Tag Archives: #god

One Nation Under God

We’ve been witnessing some amazing resilience in the time of the Corona crisis. The governments around the world, doctors, entrepreneurs, educators, community members stepped up in unprecedented ways to support the system, support one another. It’s fascinating to see the kids transitioning to a brand-new lifestyle with great dexterity. 

But what’s going on within us, if each of us is considered a nation?

The ancient scriptures of the Sanatana Dharma talk about “self-reflection” in all 4 of the Vedas and the corresponding Upanishads. Although we, as humanity, are fascinated by these questions – who we are, where did we come from, where are we heading to – in recent times most of us been busy running around the clock to contemplate on our elemental existential purposes. 

I was a bit scattered at the beginning of the lockdown but I found myself in this ecosystem of learning. Discussions about ancient wisdom, talks about public policies, exchange of lifestyle-related notes among friends .. everything surfaced at my fingertips, in the comfort of my home. 

I chanced upon a physicist turned philosopher, life-coach Dr. Prasad Kaipa, who shared an in-depth analysis of self-reflection in reference to the scriptures. Right from the Rig Veda (the oldest written Veda) to Sama Veda, Yajur & Atharva: our ancestors gave us step-by-step subject matter guidelines.  Relevant to our current situation as the Corona-crisis demanded this contemplation, asking us to look into our very core, our relationship with nature and nurture. 

Photo credit: British Library, photo by Jeffrey Boswall, a natural history broadcaster, film-maker, and producer.

The process starts with the concept of “Prajnanam Brahma” – Introduced in the Rig Veda and concluded in the corresponding Aitareya Upanishad. It talks about the nature of our true perspective. The BIG picture perceived by our unique sense – the consciousness. According to this, by fishing out irrelevance, Neti Neti in Sanskrit (not this, not this), we land on our true nature. 

Next, “Tat Tvam Asi” – Introduced in the Sama Veda and the conclusion drawn in Chandogya Upanishad. What is it that’s not been seen but becomes visible, within us, around us? Never heard, but becomes audible? Unknown becomes known…

By merely asking these questions, we get in touch with our humility. Everything is not known to us, yet. Hence, the scope of pursuit. It gives us eligibility. Takes us to the path of inquiry on how an incredibly small seed can give rise to a tree, how the consciousness of the living beings (Jeeva Atman) is part of universal consciousness (Param Atman). We relate to it by experiences. 

Ahm Brahma Asmi” – In Yajur Veda, concludes in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. After thinking and experiencing, we meditate on the concept. Through astute practice, we feel oneness with the Supreme Divine. It’s possible to attain bliss by connecting our consciousness with divinity. 

I’d like to mention here, after probing this, I couldn’t stop thinking about the enormity of fall-out in “interpretation” at the very conceptual level, as shown in the popular TV series on Netflix: Sacred Games. Amazing depiction – horrors of human ignorance. Through the journey of the protagonist, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, we see the tale of reflection, rejection, retribution, redemption, and finally .. hopefully, renewal. Beautiful! 

And, then? 

The culmination of self-reflection comes with the realization of “Ayam Atman Brahman” – Conceptual introduction in Atharva Veda with conclusive notes in Māṇḍūkya Upanishad. It’s not about humans manifested in social hierarchy. It’s about preservation and sustenance through our thoughts, actions, practice, and pursuit, in perpetuation, day after day, year after year, age after age, with grace and gratitude for all that we have, all that we don’t. And, all that we wonder about, aspire to become. We are in this together. 

Soma Chatterjee is the Diversity Ambassador for India Currents and a Board Member for Silicon Valley Interreligious Council representing Hinduism on behalf of HAF

Inputs from Dr. Prasad Kaipa. Co-author of From Smart to Wise, You Can, and Discontinuous Learning


Featured image and license.

Shiva Shakti – May the Force Be With You!

Mythology stems from the societal characteristics, the shared aspirations, the folklores, of a time lost in antiquity.

While the stories are from an era long gone, the emotions, the fears, the desires, remain the same;

who is an ideal man, who is the epitome of womanhood, what does the society demand?

The wheels turn, and along with them, the sagas take on new shades, exotic hues!

Each story, a real-life scenario, with its heroes and it’s demons;

each character, the face of a vice or the embodiment of a virtue!

How then, can the myth of Shiva & Shakti be different?

The story of a virtuous god, with the power to destroy, and his divine muse;

of masculinity and the contrasting femininity;

of strength and softness;

of steadfastness and pliability;

of ruthless fervour and empathetic care;

a myth of a fusion, an amalgamation of what when seen as separate, is incomplete, but together, makes a whole!

There are hordes that go searching, on pilgrimages, on quests, wondering whether this whole, this completeness, this divinity, eludes.

The journey seems long, sometimes futile, yet the hungry mind doesn’t give up.

There would be ways to appease the gods, ways to find them and ways to hold on to them…

Where can I find Shiva?

What form has Shakti adorned?

A short pause, to catch a breath, or maybe to reevaluate, change the strategy, try a new mantra…

a new dilemma- to give up or to go just a bit further, agitated and tired.

When all seems pointless, somewhere, deep from within, an arrow breaks through, a bolt of lightning, bursting from the core…

both reside within, in the depths of each and every soul, one can’t exist without the other.

Where once they were seen as two separates, coming together to complete each other, now they are seen as two sides of the same coin, yin and yang, not shackled by the stereotypes. Not humanised to appease the masses. Now, a personification of human traits…

masculinity and femininity;

strength and softness;

steadfastness and pliability;

ruthless fervour and empathetic care;

pragmatism and romanticism!

They dance their dance, deep within each;

There is a Shiva in me!

And Shakti too!

I am complete!

Artika Arora Bakshi is the author of two well-acclaimed children’s books, My Little Sikh Handbook, My Little Sikh Handbook 2: Ardas. She co-manages the thegoodbookcorner.com, and runs an online book club with a membership base of over 600 members. Artika’s articles and reviews have featured in the Daily Mirror, Daily News and The Ceylon Chronicle among others. She is currently working on her third children’s book in the My Little Sikh Handbook series and a second anthology of stories for adults.

 

Sun: Natyanjali’s Stunning Production

Sun, The Annual Magnum Opus of the Natyanjali School of Dance Comes To Town

Dr. Malini Krishnamurthi was wandering through the Altes museum in Berlin, Germany when she spotted a familiar sight. The statue so familiar in so unfamiliar a setting took her by surprise. A ray of pleasure shone into her eyes. Her heart warmed as she spotted the statue of Soorya, the Sun god. Instantly transported to her home in India she remembered feeling the same pleasure when she had spotted the Egyptian Sun God, Ra in the Metropolitan museum in New York.

“Two ancient civilizations, India and Egypt miles apart had followed similar rituals and beliefs unbeknown to each other”, said Dr. Malini Krishnamurthi. “Both civilizations had similar ways of perceiving divinity. I want to share this with the rest of the world through the synthesis of North Indian, South Indian and Egyptian music and dance.”

The Natyanjali school of dance, whose artistic director and founder she is, is known for its annual magnum opus productions that are elaborate, unique and distinct. They aim to educate, inform and entertain. They appeal to both the novice and the connoisseur.

This year, in 2019, the school’s production is Sun, a tribute to the Hindu Sun God, Soorya and Egyptian Sun God, Ra will showcase the contrast and similarities of the two civilizations and their penchant for nature worship. Fifteen students from the age of ten to eighteen will perform a string of dances showcasing the two beliefs.

 Choreographed to Egyptian music the dance will show the juxtaposition between the two civilizations.

While Indians offered Gayatri Mantra prayers and water to the Sun, the Egyptian civilization used their intermediaries, the Pharaohs to appease the Sun god and plead to the serpent, Apophis who challenged Ra.

The oldest surviving Indian Vedic hymns, such as hymn 1.115 of the Rig-veda, mention Surya with reverence as the one that dispels darkness, empowers knowledge, the good, and all life. TheKonark Sun Temple represents the temple built for the Sun god.

In Egypt, the obelisk, a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument that ends in a pyramid-like shape, symbolizes the sun god Ra. “The rays of the sun, touched the obelisk and hit the floor. The temples were built with no roofs,” said Dr. Malini Krishnamurthi.“Two civilizations, we now see from the records of the historians, were doing identical rituals without knowing what the other was doing.”

Highly accomplished and acclaimed musicians from Bangalore Shrinithi Mathur Vocal, Shri H Shrihari on the Mridangam and Narsimha Murthy on the flute will give music to the performance.

The performance aims to entertain and educate. Under the direction of Guru Dr. Malini Krishnamurthi from Natyanjali school of dance students are trained in the craft of Bharatnatyam. One of the leading exponents of Bharata Natyam in Los Angeles, California, Guru Dr. MaliniKrishnamurthi, Founder and Artistic Director of Natyanjali School of Bharata Natyam Dance in Los Angeles, teaches dance in West Covina, California.

Date, Time: August 3 @ 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Venue: Campus Theatre at Fullerton College, 321 E. Chapman Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Website / Contact : Darshana https://natyanjali.org/event/sun/

VIP seat ticket $50.00 Standard seat ticket $30.00 Discount seat ticket $20.00

Dashavtar : A Spectacular Dance Drama

Dashavtar, a spectacular dance drama, by the Shankara Dance Academy will showcase the ten reincarnations of Vishnu and bring it to life with a cast of 58 local artists.

This lavish show promises to light up the stage with colorful lighting, specialized backdrops, customised music, costumes, props, special effects.  Arti Manek, in conjunction with her Guru Abhay Shankar Misra, has had presented several sold out shows in the past, including Nari Tu Narayani, Gopala Krishna Kanhaiya, Ram Charit Manas and more.

Dashavtar was presented in London, UK, recently where Arti was also a performer. Now she is recreating the same show with her local students, who have the opportunity of being a part of this class act. The high caliber production promises to be a visual delight.

Dashavtar tells the story of the ten re-incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Commonly accepted as the God of Preservation, Lord Vishnu is among the three principal Gods in the Hindu religion. It is believed that Lord Vishnu came to Earth from time to time in a different form (avatar) to eradicate the evil forces in place and restore cosmic order.

The ten avatars of Vishnu are: Matsya (Fish), Kurma (Tortoise),  Varah (Boar), Narasimha (Lion / Man ), Vaman (Dwarf),  King Bali, Parshuram, Sri Ram, Balrama, Buddha, Kalki. Each of these will be presented separately followed by a finale including all the avatars together.

The ten avatars of Lord Vishnu will be brought to life in the classical dance form of Kathak (story telling). “The wondrous displays of hand gestures, colorful costumes, intricate footwork, and graceful movements will charm and captivate the audience and bring them closer to the Gods,” say the organizers.

In Dashavtar the theme music is set in Kaharwa Taal in different ragas. The interlude pieces are set in ten different taals for a very creative effect.

Arti Manek is known in the Los Angeles area for her exceptional talents in bringing amateurs on to stage and lighting them up to be embraced as professionals. Pujya Morari Bapu, world renowned Ramayana discourse orator, and Pandit Birju Maharaj (legendary kathak artist) have graced her shows.

Dashavtar promises to bring pride and joy to the local artists and to the public to witness how our ancient Indian culture flourishes so beautifully and artistically in the entertainment capital of the USA, Los Angeles!

This article was provided to India Currents by the Shankara Dance Academy.