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Hanuman Jayanti Special: 19 Forms (‘Roop’) of Lord Hanuman

In the Hindu scriptures and religious thought, Hanuman Ji is possibly the only deity who came to the rescue of one and all.



Prior to the medieval times, the exclusive images of Hanuman are rarely found, though He was at times adopted on Rama-tanka coins, in the company of Rama and Sita. But His popularity, possibly as a deity became widespread during the medieval period when the country was in turmoil due to continued foreign invasions and Muslim rule which disturbed the Hindu psyche to a considerable extent.

In the Hindu scriptures and religious thought, Hanuman is possibly the only deity who came to the rescue of one and all. The writers of the medieval times, therefore, found in Hanuman a saviour par excellence who could rescue them from the precarious situation they had to face politically, socially or economically and held Him in high esteem and reverence.

[Note: Hanuman Ji is revered in numerous forms across the (Sanatan Dharm) world. This is only the most widely accepted forms of Him]

Nineteen Forms of Hanuman Ji:

(A) Sankat Mochan

The Sankatamochana aspect of Hanuman became so popular with the masses that Tulasidasa the greatest of Hindu poets, composed a Sankatamochana Stotra in praise of Hanuman, which has become a matter of faith with many people in the present day India.

In this form, Hanuman is portrayed in swift movement carrying a mountain in one hand and a club in the other. The right foot is placed over the prostrate body of a demon and the left over a demoness. Alternatively, He carries the mountain in the left hand and the club in the right; the right foot is placed over a prostrate demon (Apasmara-Purusha); Hanuman’s body is twisted towards left.

(B) Pratihari 

In this form, Hanuman holds the club in the right or left or in both hands, standing in Sampadasana or seated. Sometimes the club is held upside down. This reflects the position obtaining after the killing of Ravana, which made Hanuman quite relaxed. He is, therefore, projected in a relaxed mood.

In some cases He is also projected in this form, trampling over a demon or an Apasmara-Purusha. This type of image occasionally projected Him seated in Virasana placing the club over the right or left shoulder.

The images of Hanuman available in the Hanuman-gouda in Nepal and Bantesri come under this category in which the deity is shown placing an axe-like object over his shoulder and seated in Virasana. A bronze image of this type is available in the Madras Museum.

(C) Asura-Samharaka

In this form, Hanuman is depicted holding a club in the left hand and the right hand is in the pose of administering a slap. This posture seems to be an offshoot of the episode in which Hanuman administered a slap to Ravana as testified by the Valmiki Ramayana.

When Ravana struck Hanuman with His fist, the latter was disturbed for some time. Then Hanuman forcefully administered a severe slap on the face of Ravana, the enemy of the Gods. This slap of Hanuman shattered Ravana as the universe felt tremors like an earthquake.

The slapping of Ravana by Hanuman was witnessed by Rsis, monkeys, Gods and demons who were extremely rejoiced, Ravana recovered from the blow after some time.

(D) As a Devotee of Lord Ram (Dasa Anjaneya) 

In the ancient Indian literature, Hanuman is projected as a great devotee of Rama. His devotion, indeed, has no parallel in the vast Indian literature or even in the global context. Several texts in India concentrate on the devotional profile of His personality. But this veneration of Rama was achieved by Him gradually and not suddenly as testified by the Valmiki Ramayana. In the Kishkinda Kanda of this epic, Hanuman introduces Himself as a minister of Sugriva to Rama and Lakshmana.

When He reached Lanka, He introduced Himself to Sita as a minister of Sugriva. Even during His first meeting with Ravana, He projected Himself as the messenger of Sugriva. Rama blessed Hanuman that so far as the story of Rama will be recited on earth, the latter’s fame would last and He would never die.

Hanuman as a devotee appears quite frequently in this form holding both His hands in Anjali posture against the chest. Sometimes He appears seated in Dhyana-mudra engrossed in the devotion of Rama.

(E) As a Vehicle of Lord Ram

The theme of Hanuman serving as a carrier to Rama and Lakshmana has also been quite popular with the artists.

In this form both the Ayodhya princes, Rama and Lakshmana are depicted perched over both the shoulders of Hanuman; the club is held in the right hand and a lotus in the left one. A demon is placed under the feet of Hanuman; the tail is raised upwards.

According to many texts, Hanuman carrying Rama and Lakshmana on the shoulders is connected evidently with the Mairavana episode.

(F) Panchamukh Hanuman

The five-headed Hanuman is of gigantic form having fifteen eyes and ten arms and grants all the desires. The eastern face is that of a monkey (Hanuman) which dazzles like millions of Suns; the southern face is that of Lion (Narasimha) which is a terrific one with protruding awe – inspring teeth; the western face is that of Eagle (Garuda) with a curved beak, which destroys the effect of snake and other poisons; the northern face is that of a Boar (Varaha) which removes fever and other ailments; the face on the top is that of a Horse (Hayagriva) which destroys all the enemies.

To write about this concept, it cannot be completed even in a year.

(G) Eleven-Headed Hanuman (Ekadasmukh)

One of the rare forms of Hanuman is His having eleven heads. The description of this form in the texts could not be traced, but in all probability, it represents the form of eleven Rudras representing Siva.

In all probability, the eleven-headed Hanuman could represent the eleven Rudras. The number of Rudras were further multiplied to a hundred as per the Satarudriya Samhitha of the Siva Purana but still, the popularity of eleven Rudras never diminished.

In certain texts, Hanuman is considered as the Amsa of Siva or the eleventh Rudra. In the Rudra Samhita of Siva Purana, before the killing of Tripurasura by Siva, the Gods eulogized Siva, spelling out His Vibhutis, which include Hanuman as well.

(H) Virat Swarup

According to the testimony of the Valmiki Ramayana, Hanuman displayed His gigantic form before Sita in order to instil confidence in Her. He expanded His body to gigantic proportion.

According to chapter 150 of Vana-Parva of the Mahabharata, Hanuman on a request from Bhima displayed the form in which He jumped across the vast ocean. He, therefore, assumed a gigantic form which both in length and breadth grew exceedingly huge. That descendant of Bhima seeing Hanuman’s gigantic form was greatly astonished and the hair of His body, again and again, stood on end. Seeing them as glaring as the sun or golden mountain or the glaring sky, Bhima closed His eyes.

Hanuman said to Bhima, “you are capable of seeing My form up to this extent. I can go on swelling My body as long as I wish.”

(I) As a Preacher

In the Adbhuta Ramayana, Rama displays before Hanuman His own Vishnu form and preaches Him Samkhya-yoga as well as Bhakti-yoga. In turn, He imparted the knowledge to others. In the Vinayaka Patrika, Tulasidasa has conceived Him as having mastery over music and dance and has been called Samagayaka.

The composition of a branch of astrology is also attributed to Him, besides the Hanumannataka, which became quite popular subsequently.

The knowledge of various arts was naturally imparted by Hanuman to others and the artist did not fail to project Him in this form as well. In this form, Hanuman is shown standing or seated with His right hand held against the chest and the left hand falling down or bent at the elbow.

(J) The Composite Form

The composite forms of the monkey head and human body of Hanuman is stated to be available from the earliest times, traces of which could be witnessed in the Indus Valley civilization. Such specimens have been interpreted to represent the Vrasakapi form of the deity, which finds mention in the Rigvedic text.

Here He is represented in human form, wearing Kundalas, necklace and armlets, besides the upper and lower garments. He is shown flying in the air, while engaged on the task of bringing the medicinal herb to save the life of Lakshmana.

(K) Ram-Darbar(i)

The Silpasastra prescribes that Hanuman, the faithful servant of Rama, should be shown seated or standing in the Rama Darbar scene, a little in front and also to the right of Rama and should be so high as to reach the chest, hip or navel of Rama.

It should be represented only as having two hands, the right of which is placed upon the mouth in token of loyalty and the left is made to hang down so as to reach the knees, for this is the attitude which has to be assumed by servants in the presence of their masters.

(L) As an Attendant of Durga

There is a local tradition in Himalayan regions, in which Hanuman serves as an attendant of the goddess Durga appearing in various forms. Under this tradition at the time of the adoration of virgin girls (kumari puja) a small male child is also revered as a representative of Hanuman and is called Launkara Bira.

The tradition of Hanuman serving as an attendant of Durga seems to have been restricted to the north-west parts of Himalayan ranges covering parts of Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir regions.

(M) Vanara Murty

According to Parasara Samhitha in Naimisaranyam Lord Hanuman appeared before a tribal name Galudu who was suffering from leprosy in this form and blessed with good health and moksha.

(N) Chaturbhuja Murty

In this form, Hanuman blessed a Ved Pandit, named Kapila. Hanuman has four hands in this form including Abhaya and Varada-Hasthas.

(O) Vimsathi Bhuja Murty

Lord Brahma prostrated Hanuman in this form.Hanuman appeared in Brahma Loka in this form to Brahma and Saptarishis. In this form, Hanuman has twenty hands with weapons.

(P) Suvarchal Hanuman

In this form Hanuman with his concert Maa Suvarchala Devi. He blessed one discipline named Dhwajadatta in this form with prosperity.

(Q) Ashtadasa Bhuja Murty

Hanuman has eighteen hands and eighteen weapons in this form. Maharishi Durvasa prostrated Hanuman in this form.

(R) Dva-Trimsa-Bhuja Murty

Hanuman has thirty-two hands and thirty-two weapons in this form. A king named Somadatta worshipped this form and gained back his lost kingdom. One of the ugra form.

(S) Shanmukha Maruti

In this form, Hanuman has six faces. East face Hanuman, south Nrusimha, west Garuda, north Varaha, oordhva Hayagreeva, pataala Agni. In this form, Hanuman has a thousand hands with thousand weapons.

Karthaveeryaarjuna worshipped this form and gained nine khandams and eighteen islands. It is also called NAVA KHAND HANUMAN.

Pavan Putra Hanuman ki Jai! Jai Hanuman! Jai Bajrang Bali!

That’s all for the moment. On some other occasion, we would talk more about the great Hanuman Ji.

But we, at League of India, would not like to let go of this opportunity and share with you, what we believe, is one of the finest renditions of Shri Hanuman Chalisa, by the one and the only Hari Om Sharan.

Views expressed are of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of League of India or of any of its associates.

This article (text alone) was first published at the authors’ blog ‘Jaya Jaya Hanumanji’.


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Dhvani se Śabd aur Chinh Exhibition Inaugurated at NGMA, Mumbai

The exhibition speaks to us about southern sensibilities and singular identities that were forged through scholarly adaptations, multiple skills and experiments.



MUMBAI (Maharashtra): An exhibition titled “Dhvani se Śabd aur Chinh” was inaugurated at National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai today evening.

Curated by Adwaita Gadanayak and his team, the exhibition speaks to us about southern sensibilities and singular identities that were forged through scholarly adaptations, multiple skills and experiments that were seeking to juxtapose the notions of the modern with the traditional.

It identifies artists who practised in Southern states as well as artists who were born there or had family trees and moved up North to become the greatest practitioners and pedagogues. We are looking at a period that just followed the Partition wherein an idea of tradition was in its genesis – as it oscillated between symbolic fantasy (Madras group) and the knowledge of truths that were generated by pure practice.

The czar of the Madras Movement, K.C.S. Paniker – believed that an artist had to foreground tradition and cultural art forms and interpret these within contemporary sensibilities, leading to defining the regional modern, particularly in Madras.

Hence, Paniker’s regional modern was firmly fixed in the wedge between the visibility and identity of the southern artists nationally, and developing a visual language born of an Indian ethos – the vitality of the Indian spirit.

Historians have noted that the modernity which was established in Madras in the ’60s integrated and blended pioneering visions of certain artist-teachers at the Madras School of Arts and Crafts.

The culling also includes Malayali veterans like K. G. Subramanyan, the cultural theorist, the philosopher, the art mandarin who taught seven decades of students as well as A. Ramachandran the scholar, the author, the art historian and the guru who taught a love for the immediate environment to his students.

“I want [my art] to flourish (so to say) in a ‘cloud of unknowing’,” K.G. Subramanyan explained in an interview when asked about the process of his work. “For a centipede-like me to start counting my legs is suicidal,” he elaborated in that distinctly witty yet acerbic manner of his, “It will freeze me into inaction.” The phrase, “cloud of unknowing”, is the ideal frame through which to look at Southern sensibilities and imagery.

It instantly conjures up that drifting restlessness which typically characterizes the traffic between the earthy and the ethereal in many of these works. Then again, it is the artist’s self-description as an unselfconscious centipede that, more than anything helps one to make sense of the profusion of paintings spread across these galleries at the NGMA. There is indeed an arduous degree of introspection and reflection about Southern sensibility and creativity — as if some artists indulged in a Dionysian ritual that revealed, quite naturally and effortlessly in an endless proliferation of images that cut across time and space to create corollaries in multiple contexts and complexities.

A look at the monumental work by Velu Viswanadhan signifies the truth that abstraction must be born out of the symbolism of a deeper experience – the incandescent flavour of the red hues and the geometry that creates succinct planes tells us that this is a nether journey built on rumination and realization and not superficial reflections of strokes and colour.

While the visual arts in the South charted trajectories that engaged with diverse media, techniques, materials, and concepts allowing articulation of creative expression also from within the social and cultural milieu, the Indian accent born of everyday idioms was also creating pathways. Between sculptures, paintings and prints we see an offering of possibilities mirroring the symbolic, the sacred and the secular.

Sculptures and paintings picked out from the NGMA Archives is an exercise that moves beyond the realms of exploration and intellectual thirst. In a large number of works that were created within and around the Deccan plateau regions and beyond the Western and Eastern Ghats this group of works is one that defines the many art practices that were born out of European influences and moved beyond to embrace and find deep rooted meaning in Indianesque histories and narratives that explored native elements over time.

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Kailash Mansarovar Yatra to Resume via Nathu La Route This Year

The yatra was stopped by China in the aftermath of the military face-off with India last year at Doklam.



BEJING (China): In a development that is going to spread joy in the Hindu (Sanatan Dharma) community, India and China on April 22 agreed to resume the Holy Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through the Natha Lu route in Sikkim.

The decision was made during External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj talks with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing.

The pilgrimage was stopped through the route ten months ago following the face-off between the Indian and Chinese militaries in Doka La Plateau in Bhutan.

The pilgrims opting to undertake the pilgrimage through Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand were allowed.

The matter related to the resumption of the annual pilgrimage through Nathu La was raised by India during meetings between the two sides in the last year.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also discussed it with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in December last year.

“We are also happy that the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through the Nathu la route will be resumed this year. I am confident that with Chinese side’s full cooperation, this year the yatra will be a fulfilling experience for the visiting Indian pilgrims,” Swaraj said during a joint press statement with Wang.

Ministry of External Affairs organises the yatra from June to September each year through two different routes – Lipulekh Pass (Uttarakhand) and Nathu La Pass (Sikkim). The yatra, which holds religious value, cultural significance, is undertaken by hundreds of people every year.

Holding significance for Hindus as the abode of Lord Shiva, it holds religious importance also for the Jains and the Buddhists. It is open to eligible Indian citizens, holding valid Indian passports, who wish to proceed to Kailash-Manasarovar for religious purposes.

Har Har Mahadev!

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Determining the Age of the Saraswat Community

Saraswats, who once lived on the riverbed of Sarasvati, have a history equivalent to that of Rigveda.



Who are Saraswats?

In India, there are at least five Brahmin communities who claim themselves as ‘Saraswat Brahmins’, including Gaud Saraswat Brahmins, Chitrapur Saraswats, Rajapur/Bhalavalikar Saraswat Brahmins, Kashmiri Saraswats, Punjabi Saraswats, Sindh Saraswats, Kutch Saraswats and Rajasthan Saraswats.

This community, as a whole, has produced eminent personalities including Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr TMA Pai, Nandan Nilekani, Girish Karnad, Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Deepika Padukone, Shyam Benegal, and Guru Dutt.

Though being miles apart from each other for ages all Saraswat legends claim of their ancestors having once lived on the banks of now extinct river Saraswati.

Today, however, there is no doubt that Saraswats are among the oldest living communities in India – still preserving their own indigenous culture which essentially hails from the Rigveda – that which is believed to have been written by their forefathers during their stint on banks of river Saraswati.

Their Relationship with Saraswati River:

Even to this day many Saraswat’s in their daily Sandhyavandana rite swears their allegiance to Rigveda. This apart, several of Saraswat’ rituals are conducted by reciting the hymns from the texts from Rigveda; firmly establishing links between Saraswats, Saraswati River and Rigveda.

According to two distinguished historians and Vedic Scholars, Dr NS Rajaram and Dr David Frawley for Vedic Aryans the holiest river was “not Ganga but Saraswati” because, they say,

“In Rigveda Ganga is mentioned only once while Saraswati is lauded no less than fifty times.”

There is at least one whole hymn devoted to Saraswati River. In a famous hymn, Saunaka Gritasamdathe seer of the second Mandala lauds the Saraswati as ambitame, naditame, devitame Saraswati:

Sarasvati, the best of mothers, the best of rivers, the best of Goddess.

To follow the very descriptions given in the Vedic literature, Saraswati was the greatest river that then used to flow to the west of the Yamuna but to the east of the Sutlej.

According to the seventh Mandala of the Rigveda attributed to the famous Rishi (Sage) Vasistha, the Saraswati was a mighty stream that flowed from the “mountain to the sea” sustaining the lives of Vedic people:

Pure in her stream, from the mountain to the sea, filled with bounteous abundance for the worlds, nourishing with her flow the children of Nahusa.

Interestingly, this very reference ‘from mountain to sea’ gives us a valuable pointer to Saraswati’ geography. But today we have no river called Sarasvati flowing in this country or elsewhere. The question then is: whatever became of it?

Thanks to archaeology and satellite photography we now know that Saraswati gradually became weaker and finally dried up completely around 1900 or 2000 BCE or even a little bit earlier.

According to several recent findings Vedic Saraswati once used to flow mainly through the channel of what is now an insignificant flow called the Ghaggar close to Indus thus making part of what we now know Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro civilizations. Even Satellite photos have shown that the Ghaggar was once a great river. Paul-Henri Francfort who recently surveyed the area calls it the “immense Ghaggar system”.

Intensive research carried by Dr Frawley and Dr Rajaram has completely debunked the Aryan-Invasion theory. They have also strongly established that the so-called Indus Valley or the Harappa civilization (of which Saraswati River is a part) did not consist of just a few urban settlements. It was a part of a vast civilization that stretched from the borders of Iran to East UP, with some sites as far south of Godavari River; as far as its duration is concerned, it represents a continuous evolution dating back to 7000 BCE in terms of the sites and more are being found all the time. So we can see that this great civilization spanned over 5000 years!

Saraswati’s Extinction:

Regarding the ending of this great civilization, thanks again to recent archaeological and ecological findings, we now know how that end came about. By putting together those pieces of evidence on the basis of archaeological and satellite studies it was most certainly due to the gradual depletion of water resources in North India that culminated in a calamitous drought in the 2200 BCE to 1900 BCE period.

Fig. 1: Map showing the flow of Saraswati from ‘mountain to sea’

Fig. 2: Area covered by Indus-Saraswati civilization and its overlap with the area covered by early Vedic Civilization.

This was, also, a global phenomenon that affected civilization across an immense belt from southern Europe to India. The Akkadian (Sumerian) civilization of Mesopotamia was practically wiped out around 2200 BCE, while in Egypt, the so-called Old-Empire collapsed. In India itself, the mature Harappa civilization of which Saraswati was an integral part came to an abrupt end and there were severe dislocations. As SR Rao observed:

In circa 1900 BCE most of the mature Harappa sites were wiped out forcing the inhabitants to seek new lands for settlement. They seem to have left in a great hurry and in small groups, seeking shelter initially on the eastern flank of the Sutlej and the Ghaggar and gradually moving towards the Yamuna. The refugees from Mohenjo-Daro and southern sites in Sind fled to Saurashtra and later occupied the interior of the Peninsula.

That this was not restricted to India is clear from a recently concluded major French-American study in Mesopotamia. The report of the study notes:

At 2000 BCE, a marked increase in aridity and wind circulation, subsequent to a volcanic eruption, induced considerable degradation in land-use conditions… this abrupt climatic change evidently caused abandonment of Tell Leilan, regional desertion, and the collapse of Akkadian empire based in southern Mesopotamia. A synchronous collapse in adjacent regions suggests that the impact of the abrupt climatic change was extensive.

Whether a volcanic eruption was sufficient to trigger a drought so destructive may still be open to doubt; but whatever caused the draught, its effect now seems established beyond all doubts. The authors summarize their momentous findings as follows:

The abrupt climatic change that generated Habur hiatus I and the associated Akkadian-Gutti-Ur III collapse are synchronous with climate change and collapse phenomenon documented in the Aegean, Egypt, Palestine, and the Indus. The reoccupation of the Habur plains [in the northern Mesopotamia] in the 19thcentury BC and the sudden emergence of centralized Amorite control… was evidently facilitated by the amelioration of climatic conditions…

These very recent reports make it clear that the ending of Harappan civilization was a part of a worldwide climate change phenomenon that affected all ancient civilizations.

Fig 3: The course of Vedic Saraswati from “mountain to sea”

Fig 4: The source of Saraswati – Glacier at Garhwal

Determining the Age of Saraswat Community:

There is no doubt that Saraswats were the people who played a pivotal role in the authoring of Rigveda. Thus the age of the Rigveda can easily be regarded as the age of the early Saraswats.

Thanks to our understanding of ancient metallurgy, we can now say that Rigveda must be older than 3500 BCE.

Kunal, a recently discovered Saraswati site in Haryana has yielded silver ornaments. This shows that their metallurgy must have been quite advanced; for unlike gold, silver never appears in pure form and has to be extracted by separating it from other metals like copper. The archaeological research dates Kunal to be much earlier than 3000 BCE.

The presence of silver ornaments at Kunal shows that it is much later than the society described in the Rigveda. This is because Rigveda does not know silver. The oldest Sanskrit word for silver is Rajata Hiranyam – literally ‘white gold’ – and it is mentioned for the first time in Yajurveda.

This evidently disapproves the currently ascribed date of Rigveda as 1200 BCE as Kunal is evidently the last phase of the Saraswati civilization. Interestingly though there are proofs to suggest a date marking the end of the Saraswati civilization there is no evidence to suggest its exact beginnings.

Thus Dr Rajaram has suggested that:

All we have to do is look hard and deep along the Sarasvati and other Vedic rivers. Such sites are likely to date to 3500 BCE or earlier. These, when found, are likely to be from the Age of Rigveda. The key identifying factor will be the relatively primitive metallurgy of their artifacts.


Today, though we have archaeology telling us that: there was extensive trade between the Harappans, Egyptians and Sumerians besides presenting existence of science and mathematics much advanced to that age, our understanding of the Harappa Mohenjo-Daro or better put Sindu-Saraswati civilization is incomplete.

Though we have evidence to suggest the existence of now-extinct Saraswati we are yet to find evidence to suggest the beginning of the civilization. However, with the available information we can fairly conclude that:

  1. Saraswats, who once lived on the riverbed of Sarasvati, have a history equivalent to that of Rigveda.
  2. The riverbed of an extinct river found by American and French satellites near Harappan excavation are of Saraswati as the very description of the riverbed matches with that of Saraswati mentioned in Rig Veda.
  3. The Kunal excavations discovered on the riverbed of Sarasvati belong to the Yajurveda period dating earlier than 3000 BCE. And because Rigveda was written much earlier than Yajurveda the current idea of Rigveda being authored around 1300 BCE is false.
  4. Given this, we can firmly conclude that Sarasvati civilization of which Saraswats were one an integral part has a history of at least five thousand years.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the personal opinions of the author. League of India does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Reprinted with permission from

U. Mahesh Prabhu
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Udupi Mahesh Prabhu is a media, management and political consultant. He’s co-founder and director of Vedic Management Center. He’s also a fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, London (UK) and Member of the International Federation of Journalists (USA).

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