Durga Puja 2018 at Ramakrishna Mission: Pictures

Like every year, Durga Puja was celebrated with aplomb in 2018 too all over India. It reveres Goddess Durga, who defeated the demon Mahisasura on this day.

The day is also celebrated as Dussehra in various parts of India. It was the day when Lord Rama killed the evil Ravana, who had kidnapped the former’s wife Sita.

Various branches of Ramakrishna Mission not only in India but world over celebrate Durga Puja. The same is the case with its Mumbai branch.

Have a look at pictures from this year’s Durga Puja in Ramakrishna Math in Khar, Mumbai:

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The lesser known love story of Krishna and Rukmini

Plenty has been said about the love story between Krishna and Radha. In fact, there have been several books on the topic while the story is found in numerous movies too. However, the love story between Krishna and his wife Rukmini hasn’t go its due despite it being so profound and moving.

Rukmini was the daughter of the king of Vidharbha named Bhishmaka. She had heard tales of Krishna’s greatness from a sage who used to visit her regularly. He used to share His tales in details which ensured that Rukmini could visualize him and his deeds. She didn’t realize when she fell in love with him and decided to marry him.

Much to Rukmini’s delight, her parents wanted her to marry Krishna. But her brother Rukmi opposed the marriage as he wanted her to marry Shishupala, the king of Chedi. Rukmi was a friend of Krishna’s enemy, king Jarasandha. Getting his sister married to his enemy would have incensed Jarasandha. As Shishupala was a close associate of Jarasandha, it would have made the latter happy.

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Photo souce: Ritsin.com

Finally Rukmini’s father Bhishmaka gave in to the demands of Rukmi and agreed to get her married to Shishupala. Horrified Rukmini wrote a letter to Krishna promising her profound love for him because of his qualities. She urged Krishna to visit Vidharbha at the earliest and elope with her.

The task of handing over the letter to Krishna in Dwarka was given to a priest she trusted. After reading the letter, Krishna immediately ventured to Vidarbha with brother Balarama. They reached Vidarbha, where they were greeted by Bhishmaka, who always approved of Krishna.

On the day of the wedding, Rukmini was all dressed up but was getting anxious and tensed as Krishna was nowhere to be seen. The plan was to take her away while she would visit the Indrani temple. She finally saw Krishna in his chariot. He took her inside the vehicle and sped off. An infuriated Jarasandha ordered his army to stop them but to no avail. Krishna and Rukmini succeed in their venture.

The story is very similar to what we have seen in countless Hindi films. But what stands out over here is the love Rukmini developed for Krishna. It is one of the rare instances where looks played no part for both the parties.

Rukmini fell for Krishna after learning His greatness as a person. On the other hand, Krishna was moved by Rukmini’s devotion for Him. Both developed deep love for each other just by the qualities of their characters rather than appearance.

This is something to dwell upon for people of today’s era where the mere attraction born out of the looks and beauty is wrongly concluded as love.

Luz’s Paintbrush: Children’s Book Review

In a country like India, literature basically exists only for the grown-ups. This is further categorized deep-meaning and escapist books. In all this, children’s literature is hardly found anywhere in the mainstream, except for the old fables and tales recycled numerous times.

But this is not the case abroad where children’s literature is taken seriously. US Author Ashley J. Kimler and visionary artist Myztico Campo’s Luz’s Paintbrush: How You Created The Universe not only fulfils the needs of children’s literature but also aims at conditioning their minds to consider peace as life’s biggest aim.

In Spanish language, Luz means light. The book tells the story about the origin of the earth and other planets through the character of a divine feminine spirit called Luz. After spending her life travelling into different realms of existence, she lands at the mysterious outer space.

Luzs-PaintbrushShe gets so mesmerized by the place that she manifests different ideas and goes onto create the entire solar system through her divine paintbrush before finally arriving on planet earth to create her magic.

Luz’s Paintbrush gets you involved right at the start with its words and images. Generally, sketches aid storytelling. But over here, it is as important part of the narration as the text. The combination is enough to get you on a mysterious yet pleasurable journey.

Over the years, good children films are proved to be those that impress even the grown-ups. The same can be applied for literature as well. Kimler’s writing has a natural flow that gets one captivated, irrespective of your age and belief pattern.

Campo’s sketches are colourful and full of life. Apart from being an explanation of the text, the pictures can also been seen independently.

But the book doesn’t stop at being an interesting journey. There is an underlying message of peace and harmony which is not spelled out. Obviously, different religions around the world have different theories about the evolution of the earth. Most of the kids would eventually or most probably hang onto one of the theories after growing up.

So, to get them started about the evolution in such a simple and peaceful manner might just stop them from being rigid about their respective religious beliefs later on in life. This is much needed in today’s times when people are even ready to kill in the name of religion world over.

One questionable aspect pertaining to India is that some sentences are too deep to be understood by Indian kids. So, it is imperative for their parents to be well-versed with English in order to provide explanations. Also, the book could have been lengthier as it’s a very fast read.

Overall: Luz’s Paintbrush is a pleasurable read that also gives a message of peace.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Author: Ashley J. Kimler

Illustrator: Myztico Campo

Publishers: Notispress Communications

Pages: 32

Cover: Amalgamation of different colours giving a glimpse of what to expect inside

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.

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.

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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

 

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.