I am Malala!

malala

I Am Malala!

I am truly thrilled to share what I think and learned from the movie- I am Malala, contrary to my nature of not thinking much about such things.

I will not go into details about her and why she is being written about as everybody knows that. But I want to share what I learned from this movie.

When the movie started, she narrated, “I am different because my father is different otherwise I would have been married with two kids at the age of 17, because they dared to be different I am different.“ This shows how much influence the parents have got on the kids. They can make their future or break it. Something we all need to know and work towards it.

This little girl had courage to speak about what she thinks in front of media at the age of 14 and also dared the local authorities about the injustice towards women education despite the face that she could be killed to do so, which actually almost happened to her.

She truly inspired me to pursue my vision and mission with more vigor and conviction as no situation, no country, no people can stop you if you have courage to stick to your goal.

I was overwhelmed by what she said, ”One child one book one teacher and one pen can change the world.” As I share the same vision of spreading the spiritual education to people across the world.

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My India, my country!

310_Holi-Fire

During my recent trip to the UK, I had the opportunity to visit so many places of interest. I was struck by the pride the English take in showcasing their monuments and priceless treasures. There is a fee for visiting each one of these places and after a guided tour we become so enriched about English history. Glossy brochures are wonderful takeaways that we retain as mementoes of our visit. I was just wondering about the many places that we have in India. If there is a Stonehenge in England, we have wonderful structures where sunlight falls with precision exactly on the same day year after year on a particular spot. At the Gavi Gangadareshwar Temple in Bangalore, the sun’s rays pass through this astronomical wonder and touch the deity as if dipping in obeisance once a year on Makar Sankranthi Day.

The Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple, which is believed to have been constructed by Kempe Gowda, who established the city of Bengaluru, is a cave temple, and on Makar Sankranti day, the sun’s rays pass through the window and touch the Shivalinga. Both scientists and scholars are engaged in a study to observe its architectural importance and astronomical significance. This temple was formed by the natural boulders of hillocks and faces the south-west direction. The courtyard is wide and has large-sized monolithic sculptures placed in certain alignments. Shiva’s symbols, the Trishula and the Damaru, are placed on the southern edge of the courtyard.

There are two large circular discs placed parallel to each other known as Suryapana and Chandrapana, with a diameter of 2 m each. Since these are circular and face the east and west, they are identified as symbols of the sun and the moon. It is believed that such discs are not found in any other temple in Karnataka or south India.

Scientists have identified the significance of the Suryapana and Chandrapana monolithic sculptures. According to their study, these were placed for astronomical observations in the medieval period. The shadow of the Dvajastamba falls on the eastern disc for 40 minutes. It is only recently that scholars discovered that the two discs have been installed in alignment to the summer solstice sunset and that explains the significance of the phenomenon on Makar Sankranti. What an amazing foresight these early day scientists had?

What about the Jantar Mantar in Delhi which is also a good example of an astronomical observatory constructed by medieval rulers in India.

london palace

The Castles in UK are so lovely, quiet and neat. People speak about these monuments almost in reverence. That is because from a young age citizens are taught to respect their heritage and they feel everyone not just the government has a role to play in preserving these symbols of culture. India has its fair share of opulent palaces and grand forts. But it is our inland visitors who don’t think twice before dirtying the place or throwing garbage here and there or worse scratching the walls with sharp things. Why is it that our Indians cannot take pride of their rich legacy? Maybe our schools should start educating children on these basic things first.

We have the best of everything but we do not know how to advertise it or use it to raise revenue. Our stepwells and cave structures cannot be found elsewhere. I was reading about Rani ki Vav the other day. It is known as the queen of stepwells as its name indicates. It is an intricately constructed step well situated in the town of Patan in Gujarat, India. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built in memory of Bhimdev I (AD 1022 to 1063), the son of Mularaja, the founder of the Solanki dynasty of Anahilwada Patan about 1050 AD by his widowed queen Udayamati and probably completed by Udayamati and Karandev I after his death. A reference to Udayamati building the monument is in Prabandha Chintamani composed by Jain monk Merunga Suri in 1304 AD. The well is a marvel of underground sculpture and splendour with ornate interiors and long flights of steps interspersed with multi-storeyed mandaps or pavilions. The stepwell was later flooded by the nearby Saraswati River and silted over until the late 1980s, when it was excavated by the Archeological Survey of India, with the carvings found in pristine condition. The minute and exquisite carving of this vav is one of the finest specimens of its kind. I was filled with wonder when I read about this. We need to publicize these wonders, get people to visit them and most importantly our countrymen should take great pride in all that our country offers.

All about dreams!

blog-dreams

All about dreams

We have always been fascinated by the mysterious and the unknown. There is an element of curiosity within each one of us, wanting to know answers to many things for which we may never get one straight answer. Like the seven blind men describing the elephant, people have an opinion on every matter, sometimes it may be right, sometimes may not be. It is a point of view. You are wondering what I am getting at.

Have you gone to bed and woken up after a terrible nightmare where you feel you have lost the power to scream for help or yell, cannot move your legs and hands, you are paralyzed with fear with some devilish creature about to pounce and devour you. Suddenly you break into a sweat, your breathing becomes so hard and then of course you wake up with a start and a jolt. For a moment you are still unsure where you are. And slowly reality dawns, you come back to your senses and feel the reassuring presence of familiar objects around you. Sounds all too familiar, is it not? All of us go through such experiences sometime or the other. I too became so fascinated with the subject of dreams and started looking up for information on the subject. This is what I found.

There are so many desires that we have each day. To fulfill each one is really impossible or maybe even one life time may not even be enough for this. So maybe we try to fulfill these desires in our dreams where we feel we are actually leading a parallel life. Another interesting explanation I came across was that every day we see so many things, meet so many people and go through so many experiences. All these get recorded in the sub conscious. They are stored in a folder somewhere in the corner of the brain. But the strange thing is that the ones that manifest in our dreams are the ones that stand out, maybe out of fear, anxiety, something we desire so much etc. Another point is that the human brain cannot create original images. The strangers we see in the dreams are likely to be people whom we have bumped into at some point of time in our life. These must have been stored in our sub conscious memory. So all those we see in our dreams should be people we have seen somewhere at sometime may be even in the distant past. What a fascinating thing our brain is to bring out these in the form of images.

What about color, have you checked that out. Do you dream in black and white or in color. Scientists say it can be in both, I hope to remember to check this one next time I get a dream.

So many studies have been carried out on dreams, so I guess it is a universal fascination. One study says we forget 95% of our dreams. We dream during REM periods (which is when we have Rapid Eye Movement in our sleep) which can range anywhere from 5 minutes to half an hour long. In the course of one night this happens multiple times. This means we can even have 5 to 7 dreams in one night itself. A very recent study conducted by a group of scientists from Harvard Medical School made quite a stunning revelation. They say that dreams are not any random series of abstract images or sights but they are real events that take place in an alternate universe. These they say can be accessed during dream like states. Now that’s one whale of an idea!

But the most unique kinds of dreams are those that carry a message or give a peek into the future, these border on the para normal. They may hold a key to the future as has been reported. Two weeks before Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, he dreamt of a funeral at the White House. American novelist Mark Twain dreamt of his brother’s body in a metal coffin, shortly before he was killed in a boating mishap. After the Titanic sank, many people reported that they saw visions of an impending disaster at sea. These are like premonitions.

Yet another kind of dream is where many writers have seen storylines unraveled and sometimes whole content given. The famous poem Kublakhan was written by the poet Coleridge after a dream vision. Mary Shelley also wrote her novel Frankenstein after seeing it in dream. Closer home in India, Buddhakaushika Rishi wrote his great work Rama Raksha Stotra after Lord Shiva commanded him to write the verse in a dream. The sage saw the Lord rendering the entire 38 stanzas in the dream and he wrote it at dawn as soon as he woke up. He says it in the stotra itself, Aadhishtavan yathaa swapne—he says. What a great piece of divinely commanded work.

Indian Scriptures is full of amazing and unbelievable tales. An entire temple in South India was built and consecrated in a dream sequence. A unique temple was built by a great devotee of Lord Siva called Pusala Nayanar. He never believed in idol worship or rituals, but loved the lord dearly. Hence he would worship the lord in his mind performing manasa puja. He desired to create a grand temple for Siva but was too poor to build one. He did not get disheartened as he was used to performing mind puja, so he decided to build a temple also in his mind. Step by step the temple grew in his mind and soon a beautiful structure was ready to be inaugurated all of course in his mind. He chose a holy day for the consecration ceremony and installed the deity with all pomp and splendor.

Coincidentally, the Pallava King Kadavarkon had just completed the construction of a grand Siva temple in the capital city of Kancheepuram in South India and had chosen that very day for consecrating the temple he had built. The lord appeared in his dream and instructed him to postpone the date of consecration as he said that he had to be present at his devotee Pusalar’s newly built temple at the town of Thiruninravur on that particular day. The king had to obey the divine decree but decided to visit the temple that the lord had favored over his own. On reaching the place he could not find any new temple nor did anyone have any idea about its construction. The king went straight to Pusalar’s house and was astonished to learn about the temple the saint had built within his mind. He narrated the lord’s appearance in his dream and his preference for the saint’s labor of love over his grand construction.

Isn’t that an amazing story and should you visit Thiruninravur even today there stands a temple that later Pallava kings built in honor of that great devotee. The lord is worshipped as Hrudayaleeswarar meaning the ‘lord in the devotee’s heart’. Now that is what is called a dream temple!!!!!

Ordinary Men- Extraordinary Lives!

4.Mahatma Gandhi 1930s -There is no path to Peace. Peace is the path

Manjhi- the Mountain Man, a powerful biopic based on the real life of Dasharath Manjhi opened in cinemas nationwide last Friday. Compared to the fanfare that one sees normally for all big ticket movies, this was low key and why not? The man himself was relatively unknown; no one celebrated his life while he was alive. Yet it has taken a bold director to unearth the story of a real life hero and bring it to the knowledge of the world.

Who exactly was this man? He was a poor laborer who lived in Gehalaur village near Gaya in Bihar. He used to travel far everyday in search of work and his loving wife used to bring lunch for him every day. One day as she was crossing the path taking his lunch, she slipped and fell, injuring herself seriously. Now he had a real problem in his hands. The nearest hospital was nearly 55 km away and she died as she could not receive medical attention. What’s new in this story you may ask? For this is a familiar report we always read in the papers almost every day. And we might forget the story as soon as we have finished reading the report. But not Manjhi. He got up like a man possessed and decided that day that he would not let anyone die for want of medical attention if he could help it. But a great mountain stood between his village and the nearest town that could provide medical care and villagers had to circumvent the long distance to reach the hospital. So he single handedly took a chisel and hammer and started carving a road through the mountain. Fellow villagers thought he was a total lunatic. But he did not care. In fact he said ‘When I started hammering the hill, people called me a lunatic but that steeled my resolve.’

For 22 long years, he worked with determination and a never say die spirit and the result- he dug up a road that could shorten travel from 55km to 15 km to the town that had a hospital. What an inspiring tale. But he died an unsung hero in 2007 though the Bihar government proposed his name for a Padma award. Another inspiring tale is about the jungle man Jadav Moloi Payeng. He was only 17 when there were floods in his village and he saw thousands of snakes washed dead in the waters. He asked the village elders “what would you do if all of us die one day, like these snakes. They just laughed and smirked but I knew I had to make the planet greener,” He went to the forest officials asking them to plant trees. They mocked at him and said ‘you do it if you want’. That was it. Jadav decided to plant trees. For 30 years he planted bamboo saplings in an area that had been washed away by floods. Today, that same land hosts 1,360 acres of Jungle called Molai Forest, named after him, the man who made this possible single handedly!

These are inspiring tales of ordinary men doing extraordinary things but alas we don’t celebrate these men or their feats. Once, when our former President Dr. Abdul Kalam went to Israel, he saw the newspapers full of inspiring stories and he bemused when will India ever get this kind of culture. Our papers are full of sensational stories of murders, of rapes, of bomb blasts and terror attacks, we have forgotten our real heroes who can inspire and motivate us to do something for others. Recently I saw a Facebook post which was to this effect- Do you think you are too small to make a change, then think of what a tiny mosquito can do inside your blanket when you are fast asleep. I think all of us can, if only we apply ourselves to it, until then, let us raise a toast to the Manjhis and Payengs of the world!