Janmashtmi

radha_y_krishna


JANMASHTMI celebrating Lord Krishna’s birth day each year assures us of the grand manifestation of the Supreme in the form of Krishna for protection of the virtuous and destruction of  the wicked at the appropriate time.

Puranic Theology associates the avatars with the four Yugas —— Sat, Treta, Dvapara and Kali.  In today’s Kali Yuga Krishna could appear in our midst at any given moment.  The Bhagavatam say that Krishna is the full-fledged avatar complete in al aspects.


Krishna


Krishna denotes unmeasured, incomprehensible and absolutely great personae stimulating astonishment, rapture and admiration.  Krishna is known as the Foremost Yogi.  With the amalgamation of the theistic doctrine of devotion, Krishna evolved as a personal God of love and grace in the form of Kanha Krishna at Gokul and Vrindavan apart from representing Vasudeva Krishna at Mathura and Dvaraka.

Krishna is also looked upon as having two bodies.  One which is eternal, supracosmic and spiritual and the other which is material and temporary.  As an object of Bhakti, Krishna appears as an embodiment of Nine Emotions or Rasas and fulfils the nine-fold required enforcements of devotees as God in the form of a child, a youth, counsellor, friend and beloved.

———- Asha Goswami

Devavani

The Sanskrit language is called DEVAVANI (Divine Language).  The Upanishads are written in Sanskrit.  The very word “Sanskrit” means transformed, adorned, crowned, decorated, refined,  —— but remember the word “transformed”.  The language itself was transformed because so many people attained to the ultimate, and because they were using the language, something of their joy penetrated into it, something of their poetry entered into the very cells, the very fibre of the language.  Even the language became transformed, illuminated.  It was bound to happen.  Languages in the West are becoming more and more scientific, accurate, mathematical and precise.  Science is giving languages colour, shape and form.
Sanskrit hymnThe same happened with Sanskrit 5,000 years ago.  So many people became enlightened and they were all speaking Sanskrit, their enlightenment entered into it with all its music, poetry, with all its celebration.  Sanskrit became luminous; it is the most poetic and musical language.
A “poetic language” is just the opposite of a “scientific language”.  In “scientific language” every word has to be very precise in meaning; it has to have only one meaning.  — In “poetic language” the word has to be liquid, flowing, dynamic, not static, allowing many meanings, many possibilities.  The word has to be not precise at all; the more imprecise it is better, because then it will be able to express all kinds of nuances.
There are 800 roots in Sanskrit and out of those thousands of words have been derived just as out of one root a tree grows and many branches and thousands of leaves and hundreds of flowers.  Each single root becomes a vast tree with great foliage.
oshoFor example, the root RAM can mean first ‘to be calm’, second ‘to rest’, third ‘to delight in’, fourth ’cause delight to’, fifth ‘to make love’, sixth ‘to join’, seventh ‘to make happy’, eighth ‘to be blissful’, ninth ‘to play’, tenth ‘to be peaceful’, eleventh ‘ to stand still’, twelfth ‘to stop’ and thirteenth ‘God, divine, the absolute’.  Sometimes the meanings are related to each other, sometimes they are contradictory to each other.  Hence the language has a multi-dimensional quality to it.  You can play with those words and through that play you can express the inexpressible; the inexpressible can be hinted.
The script in which Sanskrit is written is called DEVANAGRI (dwelling-place of the Gods), and so it certainly is.  Each word has become divine, just because it has been used by people who had known God or godliness.
(Abridged from I AM THAT, Osho Times International, http://www.osho.com)   ——– Talk : Osho 

Pattadakal

Virupaksha temple


PATTADAKAL, also spelled PATTADAKALU is a World Heritage Site, a Village and an important tourist centre in the State of Karnataka, and is located on the left bank of the MALAPRABHA River in Bagalkot District.  It is 22km from BADAMI and 514km from AIHOLE, both of which are well-known for Chalukya monuments.  The pre-Chalukya historical and archaeological site BACHINAGUDDA is also near Pattadakal.


Pattadakal temples


Pattadakal, the place for Chalukya’s Coronation, was the capital of the Chalukya Dynasty of Karnataka in Southern India.  The Chalukyas built many Temples here between the 7th and 9th century.  There are 10 Temples, including a Jain Sanctuary, surrounded by numerous small shrines and Plinths in fusion of various Indian architectural styles (Rekha, Nagara, Prasada and Dravida Vimana) .  Four Temples were built in Chalukyan Dravidian style, four in the Nagara style of Northern India and the PAPANATHA Temple in mixed style.  Nine Shiva Temples and one Jaina Basadi, situated along the northern course of the river, which is considered as very auspicious according to the Holy Scriptures.


virupaksha temple


Pattadakal was a great centre of art and architecture.  According to the inscriptions, the place was known by the names KISOVOLAL (red town  ——- mostly mountains near Pattadakal gave this name, RAKTAPURA.  It continued to be an important centre under the RASHTRAKUTAS and the KALYANI CHALUKYAS.  It became a chief city for a small region called KISUKADU.  The SINDHAS of YARAMABARIGE (Yelburgi) also ruled it for some time.


Virupaksha temple


UNESCO, in 1987, included PATTADAKAL in its list of World Heritage Sites.  The group of 8th century monuments in Pattadakal are the culmination of earliest experiments in the VESARA style of Hindu Temple architecture.


Temples Pattadakal


VIRUPAKSHA Temple is the largest and grandest of all the Temples in Pattadakal.  It was built in the 8th century by Queen Lokamahadevi to commemorate her husband Vikramaditya — 2 victories over the Pallavas of Kanchi.  The Temple has rich sculptures.  It has a sanctum, pillared navaranga and triple entrances from the north, east and south porches.  It has a massive gateway in front from the east.

An integrated science

Rishi Patanjali


The Sutras of Patanjali cover all aspects of human life, prescribe a code of conduct to lead a life of fulfilment and end with a glorious vision to reach our full potential.  Yoga Sutras begin at the very root, mind and intelligence, called CHITTA.

In the first chapter SAMADHIPADA, Patanjali analyses the movement and functioning of the mind.  The second chapter SADHANAPADA deals with practise.  Patanjali goes on to provide deep insight into the nature of KLESHAS (afflictions) that affect the body and distract the mind, resulting in distorted behaviour patterns of an individual.


Yog sutras


In SADHANAPADA, Patanjali reaches out to the lowest level of the seeker who is spiritually yet unevolved.  He coins the term KRIYA YOGA .  Kriya means action and Kriya Yoga emphasises the dynamic efforts on the part of the sadhaka.

Kriya Yoga comprises eight yogic discipline ——— yama, niyama, asana, pranayama,pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and Samadhi.  Through asanas, the seeker becomes familiar with his body and sense intelligence.  Pranayama gives control over subtle qualities of the elements ——– sound, touch, shape, taste and smell.  Pratyahara is withdrawal of the senses and organs of actions.

According to Patanjali, Yoga is a preventive healing art, with its science and philosophy.  Pantanjali also warns us of the pitfalls that may impede spiritual growth and advises us to stabilise body and mind so that we are not shattered when confronted with  tragic realities of human existence.


Yog


The 3rd chapter VIBHUTIPAD, deals with attainments.  Patanjali exhorts  us to continue the practise of yoga so that the intelligence of consciousness and soul may be equally balanced.  Then we attain the highest state of wisdom where the person exists in a perfectly ‘integrated state’.   This is known as KAIVALYA.  This is the subject matter of the last chapter in the Yoga Sutras called KAIVALYAPADA that focuses on ‘absolute liberation’.

Yoga is an INTEGRATED SCIENCE which alone can restore the wholeness and integrity of our divided being and lets us enjoy real well-being.

——-  Nivedita Joshi (she teaches yoga in Delhi)    

Jewel of Vidharba

Tadoba Tiger reserve


The TADOBA ANDHARI TIGER PROJECT is a Tiger Reserve in Chandrapur District of Maharashtra State.  It is notable as Maharashtra’s oldest and largest National Park.  It is one of India’s 43 PROJECT TIGER  —— Tiger Reserves.

The name TADOBA is the name of the God TADOBA or TARU, praised by the tribal people who live in the dense forests of the TADOBA & ANDHARI region, while the ANDHARI river that meanders through the forest gives the ANDHARI name.
Legend holds that TARU was a village chief who was killed in a mythological encounter with a tiger.  A shrine, dedicated to God Taru, now exists beneath a huge tree, on the banks of the TADOBA LAKE.  The Temple is frequented by Adivasis, especially during the fair held every year in the Hindu month of PAUSHA between December and January.

Tadoba tiger


The GOND Kings once ruled these forests I the vicinity of the CHIMUR hills.  Hunting was completely banned in 1935.  Two decades later, in 1955, 116.54sq.km was declared a National Park.  ANDHARI Wildlife Sanctuary was created in the adjacent forests in 1986, and, in 1995, both the Park and the Sanctuary were merged to establish the present Tiger Reserve. ——– TADOBA ANDHARI Reserve is the largest and oldest National Park in Maharashtra.  The total area of the Reserve is 1,727sq.km.  This includes TADOBA National Park, created in 1955.

There are about 43 Tigers in the Reserve, one of the highest in India.  Densely forested hills form the northern and western boundary of the Tiger Reserve.  The elevation of the hills ranges from 660ft — 1,150ft.  To the southwest is the 300acres Tadoba Lake, which acts as a buffer between the park’s forest and the extensive farmland which extends up to IRAI Water Reservoir.  This lake is  a perennial water source which offers a good habitat for MUGGAR CROCODILES to thrive.

Tadoba tiger reserve India


Other wetland areas, within the Reserve, include the KOLSA LAKE & ANDHARI River.  The Tadoba Reserve covers the CHIMUR HILLS and the Andhari Sanctuary covers MOHARLI & KOLSA Ranges.  There are thick forests, which are relieved by smooth meadows and deep valleys as the terrain slopes from north to south.  Cliffs and caves provide refuge for several animals.  The 2 “forested triangles” are formed of Tadoba and Andhari range.  The south part of the park is less hilly.  Tadoba Reserve is predominantly a southern tropical dry deciduous forest with dense woodlands comprising 87% of the protected area.  Teak is the predominant tree species.  Other deciduous trees include AIN(Crocodile bark), BIJA, DHAUDA, HALDU, SALAI & TENDU.  The PALAS or Flame of the Forest adds vibrant colour to the forest.  Black plum trees grow in the RIPARIAN habitat around the lake.  At the waterhole at PANCHADHARA, huge ARJUN trees are seen. Bamboo thickets and patches of grass are found throughout the reserve.  The climber KACH KUJALI (velvet bean) found here is a medicinal plant used to treat Parkinson’s disease.


Tadoba tiger reserve


Aside   from around 65 of the keystone species of Bengal Tiger, TADOBA TIGER RESERVE is home to other mammals like spotted deer, sloth bears, gaur, nilgai, dhole, striped hyena, small Indian civet, jungle cats, sambar, barking deer and CHAUSINGHA.  The Tadoba Lake is an ornithologist’s paradise, with a diversity of water birds and raptors.  195 species of birds have been recorded, including 3 endangered species.  The Grey-Headed Fish-Eagle eagle, the Crested-Serpent Eagle and Changeable Hawk-Eagle are some of the raptors.

Other interesting species included the Orange-headed thrush, Indian PITTA, Crested Tree-swift, Stole Curlew, Crested Honey Buzzard, Bronze-winged Jacana and Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker.  The call of the Peacock is often heard.  74 species of butterflies have been recorded and that include the Monarch, Mormons and Swordtails.  Other insects located in the reserve are Praying Mantis, Dragonflies, Stick Insects and Jewel Beetles.  Spiders like the Wolf spiders, Crab spiders and Lynx spiders are common.

Holi Hai!

Holi


The festival of colours, HOLI, is an ancient festival and is celebrated at the end of winter, or on the 14th day of PHALGUNA.

The literal meaning of HOLI is “burning” (DAHAN).  Originally, HOLI was known as HOLIKA, indicating the relation of the festival to “HOLIKA – DAHAN”.  Though there are a number of legends associated with HOLI, the most famous of all is the legend of Prahlad and Hiranyakashyap.
King Hiranyakashyap had instructed all the people of his kingdom to worship only him and none other.  But his son Prahlad became a devotee of Lord Vishnu.  Despite his best efforts to distract Prahlad from the path of devotion, Prahlad refused to worship Hiranyakashyap.  Enraged by Prahlad’s devotion and his own failure, the King instructed his sister Holika to enter the fire with Prahlad.  Holika had a boon to endure the effects of fire without causing any harm to her.  While Prahlad was saved by the grace of the Almighty, Holika, despite her boon, died because of her evil motives.

Holi / Festival of Colors 2013


HOLI marks the victory of good over evil, and it is customary to celebrate HOLI with a bonfire.  HOLI celebrations start  the night before HOLI with a Holika bonfire, where people gather, sing and dance.  The festival, therefore, symbolises the DAHAN (burning) of hatred, anger, enmity, jealousy, greed and other ills of life.  It is also the day to forgive others and to forget all kinds of past conflicts and errors.


Holi Festival


HOLI is the festival of new beginnings.  It celebrates the beginning of spring when the fields are in full bloom and people are expecting a good harvest.  It is all the more reason to rejoice and celebrate HOLI.  Spring is the season of colours and so is the festival of HOLI.

It is the day when people throw colours, especially GULAL, which symbolises happiness and love.  The legend of Radha and Krishna is associated with playing with colours and the festival of gulal comes to its full form in Mathura and Vrindavan.
The Sacred Guru Granth advises Sikhs to play a pure HOLI by immersing themselves in NAMSIMRAN.

Holi celebrations worldwide


“I am imbued with the deep crimson colour of the Lord’s Divine Love; my mind and body have blossomed forth in utter incomparable beauty,” says the Guru.  Sikhs celebrate HOLA MOHALLA { HOLA means HALLA (attack) and MOHALLA implies an organised procession in the form of an army column } at Anandpur Sahib in a three-day celebration marked by shabad-kirtan, langar, processions and poetry recitals.

———–  Kulbir Kaur.                  

Umaid Bhawan palace

Umaid Bhavan Palace


UMAID BHAWAN PALACE, located at Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India, is one of the world’s largest private residences.  A part of the Palace is managed by Taj Hotels.  Another part of the palace houses a museum.

It was called CHITTAR PALACE, during its construction, due to use of stones drawn from the CHITTAR HILL where it is located.  Ground for the foundation of the building was broken on the 18th of November, 1929 by Maharaja Umaid Singh and the construction was completed in 1943.  The Palace was built to provide employment to thousands of people during the time of famine.


 Umaid Bhavan Palace

The history of the building is linked to a curse by a Saint who had said that a period would follow the good rule of the Rathore Dynasty.  Thus, after the end of about the fifty- year-reign of Pratap Singh, Jodhpur faced a severe  drought and famine condition in the 1920s for a period of three consecutive years.  The farmers of the area, faced with famine, sought the help of the then King Umaid Singh, who was the 37th Rathore Ruler of Marwar at Jodhpur, to provide them with some employment so that they could survive.

The King decided to build a lavish Palace.  He commissioned Henry Vaughan Lanches, who was a contemporary of Sir Edwin Lutyens, who planned the buildings of the New Delhi Government Complex, by adopting the themes of domes and columns.  The Palace was designed as an extraordinary blend of Western technology and many Indian architectural features.  About 2,000 – 3,000 people were employed.  However, the actual occupation of the Palace by the Maharaja came only after its completion in 1943, very close to the period of India’s Independence.

Umaid Bhavan Palace


The site chosen was on Chittar Hill, in the outer limits of Jodhpur, where no water supply was available nearby and hardly any vegetation grew, as the hill slopes were rocky.  The building material (from sandstone quarries) required were quite a distance.  The Maharaja built a railway line to the quarry site to transport the building material.  Donkeys were inducted to haul soil to the site.  The sandstone transported was dressed at the site into large blocks with interlocking joints, so that they could be laid without the use of mortar and thus create a wonderful edifice.

The Palace was built with dun-coloured (golden-yellow) sandstone with two wings in an area of 26acres of land, including 15 acres of well-tended gardens.  The interior central dome sits above a sky-blue inner dome.  The inner vaulted dome rises to a height of 103ft in the interior part, which is capped by an outer dome of 43ft height.  Makrana marble has also been used, and Burmese teakwood has ben used for the interior woodwork.  When completed, the Palace had 347 rooms, several courtyards and a large Banquet Hall which could accommodate 300 people.  The architectural style is considered as representing the then in vogue BEAUX Arts Style, also known as INDO-DECO Style.  However, for many years, the Palace did not function fully on account of many tragic events in the Royal family.  Umaid Singh, who stayed in the palace for only four years, died in 1947.  Hanumant Singh who succeeded him also died at a young age  ——- he had just won in the 1952 General Elections and was returning after this win, when his plane crashed and he died.  Gaj Singh –II, who succeeded his father, then decided in 1971 to convert a part of the Palace into a Hotel.

Umaid Bhavan Palace


The Hotel wing of the Palace is run by the Taj Group of Hotels.  It has 79 guest rooms, including the luxurious Regal and Vice Regal Suites and the fabulous “Maharaja” & “Maharani” suites, and the latter is fitted with a bath-tub that is carved from a single block of pink marble, said to be the only one of its kind in India.  The Maharani suite has a parquet flooring and a terrace.  The bedroom has an attached kitchen and the furnishing here is in pink and peach colours.  The bed is also fitted with an art feature of a woman sitting on a lion.  The Maharaja suits has furnishings in leopard skin and black marble flooring and a curved mirror dome.  Both the suites are decorated with murals.  The Banquet Hall of the Palace now forms a large restaurant.


Umaid Bhavan Palace


The Museum has exhibits of stuffed leopards, a very large symbolic flag, gifted to Maharaja Jaswant Singh by Queen Victoria in 1877, an impressive “quirky” collection of clocks in windmill and lighthouse shapes and photographs of the elegant art-deco interior of the palace.  The Classic cars of the Maharajas are also on display in the garden in front of the Museum.  Glass, porcelain ware, memorabilia and information on the building of the Palace are also part of the exhibits.


Umaid Bhavan Palace


The Darbar Hall, which is part of the Museum, has elegant murals and a substantial number of miniature paintings, armour and an unusual collection of household paraphernalia that was in vogue in the 1930s, which were costly and then not found in India.

October to March, during the winter season, are the best months to visit the Palace and the Museum.