Mahalasa Narayani Devasthan, Goa

On every visit to Goa, in addition to visiting our kuladevata, Ramnathi Shanteri Kamakshi in Ponda, I visit a few other nearby temples as well. On this short visit to Goa, a kulavi of the Mahalasa Narayani Devasthan invited me to participate in the Palki on Sunday evening. I am so thankful for the invite and the visit to this beautiful temple. See also, Palki at the Ramnathi Devasthan.

This Sunday evening, the temple was packed with devotees and the Devi in her finery came out to tour the temple grounds. Beautiful experience. Devi Narayani getting ready in her palki.
pic of the Devi in palki at the Narayani Devasthan, Goa by Arun Shanbhag

Palki waiting for puja in front of the Shantadurga Devalaya
pics of the palki at the Mahalasa Narayani Devasthan, Goa by Arun Shanbhag

LaxmiNarayan and Shantadurga Devalaya on the grounds of the Narayani Devasthan.
picture of Shantadurga Temple at Narayani Devasthan, Mardol Goa by Arun Shanbhag

picture of the Laxminarayan Shantadurga Devalaya within the narayan i Devasthan Goa by Arun Shanbhag


A few of my Posts Related to Konkani Temples in Goa:


Banyan Tree at Sitā Cave, Panchavati

Panchavati gets its name from the five giant banyan trees making up the forested area where Shri Rām, Sitā and Lakshman spent a large portion of their exile. This is the first of the five banyan trees situated in front of the Sitā Gufa (Sitā cave) where she spent a lot of time during her exile.

There is a tiny cave where you can slither along, but I wimped out and waited outside while the rest of the family did the honors.

Venkateshwara Temple Coloring Pages

Ganesh Coloring Book
Nearly twenty years ago, I had picked up this free coloring book from the Sri Venkateshwara Temple in Pittsburgh, PA. It lay unused till I found it a few weeks ago. I am sharing here all the scanned pages, so you all can enjoy the sublime joy of coloring.

Download the PDF of SVT Coloring Book.

Coloring Books IS the new rage for grown-up gifts. Over the last year I have received beautiful coloring books, as well as collections of drawing pencils, pastels, gel pens and fine sketching markers. Oh, what joy! Give it a try and please share your works.

Consider perusing this Tirupati: A Walk Enlightens

Shriyah kāntāy kalyān nidhaye nidhayérthinām
Shri Venkatanivāsāy Shrīnivāsāy mangalam

Jñana Yoga or Karma Yoga, a difficult choice

pics of sadhu and lady at Panchavati Nashik by Arun Shanbhag

At the ghats in Panchavati, Nāshik, I was intrigued by this sādhu pondering the mysteries of sat and asat, while a lady was busy washing her cooking utensils. Verily a juxtaposition of the paths of Jñāna yoga and Karma Yoga. Which path to follow? This is a difficult decision for many to make. If you have not (yet) come across this quandary, consider yourself lucky.


See pics from, Neelkanteshwar Mahadev Mandir, in Panchavati, Nashik

Colaba Ganapati @ Millburn NJ

Friday Ratri Puja and Visarjan Puja
Bhatmaam has arrived and drinking hot Kaapi!

Friday Danapaar Puja
Live streaming of Friday afternoon puja


pics of Colaba Ganapati @ Millburn by Arun Shanbhag

Thursday Ratri Puja


Thursday morning Ganesh Chaturthi Puja
Here is the live stream of the Colaba Ganapati puja from Millburn, NJ.
Ganapati Bapa Morya!

Other Ganapati Posts:

Neelkanteshwar Mahadev Mandir, Panchavati, Nashik

Neelkanteshwar Mandir, Panchavati, Nashik
Panchavati is an amazing city with some very ancient and beautiful temples, and some very big problems of governance. The sacred temples get easily overshadowed by the trash everywhere and the lack of respect for the sanctity of this place. And it was not even the Kumbha mela. This tiny temple, the Neelkanteshwar Mahadev Mandir established in 1662 on the Ram Kund demonstrates the confluence of urban growth, apathy and the sacred. In dire need of the Swachh Bhārat Abhiyan. Continue reading “Neelkanteshwar Mahadev Mandir, Panchavati, Nashik”

Krishna Muth Udupi, Hanuman Shrine

Photos at Hanuman Shrine at the Shri Krishna Muth, Udupi, Karnataka by

Inside the Krishna Muth, Udupi, there are many shrines to different deities. One of the first along the corridor is the Hanuman Shrine. A small group of devotees were singing bhajans there. The light streaking through the door and tall windows lit the singers in a golden hue. I sat inside for a few minutes enjoying the music. Then bowed at the shrine and went to enjoy the rest of the temple. Continue reading “Krishna Muth Udupi, Hanuman Shrine”

Krishna Muth, Udupi

Photos of Main Gopuram of the Shri Krishna Muth, Udupi, Karnataka by Arun Shanbhag

After a long hiatus, I recently returned to the Shri Krishna Muth in Udupi, Karnataka. What a joyous, uplifting experience it was getting darshan of BālaKrishna (child Krishna). The temple and seminary were founded by Sant Madhavāchārya, in the late 13th century; it has since become the center of Krishna bhakti and Dvaita Philosophy. It is here that Krishna showed us his grace. One night as Kanak Dās sat outside the temple singing the glories of Krishna, the mischievously smiling child Krishna was overcome by the soul-stirring music and turned to listen to his devotee. Thus turned, he stands today. A tiny stone grill is cut in the granite side wall from which we get darshan. Continue reading “Krishna Muth, Udupi”

Peigutso Lake towards Saga

Kailash Manasarovar Yatra, Day 6: Peigutso Lake (4,400 m; 14,436 ft) on the Tibetan Plateau


photos of Peigutso Lake in Tibet by Arun Shanbhag
After lunch and pics of local kids, we headed west along a ravine and climbed a pass. There before us was the serenely beautiful Peigutso Lake. Overcast skies quickly gave way to more dazzling azure skies with bright cumulus clouds and turquoise blue water. The scene hushed us all and we simply stared in silence at the magnificence spread before us.
photos of Peigutso Lake in Tibet by Arun Shanbhag


There at that time, my mind was preoccupied by physical discomfort and I did not appreciate the view as much. It had been a few days without bathroom facilities or showers. It was biting cold and the wind was relentless. In the rarefied air I developed the characteristic high altitude-induced dry cough. While the medication (Diamox) ameliorated some of the effects, the cough and headaches persisted. Despite our sherpas’ best efforts at cooking, I was nauseous and could not get anything down. For most of the trip I survived on honey spread over thick rotis and warm yak milk. And ladoos and mithai I had carried from Mumbai.

photos of Peigutso Lake in Tibet by Arun Shanbhag

This is a yatra

And so on I complained about material wellbeing. It would have been excusable if I was on an exotic vacation and expected to be pampered. But I was on the most difficult and sacred of all yatras – where it should have been about the “inner journey.” The physical discomfort is essential to force us to divorce ourselves from the comfortable mundane of our lives and turn our minds inwards to pose the trickier questions: What am I doing here on this planet? What is my purpose? Who is breathing? We don’t need to arrive at the answers, but we certainly need to start asking these questions; wallowing in the discomfort of reflection is the entire purpose of a yatra. Many revel in such an opportunity and such a yatra prepares us to reflect more deeply on our inner journey.

Personally, this yatra was a beginning, transition to a new level, turning a key to unlocking more mysteries and ecstasy. I didn’t know it then, but the mental and emotional manifestations of this yatra will continue to unravel over the rest of my life.

(I edited and reposted these two paragraphs in Dec 2014, more than eight years later)

We continued our drive in the valleys between rolling hills, through ravines and water logged streams. We crossed the wide, peaceful Brahmaputra river and arrived at the chinese military base town of Saga. Here in the middle of the barren desert were all the amenities you’d expect in an army town – pool tables, bars, gambling dens and dancing girls. Girls with garish make-up walked the pavement, reminding us once again of the impermanence of material beauty. It was also the last opportunity to buy warm gloves, hats or other cold weather accessories.


Next on the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra: Brahmaputra and Onwards to Paryang
Start of Kaliash Manasarovar Yatra: Rendevous with Sagarmatha (Everest)


Lunch & Chanting at Saraswati Vidya Kendra

photos of kindergarten tudents eating lunch at Saraswati Vidya Kendra Kumta by Arun Shanbhag

I have previously written about the mid-day school lunch at the Shanbhag High School and the primary Saraswati Vidya Kendra in Kumta. When I visited Kumta earlier this year, I took a few video snippets of students lining up for lunch and the KG students chanting the blessing.

At the Konkan schools, teachers too have a uniform saree. In the video, you see them helping. Seniors serve the lunch, while teachers help seat the kids and serve seconds. Continue reading “Lunch & Chanting at Saraswati Vidya Kendra”

Pālki at the Rāmnāthi Devasthān

photos of Ramnath and Kamakshi in Palki at Ramnathi Devasthan by Arun Shanbhag
Hindus believe that all things animate and in-animate (manifest or unmanifest) are part of the universal divine consciousness. We generally refer to this divine consciousness as “That”
, because any attribute you give it is limiting (see Sant Tulsidas’ beautiful verse describing “That” divine consciousness; also this post on Dwija). In common parlance, we refer to “That” as Paramātmā or eternal soul (1). It thus follows that all humans are part of this eternal soul or Paramātmā. The corollary then is that Paramātmā too includes human qualities, strengths and frailties, and expresses human emotions. Purān and itihās (history) are filled with their anthropomorphed lore. In our temples, we adore our divine just like we would our valued guests. In the common Hindu puja, we pamper our divine guest with 16 services (shodasho upchār) like if she was a valued friend, like cleaning her feet, helping her brush, bathe, providing new clothes, jewelry, sumptuous feasts, etc.

Completing this anthropomorphization our temple bound deities like to go out on the town and have fun. Wouldn’t you if you were couped up in a tiny garbha-griha? Thus in many communities, devotees take their temple deities out for a ride in a specially designed pālki (palanquin) (2).

Every Monday evening at the Rāmnāthi Devasthān, Rāmnāth Dev sits in a pālki and is carried around the grounds. It’s a festive occasion with a small band playing and devotees chanting bhajans. Following tradition, the pālki has designated stops where aarti is performed and verses of the Mangalāshtak are chanted. Pālki is followed by a sumptuous prasād (yaay).

On special occasions, Rāmnāth Dev is accompanied by Kāmākshi Devi on his jaunt around the temple grounds. These pictures are from the recent Mahā Shivrātri when Rāmnāth and Kāmākshi went around the temple in their respective pālki (3) . While Rāmnāth sits in his simple pālki, Kāmākshi, verily the Goddess of Desire and Sensuality, tours in style, high on an elephant pālki. How cool is she?


Notes:
1. The word God doesn’t exist in Hindu vocabulary and is a Western construct.
2. In Mumbai you commonly see Muslims take their sacred deity out on the town; recently in Kumta, I noticed the local christians in a procession with their deity in a pālki.
3. Plural of pālki remains pālki and not the anglicized pālkis.

Pyāsā – Soda at Rāmnāthi

Photos of the Soda store owner at the Neeta Canteen by the Ramnathi Devasthan Goa by Arun Shanbhag

During Maha Shivratri, as I waited for a rickshaw outside the Ramnathi Devasthan, I shot pics of colorful soda bottles arrayed in crates. The hovering owner felt neglected and offers, “Maegel bhī photo kād” (take a pic of me too). I obliged. I loved the confident pose he struck in front of the red wall. You can imagine him in a previous avatār, curling his handlebar mustache and astride a horse. Quintessential Goa. For that, he gets the opening pic. Continue reading “Pyāsā – Soda at Rāmnāthi”

Agniteertham in Rāmeshwaram

photos from Agniteertham in Rameshwaram by Arun Shanbhag
Devotees throng Rameshwaram to take a dip in the sanctifying waters of Agniteertham

Just in time for Ram Navami


Visiting the island of Rameshwaram is considered a most auspicious pilgrimage; here Hindus pay their respects to Ramnathaswamy (Shiva) and it is one of 12 sacred Jyotirlingams. Continue reading “Agniteertham in Rāmeshwaram”

MahāShivrātri at Rāmnāthi

Photos of MahaShivaratri Festival at Ramnathi Goa by Arun Shanbhag
Ramnath Dev being taken out on a Phalki

|| Om Namah Shivay ||
Wishing you all an auspicious Maha Shivratri


More on the Ramnathi Devasthan Goa:


Enjoy these pictures from the Maha Shivratri Utsav at Ramnathi Devasthan, Goa

Swami Vivekananda Jayanti

Sw Vivekananda at the Gateway of India, Mumbai
Sw Vivekananda at the Gateway of India, Mumbai

For Swami Vivekananda’s 151st birthday, wanted to share these pics of the Statue of Sw Vivekananda at the Gateway of India in Colaba. And here is his speech at the World Parliament of Religion in Chicago in 1893. Continue reading “Swami Vivekananda Jayanti”

Thanksgiving In Boston

pictures of M & Meera at the Seaport Hotel Boston Thanksgiving Brunch by Arun Shanbhag
This year we chose to spend a quiet Thanksgiving enjoying a sumptuous and beautiful brunch at the Seaport Hotel in Boston. We started with the breakfast menu of warm croissants and smoked salmon, then crazed on argula salad and gigantic shrimp cocktail; delicious clam chowder, home made mashed potatoes, the bestest dry roasted brussel sprouts and salmon grilled in olive oil, lemon and capers (wow!). We did not venture near the traditional meats. Continue reading “Thanksgiving In Boston”

Hanumant Devasthan, Bhatkal

pics from the Hanumant Devasthan temple in Bhatkal Karnataka by Arun Shanbhag

In a spotless white dhoti, a white jhabba and a topi covering his pate, my abbu (grandfather) would stride purposefully to his pharmacy store in the Bhatkal (in rural Karnataka) paent every morning. Clutched under his left arm was an old-fashioned, wood handled umbrella, the black fabric faded by the south indian sun. When he walked, he did NOT saunter, amble, or loiter; he strode, like every cell from his heel to his head were marching to a higher purpose. Fingers on his right hand would count as he mouthed this mantras. As a little boy following him in awe, I was fascinated by the surroundings. Those dragon flies flitting about were hypnotizing; perhaps that quietly munching cow would charge; a cat meows, jumps on a low wall and scurries; a tribe of monkeys screeched in the trees; those naga (snake) stone in the fields tilted as they stood guard over centuries. I’d follow quietly. Continue reading “Hanumant Devasthan, Bhatkal”

Meera says: Shubh Deepavali – Happy Diwali

pic of Meera celebrating Diwali Deepawali in Boston by Arun Shanbhag(more Meera pics below)


On this joyous festival of Diwali,
Let divine grace light your hearts and
enlighten you minds.

Wishing you and all your loved ones
Shantih! Shantih! Shantih!

Happy Diwali!
Meera, M & A


Continue reading “Meera says: Shubh Deepavali – Happy Diwali”

Shingnāpur Temple to Shani (Saturn)

pics of saturn and earth, article by Arun ShanbhagSaturn has an outsized effect on the Earth; screen grab from Sky Walk app on iPhone

The gravitational pull of the moon causes the seas and oceans to bulge outwards resulting in tides, which affect all life on earth in dramatic ways. (Note: Latest research shows Moon phases also affect sleep cycles in Humans.) Vedic astrology (Jyotish) asserts that the nearby nine celestial bodies and phenomena also have unique effects on humans on earth. Thus Hindus recognize and respect the nine celestial phenomena (Navagraha) at the beginning of all Hindu pujas (religious services).
Continue reading “Shingnāpur Temple to Shani (Saturn)”

Ram Navami – battle against terror continues

Frieze of Shri Ram killing Ravana at the Khetapai Narayana Temple in Bhatkal by Arun Shanbhag

Wishing All
A Wonderful Rām Navamī
Bliss in Śri Rām’s Grace

M&m and A


The frieze above is from the outer wall of Khetapai Narayan Temple in Bhatkal, which I recently visited. This tiny stone temple was built ca 1546 when Konkani traders escaped Portuguese persecution in Goa and settled in Bhatkal. The Bhatkal port had become the primary port for trade by the Vijayanagar empire with its capital in Hampi. Continue reading “Ram Navami – battle against terror continues”

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