Life brings with a plethora of experiences, each with a flavour of its own. I wish to share with all my readers these various experiences and observations that I have made during my time here on this planet. They may be funny, thought-provoking or simple reflections. I do hope you will find these enjoyable and interesting.

Monday, 24 September 2012

A Getaway To An Unusual Destination In Search Of Inner Peace

Life was getting too monotonous and I was craving a change.  A break was in order and I needed to head out to some destination where I could snatch a few days of peace and tranquility.  While a beach, a historical place, temples or a holiday resort would seem to be the obvious choices, that was not what I wanted.  I seriously wanted to get away from everyone and everything to some place that could calm me down and let me be just by myself and with myself.  A degree of solitude was what I craved.

Although the banks of the Ganga would be a good spot to do "Hari Hari" (chanting the Lord's name), it did not appear to me that I would get much quiet or peace there.  So I decided that I wanted to get away to some ashram where I could do all of the above.  The first choice was the Chinmaya Vibhooti ashram (an ashram of the Chinmaya Mission) located in the Western Ghats in a place called Kolvan (Mulshi district, Pune).  It is about an hour away from Pune by car.  I was anyway planning to visit Pune and this was such a convenient option.

Add to that they were organizing a 5-day Meditation camp beginning on the 4th of September.  Since I love meditating, have already been introduced to the kind of activities and talks at the Chinmaya Mission, I decided to take this on.  This, however, was the first time I would do anything like staying 5 days in an Ashram.  

With many apprehensions (who does not have them when one embarks on something entirely new?) and some excitement I set off to the Ashram on the evening of the 4th.  It was a cool, cloudy day and the drive was absolutely heavenly.  The hills were lush after the recent rains.  I stopped en route for a few pictures.  Not having ever been in this direction, the cab driver stopped a couple of times to ask for directions and to confirm we were headed in the right direction.  The last bit of road was more than a bit "hol(e)y" but we got there with no major problems and in time for the registrations.

Enroute to Kolvan
Chinmaya Vibhooti - A front view
The programme of the day was to start off with Swami Swatmananda's introductory lecture.  However, he was stuck with some programme at Mumbai at the Sandeepani ashram.  So we were shown a video recording of a lecture by Swami Chinmayananda on Chapter VI of the Bhagavad Geeta which he had given in the U.S.  It felt so good to hear his talk after so long.  It was his lectures that drew me towards spirituality.  It was a very nostalgic evening and I could not have asked for anything more on my birthday.  This is something that will stay with me for life.

The next few days were spent practising meditation, listening to lectures on Chapter VI of the Bhagavad Gita and practise of Sadhanas (spiritual disciplines) in daily life, practising solitude, using every spare moment to take pictures of various birds that I saw (some of them for the very first time).  It was also an opportunity to meet many new people and make some new acquaintances and friends.  In short, it was an idyllic 5 days that I got to spend in the lap of Nature.  

Here are some pictures of the place that I would like to share with you.

Chinmaya Maruti Mandir - A front view
Chinmaya Maruti Mandir
View of Chinmaya Vibhooti on the banks of the Walki river
A path leading from the ashram to the river
A view of the central square of the ashram
Ganesha Mandir
View of the mountains covered in clouds from the Ganesha Mandir
It couldn't get more peaceful
The river Walki
Mountains in the mist
As you can see, it could not possibly get more peaceful and tranquiller than this.  This was the perfect antidote to the bustle of daily life, the stresses and strains of routine life.  The fresh air, cool , lush surroundings, the pure and pristine atmosphere were all sufficient to bring a semblance of one's real self to oneself.  I always maintain that being with Nature, observing and appreciating all that has been put here by the Creator for our benefit is the best worship we can render unto Him.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Why, oh why?

You don't want to live you say
You wish you were never born
Why do you have to live, grow old
Go through all these ups and downs

I wish I had answers to these my friend
I wish I only knew
If only it were in our hands
To decide what we wanted to do

I could talk to you of Karma
I could talk to you of souls
Of rebirths and reincarnations
Of we being part of that whole

All I can say to you my dear
Is I know I am here today
I know I may have to be here for long
Before I go another way

It helps me not to groan and moan
And make my life a pain
For kith and kin and friends and self
T'will all be but in vain

I need to live with myself
Before others can live with me
Tell me my friend how I could ever do that
If I just couldn't love me

That is why my dear
I need to laugh through joys and pain
Through clouds, through rain, through sunshine
Through losses or through gain

Let me bring joy to others
Let me laugh through joys or tears
Let me bring joy unto myself
And dispel my irrational fears

For yesterday is dead
Tomorrow is yet to be
Today is all that I have
With that let me happy be

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Krishna Key

Yadaa yadaa hi dharmasya
Glaanirbhavati Bharata
Abhyutthanam adharmasya
Tadaatmanam srujyamyaham

Oh son of Bharata (Arjuna), whenever righteousness is threatened and whenever unrighteousness is rife, I shall reincarnate in this world.

Paritranaya saadhoonam
Vinaashaayacha dushkrutaam
Sambhavaami yuge yuge

I shall keep incarnating in every age (yuga after yuga) in order to protect the sadhoos (the good), to destroy the evil doers and in order to re-establish the order of righteousness (dharma).

That was the promise Krishna had made to humanity through his discourse to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra - the discourse which makes up the subject of the Bhagawad Gita.

The Krishna Key - The title of this book by Ashwin Sanghi sounds very intriguing. It is all the more intriguing when you read the blurb which says it is the story of a young man who thinks he is the tenth avatar of Krishna - the Kalki avatar - only he is a serial murderer.

Open the book and you see a map of the kingdoms during the Mahabharat era. One of the features of the book is the rich illustrations throughout, keeping the reader's interest alive from the beginning to the end of the 464 pages.

Each chapter begins with a section of the story of Krishna, narrated in the words of Krishna, followed by the main story. The pace of the novel is extremely racy and makes for very exciting reading.

The sheer depth of research undertaken by Sanghi comes through as one reads on. The story takes us to Kalibangan and thereon to various parts of India in Gujarat, Rajasthan and North India on the trail of an ancient secret – Krishna's legacy.

It is fascinating to read about Krishna's Dwarka (then known as Dwarawati) which now lies under the sea off the coast of Gujarat and the Yadava clans who lived on the banks of the Saraswati. Sanghi comes up with very interesting theories about how these clans got scattered due to the drying up of the river, with some of them moving westwards towards Sumeria (modern day Iraq) and the rest towards Vrindavan and Mathura. If one were to believe his theory, many of the cultures in what was considered to be Sumerian civilization originated from Dwarka and the Sumerians and subsequent civilizations in the area were actually descendents of the Yadava clans. Hmm..... far-fetched may be, but no doubt interesting and not totally unbelievable, given the way he has presented it. (Of course, he has clearly made a disclaimer at the beginning stating that "no claim regarding historical accuracy is made expressly or implied"). It is equally mind boggling to see how he puts together different aspects of our Vedic culture like Vedic Mathematics, the emphasis on certain numbers which are considered to be auspicious such as the number 9, the numbers 18, 108, 1008, 10008, the concept of pyramids and their properties of concentrating energy, the six pointed stars, ..... you name it and it is there. What is even more amazing is the sheer logic which makes everything appear so plausible.

The plot of the thriller is merely a framework to present this very gripping perspective on our Vedic sciences and times. Could you ever imagine that the Atlantis could be Dwarka? Well, why not, if you accept the author's line of thinking? Can you accept that Mount Kailash is an alchemist's pyramid? Is there any way you can connect Mount Kailash, Dwarka, Mathura, Vrindavan, Somnath, the Taj Mahal, Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and the Mughals?????? Well read the book to find out.

As for the plot of the story, it is very entertaining and fast paced with surprising twists and turns.
Occasionally one does find certain parts slightly repetitive and there are a few places where proofing has been faulty. However, these faults have been rectified ( in the website of the author .

Definitely in the "must read" category.  This can be described as the Indian search for our version of the holy grail.

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