Tag Archives: Bharat

Im-mortal!

18 Sep

Im-mortal ~ a tribute to a true Legend & pondering about how mortal even such legends are – especially in the fickle human memory! 

Yesterday was the birth centenary (not your hilarious annual celebration of the day you stepped out to survive this silly world) of a once-in-a-lifetime… Nah… Once-in-a-millennium… Uh, huh… Once-in-a-creation kind of artisan, whose name is synonymous with her craft. Yet, as far as Swamy knows, none of the prime time media – including the most democratic of ’em all, the Social Media – did much to commemorate the momentous occasion!

Graphic: Awards, accolades & global recognition for the legendary MuSician (source: msstribute.org)

Before we get to the name, here are a few (there are very few in the entire history of human existence, btw) parallels, to give you a perspective of what we’re conversing about…

Football (no, we won’t call it soccer, like the unsure citizens of the global big brother nation) – Pele’

ScienceEinstein (no silly comparisons with Edison et al here, he remains incomparable)

WritingTwain (very debatable, but let’s just go with the longevity here)

ArtMichelangelo (we can add Craft too here as he dabbled in far too many things, so well)

PoetryBhArathi (as far as Swamy is concerned, there has been no one as versatile & skilled as the MahAkavi

ComposingBeethoven (yep, there are far too many like Back et al, but no one will have any problem with nodding their head for the big B)

PhilosophySages who wrote the Upanishads (if you haven’t read them, then you’ve no idea about the purpose of your human birth)

ActingChaplin (you’ve no idea – just shut up & go watch his silent classics)

StrategyChAnakyA (start reading his ArthasAstra, before buying yet another strategy tome) 

AutomobileFord (“you can have the model-T in any colour as long as it’s black” – ‘nuf said)

DefianceGandhi (just imagine the ‘half-naked fakir’ standing up against the once-mighty empire where the sun never sets – according to them, of course)

Leadership – Captain Cool aka MS Dhoni (just Google him & you’ll know why)

Guess you have a fair – even if only faint – idea of where we’re getting to by now.

Graphic: Life time line of the legendary vocal artist who simply has no equal (source: msstribute.org)

The legend – truly, in every sense of the word – we’re conversing about is MS Subbulakshmi, fondly known as MS Amma. She’s to Classical (& Devotional) Music what Pele’ is to Football (& all the aforementioned greats were to their respective art / craft / chosen space). 

She was popular at the age of 10. The popularity graph kept going up, up & away, defying celebrity gravity, all the way to her being awarded the Bharat Ratna – the highest civilian honour in India. She sang all over the globe, including the UN. Heck, even Gods wake up daily listening to her melodious rendering of their praise (e.g. Venkatesa Suprabhatam rendered by her is officially used in Lord Venkatachalapathy aka Balaji temple at Thirumala to wake the Lord up, daily – incidentally, millions of households too wake up with her signing the same – even today).

Her list of honours knew no limit, yet she remained humble all her life.

Her remuneration & gifts were sizeable, yet she donated most of it for charity (still goes on).

Her popularity was more than heads of states and celluloid celebrities, yet she remained intensely private.

She could’ve easily been a Diva, yet chose to remain deeply rooted in devotion – to her craft & the creator.

She went all over the world with an entourage, and she always travelled, stayed and ate with them, without any airs. 

She was the symbol of devotion, piety, simplicity, eminence, elegance, grace, gratitude, benevolence, humility, loyalty and a lot more things that we hardly see in a celebrity today.

Yet, this once-great nation seem to have collectively ignored this legendary performing artist’s existence, on the momentous occasion of her birth centenary. Other than a few concerts by true devotees (who saw her as divine incarnate) and probably a commemoration lecture or two, the voice that still wakes up millions – including the Gods themselves – has already faded away!

This isn’t the first time this has happened. Human memory (& loyalty) is a fickle thing. It forgets greatness easily – especially when the great ones aren’t around anymore. Humans are silly beings stuck in their mUlAdhAra chakra, who will remember only things that they can feel and experience with their sense organs, collectively. 

Someone like MS – arguably the greatest classical + devotional artist of all time – is still remembered when they hear her Suprabhatam or Sahasranamam in the morning. But that’s only one of the 5 senses – auditory. As soon as the song is done, she fades away from their pointlessly busy survival mind. Until the next morning.

Sujatha – arguably the most diverse & exceptionally talented (& needless to say, hugely successful) is remembered during the annual book fair. Or while reading one of his many amazing books – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, classics, science, God… You name it. And then forgotten entirely, until the next book.

MahAkavi BhArathi – arguably the greatest poet that ever walked the earth – had just a handful of people attending his funeral. His poems will make even a Millennial kid go wow, even today. 

KBalachandar – arguably the most daring director ever in the history of Tamil cinema (& TV), who also happened to mentor two of his greates superstars Kamal Hassan & Rajinikanth – is hardly remembered by the fans now.

Tagore, Palke, Premchand, Rajaji, Balasaraswathi, Mali, Ravi varma, Ray, RK brothers, Patel, GD Naidu, Sarabhai, Ramanujan, Dhyan Chand, … 

All of them, and a lot many more global celebrities – sportspersons, musicians, actors, writers, leaders, business icons, astronauts, artists, architects… – who once were celebrated as immortals, are all probably lamenting at how mortal they indeed are, muttering with a sigh, “I’m-mortal”! 

MS probably isn’t regretting it one bit because she treated her celebrity status – almost unheard of in her time, making her even more mystical – adulation, awards, accolades like one of those enchanting sarees she used to wear for her concerts. Useful & valuable at that point in time, but of no importance whatsoever once the concerns was over. 

In a way,

MS was a Yogini. Nada Yogini. Music was her sadhana


Singing with utmost devotion, from the core of her being, was her daily penance – to attain the ultimate liberation. She seems to have been created, nurtured, celebrated and protected by the creator exclusively to sing his praise (that her husband + mentor was named Sadasivam isn’t a coincidence). And boy did she do that.. And how!

MS, the mortal being, became the MuSic, the immortal being! 

You may cherish Swamy’s hymn tribute to the true legend of Classical & Devotional Music MS Subbulakshmi here ~ Isaiyarasi (இசையரசி – Queen of Music) 

You may know more about the legendary perfect performing artist here ~ msstribute.org

Who cares if the media didn’t care to acknowledge the immortality of her MuSic? They must be too busy chasing the next Im-mortal story. Until the next one. BAUHumbug!

Slide an audio CD of MS into your hi-fi or just search for one of her many immortal songs like Kurai Ondrum Illai on your smartphone or tablet. Close your eyes & open your ears. Listen deeply as her immortal voice caresses the deeply hidden devotion within you. Let the joy drops, i.e. tears flow. Repeat. Until you comprehend why (& how) MS is synonymous with MuSic!  

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy   

The Tolerant Indian!

25 Nov
I found the sun shining bright when I woke up, warming the planet, just like any other sunny day.
I found the earth spinning around the solar system, tolerant of the evolved beings’ misdeed, just like any other earthy day.
I found the plants wafting in the gentle morning breeze, waving at me, just like any other breezy day.
I found the stagnant rainwater, shimmering in the light, with nowhere to go, just like any other rainy day.
IndiaMap3I found my 4-legged daughters waging their tails & licking my face, just like any other lovely day.
I found my family up and moving around, meditating & doing daily chorse, just like any other busy day.
I found my son going through text books, solving problems and preparing for his exam, just like any other studious day.
I found the electricity was out at 11pm yesternight and back at 7am today, just like any other powerless day.
I found my phone, tablet, PC, laptop, broadband, cellular & satellite TV connections working fine, just like any other connected day.
I found the newspaper filled with negativity delivered a bit late, just like any other newsy day.
IndiaMap4
I found yet another celebrity in the eye of the media storm, worried about intolerance, just like any other noisy day.
I found that he singlehandedly revived the whole intolerance noise that fell silent, just like any other vociferous day.
I found the loony toonish high & mighty jumping on the bandwagon merrily, just like any other talkative day.
IndiaMap1I found the head of my nation, chosen by people like me, mocked time and again by lackeys, just like any other chamchagiri day.
I found the high decibel voices of intolerance have enjoyed the good Life for long, in my motherland, just like any other thankless day.
I found my nation’s culture, wealth & might have been systematically eroded by marauding invaders, just like any tyrant’s day.
I found those who strain their vocal chord daily to denounce my nation’s greatness are intolerant about its potential revival, just like those invaders of the glorious old days.
IndiaMap5I found I can go about doing my business without fear, daily, in my country, when even developed nations declare emergency, just like any other terror-filled day.
I found I can aspire to do whatever I want, despite my birth still decides where & what I can study and where do I work, just like any other competitive day.
I found living happily in my own property, bought with my own hard earned money, being able to go where I want and do what I want, enjoying the rights of my citizenship, just like any other lawful day.
I found renting my own property to a group of majority & minority friends wasn’t a challenge, just like any other regular day.
IndiaMap7I found my nation’s sports teams filled with talented majority & minority players winning laurels at the global level, just like any other sporty day.
I found I can walk into a store or sign in an app and buy whatever I want, just like any other business-as-usual day.
I found myself hearing from loudspeakers the rendering of prayer 5 times a day, the sermons on Sundays and devotional hymns on gods & goddesses on festival days, just like any other religious day.
I found myself able to follow a Guru of my choice, practice Yoga of any kind and pursue the omnipresent Truth, without entangling myself in religious beliefs, just like any other spiritual day.
IndiaMap6I found myself marveling at the hardworking police, fire service & armed service personnel going about their business regulating, protecting, rescuing & helping all in need, just like any other thankful day.
I found myself speechless at the willingness of the armed service personnel to lay down their Life to protect my safety, just like any other respectful day.
I found myself pondering the pointless intolerance debate stalling progress of my nation forward, day after day, just like any other past-dwelling day.
I found myself wondering at so many elitist glitterati having nothing to do productively but yak, yak & yak about intolerance, just like any other vacuous day.
I found myself simmering at the wily politicians always willing to sing along, while enjoying all the perks of being a politician, just like any other silly day.
IndiaMap9I found the commoner going about his/her business, trying to eke out a living, working hard for the love of the family, just like any other hard day.
I found the elected leader of my proud nation, diligently going about his business to elevate my India from developing to developed status, just like any other focused day.
I found those who hung on to power, along with their chamchas & chelas, still find it hard to digest that their time robbing my nation of its greatness over, just like any other regressive day.
IndiaMapI found myself content, hopeful and joyful, when I remain a simple citizen, keeping aside all my titles & awards, celebrity status, intellectual might and political clout, thinking about what I can I do to make my nation move ahead and grow, just like any other thoughtful day.
I found myself dreaming of a developed nation where any Indian will be proud to learn the culture, produce goods, earn and spend honestly, share and care willingly and join hands with fellow Indians to make my once-great nation great again, just like any hopeful day.
I found myself ignoring the nagging noise, brushing aside crude criticism and focusing on useful action based on valuable insights, just like any other progressive day.
I found myself being able to do useful, valuable, purposeful and respectful things, when I really start doing things than just talking about things, just like any other purposeful day.
I found myself being among billions of peaceful, hopeful and proud Indians who love their motherland, family, friends, neighbours & even strangers, irrespective of religion, caste or status, just like a positive day.
india-outline-map
I am the simple Indian, who tolerates competitive survival in a complex world.
I am the studious Indian, who tolerates ridiculous rote learning to gain knowledge.
I am the hardworking Indian, who tolerates lack of recognition to earn for living.
I am the loving Indian, who tolerates hatred of any form to show love is God.
I am the caring Indian, who tolerates apathy of any kind to care for needs of fellow beings.
I am the argumentative Indian, who tolerates vehement opponents to highlight the value of his point.
I am the religious Indian, who tolerates any insult to my most tolerant religion, which was magnanimous enough to accept not only different perspectives of Truth but even dissent and other faiths.
I am the non-celebrity Indian, who tolerates the smug indifference of celebrities to show respect for talent.
I am the non-intellectual Indian, who tolerates the superficial noise of pseudo secularist intellectual glitterati to show intelligence is more precious than intellect.
I am the powerless Indian, who tolerates the abuse of power by netas & babus to show the powerful their place at election time.
I am the rational Indian, who tolerates irrational arguments against an elected government, to show change is hard but inevitable.
I am the nondescript Indian, who tolerates the arrogance of high & mighty to show being faceless doesn’t mean being rightless.
I am the diverse Indian, who tolerates the shameless attempts by politicians to use the diversity for their survival to show diversity has been, is and will continue to be my strength. 
india_map_animation_created_by_samnad.s_kudappanamooduI am the nationalist Indian, who tolerates the taunts of all trying to destabilize my nation to show being patriotic is my birthright.
I am the intrepid Indian, who tolerates waves of invasions to loot my nation and convert my faithful to show the depth of my greatness.
I am the united Indian, who tolerates all pathetic attempts to divide my nation to show we all are Indians, united by our faith in this great nation.
I am the modern Indian, who tolerates any horrendous act to portray my nation in poor light to show ancient glory can help fuel modern progress.
I am the proud Indian, who tolerates insensitive comments about my motherland’s glorious past to show she’ll regain the glory all over again.
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I am The Tolerant Indian, whose tolerance is boundless. And strengthened by an ancient vibrant culture that was inventive, progressive, liberating and empowering, many millennia ago, when many so-called developed nations weren’t even born. 
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So are you. At least supposed to be, being born in this great nation. If you aren’t, for whatever reason, I am tolerant enough to discuss your needless apprehensions, clarify your unnecessary doubts and help you know and appreciate my motherland’s greatness.
Mera Bharat Mahaan!
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Be joyful & spread the cheer 🙂
And don’t ever forget to love & respect your nation!
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@PrakashSwamy
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Note: If you prefer to listening than reading, click here to listen to “The Tolerant Indian!” in Swamy’s voice.
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Mystic Nation 1 – The God Conundrum!

18 Sep

ArtistSwamy6Swamy is fully aware of the pitfall of choosing a topic that’s pretty much guaranteed to raise passionate (and possibly violent – going by the recent murders of learned rationalists) reactions from fellow sheep, umm… humans, for the first post in the new seriesMystic Nation” (#MysticNation on social media) on demystifying the great #Bharat culture and encouraging + enabling it’s much needed revival. But having been born and brought up in this colourful milieu that survived not just one or two but many attempts at annihilation, century after century, it’s but natural for Swamy to pick a topic that exemplifies the truly liberal nature of this ancient culture.

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Bharat, aka India isn’t just a country of Gods (and Goddesses, of course – it’s important to be genetically correct in these neo-liberal days when fashionistas, feminists and femme fatales are quite vocal about gender equality – especially on primetime media, while remaining nonchalantly ignorant about daily reports on rape and other dire statistics that imperil their ilk), but a nation where you’ve the liberty to pick and choose a God. Any God, for that matter.

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KamadhenuStarting from the benevolent cow, worshipped as Gomata – mother cow, a benign being that’s quite shaken lately by finding itself suddenly on top of the TRP & trending lists, instead of its humble abode of Goshala – cowshed, because the argumentative Indian who worships the Holy Cow and drinks its milk by the litre everyday also wants to assert his right to butcher and eat her! What can one say, other than Mera Bharat Mahan!

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ArtistSwamy10Where were we… Oh, starting with the holy cow, you’re free to worship any plant (Tulsi – Basil), tree (Vembu – Neem), animal (Hanuman – Lord Monkey, Nandi – Bull), snake (many from Adisesha & Vasuki, and its abode, Putru that’s custom built by, umm… Ants), bird (Garuda – eagle), mountain (Kailash), stone (Saligram or Saalagram), geometric form (Linga – an ellipsoid), hybrid of human & animal (Ganapathy / Ganesha / Vinayaka /Vigneswara… – human form with an elephant head, Narasimhahuman form with a lion head, Hayagreeva – human form with a horse head), eerie looking beings (Kaaval deivam or deities of protection), king (Rama – Lord Ram), cowherd (Lord Krishna), female in a variety of moods wielding dreadful weapons or delightful instruments (Durga, Kali, Saraswathy, Lakshmi & a thousand other Devis – Ammans), beings with non-human features & superhuman abilities (Muruga / Karthikeya / Skandha with 6 heads & 12 arms who, as the General of Devas, extinguished Asuras like Surapadman), part male & female (Ardhanareeswara – talk about gender equality) and last but not the least, an alien being who wouldn’t fit into any kind of definition yet seem to encompass everything, even those beyond human beings’ feeble imagination, surrounded by dreadful looking demented beings (Ganas) and equally at ease in absolute silence or ecstatic dance or absolute annihilation or total bliss (Adiyogi Shiva)… The long list of Gods & Goddesses you can choose to follow and worship in Bharat is limited only by your imagination!

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ArtistSwamy9This idea of anything or anyone as God is certainly incomprehensible for those who grew up in any western civilisation, who from their childhood are brought up on a strict single God diet, eerily similar to some of those they despise and continue to wage war at – the other omnipotent God believers in the middle east, who would erase you from the face of earth without batting an eyelid, if you even dare to talk about their God. And of course, there are those who proclaim with pride their non-belief in a or any God – the atheists. And then there are also the antitheists who will beat any believer up black & blue with their vehement argument because according to them there’s not only no God, but there cannot be any!

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ArtistSwamy1But Bharat being what it was, is & will be, in typical chaotic fashion, one-ups all those binary (only mine, 1 or none, i.e. 0) believers with even more options. First, despite having a plethora of God/desses to choose from, you’re free to remain a non believer too (take that a/ntitheists), with Charvaka being a noteworthy example of this tribe. Second – and this one really takes the cake (modhak or pooran poli is more appropriate, considering today is Vinayaka Chathurti) – you can also learn how to create a God/dess! :O

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ArtistSwamy11Yep, you read that right! This is possibly the only culture with not only an in-depth science of Spirituality but also a practical technology called Consecration (no, not the Mantra-based one done every 12 or 14 years at popular temples with great publicity these days, but the Praana Pratistha process founded by Agastya muni who is considered to be one of the 7 disciples of Adiyogi Shiva, known as the Saptharishis) to create God/desses. That turns the whole Creator (supposedly somewhere way high up) creating the Creation, including us obviously, at will and basically hands over the power of creating the Creator to the Creation itself!

Know more about the science of creation from Sadhguru, a present day yogi, mystic & practitioner, in the references section below.

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… You may take a pause here, long enough to pick your fallen jaw from that Italian marble floor.
ArtistSwamy16As this is only the beginning of a – hopefully & sincerely – blog series (might become a book/s as well, who knows), instead of diving deeper into each and every God/dess mentioned here & then some, let’s look at the idea of God instead. An auspicious starting point would be none other than Ganesha or Vinayaka, Adiyogi Shiva & mother goddess Parvathi’s elder son (there are those who say Ganesha is younger to the younger son Muruga or Karthikeya, considered to be an accomplished Yogi as his illustrious mystic father), who is celebrated & worshipped across this Mystic Nation today – the auspicious day of Vinayaka Chaturthi.
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There are many interpretations of Lord Ganesha, aka Vigneswara, Vinayaka, Ganapathy, Modhakapriya, et al. Devdutt Pattanaik‘s ‘Decoding Ganeshais a good one to start with and can be found in the references section below. In a nutshell, Ganapathy (Lord of Ganas – dreadful looking celestial beings who are always found in the company Adiyogi Shiva) prepares you for the following, if you’re open enough:
ArtistSwamy31. Acceptance – By being depicted as someone who would typically be despised or laughed at in physical form (rotund human form with a pot belly & big elephant head), Ganesha symbolizes acceptance that goes beyond form, shape, hue, et al. Obviously, a valuable example in these troubled times of racial angst and outbursts the world over.
ArtistSwamy182. Equality – The little mouse that’s at Ganesha’s feet depicts even the meek or not-so-equals are accepted as company and taken care of. A useful insight for all supervisors, managers and, ahem, bosses.
3. Physicality – Vinayaka’s form & associated ornaments – snake being one of them, gadgets (axe & ankusa) & delicious food (modhak & pooran poli) depict the material aspects of Life that hold us back from pursuit of Truth, i.e., Who am I? Something worth remembering before you sign the EMI forms for the 2nd house or 4th car.
ArtistSwamy144. Possibility The little mouse (Devdutt enchantingly calls it a ferocious bandicoot) is even depicted as Ganesha’s vehicle – just imagine that! Well, that too is a depiction in typical Bharat style, indicating one must learn to look beyond the obvious. The mouse’s depiction as vehicle of the rotund God possibly depicts size doesn’t matter and nothing is impossible. In fact, Ganesha’s creation (first by Parvathi and then by Adiyogi Shiva – both accomplished Yogis with absolute mastery over all realms & forms) itself is a depiction of the possibilities of creation. An energising thought to ponder before you go back to the BAUHumbug routine job.
ArtistSwamy45. Truth – By nature, humans are tuned to sense the physical form, with their 5 senses (seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting & feeling by touching) and hardly use the 6th sense (thinking) to go beyond the physical realm. Considering Vigneswara is the eradicator of all hurdles, if one learns to see past Ganesha’s form (which itself is many layered and enchanting to know – depicting our desire to know & be with fellow humans, who too are many layered), he depicts none other than the Truth itself, i.e., Aham Brahmasmi or I am Brahman (the source of creation). It won’t be far from truth to say this is the precedent to the long-winding talks about ‘Beyond the obvious’ & ‘Thinking out of the box’ by many modern management & leadership gurus! 
ArtistSwamy7Now that dear reader – the freedom to seek & experience the Truth, going beyond the myriad forms of God/desses (one or many), is the sacred thread that still holds this ancient culture intact, even after many mighty warriors tried to plunder, destroy, rule and annihilate Bharat, over many centuries. In this Mystic Nation, God was never a conundrum, but a potent idea. Not just an enchanting idea about esoteric superhuman beings who looked like humans (because we sketched / crafted them from our limited imagination), but about beings who depict a higher possibility for humans to attain. To transcend the physical limitation and be free… be one with the eternal source of creation.
ArtistSwamy2Not only this Mystic Nation has many God/desses, it also had/s possibly the most number of enlightened beings (the yogis & mystics who have experienced the Truth & attained a state of eternal bliss, transcending the physical) that graced this planet, have devised mechanisms & paths for any and every human being to seek liberation, which was considered the ultimate goal of human existence, not reaching esoteric places like heaven or hell, after death!
ArtistSwamy5aSuch benevolent beings – starting from Adiyogi Shiva himself (celebrated and worshipped as one of the Trimurti, i.e. triumvirate of Gods, along with Vishnu & Brahma), who as Adi Guru Dakshinamurthy transmitted his knowing to Devi first (expounded as the 112 ways to liberation in Vigyan Bhairav Tantra) and then seven disciples known as the Saptharishis on the auspicious Guru Purnima, the pantheon of enlightened beings is long, including but not limited to Lord Muruga (who is said to have left his physical form in a rare standing posture at the Kumaraparvata mountain), Lord Krishna (considered one of the greatest yogis ever to tread this land), Gautama the Buddha (founder of Buddhism who at a point in time is said to have had thousands of enlightened beings as disciples), Rishabha (presumed to be the founder of Jainism), Goraknath, Akkamadevi, Sadasiva Brahmendra, Sri Palani Swami, Sadhguru Sri BrahmaLahiri MahasayaSri Yukteswar Giri, Paramahamsa Yogananda, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Sivananda, Ramana Maharishi, Osho, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta MaharajRamalinga Vallalar and many more.
Sadhguru_Quote3Such beings are still among us – a few well known and many unknown. One such is Swamy’s Master Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of Isha Foundation. And with deep reverence, Swamy submits this first post of his new “Mystic Nation” (#MysticNation) series at the lotus feet of his enlightened Master, whose boundless grace will shine the light on this new path Swamy has chosen to tread, with limited experience but unlimited enthusiasm. Shambho _/\_
… enchantment will flow…
@PrakashSwamy
Note: All sketches & paintings (except Kamadhenu) are Swamy’s own creations – out of imagination or inspired by other skilled artists – drawn during his youth.
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edited_1442284271572References:
Decoding Ganesha – Devdutt Pattanaik
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