Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Portrayal of Lord Sri Rama by Narada Maharishi.

Today, on the auspicious, historical and happy occasion of Bhoomi Pooja for the construction of a grand Temple – ‘Sri Ram Mandir’ at Ayodhya, the birthplace of Sri Rama, I wish to present an excellent portrayal of Lord Sri Rama by Narada Maharishi, which is the basis of Valmiki Ramayana.
I came across this description from an English translation in PROSE; of the original Valmiki Ramayana in Sanskrit VERSE. The English translation I am reproducing below is from the book titled Ramayana by Sri Manmatha Nath Dutt, published in the year 1891, I am sure you will appreciate and be happy to read this:
Maharishi Valmiki asked the best of sages and foremost of those conversant with the world, ever engaged in austerities and Vaidika studies, and also Narada Maharishi, “Who at present in this world is alike crowned with qualities, and endued with prowess, knowing duty, and grateful, and truthful, and firm in vow, who is qualified by virtue of his character, and who is ever studious of the welfare of all creatures? Who is learned, hath studied society, and knoweth the art of pleasing his subjects? And who alone is ever lovely to behold? Who hath subdued his heart, and controlled his anger, is endowed with personal grace, and devoid of malice; and whom, engaged in battle, do even the Gods, fear? Great is my curiosity to hear of such a person. Though canst, O Maharshi, tell me of a man of this description”.
Hearing Valmiki’s words, Narada, cognizant of the three worlds, said with alacrity, “Do thou listen! Rare as are the qualities mentioned by thee, I will, O sage, having duly considered, describe unto thee a person endued with them. There is one sprung from the line of Ikshwaku, known by the name of Rama. He is of subdued soul and exceeding prowess; effulgent; endowed with patience; having senses under control; intelligent; learned in morality; eloquent; crowned with grace; the slayer of foes; broad-shouldered; possessor of mighty arms, a conch-shaped neck, fleshy jaws, and a broad chest, a powerful bowman; the repressor of foes; having plump shoulder-blades; of arms reaching down under his knees; with a beautiful head; and a graceful forehead; and endowed with excellent might; having symmetrical limbs, and of a cool hue; and possessed of prowess; and having a well-developed chest, with expansive eyes; crowned with auspiciousness and favourable marks; knowing duty; firm in promises and engaged in the good of his subjects; of accomplished renown; furnished with knowledge; pure in body and spirit; modest towards superiors; versed in self-knowledge; blest with prosperity; destroyer  of enemies, protector and supporter of all living beings, practising all the duties of this class; and preserving those cleaving unto him; versed in the profundity of Vedas and the Vedangas; accomplished in archery; gifted with a good memory; ascertaining with rapidity the truth of things; the darling of all; unreproved; unvanquished spirit; discerning; proficient in every branch of learning; ever resorted to by the good even as the ocean is, by the rivers; worthy of being honoured; having an equal regard for all; and capable of filling the heart with ever-new sensations. Crowned with every grace; he enhanceth the joys of his mother Kausalya; being like unto the sea in gravity and unto the Himavat (Himalayas) in patience. In prowess, he is like Maha Vishnu. In anger he resembleth the fire raging at the dissolution of all; and in forgiveness, he is like unto the Earth. In giving away, he is unto (Kubera) the Bestower of riches, and in truth, he is like Dharma."
And this prompted Valmiki Maharishi to write Ramayana.

Ayodhya Ram Mandir is becoming a reality!

Extremely happy that the day has finally arrived for the construction of Ayodhya Shri Rama Temple, after so many years of agony and struggle. Today is the day of Bhoomi Pooja!
Lord Shri Rama is the epitome of spiritual strength, sacrifice, and righteousness. This is a historic and auspicious occasion for us to remember Him and offer reverence to His holy birthplace - Ayodhya.
జై శ్రీ రామ్! జై జై శ్రీ రామ్!!
Jai Shri Ram! Jai Jai Shri Ram!!

Celebrating Rakhi Bandhan Festival with our ‘Soldier Brothers’!

Happy to receive this message with a Rakhi I bought online, for my brother. Due to my order, another Rakhi is being sent to an unknown ‘Soldier Brother’ who is away from his sisters and family. I am happy that some unknown soldier serving my country wholeheartedly is being made happy. I wish I could do more.
I take this opportunity to convey my concern, affection and respect to all my ‘Soldier Brothers’.
-N. Lalitha Raghu.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Rakhi Purnima / Raksha Bandhan Festival-2020.

Today is the festival of Raksha Bandhan. Warm Greetings and Good Wishes to all of you on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan /Rakhi Purnima. This festival is observed in the month of Sravan/Sravana Masam on the Full Moon day/Purnima/Pournami. This photoblog post is to happily convey to you how we celebrated the festival today.
Raksha Bandhan in Sanskrit; literally means "The tie or knot of protection".  The word Raksha means protection, while Bandhan is the verb to tie. It is an ancient Hindu festival that ritually celebrates the love and duty between brothers and their sisters. The sister performs a Rakhi ceremony, and then prays to express her love and her wish for the wellbeing of her brother; in return, the brother ritually pledges to protect and take care of his sister under all circumstances. It is one of the several occasions in which family ties are affirmed not just among Hindu families but in countless other Indian families, like among Sikhs and Jains. Rakhi festival is not just among sisters and brothers it is an occasion to celebrate brother-sister like family ties between cousins and distant family members and friends.
In these pictures, you can see my sister Smt. Hemalatha and my niece Kumari Alekhya tying Rakhis.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

These days, I cry a lot every night.

These days, I cry a lot every night. Such tragic happenings were not so frequent in the past. But after the lockdown due to Covid-19, it became frequent and for the past month, it has become a daily feature. It has become an addictive affliction.  
This weakness starts a little after dinner or with dinner itself and lasts up to around 12:30 midnight. My wife is beside me all along. It is not tears, all the time, most of the time it is elation, and crying in between. My wife is stronger than me, while she sheds a few tears, my tears roll continuously and shamelessly. And during those moments my throat chokes and I cannot utter a word with clarity.
Once we decide to go to sleep, we forget all the tensions and go to sleep with a strong feeling that tomorrow will be a better day and all the problems will get sorted out happily. Deep and peaceful sleep comes automatically as it is well past midnight. In the morning my eyes sometimes appear swollen. Fortunately, no medical intervention is required.
The reasons for crying are beyond my control. The main reason for this article and my recent crying saga is one such unfortunate situation. It is about the problem of unification of the Korean Peninsula, that is the reunification of South Korea and North Korea and the union of our lovely friends, Ms. Yoon Se-ri from South Korea and Mr. Ri Jeong-Hyeok from North Korea, who are so cruelly separated as you will see below. But this is a problem that even if all the world leaders come together cannot sort it out, at this moment.

Yoon Se-ri and Ri Jeong-Hyeok are characters from the recent (2020) South Korean Television Drama – Crash Landing on You.
You may watch here, how cruelly the DMZ border separates them:
The other K-Dramas that we watched recently, that is in the last few weeks which have greatly entertained us and also made us cry at times are ‘What Is Wrong With Secretary Kim’ and ‘Her Private Life’.
Fans of K-Dramas and K-Movies would agree with me that South Korean productions, production teams and actors are the best in the world. They are so popular that they come to the entire world with regional sub-titles. 

Friday, July 31, 2020

About the Festival of Bakrid and Bakrid Greetings.

Today is the festival of Bakrid. The festival is also known as Eid-ul-Zuha or Eid-al-Adha which means the Eid (festival) of sacrifice. The festival is celebrated with great joy and fervour at Hyderabad as of course all over the world.
Here is information about this grand festival:
Bakrid is celebrated by the Muslim community on the 10th day of the Muslim month of Zul-Hijja. On this auspicious day, Muslims are supposed to sacrifice a goat and offer prayers at the mosque. There is an interesting story behind the celebration of this festival. It marks the spirit of sacrifice. This festival is in commemoration of Hazrat Ibrahim's great test of obedience to Allah. Once Hazrat Ibrahim saw a dream in which Allah ordered him to sacrifice his most precious thing. He kept seeing the dream for many days. Then he described the dream to his wife that Allah wants him to sacrifice his most precious thing. After much discussion, Hazrat Ibrahim and his wife decided to sacrifice their only son, Ismail for the sake of Allah because their son was most precious for both of them. Then he asked his son for his consent. Ismail readily agreed to be sacrificed for the sake of Allah. Hazrat Ibrahim was all set to sacrifice his son at the gallows. As he put the sword at his son's throat, Hazrat Ismail vanished and he was replaced by a sheep. Then there was a prophecy that Allah was only testing Hazrat Ibrahim's faith. He need not sacrifice his son and he could sacrifice a ram or a sheep instead. Hence, the festival of Bakrid or Eid-al-Adha came to be celebrated. There are a few guidelines regarding the sacrificed meat in Islam. According to the rules, the sacrificed meat is to be divided into three parts. The larger part of the meat is to be shared with all the poor and needy who cannot afford to have meat or a meal of the day. The two smaller parts are to be shared with friends, relatives and family. Eid-ul-Zuha is a time of celebration. People offer prayers at the mosque. The prayers can only be offered when the sun has completely risen. Women are also encouraged to attend the prayers however it is not compulsory. The distribution of the sacrificed meat among the poor is the most important part of the festival. This distribution is done to make sure that no impoverished person is left without an opportunity to partake the meat. Thus, Muslims celebrate Bakrid or Eid-al-Adha to mark the spirit of sacrifice. It is a time of great joy and lavish feasts and celebration of unity and brotherhood.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Amidst elephants for three days! In the Land of White Elephants!


Very recently we spent three days amidst many elephants in Thailand. For a few hours on each of these days, we were amidst several elephants as you can see in the attached pictures and video. On the first day, it was at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo, Chonburi, and the second day it was at the Nong Nooch Village, Pattaya, and on the third day, it was at the Safari Park, Bangkok. The remarkable Elephant Show in the video is of the one at the Nong Nooch Village. However, we did not get to see White (Pink) Elephants, which are available only with the royals.
The elephant has a symbolic and religious meaning for Thais. Elephants are so ingrained in Thai culture that they are recognised as a symbol of national identity. For hundreds of years, these great creatures have stood alongside Thai people in pursuits such as war, labour, transportation, and more recently, tourism. The elephant is the National Animal of Thailand and it appears in many official seals.  
The elephant figured in the Siamese Flag until the early 1900s (Siam is the old name of Thailand) and now it is found on many provincial seals and on Bangkok’s seal it shows the Hindu deity Lord Indra riding an elephant.
Here are some interesting facts about these magnificent animals:
Queen Maya, the mother of Buddha, had a dream that she ascended the heavens and was greeted by a great white elephant bearing a lotus flower before it disappeared into the right side of her belly, and thus the Queen knew she had conceived.
The Hindu God, Indra, the King of Heaven, rides a three-headed elephant named Airavata. Lord Indra is also a protector deity for Buddhists, and also the patron protector of Bangkok (shown in Bangkok Emblem).
The elephant is also a symbol of justice and loyalty. An archaic Siamese tradition involved a person to be punished being placed in a Rattan Ball and kicked by an elephant, if he survived he was forgiven if not, justice has been served. Loyalty because it has always been associated with the Thai struggle to maintain their sovereignty from the might of neighbours.
The White Elephant is the symbol for Kinship (Buddha+Indra). By Royal Law, all White (Pink) Elephants in the Kingdom belong to the King, and their presence must be made known to the King upon their discovery and identification. To spot a white elephant during a King’s reign is a sign of a prosperous reign, and Kingdoms have gone to war to seize control of these rare elephants.
There’s a yearly festival to honour Thailand’s elephants. Each year, ‘Surin Elephant Roundup’ pays homage to Thailand’s elephants and gives thanks for the role these mighty creatures have played in the development of Thailand over the years. All of the province’s elephants are recalled for the event, including those that now live in other parts of the country. There’s a huge parade, with hundreds of elephants, followed by a gigantic buffet breakfast. Fruit and vegetables are laid out on long stretches of tables for the elephants to feast upon. There are then several days of elephant demonstrations at the stadium.
In the year 1900, the number of elephants in Thailand was estimated to be around 100,000, but just over a century later, that figure had been dramatically reduced to around 6,000 – 7,000 with almost half of that number domesticated and the remainder living wild in National Parks. With the longevity up to 70 years in the wild, this should not have happened to the population of Elephants.
It is estimated that there were once more than 350 species of elephants in the world. Today we only have two of them left – the Asian and the African species.
Asian elephants and African elephants are different. Asian elephants, the type found in Thailand are like Indian elephants and have several big differences with their African cousins. African elephants are usually significantly larger and heavier than Asian elephants. The two species of elephants have different ear and head shapes, and there are differences between their tusks, trunks, and toenails. The skin of an Asian elephant is typically smoother too. Furthermore, only male Asian elephants have tusks, whereas both male and female African elephants may have these ivory horn-like overgrown tusks (teeth).
Nature's great masterpiece, an elephant; is the only harmless great thing, and humanity has made it an endangered species and very soon it may become extinct.    
In conclusion, I would like to end this article with a Thai saying that says a marriage is like an elephant – the husband is the front legs, that choose the direction and the wife the back legs, providing the power and support!


Portrayal of Lord Sri Rama by Narada Maharishi.

Today, on the auspicious, historical and happy occasion of Bhoomi Pooja for the construction of a grand Temple – ‘Sri Ram Mandir’ ...