Acharya Vidyasagar’s life depicted through sand art by artist Fatmir Mura in Vidyoday

Some time back, the news was out about filmmaker and producer Vidhi Kasliwal making a documentary on the life of revered Jain monk Acharya Vidyasagar titled Vidyoday. Now, it is learnt that his life will also be portrayed in the film through sand art by sand artist Fatmir Mura.

As per an official statement by the makers, the visuals “are not mere drawings, rather elaborate and emotional narratives that come alive by his nimble and skilful hand movements that come across like a graceful dance, perfectly synchronised to the music, leaving the viewers totally mesmerised and spellbound.”

Acharya-Vidyasagar

For Mura, the assignment appeared impossible at the start. “It was very far from my vision, an enormous commitment and practically unthinkable. But as if by magic, one day someone on the other side of the world thought of the impossible, studied it and was ready to make it happen. I am very happy and honoured to have worked on this film with Vidhi and Landmarc Films. Making this film was an artistic experience more profound than anything I have done in the past,” he said in the statement.

He is happy that he got to learn a culture much different than his. “Thanks to this collaboration I learned the traditions, customs and many wonderful aspects of Indian culture. This film gave me an opportunity for professional and even spiritual growth,” added Mura.

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Unable to visit your temple or Guru? Take a 360 degree VR experience and immerse yourself in devotion

The medium of the internet has provided us with the option of getting darshan of our most sought after devotional venues while sitting anywhere in the world. Now, with the latest advancement in technology, the merging of Virtual Reality (VR) has seeped into the idea of virtually visiting religious centers.

VRDevotee (VR stands for Virtual Reality) is a new technology that enables us to have a virtual reality experience of various temples and devotional events taking place in India. The experience is started by the company named VR Devotee.

Today, many people are unable to visit temples or places of devotion for various reasons like ill-health, old age, distance, lack of time and in many cases financial constraints too. The desire to spend more time with God is a constant need and it is satisfied to some extent through various TV channels. But the experience is at best passive.

Virtual Reality darshan of IsckonVideos only provide you with a recorded footage from the angle it is taken from. Now with VRDevotee, the experience is as good as being there. This technology enables us to have a full 360 degree view of the entire venue.

For example, experience the 360 degree view of the flower showering ritual at the Iskcon Chowpatty temple (Mumbai) on their website – vrdevotee.com and app – https://appurl.io/jctwnvnx. You will realize how much better it is than simply seeing a recorded video. The app gives a better experience.

But to get the best experience, one must try their VR headset. This will better your experience manifolds. The feeling being present at the place is at the highest when experienced with this gadget. You can buy it from their website.

Similarly, they also provide experience Sri Sai Centre in Bengaluru and Adiyogi Maha Shivaratri at Isha Yoga Centre at Coimbatore. They will soon have channels on Swami Sukhabodhananda and Dwarkadhishji Temple in Mumbai. According to their official website, they will be adding more channels and centers.

There is recorded content available and the company has successfully completed its first live VR telecast of the Flower Festival for ISKCON Chowpatty and has lined up several more of such events.

The experience of actually visiting a holy place or devotional center is, no doubt, the highest. But with the fast paced and stressful city life, it is always a welcome break to latch onto the next best option to unwind whenever one gets the time.

Learn more about VR Devotee technology in this video:

This supremely peaceful pond in Juhu is hardly known to Mumbaikars

Mumbai is such a vast city that even those who have been staying here for decades aren’t aware about some of its delightful spots. One such place is a pond in Juhu called Brahma Kund. For some reason, this place is unknown to almost everyone I know. It’s strange how hardly anyone from my circles has ever noticed it.

Brahma Kund is situated in the lane opposite to the Iskcon or Hare Rama Hare Krishna temple. It appears suddenly on the left side of the lane. Its appearance is like a miniature Banganga, which is situated long way away from here in Walkeshwar (see pictures HERE). It is five feet deep and 12 X 12 feet in dimension.

Juhu-pond
Click to enlarge

There are footsteps to descend into the pond where the water is still. It has a number of tortoises and fishes. Smart spots are inscribed to place diyas. There are a couple of temples situated inside its vicinity. One looks like a Shivalinga and the other is not known.

This is because, unfortunately, one is not allowed to go inside the premises. This has been the case ever since I spotted the pond for the first time in 2012. Not sure till what period were people allowed inside. This is the sad part. I guess there might be some logical reason behind this.

But one can experience extreme peace even by peeping into the pond from the outside. Thankfully, my work involves visiting this place often. So, I recharge myself by stopping by this pond each time. There are times when I reach few minutes early just to make sure I spend some time here.

It is difficult for me to explain what is so special about Brahma Kund. All I can say is that I experience extreme peace and serenity, something so rare in the fast moving city aka concrete jungle. It’s an example of nature going hand-in-hand with spirituality.

I would love to know the history behind this pond. There is no info available on the internet except that it’s ancient. Any more enlightenment would be highly appreciated.

P.S:– This place feels more delightful during rains/ monsoons.

By: Keyur Seta

Brahma-Kund-Juhu
Brahma Kund during monsoon

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/-

How have we made enjoyment a complicated process?

By: Keyur Seta

Taking a break from your daily routine every once in a while is important for working professionals, especially in today’s stressful era of urban life. But I have been observing that people have devised some complicated methods of unwinding. This ends up making them more tired (mentally and physically), which defeats the very purpose of unwinding.

I would like to explain myself through the following observation:

dancing
Picture: Meetup.com

Recently, I and my friends had gone for a short trip to Lonavala as the hill station appears more beautiful during monsoons or rainy season. Except me and maybe 1-2 others, all got highly drunk at night and danced like anything. Obviously, they woke up with a hangover and the road ride back home didn’t help them either. Hence, they required that day and the following day to unwind from the unwinding process.

Just four days later I was required to visit the same place again to cover a film festival. It was a packed five day schedule. I had to visit the venue before lunch every day and return to my hotel in the evening. Then I had to work till night. The next morning I used to complete my pending work before heading to the venue again.

lonavala-mountainsThis would appear to you as a trip full of work and stress. You might also feel as if I would have got terribly tired by the time the trip ended and would have needed 1-2 days to recover. But what if I tell you that despite the hectic work schedule, I not only enjoyed but also felt energetic throughout the five days? This was possible through a simple process of surrendering to nature.

Daily before breakfast, I went for long walks, little bit of jogging and exercises. My hotel was far away from the highway and the venue was way inside the main road. But this proved to be a blessing in disguise. It meant that I got more time to spend with nature while walking to my hotel and the venue. Plus, every now and then I paused to have a look at the scenic beauty of mountains surrounded by clouds and fog.

The result was that I never felt tired even an ounce despite working rigorously and walking for miles daily (the monsoon adding icing on the cake). And more importantly, I didn’t require any unwinding from the trip and was able to join office without taking a single break.

lonavala

lonavala-railway-station

lonavala-monsoon

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:

Krishna-Sudama
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.

Krishna and Arjun
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?

By: Keyur Seta

Short Story: What is the true meaning of worshiping God?

By: Keyur Seta

People worship various Gods in various ways. There are innumerable theories and beliefs as to how to worship God and what pleases him/her the most. Some go through various austerities while others believe in saying a silent prayer for few seconds. But what exactly is the meaning of true worship? What pleases God the most?

Have a look at the following two scenarios and decide for yourself:-

1)

Mr X is a super-rich industrialist, living in the plush Cuffe Parade locality of south Mumbai. His family, which consists of his wife, two kids and mother, has access to all the luxuries one could imagine. His kids go to the most expensive school in the city. Buying new clothes, gadgets, accessories and what not is a continuous process for them. His family just needs a reason to throw parties that cost lakhs of rupees.

Mr X’s family is also very religious. They have a chamber in their apartment where they perform religious activities twice daily, without fail. His family religiously follows and celebrates all holy days and festivals as per the religious calendar. They are also seen embarking to holy places at least 4-5 times each year. Needless to say, they spend a bomb in religious activities too.

2)

Swami-VivekanandaLiving in the Girgaum area of south Mumbai, Mr Y hails from a simple middle-class family. He is a bank executive in a bank while his wife works with an insurance company. Naturally, their income falls in the average category. Their only child goes to a normal private school. Although Mr and Mrs Y believe in God, they aren’t ritualistic. They hardly visit places of worship and never go for holy trips.

Despite the fact that they don’t earn handsomely, the couple has been saving money since a year to contribute to the needy farmers of the Marathwada district, who are committing suicide due to drought and debt. They also involve themselves in various social issues selflessly whenever they get a chance.

So, the question arises as to who exactly is worshiping God here? Family X or family Y?

You decide.

Actors Nana Patekar and Makarand Anaspure have been selflessly working towards the cause of farmers of Maharashtra. They have been contributing from their own pocketss despite not being rich. They have started an NGO called NAM Foundation.

You can contribute any amount that suits you by following the following method:-

Send in your amount to “NAM Foundation”

SBI Current account no. 35226127148

IFSC Code no. SBIN0006319

SWIFT Code no. SBININBB238

 

“If a stray dog of my country remains without food, my religion will be to feed and take care of him. All else is either non-religion of false religion.”

“He who sees Shiva in the poor, in the weak, and in the diseased, really worships Shiva. And if he sees Shiva only in the image, his worship is but preliminary.”

– Swami Vivekananda