Sunday, 9 December 2012

"Her India is my Egypt"

I received this wonderful tribute from my dear friend Gar in Texas and I thought it deserved to be a post in its own right. Gar is widely traveled and has gone deep into Egyptian history and civilization. He feels a strong sense of identification with Egypt and he refers to that. He is also an expert on Hawai'i, not to speak of his native Texas and Germany. Gar has powerfully influenced my thinking and Kim's in the six odd years we have known one another. So here goes.

"I am in awe of all the thought and creativity that went into your explanations and insights.

As you are well aware, Indian thought, religion or what have you is beyond my grasp. I simply don't relate, however beautiful I may find much of it. Guess I've never had an experience there. Kim obviously is very much at home with it. Her India is my Egypt. Egyptian thought make sense to me, though to others it might as well be the dominant culture of Saturn.

However, as I read your words I am again for the millionth time reminded of a similarity with Egypt, Greece, Rome, all ancient cultures. The gods acted as humans or something akin to humans. The gods had every emotion known to man. The gods were related like ruling families. The gods fought and plotted, killed, grasped power. I can not prove it but there has to be an explanation for the similarity. And I believe that the simplest explanation is usually the closest to truth. They acted like people. People with powers and abilities light years beyond the common folk, but people still. Who in all your experience have emotions and behavior exactly like people? Hint: It ain't Indian elephants or Egyptian hawks or Greek sheep....

I'll reread and with it wish you great success and pleasure. A beautiful, loving thoughtful creation. Great graphic, too by the way."

Thank you Gar on behalf of the three of us - myself, Kim and Karan who is behind the graphics among other things. Your words went straight to our hearts.

And yes, Indian elephants do count. We have amazingly human-like animals in mythology!

First and foremost, we have our elephant headed Lord Ganesha - the obstacle remover - without whom no event commences, so Salutations to Him!

To our readers:

I came across this link "India and Egypt," which appears interesting. It quotes diverse sources for the information presented. I have not personally delved into it in depth as yet, or authenticated the details for myself, but thought it was worth sharing in the context of these similarities across civilizations.
And one on the lotus in ancient Egyptian culture. The author takes care to point out the difference in species between the Indian lotus(Nelumbo nucifera) and Egyptian water lily aka Egyptian lotus(Nymphaea lotus and Nymphaea caerulea a distinction often lost sight of due to use of the term Egyptian lotus.

We would love to generate a good conversation around the interconnections of all our civilizations. What are your own experiences? Do feel free to share.
We look forward to your comments on all our posts. We believe you will find this a warm, welcoming, comfortable space in which to create bridges and cross thresholds .

Monday, 3 December 2012

Crossing the 100 Threshold

We just crossed the 100 Threshold!

Yes our Facebook Page got the first 100 Likes!!!

The Century has a mystique around it and an elusive power over the mind. So we decided on the magic number as a milestone at which to untie the ropes and formally release our ship on its journey, with this post. We have been informally on the road for quite a while now and had some rewarding journeys in the physical realm, apart from ongoing energy exchanges across cyberspace with a whole range of people from the world over. Understandably we found people asking us what we were "launching" this time. I'd say the past year involved some testing times for our team. We made it through with the phenomenal support of all our well wishers and we can now declare our ship truly seaworthy!

Last night I received this beautiful message from Kim in response to an Irish blessing I shared with her "May the road rise to meet you..."

"All these pics(on our Facebook Page and blog) feature roads (at least by implication) but they're united by the one road which unites us all, Irish or not: the road of our journey to meet and understand one another's cultures and lives. Thanks for the beautiful reminders of the views along the way!"

So journey with us, be part of our creative collaboration, wish us luck!

Love from our Triple Spiral - Kim, Karan and me!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

By Divine Design

It is no accident. For the simple reason such miracles have to be from a Mastermind. That mind is the Universal Muse. We think we understand the bodies we are gifted with and the "bodies" we build... the apparently static but constantly growing, changing, decaying and rejuvenating structures that we live in... the futures we carefully plan and  craft for ourselves and try hard to enact. But through all of Creation runs a subtle power and it is gifted to us individually as our own subtle body and the auras of everything around us.

These are the dynamic entities through which "divine" energy and "divine" plan are communicated to us, the channel through which we connect with that power and talk to it as it talks to us.

We forget this and we forget to trust in these forces. Vishvakarma Puja is dedicated to reviving and energizing that channel and nourishing the subtle bodies of ourselves, our dwellings and our creations - our works of art, our writing, the assignments we have perforce to submit and be assessed for and the survival skills we practice as long as we are alive. It’s a day I love so much because it binds me through that invisible thread to the humblest of artisans, workers, craftsmen – all seamlessly woven together into that divine plan that we understand so little of.

Vishvakarma is depicted in most places as an old, bearded man riding a swan.

In Bengal, however he comes to life in every humble corner as a swashbuckling young man riding an elephant. The elephant is synonymous with stability as well as ancient wisdom. Resting on that strength he rises in resplendant colors.

I am always reminded of the cool, grey-tinged, sleeping, wise old earth on whose rim appears the divine gold disc at dawn.

A legend in tune with this occasion on the Sudarshana Chakra's creation.

"Chakra Azhwar"
According to one legend, the Sudarshana Chakra was created by Vishvakarma.
“Viswakarma's daughter Sanjana was married to Surya, the Sun God. Due to the Sun's blazing light and heat, she was unable to go near the Sun. She complained to her father about this. Viswakarma took the Sun and made him shine less so that his daughter would be able to hug the Sun. The left over Sun "dust" was collected by Viswakarma and he made three things out of it. The first one was the famous aerial vehicle Pushpaka Vimana, the second being the Trishula (Trident) of Lord Shiva, and the third was the Sudarshana Chakra of Lord Vishnu.”
“Pushpaka was originally made by Vishwakarma for Brahma the Hindu god of creation, later Brahma gifted it to Kubera, the God of wealth, but was later stolen, along withLanka, by his half-brother, the demon king Ravana.”

In Kim's words:
"Vimanas (aerial vehicles) can only remind me of the prophet Ezekiel's vision of the heavenly chariot with wheels within wheels. The wheels all had eyes around the rims of the wheels. The chariot could go anywhere, in any direction, and it could always see where it was going.

"Our subtle bodies are somehow more mobile than our physical bodies. They have the ability to turn and see in all directions. It's fortunate that they do, because our physical bodies are mired in the limitations of time and space.

"Vishvakarma Puja for me is the day on which those limitations are dissolved, and we can see the grand design of the universe "face to face," instead of "through a mirror, darkly" (Paul, New Testament)"

Here's to the fruition of that divine design within all of us!

19th December 2012

I ran into this while searching for sacred chants today so here is Sudarshana Gayatri

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Embrace The Moment!

"There is No Place like Here, There is No Time like Now!"
When the aromas of the earth burst forth this morning in the form of a myriad golden blooms in a flower pot, I felt the message clear and powerful. This moment is the most auspicious. So on an impulse I unlocked the blog and I have an eager visitor. I trust the spirit itself to be the guide for our journeys, for our places and moments of crossing.

A few words of ancient wisdom in welcome from our team!

“OM – Purnamadah Purnamidam Purnat purnamudachyate.
Purnasya Purnamadaya Purnamevavashisyate.”

Vicki Hansen's Sanskrit is quaint but she creates a wonderful mood.
There are a few translations as comments posted under the video. I think "This moment is perfect" does capture the spirit better than the literal translations.

Here however are more erudite posts, elaborating on the meaning of the verse.
OM – Purnamadah
Gita Study

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

"Mine The Darkness"

The Inspiration For Our Upcoming LightHouse Tours

The old lighthouse at Mamallapuram always meant something special to me, having brought to me face to face with my past life for the first time. It was atop this lighthouse in 1974, looking out on the streams and fields, the rocks and backwaters, that I visioned myself as an ancient princess gazing over the land that she held in trust. Most of all, the green squares of rice fields spoke to me, mirrored back my feelings that this was a rich and nurtured land, rich with mystery and the potential for spiritual awakening.

I've also been up to the new lighthouse in 1974 and taken in with a sweep, what felt like all of Tamil Nadu. But the old one keeps calling me back to share secrets held within the folds of its womb, the Mahishasuramardini Cave. "I will reveal all to the ones who trust me" the steps whisper, as I place foot after foot with reverence on their tilts and twists, struggling to keep balance.

Kim has called them the “priceless sacred caves where Vishnu sleeps and Durga battles.”

This single thought from Kim wrapped up for me her understanding of the mysterious paradox that is India. Think now of the lighthouse balanced on the shoulders of these deities, beaming this wisdom to whoever is tuned in.

As the new lighthouse sends its million watt beacon in a grand sweep over the bay, the old one quietly whispers wisdom to the ones who climb the ancient steps to gaze out
at the sheet of turquoise stretched like a girdle all around. From here you feel you can touch all of the ocean, commune with it rather than survey its grandeur.There is intimacy.

This link speaks of lighthouse tourism as the next big thing in India.
We have a chance to come in with our unique CTT perspective and I eagerly look forward to reader feedback here. This will help us customize our Cyber Yaatras as well as the LightHouse Packages we planning to offer in 2013 spring in the Mamallapuram region.

The old lighthouse is a protected monument so I hope they preserve the sanctity of the surroundings. It wouldn't do to have recreational activities in the vicinity! But it would be an even more pressing need to crack down on the graffitti once and for all. Again I was appalled at the crude etchings on and around The Butterball. I thought there was far too little surveillance at such an important site.

Just came across this article "Mamallapuram: monument of neglect" in The Hindu. Worth a read.

The way they carve and deface these precious monuments makes me cry. I've noticed that monuments for which there isn't an entry charge are quite neglected. It would be a great idea to tax all those picnickers and useless underemployed couples and their ill-bred spawn who go there for "timepass."

And it would be a great idea for the so called “guides” to educate the rifraf on the need to respect, indeed revere these irreplaceable sites.

Kim's reactions to her Lighthouse Trip

"I think one thing that moves me about these two wonderful carvings in the old lighthouse cave is their grand statement on power. Vishnu's seems at first glance to be a passive power; he sleeps while his attendants repel the demon that is threatening him. And Durga's seems to be an active power; she herself battles the buffalo demon, personification of the evil which threatens us all.

Some might say that these two carvings turn gender power stereotypes on their heads, as it is the male manifestation of God who is passive, the female who is active. But I think there are more subtle messages to be found here.

I love it that Lord Vishnu's power is so trusting. He seems completely calm and at peace in his sleep. His serenity is deeply sensual and full of sexual potential, the potential of creation gathering within him as he rests. His arms are languid and relaxed, one fallen idly to his side. He knows his attendants can repel any danger which might threaten him in the midst of his creative meditation. He has nothing to fear, no need to act.

Durga's power on the other hand seems to spring from an intuitive knowledge of when to act. Her carving is filled with energy and engagement; there is dramatic motion and sweeping form all around her.

There must be a relationship between her aggressive outward contest, and Vishnu's peaceful inward trust; between her active initiative, and his passive delegation of power. Each knows how to respond to the moment.

As you know I found Vishnu's sleeping form in the Shore Temple nearby even more powerful. I love it that it was carved from bedrock, that the temple itself was raised over him only afterwards. Somehow his bedrock form seems to symbolize how elemental his creative sleep is, and again, how sensual. Here in this carving, he's stripped of all his outward manifestations of mace, no conch, no couch. He's bare and alone, yet wholly at peace and empowered in his bareness. He helps me understand that indeed, nothingness is everything."

Monday, 30 April 2012

Namaste Chakratirtha!

I first encountered the word Chakratirtha in 1986 on a sudden, unplanned first visit to Puri, India with a group of friends. I was fascinated by the word but put it away in an obscure corner of my mind. Little did I know that years into the future, the name, the location, the concept would all become a vital part of my life. It had a pleasant association with a beautiful hotel located on a road of the same name. I visited the hotel and the road twice more in succession and the word would occasionally circle back to me out of nowhere. It had a comforting ring to it, a sense of mission accomplished. The word evoked images of a wheel spinning in holy water. I never probed its deeper meaning.

While chakra means wheel among other things, and tirtha is "ford, a shallow part of a body of water that may be easily crossed," the sacred connotations of crossing are something I didn't think about nor did I consider how they connected with each other.

View of Daya River from Dhauli Hill, Bhubaneswar, Orissa
Click on the links to know more about this legendary site as a crucial crossing in history and spirituality 

I hadn’t stopped to wonder about the purpose of these sacred pools in metaphysical or metaphorical terms, which to me now seems more important than the act of physically dipping oneself in them. Such is the mundane, stressful and often pointless existence of IT professionals(yes I was one) that when they do get a break from it all, they would rather stop thinking and let feeling take over. So feel I must have subconsciously done, nurturing somewhere in memory my experiences of these trips, allowing the sound of the words to echo in my thoughts and the meanings to reveal themselves.

How much I had cherished them revealed itself to me in 2010. My life took an unexpected turn towards Chakratirtha Road. There were dreams, recollections, an insistent inner urge, surfing and delving for more information, comparing and exchanging thoughts. All leading to what this venture – Chakratirtha Travels - is all about. I found myself guiding these two spiritually thirsty yaatris who felt the same inner call. They already had an irresistible feel for the terrain through our shared cyber journeys. They were now physically traversing it. The trip led to a creation that awaited its moment of birth.

Two years later Chakratirtha Travels is officially on the map. I am amazed at discovering diverse locations named Chakratirtha. I have also found my way to the sacred ford that gives its name to the road I stayed on. And the deity at that tirtha is indeed represented as a wheel containing water.

For me the chakra has evolved into a spiral, which is a powerful symbol of creation and growth in many cultures and spiritual systems.
“The spiral was the earliest known decoration used in art. The directional flow of the spiral symbolizes our movement through the experiences of life, death, and rebirth. The ancient Celts believed in this idea and as a result, their myths and legends refer to this journey.” (Courtesy Celtic Symbol Dictionary)

Our chakra logo is inspired by the Celtic triple spiral symbol.

Again, tirtha is reminiscent of the “thin places” of the Celts. I quote “In simple terms a ‘thin place’ is a place where the veil between this world and the Other world is thin, the Other world is more near. This meaning assumes the perceiver senses the existence of a world beyond what we know through our five senses” (Courtesy "Thin Places, Travels Through Celtic Holy Ground")

Turning back to India,
“The chakras are believed to be a number of wheel-like vortices which, according to traditional Indian medicine, exist in the surface of the subtle body of living beings. The chakras are said to be "force centers" or whorls of energy permeating, from a point on the physical body, the layers of the subtle bodies in an ever-increasing fan-shaped formation. Rotating vortices of subtle matter, they are considered focal points for the reception and transmission of energies” (From Wikipedia)

Namaste Chakratirtha!     You and I are touching hearts again! We hope to be a focal point too.

On this page  you see a triple spiral … ancient steps leading to a mysterious location - you could take them to climb up or descend into depths ... a foot on a wave; a beautifully embellished foot, clearly divine. All coming together to invite you. What could it all convey?

Crossing thresholds, bridging realms

Thin places are the tirthas connecting the human with the Otherworld, dissolving the boundaries between them. Internet is a ford connecting people across time and space in this world of ours.

Namaste to our visitors. We welcome you to cross with us!

Chakratirtha, according to one definition is “swirling pool of sacred water.” The water itself is the wheel, the medium the message! We invite you to travel with us online. When the time is ripe you’ll find the foot on the wave drawing you to India in person. You will tread these steps and listen to the echoes of ancient footfalls. You will “take in the aromas of the earth and the energy of the spirits that exist and have existed in our beautiful land."

Bon Voyage from our team of three which is me, Kim and Karan.