Goddess Parvati – The Most Complex Goddess in the Hindu Pantheon
When she took birth as the daughter of Parvataraja, she danced in the Himalayas, with the grace of a peacock. She is luminous like the Sun. Just as the Sun dispels darkness, the moment She enters the hearts of Her devotees, she dispels darkness. She resides in us as Antaryami. If the hearts of Her devotees can be compared to soft-petalled lotuses, she is like a swan that resides in these lotuses. She is the embodiment of the Vedas. She is responsible for Creation, Protection and Destruction. Parvati is the most complex of all goddesses in the Hindu pantheon. She mirrors the various roles of Mahadeva, the Supreme Purusha. As Prakriti, Devi balances the male aspect addressed as Purusha. As Lord Shiva’s consort, she is Shakti. Parvati is the most complex of all goddesses in the Hindu pantheon. She mirrors the various roles of Mahadeva, the Supreme Purusha. As Prakriti, Devi balances the male aspect addressed as Purusha. As Lord Shiva’s consort, she is Shakti.
Published in Oct 2021
Apsaras – The Captivating Nymphs of Hindu Mythology
The Rigveda mentions these Apsaras as aquatic nymphs. Atharvaveda introduces Apsaras as the inhabitants of the waters. It discusses their heavenly association with the stars, clouds and rain. The Satapatha Brahmana Samhita often describes Apsaras as transforming themselves into a kind of a marine bird. The Apsaras are seen in close contact with the woods and the wet. The Atharvaveda puts forward that the Apsaras are fond of the dice game and create the basis to bring in fortune at the dice play. They are also feared as causing mental void. There are two types of Apsaras - Aloukika (worldly) and Daivika (Divine). The apsara who seduces the sage is a common trope in Hindu mythology and can be considered together with the narrative in which a divine woman seduces a king. Whoever the woman, her time on earth is short for she must return to the heavens once she has achieved her purpose — either breaking an ascetic’s penance or, producing sons for a king.
Published in Sep 2021
Twelve Hidden Gems of Indian Art
Twelve Hidden Gems of Indian Art “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” ― Pablo Picasso From early petroglyphs to a flourishing contemporary art scene, India’s vibrant artistic legacy is the result of a variety of cultural influences. The diversity of art from this area—which includes anything created in the historical regions of modern-day India, Bangladesh, and areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan—is reflected in vivid, distinct, and enchanting styles that represent many different civilizations. Because some of the world’s major religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam either began or flourished in India, much of Indian art is based in religious or political subject matter. Although ‘art is a universal language’ is a term that’s become a cliche, even bastardised in a certain manner, it’s undeniable that it continues to hold true. Indians have often turned to the world of art in its various forms and medium, to use as an outlet of creative expression, exploration of one’s self and identity, as well as a reflection of society. Here are some 12 leading artists from India who have carved a niche for themselves and brought the Indian art to the global art world stage, yet are not known to many.
Published in Sep 2021
India's Metal Casting Traditions: Seven Millennia of Milestones
Contemporaneous to Harappan civilization, the well-known copper technology of the Middle East in Sinai and the Far East in China constitute a glorious past of ancient history. With the decline of Harappan Civilisation, copper casting technology opened new frontiers in mainland India in second millennium BCE. Daimabad bronzes owing even a heavy cast piece of 29 kg bore the evidence. That was an achievement over Harappan technology for casting heavy statues. Other than the casting technology there are a few references of forging technology in excavation in Harappan sites.
Published in Sep 2021
Ten Hidden Gems of Indian Painting
Ten Hidden Gems of Indian Painting In India, the divine origin of painting is narrated in the Mahabharata, which speaks about Nara and Narayana who were meditating in penance in the Badari grove. Indra chose this moment to send a group of celestial damsels to disturb their asceticism. Undaunted, Narayana took a fresh mango leaf and, with its juice on its thigh, sketched a beautiful form of a nymph. This sketch gave birth to Urvashi, whose superior grace and perfection put to shame all the damsels. Later Narayana passed the skill on to Visvakarma, who spread the knowledge in the world. This is how art is said to have been passed on from the deities to the upcoming generation of humans. Nonetheless, no art form can persist if legendary artists don’t carry it with them. It is skilful painters, who keep our rich traditions and legacy alive. Some of these were able to leave a mark on the world with their unique sense and renditions of painting. While India produced hundreds of artists, we shall read about a few of them, who changed the dynamics of paintings in India.
Published in Sep 2021
Folk is the new Chic – How to Style your Home the Indic Way
India has a long history of varied cultures, traditions, languages, rulers and religions. This has resulted in a multitude of architectural ideas, influences and styles (most of them centuries old) that have evolved from different parts of the country. Traditional Indian design is essentially forged in the crucible of multiple regional cultures. It’s diverse, multi-faceted, but full of colours. Using Indian decor ideas to add ethnic touches to your home is pretty workable, affordable and doable. Here are some common intersections of a few of those diverse ideas, and how they have found a space and are making an impact even in modern homes. Richly carved wooden furniture Wooden furniture, painstakingly and profusely carved with exquisite artistry, shouts vernacular Indian style. Intricate carvings in wood and marble were symbolic of prosperity in the olden days. As these were mainly seen in the palaces and forts of kings and queens, others aspired to display this ‘royal’ design element in their homes. It is not uncommon to find many traditional homes with beautifully carved window- and door-frames even today.
Published in Sep 2021
Ghazal – A Musical Expression of Divine Love and Nostalgia
Ghazal – A Musical Expression of Divine Love and Nostalgia The most popular expression of poetry in Urdu and Persian, the ghazal, is known as much as a poetic form as it is as a genre of music. The ghazal has roots in seventh century Arabia and gained prominence in the 13th and 14th century due to works of Persian poets like Rumi and Hafiz. Indian poets started writing ghazal in Urdu and Persian in the eighteenth century. The name of the poem is based on the Arabic word, ghazal, which means ‘talking to a beautiful young lady.’ Ghazal originated in Arabia long before the birth of Islam. It is a derivative of the Arabic panegyric qaseeda, which consisted of three sections: the naseeb, the raheel and any standard form of poetry. The naseeb was the introductory portion of the qaseeda that dealt with themes of nostalgia, romance and longing. The subject of the raheel was loneliness and isolated existence in current times. The third section of the qaseeda described pride in one’s ruler, tribe and morality. The naseeb developed into the ghazal, which became the most enduring form of poetry dealing with the themes of love, longing and separation. It separated itself from the qaseeda and became an independent and important poetic form during the Umayyad Caliphate (661-750), the second of the four major Arab caliphates established after the death of Prophet Muhammad PBUH. The development of the ghazal continued until the Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258), the third of four major Arab caliphates
Published in Sep 2021
Miniature Paintings of India – Transcending Intricacies
Miniature Paintings of India – Transcending Intricacies Miniature Art is an art genre that entails intricate brushwork, great expertise in craftsmanship and the mastery of many different techniques. As such, one painting will represent the work of specialists in several fields—not only what we usually consider as “art” (composition, colour and so forth) but also the creation of the painting surface itself and the many natural pigments, as well as each of the many steps between the initial sketch and the finished masterpiece. These paintings originated not as independent pieces but rather as narratives or illustrations for manuscripts or books. The tradition bloomed primarily as a means to reveal the Divine. It gained momentum with the revival of Vaishnavism and the growth of the Bhakti Movement in the 18th century. Devotional literature like Gita Govinda, Bhagvat Purana and Surasagara became the source of inspiration for the Indian artists. Even the paintings commissioned by the Hindu princely courts were an act of respecting the sacred scripts and religious epics. Eventually, there was some external influence as well. Here are some of the most prevalent miniature artforms that have survived the test of time.
Published in Sep 2021
Pratyangira Devi – The Hindu Goddess of Ceaseless Power and Vigour
Sri Maha Pratyangira Devi, a powerful aspect of the Divine Mother, is the mother of Moksha (liberation). She frees Her devotees of their karmas and from the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. She is the embodiment of Dharma (righteousness), Satya (truth), and impeccable justice. Pratyangira Devi is a Hindu goddess who is mainly worshipped by the Kshatriyas, a race in the Hindu religion that is known for its expertise in warfare. She is known for her power that repels any misfortune or fatal incident that can be caused by the force of evil magic. However, she is also worshipped as a deity who blesses her devotee with boundless power and energy. Pratyangira Devi is a destroyer of evil forces and demonly negative energies. She is also known to show the right path to her devotees the same way she guided and advised Lord Narasimha to stop damaging nature. Therefore, she has her own importance and reverence among the other Hindu deities.
Published in Sep 2021
Forms of Buddha – Inspiring Life, Art and Sculpture for Centuries
In Theravada Buddhism, 'Buddha' denotes to the one who has become enlightened through their own labours, perception, vision and awareness. A Buddha is someone who has comprehended the enlightenment that ends the cycle of birth and death and which fetches liberation from suffering. In the Pali canon, it is stated that Buddhas have appeared in the past and will also appear in the future. There were also numerous enlightened Buddhas who arose in earlier world-cycles and who preached the very same Dhamma that gives deliverance from suffering and death to all mature beings. The names of various Buddhas are religiously preserved by Buddhists, together with their age, their stature, the names of the trees under which they obtained Enlightenment, their country, and the names of their father and mother. They all have two chief disciples to assist them in their mission. Every Buddha has always obtained the supreme intelligence under the shadow of a certain tree.
Published in Sep 2021
Warli Art – The Tribal Art Expressing Life through Geometry
There couldn’t be a more comprehensive summing up of the core emotion of Warli art. An art form that is driven by everyday life stories and these tales also in turn become a reminder of traditional values and cultures cherished by the tribe. The Warlis believe that without the ahankaar, there is no kahankar. They have an advanced notion of communication. A story is not just a story, it is the passing of energy from narrator to listener. Warli painting is a form of tribal mural art created by the tribal people from the North Sahyadri Range in Maharashtra, India. The Warlis or Varlis are an indigenous tribe living in mountainous as well as coastal areas of Maharashtra and Gujarat. They speak an unwritten Varli language which belongs to the southern zone of the Indo-Aryan languages. The Warli Tribesmen and women are traditional storytellers; they follow the oral practice of passing down traditions, knowledge and culture. This oral tradition translates into beautifully painted elaborate tales on the wall of their houses, and other common areas of the community.
Published in Sep 2021
Buddha's Numerous Mudras - Why and Where to Place Them
For many centuries, Lord Buddha paintings and artefacts have brought in bliss, prosperity, and wealth. Both Hindus and Buddhists believe in this. Feng Shui and Vastu say that paintings of Lord Buddha have the power to increase the flow of Chi and this in turn brings prosperity and good fortune. Chi is the energy of life itself. One does not necessarily have to be a Buddhist to own a Buddhist painting. However, it’s good to follow these rules to ensure that you enjoy the flow of luck and prosperity. Peace, tranquillity, harmony and balance. Those are words often associated with the Buddhism, and thus the Buddha's likeness has become a popular presence in many homes as a centrepiece or accessory, even amongst non-believers. Buddhism has a range of different cultures and traditions on both a local and national level. But even though the style of Buddha statues might vary regionally, they can be recognised by their hand gestures, or mudras, which each convey a spiritual meaning.
Published in Sep 2021
The Fine Art of Metal – The Right Way of Sculpting
Metal art often only considered as metal wall art covers many spheres of both functional and purely decorative artwork. Functional like metal clocks, cutlery, and sleek appliances, and decorative like picture-prints on metal sheets, bronze sculptures, exquisite chess pieces, and décor accents. From wire metal filigree works and cast metal sculptures made from bronze, to ancient hammered metal cups and fine gold Egyptian jewelery, the resilience of earth metals and their malleable nature has made them one of the best materials to make beautiful works of art and crafts.
Published in Sep 2021
Exploring the Middle Path : Culture of Buddhism in Practice, Literature and Art
The world is full of very varied religions with unique characteristics. The believers of these beliefs often dedicate their lives to it, so much of the art, architecture and expressions revolve around their religion since religion is an important part of culture and in Buddhism, a religion of more than 500 millions of members is no exception. This religion founded between the 6th and 4th centuries BC in ancient India and that follows the teachings of Gautama Buddha is no exception, since it has shaped a large part of the Asian continent thanks to the knowledge, ideas, traditions and customs of this religion. In search of enlightenment. Before knowing about the Buddhist culture, it is important to know about this religion and the precepts that make it up, because at all times the culture revolves around it. According to ancient texts, this master was born in Lumbini, a city located in Nepal that today is an important pilgrimage site.
Published in Sep 2021
What Should I Do?: Dharma in the Mahabharata
The central question of human life has remained the same for as long as we have walked the earth. What should I do? As humans, we are able to think about our actions. We are able to ask ourselves about the meaning of these actions, understand likely outcomes, and grasp how our actions will affect others. That is an amazing power, but with it comes a tremendous burden of responsibility. And we seem to arrive on earth with no idea what to make of that responsibility. As if we were living life for the first time, we blunder about, learning hard lessons as we go, and rarely committing these lessons to memory. This confusion around what we should do is not new. And from the earliest moments of human existence, great thinkers have worked hard to understand the solution. The Indian subcontinent provides us with perhaps the clearest answer to our questions. It’s magnificent spiritual contribution to the human race includes in it the concepts and stories we need to resolve this confusion and move forward in our lives with clarity. It is in this tradition that we receive the concept of dharma, and we get a grand narrative that presents all the examples we will ever need to understand the role of dharma in our lives and the universe as a whole. We just need to listen.
Published in Sep 2021
Diwali – The embodiment of joy, victory and harmony
The majestic Indian festival season has already begun. No matter where we reside in this vibrant country and what faith we adhere to, if there’s one festival that truly ties us together, it’s Diwali. While most other festivals are celebrated in certain regions or are specific to a certain zone in the country, Diwali is celebrated widely across the expanse of India. Certainly, being the variegated country India is, every community, every region, every culture has its unique manner of celebrating this festival of lights. Commonly, Diwali is marked as the celebration of King Rama’s return to Ayodhya after his victory over Ravana, as described in the epic Ramayana. Alternatively, the basis of the festival is traced back to the Mahabharata, where Diwali is marked by the return of the five Pandavas from their exile in the forest. In a different tale from the mountains of Himachal, the great war of Mahabharata commenced on the first day of Diwali. Another story in the background of the festival symbolizes the day of Narak Chaturdashi, the 14th day of the second half of the month Ashwin (also known as Aswayuja, it is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar) and the second day of Diwali. It is the day when Lord Krishna exterminated the devil Narakasur and liberated the 16,000 women he had held captive.
Published in Sep 2021
Sri Balaji Venkateshwara ‘the King’ – The Deity of Miracles
Balaji, also called as ‘Venkateshwara the king’, is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Venkateshwara is known to be the only God who took birth to save the people from troubles of Kaliyuga. He will reside there in the temple till the end of Kaliyuga. At the end of Kaliyuga Lord Vishnu’s other incarnation Kalki will take birth and destroy everything on earth. This would happen when sins will reach its peak and there will be no humanity left. That would be an end of Kaliyuga and Kalki will destroy everything and formation of new Yuga will take place. For this reason, Tirupati Balaji temple is also known as Vaikuntha of Kaliyuga. Also known as ‘Kaliyuga Pratyaksh Daivam.’ Two stories are famous about Tirupati Balaji temple. One from Venkatachala Mahatyam and Varaha Purana. These two stories show that the land of Tirumala was pervaded by Lord Vishnu’s Incarnation. It is only after the 9th century that we see that the Tirupati worship has become big. Chola, Rashtrakuta, Chalukya, Hoysala and Pandya were at war but exchanging culturally.
Published in Sep 2021
Tanjore Art – A Divine Legacy of Gold in South India’s Cradle of Arts
There’s more to golden art than jewellery. Venture south to the Tanjore district in Tamil Nadu and witness the splendid ‘Tanjore Paintings’. Thanjavur is known for being home to some of the most famous historic structures in Tamil Nadu, including a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Brihadeeswarar Temple. But this dormant town in the state’s centre has much more to offer than just architectural marvels. In fact, for anyone with an interest in South Indian art, music and dance forms, Thanjavur is nothing short of a pilgrimage and thoroughly deserves the title of being ‘South India’s Cradle of Arts’. Tanjore painting is a popular form of artwork that originated in Southern India. These paintings have been popular from the 16th century and have evolved under the reign of the Chola emperors and are famous for its use of gold. When the Marathas invaded Tanjore in Tamil Nadu many painters and artists migrated here and under their rule, this art form flourished. This form of painting is distinguished by its use of gold and semi-precious or precious stones which is used to accentuate the design. Each painting tells a story, usually revolving around Hindu gods, Goddesses or Saints. In olden days, Tanjore paintings were placed in dark temple shrines by emperors. In a dim place, the gold used to enhance the painting.
Published in Sep 2021
Thangka – The Art Of Storytelling, Meditation and Enlightenment
A Thangka, diversely referred to as Thangka, Tangka, Thanka, or Tanka, is a Tibetan Buddhist painting on cotton, silk appliqué, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala. Thangka is also known as scroll painting. Roughly translating to “recorded message” in Tibetan, it is an ancient form of Buddhist art that originated within Tibet around the 11th century. These are densely illustrative, and painstakingly detailed, and serve as a striking centrepiece that can be appreciated by all admirers of Asian art. Buddhist thangka paintings are visually captivating and impressive — but there is more to them than meets the eye. Thangkas often focus on a specific deity and scene, and their form and surrounding details are often rich with symbolism, turning them into a medium for religious storytelling. Because of this, extracting all the intricacies and meanings from the paintings requires training. Tibetan thangkas were originally created for the purpose of helping the viewer or Buddhist practitioner on his journey to enlightenment. A thangka's characteristics like organization and juxtaposition of figures, repetition of figures, and size contribute to the storytelling of the painting.
Published in Sep 2021
Green Tara and White Tara: Feminine Ideals in Buddhist Art
"Goddess Tara, a female Buddha and meditational deity, is arguably the most popular goddess in the Buddhist pantheon. She is considered to be the goddess of universal compassion who represents virtuous and enlightened activity. The word Tara itself is derived from the root 'tri' (to cross), hence the implied meaning:' the one who enables living beings to cross the Ocean of Existence and Suffering'. Her compassion for living beings, her desire to save them from suffering, is said to be even stronger than a mother's love for her children."
Published in Sep 2021
Ganesha Chaturthi – A symbol of Unmatched Devotion, Celebration and Immersion
As beautifully captured by Adi Shankara, although Ganesha is widely regarded as the elephant-headed God, the Swaroop (embodiment or manifestation) is merely to denote the attributes of the Parabrahma Roopa (in Hindu philosophy, it is the divine deity that which is beyond all descriptions and perceptions.) The deity is 'Ajam Nirvikalpam Niraakaaramekam.' This implies that Ganesha is Ajam (unborn), he is Nirvikalpa (incomparable), he is Niraakaar (formless) and he represents the mindfulness which is omnipresent. Ganapati is also fondly known by the names "Surpakarna" and "Ekadanta." The meaning of Surpa is " winnowing basket," and Ekadanta signifies the one who is "one-toothed.
Published in Sep 2021
Demystifying Chakras - Understanding Symbols of Chakras
The concept of Chakras is intimately tied to the Kundalini Yoga practices. Our understanding of these ideas has evolved greatly over the centuries but these practices find their first mention in the ancient Hindu scriptures of the Yoga Upanishads. There are around twenty Yoga Upanishads believed to have been first codified over four millennia ago. The texts are contained within and form an integral part of the four Vedas. Kundalini Yoga, of which the chakras are a part, is a powerful yogic technique, and must be performed properly, to minimize unintended physical or mental side effects. Adverse effects are not uncommon when these techniques are performed in a manner disassociated from their true, original context. We must remember that a meditative technique is not a narcotic; neither is it a quick-fix to escape your reality. All yogic practices require an attunement of body and mind as a prerequisite. Kundalini Yoga even more so. The saying - a little knowledge is dangerous - holds especially true here. These techniques should only be performed under the guidance of an experienced guru.
Published in Sep 2021
Lakshmi and Saraswati: The Divine Duet
The role of the goddess as one who fulfills wishes has remained one of enduring strength and consequence. In the ancient collection of sacred hymns known as the Veda, this aspect of the goddess already becomes manifest. The two most shining examples in this context are The Great Goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati. Overall, the goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati are highly revered in Hindu mythology and are seen as the embodiments of wealth, prosperity, knowledge, and the arts. Their representation in art and iconography serves as a reminder of the importance of achieving a balance between material and spiritual wealth.
Published in Sep 2021
The Hindu Moral Stories
Today, Hindu moral stories are available in books, DVDs, and (as they have always been) through telling. But no matter the medium you prefer, they continue to do what they have always done: teach us about how to live. All told, Hindu moral stories encompass an enormous number of fables. The vast amount of stories from the Hindu tradition give us a near endless supply. And the best part? The morals at the core never go out of date. In fact, reading through them reminds us just how little being a human has changed after thousands of years. We still must help those in need. We must honor our friendships. We must be honest with the good and cunning against our oppressors. We must be quick witted but not quick to judge. We must not hesitate to act but never become hasty. We must keep our heads, trust our hearts, and protect others. Hindu moral stories give us memorable tales that impart this wisdom over and over again. On top of that, when we read or watch these tales unfold, we are joining in an unbroken chain of people who have told and retold these exact same stories since the dawn of civilization. It’s a thrilling thought to join as a link in this chain. That’s why it is worth celebrating the Hindu moral story and to continue this legacy into the future.
Published in Aug 2021
Living the Full Life: 50 Instructions from the Mahabharata
Bhishma undoubtedly is one of the central figures of the Mahabharata. When he was at his deathbed after the great war, his grandson and would-be king Yuddhishthira approached and asked him numerous questions encompassing all aspects of life. The dialogue between the two is one of the highlights of the Mahabharata and the instructions imparted by Bhishma give us an immense opportunity to lead better and more fulfilled lives ourselves. One particular part of the conversation highlights how we can lead a fuller, longer and relevant life.
Published in Aug 2021
Durga Puja - Worshipping the Wife of Shiva, Daughter of Bengal
"Durga Puja is more than the periodically observed navratra in the subcontinent..The akaal bodhon Durga Puja has evolved into great socio-cultural significance in the Eastern Delta region, and is the lifeblood of Bengalis everywhere...On dashami the next day, one could sense the pall that descends upon the delta...Ma Durga's time in Her girlhood home draws to a close. Now is the final throes of festive exuberance."
Published in Aug 2021
Bronze Icons of Swamimalai: The Last Bastion of an Ancient Craft
Swamimalai is believed to be one of the six sacred abodes of Karthikeya, the eldest son of Shiva... Apart from being a center for pilgrimage and tourism in South India, it is also the de facto bronze icon capital of India. The skillfully crafted Swamimalai bronze idols are some of the most sought after artifacts by art lovers and connoisseurs throughout the world. Swamimalai bronze icons embody a characteristic grace and precision, bringing together in a perfect combination, the skill of an expert craftsman, the imagination of an artist, and the sensibilities of a poet... Because of the use of the ancient method of madhuchishtavidhana (lost-wax method) the original wax cast is lost during the crafting and no duplication is possible. A fact that renders the Swamimalai artifacts truly unique and one of the most sought after metal icons in the modern world.
Published in Aug 2021
50 Characteristics of Kaliyuga
"Both the Mahabharata and Shrimad Bhagavatam give a vivid description of how things are like in Kaliyuga…. The following is a list of features typical to Kaliyuga…. A man will consider only those people to be his relatives who are related to him through….The ashrams will be full of show-offs who are experts in the art of living off the food of others….. We can save ourselves from Kaliyuga."
Published in Aug 2021
Iconography of Vaishnava Deities: Goddess Lakshmi
"Her epithet in the Devi-Mahatmya is Mahalakshmi. She is the wrathful four-armed goddess of battlefield represented holding in them various weapons…. A form of Lakshmi seated over a lotus laid over a golden seat and a pair of white elephants…. Except in some classical forms in Lakshmi-Narayana imagery Lakshmi is ordinarily two-armed…. Incarnation theory is the crux of Vaishnavism. Vishnu incarnates alone but Lakshmi also incarnates in simultaneity…. Though very rare some enthused artists have conceived on Ardhanarishvara line also Vishnu’s Ardhanarishvara images."
Published in Aug 2021
Living According to Manu: God’s Manual of Instruction for Life
"A man receives a wife given by the gods... Where women are revered, there the gods rejoice; but where they are not, all efforts are unfruitful…. The husband, tradition says, is the wife, They can never be cut loose from one another. This is the dharma made by Brahma himself….he king who bears patiently when those in anguish insult him will be exalted in heaven…. If the driver of a vehicle injures a man, animal or property, he needs to be punished along with the owner of the vehicle…. This in a nutshell, is the definition of suffering and happiness."
Published in Aug 2021
Krishna's Rasa Lila: The Vedantic Perspective
"One uniqueness of our Vedic religion is that it allows for salvation not only through renunciation (nivritti) but also through the path of material happiness (pravritti).... If dharma makes it mandatory that conjugal pleasure be restricted to the life partner, how is it that Krishna indulged in the amorous sport of Rasa with others' wives?.... Some stopped cooking, some stopped feeding, some stopped eating, some stopped washing clothes etc. and ran away.... Upanishads call the jiva in waking state as Vishwa and the dreaming jiva as Taijasa (Mandukya Upanishad Mantras 3-4)."
Published in Aug 2021
The Heritage Behind Jamdani Silk
Jamdani silk is a muslin cloth that dates back as far as 300 AD. It’s characterized by its loom weaving with grey and white thread, occasionally incorporating gold. The craftsmanship of jamdani silk has been passed down through the generations, continuing the tradition of floral and figurine motifs within the fabric. At Exotic India, we incorporate Jamdani Silk into our sarees with a vibrant spectrum of earth-tone and jewel-toned textiles. If you’re interested in finding out more about jamdani silk and other textiles, we offer several books on traditional fabrics. We’re taking a deep dive into the world of jamdani silk, looking at its fascinating heritage and the craftsmanship behind it.
Published in Aug 2021
Shiva as Nataraja - Dance and Destruction In Indian Art
"Shiva the Hindu god of destruction is also known as Nataraja, the Lord of Dancers (In Sanskrit Nata means dance and raja means Lord). The visual image of Nataraja achieved canonical form in the bronzes cast under the Chola dynasty in the tenth century AD, and then continued to be reproduced in metal, stone and other substances right up to the present times. The Chola Nataraja is often said to be the supreme statement of Hindu art."
Published in Aug 2021
Shiva, The Nataraja: An Enigma of Many Manifestations
"Contrarily metaphysicians and theologians perceived his form as it manifested in the Upanishads and Puranas….The ‘Advaita’ philosophy also contends that the entire Creation is just the extension of One…. Dance illustrates one of the ever-first cosmic acts with which Shiva seems to have tamed violent motion and separated from it rhythm, moves that communicated emotions and states of mind – human mind and the cosmic, and disciplined and defined pace…. Unlike Vishnu who resorted to dance for accomplishing a contemplated objective, Shiva has been conceived more or less as a regular dancer performing for accomplishing an objective as also for pure aesthetic delight…. Unfurling locks of hair and his snakes floating into space portray the dynamics of the act."
Published in Aug 2021
On This Path, Effort: Reading the Bhagavad Gita in Quarantine
At first, quarantine had a certain excitement. The news feed was apocalyptic. We reached out to our loved ones. We reconnected with far flung friends over video chat. We were all drinking at night and catching up on movies and reading. We made resolutions. We set ourselves to the task of cooking great meals, investing time in long neglected hobbies, and enrolled on unemployment insurance. There was terror but also the opportunity for the ultimate staycation. There was purpose to our isolation and a cultural sense that what we were doing was important. 
 But time moved on. The excesses of drink and streaming video began to weigh on our days. The confusion of at home work spaces and workout spaces and needing alone time from our families while desperately needing social interaction all bubbled and boiled like a slow cook witches brew. And at some point, the shared energy of it all seemed to break down. The news became a rolling, desensitizing mantra of COVID-19 — devoted more to the personalities of the daily press conferences than the pandemic itself.
Published in Aug 2021
Sita - The Silent Power of Suffering and Sacrifice
"people all over India will say approvingly for someone: "He is a Rama like son, a Rama like brother, or a Rama like king. " It is rare however to hear the following as a compliment "Rama like husband or son-in-law."... All of Sita's miseries in the confinement of Ravana pale in comparison...to the emotional trauma and humiliation she was subjected to by Rama himself. In a bitter irony, what was to be her moment of deliverance, turned out to be the beginning of another trial... Sita sets a high standard as an ideal wife who stays unswerving in her loyalty and righteousness, no matter how undesirable her husband's response... She emerges as a woman that even Agni - who has the power to reduce to ashes everything he touches - dare not touch or harm..."
Published in Aug 2021
Dharma: The Only Remedy for Modern Man
"No one spends even a single moment without doing some action or the other....We generally notice in history that almost all civilizations acquire a lot of material affluence in the beginning and after sometime they go into oblivion....We very well know that it is only the work based on well thought plan that solves problems and not our worry.....The success of any action depends not only on visible parameters but also invisible one....We are carried by the slogans of the times and move in the turbulent waters of life in a rudderless boat.....Want to give us a state of pleasure which is constant and never ending."
Published in Apr 2020
Ananda: Analysis of Happiness in the Upanishads
"We assume that our happiness is the result of an interaction with external objects…. Suppose that an individual is deprived of sleep and food and pleasurable objects for a long time and then all of them are simultaneously offered to him…. Actually, seeking the answer to this question is the most significant pursuit in life…. The veil comes up again and the duality returns…. In this background, we can now analyse the nature of dukha (grief)."
Published in Mar 2020
Iconography of Vaishnava Images: Vishnu
"There is Rama, the son of Ayodhya's king Dasharatha in his human birth, and there is Rama's divinity, his divine aura that overwhelms the Tulasi's entire Ramacharit-manas, one manifest - with attributes, and the other, unmanifest - without attributes. With main emphasis on his majesty in South Indian tradition this crown is taller than usual. His 'khadgasana' images are usually in three modes; one with his right foot moved forward represents him in a commander's disposition ready to rush for protecting a devotee in crisis or redeem him from some calamity. Harihara, a form in which he shares with Shiva half of the body. Basically a bird Garuda is seen for ages as Vishnu's ardent devotee, a learned human being and an auspicious presence, and in iconographic tradition often conceived with a man's face, anatomy, ornaments and ensemble. The Puranas are replete with tales of Garuda's divine exploits."
Published in Dec 2016
Auspicious Symbols in Indian tradition
"She has always believed that this would redeem her of her distress….A coconut, otherwise an ordinary dried fruit or the source of edible, or at the most, beauty oil, has always been revered as an auspicious object effecting good and well-being and the food that gods most loved….The tree in the Buddhist tradition was later identified as Bodhi-tree, seated under which Buddha had attained Enlightenment….Body gestures and symptoms, signs, indications among others must have been the early man’s tools of communicating oneself and knowing and understanding the world around….Kirttimukha was initially conceived as a mystical mask….Lion does not figure in the wide range of animal toys or figurines excavated from Indus sites."
Published in Jul 2016
The Light That Enlightened Millions (The life of Buddha in the popular mind)
"This middle path lies in between extreme asceticism on one side, and extreme indulgence on the other…. When standing under a Ashok tree, tired and exhausted, she raised her right hand for seeking support of a branch of the tree…. The unique balance that defined his entire life was pre-determined in this duality….One day, in the palace garden he frightened his attendants…. He ate less and less till his diet reduced to a sesame seed, and himself, to a mere skeleton…. Seven days after the attainment of enlightenment gods sent food for breaking his fast…. However, he postponed his ‘nirvana’ for three months till he visited the places he had reminiscences of."
Published in Jun 2016
Analyzing the Eternal Dimensions of Dharma Through Itihasa (History)
"Here is a fragment from one of the most poignant episodes of Indian history…. This piece of history is from the Mahabharata…. She was dying with shame but inside, like a true kshatrani (woman of the warrior race), she was burning with anger…. I have heard that women who follow dharma were never brought before a public court….Greed is the destroyer of dharma. I do not desire a third boon…. Draupadi was as forgiving as mother earth herself…. Just then Arjuna saw his dear friend Bhagawan Krishna approaching him…. “Leave him, leave him. He is a brahmin and worthy of our worship. Their mother should not cry, like I have at the death of my children."
Published in Mar 2016
Narada Teaches Yuddhishtra a Householder’s Dharma
"Whenever he gets the time, he should go and live amongst people who have given up worldly life…. A wise person should serve his body and family only to the extent that is functionally necessary…. The person who lays claim on the surplus wealth is nothing but a thief…. He should share all objects of enjoyment with everyone, right down to dogs, sinners…. Such is the attachment to one’s wife….How despicable is this body, which if buried is going to become the food of worms, or excreta if eaten by animals….Since a son is to thus revere his elders even after their death, what to say that he is expected to serve them when they are alive…. The person wishing to follow the path of dharma should steer clear of the five forms of Adharma."
Published in Nov 2015
An Example of Living Vedanta: The Story of King Rantideva
"The Bhagavad Gita, while describing the qualities of a wise person says…. This verse is vividly illustrated in the story of king Rantideva occurring in the Srimad Bhagavatam…. He did not believe in hoarding, was above all attachments and was highly patient…. They were all trembling due to starvation and thirst….bowed to the dogs and their owner…. What I want is only this: That I be able to go and live in the hearts of all beings and undergo sufferings on their behalf, so that they may become free from all miseries."
Published in Sep 2015
Ananda: Understanding the True Nature of Happiness
"We assume that our happiness is the result of an interaction with external objects…. Suppose that an individual is deprived of sleep and food and pleasurable objects for a long time and then all of them are simultaneously offered to him…. Actually, seeking the answer to this question is the most significant pursuit in life…. The veil comes up again and the duality returns…. In this background, we can now analyse the nature of dukha (grief)."
Published in Aug 2015
Shiva and Vishnu: A Unique Aspect of Their Worship
"Actually, the one who worships Bhagwan Vishnu should get rich and the one who worships Shiva should become an avadhuta like Him…. Then he works hard again to acquire wealth. I render all his efforts futile…. However, Bhagawan Vishnu is not like that, it takes longer to please Him…. As a consequence, they later harassed the great God Himself…. On the seventh day, he bathed in the holy waters of Kedarnath and began to cut his head with an axe to offer into the fire…. The boy bowed respectfully before the demon and asked…. No one who commits sin against a great person can be safe and happy in this world."
Published in Jul 2015
The Qualities of a Guru and How to Find One
"But to pull this statement out of context and give it as an advice for anyone is far from correct…. But how is one to recognise the guru? Obviously, he will be able to understand the difficulties of the disciples and clarify to them the meaning of the scriptures on the basis of logic and experience…. They will have to search in their own neighbourhood only….The guru chosen by him should be at least better than himself!…. Of course, if the ideal guru whose features have been enumerated in the beginning is available, then the sadhaka should immediately go and surrender to him…. It is just like going to another teacher for higher education, after completing the education in a school."
Published in Jun 2015
Theory and Practice of Karma: Some Salient Features
"Only a certain fraction of this karma is chosen by God in order to form the blueprint of our next birth…. The fruit that one experiences in this birth is due to prarabdha and a portion of the present agami…. Similarly, a fish in the Ganga does not accrue punya because of always living in Ganga…. A good karma can be annulled by a bad karma and a bad one by a good one…. Sometimes we also hear that prarabdha cannot be got rid of. It has to be spent through…. Bhagawan Vyasa says that for the full result of the karma to manifest, three things are necessary…. Then how to understand the statement that prarabdha should unavoidably be experienced?"
Published in May 2015
Varnashrama Dharma: A Logical View
"It concedes that for an orderly social life a division into four groups based on the principle of varnadharma is necessary…. Each individual sometimes acts in a sattvika manner while at other times he may act in rajasic or tamasic manner, which means that the manifestation of a particular guna depends on circumstances…. Though all the three gunas are present in everyone, different persons are driven to act differently…. The karma that I have to perform should depend on my inherent gunas and should have the ability to regulate these gunas…. There is no instant transition to moksha…. An individual has to make his way towards moksha only through worldly life."
Published in Apr 2015
Nine Teachings from Nine Yogis: The Essence of Bhagavat Dharma
"During one such sacrifice, nine spiritually charged men entered the sacrificial hall….As for Bhagavat Dharma, it is the dharma spoken by God directly from his own mouth…. Like a person eating food finds himself gratified simultaneously in three ways…. We are all constantly taught by spiritual texts to offer or dedicate all our actions to God. However, the question remains as to how to practically carry out this injunction…..The only fruit of wealth is dharma... Therefore, there is no need for the Vedas to enjoin us to these things for which we already have a tendency….The real intention of the Vedic injunctions in these matters is to make a person abstain from them…”
Published in Mar 2015
Moksha of Gajendra: Liberation by The Formless God
"Once as he was engaged in puja, a saint came to visit him….Like a true householder attached to his family, Gajendra sported in the water with his wives, children and friends…. Understanding that his end was imminent, they all slowly withdrew, till Gajendra was left alone…. If we reflect on it calmly, we will realise that there is no house in the world where the story of Gajendra does not play out…. The one who is careful towards the end is able to reform his death…. Gajendra’s hymn of praise is one of the greatest philosophical poems in the annals of world literature."
Published in Feb 2015
Devi Draupadi: Resolving the Paradox
"Vyasa Ji explained through a story how it came to be that the Pandava's marriage with a single wife was in conformity with dharma….The gods, along with their king Indra, were sitting on the bank of a river when they saw a beautiful golden lotus floating on its waters…. Both were playing a game of dice…. On hearing Shiva’s words, Indra started shaking with fear… Without death, the burden on the earth becomes too much…. Her birth had the sanction of all the three Gods - Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu."
Published in Jan 2015
God’s Lila, Understanding the Collective Impact of Avatara
"Who would not satisfy his wife who is but his better half?…. Later, he took a bath, performed pranayama and meditating silently on the pure, eternal light, repeated internally the Gayatri Mantra…. Once it so happened that goddess Lakshmi was out of Vaikuntha…. Despite being older, they always maintain the appearance of five-year olds…. Seeing the great saints he welcomed them with reverence…. It is never for one single purpose but to fulfil many functions at the same time…. He ensured for them a glorious death."
Published in Dec 2014
Means of Knowledge From the Eyes to the Vedas
"Even though there are infinite objects in the world, they all fall into one of the following categories…. When we see smoke on a far off mountain top, we infer that that place is on fire…. For example, in the Ramayana, when looking for Sita, Rama found a small bundle containing her gold jewels…. Not all features of the two animals are identical…. Otherwise, it is not at all possible to remain healthy and active as he appears to all….We are fortunate to be governed by the Vedas."
Published in Oct 2014
Beginning Bhakti Early: The Inspiring Life of Dhruva
"A king should walk the ethical path….. So what if you are also the son of the king?…..It is a fact that you have taken birth from an unfortunate woman, on whose milk you have grown up…..Narada was impressed with Dhruva’s resolution and set out to guide him…. Dhruva was stunned by the beauty of God….. Bhagawan Vishnu’s conch has a two-fold symbolism…. Dhruva was given everything he had hoped for and every need of his was fulfilled. Yet, his heart was filled with regret as he returned home….. Here we see that the satsang of mahatmas like Manu can achieve what even a vision of God cannot achieve."
Published in Sep 2014
Kapila’s Teachings to His Mother: The Essence of Bhakti and Detachment
"As she matured he started looking for a suitable husband…. Those were wonderful times when high character and not material wealth were the factors in selecting a husband….The purpose of marriage is unification…. It would be nice if I had a son with me…. Such is the greatness of sadhus….The symptoms of a saint are as follows…. One who worships Me in the temples but does not know that I am situated in everybody’s heart…. Man too finds satisfaction in his deep-rooted attraction for his house, wealth, children, wife….His movements slow down but he still stays in the house like a dog…. As a consequence her curly black hair gradually became brown and matted."
Published in Aug 2014
King Bali, Vaman Avatar and the Dharma of Giving
"It is to show us that whenever one wants something from somebody, one is reduced in stature…. Anyone coming to me to ask for something never again has to ask for anything in his whole life…. Money in any case deserts us after death….After washing Bhagwan’s Vishnu’s foot fell down to the earth and became the river Ganga….Punishment given by exalted persons like Yourself is nothing but a worthy reward in itself…. If he, as a human, is not affected by pride of his lineage, achievements, youth, beauty, learning, power…."
Published in Jul 2014
The Devotee and the Angry Saint - Study in the Inner Workings of God
"Undoubtedly these are all precious things difficult for an ordinary human being to obtain…. In this manner had he converted his karma into a yajna….With a trembling body and frowning brows he furiously admonished the king, who stood all the time with folded hands…. The Chakra is the weapon of the Supreme Ruler of the universe…. I love them and they Me…. Today I have witnessed the glory of a true devotee of the Lord…. He sacrifices his own reputation in order to show the greatness of the Lord’s devotees."
Published in Jun 2014
Krishna’s Avatar: A Source of Joyous Symbolism
"Now the question is: Why did Brahma Ji take Lord Shiva also with them to Lord Vishnu?….When he was Lakshmana, being the younger he couldn’t stop Rama from going to the forest and thought that in this incarnation, by becoming the elder brother, he would be better able to serve his Lord….Now with impending arrival of Lord Krishna they were sure to be soon reunited with their loving husbands… Actually, even though many avatars before had graced the Earth, none had given her the level of happiness that Krishna was going to give….The wind god Vayu was extremely happy at the service his son Hanuman had provided to Rama in the previous avatar of the Lord….This realisation enraptured her to no end and she wept with joy."
Published in May 2014
Autobiography of Sage Narada
"She was extremely fond of me and used to tenderly shower me with affection…. I had developed two favourable qualities since childhood…. The love given by this world is selfish…. The mistake we make is that we love this world more than we love God….. She says that I should first study to clear my exams… The son who serves his mother is the one who is dear to God… He also instructed that I should first pull Krishna into my mind and then chant His name… Following his instructions, I stayed at home for twelve more years…. In the dark she stepped on a snake who bit her…. Whenever I was hungry, God would inspire somebody to come and offer me food."
Published in Apr 2014
Friendship with God: A Case Study of Krishna and Sudama
"Sudama never asked anybody for anything…. His wife, extremely devoted to her husband, lived in the same condition….There was no restriction on saints and Brahmins who had free access to Krishna’s residence… Then Lord Krishna washed Sudama’s hands and feet with His tears…Next morning, when it was time for Sudama to leave, Shri Krishna thought to Himself….When food is offered to Lord Krishna with love and devotion, He is pleased with it and accepts it…He remained detached all his life, and used all his possessions as if actually belonging to God."
Published in Mar 2014
Facing Vritra – The Greatest Adventure of Indra
"Even though Indra saw his guru he turned away his gaze as if he had missed seeing him….So, during the performance of sacrifices, he would pour offerings not only on behalf of the gods, but also secretly give offerings on behalf of the demons…he entire world was filled with a feeling of forgiveness towards him… The gods felt helpless not knowing what to do, until they took refuge with the Lord Narayana dwelling in their hearts The fact is that everyone in this world is engrossed in his selfish interests…. Whenever people like us make an effort for achieving material objects like power and money He renders these efforts fruitless…How was he able to recall the Supreme Lord in his last moments this being difficult for even the most accomplished of yogis?"
Published in Feb 2014
Way of the Avadhuta, The Phase of Ultimate Detachment
"Stepping out of the house, Rishabha took a vow of absolute silence and stopped replying even when spoken to…. Physically he was perfect. He had a broad chest, lissome limbs and a beautiful face made all the more charming by the natural smile…. Therefore he started to live like a python….Why then did he have to send them away?....One should never make friends with one’s mind…. He now kept a piece of stone in his mouth. Thus, at the end of his life, Rishabha gave trouble to no one for performing even his last rites."
Published in Jan 2014
A Householder’s Life, Lord Vishnu Shows the Way
"It was the learned Brahmin’s performing the sacrifice who answered on the king’s behalf.... Along with his wife left for the sacred site of Badrinath.... He spent the student days of his life at the house of his teacher (gurukula), where he studies the Vedas and also learned other worldly sciences.... By his actions he laid down, for the sake of the ignorant, the righteous way of life, known as Dharma.... They feel no attraction whatsoever for a house teeming with wife, children and wealth.... f they do not abide with these instructions one should get angry with them.... This is the true worship of God."
Published in Dec 2013
Yuddhishtara and the Crane: Essence of Dharma in the Mahabharata
"When he did not return even after a long interval, another of the brothers went after him.... Who makes the sun rise?.... Nilakantha, the most ancient and authoritative commentator on the Mahabharata has clarified the meaning of this verse.... Who is the friend of a dying man?.... His wife is the friend given to him by the gods.... With whom does one’s friendship last forever?.... What is the greatest wonder in this world?.... Thus did end this story on a happy note."
Published in Nov 2013
The Story of Savitri: The True Essence of Love and Friendship
"Every day he would pour offerings into the sacred fires, accompanied by a hundred thousand chantings of the Gayatri mantra.... She stood before him with folded hands.... The princess, though bashful, did not even for a moment doubt her father’s words.... From there he proceeded on foot to where the hut of the blind king was..... After her father had gone, Savitri removed all her ornaments and rich clothes and donned clothes made of barks and leaves as befitting forest-dwellers.... Outwardly she seemed normal and happy but inside she was burning in the fire of torment.... Seeing him, she gently placed her husband’s head on the ground.... Your words are as soothing to me as water is to a thirsty man."
Published in Oct 2013
A Woman’s Dharma: Some Significant Aspects
"The amount of hardship she undergoes to bring up the child, that too with pleasure, is astounding.... Make their stay pleasant while they are in your house.... Remember that you are at the root of the future of the family.... So, the choice is ours – will we believe the publicity generated by a selfish media, or listen to our ancient selfless Rishis?.... Indeed, Dharma is protected at the grass roots by women only."
Published in Sep 2013
From Student to Retiree: Relevance of Dharma Today
It should also be remembered that it is not only one’s parents but the whole society that helps him to grow.... This does not mean that one should stop eating.... Infatuation for a certain thing goes only by developing infatuation for a higher thing.... Never praise them in so many words when they achieve something.... The issue is this: ‘Life survives on life’....The desire to live and the desire to develop compassion are opposed to each other.... By this age one will have surely done the best one could do for one’s family. Now it is the time to turn inwards and work for one’s own spiritual good.
Published in Aug 2013
Did Krishna Follow Dharma? Doubts and Resolutions
"There are serious reservations about Lord Krishna’s actions in the Mahabharata war.... There were many veterans sitting in the assembly while the above ignominy was taking place.... His Dharma is towards the greater good.... A criminal is speeding away in a car after committing heinous crimes.... How then did Lord Krishna indulge in amorous sports with the gopis of Vrindavana?.... They bent their heads without answering Him.... Nobody will be washing clothes or doing cooking etc in the dead of night."
Published in Jul 2013
Moments Before Death: Transfer of Karma from One Birth to Another
"Finally, when the moment of death approaches, the person lies down and all his activities cease....Then people around the dying person say: ‘His speech has stopped; nevertheless, he still understands things. He can recognize us’.... They then bring the sacred water of river Ganga and pour a bit of it into his mouth.... Anyhow, while coming to the earth, he enters into rain and through it into food grains.... The conditions however may not yet be suitable for the father to have him right away."
Published in Jun 2013
From Karma to Dhyana: Meditation According to the Gita
"Meditation is often interpreted as a translation of the Sanskrit word ‘dhyana’.... In particular, it is the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita which dedicates itself exclusively to answer all our queries regarding mediation.....not indulging in what we think is right, but doing what God knows is right, by unquestionably obeying His commands like a dutiful servant....This verse is not speaking of two different people.... The phrase ‘look at the tip of the nose’ is not to be taken literally to mean that one should direct one’s eyeballs towards the tip of one’s nose.... Next the Gita speaks of how a meditator should eat.... Meditation is not done to calm the mind."
Published in May 2013
Navadha Bhakti – The Nine Ways of Connecting with God
"How does this love towards the divine manifest itself?.... Kirtana consists of chanting aloud God’s divine name and glories of His form.... Smarana means the constant remembrance of God.... The obvious example of this kind of Bhakti is our mother goddess Lakshmi.... Consists of the physical worship of God in the form of an idol etc, using the correct rituals.... He was overcome with emotion and the consequent surge of affection for Krishna made his hair stand on its end and the overflowing eyes began to shed tears....No wonder that Shri Rama embraced him.... Stories about the friendship of Krishna and Arjuna abound in the Mahabharata.... One whose each and every action can be deemed as Bhakti."
Published in Apr 2013