Darkness

Darkness I said. But you may say light only acquires meaning thanks to darkness. Contrary to my expectations, it has turned out to be the opposite. The things which shone from afar turned out to be dark. Darkness was hidden behind the light, lies sugar coated with sweet talk were forced down my gullet.From the great distance, things looked prettier like they say that grass looks greener on the other side of the fence. I don’t blame the ones who gave me wrong impressions. what was the need to do that? Guided by this wrong impression, I came.

From the time of setting my first foot in this place, reality began to unfold. Coverings began to lift and fade away to reveal the dark truths. For some time I thought that it may be my false doubts but as the time went by, everything begun to become clear like water in a pool which became turbid after a stone was thrown begins to again become clearer. I have been shown the flip side, or the underbelly of everything. My hopes soured. I became even more distanced sitting nearer. When I was physically miles away, I was more closer than when I am closer physically I am miles away mentally.

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Thangka Paintings of Kashmir

Thangka are painted scrolls depicting Buddhist deities and their cosmic realities. Although they are installed in domestic spaces as a talisman against all evils,Thangka are intended as navigational aids for the spirit, guiding the viewer in his quest for spiritual realization. It is in their capacity to render the invisible visible through iconographic representation that serve as installations in monasteries and prayer halls or as displays during religious festivals at monasteries. Due to the potency that the paintings are believed to possess, the painter is required to undergo rigorous spiritual and artistic training and in many cases is a monastic initiate. The proportions and iconographic details of the deities follow canonical prescriptions and the artistic genius of the individual is considered subordinate to the religious responsibility of the painter. Thangka are not signed by the artist but are given to a lama who blesses them with sacred syllables. The finished painting is then taken to only the male tailors of the community who mount the work on a frame of heavy gyasser, silk brocade panels. They back the painting with plain cloth and secure the scroll at the top and the bottom to wooden rods, with brass or silver knots at each end. Below are some samples:

A craftsman stitching a thangka at the Handicraft Centre at Leh.

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Detail of a thangka painting a the Handicraft Centre.

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A thangka depicting the golden Prajnaparamita or Yum Chenmo who embodies Supreme Wisdom. She is identified by the book placed on the lotus near her head.

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A Green Tara thangka which shows 21 different manifestations of the goddess Tara. Depicted at the top of the thangka is Buddha Amitaha who denotes Boundless Light.

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Hymn of Creation

Cosmos is a mystery and man have been curios to know how it came into being. What was there in the beginning? In India the intelligent mind began striving since the first millennium, for convincing explanations of cosmic mystery. In the latest phase of Rig Veda poets began wondering about creation. There is beautiful hymn called “Hymn of Creation” in the Rig Veda. It marks the beginning of abstract thinking and work of a very great poet who is asking questions which are fundamental in nature. It portrays whole vision of mysterious chaos before creation and the ineffable forces working in the depths of the primeval void. It goes like this:

“Then even nothingness was not, nor existence.

There was no air then, nor the heaven beyond it.

what covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping?

“Then there was neither death nor immortality,

nor was there then the torch of night and day.

The One breathed windlessly and self-sustaining.

There was that One then, and there was no other.

“At first there was only darkness wrapped in darkness

All this was only unillumined water.

That One which came to be, enclosed in nothing,

arose at last, born of the power of heat.

“In the beginning desire descended on it-

that was the primal seed, born of the mind.

The sages who have searched their hearts with wisdom

know that which is is kin to that which is not.

“And they have stretched their cord  across void.

and know what was above, and what below,

seminal powers made fertile mighty forces.

Below was strength, and over it was impulse.

“But, after all, who knows and who can say

whence it all come and how creation happened?

The gods themselves are later than creation,

so who knows truly whence it has arisen?

“Whence all creation had its origin,

he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not

he, who surveys it all from highest heaven,

he knows -or maybe even he does not know”

This was used in Hindi as the starting track of the Doordarshan serial “Bharat Ek Khoj” by Shyam Benegal.

Modern physics is also striving to know the answer in theory called “Big Bang”. Its basic surmise is the there was energy only everywhere and matter did not come to existence. After the big band some of  the energy condensed to become matter.

 

Devi Lakshmi

Lakshmi means fortune. She is the wife of Vishnu and is often called Shri. She is the goddess associated with good luck and temporal blessing. Although she is considered coexistent with Vishnu, she appeared in full glory at the churning of primeval ocean. Thus ocean is considered her father.

She is usually portrayed as a woman of mature beauty, seated on a lotus, with a lotus in her hand and attended by two elephants who sprinkle water on her from their trunks. She is believed to incarnate herself as the wife of incarnation of Vishnu, thus worshiped as Sita, the spouse of Rama, as Rukmani or Radha being the chief queen and favorite of Krishna of his youth.

All the World is Stage

It is 05:30 in the morning. Only a few die hard health freaks and those to whom doctors have advised are walking on the peripheral road. Some are going clockwise and other anticlockwise. In the temple, the woman who reads like a parrot from religious book, has not come yet. In the meanwhile, till the woman gets ready for the temple, for the benefit of those who also discharge their duty of genuflecting before the God, the caretakers of the temple start the tape recorder which recites the “Gayatri Mantra“. People come and ring the bells. There are crows which sit on the roof of the temple and tamarind tree looking for the early worm.

Different people come at different times and this continues. A group of 3 people walks and talks. Talk is mostly centered around the work and about the bosses. There are dogs in the groups and sometimes they look too menacing. Besides this there are milk delivery men on cycle and scooter. Mostly the road is empty.

It is approaching seven O’clock  and activity begins to hot up. Everywhere there are school children and teachers coming to KV school on buses, scooters, motorcycles, cycles, vans and on foot. It is all a melee and utter confusion. Students are running pell mell. Many are totally uninterested to come to school.  The stage which was having very few actors an hour before is now bustling and overcrowded. Till 0730 when the bell rings declaring the beginning of the school, it is like that.

As soon as the school commences, again the scene changes and streets look barren except some people coming to fetch the milk from a van. You realise the the bard, that supreme author called Shakespeare, was dead right when he said that “All the world is a stage and we are all but actors”

Another scene is enacted on a mammoth scale. It is at the VT or Church Gate railway stations in the evening. There are thousands of actors taking part in a scene which lasts hardly for few minutes before the another shot is ready. Whenever a train lumbers into the station, commuters run, jostle, crush each other to board the train and occupy the sitting place. For a moment, the station platform becomes completely empty. This is only for a few moments. The fresh crop of human beings begins sprouting and within no time all the places are occupied and people seem to the crop which is rich. This process continues late in the evening. Weak willed persons can get swooned at the sight.

Life will Never be the Same Again

No one can fathom the ways of God. We are very easily disturbed when something bad happens to us or to our near and dear ones. This is because we love our life too much and cling to it as the baby clings to its mother, moss to stones and are too afraid to face the realities of life. We always hope for the best to happen.

Sometimes one cannot imagine that a small incident or accident can permanently alter the course of one’s life forever. But at this stage, it is too late and birds had already flown away. Take it otherwise, no one have the power to change whatever has to happen will happen.

Control your Anger or else

It is rightly said that anger can take hold of you and bang you against anything. It is like the unbridled ocean whose mighty waves can throw you like a stalk of grass. It can harm you physically or the person who triggered it in you. If it  is confined or caged, it will become restless and if it is fed and nourished, it can become so strong that it will break the cage one day and then will destroy others. When it is exhausted, only then you will come to know the damage it had wreaked. Sometimes, the damage is irreparable and you will rue the time when this demon woke up and went beyond your control.