Anandrao Bhosle

•December 26, 2006 • Leave a Comment

This remarkable issue was brought to my attention by a person who specifically wishes to remain un-named on these pages on account of certain private reasons related to this narrative. It is clear that Shahji was a rather distinguished military leader and he had transmitted this genetically influenced trait to not only his famous son Shivaji, but also the forgotten elder son Sambhaji. In reality he also passed these genes on to another son who has been largely forgotten in modern Maharatta histories. When Shahji was was in Bijapur having left his wife in the environs of Pune, he secretly took up a woman of unknown provenance as a sexual partner. This fact would have been quite improper for a well-bred Maratha of the era, and was accordingly hushed up, except for the Shedgaonkar bakhar that explicitly mentions it. As a result of this union was born a son called Anandrao Bhosle. He was placed in the custody of the young deshastha brAhmaNa Venkoji Datto and subsequently served in the Shahji’s command at Bijapur in his early youth. He and Venkoji Datto then left Shahji’s service and moved over to Pune and enrolled themselves with Shivaji to defend the Hindu Svarajya. The Sabhasad chronicle also confirms this by mentioning that mentions that “Venkoji Datto, an able brahmin officer of great accomplishment, and Shahji’s son Anandrao joined Shivaji’s service at Pune after leaving Shahji at Bijapur”. Shivaji appointed both of them to the rank of Panch-hazari (commander of 5000), which was a high rank in the Maratha army of the time that could possibly be attained only due high military ability or perhaps genetic relationship in the case of Anandrao. In any case Anandrao clearly proved himself to be of high military distinction. They were placed under the Sarnobat of the Maratha army, Prataprao Gujjar and marched with him for the attack on Surat. Following the plundering of Surat, Daud Khan Quereshi led the Moslem hordes along with Ikhlas Khan and suddenly ambushed Shivaji between Vani and Dindori in Northern Maharashtra. Shivaji quickly divided his forces into four divisions and began harrying the Mughals avoiding open confrontation. He personally led one division, even as he gave command of another to Anandrao. Anandrao distinguished himself on the field by leading the Marathas to safety when the Mogols pressed with great ferocity on his division. This distractionary move allowed Shivaji to personally attack the Mogol army after his division united with that of Anandrao’s and kill 3000 Moslems in the encounter that followed.

Subsequently, Awrangzeb arranged for a combined attack on the Marathas by the divisions of Daud Khan, Ikhlas Khan, Diler Khan and Bahadur Khan. Diler Khan began a systematic massacre of Hindus in the vicinity of Pune to draw Shivaji away while Ikhlas Khan took Salheri and Mulher forts in the north. In the fierce encounter Shivaji’s childhood friend Suryarao Kakde was killed. Shivaji immediately dispatched his brAhmaNa prime minister Moropant Pingle along with Prataprao and Anandrao to destroy Ikhlas Khan. They took the Mogol army on the open field — an important point in Hindu history because it showed the Marathas were now fully capable of engaging the one of the best equipped and most ably lead forces of the world in plain open combat. Anandrao showed exemplary valor in this this battle in which the Mogols faced a major defeat with several thousands dead. This phenomenal victory, one the greatest of Shivaji’s army, was in no small part due to the strategy and on-field leadership of the brAhmaNa Moropant Pingle, but the valor of Anandrao and Prataprao on the field were equally important. They captured the Mogol general Ikhlas Khan on the field. As result Anandrao was elevated to the peculiar rank of Haft-hazari- a rank that was for all practical purposes equivalent to the Sarnobat himself. This unusual rank, which Shivaji rarely awarded at that time, again shows that there was some special deal about Anandrao.

After the brAhmaNa officer Ravlekar conquered the fort of Panhala, the Adil Shahis were shaken and dispatched their ace general Bahlol Khan to retake the fort. The Mogols immediately made common cause with their Moslem brethren to attack the Maharattas, and held a meeting to plan a combined strike on the Marathas. But Shivaji got wind of this plan and dispatched his half-brother Anandrao and commander Prataprao, each with around 7500 troops to preemptively attack Bijapur. The Maratha generals rapidly surged forth and fell on Bahlol Khan at Umrani close to Bijapur before the Mogols could join him. On a hot April day the Marathas caught off the water supply of the Moslems and fell upon them in a combined attack by Prataprao and Anandrao. The Moslems were completely outclassed in the fierce battle, the Marathas routed them and Bahlol Khan was completely surrounded by the former. He secretly sent a message to Prataprao saying that he had no intention to fight Shivaji and was only making a show. Prataprao foolishly fell to the ploy and let Bahlol Khan go scotch-free. Prataprao then continued on to invade the Kanada country. Bahlol Khan retaliated with a replenished army and defeated the Maratha army. A little later on vijaya dashami day Shivaji worshiped bhavAnI and initiated a new campaign as he saw it as holy moment for war. He invaded the Kanada country again with the aim of taking both the uplands and the coast, when he got the news that Bahlol, who was let off by his Sarnobat, was returning to attack him. Furious, Shivaji sent a stinging letter to Prataprao that he need not show his face again until he destroyed Bahlol Khan.

Prataprao pricked by the letter sought Bahlol, and learned that he was fording the pass of Nessari just south of Kolhapur. He responded impulsively and charged at the Moslems with just 6 other men leaving the rest of his army far behind. What followed was a disastrous encounter in which the seven heroes went down fighting in a blaze, leaving a trail of slaughtered enemy troops. Shivaji deeply regretted his letter that lead to his ace general’s death and made sure that his clansmen were well-provided and promised Rajaram to Prataprao’s daughter. Anandrao Bhosle was now made acting Sarnobat and Shivaji asked him to punish the Moslems severely. He ably rallied the dejected Maratha troops. He made a deep thrust into the Bijapur territory and bore down on Bahlol Khan. At this point the Mogol army under Diler Khan came to the aid of Bahlol Khan and fell on Anandrao. Anandrao seeing himself outnumbered decided to resort to the classic tactic of feigned retreat like that used by the Mongols and with his cavalry rode into Karnataka at extraordinary speed. The Khans unable to keep up gave up, with Bahlol Khan retreating to Kohlapur, which he had taken earlier, and Dilir retreating northwards after a failed attempt on Panhala. Within a month Anandrao struck at Sampgaon near Bankapur which was Bahlol Khan’s jagir and looted his treasury carrying away 150,000 gold coins and 3000 ox-loads of other plunder. He demolished a Dutch outpost there and plundered it. Alarmed Bahlol Khan and Khizr Khan tried to intercept the Marathas, but Anandrao led a strong retaliation killing Khizr Khan and his brother and putting to flight Bahlol Khan. In the process the Marathas captured several war-elephants, several hundreds of horses and the Khan’s cash reserves. He then avoided any further brushes with the enemy and rapidly retreated to the Maratha territory. Soon there after Shivaji held a grand review of troops at Chiplun in the Konkan and appointed Hambirrao Mohite as the Sarnobat in place of Prataprao, recognizing his great deeds in the attack on the Mogols during the invasion of Baglana, Khandesh and Ahmedabad.

Anandrao also played a notable role in the campaigns of Shivaji in South India: In early 1678 Anandrao led a division of troops along with Shivaji in the capture of Lakshmeshvar and Gadag in Karnatak from the Adilshahi control. In middle of the same year he along with the able brAhmaNa general Hanumante conquered the fort of Vellore from the Adil Shahis and took the region. He was then sent north by Shivaji in the next year to deal with the Mogol garrison in central Maharastra near Akola. He scored a great victory on the Mogols capturing the fort of Balapur from them. Then in late 1679 when Dilir Khan invaded Bijapur, the British simultaneously attacked the Marathas on the West coast. Shivaji facing a possible 3 front war invaded Khandesh along with another division under Hambirrao Mohite to counter-attack the Mogols while he sent Anandrao with 10,000 troops to pincer the Mogols by appearing before Bijapur. Angre was dispatched to lead the Maratha navy against the Britons. Anandrao moved just south of Pandharpur and attacked the Mogol army. Through a constant series of harrying attacks he kept frustrating Dilir’s attempts to besiege Bijapur. Dilir to his alarm realized that he might be caught between two Maharatta armies escaped by making a westwards diversion in course of which he slaughtered many Hindus. After this last successful attack on the Mogols trying to besiege Bijapur Anandrao Bhosle passes out of Maratha history.

The accounts indicate that clearly he had, like his elder half-brother, inherited Shahji military abilities and was a notable commander of Shivaji’s army, probably as capable of Hambirrao himself. Yet, most Maharatta accounts are muted about him. Further, while Shivaji clearly trusting him with many important operations, and appointing him to an unusual high command, never really made him Sarnobat, even though he briefly acted in this capacity. Why was this ? Perhaps his birth outside the wedlock was a black mark that precluded him from occupying such a rank without a scandal. Perhaps Shivaji was also concerned that his blood relationship to Anandrao might have possible consequences on his successors if he legitimized his half-brother with a formal high appointment.

That mysterious sUktaM of yAj~nvalkya

•December 24, 2006 • Leave a Comment

One of the most towering of the colossi of arcane Hindu thought is yA~jnavalkya, the great adhvaryu, who demolished all other brAhmaNa-s who stood on his path. After he defeats his rivals in the famous brahmodaya contest, which has become the basis of much of medieval and modern Indian religious thought, he recited a very mysterious sUktaM. When its accents are reconstructed the recitation as per the kANva school of the shukla yajurvedins appears as below.

What is our race?

•December 23, 2006 • Leave a Comment

Americans are particularly interested in knowing about a person’s race, just as we might be curious about a person’s varNa or jAti. In any paper-work, be it of small or big importance, the American officialdom demands to known your race. Indians living in the mlechCha-desha often have a profound difficulty with this matter because despite comprising a 1/6 th of humanity they do not have a race to describe them. The common categories imposed by the Americans are white, black, Native American, Asian, and “Pacific Islanders”. Of these the first 4 can be called valid races, whereas the 5th is too vague and would qualify as a race if they had monophyletic Melanasians and Papuans and their closest sister groups as the only valid members of that category. It is often frustrating that an Indian just does not have a choice. Today a paper was published by Rosenberg et al in the free wannabe tabloid studying the Indian populations using a sample of Indians living in the US. The conclusions are not unexpected but worth reiterating nevertheless:
1) Indians are a distinct population. When you do K-means type clustering with K=7 using a panel of autosomal genetic variation at 729 microsatellite and 471 insertion/deletion polymorphisms we see the following populations of the world fall out as clusters:
1) “Blacks/Africans”: Bantus, Bushmen, Pygmies included
2) Whites: Europeans and Middle Easterners included.
3) Indians: from Kashmir to Tamil Nad, Gujarat to Bengal all major varNa populations included.
4) Mongoloids (Asians): Chinese Han, Japanese, Mongols, Koreans, Indo-Chinese and Yakuts included.
5) Papuans and Melanasians.
6) Native Americans from North and South America.
7) The Kalash.
Baring the Kalash, who are a uniquely isolated population, the remaining categories are pretty reasonable racial categories which correspond to what American have on their forms. So the point is clear we need a race for ourselves.

Of course TSPians, Nepalese, Lankans and Afghans might vehemently object to this race being called Indian because it might shake their very claims to distinctness. But it is better they accept the truth staring on them that they are just fragments of the whole and move on with it. Many TSPians, like Sindhis, Baloch and Pathans are bit of neither here nor there, with some Western admixture.

Another result strengthened from this study is that Indians are definitely closer to Europeans and Middle Easterners than to Mongoloids. Thus, all those Indians being forced to describe themselves as Asians on American forms are being made to mis-report their genetic affinities by wrongly grouping them with a more divergent group. On the whole this supports the well known idea of a Caucasian higher-order cluster which is divided into two main branches: Western Caucasoids a.k.a Whites and Eastern Caucasoids, who should be called Indians.

However, the most important find is that Indians from the length and breadth of India are closer to each other than Europeans or Mongoloids are amongst themselves. There, is very little correlation between geography and allele distribution in Indian varNa population, because of they pretty closely related to each other throughout the country. This means we have every reason to remain one country, united by our genes and original dharma. If anything, the only thing that can fragment Indians is not their genetic divergence but Abrahamistic memetic infections like Islam and Christianity.

The picture emerging from Rosenberg et al’s work.

Note that there are some populations that are genuinely weird. The Hazaras represent a Mongol population that came with Chingiz Kha’Khans conquering army and got isolated in Afghanistan to this date. Now they have lost their power and status and are being mercilessly hunted by the Pathans there. That apart, both around 700 years of isolation from the larger Mongol population and admixture with local groups has resulted in them occupying a position sort of in the “middle of nowhere”. A similar position is seen is seen for the Uighur Turks- they are overall slightly closer to Caucasoids than Mongoloids. But end up largely in the “Middle of Nowhere” due pull from both sides. This shows that they are a product of the ancient Caucasoid substratum (Tocharian speakers?) being subsumed under the Turko-Mongol expansion. In this context it is interesting to note the politically incorrect point that the Uighurs showed the highest cultural development and complexity amongst the early Turkic expansions.

The Kalash are group of Indo-Iranians, most probably occupying a intermediate position between the Indo-Aryans and Iranians who got isolated for perhaps several millenniums in the highlands of Afghanistan. The Burusho is another isolated Afghan population like the Kalash but speak an isolate language. These two groups generally group with the Caucasoids, but their isolation has diverged them from any specific group of Caucasoids and they just hang close to the base. The Parsis are a relatively recent immigrant group showing a similar phenomenon. But their grouping with Indians with at least 75% bootstrap support suggest that even they have mixed with local Indian populations after arriving. The “Western Indians” or groups from modern TSP exhibit the typical properties of boundary-zone populations- that is admixture with the adjacent group. In this case it is the Western Caucasoids or the “Whites”. Thus they lie apart as a group away from core Indians.

The basic invocation of padmAvatI according the padmAvatI kalpa

•December 21, 2006 • Leave a Comment

The jinendra explained at length how the padmAvatI prayoga-s are performed as per the padmAvatI kalpa. Described below is the vidhi for padmAvatI ArAdhana:
athaH sarvAvarNa pUjA:
OM hrIM dharaNendrAya namaH – eastern door; OM hrIM adhachChadanAya namaH – southern door; OM hrIM UrdhvachChadanAya namaH – western door; OM hrIM padmachChadanAya namaH – northern door

OM laM indrAya namaH (E) | OM raM agnaye namaH (SE) | OM sham yamAya namaH (S) | OM ShaM nairR^ityAya namaH (SW) | OM vaM varuNAya namaH (W) | OM yaM vAyave namaH (NW) | OM saM kuberAya namaH (N) | OM haM IshAnAya namaH (NE) ||

OM hrIM jaye! namaH (E) | OM hrIM vijaye! namaH (S) | OM hrIM ajite! namaH (W) | OM hrIM aparAjite! namaH (W) | OM hrIM jambhe! namaH (SE) | OM hrIM mohe! namaH (SW) | OM hrIM stambhe! namaH (NW) | OM hrIM stambhini! namaH (NE) ||

OM hrIM ana~NgakamalAyai namaH (E) | OM hrIM padmagandhAyai namaH (SE) | OM hrIM padmAsyAyai namaH (S) | OM hrIM padmamAlAyai namaH (SW) | OM hrIM madanonmAdinyai namaH (W) | OM hrIM kAmoddIpanAyai namaH (NW) | OM hrIM padmavarNAyai namaH (N) | OM hrIM trailokyakShobhiNyai namaH (NE) ||

OM hrIM KshAM pa namaH (E) | OM hrIM KshIM dmA namaH (S) | OM hrIM KshUM va namaH (W) | OM hrIM KshaiM tI namaH (N) ||

core mantras:
OM hrIM namo.astu bhagavati ! padmAvati ! ehi ehi saM vauShaT || (AvAhana mantra) The devI in invoked into the yantra or idol.
OM hrIM namo.astu bhagavati ! padmAvati ! tiShTha tiShTha svAhA || (stithikaraNa mantra) The devI is positioned in the right place in idol or yantra.
OM hrIM namo.astu bhagavati ! padmAvati ! mama sannihitA bhava bhava vaShaT || (saniddhikaraNa mantra). She is made to settle down in one’s place of worship
OM hrIM namo.astu bhagavati ! padmAvati ! gandhAdIn gR^ihNa gR^ihNa namaH || (with 5 such formulae offer the pa~nchopachAra pUja)
OM hrIM namo.astu bhagavati ! padmAvati ! svasthAnaM gachCha gachCha jaH jaH jaH || (visarjana mantra) Ritual dismissal of the deity with prANAyAma.

Then the mahAjapa is performed with the following mantra:
OM hrIM hraiM hsklIM padme ! padamkaTini ! namaH ||

Flower offerings are made with red karavIra and savR^inta flowers.

The great ShaDakSharI vidyA of padmAvatI is:
OM hrIM hraiM hsklIM shrIM padme ! namaH ||

The so-called tryakSharI vidyA of padmAvatI is:
OM aiM kliM hsauH namaH || (note its relation with the bAlA mantra of shrIvidyA)

The so-called ekAkSharI vidyA of padmAvatI is:
OM hrIM namaH ||

garuDa mantra: OM hrAM hrIM svAhA ||
sarasvatI mantra: aiM hrIM shrIM klIM hsauM vada vada vAgvAdini ! bhagavati sarasvati ! tubhyaM namaH || (The japa of these mantra may be done further for their specific viniyogas there after)


Along with the padmAvatI ArAdhana the jinendra also routinely performed a homa to sarasvatI and the shrIvidyA krama as per the nAstIka traditions. The shrIvidyA of the nAstIkas corresponds to the pa~nchadashAkSharI of the kAdi-mata and is given concealed within a remarkable mantraic stotraM known as the shrIvidyA garbha stotraM (SGS). Their krama is relatively simple, done separately after the padmAvatI worship and coupled with the vArAhI and rAja-shyAmalA mantras from the padmAvatI kalpa. The SGS takes the place of the lalitA sahasranAmaM or trishati in their tradition.

More encounters with padmAvatI and the tantras of the jaina nAstikas

•December 20, 2006 • Leave a Comment

Continuing with our encounters with padubai (padmAvatI), we come to that expedition that opened to us the secrets of this deity. The our nAstIka astronomer acquaintance of the 3rd varNa had mentioned that there was a large idol of padmAvatI in the depression to the south of our city where also lay an old temple of rudra. That leader amongst the shUdra-s told us right then that he recalled that there also lay an old aniconic rock of padubai. We desired to see this site and set out with our henchmen of the 3rd and 4th varNa-s. We rode along on our “ashva-s” and reached the said hamlet where vIrakals of old cattle herders, including perhaps the ancestors of the Bhosles lay scattered. There shUdra-shreShTha led us to a large scarlet-painted rock that was worshiped extensively by the local tribesmen and cowherds as padubai. The vaiShya pointed us to a ruined shrine where there was a large exquisite rock image of padmAvatI, which he claimed was installed by a jinendra named pradyumna-sUri. We noted that on the pedestal of the image of the devI was inscribed a peculiar mantra:
OM hrIM namo.astu bhagavati padmAvatI ehi ehi saM vauShaT ||
There was something about the icon — one could feel the great goddess with many arms, holding many weapons inspire a sense of awe. I had the same feeling as what I felt only in the presence of another old idol of the great mantrinI, who is sangIta-yoginI, at some other point in time. I kept this in mind and was to learn more of it some months later.

Both me and the muni had enjoyed the excellent hospitality of a remarkable jinendra during our expeditions to the north of the city of my birth in the kAlAmukha country. This jinendra was remarkable in that he doubled both as priest of temple of rudra and as an AchArya of the nAstIka-s! As a result he was familiar with both traditions and was free from the rancor that characterized the medieval nAstika mantravAdin-s who fought their fierce abhichAra battles with AstIkas, bauddha nAstIkas and their digambara nAstIka cousins. It is well-known that that the jaina nAstIkas were tantrics right from their early days- the jaina hero kovalan of the draviDa epic shilapadhikAraM is described as performing different mantra prayogas. But their mantra-shAstra has remained more hidden than the famous activities of their bauddha rivals. One evening after an exploration we were returning to the house of the jinendra, when we noted him performing a homa with several mantras. This piqued our interest and we made inquiries and he was kind enough to reveal to us over some time period the details of the nAstIka mantrashAstra. He was himself in the parampara of the following great nAstIka prayoga adepts who attained siddhi of the mantras of our goddess pratya~NgirA as per the nAstIka traditions. Each one of them had composed tantric kalpa-s on the prayogas of shrI pratya~NgirA devI: 1) the ShaT-karma master sAgara-chandra-sUri 2) bAlachandra-sUri 3) pradyumna-sUri 4) devabhadra. Of great interest was the fact that nAstIkas admitted possessing a class of mantras termed AtharvaNI from which stem the pratya~NgirA prayogas.

The jinendra explained that some of the main prayogas of great importance (other than pratya~NgirA) were those of padmAvatI, ambikA and saravatI. But he also possessed some other really tantalizing vidyAs: 1) shaivAgamokta padmAvatI sAdhana with prayogas known as haMsa padmAvatI, mokSha-padmAvatI, rakta-padmAvatI and shabarI padmAvatI 2) kAmeshvarI mantra 3) bhairavI mantra 4) nityA mantra 5) tripurA mantra 6) chakreshvarI mantra 7) kurukullA mantra 8) baTuka bhairava prayoga 9) svarNAkarShaNa bhairava prayoga 10) mR^ityu~n-jaya prayoga.
The jaina forms of these prayogas are not identical but related to their AstIka counterparts in most cases. The jinendra explained that in the padmAvatI kalpa that he followed for his worship she is termed: tvaritA, nityA, tripurA, tripurabhairavI and kAmasAdhinI. One of the prayogas for stambhana in the kalpa, with which an medieval jaina siddha had destroyed a Sufi subversionist invoked vArtAlI-vArAhI. The mantra used in the kalpa for escaping ordeal inflicted by rulers is the rAja-shyAmalA or sangIta-yoginI mantra. The nityaklinnA prayoga is provided for bewitching women. vidyA-s are also provided for chandeshvara, garuDa (for countering snakes) and kurukullA.

Knowing indra

•December 19, 2006 • Leave a Comment

The primary object of the Arya is to know indra:
satyaM hIndraH |
indra is verily the truth

taM hendra uvAcha mAm eva vijAnIhi |
And he told [pratardana daivodAsi] just perceive me

etad evAhaM manuShyAya hitatamaM manye yan mAM vijAnIyAt |
What I consider to be most beneficial to a human is that he should perceive me.

trishIrShANaM tvAShTram ahanam |
I killed the 3-headed son of tvaShTR^i.

arurmaghAn ahanam |
I killed the arurmaghas.

yatIn sAlAvR^ikebhyaH prAyachCham |
I gave the yatis to the hyenas.

bahvIH sandhA atikramya divi prahlAdIyAn atR^iNaham antarikShe paulomAn pR^ithivyAM kAlakA~njAn |
Breaking many pacts, I smashed to pieces prahlAdIya-s in the heaven, the paulomans in the mid-region and the kAlaka~nja-s on earth.

tasya me tatra na loma chanAmIyata |
I did not even lose a hair on my body in the process.

sa yo mAM veda na ha vai tasya kena chana karmaNA loma mIyate na steyena na bhrUNahatyayA na mAtR^ivadhena na pitR^ivadhena |
When a person perceives me, nothing that he does- whether it is stealing, or performing an abortion, or killing his own father or killing his mother will ever make him lose a single hair of his body.

nAsya pApaM chakruSho mukhAn nIlaM vyetIti ||1||
And when he has committed a sin his face does not lose its color.

Such are great acts of the god of the gods. The one who is able to see him transcends all.

dhiShvA shavaH shUra yena vR^itram avAbhinad dAnum aurNavAbham |
apAvR^iNor jyotir AryAya ni savyataH sAdi dasyur indra ||
O mighty one, assume the power with which you tore to bits vR^itra, dAnu and the spider-like demon aurNavAbha. You have shown light to the Aryans, on your left side O indra, you sank the dasyu.

sanema ye ta Utibhis taranto vishvA spR^idha AryeNa dasyUn |
asmabhyaM tat tvAShTraM vishvarUpam arandhayaH sAkhyasya tritAya ||
May we with your aid cross over to [victory] in that struggle for the world between the Aryans and dasyu-s. For tR^ita of our party you beheaded vishvarUpa, the son of tvaShTR^i.

asya suvAnasya mandinas tritasya nyarbudaM vAvR^idhAno astaH |
avartayat sUryo na chakraM bhinad valam indro a~NgirasvAn ||
With his might growing with the invigorating soma offerings of trita he destroyed arbuda. Spinning his chakra like the blazing sun, indra cut down vala, praised by the a~Ngirasas.

At the feet of the lords of the world

•December 18, 2006 • Leave a Comment

Even by counting ourselves out, it is clear that the synapsids dominate the current era. There is something subjective about this dominance thing, yet we seem to instinctively understand it. We may attempt objective measures such as occupying the top nodes of the food-web network or being the largest mass forms of the faunal population. In any case the synapsids have not been always dominant. The Mesozoic largely belonged to the archosaurs, especially the dinosaurs. But prior to that in the Permian the synapsids had their first phase of dominance. Thus, it looks like the archosaurian ascent was sandwiched between two phases of synapsid domination.

It is clear that we do not understand these event fully, and new surprises are always round the corner. Yet we may chalk out the following broad trends: The rise of the amniote egg seems to have clearly opened the field for world dominance. The two major amniote lineages the synapsids and the sauropsids staked a claim for dominance starting in the Permian. The synapsids took the lead with several major lineage rising to dominate the ecosystem in the Permian: “Pelycosaurs”, Dinocephalians, Gorgonopsians, Therocephalians and anomodonts like Suminia that acquired the ability to process plant food by chewing. This spawned a great radiation of synapsids that continued to remain on top till the early Triassic, with forms like Cynognathus, after sneaking past the great Permian extinction. By the mid-Triassic their fortunes started fading with the rise of the archosauromorphs amongst the sauropsid amniotes. Amongst them, first the crocodile-line and then the dinosaur-line rose to the top of the Mesozoic ecosystems with the synapsids declining to herbivorous and insectivorous niches and reducing in size further and further. Throughout the Mesozoic the surviving synapsids, the mammaliforms, were believed to have been marginal.

Then the great Cretaceous extinction event put an end to the dominance of the dinosaurs, with the only surviving dinosaurs being the birds. For a brief period, in the recovery phase after the Cretaceous extinction the archosaurs made an attempt to re-assert their dominant position. The giant diartrymoid birds in the Northern continents and the Phorusrhacoids in South America made an attempt to review the old dinosaurian glories. The crocodile line to made a second attempt with terrestrial predatory forms emerging in many lineages like the sebecosuchians in South America, mekosuchians in the Pacific islands and the pristichampsines in the Northern continents. While these attempts of the birds and the crocodiles were considerably successful in the southern continents until very recently, they did not last too long in the North. The dominance shifted to the placental mammals, the main lineage of mammals that made it past the Cretaceous event. Of course only New Zealand largely remained the realm of the dinosaurs until recently. The dinosaurs still held the air — while bats acquired flight they had to do so at night when most birds were fast asleep. Thus, in all fairness we may say that while the placentals rule the world, the dinosaurs and other surviving archosauromorphs, the crocodiles and turtles were not doing too badly in the mammal dominated world. In fact until very recent events, including our presence, broke things ups they were fairly dominant in the south. So much so that there were no major mammalian predators during the avian dominance of South America, and in Australia the mammalian predatory presence was lesser than expected.

Similarly, how were the mammals doing when the dinosaurs ruled? Only recently are we getting evidence that they in fact were doing pretty well. We have fossils of a wide range of old mammaliforms from the Mid-Mesozoic now. We have Castorocauda lutrasimilis, a docodont mammaliform that had a tail like beaver and head more like an otter. This indicated that early in their Mesozoic evolution itself the mammaliforms had acquired a rather serious adaptation to the aquatic niche. Likewise, we have Volaticotherium a crown group mammal that is a sister group of the multituberculate, triconodont, eutheria+metatheria clade to the exclusion of the australosphenidan mammals like the platypus. This mammal appears to have been a glider, that had a patagium like a flying squirrel and represent the earliest synapsid invasion of the air that might have been coeval with Archaeopteryx, the earliest known aerial dinosaur. Then we have Fruitafossor, that appears to have specialized in eating colonial insects, possibly the early Mesozoic termites, suggesting that this high nutrition niche was already colonized by mammals. It also appears to belong the the radiation just prior to the multituberculate, triconodont, eutheria+metatheria clade. Then we even have Repenomamus a mid-sized predatory triconodont mammal that even hunted dinosaurs. Thus, we might say that just as the dinosaurs were not doing all that bad in mammalian era, radiating and occupying many niches, the mammals were also correspondingly doing pretty well in the dinosaurian era. To their credit the dinosaurs had to do all this in the Cenozoic with just two legs, having already lost their hands to the over-specialization of flight.


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