Golden Temple Pictures: Where peace and kindness reside

By: Keyur Seta

Over the years, I must have heard umpteen number of times that the Golden Temple in Amritsar (Punjab), also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib, is one of the most beautiful places in India. I got some idea of it by watching its sight in numerous images and movies (Rang De Basanti, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi etc).

But I came to know its sheer brilliance only when I visited it for the first time a week ago. The manner in which it is radiating such enormous beauty since centuries can even make an atheist into a believer, even if it is just temporarily.

This is because one can’t ignore the immense peace the golden monument generates into you. The kind behavior of the staff and their commitment towards cleanliness adds on to the impressiveness.

This automatically gets passed on to the devotees. They might quarrel or do various kinds of mischief outside. But once inside, a sense of responsibility and sanskaar takes over them.

Golden Temple is one place that shows its different shades of beauty during day and night. So, it is mandatory to visit it during both phases of the day, like we did. The results are seen in the pictures.

Like all Gurudwaras, Golden Temple too offers langar (meals) to devotees daily irrespective of their religion, caste, language, nationality and what not. And being the biggest Gurudwara in the country, the number of people fed daily goes into lakhs.

All in all, the Golden Temple is a must visit for those craving for peace and hope.

Timings of the Golden Temple: 3 am to 10 pm.

More information or history: The Golden Temple was built in 1577 by the fourth holy Sikh guru, Guru Ram Das. It was turned into gold 200 years later by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. For complete info, click HERE.

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Devotees served langar.
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Preparation of langar.

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Book Review: When Life Turns Turtle

By: Keyur Seta

When Life Turns Turtle is a spiritual fiction novel by author Raj Supe. It tells the story of a 38-year-old Bollywood filmmaker Indraneel. He has had a successful journey from theatre to movies. His latest film, Strugglers, made with newcomers, has become a box-office hit. However, Indraneel’s personal life is going nowhere.

After going through a bitter divorce with Chitra, he gets involved with a struggling actress Avni. Unfortunately, life continues to betray Indraneel. It is at this point that his best friend Arunodaya advises him to visit Rishikesh and try treading on the spiritual path. Indraneel hesitantly agrees. But will this have any long-term positive effect on Indraneel’s life? Will he ever find peace?

when-life-turns-turtleWhen Life Turns Turtle basically falls in the self-discovery zone. But it actually goes much further and deeper than most of the stories on this theme. It provides a wake-up call that fills you with delight. Its impact is hard but at the same time gentle. Normally, books of this genre are only meant for those who are into spirituality. But this one goes beyond the target audience simply because any grown-up adult, especially from urban cities, would relate to it.

The initial portion is interesting. But the book gets fully into the mode once the story shifts to Rishikesh. From here on, it just keeps enlightening in a delightful way without being preachy. As Indraneel goes about his life in Rishikesh meeting and interacting with different people, you feel as if you too are present in the Himalayan town witnessing the discussions. But what gives you a terrific high is the climax and the events leading up to it.

Supe achieves such favorable results by keeping simplicity quotient in mind, even while explaining concepts that are mostly considered complicated. Be it in the overall plot, narration and the definition of characters and their distinctive psyche. The author provides a lot of information to the readers through interesting conversations, without making it sound non-fictitious.

The only weak point here is the length of the book. The story could have been told in much less than 468 pages.

Overall: When Life Turns Turtle is a delightful spiritual journey that forces you to introspect the life you are living. The book also has the capacity to appeal those who are not much into spirituality, provided they are okay with the length.

Cover: Peaceful scenario with light, pleasant colors. Perfectly goes with the theme.

Rating: 4.5/5

Author: Raj Supe

Publishers: Leadstart Corp

Pages: 468

Price: Rs 399/-

Durga Puja 2016: Photos

By: Keyur Seta

Durga Puja or Durga Pujo is the time when the entire Bengal, especially Kolkata, comes alive. One can find unending Durga Pandals in the state, all boasting some elaborate. The final day of the Durga Puja, which is mostly referred to as Dusshera in most parts of India, celebrates the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil Mahishasura.

There is another significance of the day. Dusshera is also the day when Lord Ram killed the evil demon Ravana, who had kidnapped the former’s wife Sita. In short, the day celebrates the victory of good over evil.

Coming back to Durga Puja, the festival has been spreading a lot to other parts of India. Mumbai is a prime example. The Shivaji Park Durga Puja, organized by the Bengal Club, is also a sought after place during this time.

Here are some pictures from 2016 Durga Puja in Shivaji Park, Mumbai:

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6 reasons why Krishna was the ideal Common Man

Lord Krishna is one of the most worshiped Gods in the world. His followers or devotees broadly associate him with values like, righteousness, wisdom, valor, innocent pranks, fearlessness, adherence to truth, etc.

But his simple way of life is hardly mentioned among his greatness. This comes as a huge surprise because his simplicity and humility were very much on display throughout his long life.

Here are some points indicating that Krishna was the ideal Common Man:

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Krishna & Sudama (Picture: Hariharji.blogspot.com)

1) As a child, Krishna possessed miraculous powers through which he could easily kill demons or evil-doers. But not even once did he consider himself superior to others. He never had the attitude of ‘I am above the rest’ and considered people from all walks of life as his own. This is clearly seen from how he used to play or mingle with just any common citizen.

2) The name ‘Krishna’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Krishi’. It means ‘farmer’. Staying true to his name, Krishna happily carried out farming, despite the fact that he was a special being.

3) The story of Krishna and his friend Sudama also highlights his down-to-earth nature. Krishna greeted and welcomed his friend Sudama in the same manner as he used to do during their childhood despite achieving such Godly prominence.

4) When a war-like situation was developing between Pandavas and Kauravas, Krishna personally went to meet Duryodhana to convince him against fighting a war. He had no qualms in playing the role of a messenger.

5) In the great war of Mahabharata at Kurukshetra, Krishna decided to become the charioteer to Arjuna. In fact, he himself volunteered for it. He also followed Arjuna’s directions like an obedient charioteer when the latter asked him to take the chariot in between two warring camps.

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Picture: vishalgosai.blogspot.in/

6) Among its various messages, the Bhagavad Gita, which was delivered by Krishna, preaches us to be non-materialistic or non-possessive. This is the biggest indication that Krishna not only himself believed in being a Common Man, but also wanted us to be one.

Through these points, Krishna teaches us that one should stay humble even if he happens to be the God of the universe. So, if the God himself didn’t practice high-handedness, who are we to think high about ourselves?

But a lot of his devotees I come across practice just the opposite. They keep chanting Hare Krishna Sankirtan or the holy name of Krishna, but are forever concerned about material possessions. Not just that, they even love to flaunt their ‘Social Status’ by spending abnormally. Naturally, these class-conscious people hate mingling with people from the so-called lowly professions.

How can you consider yourself a follower of Krishna if you don’t follow his way of life? Just worshiping Krishna and chanting his name isn’t enough to be his ardent devotee. Such bhakti means next to nothing if you don’t follow his ideologies.

Which aspect of Krishna was dearest to Swami Vivekananda?

By: Keyur Seta

Whenever I think of Lord Krishna or hear his mention, the first thing that strikes my mind is his teachings in the Bhagavad Gita. His theory on how to deal with life, no matter during which stage or phase, amazes me every time I read any shloka from it.

But most of the Krishna devotees I come across seem to focus more on his playful childhood antics (the famous Maakhan Chor episode), love relationship with Radha and Raas Leela. Somehow, I can’t relate myself much to these aspects of his life. I don’t dislike these incidents at all. It’s just that the message of the Gita is just too impactful for me.

Swami-Vivekananda-KrishnaAfter going through various teachings and sayings of Swami Vivekananda, it seems as if he too felt the same about Krishna. In other words, he was more interested in the Krishna of Mahabharata who eventually gifted us the priceless Gita.

This is evident from his following quote:-

“Keep aside for the present the Vrindâvan aspect of Shri Krishna, and spread far and wide the worship of Shri Krishna roaring the Gita out, with the voice of a Lion. We now mostly need the ideal of a hero with the tremendous spirit of Rajas thrilling through his veins from head to foot – the hero who will dare and die to know the Truth—the hero whose armour is renunciation, whose sword is wisdom. We want now the spirit of the brave warrior in the battlefield of life, and not of the wooing lover who looks upon life as a pleasure-garden!”

In my opinion, Swami Vivekananda meant that the world is in need of people who are ready to fight against various evils, even if it means sacrificing their lives for the greater good of the nation or society. His intention isn’t to mock the early period of Krishna’s life. This is evident from his conversation with a disciple, which you can read HERE.

Interestingly, Swami Vivekananda said this more than 100 years ago. But after reading it, it seems as it is meant for the current times we are living in.

Wishing all of you a Very Happy Janmashtami🙂

Guru Purnima: 3 ideal Guru-Shishya examples from India

By: Keyur Seta

This year (2016), Guru Purnima falls on July 19. The day celebrates the spiritual and sacred bond between a guru (teacher) and shishya (student or disciple). It is mostly celebrated in India and Nepal. The festival falls on the full moon day (purnima) in the month of Ashadha. Students pay tribute or gratitude towards their teachers on this auspicious day.

The word ‘guru’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘gu,’ which means darkness and ‘ru,’ which means remover of the darkness. Hence, guru is someone who illuminates the path of knowledge for his or her students.

Guru Purnima was the day sage Vyasa was born to sage Parashara and Satyavati. Vyasa went on to write the grand epic, Mahabharata and compile the Vedas into four parts – Rig, Yajur, Sam and Atharva. He is considered a guru since he has been teaching the precious ancient wisdom through these texts till today and shall continue to do so forever.

This was also the day when Lord Shiva appeared as Adi Guru (first guru) in the Himalayas. He taught the art of Yoga to Saptarishis (seven rishis), who went on to teach the same to others and the exercise is still going on. This day is also celebrated by Buddhists since Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon on this day at Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh.

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Ancient and modern Indian history consist quite a few classic examples of Guru-Shishya.

Let’s have a look at them:-

Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Swami Vivekananda: Swami Vivekananda is known as India’s first patriot monk, who positively inspired people with his teachings on spirituality not just in India but around the world. His biggest contribution lies in motivating people to be fearless. But it was Ramakrishna Paramhansa, earlier known as a crazy Kali Mata bhakt, who brought a confused Narendra (his original name) on the path of wisdom and spirituality.

Chanakya and Chandragupta Maurya: Chanakya was a rebel teacher, who noticed a spark of political championship in Chandragupta Maurya when the latter was just a kid. Chanakya took it upon himself to train Chandragupta in warfare, administration and politics and even went through a lot of hardships for the same. Today, Chandragupta is known as one of the greatest emperors of India only because of the efforts of the Kingmaker, Chanakya.

Krishna and Arjun: Lord Krishna preached not only the topics touched by the above teachers but every aspect of human life through his sermon to Arjun in the form of the Bhagavad Gita. On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Arjun surrendered to Krishna, his charioteer, for guidance after succumbing to mental weakness in finishing off the Kauravas, which included his own family, grandfather Bheeshma and teacher, Drona. What followed from the mouth of Krishna remains the greatest lesson ever given in human history. The Gita continues to be the driving force of inspiration and guidance for humans irrespective of nationality, religion, age or gender.

Banganga Tank Photos (Mumbai)

By: Keyur Seta

Banganga Tank is one of the few serene places in Mumbai. In fact, as soon as you go anywhere near it, you don’t feel as if you are in the same city. But unfortunately, a lot of people, who have been living in Mumbai since many years, haven’t visited it.

So here is a photo tour of a photo walk I recently had at the Banganga Tank. It’s located at Walkeshwar Road, near the bus depot. To know everything about Banganga, click HERE.

(Click on the pictures for a much larger view.)

 

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Banganga

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Banganga Tank

Banganga-Tank

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Banganga Walkeshwar

Banganga-River

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One of the few very old temples. This one is more than 200 years old. 

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