Short story: Under the shade in the rainy evening in Bharatpur

The sun had set in Bharatpur that evening but it wasn’t dark at the market road. The workers of the Jan Raksha Party (JRP) were burning effigies of a leader from the ruling Lok Seva Party (LSP) after he allegedly made a derogatory remark against their leader.

The JRP workers were sweating in their pink T-shirt bearing the abbreviation of their party in the already humid town but they didn’t care. How dare he insult their beloved leader?

Their victorious reverie was broken when a group of supporters of LSP started raising slogans against the said JRP leader. They felt their leader did the right thing. They too were oblivious to their sweaty purple T-shirts bearing the abbreviation of their respective parties. But both parties were united in not caring for the general office going population that was having difficulty while returning home after a long and tiring day at work.

Such was the state of affairs in Bharatpur these days. The town was divided between LSP and JRP; between pink and purple. Earlier it was only their supporters who were at loggerheads. But slowly, common people too clinged onto any one side and developed enmity against those on the ‘other’ side. So what if they have been their close friends or even family members all these years?

The colleges regularly saw tussles and arguments between both set of supporters. But since recent times, even offices saw heated conversations between those who were otherwise well-educated and mature.

Under-the-tree
Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The scene was the same even in the virtual world of social media and What’s App. More than the IT cells of these parties, the common people were energetically creating posts to bash and insult the other side. Both parties were saving a lot of money since the common people were ready to publicize them and their agendas for free.

When the general public felt such enmity for people from the ‘other’ side, one can just imagine the hatred between the official party workers of both parties. They literally couldn’t see eye to eye.

The mobs of both groups were showing no signs of stopping. Hence, it took some divine intervention in the form of unseasonal December rain. What started as a drizzle soon transformed into heavy rain and storm-like situation. To make matters worse, the electricity went off.

The general public, which was running helter skelter, was now confused. Ajit, a man in his mid-20s, ushered inside the entrance of a shop that was shut. As he was moved inside the roof properly to escape the rain water, his body his someone. It was a man in his 50s who too was there as he had to save himself from the rain and it was too dark to try going home.

After an awkward moment, they spoke and soon introduced themselves. The man in his 50s was Rameshchandra. The two were glad to have each other’s company to combat this difficult situation. Ajit realized that Rameshchandra was feeling uneasy.

When Ajit caringly prodded further, he revealed that he is diabetic and needed water. Ajit promptly handed him a bottle from his bag in the dark. Rameshchandra thanked him. He then he noticed that Ajit was limping a bit. Now it was Rameshchandra’s turn to caringly prod him about his uneasiness.

Ajit explained how his leg got hit to the street lamp pole in the dark while he was hurriedly getting under the roof. Rameshchandra handed him a little bottle of a balm which he always carried for his headache. He said the balm works even for the kind of injury Ajit suffered. Then Ajit remembered the slogan of the balm’s advertisement, ‘Ek balm, teen kaam’ and they had a hearty laugh.

There was massive age gap between the two of them but they didn’t feel it. Difficult circumstances can even bring two people from different age groups together in a human way. Both decided in their minds that they would like to keep in touch. They were no longer thinking about the uneasiness caused by their wet T-shirts.

Just then the electricity returned and the road lights were on. They were glad but as soon as their eyes fell on each other, they were stunned. They were wearing pink and purple T-shirts respectively.

By: Keyur Seta

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Why the meaning of the name ‘Yudhishthir’ is relevant today

When it comes to the characters of the Pandavas, the name Arjun has received maximum fame. His skills ensured that he be considered one of the best archers ever. Hence, a large number of parents have been naming their children Arjun among Hindus.

But as far as the Pandavas or even all the main characters of Mahabharata are concerned, one of the most underrated names is Yudhisthir. The meaning of his name is inspiring and something that is needed in today’s times.

Yudhisthir means a person who can remain calm and composed even in the midst of a war. To elaborate, the word ‘Yudh’ means ‘war’ and ‘sthir’ means ‘still.’ Hence, Yudhisthir is someone who doesn’t lose his calmness amidst a war.

Yudhisthir
Yudhisthir from the TV serial Mahabharata played by Rohit Bharadwaj

The meaning is so relevant today and I don’t mean from the armed forces who indulge in actual war. The everyday lives have become so stressful that each day is nothing short of a war.

Students are fighting the war to score more marks. Working professionals are at war over deadlines and the pressures of their seniors or bosses. At times being in a relationship in today’s times of dating apps is also a war.

Interestingly, Yudhisthir also possessed some praiseworthy qualities. He was extremely kind, largehearted, benevolent and possessed a tremendous amount of knowledge of the Shastras.

An incident that displayed his largeheartedness was the one where all his four brothers [Arjun, Bheem, Nakul and Sahadev] died. A Yaksha told him that he can bring to life only one of his four brothers. To this, Yudhisthir chose Nakul, although he was his step-brother over Arjun.

The Yaksha was so impressed with Yudhisthir that he brought all four brothers to life.

Yudhisthir acquired the name ‘Dharmaraja’ for his strict adherence to dharma [rightfulness]. His other name was Ajatshatru, which means someone who has no enemies.

Hence, personally speaking, it won’t be a bad thing to name your child Yudhisthir.

Gurudwara in Andheri west: See pictures

Sometimes you experience something memorable out of the blue. Such events can’t be planned. The same happened with me recently when I landed in the famous Gurudwara of Andheri in Mumbai.

I had gone to the D N Nagar Metro Station area for a work-related visit. I reached my destination much before time, which is rare for me considering my work schedule. My auto-rickshaw stopped just near the Gurudwara. The sight was enough for me to enter it, more so since I was before time.

I have seen this Gurudwara in some television shows and movies. I always felt I should visit it some day but it just kept on delaying. But here I was at the place all of a sudden.

Gurudwara-Andheri

I was surprised to see a young man in rich clothes and attire on the footwear stand. He was extremely polite and humble. The beautiful sight of the main dome ensured that I didn’t feel the steps while climbing up despite it being a tiring day.

The inner sanctum of the Gurudwara instantly fills you up with peace. No matter how hectic day you had, you will feel relaxed as soon as you enter it. The sight of other devotees and the priest-like man with the Guru Granth Sahib felt like my own even though they were strangers.

I was there only for few minutes but that was enough to rejuvenate me.

The experience reminded me of my visit to the Gurudwara in Matunga west in Mumbai.

By: Keyur Seta

Gurudwara Andheri west

8 Swami Vivekananda quotes on faith and strength

The following are the quotes by Swami Vivekananda on FAITH and STRENGTH:

– Faith, faith, faith in ourselves, faith, faith in God, this is the secret of greatness. If you have faith in all the three hundred and thirty millions of your mythological Gods, and in all the Gods which foreigners have now and again introduced into your midst, and still have no faith in yourselves, there is no salvation for you.

– The remedy for weakness is not brooding over weakness, but thinking of strength. Teach men of strength that is already within them.

– It is the coward and the fool who says, This is my fate – so says the Sanskrit proverb. But it is the strong man who stands up and says, I will make my own fate. It is people who are getting old who talk of fate. Young men generally do not come to astrology.

Swami-Vivekananda

– He is an atheist who does not believe in himself. The old religions said that he was an atheist who did not believe in God. The new religion says that he is an atheist who does not believe in himself.

Also read: 5 inspiring incidents from Swami Vivekananda’s life

– The history of the world is the history of a few men who had faith in themselves. That faith calls out the divinity within. You can do anything. You fail only when you do not strive sufficiently to manifest infinite power. As soon as a man or a nation loses faith, death comes.

– Be free; hope for nothing from anyone. I am sure if you look back upon your lives you will find that you were always vainly trying to get help from others which never came. All the help that has come was from within yourselves.

– Never say ‘No’, Never say, ‘I cannot’, for you are INFINITE. All the power is WITHIN you. You can do anything and everything. You are almighty.

– Strength is Life, Weakness is Death. Expansion is Life, Contraction is Death. Love is Life, Hatred is Death.

Also read: 10 Swami Vivekananda quotes for youngsters

Why is Shiva called the destroyer?

Mahashivratri is around the corner yet again. It is the festival where Lord Shiva aka Shiv aka Shankar aka Mahesh is worshipped all over India and the world. Mahashivratri was the day Shiva drank poison to save the world. Hence, he is also called Neelkanth [Neel is blue in English and the colour of poison]. To know more about Mahashivratri, click HERE.

Lord Shiva has various qualities. The most prominent one is his ability to be the destroyer. But what does he destroy? Rather what is the need for him to be a destroyer? Let’s find out.

The Vedas describe the trinity of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Mahesh. They are referred as the creator, preserver and destroyer respectively. This might make Shiva’s quality appear to be negative but that is not the case.

Also see: Pictures: Shiva Temple in the snow-clad Gulmarg where Quran is recited

According to our mythology and puranas, Brahma created the world, Vishnu preserved what is good in it and Shiva destroyed the negative forces or evil. Hence, this quality of Shiva is positive because destruction is not always bad.

Shiva  temple Dwarka

Shiva’s worshippers ask him to destroy the various evils within them like anger, lust, jealousy, greed, etc.

But there is also other theory about Shiva being the destroyer. It is believed that while Brahma creates the universe and Vishnu preserves it, every yug has to end some day. And it is Shiva who undertakes the task of destroying the world. According to the ancient theories, it is necessary for the world to end when it is completely deteriorated. Hence, Shiva has to carry out his duty.

Also read: Photos: Huge Shiva statue at Nageshwar Mahadev temple in Dwarka

Well-known author Ashwin Sanghi in his book The Krishna Key has described that the names Shiv and Vish are one as the same. It’s just that they are spelt opposite in Indian languages. Their respective function is also the opposite – one is a preserver and the other is the destroyer.

There are many Shiva temples in India. Shri Somnath Jyotirling temple in Somnath and Mahakaleshwar Jyotirling temple in Ujjain are two of the most famous ones.

The pictures in this post are from Nageshwar Mahadev temple in Dwarka. 

Nageshwar temple Dwarka

Alandi: Sant Dnyaneshwar’s therapeutic abode along the banks of the Indrayani

Aalandi is a small village but that doesn’t stop it from being popular. Its connection with Sant Dnyaneshwar is the major reason why it is thronged throughout the year by devotees, many of them belonging to the Varkari sect. It is around 20-30 minutes away from the Pune city.

Dnyaneshwar was a 13th century saint, poet, philosopher and guru from Maharashtra. He is known the most for authoring a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita from Sanskrit to Marathi and titled it Dnyaneshwari. His translated work of the ancient text helped a lot of people who didn’t know Sanskrit from the state to acquire its knowledge.

Dnyaneshwar’s another famous work is Amurtanubhav, which he wrote on the advice of his guru Nivruttinath. (Read more about Sant Dnyaneshwar by clicking HERE.)

Dnyaneshwar-temple Alandi
Dnyaneshwar temple

Alandi is the place where Dnyaneshwar attained Samadhi (Nirvana) at Siddheshwar temple. A temple complex was built over there later which is thronged by pilgrims ever since, especially on Ekadashi.

The temple offers plenty of serenity. As soon as I entered, I was welcomed with positive vibes. It is also a treat to see the passion of the devotees. It is their simplicity that impresses you, especially their clothing. The compound of the temple is also used to simply sit and take in the experience. You might find people reading devotional texts over there.

Dnyaneshwar temple-Alandi

Alandi is also known for its renowned temple of another saint Jalaram Bapa. This is his second most prominent place of worship after his birth place in Virpur in Gujarat.

Alandi is like any other small village of Maharashtra. There has been a lot of construction over here in the last decade or more. This wasn’t the case when I used to visit it during my childhood in the 1990s. Nevertheless, it still provides relaxation.

Indrayani-river-Alandi
River Indrayani

River Indrayani is the major reason for this. It is a peaceful river surrounded by nicely built steps. The scene is somewhat similar to Varanasi. There are a number of shops selling devotional items, literature and food. If you are in Alandi, it is a must to savour its spicy Misal with Pav.

By: Keyur Seta

Misal-Pav

IMG_20190206_175151
Inside the Dnyaneshwar temple

Sant-Dnyaneshwar temple

Dnyaneshwar-Alandi

Gyaneshwar-Alandi

River-Indrayani

Book Review: The Invincible Weapon by Soumya Putta

The greatness of ancient Indian epic Mahabharata is that it continues to inspire storytellers even in today’s era and shall continue to do so. Author Soumya Putta has few elements from the epic in her novel The Invincible Weapon but she has churned out an original and entertaining story out of it.

The story takes place in the ancient times when princes and princesses of various kingdoms of Mahadroni (a fictitious country) get enrolled in the Gurukul of Maharshi Gavishta after summoned by him. Two of them are twin brothers Abhi and Kanu, who hail from the kingdom of Vaishali.

Abhi becomes quick friends with Hiya, the princess of another kingdom and a fellow student at the Gurukul. But he gradually gets distanced from Kanu after the latter is brainwashed by someone from their batch.

The reason for Maharshi Gavishta summoning them is that the threat of the invisible enemies has started looming over Mahadroni. The enemies shall increase their guerrilla warfare in the future. Hence, it is vital to prepare these children for the war as they would be the rulers of their respective kingdoms. And one way to defeat them is to get hold of The Invincible Weapon.

The-Invincible-Weapon-bookThe Invincible Weapon starts off in such a way that you feel the story will be predictable. As Abhi, Kanu, Hiya and other youngsters start training in warfare in the Gurukul, it seems as if they will set out for war in the later part and, like many other stories, good will win over evil.

However, that is surely not the case here. The story takes a twist in the middle and goes onto an exciting adventurous route with a good amount of thrill. The idea of getting Ghatotkacha into the story is not only a pleasant surprise but also a masterstroke.

The biggest surprise lies in the unveiling of the invincible weapon and the invisible enemies. There is a chance that the revelation might not work for all but I did for me though. The only other area of concern is that one complicated situation gets solved too conveniently.

The characters of Abhi and Hiya and their bonding play a big role in making the experience joyous. Their romantic angle is treated in a subtle and a mature way. It evokes feeling but without making their romance too obvious for their age.

Putta has displayed a fine exhibition of her literary skills consistently. She has a free-flowing style of writing which ensures that you are hooked. Her formation of sentences is both simple and rich. The Invincible Weapon should also be lauded for its error-free editing.

Overall: The Invincible Weapon is a ride that provides enjoyment and enlightenment. It suits to both adolescents and grown-ups.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Author: Soumya Putta

Pages: 239

Publishers: Leadstart Publishing

Additional feature: The maps of Mahadroni and other sketches enhance the reading