Filmmaker Vidhi Kasliwal makes documentary on Jain muni Acharya Vidyasagar

Film director and producer Vidhi Kasliwal’s next is a documentary on Jain monk Acharya Vidyasagar. Titled Vidyoday, the film, which will be produced under her banner Landmarc Films, will trace the life of one of the most revered Digambar Jain Munis (philosopher monks).

“The film also enlightens us upon the various facets of Jainism as a philosophy, the frugal yet fulfilling lives of Digambara Jain Monks, their main teachings and principles, such as respecting life of all species and ‘ahimsa’ (non-violence),” said an official statement from the makers.

Speaking about the reason to make a documentary on him, Kasliwal said in an official statement, “I was moved to tears by his aura in the sheer presence of Acharya Shri. This is what drove me to taking on this film. The more I read about him and observed his restraint and discipline, the more in awe I grew of him and his conduct. How could there be such a being in today’s day and age?”

Acharya-Vidyasagar

She added that shooting the documentary wasn’t easy. “It was a difficult project to helm, but I was fortunate to have a wonderful team and we got utmost co-operation from all of Acharya Shri’s pupils and followers all over the country. It took extensive research, intensive fieldwork, strenuous shooting, intricate editing and post-production work by close to 80 people over 1000 days canning 200 hours of footage to complete this 108-minute documentary,” she said.

Kasliwal also stated the importance of the project. “And I speak for my entire team when I say this – working on this documentary has been one of the highlights of our careers and it has certainly left each one of us elevated and enriched,” she said.

Kasliwal’s recent productions include acclaimed Marathi films like Ringan (2017), Gacchi (2017) and Pipsi (2018).

Watch the teaser of the documentary by clicking HERE.

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Janmashtami: 5 Bollywood songs on Lord Krishna

Janmashtami is once again here and the birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated not only in India but all over the world. It is natural for such a figure to have various art forms based on him. The medium that is used the most to convey his qualities and messages is songs.

Radha-Kaise-Na-Jale

 

Generally one doesn’t associate mainstream Hindi cinema of Bollywood, as it is popularly known, with devotional or spiritual music. But there have been quite a few songs dedicated to Krishna, even in mainstream commercial cinema.

Let’s have a look at some of these. These are my personal favourites and there is every chance that your most liked song might not feature in it. Feel free to mention your favourite songs on Him in the comments.

Mann Tarpat Hari Darshan Ko Aaj – Baiju Bawra (1952)

To put it simply, this song is a classic. It transcends the boundries between believers and non-believers. I have seen even athiests appreciating this song. Singer Mohammad Rafi, composer Naushad and lyricist Shakeel Badayuni are on top of their game. So, it’s impossible to rate one above the other. Do wait till the end when the effect reaches its pinnacle.

Radha Kaise Na Jale – Lagaan (2001)

The most popular song on Krishna in the modern era, ‘Radha Kaise Na Jale’ looks at the sweet relationship between Krishna and his lover Radha. The songs sees both of them taking a dig at each other but, of course, in a playful manner. Lagaan had another song dedicated to Krishna – ‘O Palanhare.’

Mohe Panghat Pe Nand Lal – Mughal-e-Azam (1960)

Yet another song that speaks about the playful love between Krishna and Radha. Lata Mangeshkar’s magical voice, some enchanting visuals (even in black and white) make this song a classic, just like the movie. Also, Naushad excels in a Krishna song yet again.

Title song – Kurukshetra (2000)

Not just in our films but generally in India only the childhood and early young days of Krishna (especially his love for Radha) are spoken the most. Apart from this, He is regarded as the mighty God. However, his lessons in the Bhagavad Gita and his role in the epic Mahabharata aren’t spoken much.

This is a rare Hindi film song that features His sermon to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra and that too in a hard-hitting manner. The shlok ‘Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya…’ in the end produce a terrific effect. Easily an underrated motivational song.

Aarambh Hai Prachand – Gulaal (2009)

This entry might surprise you no ends. There is no mention of Krishna anywhere here. You will initially feel the song is political in nature, just like the subject of this Anurag Kashyap film. However, after delving deeper into it, one realizes that it has an underlying message of a warrior’s duty preached in the Bhagavad Gita.

Nadgaon: Unexplored nature’s abode near Mumbai

Our visit to a little place called Nadgaon last month was quite enlightening. Whenever someone asks me as to when will I make my first foreign trip, I feel there is so much left to be seen in various parts of India. Well, this trip made me realize that there is a lot to see even around 100 kilometres away from our home in Mumbai.

When I decided to go for a day long trip to Nadgaon, which is near Karjat, I was looking forward to a well-deserved break. However, I certainly didn’t expect to be so intimately close to nature.

Mountains-greenery

The place where he stayed is a farmhouse run by a friendly family. You can book it for a day and do whatever you wish to. I have seen houses surrounded by nature in various parts of India. But this was a rare place which has long stretches of greenery without a trace of any house, building or shop. Such vast untouched areas of nature.

Through the backside of the house one can go down the steps to a pretty waterfall. The path and the following steps are difficult but the risk is worth taking.

If you have the energy for a long walk, you can go to a nearby river which is around 45 minutes walking. Again, this is worth the effort as the river is too soothing and, like the rest of the village, without civilization.

Back at the house, apart from breakfast, lunch and tea, the owners provide with corn (bhutta) and groundnuts cooked naturally on a chulha.

All in all, even if you visit it just for a day, like we did, it is still enough to take back some calmness. If you feel nature of God, you are in for some spiritual experience. The ideal time to go is monsoons.

By: Keyur Seta

Note: Do drop a comment if you wish to know the details about staying at this farmhouse.

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The caravan of our Karwaan

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Way to the river
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The super peaceful river
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The owners also rare animals like cows, horses and lambs.

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Way to the waterfall
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Waterfall from above

Waterfall

 

Book Review: Shrouded Truth – Biblical Revelations Through Past Life Journeys

Reincarnation has been one of the most favourite subjects for Indian filmmakers irrespective of the language. The whole idea of a person getting reborn in another body after dying is truly filmi indeed. But as they say, truth is stranger than fiction.

This filmi idea is very much accepted today even by modern psychiatrists or psychologists as therapy to treat their patients. Reena Kumarasingham is one such practitioner of past live regression therapies.

Co-incidentally, she came across more than a handful of people who regressed back to the life of people who were around Jesus Christ and somewhere related to him. The recording of the regression sessions is what Shrouded Truth is all about.

The book is an interesting, insightful, at times shocking and a challenge to the popular belief around Christ. The most significant one being the claim from all participants that Jesus didn’t die on the cross (not divulging further to avoid spoilers).

Shrouded-Truth.jpgHowever, deep inside the book gives an overwhelming message of love, unity and equality among human beings across of all races the world, which is so vital in the times we are living.

Although the entire book is a non-fictional account of a group of people’s past life experiences, it follows a story format. In a lot of fictitious books and movies, a story is told through different characters, which is then merged as a single story.

This is exactly what happens with Shrouded Truth. As the individuals keep sharing their past life experiences, slowly but steadily a story forms developing. It turns out to be an enlightening affair about the Biblical era, even for someone like me who had hardly any knowledge on the period before reading it.

The stories do bring back memories of Ashwin Sanghi’s The Rozabal Line. Of course, the big difference is that it was purely a work of fiction.

This isn’t a book where there is scope for criticisms on the writing style. This is simply because the major portion of the book is the conversation record between Kumarasingham and the participants. The explanations provided in between is simple and to the point.

Perhaps the only issue is the length. The book could have been little shorter by omitting out few conversations that are repetitive. In other words, it could have been crisper.

How much to believe?

The most obvious question any reader would ask here is how genuine is the book and whatever it claims. The author’s honest approach is felt throughout, especially during the very last chapter, at least for me. In fact, she herself has raised this concern few times in the book. It is also possible to contact her in case of any questions, thanks to the era of the internet.

But there are also people who don’t believe in reincarnation or the existence of the soul. Personally, I feel they can still read the book with an open mind just to know the fascinating story of a group of people who selflessly strived to spread the message of humanity across the world.

Rating: 4/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Author: Reena Kumarasingham (Contact her by visiting divineaspect.com or blog.divineaspect.com or facebook.com/divineaspectiam

Pages: 393 (including the preview of her next book Illuminated Truth)

Publishers: Heart Press

Promoters: Publishing Push

Cover: A simple illuminating image of a light, which goes with the theme

Live: Jagannath Rath Yatra, Puri

The Jagannath Rath Yatra is observed every year as a symbol of devotion to Lord Jagannath. It is held in India majorly in the cities Puri and Ahemadabad along with few others. Lord Jagannath is considered as one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu.

This year in 2018 it is celebrated on 14 July, which is today.

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Screenshot fromt he live stream of the rath yatra by OdishaLIVE channel on YouTube

There are various stories associated with the history and significance of the Jagannath Rath Yatra. One such story is about King Subal, a profound devotee of Jagannath. He once requested a sculptor to create idols of Krishna, his brother Balarama and sister Subhadra.

The scupltor agreed but on the condition that he should be allowed to work in secrecy to which the king agreed. However, after a lot of days passed, the king lost his patience and barged into the room where the sculptor was working. As he broke the clause, the sculptor vanished but the three idols were there.

WATCH: The LIVE Jagannath Rath Yatra from Puri

There is another story related to the Rath Yatra which revolves around Lord Krishna, Balarama and Subhadra. One day, Krishna’s eight wives were eager to hear about His divine tales with Gopi from His mother Rohini when He and Balarama were out. After hesitating, she agreed but urged Subhadra to  keep the door guard so that no one listens.

Subhadra got so involved in listening to the tales that she forgot her task. Just then Krishna and Balaram arrived. Knowing the urgency of the situation, she stopped them with her hands held wide. Sage Narada saw them and asked the three siblibgs to give their blessings this way always. Narada’s wish was granted by the God and the idols of the three of them got installed in the Jagannath temple in Puri.

Nakula & Sahadeva: The unsung heroes of the Mahabharata

Mahabharata is one of the most widely read scripture not only in India but world over. After various sub-plots and twists, it all boils down to the great war of Kurukshetre, which the righteous Pandavas won against the evil Kauravas.

The Pandavas are, always, praised for being showing the valour to defeat the Kauravas. However, it is only Arjun, Yudhishthir and Bheem who have received fame and recognition (of course apart from Lord Krishna). Nakula and Sahadeva, a prominent part of the Pandava group, haven’t got their due and recognition.

So here’s an attempt to have a sneak-peek into their lives and abilities

Sahadeva:

The name Sahadeva is derived from Sanskrit words ‘saha’ [with] and ‘deva’ [Gods]. The meaning becomes ‘someone with Gods.’

He was considered the most intelligent of all the five Pandava brothers. Yudhishthira compares his wisdom to that of Brihaspati, the teacher of Gods. Hence, Sahadeva also counseled Yudhishthira.

Sahadeva was well versed in the field of medicines.

If Arjun was a champion in archery, Sahadeva, along with his brother Nakula, was a master in sword fighting.

One of Sahadeva’s divine gifts was his profound knowledge in Astrology. However, he couldn’t disclose future events because of a curse, which would ensure that he would die if he does so. Therefore, he couldn’t reveal about the battle of Kurukshetra although he could foresee it.

Duryodhana, the evil leader of the Kaurava clan, had approached Sahadeva to suggest a mahurat (right time) for the war. Sahadeva unhesitatingly revealed the mahurat despite knowing Duryodhana was their enemy.

Sahadeva defeated a lot of Kauravas during the war. After the gambling loss that also ensured the humiliation of Draupadi, Sahadeva had taken a vow to kill Shakuni, the mastermind behind the plan. He fulfilled his vow on the 18th day of the war.

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Screenthot of Nakula and Sahadeva from the TV series Dharamkshetra on EPIC channel.

Nakula:

Nakula was said to be dark and handsome.

He was skilled in diplonmacy.

Like his brother Sahadeva, he too had the gift of astrology. But, just like his brother, the knowledge came with a curse. Soon after predicting something he would forget his predictions and futuristic visions.

Nakula was not only skilled sword fighter, again like his brother, but could also handle an array of unusual weapons. His skills proved to be more than useful during the great war.

He was also said to be an expert in Ayurveda.

He was a master at horse breeding and riding. Due to his knowledge of Ayurveda, he was also able to carry out the treatment of ill horses.

Nakula, along with Bheema, led the Pandava army on the first day of the war of Kurukshetra.

Nakula has to his credit the achievement of defeating a number of important people from the Kaurava side including Dussasana (who was killed by Bheema. He was responsible for humiliating Draupadi , Shalya, Shakuni, etc.

His negative quality of being proud of his looks is also mentioned in the Mahabharata. This is the reason given for his fall while being on the final journey to heaven with the rest of his brothers, Draupadi and the dog Dharma.

With such achievements under their belt, we wonder why Nakula and Sahadeva didn’t receive prominence in the centuries gone by.

By: Keyur Seta

Krishna & Jesus: Striking similarities in the life of both God incarnations

Lord Krishna and Jesus Christ are two of the most worshipped Gods world over by Hindus and Christians respectively. Both are believed to have fascinating life stories. However, there are huge similarities in the life stories of both.

Although the similarities appear only during the events surrounding their respective births, they are too striking to ignore.

The events before and after the birth of Krishna:

As per legends, Krishna was born to Devki and Vasudev in Mathura. He had taken birth to wipe out evil, which includes his own uncle Kansa. Kansa gets to know about this and feels threatened. Devki had given birth to six other children along with Krishna.

Kansa orders to kill all children born to Devki in order to save himself from getting killed.

However, Vasudev gets to know this and secretly leads Krishna to Gokul on a rainy night.

Krishna-Jesus

The events before and after the birth of Jesus:

According to the Gospel of Mathew, Herod, the king of Judea, felt threatened with the birth of Jesus.

He orders to kill all the male children of Bethlehem under the age of two, hoping that this would kill Jesus as well.

However, Jesus is saved after his father Joseph escapes with Him and mother Mary to Egypt. It is said that Joseph was warned by an angel.

There is no need to state how startlingly similar both the events are since they are self-explanatory.

The aim of this article is not to hold one superior to another or to accuse the followers of one God of copying the life story of another. It’s just that the similarities are so striking that they deserve a mention.

P.S: I am also just reminded of a book I saw in Ramakrishna Mission, Mumbai. It said that worshipping Krishna alone without worshipping Jesus doesn’t make sense.

By: Keyur Seta