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Diversity Trip – McLeod Gunj

From Jammu we reached Pathankot and from there took a bus to Dharamshala. More than 10 hours for 230 kms, the State Government should do something to improve the public transport.

Reached McLeod Gunj at around midnight – surprised to see some shops and restaurants open – checked into the hotel and called it a day.

Woke up to the view of the Dauladhar range and to the chirping of birds.

A warm tea is all I need to start my day.

I had listed out around 10-12 places\things to do but once we were out on the streets I didn’t feel like working on my checklist. Dropped everything and went with the flow – which included again a pot of ginger tea and brunch – had a toast and pancakes for almost almost 2 hrs. Tibetan culture was getting onto me and I was enjoying it. One other reason could also be because my legs were still all dead and McLeod Gunj is no plain area. All the streets are at least at an inclination of 30-50%. I moved the streets of McLeod Gunj like a tortoise with a grim smile on my face. I was very particular I wouldn’t be an impulsive shopper anymore, however if the universe has different plans for you then what can you do.

Slowly crawling all over the place we reach the Namgyal Monastery, the abode of Dalai Lama. This is a quiet monastery nothing fancy plain and simple architecture. What I saw there was quite thought provoking for me.

In my perception till then – a monk was someone who had given up worldly pleasures and meditating to get nirvana. However when I saw the their daily rituals and their way of life – these monks got me curious.

On entering the Namgyal Monastery, I saw monks doing their traditional Buddhist philosophical debate. The debate happens between a Challenger, standing and asking questions and the Defender, sitting and answering them. The debaters are seeking to understand the nature of reality through careful analysis of the state of existence of things. There is a dramatic clapping which is done by the Challenger only. In their understanding of the gesture, the right hand represents method, meaning especially the practice of compassion, and the left hand represents wisdom. Bringing the two hands together represents the joining of wisdom and method. At the moment of the clap, you hear the left foot stomp down and that represents slamming shut the door to rebirth in the lower levels.

All around you, you see smiling Tibetans chanting “Om Mani Padme Hum” and counting through the rosary beads in their hands. And one fascinating thing I came to know about the Namgyal Monastery and for that matter all the other  monasteries there was that they all have Tantric colleges which teach monks the essentials of sutra and tantra. For a monk an average day consists of two hours of ritual, two hours of sacred arts, three hours of philosophy classes, two and a half hours of debate, and several hours of meditation and personal study and the students who completes a 13 year course successfully gets his\her degree of Master of Sutra and Tantra.

If you ever go to a monastery never miss the evening prayer routine, it is heavenly.

Statue of Buddha Sakhyamuni

Guru Padma Sambhava

Guru Padma Sambhava, a great Indian Sidda, who went to Tibet in the 8th century. He helped the King Trisong Deutsen in building the cathedral of Samye  by subduing all the enemies of the Dharma. He also gave tantric teaching in Tibet, also known as  the “Father of Buddhism”.

Magnificent statue of 1,000 Arm Avalokiteshvara of whom the Dalai Lama is believed to be the human embodiment, next to him – Maharishi Patanjali.

This statue of the Buddha of Compassion exudes the very spirit of selfless love and the very essence of compassion, its thousand arms stretching forth in all directions, bringing hope and salvation to all beings from their treacherous and myriad sufferings in the pitiful and tragic pit of samsara.

He is also referred to as Chenrezig, his teachings are contained in the mantra – OM MANI PADME HUM

Mani\Prayer wheel –  these are devices for spreading spiritual blessings and well being. Rolls of thin paper, imprinted with many, many copies of the mantra(Om Mani Padme Hum), printed in an ancient Indian script(Sanskrit) or in Tibetan script, are wound around an axle in a protective container and spun around and around. Tibetan’s  believe that chanting or spunning of the mantra invokes the spiritual power and blessing of Chenrezig(Tibetan name)\Avalokiteshwara.

You can just see so many people just repeating this mantra around you irrespective of time or place.

Other beautiful paintings inside the monastery

After spending ample time in Namgyal it was time for Gyuto Monastery. This brightly colored monastery with the majestic Dauladhar mountains in the backdrop is also a Tantric school.

We were just in time for the evening prayers.

I refrained myself from taking pictures but just when I did this guy caught me….

Calling it a day with another pot of tea and lazy-lengthy dinner. I bought a Tibetan Pain oil in the market and massaged myself back to walk like a human.

Day 2

Now because I can walk freely it was time for some more trekking again 🙂 …Going to Bhagsu Nag temple and Bhagsu waterfalls. In India wherever you go you are bound to have a temple nearby and a story connected to it.

Bhagsu Nag story: It is said that Bhagsu was a king, or a local chief, and his region was plagued by drought. He set out, promising his subjects that he would bring water. His search brought him to these mountains, more specifically, to a lake – the Nag Dal – which belonged to the serpent king. Bhagsu himself had magical powers. He managed to transfer the water from the lake into a kamandalu (water receptacle), and started on his way back home.  The serpent king returned home that night to find his lake empty. Needless to say, he was irate, and he set out to find the one responsible. He caught up with Bhagsu here, and there was a terrible fight. Bhagsu was lethally injured, and the kamandalu fell, releasing the water, which flowed down the mountain. Realizing that his end was near, he surrendered to the serpent king, asking only that the water be allowed to flow on, so that his people would be relieved from the drought, and that his name be associated forever with this place. The serpent king relented, and henceforth, the water flowed free, and this place came to be known as a combination of both their names – Bhagsu Nag.

Bhagsu Nag Temple

Bhagsu Waterfall

And the trail

There is another side to this beautiful and peaceful place, as the road winds up from Dharamshala you start seeing signs of “Free Tibet” and stories about the enforced disappearances posted all over the place. In 1959 Dalai Lama had to flee Tibet following the Chinese invasion of Lhasa, Tibet. Since then Dharamshala, India has become a home to Dalai Lama and to the many refugees who are escaping Tibet and arriving India. It has also become a center for the “Free Tibet” movement. For more history click here.

Day 3

The quaint 150 year old Anglican St John’s Church, this one is set amidst tall deodhar trees and built in neo-Gothic architecture.

I wonder what it would be like to live here. Below is the Naddi Village and the view they get to see everyday.

Naddi Village

View of the Dauladhar mountains from Naddi

The trip is never complete without a little activity.

Paragliding

And finally the sun sets in the mountains and it’s time to move on….

OM MANI PADME HUM

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Satisfaction

“Wake up with determination and sleep with satisfaction” – Unknown

Since my childhood I had an obsession with the Rubik cube – every once in a while I would buy one and fail at it.

But in the present day (thanks to technology) I got a tutor online on  Youtube. Though it took me several days to follow him, finally I solved it. Oh… I was so ecstatic as if I was the only genius in the world. Below is the picture of my achievement.

DP Photo Challenge: Satisfaction

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

Solitude

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

imag0241

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

img-20161230-wa0009

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

img_20160821_090906157_hdr

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!!!

Name

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

dsc02531

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

img_20120317_120747

“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

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 🙂

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

Festive

“Be as you wish to be seem” – Socrates

African-tribe-low-resolution

Dance of nature

“Life is a dance of nature.” ― Toba BetaNature-dance

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