Winter

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Foggy winter morning

As the sun shines bright and mighty,
Signalling the winters are over, I see
Tiny flowers blooming,
I feel the green leaves,
thier tenderness, gives me
a thought

The prolonged winter is ending in my heart too!

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Fresh green leaves

Surrogacy- Indian Concept?

With the current world being blessed with so many modern techniques, one must try to trace their origins.

One such “modern” method is surrogacy.

Surrogacy is an arrangement in which a woman carries and delivers a child for another couple or person. The surrogate may be the child’s genetic mother (called traditional surrogacy), or she may be genetically unrelated to the child (called gestational surrogacy). In a traditional surrogacy, the child may be conceived via home natural or artificial insemination using fresh or frozen sperm or impregnated via IUI (intrauterine insemination), or ICI (intracervical insemination) performed at a health clinic. A gestational surrogacy requires the transfer of a previously created embryo, and for this reason the process always takes place in a clinical setting.

Among the early use of this birth technique, is the incident in the Hindu mythology.

Balarama, the elder brother of Lord Krishna was one of the ten incarnations of Vishnu as stated by Bhagabat and other Puranas. His father was Vasudeva of Yadu clan but he had two mothers Devaki and Rohini. Maharaja Kamsa, the king of Mathura killed all the six issues of his sister Devaki as one of her sons was to kill him according to some forecast. So Goddess Yogamaya had made some miracle for her seventh issue, while Devaki was pregnant. Yogamaya extracted the foetus from the uterus of Devaki while she was eight months pregnant and placed it inside the uterus of Rohini. Rohini at that time hide herself in Nanda’s house at Gopa for the fear of demon Kamsa.

It is said in Bhagavat that -

‘Devakya Jathare Garbham Shesakhyam Dham Mamakam,

Tata Sanni Krushya Rohinya Udare Sanniveshaya’

Bhagavat [10-3-(8-10)]

It is said in Bhagavat that the supreme power called Shesha which is the abode of Lord Krishna (Vishnu), took birth as a human in the form of foetus in the uterus of Devaki. Goddess Yogamaya had extracted the foetus of Balarama and placed it safely inside the uterus of Rohini, the second wife of Basudeva. So after birth his name was Sankarsana. Balaram took birth after two months from Rohini on the day of Shravan Purnima (Gahma Purnima). He was called Sankarshan as he was extracted from others womb.

Lord Balram

The other name of Balarama is also Sankarshana, meaning a spirit transferred between two wombs.

So, clearly the answers to many of our “modern” problems might be traced back into our history! Rather we can say that – “History repeats itself”

Origin of Music

“The music is all around US, all you have to do is listen.”

This quote from August Rush movie, very beautifully describes the existence of music in every aspect of nature. The birds chirping in the morning, the wind, water splashing against the shore, call of the animals, cracking of the dry leaves and so on. This exquisite beauty of nature has the potential to sooth mind and can invoke a certain sense of inner peace.

The basic origin of music is hence regarded to be from nature.

Early man had used stones, seeds, woods, shells, bones, horns, whistles, flutes, trumpets, reeds, rhombuses, bows, animal skin, and leaves etc. in order to create sounds. To be able to grab attention while hunting, alerting for danger, socializing, conveying messages and so on.

Musical instruments are constructed in a broad array of styles and shapes, using many different materials. Early musical instruments were made from “found objects” such as shells and plant parts.As instruments evolved, so did the selection and quality of materials. Virtually every material in nature has been used by at least one culture to make musical instruments.

The Indus Valley Civilization, also known as Harappan culture, is among the world’s earliest civilizations, contemporary to the Bronze Age civilizations of Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. Excavations at these sites have provided evidence for existence of musical instruments. These were mainly made of bamboo, bone and animal skin and they have striking similarity to today’s Veena and Mridangum.

Dancing lady in Bronze

Many Buddhist sculptures dated back from 5th century to 2nd century AD also depict a wealth of string, wind and percussion instruments.

In a much deeper sense, Hindu mythology gives away references which make understanding the basic origin of music, relatable.

OM- the divine eternal sound is the most basic and primordial mantra in Hinduism, with its origins in Sanskrit. The Mandukya Upanishad suggests that, “Om is the one eternal syllable of which all that exists is but the development. The past, the present, and the future are all included in this one sound, and all that exists beyond the three forms of time is also implied in it”.  Om is not only a word but rather an intonation, which, like music, transcends the barriers of age, race, culture and even species. It is made up of three Sanskrit letters, aa, au and ma which, when combined together, make the sound Aum or Om. It is believed to be the basic sound of the world and to contain all other sounds.

OM

Om is not only concentrated to religion, mantras and meditation but it holds in true sense the existence of any sound in the world.

Another interesting reference is found in the Vedas. There are four Vedas, the Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda. The Vedas are the primary and also the oldest texts of Hinduism, which can be regarded to be formed in the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Samaveda, or Veda of Holy Songs, third in the usual order of enumeration of the three Vedas, ranks next in sanctity and liturgical importance to the Rigveda or Veda of Recited praise.

Sama Veda

Its Sanhita, or metrical portion, consists chiefly of hymns to be chanted by the Udgatar priests at the performance of important sacrifices. The Collection is made up of hymns, portions of hymns, and detached verses, taken mainly from the Rigveda, transposed and re-arranged, without reference to their original order, to suit the religious ceremonies in which they were to be employed. In these compiled hymns there are frequent variations, of more or less importance, from the text of the Rigveda as we now possess it which variations, although in some cases they are apparently explanatory, seem in others to be older and more original than the readings of the Rigveda. In singing, the verses are still further altered by prolongation, repetition and insertion of syllables, and various modulations, rests, and other modifications prescribed, for the guidance of the officiating priests, in the Ganas or Song-books.

Since ages people have been referring to the Vedas and in true sense they are like an encyclopedia of knowledge about various topics.

In India, music, dance, painting and drama has always been considered divine. Bhrama-Vishnu-Mahesh, the eternal trinities were the first musicians. The Divine Dancer Shiva is scripturally represented as having worked out the infinite modes of rhythm in His cosmic dance of universal creation, preservation, and dissolution, while Brahma accentuated the time-beat with the clanging cymbals, and Vishnu sounded the holy mridanga or drum.  Indian gods and goddesses are always seen with a musical instrument. Lord Brahma’s companion, Goddesses Saraswati is seen playing Veena, Lord Vishnu holds shankh or conch, Lord Shiva possesses damaru, Lord Krishna (incarnation of Lord Vishnu) has bansuri or flute, Nandi (Lord Shiva’s disciple) plays mathalam, Narad Muni is seen playing mahati (twenty one stringed Veena).

In the sacred texts of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata have several mentions of musical instruments.

According to a mythological story, Lord Brahma taught Bharata Muni about music and he wrote a book with that knowledge and hence spread the learnings to the masses.

 “Geet vaadhum taatha nytryum treyum saangeetmuchate

Nytrey vaadhanug proktum vaadh geetanuvartich”

This Dohaa or phrase by Pt. Sharangdev expresses the relationship of music, vocals and dance. This explains that music has three elements; vocals, instrumental and dance. Vocals are considered ahead of the other two, because dance is dependent on vocals and vocals are according to beats.

In earlier days, music was largely considered to be a part of dance/theatre. A 5th century text book about classical, Natya Shashtra, written by Bharata Muni, had a special mention of elements and principles of music in the ending six chapters.

Later on, it was realized that each has its own identity and can be developed independently as well.

India is a religious country and since beginning music has been connected with the worship and the practice of god. Traditionally the Bhajjans, Kirtans, Aartis, Mantras, Shlokas etc have been in practice of praising the lord by the people.

The foundation stone of Hindustani music is the ragas, or fixed melodic scales. Ancient rishis discovered sound alliance between nature and man. They said nature is an objectification of Aum, the vibratory word; man can obtain control over all natural manifestations by the use of certain techniques and combinations. Sanskrit literature describes 120 talas or time measurers. Bharata Muni is said to have isolated 32 kinds of tala in the song of lark. Human voice has always been recognized as the most perfect instrument of sound. The deeper aim of rishi-musicians was to blend the singer with the cosmic song which can be heard through awakening of man’s occult spinal centers. Indian music is a subjective, spiritual, and individualistic art, aiming not at symphonic brilliance but a personal harmony with the soul. The Sanskrit word for musician is- Bhagavathar, which means he who sings the praises of god. The satsangs and kirtans are an effective form of yoga or spiritual discipline, necessitating deep concentration, intense absorption in the seed thought and sound.

Tribals all over are known to have developed sound rituals for rain and wind.

Gradually as the kingdoms became prominent, there was seen a shift of music being devotional to being a way of entertaining the king.

Music was promoted under various rules. Majorly dancers and musicians were appointed in the kingdom to entertain the king and his disciples.

During the Gupta empire from A.D. 320 to about A.D. 500, Music and dance developed the complex forms that formed the basis of classical Indian music and dance. Samudragupta’s personal skill was exceptional especially in music and song. He was also well known for his poetry and had composed many works which had a reputation of a professional author.

Tansen is regarded as the Navratna in the court of Emperor Akbar, of Mughal rule, and the Guru of all Gurus in the Indian classical music that dominates the entire North India. Among the legends about Tansen are stories of his bringing down the rains with Raga Megh Malhar and starting fires with the legendary raga Deepak. Other legends tell of his ability to bring wild animals to listen with attention (or to talk their language). Once, a wild white elephant was captured, but it was fierce and could not be tamed. Finally, Tansen sang to the elephant that calmed down and the emperor was able to ride him. Such was the power of his music that when he used to sing in the court of Akbar, it is said that candles used to light up automatically.

Tansen playing in the court of king Akbar

During Auragzeb, music and all other forms of art were highly discouraged. Following to this British East India Company started spreading its control in the country and music was damaged and suffered a setback. It was folk music that people used to entertain self and forget their misery and sufferings.

Music picked up pace again during the struggle for independence. Music and other forms of art were used to bring people at a common platform. Songs like Vande Matram were instrumental in uniting the masses. Post-independence songs such as Mile Sur Mera Tumhara, Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo have been responsible for consolidating feelings of national integration and unity in diversity.

International influences are very visible into Indian music.

Music follows a system of guru-shishya in passing on of the skills. There has not been a dearth of teachers in music, but finding detailed books had been a task. People associated with art always used to feel that music is something difficult to be written down on a piece of paper.

The music of India is said to be one of the oldest unbroken musical traditions in the world. It includes multiple varieties of folk, popular, pop, classical music and R&B. Indian music is respected all over.

He Was…

He would come to the class wearing a formal shirt and shorts…

He would sleep in the lectures nonstop…

He would attempt the wrong exam, without even realizing…

He would smile and say, “Chill maar yaar, kuch nhi hota” if he saw anyone sad!

He would joke around just to see a smile on his friend’s face…

He would narrate his humorous stories to everyone with charm…

He would speak Hindi in his Malyalum accent…

He would make beautiful caricatures…

He would make the most uptight people, frank…

He would hug everyone and greet them in his trademark funny way…

He was the happy-go-lucky guy, everyone was fond of…

He was a friend of friend and would make enemies forget their anger…

It’s hard to use past tense for him. This post is for the friend of mine who passed away some time back.

I cannot forget that fateful morning. It came as the news which I never wanted to believe. I prayed again and again that he should be alive; I wish that terrible road accident never happened. But the reality struck its thorns and he was gone with the wind.

He was not such a close friend of mine, but a classmate whom I know, I would have turn to for any sort of help, support, fun…

With tears all his friends, faculty, and all the people who knew him, bid farewell to him. Another trend that was of relevance in all this moment of sadness was, the way people use social media for expressing their sorrow. It again bought tears into my eyes when I saw on my profile, people posting his pictures with them, putting up statuses for him! Thank fully a friend of his, deactivated his social media account, otherwise in the attempt to mark their grief, the tagging culture would have begun!

I did not want to publicize the fact that I miss him, on any such social media. I did not post any picture of him or any emotional status for him… It was just my feelings for life and the void that he has left, compelled me to write about him, on my blog.

Maybe it’s true that god needs good people around him, he took away the happy soul around me! I pray for his soul and wherever he is, he stays happy.

It was his sudden demise that I realized how short life is to be angry, sad, disappointed, depressed! What his always smiling face and attitude taught me is, do not be angry for soo long at people, spread happiness, be cheerful, let people remember you for positive things, forget sorrows, forgive people, help others, say sorry, appreciate people, love your life for what it is;  for life is a small journey!

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.” Says, Mitch Albom, in his book Tuesdays With Morrie. He is probably correct.

Dear, now who will call me “heroine”; get up, roll his hand on his stomach and say, “Bhuuk lagiii”; tell me his drunk stories; ask me about the new hottie in college; curse the stupid projects; ask me to take a chill pill; flirt around just like that; tell me that I need to date; make funny faces; teach me slangs; make fictitious plans…?? I will miss you!

I still wait for you, my tall man, to walk into the class with your persona and spread smiles! I am falling short of words to express what your loss means!

HE WAS…

But HE IS alive in the memories!

I am never typed: Anant Mahadevan

A prominent media personality Anant Mahadevan, actor and director of Hindi films and television serials, with a movie like- Red alert: The war within, which was based on a true story. He has been associated with movies like- Dil Vil Pyar Vyar, Aksar, Dil Mange More etc. He talks about the actors, the challenges, Indian audience and his upcoming movie.

Anant Mahadevan

The movie Red Alert was appreciated internationally. What did you expect from the Indian audiences?

I think Indian audiences have started being exposed to global cinema. And Red Alert was based on a real life story; it is a human story in any environment. According to me, a film has to be honest to be successful. It was my first step towards speaking a global language. At Stuttgart Film Festival, when the movie was screened, there was pin-drop silence throughout the movie. A German source has given 5 star rating to the movie as well.

What was going on in your mind when you approached Sameera Reddy for a non-glamorous role?

I am never typed and always believe in breaking an image. Not even while casting Sameera but I enjoyed casting all the actors. If you see there is a mixture of actors in the movie. There are actors from theatre, actors from Bollywood, actors from south and actors who will be appearing on screen after a long time.

Red Alert

What challenges you had to face while making the movie?

It is so far my most difficult film. Right from the time of pre-production, to shooting and the release. Everything about the movie is different and difficult. It took nine months in the whole making of the movie and 40 days of shooting. But I am married to my work and have done the work according to my satisfaction.

What’s about you receiving National Award and what is next in line?

I received National Award for a Marathi film which is also based on a real story, titled, “Mee Sindhutai Sapkal”. The movie is based on a 60 year old lady named Sindhutai Sapkal, who picks up abandoned kids and brings them up. The story is not about her but it is an incredible story of survival. I got the award in 2010 for Best Screenplay and Dialogues for this successful Marathi movie with Sanjay Pawar. Currently I am working on Gaur hari dastan.

Daddy’s girl

I belong to a middle class family. My mother looks after us (me and my elder brother) and the house, while my father works hard to provide us a comfortable life and fulfill all our needs and desires. He does so because of his unconditional love for us and he wants us to be happy.

My father got occupied with his work and we both drew more close to mom. She gradually got promoted from my mother to my buddy mom (read it friend). I grew up with her, she nourished and developed me. My father had minimum participation during this process. My dad always loved us but he didn’t know the art of expressing, something in which my mom is an expert. Mom made efforts to make us understand that dad loves us. I knew that he loves me but could not feel it.

I and my father always had differences. Right from the radio station I listen to the dress I wore. He could never understand some of my ways and I could never understand his. This was the place where mom always striked a balance, sometimes supported me and sometimes made me understand.

The turning point came when my elder brother went abroad for further studies. Maybe this separation from one part of the family made him realize how important it is to express love to the loved ones. I could feel more warmth in his hugs and ‘I love you’s’ had more emotion than the usual ones.

I really thank this incident, because it made me realize and understand how much my dad loves me. I can recall his worry when I was ill, his cheer when I performed, his help in solving my mathematics problem, his encouragement to make a round chapatti ;) :P, his support in my decisions. All this is his love. He has a subtle way of expressing his love. He never imposed himself on me. He gave me freedom and made me understand its meaning.

I always thought I am a mamma’s girl and very similar to her, but I have inherited many characteristics from my dad. The sense of humor, level of patience, laziness and the list is endless.

I never realized this but I am daddy’s girl also. Now I know this and can feel it too.