Body – Mind – Soul

As the prayers, rituals, celebrations of the holy month of Maargazhi are on in full swing, and as one melts to the recitations of the divine Thirupaavai, we come across this line – Ongi Ulagalandha Uthaman Paer Paadi.. (Singing the name of the Lord, who grew and, who conquered the worlds..), which is in reference to Lord Vamana, who measured with his feet, earth, heaven and King Mahabali‘s head!

The beauty of these lines gave rise to the sprouting of an astounding meaning of the references, hidden in the fields of divinity.

Body, Mind and Soul comprise a trio. The Soul, whom we are; the Body, in which we reside; and the Mind, a bridge which guides, and misguides, balances and unbalances as well, the connection between the Body and the Soul.

The Body can be considered as the earth. Tough, physically sense-able, measurable, easier to understand, and conquerable. And Mind, the sky or the heavens. Undefinable, difficult to perceive, immeasurable, and not that easy to understand, and yet not unconquerable. And finally, the Soul, totally beyond any definitions (Mind, though had adjectives such as undefinable, immeasurable, etc)

King Mahabali had conquered the earth and the heavens. It was then that Lord Vishnu came in the form of a dwarf and asked for three feet of land as alms, from the King who was ruling the earth and the sky! When the King agreed, Lord Vamana grew to a gigantic size and measured the entire conquest of Mahabali‘s earth in a foot, and the sky in another. When nothing was left over, He asked the King for the third foot, when he offered his head, to be ‘conquered’. And the Lord obliged. 

It is no wonder, for the comparisons are so obvious. One can rule over one’s body and mind. But conquering our soul, conquering ourselves, might seem easy, but not so; might seem tough, but not so, again! Definitely confusing, and that’s the beauty (or ugliness) of it! We think that we are our body and we are our mind. What we fail to recognize most of the times, is that we are the souls. We reside in a mind, and within a body.

King Mahabali had conquered the body and was owning it, to offer it to the Lord. He was ruling the mind, and was made into a good offering too! But conquest of the soul remained uncomplete. Once he gave up the so called possessions, the light of knowledge dawned and he offered himself (read soul; read head) to the Lord, which was the best of all offerings!

This conclusion is definitely, not immune from defects or debates. And view is always different and unique too. A lotus on a pond doesn’t look the same from different viewpoints, and so is a thought.

So much of thoughts from a single line of the thirty stanza long Thirupaavai. No wonder, it is referred to as the seed which contains the gigantic tree of the Veda!

Cheers

God Bless

Mahabharata ~ Changing Perspectives

Mahabharata is one of my all time favourite ‘experience’. I term it an experience because, quite often when I get to read/hear/watch retellings of the great epic, a thought process occurs, which gives rise to new perspectives, new vistas, new ideas, which are experiences that need to be savoured deeply!

I had grown up listening to Mahabharata stories from my grandma, watching the B.R.Chopra teleseries (the re-telecast actually! i’m not that old 😉 ) – Mahabharat (1988 TV Series), reading the English translation of Mahabharata by Rajaji – Mahabharata and an illustrated modern retelling by Devdutt Pattanaik – Jaya. In an earlier post, I had written about this modern retelling – Perspectives. There are various anecdotes associated with Mahabharata, which also provide varied insights and knowledge on it. Take off the religious angle, and it can beat a story of any genre, hands down!

It is generally said that, if something isn’t mentioned in the Mahabharata, then it doesn’t exist at all! And that’s because there are numerous retellings, abridgements, expansions, addition of ideas, commentaries, exclusion of ideas, folklores, corrosions, misunderstandings, etc on this already grand epic!

There are episodes in this narration that tease the logical part of our mind, and then there are portions that tease our illogical parts. And it is up to us to judge if a character in this epic is good or bad, or neutral, and that depends on how we view the scenario. This is the reason that there are many flows in the Mahabharata. Now this should explain the title – Changing Perspectives.

In my younger days, I preferred the action and grandeur of the narration, to the philosophical arguments. The fighting sequences, the grand palaces were more fascinating than the Bhagavad Gita and the other tenets. But now, I yearn for more of philosophical tenets, the varied perspectives that they provide, the various commentaries that have been written pondering over the realms known and unknown. The action and grandeur just seem normal and do not excite me anymore. This gives another meaning to the title – Changing Perspectives.

Mahabharata was nothing more than a religious story, for me in childhood. Only to realize later, that it is a lesson on how to lead life, and also how not to lead life. Probably I might realize something else, in future. Changing perspectives again!

Cheers

God Bless

Vacation Chronicles ~ 3

Melkote

Following the earlier two posts – Vacation Chronicles ~ 1 and Vacation Chronicles ~ 2 – The stones are alive! here goes the third and concluding post on my vacation.

This post is completely dedicated to a beautiful, clean, serene, divine, calm, picturesque, peaceful, little town in Karnataka, named Melkote. It is at a distance of about 50 kms from Mysore and has good, accessible road from there. And still, i’m still out of adjectives to sing the praise of this place!

Raya Gopura

Melkote, also known as ThiruNarayanaPuram is more of a pilgrimage center, than a tourist spot, and that’s the main reason we were there (remember I had mentioned family vacation/pilgrimage in the earlier post?) The CheluvaNarayana Temple and the YogaNarasimha Swamy Temple atop a small hill are the important temples, apart from a few other ancient, antique temples here.

CheluvaNarayana Temple

Melkote is quiet, little town with few ancient temples, many clean and pristine ponds surrounded by lush greenery, simple and traditional homes, clean roads, little shops, a Sanskrit college and academy, scenic vistas, humble and helpful people, which makes a person fall in love with this place again and again!

The YogaNarasimha Swamy temple is situated atop a small hill. Visiting this temple requires a climb of around 200 rock cut steps, which are covered by lush greenery, and occasional stone mantapa. There were many monkeys and goats along this way too, giving us a good company.

And not to forget the yummy Puliogare and Chakare Pongal that we got to taste here. Simply divine! And for the uninitiated, Puliogare and Chakare Pongal are a delicacy present in many South Indian Temples. They are supposed to be second most important aspect of the temple, the first being the Lord 😉

That’s me, on the way to YogaNarasimhaSwamy Temple, atop the hill.

From the various experiences that I had here, the one I loved the most are the divinity and the cleanliness of this place. Divinity is beyond the scope of any explanation and our understanding! So moving on to the cleanliness aspect, the temples, roads, ponds, public washrooms are maintained so well in this little town!

Overall, the pilgrimage to Melkote was nourishing to the soul, pumping up more faith into the mind and lifting up our spirits.

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Check out the following links, which provide more information on Melkote. Please do pay a visit to this place and get an experience of a lifetime!

Melkote – Wikipedia

Melkote – Anudinam

***The pictures included in this post were taken by me***

Cheers

God Bless

Vacation Chronicles ~ 2

The stones are alive!

Continuing from my previous post – Vacation Chronicles ~ 1, here I go with my second post. Without any explanation, by the end of this post, you would know why ‘The stones are alive!’

Standing at the threshold
of the mighty and impressive
Chennakeshava Devasthana*,
I wonder,
Do I bow to the Lord
Or the spirit of the sculptors?
Then, I feel His charm
And I bow to the Lord,
who dwells in and as
the soul of the sculptor,
And of the stone!

The following pictures were taken at the ChennaKeshava Temple complex at Belur, Karnataka. ChennaKeshava expands to ‘Chennagi Iruva Keshava’ which means the Handsome Keshava, in Kannada. His temple is beautiful, but His charm is matchless!

Chronicle to be concluded in next post Vacation Chronicles ~ 3 – Melkote

*Devasthana = Place of God ~ Temple

***The pictures included in this post were taken by me***

Cheers

God Bless

Vacation Chronicles ~ 1

Finally, we got time for our long pending, long family vacation/pilgrimage! And honestly I just cannot write about our week long vacation in a post, or even a series of posts! So I go with a summary of my experiences, thoughts, observations and happenings…

Raya Gopura – Melkote, Karnataka

Journey is a destination too…
The journey through the dense forests of Sathyamangalam, along the course of the river Kaveri, next to the impressive Bhavani Sagar Dam, over the twisting roads of Mettupalayam, over the rough terrains of Ooty, kissing the bright Morning Glory creepers from the hilly terrains, over the bridges, through the tunnels, overlooking the tea estates, over the narrow roads adjacent to Pykara Lake, on the steep slopes overlooking the scary Frog Hill View Point, though the evergreen forests of Mudumalai, occasional sightings of a variety of monkeys and buffaloes, a rare sighting of an elephant, through the downsloping roads of Bandipur, through the broad regal roads of Mysore, through the sugarcane fields to Melkote, over the rough roads to Belur, on the dusty roads to Halebidu…oh wait! These are just the bus journey routes. Many times in life we forget that, real happiness is not a destination, but found all around through the journey!

Window to the world…
It is the window which shows us the world, as we sit comfortably in our home, or a cosy bus/train. It is the window which makes one enjoy the sightings, like those which were mentioned above, to admire the beauty of nature and sing the praise of the Lord.
One disturbing thing was that people tend to take (dis)advantage of these beautiful windows and the more beautiful vistas outside. And I honestly wish that every bus/train (with openable windows) have a Pleading/Warning in bold letters which says…“Windows are NOT DUSTBINS!”

Fragrance of a river…
Believe me this river has a fragrance, an emotional connect to everyone related to the place though which it meanders, and is considered holier than the Ganga – the Kaveri. The fragrance, the warmth, the peace, the connect could be felt while cruising along its banks through Sathyamangalam, over the bridges at Mysore, over its canals at Mandya, along its banks at Srirangapatna, over the lush green sugarcane fields, the coconut groves, and my praise and admiration for this river can never stop!

Chennakeshava Temple – Belur, Karnataka

Love affair with a city…
Ask me, ‘which is your favourite place?’ and my instant reply would be Mysore! One of the cleanest, greenest, less-congested, regal cities of India. The palaces, wide and clean roads, almost-nil traffic jams, greenery, crispy and mouthwatering dishes, well connectivity, humble and simple people, non-existent water woes, absence of crimes, cheaper lifestyle, and on and on. The list to fall in love with Mysore can be extended to one’s will!

One just can’t stop me from singing the praises for the places that I visited. Such was the mesmerization, enchantment that were present here. So continuing my chronicle in the next 2 posts too…

1) Vacation Chronicles ~ 2 – The stones are alive!

2) Vacation Chronicles ~ 3 – Melkote

***The pictures included in this post were taken by me***

Cheers

God Bless

Life is short. Is it?

Life is short…a very popular quote, used and misused quite often. This pleasant monday morning, I saw someone on the television quoting that ‘life is short’ and a sudden thought…which life is short? Is it the materialistic life? or life of our fame? or life of the soul? or life of what we leave behind? or life of something that we’re yet to realize?

The materialistic life is measured in terms of ‘human’ years, and that is quite unpredictable. The span of this life could be long or short, and that depends on how one perceives it.

The life of the fame that we’ve acquired, reminds me of how Shakespeare quotes.. “His sceptre shows the force of temporal power” in The Merchant of Venice.

Speaking of the soul, or the life of soul, how can one actually determine of the age of a soul? Or can the soul even have a ‘life’? Life is a term which could be defined as something which has a definite beginning and a definite end. Soul begins at where it ends and ends at where it begins. The soul belongs to the infinite cosmos and it contained within it. The unmeasurable cosmos, in fact belongs to the soul and is contained within the soul too! Seems confusing right?! 

C.S.Lewis said, “You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body” If we consider ourself as the body, life could be short, indeed. But if we realise that we’re the soul, there is the answer!

Cheers

God Bless

Kaushika turns Vishvamitra

Human mind works in a mysterious way. Especially at times, when the body is shut down and the mind is wide awake. It brings in new dimensions, new perspectives and new confusions! These thoughts vanish the way they arose, though few tend to cling on. Reading, and re-reading books inspired from Indian mythology, such as Jaal, The Pregnant King influences the mind too, a lot. One such thought which clung to my mind led to this post.

Kaushika the Emperor who turned into Vishvamitra the Hermit, is one person from the Hindu mythology, whom I adore a lot. Yes of course, my fascination for him started when I discovered that I share my name with him, which only increased as I got to learn more about him.

To give a brief introduction about this person, Kaushika was a mighty emperor who once met Vashishta, an hermit of the highest order. And there occurred a conflict between them (read more here) This conflict created a confusion in the mind of Kaushika, which ultimately prompted him to become a Brahmarishi (hermit of the highest order) And there began his journey!

It was initially his ego, anger, confusion, passion, ambition, rivalry, struggle, greed, competition, desire to achieve a status equal (if not higher) to those whom he considered as his rival, that made Kaushika to undertake a severe penance. The efforts bore fruits, and that made him a Rishi. He was still Kaushika. The anger passed by time, and He became a Rajarishi, but still he was Kaushika. His mind calmed over time that made him a Maharishi, but he was Kaushika, still!

When his mind expanded with wisdom, that sprouted and that flowed in, he could accommodate his version of truth, someone else’s vision of the world, everyone’s understanding of the universe and that made him an enlightened one – Brahmarishi Vishvamitra (Vishva – Cosmos and beyond, Mitra – Friend) Vishvamitra literally means ‘friend of all’. It is also understood as someone who could accommodate everyone and everything within the mind. Kaushika had rivals, but Vishvamitra didn’t, can’t and won’t have any!

In today’s world there is conflict and confusion, most often because we refuse to see the other side of the world. Our prejudices, perspectives and ego refuses to see the other version of the truth. We may not necessarily agree to something we may not like. But why can’t accept that it exists and let it exist?

The one who ruled over a mighty empire with just and respect had to undergo an harsh journey to control his mind and senses. So it’s definitely not an easy task to have such an infinite openness of mind. But why not have our mind at least directed towards this kind of openness?

As I stated earlier, accommodating his version of truth, someone else’s vision of the world, everyone’s understanding of the universe, turned Kaushika into Vishvamitra. Probably this is the elusive Enlightenment that we keep hearing quite often.

It is when we get these thoughts and understandings, that we realize that scriptures are more to be understood metaphorically, than taken literally. There could be difference of thoughts, opinions and perspectives. Making room for all of them increases our wisdom, while fighting over it, paves way only to exhaust our limited knowledge.

If there is an ocean to learn, there is an universe to unlearn. And this is a kind of learning too. The cosmos works in a mysterious way, and so our mind!

I’m Kaushik (literally and metaphorically, and many of us are too) with my own prejudices and opinions. I accept the truth, that my mind isn’t that big enough to accept certain (actually many) things. And there is a long way for this soul to go.

Cheers

God Bless