The Lovable God Who Rides a Mouse

Yesterday, millions of Indians bid a “bye” to their most loved and jovial god,Ganesha.Here is the hauntingly beautiful story of the Elephant God!

The Elephant God who rides a mouse!

Ganesha, the chief protagonist in many Indian young teen and kid TV  animated shows is a friend, confidante, and many things to many people.He is also the Commander in Chief of the army of Lord Shiva, the destroyer in the Indian concept of the Trinity.He  helps people in achieving their mundane goals by removing the hurdles, is shown to be riding a tiny mouse and is fond of laddus which are basically sweets shaped in a spherical form.

Why do you think, he rides a mouse?answersplease?

Ganesha has an elephant trunk, has just one tusk and wields an axe as his weapon. Flanked by his two consorts, Riddhi and Siddhi,He is given the pride of place in any household. he is the protector of the household.

He has an elder brother, Kartikeya and his mother’s name is Parvati.Even though, he is one of the junior most gods in the Indian pantheon , he is given primacy when invoking the blessings and good wishes of all the gods.His is the name to be invoked first while invoking and inviting all the gods .

Don’t you think he has a unique body structure? He has a trunk and is pot bellied.Why? He has huge ears also.Indians believe, the trunk represents His  strong sense of intuition which can be developed by long hours and days of practice.While, one can be superiorly endowed with intelligence, equally important is to have a nose for things not apparent.His big ears convey the message that one should be ever attentive to things happening around.And, his pot belly tells us to keep secrets of friends to ourselves and never reveal them to anybody.So, basically, Ganesha instructs us how to be a wise individual in the modern world.

Birth of Ganesha

Ganesha was never in the form he is seen today in. He was born as a normal looking kid to his parents. Fierecely obedient to his mother, Goddess Parvati, one day he was ordered by his mother to stand guard while she took her daily shower and not let any one enter the house. The ever obedient Ganesha took his position at a vantage point, reminding himself of his duty toward his mother.

Sometime later, his father , Lord Shiva came to the house and asked his son to open the door.Ganesha, replied to his father saying he had been forbidden by his mother to not let anyone enter the house.The father tried to reason with but, the obedient son refused to relent. This went on a for a few hours and all this enraged Lord Shiva.He drew out his weapon and cut off the head of his son!

Upon hearing the commotion, Goddess Parvati came out of the house and was horrified to see the dismembered body of her son.Of course, she was inconsolable and wanted her son back from death.Lord Shiva, realising the enormity of the situation then decided to bring relief to the mother of Ganesha- he transplanted the head of a child elephant to the torso of Ganesha and this how the child came back to life! Interesting story, isn’t it?

Ganesha Chaturthi

Every year, in the month of Bhadrapad, millions of Indians escort Lord Ganesha to their homes and seek his blessings.The day, he is installed in the house is termed Ganesh Chaturthi.For the next 10 days, the Lord is visited upon by people in good numbers and his blessings sought after. On the tenth day of his arrival, he is escorted by the faithful to a water body and his idol immersed in it. This event of immersion is called Ganpati Visarjan. Ganpati is another name of Lord Ganesh .

ganesh-chaturthi-festival-in-india-2015
Ganesh Chaturthi procession in Mumbai (image courtesy-Internet)

The Lord is again invited to Indian households on Diwali or Deepawali , the festival of lights.

The appeal of Lord Ganesha runs across the world. He is worshipped in countries like Indonesia, Japan, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and many other countries of East Asia.

How, do you like this blog post, friends? I would like to get your feedback either on this post itself or you may write to me at swayamt@gmail.com

The Haunting Story of Bose- India’s dashing hero!

This is one story that has all the makings of a thriller! And, it is a real story- no fiction.

It is a haunting story of one of the most loved heroes of India- Subhash Chandra Bose.

For nearly 200 years, India was ruled by a foreign power-the Britishers.The British had made a quiet entry in India more than 400 years ago when Sir Thomas Roe presented his credentials to the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir in Ajmer, India.

In the next 200 years, the British , represented by the East India Company first made the tentative first moves and then established themselves as a trading organization in the coastal areas of India.Silently, they also armed themselves.

In the late 1700s, when the Mughal power was in fast decline, the British decided to take the first important step in occupying India by defeating the local rulers.And by the time 1857 arrived, they were in full control of India.

Initially, the people of India first watched with incredulity the arrival of the Brits but, after they had realized what their foreign masters were upto, the Indians rose in revolt.Led by the immensely respected Mahatma Gandhi, Indians stood upto the British , asking them to go back to Britain.

.One of his followers was one Subhash Chandra Bose, popularly known as Netaji, He was born in Bengal and was brilliant intellectually as well as leadership wise.He joined the Indian National Congress, the principal political party of those times , and by dint of his personality, was elected to the President ship of the party.Bose’s was quite a forceful personality and the people of India loved him immensely.

But, when he was elected the President of the party, Mahatma Gandhi wanted him to step aside in favour of Jawahar Lal Nehru, another important leader. Ultimately, Bose had to leave the party and he founded the Indian National Army that was committed to fighting the Britishers by resorting to arms. He left India and raised the Indian National Army in Singapore. This Army allied with the Japanese in fighting the British in East Asia. The British government was by now an inveterate foe of Bose and wanted him exterminated, he was getting increasing  popular support in India with each passing day because of his daring.Bose kept on eluding the British by disguising himself as a Pathan or by travelling in submarines.The British were desperate to get him- dead or alive.Then something happened in 1945-Japan surrendered to the US after the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.Bose had to leave Japan and he went to Taiwan.

One day, it was announced that Bose had perished in an air crash in Taiwan.The whole country went into mourning- nobody was prepared to accept it, he was a living legend.

Gradually, people forgot about him and the world moved on..

Until in the early 1970s, when a frail sadhu made his abode in one of the northern towns of India.The sadhu had no name and people did not know about his origins. He was a mystery, he spoke little , came out of his room rarely and refused to be photographed.He always met people with a partition between them and him.The sadhu was a complete mystery to people around him.

But,…

he had an uncanny resemblance to Subhash Chandra Bose, the legendary Indian freedom fighter who, the world believed , had perished in an air crash!

The world had forgotten him but to his friends, he was very much alive.

Over the years, some of the details of the mysterious sadhu began emerging- Bose had fallen into the hands of the Soviets who had him imprisoned in their notorious concentration camps.After, he was released , he made to India via Afghanistan and settled in one of the obscure North Indian towns.

But, if the sadhu was Bose, why did he hide himself? Was it because, he did not trust Nehru and the other Indian governments?Why?

The sadhu was also known by another name-Gumnami Baba , or the baba who did not have any name!

The astonishing thing is that the sadhu displayed the exact mannerisms as Bose and he possessed the same articles that Bose had in his lfe time!

gumnami_baba_netaji

The baba is to the left while Bose is in right, above.

The Indian government has from time to time, tried to solve the mystery but very little has come out of this saga.

The sadhu passed away in the late 1970s , and his last rites were executed in utter secrecy.

The Times of India , India’s largest English newspaper has been carrying views and reports about this controversy for some time so that the government does something about it.

It is also claimed that the sadhu was also present during the signing of the Tashkent agreement between the Indian and Pakistani governments in 1965 after the culmination of the war .Tashkent was in Russia.A video surfaced on September 17, 2015 showing the baba actually in that ceremony and the similarity between him and Bose is striking!

So, what is the truth?

The mystery continues…..

Haunted places- Asirgarh,home of a 5,000 year old warrior

Welcome to Asirgarh, one of the most haunted places in India. This article is about the haunted history of Ashwatthama, a warrior who is more than 5,000 years old.

You won’t want to bump into a man who has survived a 5000-year-old war and roams around with a wound dripping in blood, isn’t it?Neither me, of course!

Some beautiful pictures of Asirgarh fort are :

Asirgarh- one of the most haunted places in India

 

But, what I am going to tell you is a hauntingly beautiful tale that is so bizarre that the first thing that you are going to do is share this post with your best friend with an amusing comment!

India is a land of great contrasts.We have launched space missions, produced some of the brightest engineers, doctor, and managers the world has seen but, we also live with haunted stories that are downright unbelievable.

The Great War

 

This is the haunting story of Ashwatthama-one of the greatest warriors in the Great War, also known as Mahabharata.

Shrouded in the mists of time, the Great War was fought between two sets of warring cousins, the Kauravas, and Pandavas, on the fields of Kurukshetra, a place near Delhi.The Pandavas were five but the Kauravas were 100 in number and the size of the combined armies of the two parties was in millions. At stake was the kingdom of India.

The Pandavas were five in number and the Kauravas were 100.

The size of the combined armies of the two parties was in millions.

At stake was the kingdom of India.

Bhishma and Krishna

 

The Pandavas were guided by Shri Krishna, one of the greatest philosophers and leaders that the world and India have ever seen.the Kauravas were led by the venerable Bhishma Pitamah and Guru Dronacharya.

On the other hand, the Kauravas were led by the venerable Bhishma Pitamah and Guru Dronacharya.

Bhishma was the great-grandfather of both the warring cousins and having abdicated the throne because of a promise to his stepmother, was looked up by his family as the moral guiding force.

Dronacharya was the Guru to the cousins and possessed vast skills in military tactics and leadership.

As it turned out, both these two gentlemen joined the Kauravas while Pandavas were led by Shri Krishna.

Ashwatthama

 

Guru Dronacharya had a son whose name was Ashwatthama.Like his father, Ashwatthama too was a great warrior and had joined his father’s side in the war.

Interestingly, there was another Ashwatthama which participated in the Great War but, it was an elephant!

Well, the war started and the Kauravas were enjoying a strong edge in the war.It was difficult for the Pandavas to get an upper hand.

Aseergarh
The Fort of Aseergarh is one of the most haunted places in India. Credits- Wiki

As the war carried on, it became increasingly evident to Shri Krishna that the commander of the Kauravas, Drona had to be finished.But, Drona was a tough nut to crack.So, Krishna devised a plan.He got Bhimsen, one of the Pandavas to finish the elephant, Ashwatthama.

Lie or Truth?

 

Bhima had the power of ten thousand elephants!Once this was done, Krishna asked Yudhishthira, the eldest Pandava to declare Ashwatthama as dead. As Yudhishthira proclaimed the death of Ashwaththama, the Pandavas raised the din of their trumpets to unimaginable levels.The elder Pandava also added a question to his proclamation-Man or Elephant?Drona could only hear the first part of the proclamation, the added question was lost in the din.

Yudhishthira was the epitome of truth and everyone in the family trusted his sense of ethics.So, when Drona heard the first part of Yudhi’s proclamation, he was filled with grief- his son, Ashwatthama was dead! He laid down his arms and was immediately put to death by the Pandavas.

Haunted Places

When Ashwatthama heard this tragic news, he was filled with rage and went on a murder spree, killing all the children of the Pandavas in the dead of the night.The children were all infants and quite obviously, the Pandavas were overcome with grief.

Krishna, thoroughly angered with this behavior of Ashwatthama cursed him to an unending life of pain and misery, a life where no one will give him relief and a life of living dead, a specter. Ashwatthama had a gem on his forehead that was stripped off by Krishna, leaving a perpetual wound with blood oozing out!

This war happened around 5000 years back!

Ashwaththama is back?

 

Asirgarh is a quaint little place nearly in Central India and is prominent for its 1000-year-old fort.It is deserted and is worn out, with weeds and jungles eating away the ancient doors and walls.

One thousand years back,  Asirgarh was of strategic importance as it connected the northern and southern parts of India through a narrow pass.

Also Read- Delhi Ghost Tour of Mehrauli

Nobody lives here and not a soul can be seen here .Except, for a gaunt man, with a flowing beard and tattered clothes.He has an open wound on his forehead and is sometimes accosting unsuspecting villagers around the fort for turmeric and mustard oil to dress up his wound.

In 1912, Swami Vasudevanad Saraswathi, in his autobiography, admitted meeting a person who introduced himself as Ashwaththama.

His gait was different from that of a normal person so the Swami asked him, who are you?

The stranger replied, “I am Ashwaththama and I belong to a different time zone from yours”.

Who could he be?The legendary fighter of the Great War?Or an impostor?

There are many such hauntingly beautiful stories and it is tantalizing to believe all of them because of the mystery involved.If you asked me, I would neither believe nor disbelieve them. In fact, there are several haunted places like Asirgarh throughout the country.

In fact, there are several haunted places like Asirgarh throughout the country. One such place is the fort of Bhangarh in Rajasthan.

Many such haunted places are associated with unnatural deaths and violent events that had happened many many years ago.

Thanks for reading this article.

References- 1.Legends

2.Also read- http://www.quora.com/Has-Ashwatthama-been-spotted-by-anyone

Picture credits-Internet

Want to meet a Maharaja?

One of the privileges of being a blogger is meeting interesting people!

And, I did meet a Maharaja!He is not a typical Maharaja that you normally see in the various coffee table books.This one is a good 25 year old, dressed as normally as you and me and enjoys good life.He speaks earnestly and in a friendly manner and you cannot help but reaching out and saying, what is you mobile number, mate! That!

I met him when, I was travelling to Chhattisgarh, one of the states of India.I have blogged a couple of times on Chhattisgarh and this is the third post that I am putting up on this state.Hope, you guys have been enjoying these posts!

So, here he was with his family and welcoming me along with my gang to his family mansion located in Kanker. Kanker is on way to Dantewada from Raipur and is located thick in the ancient jungles of Chhattisgarh. Reaching Kanker is easy as the roads in Chhattisgarh are well laid.

Hauntingly Beautiful India

He owns a lovely  palace that he now lets out for travellers wanting to travel to the south of Chhattisgarh and, he was gracious enough to show us around !

Ashwani’s family is quite ancient , it claims to be at least 900 years old.He even showed documents to prove this claim, which is not surprising because a lot of royal families in India are that old.

There was a surprise in store for us. We met Henry, the resident tiger.

Mr. Henry lived more than 70 years ago and had a jolly time having humans as its lunch and dinner before Ashwani’s father gunned him down.In short,Henry was a maneater tiger! 

India had more than 100,000 tigers in the nineteenth century but most of them were killed by the Britishers and the Maharajas of the time. Some tigers turned into maneaters before being shot dead by hunters. And some of the maneater tigers had interesting names , like Henry and Bachelor! 

Bachelor was the famous maneater of Kumaon and he was killed by the famous hunter, Jim Corbett. 

Do you want to have a look at how the palace of a Maharaja looks like?

 This is the sitting room of the palace.Heads of game prominently displayed on the walls!

 It is illegal to hunt wild animals  today but, nearly 60 years back, it was perfectly ok to hunt them down  Reckless hunting of animals, especially, of tigers has led to a severe decline of the tiger population. Today, in Chhattisgarh, you will find a healthy population of bisons, leopards, deer and bears.

The palace turned hotel has well appointed rooms, have a look!

And, believe you me , you would be treated like a Maharaja should you stay here ! 

 And, if you are wondering how the outside facade of the palace turned hotel is, here is the pic;

So, there you are; this place is a heady combination of wild life, royalty and old world hospitality.

Amazing isn’t it?Should you want to know more about the Kanker palace, do let me know, I am available at swayamt@gmail.com. 

Do you want to meet the Maharajah directly? Write to him at kankerpalaceheritage@gmail.com

Best way to reach Kanker is take a flight to Raipur from Delhi and Mumbai and take a road trip to Kanker. The trip is of 200 kilometres but you won’t feel tired. 

Best time of the year to travel is from October to February. 

Happy to help you ;)))

International Yoga Day-who is the greatest Yogi ever

International Yoga Day is round the corner and this calls for a short story on the greatest yogi that this world has ever seen.

Yogis are normally associated with people who have long beards, wear long flowing robes and having a tension free life. and performing various yogasanas.True? Not necessarily.

A true yogi is one who has achieved balance in his or her life.

Today, on the occasion of the International Yoga Day, I am going to tell you the hauntingly beautiful story of the greatest yogi the world has ever seen, Lord Krishna.

The Story of Krishna

He was born this day more than 5000 years ago in the ancient town of Mathura, India. Krishna wasn’t born in a hospital, rather his ward was a prison which housed his father and his mother as well.Krishna’s birthday is also called Janmashtami and it falls on the eighth day of the Hindu month of Bhadrapad.

Mathura is approximately 160 miles from Delhi. More than 5,000 years ago, this city was ruled by a cruel king, Kansa.

One day, Kansa was escorting his sister and brother-in-law to their house in his chariot. While he was driving them home, he heard a prophecy from the sky that he would be killed by his nephew the son of his daughter.

Terrified, Kansa through his sister and her husband in a jail and hoped to kill their newborn.

Kansa failed in his endeavor and the baby Krishna was smuggled out of the prison to one of the small villages nearly 11 miles north of Mathura. The name of this village is Vrindavan.

Krishna grew up to be a wise, hardworking, loving and tactful man. He was a friend, philosopher, and guide to people who flocked to him.

Krishna’s childhood

Krishna grew up in Vrindavan, a place that was regularly troubled by heavy rains which made the lives of his village folk miserable. They did not know how to protect themselves from the floods that disturbed them regularly.

Krishna thought that a nearby hill, Govardhan, can work as a bulwark against the floods that came with unexpected rains. He encouraged his fellow villagers to use the hill as a refuge during floods. It is also possible that Krishna and his fellow villagers planted a lot of trees on the hill-slopes to prevent landslides.

An ancient sculpture shows him lifting up the hill to provide refuge to his village folk.

The masses of India largely consider Krishna as a lovable young toddler playing naughty games and having a cheerful disposition. Probably, every parent wants to have children like him.

Forever naughty, Krishna always carries a flute which emits divine music. This means that every human being should strive to speak kind and sweet words. Our mouths are flutes, actually.

Krishna is also fond of his cows and bulls and is mostly seen enjoying the company of these animals who are the basic backbone of India’s agriculture.

Krishna means so many things to so many people. He is also considered to be the greatest yogi.

Krishna -the greatest yogi, why?

Krishna believed in living life fully while being conscious of the fact that we can only control our responses to the situations and not the situations themselves. We cannot control outcomes. Secondly, the only thing eternal and indestructible is Aatma. We all are but physical manifestations of Aatma. Westerners refer to the Aatma as a soul.

Also Read- Travel Tips for India 

Secondly, the only thing eternal and indestructible is Aatma. We all are but physical manifestations of Aatma. Aatma is roughly the soul of the Western thought.Birth and death of creatures are akin to Aatma wearing new clothes and shedding old ones.

Krishna never mandated what he was saying about Aatma was the universal truth; he left it to us to realize the significance of this thought. This is the hallmark of a true yogi.

Bhagwad Gita

Krishna shared this perspective with Arjuna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. This thought or philosophy is captured in the Bhagwad Gita, a book that inspires millions of people when caught in self-doubt. The word, ‘Bhagwad’ means ‘belonging to God’ while ‘Gita’ means ‘song’.

Krishna was the charioteer of Arjun in the Great War, also called as Mahabharata

In the image above, Arjuna is seen listening to Krishna patiently on his chariot. Arjuna is full of doubts about Dharma or duty.Krishna explains to his friend, Arjuna, the meaning of Dharma and why it is important for everybody to perform his duty or Dharma. You maybe a Muslim or a Christian or a Jew but you must never fail to do your duty.

The world over, Krishna is loved for his unassuming, friendly and helpful nature. To the parents he is a lovable kid, to the philosophers, he is the ultimate yogi and to the friends, he is the greatest friend- ever ready to help me and you out of tricky situations.

Krishna is always accompanied by his consort, Radha.
He is immensely popular among women as he has time and again helped women come out of embarrassing and dreadful situations.

Krishna is an avatar of Vishnu and so is Buddha too!

So essentially Krishna and Buddha are one and the same, both dwelling on Karma and Yoga!

Today, the world over, there are millions of followers of Krishna under the umbrella of ISKCON or the Hare Rama Hare Krishna sect. Most of these followers live in the United States, Russia, Canada and other parts of continental Europe.

The importance of International Yoga Day

International Yoga Day
Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes part in the International Yoga Day celebrations in Delhi. Creds; Time

Every year, June 21 is celebrated as the International Yoga Day. The idea behind these celebrations is to introduce people to yoga through breathing and physical exercises.

The benefit of the yogic exercises is to achieve balance in mind, body, and soul by controlling our breathing.

Benefits of yoga

Have I benefitted from these exercises? Yes. I practice yoga for 30 minutes daily and this has led me to control my anger and fickleness. Yoga has also helped me to work harder without feeling tired.

By practicing yoga, I am aiming to develop my sixth sense too.

To become a yogi, me and you must first try to conquer our anger and that comes through yoga.

Thanks to the International Yoga Day, millions of Indians and people from other countries are now aware of yoga. I am sure, all this will lead to a more peaceful world.

You can visit this link to learn a  few yogasanas; http://food.ndtv.com/health/different-types-of-yoga-and-their-many-health-benefits-768722

Thanks

I would like to thank my friends @Hiddenheritage or Arjun Kumar and Shri Abdul Aziz Rajput for giving me their permission to use their images.

Lastly, if you want to visit Vrindavan and Mathura, please write to me and I shall help arrange your visit to these places.