Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Devil's Bible Darkest Secrets Explained

It's a mysterious book that in its day was believed to contain all human knowledge. But why did medieval people believe that the author sold his soul to the devil to be able to write it?


Devil's Bible Photo open on the page of the picture showing Satan © MHP

The "Devil's Bible," a behemoth volume weighing in at 165 pounds, believed to have been produced by a single monk over the course of decades in the 13th Century, is the focus of a documentary that was featured on the National Geographic Channel .(Watch video clips below.)

A complete Old Testament and New Testament, and a collection of a number of secular works besides, the Devil's Bible is an encyclopedia of medieval knowledge. But it has also been haunted by dark speculation, including that its writing was guided by the devil's hand.

It got its name "Devil's Bible" from the illustration of the devil on page 290 (in the photo above). It is believed to be the only bible of its era that depicts Satan. There the devil is, looking more like a cartoon character in an ermine diaper, rather than evil incarnate.


Devil's Bible (Codex Gigas) manuscript © MHP

What makes the Devil's Bible such an object of fascination is the back story associated with it. According to the TV show, which I watched when it premiered, the legend about the Devil's Bible was that it was written by a monk in a single night.

Compact with the devil

The story goes that such a feat was possible only because the monk had made a compact with the devil. The implication is that the devil himself wrote this bible, which is why his portrait adorns it.

Devils-Bible_3.jpgHowever, if the devil inspired the book then there is nothing in it that appears to cast Satan in a good light, at least not that I can find by searching for information on the Web about the Devil's Bible. (It is more properly known as Codex Gigas, or "Giant Book.")

Codex Gigas manuscript ©

The television show combined the story and the extraordinary history of this giant book with modern forensic science to see what can be established about the Devil's Bible. The manuscript was definitely produced by one person, according to analysis of the ink and penmanship.

Most likely the producer of the Devil's Bible was a monk whose name is mentioned in the index and who probably devoted many, many years to the task, perhaps as a form of penance. The Devil's Bible was written by one person, but it was not written in a single night.


Devil's Bible (Codex Gigas) manuscript © MHP

The provenance of this extraordinary book and its unlikely story as well as its journey across centuries, passing through a succession of monasteries and royal palaces to its current destination, the National Library of Sweden, is a legitimate story for National Geographic to cover. And it makes good television too.

Watch this video clip from "Devil's Bible, " which aired on the National Geographic Channel:

Exorcism and Magic Spells in the Devil's Bible

Also included in the Devil's Bible, on pages that follow the picture of the devil, (the picture below), are detailed instructions for the exorcism of demons or evil from people and objects.

Devil-Bible-Picture-3.jpgThere are also two magic spells, both with specific instructions on how to identify and catch a thief.

Possession by demons was commonly thought during medieval times to be the cause of many illnesses.

The church had specific rituals to exorcise evil by casting demons out of an afflicted person's body.

In the name of Jesus

According to the Christian New Testament, Jesus gave his disciples the power to cast out evil spirits, which is why scholars believe the medieval exorcists commanded demons to leave an afflicted person's body "in the name of Jesus Christ."

The incantations for exorcism would not be out of place in the Devil's Bible, appearing after this picture of the devil.

Watch this video clip from the National Geographic documentary "Devil's Bible," featuring the conjuration spells in Codex Gigas used by 13th-Century preists to drive out demons and "dangerous illnesses":

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

r 27, 1907
Martyrdom: March 23, 1931
Achievements: Gave a new direction to revolutionary movement in India, formed 'Naujavan Bharat Sabha' to spread the message of revolution in Punjab, formed 'Hindustan Samajvadi Prajatantra Sangha' along with Chandrasekhar Azad to establish a republic in India, assassinated police official Saunders to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai, dropped bomb in Central Legislative Assembly along with Batukeshwar Dutt.

Bhagat Singh was one of the most prominent faces of Indian freedom struggle. He was a revolutionary ahead of his times. By Revolution he meant that the present order of things, which is based on manifest injustice must change. Bhagat Singh studied the European revolutionary movement and was greatly attracted towards socialism. He realised that the overthrow of British rule should be accompanied by the socialist reconstruction of Indian society and for this political power must be seized by the workers.

Though portrayed as a terrorist by the British, Sardar Bhagat Singh was critical of the individual terrorism which was prevalent among the revolutionary youth of his time and called for mass mobilization. Bhagat Singh gave a new direction to the revolutionary movement in India. He differed from his predecessors on two counts. Firstly, he accepted the logic of atheism and publicly proclaimed it. Secondly, until then revolutionaries had no conception of post-independence society. Their immediate goal was destruction of the British Empire and they had no inclination to work out a political alternative. Bhagat Singh, because of his interest in studying and his keen sense of history gave revolutionary movement a goal beyond the elimination of the British. A clarity of vision and determination of purpose distinguished Bhagat Singh from other leaders of the National Movement. He emerged as the only alternative to Gandhi and the Indian National Congress, especially for the youth.

Bhagat Singh was born in a Sikh family in village Banga in Layalpur district of Punjab (now in Pakistan). He was the third son of Sardar Kishan Singh and Vidyavati. Bhagat Singh's family was actively involved in freedom struggle. His father Kishan Singh and uncle Ajit Singh were members of Ghadr Party founded in the U.S to oust British rule from India. Family atmosphere had a great effect on the mind of young Bhagat Singh and patriotism flowed in his veins from childhood.

While studying at the local D.A.V. School in Lahore, in 1916, young Bhagat Singh came into contact with some well-known political leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai and Ras Bihari Bose. Punjab was politically very charged in those days. In 1919, when Jalianwala Bagh massacre took place, Bhagat Singh was only 12 years old. The massacre deeply disturbed him. On the next day of massacre Bhagat Singh went to Jalianwala Bagh and collected soil from the spot and kept it as a memento for the rest of his life. The massacre strengthened his resolve to drive British out from India.

In response to Mahatma Gandhi's call for non-cooperation against British rule in 1921, Bhagat Singh left his school and actively participated in the movement. In 1922, when Mahatma Gandhi suspended Non-cooperation movement against violence at Chauri-chaura in Gorakhpur, Bhagat was greatly disappointed. His faith in non violence weakened and he came to the conclusion that armed revolution was the only practical way of winning freedom. To continue his studies, Bhagat Singh joined the National College in Lahore, founded by Lala Lajpat Rai. At this college, which was a centre of revolutionary activities, he came into contact with revolutionaries such as Bhagwati Charan, Sukhdev and others.

To avoid early marriage, Bhagat Singh ran away from home and went to Kanpur. Here, he came into contact with a revolutionary named Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, and learnt his first lessons as revolutionary. On
hearing that his grandmother was ill, Bhagat Singh returned home. He continued his revolutionary activities from his village. He went to Lahore and formed a union of revolutionaries by name 'Naujavan Bharat Sabha'. He started spreading the message of revolution in Punjab. In 1928 he attended a meeting of revolutionaries in Delhi and came into contact with Chandrasekhar Azad. The two formed 'Hindustan Samajvadi Prajatantra Sangha'. Its aim was to establish a republic in India by means of an armed revolution.

In February 1928, a com
mittee from England, called Simon Commission visited India. The purpose of its visit was to decide how much freedom and responsibility could be given to the people of India. But there was no I
ndian on the committee. This angered Indians and they decided to boycott Simon Commission. While protesting against Simon Commission in Lahore, Lala Lajpat Rai was brutally Lathicharged and later on succumbed to injuries. Bhagat Singh was determined to avenge Lajpat Rai's death by shooting the British official responsible for the killing, Deputy Inspector General Scott. He shot down Assistant Superintendent Saunders instead, mistaking him for Scott. Bhagat Singh had to flee from Lahore to escape death punishment.

Instead of finding the root cause of discontent of Indians
, the British government took to more repressive measures. Under the Defense of India Act, it gave more power to the police to arrest persons to stop processions with suspicious movements and actions. The Act brought in the Central Legislative Assembly was defeated by one vote. Even then it was to be passed in the form of an ordinance in the "interest of the public." Bhagat Singh who was in hiding all this while, volunteered to throw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly where the meeting to pass the ordinance was being held. It was a carefully laid out plot, not to cause death or injury but to draw the attention of the government, that the modes of its suppression could no more be tolerated. It was decided that Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt would court arrest after throwing the bomb.

On April 8, 1929 Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw bombs in the Central Assembly Hall while the Assembly was in session. The bombs did not hurt anyone. After throwing the bombs, Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt, deliberately courted arrest by refusing to run away from the scene. During his trial, Bhagat Singh refused to employ any defence counsel. In jail, he went on hunger strike to protest the inhuman treatment of fellow-political prisoners by jail authorities. On October 7, 1930 Bhagat Singh, Sukh Dev and Raj Guru were awarded death sentence by a special tribunal. Despite great popular pressure and numerous appeals by political leaders of India, Bhagat Singh and his associates were hanged in the early hours of March 23, 1931.

Language Heroes

Rafiq, Salam, Barkat, Jabbar

Rafiq (Rafiq Uddin Ahmed): The eldest son of Abdul Latif Miyan and Rafiza Khatun, Shahid Rafique hailed from Paril a village in the Manikganj district. The Miyan family runs printing business, a business Rafiq was running in 1952. Rafique had four younger brothers: Rashid, Khaleque (a freedom fighter) Salam and Khorshed Alam. Rafique was distinguished, since his childhood, as a supportive, upright, patriotic social worker with passion for music and theatre. He staged and acted in various plays in the neighboring villages.

A pretty cousin of his, gorgeous Rahela Khanom Panu from the next door neighbor, was Rafiquw’s sweet heart. Their passionate love affair was recognized by Rafique’s parents and they organized their wedding. Accompanied by his nephew, Rafique went to Dhaka for shopping for his forthcoming wedding.

On 21st February 1952, although scheduled to return home with his shopping-sari, blouse, churies, alta (lac dye), powder and some ornaments-Rafique, due to his love for Bangla language, instead of going home, joined the protest rally of Bangla Language Movement organized by the students of Dhaka university leaving his shopping with his nephew. His love for his mother tongue surpassed his life long passion for his sweet heart Panu to whom he never returned as a groom. Shot dead by the Paki cops in the language procession on 21st February, Rafique’s dead body was later dumped by the Paki commandos (who stole the dead bodies of language martyrs from Dhaka Medical college morgue) in the Azimpur grave yard where thousands of Bangalees paid their homage the next morning.

Barkat (Abul Barkat): An MA final year student of the department of political science of Dhaka University. Barkat was born on 16 June 1927 at Babla village of Murshidabad district in India. His father’s name was late Shamsuddin and his local address was Bishnu Priya Bhaban, Purana Paltan, Dhaka.

Salam (Abdus Salam): A staff member of the industrial directorate. Salam was shot on 21st February and died in Dhaka Medical College hospital on 17 April 1952. Father: Mohd Fajil Miah.

Jabbar (Abdul Jabbar): Bangla Language martyr Abdul Jabbar was born on 26 Ashwin, 1326B (1927) in Pachua village, Gaforgaon, Mymensingh. His father’s name was Hasen Ali and mother’s name Safatun Nesa. Jabbar was the eldest son of his family. His schooling started in 1333B (1934) at the Dhopaghat Krishibazar Primary school. After finishing year five at the primary school, Jabbar quit school being upset with his father and left home.

Jabbar, however, returned home after a few months. But later he left for Rangun from Narayanganj. The captain of the ship Jabbar boarded on to go to Ranguan promised him a job in the ship. But he never got the job due to poor health. Returning home, Jabbar organized a village defense group with boys from the neighborhood and took the led the group as its commander. In 1949 he married one of his friends’ sister, Amina Khatun, and settled down. One and a half year after the marriage Jabbar and Amina had a baby boy. The boy was named Nurul Islam Badol.

In February 1952 Jabbar’s mother-in-law fell ill. Jabbar took her to Dhaka for treatment. With the help of one Sirajul Islam, a doctor from the neighboring village, Jabbar managed to admit his mother-in-law in Dhaka Medical College Hospital. In 1952 the Provincial Assembly of East Bangla was next to Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

Dhaka of February 1952 was a political volcano. Meetings, processions, rallies and picketing were everyday events in the Dhaka university campus. On 19 February, Jabbar took leave of all his relatives. After dinner while he was taking leave from her aunt Aysha Khatun, she affectionately tied the buttons of his shirt. Jabbar spent the night of 20 February at some Abdul Hai’s residence.

In the morning of 21 February Jabbar went to hospital to see his mother-in-law. After spending some time with Dr Sirajul Islam, Jabbar went outside the hospital gate to buy some fruits for the patient. The procession of language movement was culminating outside. Crowds with fiery eyes and thundering slogans-We demand Bangla as state language-turned the university campus into a battleground. The spirit of the protesting crowd sucked Jabbar in within a flash. Mother-in-law, hospital, fruits all faded away from his memory. Jabbar became the crowd, he carried the banner in front of the procession. When the police opened fire, Jabbar being in the front line, was one of the first to fall.

With Barkat and other martyrs of language movement, Jabbar was immediately taken into the emergency. Jabbar breathed his last on the way to the operation theatre: the first martyr to be one with eternity.

Shafiur Rahman: 28 years old High Court staff and a law student Shafiur Rahman was killed by the Pakistani troops beside the Khoshmahal Restaurant near Rathkhola on Nababpur road. Shafiur Rahman was the father of a daughter and left behind his pregnant wife and a big family dependent on his income. His father’s name was Maulabi Mahbubur Rahman and he was born in Konnagar village of the Hugli district in India.

Ahi Ullah: Details of language martyr Ahi Ullah are still unknown as the police later captured his dead body and dumped. He was the son of a builder named Habibur Rahman.

Abdul Awal: Abdul Awal died under the police truck used to disperse the funeral procession of the martyrs of the Bangla language movement.

An unidentified boy: Like Abdul Awal, this unidentified lad was run over by the police truck used to disperse the funeral procession of the martyrs of the Bangla language movement. His death was never acknowledged by the Pakistani government.

International Mother Language Day

Quick Facts

The United Nations’ (UN) International Mother Language Day is annually held on February 21 to celebrate languages spoken worldwide. It also observes the human right to use these languages.

Local names

Name Language
International Mother Language Day English
Día Internacional de la Lengua Materna Spanish

International Mother Language Day 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

International Mother Language Day 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012
List of dates for other years follow below.

The United Nations’ (UN) International Mother Language Day annually celebrates language diversity and variety worldwide on February 21. It also remembers events such as the killing of four students on February 21, 1952, because they campaigned to officially use their mother language, Bengali, in Bangladesh.

The fight for language diversity has a history, especially in countries such as Bangladesh.

What do people do?

On International Mother Language Day the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UN agencies participate in events that promote linguistic and cultural diversity. They also encourage people to maintain their knowledge of their mother language while learning and using more than one language. Governments and non-governmental organizations may use the day to announce policies to encourage language learning and support.

In Bangladesh, February 21 is the anniversary of a pivotal day in the country’s history. People lay flowers at a Shaheed Minar (martyr’s monument). They also: purchase glass bangles for themselves or female relatives; eat a festive meal and organize parties; and award prizes or host literary competitions. It is a time to celebrate Bangladesh’s culture and the Bengali language.

The Linguapax Institute, in Barcelona, Spain, aims to preserve and promote linguistic diversity globally. The institute presents the Linguapax Prize on International Mother Language Day each year. The prize is for those who have made outstanding work in linguistic diversity or multilingual education.

Public life

International Mother Language Day is a public holiday in Bangladesh, where it is also known as Shohid Dibôsh, or Shaheed Day . It is a global observance but not a public holiday in other parts of the world.


At the partition of India in 1947, the Bengal province was divided according to the predominant religions of the inhabitants. The western part became part of India and the eastern part became a province of Pakistan known as East Bengal and later East Pakistan. However, there was economic, cultural and lingual friction between East and West Pakistan.

These tensions were apparent in 1948 when Pakistan’s government declared that Urdu was the sole national language. This sparked protests amongst the Bengali-speaking majority in East Pakistan. The government outlawed the protests but on February 21, 1952, students at the University of Dhaka and other activists organized a protest. Later that day, the police opened fire at the demonstrators and killed four students. These students’ deaths in fighting for the right to use their mother language are now remembered on International Mother Language Day.

The unrest continued as Bengali speakers campaigned for the right to use their mother language. Bengali became an official language in Pakistan on February 29, 1956. Following the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, Bangladesh became an independent country with Bengali as its official language.

On November 17, 1999, UNESCO proclaimed February 21 to be International Mother Language Day and it was first observed on February 21, 2000. Each year the celebrations around International Mother Language Day concentrate on a particular theme.


The Shaheed Minar (martyr’s monument) in Dhaka, Bangladesh, pays homage to the four demonstrators killed in 1952. There have been three versions of the monument. The first version was built on February 22-23 in 1952 but the police and army destroyed it within a few days. Construction on the second version started in November 1957, but the introduction of martial law stopped construction work and it was destroyed during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.

The third version of the Shaheed Minar was built to similar plans as the second version. It consists of four standing marble frames and a larger double marble frame with a slanted top portion. The frames are constructed from marble and stand on a stage, which is raised about four meters (14 feet) above the ground. The four frames represent the four men who died on February 21, 1952, and the double frame represents their mothers and country. Replicas of the Shaheed Minar have been constructed worldwide where people from Bangladesh have settled, particularly in London and Oldham in the United Kingdom.

An International Mother Language Day monument was erected at Ashfield Park in Sydney, Australia, on February 19, 2006. It consists of a slab of slate mounted vertically on a raised platform. There are stylized images of the Shaheed Minar and the globe on the face of the stone. There are also the words “we will remember the martyrs of 21st February” in English and Bengali and words in five alphabets to represent mother languages on five continents where people live.

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