevent cell damage.
  • Oolong tea is a partially fermented tea produced through a unique process including withering under the strong sun and oxidation before curling and twisting.
  •  Black tea is fully fermented and includes the  large-leaved Assamese plant.
  • Red tea is not technically a tea. It is a herb that comes from rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) in South Africa. Mma Precious Ramotswe of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is constantly drinking this tea.
  • White tea comes from the buds and leaves of the plant which are allowed to wither in natural sunlight before being lightly processed to prevent oxidation. The colour of the beverage is pale yellow.
  • Yellow tea - usually implies a special tea processed similarly to green tea, but with a slower drying phase, where the damp tea leaves are allowed to sit and yellow
  • Puerh – a double fermented dark tea produced in Yunnan province. The tea leaves undergo microbial fermentation and oxidation after they are dried and rolled.[
  • Flower teas are actually a Tisane or herbal tea. It is any non-caffeinated beverage made from the infusion or decoction of herbs, spices, or other plant material in hot water. Hibiscus and chrysanthemum are typical flower teas.

 

Bryan Mulvihill is the founder of WORLD TEA PARTY , an organization promoting  dialogue among people and cultures around the world a myriad of activities that range from the simple gathering of few people sharing a brief moment in time, to months long extravaganzas including exhibitions, concerts, conferences, poetry readings and multicultural events involving dozens of organizations, hundreds of artists, thousands works of art and infinite cups of tea…

He will be talking about, serving and demonstrating several teas and screening images of some beautiful tea utensils.

Registration required. Payment on arrival - Rs 100/- per person. Email: info@theatticdelhi.org

 

The Persian Empire  – an education in 12 evenings .Every Monday where possible.  An Attic video presentation from The Great Courses taught by Prof. John W.I. Lee, University of California, Santa Barbara.

In its time, the Persian Empire was the largest and greatest the world had ever seen. Beginning in 559 B.C under Cyrus the Great it lasted more than 2 centuries, until 330 BC encompassing lands stretching from Greece, Asia Minor and Egypt in the West, across Mesopotamia and Iran, through Central Asia, all the way to the Indus Valley in the East. The Empire developed an efficient bureaucracy, a postal service, a complex economy and a powerful army. The Persians numbered only about one million people and successfully ruled over a multi ethnic and multi cultural population of 25 million.

This series of 24 half hour lectures - 2 per evening (4 per month).  are free. The title of each lecture is listed below.

  

monday 18th november
6.30 pm

Lecture 5 - Darius I—Creator of the Imperial System

Witness the first challenge to the new empire: Was Darius, the son-in-law of Cyrus, a legitimate king? After Cambyses died, and in the face of civil war, Darius established himself as a swift, decisive, unwavering leader. See how Darius created both a royal genealogy and a Persian identity, after which he turned to building infrastructure.

 

Lecture 6 - Persian Capitals and Royal Palaces

Step back and tour the five Persian capitals—Pasargadae, Ecbatana, Babylon, Susa, and Persepolis. Built in strategic, fortified locations, these cities were important symbols of power for the great kings. For instance, you’ll encounter the great hall at Persepolis, which could hold 10,000 guests.

 

monday 25th november
6.30 pm

Lecture 7- The Great King—Images and Realities

 Look beyond the outside stereotypes of Persian kings as tyrants and see what the kings themselves had to say. In sculpted reliefs and carvings on royal tombs, the words and images of Darius and Xerxes show Persian values of harmonious cooperation.

 

 

Lecture 8 - Royal Roads and Provinces

 Take a road trip into the western provinces and see the empire’s diverse local customs. The Persian Empire was famous for its roads and bridges, and people traveled often. Learn how its express messenger system allowed information to travel quickly—and allowed the king to keep tabs on every corner of the empire.

 

 

'Monthly Monologue: Why it Speaks to Me?'

Hindustani Awaaz, in collaboration with The Attic, presents a monthly series of monologues: Poetry, literature, short stories, plays, essays, nazms, ghazals. A series of eclectic speakers will present/sing/recite their favourite Urdu text and explain why the text ‘speaks’ to them the way it does. We hope this series will highlight a neglected aspect of the Delhi cultural scene.

wednesday 20th november
6.30 pm  Zehra Nigah, eminent Urdu poet from Pakistan, will tell us Why Mir Speaks to her and read from selection of Mir's vast and varied oeuvre.

Mir Taqi Mir 1786.jpg  Mir Taqi Mir (1723-1810) whose real name was Muhammad Taqi is better known by his nom de plume or takhallus  Mir.  He was the leading Urdu poet of the 18th century, and one of the architects of Urdu zubaan and arguably one of the foremost poets of the Delhi School of Urdu poetry.

He was born in Agra (then called Akbarabad) but lived most of his life in Kucha Chelan in Mughal Delhi. After the sack of Delhi repeatedly after 1748 by Ahmed Shah Abdali, he eventually moved to the court of Asaf-ud-Daulah in Lucknow .

His complete works, Kulliaat, consist of six Diwans containing 13,585 couplets, comprising all kinds of poetic forms: ghazal, masnavi, qasida, rubai, mustezaad, and satire. Mir's literary reputation is anchored on his ghazals on the themes of love.

Dikhaai diye yun ke bekhud kiya

Hamen aap se bhi juda kar chale''

(She appeared in such a way that I lost myself

And went by taking away my 'self' with her)

Looked as if rendered me unconscious

away went leaving me separated from me

 

Zehra Nigah is a much loved and highly respected poet in Pakistan. In India she is an eagerly awaited figure on the mushaira circuit, especially the annual Indo-Pak mushaira hosted by the DCM family. Her poetry is about the compulsions and compromises of being a woman and a poet. Amidst friends and family, she is equally well known as a raconteur par excellence and a qissa-go. She talks as she writes: with grace and poise and wry humour.  

Refusing to be categorised by the labels of a writer of feminine poetry or a feminist poet, she speaks in a woman's tongue, using feminine imagery and idiom to make powerful social and political comments.