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.

We are custodians, not possessors

Lord Krishna : Everything which we possess today was possessed by somebody else yesterday and will be possessed by others tomorrow and somebody else day after tomorrow.

Everything which we possess —— money, house, car, jewellery, property, etc., — was possessed by somebody else in the past, which means they got transferred to us.  We might have either earned it, or inherited it, or won it in a lottery, but the fact remains that they were possessed by somebody else, and in the present we possess them.

Will these possessions remain with us permanently ?  Will they not go to somebody else tomorrow, the way they came to us ?  They will definitely go to someone else after our death.

The land on which our house is built belonged to somebody else before our house was constructed, and maybe after 100years belong to somebody else with another house built over it.  Is it not our ignorance that the house in which we live is felt to be ours, the wealth which we own today is felt to be ours ?  All these things are temporary.


Krishna painting


Our body is not  permanently ours, as we will leave it after our death.  Our thoughts that emanate from our mind are not ours.  They have been received from other people and since our mind liked them, it possessed them.  We change our thought pattern too when we grow in age  or get influenced by others’ thoughts (of more intelligent, successful or spiritual people).

Everything in this creation is passing through from person to another, from one hand to another and from one place to another.  Everything is in a transmigratory state be it wealth, property, relationship or physical body.  We can at the most feel custodianship of all that which we possess.  A custodian is never attached to anything, has no ego of ownership, as he knows full well that all that which he possesses belongs to somebody else.

The laws of creation do not permit anything to remain permanently with anybody.

———-  Sadguru Rameshji.   

Nathdwara

Shrinathji Nathdwara


It literally means GATEWAY to SHRINATHJI.  It is a town in Rajasthan, famous for its Temple of Krishna which house the idol of Shrinathji (14th century)——- a 7-year-old infant incarnation of Krishna.  Nathdwara Town itself is popularly referred to as SHRINATHJI, after the presiding Deity.


Nathdwara


As per the religious beliefs, the shrine at Nathdwara was built in the 17th century at the spot as exactly ordained by Shrinathji Himself.  The idol of Lord Krishna was being transferred to a safer place from Vrindavan, to protect it from anti-Hindu, iconoclastic, Mughal ruler Aurangzeb.  When the idol reached the spot n the village of SINHAD, the wheels of the bullock-cart, in which the idol was being transported, sank axle-deep in mud and could not be moved any further.  The accompanying priests realised that the particular place was the Lord’s chosen spot, and accordingly, a Temple was built there, under the rule and protection of the then Maharana Rana Singh of Mewar.  Shrinathji Temple is also known as HAVELI (mansion) of Shrinathji.

Nathdwara has an average elevation of 1919ft.  It is set amid idyllic hills.  A steady stream of pilgrims has ensured a plentiful supply of transport and accommodation.  Shrinathji Temple is the centre of attraction, but the town is also famous for its PICHWAI paintings (large paintings on cloth depicting legends from the life of Lord Krishna), handmade terracotta, ivory articles and HAWELI music (devotional music akin to DHRUPAD singing with compositions meant for various seasons, festivals and sections of the day).


Shrinathji Nathdwara


The structure of the Temple is simple, but the aesthetic appeal of this Temple is ceaseless.  Lord Shrinathji symbolizes a form of Lord Krishna, when He lifted the Govardhana (a hill).  In the image, the Lord is revealed with His left hand raised and the right hand is like a fist.  The idol is carved out of a large black stone.  Images of two cows, a snake, a lion, two peacocks and a parrot near the God’s head are imprinted on the idol.


Nathdwara Shrinathji temple


The Temple authorities have not less than 500 cows.  Darshan opens eight times a day and the Lord looks different in every Darshan, and the RAJBHOG Darshan, taking place around noon, is the most important and sought-after.  Photography and mobile phones are strictly prohibited in the Temple premises.  The best time to visit Shrinathji is from September to February.

Satva, Rajas, Tama

When PURUSH (soul) combines with PRAKRITI (creation), in the form of three gunas ——– Satva, Rajas and Tama —– a being takes birth in creation..
Light, Happiness and Gyan are properties of SATVA, RAJAS pertains to desires, attachments and resultant actions, and TAMA is darkness, ignorance and sleep.  At all times, all the three gunas are present in a human being, one dominating the other, depending on the desire and state of evolution of being.
Ordinary beings are ruled by TAMA, which is also the guna dominant in animals and other lower beings.  When a being leaves the body with the dominance of TAMA GUNA, se/he gets the animal yonis and enters into the netherworlds, says the Bhagvad Gita.  So the TAMA GUNA needs to be reduced and SATVA and RAJAS increased.
As the RAJAS GUNA increases, one is guided towards action (KARMA) driven by passion, material desires and attachment.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, every BHOG has a ROG attached to it.  So under this guna, a being indulges in pleasures of the senses and experiences the pains that come with it.  This ties the person to the downward spiral of birth and death —- each birth being lower and more painful than the previous.  Therefore, excess of the RAJAS GUNA is bad.  Abundance of the SATVA GUNA, makes us practise DHYAN & SADHNA and initiates cleansing through service and charity.  Gyan and bliss follow.  When a being leaves the body with dominance of SATVA, she/he takes birth in subtler dimensions and LOKAS, in the yonis of Devas and Rishis.


Three gunas

All the three gunas pertain to physical creation.  We can exit the painful cycle of birth and death to merge with the ultimate reality i.e. GOD by rising above these gunas.  When we go beyond the influence of TAMA, RAJAS & SATVA, we become GUNA ATEET ——– a state that can only be achieved through a guru’s help.  When a guru transfers his Gyan (Shakti) to the disciple, the latter becomes GUNA ATEET.  But Gyan can only exist in a SATVIK environment.  So, it is imperative for us to engage in charity and service, to change the negative karmas accumulated over so many births.  Only then can we move towards gaining Gyan and Liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

————– Yogi Ashwini

A true patriot

India patriotismPATRIOTISM is a value system where one loves everything that belongs to a country  ——- its laws, systems, traditions, culture and diversity.  In the Indian context, it translates to loving all that India stands for, including its laws.
Does ‘Patriotism’ have a ‘Religion’ ?  If ‘Patriotism’ is ‘love for country’ and ‘Religion’ ‘love for God’, is there a conflict of allegiance ?  Ideally speaking, there shouldn’t be any clash between the two most important domains of one’s identity.  It ought to be just like the way one can love his mother and father at the same time.
However, religion getting shrouded in fanaticism and patriotism in rhetoric, the equation gets skewed.  Our cherished ideals are LOKAH SAMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU ( Welfare of all beings in the world ) and VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBBAKAM (The world is one family).
Is a religious patriot an ‘oxymoron’ ?  Devotion and patriotism are two sides of the same coin.  Loving the Divine means loving His creation.  Religions often get communalised and patriotism gets reduced to symbolic outpouring of VANDE MATARAM on Independence Day or Republic Day.
The point is that patriotism is a complementary part and parcel of all religions.  The vision to balance the two though secularism is yet to be realised.  State-sponsored national integration drives have focussed not on creating a feeling of oneness, but on recognising and tolerating the diversity.
A spiritual person alone can strike the right balance.  Spirituality encompasses a wider concept of patriotism and religion, transcending the limitation of geography and sectarianism  He alone can be a TRUE PATRIOT, whose love for the nation is not guided by narrow considerations of caste, creed and religion.
Let us pledge, to become TRUE PATRIOTS.
——– Excerpts from: A True Patriot Transcends Geography. by M. Rajaque Rahman. 

Dwarka

Dwaraka temple


The original city of DWARKA is believed to be sunken in the Arabian Sea 5,000 years ago.  That is why it is known as a “lost city”.  Divers till today are researching, after finding the artifacts from the sea floor.

Nearby, there is a small island known as BET DWARKA.  You can simply hire a boat from Dwarka to go to the island.  BET DWARKA is a part mud and part sand beach.  However, its the best place for zoologists.

DWARKADEESH temple


Due to its isolation and relatively limited accessibility by train, DWARKA is very rarely visited by foreign tourists.  It is, however, very popular in the domestic tourist market and has some excellent attractions.  Its omission from  International Guidebooks like LONELY PLANET is a serious one.

DWARKADEESH Temple is one of the finest in India, and it dominates the city’s small skyline.  SUNSET POINT, near the GOMTI River and its ghats are exceptionally beautiful at all times of day, though perhaps a little risky late at night.  Though the city is challenging up for the rare foreign tourist, its attractions more than make up for the difficulties faced if you are happy to spend the time getting there.  The city gives you a peaceful feeling and the nearby beaches make it certainly worth a visit.

krishna


DWARKA is 450km from Ahmedabad and is well connected by road and rail.  The nearest airport is Rajkot.  Spice Jet, Go Air and Jet Airways operate regular flights.  The Railway is located 2km from the Main Tempe and has direct trains from Mumbai and a few other cities in India.

There are a lot of places around DWARKA which can be covered in a single day.  There are local taxis available, and the places covered are :

DWARKADEESH_temple


(1) BET DWARKA, which is supposed to be the place where Lord Krishna lived.  The Temple has a main DWARKADEESH Deity, which was believed to have been made by Krishna’s chief Queen, RUKMINI and in which MEERA BAI merged and disappeared from the material world.  There are boats available from OKHA JETTY from where people are ferried to the island, which is approximately 30km from DWARKA.


Hanuman mandir yagna


(2) HANUMAN MANDIR is also on BET DWARKA, but is on the outskirts of the city and it is a lonely temple.  There is an interesting story of Rukmini being cursed by Sage DURVASA, because of which the temple is situated outside and it is also because of this that the water in DWARKA city is salty.


Dwarka temple landscape


(3) The DWARKADEESHA Temple is also called JAGAT MANDIR, and is a VAISHNAVA Temple.  The Temple, facing west, is at an elevation of 40ft above sea level.  It is conjectured that the Temple is 2,500 years old.  However, the existing Temple is dated to the 16th century.  It is a 5-storeyed edifice built over 72 pillars.  Its spire rises to a height of 256ft, and a very large flag with the symbol of the Sun and the Moon is hoisted on it.  The Temple layout consists of a GARBHAGRIHA and an ANTARALA (an ante-chamber).  The Main Deity is of DWARKADEESHA, which is known as the TRIVIKRAMA form of Vishnu and is depicted with four arms.


nageshwar mandir dwarka


(4) NAGESHWAR MANDIR is a temple dedicated to Shiva and one of the 12 JYOTIRLINGAS (meaning ‘radiant sign of the Almighty) is deified here in a subterranean  cell.


nageshwar mandir Dwarka_


(5) GOMTI GHAT consists of steps leading to the Gomti River.  The ghat has a number of shrines dedicated to SAMUDRA NARAYAN (God of the Sea), Saraswati and Lakshmi .  The GOMTI Temple has an idol of Goddess Gomti, that is said to have been brought to Earth by Sage VASISHTA.


Gomti ghat Dwarka


(6) The LIGHTHOUSE is a famous place on the coast, where one can enjoy complete silence and peace.  Behind the Lighthouse there is a huge cave, naturally created by the striking of the sea water.  There is also a small GANESH Temple behind the Lighthouse.  The Lighthouse has a fixed light situated 70ft above sea level and the light is visible over a distance of 16km.  The Lighthouse Tower is 12 metres in  height and is 107metres away from the high water level.  The radio beacon, provided on this Lighthouse Tower, is powered by a Solar PHOTOVOLTAIC module.


Dwarka lighthouse


Vijayadashami

Dussehra


The festival of VIJAYADASHAMI or DUSSEHRA celebrates the victor of good over evil, symbolised in Indian Mythology by the slaying of the demon king RAVANA by LORD RAMA,, and by the killing of the monster MAHISHASURA by GODDESS DURGA.

Every year effigies of Ravana are burnt  on VIJAYADASHAMI which falls on the 10th day of the month of Ashwin in the Hindu Lunar calendar.  Ravana is the personification of evil —– a learned scholar who gave in to lust, anger, greed and ego.  Rama is the personification of virtue, the MARAYADA PURUSH.


Durga puja dashami


We celebrate VIJAYADASHAMI every year, but are we really becoming free of vices ?  Instead we are becoming slaves to our vices.  Increasing corruption, immorality and materialism indicate a growing void that is being sought to be filled with possessions and physical pleasures.  The increasing influence of vice in our lives is unwittingly reflected in the size of the Ravana effigies built for VIJAYADASHAMI, which grow taller each year.

Just burning wood and straw effigies is not going to bring us victory over evil.  That can be achieved only by “spiritual effort”.  The story of the Ramayana is a parable of how God, personified by Rama, and humans represented by monkeys, together can rid the world of negative tendencies.
The battle described in the Ramayana is an allegory for the struggle that goes on in the mind between our higher Self and our weaknesses.  God helps us in this struggle by giving us the strength to resist evil and the wisdom to avoid deceptions created by ignorance of our true identity.
When we forget that we are spiritual beings, or souls, we begin to define ourselves in terms of our body and the labels that come with it —– race, religion, nationality and gender.  We also measure our worth, and that of others, in terms of personal and professional roles, responsibilities, possessions, appearance and social and financial status.  Such identifications with the physical not only begets attachment but also brings sorrow when our gross identity suffers due to ageing, declining social, financial or professional positions.  It makes us vulnerable to vice, the cause of suffering.

vijaydashami


We need to remove the veils of ignorance from the intellect, by becoming aware of our true identity as souls innately possessing divine qualities of peace, love and co-operation.  With the practice of spiritual knowledge and meditation, we can purify our negative proclivities.

To make our celebration of VIJAYADASHAMI meaningful, we must resolve to take at least one step towards conquering our weaknesses, so that each year we move closer to attaining victory over them..  Thus, we can sublimate the negative propensities of Ravana living in our minds.
——- B K Brijmohan.