Wednesday, August 5, 2020

LORD RAMA IN AYODHYA!!


Feeling overjoyed and ecstatic as I celebrate the Bhoomi Pooja of Lord Rama temple in Ayodhya today (5th August, 2020). Dr.Balamuralikrishnagaru's Ramajogi (Sri.Bhadrachala Ramadasu keerthana) is a favourite of mine. This tune is composed and sung by Sri.Balamuralikrishnagaru.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

KAZHUGUMALAI MURUGAN TEMPLE


In mid 70s, performing during Skanda Sashti festival in Sri Subramanya temple, KAZHUGUMALAI. The simple-hearted devotees surrounding the stage created an instant rapport between us. Mridangam-Sri.V.R.Lakshminarayanan.

Monday, July 27, 2020

SARASWATI VEENA-18

                                          Goddess Durga

A couple of decades ago.
"Please, please..... I have to see him...at least one time, then I'll go away.."
The young lady in her early 20s pleaded, tears streaming down her cheeks, unmindful of people staring at her openly. 
After years of observing and absorbing facts, today, as I look back I am able to see that the young lady was clearly under the grip of "Vashikaran" (spell to bring someone under control) done to her.
In more than 5 decades of performing in many places of worship, I have observed various practices and methods. I have gained considerable information and am quick to gauge the nature of rituals.Whatever I am saying here is a mere gist and the briefest of brief essay.
Enough has been said about tantra on internet without myself having to go through the subject in an elaborate fashion. The need of the hour is for everybody to be alert in identifying the correct Guru for spiritual guidance. 
A tantrik who can cause people both benefit and harm is best avoided. Our own prayers are stronger than anybody else’s on behalf of ourselves. 
Generally females born in auspicious months, on auspicious thithis and nakshatras are targeted to be brought under a tantrik 's control for his benefit or on behalf of others for their benefits. 
 The 'shakthi' energy is drawn out of the female and the tantrik attains immense benefits of power by taking in the ‘Shakthi’ energy. It is possible for a tantrik to derive a female's energy even without physically uniting with her.
The subtle (sookshma) energy of the female is drawn through mediums such as personal articles used by the subject. 
In the case of musicians, especially practitioners of divine instruments like the original Saraswati Veena, 'Vashikaran' (casting spell) is aimed at male/female Veena practitioners whose Sushumna nadi is vibrant. 
In few instances talisman (thin and minute-sized metal sheet yantras engraved with tantrik mantras) are embedded in the wood, especially in the kudam area. Generally new Veenas are made for such intended purposes. Inauspicious places, timings (malefic horas or planetary conjunctions) and thithis like Ashtami/Navami are chosen to make such Veenas. 
The pranic energy which is drawn from the Veena made out of seasoned Jackwood which connects and transmits the breath patterns of the Veena practitioner is sponged off by the tantrik via the embedded talisman in the Veena. 
The above is not applicable to detachable 'Veenas' which are broken in places for travel purposes. Detachable Veenas are not contained and therefore do not have the ability to retain or promote any type of energy- good or bad. Small sized Veenas (used for gimmicks) that are disproportionate to practitioner’s spinal column and with weird and bizarre shaped ‘kudams’ (other than the original huge and round shaped. ‘Kudams’) are non-energy bearers and therefore fail to retain or promote any kind of energy-good or bad.
When a practitioner unknowingly practices on a tantrik Veena (which has a talisman embedded in it) his/her energy is gradually drained and the practitioner loses strength and lustre (ojas and tejas). At some point the practitioner can also fall seriously sick, as all the energy is transmitted to the tantrik. The victim under "Vashikaranam" spell is obsessed with the person under whose spell he/she is brought under and feels a desperate urge to be with them 24/7. 
How to identify a victim of "Vashikaran"? A person who is under a spell is usually nervous, desperate and devoid of pranic energy (tejas). He/she looks pale, loses sleep and appetite. 
A person who is on the right path of spirituality and has immunized himself/herself against black magic attacks through disciplined prayers and unwavering belief in oneself (Atma Guru) glows with 'sattvik' tejas and the beauty of wisdom.
Prayers and worship of Goddess Durga (Anagram-Guard) apart from bestowing strength to the arms/hands/fingers of Veena players protects and shields them from negative attacks. 
P.S;-Utmost caution is needed before accepting vibhuthi/kumkum/any eatables in the name of prasadam/ precious and semi-precious gemstones (energy bearers) from anyone other than from temples and one's own trusted spiritual Guru.

Friday, July 24, 2020

SARASWATI VEENA-17


VEENA KUDAM (REPRESENTING HUMAN BEING'S 'SHIRASSU'- HEAD IN VEDAS AND UPANISHADS)

BLASPHEMOUS ACT-
It is blasphemy and sacrilege to break (dismantle) the Veena 'kudam' (into 2 halves or in any manner) which is the right end (of the player's side) of the Veena and which is placed on the floor. The Veena 'kudam' represents the 'shirassu' (head) of a human being of 'poorna ayush' according to the Vedas and Upanishads. 
It is painful to see such ant-vedic acts hailed for their travel friendliness. 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

SATTVIK SALSA

Sharing my younger daughter Haritha's article from her blog jugglesforgiggles.blogspot.com-
My younger daughter, HARITHA  ECHAMPATI ( SerDes Design Engineer  SANTA CLARA )

It seems that I'll be stuck working at home for quite awhile. And I don't want to gain another 20 pounds, so would like to eat at home and eat healthy. I thought the best way to motivate myself to eat at home and cook is to share my recipes and eating schedule online a la Shruti Hassan style. Please don't expect fancy recipes or utensils like what the celebs might use but these recipes are for people who are:1.super duper crazy busy at work therefore can spend very little time cooking 2. vegan 3. want to adhere to ayurvedic principles of eating sattvic 4. would like to adhere to Iyengar principles of avoiding garlic and onion as much as possible (which means I am allowed to use salsa). May my blog featuring the finest of dining shoot to fame and get many a follower. Drum roll and bow out.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

INTRODUCING NEW LABELS-OFFBEAT AND VEENA UNPLUGGED


The labels 'Veena Unplugged' and 'Offbeat' were included in my blog a couple of days back.
Veena Unplugged will have my recent and forthcoming acoustic Saraswati Veena recordings of all genres, most importantly that which are not available on YouTube. Jagan G is incharge of the audio/video mixing of my recordings.
Offbeat is a breezy category where I am going to present easy and casual topics including anecdotes and other interesting matters of relevance. Yesterday "HUG" was posted under the label Offbeat.
More to follow.....

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

HUG



AN IDEAL HUG


I've heard stories about how hugging is therapeutic. Fine! Not reason enough to go around hugging! A hug has to be craved. All this show of random hugging in public places (which includes hilarious cheeks-rubbing) or at places of work (even if it's between same sexes) has made many people wary of hugs which can happen anytime, anywhere and with anybody! While hugging is the ultimate act of love and passion between lovers, it is a sublime act between parents and children, act of affection between siblings, act of adoration from grandparents to grandchildren, act of easy camaraderie between friends and an act of mutual respect between people who are equal in ranks. 
Making someone feel obligated  to passively bear with a hug or even worse extracting a hug in return amounts to violation of the reluctant hug-receiver's dignity and self-esteem. 
In the present times of pandemic, to force an unnecessary hug on somebody (worse if that somebody is a senior citizen) would result in spreading  the virus  and infecting the reluctant hug-receiver. Hugs are precious...to be used preciously ....





Sunday, July 19, 2020

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

YET ANOTHER DIMENSION!

MY HUSBAND, E.V.RAMAKRISHNA, MARINE ENGINEER


JINNAH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, KARACHI, PAKISTAN - MAY 1980 
My bindi and white colour organza saree with sky blue colour designs attracted open stares from passengers in the transit lounge of Karachi airport. . Realizing that I presented an uncommon sight of a typical Hindu woman in the crowded airport full of Pakistanis I tried to quieten my racing heart beat.
My husband and I were headed to Basra, Iraq to join the shipping vessel, M.V.Prabhu Gopal, a bulk carrier. My husband was taking over  as second engineer in the vessel M.V.Prabhu Gopal which was berthed in Al Maqal Port, Basra, Iraq.
Oblivious to my discomfort, my husband was in a serious discussion about his work with another officer who travelled with us. A whole lot of crew and engine/deck side officers travelled with my husband and myself to join the vessel in Basra. It was actually a big group of crew and officers in which I was the lone woman.
The flight from Mumbai to Karachi was exhausting after the sleepless night preceding it. I was hungry and longed for hot rice with my favourite vegetarian dishes. Trying to shake off the tempting images of food I reached into my handbag for the packet of cream cookies I bought in Mumbai airport.
I shifted restlessly and after procrastinating for a long time I gathered some courage to get up from my seat. Feeling nervous and shy of all the attention I attracted I lowered my gaze to stare intently at the floor till I reached the ladies' restroom. My back prickled as I sensed  curious stares from everybody. There were few women inside the restroom. Trying to conceal their curiosity they turned to smile at me politely and I smiled back nervously.
After what seemed like an expedition I sat down next to my husband with a great sense of relief.
Shortly afterwards the boarding announcement came crackling on the airport speakers and we got up to board the flight that would take us to Baghdad, Iraq. The flight duration between Karachi and Baghdad was roughly around 3 hours.
My heart skipped many beats in excitement. At the same time a sense of fear ran up my spine at the thought of my bindi and saree. I couldn't find solace in the repeated assurances of shipping agents and other officers that everything would be fine and Iraqi authorities in Basra port would not question me about my saree or bindi.  

BAGHDAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT 
The airport looked more like a palace with lovely wall designs in the sprawling halls with high ceilings. It was a culture shock for me and I temporarily forgot my hunger pangs as I stared at the tall, handsome women walking elegantly in the airport. I had never seen such well built and tall women before. The female ground staff of Baghdad airport had heavily made up beautiful eyes and fair, clear skin. Most of the women passengers were covered from head to toe in their traditional attire.

Waving at our group exuberantly a friendly shipping agent rushed towards us. After exchanging pleasantries he directed us towards the lounge where we were served hot, delicious tea and biscuits. Fascinated by the Iraqis and my surroundings I drank in the sight with my eyes. I gazed at the large glass-carved doors on my side. Outside the airport even the sky presented a different picture, or was it my imagination?! I had never seen a sky so purplish orange!! It looked enchanting. Till date I haven't forgotten the strange colour of sky at 2pm in the afternoon!!

THE BUS RIDE
Our group boarded a bus specially arranged to transport the engine/deck side officers and crew to join the vessel, M.V.Prabhu Gopal in Basra. 
It was an old, non air conditioned and very badly maintained bus that rattled its way through the vast desert-like area between Baghdad and Basra. To make matters worse the road was not a proper one. The uneven and rough stretch made the bus jump up and down. We were almost thrown out of our seats by the heavy jerks of the bus and had to hold on to the seat for fear of falling all over ourselves. The heat and dust that invaded the bus worsened the agony of the travel. 
I was close to tears due to hunger, body aches and tiredness. My husband's consoling looks at me and loving gesture of holding my hand reassuringly through out the ride acted as a soothing balm.Despite the discomfort of seating and travel I was keen to look outside . There was a stretch of white sand everywhere with palm trees and hut like structures here and there. I saw women fully clad in black carrying pots filled with what I thought was water. 

The ride took nearly 4 or more hours. Loud Arabic music blared from somewhere within the bus. The audio had a surround effect and I could not find the speakers.
I tried to divert my mind from the pain of jumping along with the bus by concentrating on the Arabic music that pierced my eardrums. My first challenge was to nail the "Sa Pa Sa" of the tune. For the life of me I couldn't identify the scale nor the rhythmic pattern of the Arabic song. I made a mental note to play Arabic music on my Veena sometime in future.

AL MAQAL PORT, BASRA, IRAQ
At a point when I thought I would collapse the bus glided to the gateway of Basra Port. Outside Al Maqal Port the place swarmed with armed Iraqi military personnel. The sight was formidable to say the least. We were guided and escorted to the ship, M.V.Prabhu Gopal amidst tight security. 
The huge vessel berthed on one of the jetties of the busy harbour of Basra posed another challenge. The prospect of climbing up the steep gangway onto the ship in a saree made me cringe. I opted to be the last one to climb with my husband climbing closely behind me. The steps were oily and slippery and I held the pleats of my saree taking care not to trip on them. Midway and at an alarming height my steps faltered and I gasped loudly!   A hand reached out to me from the person ahead of me. I clung to the hand for dear life and managed to reach the entrance of the ship. Entering the ship I rejoiced in the air-conditioned coolness of the ship. Steadying my breath I thought to myself with a smile - 'yet another dimension in life'!!
GANGWAY 


                                   



Saturday, July 4, 2020

PAADA DARSHANAM...PAAPA VIMOCHANAM......




   MAHAPERIYAVA 

 Early 90s, Kanchi Mutt-I looked around bewildered, as devotees ran past me whispering, "seekkaram, seekkaram"...(hurry, hurry....in Tamil). The person from Kanchi mutt office (forgot his name) rushed towards my mother and myself. My mother asked him anxiously, 
" What's happening?"
"Periyava (Mahaperiyava) is giving Darshan right now in His palanquin. Everybody is rushing there, I'll find a place for you to sit, please meet me there." He rushed off without waiting for our response.
My heart skipped a beat. My mother and I hurried towards Mahaperiyava's palanquin (placed on the way to Mahaperiyava's present Adhishtaanam/Brindavanam).
By the time we reached the palanquin the place was jam packed with devotees, many of the ladies were in madisaar and gents in dhothi/angavasthram. 
My mother and I somehow found ourselves standing right in front of the palanquin, at a reasonably close distance. In front of us many devotees were seated on the floor. My mother and myself happened to be in the first row of devotees who were standing.
The palanquin was shut and devotees were waiting with bated breath for the palanquin to open. The pin-drop silence despite the large gathering was overwhelming. The heavy under currents of intense devotion bordering on fascination was almost palpable. I felt goosebumps all over my body. The entire atmosphere was so charged, and the synergy so high that there was a surreal quality to the moment.
 I realized that I was sensing absolute divinity even before the doors of the palanquin were opened and Mahaperiyava showed Himself. His powerful vibrations seemed to reach out to touch each and everybody around the palanquin.
"That man is calling you" the person next to me said, pointing to someone.
Feeling strangely disoriented I looked in the direction he was pointing to.
The Kanchi mutt administrative staff who told us he would be arranging for my mother and myself to be seated was gesturing to me wildly from a corner of the palanquin. He was asking us to come to where he was standing. 
I looked at my mother, "Amma you go if you want, I want to see Paramacharya from here."
My mother, her gaze never leaving the palanquin shook her head negatively indicating that she wanted to remain in the same place.
Looking at the Mutt person, I smiled politely and gestured that we wanted to remain standing in the same place.
Suddenly the silence was shattered by a loud chorus of gasps from the huge number of devotees who were gathered there.
I turned my head to look at the palanquin. The doors (or was it a cloth screen....? I don't remember..) were opened by vedic pundits.

 Inside sat huddled against the back frame of the palanquin, a frail and delicate figure in saffron robes. The morning sun's rays matching the colour of Mahaperiyava's robes  rushed into the palanquin, to cast a golden hue inside the palanquin...In the golden light, the pale, fair and wrinkled skin of Mahaperiyava shone like molten gold and His eyes were sharp and brilliant like precious gems. I was struck by the contrast between His frail, delicate structure and the power of wisdom that emanated from His eyes. 

"Amma!! Kamakshiii... Thaaye!! Ammaaaa......." cries and excited gasps of devotees filled the atmosphere. A few started to cry loudly. A woman cried out loudly, her voice quivering, "Kamakshi, Thaaye, Ambikaye, Ammaaaa....!!" Few men and women were chanting Hara Hara Shankara Jaya Jaya Shankara in low, emotionally charged voices.

All around me people were  whispering and gasping their prayers fervently... yet there seemed to be a stillness to every passing moment. Time seemed to stand still. Somehow Lord Krishna's "Kaalosmi (I am Time)" flashed across my mind.  When Time stood still God came to the fore!! I understood that the omnipresence of God could be felt by each one of us who were gathered there!                        
Mahaperiyava was moving His head slowly from side to side, His calm and serene gaze taking in the crowd which was gathered  around Him. In between He weakly raised His hand and some times both hands in gestures of blessing. Whenever Mahaperiyava lifted His hands the cries of devotees grew louder, their cries rose and fell in accordance to the smallest movement of Mahaperiyava, like an orchestra of musicians performing to the signalling hands of a music conductor!! I was afraid to even blink my eyes for a moment as I didn't want to lose the treasured sight of Mahaperiyava. I was drinking in every detail of the Darshan and realized that my two eyes or any amount of time will not give me the satisfaction of actually registering His awesome Presence.
At one point Mahaperiyava shifted uncomfortably and stretched His legs exposing the soles of His feet to the gathering.
At the sight of His feet devotees started to wail loudly,"Paada Darshanam Paapa Vimochanam...!!!!!" Many devotees started to strike their own cheeks in devotional fervour.
"Amma...Kamakshi...Paada Darshanam Paapa Vimochanam....Thaaye...!!" I realised that my cheeks were wet with tears, I was shocked that I was crying without my knowledge.
A saffron-robed devotee seated in front of me (I noticed this devotee in saffron robes from the moment I stood there. He exuded a powerfully divine aura and seemed like a very advanced practitioner of the spiritual path) suddenly got up from his sitting position to stand up. A vedic brahmin went upto Mahaperiyava and pointed to the saffron robed devotee.Bending down reverently he whispered something in Mahaperiyava's ears. Mahaperiyava focused His gaze on the saffron-robed devotee standing right in front of me and lifted both His hands as a blessing. Standing right behind the saffron-robed devotee and yet visible to Mahaperiyava's gaze, I felt convinced that His blessing Hands were also directed towards myself and my mother....On this day of Guru Poornima....

FEATURED POST

LORD RAMA IN AYODHYA!!

Feeling overjoyed and ecstatic as I celebrate the Bhoomi Pooja of Lord Rama temple in Ayodhya today (5th August, 2020). Dr.Balamuralikrishna...