Click on the image to see larger. Taken with Sony Xperia SP.
Flowers from Indian spring
Lunar eclipse 2011
Can we do something?
This morning there was a joke in the newspaper about the Chinese overtaking the Americans. Chinese kids chuckling over having Americans working for them in 2030. “Why do great nations fail?”, the teacher asked. “It happens because they turn their back on the things that make them great.”
Non-violence, honesty and pride made India great. Today we seem to have lost all three. Our leaders see commonwealth games as a way to make a quick buck, our military is building personal houses worth millions on public land, but for a moment stop blaming them. Pause to think about a common man on the street and what example he is setting for his teenage kid. Is he teaching them these values? Are schools worried about making good humans, or are busy creating mark getting machines? Mr.Sibal this is what I would call a reform.
Are these values even relevant today? People will argue both ways and its getting harder by the day to hold ground on this value school of thought. I am convinced though that this is the only way to make India truly great. Each person needs to be his own watchdog. Not easy, but not impossible.
During independence a great role was played by our songwriters. That is another community that has lost its purpose. However, as I said let values begin at home then blame others.
Going back to our priceless scriptures will make it easier for us to achieve this. I want to end with this beautiful song:
Its a commonly held misnomer that the Indian National Anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana‘ was written by Tagore in praise of George V. Tagore who had the guts to refuse knighthood, would not write in praise of any George.
The anthem was written as Ode to God – intentionally to let the British think its in praise of King George V. This is a common route that poets take against to mock the establishment.
Tagore was a well read person. He was once asked what he would write as the anthem for the universe. Tagore replied that that had already been written by Guru Nanak. He was referring to the following:
ਗਗਨ ਮੈ ਥਾਲੁ ਰਵਿ ਚੰਦੁ ਦੀਪਕ ਬਨੇ ਤਾਰਿਕਾ ਮੰਡਲ ਜਨਕ ਮੋਤੀ ॥
Think of the sky as a plate, the sun and the moon are the lamps. The stars and their orbs are the studded pearls.
ਧੂਪੁ ਮਲਆਨਲੋ ਪਵਣੁ ਚਵਰੋ ਕਰੇ ਸਗਲ ਬਨਰਾਇ ਫੂਲੰਤ ਜੋਤੀ ॥੧॥
The fragrance of sandalwood in the air is the temple incense, and the wind is the fan. All the plants of the world are the altar flowers in offering to You, O Luminous Lord. ||1||
ਕੈਸੀ ਆਰਤੀ ਹੋਇ ॥
What a beautiful worship service this is!
ਭਵ ਖੰਡਨਾ ਤੇਰੀ ਆਰਤੀ ॥
O Destroyer of Fear this worship is worthy of You.
ਅਨਹਤਾ ਸਬਦ ਵਾਜੰਤ ਭੇਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
The Unstruck Sound-current of the Shabad is the vibration of the temple drums. ||1||Pause||
ਸਹਸ ਤਵ ਨੈਨ ਨਨ ਨੈਨ ਹਹਿ ਤੋਹਿ ਕਉ ਸਹਸ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਨਨਾ ਏਕ ਹੀਤ ॥
You have thousands of eyes, and yet You have no eyes. You have thousands of forms, and yet You do not have even one.
ਸਹਸ ਪਦ ਬਿਮਲ ਨਨ ਏਕ ਪਦ ਗੰਧ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਹਸ ਤਵ ਗੰਧ ਇਵ ਚਲਤ ਮੋਹੀ ॥੨॥
You have thousands of Lotus Feet, and yet You do not have even one foot. You have no nose, but you have thousands of noses. This Play of Yours entrances me. ||2||
ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਹੈ ਸੋਇ ॥
Amongst all is the Light-You are the source of that Light.
ਤਿਸ ਦੈ ਚਾਨਣਿ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਹੋਇ ॥
By this Illumination, that Light is radiant within all.
ਗੁਰ ਸਾਖੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਹੋਇ ॥
Through the Guru’s Teachings, the Light of knowledge shines forth.
ਜੋ ਤਿਸੁ ਭਾਵੈ ਸੁ ਆਰਤੀ ਹੋਇ ॥੩॥
That which is pleasing to Him is the lamp-lit worship service. ||3||
ਹਰਿ ਚਰਣ ਕਵਲ ਮਕਰੰਦ ਲੋਭਿਤ ਮਨੋ ਅਨਦਿਨ ਮੋਹਿ ਆਹੀ ਪਿਆਸਾ ॥
My mind is enticed by the honey-sweet Lotus Feet of the Lord. Day and night, I thirst for them.
ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਜਲੁ ਦੇਹਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਾਰਿੰਗ ਕਉ ਹੋਇ ਜਾ ਤੇ ਤੇਰੈ ਨਾਇ ਵਾਸਾ ॥੪॥੩॥
Bestow the Water of Your Mercy upon Nanak, the thirsty song-bird, so that he may come to dwell in Your Name. ||4||3||
Guru Nanak penned this when he reached Jagannath Puri (in 1510 AD), and watched the Arti (worship service) and noted its futility. He preached that God is omnipresent, his scent in everything and in every being – not housed in a small temple with destructible idols and extinguishable lamp.
Solar Eclipse 22nd July 2009
Eclipse time again. These celestial happenings are among the most watched in the world, and I like to watch them too. Some photos:
More photos below, click to enlarge:
When viewed from the Earth, the apparent size of the sun and the moon is the same. If the sun were smaller, the Bailey’s beads would not occur, and if the moon were smaller – the eclipse wouldn’t be total. Yes, I know it won’t always be like this: the moon will keep moving away from the other and in several years the apparent size will be smaller so total eclipses won’t occur. For the moment though, is it a coincidence or did Mother Nature design it like this?
Eclipse teaches us that naturally, there is no one who can reign supreme all the time. When the sun shows up, the stars & the moon are gone: defeated. There comes one day when the little moon eclipses the mighty sun. So I see a lesson there from nature.
I have also a post on the eclipse of 2008, and a collection of various eclipse photos showing both lunar and solar eclipses.
Indian Photographers II: Raghu Rai
Having talked about Lala Deen Dayal I want to move on to a more contemporary photographer: Raghu Rai. He was born in 1942, and is a photographer and photojournalist since 1965. He joined The Statesman in 1966 and was awarded the Padamshree in 1971.
A photograph by him:
Some more photos featuring him:
A gallery of his photos is available here.
(Photographs are copyrighted, except for the one labelled ‘Raghu Rai’, which is under CC-NC-ND)
The festival of Lohri
Lohri is a major North Indian festival, which to us non-farmers means the start of the decline of the winter season.
The first Lohri after marriage or after a newborn baby is cause of celebration: this includes family and friends in the evening, lighting a bonfire, eating rewri, peanuts, popcorn etc and singing Lohri ‘carols’. One of the carols is about a person called ‘Dulla’ who, in a Robin Hood fashion looted the landowners (zamindars) and distributed the loot among the poor.
Below a photograph of our very own bonfire (from yesterday evening), the first one I lit in my life:
Once we setup the pile of wood ready to light, the children playing around ‘damaged’ it. There after they tried to build it back with no luck, so we had to do it all over again. 🙂
Indian Photographers I: Lala Deen Dayal
I have started this series, called Indian Photographers to throw some light on the works of great Indian photographers.
Deen Dayal was born in Sardhana, Uttar Pradesh. In 1868, Deen Dayal founded his studio Lala Deen Dayal & Sons, and was subsequently commissioned to photograph various temples and palaces of India. He established studios in Secunderabad, Bombay, and Indore in the 1870s. He covered the tour of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1875, and travelled with Sir Lepel Griffin through Bundelkhand in 1880s.
Some of his old photographs that I like:
Chandrayaan I, India’s maiden unmanned moon mission has sent through its maiden photograph – one of looking back at Earth:
It’s a proud moment for us Indians, being able to look back at Earth from so far off.
It’s still on its way to the Moon, scheduled to reach on Nov 8th. Let’s watch out for more photos then.
My first podcast: Indian Anthem, instrumental
Folks, I present to you a rendering of the Indian National Anthem created by me using digital tools only. It happens to be my first experiment at podcasting – please post comments telling me how it was. If you have an iPod (I dont, so far), please listen to it and tell me if there are any snags.
Raja Ravi Verma
There is an interesting folklore in India, where Raja Harishchandra, one of the ancestors of Lord Rama promised a saint a large sum of money. He had to sell off himself, his wife and his son in order to repay the debt of this saint. I came across a nice painting by Raja Ravi Verma depicting this. I did some digital improvements on the painting. Here it is: