Archive for मार्च, 2011

On the Banks of the Narmada

Sunday, 27th March 2011. We spent the day at Hoshangabad

Situated in the Vindya ranges  the Narmada valley  is very calm and scenic place. The town is on the left of the great goddess river Narmada. There is a huge mountain on the opposite side. It is at some distance; It rises gradually from the western side and comes to an abrupt end on the eastern side, this ridge though green and uninhabited appears very violent yet  calm and beautiful. I don’t remember raising head to watch mother Narmada without appreciating this imposing hill. It is there, always; may be in background but yet strong enough to set the theme of scene.

In distant eastern corner on the other bank of the river, there was a house with red mud-tiled roof. With the waning Basant, lush green forest was giving way to paleness that is typical to the region in this season. The red Palash trees scattered randomly, as usual were airing their spirit of defiance that is isolated and  connected in some cosmic way. These Palash constitute a part of that which imparts the region its distinct personality.
Virgin Narmada, the mother of universe and daughter of Shiva runs in all her glory below. The banks of Narmada have a  meditative aura. You can’t cast-off these impressions and as experience these impressions become part of your being. An ancient feeling of aloof witness roams in the air; always. Indians are ‘river people’.  Our identities are shaped locally and river constitute important influence. I have observed some typical traits associated with people of specific rivers.  People of Narmada have this ancientness and aloofness in them.
Not unlike common people the spiritual aspirants staying here too possess characteristics that attunes to the region. Amidst all din and hectic activities it is difficult not to be infected by the serenity. This is the place of pure knowledge. Ganga is still young and Yamuna too has certain playfulness. Narmada is the ancient virgin and world near her appears full of knowledge that comes only with hoary experience. It is deeply inward drawn and inward drawing. There is no escape.
Some four kilometers from the city on the Kharra Ghat there stands a old Dutta Mandir. Here Narmada takes a slight leftward turn. As we entered the wooden gate of field, the cows standing in the shed raised their heads to see the intruders. And yet they were supremely indifferent, very ‘Hindu’ type I thought.  Taking a  few steps, we entered in the temple garden. It was full of huge Audumbara, Mango, Tamarind, Peepul and Saal trees. The unmistakable Madhur rasa of Basant was in the air.

The place was silent and occasional chirpings and humming sounds were making us more aware of the intensity of this calmness. The huge ancient Audumbara tree that stands outside the temple gate was abuzz with activities of ants that were ascending and descending in rows and numerous little birds of different species. The rhythmically swaying leaves took turn to rustle in between but only occasionally. The waft of sweet and ripe Audumbara fruits though coming from a distant tree was no less distinct. The serenity of the place was disturbed intermittently only by sounds of train crossing the river bridge and truck engines, quarrying sand from the river bed.

This temple dedicated to Lord Duttatraya was established by Swami Vasudevananda Saraswati, about  hundred year ago. The Pratima of the Dutta is Ekmukhi (with one head) as against Trimukhi (with three heads representing Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha) which is found more abundantly. The marble Murtee of Sri Dutta is beautiful and it is a joy to watch his beatific face.

Sharmaji, the Brahmin priest came to the temple around 2 PM after taking rest. He was a stout middle-aged man of faith who had come to the temple some 25 years back with his father. He must be quite young at that time. He narrated several incidences associated with the place. I am sharing some of them here.
Swami Vasudevananda Saraswati was on pilgrimage to the northern part of country. As Prayag he saw a Brahmin leper ready to throw himself on pyre. The Swami with his powers cured the Brahmin of the disease instantly, but in return got a patch of leprosy on his body. Swami prayed to the mother Ganga and asked for cure. Mother Ganga said – this was to happen from you alone and all your powers and now spent in this. Go southwards  and pray to Devi Narmada, she will grant you powers and will cure you also.
The Swami started journey and reached in this region of Narmada valley. He stayed at this place for three days. One day he had a great spiritual experience and he saw the Dutta in form of huge effulgence on the Audumbara tree. Later, the Swami asked his disciples to establish temple there and thus temple was built. Initially, disciples were not happy with the place, which at that time was in dense forest that was full of wild animals. The Swami pointed out that this place is blessed with special powers and the temple has to be built  at that place alone. A small temple was built and later it was expanded in renovation.
Some 30 meters ahead is the place where the Gulavani Maharaj was initiated by his Guru the famed Loknath Tirtha Maharaj with Shaktipaat deeksha. Now a small temple is built at the place. Gulawani Maharaj was a painter by profession, one fine morning while wandering he had had a darshan of Sri Dutta and first thing he did after returning was to draw a painting of the Lord. Copy of that picture is hanging there on the wall. It is really something that is worth a look, the strokes and expressions and the whole…
The priest said when they came to temple it was a veritable sanctuary of all sorts of animals. A time came when thieves used to take away all that were kept outside the room and temple. One day his mother while returning from Narmada had a new company with her. It was dog that was never seen around before. The dog stayed at the temple and kept a watch in and around the temple. Its senses were very sharp. Its ferocious barks were sufficient to frighten even a brave heart. The thefts and pilfering stopped instantly and excursions of wild animals in the region also reduced. The Brahmin family named it Lalu.
One day the brahmins’s son was playing in the open space near temple. A huge Naag (snake) who was never seen before in the premises came approaching the child. Lalu challenged the Naaga and a fight ensued. Both fought for some half an hour. Whole family assembled there and prayed Naaga to leave the child unharmed. It went away.
It happened once that some unknown person cut the bee hive from huge tamarind tree in night. Next morning angry bees attacked a farm laborer who happened to pass the tree to tend cows. Bees covered all his body and no one dared to help him. He was crying and was begging for help. Suddenly Lalu came and jumped upon the laborer. Lalu covered all his body and started removing the bees with its paws. Lalu was barking violently, the Brahmin lady came there with a blanket and covered him with it. He was saved and lived for many years. When some years later the dog fell ill the laborer cried saying I owe this life to the mercy of this dog.
Lalu’s was a pious life. It used to have Narmada Snana daily and used to observe fasts. On fast days no one could make Lalu eat anything. And just like this serving Lord Dutta, Lalu completed his life. A great swami who stayed at the temple for some days confided that Lalu in his previous birth was a sadhaka of high order who having fallen down on the path is enduring his Karmaphala. Incidentally Shri Duttaatraya is always depicted accompanied by a cow and four dogs.

I am attaching 4 pics that I took with my mobile. (From Left to right, top to bottom)
(1) The Shivlinga under the Audumbara tree in front of temple gate
(2) The Grabhagruha of the temple with Ek Mukhi Guru Dutta in the centre
(3) The Audumbara tree
(4) The front of temple

Narma-de Har…

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The first conversation – (1)

( There is this little wonderful collection of letters and talks of Br. Lawrence, The practice of presence of God. It has some special quality about it. I copied down this book almost a decade ago and found it very useful. Words fail to express gratitude, such are the words of book. Sharing the first conversation here. It is available for download on net. Hope you too find it useful.)
August 3, 1666

The first time that I saw Brother Lawrence He told me that Almighty God had granted him an extraordinary grace in his conversion, which had taken place at the age of eighteen, while he was still in the world. He told me –
That one winter day he noticed a tree stripped of leaves and reflected that before long leaves would appear anew, then flowers and then that fruit, and that this consideration gave him so striking an idea of the providence and might of God that it had never since been effaced from his soul that this idea had abstracted him altogether from the world and kindled in him so great a love for God that he was not able to say if it has increased during the forty odd years which has since passed.
He prayed for sinners but knowing that God could remedy their ills in His own time he did not grieve unduly That in order to give ourselves to God in the measure that He wishes of us, we must carefully watch over the impulses of our heart, which affects the actions of the soul, as well as the actions of the body; and that God would give help to this end to those who had a real desire to be united to Him.
That if I had this desire, I was at liberty to come to him, Br. Lawrence, whenever I wished, without it I ought not to visit him again.

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My interest in translation stems from genuine wonder that I feel seeing at an almost absence of translation in Indian tradition. In a region where diversity of languages, religious-secular thoughts, andliterature is simply mind-boggling (and along with this ever-expanding heterogeneity a perfect oral tradition coming down from hoary past); near absence of genre called translation, is interesting.
This made me curious to delve into the roots of translation from a different perspective. In this post I have put down some such thoughts.
To start with, translation is an NOT a universal phenomenon for there is no universal man,  culture or civilization or any such progression. To put it in a somewhat provocatively – the concept of Universalism is a myth that developed maybe in Mediterranean-Arab or Greco-Abrahamic cultural paradigm. It is outcome of an exploitative agenda that succeeded in converting the world to a strong narrow ideology.

In Abrahamic religions (in the story of Babel Genesis) multitude of languages is God’s mechanism to control over human wish to ascend (forbidden) heaven. God’s stratagem leads to further diversion and thus translation is necessitated and justified. This act of Monotheist God becomes a bar that is imitated and followed by the faithful.
Translation rests on a set of peculiar concepts of – ‘self’, ‘society’, ‘values’ and ‘connection’. This set has clannish, geographic ownership, ethical and moral connect. In it a thought of collectiveness is born and this is very near to the foundation of modern concept of nation. Once the aim of translator is clear it is procedural in which way the knowledge passes (from slaves to masters or other way round) the gain remains with masters.
Translation in essence is a cultural interaction; it is a way where two alien traditions meet. The translator by virtue of being initiator tries to assimilate or disseminate knowledge to the ‘Other’. (#) In the former sense the ‘Other’ tradition becomes the ‘source’, in the later a ‘benefactor’. With appropriation as aim, translation remains a useful instrument. Translation is politics. It is a political instrument. The historical conflicts over Bible translation during reformation of sixteenth century is but one example of this.
There is not so subtle transgression and violence in it. In history, translators have invariably been either travelers or courtiers accompanying conquerors or missionaries. Translation has been a major tool used to appropriate colonial wealth. And it often leaves the reader of such work an exploiter or a turncoat.
The modern concept of nation is continuation of thought that gives preponderance to such man over the nature. It is not man but people. This national building man is exploitative and nomadic; he has cut himself from the wider cosmos and rests in some beliefs which change with time. So while in this tradition political revolutions are not uncommon the real and effective revolutions are only that which are brought in by prophets, rest are at more superfluous level.
This modern state though has moved towards a new secular paradigm in post world war era, the inherent problem with this idea of state (which is exploitative and egalitarian at same time) is such that when it tries to grow further and comes into contact with those thoughts which are also set in same milieu with more strident exclusivist and universalist world view, only conflict remains essential. This is the real turf of conflict between the cross-Atlantic West and Islamists. And as anyone can see the threat is existential. For those who are searching some middle ground or space for dialogue, future is plainly bleak. As if the life cycle of this paradigm is reaching to culmination, but then perhaps it doesn’t recognize cyclical flow of nature.
The design of growth has in its belly the seeds of destruction also.

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This letter is written to students by Swami Omananda Puri, who’s article titled Agni-Vidya has been posted on this blog eariler.
Met Swamiji at Bhopal station on last Sunday. I am posting a letter written by him to students do share it with your friend if you find it useful.


Dear Blessed Students

My hearty blessings and best wishes to you all.
Be ever blissful, hopeful, healthy and courageous with right and firm determination in your thought. Never be discourages in life on the loss of petty things. You are the children of Gods – Amritasya Putra – sharer of immortal bliss, holy and perfect beings.
You are not matter, matter is your servant; you are not the servant of matter.
Have Shraddha, faith in yourself first, then in God, Always be truthful to you. That is real Shraddha. To succeed you must have firm and tremendous perseverance. You must learn ‘Time Cultivation’ – that means making the best use of the time and energy you have, for desired and constructive purposes.
To accomplish your goal, you must have developed deep interest and concentration towards your subjects of study. At the same time, side by side, you must try to develop the following disciplines within you:
Om Celibacy and celibate life
Om Self confidence
Om Self reliance
Om Self discipline
Om Self Control
Om Self abnegation
Om Self-sacrifice
Om Self-consciousness
Om Self-illumination
Om Self-joy, self-bliss
Om Self peace, and thus
Om Self satisfaction

Apart from these virtues (personality traits), some more virtues you must develop to enrich your personality (character), viz. : purity of thoughts, words and deeds; geniality of speech; absence of anger; compassion towards all; patience; chastity; poverty or simplicity; punctuality; honesty; obedience; toleration without complaint and devoid of jealousy, etc.
So, how to make the personality and the character A DIVINE ONE AND A BRIGHT ONE?
First of all, you must know the character. It is a bundle of many divine personality traits (described above), aggregated in a person, like a variety of colourful, fragrant flowers and leaves placed in a beautiful vase. Everyone wants to have a talk with a person who has such traits.
So, dear students, how to acquire all these divine personality traits? This is to be searched out, cultivated, and cultured within you.
The prime means for all these are: firstly, you have to create and develop right – thinking, right – planning, right – selection, right- execution, right- action, proper -editing, proper- auditing, proper – controlling, proper – food, proper- entertainment, and proper – rest.
Be like a SEER – drusta (sakshi), witnessing of all activities from inner power (consciousness), and aim accordingly.

Next step: Arise, awake early in the morning – at least half-an-hour before sunrise. Wash and clean yourself, then sit for concentration. Release all tensions and relax the body and do keep totally quiet and concentrate your mind on one point. For example, you may concentrate on an inner object, like your own nearest self or on an outer object like the moon, a lotus, burning flame, or the symbol Om.
At the same time, be watchful and do not allow any undesirable thoughts to enter into your mind. Sit as long as you can. Do this again and again.
In your mind and intellect are being put into the practice of one-pointed concentration with proper

Disciplines, only then this practice matures and given successful and satisfactory results.
Please try to learn this by the example of the archery test of Sri Guru Dronacharya’s disciples, Arjun, Bhim, Buryodhan, Yudhishtir, etc.
As you know, out of all the disciples, only Arjun could successfully pierce the eye bird with his arrow, because of his practice of one-disciples could not do so. Therefore, one-pointed concentration (ekagrata) of mind and intellect, along with control of the sense organs, is the basic foundation of all the types of success to be attained in this life.
One-pointed concentration has tremendous power beyond our imagination. The vibrations of thought-power can pierce an object only up to a limited depth, whereas a pure and disciplined, one-pointed, concentrated mind has the power to pierce any depth, any object in time and space. It has no physical obstruction and no physical limitation. As you all know, the ancient Indian rishis, sages, aspirants and seekers after Truth practiced this one-pointed concentration and became Trikalajna (knower of past, present and future).
For example, if your mind concentrates on your bodies (the gross body, the subtle body and the casual body), the mental thought waves will pierce these bodies and will acquire the knowledge of all your past lives and actions, their results, and how this present body has come up.
Such is the great power of one-pointed concentration. It depends upon the degree of purity and strength of disciplined mind. By the help of deep, one-pointed concentration, you may know the secret of Nature- what to peak of your subjects of study!
Therefore, if you want cent percent success in your studies and career then please practice and apply the power of one pointed concentration on your studies, etc. You will feel this transformation – how an ordinary, skilled student has become an intelligent, meritorious, and successful student. You will be astonished by yourself.
So, right from now and every day, without any delay, please start the practice of one pointed concentration.
In this complete process of career building, character building, character building, personality development, and one pointed concentration, never mind failures, do not be overwhelmed by despair. They are quite natural. Hold to your aim and ideal, and then attempt once more, Work hard and you will reach success in life.
So, My dear students: “Come up, O lions! And shake off the delusion that you are neglected, incomplete and unfit. You are pure, perfect, powerful, soul immortal.” Please listen to the voice of the great man (mahamanav) Swami Vivekananda: “Strength is life, weakness is death” So make yourself strong – physically, mentally, intellectually, and spiritually, by all means.
Arise! Awake from ignorance, darkness, false habits and behaviours. When you are truly awakened, only then will you realize that a real gentleman has been born from within.
My dear students please read carefully each word of these holy good wishes. If you imbibe all these important instructions with your heart and follow them accordingly, your personality and character will bloom like a full grown lotus which enjoys itself and gives joy, bliss, hope and satisfaction to all. Such a one is indeed blessed, and very, very lucky. Lastly, dear students, if you have understood these key words of success and wisdom in your student’s life, then kindly share then with your friends for their upliftment also.
And so try with every effort to “reach the climax of human excellence by character-building, personality development, and with the help of noble conduct and deeds in life.”
Now I hope you will be able to grasp the central idea of this saying of Swami Vivekananda:
“Education is the manifestation of perfection already in Man”
Once again, with all the Best Wishes,
Your Well-wisher,
Swami Omananda Puri

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