It Happens Only In Gujarat

IT HAPPENS ONLY IN GUJARAT

Over the last 1 week, a number of friends have messaged me with a similar query: How come everyone in your Gujarat has a rags to riches story; a history of struggle; first Narendra’bhai, now Anandi’ben; I mean it’s just smart marketing right??

No. actually it isn’t. If you are not from Gujarat, it would be difficult for you to fathom this. Rising from the ranks is a very common feature in Gujarat. It’s really no big deal. It perhaps appears as smart marketing to those from an outside state – because very few states offer the kind of opportunities & social respect that Gujarat does.

THE `BEN-BHAI’ CULTURE & SOCIAL EQUALITY – HALLMARK OF GUJARAT

The rise in influx of people from other states into Gujarat for business opportunities, changed one very essential fabric of Gujarati culture – it’s `ben-bhai’ culture. (behen / bhaiya / sister / brother). This practice has now morphed into rather ugly `uncle / aunty’ & `sir / madam’ culture.

`Uncle / aunty’ is pseudo-respect & a crass attempt to look foreign. And `sir / madam’ reeks of hierarchy. I have no idea how & when the urban Gujarati accepted this format.

I grew up in Ahmedabad being taught – that it is mandatory to add a suffix of ben / bhai to a name, across social strata & across ages. It is about respect & equality. First names are a no-no & surnames denote class, creed, caste, religion – and hence best avoided in daily reference.

In Ahmedabad, my domestic help is Kanku’ben, my garbage man is Keshu’bhai, my tailor is Pratap’bhai, my electrician is Rakesh’bhai, my house broker is Rekha’ben, my doctor is Dilip’bhai, my surgeon is Manish’bhai, my CM is Anandi’ben, my PM is Narendra’bhai. Period. All equal.

When I say social equality – I do not mean `communist’ or `communism’. No – Gujarat believes in capitalism & inequality of wealth. Their motto is clear: Want it? Earn it. And you can keep what you earn. Social equality is simply respect & acceptance across genders, across classes, across social barriers, across economic lines.

And somehow it was always such an accepted norm, so natural, so un-analyzed & so un-dissected. It was just a way of life.

MY CLASS-FELLOWS ….

In my college, a friend in my circle, was a brilliant Parsi girl. She topped the university 3 times in a row in B.Com & went onto to do her Chartered Accountancy. Last I heard she was managing partner in one of Ahmedabad’s top accountancy firms.

If I were to script her success story aka Anandi’ben – it would say:

  • The girl whose dad was a plumber.
  • The girl who was dropped to college every day by her daddy on a moped that was practically falling apart; a moped he had put together from the junkyard; it had no pillion foot-rest, so my friend had to hold her feet in air on imaginary foot-rests till she reached college.
  • The girl who stayed back an extra period every day so she could ride with me in my auto & save 2 kms of walking distance to her own home.
  • The girl who would bring only 2 slices of bread from home & eat it by dipping it into sabji (curry / vegetables) from all our lunch boxes.
  • The girl who made frocks / dresses from her mother’s old castaway sarees.
  • The girl who would ask us if we had old spectacle frames whenever she needed to change her powered lenses.
  • And this list can go on…

But the point is – no one cared. It was just so natural, so accepted. I don’t even remember discussing all this at home at the time. For us, she was simply – our friend; the funny girl with a ready wit; the genius who did us proud & brought our college 3 gold medals over 3 successive years.

Cut to M.com. University School of Commerce, Ahmedabad – my class fellow was a boy from Dholka. We lost touch after M.Com & the next I heard from him was via a LinkedIn invite which showed him as Reader of a University in southern part of Gujarat. The last I heard – he was poised to become Vice Chancellor of same.

If I were to script his success story aka Narendra’bhai – it would say:

  • The boy’s whose first acquaintance with me started on the first day of college, where he took me aside & whispered: Mane English nathi aavadtu; hu tamari saathe besi ne notes copy karu? (I don’t know English, can I sit beside you & copy notes in class?).
  • The boy who lost his father when he was 8 years old. The boy who had 3 younger siblings.
  • The boy whose mother worked as a housemaid, after her husband’s death, to bring in money.
  • The boy who travelled 3 hours (one way) from Dholka to Ahmedabad in a crowded ST bus & made the return journey back to Dholka every afternoon after college.
  • The boy who would go home, sweep-swab the house, do the cooking for family, chat with his mother over the day’s activities, help his younger siblings with their homework – and then sit down to do his own studies at night.
  • The boy who made do with only water from the college cooler for lunch & would politely refuse all offers to share lunch.
  • The boy who would insist in speaking only in faulty broken English & ask me to correct all his sentences & then dutifully repeat same after me. In fact, he actually mastered an American accent with the logic – my accent will cover up my grammatical mistakes.
  • The boy who took home all my notes, copied them over the night, because 25p per zerox sheet was too expensive.
  • The boy who practiced writing 10 pages of English every day so he would not require a writer for the final exams.
  • The boy who would come to my home directly from bus station, every exam morning & touch my mother’s feet – so he could beat me to the top slot because now he had the blessings of 2 mothers.
  • The boy who broke down & cried that he missed it – when I bagged University 1st with 2 gold medals. And then graciously congratulated me with the words – agli baar, aapki haar.

But honestly – no one really cared about his history back then. He was simply our classfellow – the tall lean guy from Dholka; who tried his luck with girls like all others; who was ambitious & aspired to be Class Representative; who harbored the hope that someday he would be an orator-par-excellence, in English.

 RAGS TO RICHES STALWARS OF GUJARAT

  1. Gautam’bhai Adani Group
  2. Dhiru’bhai Ambani Reliance
  3. Dilip’bhai Sanghavi Sun Pharma
  4. Karsan’bhai Patel Nirma
  5. Indravadan’bhai Modi Cadila Pharma
  6. Piruz’bhai Khambatta Rasna
  7. Pankaj’bhai Patel Zydus Cadila
  8. Narandas’bhai Desai WaghBakri
  9. Rajesh’bhai Gandhi Vadilal
  10. Uttam’bhai Mehta Torrent
  11. Kartikeya’bhai Sarabhai Group

These are just the top 10-odd known names from Gujarat – and essentially from the business field. If I were to include other walks of life, my list would extend to another 10 pages… The unknown names abound in 1000s. Every 2nd house has a similar story to share.

Every Gujarati entrepreneur listed here has built his empire in just 1 lifetime, rolling over into a maximum of 2 generations. By gen-3 their roots are deep & firm.

These are names from a league of extraordinary gentlemen – who have sold blouse pieces ferried on bicycle racks; who have roamed Ahmedabad city streets in their youth on Vespa scooters; who have lived in small cramped over-crowded houses before moving into their well earned mansions; who have started their offices from garage & warehouse corners; who have sold wares in handcarts on streets of Ahmedabad – 1-man-show all of them – driven only by the belief – `yes I can’.

These are men who started their journeys alone, people joined them along the way & a movement fell in place. These are men of extraordinary caliber who perhaps made a beginning with humble 1000’rs which was perhaps borrowed on high interest.

These are men who have retained their humility over the years; men who are not ashamed of their humble beginnings.

These are men who meet an old ex-employee for at least 5 minutes, even if they were to walk in unannounced. If there is more time to spare, chances are they will offer you a cutting-chai and enquire about what you are doing in life.

That is the simplicity of Gujarat. A state blessed with big-city benefits & small-town values.

So next time someone asks: These rags to riches stories that abound from your Gujarat, are they really true? I am forced to reply: Yes, very true, very real. And it happens only in Gujarat.

NARENDRA’BHAI’S BIGGEST CHALLENGE

In that context – Narendra’bhai’s biggest challenge will be one of mindsets. In Gujarat, people are proactive about progress; if it is profitable to them they don’t mind being driven. They are industrious, simple, compassionate; they want to rise in a single lifetime, they know it isn’t easy, hence they cooperate. And most important of all – they have social equality. When you are hoisted onto the same platform as everyone else, it is easier to reach for the skies. Question is: Is it the same everywhere else in India?

Time will tell. Big victories will always have big challenges. Hoping India takes a page from Gujarat. Waiting for May 26th.

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The 8 In Modi

THE 8 IN MODI

No.8 IN NUMEROLOGY

Those born on dates 8th, 17th & 26th of a month qualify as No.8 in numerology. The undisputed master of numerology – Cheiro – does not attach too much importance to month & year. According to Cheiro – month governs your emotions & year gives a summary picture of overall destiny. The life number, the governing number of your actions & their reactions, is simply the day you are born. And no – don’t add, day + month + year – it has no real significance.

WHAT DOES NUMBER 8 SAY?

8 is a lethal number & fatalistic too. And not in the way the common man perceives it. Let me explain:

According to the Jewish Kabbalah – Number 8 comes with a karmic lesson from previous lives.

It is a number that indicates immense hard work that was put into a chosen field in past lives. That hard work would have taken you to the pinnacle of your chosen field / profession / life area. That hard work / rigour now materializes, in current life, as inborn talent / latent skill.

Number 8 usually finds its own calling. Irrespective of qualifications or initial choice of profession, sooner or later they will be drawn towards their calling, and then there is no stopping them. But – their vision, their goal usually becomes evident sooner than later.

So by layman standards that’s a good thing. Then why does carry a tag of lethal & fatalistic? That’s what we need to understand.

8 in present life – is a number that has grossly misused its immense talents, in a past life – for greed & self gratification.

For. eg. Ace surgeons, brilliant bankers, skilled engineers, spiritually enlightened gurus, outstanding teachers, entrepreneurs par excellence, political statesmen – and so on in every possible field – but people, who sold their skills for materialistic gains, worldly fame & self gratification – to the point of being ruthless.

Now let me make a clarification here – these are not people who dishonored their trade. They probably never swayed from integrity of their profession – they would have given their outstanding best every time – but they swayed from human ethics & human compassion.

So in this lifetime – they come back with skills intact, because they never messed with those – but they come back under the influence of number 8 which says:

You’re getting a 2nd chance here to prove yourself; this time around sacrifice personal gains & gratification and do things for a bigger purpose. If you do so, I shall take you to heights from which you will never fall even after your lifetime ends – but if you don’t, then I will take you to depths from which you’ll take several lifetimes to rise again. The choice is yours. That’s what makes it lethal. It’s an unforgiving number. But if you stay on right side of destiny – it will be lethal for those who stand in your way. It’s unforgiving that way too. How you swing it depends on you.

What makes it fatalistic is that number 8 comes woven with a series unplanned opportunities & events that nudge you closer & closer to your pre-chosen destiny. Fatalistic is not `fatal’ – it simply means pre-destined; that you have to learn human ethics, human compassion & see the big picture beyond your own self. That is `fated’ hence fatalistic.

Ages – 4, 8, 13, 17, 22, 26, 31, 35 & so on and so forth – and all dates that total to 4 or 8 – will come with new realizations & renewed enlightenment. Almost to the point of being predictable.

WHAT ROLE DOES NUMBER 4 HAVE TO PLAY?

Number 4 is number 8’s soul number. A number of connect, companionship & guidance when it comes to people – and a number of applause or foreboding (depending on how you are charting your destiny) when it comes to dates.

Number 4 is soul-mate to number 8. It comes like a writing-on-the-wall. Read the signs – and you can change the end result. Ignore the signs – and you will face the consequences. Hence number 4 becomes very integral to life of number 8.

NUMERICAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER NUMBERS (DATES / PEOPLE)

Unlike other numbers, there is hardly any scope for variation as far as 8’s equation with numbers is concerned. The variation if any, can come only as a conscious effort from other numbers to change the equation for the better.

Number 1: Very beneficial, guiding & supportive whenever it surfaces either as a date or a person. It brings with it a lot of moral support & strength. Advice: Hold on to each other over ego-clashes. `Boredom’ & `boring’ are not reasons to part ways.

Number 2: Will attempt emotional string-pulling & manipulation. Initially it will work, but as individuality & self realization becomes stronger, it will make number 8 more distant & detached. Advice: Give space & lots of it.

Number 3: Will bring with it beneficial networking, communication & connections. Will take great load of responsibility off number 8’s shoulders. Advice: Ignore petty differences & make it work.

Number 4: Soul connect & passive submission. It is your writing-on-the-wall. Read it well & read it often. Advice: Don’t shoot the ambassador if you don’t like the message.

Number 5: Wants a bond with you but may find you too serious / stifling at times. They can bring good energy with them, so give them a chance. Advice: There will be see-saw towards extremes. Try & balance it.

Number 6: Will teach you to loosen up & have fun. An adventure trip of experiences, whether dates or people; 6 will give in to your authority most of the time. Advice: Mutual respect will take this relationship to great heights.

Number 7: Conflict & success. Trust & suspicion. Agreement on cause / purpose but differences on modus operandi / method. Perception of betrayal happens more than real betrayal. Advice: Communicate openly, don’t presume; try to harmonize differences to mid-way.

Number 8: Telepathic. You will either build all the way to heaven or destroy all the way to hell. Advice: Make informed choices & take informed actions.

Number 9: Supremacy issues. 9 will try to control; 8 will not be controlled. 9 will try to manipulate; 8 will see through the deception. Advice: Build trust & don’t break it.

The above are notations taken from the Jewish Kabbalah. Make a list of all the number 8s you know & cross-check dates / events – and 8s relationships with people across numbers. It’s unlikely you’ll disagree with anything from above. Really – 8 is very predictable.

THE 4 & 8 IN NARENDRA MODI’S LIFE GRAPH – some evident, some veiled

  • Born on 17th September 1950 (8)
  • At age 8 – he was inducted into RSS (Rashtriya Swayam Sangh). It was to calm his inexplicable restlessness. (8)
  • At age 13 – he got engaged to Jasoda’ben. (4)
  • At age 17 – he got married to Jasoda’ben. (8)
  • After 8 months of marriage, he took off for the Himalayas. (8)
  • Years ’67 to ’71 remain mysterious. No one really knows where he went & when he came. (67 = 13 = 4 / 71 = 8)
  • Around September 1971, at the onset of his 22nd year, he was once again formally inducted into RSS, as an adult major. (4)
  • At age 26 he was acknowledged by RSS as a man with an analytical mind & great organizing skills & was given dedicated role with formal boundaries. (8)
  • He chose L.K. Advani as mentor – and was chosen by Advani to take on the role as Chief Minister Gujarat in 2001. L.K. Advani’s DOB: November 8. (8)
  • 2002 still hangs like an albatross around his neck. (4)
  • He was CM-in-office for Gujarat, for 13 years. (4)
  • On May 26, he will be sworn as Prime Minister of India. (8)

*** The above are available / verified dates. A lot of information about Modi, on social network, has been recently edited only to standard information. PR machinery in full swing. But if & when more information filters in, it will be annexed.

Those interested in numerology can search for birthdays of close associates of Modi & correlate to the number relationship given in the Kabbalah.

END-NOTE

I have a gut feeling that this man is now on the right side of destiny. Maybe he made few mistakes in the past, but he has read the writing on the wall – and somehow at the present moment, he looks poised for a bigger purpose beyond self greed & self gratification. If he continues on this path – it is a numerological given, that his name will be scripted in golden ink in the history of India. And right now – I do not wish to contemplate the other extreme.

May the good times begin. Amen.

Brahmam’garu – the Nostradamus of Andhra

BRAHMAM’GARU – THE NOSTRADAMUS OF ANDHRA

Sri Madvirat Pothuloru Veerabrahmendra Swami was a mystic, a saint, a siddha and an astronomer from the 17th century.

Born in November 1608 in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, in his lifetime he performed many miracles before he took `jeeva-samadhi’ in the same village that he was born – Kandimallayapalli. Brahmam’gari mattham (matth / ashram) is a landmark in the area.

Brahmam’garu – as he was fondly referred to, put together a collection of future prophecies for India & the world. The prophecies were inscribed by him on palm leaves in ancient Telugu language, and over centuries have been translated into various languages for information & analysis.

KAALA-GYAANAM, AATMA-GYAANAM & MAHABHARATA

His works “Kaala-gyaanam” (Knowledge of Time) and “Aatma-gyaanam” (Knowledge of Self) are his 2 most prominent treatises. All his works were penned from an `inner knowledge’ which he said was available to him from Heavens above.

His most interesting analysis was calculation of time & timing of the Mahabharata era, as well as reasons for the occurrence of the epic. He had written that human genes had degenerated to a point of beyond repair. Any further procreation would be of no use. Fresh genes & fresh blood had to be infused into the human genetic system.

And hence descended on Earth – a genetic strand via aliens from above. To be more specific – Krishna & his clan, as well as Pandavas, Draupadi & those related to them. They were `born’ through highly evolved reproductive techniques by localizing an alien genetic strand, and cloning it into humans.

This done, it was important to annihilate the defective genes from Earth. Hence the master-plan of Kurukshetra was laid. The victory meant nothing, it was a means of converging a 1000+ people with defective genes, that were subject procreation, at a single point – to be annihilated, so that no further reproduction takes place.

SRI KAALAHASTI

Brahmam’garu also accurately predicted many significant events & catastrophes that came to pass in the history of India. Closer to Andhra Pradesh, Brahmam’garu predicted the collapse of the `Raja-gopuram’ (main roof) of the Sri Kaalahasti Temple, close to the foothills of Tirupati. This prediction came to pass.

An interesting note that Brahmam’garu made at the end of the prediction was – do not blame nature or time for what happens. Blame yourself. `Yatha praja tatha raja’. The people determine the leader, the leader will determine what happens to the nation, so what happens to the nation has been scripted by you.

In correlation to the collapse of the Raja-gopuram of Sri Kaalahasti temple – in the end it was simply concluded that `bad management’ failed to notice apparent cracks in the wall & hence the collapse, whereas a stitch in time would have saved nine.

**For those not in the know, Sri Kaalahasti is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the few `Vayu-Lingams’ in India. Those who have visited would know – the sanctum sanctorum is practically in a long tunnel of sorts where it becomes impossible to breathe if the crowd is large, as in that much paucity of air – yet at all times, the lamps in the sanctorum are swaying as if a light fresh breeze from a mysterious source is fanning them.

**Sri Kaalahasti is also famous for performing shanti-pooja for those who have Kaal-sarpa yog in horoscopes.

THE PRECDICTION THAT I SEARCHED FOR:

I will perhaps pen a list of predictions that came to pass by this Nostradamus of Andhra, but on another day. For now, I wish to come to that particular prediction for which my search began.

I first heard of Brahmam’garu in the bedtime stories that my mother would narrate to us – a collection of stories of future prophecies for India that came to her via a legacy of stories narrated by her mother & grand-mother.

A certain story had caught my attention & stuck with me over the years. Over the last one week, I have consciously hunted for it in journals & books – and this is what I came up with. This is the available translated version:-

  • Somewhere around the first decade of the 21st century, India will see hope.
  • Around this time, the country would have been well torn apart by greed & malice. India would have lost its Vedic glory & will be held ransom by foreign powers. Helplessness & chaos will be order of the day.
  • And then the `saffron-man’ will come. He would have renounced worldly pleasures. He will have no royal lineage. He will one among masses.
  • The `saffron-man’ will take over reigns & India will see hope.
  • Vedic principles, Hinduism & Sanskrit will see new light of day. Peace & peaceful co-existence will be re-installed.
  • India will emerge as a centre of spiritualism & world peace.
  • India will become a force to reckon with & will emerge as super-power amongst nations.
  • India will regain its lost glory.
  • And the footnote again says – Yatha praja, tatha raja – as you sow, so you reap.

IN 2014…

In 2014, as I pen this today, India is celebrating & is full of hope for tomorrow. I make no correlations – BUT ….. he is a `saffron-man’, he has renounced his family, he has no royal lineage, he is one among masses, he is a believer of Hinduism & wishes to restore Vedic tenets, he talks of peaceful co-existence – and for some strange reason, India has recently acquired a new found respect amongst world leaders. Don’t mess with us – is a message that has gone across loud & strong.

I believe. I have hope. God save the King. God bless the King. Amen.

Moral of the story: All mothers must narrate bedtime stories to their children. These are carried forward heritages that only come through hear-say. You never know, 30 years down the line, your child may delve into something you said while lulling him to sleep, and some old lost information may be revisited.

Gundello Godaari – Godavari In Your Heart

Gundello Godaari – Godavari In Your Heart

ANDHRA PRADESH, TELANGANA, SEEMANDHRA

That is the title of the Telugu film that I watched this week – Gundello Godaari. In rural Andhra slang, it means – Godavari in your heart.

For a long time now, or more accurately, from the time I can remember, I have had no significant identification with Andhra Pradesh, and much less with Andhra cinema.

For me `Andhra’ meant the place I was born, the place where my parents belong to, the place where my ancestors established their roots. For me, `Andhra’ was merely identification on a piece of paper. There was no `Andhra’ in my heart. Never really having lived here & never really having had an occasion to absorb its culture by being a part of it – I gave myself the status of a non-resident Andhra – a part of it but not really a part of it.

My identification was with `Ahmedabad’. Gujarat. I was an `Amdavaadi’. I grew up there; belonged there; knew all about garba, khaman, dhokla, manek chowk, navrangpura … it has been my identity.

Then comparisons play in the mind. I’m part of this rich, vibrant, colorful, dynamic, liberated, sweeter, prettier Gujarati culture vis-à-vis I’m not part of this rough, unpolished, undiplomatic, static, spicy, rigid Andhra culture.

I don’t want to speak Telugu; I don’t want to marry here; I don’t want to live here; I don’t want to cook like here; I don’t want to dress like here; but I have to make an appearance here, because I was born here, my parents belong here & this is the land where my ancestors grew their roots centuries ago.

That perhaps sums up the mindset of every Andhra, who has lived & domiciled outside of Andhra Pradesh.

The only time I felt a significant difference in this attitude was during my multiple trips to hometown Gudivada in Andhra Pradesh, in connection with the sale & disbursement of my late Grandfather’s house & properties.

When I had sat for the last time on the steps of Grandpa’s old house knowing that it wouldn’t be there when I came next, I felt as if I had lost a part of myself and was filled with a regret that I should have connected more while there was still time.

In a bid to salvage something, I had plucked a huge bunch of wild jasmine flowers from his garden; and I had picked up a large round stone from his kitchen which my Grandpa had used, to grind sandal sticks to make sandal paste, for the meticulous `dot’ on his forehead after pooja. I have preserved those dried bunch of jasmine flowers & I still have that stone on my writing table. When I feel lost & disconnected, they transport me into another world where Grandfather talks to me.

In this visit of mine – February / March 2014 – when I landed at Hyderabad airport & made my way into `Telangana’ – I realized that Andhra Pradesh no longer existed. And I was overwhelmed with that same feeling – that things would never be the same again; that I have lost a part of myself; and a feeling of regret that I should have connected more with Andhra Pradesh, while there had yet been time.

It was a catharsis of sorts & a resolution too – to hold on to the memory of Andhra Pradesh, to let go of Telangana without regret, to build better bonds with Seemandhra.

I have been making a special effort this time around – I’m understanding the changed geography, the current political scenario, the cultural differences, the unpublicized traveler’s delights … and anything else that comes my way.

In the midst of this inner transformation – I watched a movie. Gundello Godaari. Godavari in your heart. I watched this movie out of sheer extra time on my hands; I watched it to figure out why it bagged so many awards; I watched it to see if I could endure the fisherman slang of the Godavari belt; I watched it to see if I could connect with good old rustic Andhra.

I really don’t know what I hoped to achieve by enduring this film – but what resulted was an inner insight that took me to a next level of realization. Gundello Godaari – a Telugu film worth my time & the awards that it bagged.

GUNDELLO GODAARI – GODAVARI IN YOUR HEART

The film begins with iconic cinematography – river Godavari in flood. In a small village on the banks, a marriage is being solemnized. A series of small events lead to seeding of doubts in the minds of bride & groom about each other. River floods flow in & all present run for shelter, leaving the newlyweds stranded in midst of rushing waters. They help each other to reach the top of a thatched hut flowing in the stream. Drifting into nowhere and waiting for the next burst of rain that will sink them both – they confront each other about the events during the marriage, and the doubts that have been seeded in their respective minds.

Facing impending death, sitting in the heart of a flooded Godavari, they decide to unburden their respective hearts as they have nothing to lose from doing so. And the story begins thus.

What follows is a narrative from the bride & the groom – about the darkest secrets of their lives and the series of lies that followed it, to keep those secrets buried deep within.

Sitting in the midst of Godavari’s flooded waters – another kind of flood builds & flows – the flood of emotions & truth from their respective hearts. Their eyes & hearts overflow in a flood of tears & words, till there is nothing left to hide or conceal.

In cinematographic symbolism – sitting in the heart of Godavari, Godavari enters their hearts to create a flood where it cleanses all impurities leaving behind an unbreakable bond forged on truth & understanding. Truth has 2 facets to it – 1 person’s truth & the other person’s understanding & acceptance of that truth.

The film leaves you with many questions:

Why are we afraid of truth? Isn’t truth all that there is? Then why do we create a web of illusions & lies to sustain human relationships? Is it true then, that most human relationships do not have the strength to withstand the impact of truth? Are lies & illusions a security net so that we don’t lose relationships? Then does it mean that our presentation of our relationships to the world is a mere façade? Or does it mean that we don’t want a relationship forged from truth, because then we risk losing the multiplicity of other relationships that give us a feeling of popularity & security?

This leads us to more pertinent questions in life: What do we really want from life? Do we really know? Is it simply an urge to possess things & people? If we had to choose between the cold exposed nakedness of truth & the warmth that comes from a blanket of lies – what would we choose?

If we were to wake up to every day as if it were our last day & if we were to meet every person as if we were meeting them for the last time – would it make any difference to the way we woke up, the things we did, the way we met, or the things we said?

The film asks questions but gives you no answers. It simply slaps your consciousness to find its own answers.

I can now understand why the human soul leaves behind its wealth, possessions & even its own precious human body before it is allowed to ascend to merge with the Divine. You can’t hold on to anything else when you want to merge with your higher self. And if you are not able to let go of all & everything, then it isn’t time yet.

Most of us usually come a very long way in life, in human relationships & human realizations. But there is always that proverbial `6 degrees of separation’ that are the hardest to cover. An Olympic athlete once said – in a 1000 meters race, when you have covered 900 meters, you have won only half the race, the other half is in those 100 meters.

Run the race. Give it your best shot. Cherish the distance you have covered. Don’t fret if you fall short of the finish line. There is a time & tide for everything. When the flood will come, it will envelope you & everything else – and throw you across the finish line. Simple as that.

 

Kathmandu’s Secret – Part 3 – Guhyeshwari Devi

Kathmandu’s Secret – Part 3 – Guhyeshwari Devi

SHIVA & SATI

This is the story of Shiva & Sati. Shiva is insulted by Sati’s father Daksh. Sati takes the insult personally. She throws herself into the holy ritual fire. Shiva is informed. He reaches Daksh’s palace. Picks up Sati’s dead burning body in his arms. In uncontrolled anger, He starts the Pralay-Tandav – the dance of destruction. Vishnu steps in. He feels Shiva can only be calmed if He is separated from the dead burning body. He unleases His Sudarshan-Chakra (Disc) with instructions to chop the body to pieces. The body is slashed in 108 pieces, each piece falling at a different spot in accordance with Shiva’s wild dance.108 `seats’ of `power’. 108 Shakti-Peeths. Power points on Earth for protection & salvation of mortals.

KAMAKHYA & GUHYESHWARI

Of primary importance amongst the 108 seats of power, are 51 seats which lay claim to the Goddess’s most important body parts. The lower private organs of Sati, got thrown into 2 different places. Amongst the primary 51 seats, her private parts – the ovaries & uterus fell at Kamakhya Devi in Gauhati, Assam, India – and the vagina & cervix fell some distance away at Guhyeshwari Devi in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Kamakhya Devi in Assam is also referred to as the `bleeding-goddess’. In correlation to the body part of Sati that fell here, Kamakhya has her periods in the Hindu month of Ashad for 3 days; it is believed that this blood flows into the Brahmaputra, and the river takes on a pinkish hue (which from a practical standpoint is also attributed to the immense vermillion that flows into the river on those 3 days).

SECRETS OF GUHYESHWARI

Coming back to Guhyeshwari in Kathmandu:

Guhya = hidden / secret / undiscovered / unknown / incognito.

Eshwari = the consort of Eshwara / Shiva.

In the Devi Tantra it is detailed that, that is exactly how she wishes to remain – as the hidden / unknown / undiscovered / secret consort of Pashupatinath.

Taking a walk from Vaishali Hotel into Thamel’s famous shopping lanes, I chanced into a bookstore one evening. A voluminous book titled – Tantric Wisdom Goddesses penned by a foreign author (whose name I cannot now remember) caught my attention.

Being a hefty-priced thick book, I had no intention of buying it; but I didn’t think it ethical to take notes either. But I did browse through the pages trying to remember as much of the interesting information, I could.

In keeping with this Deity’s wishes, I would not like to comment too much in depth; but I would like to share a recap from the book & from my travels:-

  1. If you have faintly read somewhere that she appears among the primary 51/108 Shakti Peeths, then you will at least ask for her & try to include her temple into your itinerary, even if her significance is not clear to you.
  2. But otherwise, Guhyeshwari is easy to miss. She appears nowhere on the local tourist guide’s agenda. So if you haven’t priorly read or heard about her, then chances are that you will miss paying a visit to her temple.
  3. When in Kathmandu, insist that your local guide takes you there, because he / she will most likely tell you that her abode has no significance & a visit is not essential.
  4. Guhyeswari is a mere 10 minutes drive from Pashupatinath, yet you will find her courtyard almost empty.
  5. Guhyeshwari temple is on an elevation from the road; large old temple; ancient architecture.
  6. In the midst of the temple compound which houses several other small, micro temples – is her sanctum-sanctorum. You have to descend to enter it. It’s as if she’s hiding in a small cave.
  7. Initially you may mistake her for a shiva-lingam – it looks just like one & you may keep looking around for a temple that’s more symbolic of a Goddess.
  8. But there she is – in `pind’ form / a large hump of a stone. That’s Guhyeshwari Devi.
  9. She has made a choice to remain secret & undiscovered like the symbolic private part, from which her energies arose.
  10. Here, in Kathmandu, she chooses to remain in shadow & solitude, so that her better-half, Lord Pashupatinath can fulfill his worldly responsibilities without her distraction.
  11. For those who have figured out her secret & seek her out … :-
  12. She is the goddess of soul-mate connections. In `Tantric Wisdom Goddesses’, it is said, that those who make a visit here are not too far from their soul-mate connections. A fleeting encounter in this life & a more fulfilling encounter in the next – is assured for all who make it to her altar.
  13. She is the goddess of marriage. A visit to her temple proves highly beneficial to those seeking / searching for a marriage partner.
  14. She is the goddess of marital fidelity. A visit to her temple assures ensures fidelity & commitment in marital ties.
  15. She is the goddess of marital longevity. A visit to her temple ensures a long & fruitful marriage partnership.
  16. And the most important perhaps – It is said you have to collect from Guhyeswari’s altar, the wishes which have been granted to you by Pashupatinath. She is the medium. He passes on the granted wishes to her – and she in turn – passes them onto you when you reach her altar.
  17. So in a way – though it’s easy to miss her – you can’t afford to miss her – else you risk leaving your bag of granted wishes back in Kathmandu itself.
  18. Her real secret lies in teaching you to look for – the unseen; the hidden; the subtle; the invisible.
  19. Her real secret lies in teaching you to look beyond the obvious that meets your eye & ear.
  20. Her real secret lies in searching for the soul hidden deep within imperfect bodies.
  21. Her real secret lies in connecting you to your own soul.

If Lord Pashupatinath is the God of imperfect life-forms & small, helpless beings – then Guhyeswari Devi is the perfect soul that is hidden deep within all of them & every one of us. The key is to find her to find yourself.

Kathmandu’s Secret – Part 2 – Lord Pashupatinath

Kathmandu’s Secret – Part 2 – Lord Pashupatinath

PASHUPATINATH TEMPLE, KATHMANDU

  • Pashupatinath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It looks, feels & is – really ancient. You feel for a moment that you have stepped back in time.
  • It is spread over few square kilometers & houses many other temples along with its main deity Lord Pashupatinath.
    Lord Pashupatinath is housed in the centre, in a temple that boasts of extremely ancient architecture. Don’t miss the intricate detailing.
  • It is bang on the banks of Bagmati river (which unfortunately is just a trickle owing to heavy pollution). You can look down from the corridors & catch a burning body or two, provided it belongs either to the Royal family or a family of high lineage. They are the only ones who have permission to cremate in the adjoining premises of Pashupati temple.
  • Don’t miss doing a Circumbulation (Parikrama) of the 525 Lingams that have been installed in a Swastika maze. You have to walk through the created maze, passing all 525 Lingams, touching the main Lingam in the centre, and exiting again from a different end. It ensures good health, good life & longevity.
  • Don’t miss grinding the huge Sandal (Chandan) stone & applying some paste to your forehead.
  • Don’t miss churning the platform of burning fires (in small plates) with a sugarcane stick. It brings peace to your ancestors.
  • Don’t miss the huge sitting Nandi Bull humbly facing his Master. It is majestic.
  • Don’t miss sitting down for a few minutes in solitude & simply breathing in the vibrations.

PASHUPATINATH – AS `HIM-ANSHU’

Kathmandu is the land of Shiva. His name reverberates across the valley in the multitude of small temples that surround the valley. Barring Pashupatinath temple, most temples do no boast of any rituals – you can simply walk in, have a darshan, and touch the God.

In Shiva Purana, Shiva is referred to as Himanshu also, in the Purana’s description of this Himalayan valley (though there is no such reference to Kathmandu as a city per se). Him = snow capped mountain; Alay / Alaya = residence; Ansh / Anshu = a part. Shiva as Him-anshu is that form who has merged into the snow capped mountains, making it His residence, and has thus become a part of them. Lord Himanshu resides on the mysterious Mount Kailash peak in the majestic Himalayan mountain range.

PASHUPATINATH – THE ANIMAL GOD

Many long centuries back, a cowherd noticed a certain milky white cow straying from his herd every day. She would quietly return by evening, after emptying her udders of all milk. Puzzled by this occurrence, the cowherd once quietly followed the cow, only to see her dropping her milk over a stone, into a small earthly cavity. Curious, the cowherd went near to have to look as to what lay in that hole – and he discovered the Lingam of Lord Pashupatinath. This discovery later paved the way for the erection of this current temple of Pashupatinath in Kathmandu.

There is also a mention in the Shiva-Purana which says that when Shiva was craving solitude when the Pandavas of Mahabharata, were searching for Him to wash off their earthly sins; Shiva then took the form of a Bull & started running; the Bull was subsequently stopped by Bhima; Lord Shiva burrowed into Earth; but Bhima grabbed him by the tail, thus effectively stopping him. The hump of the Bull is worshipped as the holy Kedarnath Lingam, whereas the head of the Bull, that emerged at another end of the Himalayas, is worshipped as Lord Pashupatinath (pashu = animal; pati / nath = Lord).

PASHUPATINATH – GOD OF SMALL THINGS

In this form as Lord Pashupatinath, it is believed that Shiva radiates extreme compassion to beings of the lower order; creatures / life forms / people who cannot take care or fend for themselves. It is believed that He fends for them, takes care of them, and ensures full sustenance to them in their mortal life on earth; and when their end comes, He personally delivers them from the physical to the astral.

The only way to approach Lord Pashupatinath – as the God of Small Things – is in your most humble, helpless form. Shed your ego, your worldly possessions, your name & fame, your achievements & enter His temple with the mind of a newborn baby. Don’t be ashamed to show your lapses, needs & shortcomings, because that’s what He’s there for. And your sustenance & protection is assured in this life.

PASHUPATINATH – THE ALCHEMIST’S STONE

The fact that Baba Gorakhnath – the undisputed Master of Alchemy; the Valley where you leave all your troubles behind; and mystical Pashupatinath Lingam are all in the same radius of few kilometers – cannot be a coincidence. So what is the connection?

In the Shiva Purana, there is an extensive description of a certain Shiva-Lingam that is referred to, as the Parasmani –Lingam (pronounced paa-ras-mani).

Parasmani is a wishing-stone; a touchstone; the Alchemist’s stone. It is believed that finding such a touchstone has been the undying quest of Naths & Siddhas & Alchemists across centuries, across the world & across various civilizations. Having this stone grants a person the power of Alchemy – the power to convert base metal into gold.

Shiva Purana describes Lord Pashupatinath as the Parasmani Lingam. The wishing stone. The Touchstone. The Alchemist’s stone.

It could be perhaps the presence of this rare stone in this Himalayan valley that led Gorakhnath to the end of his search & he decided to reside here as his final earthly abode. What Baba Gorakhnath knew, we will never know because Naths & Siddhas are not famous for sharing secrets.

But what Gorakhnath did share for the common man about Alchemy was:

  • The human body comprises of traces of metals & minerals.
  • The key lies in mind-control.
  • Every time we control a base-thought (an animal instinct) & successfully overcome it, we convert a small fraction of the base-metals in our human body to gold.
  • The more we keep up this mind control, the more gold we will have in our body.
  • The chemical name of gold is Aurum. The light which radiates from our body is called Aura. The more Aurum we have in our body, the stronger & more golden will our Aura be.
  • At some stage in our combined mental penance & physical restraint – there will come a point where a significant amount of base-metals in our body has been converted to gold.
  • This is the stage when we are blessed with a Healing-touch. Whatever we touch, gets purified.
  • If we persist this over one lifetime & several subsequent lifetimes, we can all reach the level of Baba Gorakhnath – where with a single touch, we can actually / literally – convert base-metal into gold.
  • When we reach that stage, further secrets of Alchemy will be revealed to us. Till then, start with a simple mastery over hunger, thirst, sex & wicked thoughts.
  • Don’t search for a Master, the Master will find you. When the student is ready, the Master will appear. That is the catch-line of Naths & Siddhas.

So – from what we do know from the correlation of vedic texts & documented facts is that Pashupatinath is undisputedly a Parasmani Lingam. Here, Parasmani does not refer to the chemical composition of the stone, but to its magical properties that make it an Alchemist’s Stone. Lord Pashupatinath is a 4 faced stone Lingam. Legends say that the real Parasmani is hidden beneath the Pashupatinath Lingam, and it radiates its aura & power from there, allowing whosoever who touches the Pashupatinath Lingam – to gather its mystical vibrations.

BUT – the catch is – no one is allowed to touch the Pashupatinath Lingam except the Royal family of Nepal. Earlier it wasn’t so. Touch-darshan was open to one & all. But many decades back, a devout of Indian origin, wanting to test the power of this Parasmani Lingam, surreptitiously tried to scratch a steel spoon on the Lingam’s surface, hoping to convert it into gold. He was caught, as were several others who had gotten into the habit of scratching the Lord’s Lingam with coins, in the hope of conversion to gold. The price of that greed is the price we are all paying today by banning our entry into the sanctum-sanctorum.

What most people do not understand is that – even with the Alchemist’s Stone in the palm of our hand – it will be of no use to us – if we have not attained the SIDDHI to use it. That is the penance that has taken lifetimes for religious practitioners like Baba Gorakhnath – and it is not a science that is going to be gifted to a commoner on a platter. It is a mastery that has to be earned.

But that notwithstanding – when you are in the temple campus of Pashupatinath – don’t forget to wish & keep wishing. He knows what wishes to ignore; what can be given & what must be given. You will not come back empty-handed.

BUT – there is another catch here. You will have to collect your granted wishes from a different place – from the sanctum sanctorum of the temple of His Hidden Consort. Most are not even aware of this. Most return back after the darshan of Pashupatinath. But some, a chosen few, make it to Her altar. There – they receive from Her what He has granted to us.

Continued… Kathmandu’s Secret – Part 3 – His Hidden Consort

Kathmandu’s Secret – Part 1 – December 2013

Kathmandu’s Secret – Part 1 – December 2013

BABA GORAKHNATH & KATHMANDU VALLEY

Gorakhnath is unarguably the topmost among the clan of Nagas, Naths & Siddhas. I say is and not was, because people believe that this greatest among Siddhas still roams the holy spots on Earth in his invisible form.

Baba Gorakhnath, it is believed, had perfected the science of Alchemy – the ancient art of turning base metal into gold. He was one of the few Siddhas who could ingest the (poisonous) chemical mercury through one nasal tract & bring out an exact quantity of liquid gold through the other nasal tract.

The purification process that Gorakhnath often referred to, was internal cleansing of mind where: when you develop the art of converting your base thoughts into gold in the mental space – your physical body automatically follows suit by converting the base metals in your human body to the metal gold. When this happens, you develop the proverbial `Midas touch’- where whatever you touch converts to gold.

With Gorakhnath, this was `literally’ possible – his touch could turn base metal into gold. But with lesser mortals, it simply means that whatever you `touch’ on a symbolic plane (people, projects, jobs et al), it will turn to `gold’, as in it will succeed; come to fructification.

Baba Gorakhnath travelled far & wide. Travelling north towards Himalayas, he stopped by a huge lake in midst of mountains. Incidentally, it was also the resting spot for many travellers, monks & siddhas – but unfortunately it was devoid of any homing facilities in the harsh Himalayan weather. Gorakhnath then split a mountain to create a wide crack, which then allowed the large lake to drain across the mountains – creating a lush green valley. (In Tibetan mythology, this act is associated with Buddha Milrepa – a highly revered monk in Buddhist order).

In the centre of this valley, Gorakhnath erected a wooden Mandap (a large space created by roof & pillars). He called it Kastha-Mandap (kashtha-mandap). Kastha / kashtha = difficulty / difficulties in Sanskrit. Mandap = place of common gathering.

Seating himself in the midst of this Mandap, Baba Gorakhnath made a vow that whosoever shall walk into this Mandap & rest a while, his troubles (kastha / kashtha) would be left behind in the Mandap & he would walk away lighter.

In the midst of this Kastha-Mandap, is thin, long wooden pillar. It is said that if you join your spine to the pillar & take a 360 degree turn, your back / spine problems will be solved. This spot went on to become the meditation spot for Tibetan monks in centuries to come.

Gorakhnath’s Kasthamandap. Its translation in Tibetan language – Kathmandu. In the land of (ney = good) & (pal = people). Nepal.

  • Kathmandu city reminds you of any small town north India.
  • Language script is Devnagri & their dialect has many traces of Hindi.
  • Kathmandu’s fascination with red brick buildings is evident from Tribhuvan airport itself. You feel you have stepped into IIM Ahmedabad.
  • Kathmandu wears a highly neglected, disorganised look in many places, its highpoints being bad roads & chunks of hanging cable wires.
  • Kathmandu’s city centre covers up with its share of malls & high street lifestyle shops. The city’s Durbar Square is the ancient heritage part of the city – the area with houses the ancient Kasthamandap & Kumari temple.
  • Thamel area of Kathmandu is most lively with its Indian restaurants, pubs, small casinos & lanes of street shops. Tourist’s delight.
  • Indian currency is accepted, but carrying 500 & 1000 rupee notes is a criminal offence and liable to imprisonment.
  • Newa community of Nepal has a unique custom – their women are married thrice. At age 5 to the Bel Tree; on attaining puberty to the Sun God; and finally to a man of their choice as they grow older. That way, no Newa woman experiences widowhood.
  • Mustang community of Nepal has another unique custom – if there are more than 2 sons in a family, then they do not bring home multiple brides. The wife of the eldest is the wife of all brothers. She spends one month with each brother & apparently there are no serious discords between brothers on this issue.
  • The `Kumari’ custom is also unique to Nepal. Kumari is a living Goddess. She is chosen only from the Sakya clan, the birth clan of Gautama Buddha. A search is carried out for young girls in the age group of 5 years. She has to be blessed with 32 signs of physical perfection, in addition to having a good horoscope that matches with the horoscope of the King. Once a Kumari is selected, she is revered as Goddess Parvati and lives in royalty. Till she attains puberty. That is the catch. She is the queen of Nepal for about 6 years; then puberty brings her back to common life. An ex-Kumari cannot marry as no man will attempt to marry a girl who was once a Goddess. So in that sense she remain a Kumari (a virgin) all her life. Not by choice perhaps, but by sad default.
  • An interesting point of mention is that Nepal’s original boundaries extended to include India’s Garhwal region, Darjeeling & Gorakhpur in UP. When British invaded India, they attempted to invade Nepal too, but the ferocious Gorkhas fended them off, and finally signed a peace treaty after signing off the aforementioned territories to India. Since then, these fiery Gorkhas have been an integral part of Indian Army, the most decorated & feared Gorkha Regiment.
  • The Gorkha’s knife – the Khukri is a beautifully crafted knife. When in Kathmandu, don’t miss the Khukri shop to get an insight into how it is designed & crafted.
  • Don’t also miss Kathmandu’s local liquor brews – their Khukri Spice Rum & their Ruslan Vodka.

NAGARKOT & BHAKTAPUR

Nagarkot is about an hour & half’s drive from Kathmandu. It is the nearest highest point from Kathmandu from where you can see the majestic snow capped Himalayas.

Bhaktapur is an ancient heritage city. Spread over 5 square kms, be prepared to walk its length & breadth to enjoy its beautiful architecture, its old palaces and its temples – all dedicated to Shiva, Parvati & Bhairava.

Continued… Kathmandu’s Secret – Part 2 – Lord Pashupatinath & His Hidden Consort