ART PEACE

tapping the creative 'right' side of my brain

Archive for the tag “Photography”

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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Diversity Trip-Jammu

I am referring to this as diversity trip as we visited three places this Diwali to witness three different cultures which we so so different from each other. Ranging from the devout Hindus to the slow moving peaceful Tibetan Buddhists to the feisty Sikhs.

Let me again remind everyone reading this, Global Warming is a true thing, it was Diwali time (October time) and we went to Jammu, the northern most state in India which is known for being one of the coldest parts in India buttt…. it was no less than an inferno. In my anticipation of the cold climate I packed all my woolens and hauled it throughout the trip. Hmmm…. next time I am not getting afraid of the cold anymore, don’t think its cold anywhere in the world anymore!!!

Our first stop was the disputed land of Jammu Kashmir, as Kashmir is currently occupied by Pakistan, we are left only with Jammu.  I presumed Jammu to be like Switzerland, cold and snow peaked mountains in every direction but as I said it is all hot-hot-hot. The best part of the 3 hours we spent in Jammu the fascinating differently shaped Shiv Linga’s (no photography is allowed inside the temples so you just have to believe me) in the Ranbireshwar and Raghunath temple.

The weird looking tasty-tasty pani puri, Kavadi kulcha (if you have to taste authentic street food in India – you should turn a blind eye to the hygiene) and the beautiful shawls and sweater in the markets. Living in south I don’t need shawls yet I ended up buying two of them.

From Jammu we took a bus and by late in the evening reached Katra – this is the place from where our actual 35 km journey begins. The markets were bustling with tourists and shops selling dry fruits among other things.

We will be trekking this tomorrow

Day 2

This day is going to test our patience and perseverance, have a 35 km trek ahead of us which we decided to complete in a day . Bought ourselves walking sticks and started the climb to Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine.

The other options

Look at their rhythm

The journey to the Shrine cave of ” Mata Vaishno Devi “begins with the blessing of Mata. It is not only a belief but also a strong experience of one  that the godly Mother sends a call or Bulawa to her devotees. And once you get the Bulawa\call all you need to do is start the journey from the Trikuta foothills and Mata will make sure you reach her abode and grant all you wishes.

Every step of the way is filled with stories, click here to read the full story of Mata Vaishno Devi.

Our final destination

 

I always wonder when going to such places, is the journey more important or the destination. Even though you start your journey with full vigor after a certain point your mind totally calms down and you end up thinking more than talking. I find many answers to questions which have been bothering me for a while. At the end of such journey’s I come out with a renewed commitment list.

One of the best part of the trek apart from the trek was the music coming out of those Bose speakers –  the valley is filled with tonnes of them and makes your trek all the more spiritual.

The way back was filled with dry fruit shops and many more collectible shops but I am exhausted to even take pictures.Can’t explain in words how exhausted I was after 10 hrs of walking and we still had 4 more hrs ahead of us.

It’s time to get back, bought some lovely Kashmiri pashmina shawls and beautifully embroidered tops – again exhausted to take pics and plus I was walking like Frankenstein.

The dry riverbeds – Global warming again!!! I wonder how these would like in rainy season.

Next destination: McLeod Ganj – Dharamshala

Temporary

“People who love to eat are always the best people” – Julia Child

 

Now what is food doing on the temporary section, some people have an eternal love for food, however I noticed that once your stomach is full you don’t even feel like smelling or looking at food how much ever you love it. That is definitely the case with me, be it the homemade selections or the exotic restaurant ones ….so I feel craving is a temporary feeling. What do you say???

DP Photo Challenge: Temporary

Peek

“No object is mysterious, the mystery is your eye” – Elizabeth Bowen

Pic credit: Naresh Saginala

You can find yogi’s any where in India, some new bee’s, some in the process, some who might have attained higher consciousness and some just pretending to be one. Looking at this one I wondered – is he a genuine one or a fake!!!  Is he meditating, contemplating or he is just tired and relaxing? What made him give up worldly pleasures and adorn saffron robes and roam the streets without shoes on his feet, a roof on his head? What could his life have been before he decided to take this path? Is he repenting his decision or is he in bliss already? Was it his true calling or just an influence?

I would never know ….!!!

DP Photo Challenge: Peek

Rounded

OM – purifies ego establish generosity,
MA – purifies jealousy establish ethics,
NI – purifies desire establish patience,
PAD – purifies prejudice establish perseverance,
ME – purifies possessiveness establish concentration,
HUM – purify hatred establish wisdom

This Diwali we went on a diversity trip – one of the destinations was Namgyal Monastery (Dalai Lama’s Temple), I came to know many wonderful things about Tibetans and their culture – and I am in the process of putting it in a blog. For now let’s talk about the 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. They believe that Chenrezig is within us because love and compassion are not qualities added to the mind but are inherent in our true nature. Wonderful people, place and teachings!!!

Reference: http://www.dharma-haven.org/tibetan/prayer-wheel.htm

DP Photo Challenge: Rounded

Glow

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light” – Aristotle

Picture of the Golden Temple: Sri Harimandir Sahib in Amritsar. It is a treat for the eyes and peace to the mind.

DP Photo Challenge: Glow

Scale

“Little Steps – Big Impact”

My Bachi, little creature who had\has a huge impact in our lives. It been a year since he is gone but we still miss him the same. I still wonder how he might have returned back to this world – again as a dog, a cow which stared at me, the lizard which refuses to leave my room,  a human whom I might meet after some years; or is his karmic debt cleared and he is gone for good.

DP Photo Challenge: Scale

Pedestrian

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop” – Confucius

The two things I enjoy as a pedestrian in India is the simplicity around me and the colors. Even after such technological advances you can always find places where people and things move at a turtle pace and it all looks so peaceful and connected to nature.

Cattle herd returning home after leisurely grazing the whole day. BIT Mesra, Ranchi, the place where I was brought up and completed my education. Life there is so slooowww, nothing much has changed yet. All the while I was there I wanted to move to the city and to fast life and now I spend humongous amounts of money for a peaceful day or two.

Shopping market at Church Complex, Ranchi.

Love the Indian shops they are all so colorful and bright. They never fail to change my mood 🙂

DP Photo Challenge: Pedestrian

Bridge

OM, udbudhyasvagne prati jagrihi tvamishtapurte samsrijethamayam cha, asmin sadhasthe adhyuttarasmin vishve deva yajamanascha sidata.”  – source

O Fire, please wake up, please get up. And in your arising, wake us up as well. You are the one who gives us what we ask for, as well as what comes to us unasked. You are the remover of illness. In this house of fire practice, please be seated. Along with you, may all the benevolent divine forces be seated, too. May those doing this practice also be seated.

Lately I have been reading a Trilogy: Aghora by Robert E. Svobodha. There is so much overwhelming information in the book and personally I feel like believing every word of it. As per the Tantric Philosophy,  Agni – fire is a visible divine energy and acts as the bridge between humans and the ethereal being, it is through fire that we can communicate with the cosmos and the ethereal being be it – gods, goddess, ghosts, demons etc.

In India Homam – fire ritual is performed during most of the auspicious ceremonies. During Homam\Havan oblations or any religious offering is made to the fire. It is believed that as the ethereal beings have no body they eat through smell so the offerings that go into the fire are consumed by them and once they are pleased you get to make a wish. There is a darker side it also but that depends on humans and not the ghosts 🙂 .

DP Photo Challenge: Bridge

Order

“Chaos was the law of nature, Order was the dream of man” – Henry Adams

DP challenge: Order

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

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!

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

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

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

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