History vs His+story!

History vs His+story (Her as well, needless to say)! 🤔🔍🙃

~a SwamyView na’note’

Nemiji’s view was that when we talk of history, we talk of wars and dynasties, but during the same period in history, a lot of creative achievements have also been made; classics have been written; languages have been developed but history takes little notice of them. It only notes who won the war, who became the king.

Vinoba Bhave has said that, “We say that Tulsidas was a great poet who happened to live in the time of Akbar the great. Why can’t we say, sometimes, that during the time of a great poet Tulsidas, lived emperor Akbar?”
~excerpt from Nemichandra Jain’s Birth Centenary article by Sonal Srivastava in the ‘Speaking Tree’ supplement of Times of India.

It’s just a subtle shift in perspective, i.e. History vs His+story or Her+story or Its+story. But this subtle shift has the potential to change our perception of everything we think we know so far, forever, for now we suddenly awaken to the possibility that there’s another way to perceive everything in existence, without being burdened by what is known based on how the known has been perceived by some historian or writer of the past. That very thought itself is kinda liberating, isn’t it!

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Is Traditional Movie-Making Dead!

Is Traditional Movie-Making Dead!

~a Swamusings post

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Superhero blockbuster fatigue is real and the mad mad mad fans need some urgent intervention to recover. 😵
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What better way for a movie buff to get refreshed than to watch a couple of movies that are the polar opposite of blockbusters ~ true-to-life (as much as cinematically possible), slow paced (sometimes excruciatingly so), believable (absolutely no sfx aided saving the world) and totally eye-sockets and ear-drum (and thinking brain – needless to say) safe… 😂
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Swamy, a long time hollywood movie watcher (not just blockbusters, but any genre – once upon a time, he used to watch one movie every weekend, often cycling to theatres 🚵🏼♀), recently watched not one but two (quite a few, actually, but two are certainly worth a mention) non-blockbuster movies – English only, of course – with no superheroes (as a matter of fact, not even a hero) whatsoever. In fact, there were only a handful of characters in both movies and the story (yeah, it used to be a thing, way before the sfx superheroes arrived with a bang, negating the need for even an outline of a story 🤦🏻♀) is anchored around them.
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Both movies have top-notch talent on board, of course, yet steer clear of any clichéd heroics. At the same time, they also manage to keep the viewer hooked, till the very end, with fantastic production quality.
Try these two gems of modern movies – Arctic and Cop Car when you get a chance.👍
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Arctic‘ stars the venerable Mads Mickelson (remember the bleeding-eye Bond villain!) as a lone scientist stuck in, well arctic where else, after a plane accident, figuring out how to survive, on a day-to-day basis, until the rescue team arrives (it’s a big ‘if’). So, for most part of the movie, it’s just him and the unforgiving + unrelenting icy arctic environment. Refreshingly, despite the seemingly insurmountable odds, he never gives up and meticulously goes about living, one day at a time…
Cop Car‘, starring the chameleon-like Kevin Bacon, who has been starring in movies – both blockbuster type and the oddball indies – like forever, turns the generally fear-inducing (even more so in the present racially charged political mindscape) Cop Car (no surprises there, heh.. heh.., what, you didn’t see that coming!) on its head, yet keeping the entire movie anchored around and in it.
While you may not like these (kind of) movies right away, especially if you are one of those forever delirious superhero blockbuster fans, do watch both till the end (they aren’t that long). Unfailingly, they’ll show you that real craft of movie-making is still alive and kicking, even in these billion dollar blockbuster days. 👌
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So, the answer to ‘Is traditional movie-making dead?‘ is a resounding NO, if the diehard movie fans know where to look for, ummm, normal yet enchanting movies!

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P.S.1: The countless books Swamy had read and the numerous movies he watched, during his youth (despite growing up in a city-town and not a metropolitan city), are significant contributors to his linguistic prowess, if there’s such a thing. Whenever he used to tell many that மாப்பிள்ளை விநாயகர் / MaappiLLai VinhAyagar theatre (it’s still around though now both the name and charm are gone) was one of his English tutors, that wasn’t meant to be a joke. Similarly, this isn’t a mere கருத்து / opinion, but an experiential sharing after all, which shouldn’t come as a surprise for a(ny) seeker!
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P.S.2: No, Swamy hasn’t watched ‘Avengers Endgame,’ (good luck catching up with Avatar, despite the re-release, ha.. ha..) yet. Nor has he any plans to see ‘Spiderman Far From Home’ anytime soon. Both can wait to be seen by Swamy, till they arrive on any of the streaming services. A retiree has to be cautious about how his meagre earnings are spent, after all!
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~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Signature Acoustics Phoenix – Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter & Receiver

Signature Acoustics Phoenix – Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter & Receiver

~Gadget Reviews by Swamy

TV audio sucks, irrespective of how wonderful the picture is. So watching any content through it, be it streaming movies or YouTube videos (through Wi-Fi) or downloaded content (played through the USB port), feels underwhelming, since the audio, an essential part of the AV experience, sounds tinny and hollow.

While audio quality doesn’t matter that much for ravenous consumers of mere noise, i.e. those who can’t have enough of flash news played repeatedly or shout fests in the name of panel discussions or pathetic excuse for acting in the form of stale soaps, aka TV serials, that are still stuck in the last century, it’s a big bummer for those who enjoy the innumerable variety and variations of sound, which augments the visual experience. While these kind of audio connoisseurs value and enjoy high quality sound as much as audiophiles, many aren’t really wealthy audiophiles who can splurge on premium brand audio equipment, such as hi-res headphones, Dolby Atmos home theatres or even good quality 2.1 sound bars that can quench their thirst for great audio.
The alternative for such neither here nor there connoisseurs of sound – both music and movies – is the portable DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Converter, for the uninitiated), which can help them enjoy Hi-Fi audio, through their existing headphones (hopefully of good quality – preferably Hi-res), without filing for bankruptcy or skipping a meal for a few years to pay the emi for quality audio equipment. Swamy belongs to this group of ‘audio enthusiasts on a limited budget‘ and since he already eats only twice a day and certainly plans to enjoy the rest of his planned retirement without going bankrupt, he chose the ‘Signature Acoustics Phoenix Bluetooth Transmitter and Receiver,’ which lets him enjoy quality audio through the ‘Audio Technica ATH-M50X‘ over-the-ear and ‘1More Triple Driver‘ in-ear Hi-Res headphones, wirelessly!

And boy do they sound good? Of course they do. The SA Phoenix is a Bluetooth 5.0 compatible transmitter and receiver that can either be used to transmit audio from a device such as TV or music player wirelessly (that can be listened to on Bluetooth speakers or headphones) or as a Bluetooth receiver that can enable a wired speaker or headphone to become wireless. Since the Samsung 4K UHD TV can transmit audio via Bluetooth (version unknown – certainly isn’t 5.0), and both the wired headphones (AT & 1More) are already quite capable when it comes to audio quality, the primary purpose of Phoenix is as a receiver. It has Aux (obviously) and Optical Audio (surprisingly) ports – both In and Out. Wow!

Whether its an action packed movie like Rampage (Dwayne the ‘Rock’ Johnson can be really funny, despite his perennial yet natural tough-guy look, while still convincingly pummelling the beasts – human or otherwise) streaming on Amazon Prime or some old archived movie such as Predator (one of the all time best one-on-one action blockbusters of the Governator aka Arnold Schwarzenegger) or the YouTube videos of MrWhoseTheBoss (his tech review videos are obviously good but his resonant voice is even better) or the foot-tapping ‘Sound of Isha‘ track ‘Yogi Shiva Mahadev‘ to promote the upcoming 25th Mahashivarathri Festival Celebrations at the Isha Yoga Centre (near Coimbatore) or the few free uncompressed hi-res music audio (or audio+video) FLAC files that can be found here and there, the SA Phoenix infuses new life into them, especially when connected to a capable pair of cans. Its tiny size (smaller than a matchbox) belies the capability it packs and thanks to the Qualcomm CSR 8675 AptX-HD supporting chip set, it truly packs a punch. Just charge it (takes a couple of hours for full charge), pair it with an(y) Bluetooth audio source (such as a TV, laptop or smartphone) and connect it to a good quality headphone (such as ATH-M50X or 1More Triple Driver)… And all of a sudden, as one gets immersed into the enchanting space of vibrant sound, in glorious forms, myriad hues and countless variations, there isn’t any urge left to buy expensive audiophile grade equipment, anymore. At least for the time being… Heh.. Heh..
Oh btw, there’s no such thing as a perfect product. And that’s the case with a wonderful gadget like Phoenix as well.

  • A big bummer is that there’s no volume control mechanism of any kind, which pretty much any DAC from FiiO will have, for example. And the volume control in the headphone – the impressive 1More Triple Driver In-Ear, in this case – doesn’t seem to work, when connected to the SA Phoenix. And as if to rub salt on the wound, Samsung (UHD ‘Smart’ TV) too shrugs off and says “It ain’t my problem pal, go figure with your fancy Bluetooth Audio Device.” So basically, there isn’t any kind of volume control, at all, when the SA Phoenix is used as a receiver. That’s something to keep in mind, before playing movie filled with explosive action, which is pretty much any action movie ever made. Ouch!
    • Oh and one more thing… the indicator lights are so tiny that SA should consider supplying a magnifier free, along with the Phoenix (and its even smaller siblings). It’s the polar opposite of the Logitech Bluetooth receiver (which it’s replacing at SwamyHome) whose bluish glow can be clearly practically seen from anywhere in the room.
    • And one last thing – how about a clip that’ll be useful to attach it to garments. It doesn’t look pretty, nor does it feel comfortable, when hanging like a convict in an old western film!
    C’mon Signature Acoustics folks… You obviously got the right people to make great sounding (looking as well) audio gadgets (that too in my dear motherland itself), but you must certainly consider adding a couple of usability design specialists to your team as well, who can tweak the design from a user perspective. That’s when your brand recognition will be as good as (or better than) a worthy competitor such as FiiO (Swamy did consider their BT3 seriously, which supports all hi-res audio codecs, but is only a Bluetooth Receiver+DAC and can’t transmit audio).
    All said and done, Signature Acoustics Phoenix is proudly ‘Made In India,’ doesn’t require one to mortgage the house or car to buy (just Rs.2799 on Amazon – including the ubiquitous GST) and highly recommended by Swamy for anyone seeking to enjoy high quality audio, wirelessly, on a budget!

    Signature Acoustics Phoenix – Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter & Receiver

    Signature Acoustics Phoenix – Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter & Receiver

    ~Gadget Reviews by Swamy

    TV audio sucks, irrespective of how wonderful the picture is. So watching any content through it, be it streaming movies or YouTube videos (through Wi-Fi) or downloaded content (played through the USB port), feels underwhelming, since the audio, an essential part of the AV experience, sounds tinny and hollow.

    While audio quality doesn’t matter that much for ravenous consumers of mere noise, i.e. those who can’t have enough of flash news played repeatedly or shout fests in the name of panel discussions or pathetic excuse for acting in the form of stale soaps, aka TV serials, that are still stuck in the last century, it’s a big bummer for those who enjoy the innumerable variety and variations of sound, which augments the visual experience. While these kind of audio connoisseurs value and enjoy high quality sound as much as audiophiles, many aren’t really wealthy audiophiles who can splurge on premium brand audio equipment, such as hi-res headphones, Dolby Atmos home theatres or even good quality 2.1 sound bars that can quench their thirst for great audio.
    The alternative for such neither here nor there connoisseurs of sound – both music and movies – is the portable DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Converter, for the uninitiated), which can help them enjoy Hi-Fi audio, through their existing headphones (hopefully of good quality – preferably Hi-res), without filing for bankruptcy or skipping a meal for a few years to pay the emi for quality audio equipment. Swamy belongs to this group of ‘audio enthusiasts on a limited budget‘ and since he already eats only twice a day and certainly plans to enjoy the rest of his planned retirement without going bankrupt, he chose the ‘Signature Acoustics Phoenix Bluetooth Transmitter and Receiver,’ which lets him enjoy quality audio through the ‘Audio Technica ATH-M50X‘ over-the-ear and ‘1More Triple Driver‘ in-ear Hi-Res headphones, wirelessly!

    And boy do they sound good? Of course they do. The SA Phoenix is a Bluetooth 5.0 compatible transmitter and receiver that can either be used to transmit audio from a device such as TV or music player wirelessly (that can be listened to on Bluetooth speakers or headphones) or as a Bluetooth receiver that can enable a wired speaker or headphone to become wireless. Since the Samsung 4K UHD TV can transmit audio via Bluetooth (version unknown – certainly isn’t 5.0), and both the wired headphones (AT & 1More) are already quite capable when it comes to audio quality, the primary purpose of Phoenix is as a receiver. It has Aux (obviously) and Optical Audio (surprisingly) ports – both In and Out. Wow!

    Whether its an action packed movie like Rampage (Dwayne the ‘Rock’ Johnson can be really funny, despite his perennial yet natural tough-guy look, while still convincingly pummelling the beasts – human or otherwise) streaming on Amazon Prime or some old archived movie such as Predator (one of the all time best one-on-one action blockbusters of the Governator aka Arnold Schwarzenegger) or the YouTube videos of MrWhoseTheBoss (his tech review videos are obviously good but his resonant voice is even better) or the foot-tapping ‘Sound of Isha‘ track ‘Yogi Shiva Mahadev‘ to promote the upcoming 25th Mahashivarathri Festival Celebrations at the Isha Yoga Centre (near Coimbatore) or the few free uncompressed hi-res music audio (or audio+video) FLAC files that can be found here and there, the SA Phoenix infuses new life into them, especially when connected to a capable pair of cans. Its tiny size (smaller than a matchbox) belies the capability it packs and thanks to the Qualcomm CSR 8675 AptX-HD supporting chip set, it truly packs a punch. Just charge it (takes a couple of hours for full charge), pair it with an(y) Bluetooth audio source (such as a TV, laptop or smartphone) and connect it to a good quality headphone (such as ATH-M50X or 1More Triple Driver)… And all of a sudden, as one gets immersed into the enchanting space of vibrant sound, in glorious forms, myriad hues and countless variations, there isn’t any urge left to buy expensive audiophile grade equipment, anymore. At least for the time being… Heh.. Heh..
    Oh btw, there’s no such thing as a perfect product. And that’s the case with a wonderful gadget like Phoenix as well.

  • A big bummer is that there’s no volume control mechanism of any kind, which pretty much any DAC from FiiO will have, for example. And the volume control in the headphone – the impressive 1More Triple Driver In-Ear, in this case – doesn’t seem to work, when connected to the SA Phoenix. And as if to rub salt on the wound, Samsung (UHD ‘Smart’ TV) too shrugs off and says “It ain’t my problem pal, go figure with your fancy Bluetooth Audio Device.” So basically, there isn’t any kind of volume control, at all, when the SA Phoenix is used as a receiver. That’s something to keep in mind, before playing movie filled with explosive action, which is pretty much any action movie ever made. Ouch!
    • Oh and one more thing… the indicator lights are so tiny that SA should consider supplying a magnifier free, along with the Phoenix (and its even smaller siblings). It’s the polar opposite of the Logitech Bluetooth receiver (which it’s replacing at SwamyHome) whose bluish glow can be clearly practically seen from anywhere in the room.
    • And one last thing – how about a clip that’ll be useful to attach it to garments. It doesn’t look pretty, nor does it feel comfortable, when hanging like a convict in an old western film!
    C’mon Signature Acoustics folks… You obviously got the right people to make great sounding (looking as well) audio gadgets (that too in my dear motherland itself), but you must certainly consider adding a couple of usability design specialists to your team as well, who can tweak the design from a user perspective. That’s when your brand recognition will be as good as (or better than) a worthy competitor such as FiiO (Swamy did consider their BT3 seriously, which supports all hi-res audio codecs, but is only a Bluetooth Receiver+DAC and can’t transmit audio).
    All said and done, Signature Acoustics Phoenix is proudly ‘Made In India,’ doesn’t require one to mortgage the house or car to buy (just Rs.2799 on Amazon – including the ubiquitous GST) and highly recommended by Swamy for anyone seeking to enjoy high quality audio, wirelessly, on a budget!

    Agastheeswarar temple – Pozhichalur | SwamyView ~ Sacred Spaces

    Agastheeswarar temple – Pozhichalur
    ~a ‘SwamyView ~ Sacred Spaces’ blog post
    அருள்மிகு ஆனந்தவல்லி அம்பாள் சமேத அகஸ்தீஸ்வரர் திருக்கோயில் ~ பொழிச்சலூர் (சென்னை)
    There are temples and then there are temples…

    The Agastheeswarar temple at Pozhichalur (அருள்மிகு அகஸ்தீஸ்வரர் திருக்கோயில் ~ பொழிச்சலூர்) belongs to the latter category. Though quite popular as a parihAra sthalam (for Shaneeswarar – சனி பரிகார ஸ்தலம் [அ] நாடி பரிஹார ஸ்தலம்), it doesn’t appear to have the unavoidable burdens associated with the popular temples (such as Kabaaleeswarar & KaaraNeeswarar, where the busier-than-thou crowd of devotees and archakars swat away any semblance of peace and bliss associated with sacred spaces).

    When Swamy was looking for ShivA temples with Kaala Bhairavar Sannidhi in order to offer prayers for his elder daughter Mylo alias குஞ்சம்மாள்’s 10th & 13th day remembrance (she attained the Dancing Lord’s lotus feet on the wee hours of 31st of January, 2019) an acquaintance who happens to be a Shiva bhakth with extensive yatra experience pointed him to the Agastheeswarar temple at Pozhichalur.

    On the 13th day morning (12-Feb-2019) Swamy reached the temple around 7.15am, after a little bit of ride & miss (despite Google maps), that’s typical of suburbs like this, which have grown disproportionately over years, with prominent landmarks such as temples even getting hidden by haphazard urban construction. With a variety of flowers purchased from local vendor paattis (there were 3 of them, but none had any garland – a nondescript Tuesday must have been a run-of-the-mill uneventful day for their business!), Swamy entered the ancient temple (Agasthya Muni & Shaneeswarar are said to have worshipped the Lord), alongside who appeared to be the chief GurukkaL (he indeed was). The entry to the sanctum sanctorum can be quite confusing for first-time devotees, with barricades all around, leading one somewhere, but not where one thinks it would! This is probably to regulate the crowd of devotees that throng the temple on Saturdays to worship Shaneeswara BhagavAn! There were just a handful of devotees inside the temple and none – including the deities themselves – seemed to be in any kind of a hurry, which was a real surprise – especially when compared to the extraordinarily busy city temples (there are quite a few, in every zone).
    While keeping the flowers on the brass plate outside every Sannidhi (Abhishekham & AlankAram yet to be completed in many), Swamy noticed something very different (probably unique as well) inside the temple. There were Bhairavars (aka dogs) roaming around and resting freely everywhere. And no one was troubling them in any way. Wow, what an appropriate happening in a place that’s quite popular for Bhairavar worship. This was something Swamy had seen only in the temples at Nepal, during the Kailash-Manasarovar yatra and it was certainly wonderful to see something similar in a local neighbourhood.

    Lord Agastheeswarar (அருள்மிகு அகஸ்தீஸ்வரர்) was kind enough to offer glimpses of his AlankAram (post Abhishekham), revealing exactly his right half – only the IswarA part. The large Swayambhu Linga (சுயம்பு லிங்கம்) is magnificent and one can’t take the eyes away from the Lord, while humbly standing in front of him. The experience was akin to being in the presence of Sadhguru (சத்குரு), Swamy’s Guru, on certain occasions such as the SanyamA (சம்யமா) program, when he is simply clad in a white vEshti and angavasthram (instead of his usual regal attire), and connects with the core of the being at energy level. The presence of Adiyogi (ஆதியோகி) was subtle yet undeniable. On the left side of his sannidhi, Iswari offered a very blissful darshan, aptly reflecting her name of Anandavalli (ஆனந்தவல்லி அம்பாள்). The experience in the presence of Ammaiyappan (அம்மையப்பன்) was so intimate that a seeker simply can’t escape the resonance with their energy that directly touches one’s core, if one can keep the “i” aside for a few moments and “just be” there.

    The darshan at this temple reminded Swamy of his darshan experiences at the AbhirAmi amman temple in Dindigul (அபிராமி அம்மன் திருக்கோயில், திண்டுக்கல்) during his childhood and the Meenakshi-SundarEswarar temple near the vaigai riverbed (not that world famous temple located in the heart of Madurai) that’s the “பிட்டுக்கு மண் சுமந்து பிரம்படி வாங்கி அருளிய” (one of the 64 ThiruviLayAdals performed by the Lord in & around Madurai) sthalam near KOchadai (கோச்சடை). In fact, Devi Anandavalli actually reminds one of AbhirAmi Amman and the temple itself felt similar to the Dhandeeswarar temple in Velachery (வேளச்சேரி தண்டீஸ்வரர் திருக்கோயில்) which is very ancient, dating back to the vedic period.

    The day’s bliss was to continue with some devotee waiting patiently near the (VaLLi-DheivAnai samEdha) SubrahmaNyar (வள்ளி-தெய்வானை சமேத ஸ்ரீ சுப்பிரமணியர்) Sannidhi (which he shares with elder bro GaNapathy) requesting Swamy to be present for the Abhishekham that was about to start. That the day happened to be the six-faced Lord’s day (Tuesday) wasn’t a mere coincidence. Having performed the Abhishekham at home yesterday for the VEl (வேல்) on the occasion of Sashti, Swamy was delighted to have darshan of the elaborate Abhishekham (including PanchAmirtham-பஞ்சாமிர்தம்) performed to the Lord. All the daily chants and japA of Lord ShANmukhA (ஷண்முகர்) that Swamy performs happened at the temple itself, while the mighty SUraSamhArar (சூரசம்ஹார மூர்த்தி) got ready – at leisure, of course – to shower his devotees with blessings during the rest of the day. Agasthya Muni (அகத்தியர்) & Lord Surya (சூரியன்) are located facing SkandhaGurunhAthan.

    While the abhishEkham was performed for the Lord, there was an interesting conversation and consequential action going on in parallel at the Shaneeswarar sannidhi, where a very talkative devotee was keen on offering vastram & flowers followed by puja to Shani BhagavAn, on the occasion of his janma nakshatram (ஜன்ம நக்ஷத்திரம் – birth star), which was Krithigai (கிருத்திகை [அ] கார்த்திகை). The gurukkaL tried in vain to explain subtly to him that the day’s star was actually BharaNi (பரணி) and KArthigai will be only post sunset. But as the devotee’s list of proofs to establish the day’s star as KArthigai kept growing with PAmbu panchAnkam (பாம்பு பஞ்சாங்கம்) and his wife, the archakar was prudent enough not to push that fact any further and simply fulfilled the devotee’s desire, thereby adding a potential patron for the temple’s upkeep and festivals. That was a free management lesson for any employee aspiring for career growth, working for a boss with pre-concluded notions (which, pretty much, they all are)!

    Finally, the actual purpose of the temple visit happened, with VeLLai EL dheepam (வெள்ளை எள் தீபம் – white sesame lamp) offering and archanai performed to Lord SamhAra KAla Bhairavar (அருள்மிகு சம்ஹார கால பைரவர்) who gloriously stood in his own Sannidhi, in the outer prahAram, surrounded by living Bhairavars, who added their own collective chanting during the karpoora aarthi, from all eight directions (you may watch that mesmerising sight in this video https://youtu.be/qmcy-9-Q14Q).
    This deity of SamhAra KAla Bhairavar seems to be a recent establishment by a person (siddhar!), whose pictures can be seen in many a banner while entering the temple, who also seems to be the hereditary trusty of the temple (per the Sthala varalARu – ஸ்தல வரலாறு), which isn’t under the control of HRCE department (thankfully, one might say!). A privately managed ancient temple in a large city is indeed a rarity.
    If one enters through the RAjagopuram entrance (ராஜகோபுர வாயில் – though there isn’t a tower per se’), which is on the right side of the dhwajasthambham, Lord SamhAra KAla Bhairavar will be the first one to offer blessings. From the dhwajasthambham, one can see Lord Agastheeswarar directly, as the Swayambhu Lingam is quite large in size. Devi is located on the Lord’s left and their children are on the Lord’s right side. There is also another KAla Bhairavar (கால பைரவர்) deity just outside ambAL sannidhi, following which the NavagrahAs (நவகிரஹங்கள்) are located. Next to them, Lord ShaneeswarA (சனீஸ்வர பகவான்) has a separate sannidhi, which draws a sizable gathering of devotees on Saturdays and the days that are considered auspicious for his worship (e.g. Sani PradhOsham & Sani peyarchi / சனிப்பிரதோஷம் & சனிப்பெயர்ச்சி). This temple is a renowned Shani ParihAra sthalam (சனி பரிகார ஸ்தலம்) that’s considered an equivalent of ThirunhALLAru (திருநள்ளாறு), hence also known as Vada ThirunhaLLARu (வட திருநள்ளாறு).
    During the parikramA (பரிக்ரமா [அ] பிரதட்சணம் – circumambulation) of the temple, one can offer prayers to Lord AanjanEyA (surprisingly, Swamy saw ‘Shiva AanjanEyar’ சிவ ஆஞ்சநேயர் sannidhi inside Aadhipureeswarar temple at Pallikkaranai (அருள்மிகு ஆதிபுரீஸ்வரர் திருக்கோயில், பள்ளிக்கரணை) as well – during Mylo’s 10th day remembrance), AdiGuru Dakshinamurthy (ஆதிகுரு தக்ஷிணாமூர்த்தி), PiLLayAr seated under his favourite tree Arasa maram (அரச மரத்தடி விநாயகர்), yet another majestic Lingam with its own Nandhi that’s located in the open (established by a devotee, apparently) next to the GOshAlA (கோசாலை – பசுமடம்) with many cows and calves, DEvi DurgA (விஷ்ணு துர்க்கை அம்மன்) and ChandikEswarA (சண்டிகேஸ்வரர்). While leaving the temple post darshan also, one can’t escape the watchful eyes of SamhAra KAla Bhairavar, whose prime location seems to clearly indicate his thiruviLayAdal (திருவிளையாடல் – divine play or act) at both beginning and conclusion of one’s lifetime. Btw, if one is so inclined (as the Swamys naturally are) to pet the living Bhairavars in and around the temple, they’re quite fearless and very friendly.
    After spending almost two hours at the peaceful environs of DEvi Anandavalli samEdha Lord Agastheeswarar temple (ஆனந்தவல்லி அம்பாள் சமேத ஸ்ரீ அகஸ்தீஸ்வரர் திருக்கோயில்), where time appears to literally slow down (in contrast with the eternally busy world of survival just outside) under the watchful eyes of Lord SamhAra KAla Bhairavar (ஸ்ரீ சம்ஹார கால பைரவர்), Swamy’s heart was filled with gratitude to the pal who guided him to the most appropriate sacred space for his beloved elder daughter’s 13th day remembrance. ShambhO.
    Know more about Pozhichalur Sri Agastheeswarar Temple

    AUM Namah ShivAya / ஓம் நம சிவாய.

    BOlo BhairavnAth MaharAj ki Jai / போலோ பைரவ்நாத் மஹராஜ் கி ஜெய்.
    Hara Hara MahAdEvA / ஹர ஹர மஹாதேவா.

    ~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

    Arputhar

    சக்தத்தினுள்ளே சதாசிவம் காட்டி…
    சித்தத்தினுள்ளே சிவலிங்கம் காட்டி…
    (புத்தகத்தின்) பக்கத்தினுள்ளே பரமனைக் காட்டி…
    (சத்குருவின்) பதம் பணிவதே பாதையெனக் காட்டி…
    🙏😂😌😇🙌
    That pretty much summarises Swamy’s experience, when he completed அற்புதர் (Miracler, err.. Miracle maker) by கலைமாமணி மரபின்மைந்தன் முத்தையா (Marabinmainthan Muthaiah), a book he bought at the 2015 #ChennaiBookFair.

    அற்புதர் is the chronicling (not necessarily chronological) of a seeker (the Author) about his first hand experience with the Master (Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev – Mystic, Yogi, Humanitarian & visionary founder of Isha Yoga), told in an interesting way. Each of the 25 chapters have 2 parts.

    The 1st part is a near mythical narrative of the Master’s Mystic acts (a la திருவிளையாடல்), full of symbolism, written in lyrical prose (அழகு கவித் தமிழ் நடை) generously sprinkled with deeply hidden Truth that would suddenly spring out of nowhere & dance in front of the seeker’s (reader’s) eyes, with a possible flooding of Joy Drops, every now & then.

    The 2nd part is a straightforward retelling of events in the Author’s Life, either in the presence (not necessarily physical) of the Master as a witness to the many Miracles (hence the title Miracler, aka அற்புதர்) he performs as a matter of fact, or while interacting with the Master himself, while witnessing himself being part of the Miracle called Life.

    அற்புதர் is a must read for both seekers who are already drenched in the Miracler’s (i.e Master’s) boundless Grace or those who’ve a million questions in their mind, trying to break free from beliefs & half baked truths, passed on from generation to generation, from eons ago. Just picking the book & leafing thru it’s pages filled with the blinding magnificence of the unmanifest Truth, manifesting itself in the form of a living Guru, could just be the gentle push one needs to start on the path leading to the Silent Revolution of Self Realization! Shambho 🙏

    image

    கண்கள் காணாதன கண்டேன் – என் குருவருளால்,
    கண்டதெல்லாம் பொய்யெனக் கண்டேன் – அவர் திருவருளால்,
    காணக் கிடையா கைலாயம் கண்டேன் – அய்யன் பெருவருளால்,
    கண்தாண்டிய உண்மை காணத் தவமிருப்பேன் சத்குருவருளால்! 🙏😌😂😇🙌
    @PrakashSwamy

    Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

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    Sadhguru More Than A Life – Arundhathi Subramaniam

    Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, my spiritual Guru, is a contemporary Yogi, Mystic and Enlightened Master, who created Isha Foundation and works tirelessly to revive our once great culture and long forgotten spiritual science through Isha Yoga (Yoga of the Divine) programs, creation of Consecrated spaces and multiple initiatives for rural poor and environment to uplift Human beings and their way of Life. The Dhyanalinga Yogic Temple created and consecrated by Sadhguru at the Isha Yoga Center in the Velliangiri foothills near Coimbatore is well known worldwide.

    Sadhguru More Than A Life1Sadhguru More Than A Life is an enchanting book by a Trapezium about an Ellipsoid and its Creator! Written by  Arundhathi Subramaniam – an Isha meditator and writer (she might get offended if I don’t mention Poet) – tells the fascinating fairy tale like story of how the Dhyanalinga came into being and the being that took more than one birth to create it, finally in this lifetime – our lifetime! This book offers a near biographical account of Sadhguru’s lives (yes, you read that right, Lives, not Life) along with a few core members of the Isha Yoga phenomenon that led to the creation and consecration of the only-one-of-the-kind-in-this-planet Dhyanalinga Yogic Temple, offering the possibility of self-realization to millions worldwide, including this self (my journey started in 2009 and it is fair to say I’m still at the starting point).

    Naturally, like any book by or about my Master, this book too isn’t for the faint-hearted. Nor is it for the pious ones who’re tied up in their religious beliefs (which they automatically assume are unquestionable as they’ve been told to abide by them by their revered mutt head, grandmother, family priest or astrologer). If you’re one of those occasional nut cases (the author certainly seems to be one and self belongs to that category as well) who dares to question long held beliefs, let go of the old ways and willing to tread a new path, this book is right up your alley. But beware; it won’t be an easy journey, for my Master is like no other. He isn’t into Scriptures, doesn’t expound on Vedanta or quote from Gita. He basically doesn’t give a damn about anyone or anything – revered or not, unless he has experienced and understood that by himself. And when he speaks incisively and decisively about those first hand experiences, you’ll either faint and fall over or will end up picking your jaw that has just dropped, for the nth time.

    Sadhguru-More-than-A-Life-Book-Launch-20-Dec-05Mostly a faithful retelling of the various beings’ factual account (which unwittingly reads like fiction) – include the Master himself – of who, what and how, this fast paced book starts from Sadhguru’s exceptionally curious childhood, moves on to his extremely vibrant youth and then to his extraordinary transformation to Yogi and Mystic with a singular focus to accomplish his mission over three lifetimes and culminates with his present form and future possibilities.

    The 250 pages long book is divided into 9 chapters, apart from an Introduction and Postscript by the author (we’ll come to that later). Sadhguru’s extraordinary lives (and of those whose lives intertwined with his, many times over) can make you either drink the events that occur in one go and get intoxicated with his grace or go breathless every now and then and take a deep breath at the end of each chapter to contemplate on what hit you or how silly your long held beliefs appear all of a sudden. Sadhguru’s unique views and scientific explanations help in lifting the veil of our ignorance about things that we think we knew. A word of caution for Isha meditators and beings that walk the spiritual path – keep a handkerchief at hand and the book slightly away from your face as it’s quite possible that tears (Swamy calls them Joy Drops) will flow on to the book time and again. I lost count of how many times!

    Pure Awareness and MadnessThe Beginning of the Journey

    Dhyanalinga0The endless beginning of the story introduces the reader to Sadhguru’s creation (that incidentally makes him the Creator, which he indeed is) – the Dhyanalinga – a formless form that’ll last forever, even if this planet ceases to exist in its present form. While reading the line “You make your way to one of the shadowy alcoves and sit down to receive the Dhyanalinga” (which incidentally I’ve done more than once), I felt the same impact of “And then came the dance” from Amish’s Shiva Trilogy. Both books naturally have a Shiva connection!

    Falling Upwards Lifetimes Three

    Sadhguru9Sadhguru’s three lifetimes (four, if one counts how this extraordinary game of life started) unravel before the reader’s eyes vividly in this chapter. From the Bilva’s unknown realization to ShivaYogi’s unexpected initiation by the Guru’s Guru Sri Palani Swamy to Sadhguru Sri Brahma’s unnerving fiery but failed attempt to accomplish the mission, resulting in him leaving his physical form through all 7 chakras as Chakreshwara after declaring “I will be back”, the reader is left with palpable excitement to meet Jaggi, aka Sadhguru in this Life.

    This One Will Graze Human Beings The Black Sheep Who Turned Shepherd

    Sadhguru17A fascinating account of Sadhguru’s birth (he isn’t named Jagadish, aka ‘The Lord of the Universe’ for nothing), curious childhood and energetic youth, this chapter offers the reader a glimpse of the Master’s prowess early on in his eventful Life. From his ability to see all beings in energy form to getting into meditative state on top of a tree while skipping classes to catching and keeping snakes (without realizing his close association with them from another lifetime) to creating his own Xanadu like private lair in his home terrace to interactions with his (in all probability) realized great grandmother to his death experiment (or experience – a possible parallel to Bhagawan Ramana Maharishi’s) to initiation into Yoga by Sri Malladihally Swamy (“He was almost superhuman”) to dabbling in politics to an early fascination for automobiles (that continues till date) to his sister’s ascetic journey to his failed attempt to join the armed services to his voracious reading (at the library, daily, for an year) to his uneventful college classes to very eventful counseling to fellow students to his animal encounters to his first romance to his successful farming business (and long meditations, deep understanding of snakes and poetry writing while at the farm) to an attempt to start a commune and ending up running a successful construction business, readers will quickly pace through pages of history in the making.

     The Man Who ‘Went Up and Never Came Down’ From Motorcyclist to Mystic

    Sadhguru21Starting with an emphatic account of Sadhguru’s enlightenment (“I went up and didn’t come down”), this chapter offers a glimpse of the enormity of what is to unravel in the remaining part of the story. The transformation of the motorcycling youngster to the Mystic who’ll rev up the lives of millions is mind boggling, to say the least. Yet it also offers solace in the fact that self-realization isn’t something that happened only millennia ago (with Gautama the Buddha being the shining beacon of knowing and teaching) but is a possibility even in this day and age. His whirlwind romance and wedding to Vijji akka (at Isha, everyone is referred to as either Akka – sister – or Anna – brother, unless they’re Brahmachari(ni)s or Sanyasis) follows. Sadhguru also starts teaching Yoga like a true Master, but with a difference – his is the ancient form of Yoga taught by none other than Adi Yogi Shiva himself (that Sahaja Sthithi program has now transformed into multiple programs including Inner Engineering and Shoonya Meditation), dabbles with farming one more time and realizes his final destination – Coimbatore, where his dream of 3 lifetimes will come to fruition.

    ‘Compassion as Conspiracy’ Preparing for Harvest

    Bharathi (wow, what a blessed soul and being), Raja, Indira, Somu, Srinivas, Suman, Kiran… One by one, the core group of Isha meditators start coming to their Master like bees to a fragrant flower and willingly get intoxicated with the divine nectar he offers. The Jaggi that scores of meditators naturally gravitated to was also transforming into an altogether different being already during this time. Sadhguru offers a glimpse of who he truly is at times to them to remove any cobweb of doubts lingering in their minds. The powerful Bhava Spandana (BSP) and Samyama programs happen for the first time (this self too has participated in BSP and longs to be part of Samyama soon) with volatile results and an energy explosion among participants.

    Sadhguru19Some like Bharathi akka get to know who they were in their past lives (her life has been intertwined with Sadhguru’s for more than 2 lifetimes). Teachers’ Training program and formation of Isha Foundation also happened during this eventful period. Sadhguru finally finds the Mountains that has been in his eyes from childhood at Velliangiri near Poondi and the seed of Mystic’s Isha Yoga Center are sown in the misty wilderness at the foothills of the southern Kailash (where Adi Yogi Shiva is said to have spent time and Sadhguru Sri Brahma attained Mahasamadhi).

    The stage was set for the mission of three lifetimes and Sadhguru announces the 90 day Wholeness program, that’ll prepare the core group for the magnificent event. The participants endure dire living conditions and a grueling Sadhana schedule during which their Master ‘Unleashed the Guru’ within him. Many incredible events happen during the entire tenure of the program, culminating with Jaggi making the final transformation to Sadhguru. Reading “I am not your Jaggi anymore, I am Sadhguru” sent shivers down my spine (it should be ‘up’ – spiritually speaking), which I’m sure must be what they too should’ve felt at that time (except Bharathi akka, may be)!

    ‘When the Divine Descends, You Just Accommodate’ The Deepening Pilgrimage, the Darkening Night

    Sadhguru13A poignant account of the phenomenal accomplishment of Mahasamadhi by Vijji akka – someone who probably wasn’t expected to achieve that exalted state by any of the Isha core group members, this chapter lets the reader travel through a turbulent time of preparation for the once-in-many-millennia creation and consecration of Dhyanalinga (“A concoction of pure awareness and madness”, which incidentally is how Lord Shiva’s nature is also described), while offering fleeting glimpses at the persona of Sadhguru – an eclectic mix of all consuming passion and all encompassing compassion, who was the glue that was holding all the pieces of the puzzle together from falling apart.

    Sadhguru recalls meeting the silent sage Swami Nirmalananda (where the seed for Vijji’s deep desire for attaining Samadhi was inadvertently sown), the Swami’s attainment of Samadhi and puts Vijji akka and Bharathi akka through the paces to establish the triangle of energy necessary for the (lost science of) Prána Pratishtha ready. Getting two women who are the polar opposites to seamlessly merge into oneness wasn’t an easy task for even that accomplished Master! He also takes them on a Karma Yatra to the places of their previous births to clear the remaining karmic barriers. This chapter also takes the reader deep into the esoteric energy space that most humans bound by physical limitations of the five senses will find hard to comprehend.

    ‘If You Drop Your Fruit Willingly, Stones Can Be Minimized’ Countdown, Crisis, Denouement

    With one part of the triangle gone as Vijji akka attained Samadhi (“She left through her Anahata”), Sadhguru contemplates the alternatives to complete the consecration of Dhyanalinga (whose creation has historically been plagued by insurmountable challenges to whoever attempted, invariably resulting in failure to complete when they’re so close to completion) and decides to take it upon himself to ensure no further delay. While Sadhguru performing both his and Vijji akka’s roles helped move the process forward, it also started depleting his energy reserves, resulting in fast deterioration of his physical health. It eerily reminded every participants about his prediction (declaration rather) that he’ll leave this body at the age of 42. They feared the worst as the day of consecration got closer.

    Sadhguru15There were other social hindrances too (a natural result of the ignorant arrogance of suspicious idiots, which incidentally thwarted the historical attempts earlier too), which the Isha meditators endured with quiet dignity and came out unscathed through their perseverance and unwavering faith in their Guru (he did play a part too in removing the last remaining obstacles). When the Dhyanalinga consecration finally concludes on 24th of June 1999 (and Sadhguru falls like an uprooted tree, with whatever life left in his physical form flickering), all readers will invariably be left overwhelmed by the enormity of the energy consecration process, enchanted by the unwavering focus of the Master towards attaining the goal across many lifetimes and the unshakable faith his followers had in him all through and enamored by the Guru who practically revived a long lost sacred science (propagated first by none other than Agasthya muni, one of Adi Yogi Shiva’s seven disciples, several thousand years ago) single handedly and spirituality as a way of living that’s independent of religion!

    SadhguruBikeAnd his zest for Life as it is (“He’s probably the most alive human being I’ve known” – Arundhathi) brings him back from the brink (“My body was broken beyond repair” – Sadhguru), when Bharathi akka desparately said – hoping against hope that the wanderlust in him is the only thing that could keep him alive – “Shall we hit the road?

    ‘Time to Graze the Valleys of Life’ The Master, the Man and his Message

    SadhguruHimalayasWhether you’re spiritual or not (most humans are incapable of differentiating being religious and spiritual), you’ll relish Sadhguru’s precise and decisive responses to the seekers’ many questions (mostly by the author) in this chapter. From his uncanny ability to swiftly switch from one thing or person to other with equal attention to each to his capability to be present with or initiate the spiritual process for people not physically present to his unassuming ways of enabling ailing seekers do extraordinary things (such as climbing the Himalayas despite being critically ill) and unnerving candor in refusing to acknowledge such acts as miracles, many things that Sadhguru says or does (such as his own miraculous recovery from multiple ailments with the help of the eternal knowledge repository called Kailash) are beyond comprehension for normal readers. But the fact that all these acts were witnessed by people first hand exemplifies how lightly he wears his divinity or Gurudom.

    Sadhguru1His absolute clarity shines through when he explains what is Brahmacharya, how knowledge of the inner science can cure and prevent ailments, why he’s creating a monastic order with many strict regulations, how to avoid fake Gurus (real Guru happens when your longing deepens), what Enlightenment means, why he cries during processes (such as Linga Bhairavi consecration) or at the end of Sathsangs, why teaching meditation to political leader and entertainers is important, why transmission is more important than teaching and many more profound things.

    ‘The Ball Game’ and Beyond The Master Plan

    Sadhguru_Suryakund_Consecration18Now that Isha – Yoga of the Divine, is already a global phenomenon, what remains in the Master Plan of the Master? This short chapter tries to answer that question. It’s a very interesting answer to a very profound question with Sadhguru declaring “Never again”, when asked if he’ll consider taking the physical form again!

    Oh, about the Introduction and Postscript – it may be prudent to read them later, if you’re someone who might just drop a book if the first chapter isn’t fascinating enough (one of my colleagues did that with Asura – Tale of the Vanquished recently, to my surprise, but I relished the book, completed reading it in 4 days and also published a review). They do offer an important perspective – that of a not-so-spiritual seeker’s agony of having to live Life as we know it (resulting from our ignorance of Life as it is), innate inability to trust anyone as Guru, intolerance to conform (to defined process or practices) and an almost endless search for answers to perennial questions and the eventual cleansing of the cobwebs in her mind, to this grand tale of shock and awe, but Arundhathi’s propensity for liberal use of the flowery language of poetry (she’s a poet after all, but I haven’t read her poems yet, to comment), ends up tying the narration into complex Asana like knots – not just in the Introduction and Postscript, thereby exasperating the reader enough to let him or her exclaim and almost howl “Why?”

    Sadhguru14One thing that’s missing in this book is Sadhguru’s sharp that will enthrall even the most doubtful among the hordes that make a beeline for his MahaSathsangs. It’s possible that the author either wanted to ensure the readers get the gravity of this grand story right or she’s such a serious person that wit and humor are dismissed with a ‘huh’! The “I” too is so pronounced in her narration that the readers may end up throwing their hands up and wonder if this is Sadhguru’s story or hers (thankfully, she ensures it is Sadhguru’s, starting from Page 17)! While she’s undoubtedly blessed to have been drenched in my Master’s grace, my respect for his patience and boundless compassion went several notches up when I realized how he must’ve felt while “I”nteracting with (many a character like) the author, for a substantial amount of time, to enable the writing and publication of (t)his extraordinary Life story (“A biography? I’m not done with Life yet!”). Strange are his ways and stranger is the company he keeps (just like his 50% partner Shiva). Shambho!

    There are two possible outcomes while reading or on completing this book – an overwhelming sense of awe on what he has accomplished in this lifetime and a longing to be immersed in his boundless grace, in this lifetime and beyond! To be in the presence of a living Master in this lifetime itself is a blessing. “I’m available to all who’re willing!”, says my Master and he’ll only be glad to bless one more being with the possibility of eternal bliss! Availing that possibility to know ‘Life as it is’ will be a goal worth pursuing for the remaining part of our lives. Needless to say, as a seeker, I’m thankful to Arundhathi for letting me learn about my Master’s vibrant Life, which I’ve known only in bits and pieces so far.

    Sadhguru8

    I bow before my Master with deep reverence for creating the eternal energy form of Dhyanalinga, a living Guru in the primordial Linga form, who’ll sow the seed of spirituality into whoever enters his sphere, forever. And I bow once again for blessing us – irrespective of whether we deserve it or not – in this lifetime to have not one but two Gurus (the Creator and his Creation – whichever way you look at it) at the same time. Shambo!

    Jaggi_Vasudev_-_World_Economic_Forum_Annual_Meeting_Davos_2007And one more thing. I would love to write a sequel to this book (either by myself or collaborating with Arundhathi), starting from where this one concludes – the Dhyanalinga consecration – and walk the readers through the even more fascinating story of the mesmerizing growth of the Sadhguru and Isha phenomenon, the metamorphosis that they’ve brought into millions of seekers worldwide and the consecrations that he continues to perform (Linga Bhairavi, Adi Yogi aalayam, Mahima and Suryakund). If the Tamil translation of this book hasn’t already been picked up by SuBa or Muthiah, I would love to take up that too. my Master willing, of course!

    Sadhguru More Than A Life is Highly recommended by Swamy for all – seekers or not.

    All the photographs belong to Isha Foundation.

    Happy reading & a joyful Life to all seekers 🙂

    Love + Gratitude = @PrakashSwamy

     

    Swamy’s first Sadhguru Sathsang experience | SwamyView of Himalayan Lust by Sadhguru

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    Asura – Tale of the Vanquished by Anand Neelakantan

    Asura_Book“Asura – Tale of the Vanquished” is an interesting book by first time author Anand Neelakantan. It’s the well known tale of Ramayana, one of the greatest Indian epics (the other being Mahabharata), told from the unknown perspective of Ravana, the antagonist and Bhadra, a nobody whose Life pretty much impacts everybody who is somebody in this tale.

    Ramayana had always been told as Rama’s story. And over time, it has attained divine status – along with its hero – thereby denying an opportunity for the tru(th)e seeker to know the other side of the story. Just the way every coin has two sides, every story also has two perspectives. But just as only the winning side of the coin during a toss is seen by spectators, it’s always the winner’s side of the story that a reader gets to read. Anand, thankfully, provides that other perspective – that of the vanquished – with utmost clarity and conviction.

    It is hard not to compare this book with my other recent reads – Parts 1 and 2 of The Shiva Trilogy by Amish – not just because both books are retelling of well known mythology by first time authors, but also because Lord Shiva is an integral part of both stories. Ravana, after all, is one of the most popular Shiva bakthas of yore.

    Asura’s narration is straightforward, starting with Ravana’s childhood with insufferable hardship filled with insult; leading to his vibrant youth with burning ambition; resulting in fearless conquests and his eventual ascendance of Asura kingdom’s throne; inevitable interaction with the Hero, Heroine and sidekicks of Ramayana, i.e., Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman, et al; and predictable end to his era of being the greatest Asura emperor ever.

    Apart from the interesting and intriguing tale from the perspective of Ravana, Anand also adds another dimension to the story through Bhadra, the commoner who keeps crossing Ravana’s path but never gets his fair share of glory and ends up in misery all the time. Ravana and Bhadra’s lives weave through the tale like two threads of same fabric but of varying color and texture. Heck, they even share a common son!

    Ravana_fight2Asura is full of characters that many of us know well from reading, hearing or viewing the epic (all of them invariably glorifying Rama’s side of the story), but what makes it memorable is how Anand weaves them into the story (both events and time) and connects them with the protagonist Ravana (remember – this is Ravana’s tale). While Vibishana, Kumbakarna, Soorpanaka, Maricha, Meghanada, Vali (pronounced Bali in the book), Sita and Hanuman feature prominently, the ones that end up being well etched in our memory are Ravana (can’t help wonder ‘Wow’), Mandodari (a perfect match for this tale’s hero), Bhadra (he’s more or less the 2nd hero of this tale), Mala (whose life is intertwined with both heros), Prahastha (a true model Prime Minister), Athikaya (the illegitimate son of Ravana who seems a purely fictional creation but is memorable nevertheless), Mahabali (a curious cameo as Ravana’s mentor), Shambuka (equally enchanting and heart wrenching) and Mayan (has a surprise connection to Ravana and almost the equivalent of Brahaspati in The Shiva Trilogy). Rama and Lakshmana are mentioned more of an afterthought (and appear only after 300 pages or so), which is perfectly understandable as they’re not larger than life Gods in Ravana’s perspective. Ravana and Sita’s relationship is the best twist of the tale!

    Anand’s tale abounds with details on the Asura way of Life (which incidentally is not much different from our way of Life today) and of course the Deva way of Life (which certainly is not what we believed it was until now). Just the way Amish (quite successfully) made Shiva and all other mythical characters as humans in his books, Anand also depicts Ravana and all other mythical characters as humans, just belonging to very different races such as Asuras, Devas, Nagas (who feature prominently in Amish’s tale too), Gandharvas, Vanaras and Barbarians (or foreigners). He also sprinkles his tale with a generous amount of vices such as drinking and crimes such as rape. Graphic depiction of recurring bloody wars and their regrettable aftermath remind us that we humans aren’t any better as a race of people.

    Ravana 4While both Amish’s and Anand’s tales are eminently readable, the significant difference between the two tales is the definition of characters and depiction of a scene or environment by Amish. Anand focuses on the story and events in it rather than shaping individual characters or describing the environment in detail. He also dispenses off the truly epic moments of the epic rather quickly. Despite this, the book is longer than Amish’s.

    One of the reasons for the length is his intermittent discourses on politics, caste system (he’s especially vitriolic against Brahmins, a sect to which he too probably belongs to) and oppression of the lesser privileged, which is quite possibly influenced by the affairs of his home state Kerala, if not India itself. But just when the reader gets tired of this diatribe, he switches gears by moving to one of the significant events and gets our attention back. He could’ve either made this a 2 or 3 part book like Amit’s Shiva Trilogy or cut down on Bhadra’s perspective, which would’ve helped shed almost 1/3rd of the book’s length. But then, we would’ve never known the commoner’s view of Life in the island (Lanka) and mainland (India) during those times, which is as wretched and hard as it is today, millennia after the period of this tale.

    Anand’s Asura is not in the same league as Amish’s The Shiva Trilogy, but is certainly an equally worthy effort by the first time author. May be he should consider retelling Mahabharata from Dhuriyodhana’s and a Bhadra like commoner’s perspective in his next book! Recommended Read by Swamy!

    You may also read Swamy’s review of this enchanting book with a refreshing antagonist perspective in GoodReads!

    Happy reading & a joyful Life to all knowledge seekers 🙂

    Love + Gratitude = @PrakashSwamy

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    Himalayan Lust – Sadhguru

    Sadhguru8Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, my spiritual Guru, is a contemporary Yogi, Mystic and living Enlightened Master, who created Isha Foundation and works tirelessly to revive our once great culture and long forgotten spiritual science through Yoga programs, creation of Consecrated spaces and multiple initiatives for rural poor and environment to uplift Human beings and their way of Life. The Dhyanalinga Yogic Temple created and consecrated by Sadhguru at the Isha Yoga Center in the Velliangiri foothills near Coimbatore is well known worldwide. Himalayan Lust

    Himalayan Lust is one of his many books (being one of the most sought after spiritual speakers in global forums, it’s natural that his writing is equally sought after by avid spiritual seekers worldwide) that provides a glimpse of Sadhguru’s vast knowledge of Life as we know it, Life as it is and beyond (based on his experience of the dimensions beyond the physical). While I continue to ask myself “Who am I?” to review the words of wisdom from my Master who has figured out the answer for that eternal question from the endless beginning of time, I’m absolutely delighted to share the essence of this enchanting book so that more readers can enjoy the nectar of Sadhguru’s boundless grace. Sadhguru9

    The book both is and isn’t about Himalayas! Written as conversations that happened between the seekers (Isha meditators) and the Master during the Himalayan sojourn (an annual pilgrimage that’s part of Isha’s Sacred Walks program), this isn’t a tour guide for the mighty Himalayas. This book isn’t for the faint hearted nor is it for the pious ones who’re tied up in their religious beliefs (which they automatically assume are unquestionable as they’ve been told to abide by them by their revered mutt head, grandmother, family priest or astrologer). If you’re one of those occasional nut cases (according to your God fearing family and friends) who’s daring to question long held beliefs, let go of the old ways and willing to tread a new path, this book is right up your alley. But beware; it won’t be a nice journey, for my Master is like no other. He basically doesn’t give a damn about anyone or anything – revered or not, unless he has experienced and understood that by himself. And when he speaks incisively and decisively about those first hand experiences, you’ll either faint and fall over or will end up picking your jaws that’ve just dropped, for the nth time. SoundsOfIsha

    The book starts with Sadhguru’s poem on the Himalayas (he has written many that are truly enchanting and deeply spiritual –  “Eternal Echoes – The Sacred Sounds through the Mystic” is a collection of his poems). Sadhguru’s quote on the significance of the Himalayas in the beginning of the book, “If one is striving to grow, earthquakes and landslides keep happening in one’s life“, sets the tone for the blizzard that’s about to sweep away the reader.

    Himalayan Lust is compiled in four parts, to let readers take a deep breath (as many pages can leave you breathless) at the end of each part and contemplate on what hit them or how silly their long held beliefs appear all of a sudden, with Sadhguru’s views and scientific explanations lifting the veil of our ignorance about things that we think we knew. The quotes below are by Sadhguru and appear in the beginning of each part of the book. Sadhguru1

    Part One: The Domain of Shiva (Kedarnath) – “There are only two or three things in the world which actually overwhelm me – Kedar is one of them.

    Part Two: Life as Pilgrimage (Uttarkash, Guptakashi, Tapovan) – “If you walk through this life thinking too much of yourself, you’re a vandal. If you take every step of your life in gratitude, if you see how small you are, you walk on this planet gently, like a pilgrim. This life could be your pilgrimage.

    Part Three: No Take-away (Badrinath) – “A little insufficiency has brought you here; utter insufficiency will deliver you.

    Part Four: Walking the Spiritual Path – “Every moment, whatever you step on, in many ways, you are only stepping on me.

    Sadhguru_Suryakund_Consecration24Throughout the book, while responding to various questions (most are need-to-know for any seeker, but many are also naïve, understandably so), Sadhguru does talk about the significance of spaces such as Kedarnath (Aadi Yogi Shiva’s abode), Kanti Sarovar (where this planet’s first Yoga program happened), Badrinath (Shiva’s earlier abode that became Vishnu’s and considered one of the most holy places), UttarKashi (Kashi of the North, with the temple consecrated by Agastya muni himself), GuptaKashi (the secret Kashi, a powerful spiritual retreat for Yogis and Mystics), Rishikesh (a popular spiritual destination on the shore of the sacred Ganges known for the beautiful daily Aarti – light offering – to the river goddess) and Tapovan (a spiritual nest for many Yogis over centuries) and shares his own spiritual experience at each space.

    Sadhguru12The book is filled with amazing stories and interesting anecdotes from the long and vibrant history of this once great nation (known as Bharat Varsha), to open our eyes wide to what we ought to know but have neither been taught nor learned. Many an enlightened being including Lord Shiva (considered the Aadi Guru or first Guru in the Yogic path and not a religious God as we know him), Agastya, Pathanjali, Ashtavakra, Sunira, Ribu, Gautama the Buddha (an interesting insight on why he chose men for learning his teaching), Swaroopananda (the one who didn’t speak), Adi Shankara (one of the most important spiritual masters who practically revived Indian spirituality single handedly within just 32 years of Life), Lao Tzu (whose spiritual philosophy resembles that of Sadhguru’s) and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (he did indeed speak to and fed Mother Goddess Kali) walk through the pages of this enchanting book. Being a Master with a difference, Sadhguru naturally offers unknown perspectives of these well known beings and their doing.

    Sadhguru15Whether you’re spiritual or not (most humans are incapable of differentiating being religious and spiritual), you’ll relish Sadhguru’s precise and decisive responses to the seekers’ many questions about the Himalayas, the path of Yoga, the difference between saint, seer, yogi and enlightened being, the ancient science of consecration, why mystics won’t fit into a defined social fabric, the power of mantras such as Shambho, his own previous births, Isha – the Yoga of the Divine, the inner-net through which he came to know of the mythical being Maitreya, the Dhyanalinga – the only such energy form in the universe – that took 3 births to complete and will last for several thousand years, his many Himalayan sojourns and experience of universe as Nada (sound) during one of them, how the Himalayan yogis recognize and acknowledge his true self, why Gurus use transmission than teaching, how we ended up having a multitude of Gods, the different bodies of every being, the occult and its purpose, the significance of flowers, the impact of global warming on spiritual spaces, what simply being with the Guru means, why compassion is better than love, the absurdity of our existence and how acceptance of our utter stupidity can lead to liberation, why non-identification doesn’t mean non-involvement, how blessing is like gasoline, why meditators go crazy and do weird things in his presence and the only two choices available for seekers. Naturally, his sharp wit too enthralls the reader all along.

    Sadhguru14Two things can happen on completing this book, which concludes with another poem by Sadhguru on “Guru Pournami” – Love and Lust! First, you’ll immediately fall in love with nature in general and mountains in particular. Next, you will start longing to be in the lap of the mighty Himalayas or/and my Master, who’ll only be glad to bless one more being with the possibility of eternal bliss through his boundless grace!

     

    All the photographs belong to Isha Foundation.

     

    Happy reading & a joyful Life to all seekers 🙂
    Love + Gratitude = @PrakashSwamy  

     

    Swamy’s first Sadhguru Sathsang experience | SwamyView of Sadhguru More Than A Life

     

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