Ganapati Bappa Morya!

We Indians are blessed with many Gods and Goddesses but I think I can safely say that the cutest and most adorable of them is the Elephant-headed pot bellied four armed single tusked Lord Ganesha. Although on second thoughts Krishna in his childhood avatar is probably equally adored and cute 🙂

Lord Ganesha is also the Lord of beginnings and the Remover of all obstacles. This Ganesha Chathurthi I wish you all new auspicious beginnings and share a beautiful mosaic of the God made by our own dear friend and artist Ferdi (Ilfordian). She appears to a bit underweather d these days but I would like to request her to share some details about her artwork and thank her for allowing me to share it with you all 🙂

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Image (c) Ilfordian

Don’t miss the tiny mouse at the bottom – never fails to amaze (and amuse) me how Lord Ganesha manages to sit on the mouse (although some believe it is a rat or a shrew) without squashing it 😀 But then legend has it that there was a celestial musician Krauncha who accidentally stepped on the foot of Muni Vamadeva who was infuriated enough to curse Krauncha to become a mouse. The curse turned Krauncha into a massive mouse who ended up damaging everything and anything. Once he made the mistake of destroying the ashram of Maharishi Parashar where Lord Ganesha was also staying. To teach the destructive Krauncha a lesson, Lord Ganesha looped a noose around his neck and subdued him. Krauncha begged pardon and requested salvation. Lord Ganesha forgave him and accepted him as his vehicle which Krauncha gratefully accepted. But then the Lord was too heavy for Krauncha so taking pity on him, the Lord became lighter so that Krauncha could easily support him.

The other angle is that as the Destroyer of all obstacles with a mouse as His vehicle, Ganesha is able to enter into all nooks and crannies with ease and gives Him Omnipresence. Alternatively, the mouse is the destroyer of a farmer’s crop and by subduing it, the Lord removes their obstacle. There are many other stories of Ganesha like this one here which explains why Ganesha has a single tusk. Well one of the versions anyway!

I have always wondered what the chant “Ganpati Bappa Morya” meant and this time I exerted myself to google it. Ganpati is a combination of two words – Gan is group and pati is ruler or lord (Like really? Oh well I guess I better not go there...) and Bappa is Father or Lord. Morya is a bit tricky with two explanations. The more popular one is the one which speaks about a 14th Century saint Morya Gosavi who was a crazed devotee of Ganpati and did severe penance to please his Lord. Pleased, Ganesh asked him to choose his boon and all he wanted was to be forever associated with him and hence the chant Ganpati Bapppa Morya.

The other explanation is that Morya is a combination of two words – Mhora ya which means come ahead and bless us. I personally prefer this explanation as it makes more sense but then again, both explanations could be right!

Ganesha Chaturthi greetings to one and all 🙏

वक्रतुण्ड महाकाय सूर्यकोटि समप्रभ
निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे देव सर्वकार्येषु सर्वदा

Meaning:
1: (I meditate on Sri Ganesha) Who has a Curved Trunk, Large Body, and Who has the Brilliance of a Million Suns,
2: O Lord, Please make all my Works, free of Obstacles, always.

Ganapati Bappa Morya!

***

CB&W: Stone Idols

Hello all! Anybody miss me? Ah well, I did. But life happens and we cannot always have everything can we? Anyway I snatched a few moments and thought of marking my attendance with Cee’s Black and White Challenge which is Bricks or Stones. As I mentioned in my earlier Ivory post, I had a selection of statues and idols.

And here they are – hope you like 🙂

BrokenDevi Durga the vanquisher of Evil (Mahishasur) – her strength, her shakti (power) comes across despite the desecration does it not? Just like it does from the millions of women oppressed and abused all over the world.

Princess

A stone idol of perhaps a warrior princess? These images are from the collection at Salar Jung Museum at Hyderabad, India.

King

I had initially thought this idol to be of a king – Chandrasekhara. But four arms and the lack of any jewelry and simple attire made me rethink. He is Lord Shiva the one who wears the Moon on his matted locks. Apologies for the blurred picture.

Nandi

Nandi the sacred steed, constant companion and ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. It is said that even if the Lord does not hear your prayer anything that is whispered in Nandi’s ear is sure to reach the ears of the Lord Himself. The white color apparently symbolizes purity, righteousness and devotion. Although I am not so convinced for most of Nandi’s idols are in black stone.

ShivaThe more famous form of lord Shiva as Nataraja (the Lord of dance). Did you know that at CERN the European Council for Nuclear Research there is a statue of the Nataraja? As a plaque alongside the statue explains, the belief is that Lord Shiva danced the Universe into existence, motivates it, and will eventually extinguish it.

The Nataraja idol typically shows Shiva dancing in one of the dance poses, holding fire (as he is the God of destruction) in his left back hand, the front hand is raised in blessing, the front right hand with a wrapped snake that is in abhaya (fear not) mudra while pointing to a Sutra text, and the back hand holding a damru (a small drum like musical instrument) the sound of which created the universe. He is surrounded by a ring of flames, standing on a lotus pedestal, lifting his left leg (or in rare cases, the right leg) and balancing over a demon dwarf Apasmara (not a child!) who symbolizes ignorance.

BuddhaA second century stone idol of Lord Buddha.

KrishnaThe much loved and popular Lord Krishna. Again apologies (a blanket apology!) for the poor quality photos 😦

Vishnu

A 13th/14th Century AD sandstone idol of Lord Vishnu in Dhyanmudra (meditative pose)

ShayanmudraAnother statue of Lord Vishnu the Preserver in the shayanmudra (reclining pose) with his ten avatars carved on top. At least that is what it looks like. The one on the horse (on the extreme right) is the Kalki avatar (destroyer of filth) foretold to appear to at the end of the kali yug the present epoch.

That’s it from me – at least in this post 😉 Do share your thoughts in the comment section – thank you for visiting.

 

WPS: Before, When There was Nothing

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Image from Google Maps

Before, When There was Nothing

Words 152

  “Mother!” Shvetaketu was aghast. “What are you doing with him?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Her face was still flushed with passion.

“Mother, whose son am I?”

“Mine.” She straightened and smiled at him affectionately.

“I demand you tell me.” He roared.

“Hush! It’s a free world. I can do what I like, with whom I like.”

“I shall rewrite the marriage laws.” Shvetaketu declared. “From now on you can go to other men only with your husband’s permission.”

“You will still not know whose son you are.” She twinkled.

“But of course your husband’s. He owns you like his fields and any crop that comes out of you is his.”

“I am not a field!”

“So be it. From now on you will be allowed only four husbands, the Moon, Gandharva Vishvavasu, Agnideva and finally your husband.”

Is that why when husbands no longer want their wives she is passed on to fire?

***

A/N: In Hindu mythology, Gandharva Vishvavasu is a celestial being skilled in the art of music and Agnideva is the god of Fire. This piece is inspired by Devdutt Patnaik’s book 7 Secrets of the Goddess, which describes the origin of this Vedic wedding ritual. Until now I wasn’t aware that I have four husbands. Did any of you (wedded according to Vedic customs) know it?

Written for What Pegman Saw – a story in 150 words or less.  Thanks to J Hardy Carroll for hosting the challenge and Google Maps for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

Thank you for reading. I dithered quite a bit over the title – could you help me? Do you think it would have been better if I had titled it The Evolution of Civilization?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Evolution of Civilization

WPS: An Embellished Tale

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Photo from Google Maps

An Embellished Tale

Words 152

 “Tell us a story Granny,” the children clamored.

“Hmm, okay. Long ago, a learned sadhu lived in the jungle. People came from near and far away villages to hear him speak of religion and spirituality.”

“Granny…” Lily whined but Molly shushed her.

“One day, Nag, the snake heard the Sadhu’s talk on brotherly love and nonviolence. Moved, Nag vowed to renounce his deadly habit.”

“Oh!” exclaimed Lilly.

“Slowly the villagers got to know of Nag’s saintly nature. They teased and provoked him with sticks and stones.”

“How mean.”

“The half-dead Nag accused the Sadhu of teaching wrong things.”

“What did the Sadhu say?”

I told you to shun violence but did I tell you not to raise your hood?”

“Then?” Molly prodded.

“Nag began to hiss. Scared, the villagers avoided him. Sadhu and Nag became friends and they lived happily ever after.”

Granny twinkled and pointed to the photo on the wall.

***

 A/N: This is one of my favorite childhood tales – I just embellished it to fit the photo which was irresistible and mesmerizing. If you look carefully, the right one is Nag and the left one is the monk with his staff 😉

Written for What Pegman Saw – a story in 150 words or less.  Thanks to K. Rawson for hosting the challenge and Google Maps for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

Bringing Mythology to Life

Growing up on the banks of the mighty and holy river Ganga, I was fascinated by the mythological story of Ganga’s descent to earth. I never tired of hearing and cannot resist sharing it – the abridged version.

In times more ancient than ancient times, there lived a King called Bhagiratha. His kinsmen had sinned (I shall spare you that story – for now) and were doomed to spent their afterlife trapped on earth with no scope for rebirth or moksha. Pained by their plight Bhagiratha quite literally moved heaven and earth and after a lot of hardships and penance (which involved the cooperation and blessings of both Brahma and Mahesh)  brought Ganga to the earth to wash away the sins of his forefathers.

But that is just for context.

In April 2017 we have found out own real live Lady Bhagiratha – 51-year-old Gouri, a daily wage laborer from Sirsi in Karnataka, a southern State of India.

To supplement her meager income as a laborer, Gouri she also maintained a kitchen garden of sorts comprising of banana, areca and coconut trees. But arranging for water for them was a major issue. She needed to urgently find a solution. Which she did in her own unique (and possibly inimitable) style.

Problem: No water

Solution:  Dig a well.

Problem: No money to hire somebody to dig it.

Solution: DIY

Problem: Nil

She dug every day for 5-6 hours, over and above her job as a laborer. Despite suffering intense body ache and exhaustion, she dug for three months and ended up with a 60 foot deep well. In the final stages, she enlisted the help of three other women to clear the heap of mud that had accumulated.

Today she has ample water for her life giving trees, has earned the respect of thousands and is an inspiration for women world over.

She has effectively proved that where there’s a will there’s a way well.

Hats off to her grit, determination and spirit.

This is my submission for the monthly We Are the World Blogfest which seeks to promote positive news.

Do share your views, opinions, suggestions and positive news.

Thank you for reading and have a super weekend.

“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.” ― Lady Gaga

Stop crying over your obstacles, it’s time to demolish them, one shovelful at a time

CB&W: Hampi

Cee’s black and white challenge for this week is Sculptures, Statues and Carvings. I bring two photos, a bit of history and one of (innumerable) favorite mythological stories.

Both, the sculpture and the carving is from the ruined sprawling town of Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage site at Karnataka, India. It was one of the richest and largest cities in the world during its prime and part of Vijayanagar, the capital of the Vijayanagar Empire.

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The Lakshmi Narasimha statue, built in 1528 A.D. is crafted from a single boulder of granite. The statue, which is 6.7 meters tall, is also referred as Ugra Narasimha (or Narasimha in its terrifying form).

Narasimha, as can be seen from the sculpture is half human (nara) and half lion (simha). He has the face and claws of a lion, and torso and lower body of a human.

The sculpture depicts Narasimha sitting on the coils of Adishesha, the king of all snakes, which rises behind him with its seven hoods. The original sculpture had the figure of his consort, Goddess Lakshmi, sitting on his lap. If you look closely, the broken arm of the Goddess can be seen encircling Narasimha’s waist on the right side. The gigantic statue was vandalized and mutilated in 1565 A.D. during the raid by the Mughals. The limbs of the statue were broken and figure of Lakshmi was separated.  The horizontal band around the knees was added later to give support to the sculpture.

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This is another depiction of Narasimha on the wall of a temple at Hampi.There is a fascinating story behind this portrayal – of Narasimha disemboweling a person on his thighs.

But first a quick background.

Lord Vishnu, the Preserver of this world is said to have taken the form of man and descended to earth many a time to destroy evil and restore cosmic order. Rama, Krishna and Buddha are the seventh, eighth and ninth avatars of Vishnu. The tenth and final avatar – Kalki avatar has been foretold to appear at the end of this epoch, riding a white horse, carrying a sword, blazing like a comet. But that is in the future, when the world will end. And begin anew.

Coming to the story of Narasimha, in his third avatar as Varaha (boar), Lord Vishnu killed the demon Hiranayaksha. Wishing to avenge the death of his younger brother, Hiranyakashipu, undertook ages of austere penance to obtain the boon of immortality. But Brahma refused this boon as death is inevitable for whoever is born. Brahma urged Hiranyakashipu to ask for any other boon.

Determined to obtain immortality, Hiranyakashipu tries to trick Brahma into granting him immortality. He laid down certain conditions for his death – he should not die within a house or outside, during the day or during the night, not on the ground nor in the sky. He should not be killed by any weapon, nor by any human or animal, or any entity living or nonliving created by Brahma. He should be invincible to any demigod, demon or any snake. He also demanded sole lordship over all living entities, presiding deities and mystic powers.

Brahma granted him his heart’s desire and vanished.

Thus armed, Hiranyakashipu wrecked havoc in the three worlds and because of his boon, was invincible and unstoppable. By a twist of fate and to his fury, Hiranyakashipu’s son Prahlada was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu’s hatred of the Vishnu ran so deep that he decided to kill his own son. But each time his attempts were foiled by Vishnu’s mystical powers. Hiranyakashipu attempted to browbeat his son into acknowledging his father as the supreme lord of the universe but Prahlada refused saying that Vishnu was the one who was all pervading and omnipresent.

Hiranyakashipu laughed and pointed to a pillar in his palace, “Does He reside here too?”

Prahlada said, “He does.”

Unable to control his wrath, Hiranyakashipu smashed the pillar with his mace in the twilight hour (which is neither day nor night). Narasimha, the fourth avatar of Lord Vishnu, emerged from the pillar. He was neither beast nor human. He dragged Hiranyakashipu to the threshold of the courtyard, (neither indoors nor outdoors). Narasimha put Hiranyakashipu on his thighs (neither the earth nor space) and using his fingernails (neither animate or inanimate) he disemboweled the demon and relieved mankind from Hiranyakashipu’s reign of terror and torture.

Thanks for visiting – hoping that you will leave me a note too 🙂

For readers of Moonshine, here's Chapter 114 and Calvin and Hobbes

 

Power of Three

Always there has been one – the sacred sound Om* which is the Timeless, Formless One – Lord Shiva/Mahesh (the God of gods).

Shiva is made of two halves. Typically, right side is Purusha or the masculine component while the left side is Prakriti (Nature) or the feminine component. Hence, Shiva is also known as Ardhnarishwara – literally the Half Woman God and embodies the masculine and feminine energies of the universe.

In the beginning, Lord Vishnu slept and from his navel appeared Lord Brahma. Together, they constitute the Trimurti (or the Hindu trinity)

  • Brahma: The Creator
  • Vishnu: The Preserver
  • Mahesh: The Destroyer/Transformer

Brahma had the task of creating the three worlds: Heaven (Swarg lok), Earth (Bhu lok) and the Netherworld (Patal lok). When Brahma realized his creations did not represent the feminine component of the universe, he requisitioned Shiva’s help. Shiva detached his half – the feminine energy that is Shakti or Power and gave her to Brahma in his creation.

Shiva spent eons alone without his counterpart, withdrawing from the world, meditating. But he needed to engage with the world for there was still much to be done. Only his other half, Shakti could persuade him to re-engage with the universe. Once Brahma’s task of creation was complete, Shakti began her journey to return to her counterpart, Shiva. This union became possible only after centuries of separation, hardships, trials and tribulations – the oldest (and best) love story ever. When Shiva finally accepted and married Parvati or Goddess Shakti, they were two yet one. Just as She is incomplete without Him, so is He without Her – She is His strength and He the engagement with the world without being attached to it. Upon marriage to Shakti, Shiva made the transition from the hermit to the householder and through example, they demonstrate the code of conduct and the ideal way of life.

With this union, the trinity of the Tridev (the Three Gods) and the Tridevis (the three Goddesses) was complete:

  • Brahma, the Creator with his wife Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge;
  • Vishnu, the Preserver/Sustainer with his wife Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth; along with
  • Shiva, the Destroyer/Transformer and his wife Parvati, the Goddess of Power.

Shiva as the Destroyer helps us to overcome/destroy Ahankar or excessive pride (in our achievements and capabilities) as well as fear (of imagined reality and death) by realizing that the power (Shakti) to do so, resides within us. When we accept and understand the philosophy of Shiva and harness Shakti that is present within each of us – we become One with Them and achieve Moksha (liberation).

This is inspired by the Daily Post’s Discover Challenge – One Two Three and is an attempt to summarize my own inadequate, incomplete and superficial understanding of a complex, often contradictory, confusing, conflicting yet boundless, limitless philosophy that is utterly compelling and fascinating. I can only attempt to grasp and understand the edges of the real truth.

Yet:

“There is no real truth, belief is everything.” Anonymous

Note: *Om pronounced AUM is also believed by many to represent the trinity:

  • A: Brahma
  • U: Vishnu
  • M: Mahesh

Thank you for reading. Comments, thoughts and views are very welcome.