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Shri Hanuman - Biography of a Masterful Servant
Published in April 2008
In theology or tradition of devotion, no god of any pantheon in India is venerated so much for redeeming in crisis as Hanuman....Whatever Rama's attributes as the supreme God or Vishnu's incarnation, when broken hearted he wandered in search of Sita, Hanuman came to his aid....Accounts of Hanuman's birth and parentage in the Ramayana, Skanda Purana, Bhavishyottara Purana, Brahmananda Purana and some other texts are almost identical....Jain texts have quite a different legend of Hanuman's birth....Once Shiva, disguised as a monkey trainer, visited Ayodhya with Hanuman as an ordinary monkey dancing for its master....A monkey-like face and tail apart, the images of Hanuman, wearing a helmet-type crown and loincloth, pursue norms of human anatomy....Hanuman He breeds contemplative seriousness.
Tara and the Cult of the Female in Buddhism
Published in March 2008
The feminine tenderness...define the epitome of Buddhist iconographic perception and art... Compassion - the softest aspect of being, man or divine, which was the core of Buddhism, best revealed itself in a female frame... The female in Buddhism...was its psychological need and comprised its spiritual structure... Tara, the principal Buddhist goddess conceived with a wide range of attributes and personality aspects, has in Buddhism the same status as Devi or Durga in the Brahmanical... White Tara manifests in seven forms... Many of Tara's forms are merely her attributes.... She is one throughout. Her attributes are two-fold, pacific and angry, or five-fold according to five sacred colors, pacific being white or green, and angry red, yellow or blue...
Saraswati From Vedas To Our Altar
Published in February 2008
One who has her origin direct from the mouth of God is Saraswati....When talking of Ushas the Rig-Veda alludes to her as one who unveils herself to the sun as does a bride before her groom...The Rig-Veda liberally elaborates her personality, spiritual in particular - something it has not sought to do in case of most other deities...The Yajur-Veda treats her almost like a physician...The Puranas, too, take up the issue as to whether Saraswati was a river or a goddess and also seek to settle it finally....Puranas attribute to Saraswati several exploits involving unique wisdom and prowess....Her figures brim with unique vigour and timeless youth....Kashmir's classical script is named as Sharda after her name....Saraswati is an auspicious presence that elevates the mind and promotes right knowledge.
Jatakas: A Tale-Tell Vision of Buddhism
Published in January 2008
Jatakas were the tales that emanated direct from the mouth of the Great Master....Jatakas are the root source for a number of stories in the Pancha-tantra except that unlike the Jatakas which aimed at educating common masses the stories of the Pancha-tantra were composed for educating princes....Quite like the theory of evolution, the Buddhism saw every entity as something evolved after a long chain of births, a flower taking millions of years before it evolved as a flower.....Each Jataka has its own lead role hero, other characters, set of events, places where the drama is enacted and the perfection which it reveals....The world of the Jatakas is absolutely human. Whatever a being's birth – man, bird, animal, serpent, god, Kinnara, Yaksha, Gandharva, ghost…, it behaves like a human being and speaks his language using his diction and idiom.....Long ago, king Mahajanaka ruled Mithila. He had two sons, Aritthajanaka and Polajanaka....Whatever without possessions would not be destroyed. He decided to renounce kingship and palace as they abounded in greater possessions.
The Poetics of Pretext - Krishna's Names in the Bhagavad Gita
Published in December 2007
Once Shri Krishna knocked at Shrimati Radharani's door....Krishna introduced himself with various names, the meanings of which were taken differently by Radharani than that intended by him....In the Bhagavad Gita there are forty different names used by Arjuna to call upon Shri Krishna.....Obeying Arjuna's command, Krishna drove the chariot in between the two armies.....Krishna is the ultimate attraction, and like a magnet drawing iron files towards it, he too naturally attracts his devotees....Here there are two modes of addressing Krishna: Keshava and Bhagvan, both of which are loaded with spiritual and contextual relevance....The 'nameless' has a thousand names and it is through these names that the 'nameless' is to be realized.
Lost and Found: The Universal Biography of Two Swans
Published in November 2007
It was there that the king laid his eyes on a charming damsel of superb beauty....She was of an attractive dark complexion and was wearing a yellow colored sari.....Every living entity is supposed to be the king of its own body since it has the full freedom to use the body as it likes....We sometimes wish to obtain a beautiful wife, for which Goddess Parvati needs to be worshipped....In the world, whether one is a man or a woman, one wants to enjoy.... A man wants to enjoy a beautiful woman, while a woman wants to enjoy a powerful man....Since no one in this world would mate with her willingly....All men in this world were women in their previous births.
Navaratri - Celebrating the Symbolic Vision of the Goddess
Published in October 2007
It is only the supremely compassionate Goddess Durga who gives space in her image to the principal demon she has killed, thus ensuring that he too is worshipped along with her....The goddess as restful sleep is an apt metaphor signifying her motherhood.....While our whole day is spent in emptying our shakti, the compassionate goddess takes it on herself to continue replenishing it.....Sheds a clear enough light on the essential nature of the goddess, as no dry philosophical treatise can manage to do....Maya being none else than the goddess' divine power of self-concealment...
Embracing at Times Square: Learning Love from The Gopis of Vrindavan
Published in September 2007
The only true male in this world is Krishna, while the rest all are females....Loving god is different than merely believing in him....Of all the emotions in man, kama, or desire, is the strongest because he is born due to it....The gopis of Vrindavana are the ideal teachers from whom one can learn the art of loving god....A gopi is one who keeps her love and lover secret....In the highest state of love, there is no restraining screen between lovers....As Lakshmi tenderly presses Vishnu's feet with affection he dozes off in his yoga nidra....The same god who rules over the world runs barefoot after cows in Vrindavana....To catch her attention, Krishna walked slowly in front of her with a slow and dance-like gait....The gopis' affection for Lord Krishna is a supreme tribute to the creative power of love.
Avatara - When, Why and How?
Published in August 2007
To get to the root of the concept of avatara, we also have to understand the meaning of dharma... The Indian tradition visualizes god and man as eternal companions.... Krishna clearly states why he takes avatara.... This seems like using a missile to kill a mosquito?....Incarnation has a higher purpose than the mere killing of evildoers... What kind of example can a god lamenting for his wife set for the world?... Krishna's lila is not to be emulated but meditated upon... What sort of message does god when taking the form of a pig (Varaha), or a fish want to deliver?... When the same current lights up a bulb it becomes especially manifest.
From Python to Prostitute: Learning from the Guru in Each
Published in July 2007
She imagined each successive man to be a wealthy client who would give her plentiful money in return for her body....A mosquito drills through our own bodies to extract the red water that is its natural nourishment....Like the python, one should eat food obtained without any special effort....Acquisition of whatever we crave for is a certain source of misery. One who realizes this and overcomes the propensity for possession, becoming a have-not, enjoys everlasting happiness....Like a child I care for neither honor nor dishonor. I have no responsibility of home and family, and wander carefree in this world....She broke her bangles one by one, until only two remained on each wrist.....The serpent takes it easy, spending his time very conveniently, inhabiting holes made by others.
A Drop Becomes the Ocean: Bhakti and the Art of Living
Published in June 2007
One of the travelers was a sadhu (saint). His reaction was opposite to the general one....There is no difference between god and his devotees....In the Mahabharata, Queen Draupadi once asked Krishna why he came so late to prevent her disrobing?....Here we recall Krishna, even though he is the supreme lord of the universe, running helplessly scared of his mother....When Radha woke up she saw him lying near her. From his whole form radiated her name: Radhe Radhe. She too then fainted in intense ecstasy.....Chanting thus, she would toss one grain of rice into a bowl, and only use rice from that container for her consumption. She truly embodied the ideal of the Gita, where god says: Whatever you eat, O Arjuna, do it as an offering to me....
Devi: A Journey Through Texts and Contexts
Published in May 2007
Rigveda acclaims that 'he who is described as male is as much the female....When invoking her in her entirety, describing her beauty, limb to limb, these hymns did not stop short of anything....Devi Bhagavata is the foremost of scriptures that consider Devi as the Adishakti, the divine power that preceded all things, all beings and all gods....Devi Mahatmya in the Markandeya Purana and other texts relate her origin to the elimination of Mahishasura, a mighty demon who once ruled the earth.....She also created her 'shaktis', subordinate powers.....As Kali she was ferocious, as Durga, valorous, and as Parvati, Uma or Gauri, lovable and incomparably beautiful.
The Gita Govinda: A Journey Into Realms Of Delight
Published in April 2007
Krishna is realised in love and in his love reveals the supreme good; all fetters break and the loved one unites with him in absolute oneness....In between the period, when he left with Radha and made love with her, the child Krishna grows to such manhood as gives him competence to make love with a far matured woman. It was obviously a mystic magnification, not a growth on the scale of time....In the love-war passes the whole night....
The Beauty of Beauty: An Aesthetic Journey Into The Ramayana
Published in March 2007
To call anything beautiful is always the highest form of aesthetic praise....Sita was rendered mute like an untouched vina....Gold when heated shines in even greater splendor....Sita's braid is like a serpent, making it clear that it would be fatal for a man (except her husband) to touch her....Hanuman's quest is suggestive of a much deeper symbolism than a mere search for the 'physical' Sita....Bhakti is not a path, but the goal of life....The supreme feminine emotion is to nourish her children....Rama is beautiful because of Sita.
Parvati's Quest: Understanding the Essence of Shiva
Published in February 2007
Shiva is an embodiment of the three principal themes of Indian philosophy....The marriage of Shiva and Parvati was preceded by a long interval of courtship. It was no ordinary engagement however....Shiva was tempted enough to touch her, and Parvati, tantalizing him, withdrew....She would exist only as an intense flame burning for Shiva....Tapasya means to gradually start bringing restraint into our lives....She was no different from the way trees live in this world....Though he possesses nothing, he is the source of all possessions....Inevitable union between male and female…
Dying After Death: The Buddha's Final Liberation
Published in January 2007
To understand Buddha's approach to death we have to go back to his life....Death is the only certainty in this uncertain world....The only way to defeat death was to die before death....suggesting each of us to live like islands, detached from the world....Whether my body remains or I pass away - it will be the same, because even then my Dharmakaya (the Dharma preached by me) will remain in this world.....Out of compassion for his fellow beings, Buddha continued to survive physically even after Nirvana.
Textiles and Costumes in Early India
Published in December 2006
Three conventionalised modes of clothing - one, for the divine female representing fertility, abundance and beauty; two, for an ecclesiastical being; and three, for an entertainer....defined his distinction, rank and role in society. Manu prescribes Brahmins' sacred thread to be made from cotton yarn. No two figures in Ajanta murals wear a similar costume. Ajanta damsels knew multifarious styles of putting on a sari. Ordinarily, a sari was tied on pelvis wrapping both legs....It was worn on body's middle part, that is, from breasts to knees....Designer Blouse from Ajanta which can be the Envy of any Modern Woman.
Living Like Trees: The Hindu and Buddhist Ideal of Sharing
Published in November 2006
With a guest come all the gods. If a guest is honored, so are they; if he goes away disappointed, they are disappointed too. The Bhagavad Gita calls such an opportunity a direct gateway to heaven. The householder dutifully bowed before the god arrived in the form of the dogs and their master. Buddhism lays special emphasis on placing oneself in the position of others. Dana is not only the act of giving, but the mental state of liberality as well.
The Psychology and Practice of Pleasure: Explorations in the Kama Sutra
Published in October 2006
Brahmin Shvetaketu... decided to unravel before the world an authoritative scripture channelising man's animal instincts into a disciplined practice of pleasure... he undertook to rearrange the text originally presented by Nandi, the bull of Shiva, in a thousand chapters... Vatsyayana, the celebrated author of the Kama Sutra, condensed it further into the thirty-six chapters that exist today... the intention of the Kama Sutra is to link pleasure with virtue, and it is all about not being a slave to sensual desire... The pleasure that arises at the time of the physical senses and the mind and the heart enjoying their natural objects, is Kama... In Dharma, Artha and Kama, the preceding one is better than the succeeding one... Vatsyayana establishes Kama as an independent branch of study, declaring physical desire to be an integral need of the body,... in ethical rhythm with Artha and Dharma.
From Heaven to Household: The Many Tales of Shakti
Published in September 2006
A virgin blooming with fresh youth, the luster of her body was like the rising sun. Three-eyed, her face was endowed with the beauty of ten million cupids (Kamadeva)...Blossoming breasts which surpassed even the buds of a lotus (in softness)...Wishing to pay obeisance to her, the gods then got down from their chariot and approached the goddess. No sooner had they done so than she transformed them all into beautiful, young maidens....A weak man is declared to be without any Shakti, nobody says that he is without Shiva, or without Vishnu. They are all called Shakti-less; no one says that this man is Shiva-less…
Ajanta: A Journey Into the Religio-Aesthetic Kingdom of Buddhist Art
Published in August 2006
Coleridge is not known to have ever seen Ajanta but in his words reverberates the same mystique as one experiences when visiting Ajanta....imagery at times was closer to flesh rather than spirit....Even the figure of the monk Mahajanaka has been modeled much on sensuous lines.Ajanta sculptures reveal a conscious attempt at capturing the grace, sublimity and spirituality....Ajanta sculptures are mostly reliefs. The Mahayana variation of Buddhism promoted polytheism in Buddhism and with it the cult of worshipping Bodhisattvas emerged with an irresistible appeal. Endowed with humanistic qualities and spirit of self sacrifice, Bodhisattvas comprised more popular theme of Ajanta sculptures. As much significant is the presence of the child-eating evil spirited-goddess Hariti with a child in her lap. Most magnificent and glaring aspect of Ajanta is its mural art, which been the fountain-head of the entire painting tradition in India.
The Narrative Essence of Buddhist Art
Published in July 2006
The Buddhist art, which... revolutionized the art scenario of the entire ancient Indian sub-continent, was essentially a narrative art.... In that age with little literacy... oral and visual narration... was the traditional tool of... stimulating a mind to know; and, the Buddhist art seems to have best exploited it... Narration... was thus the prime or perhaps the only mode of communication in the entire ancient world, not India alone...Buddhist art was conceived thus more or less as a visual alternative of its scriptures, and narration was the essence of both...The legend of Buddha's life, in this birth as also in previous births, is the main subject-matter of Buddhist narratives...The events emerging...might belong to more than one story. This Buddhist model of narrative visual art...is the proto-model of India's visual narrative art.
Krishna's Dance with the Female Cowherds - A Joyous, Spiritual Narrative
Published in June 2006
After having returned the clothes of the unclad maidens bathing in the sacred waters of river Yamuna, Krishna congratulated them for their unflinching devotion towards him and promised that he would sport with them during the forthcoming autumn nights...The gopis' escape from the shackles of worldly life was not however without event...Truly, Krishna is the ultimate attraction, much like a magnet draws iron files towards it...whatever emotion is directed towards god, it should be intense and continuous...the gopis puffed up with pride and each regarded herself as special...the gopis forgot their agony of separation (viraha), and on physical contact with him (anga sanga) felt all their desires fulfilled...
Lord Mahavira and His Philosophy
Published in May 2006
Born in an era of social disparity, killing and violence ....Lord Mahavira emerged as a reformist, thinker, law-giver and guide....re-defined sanctity and potentialities of individual self - 'jiva' ...in attaining salvation - 'nirvana', by its own doing...the ultimate aim that he set before all 'jivas' was: 'parasparopagraha jeevanam'...Lord Mahavira was the last of the twenty-four 'Thirthankaras' of the concurrent eon...At about 30 years of age, he renounced the world after duly seeking his parents' permission...For over twelve years... he moved from one place to other, moving, knowing and meditating - all in simultaneity...Gautama with his ten Brahmin disciples was the first to convert to Mahavira's path...Mahavira's philosophy has eight principal cardinals...He also talks of Tri-ratnas - three gems, which are both, the means of the above as also their goal...
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डा. राजाराम शुक्ल (Dr. Rajaram Shukla)
Hardcover
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Guru – Jupiter Yantram (The Nine Planets Series, Navagraha Yantra)
Guru – Jupiter Yantram (The Nine Planets Series, Navagraha Yantra)
Copper
3.8 inch X 3.8 inch
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Paperback
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