ART PEACE

tapping the creative 'right' side of my brain

Heritage

“The Universe is made of stories not of atoms” – Muriel Rukeyser

Storytelling – India’s oral heritage, I remember spending evenings with my grandmother listening to the many stories and I always wondered how she remembers so many of them. Not only my grandmother but also my aunts and other elder people in the family, if you sit with them they always have a story to tell or a riddle for you to solve. I used to love those times and still cherish them.

This story board in Ujjain reminded me of those days. This is the story of King Bhatruhari and Vikramaditya as told by Late Guru Peer of Nath Sampradaya who used to live in Bharthari Caves, Ujjain. By looking at it I can tell you he tried his best to translate it from Sanskrit, the reason why the grammar is displaced but I couldn’t help appreciate his efforts to tell the story in a foreign language so that today’s generation gets reminded of their heritage.

For those who find it tough to read it and understand, below is the story in simple english;

First story (The one in BLACK ink)

Bhartruhari was so much immersed in romance and sex, that he wrote 100 stanzas on ‘the art of romance and sex‘, now famously called ‘Shrungara Shataka‘. All the stanzas are on sensuality and sexual pleasure.

King Bhartruhari was obsessed with his youngest wife Pingala, she was beautiful and charming. Once king’s brother complained to the king about the affair of queen with king’s charioteer and advised him to banish her for the sake of the kingdom. King was too obsessed with her to heed to his brother, in fact when the queen heard of this from her sources, she manipulated the king and banished his brother from the kingdom

One day a yogi came to his court and presented the king with an apple, which he said would bless one with ‘youth and longevity‘ on eating (stories say that the ascetic got the apple as a boon from the gods and that the apple was from the Kalpavruksha- ‘wish fulfilling tree’).

The king wanted queen Pingala to have the apple, so that she would always look young for him.

Queen Pingala gave the apple to the charioteer. She wanted him to be young and strong.

The charioteer was in love with a prostitute, he gave her the apple to eat.

The prostitute thought ‘it would be better if someone deserving ate this‘, she always liked the king, he was noble and pious, his long living also meant the peace and stability of her kingdom, so she took the apple to the king and give it to him.

King Bhartuhari was surprised to see the apple with her, and enquired how she got it. She told him how she got it from the charioteer, king sent men to bring the charioteer, he told the king that he got it from the queen, and confessed of his affair with the queen.

Bhartruhari realized the fleeting nature of the pleasure from worldly objects, he wrote a poem about the incident which changed him in his Niti Shataka. (100 stanzas on Moral conduct)

(She) whom on I contemplate, is not passionate for me, she loves another;
that whom she loves, loves another;
One whom he loves, loves another.
Refuse (disdain to) that woman, that man, Cupid, me
.”

Deep Vairagya (dispassion) arose in him, he gave up the desire for his wife, realizing his mistake he brought his brother back and crowned him, renouncing the world he lived rest of his life as an ascetic. Bhartruhari wrote Niti-Shataka and Vairagya Shataka during his later years.

Source: king-bhartruhari-who-became-saint-bhartuhari

Second story (The one in RED ink)

Ujjain is a city shrouded in myth and legend and most of these center around the legendary king who ruled here –Vikramaditya.
Very few know, however, that Ujjain has a temple on its outskirts that was one the center of daily human sacrifice!
This is the famous temple of Bhukhi Mata. It is a legend that is imperative for all to know because it tells the reason that led to Vikranaditya’s long and prosperous reign as the king of Ujjain.
Centuries ago, the goddesses whose temples citizens of Ujjain worshiped demanded that a youth be sacrificed to them daily. The citizens complied devotedly while heartbroken mothers wailed in suffering as their sons were taken away day after day.
Finally, one brave mother approached the king and demanded that he save her son. The wise king thought long and hard. He then told the mother that he would appeal to the goddesses and if they did not agree he would sacrifice himself that day. Before night set in, the king arranged a huge feast. The flavors of a million different delicious dishes scented the air so much so that the appetites of the goddesses were appeased.
They came to enjoy the food while the king hid himself inside a casket.

On top of this casket he had placed the replica of a man made of delicious sweetmeats. As the devis enjoyed the hearty meal and were about to leave, one of them happened to glance at the special replica. She stayed back while the others left and tasted it.

She praised the tasty food and wondered aloud as to who could have kept the tasty human replica there. At that moment, Vikramaditya showed himself. Taken aback, the goddess asked him to express a wish. He said that she should never cross to this side of the river .  Pleased by his courage, she agreed. The goddess was Bhukhi Mata and the king made a temple in her honour on the other side of the river. Since then, she never came to trouble the people of Ujjain and no more young men needed to be sacrificed!

Source: Bhukthi Mata story

DP Challenge: Heritage

Earth

“Heaven on earth is a choice you must make not a place you must find” – Wayne W Dyer

View from the Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur

This is a small pond in the middle of the desert land. As far as you can can see there is no vegetation, but Earth is kind enough to provide us with some life sustaining water. Mother Earth is kind and caring but we have lost respect for her.

Sometime back I came across a news that people in China are buying fresh air packets manufactured in Canada. I’d rather plant trees for the rest of my life than get into a situation like that. As Sadhguru says, “Right now we are looking at ecological concerns as an obligation to fulfill. It is not an obligation, it is our life.” So lets start caring for the other life around us.

DP Photo Challenge: Earth

Mandala 2

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” – Bruce Lee

I think I went a little overboard with green and messed up with this one. It doesn’t look like one integrated piece … What do you say???

Surprise

“Music is a mantra that soothes the soul… something our body has to have. It is important to understand the power of music” – Michael Jackson

Sometime back I went to this music concert to hear Dr L Subramaniam on violin but I was taken by surprise by this man; Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. He plays Mohan Veena which is this own creation. His music is so mesmerizing that I have no words, you have to witness it yourself to know the power of live music; what it can do to you and your soul.

I am glad I had a chance to hear to his music and that definitely wouldn’t be the last one.

To listen to one of this mesmerizing work click here

DP Photo Challenge: Surprise

Security

“Don’t tell your Ganesha how big your problems are, Tell your problems how big your Ganesha is” – Chugani

Doesn’t matter if you are from North India – South India – East or West; Rich or Poor every Hindu in India loves Lord Ganesha and performs Ganesh Puja. We do it at the beginning of any new event as he is the God for New Beginnings, Prosperity and Obstacle Remover. Only after the Ganesh Puja is performed you feel safe and secure in your mind that nothing bad will happen whatsoever and still if you face challenges Ganesha will take care……

Ganesh Chaturthi which is observed once a year, used to be the busiest time in the year when I was young. There was this huge list of items I helped my mother procure for the puja. I used to go around my colony and the gardens to get them and my mother used to say “Even though I am doing the puja, you will reap the benefits as you are working hard for it” and that alone was enough motivation year after year…

DP Photography Challenge: Security

Dense

RELAX. It’s a healthy choice !!

 

DP Photo Challenge: Dense

It is Easy Being Green!

“What I stand for is what I stand on” – Wendell Berry

DP Photo Challenge – It IS Easy Being Green!

Mandala 1

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities” – Stephen Covey

With my new job and new challenges I am not able to take time out for painting. So I went looking for Van Gough in a box, not that I would endorse that idea very much but this is the best I could do in my current situation and came across this Manadala book – Coloring for Calm. So now a days I am trying to satisfy my artistic itch by filling in colors into the patterns hoping for peace and more free time.

I found this really a good way to meditate also as you have to stay very focused while filling in the finer details. So coloring away and hoping for peace of mind and time so that I can get back to my primitive ways of painting.

Untill then you gotta do what you gotta do!!!

Atop

“God depends on us. It is through us that God is achieved.” ― André GideIMG_20161030_182439604

This is a view atop the Murudeshwara temple entrance. This is a view of the tallest Shiva statue in India, which is 123 ft on the coast of Arabian Sea.

DP Photo Challenge: Atop

Wish

“A world full of love, light and laughter – its time has come. Let’s make it happen” Sadhguru

The evening aarti at the Harsiddhi Mata Mandir, Ujjain where hundreds of people gather daily to witness the 736 lamps that are lit and to pray. Harsiddhi means “Attainment of Shiva”. Some come here to pray for spiritual gains and some come for materialistic gains and some come to take selfies. The aura that is created here every evening takes you to a transcendental state and I was happy to witness it.

DP Photo Challenge: Wish

Against The Odds

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”  ~Albert Einstein

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Capturing nature in its extremities can be a challenge, I got a taste of it when I tried to capture the stormy thunderous night. All drenched, I took more than a 100 shots and managed to get just one good enough one.

DP Photography Challenge: Against The Odds

Solitude

“How can you hear your soul if everyone is talking” – Mary Doria Russell

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Solitude is a choice that provides freedom and space from the demands and interruptions created by others. It paves the way for self-reflection, clarity and to be self-reliant.

Regularly spending time alone is good for our mind, soul, and body.

DP Photo Challenge – Solitude

Repurpose

“Recycling turns things into other things. Which is like MAGIC” – Unknown

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Gardening – my new found hobby these days, which is keeping me busy on weekends and away from painting. It is so relaxing and addictive but I hate buying those plastic pots so I started using some of those water bottles and other to be trashed plastic as pots and am focusing on planting small herbs in them. So here my little mint herb in a re-purposed pot.

DP Photo Challenge: Repurpose

Graceful

“Grace is the beauty of form under the influence of freedom” – Friedrich Schiller

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Virupaksha temple – Hampi, built in the 7th century by the Chalukya kings of the great Vijayanagar Empire.  The picture above is of the gateway located at the east which is nine tiered and is the largest among all the gateways at 50 meters. However old it maybe be, it seems to be aging gracefully.

DP Photo Challenge- Graceful

Priority

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

spring

Recently I was reading this book, “The One Thing” by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan; and got into thinking about priorities and choices. As adults when we have a choice and everything is at our discretion, is there a clear formula for making decisions so that we can make the best decisions for us and not trade them for just any decision?

I found my answer in PRIORITY, as long as we pause and think what really matters to us and let that drive our day/decisions we will have a sense of progress and can avoid getting trapped in busyness.

This painting was inspired by two thoughts –

  1. How important our environment is – we should make all effort to keep the earth beautiful as it should be so that we can enjoy living in it.
  2. How important our environment is – we should surround ourselves with people who add value to our life’s so that we can stay positive, productive and happy.

Random Thoughts!!!

Ambience

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Navratri in Gujarat- India

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Gardens by the Bay – Singapore

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Lost in the Nebula cloud, NASA- Florida USA

For other entries in this category, check out DP Photo Challenge – Ambience

Name

“It is not that the name will do everything, but the name has to inspire passion” – Sadhguru

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The name a person bears through life is something he or she must carry, and it is sometimes the only thing others have to judge you by before they meet you. Your name travels ahead of you like a portent of things to come, a thing from which others make assumptions about you. Are these assumptions always fair or accurate? Of course not, but people continue to make assumptions, regardless.

Here’s a interesting story about the importance of a name:
We can’t deport terrorist… because he kept his NAME secret for 21yrs

NAME – DP Photo Chalenge

Resilient

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“Puli Vesham” – predominantly famous in coastal Andhra where folk artistes done  the role of a tiger  and dance to the drum beats (dappu) of percussion artistes. The original folk dance was a demonstration of strength and fierce fight between the hunter and the tiger.

The best part of the ‘puli vesham’, many say, was the head gear depicting the various moods of the tiger. Usually the head gears depicted the ferociousness of the animal.

Though it has lost patronage we can still find it in small towns and villages where artistes are trying to keep the culture alive.

DP Photography Challenge – Resilient

Infinite Nature

“Spirituality is not something you do. If you stop all of your nonsense, you are spiritual. Spirituality is ultimate sense” – Sadhguru

infinite-nature

Varanasi

The world is becoming noisier and heading towards global warming and I have been a witness to both this year. This year has been the noisiest year for me so far. The apartment we moved to in the city – feels like I am living in a subway station, even all the places we visited this year – there was so much honking, drilling, hammering and pounding. So this year for me is – Noisy @ 16 !!!

We wanted to visit Varanasi during this Diwali but as the flight charges were sky rocketing we went there after Diwali, I had packed most of my woolens as after Diwali northern India gets really cold, but to my surprise it wasn’t cold at all, we witness a pleasant temperature – good for us; but this made me realize that global warming is for real and we have to do something about it -if we can.

We landed in Varanasi and took a cab to the main ghat areas where we had booked our guest house, our cab driver Mr Pintoo not only made us feel safe but also told us where we should go, what we should do and not do and finally we ended up booking him for the rest of our trip. We were dropped at a point some 500mts away from the ghats as no motorized vehicles are allowed near the ghats. We entered the famous gallis (alleys) of Varanasi, they do look creepy – some of them so be cautious but its exciting as well.

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A labyrinthine set of galli’s(alleys) landed us near our guest house – Sita Guest House

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My first thoughts – “where is the guest house, I could only see the water in the ghats”

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So this is front face of the guest house and the one marked in blue was our room with the Ganges view. There is no lift and yo do have to climb those steep stairs to reach the room but once you reach there its all worth it.

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Early morning boat rides and swimmers – this was the best part of the day for me, waking up to a sunrise right across the river – the cool breeze and happy people enjoying their baths/rides.

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Varanasi is a spiritual city, where Hindus go to pray, wash away their sins and honor their dead on the banks of the Ganges. Dying in Varanasi is seen as auspicious, as it ends the cycle of rebirth.

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The morning visitor – (kingfisher probably, not sure??) who fearlessly sat along with us enjoying the sunrise.

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The famous Dashashwamedha Ghat

The walk along the ghats revealed the artistic side of the city.

graffiti

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painters

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The collectible shop – Assi ghat

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Itihaas cafe at Assi ghat where the food is good and so is the ambiance.

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Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedha Ghat

We actually took a boat ride in the evening and while coming back he stopped the boat in the middle of the river so that we can see the aarti from the riverside and that was heavenly.

Most of our day 3 morning went into finding an ATM with cash in it, because of the recent demonetization in India there were fewer ATMs with cash and in Varanasi most the businesses don’t accept cards.

 We spent the entire evening relaxing at the BHU Vishwanath Temple which is a replica of the main Kashi Vishwanath temple – a little or far bigger in size 🙂 and a marvel in marble.

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The walls are inscribed with illustrations from the scriptures and their explanations – which caught my attention.

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Market outside BHU Birla temple.

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Away from the ghats, the streets are busy, crowded and dusty. You get to see a lot of diversity in this place, with boys playing cards near the ghats, people washing clothes on the ghats, people praying at the ghats, boat riders constantly offering you a boat ride – not free of charge of course, women preparing local delicacies on the doorways in the galli’s, restaurants serving Italian, French, Spanish and German food, priests performing puja, foreigner’s looking for spiritual experiences, foreigner hippies looking for ….(you know what I am saying), cows here and there, hordes of old people on the streets who have come here and are waiting to die here so that they can attain moksha,  people carrying dead bodies to the ghat, burning corpses, floating corpses in the Ganges.

Varanasi is a very special place. It is the oldest city in the world located along the banks of the River Ganges which is dripping with history and spirituality. This is one of the main holy places for Hindus, Jains and Buddhists.

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The 80ft, Buddha statue in Sarnath

And finally the famous Blue Lassi shop, I have never had such mixed feeling while enjoying a mere lassi. This is a small shop in one of the galli’s near Manikarnika ghat (usually where the dead bodies are burnt). So I have my lassi in my hand and I am thinking UMMMM….. and right then I see some people taking a dead body to the ghats for cremation , which made me feel guilty about enjoying something – I try to shred the thought and again UMMMM……and there goes another dead body. Finally after seeing 4 of those I quickly finished my drink and shot out of that place.

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And then again there is this early morning sunrise which makes you forget everything and you fall in love with this place all over again.

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Om Namah Shivay !!!

Simplicity

“No amount of anxiety can change the future, No amount of regret can change the past” – Karen Salmansohn

Peacocks 12″X12″ board

It’s been a while I have painted something, one because of a relocation AGAIN… but more than that I have been overthinking a lot about what to paint and planning for a complicated project, but when I couldn’t come up with anything I just took the board and paint and did a simple art piece – which makes me happy 🙂

Himalayas – Badrinath

So, where was I in my Himalayan tour Part 1 – we reached Haridwar, took a cab to Sonprayag, took the back breaking horse ride to Kedarnath and trekked back. I was exhausted way over my limits, but the plan was to cross those limits and to push those limits and extend them 🙂

Triyuginarayan Mandir

Triyuginarayan Mandir

This is Triyuginarayan Mandir, with Sumeru Parvat(mountain) in its backdrop.

Story : It is said that Lord Shiva’s marriage to Sati was solemnized here in the presence of Lord Vishnu. Legend has it that the eternal fire which burns inside the temple never extinguishes. This place is way off the track some 14kms trek from Sonprayag but you get a very beautiful view of the valley and the step farmings, the girls of this area were exquisitely beautiful – I had to mention them 🙂

Sonprayag-sangam

View from the top – Sonprayag

Sonprayag lies at the confluence of the rivers Basuki and Mandakini. Somewhere there is also the hotel that we stayed in. Now we are headed towards Badrinath, fully determined to reach there by nightfall.

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Ohh… the scenic and beautiful valleys and step farms, as “Winter is coming” there were almost no tourists in the area which made our journey even more beautiful and relaxing, but there were no restaurants open too !!! YAY

Orange orchard

So we resorted to stealing some oranges from someones backyard, when they saw us – we begged for some oranges and finally they let us borrow some. Hmmm….. now I know what beg-borrow-steal actually means 🙂

I was very adamant about getting to Badrinath on the same day, had no idea we would lose day light by 5:15 PM itself and the route would be scary -scary-scary. Somehow we reached … Thank God. The town looked deserted, everyone had left the town and moved down for the winter. We got a room, some hot water and hot food and finally called it  a day.

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This is the first thing I see when I removed the drapes in the morning, I had no idea we were in the middle of the great Himalayan range. Badrinath is 10270 ft above sea level.

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Our Hotel Yoga, Badrinath

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I gazed at the wrinkled and rough hewn nirvana quiet mountains with a sense of awe.

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Badrinath Dham

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Ohhh… I forgot to mention about the early morning not so pleasant experience, I got up – got amazed by the view – got back to reality – went into the bathroom – turned on the tap – no water – called the reception only to be told that the water may have frozen in the taps because of the low temperatures. Now I understand why people migrate to the hills during this season. We got two buckets of hot water to do what we had to do. This is the first temple in my life to which I went without taking a bath… hmmm

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Now look at this – is this a joke!!! A hot spring right outside the temple and the taps in the hotel are choking.

Badrinath

By the time we came out my feet and hands were numb. I hope God is watching me and will reward me appropriately, and he did – the shack cafe – the only place open for breakfast, and the only thing on the menu was Maggi. Steaming Maggie with hot tea – that’s all I need for now 🙂

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Mana Village – the last village on the on the Indian side of the Indo-China border.

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Vyas Panthi – This is where the great epic of Mahabharata was written

Saraswati-

Can you see the small stream, that’s the Saraswati River, it is still thought to be a mythical river – which no longer exists. Maybe it no longer exists in its full glory but hey!! its still there.

There are two versions of why Saraswati exists only in the Himalayas

The Story: According to the Brahma-vaivarta Purana: When Ganga-devi cursed Saraswati-devi to become a river here on Mrtyuloka(earth), one of the conditions was that she would only remain on earth as long as rishis and other great sages performed tapasya on her banks. Since we are now in Kali-yuga, there are no longer these great souls performing austerities, so she vanished.

The tour guide’s version: In the above picture we saw Vyasa Panthi – it is the place where Ved Vyasa was reciting Mahabharata and Ganesha was writing it down, Vyasa got disturbed by the gurgling sounds of Saraswati’s water and asked her to slow down. But she wouldn’t listen so he cursed her to go obscure. So today you can see Saraswati only here in the Himalayan region of Mana Village where she originates and after that she goes underground only to emerge at the Triveni Sangam in Illahabad where Khumba Mela takes place.

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Keshav Prayag – Confluence of Saraswati and Alaknanda

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Now it was time to leave the abode of gods and return to lower grounds where the devilish minds are at work.

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Karna Prayag – Confluence of Alaknanda and Pindar Rivers and the last of the panch prayags.

I was supposed to take a dip in these Panch Prayag’s to attain Moksha but given the temperature of 8 degrees Celsius I’ll have to find other ways of attaining Moksha.

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On our way back to Rushikesh we could see villages and towns preparing for Diwali – the festival of lights

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Rushikesh – situated at the foothills of the Himalayas, besides Ganga river. It is famously known as the place for studying yoga, meditation and for temples and ashrams. To me it looked like the whole town’s having a hippie party.

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River Ganga – view from Lakshman Jhula

Haridwar Rushikesh

Evening Ganga aarti at Haridwar – the mesmerizing chanting of the mantras during the beginning of the aarti was the best way of concluding this trip.

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Haridwar market place

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A short visit to the Patanjali Yog Peeth on our way back.

Next time I go to Himalayas, I don’t want to be time bound and just let my instincts guide me.

Om Namah Shivay!!!

Sva-vida

“The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand” – Frank Herbert
Acrylics on a 12" X 12" board

Acrylics on a 12″ X 12″ board

I am seriously running out of ideas, this the best I could come up with after months of break.

Lake Kailash Manasarovar

Kailash Manasarovar

One of the early acrylic works, trying to bring out the shades which didn’t seem to work that well.

OM Namah Shivay

Rajasthani Woman

“Perform all work carefully, guided by compassion” – Ved Vyasa                 (The Bhagavat Gita)
Acrylics on 16" X 24" canvas board

Acrylics on 16″ X 24″ canvas board

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