Posts Tagged ‘postaweek2011’

Ramakrishna’s first photograph

July 3, 2011

Today during the discourse swamiji narrated how the first photograph came about. Bhavnath, one of his devotees, got the photographer and asked Ramakrishna(RK) if he could take his picture. RK apparently did not like it and went and sat in the radhakrishna temple. Narendra (Vivekananda) happened to pass by and offered to help Bhavnath. He asked him to wait and went in to meet RK. RK, as always, was jubiliant on seeing Narendra. Narendra started asking him difficult questions in advaita. While answering him RK went into samadhi at which point Narendra asked the photographer to take the picture. However, RK’s posture was slightly inclined and the photographer tried to get the posture straight. However, when he tried to do so RK’s body floated up like a piece of paper. Narendra intervened, asked him to not touch and offered to correct the posture. The picture was taken. Later when the picture was shown to RK he was delighted and said that that was how people in a high state of yoga looked like. He added that this picture would be worshipped by lakhs of people. An enlarged version of this picture is in the main worship hall at Bangalore RK math.

Another way to live

June 11, 2011

The picture of a sadhu, with ash smeared face and a large naamam (a U with a line bisecting it arising from the center) on the forehead, on the front cover got my attention to this book.  It is an account of Professor/Dr. Kapur’s experience with yoga and yogi’s. I use the word yogi here synonymously with sadhus swamis and sanyasis. There are extracts and summaries of several of his interviews with yogis. However, in all his travails Dr. Kapur never came across a yogi with powers (siddhis). So there are no stories about magical/supernatural powers or even mind reading. The one sadhu who was shown to him to be a realised soul Dr. Kapur suspects to be schizophrenic! In his interviews he asked the sadhus  why they chose the path.   The answers are varied ranging from “i was on the path from childhood” to “i took it to avoid misfortune” and “it was a way to meet the challenges of old age”!  There are detailed accounts of some of them and they form interesting reading.

Dr. Kapur also joined as an apprentice with a Guru to learn yoga. He narrates his experience during training and also the effects after continuing it when he was back home. These chapters make interesting reading. There is also an account on changes in his behavior at home after and before yoga in his wife’s words.  To quote her ” Having observed my husband’s practice for an year, i came to the conclusion that regular practice of yoga enhanced the positive aspects of his personality and reduced the negative aspects. However, interrupted practice proved to be  more harmful than not practicing at all”.

The comments and guidance from his guru are listed as bullets in a couple of pages. They are real gems. I skipped the parts which dealt with the theory of yoga and details on psyco-analysis.  On the whole this book is a good read.


May 22, 2011

i bought the bsa cycle today. on the web i had read that mach 19 and mach 22 are the two bsa options. but when i called up RRcycle yeshwantpur he said they didn’t have those numbers. when the wrappers were removed from the frame i found only ‘mach’ written on the top bar of the frame and BSA on the inclined bar. the bicycle is in red and black shaded. the front half of the cycle is black and the read half is red. It has plastic mudguards shaped like wings. i am not sure if they will protect the mud from flying on to me. it has thin wheels-the racer type (the tyre print reads 27×1-1/4″. I got the handle bar changed. The original handle bar curved in and had a cushion all over the front. So one would have bend while driving. i wanted the gears fitted. i was told that i had to go for straight bars if i wanted gears. So now i have a straight bar with 6 speed shimano gears. the original seat looked to stiff and a little small. I got the it changed to a larger one with springs beneath it. Its a hercules seat. the cycle came with a standard bell and a cable lock. It cost me 5200 Rs everything included. Only i dont know what mach number it is!
After i came home i found on casual inspection that the BSA and MACH labels are not so transparent stickers. The BSA label in fact got damaged a little possible when the wrapper was being removed.
The ride home from cycle shop was cool. I am glad i finally own a bicycle. Bicycling is my only hope of getting some exercise.

A.R. Rahman The musical storm

March 2, 2011

I like Rahman’s music, the oscar not withstanding. ‘The musical storm’ is a biography (the first?) of  Rahman by Kamini Mathai.  This book is the story of his musical life from working with music directors like illayaraj, composing jingles for advertisements, bands to becoming the big music director he is.  His personal life the little time he got to spend with his father, the influence of his mother, his friends and children and a little about his marriage and wife is also covered. The book is divided into 12 chapters with interesting titles that had me reading the book end to end in criss-cross manner.  Faith was the title of one of the chapters and i jumped to read that one first. It deals with why/how Rahman went from being Dileep to Rahman.  But wait a minute…its not like the author interviewed him specifically on this topic or for that matter on any of the topics/chapters in the book.   Rahman’s conversion to islam had a lot to do with his father’s illness and subsequent death. Sekhar, his father was suffering from an ailment which not treatment could cure. However, he did get relief for a while from a Sufi healer started treating him. The same Sufi healer however predicted that Sekhar wouldn’t last more than year.

I would recommend the chapter titled ‘wait’ to know how much Rahman means to the film industry.  Big film directors, lyricists and anyone who wants Rahman’s music has go wait in until his turn comes. Apparently there are different waiting rooms at Rahman’s studio and one would be allotted them based on their perceived importance! Mani Ratnam, Subhash Ghai, Shekhar Kapur, Javed Akhtar a budding singer all had to wait. The wait could be hours, weeks, months.  Rahman hates to say no to anyone and so the waiting.  But does he do that to everyone. No. Some know how to get around the wait. Director Ravikumar is one of them. He got the music for the Rajni film ‘Padayappa’ done by Rahman on time. Ravikumar could do that by taking Rahman away from Chennai to Cochin.  That is one of the ways that seems to work if one wants music on time. It worked with M.F Hussain who sent him to Prague for his film Meenaxi and with Rajiv Menon for Kandukondein. Javed Akhtar has even built a very interesting story around this phenomenon.

There are several other interesting things covered in this book.  Did you know that Rahman’s father Sekhar was the first one to buy the keyboard in the indian film industry and for that the company sent Sekhar on a free trip to Japan! Did Rahman get the training in western music? Is he comfortable with carnatic? What is his take on Illayaraja with whom he worked? What do big singers like SPB think about him? What if ever ruffles him  What are his idiosyncrasies and much more. I loved getting to know all this. There is a lot of stuff repeated in the book.  The book is based a lot on the  information from people who are close to him or have worked with him and a little on the author’s interviews with  Rahman. But its a must read for all those who are interested in knowing Rahman.

Sri Ramana Maharshi-The Supreme Guru

March 1, 2011

I prefer to read books on spirituality at the end of the day. I like if the books are thinner, the font size is big enough and space between the lines is reasonable. Ofcourse, the content should do justice to the main story. This biographical book on Sri Ramana Maharshi, by Alan Jacobs, is all the above and more. I had already read (a lot) about Maharshi and yet liked going through his life story. The story of Maharshi preparing his mother for self realisation, about his ability to attend to problems of animals, about the cow Laxmi, about the white peacock are covered.

Visits of westerners and their conversations with Maharshi are also there. I had known about Paul Brunton’s visit but had never read about Somerset Maugham’s visit.  This book recounts both their  experience and includes a question answer session between the former and Maharshi.  There is also a Q&A session between SivaPrakasam Pillai and Maharshi.   Apparently Maugham ‘attempted to ask questions but did not speak.  (to which) Maharshi said  “All finished. Heart talk is all talk. All talk must end in silence only.” ‘ Apparently, in the book ‘The Razor’s edge’ Maugham has modeled the fictional guru on Maharshi.

The book has got plenty of full page length pictures of Maharshi, his surroundings and people who flocked to him. On the whole i enjoyed reading this book. However, i must admit i skipped through the poem by the author and the english translation from the Sanskrit of  the 40 verses in praise of Ramana.

McDonalds and traditional food

February 27, 2011

I am a vegetarian. So my options in McDonalds (McD’s) within 50 rs are McVeggie or FrenchFries.  Now McVeggie is basically a burger which has a contains a wada and some vegetables sandwiched in between.  I like it as snack item in the evening. It costs 48 rs or if you want a layer of cheese 58 rs. Those are prices in Bangalore.  But those of us who live in and around Malleshwaram know of Asha Sweets (8th cross) which sells many other eatables in addition to sweets.  Its popular and always was ever since i remember. There is a restaurant cum darshini (self service) by name Food Camp on 10th cross. This restaurant, as i was told by someone, is also owned or run by Asha Sweets.  Food Camp is as popular as Asha Sweets. I always see it full of people. Well coming to the point i want to make; there are two options for meals/lunch in the darshini. Either of them costs 45-50 rs. I usually take the one which is called ‘mini-tiffin’ but is as good as lunch for me. This one costs 45 rs.  And it offers much more than one would imagine.  The mini-tiffin contains a mini-masala dosa,  4-6 mini-idlis, one chat item, one sweet item (typically one scoop kesari bath), one scoop upma, a bowl of vegetable pulav, raita and sambar. Now that’s a lot considering that in McDonalds all you would get is a burger (or as we know in maharashtra, wada pav).  The taste, quality and cleanliness of Food Camp is very good.  I wish they spread as much as McD’s.


January 31, 2011

I had been to Mumbai (Bombay) a couple of times before but never as a tourist. This time i decided to make time for sight seeing. My friend from Mumbai agreed reluctantly to join along with his wife for a day trip to Elephanta caves.
I was stationed in povai at iit mumbai. I started at around 9 a.m. after breakfast. Took the auto-rickshaw (20 rs) to Kanjur Marg station. The ticket counter for the metro (local as it is called in mumbai) is on the over bridge from the road to the station. There was a long queue and only one operating counter. As i reached closer to the counter i found one more queue forming at the counter window. Apparently, this queue is for those who want to buy coupons. I got the return ticket to CST (VT). It cost 16 rs.  About an hour and half later i joined my friend and his wife at CST station. They had arrived from Dombivilli.

We walked out of the station and took the city bus (BEST) to Gate Way of India.  As we reach closer to the Gate Way of India to our left were ticket counters for boat ride to Elephanta Caves.  The fare was 130 rs to and fro. Elephanta caves are on an island.  The boat ride lasted an hour.  As soon as we got down we saw a mini-train to the village (Gharapur). We preferred to walk along the railway line.  There is a narrow road followed by steps  that go up the hill to Elephanta. On both sides of the steps there are a number of stalls selling a variety of decorative items. There are a few restaurants on the way selling both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian.  I had tea in one of them.

The walk up the steps leads to two ticket counters one followed by another. The first one issues a tax ticket costing 5 rs. The second one is sells the ticket to the caves.  There are 5 caves in all.  The very first cave is the main cave. It has the famous Trimurti sculpture. Trimurti meaning 3 headed: one each of  Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.  Most advertisements of Elephanta carry this image. I guess this is also because it is  the least damaged of all the sculptures there. Apparently, the damage was done by the Portuguese who used the idols for shooting practice!! The Trimurti sculpture has remained intact because it was covered by a large wall and thereby was hidden from the Portuguese.

We hired a guide (150 rs) to show us around the caves.  The temple was built ~400 AD by a King who was a Shiva bhakta.

As the boat nears the land we had a beautiful view of the Gate Way of India and the Taj Hotel. Unfortunately, i had only the cell camera to take the snaps.

Nisargadatta Maharaj Mandir Mumbai

January 31, 2011

I had been to Mumbai (Bombay) for the weekend. I had arranged with my friend’s family for a visit to Elephanta Caves. (Read here about my trip to Elephanta Caves.) I had also decided to visit Nisargadatta Maharaj Mandir. The same day because i had to leave for Bangalore the next day by noon. I asked a couple of Mumbai-ites about Nisargadatta Maharaj but none of them new about it. I had read literature on him and knew that he had a tobacco shop and lived in Bombay.  I googled for Nisaragadatta Maharaj and after a couple clicks i reached the blog that mentioned about the Nisargadatta Spiritual Center and gave its address as:

“Siddhashram” , Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj Samadhi Mandir, Nisarga Society, Pathare Wadi, Bapu Bhagwe Marg, Dahisar (west), Mumbai-400 068

Books and tapes on Nisargadatta Maharaj are available here. I also came to know from blog-world that the house in which he lived had been sold. The new owners apparently re-modeled the house!

I bought return ticket from CST to Dahisar.   It was around 5 in the evening when i took the local from CST (VT station) to Dadar.  Dadar is on the central line and Dahisar is on the western line. So at Dadar i changed over to the western line to Virar.  However, i discovered later that this was a fast local and that i would have to get down at Borivilli and take a slow local to Dahisar. Dahisar is just one stop away from Borivilli. The total journey from CST to Dahisar lasted  an hour and 45 minutes . At Dahisar I walked out of the station (keeping the west) and asked a cigarette shop wallah for Bapu Barve road and he directed me to a nearby shop owner.  This guy asked me to walk along the road until the road turns left.  At the cross road there was a tailor shop. I asked the lady at the tailor shop for Bapu Barve road and she asked me to follow the road and cross the bridge. This bridge is over a nullah.  I took the left after the bridge and walked a couple of minutes. The Nisarg society is an apartment complex. A young chap at the gate guessed my purpose and showed me to the Nisargadatta Mandir. Its on the first floor. One has to leave the shoes in a rack at the ground floor.

There is a larger than life size idol of Nisargadatta Maharaj in a big hall.  The statue is whitish-must be in marble. There are framed photographs of his guru and several other saints behind the idol. The hall appears to be a part of an apartment. Indeed an old (50 ish) lady and her son take care of the house. There is a book rack on the wall adjacent to the stairs. I picked a book in Marathi on Siddarameshwar Maharaj’s life and a DVD on Nisargadatta Maharaj. I could have bought more but only cash is accepted.

The lady asked me about my whereabouts and then offered me tea!  When i resisted another person nearby asked me take it as prasad.  I took. After what seemed like an hour i took leave.  Tracing the road back to the station was easier. There is another bridge right opposite Nisarga Society.  I crossed the bridge and asked a few people.  The station was a few minutes away.  When i reached the station i realized i had forgotten to take a picture of Maharaj!

Weekend trip from Bangalore-Shivaganga

January 17, 2011

My former lab mate and friend had come to Bangalore for the Christmas vacation along with his wife. His schedule was packed with functions and meeting relatives both on his and his wife’s side.  He had a day to spare.  I decided to spend it on a day trek.   I had been to Shivaganga a couple of times before and had liked it.  Its ideal for a day trek.

We drove to Yeshwanthpur and parked the byke in IISc campus.  I had planned to take a bus towards Tumkur at Yeshwanthpur bus stand.  But we found that a multistory building in a semi-finished state stood  in the place where Yeshwathpur bus stand stood.  The buses to Yeshwanthpur now park along the road! A city-bus conductor asked us to go across the road and wait for a bus to Tumkur.  When we crossed the road another bus-conductor told us that the chance of getting the bus would be higher if went down the road to the Govardhan Theater stop. We walked along the flyover to this stop and found two private buses.  We were tempted to sit in the bus which had the engine running. However, the bus moved only after 30 minutes when most of the seats were occupied.

The journey to Dabbaspete lasted more than an hour. The bus stopped at any number of places in between.  Dabbaspete is a small town.  Everything around the main road is unbelievably dusty.  The road on the left of the main road goes to Shivaganga and on the right goes to Devarayanadurga.  Around the cross-roads there are a few stalls selling fruits, vegetables, some bakery items, tea, etc). We bought bananas, cucumber and i forgot what else but enough to fill our stomachs for lunch. I had  carried some biscuits, glucose and water from Bangalore.

We took an auto (50 Rs) from Dabbaspete to the hill which is Shivaganga.  A village is located at the foot hill. It has the look of an agraharam with an entrance and houses lined on both sides of the road.  Since it is a devasthana there are stalls selling fruits and other essentials needed for the ritual worship.  Pepsi and Cola drinks are also available as are all brands of biscuits and snacks. Many consider the entire hill to be a holy place so they leave the chappals behind and climb it bare foot.  Its not too tough though at least until the devasthana.  There are steps to the top of the mountain.  The devasthana is halfway up.  A little farther from here is a cave.  Inside the cave there is a hole in the rock below with an opening through which a moderately sized hand can go.  It is believed that if put your hand in the hole and can touch water within then you are the lucky one.  Many collect the water in their palms and drink as teertham. The last time i did that i caught throat infection!

The steps to the top of the mountain are from behind the temple. The steps become steeper near the top  Fortunately, there is a steel bar all along the steps to hold on to.  The panoramic view of the village and the road in the distant far from here is nice and keeps getting better.  There is greenery and many hills all around made up of boulders or rock. We took another 45 minutes to reach the top.  There is a small Shiva temple here.  There are many monkeys. They are fearless and rob anyone walking along with an eatable.  There are two view points. Both of them are rocks that precariously extend beyond the edge.  One is the Shantala point which is  a little away from the temple.  It is believed that a Jain princess committed suicide by jumping from this point. The other one is nearby and one can sit here almost near the edge. There is a steel fence though not protective at both the points.  Both give excellent views of the landscape.

Dabaspete or Dobbspet or Dobbasapete is ~50 kms on Bangalore-Tumkur road.  Shivaganga is ~5 kms from Dabaspete.  The trek duration is about 3 hours.

Coincidentally, i came across this article today in the newspaper that  gives briefly the historical background of Shivaganga.  Apparently a fort was also built around the hill.  This is also apparent from the ruins of the fort wall here and there on the way up the mountain.  The information that wow’d me was that there is a (or is believed to be) underground passage from the Gangadheeshwara temple to Basavanagudi in Bangalore!!!

here is another site about trek to Shivaganga.

Post a week 2011!

January 8, 2011

I am the type that posts more when jobless or when i feel like which is not often.  Post a day 2011 is surely beyond me. But post a week too is ambitious but i will give a try !  If i go out every week end i could have things to write.  So, I have signed up for post a week 2011

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