Goddess Kali (pronounced Kaali) baffles the modern mind. The image of Kali would probably give a nightmare to a tender mind or even appear grotesque. But for centuries, India has known Kali as raw feminine energy and as a manifested Goddess. Though she is fierce, no child growing up in India fears Kali. So, what’s in this fierce female form of Kali that makes her a Divine mother in India? Or is Kali yet another tool in the ancient Indian pedagogy to communicate quantum truths to lay intelligence?
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May good things happen to us in the coming New Year. Those who believe in a new resolution, New Year is just the excuse to form new habits and change for the better. Here is a selection of some New Year messages, from some great Indians, that are zara hatke and could add some oomph to our resolutions.
India is a not just a country …to put it mildly India is a mind-boggling planet. There is so much diversity in India – be it the geography, people, lifestyles, languages, customs, politics and even religion etc. For centuries, India’s forte has been her ‘spirituality and religion’ and that too is so diverse. The Indian sphere of God is so different that it appears quite baffling to the modern mind. Naturally therefore, one asks ‘How come you guys have so many Gods’ etc. But the explanations are not hard to find these days.
It is not uncommon for Indians to get asked “So…what do you guys eat for breakfast in India?” I wish the answer was straightforward. India has a diversity platter on almost everything including food. Only those who know about Indian culture really understand that there is no such thing as homogenous Indian food – be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. Also there are some natural and time tested principles that make the Indian cuisine unique, including the so called ‘Indian breakfast”.
Navratri 2012 is ON. The nine evenings of Navratri no doubt has a spiritual significance to the devout, but it is also a time to celebrate ‘womanhood’ ~ the Indian way and that too for 9 consecutive days.But , today we seem to have forgotten the art of honouring women and she is shown on TV as a jalebibhai, chikni chameli, madam malai, anarkali disco chali, beedi jalaikey….Not to speak about the abhorrent treatment given to her in some sections of the society. Navratri comes to us as good reminder to discover the shakti that have been dormant for quite some time.
Lord Ganesha is popularly known as Vighneshwara – the Lord of obstacles. For those on the spiritual path, Lord Ganesha represents a perfect wisdom to remove all obstacles that comes in the way of attaining God. But to those who need a empirical proof of God, the legends of Lord Ganesha’s eight temples in Maharashta collectively called Ashta-Vinayak temples offer much mysticism.
What’s your IQ? What’s your EQ? These days we are also asked about SQ (spiritual quotient). These IQ, EQ, SQ are available today only to measure our aptitude, emotions, spirituality etc. But there is a quotient that was discovered thousands of years ago in India, which is based on natural order of things. It is the VQ ~ the Varna quotient which is simple, logical and provides a template to understand oneself.
Is the past dead? Is heritage of any relevance today? While all other ancient civilizations have long disappeared, India is probably the only living civilisation spanning over some 5000 years. India at its core has somehow retained the elements of her ancient civilization showing a clear continuity. Much has stood the test of time in India – from the subtlest knowledge to the much preserved world heritage sites. Here’s a brief account of the ancient Indian cultural sites that are classified as world heritage by UNESCO.
The Indian spiritual traditions are replete with dialogues, Q&As and rhetoric on truth. Even in the great epic Mahabharata we find many accounts of reasoning and inquiry where application of dharma is discussed. The Yaksha Prashna in the Mahabharata is one such section where we find a famous Q&A (question and answer) session between Yama the Lord of death and the wise King Yudhistir. In this Q&A we find 123 pointed questions by Lord Yama in a rapid fire style to which the righteous Yudhistir answers in a crisp and insightful way covering many aspects of applied DHARMA.
Though scientific discoveries like the Higg’s Boson aka ‘God particle’ are an honest attempt to know the origin of universe, there have been other attempts and approaches to know the truth. If “India is like a historic father of the Higg’s Boson project” according to Paolo Giubellino the spokesperson of CERN, the search for the absolute truth had a wiser ancestor in ancient India. It is already known to scholars that the inquiry into truth has been a favourite subject for ‘Truth’-seekers in India for thousands of years. But ‘Truth’ according to them wasn’t about any particle of God in the realm of cause-and-effect, but a discovery. Where does the ancient Indian discovery trail take us?
If you are from India, you are more likely to know at least one story from the Panchatantra. We know that the Panchatantra has some great short stories, but to classify this 2300 year old collection as a story book for little children could be a bit hasty. A careful look at it beyond the narrative tells us a different story. A critical view at the Panchatantra brings to light a creative way of life coaching using a practical and fun way, that too for all age groups.
India’s national motto ‘Satyameva Jayate’ has now entered our lounge rooms…thanks to Amir Khan’s TV show. This TV show is a story of how a movie-star can create mass awareness on social issues – that too using a famous Vedic statement ‘Satyameva Jayate’ as the title of the show. However the original ‘Satyameva Jayate’ declaration was not coined as a social aphorism. It is much more than that. Exploring the real source and scope of this antiquated affirmation could be more meaningful and enlightening than its use for social sloganeering.
The fictional Superman of America may return on screen, but the real supermen of India never return. India – the land of mysticism has always had people with amazing supernatural powers. They are the very people who had powers to levitate, be invisible, reduce their body to the size of an atom, fulfill whatever they desired, walked above water without getting wet etc. They could practically do anything but chose to ignore their powers and even renounce them. Be it the past or the present, these supermen of India never bothered to openly publicize their powers. Unlike the fictional American Superman who returns, these real supermen of India never return to change the world. Why is that?
> > A 10,000 year old lifestyle model of Purpose, Profit, Pleasure and Freedom
No! This Indian lifestyle is not about eating curry or doing yoga everyday nor is it about getting a regular Ayurvedic massage. In fact, this lifestyle is talked about as a sophisticated way of living a fulfilled life.It is quite a time-tested lifestyle and has been around for at least 10,000 years. Though it is ancient, it is said to be relevant for any era, applies to anybody, living anywhere – be it the USA, India, the UK, Australia or New Zealand. It is essentially a model for desire management. Want to know more about this great Indian lifestyle?
India as a spiritual destination has been well known for eons. For centuries, the world has been at India’s doorstep for her science and wealth and got influenced by her spirituality. Given the smorgasbord of spiritual traditions in India, India has been called a spiritual Disneyland for a decade or so . Is that justified?
The independent republic of India was officially born on the 26th January 1950, after 89 years of British rule. However republican values have been home to Indians since 2000 BCE. While the President of India gets a 21- gun-salute on the 26th of January every year, it wouldn’t be unceremonious for the President of India to give an acknowledgement to the spirit of republicanism that existed in ancient India. The republics of Ancient India clearly show that India practiced good old republican values in the form of ‘Gana rajyas’ and the ancient Indian society was a ‘Gana tantra’ at its best.
Some gurus perform miracles while other Gurus show their ‘namaskars to chamatkars’? Are miracles the only proof that the Divine exists? Given our heritage of Indian Gurus and their mind-boggling siddhis (powers), here is a little probe on the role of miracles in the realm of faith.
Why is India called the home of the vegetarians? Why is the Indian diet predominantly vegetarian though more than two-thirds of India’s population is non-vegetarian? Why is a traditional non-vegetarian in India more dependent on vegetarian food than meat? What could be some reasons for even the corporate India to market vegetarianism?
When an Indian woman decorates her forehead with sindoor or bindi, she is just following a tradition that goes back atleast 5000 years. Wear a bindi or a decorative mark on your forehead and you will never go unnoticed as it is very eye-catching. It is no wonder that bindi has found its way to the international fashion world. In fact the Bindi is one of India’s best recognized symbols in the world. If you wear a bindi what does it say about you? Is it merely a decoration or is there more to it?
“White skin-u girl-u girl-u – Girl-u heart-u black-u – Eyes-u eyes-u meet-u meet-u – My future dark”. Yes!!! Kolaveri Di is immensely popular that even here downunder in Auckland we saw a Kolaveri flash mob. Why is this song so popular di? Is Kolaveri something we should be proud of di? Can this song be called an evergreen song di? What is worrying about this song di?
Many of us from India celebrate more than one New Year. Besides the 1st of January every year, we also celebrate another New Year day based on the region we come from in India and the Indian calendar. What are the origins of this Indian calendar which has been around for more than 5000 years? Who invented it? What is it based on?
These days, the terms ‘Shri’ and ‘Shrimati’ are found printed only in wedding and invitation cards. These terms are more than a title prefix before a person’s name as they have a much deeper meaning. Hence it’s no wonder that atleast languages in South East Asia use this term ‘Shri’. What does ‘Shri’ and ‘Shrimati’ really mean and why it is not really equivalent to Mr. and Mrs.?
How many civilizations have survived a foreign rule or a religious hegemony without cultural carnage or genocide? The extinct civilizations of native Americans, native south Americans and Africans is a case in point. Imagine a civilisation at gunpoint with political slavery to outside forces for over 1000 years and ravaged in every way possible? What do you think would have happened to that culture, lifestyle, language and traditions after centuries of foreign rule?
Do you care if a black cat crosses your road? Would you dare to step on lime and green chillies? Why is a north facing house believed to be lucky? Are these omens just mere imagination? We know that there are no real answers to these superstitions as they are irrational beliefs that defy all known logic.
The Indian terms for temple are mandir, ambalam, koil or kovil, deool, devasthaanam, devaalaya etc depending on the regional language. The commonly used word ‘Mandir’ comes from the Sanskrut root ‘Mandaté’, which means to be filled with transcendent emotion, to delight or to shine.
Navratri ~ Festival of nine sacred nights
These days we hear a lot about expensive workshops that help harness the powers of our own mind. Our Indian culture offers the same transformation but only if we understand the deep significance and true meaning of our festivals, invocations and the accompanying rituals etc, with guidance of a Guru.
Caste is not an Indian term. The real story behind the caste system is glaringly different to what we know. Was it called the caste system then? What was its original purpose? Was the system rigid? Was it designed to breed discrimination or inequality? Was there any merit in having a so-called caste system? Could people move between these so-called castes? Caste ka real story kyaa hai?
21st of August is Janmashtami – the birthday of the smiling Lord Krishna. He is the poster-boy of the Hindu pantheon whose life and teachings teach us how to live life the smart way and holistically. Right from his birth in a prison cell, his life has been full of mighty challenges, but as a liberated soul Lord Krishna smiled his way through life’s situations unaffected. Behind his responses and smiles lies a philosophy that he personally advised to many of his close friends and devotees? What is this philosophy that will help us look at life through Lord Krishna’s eyes?
Ganesh Utsav perhaps provides a platform for the biggest display of God symbolism on earth. The ten day Ganesh Utsav is probably the only festive period when we see most idols of any Hindu deity. In Hinduism, art & sculpture has been traditionally employed from Veda Vyasa’s time to help us discover the hidden meaning of subtler truths. Given this Hindu methodology of communicating the greater truths through arty idols, Lord Ganesha with the elephant head on a human body also relay something deep and esoteric. What is the heart behind the art of Ganesha?