I recently read an excellent book and would like to post an extract from it – “India My Love, Fragments of a Golden Past”, written by Osho, a very popular mystic spiritual teacher who had and still has an international following. This book is so touching that it brings tears to the eyes of every single person who understands the real meaning of India.
“India is not just geography or history. It is not only a nation, a country, a mere piece of land. It is something more: it is a metaphor, poetry, something invisible but very tangible. It is vibrating with certain energy fields which no other country can claim.
The Buddha visited village after village giving discourses on Dhamma (Dharma in Sanskrit), the righteous ways of living. He was always very well received everywhere he went. Years of penance and pursuit of truth had strengthened his aura so much that people were able to sense him approaching even when he was still miles away from a village. And, on each one his trips, thousands of people were shown the path of the truth and they all benefited from the Buddha’s teachings by being liberated from their worries and grief. In this story, the Buddha delivers a lady from her grief by explaining death to her using mustard seeds.
Dattatreya was India’s first Guru in the tradition of the Nath Sampradaya to which other famous gurus like Gorakhnath and Matsyendranath also belonged. Dattatreya was the first among these Naths and undoubtedly the greatest too. The story of the birth of Dattatreya is well known in Indian culture. Dattatreya is worshipped all over India and also in Tibet and Nepal.
Dattatreya was born to Sage Atri and his wife Anasuya. Anasuya was the ideal of perfect wifehood. Her pati-vrata (devotion to her husband) was envied by Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Parvati, the consorts of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. They envied Anasuya because everyone in the world considered Anasuya to be the most dutiful wife, while each of these three ladies considered themselves to be the most dutiful of all wives. Filled with jealousy, they coaxed their husbands to be participants in a ploy to set Anasuya up in a situation where she would be forced to choose between being unfaithful to her husband or be the cause for Atri and herself to be subject to a terrible curse.
I would like to start this post with a wonderful rendition of one of Swami Tulsidas’ popular bhajans – “Shri Ramchandra Kripalu Bhajaman”
Saint Tulsidas was among the several others who reinforced the Bhakti Movement (devotion to God) in medieval India when the people’s faith in the divine was being intensely tested by the plundering foreign invaders. Tulsidas was born to a Brahmin family in Rajpur, in Uttar Pradesh in 1532 CE. When he was a child the first word he ever uttered was “Ram” and hence he was called RamBola (literally translated to “he said Ram”) by all the villagers.
Assam, at the plains of the Brahmaptura river, with its plentiful bounty and beautiful mountains was a coveted territorry for the Mughals during their invasion in the 17th century. The Mughals made repeated attempts to capture Assam. During a period of internal dissension, the Mughals had taken advantage of these conflicts and captured Guwahati and never stopped trying to go annex more territory in Assam. However, they were badly defeated in the Battle of Saraighat in 1671, and following that, Assam remained under the Ahom rulers until the end of their rule. The battle of Saraighat was fought on the banks of the Brahmaputra in the Guwahati region. Read the rest of this entry »
Our sacred India time and again produces great mystics who travel, teach and deeply touch the lives of all the people they meet. There is never a dearth of these great souls, who out of immense compassion for mankind incarnate again and again in order to uplift mankind from the meaningless drudgery of life into a life with clarity of purpose filled with bliss. One such great saint was Neem Karoli Baba, who lived until 1973 in Uttar Pradesh, and touched the lives of countless men through his life and preaching.
Music is an integral part of an Indian’s life. Classical music indeed brings peace and harmony to the soul. Musical renditions have the power to lift man from depression into ecstasy, especially when sung with a devotional note. In an earlier post on Hindustani music, we had seen the contribution of the legendary Pandit Bhatkhande in helping to sustain the survival of Hindustani classical music. Hindustani music is to northern India what Karnataka Sangeetam (Carnatic Music) is to South India. Like the former, Carnatic music is also highly systematized. In fact, classical Carnatic music is one of the world’s oldest and richest musical traditions. In the modern era, three musicians had seminal influence on the evolution and popularization of Carnatic music – Saint Tyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Shyama Shastri. They were the Trinity of Carnatic music. They were each prolific composers with unique styles and were contemporaries who lived during the period between 1760 and 1850 in the Kaveri delta of Tamil Nadu. Even today songs written by them constitute an integral part of Carnatic music concerts. This post will narrate short anecdotes from each of this trinity’s life. Read the rest of this entry »