ART PEACE

tapping the creative 'right' side of my brain

Lockdown-day 14

“All good things are wild and free” – Henry David Thoreau

Looks like I will be doing some painting a lot longer than I intended to. My company is asking me to take leave and go on a loss of pay till things get better… whenever that will be !!!

Happy Painting… Happy Blogging!!!

Stay Safe … Stay Home !!!

Lockdown-day 13

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud” – Coco Chanel

I never believed in the myth or logic behind the number 13 being a bad number but today was a crazy and scary day for me. The job market is in a lamentable state creating lots of uncertainty and disarray. And guess what – IT’S DAY 13 … Could it be just a coincidence….!!!

For fun tell me how many silhouette are there?

Did a little rough and quick Photoshoping (Guess that is the only shopping I am going to do for a while now… 🙂 ) Trying to improve on my digital art skills now that I can’t run out and buy painting supplies anymore… at least not for a while.

Stay Strong … Stay Positive !!!

Happy Painting… Happy blogging !!!

Stay Safe… Stay Home !!!

Lockdown-day 12

“In a world where everyone wears a mask, it’s a privilege to see a soul.”
― Amanda Richardson

Happy painting… Happy blogging !!!

Stay Safe… Stay Home !!!

Lockdown-day 11:Intuition

I was watching the movie Doubt, in which the female protagonist questions the priest’s integrity based on her moral certaintywithout a shard of proof. This got me thinking about Intuition.

Intuition – “the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning“. We all have a moment in life when we have a gut feeling about something which defies all rationality. In moments like these do you listen to yourself or do you shrug it off? Most of us have grown up believing that there should be logic to all the decisions we make, but we need both intuition and reason to come to the best possible decision.

Research show that only 20% of the brains gray matter is dedicated to conscious thoughts while 80% is dedicated to non conscious thoughts, so how could we possibly make decisions without including the non conscious part of the brain. The conscious is the expert at logic which we use relentlessly, on the contrary the unconscious mind searches though the past, present and future and tries to come up with hunches and feelings.

Writing your thoughts down helps open up your non conscious mind, stir up your emotional feeling rather than intellectual feelings. With this you create a deeper relationship with self which helps you to bring your true instinctual awareness back into your rational life.

Think about it !!!

Stay Safe … Stay Home !!!

Lockdown-day 10

“As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?” – Cassandra Clare

Happy painting… Happy blogging !!!

Stay Safe… Stay Home and Remember it’s weekend … so Happy Weekend !!!

Lockdown-day 9

“If you really want to examine your strength, see how many times a day you are disturbed” – Rama Swami

Happy Rama Navami to everyone celebrating it !!!

Happy Painting… Happy Blogging!!!

Stay Safe… Stay Home !!!

Lockdown-day 8

“That which does not kills us makes us stronger” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Boxed up at home, looks like I am running out of ideas and inspiration. I need to use more colors other than blue and black to keep my spirits up. Wishing everyone a healthy and positive day!!!

Happy Painting… Happy Blogging!!!

Stay Safe… Stay Home!!!

Lockdown-day 7

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo Da Vinci

Happy Painting … Happy Blogging!!!

StaySafe…StayHome!!!

Lockdown-day 6

There is no greater pain than to recall happiness in times of misery– Dante

My heart goes out for all the families and victims in Italy and everywhere around the world. I have always wanted to taste Italian pizza and wine. Still in my bucket list…

Wishing everyone around the world peace, strength and comfort.

Happy Painting … Happy Blogging!!!

StaySafe…StayHome!!!

Lockdown-day 5: Heart of a mouse

A mouse was in constant distress because of his fear of the cat and went to a magician, he took pity on him and turned him into a cat. But then he became afraid of the dog.
So the magician turned him into a dog. Then he began to fear the panther, so the magician turned him into a panther. After which he was fearful of the hunter.
At this point, the magician gave up. He turned him into a mouse again saying, “Nothing I do for you is going to be of any help because you have the heart of a mouse.”

External change and appearance will not matter if you don’t change your inner self and mind.

Think about it!!!

Lockdown-day 4: Learn your strengths

We all long for a sense of belonging and in the quest some of us forget to check if the place we are in is truly where we belong. Some are very comfortable where they are but have you give this a thought:  Is it worthwhile to  just “fit in” because it is easy and comfortable?

It took me a long time to recognize the intense veil of naivety under which I was during my early life. It is easy to fit in, it is easy to blend in and hide your outrageousness but it is also the easiest way to lose the precious parts of you. In an actual sense, usually we are greater than how we view ourselves or where we fit.  For most, it’s just about taking a step further or changing some strategies to lead us to a better place where we belong.

So stop taking the easy way out. Stop trying to fit in. You deserve to be seen. You deserve to be heard. You deserve to be known for the real deal that you are.

Learn your Strengths- Live your Values – Lead the Change!

Think about it!!!

StayHome… StaySafe!!!

Lockdown-day 3

“Evil societies always kill their consciences ” – James L. Farmer Jr

May the head of Medusa  protect us from all evil.

Lockdown Day 2

“Nobody wants to get locked up, although ‘locked up’ is a matter of perspective” – Wesley Snipes

True to my form – I went overboard with this one. Just can’t draw small !!!

Anyways there are too many flaws in this one hence the Photoshop effects.

Happy Painting … Happy Drawing … Happy Blogging …!!!

Stay Safe … Stay Home !!!

Lockdown Day 1

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” — Jack Kornfield

India is going on a lockdown for 21 days starting 25-Mar-2020 due to Corona 😦

So I just thought let me try to make the most of it and make it fun. Planning to do a drawing\painting\something and post daily for these 21 days.

Happy Painting … Happy Drawing … Happy Blogging …!!!

Stay Safe … Stay Home !!!

Are you a boiling frog?

It is said that if you put a frog in boiling water, it will sense the danger and jump out quickly.

But if you put a frog in a pan of cold water and and heat the water gradually, the frog is not able to sense the change until it is too late for him and eventually gets boiled. And that’s the end of him.

Why am I telling this story?

Life is full of change – change is inevitable, we should be able to recognize the change so that we can prepare ourselves and not be caught by surprise, be it at work, with friends, major career changes, at home, the people around you or anything in and around your surrounding.

We must see the signs and be wise enough to recognize it so that we don’t end up like the boiling frog.

Listen to your intuition.

Take some action before it is to late to take any.

Think about it !!!

Rahu-Ketu

“One day or day one. You Decide” – Unknown

So I have been poking my nose into the stars lately – I mean Astrology. Not looking for predictions or ways to become rich or finding faults in my stars either. My study mainly revolves around understanding myself and understanding the situations around me. Having said that, I came across these two shadow planets called Rahu and Ketu and the importance of their placement in the birth chart in the horoscope. This is an interesting line of study that I came across among other things which also become the motivation for my painting.

I checked the placement of Rahu and Ketu in my birth chart. My Rahu sits in Cancer and my Ketu sits in Capricorn. Cancer is represented by a Crab and Capricorn is represented by a Crocodile. So now I got into thinking what does it mean to me? As per the study the sign where Ketu is – is the quality you have in abundant or that is what you are naturally and the sign where Rahu is that is the quality you should strive for in this life. Hmmm…..

What is a Capricorn? A Crocodile – so am I crocodile!!! …. seriously. Now I want to know more about crocodiles.

  • They have a survival quality greater than anyone on earth
  • They know they can get whatever they want
  • Can be ruthless in destroying anything to get their needs met.
  • They can be vicious in destroying other things as well as self(ego) if that stands in the way of their overall happiness
  • Because they know they can take the things they want and when they want, they don’t feel the need to progress
  • They can just relax all the time until they feel hungry or threatened

So this is what a crocodile quality is and if your Ketu is in Capricorn these qualities come naturally to you. But you are in this life to learn something…. Or you can keep holding on to what you are and then take another birth to learn it …..maybe the hard way next time !!! So to know what I should learn I look at where my Rahu is – it is in Cancer. And it is – A Crab. Let’s see what that is…

  • tenacious – hold on to something till it works out
  • fragile hence very vigilant
  • adaptive but searching for more comfortable and less threatening situations
  • always gathering something for survival or safety
  • very aware of their needs

So how does it all imply to me now. In a nutshell – I can keep the strength of the crocodile but shred the laziness of the crocodile. Rather than waiting for the right moment and acting only when necessary I have to start being the adaptive and busy crab that is constantly doing things to add value to my life. Yawwwnnnn………

So….. the Crab in me has gathered enough information for this post and now the Crocodile in me just wants to laze on that rock …. 🙂 Moreover its a Sunday…. move away crab!!!

Happy Blogging & Happy Sunday!!!

WordPress Junior

“To change with change is the changeless state”   – Bruce Lee

It’s time to join the circus. And yes, it’s never too late to teach an old dog some new tricks.

So I have been blogging using WordPress since the past 6 years. Putting out content after content, pictures after pictures and I thought I was almost a pro in WordPress. Created posts, pages, interactive elements, wrote some html background lines and changing all sorts of settings, appearances. Tried to use the wordpress site as much as I could for free. But recently I got some free time when I bumped onto a course on LinkedIn Learning – Become a professional WordPress developer and decided to take it. That is when my eyes rolled down to a learning path – Become a Junior WordPress developer which got me into thinking – Should I first go for this!!! In my opinion I know all about being a Junior WordPresser so should I still waste my time here!!! But then I thought why not – wordpress has changed so much over these 6 years with their new Gutenberg plugin and block editing, I thought I should start from the Junior course. And I am thrilled I did that. There is so much the new format has to offer, somethings which I new explored by myself. So the Junior WordPresser in me is enjoying the learning and the plan is to bedazzle\shock my readers as I implement the new learning on my site. Hope i don’t mess what I already have….fingers-crossed.

Happy Blogging !!!

Cheating

“Cheating isn’t a mistake, it’s a choice”  – Unknown

I had once read a quote “You can never make the same mistake twice because the second time you make it, it’s not a mistake, it’s a choice”. So why am I talking about it here. Hmmm … I started this painting some 4-5 months back when I was looking for a job. Then I got one and got busy … very busy. Finally when I got time to complete it I had lost interest but true to my nature I can’t abandon it and move to the next one so I finish doing the entire outline using a pen instead of paint. I had done the same with my other painting – Self-torture , instead of painting I used the pen to finish the detail. On one side I am glad I am through with this one and can move onto the other but I am not proud of myself. the artist in me screamed “cheater” the whole time but in my defense I had lost patience, interest and wanted to just finish this one and move on.

This got me into thinking – are we trying to pass on our bad choices as mistakes? My bad choice got the job done faster and easier but if I get used to it, it will prove fatal in the long run. It will always leave me feeling bad at the end and I will regret the road I have taken.

So this time I am going to challenge myself – to be true to myself no matter what. If I love painting so much I will have to make the time and effort to complete it so that I am not left feeling guilty at the end of it. My next ones going to be all detail oriented. So wish me luck !!!

Ahobilam Climb

“The best project you will ever work on is you” – Sonny Franco

For the first time in my life I wished for a relaxing trip. Go into the jungles – visit a few temples, waterfalls, enjoy the local food and back to business. BTW I changed my job again and hence the gap. I have been working like a donkey so wanted to wonder in the woods like a lion. Little did I know – once a donkey – always a donkey; and you will know why, by the end of the trip.

Through the dense Nallamala forest and washed-off roads we reached a small town called Ahobilam where Vishnu incarnated in the form a lion-man; Narasimha avatar to kill the demon Hiranyakashipu.

This place is divided into two: Lower and Upper Ahobilam. We will visit the Lower Ahobilam temple for the evening where the Lord got married.

Procession inside the temple

There are lots of interesting stories related to this place. First – how did the demon Hiranyakashipu came into existence and Second – how he got killed?

The first story – how did the demon Hiranyakashipu came into existence

Jaya and Vijaya were the gatekeepers of Vaikunta the abode of Lord Vishnu. Four Sanat Kumars – sons of Lord Brahma once went to visit Lord Vishnu and were stopped by Jaya and Vijaya which led to a rift between the parties and angered the Kumaras. Kumaras then cursed Jaya and Vijaya to loose their divinity and take birth as mortals for 3 life times. At this point Lord Vishnu intervened. Jaya and Vijaya asked him to lift off the curse to which he replied that he cannot do that but instead he assured that in their three life’s Vishnu himself will come and kill them so that they attain moksha and return back to their rightful place. In their first birth as enemies to Vishnu they were born as

Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu in Satya Yuga.

Ravana and Kumbhakarna in Treta Yuga.

Shishupal and Dantavakra in Dwapara Yuga; (good luck pronouncing all the names)

Second story – how Hiranyakashipu got killed

The story starts when Hiranyaksha, his brother got killed by Lord Vishnu in his Varaha avatar. Hiranyakashipu swore revenge that he would, in turn, destroy Vishnu. He decided to undertake penance to earn the grace of Lord Brahma. Brahma pleased with his austerities, appeared before him and told him to ask for a boon. When Hiranyakashipu demanded immortality, though, Brahma refused, saying that anything that was born on Earth had to die someday. So he told him to ask for another boon. Hiranyakashipu thought for a while and asked that nobody killed him under the following circumstances: Neither by an entity, living or nonliving; nor by any weapon. Neither by a demigod nor by a demon. Neither by a human nor by an animal. Neither within nor outside his residence. Neither during day nor nighttime. Neither on the ground nor in the sky.

Brahma granted him all of the above, blessed Hiranyakashipu and left. This newly found power made the Asura drunk with his power. He decided that it was time he showed off his powers and established his superior status, even as compared to the Devas.

When Hiranyakashipu was in penance, Indra and the other Devas decided to attack his home. At that point, sage Narada intervened to protect Kayadhu, the devout and pure-hearted wife of the demon. He took her under his wing, until the time Prahlada, the child she was carrying, was born. Right from the womb, Prahlada would hear Narada sing praises of Lord Vishnu. Thus, he became a great bhakta (devotee) of Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu resented his son’s leaning and extreme devotion toward Vishnu. When things became unbearable for him, he decided to kill Prahlada. However, he failed each time he tried to kill the boy.

Prahlada refused to acknowledge his father as the supreme power and would instead keep praying to Vishnu. One day, Hiranyakashipu led his son to a pillar and asked him if Vishnu would be residing in there. Prahlada answered in the affirmative and said that his Lord resided everywhere. In a fit of rage, he lifted his mace and banged it hard against the pillar.

The pillar shattered and from inside it, jumped out Narasimha, a fearsome entity who was half-man and half-lion. This was actually the 4th avatar of Lord Vishnu. He had manifested to destroy the arrogant asura and also to protect his young devotee, Prahlada. Narasimha then proceeded to attack Hiranyakashipu.

As per the asura’s conditions for death, Narasimha was neither a human nor a Deva nor an animal. He manifested at twilight (a time which was neither day nor night); on the threshold of the courtyard (this was neither inside nor outside the palace). He put the asura across his thighs (this was neither on the ground nor in the sky) and, using his sharp claws (not weapons of any kind), he tore the demon open, disemboweling him; killing him instantly.

So today we will be trekking to to the pillar from which Narasimha manifested which again goes through forests and rocky terrain.

Seriously, he couldn’t pick a simpler pillar to smash…

We definitely needed a guide for this one and I am glad we got one as it had started to rain. Everyone one around us advised us not to climb. But our guide was like – it’s a piece of cake, I’ll take you there, don’t worry. And that was all I needed to move forward.

Starting point

I pray this bridge stays intact till I come back.

This is the path, if you can call it a path, which freaked me out. We climbed almost 5kms through this rocky jungle with just a stick to support us.

My guide was my photographer for this trek, I couldn’t manage to hold on to anything but my stick and had to crawl like a monkey all the way up.

I have no idea how I climbed this….. however as if this wasn’t enough !!! Now I have to climb down to reach there……

And just go down those loosely held life risking ladder… one slip and I would have had a direct audience with God today !!!!

And I am finally there… Oh Gods!!! Now getting down from here will be an achievement in itself.

I was tired, but it was the good tired feeling that you have after doing something worthwhile. The gentle breeze, the sunlight, the chirping of the birds, the calmness – I was soaking it all in. This is by far the toughest hike we have done which left me euphoric for long. Given a chance I would like to be born in one of these isolated places – worrying about nothing but daily bread n butter and enjoying the nature in its fullest. For this life I am not sure I can go back to a life like that after seeing what money can buy. I have had this dilemma for a while now – will I be able to give up on material things to live a nomadic life? Having that money in my pocket is what gives me the strength and confidence to plan random trips like these, will I be peaceful knowing I don’t have that bank balance or in other words “safety”? With these thoughts in mind I start my descend back.

We took a different route while coming down – thank God or thank Shivanna(our guide). He took us through the dense forest and that was awesome. There was always a risk of a wild animal pouncing on us or a snake getting angry with us, but these thoughts didn’t occur to me until we crossed the forest safely.

After a long nearly 5 kms walk or more…. I lost all sense of position. Happy to see some ground where I can relax. We had to keep walking – walking – walking while we were in the jungle, the minute we stopped we were surrounded by the over enthusiastic mosquitoes who wanted the taste of some human blood. Sitting by the stream I got myself a little free fish spa 🙂 There were others there who had packed some food and were enjoying it – I wish I had packed some snacks as suggested by my guide. I can’t wait for the walk to be over and eat something appetizing.

The place where we sat is where Prahalad – the son of the demon studied Vedas. He must have also walked through the jungle daily to get to this place. No wonder why he wanted his dad dead 🙂

Prahalad cave

On our way down we visited some other Narasihma temples. I am way beyond exhausted. All I care for now is some good food and a nice bed and its my job that pays for these two so I am going to hang on to it for a while 🙂 and leave it to nature to fulfill all my desires…

OM Namo Narayanaya!!!

Nallamala Forest

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us” – Anonymous

A quick getaway is what I needed after zombie-ing in and out of my laptop from 9 to 5 and making the one hour commute to vegetate in front of the TV till I drop dead only to rise and shine again and rinse and repeat.

Heading to the Nallamala forest for this short trip. Nallamala is a dense forest range in the Eastern Ghats of India with multiple tiger reserves and varied flora and fauna. Uranium deposits have been found there now, so before the whole place becomes radioactive – politically and otherwise; let me enjoy the beauty. We had a lovely monsoon season so the forest is going to be lush and alive – hoping to see some tigers on the way 🙂

Entering Nallamala

The first stop is Mallela Teertham waterfalls. We go through a muddy pathway through a village and cotton fields to reach there.

Loved the monsoon clouds which made the entire trip so picturesque. Mallela Theertham is yet again a religious site\waterfall as it is believed that many saints and rishis have performed penance here and Lord Shiva content with their devotion appeared here and blessed them. Some 350 steps in the lush green forest takes you down to the waterfalls. This is also the source for Krishna river.

Meditation is definitely possible in this place. I hope I gathered some energy from here which would help restore my sanity. Next stop – Srisailam – the shrine of Lord Shiva who is in the form of Lord Mallikarjuna with his consort Goddess Bhramarambadevi.

Enroute Srisailem Dam
Entering Srisailem

As it was Navratri and the festivities were on. By the time we reached Srisailam it was almost evening so we decided to take a stroll in the market place rather than relax and I am glad we did that. The whole place was lit up and bustling with food and people of all sorts.

Somewhere in the distance I could hear drums rolls and was just drawn towards it. The procession had just started from the temple. Navratri is the celebration of good over evil. During these 9 nights and 10 days Goddess Durga is worshiped in all her nine forms. Each day the Devi is ornamented in the respective form and brought out for a stroll among the people along with the presiding deities of the temple.

Glimpse of the procession on Youtube

After an evening full of amusement and morning full of worship, time to move into the deeper parts of the jungle.

Some more of the countryside

I wonder what this crop is? These are infact the big leaves from a small tree which they are hanging to dry them up.

Country style homemade food…. as we were crossing villages in the forest area there were very less options for lunch. The best one however was the one below. They had transformed their veranda into a dining area and provide homemade local food 🙂

Next stop Ahobilam – an oldest Vaishnava shrine

Om Namah Shivay!!!

The road taken

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both 
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth”

– The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

The DP Challenge – The Road Taken reminded me of Robert Frost’s poem – The Road Not Taken and it got me into thinking about the options we have in life and the paths we choose. I have at times wondered what my life would be only if I had taken a different path. I know, getting into the “What If” analysis is dangerous but my stupid mind gets the best of me at times. Robert Frost helped me understand that no matter what path you take you get what you are destined for so stop thinking about the road not traveled and enjoy the perks of the road you are travelling 🙂

Have a great day!!!

The Kumbh Mela – Amavasya and the Mystics

“Surrender in spite of freedom – is the way of wisemen” – Swami Chinmayananda

I woke up startled with bells ringing in my head. The first thought – “Why am I sleeping, I planned to come here 6 months ago to witness the splendors of the Mela?” I jumped out of bed in a cold Feb morning at 4AM got ready and found myself in front of one of the platoon bridges. That is when it dawned on me that my marathon walk for today has started.

People kept pouring in day and night

I was walking like a white walker but that didn’t stop me. I have to see whatever is left of those processions which started at midnight and have my dip.

These processions are called “Peshvai of the Akhadas”.

Peshvai means presenting. All the saints arrive here in huge groups and a procession is carried out in honor of this occasion.

Akhadas\Akharas are monastic places of practise with facilities of boarding, lodging and training. They follow a Guru-Shishya(teacher-disciple) tradition. In the 8th century Adi Shankaracharya divided these ascetics into two groups: Shastra-dhari – scripture bearers\intelligentia; and Astra-dhari – weapon bearers\warriors.

Witnessing the huge crowds I got into thinking – Why taking a dip during Mouni Amavasya is so important? Let me note down all the reasons which surfaced after my intense research, YES I ended up reading lots of online sources and half of a book to understand this.

— A dip in the river on Mouni Amavasya eternally blesses the soul. The soul is cleansed of all sins and also gives the person mystical powers as it helps them get detached from the infinite cycle of life and death.

— It is believed that a space opens up between our world and the spiritual world at the point of the confluence and taking the dip helps the soul step out of the human body and attain a deeper meaning in life.

— It is also believed that the universe was created on this day, when the Sun and Moon enters the Capricorn sign. A vow of silence (Maun Vrat hence “Mouni”) on this day is assumed to control our senses. Practicing austerities is believed to purify the individual existence and observing a vow of silence (Maun Vrat) is the simplest way to do it.

— This all made sense to me but why would lakhs of ash cladden sadhus from the Himalayas come down for just a dip? The Sadhus or the holy men perform austerities\penance to attain a higher self and this takes a lot of years of practise and discipline. To make the body live long (longer than 100years) they turn to alchemy which is one way but they end up utilizing a lot of their energy in this process. The other easier way is to take a holy dip on Mouni Amavasya when the Sangam water itself turns into Amrit – nectar of immortality. This way they get to retain their energy for a higher purpose.

View of the Sangam from ghats

Moving on to the Mystics I met in Kumbh. This was the only trip for which I didn’t know what to expect, the only planning I did was to book a funny room for 4 days, apart from that I had no idea what we were going to do but everyone I met there had contributed somehow to my soul searching.

The boatman (resembled Modi-our Prime Minister) who knew so much about the history of Prayagraj and remembered the names of every ruler. The 1 hr boat ride was filled with stories.

The boatman on Yamuna river

Bob Miller and Golu – We met Bob Miller fondly known as Baba Miller, in the camp where we were staying. I met him over breakfast one day and we got into talking about meditation and how it helped in his evolution. Till now I had only read about all these techniques and experiences and here he was – the one who had gone through those processes and experienced it all. It felt as if the Universe was conspiring against me and asking me to resume my meditation practise which I did – taking Bob’s advice and started doing the 20 mins of Cat and Mouse Hole Meditation. It definitely helps in overcoming the distractions and in keeping the monkey mind at rest.

Bob Miller and Golu

Coming to Golu, the kid in the picture. Golu and his family are the caretakers of this Someshwar Temple to which Bob visited one day and made friends with Golu. Golu showed Bob an old American dollar coin. Bob thought it was an antique coin which could help Golu get some money so he took some pictures of the coin and sent it to his friend in US. Turned out it was an imitation coin. By this time Bob had grown fond of Golu so wanted to give him some money but Golu and his family didn’t understand Bob’s New York English and neither did he understand Hindi. So this is when he came to me so that I can be the translator for him and make them understand why he wanted to give the boy $50. We went to Golu’s home and sorted out everything and came out all smiles.

This got me thinking about the karmic debt we all had – that one person had to fly all the way from US to give this boy some money and I had to be the witness for this transaction. Everything is connected – all we have to do is meditate to gain that higher conscious to understand the connection.

Naga sadhu of Juna Akhada

The Naga sadhu who signalled and called me and told me not to be afraid. He blessed me with Vibhoti. I wondered if he saw through my inner fears?

The hippie sadhus, I wondered what the symbol on his chest represent. Did some digging on internet to find out that the symbol was used to represent alchemy mainly the philosopher’s stone. Philosopher’s stone was one of the sought after stone in ancient times, believed to turn any ordinary substance to shining gold. However as per the esoteric science Pholosopher’s stone represents the golden light of the soul which slowly transforms the lower self into a purified instrument of divinity. Circles often represent the spiritual because they have no end. The triangle is a representation of the union of body, mind and soul. And the four corners means to see equally in four directions – up, down, in and out – and to be whole, complete and free.

And there I was thinking it was the sign of “Deathly Hallows” from Harry Potter … 🙂

And then there was Swami Sarvamukhanandaji from Belur Math who said that all the austerities mean nothing if we again got into the race of achieving something in this material world because all we should strive for is to free ourselves from them.

Swami Sarvamukhanandji

I never thought I would exchange numbers with a Swamiji but that is what apparently happens @ The Kumbh 🙂

Rudrabhishekam @Mahrishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram

For a glimpse of Rudrabhishekam Mantra chanting @Maharishi Mahesh Ashram: click here & here

Time to get back to the material world and try to implement whatever I have learnt\gained here.

Beautiful paintings @Prayagraj railway station

Some more ….

I am definitely coming back after 6 years but in the meantime I am also looking forward to the Kumbh Mela – also regarded as “world’s greatest theological symposium”, only this time @Haridwar in 2022.

Om Namah Shivay !!!

The Kumbh Mela – Yoga and Akharas

” It feels good to be lost in the right direction”- Anonymous

The Kumbh Mela @Prayagraj, the biggest congregation of spiritual pilgrims. Prayagraj hosted the 2019 Kumbh Mela from 14th Jan 2019 till 4th March 2019 at the Triveni Sangam – the confluence of Maa Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati.

The legend behind the Kumbh Mela dates back to medieval Hindu era when due to a curse by sage Dhurvasa the Devas(gods) had lost their powers. They went to Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva who directed them to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu then instructed them to churn the Ksher-sagar(ocean of milk) and obtain  Amrit(nectar of immortality). Thus advised by Lord Vishnu the Devas made peace with Asuras(demons) and started churning Ksher-sagar. Mount Mandara was used as a churning rod and Mahadev’s serpent Vasuki offered to serve as the rope for churning. Lord Vishnu himself had to take an avatar of the Kurma(tortoise) to help in the process. At first came the halahal(poison) which was consumed by Lord Shiva. Subsequently whatever came was divided between Devas and Asuras as per agreement. Finally came the Amrit in a kumbh(pot). Devtas didn’t want to share Amrit with Asuras hence Garuda took the pot and flew away. Meanwhile Devas and Asuras fought for 12 days. (12 day of Devas = 12 year for humans) During this war Amrit spills on earth in 4 places – Prayag, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain. The story ends with the Devas drinking the Amrit and defeating the Asuras. According to the legends during the Kumbh mela time due to the planetary positions of Jupiter, Sun and Moon the water in the respective rivers acquire certain mystical powers. It is believed the waters of these rivers turn into Amrit during this time.

The Sanskriti Gram entrance @Prayag Kumbh Mela depicting the Samudra Manthan

Millions of people come here to Triveni to take dip in these holy waters – to wash off their sins, to attain moksha or for a healthy and long life – and I was one of them…

We reached Prayagraj on the Feb 2nd and were greeted by a colourful and artistic town with clean roads. We had a smooth traffic free ride from the airport to the camp which we had booked for the next 4 days. And I thought all this talk about traffic jams and millions of people on the roads was just a hype but boy… was I wrong!!!

A casual stroll to the ghats as it was already evening. The Ghats were reverberating with sounds of drums and mantras from the opposite side of the river – where the Kumbh Mela was set up.

The view of Sangam from Arail Ghat

Braving the cold weather people had already started taking their holy dips.

Day 2

While strolling yesterday evening we came across a signboard which said Swami Ramdev would be conducting free yoga camp. So we decided to go there first. We reached by 7AM for some early morning yoga with Baba Ramdev.

It is so exhilarating to listen to anything he has to say. He even managed to get some follower to join him.

After a refreshing yoga, some hot tea and a light breakfast it was time to start the kumbh journey 🙂 We walked till the ghats in the quest of finding the Mahatma’s. Took a boat from Arail Ghat which dropped us at the Triveni ghat.

Boat ride on the Yamuna river

Prayagraj Red Fort in the backdrop

Triveni Ghat is where our marathon started. We went in search for the Akharas, Naga babas, Sanyasis or popularly known as The Mahapurushas. One true thing about India – ask atleast 5 people for the route but still make your own decision. Google maps is also not a bad idea but in places like the Kumbh Mela not sure how much it will help. After wondering for about an hour in the hot sun we got to the Triveni Marg platoon bridge.

Platoon Bridge

It was not only the humans who had flocked to Prayagraj but also the Siberian Seagulls who had travelled all the way from Siberia flying over Afghanistan, Mongolia, Tibet and over the Himalayas. Their presence in the Ganga basin was mesmerizing.

Finally we were near the Akharas…. to finally get some blessings from the Mahapurush themselves.

You could see pilgrims approaching the babas and sharing their life troubles or ask for health remedies or seek spiritual guidance or simply seek their blessings. The four major categories of sadhus that come to the mela are: Nagas, Vairagi, Udasi and the Nirmala. They are further organized into different “Akharas”. All the babas had a name, only if I had knowledge enough and a notebook to note their names down. There were many babas who had a strong aura – I dared not take their pics, I did take some just from the side. Some of these head crown weigh upto 45 kilograms.

Naga Sanyasi – Barfani Baba

This baba has kept his hand at 90 degrees since 15 years

Naga Sadhus – the baba in the middle has his hand in air since 3 years

Display of arms at one of the Akharas

Snake charmers entertaining the naga sadhus inside the Akharas

To read more about the Naga Sadhus – Click here

The plan was to stay the night and see the Naga Sadhus take their dip at the sangam but my body had already reached its limits. After much contemplation we decided to head back to the camp and try our luck the next day. We had walked almost 15 kms by now and it was just another 12kms ahead of us to reach the camp… 😐

Pilgrims taking a dip at the designated bathing ghats

Airavat Entrance of the Kumbh Mela

We dragged our self to the camp – ate and called it a day. Again with no plan of when we want to start the next day. Tomorrow is “Mouni Amavasya” – one of the main bathing dates. The sadhus are here for that, the sanyasis are here for that, crores of people are here for that and me too. But I had to rest this body for today.

Chalo Kumbh Chale …

Om Namah Shivaya!!!  

Madness

“There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness” – Friedrich Nietzsche

The fight with my inner sloth was finally worth it. I have never painted such huge projects so fast. This was completed in just 4 days and looks like the long gap I had has its own positives. I had some new ideas but true to myself – went crazy with colors 🙂

Happy painting !!!

Bommavara-Sundareshwara Temple

“The results of action depends upon the very quality of the action” – Chinmayananda Saraswati

On the occasion of Kartika Purnami we decided to visit a Shiva Temple built by the ghosts. Yes, you heard me right!!!

Sundareshwara Shiva Temple is located just outside Bangalore in a small village called Bommavara.  As per the claim of the villagers this temple was built by the ghosts itself in just one night.

This is how the story goes: Some 600 years ago the village of Bommavara was haunted by a lot of ghosts and they were creating havoc in peoples life. Finally a man named Bucchaiah thought of solving the issue and learned mantra and tantra and became a sorcerer. Bucchaiah was also an ardent Shiva devotee so he with the help of the villagers built this temple. The ghosts did not like this so they destroyed the temple. Bucchaiah got furious and then worked hard towards capturing the ghosts using his tantric energy, in which he succeeded. The ghosts then requested Bucchaiah to release them. He agreed to release them on two conditions. 1: that they rebuild the temple, and 2; they leave the village. The captured ghosts then accepted his condition built the temple overnight and left the villagers to their peace. Some years later a Shiva Lingam was found in the near by excavation site which is now the presiding deity of this temple.

Usually temples have carvings of gods\goddessess but this temple has carvings of ghosts and demons on it. The villagers says that is because it was built by them. Maybe that is their definition of beauty 🙂

 OM Namah Shivaya …

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