In Buddhism, the term parinirvana is used to refer to nirvana-after-death, which occurs upon the death of the body of someone who has attained nirvana during his or her lifetime. It implies a release from the karma and rebirth as well as the dissolution of the skandhas. In some Mahāyāna scriptures, notably the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, Parinirvāṇa is described as the realm of the eternal true Self of the Buddha. In the Buddhist view, when an ordinary person dies and their physical body disintegrates, the person's unresolved karma passes on to a new birth. However, when a person attains nirvana, they are liberated from karmic rebirth; when such a person dies, their physical body disintegrates and this is the end of the cycle of rebirth. Contemporary scholar Rupert Gethin explains: Eventually ‘the remainder of life’ will be exhausted and, like all beings, such a person must die, but unlike other beings, who have not experienced ‘nirvāṇa’, he or she will not be reborn into some new life, the physical and mental constituents of being will not come together in some new existence, there will be no new being or person.
Instead of being reborn, the person ‘parinirvāṇa-s’, meaning in this context that the five aggregates of physical and mental phenomena that constitute a being cease to occur. This is the condition of ‘nirvāṇa without remainder ’: nirvāṇa that comes from ending the occurrence of the aggregates of physical and mental phenomena that constitute a being. Modern Buddhist usage tends to restrict ‘nirvāṇa’ to the awakening experience and reserve ‘parinirvāṇa’ for the death experience. Accounts of the purported events surrounding the Buddha's own parinirvāṇa are found in a wide range of Buddhist canonical literature. In addition to the Pāli Mahāparinibbāna sutta and its Sanskrit parallels, the topic is treated in the Saṃyutta-nikāya and the several Sanskrit parallels, the Sanskrit-based Ekottara-āgama, other early sutras preserved in Chinese, as well as in most of the Vinayas preserved in Chinese of the early Buddhist schools such as the Sarvāstivādins and the Mahāsāṃghikas; the historical event of the Buddha's parinirvāṇa is described in a number of works, such as the Sanskrit Buddhacarita and the Avadāna-śataka, the Pāli Mahāvaṃsa.
According to Bareau, the oldest core components of all these accounts are just the account of the Buddha's parinirvāṇa itself at Kuśinagara and the funerary rites following his death. He deems all other extended details to be additions with little historical value; the parinirvana of the Buddha is described in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta. Because of its attention to detail, this Theravada sutta, though first committed to writing hundreds of years after his death, has been resorted to as the principal source of reference in most standard studies of the Buddha's life. In contrast to these works which deal with the Buddha's parinirvāṇa as a biographical event, the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa sūtra, which bears a similar name, was written hundreds of years later; the Nirvana Sutra does not give details of the historical event of the day of the parinirvāṇa itself, except the Buddha's illness and Cunda's meal offering, nor any of the other preceding or subsequent incidents, instead using the event as a convenient springboard for the expression of standard Mahayana ideals such as the tathagata-garbha / buddha-dhatu doctrine, the eternality of the Buddha, the soteriological fate of the icchantikas and so forth.
It has been suggested by Waddell that the site of the death and parinirvana of Gautama Buddha was in the region of Rampurva: "I believe that Kusīnagara, where the Buddha died may be found to the North of Bettiah, in the line of the Aśōka pillars which lead hither from Patna" in Bihar. It still awaits proper archaeological excavation. According to the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, the Buddha taught that parinirvāṇa is the realm of the Eternal, the Self, the Pure. Dr. Paul Williams states that it depicts the Buddha using the term "Self" in order to win over non-Buddhist ascetics. However, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra is a long and composite Mahayana scripture, the part of the sutra upon which Williams is basing his statement is a portion of the Nirvana Sutra of secondary Central Asian provenance - other parts of the sutra were written in India. Guang Xing speaks of how the Mahayanists of the Nirvana Sutra understand the mahaparinirvana to be the liberated Self of the eternal Buddha: One of the main themes of the MMPS is that the Buddha is eternal...
The Mahayanists assert the eternity of the Buddha in two ways in the MMPS. They state that the Buddha is the dharmakaya, hence eternal. Next, they reinterpret the liberation of the Buddha as mahaparinirvana possessing four attributes: eternity, happiness and purity. Only in Mahaparinirvana is this True Self held to be discernible and accessible. Kosho Yamamoto cites a passage in which the Buddha admonishes his monks not to dwell inordinately on the idea of the non-Self but to meditate on the Self. Yamamoto writes: Having dwelt upon the nature of nirvana, the Buddha now explains its positive aspect and says that nirvana has the four attributes of the Eternal, the Self, the Pure... the Buddha says: "O you bhiksus! Do not abide in the thought of the non-eternal, non-Self, the not-pure and have things as in the case of those people who take the stones, wooden pieces and gravel for the true gem... In every sit
Women in India
The status of women in India has been subject to many great changes over the past few millennia. With a decline in their status from the ancient to medieval times, to the promotion of equal rights by many reformers, their history has been eventful. In modern India, women have held high offices including that of the President, Prime Minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition, Union Ministers, Chief Ministers and Governors. Women's rights under the Constitution of India include equality and freedom from discrimination; as of 2018, the President of India, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha have been women. However, women in India continue to face numerous problems such as sexual assault, gender inequality and dowry. Women during the Vedic period enjoyed equal status with men in all aspects of life. Works by ancient Indian grammarians such as Patanjali and Katyayana suggest that women were educated in the early Vedic period. Rig Vedic verses suggest that women married at a mature age and were free to select their own husbands in a practice called swayamvar or live-in relationship called Gandharva marriage.
The Rig Veda and Upanishads mention several women sages and seers, notably Gargi Vachaknavi and Maitreyi. Women were allowed to undergo initiation and study the Vedas. In the Dharmasutra of Harita, it is mentioned that: There are two types of women: those who become students of the Veda and those who marry immediately. Of these, the students of the Veda undergo initiation, kindle the sacred fire, study the Veda, beg food in their own houses. In the case of those who marry however, when the time for marriage comes, their marriage should be performed after initiating them in some manner. In Mahabharata, the story of Draupadi's marriage to 5 men is a case in point; this pointed to the fact. Women could select their husband in an assembly called'swayamwar'. In this practice, the father of the woman would invite all the men and the woman would select one, marry him while the court watched; this showed how women's rights were taken during the Vedic era. This practice was prevalent till the 10th century A.
D. Also, in the Puranas, every God was shown in consort of their wives. Idols of god and goddess were depicted with equal importance to both genders. Separate temples were setup for goddesses, within each temple, goddesses were treated and worshipped with as much care and devotion as the gods were. There are specific practices that endure to this day, in terms of preference of worship; the book "Hindu Female Deities as a resource for contemporary rediscovery of the Goddess" by Gross Rita. M, 1989, says "According to some scholars the positive constructions of femininity found in goddess imagery and in the related imagery of the virangana or heroic woman have created a cognitive framework, for Hindus to accept and accommodate powerful female figures like "Indira Gandhi and Phoolan Devi, The same would not have been possible in Western religious traditions " Even in the practice of Homa, every mantra or Shloka is addressed to Swaha, the wife of Agni, instead of Agni himself. Devi Bhagavata Purana: 9.43, says.
"O Goddess, Let yourself become the burning power of fire. At the conclusion of any mantra, whoever taking thy name, will pour oblations in the fire, he will cause those offerings to go directly to the gods. Mother, let yourself, the repository of all prosperity, reign over as the lady of his house." This aspect of Swaha as Agni's wife is mentioned in Mahabharata, Brahmavantara Purana, Bhagavatha Purana as various hymns. In the 6th or 5th century BCE, Queen Mṛgāvatī, or Migāvatī of the Vatsa mahajanapada ruled as regent while her son Udayana was either a minor or held captive by a rival king, she earned "the admiration of experienced ministers."In the Gupta period instances are not rare of women participating in administrative job. Chandragupta I, founder of the Gupta Empire, ruled the kingdom jointly with his queen Kumara Devi. Prabhavatigupta was the daughter of Chandra Gupta II of the Gupta Empire and the wife of Rudrasena II of the Vakataka dynasty, performed administrative duties in her kingdom.
Instances of women of the upper classes extending their phase of activities beyond the domestic circle are provided by the queen and queens regent in Kashmir, Rajasthan and Andhra. Institutions were established for co-education. In the work called Amarkosh written in the Gupta era names of the teachers and professors are there and they belonged to female sex. In the 2nd century BCE, Queen Nayanika was ruler and military commander of the Satavahana Empire of the Deccan region. Another early female ruler in South Asia was Queen Anula of Anuradhapura. Queen Orrisa assumed regency when her son died in the late ninth century and involved herself in military adventuring. Queen Kurmadevi of Mevad commanded her armies on the battlefield in the late twelfth century. Queen Didday of Kashmir ruled as full sovereign for twenty-two years, Queen Jawahirabi fought and died at the head of her army. In Sri Lanka, Queen Sugula led her armies against her nephew; when pressed by the royal forces, she guided her forces into the mountains, where she built a number of forts.
Sugula held out against the king's
District magistrate (India)
A district magistrate abbreviated to DM, is an Indian Administrative Service officer, the senior most executive magistrate and chief in charge of general administration of a district in India. Since district magistrates are responsible for collection of land revenue in the district, the post is referred to as the district collector, as the office-bearer works under the supervision of a divisional commissioner, the post is known as deputy commissioner. District administration in India is a legacy of the British Raj. District collectors were members of the Indian Civil Service and were charged with supervising general administration in the district. Warren Hastings introduced the office of the district collector in 1772. Sir George Campbell, lieutenant-governor of Bengal from 1871-1874, intended "to render the heads of districts no longer the drudges of many departments and masters of none, but in fact the general controlling authority over all departments in each district."The office of a collector during the British Raj held multiple responsibilities – as collector, he was the head of the revenue organization, charged with registration and partition of holdings.
As district magistrate, he exercised general supervision over the inferior courts and in particular, directed the police work. The office was meant to achieve the "peculiar purpose" of collecting revenue and of keeping the peace; the superintendent of police, inspector general of jails, the surgeon general, the divisional forest officer and the chief engineer had to inform the collector of every activity in their departments. Until the part of the nineteenth century, no native was eligible to become a district collector, but with the introduction of open competitive examinations for the Indian Civil Service, the office was opened to natives. Anandaram Baruah, an eminent scholar of Sanskrit and the sixth Indian and the first Assamese ICS officer, became the third Indian to be appointed a district magistrate, the first two being Romesh Chandra Dutt and Sripad Babaji Thakur respectively; the district continued to be the unit of administration after India gained independence in 1947. The role of the district collector remained unchanged, except for the separation of most judicial powers to judicial officers of the district.
With the promulgation of the National Extension Services and Community Development Programme by the Nehru government in 1952, the district collector was entrusted with the additional responsibility of implementing the Government of India's development programs in the district. They are posted by the state government, from among the pool of Indian Administrative Service officers, who either are on Level 11, Level 12 or Level 13 of the Pay Matrix, in the state; the members of the IAS are either directly recruited by the Union Public Service Commission, promoted from State Civil Service or nominated from Non-State Civil Service. The direct recruits are posted as collectors after five to six years of service, whereas the promoted members from state civil services occupy this post after promotion to the IAS, which happens after two decades of service. A district magistrate and collector is transferred to and from the post by the state government; the office bearer is of the rank of deputy secretary or director in Government of India.
The responsibilities assigned to a district magistrate vary from state to state, but district collectors are entrusted with a wide range of duties in the jurisdiction of the district involving the following: As district magistrate Conducts criminal court of executive magistrate. Maintenance of law and order. Supervision of the police and jails. Supervision of subordinate executive conduct magisterial inquiries. Hearing cases under the preventive section of the Criminal Procedure Code. Supervision of jails and certification of execution of capital sentences. Authorising parole orders to inmates. Granting arms and ammunition licence under Arms Act. Prepares panel of names for appointment of public prosecutors and additional public prosecutors with consultation with session judge in district. Disaster management during natural calamities such as floods, famines or epidemics. Crisis management during riots or external aggression; as district collectorConducts revenue court. Arbitrator of land acquisition, its assessment and collection of land revenue.
Collection of income tax dues, excise duties, irrigation dues and its arrears. Registration of Property documents, sale deeds, power of attorneys, share certificates etc. Issue various kinds of statutory certificates including SC/ST, OBC & EWC, Nationality, Marriage etc; as deputy commissioner/district commissioner Reports to divisional commissioner on all matters. A district magistrate is assisted by some IAS and PCS for carrying out day-to-day work in various fields:- Additional district magistrate D, E and R. City magistrate and additional city magistrates Sub-divisional magistrates and other executive magistrates. Other officers from other departments at the district level report to him/her
Government of India
The Government of India abbreviated as GoI, is the union government created by the constitution of India as the legislative and judicial authority of the union of 29 states and seven union territories of a constitutionally democratic republic. It is located in the capital of India. Modelled after the Westminster system for governing the state, the union government is composed of the executive, the legislature, the judiciary, in which all powers are vested by the constitution in the prime minister and the supreme court; the President of India is the head of state and the commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces whilst the elected prime minister acts as the head of the executive, is responsible for running the union government. The parliament is bicameral in nature, with the Lok Sabha being the lower house, the Rajya Sabha the upper house; the judiciary systematically contains an apex supreme court, 24 high courts, several district courts, all inferior to the supreme court. The basic civil and criminal laws governing the citizens of India are set down in major parliamentary legislation, such as the civil procedure code, the penal code, the criminal procedure code.
Similar to the union government, individual state governments each consist of executive and judiciary. The legal system as applicable to the union and individual state governments is based on the English Common and Statutory Law; the full name of the country is the Republic of India. India and Bharat are official short names for the Republic of India in the Constitution, both names appears on legal banknotes, in treaties and in legal cases; the terms "union government", "central government" and "Bhārata Sarakāra" are used and unofficially to refer to the Government of India. The term New Delhi is used as a metonym for the central government, as the seat of government is in New Delhi; the powers of the legislature in India are exercised by the Parliament, a bicameral legislature consisting of the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha. Of the two houses of parliament, the Rajya Sabha is considered to be the upper house or the Council of States and consists of members appointed by the president and elected by the state and territorial legislatures.
The Lok Sabha is considered the House of the people. The parliament does not have complete control and sovereignty, as its laws are subject to judicial review by the Supreme Court. However, it does exercise some control over the executive; the members of the cabinet, including the prime minister, are either chosen from parliament or elected thereto within six months of assuming office. The cabinet as a whole is responsible to the Lok Sabha; the Lok Sabha is a temporary house and can be dissolved only when the party in power loses the support of the majority of the house. The Rajya Sabha can never be dissolved; the members of the Rajya Sabha are elected for a six-year term. The executive of government is the one that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy; the division of power into separate branches of government is central to the republican idea of the separation of powers. The executive power is vested in the President of India, as per Article 53 of the constitution.
The president has all constitutional powers and exercises them directly or through officers subordinate to him as per the aforesaid Article 53. The president is to act in accordance with aid and advice tendered by the prime minister, who leads the council of ministers as described in Article 74 of the Constitution of India; the council of ministers remains in power during the'pleasure' of the president. However, in practice, the council of ministers must retain the support of the Lok Sabha. If a president were to dismiss the council of ministers on his or her own initiative, it might trigger a constitutional crisis. Thus, in practice, the council of ministers cannot be dismissed as long as it holds the support of a majority in the Lok Sabha; the president is responsible for appointing many high officials in India. These high officials include the governors of the 29 states; the president, as the head of state receives the credentials of ambassadors from other countries, whilst the prime minister, as head of government, receives credentials of high commissioners from other members of the Commonwealth, in line with historical tradition.
The president is the de jure commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces. The President of India can grant a pardon to or reduce the sentence of a convicted person for one time in cases involving punishment of death; the decisions involving pardoning and other rights by the president are independent of the opinion of the prime minister or the Lok Sabha majority. In most other cases, the president exercises his or her executive powers on the advice of the prime minister; the vice president is the second highest constitutional position in India after the president. The vice president represents the nation in the absence of the president and takes charge as acting president in the incident of resignation impeachment or removal of the president; the vice president has the legislative function of acting as the chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The
Padrauna is a city and the district headquarter of Kushinagar in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Its ancient name was Pava, it is the place. After passing from Padrauna, Lord Rama reached at Ramkola where he made a hut with his wife Sita and younger brother Lakshman to stay. Padrauna is the place of ancient Malla Kshatriyas who were following a democratic form of government from their Santhagara; the town is connected to many important cities through National Highway 28B and State Highway No. 64. One of the Shatabdi bus daily runs from Padrauna to Kanpur. Janrath bus connects Padrauna to Lucknow. Padrauna Railway Station is on a broad gauge railway. Trains run for cities like Chhapra, Lucknow,Siddharthnagar, Katihar and other important cities, it is expected to be a part of the proposed Kushinagar International Airport. The proposed Buddha Expressway between Kushinagar and Sarnath will provide connectivity with south eastern cities in the state like Varanasi, Azamgarh as well as Kolkata through National Highway 2 in Varanasi.
The economy of Padrauna consists of Agriculture followed by Services and a little contribution is made by Industrial sector. There are many family run businesses, vendors, etc. in Padrauna. A number of small and mid-size hotels exist in Padrauna. Earlier there were few industries; the shutting down of factories led to poverty and backwardness of this region. The backwardness is further soared by the power shortage in this region. Notable landmarks are: Subhash Chowk, Nahar,Rajdarbar, Durgamandir, Belawan chungi, sugar mill etc. Kushinagar, it lies in the Great Plains and is Terai area close to piedmont plains of Himalayas, is close to borders of Nepal and Bihar. It is located on the bank of a Ganges tributary originating in Nepal; the town presents characteristics distinct from natural features of the western districts of Uttar Pradesh. This difference is due to the relative proximity of the Himalayas, the outermost foothills of which are only a few kilometres from the northern borders; the peak of Dhaulagiri, some 8,230 meters above sea-level, is visible under favourable climatic conditions as far south as Padrauna itself.
Below the outer hills is a dry boulder-strewn tract, corresponding to the Bhabar of Kumaun and Garhwal and here the bulk of the moisture contributed by the rainfall and the small streams is absorbed by the soil, to reappear through seepage in the damp and unhealthy tract, known as the terai. The climate is extreme temperate climate, with soaring temperatures in summer crossing 40 degrees and in winters temperatures as low as 3 to 4 degrees; the town has several schools like Kendriya Vidyalaya Navodaya Vidyalaya,Goswami Tulsi Das Intermediate college, Tulsi vidya niketan,Udit Narayan Intermediate College, D. D. N. Public School, Midas School of Learning, Geeta International Public School, Udit Narayan Post Graduate College, Bhartiya Intermediate College,St. Thereses School, Summer Field Public School, Hanuman Intermediate College,Real Paradise Academy school,ITI,Tapesawari vidya mandir,HIIT institute Baluchahan Road Shree Ganga Public School etc. Literacy rate is low as compared to the UP state average 69.72 and 63% of its residents are literate..
After pursuing 10th and 12th standard from Padrauna, students travel to other cities like Lucknow, Allahabad and sometimes up to New Delhi as well. Students from here are interested in government sector jobs and secondary preference is private jobs. Students from Padrauna got selected in IAS, PCS, IPS top level government services and became software engineers to serve top level companies in UK, Europe and USA as well. Radio Pragya 90.4 MHz is a community radio station in Kushinagar district. The majority is Hinduism while other religions with dominant position are Islam and small population of Buddhism and Christianity exists in Padrauna; the most famous school in this town is St. Thereses School affiliated to ICSE Board and is 1 st in the whole Kushinagar district Padrauna
Poverty in India
Being one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, poverty has been on a decline with close to 44 Indians escaping extreme poverty every minute, as per the World Poverty Clock. India has been able to lift significant percentage of it's population out of poverty but many still live in it, it had 73 million people living in extreme poverty which makes up 5.3% of it's total population according to Brookings report. The World Bank reviewed and proposed revisions on May 2014 to its poverty calculation methodology and purchasing power parity basis for measuring poverty worldwide.. Although, it was a minimal 3.6% in terms of percentage. As of 2014, 58% of the total population were living on less than $3.10 per day. According to the Modified Mixed Reference Period concept proposed by World Bank in 2015, India's poverty rate for period 2011-12 stood at 12.4% of the total population, or about 172 million people. The World Bank has been revising its definition and benchmarks to measure up poverty since 1990, with a $2 per day income on purchasing power parity basis as the definition in use from 2005 to 2013.
Some semi-economic and non-economic indices have been proposed to measure poverty in India. The different definitions and different underlying small sample surveys used to determine poverty in India, have resulted in different estimates of poverty from 1950s to 2010s. In 2012, the Indian government stated; the World Bank, in 2011 based on 2005's PPPs International Comparison Program, estimated 23.6% of Indian population, or about 276 million people, lived below $1.25 per day on purchasing power parity. According to United Nation's Millennium Development Goals programme 270 millions or 21.9% people out of 1.2 billion of Indians lived below poverty line of $1.25 in 2011-2012. From late 19th century through early 20th century, under British colonial rule, poverty in India intensified, peaking in the 1920s. Famines and diseases killed millions each time. After India gained its independence in 1947, mass deaths from famines were prevented. Rapid economic growth since 1991, has led to sharp reductions in extreme poverties in India.
However, those above poverty line live a fragile economic life. As per the methodology of the Suresh Tendulkar Committee report, the population below the poverty line in India in 2009-2010 was 354 million and that in 2011-2012 was 269 million; the Rangarajan Committee said in 2014 that the population below the poverty line in 2009-2010 was 454 million and that in 2011-2012 was 363 million. Deutsche Bank Research estimated. If former trends continue, India's share of world GDP will increase from 7.3% in 2016 to 8.5% by 2020. In 2015, around 170 million people, or 12.4%, lived in poverty, a reduction from 29.8% in 2009. In their paper, economists Sandhya Krishnan and Neeraj Hatekar conclude that 600 million people, or more than half of India's population, belong to the middle class; the Asian Development Bank estimates India's population to be at 1.28 billion with an average growth rate, from 2010-2015, at 1.3%. In 2014, 49.9% of the population aged 15 years and above were employed. However, there are still 21.9 % of the population.
The World Poverty Clock shows real-time poverty trends in India, which are based on the latest data, of the World Bank, among others. As per recent estimates, the country is well on its way of ending extreme poverty by meeting its sustainable development goals by 2030. Economic measuresThere are several definitions of poverty, scholars disagree as to which definition is appropriate for India. Inside India, both income-based poverty definition and consumption-based poverty statistics are in use. Outside India, the World Bank and institutions of the United Nations use a broader definition to compare poverty among nations, including India, based on purchasing power parity, as well as nominal relative basis; each state in India has its own poverty threshold to determine how many people are below its poverty line and to reflect regional economic conditions. These differences in definition yield a complex and conflicting picture about poverty in India, both internally and when compared to other developing countries of the world.
According to world bank, India accounted for world's largest number of poor people in 2012 using revised methodolgy to measure poverty, reflecting its massive population. However, in terms of percentage, it scored lower than other countries holding large poor populations. In July 2018, World Poverty Clock, a Vienna-based think tank, reported that a minimal of 5.3% or 70.6 million Indians living in extreme poverty compared to 44% or 87 million Nigerians. Till 2019, Nigeria and Congo surpassed India in terms of total population earning below $1.9 a day. Although India is expected to meet United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals on extreme poverty in due time, a large share of its population lives on less than $3.2 a day, putting country safely into category of lower middle income economies. As with many countries, poverty was defined and estimated in India using a sustenance food standard; this methodology has been revised. India's current official poverty rates are based on its Planning Commission's data derived from so-called Tendulkar methodology.
It defines poverty not in terms of annual income, but in
Lithuania the Republic of Lithuania, is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. Lithuania is considered to be one of the Baltic states, it is situated to the east of Sweden and Denmark. It is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, Kaliningrad Oblast to the southwest. Lithuania has an estimated population of 2.8 million people as of 2019, its capital and largest city is Vilnius. Other major cities are Klaipėda. Lithuanians are Baltic people; the official language, along with Latvian, is one of only two living languages in the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family. For centuries, the southeastern shores of the Baltic Sea were inhabited by various Baltic tribes. In the 1230s, the Lithuanian lands were united by Mindaugas, the King of Lithuania, the first unified Lithuanian state, the Kingdom of Lithuania, was created on 6 July 1253. During the 14th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was the largest country in Europe. With the Lublin Union of 1569, Lithuania and Poland formed a voluntary two-state personal union, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth lasted more than two centuries, until neighbouring countries systematically dismantled it from 1772 to 1795, with the Russian Empire annexing most of Lithuania's territory. As World War I neared its end, Lithuania's Act of Independence was signed on 16 February 1918, declaring the founding of the modern Republic of Lithuania. In the midst of the Second World War, Lithuania was first occupied by the Soviet Union and by Nazi Germany; as World War II neared its end and the Germans retreated, the Soviet Union reoccupied Lithuania. On 11 March 1990, a year before the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union, Lithuania became the first Baltic state to declare itself independent, resulting in the restoration of an independent State of Lithuania. Lithuania is a developed country, it is a member of the European Union, the Council of Europe, Schengen Agreement, NATO and OECD. It is a member of the Nordic Investment Bank, part of Nordic-Baltic cooperation of Northern European countries; the United Nations Human Development Index lists Lithuania as a "very high human development" country.
The first known record of the name of Lithuania is in a 9 March 1009 story of Saint Bruno in the Quedlinburg Chronicle. The Chronicle recorded a Latinized form of the name Lietuva: Litua. Due to the lack of reliable evidence, the true meaning of the name is unknown. Nowadays, scholars still debate the meaning of the word and there are a few plausible versions. Since Lietuva has a suffix, the original word should have no suffix. A candidate is Lietā; because many Baltic ethnonyms originated from hydronyms, linguists have searched for its origin among local hydronyms. Such names evolved through the following process: hydronym → toponym → ethnonym. Lietava, a small river not far from Kernavė, the core area of the early Lithuanian state and a possible first capital of the eventual Grand Duchy of Lithuania, is credited as the source of the name. However, the river is small and some find it improbable that such a small and local object could have lent its name to an entire nation. On the other hand, such a naming is not unprecedented in world history.
Artūras Dubonis proposed another hypothesis. From the middle of the 13th century, leičiai were a distinct warrior social group of the Lithuanian society subordinate to the Lithuanian ruler or the state itself; the word leičiai is used in the 14–16th-century historical sources as an ethnonym for Lithuanians and is still used poetically or in historical contexts, in the Latvian language, related to Lithuanian. The first people settled in the territory of Lithuania after the last glacial period in the 10th millennium BC: Kunda and Narva cultures, they did not form stable settlements. In the 8th millennium BC, the climate became much warmer, forests developed; the inhabitants of what is now Lithuania traveled less and engaged in local hunting and fresh-water fishing. Agriculture did not emerge until the 3rd millennium BC due to a harsh climate and terrain and a lack of suitable tools to cultivate the land. Crafts and trade started to form at this time. Over a millennium, the Indo-Europeans, who arrived in the 3rd – 2nd millennium BC, mixed with the local population and formed various Baltic tribes.
The Baltic tribes did not maintain close cultural or political contacts with the Roman Empire, but they did maintain trade contacts. Tacitus, in his study Germania, described the Aesti people, inhabitants of the south-eastern Baltic Sea shores who were Balts, around the year 97 AD; the Western Balts became known to outside chroniclers first. Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD knew of the Galindians and Yotvingians, early medieval chroniclers mentioned Old Prussians and Semigallians; the Lithuanian language is considered to be conservative for its close connection to Indo-European roots. It is believed to have differentiated from the Latvian language, the most related existing language, around the 7th century. Traditional Lithuanian pagan customs and mythology, with many archaic elements, were long preserved. Rulers' bodies were cremated up until the conversion to Christianity: the descriptions of the cremation ceremonies of the grand d