Archives for category: spirituality

Asttrophytum Myriostigma – Star Plant

Since childhood Ive always had a fascination for the cactus. why I’m not clear but whenever i saw a cactus i would gaze at it for long observe its special architecture different from plants and wonder at how it survived. i always treated it as some kind of pet animal that had presence but didn’t move or make a fuss. As i grew older I examined this strange fascination. The cactus never asked for much, no daily water and strong in all weathers. It knew the art of survival. Nightly it would quietly absorb carbon di oxide, then as day dawned it would use it to photosynthesise with its fat succulent stems which stored water to produce its food. It hardly grew and had spines to ward off predators and catch the first morning dew drops in a desert with no water or rainfall, which would then trickle to its roots and quickly be absorbed in the fat succulent stems. What a wonder of a creature i would think. So self sufficient and self reliant sitting still like a yogi in meditation. It did grow imperceptibly thickening its water filled stems protected by a waxy coat to prevent water loss, always looking plump and happy never withering like other plants with neglect. Its architectural contours were perfect round with pretty shapely stems and the spines. In many cases these spines looked purely ornamental than to ward off people. I loved my little cactus and daily gazed at it trying to communicate to its desert soul. If you water a cactus daily it will die. Its that kind of strong hardy plant that does not like pampering. So I would give it sunlight not keeping it on my desk table and water  once a week. It thrived and grew. Like a fat pumpkin. Im sure it was aware of my loving presence. Then one surprising day i noticed a protuberance at the top, a kind of boil. As i watched daily it grew into a thick bud quite out of keeping with its general make up of stems and spines. It assumed a brighter green colour and finally the bud grown real big burst into flower, my happiest moment. no small flower but a lotus like big single flower red and yellow and bigger than the cactus. a miracle of nature. It said to me I’m happy and sexy. The flower remained for a month before it had done its purpose and fertilised its ovum, then it dried and fell away. The happy cactus then grew fast and became double its usual size. It was for me always like a dear pet.

Then I began my crazy pursuit of other cacti. I went to distant nurseries to collect all species and brought them home. My family thought i had gone crazy. Opuntias with yellow and white thorns, with a character of their own, succulents of all kinds and my favourites the globular spineless ornamental type. My favourite was the Astropfytum Miriostigma translated as starplant with several dots. It was a grey blue smooth stemmed plant with few spines and a myriad pretty dots on its sexy fleshy stems which were parted in four. Then one of the Opuntias taught me a lesson. my vision suddenly blurred. The eye doctor said you have a ‘thief’ in your eye. One of the hairlike spines had travelled and implanted itself in my cornea. He surgically removed it and said i had better get rid of the Opuntias. so i did.

Then decades later in my retirement i saw some globular cacti in a nursery and brought two as pets. They give me no end of pleasure. A mystic astrologer remarked, these are not just plants but souls so you better look out. Its not considered auspicious to keep them. I didn’t care, if they are souls they must be the friendly type.

Some of my favourites:

A poem inspired by my unusual fascination for these plants:

                                          THE  CACTUS

Halls of ochre butcher as they chase

One drop.

Not one insect spared but splits

In parching,

Sound of dry grass crackling,

Eyes thaw in ochre dust.

Like a dwarf sits the cactus.

Awkward limbs but affection in the interior,

Soft pulpy green-walled translucency

Where the moisture drips.

But without,

Its challenged thorn-lusty prurience grapples

With the desert’s grip.

Hate is an outer armour,

Love’s moisture is in the stem

And there is proof for when

The desert awakens in the rain,

Bulbs of chlorophyll

Explode in monsoon blooms

The milk pulp making fissures on the ragged skin;

Blood red hues, hibiscus violet

Flowers fed on milk. Then

How large the hidden heart

Bandaged in bristling brutality

For survival.

And now is the time of seed’s revival;

Another need brings the dwarf’s art.



Goddess Chandi

In Hinduism the goddess represents universal energy, Shakti, the power of creation from say the big bang, to its development into intricate creation, Galaxies, suns planets black holes and glorious creations of planetary systems, foremost the energies that make our planet so full of life. the goddesses all  symbolise the power and energy of the Gods. each has a consort representing his energy and ability. Shakti, the epitome of the Goddess is what makes the world active and meaningful. Energy in Hinduism has a female form. And worship of that form of energy is central to the inclinations in prayer. Energy then becomes Mother, the creator, Mother the sustainer and Mother that dissolves creation as well as protects it. for these reasons Shakti worship during the nine nights of her empowerment are sacred in worship. It is called Navratra or nine nights. and occurs twice an year in April and September. In April it concludes with the birth of Lord Rama the avatar, it is the power of the goddess as shakti that produces this miracle for mankind. In September it concludes with the empowerment of Lord Rama to slay the evil demon Ravana of Lanka who dared to abduct Sita his consort the embodiment of Shakti on the temporal plane, laxmi incarnated as Sita. Both events are the products of Shakti the goddesses energy which brings relief from evil or  the failure of equilibrium in the universe.

In Hinduism for this reason the Goddess as Shakti or divine energy is worshipped  to energise positively ones life and ward off calamities obstacles and misfortune which occur when ones equilibrium is disturbed either by physical forces or the effects of Karma. We all face such circumstances in temporal life and seek protection from their adverse effects. they could arise from simply the weather like storms earthquakes, intense heat or cold threatening life, or then the effects of Karma during this or past lifes, our good and bad deeds. So, during this period of the Shakti;s empowerment we seek protection. the nine nights provide just that. Prayer for protection from calamity, obstacles and misfortune.Hinduism provides a recipe through prayer to the goddess

The Markandeya Purana in which the Saptsati  and Devi Kavach are to be found dates back to the second or third  BC and are the oldest of the Puranas.

In scriptures she is the product of the combined powers of the great Gods, each contributing its strength to produce an entity that has super powers to rid the world of evil and demonic forces that have gravely disturbed the equilibrium of creation. Thus arises the figure of Durga. and from Durga arise her various forms innumerable and varied, an army of goddesses with different attributes and qualities. Chandi, Vaishnavi, Brahmini, Saraswati, Laxmi, Parvati, and so on. each form with special qualities weapons and vehicles on which they ride, each dedicated to protecting some aspect of a persons body, soul and life.

Thus we come to what is called in Navratri prayer the Durga or Chandi Kavach, the armour and shield. the Chandi kavach is recited daily morning and evening during the nine nights to ward off evil and provide protection to the devotee.

The chant begins by describing the nine goddesses, the first Shailputri, daughter of the mountains who married Lord Shiva,, the second is Brahmacharini, the celebate goddess of penance,  the third the goddess of strength  Chandraghanta who glows like the moon, fourth is Khushmanda the goddess of  creativity who dispels negativity, the fifth is Skandamata, mother of shiv;s son Kartikeya who became the commander in chief of the gods,  the sixth is Katyayeni who defeats hostile intensions, the seventh is Kalratri who overcomes enemies,  the eighth is Maha Gauri, the epitome of tranquillity, the last is Siddhidhatri who creates perfection, these are the nine goddesses worshipped.

Nav durga – the nine goddesses of Navratri


The prayer calls on the devotee to meditate on these forms of the goddess when in the midst of difficulties and trials.

The goddesses assume numerous forms to ward off evil and obstacles. each is armed with weapons, and seated on vehicles and are particular to the area of protection you ask for. thus Chamunda sitting on corpses, and  Varahi on the demon Mahishasur, Aindri on an elephant, and Vaishnavi on the eagle with Vishnu,  Maheshwari on a bull and Kaumari on a peacock, Laxmi on a lotus, Brahmi on a swan, all these goddesses derived from the primal energy of Durga are resplendent on their mounts fully armed and furious to do battle with evil forces. It is an overwhelming vision of Goddesses fair as the snows and dark as rain clouds having varied natures from the sublime to the terrible, each with a special acumen and ability.  The chanter of the hymn appeals to the array of goddesses  to protect him from evil and misfortune hailing their glory, radiance and yogic powers.

It may seem tedious for the uninitiated to go through this compendium of goddesses at work to provide protection but I feel impelled to provide all their names, the diverse and glorious aspecrs of Shakti, energy or Durga to illustrate the ancient hymn of complete protection recited on the nine nights of her empowerment so that one has a glimpse of what detailed protection it is  created for in the ancient Vedas which become the substance of prayer to relieve the trails and tribu;llations of temporal life. There is great faith and devotion during these nights to seek solace from the source of universal energy symbolised by the goddess which may even have sub atomic relevance. I am aware that naming so many goddesses may be  unnecessary for a reader who is not a practising Hindu but there is no other way one can present the armour hymn so highly regarded here as a panacea for all afflictions and misfortunes. Names resound with vibrations and meaning helping to picture the particular form the Goddess has assumed to carry out a specific task. I trust the power of the Goddess her energy and symbolism so i will be mentioning all the names against specific needs.

 The armour and shield prayer proceeds first to provide protection from the various directions and  next to every part of ones body. Each part has a particular goddess incarnated from the supreme energy Durga in various forms and shapes dedicated to protect that part.

Aindri, daughter of fire protects  from the east, from the south Varahi, from the south west Khadgadharini, holder of the sword, from the west Varuni, , from the northwest Mrigvahini riding a deer, from the north Kaumari, from the northeast Shooldharini, one who wields a spear,  from above Brahmani from below by Vaishnavi, from all directions the great goddess Chamunda slayer of demons Chand and Munda, from the front Jaya (victory) and Vijaya( who cannot be defeated) from behind. To the left is Ajita (invincible) to the south Aparajita (undefeated). Having completed directional protection the hymn goes on to provide protection for all bodily parts.

Hair on the head is protected  by Dyotini (unchanging), the head by Uma (wife of shiva) , the tongue by Maladhari (who wears garlands),the eyebrows by Yashwini (successful), the space between the eye brows by Trinetri (three eyed), the nose by Yamaghanta, and Sugandha (the sweet smelling),  the space between  the eyes Shankini (holder of the conch shell), Dwarvasini (the one who dwells deep within) the ears, the cheeks by Kalika., the ear lobes by Shankri, the lips by Chandrakala (who wears the crescent moon), the teeth by Sarasvati (godess of wisdom and speech), the teeth by Kaumari, the throat by Chandika (who is immeasurable), the voicebox by Chitragandha, the palate by Mahamaya (the enchantress), the chin by Kamakshi, the neck by Bhadrakali, the backbone by Dhanurdhari, the nape of the neck by Nilagriva, the windpipe by Nalakuberi, shoulders by Khangini, arms by Vajradharini, hands by Dandhini (the punisher). fingers by Ambika (mother of the world), the nails by Sooleshwari (bearer of the spear), the belly by Kuleshwari, the breasts by Mahadevi,, mind by by Shoknashini (dispellar of sorrow), the heart by Lalita (easy to please_)), the stomach by Shuldharini (wielder of the trident),naval by Kamini (the lovable), Guheshwari (the secret one) protects the private parts, the reproductive organs by Kamika, the organs of excretion by Mahishavahini, the waist by Bhagwati, the knees by Vindhyvasini, the hips by Mahabala, the ankles by Narasinhi, soles of the feet by Vasini, nails by Damshatrakarili, hair by Urdhvakeshini, hair pores by Kauberi,, skin by Vagheshwari, blood marrow flesh and bones by Parvati, the intestines by Kalaratri, the bile and liver by Mukuteshwari, the Chakras by Padmavati, the phlegm by Chudamani, the lustre of nails by Jvalamukhi, the joints by Abhedia,, the semen by Brahmini, the shadow of the body by Chateshwari (one like an umbrella), the ego mind and intellect by Gharmdharini, the life breath by Vajrahasta, sense organs of taste sight smell hearing by Yogini, the three attributes of Satva, truth Rajas passsion and Tamas inertia by Narayani, life by Varahi, Dharma righteousness by Vaishnavi, success and fame by Laxmi, wealth and knowledge by Chakrini, ones lineage by Indrani, cattle by Chanika, spirituality by Supatha, protection for  being in any place not mentioned here by Jayanti and Apnashini.

The extent and minute detail of protection from all quarters and for bodily parts which the armour is to provide is mind boggling and amazing, each part protected by  a different aspect of the universal energy Durga or Chandi, when the devotee invokes her. The life force itself  spirituality wealth fame success knowledge the Chakras and the attributes of a soul’s nature on the temporal plane, truth passion and inertia are also not left out. One can imagine what a powerful hymn and mantra armour this is, recited daily during the nine nights of the goddesses empowerment. seeking protection in prayer. It doubtless also has an occult significance to harness that power as ones saviour providing protection for the physical, mental, spiritual directional and planetary afflictions if any.

The hymn , in chaste sanskrit with precise meters, millennia old concludes with sage advice-

Do not take a single step in the journey of your life without this armour which fulfils all desires and goals in life. The supreme mother is always by your side making you fearless victorious and long lived for a hundred years, in good health unaffected by poisons (from snakes scorpions and enemies) and accidents and possession by evil spirits and aliens from outer space!

The hymn will also empower the mind and light an inner radiance conferring fame and everlasting progeny and enlightenment in afterlife to be in the divine company of lord Shiva (freed from reincarnation Karma and the trials and tribulations of temporal life

Durga image made of clay in their thousands worshipped on Navratri and consigned to the ocean after nine nights with devotion celebrations hoping she will return again.


Mahagauri worshipped on the most auspicious eighth night of Navratra and my favourite goddess aspect

The prayer claims to be the only one of its kind superior to all others which even the gods would like to provide them protection and is sung and chanted daily by devotees throughout India.

For those who wish to hear the original in Sanskrit a video courtesy u tube












skullvia Legacy

Lord Hanuman devotee of Lord Rama

Hanuman is one of india’s favourite gods. I consider him as the equivalent of the saint Gabriel in Christianity. always available to guide and protect you from calamity and to overcome obstacles. Temples dedicated to him are more numerous than to other deities and every corner of every city has a temple dedicated to him. some are considered as powerful occult centres where  the possessed can be exorcised, problems overcome, difficulties solved.  He is called Sankat Mochan, the one who overcomes all your obstacles in temporal life. he is the monkey faced god sworn disciple of Lord Rama, his greatest devotee treated by him as a brother and friend who was always available in the Ramayana to ward off adversity, find his abducted consort Sita taken by the demon king of sri Lanka Ravana who refused to return her and wished to seduce her.  Hanuman leaped across the ocean and carried Rama’s ring to the grove where Sita was confined and gave it to her promising to take her back but she refused saying she would only be released by her lord Rama. Rama on his 14 year exile had encountered the race of Vanars, meaning monkeys, who had a kingdom down south. Sugreeva the king asked Hanuman to go scouting for Sita., Later when Rama;s brother Laxman was wounded by Ravana’s son indrajit and lay dying it was Hanuman who went flying in search of the herb that could cure him and carried back the hill with the herbs so that the right herb could be chosen for the cure. When it worked, Rama embraced Hanuman and said he was as dear to him as a brother. He said to him that he would live forever on earth as his devotee and help all those who needed help and support.

Lord Rama hugging Hanuman for saving his brother;s life

So Hanuman unlike other deities lives on the temporal plane, his spirit forever ready to help those who have afflictions obstacles or calamities, who are devoted to Lord Rama. Hanuman is therefore a special god always available like saint Gabriel when invoked and has an universal following in the land. In pictures and presentations of the avatar Rama and his consort Sita ( the embodiment of the Goddess Laxmi, as Rama is an avatar of Vishnu) he is always shown in the tableau with Laxman the devoted brother of Lord Rama. In all Rama temples too Hanuman is shown kneeling before the threesome.

Hanuman is also called an avatar of Lord Shiva and the son of the wind god, Maruti, Vayuputra. Bhajans on Hanuman are recited daily to ward off evil and overcome calamities and obstacles by all and sundry. The Hanuman Chalisa 40 verses describing his amazing feats of courage and unflinching devotion to Rama and Sita are recited over a hundred times to invoke his presence. And he never fails his ardent devotees because he is not a distant God but one available on the temporal plane at all times. Devotees are fervent in their worship and prayers to Hanuman and with good reason, he never fails in answering them. after all it was Lord Rama who ordained that he would never leave the earth to be able to serve his devotees and solve their problems. We are all beholden to the presence of such a saviour spirit perpetually in our midst.

He is also called jitendra, one who has overcome all his senses,  Buddhimatama, one who is the fountain of wisdom for those who meditate,  and Ramdootam, the one who is messenger of Lord Rama.

मनोजवं मारुततुल्यवेगं
जितेन्द्रियं बुद्धिमतां वरिष्ठ ।
वातात्मजं वानरयूथमुख्यं
श्रीरामदूतं शरणं प्रपद्ये ।
Mano-Javam Maaruta-Tulya-Vegam

Jitendriyam Buddhi-Mataam Varissttha |
Vaata-Atmajam Vaanara-Yuutha-Mukhyam
Shriiraama-Duutam Sharannam Prapadye |

(I take Refuge in Sri Hanuman)
 Who is Swift as the Mind and Fast as the Wind
 Who is the Master of the Senses, and Honoured for His Excellent IntelligenceLearning and Wisdom
 Who is Son of the Wind God and Chief among the Vanaras (Who were part of the Devas the gods incarnated in the species of the monkeys to serve Sri Rama during His Incarnation),
 To that Messenger of Sri Rama, I take Refuge (by prostrating before him).

Lord Hanuman I consider as my patron saint and saviour may his perpetual presence save the world from evil and obstables.


Seed Mantras basically have no meaning, they are just magical sounds found in the Vedas that energise the reciter and transform his environment. They resonate with the universal essence and energise the mantra seeking through the Seed to approach the deity directly without any intervention. One such mantra is dedicated to the Goddess Durga who combines the three aspects of energy, Shakti, Sarasvati (knowledge and art) Laxmi( wealth and well being) and Kali ( time  dissolution and death) The prayer is part of the Durga Saptsati recited during the nine sacred nights of the goddesses empowerment to help the world rid itself of evil and in particular Lord Rama to defeat the fearsome demon Ravana who abducted his wife Sita, the embodiment of the goddess Laxmi consort of Vishnu the sustainer of life and the physical world and progenitor of the avtars Rama and Krishna.

The mantra recited during Navratra, the nine sacred nights of the Goddesse’s empowerment is said to have magical qualities. it ensures success in life, transforms and helps focus the mind,releases negative energies,, helps in influencing the minds of others in your favour, brings joy and happiness, improves the intellect, improves health and wards off disease,increases self confidence, protects from fear and evil,enhances your spirituality leading to enlightenment.


“Om Aim Hreem Kleem Chamundaye Viche”]
Om is the universal power whom we revere.
Aim is invocation to Goddess Saraswati for knowledge art and intellect
Hrim is invocation to Goddess Laxmi, for wealth health and well being
Klim is invocation to the goddess Kali, who regulates time and mortality
Chamundai , name of Goddess Durga in her fiercest aspect when she slays the demons Chand and Mund, thus earning the name Chamundai, is an  appeal to her for help
Vichhey providing us with a shield for protection. against evil, enemies and ill effects of planets in the Horoscope

A word about Beej or Seed mantras. They have no meaning but are prefixed to mantras and names of gods and goddesses signifying their particular universal sound. Sound rather than light was the primal creation at the start of the universe beginning with the sound OM. Other sounds relate to the gods. We have already seen above the seed sounds for the three goddesses. the gods too have their signature sounds. Shiva  for example has Hroum, Ganesh has Gam and Vishnu has Dam and so on. These sounds create their vibrations connecting one to the god one is appealing to. they are powerful additions to longer mantras and energise them.







Lord Shiva

The Mahamritunjai mantra (Great Victory Over Death) is considered as powerful as the Gayatri mantra in creating a protective shield around the reciter’s aura through its resonance and vibrations and warding off all calamities, suffering, obstacles, misfortunes, disease, disabilities,fears,anxieties,unhappiness and unfortunate circumstances, family discord,and untimely death while ensuring peace, tranquillity,health, well being, growth, prosperity,freedom from fear, and ultimately freedom from death and rebirth, through attainment of Moksha or salvation , enlightenment and immortality. The mantra also protects against adverse effects of planets in the Horoscope.

The mantra is found in the earliest Rigveda, Shiv Purana which contains chapters with Shiv centered cosmology, mythology  relationship between gods, ethics ) and Yajurveda and  is dedicated to lord Rudra the fierce aspect of Lord Shiva who is eternal transcendent, primal being and one who has conquered death,  Mritunjai. Lord Shiva is said to be easy to please and grant boons if the devotee chants the mantra with true faith, dedication  correct pronunciation and delivery.

                                          THE  MANTRA





Om is a call to the Universal essence that permeates and orders all creation and is prefixed before all mantras prayers and chants.

Tryambakam yajamahe is that we worship, adore, honour and revere the one with three eyes (two on the face and the third on the forehead, point of enlightenment) representing the past, present and future, the sun moon and fire and the three Gunas or attributes, the Sattva, truth, the Rajas, passion, energy and Tamas inertia., Lord Shiva, with whom we wish to merge our being.

Sugandhim pushti vardhanam – whose divine fragrance and virtue permeates all creation and entering us nourishes, makes us grow  strong healthy happy, fulfilled prosperous  devoid of disease  worries, fear and sorrow and arouses our finest qualities when we seek to merge with his essence.

Urvarukamiva bandhanan -Like the Gourd or pumpkin when fully ripened gets detached from its stem’s bondage automatically with no effort, so too let me detach from my bindings and bondage from worldly life. 

Mrityor mukti mamritat= likewise free me from the fear of death so that it is not untimely, making me realise that i am indeed immortal and free me from the cycles of life and death when the time comes give me such wisdom this is my prater.



The Gayatri mantra is considered the mantra of mantras. It is the most ancient of mantras dating back to the Rig Veda thousands of years old. Today it is recited with most prayers and is considered the gateway to salvation and enlightenment. It is mystical, mysterious and capable of numerous interpretations linking one to the spiritual realms and illumination.



                                                  THE MANTRA





The interpretation that appeals to me–

 Om  the universal spirit that empowers all creation, the universal essence; Bhur, the physical realm, the body, Earth; Bhuva, the mental realm , the universe; Svaha, the spiritual realm, the soul

That embodiment of the supreme spirit in the shape of the Sun, that enlightens and empowers all life in the created world with its radiance, and which we adore and revere,  worthy of praise and worship anf which permeates all the three realms

That glory love and purity of the divine essence, God, I meditate upon that

May his glory and spirit and effulgence  enlighten , illuminate guide and inspire my mind and spirit.



The goddess Durga worshipped on Navratra the nine sacred nights of devotional prayer

On the completion of the festival of Navratra i offer humbly and with devotion this post for the devout and those not familiar with the prayers to the Goddess Durga, called the primal power of Godhead, Shakti. I have translated the closing prayer from Sanskrit to English for those interested and annexed the prayer song rendered by Anuradha Paudwal famous singer of religious texts courtesy U Tube so that readers can get a feel of the original Sanskrit rendering..

During prayer recitation to the Goddess at the nine nights of Navratra the famous mantras of the ancient prayer the Durga Saptsati are sung and recited. These are believed to be among the most powerful magical mantras which ensure every fulfilment of wishes and blessings of the Goddess. however it is considered most inauspicious if the Sanskrit prayers are not recited accurately with perfect pronunciation and cadence. For this reason there is a necessary prayer song recited after the main prayer called the Forgiveness Appeal (Kshama Yachana) So that errors in prayer and recitation, impossible to avoid given the complexity of the ritual in chaste Sanskrit are overlooked by the Goddess and the worshipper does not suffer misfortune.

                                  DEVI KSHAMA YACHANA

O Goddess, Primal Being (Parmeshwari) day and night by me are being committed innumerable offences and sins. I am your devotee, believing this, be good enough to forgive these offences.

O Goddess (Parmeshwari) I do not know the ritual prayer to usher you in here, nor the prayer after nine days to submerge you back into the ocean nor do i know the rituals of worship, forgive me.

O Celestial Goddess (Sureshwari) the prayers i have done devoid of mantras, rituals and adequate devotion, was only possible  by your grace. After committing innumerable offences and sins, the one who comes to you for protection hailing you as Goddess Of the World (Jagtambe) he is said to achieve what even the gods find difficult.

O Goddess Of The World ( Jagtambe), I am an offender, but I have come into your protection at this time, I am deserving of your compassion and kindness, But you can do as you wish with me.

O Goddess, Primal Spirit (Parmeshwari) from ignorance, errors and lack of wisdom, whatever I have failed to do or have overdone, do forgive it all and become pleased and gracious.

O Goddess, the embodiment of Truth, Consciousness and Bliss and Primal cause ( Satchitanand Parmeshwari), Mother of the World, Granter of all Wishes and Desires (Jagatmata, Kameshwari), kindly accept with love these prayers of mine and remain pleased and gracious towards me.

O Sovereign Goddess (Sureshwari), you who are the protector of all secret desires and objects,accept my prayer and request and may I by your grace attain enlightenment.


 The prayer elevates ones spirit to the spiritual realms of devotion sung after the Durga Saptsati prayers during Navratra the nine sacred nights of the mystical powerful wish fulfilling goddess Durga in every corner of India with faith ritual and fasting before she finally departs in a procession to be submerged in the waters. This happens twice during the year in April and September. After April she empowers the birth of lord Rama on the ninth night and after September the festival of Dusserah when Rama slays the demon Ravana the epitome of evil lust and arrogance who abducted sita.



We imagine that it is only the rich or well to do who are able to take care of their disabled or handicapped members of the family. How do the poor cope in a similar plight.? Most of the time we dont know or do not care to find out. But the burdens of such care and rearing arise universally whether with the rich or the poor. For the poor without resources and facilities its an unimaginable burden with which they struggle to cope. I have two vivid examples which shows how the poor react and cope. Basically it is no different from what the rich my do in such unfortunate circumstances. That is the wonder.

We have a maid who comes to sweep our house every morning with a smile on her withered face and a greeting. She lives in the slum near by with a family of husband and son who sweep sewers for a living and a grandchild.  To add to their miserable plight he was born totally disabled, unable to move much or speak or respond. A virtual vegetable. With rare courage and determination  she decided not to let him pass away through neglect. They had no resources and lived from hand to mouth. Earning a pittance for their mean labours. there was no medical support or help from any source. Her name is Anu. Anu took on the entire burden of caring for the unresponsive child, feeding him, bathing and cleaning him, and his waste, dressing him and giving him all her love. He never became a toddler, spoke no endearing words just lay there.  With her heart and soul she did all one would do for a normal child with no compensatory response to egg her on. we did all we could to help the family by paying for the marriage of their daughter. But there was little we could do for her trials with the disabled child apart from suggesting free help from a government hospital. but in such a case they too could do little. so she accepted her fate and carried on like a noble warrior. Thus ten years passed. The child was now no baby but she cared for him as ever before, her life’s purpose. every night she would cling to him and give him her love till he slept. She also cooked for the family cared for her husbands needs and her son and daughter in law who had abandoned all hope for the child. and she was there every morning to do our housework and chat about his welfare. She only talked about her eternal love for him. At ten years he finally passed away and she became inconsolable. If any one deserved to be sanctified as a saint it was Anu. Her resolve, determination  courage and unresponded love speak of a rare humanity in the poorest of the poor which the best of us cannot match in similar circumstances with all our resources and riches. She never smiled again though she was finally blessed with a normal grandchild. In my view she had graduated through her selfless trials to a life of being born again as a queen. How did a poverty stricken outcaste slum dweller achieve this miracle is beyond my imagination. And with no complaint, rather as if it were a gift from god . We always wondered what the family would do when the child turned into a helpless adult. Fortunately they were saved from that eventuality but she remained inconsolable. She fasts on religious occasions with fervour. We asked her why given her sorry circumstances. Her reply, that i be born in my next life not as a sweeper who is not allowed by the conservative to even enter their kitchen!! Fortunately Anu’s daughter thanks to our financial support has married well in their terms and is leading a happy life.

The second case is that of a washer-man family who live down the street in a mud hut. they press and wash the clothes of all our colony. the washer-man is now old bent, and unable to work so he sits in the sun on a cot on the road while his two able sons do all the work. good for him to have fathered such help in old age.  One of his two daughters is married and visits with her children to the old man’s delight but the other daughter was born disabled and mentally incapacitated. She cannot speak though she grins whenever greeted. The remarkable thing is despite their poverty and manual labours they have taken care of her in every conceivable way. The washer man’s old wife washes and combs her hair daily in the sunlight on a winters day. They provide her with all her meals and help her feed herself. they dress her adequately each day and allow her to sit in the sun with her father shoulder to shoulder. When you see and greet them she reruns a wide smile. It is as if she is their good luck mascot and no daughter ever received the care and love she has. Can we compare this to a similar case in say a rich family. There there would be medical help, nurses to care for such a one and the occasional visit from family. i cant imagine more concern from a caring family. But here there is daily care love and unbelievable concern, with no resources to feed and take care of a member who does not contribute in any way. It is quite clear that she is their darling and her broad smile is the only compensation for their untiring efforts.  Its not just the old father who no longer works or the mother either but the two young able sons who have families and children of their own, who see to it that despite their limited resources they work night and day to feed and care for their parents and the beloved disabled sister. What a family to learn lessons from? My heart goes out to them every time my car turns a corner and spots them. What has the good Lord in store for them in their next life i often wonder. They must be great souls who have incarnated to experience these trials and evolve.

These are just two examples but what of the millions in poverty who suffer just not from poverty and the ability merely to feed themselves through hard labour in the sun but to take care of such eventualities with no help from any source. They must be the great souls we never heard about in our complacent comfortable lives. What of those who are well provided for East and West who don’t care a hang about their ailing parents or unfortunate siblings. There are in-numeral examples of people who have deserted their parents and handicapped siblings, particularly in the West where the tradition of joint family no longer exists. In india too as families become more nuclear the same plight effects ageing and disabled people. All they want is an inheritance. So ageing people hang on to their assets lest they suffer a similar plight. Daily one reads about ageing people having been abandoned by their progeny after assets were given over. its sad but true.

For this reason we have found many families with ageing grandparents not letting go of their succeeding generations. All they want is help when being taken to hospital or the ICU and for that they sacrifice the careers of their kids and grand kids. We know of many examples when  young promising youths have been denied the opportunity to build their careers and have never progressed. Well we decided to let our kids free and they are today far away and leading fulfi;lled lives. When the time comes to die in a hospital surely some medical service will take us there. No need to ruin lives for just such an instance. while we learn lessons from the likes of poor people in like circumstances there is no need to subject our own to that if you have enough resources to to take care of yourself

This is a complex issue and i would welcome a feed back from my friends and visitors at word press and elsewhere.



Emerald buddha, bejewelled

Most of us love object’d’arts from classical to modern. This happens even more if you own such an object or can see it daily in your catalogue of a museum, the internet site of a museum or when visiting one on a special holiday.. I have a collection of miniature paintings from India which are a perpetual source of joy particularly when you appreciate the different schools of painting the symbolism and changes happening from period to period. the style and school of the painting is most important to get a rewarding appreciation. there is much literature on the subject to enhance your appreciation. Then there are Vases and pottery and if you are a collector they too give you similar joy and appreciation of their style period and school of art. The museum at Jaipur the Albert hall, which incidentally i renovated, has a collection of fabulous  Indian pottery from the 18th and 19th centuries with each piece telling its own tale. there is the jaipur blue pottery famous quartz creations handed down to the present times, the Madras pottery, Persian and European pottery. A joy to research and understand their finer qualities and art form.. There are so many other art forms that even without actually possessing them your mind can possess by visiting a museum like Albert Hall Jaipur or the Met New York.


Recently on a visit to Bankok i picked up a few Buddhist object’d’art which have given me no end of pleasure

Ram with his bow Thai version

Kinnar , half human half bird bisexuaWe are everlasting lover and beloved. We never separate. We are eternally husband and wife; never do we become mother and father. No offspring is seen in our lap. We are lover and beloved ever-embracing. In between us we do not permit any third creature demanding affection. Our life is a life of perpetual pleasure.[1]

amazing acquisitions didn’t pay much for them but they make me joyous each morning standing on my study shelf.

As i enjoy object’d’arts i worked for several years to renovate Albert Hall Jaipur from its sorry state infested by bats and rats to the vision of Thomas Hendlay the curator of the 19th century for the maharajah of Jaipur as i selected the objects for the display it energised my artistic sense and i placed them in the museum to their best advantage with detailed signage. Fortunately the Chief Minister had confidence in my abilities and allowed me a free hand. It was sheer joy reorganising the museum according to Hendlays vision ( incidentally apart from being a curator he was also Surgeon General of the royal house. The thought in Hendlays mind was to display the finest examples of Jaipur arts and crafts and those of other parts of India and the neighbourhood. it was indeed an exceptional venture and for me to replicate it for the government of Rajasthan india was  a joyous opportunity. i had been visiting the Met every time i went to New York and the Tate gallery in London to learn about display signage lighting audio and  audio tours. i brought all this into play in the renovation effort thanks to the cooperation of the bureaucracy and the finances readily provided by the state government  All the precious artefacts collected by Hendlay had been consigned to the go-down and there were hardly any artefacts  on display. today it is one of the premium museums of India with over 2000 visitors each day. they share the same pleasure i had in organising it according to the 19th century curators vision. Below i have reproduced the video of the virtual tour of the museum with my voice guiding visitors who like to visit. Play it and enjoy.

I thank u tube for the opportunity to reproduce it on my blog with due acknowledgements..



press watch this video on u tube to see the video.

good viewing friends











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