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Day 22 – Literature.

Literature Karma Sutra

Ancient, enduring, more popular than the bible (in the John Lennonist sense)…well at least as well known, originally a philosophy on pictograms, later embellished with Sanskrit writings. Carved in sandstone more than a thousand years ago and part of a Hindu temple, demolished and the stones used to build the first mosque with minaret in India by the conquering Moghuls.
The carved literature is purported to be the Karma Sutra, look closely and certainly some erotic poses are still just visible in the corroded soft stone, one little pillar even looks a little bent by an amorous couple’s activities.
Whether it is the actually the Karma Sutra or just the romantic tales of the famous story-telling, Indian guides to titillate the tourists, who knows? Some truth, some romanticism and a little bit of imagination no doubt. The carved stones are from one of over seventy ancient Hindu temples demolished to build the Qutub masjid and minar, the mosque and minaret. Oldest in India? Probably not but the minar is the tallest at 72 metres high and is an incredible structure made from interlocking stones and still standing after 900 years. So the carved stones are over a thousand years old and quite an odd inclusion in a mosque but other carvings, with original Hindu text, are included so maybe not that odd. Are the erotic carvings actually of the Karma Sutra? Nobody can say yes or no but as with all histories, if it can’t be verified then it can’t be counted as truth. Everyone likes to think so.
Nearby is an ancient iron pillar called Ashok Stambh, more than 1,600 years old, so well made it does not rust due to some clever ancient techniques of doping the iron with phosphorous and then crystallisation of the surface after forging, which forms a protective layer less than a twentieth of a millimetre thick. This predates any iron forging technology in Europe by a long way, possibly a thousand years. The pillar is inscribed with an ancient writing called Brahmi script, so old nobody for certain knows exactly what it says.
Both the stone carvings and the iron inscription, some of the oldest literature in the world.

Literature Qutub Minar Ashok Stambh


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