Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

May 17, 2016

Songs of the Mist Book Reading at Leela Palace Hotel (Chennai)

An Evening of Art, Music and Writing
Swetha Sriram - Disciple of Bombay Jayashree opens the evening
with her devotional songs
Leela Palace Hotel and Perspectives along with Apparao Gallery created an evening of “Art, Music and Writing”, on 14th May, 2016. In the program, I was invited to give my readers an interactive experience to my book "Songs of the Mist" - a reading of the Book, accompanied by the music of Swetha Sriram (Vocal), Vittal Rangan (Violin) and Thanjavur Praveen (Mridangam).
The attentive audience

The event was hosted by untiring host Sindhiya from Apparao Gallery, which also included unveiling of the cover page of my coffee table book.
Hostess Sindhiya of Apparao Gallery

In the cross disciplinary evening of Art, Music and Writing my good friend Timeri N Murari - author of 14 books including 'The Taj' as well as writer producer of the feature film 'The Square Circle' introduced my book 'Songs of the Mist', after which we were all transported to the exquisite realm of karnatic music, rendering the Leela Palace Galleria with devotion and melody. The ambience was highlighted by the surreal display of landscapes and soft hues of mist and natural earth colors by the artists - N Sriram (Chennai) and Bhavana (Mumbai)

Timeri N Murari - Introducing my book "Songs of the Mist"

Essence of the Divine Song
The Essence of Divine Song - Cover Painting
by Keshav Sir

This coffee table book has all the 9 songs of the Monk from my book "Songs of the Mist" as well as some of the Haiku and thoughts from the book. The book's cover page is by famous cartoonist of Hindu, Mr. Keshav -one of the finest Krishna Bhakta, I have come across in Chennai. The book is conceptualized by Krishan Kumar Sharma, which includes Photographs by Goutam Chakraborty, Suresh Thommandram and some of my pictures as well.

The team and some of the images from the book...

Here are some of the pictures from the evening…

The invites...

Some of the readers... 
And the people...
Selfie Time...

The Chennai Bloggers and the Family Gang

Media Blitz for the event...
Slides from my presentation... My experience in Himalayas
over the decades...

The book reading slides...


__
Shashi 
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya


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Songs of the Mist - Back to the root

Apr 29, 2016

CREATION: The Big Bang and the eternal sound - Om

THE CREATION OF UNIVERSE: TWO STORIES
In the first one, Roman Catholic priest and physicist- Georges Lemaître was following the recession of Nebulae in the night sky. After long and lengthy vigil over time, he came up with the idea that the recession was due to the expansion of the universe. In 1931 Lemaître took another bold step and inferred since the universe is expanding, it is quite possible that if we retrace universe back in time, at some specific moment all the mass of the universe would be concentrated into a single point, which he termed as a "primeval atom". That particular moment and the place where the fabric of time and space came into existence, he believed to be the beginning of our Universe, as we know it now.



He then proposed a theory, which was later developed by George Gamow as the point when the universe started with a big bang. However it was Hoyle who coined “The Big Bang” as a popular phrase in March 1949 BBC Radio broadcast. In the year 1965, the discovery and confirmation of the cosmic microwave background radiation finally made the Big Bang as the best theory for the origin and evolution of the universe, which was confirmed in 1968 and 1970, by Roger Penrose, Stephen Hawking, and George F. R. Ellis by showing that mathematical singularities were an inevitable initial condition of general relativistic models of the Big Bang.
 
Stephen Hawking holding a public lecture at the Stockholm Waterfront
congress center, 24 August 2015.(IMG:Curtsy Wikipedia)
Now here is the second story. Sages (read priests) and scholars (read astronomers, cosmologists, mathematicians etc.) who wrote Vedas, Upanishads, Purana’s etc. who for centuries wondered about the Universe, Stars, heavenly bodies and searching answers for eternal questions like ‘what is the purpose of life, Who am I and what is the cosmos and who is the creator etc.’ Over many generations, they pondered over the questions and revealed their thoughts about it all, in their teachings, in their compositions of Sanskrit Shlokas which were handed down the generation by verbal memory - by way of shurtis etc. These were later collated in the form of numerous ancient manuscripts of Vedic culture.
 
Shankaracharya by Raja Ravi Varma
(Curtsy Wikipedia)
Here are some of those inferences and ancient ideas which talk about the process of creation.

MāndūkyaUpanishad starts with solemn proposition with the following…  
 
“OM! This imperishable word is the whole of this visible universe.”

It was probably for the first time, the sacred Primordial sound ‘OM’ (Read Pranava Naad, which literally means deep sound or The Big Bang!) was referred to as it is. It is believed that in the early Vedas, the word was omitted since it was considered too sacred a sound of immense power and potency to be mentioned by itself.

ChandogyaUpanishad explains the origin of the universe as…

“Space, said he. Verily, all things here arise out of space. They disappear back into space, for space alone is greater than these, space is the final goal. This is the most excellent Udgitha. This is endless. The most excellent is his, the most excellent worlds does he win, who, knowing it thus, reveres the most excellent Udgitha [Om, ].” - Verse 1.9.1-1.9.2


“There was nothing whatsoever here in the beginning. It was covered only by Death (read dark space) or Hirayagarbha - A golden womb” - Verse 1.2.1
 

Now if you compare these two stories, our sages have said almost the same thing as the Roman Catholic Priest Lemaitre did in early 20th century, 4000 to 5000 years ago. The insightful verses above and many more were based on pure thought experiments. Generation upon generation Vedic scholars, pundits and Gurus meditated upon the cosmos, developed theories about how the Universe was created, who we are, what is the purpose of life etc. But now these thoughts of ancient sages are branded as something obscure and unintelligent mythological babble of primitive idlers. Though here I would like to remind the readers that they were the same people who gave the world, numerical “0”, trigonometry, calculus, Pythagoras theorem etc.

This kind of belittling of our ancient philosophy and thoughts started with the infiltration of Indian culture and heritage by ancient as well as modern invaders. The final nail in the coffin of obscurity for Indian philosophy happened with Aryan invasion theories as well as biased opinions of some European writers and thinkers, who translated these ancient text out of context. Some, in the absence of written history or documentation, even went beyond the usual rhetoric and dismissed it all as heresy, myths or bizarre fairy tales.

Now we all know that Vedic teachers, philosophers did not write their thoughts down on some kind of primitive tablets or on the walls of obscure caves, because they relied on the most enduring tool of the mankind - the mind and the cultivated discipline of Guru - Shishya parampara (Teacher and disciple custom) relationship based Gurukul system of Vedic culture. Vedic culture believed in shruti i.e. learning sholokas and its meaning by heart through listening, through out the ancient time.

Yes, there is no mention of the sacred eternal sound OM (which was later mentioned in the Upanishads) in the early Rg Vedas. But to understand this absence of the pranava naad ‘Om’, we must put it in the proper context. In Vedic culture of ancient India, the primordial sound ‘OM’ was considered the most sacred and holy sound with immense potential energy to be mentioned by itself anywhere. The teacher alone passed it on to the disciple by way of whispering it into his ear. Even today this custom of transferring sacred knowledge is found in many current Vedic rituals like the sacred thread ceremony, or in the ritual of becoming a shishya (disciple) through Guru Mantra, whispered into the disciple’s ear by the Guru.
 
German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer,
impressed by the Upanishads, called the texts
"the production of the highest human wisdom".
(IMG: Curtsy Wikipedia)
It can be argued whether the ancient Vedic philosophy was a scientific endeavor or just a flight of fancy of ancient Indian student or teacher? But in my opinion, during the times of Vedic culture the young scholar of the gurukul system of learning, learned everything under the sun and continued learning their whole life, thinking and practicing what he / she had learned, refining and consolidating it with every step of knowledge gained. And they shared this knowledge with their disciples through their teachings in various forms of Shruti and slowly it grew to be the Vedic tree of knowledge with the branches of Upanishads, Puranas, and its root firmly planted in ancient Vedas.

Over a period of time, our great sages also realised that the reality of the whole universe is also an interaction between Purush (man) and the Prakriti (Nature) and in this interaction, the duality of the universal consciousness is manifested through spandan (vibration) or prana (light) which act as the eternal energy within every single particle existing the universe.

And this is exactly what the modern world, scientific community as of now, is fighting hard to come to terms with. It was all right for the scientists till the time, Newtonian mechanics had its hold over the progressive world. But as the mankind slowly dug deeper into the depths of elements, quantum particles stared back with its weird quantum phenomenon and stumped the scientific community.

But this duality never had any problems for the Vedic thinkers of 5000 years ago…

Science Vs Spirituality in 
Songs of the Mist...
“Now that light which shines above this heaven, higher than all, higher than everything, in the highest world, beyond which there are no other worlds, that is the same light which is within man”Chandogya Upanishad 3.13.7

“The soul cannot be created or destroyed,” says Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita and this is exactly what most of the scientists of the world say about ‘energy’ too” says Ayan the scientist in my book - Songs of the Mist (Page - 25)


In the end, I would like to say that for a very long time, we have denied the rightful place of our rich heritage, culture and ancient knowledge base. The books like Bhagwad Gita have provided the perfect road map to live the prefect life, even in modern times - A life which is meaningful and is in equilibrium with the nature all around us as well as within our own intrinsic nature. But it is unfortunate that not only others, we ourselves don’t take them seriously, specifically the young Indian generation. The young India does not like to read these amazing books, as they are considered to be archaic, impractical and ancient in thoughts, a position for which we have ourselves to blame. We ourselves have turned the immensely practical treasure trove of our rich heritage of culture and knowledge into a straightjacketed ritualistic customs and practices, hidden behind the closed and crumbling temple walls across the country, through our fanatic religious shortsightedness.
__
Shashi 
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya


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Evolution - A Work in Progress...

Apr 25, 2016

36th Edition of Shadow Dancing With Mind

It feels great that my book “Songs of the Mist” is finally published and this month it reached the bestseller rank of 29 at Amazon, in Self help section. This blog has been a great source of inspiration and kept me going when things seemed to stall in my writing effort. I am grateful for the support my friends, followers and readers gave me over the years. Today, after a long time, I am collating the 36th Edition of Shadow Dancing with Mind. Hope you like it and please do check out these pages as I am working on Chennai Colors posts on IndiBlogger’s Renie Ravin, How to publish your book, The similarities between The Big Bang and the primordial sound ‘Om’ etc. in coming weeks. Please don’t forget to check out my ’10 Tips on the Art of Writing’, which is collation of my learnings while writing my first book.


For last few months, I have been collecting some Debut Novels by some of the new Authors, I have across through my social media interactions. Finally I have been able to read them and this post shares my thoughts on their beautiful work of passion. This is my tribute to their undying devotion towards writing and creativity. Hope you will enjoy reading my thoughts about them and their work. Please do leave a comment and if you like what I have written about their books, check them out too... Click here to read more...

2) Chennai Colors: Aseries about amazing and creative people of Chennai
Dr. Chithra Madhavan: 9 tips on writing about Temple Architecture and Heritage buildings - A Leading heritage historian and Authority on Temple Architecture & Heritage from Chennai adds to the colors of Chennai by revealing ancient sculptures and uncovering amazing stories found hidden in the sanctum sanatoriums of popular as well as lost Indian heritage sites. Click here to read more...

Dr. Anita Ratnam: Inculcate passionate-curiosity to write about art - Colour of Chennai is somewhere between red and orange - a highly respected performer, writer, speaker and arts entrepreneur and culture mentor, set the tone of this edition of Chennai Colors, as she picked the color ‘Arakk-Munjal’ – a hue somewhere between ‘Vermillion and Mango Orange’ as the color of Chennai. Click here to read more...

3) ABOUT BOOKS


Writing a book is an exhaustive and lonely struggle, which becomes painful in itself if you are not passionate about words and enjoy the stories it brings forth from the depths of your heart. As I finish writing book-2 in “The Monk Key” series, I have realised that my perspectives about writing, life and living has completely changed. These upcoming three posts “About Book” is my attempt to share those learning with my friends, readers and aspiring authors in order to save their valuable time in reinventing the wheel. Click here to read more...

The beauty of the languidly moving vehicles - zigzagging through numerous city jams, but also zipping across the under ground the first metro rail and an IT hub that’s humming to take over the world, from the outskirts of the city. That’s Kolkata for you in nut shell but for me it’s more than all that. And visiting the city on 30th and 31st January, 2016 for the International Kolkata Book Fair on the invitation of my first book "Songs of the Mist" publishers Notion Press, is an amazing opportunity to recharge my soul... Click here to read more...


As usual, I could pick out the winner of the Hindu Literary Prize this year too and it was a pleasure to show the tweet to the winner Dr. Easterine Keri, (Since she does not have a twitter account) I had sent an hour earlier than the announcement. She is a very soft-spoken and highly sensitive person and interacting with her was such a pleasure. Click here to read more...

It gave me immense pleasure that after almost two decades I could go back to the Deva Bhoomi and offer my   gratitude for the blessings and the strength to bring the book "Songs of the Mist" out and unveil at the most pious place among the vedic chant at Parmaarth Ashram, with the blessings of H H Swami Chidanand Muni ji. Click here to read more...

4) CURTAIN RAISER:Blog Now Live Forever BNLF
An international conference on Blogging, conceptualized and hosted by IndiBlogger on 31st Oct - 1st Nov, Mumbai - Influential bloggers from the global online community are gathering this weekend at The Lalit Hotel, Mumbai to interact with the thought leaders and powerful speakers from the world’s emerging change agent- Blogging. Click here to read more... 

5) STILL LIFE
There can not be as better day than the auspicious day of Krishna's Birth - Janamashtami, to talk about the universally renowned jewel of India's Spiritual wisdom in all its splendour as an Art Edition brought out by Nightingale. As my friend T Suresh has been singing praises of this edition, displayed at Odyssey, at Chennai; I planned a visit to see, hold and feel this beautiful edition... Click here to read more... 

Whenever I am in Delhi, its become a kind of ritual to a take time out from work and visit the bird sanctuary across the Noida Highway from my house in Mayur Vihar and try to spot kingfishers, Duck bills, pond herons and Nilgais etc. On the way back from one such visit, I happen to pass along a small construction labourers settlement on the banks of Yamuna River, as the beautiful Sun prepared to 'set' on the high-rise modern Delhi. Click here to read more... 

A series on discussing Haiku Masters and their poetry….
A friend of Bashō, Sodō wrote one of the most famous Haiku of all time. Click here to read more...


Hope you have enjoyed this edition, look forward to your comments. Please do share...

__
Shashi 
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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35th Edition                          

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