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

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”

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”

Ganapati and Gauri Puja

Aarti of Ganapati Mumbai Arun Shanbhag

Na tatra suryo bhaati na chandra tarakam
nema vidhyuto bhanti kutoyamagnihi |
tameva bhantam anubhati sarvam
tasya bhasa sarvam idam vibhati ||

Sun cannot illumine him, nor the moon, nor the stars
Lightning cannot, much less this little flame I wave |
Verily, when he shines everything is illuminated
By his light alone all of us shine ||

~ Kathopanishad II v 15


Continue reading “Ganapati and Gauri Puja”

Makar Sankranti: Here’s To Longer Days

Makar Sankranti Happy Sankranti Laddoo pics by Arun Shanbhag

To Surya, the Sun God as he starts his Northerly trek

Grace us with Warmth and Light

Happy Sankranti to All!

Tiil gool ghya, goaD goaD bola!


Notes:


Diwali: Festival of Lights

Diwali Deepavali Greetings

On this festive occasion of Deepavali,
May the Gods grace you and your loved ones
with
Peace, Good Health and Success!

Happy Deepavali!
Meera, M & A


Previous Greetings:

Ganesh Chaturthi – The Day Before

Picture photograph of Ganapati murthy, Ganesh utsav murthy during Ganesh Chaturthi by Arun Shanbhag
After a few days respite in Goa and Kumta, we returned home for the Ganesh Chaturthi Utsav (festival). Over the next few days, our extended family home transformed into a festive temple. Resident cooks arrived and made traditional Konkani snacks (chivda, mando, shankar paLLan, masala shaenga, chuklee, etc). Siblings and cousins descended on our home. Professional flower stringers decorated our main hall in elaborate arrangements of plump marigolds. Humongous pots and pans, giant oil lamps and other puja accompaniments were retrieved from storage and polished to a high gleam. Continue reading “Ganesh Chaturthi – The Day Before”

Ganesh Chaturthi

Picture Ganapati Ganesh Chaturthi painting by Arun Shanbhag

vakratunda mahaakaaya kotisurya samaprabhaa |
nirvighna kuru mae deva sarvakaaryeshu sarvadaa ||

With a curved trunk and generous form
Whose splendor matches ten million Suns
Remove obstacles Deva!
In all that I do!

_____
Ganapati Bappa, Mowrya!
M & A

Ganesh Vandana – Tribute to Ganesh

The light of the Sun imbues our existence with life and summons our gratitude and reverence. Daylight breaking over the horizon is a very auspicious time for all Hindus, and heralds the start of a new day. A time for new beginnings, new hopes and possibilities. A pristinely beautiful time to thank the Supreme Being for our good fortune, to pray for the courage and fortitude to face old and new challenges; and to uncover our kinder and compassionate souls in dealing with his children.

What better way to start the day than by appealing to Ganesha, the elephant-headed God of Beginnings. Ganesha, the pot-bellied darling of children all over, is also identified as Vignesh, the Remover of Obstacles, and Vakratunda, One with the curved trunk.

Notes are excerpted from my book, Prarthana: A Book of Hindu Psalms, from the prayer Ganesh Vandana. © Arun Shanbhag 2007


Earlier Ganesh Chaturthi Posts:

Ganapati Flower Sellers:

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”

Cave Temples of Badami – Cave 4 of 4

See my previous posts on the 6th century Cave Temples of Badami, in Northern Karnataka:
Cave One is dedicated to Shiva as the impressive Nataraja; and Devi as Mahisasuramardini.
Cave Two honors Vishnu and his avataars Varaha and Vamana.
Cave Three is also dedicated to Vishnu, and holds some of the most impressive works of art of his avataars Narasimha.

Cave Four is dedicated to Mahavir and the 24 Tirthankaras.

As you step on the front porch, the pride of place on the immediate left is taken by an imposing sculpture of Mahavir.
Jaina Cave 4 of the Cave Temples of Badami

The craftsmanship of his facial features is exquisite and so elegantly portrays the experience of bliss. Gaze at this crop! Continue reading “Cave Temples of Badami – Cave 4 of 4”

Cave Temples of Badami – Cave 3

I previously shared pictures of two cave temples of Badami. These represented the zenith of the Chalukyan cave temple architecture from the 6th century. Cave one was dedicated to Shiva as the impressive Nataraja; and Devi as Mahisasuramardini. Cave two honors Vishnu and his avataars Varaha and Trivikrama (Vamana).

Cave Three is also dedicated to Vishnu and his avataars, and holds some of the most impressive works of art.

As we approach the caves, they appear as narrow slits in the sandstone mountain side. As you walk up and step onto the verandah that the true beauty of the sculptures becomes evident. Note that these caves are ‘open’ and have no doors or other forms of protection from the weather. Yet their grandeur has survived nearly 1,500 years.

Cave 3 of the Cave Temples of Badami

As you walk up the stairs, you step in between a row of beautifully carved pillars and on the right is the larger than life-size carving of Vishnu, as avataar Narasimha (man-lion). And what a majestic Narasimha it is. On the lower left is Prahalad, whose entreaties caused Vishnu to take this form to alleviate suffering of his devotee; and on the right is the cruel king Hiranyakashipu, who Narasimha disembowels on the threshold.
Continue reading “Cave Temples of Badami – Cave 3”

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.

Ganesh Chaturthi

Painting of Dancing Ganesh Chaturthi by Arun Shanbhag

On Ganesh Chaturthi
Wishing you all
A Blessed Ganesha’s Grace!

M&A

Notes are excerpted from my book, Prarthana: A Book of Hindu Psalms;
© Arun Shanbhag 2007

Ganesha Stotram – Hymn to Ganesha
The visage of Gaṇeśa (or Gaṇapati) is easily recognizable as the elephant-headed God of Knowledge and Wisdom. Gaṇeśa is very popular in all parts of India, and amongst all sects: Vaiśnavās, Śaivās, Śaktās, Buddhists and Jainās. He is considered the controller of, and thus remover of, all obstacles (Vighnéśwar), thus he is remembered at the beginning of all religious services. The likeness of Gaṇeśa in the form of artwork, sculptures or murtī adorn many homes and offices. Tiny Gaṇeśa figurines also grace dashboard of cars, and Gaṇeśa icons in a variety of poses is a popular gift for family and friends (from Prarthana).
Continue reading “Ganesh Chaturthi”

Cave Temples of Badami – 2

Badami in Northern Karnataka, was the capital of the Chalukyan empire. During the 5th to the 8th century, skilled artisans cut caves in the mountainside and decorated the insides with stunning craftsmanship.

The four caves are dated to 578 CE. The first cave is dedicated to Shiva and you saw some impressive high relief figures of Nataraja and Ardhanareshwara in my earlier post. I hope you did not miss the cute Ganapati providing mridangam support for Shiva’s dance! In a prominent niche in this cave, is also housed a beautiful sculpture of Durga Devi in the form of Mahisasuramardini, which I previously used in a Dussehra greeting.

Cave two is dedicated to Vishnu. Near the entrance is an impressive carving of Varaha Murthy representing the avataar of Vishnu. He is accompanied by the king Naga (lower right). He is holding goddess Prithvi, representing the earth, which he rescued from the deluge.
Vishnu as Varaha Murthy, Cave Temples of Badami
Continue reading “Cave Temples of Badami – 2”

Portuguese Inquisition and Revisionism

Due to my heritage and interest in Konkani Temples in Goa, and particularly our Kuldevata Ramnathi Devasthan I have been researching books on the Portuguese occupation in Goa. During the Portuguese Inquisition lasting more than 150 years (1560 – 1812), the Jesuits made a systematic attempt at wiping out the Konkani heritage in Goa. Konkanis were either tortured and killed, forced to convert, or give up their lands and migrate. In a desperate attempt at genocide, all Konkani temples in older Goa were ransacked, wealth stolen and destroyed. It was the men-of-the cloth, who spread the horrors of the Inquisition, and later Anglicans who put political pressure on the Portuguese forcing it to end the Inquisition.

I have tracked scores of such books from the 18th and 19th century which shed a grim light on the atrocities of the Portuguese, all in the name of their God. In the midst of an enormous amount of historical literature, there are always the revisionists, trying to cast a softer glow on the Portuguese Inquisition. This one by an ordained priest takes the cake.

A few lines from his work and my related comments.
An Historical Sketch of Goa, Rev. Denis L. Cottineau de Kloguen (DK)
Gazette Press, Madras (1831), Reprinted pp 44-45
Also available digitized from the Library at Harvard College, Cambridge, MA; Pg 69 – 70.

Original text in italics is contiguous in one paragraph; my comments are in regular text. In this paragraph, the Kloguen is trying to defend the Archbishop D Alexins de Menezes.

DK – … Some acts of violence by the Portuguese agents may have been committed, both before and after him, but they are not to be imputed to him.
AS – Really! Everyone else is to blame, but not the Archbishop who actually had more power in Goa than the political appointee?

DK – It is equally false, that, followed by the officers of the Inquisition, he went armed with fire and sword, to compel the inhabitants of Salsette to embrace the Christian religion. The Jesuits converted a great part of them by the usual and most laudable means;
AS – Reminded me of the recent controversial remarks by Pope Benedict 16th: (from the NY Times) “… in Brazil, … native populations had been “silently longing” for the Christian faith brought to South America by colonizers.” The Rev is probably alluding to such an “innate longing” for torture and death.

DK – but in order as they thought, the better to detach the remainder of the inhabitants from worship of idols, they destroyed all the temples and pagodas.
AS – Much to the embarrassment of the Jesuits, many forced converts continued to visit temples and kept to their traditional Hindu ways. The only way to prevent this was to destroy the temples. How many is “all”? How many temples were destroyed in Goa?

DK – This however, had the contrary effect; and the Pagans, exasperated at this circumstance, rose up in arms, murdered five jesuits, and several Portuguese.
AS – Did the Jesuits really expect anything else? Note the choice of the word “murdered” when associated with the Jesuits and the Portuguese. BTW, when “all temples and pagodas” were destroyed, how many of the locals were killed? Smoothly overlooked. And really, when armed men go in and destroy peoples temples, wouldn’t you expect an equally violent response?

DK – The Governor then felt himself obliged to use arms likewise to reduce the rebels; and of course did not after wards permit the temples to be rebuilt.
AS – “reduce the rebels” here is an euphemism for “massacring the population”! And since when did the locals become the “rebels” in their own lands? Don’t the ‘rebels’ have the right to defend their lands, home and temples?

DK – But in all this, the Archbishop had nothing to do, and what is certainly better proved, are the good works and the pious establishments of Goa, of which he is the founder.
AS – Looks like he is an ideal candidate for sainthood, no?



My Posts Related to the Ramnathi Devasthan and other Konkani Temples:


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.


From Manasarovar, a Glimpse of Kailash

From Lake Manasarovar: A glimpse of Kailash, Day 11 and 12
Approximate Elevation: 4,560 m (~ 15,000 ft)

Reaching Manasarovar was only the first stage of our tirth yatra (pilgrimage). The plan was to rest for a couple of days in Manasarovar, and then perform a parikrama (to go around) of Mount Kailash. Tibetans also consider Kailash holy, and they too perform the equivalent of the parikrama, called the cora. But the parikrama was much more difficult and it would take three days to hike the 42 kms around the mountain passes. And during the second day, our hike would take us upto the high point of 19,200 ft. That is approximately a third of the oxygen available at sea level!

I’ll describe the actual parikrama in a later post, but first let me wrap up the Manasarovar pics.

For a long night we remained couped up in our tents, while the storm passed overhead. The next day was stunningly beautiful giving us all a chance to rest and enjoy the lake. Around mid-morning the clouds cleared and we got our first glimpse of Kailash in the distance. Kinda resembles the linga and yoni we see in a Shiva temple. The horizontal striations resemble the horizontal marks Shiva devotees place on their foreheads. The deep gully on the mountain face is representative of Shiva’s vertically placed third eye.

In the evening we walked along the lake and captured this different pic of Gurla Mandatha on the South bank of Lake Manasarovar.
Gurla Mandatha on the South bank of Lake Manasarovar by Arun Shanbhag

Continue reading “From Manasarovar, a Glimpse of Kailash”

Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal

You need to be called to participate in a yatra (pilgrimage). Without the assent of the Gods, any number of obstacles, reasons, excuses will crop up and prevent you for participating. Even in our family group, many dropped out for various reasons. I count my blessing that I could make this happen.

The yatra was difficult and at times fraught with danger. Appropriate then that we started by paying our respects to Shiva in the form of Pashupatinath (Lord and Caretaker of All Living Beings). He is the patron deity of Nepal and his temple in Kathmandu is worthy of a separate visit.

The temple dates to the 8th century (or earlier) with many later renovations. The Shiva linga is an imposing 3-4 ft tall with humanoid Shiva faces at each of the cardinal sides. The four faces on the linga are called: Tatpurush (East face), Aghora (South face), Sadjyota (West face) and Vamadeva (North face). The top surface facing the sky is called Ishaan. These are the names of the four side of Mount Kailash – the abode of Shiva-Parvati, and our final destination.

Above is the quadrangle leading to the entrance of the temple. On entering, you see the back of an imposing gold covered Nandi (bull) on a raised pedestal, facing the Shiva linga in devotion.
pics of Nandi at entryway of Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal by Arun Shanbhag

The linga is placed in a small square garbha gudi with doors at each face. Devotees can walk around the linga on a raised walkway. Priests at each doors accept offerings of flowers and bael leaves, place it briefly on the linga and bring back the prasad. Around the garbha gudi, Nepali women in bright red sarees light oil lamps and chant prayers. It was a beautiful scene – one I wish I had more time to savor.

The temple complex is a huge pavilion with 20-30 mini shrines around the periphery of the Shiva linga. Notable are the fierce-looking, bronze Kaala-Bhairav and a small temple with 125 lingas arranged in a maze. The lingas are placed knee high and as you walk the maze, you can touch all the lingas. Nice! There is a public cremation ghat right beside the temple, which I was not prepared to visit.

These kids were tending shoes and chappals outside the temple. They should have been in school instead! Rather than place money in the temple hundi, I gave money to these boys. They were puzzled, but accepted it. I intentionally over-paid the women selling flowers. They quoted in Nepali rupees, while I paid in India rupees (=1.6 Nepali Rs).
pics of boys tending chappals at Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal by Arun Shanbhag

A beautiful temple. Wish I had more time to experience this sacred place fully – would prolly require a whole day. Also wished they allowed photography inside the temple complex, so I could share the ambience with you all.


Kailash Manasarovar Travelogue continues: Monks at the Pashupatinath Temple
To start at beginning of Travelogue: Rendevous with Sagarmatha (Everest)

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