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12.27.2006

Visakha Hari - A concert, an enthralled audience



I heard praises
Praises of another being
A being I had wanted to be
A being I have not yet achieved

And yet it brought
Tears to my eyes
To know and to feel
Someone out there
Feels the same way as me

I know not who she is
But an audience she enthralled
Respect at her core
A world she showed
That which we all wanted to see

Tradition put forward
A simple path
Through endless seas of knowledge
A woman like me
Simpler, but much better

I heard praises
That sounded like worship
I heard praises
Like she was blessed
It left me speechless

I felt I had wavered
From my path
Something similar
Something potent
Some now pretty far

I feel incomplete
I feel inadequate
I bow to her
The same lady
Who has already walked my path.

Visakha Hari's remarkable eloquence is matched only by her delightful singing.
Photo Courtesy: The Hindu Online

12.21.2006

Amarnath - A life to remember

Amarnath Shiva Linga. Om Namah Shivay

The last hope
The saving grace
The heart clings
With dear faith
To survive
Fears unknown

Faith, a simple word
A ton of emotion
A volume of thought
A world of energy
That controls the
Devil in the mind

Faith an inward journey
Faith a world unknown
Faith silently leads the heart
Faith a treasure to behold

When life poses
Question unanswerable
When life looks you
In the eye
To see your next action
Towards the divine
When trouble looms in the dark

The lord is everywhere
In and out
An essence captured
Within the self
Worship thee though the soul
Hoping to be heard someday

Faith is not understandable
Faith is not controlled
Faith is to be grown
At your own free will

Faith a bird that returns
Faith a thought that ever stays
Faith the only medicine to life
Faith the only road ahead

When things disappear
In this material world
When life appears tougher
For the strong built
It’s a test of endurance to see
The display of faith
From the mind's eye

Emotion there might be
Emotions there might not
What matters most
Is the self within
The beholder of energy
That drives the soul

Does God desert
To test the soul
Does God pose problems
For us to behold
Does God come forth
And hold my hand
And tell me
He loves me most

Faith my only mantra left
Faith that no man can snatch
Faith my only hope
Faith my ticket to truth

A silent life henceforth
A world departed
A lesson learnt
Trust the Lord for
He lives within
To guide the soul
Through hell.

12.14.2006

The calling: Phone call or lizard?

It had been a while since Srinivasan had heard from his Guru. This left him feeling fairly uneasy over the unpredictability of his Guru's mind. Srinivasan had made enough calls by now to know that his Guru was just not giving him a listening. His growing dependency on his Guru left him with butterflies in his stomach wondering what had gone wrong.

Srinivasan had reached a stage in his worship. An advanced stage so to speak, where he was not entirely clear he understood what it was all about but he was definitely certain it had made differences to his life. Srini, sat back, thinking about all the miracles one after the other, that he knew he could never explain to the world but was certain he had not imagined them.

It played on his mind, each thought clear as ever giving him instructions on what to do to get his Guru's attention or at least make contact. Srinivasan lived in two worlds at the same time. One that we call the familiar and the other unknown even to him presenting him with events that left his jaws permanently dropped. He had been overdosed with the experiences, so much so that he could not think anymore. What was that life all about? With every ritual he performed he saw something new, something out of the ordinary. It was not a miracle in the real sense; it was pure events unfolding so rhythmically that he
wondered whether fate could be controlled in some form.

Simple thought crossed his mind, "What if I had not done this, would events have been different? What if I had done that, would anything have changed? Is this as bad as it gets when they warn me that I am not going to have a good day?"

Srinivasan sat back thinking hard. He saw the changes in his familiar world. He was overwhelmed; the benefits were great and they made him fly but the world of illusions was intoxicating too and he tried very hard not to get sucked into it. Srinivasan watched his mind. Thoughts flitting up and down, thoughts that stayed and thoughts that went, thoughts he entertained and thoughts he feared he even came across. Thoughts he identified with and thoughts he refused to acknowledge that they originated in his mind.

Srinivasan called again, the rings of the phone haunting his mind as he prayed for his Guru to lift the misery off his mind from the other end of the line. No answer, Srinivasan went queasy.

Finally he decided, if this method didn’t work then the ancient method would. Early next morning Srinivasan set the stage for another round of ritual. This was not as much a worship of Lord Shiva as it was a call hoping his Guru would know what he was up to.

The given chants rose into the air, slowly but strongly as he lit the lamps and sat down. The world in front of him shined and the copper turned a golden yellow in the lamp light, the mystical lines glowing with every dance of the flame. The copper bathed in water and milk and the flowers fell forth. Finally the lamp was lifted and in fiery circles the "Arti" was completed gracefully. A full circle, a signal sent, a hope that somehow someone would know that the puja had been performed.

Among the greenery that carpeted the hillside, worshipped as the Lord Himself lay a road dotted with small temples. The regular morning chants rose into the air in a soft hum that enveloped the green countryside. A man held up a flame to the Shiva linga before him and drummed away with Rudram. The fire of consciousness rising into the air lighting up the Linga decorated in all its finery within the Garbha Griha walls. Then all went silent... and he heard twelve calls. Twelve calls made by a lizard in the west within the chamber. The man looked back at the Lord and smiled. Applying a bit of Vibhuti on his forehead he walked out of the temple and smiled a satisfied smile, another puja complete by someone far away.

Six hours later Srinivasan heard his phone ring. The puja had been completed. It was a success. Srinivasan sat back, relieved. Life was good, normal as normal can be!

P.S. Based on the deeper secrets of Pakshi Shastra, an ancient science that "logically" connects animal sound and behavior to direction and maps them with life's various possible events.

12.07.2006

Ekapada Shiva - The one legged Shiva






















Ekapada Shiva, Someshwara temple Andhra Pradesh

Shiva, a common name around the house, yet an unknown icon when it comes to deep spiritualism. Considered to be the greatest in the Trinity, Shiva is still far from understood, leave alone being realized. Much as He is not half as well known as His counterpart Vishnu, His forms are equally obscure.

It would sound strange that Shiva came with more avataras than Vishnu, say 27 in all. It would be even stranger to say that He had "Lilamurthy" attributed to His name. Even more strange would be His close association with the Mother Goddess cult. This is a sea of knowledge itself and we have not even started talking about the essence of the Lingas that represent His aniconic Self.

What makes up Shiva, Who is He, and what is it that makes Him so remarkable that His presence in man's mind has lasted so many centuries through history. Is it all about faith? We definitely need a whole lot of faith to know Him, to understand Him, to experience Him but this enigmatic deity leaves a lot for us to figure out.

One of the few things which any art historian or archaeologist has still probably not been able to figure out is the rare iconographic representation of Shiva in the form of the Ekapadamurthy. Of course there seems to be an Ekapada Shiva or the one legged Shiva as well as an Ekapada Trimurthy, which makes it all too confusing.

Ekapada Shiva is a rarity in Indian Iconography, considered to be a Lilamurthy of Shiva and found in all of two places. One is found in Chaunsath Yogini temple is Orissa where he is more commonly known as Ajaikapada Bhairava and the other is found in Someshwara temple Andhra Pradesh. In both cases He is found in close association with the Mother Goddess cult, specially Chamunda. He seems to be very closely associated with the Tantrik cult, a probable influence of the Sakta cult originating in Bengal in close association with Tantrik practices.

The Tantrik cult had a very strong influence in Orissa and Andhra pradesh and a bit of it trickled into Tamil Nadu. There have been references to Ekapada Shiva found in Mahabalipuram but there is no visible proof to support that yet.

For now, this is what Ekapada shiva looks like:


















Ekapada Shiva, Someshwara temple, AP. Depicted here with Chamunda dancing in a niche above Him.






















Ekapada Shiva, Chaunsath Yogini temple. Also known as Ajaikapada Bhairava

Photo courtesy:
Original photos ©2002 Michael D. Gunther, Glossary of Indian art.
Original photos: http://ganapati.free.fr/ Mukhalingam.