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?
Of all the global Indian brands, YOGA is perhaps the most recognized quality product exported for everyone’s wellbeing. YOGA like many things cultural is a product of an ancient & continuous 5000 year old Indian civilisation and yet quite modern with the backing of science.
>> A Blast from the past
“What is in a name? Very much if the wit of man could find it out.”‘ Whoever penned this well known saying undoubtedly had it right. While a rose by any other name would surely smell as sweet, so does any name ~ even if it be the name of country like India.
India of the past was a world leader in both the sacred and the secular. Modern achievements seem to just exaggerate what India achieved before the invasions. What Indians called ‘Gurutvakarshan’, Newton rediscovered it as gravity only after a millennium. India’s past points out to the vast knowledge, experience and intelligence in all fields of human endeavor. Indian history helps us find out who we are, how we got to where we are now and where we might be heading.
More than $20 billion worth of wealth in a temple? That’s the account of hidden wealth in the 8th century Shree Ananta Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. But this abundance of wealth has not been unusual in the history of some Indian temples. While ancient Indian temples were built as spiritual gymnasiums for the mind, they also had enormous wealth to consistently provide that opportunity for spiritual development. But there are other types of wealth in the ancient Indian temples that are much more valuable than its material wealth. What’s that?
Of the many disciples of the great Guru Swami Vivekananda, there were a few from outside India who became famous and did some phenomenal work in the spiritual upliftment and education of the masses. Sister Nivedita from Ireland was one such famous devotee and disciple of Swami Vivekananda and that too during his times. Her 143rd birth anniversary falls this month on the 28th Oct 2010.
Shubh Deepavali to you and your family. Deepavali or Diwali ~ the Hindu festival of lights brings to our mind images of diyas, sweets, puja, colourful lights, fire crackers, feasting, new purchases, socializing and lots of fun. Here is a little quiz to remind ourselves about Diwali and the origins that makes Diwali the most popular festival of India.
2nd Oct is birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi who will always be remembered for his practice of rejecting violent means to achieve justice. While all freedom fighters were at war with the Angrez, Gandhi in particular championed a form of resistance against brutality and oppression in a unique way. This subtle style of resistance practiced by Gandhi was based on an ideal that was already an integral part of Indian ethos. While Gandhi’s birthday has now been adopted by the United Nations as the International Day of Non-Violence, here is a look through the rear-view mirror at one of the key principles behind his ideology.
Indian cuisine is probably the most diverse cuisine in the world but sadly the perception is that Indian food is just “curry”. The antiquated heritage of Indian cuisine goes back thousands of years and boasts of an assorted menu of cuisines and not just one cuisine. This includes a whopping 300 ways of cooking a potato. While “Indian food” is synonymous with ‘curry, naan bread and pappadoms’, there is certainly more to it. Today’s era of cultural understanding requires a better awareness of authentic Indian food which is more than just curry!!!
Though Lord Ram lived and ruled Bharat some 10,000 years ago, his life and values are still cherished and extolled. There is hardly any King except King Ram of Ayodhya in the Indian history who is celebrated so much till today. The life of King Ram is thankfully covered through the itihaas of Ramayana and not our history books.
Is there more to Indian culture than just bollywood, curry, yoga or samosas.
A tourist from overseas wishes to see ‘true’ India and wants to experience the real Indian culture. So he goes to a village in Rajasthan. He is hungry and goes to an old lady who is making Bajre ki Roti. She gives him some ‘Sarson kaa saag’ on the not-so-soft ‘Bajre ki Roti’. The tourist eats the ”Sarson kaa saag’ and returns the roti saying, ‘Here is your plate’. Obviously he never heard of the bajre ki roti and his response was but natural. But is this an authentic search for real India or it is just an example of a pedestrian tourist experience of Indian food, costume, tradition, festivals of the land etc?
26th June is Sant Kabir’s birth anniversary. Why is Sant Kabir so significant to seekers of truth? What is his message? Why were the great learned pundits of his times baffled by Kabir though he was unschooled? Why he is one of India’s most quoted mystic? What is his contribution to Sikhism?
The Baba Ramdev episode has thrown up a key question — should sanyasis be involved in social activism instead of leading a quiet monastic life? It would seem that sanyasis cannot be a social leader since they are not supposed to own any worldly belongings or be attached to the material world. After all, a sanyasi is ‘one who has renounced material life, isn’t it? But with Baba Ramdev’s social activism, is Sanyasa also about making a difference in the society?
This week on 27th May was Buddha Purnima – the birth anniversary of the great Prophet from India – Gautam Buddha. Buddha meaning ‘the Enlightened One’. Most of us know about the life story of the prince Gautam who became the prophet of compassion and founder of Buddhism and its best to know the real teachings that will benefit us rather than legendary story. Gautam Buddha is said to be born around 563 BCE and passed away around 483 BCE, most modern scholars agree on these dates.
India is probably the only country where a religious day is linked to a practice of gold buying. It is the ‘gold’en day of ‘Akshaya Tritiya’ and we are talking tons of gold here. According to estimates, India is the world’s largest consumer of Gold. India, the world’s largest consumer of the yellow metal, bought some 842 tonnes of Gold in 2014 compared with 813.6 tonnes by China. So what makes Akshaya Tritiya a day for GOLD?
Wisdom makes the difference between success and failure. Though there is enough wisdom available in this world, there always seems to be a shortage of wisdom at crucial times. Subhaashitaas or wise sayings in Sanskrit have offered us one minute wisdom since ancient times but due to our modern education, we have completely overlooked them. Moreover we have been looking for wisdom only in contemporary books and magazines.
The ultimate questions that inspire India are in India’s wisdom traditions. The wisdom traditions spring from the ‘Upanishads’ which are found in the end portion of the Vedas. The ‘Upanishads’ have such fascinating and stimulating questions that they have inspired the East for more than 5000 years. What were those intriguing questions of the ancient Indian minds that make India a land of perennial philosophy?
2011 ICC world cup is not the first cricket world cup for India. India has been world champions in the 1983 world cup and the 2007 T20 World cup. But the third world cup was a tad different. In the 2011 World cup tournament we saw a different Team India. One could see a special ‘attitude’ that was extra-ordinary and exemplary in many ways. What was this exceptional attitude that Team India showed on the field?
‘Brand India’ has two powers – first is the obvious reclaimed money power and the other one is the good old ‘soft power’. Ask anybody who recently visited India and they will tell you all about the money power. The second influence- the ‘soft power’ is that of an attractive Indian culture whose products are quickly integrated in mainstream living.
Swami Vivekananda ~ one of most admired spiritual genius of India is regarded by Indians as the patriot saint of modern India, a Vedantic Guru with global impact, a nation builder, a source of wisdom, dynamism and spiritual power. About this great monk, India’s Nobel Laureate and Poet Rabindranath Tagore had said, “If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive and nothing negative”.
India has ‘Been There – Done That’ as far as civilisation goes. India’s contribution to the world has always been immense ~ be it the contribution of today’s corporate world, or even from ancient times like that of Yoga, Ayurveda, Indian values, spirituality etc. But what is India’s real or ultimate contribution? For that we have to take account and learn from her glorious past first.
Diwali or Deepavali (commonly known as ‘row of lights’) has a lot of spirit in it. Our celebrations of this yearly Diwali festival could have more meaning and bite to it, if we know its true spirit and significance, as explained by wise and learned souls. Otherwise our Diwali and the greetings could be just an annual ritual. The wise say that the real significance of Diwali is intrinsic and hidden in the very symbolic worship, rituals and traditions that we follow in our homes.
It’s festival time again. Dassera or Dassera is on October 17 this year according to the ancient Hindu lunar calendar. Though Navaratri is generally understood as a festival of nine nights, the tenth day marks the end of Navaratri celebrated as Dassera (also known as Vijaya Dashami). In this 10 day festival, why is the tenth day of Dassera spiritually important?
India has millions of temples, thronged by millions of people. If there is anything great and concrete that has survived the rigors of time in India, then it is surely our ancient Hindu temples. Of the millions there are many ancient temples with a deep history, fascinating legends and where famous saints have gotten their ultimate experience of the ‘Supreme Truth through the installed deity’.