Accept the Right Challenge

We consider our daily engagements with various aspects of the material world as beautiful, bringing us great joy (and sorrow). Consider our desires for ALL things and beings that can be described by our five senses. These temptations ever goad us to aspire more, more and more such beautiful material things. Neverendingly. This results in an endless cycle of desires, our machinations to attain them, eventual dissatisfaction and sadness. That same desire, which we aspired for so much, eventually leads to disappointment and sorrow. This continuous cycle of sprouting of desires and their death, is what we need to #Cancel. Continue reading “Accept the Right Challenge”

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:


Devotion is … Flower Market, Dadar

Dadar Flower Market under the bridge by the Dadar Railway Station is one of my favorite places to visit in #Mumbai. It is verily a street photographer’s paradise. Stall owners are super nice, and the flowers are fresh heaped, fragrant and colorful. Loads of #Champae #plumeria (?) delicately woven, melt even the stingiest of heart. I surprised M’s family with a champae stringer.

Entire families of flower weavers live under this bridge. Many generations eat, sleep and weave here.

I love the symbolism in this pic.

What adorns the head of the greatest of Gods is woven on the dusty feet of the street women. She toils away her entire life, but knows deep down that her work is her most cherished offering.

She needn’t climb any mountains, needn’t enter any temple, she needn’t offer any prayers; her work is her most heartfelt and greatest offering. This is Bhakti, and not what cheap, two-bit, fame seeking activists peddle.

Thank you.

Dev barae karo.

#Bazaar #FlowerMarket #BestofMumbai #IncredibleIndia

#incrediblePeople

#Devotion #Bhakti

#LifeUnderABridge

Meera with a head full of flowers

pic of Meera with a head full of flowers by Arun Shanbhag

At a recent ‘munji’ Meera got an opportunity to have her head decked with this woven flower buds. Those are Jaai buds from a village called Shankarā-pur near Karkala. One of M’s cousins brought those flowers. Another relative spent nearly an hour carefully covering Meera’s hair with the flowers.

She was one happy kiddo.

Grand Challenge Udupi

For Innovation to serve the people and move the country forward, we ultimately need to reach the most underprivileged in our society.  This was exactly our goal when we teamed up with the local government – Udupi District and developed this Grand Challenge.

The District officials under the leadership of Deputy Commissioner Smt Priyanka Mary Francis and Assistant Commissioner Shilpa Nag, picked issues they grappled with most.
Continue reading “Grand Challenge Udupi”

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Rembrandt's Night Watch at Rijksmuseum Netherlands by Arun Shanbhag
For as long as I can remember, a visit to the Rijksmuseum was on my short list. For nearly a decade, it was closed for renovations. When it reopened a few years ago we started planning a long trip. We planned an entire day for the Rijksmuseum. Nothing else would do it justice.
Continue reading “Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam”

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.

Keukenhof Gardens: Tulips Overdose

pic of tulips at Keukenhof Gardens Lisse Netherlands by Arun Shanbhag
When we were planning a trip to The Netherlands, I was thinking of immersing myself at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, while M was dreaming of the tulips, i.e. the Keukenhof gardens in Lisse, a quick bus ride from Schiphol Airport. Of course we did both, and much more.

It was a bright, cool day in early May. Apparently they have more than 7 million tulips over ~80 acres of well maintained grounds, and they were all in bloom! The colors and fragrances were simply overwhelming. I was close to getting a “Tulip induced migraine!” For a break, we stepped into the gift shop(s) and of course, more tulips.
Continue reading “Keukenhof Gardens: Tulips Overdose”

TU Delft – Innovation Starts with Space

Arun Shanbhag TU Delft Industrial design pics

During a recent holiday in the Netherlands, we got a chance to visit the Industrial Design School of the Technical University of Delft, thanks to Prof Jan Carel Diehl. I was struck by the design of their open lobby space and how they had created various nooks and crannies with simply different styles of furniture and lighting. The school building was a reconverted warehouse, so they had maintained the cavernous interiors, high railings and steep metal stairs. Everything on the main floor is movable and yet provides a cozy work environment for student teams.

It was an average Thursday afternoon and you can sense the intensity of the students working. No doubt it’s one of the top design and innovation centers in the world.

Video: Meera Loves Boxes

When we go for a walk and Meera sees a cardboard box in someone’s trash, she wants it.  One time she made me carry a big water-heater box back home.  With some box cutters, duck tape, paint, binder clips and a big dose of Meera’s creativity, we made a Rocket Ship!  She and her friends have more fun with this Rocket Ship and many, many expensive, store bought gifts.

This girl is ruling my life! Love her.

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

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”

Kini Hotel, Kumta

pics of chai and breakfast at Kini Hotel Kumta by Arun Shanbhag

This tiny tea shop in Kumta is my main eating and meeting place in Kumta. It’s in the main paent (market) and only a few steps from the Shanteri Kamakshi Devasthan and the Venkatraman Muth/Devasthan. Continue reading “Kini Hotel, Kumta”

Kumta Street Vegetables

In the Kumta market, these women set up shop early in the morning before the crowds got there. Those vegetables look so delicious! It was March, so the variations of brinjals/eggplants were in season. You will also find konkani classics padwal, ghosalae, muLi (radish), tambdi bhaji (red leaves), vaaLi (green creeper leaves), muggae, karate, maskaa sang, jaam and others. If you notice others, let me know.
photos of fresh vegetable vendors on Kumta Street by Arun Shanbhag Continue reading “Kumta Street Vegetables”

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