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:


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.

Amma coming to Boston, July 2012

Mata Amritanandamayi Amma Devi Bhava Arun Shanbhag
Amma in Devi Bhava during her Boston visit in 2011.

Dates for Amma‘s (Mata Amritanandamayi) Boston tour have been announced and Registration is now open for the Retreat. Here, you can read about my fabulous, life-altering experience with Amma. Hope to see some of you there.
Continue reading “Amma coming to Boston, July 2012”

Break at a Marathi Village

During our AstaVinayak (Eight Sacred Ganapati Temples) tour, we stopped at a roadside eatery in rural Maharashtra. After a simple meal (roti & sabzi for us, yogurt and rice for Meera), I ambled over to the village square. Continue reading “Break at a Marathi Village”

Dussehra: Glory to Durga Devi 2011

Durga Devi preparation, Mumbai 2011 by Arun Shanbhag

Shristhī-sthīthī-laya kārinī
Cause of this creation, sustenance & dissolution

Wishing you all a Wonderful Dassara.
M&M & A

Continue reading “Dussehra: Glory to Durga Devi 2011”

Meeting Amma in Boston

Mata Amritanandamayi Amma

Prema rasāmrta varshini mātā amrtānandamayi |
Prema bhakti sandāyani mātā amrtānandamayi ||

Showers us with immortal nectar of love, O mother;
Grant us the capacity for love & bhakti (selfless devotion), O mother Amritanandamayi ||

Two weeks ago, I got the opportunity to experience darshan of Mata Amritanandamay, better known as Amma. What started as a casual email invite, turned into a life fulfilling experience. Below, I have used my tweets to supplement my notes. Continue reading “Meeting Amma in Boston”

Diwali: Madurai Meenakshi Temple

photos of Lighting Oil Lamps at the Meenakshi Temple Madurai by Arun Shanbhag
Lighting Oil Lamps at the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai

On this joyous Diwali,
Wishing you and all your loved ones
God’s amazing grace.

Coz, with it comes
Peace, Good Health and Success!

Happy Diwali
Meera, M & A


Continue reading “Diwali: Madurai Meenakshi Temple”

Bookseller in Goa

shyamsundar desai bookseller mardol goa Arun Shanbhag
With M & m in Mumbai, I stay at work longer, workout harder and run further. With friends, I laze around more; that means less blogging. But I want to share this beautiful pic of a bookseller I met in Goa.

We were on our way back to the Ramnathi Devasthan after visiting some Konkani temples. On the rural stretch, the driver pulled over to a roadside bookstall for a newspaper. I followed, wondering if here in the heart of Konkani Goa, I could find some of our Hindu scriptures. For long I wanted a “loose-leaf” version of the Devi Mahatmyam – the popular scripture detailing the genesis of the mother goddess, Devi. The kind used by priests for parayaN (chanting) in temples.

Here, a priest at the Ramnathi Devasthan recites the Devi Mahatmyam from a loose-leaf manuscript. Continue reading “Bookseller in Goa”

Diwali: Tribute to Lakshmi

picture of Devi Lakshmi Mahalakshmi Diwali by Arun Shanbhag

On this Wonderful Diwali,
May the Grace of Lakshmi bring you and your loved ones
Peace, Health and Prosperity!

Happy Diwali!
Meera, M & A


Notes are excerpted from my book, Prarthana: A Book of Hindu Psalms;
© Arun Shanbhag

Mahalakshmi

As Goddess of Good Fortune and Wealth, Lakshmi embodies abundance and prosperity. She is eternally benevolent and adored as the shakti or power of Vishnu.
Continue reading “Diwali: Tribute to Lakshmi”

Mahalakshmi Temple, Goa

Opening Pic: Maha Mandap (Great Hall) at the Mahalakshmi Temple, Goa

The Mahamandap (Great Hall) at the Mahalakshmi Temple in Bandivade, Goa provides a therapeutic escape from many of Goa busy attractions. It is a perfect place to sit undisturbed and commune with the divine. On this early morning, regular devotees went about their prayers silently and tourist laden buses had not yet arrived.

In front of the Deul (Konkani for Temple, also Devasthan), notice the Deepa Stamba (Light tower), a characteristic of Goa Konkani temples. Around the temple are guest rooms for traveling devotees at nominal costs.

photos of Mahalakshmi Temple in Goa by Arun Shanbhag
Deepa Stamba (Light Tower) in front and the Tulsi Vrindavan on the side

History of the Temple: Continue reading “Mahalakshmi Temple, Goa”

Varaha Mandap at Mamallāpuram

Mandapas or Cave shrines of Mamallapuram.

Pallava art Varaha Mandap at Mamallapuram by Arun Shanbhag

The Pallavas (4th – 9th century ce) were the first dynasty to rule over large tracts of present day Tamil Nadu. Their capital at Kanchipuram was at the cross-roads of the North-South trade in spices, gems and silks. Their thriving port at Mamallapuram was the export nexus for trade with the distant lands of Java, Sumatra and Cambodia. The prosperity of the Pallavas, permitted their artistically minded King, Mahendra Varman (571-630 ce) to be a patron of the arts, focusing on sculpture and replicating in stone, temples which were previously built in wood, brick and mortar. Their dynastic reign thus oversaw the initiation and development of temple architecture in South India. Their work influenced temples as far away as Ellora and across the bay in Cambodia.
Continue reading “Varaha Mandap at Mamallāpuram”

Kānchi Kāmākshi

pics from Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham Sri Kamakshi Ambal by Arun Shanbhag
Kanchi is verily the City of Temples. Poems composed in the 2nd century ce refer to a shrine dedicated to the love goddess (Kamakshi – eyes of love). The current Kamakshi temple (Sri Kanchi Kamakshi Peetham Sri Kamakshi Ambal) was built by the Pallavas in the 8th century.
Continue reading “Kānchi Kāmākshi”

Uma: Quencher of Thirst

It was a blazing hot summer afternoon in Hampi. As I walked out of the magnificent Vithala Temple, my throat was parched. Even my sweat had dried in this arid North Karnataka summer. The sight of this woman under a bright red umbrella, tending a cooler with drinks was an oasis of bliss to a weary traveler. I ambled over and quickly gulped two bottles of my favorite: Limca! Aaaah! I bought a few more bottles for M and the driver.

She charged me 12 rupees for each. I gave her the money. But ever eager to practice my kannada and engage in conversation, I asked here only jokingly, why it was 12 rupees here, while it was only 10 rupees in the city. She must have been surprised by my heavily accented and rudimentary kannada, and realizing I was joking, she started giggling. I could not keep a straight face and started to laugh too.

I made small talk, asked her name and generally how many drinks she sold in a day. Her name was Uma and she sold about a crate (of 12) each day. I estimated she made 4 rupees profit on each bottle, netting her about 50 rupees a day (slightly more than a dollar)! And for that she had to stand in this heat all day! And some one had to drop her here and pick her up in the evening. And she has not yet eaten! Life is tough! But she had a certain calm about her and I think this pic radiates her inner peace. And her confidence!

As I prepared to leave, I asked her again why it was 12 rupees for each drink: yaakae hutnerdu rupaiya?
Now she really burst out laughing, and I laughed with her. After a few moments she composed herself, then lifted the lid of the cooler, pointed inside and with a twinkle in her eyes mouthed a single word: Ice!

On this blistering hot day, she knew the magic word. For that thirst-quenching ice cold drink, I would gladly have paid twice as much!



I was gifted this small, yet well done bronze of Uma by my cousin brother Ramnath. He has a good eye for art work.

This is Uma (Parvati) as Shivakami – the beloved of Shiva, in a classic tribhanga pose. This is purported to be a late 18th century reproduction of the 11th century piece from the Kulottunga I era. I have had this for several years and I never tire of admiring it. It is small and fits nicely in the palm of my hand. I am drawn to her graceful pose. I am drawn to her exceptional beauty. I am drawn to the inner calm she radiates! And I am drawn to the confidence she exudes!

The craftsmanship is exquisite for so tiny a piece and we have no idea where this statuette resided for the last several centuries. The sharp features suggest she was not used for any puja. Prolly stayed in a noble household.

It is said that the easiest way to reach Shiva is to appease Parvati (or Uma) and have her champion you to Shiva! Perhaps it is that restlessnes in my heart that draws me to her. I certainly thirst for her grace! And every time my eyes fall on Uma, I know my thirst will soon be quenched.

Dassara, Dussehra: Celebrating Devi’s Grace

Devi Kamakshi at the Ramnathi Devasthan by Arun Shanbhag

Wishing you all a Wonderful Dassara.
All year around,
We are blessed by
Devi’s Grace!

M&M & A

Continue reading “Dassara, Dussehra: Celebrating Devi’s Grace”

Prarthana: A Book of Hindu Psalms

After five years of research and writing,
Prarthana: A Book of Hindu Psalms
was released on Ganesh Chaturthi, September 15, 2007.

This was my second book. When you see both my books juxtaposed on Amazon, you will nod: yup! only a Gemini could pull this off!

I am grateful that I was given this gift of compiling Prarthana in this form. With that also comes a responsibility of taking this message of our dharma to a wider audience. So I ask you to support this by purchasing a copy for yourself and your family.

With the festive season of Diwali soon approaching, you may want to pick extra copies for your friends and colleagues. Prarthana makes an excellent gift!

Get more details of Prarthana, as well as text excerpts at http://www.arunsprarthana.com
There you can also see details of the special pricing and how to buy it by credit card or check.

Prarthana is also available at Amazon for the List price.

I leave you with part of a review from Ellen Duranceau

… these prayers speak to something common to all of humanity: a spiritual impulse for light to dispel darkness; for connection to nature, to other people, and to the universe itself; for the courage to rise above our anguish or fears, to find hope and the best within ourselves, and to share our best selves with the world. In a time of great divisions, it is heart-warming to dip into another faith tradition and find common bonds, rather than alienation.

Saraswati, Lakshmi & Ganapati

print of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Ganapati posted by Arun Shanbhag

Growing up, such a print of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Ganapati adorned every home or shop, either as a calendar or a picture frame. I bought this poster from a sidewalk stall in the Fort area in Mumbai. Love the bright colors. Beautifully done.


Durga Puja – Dussehra

Durga as Mahisasura mardini from Badami by Arun Shanbhag

Most compassionate and beautiful,
Yet relentless in battle against evil,
Devi!
Shower us with your grace!

M&m amp; A


Durga as Mahisasura-mardini, Cave Temples of Badami (6th century).


See Durga Stotram (Ode to Durga Devi) from my book Prarthana: A Book of Hindu Psalms


Other Durga Devi / Dassara Posts:

Rāmnāthi Devasthān, A Konkani Temple

Main entrance and Deepa Sthamba (light tower) at the Ramnathi Devasthan, Goa
Main entrance and Deepa Sthamba (light tower) at the Ramnathi Devasthan

The Shanteri Kamakshi Ramnath Devasthan (place of God, or Temple) in Ponda, Goa is our family's ancestral temple. Millenia ago, groups of Konkani families settled in extended family-based communities in Goa. Each community had their own spirits, which protected them from evil and satisfied their spiritual curiosity. The spirits and associated deities also received gratitude for agricultural and female fertility. With time, these spirits evolved into a full-blown God. Ramnath was the benevolent God of our community. His two spouses (Shanteri & Kamakshi) probably represented the heightened fertility required for survival in those days. And we have our own ferocious spirit – Betal, who is responsible for ‘taking care’ of evil. Continue reading “Rāmnāthi Devasthān, A Konkani Temple”

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