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Ganesha, Remover of Obstacles

Ganesha, The Remover of Obstacles: Part 1

Hi guys! Today, I’m going to tell you about the elephant-headed god (yes you heard it right) Ganesha. You might have heard about him as the Remover of Obstacles but you might not know how he was born. Do you think he was born with an elephant head? No. Today I’m going to tell you about how he got his elephant head.

Characters:

Parvati

Shiva

Once, Parvati wanted to take a bath, but her husband, Shiva had gone to meditate. She wanted someone to guard her chambers but there was no one in the palace (gone when you need them the most😂). So she decided to make a statue with turmeric paste. Soon, she finished making the statue of a boy. She gave life to the statue, he was plump and intelligent. Parvati said, “My child, I name you Vinayaka! I want you to guard the entrance until your father, Shiva comes. Dear, take this spear and go.”. 

Vinayaka went outside and stood guard. After a while, Shiva returned from his meditation. Vinayaka barred Shiva from entering. Remember, as Vinayaka was just born, he didn’t know how his father looked. Shiva was angry and said, “Boy! who are you to stop me from entering my own house? Move!” Vinayaka unflinchingly replied, “Mother has ordered me to not let anyone in. I will obey her.”.

Shiva got angrier and ordered a Gana to fight Vinayaka. Both fought ferociously and Vinayaka was victorious. He then ordered his full army to fight Vinayaka but in vain. Finally, Shiva himself fought Vinayaka and the battle lasted a long time. Shiva’s sword and Vinayaka’s spear clashed as Vinayaka parried Shiva’s blow. Finally, Shiva took out his renowned Trishul (Trident) and sliced Vinayaka’s head off.

Hearing all this commotion, Parvati came out to see what was happening (After all this time?). She was shocked to see her beloved son’s decapitated body lying in the ground. She shrieked and started wailing at her loss. She glared at Shiva with bloodshot eyes and said, “You killed our son?! I want him back, NOW!”

Shiva was shocked when she said that the boy was their son, he was overcome with grief and guilt. He ordered the Ganas to bring the head of the first being they encounter while going north. The Ganas went north and found a dead elephant, they brought it’s head to Shiva and he put it on Vinayaka’s head.

‘How can someone restore a fully severed head?’ you ask? What I think is that Shiva had the knowledge and ability to restore a fully severed head! Something similar to a head transplant in modern medicine. You might have another question by now, ‘Why didn’t he restore Vinayaka’s original head?’. Its because the Trishul was so powerful that it shattered his head in thousands of pieces.

Then, Vinayaka regained consciousness and Shiva said, “Son, I name you Ganesha, leader of the Ganas! I am proud of you for obeying your mother until your last breath so I bless you with prosperity and extreme knowledge.” Parvati also blessed him and said, “Ganesha, I give you these weapons, Parashu (ax), Ankush (elephant goad) and Pasa (noose).” All the gods came and blessed Ganesha with many powers.

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Dashavatar

Vishnu’s Dashavatar: Introduction

Lord Matsya
Lord Kurma
Lady Mohini
Lord Varaha
Lord Narasimha

Hi guys! New day, new series, Vishnu’s Dashavatar. If you guys haven’t heard of Vishnu, he is the preserver of the Universe. He is part of the Tridev: Brahma creates, Vishnu preserves and Shiva destroys, the cycle goes on and on. He has lotus-like hands and feet, skin as bluish-black as the night sky. He is with four arms, carrying a Conch, a sharp disc called the Sudarshan Chakra, a hand carrying a lotus and a hand open, blessing the whole Universe. He is the one with a face shining like the Moon on a cloudless night. He resides on the Ocean of Milk in Vaikuntha with his consort Lakshmi. His Vahana (mount) is Garuda the King of Birds (if you’re a gamer, you might have heard of Garuda, he’s quite famous). He is also shown as resting on the thousand-headed snake, Adishesha.

Vishnu takes an Avatar (not the film or the TV series! It is a Sanskrit word meaning incarnation) whenever evil rises too much to control it. He takes 10 avatars in a Chaturyuga (eon), hence the name ‘Dashavatar’ Dash meaning ten and Avatar meaning incarnation. The Dashavatars are, Matsya, Kurma, Mohini, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parashuram, Ram, Krishna, and Kalki.

“Whenever evil flourishes in the world, I take human form to destroy the evil people. This happens in every Yuga.”

— Lord Krishna

I’m going to conduct a Quiz in this series from now on, let’s see if you get them right!

Lord Vamana
Lord Parashuram
Lord Ram
Lord Krishna
Lord Kalki

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Other Reviews

Book Review: Raavanputr Meghnad

Raavanputr Meghnad: Prince of Lanka is a book by author Kevin Missal. 

The narrative is interesting as he narrates the story from the perspective of the four main characters. He doesn’t break the suspense as he moves from the story of one character to another. His story also gives a different perspective on the Ramayan. I loved how he slowly revealed layers of understanding and he leaves it to us to decide who is good. 

It is also nice how he opts for the lesser-known names for some characters, Prameela instead of Sulochana, Suparnika, and Meenakshi instead of Surpanakha. Overall, I think that even though there are some typographic errors, the book as a whole is a good read.

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Other Reviews

Book Review: Shiva Trilogy

On this occasion of 10 years of Amish, I present to you, Book Review: Shiva Trilogy!

The Shiva Trilogy is a book series by Amish Tripathi. It consists of three books, Immortals of Meluha, Secret of the Nagas and Oath of the Vayuputras

Amish is a graduate from IIM- Calcutta and worked for 14 years in the financial services industry before turning to full-time writing.

Synopsis

Meluha, a near-perfect empire established by Lord Ram, one of the greatest kings. However, the Meluhans face a severe crisis as their primary river, the Saraswati is slowly dying. They also face devastating terrorist attacks from the Chandravanshis and Nagas, a cursed race with physical deformities. It appears that their only saviour is the fabled Neelkanth.

Is Shiva, the rough-hewn Tibetian immigrant, really that hero?

And then this story happened. It wasn’t really one defining moment of epiphany. It sort of just crept up on me. Slowly, first the philosophies, and then the story to convey the philosophies. This experience has changed me. My outlook to life. My attitude. And my belief in God.

Amish Tripathi
Review

It is a thrilling series of books with suspenseful endings. Amish has crafted this masterpiece with excellence. I recommend this to anyone who likes to read interesting books. Overall, It’s fast-paced (in a good way) and well written, so it deserves 5 stars.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Other The 14 Lokas

The 14 Lokas: Part 1

There are 14 Lokas (realms), 6 are above and 7 are below us. The below mentioned Lokas are the top-half of everything. So let’s go right in!

Satya Loka: Meaning, “The realm of Truth”, it’s the highest Loka. It’s the Divine abode of Lord Brahma and his wives. It has the most beautiful gardens with the most fragrant flowers.

Tapa Loka: Tapa Loka is inhabited by immortal beings who are personifications of knowledge.

Jana Loka: Jana Loka is where realised beings live, they can travel to any Loka at the speed of thought.

Mahar Loka: Mahar Loka is where Rishis and Sages live, they have become greater than the Devas themselves by performing severe penance.

Svarg Loka: This is where the Devas live, it is commonly mistaken as heaven. It is also home to Sages and Gandharvas.

Bhuvar Loka: This is where the Sun and the planets reside.

Bhu Loka: This is where you and I reside, this is also the home of other humans and animals.

In the above Lokas, there is scope for sideways movement, and there are worlds within these realms. The idea of Heaven is not as simple as it seems!

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Carnatic Music Carnatic Music Trinity

The Carnatic Music Trinity: Thyagaraja

LEGO Thyagaraja by TheLegoCreator

Thyagaraja (1767 – 1847) was born in Thiruvarur, Thanjavur. He was named Thyagaraja or Thyagabramha, after the presiding deity of the temple. Thyagaraja’s maternal grandfather was Kalahastayya, also known as Veena Kalahastayya, as he was a noted Veena player. Thyagaraja learnt the Veena from Kalahastayya at an early age. He was trained in music by Sonti Venkata Ramanayya, a music scholar. Thyagaraja’s pieces are focused on expression, rather than the technicalities of Carnatic Music. His first composition was “Namo Namo Raghavaya” in the Raga (scale), Deshika Thodi, at the age of 13. It was evident in his compositions that Thyagaraja was immersed in his devotion to Lord Rama. He is well known for composing the Pancharatna Kritis (five gems), they are, Jagadananda Karaka in the Raga (scale), Naatai, Dudukugala Nanne in the Raga Gowla, Saadhinchane in the Raga Arabhi, Kanakanaruchira in the Raga Varali and Endaro Mahanubhavulu in the Raga Shree. Tyagaraja died on 6th January 1847, he was buried on the banks of the Kaveri river at Thiruvarur. The Thyagaraja Aradhana is a commemorative festival held every year at Thiruvarur. This is a week-long festival where famous musicians gather at his resting place. On the day of Pushya Bahula Panchami, Hundreds of Carnatic musicians sing the Pancharatna Kritis in unison, with the accompaniment of a large bank of instrumentalists.

Categories
Carnatic Music Carnatic Music Trinity

The Carnatic Music Trinity: Muthuswamy Dikshitar

LEGO Muthuswamy Dikshitar by TheLegoCreator

Muthuswamy Dikshitar (1775 – 1835) was born to Ramaswamy Dikshitar at Thiruvarur. His father taught him poetry, music, Vedas and astrology. He had two younger brothers, Chinnaswamy and Balaswamy Dikshitar and a sister, Balamba. They moved to Manali, near what is now Chennai at the behest of Venkatakrishna Mudaliar. The Dikshtar brothers accompanied Mudaliar to Fort St. George nearby, where they were exposed to western orchestral music and the Violin. An ascetic named Chidambaranatha Yogi took them to Benares and taught them music, philosophy and Yoga. They were also exposed to Hindustani music. Upon the death of Chidambaranatha Yogi, Muthuswamy returned South, to Tiruttani, near Tirupati. Once, when Muthuswamy was meditating at the Tiruttani Muruga temple, Lord Muruga came, and placed a sugar candy in his mouth, and commanded him to sing. This marked the beginning of his career in music. Soon, he adopted the Mudra (signature), Guruguha, another name of Lord Muruga. His first composition is, Sri nathadi Guruguho in the Raga (scale) Mayamalavagowla. He then went on a pilgrimage, visiting and composing at the temples of, Kanchi, Thiruvannamalai, Srirangam, and Tirupati, He then returned to Thiruvarur. He attained mastery over the Veena and he experimented a lot with the Violin. One of his disciples, Vadivelu of the Thanjavur quartet and his brother, Balaswamy Dikshitar pioneered the use of the Violin in Carnatic Music, now an integral part of Carnatic concerts. After returning to Thiruvarur he composed on every deity in the Temple complex, Kamalamba is a deity of high tantric significance in the temple complex. This is where he composed the famous Kamalamba Navavarna Kritis, filled with beautiful lyrics on Kamalamba. These Navavarnams are sung as the highlight of Guruguha Jayanti. He also composed some Noteswarams, a combitation of western and Carnatic music. Dikshitar died at Ettayyapuram and a Samadhi was erected in his honor, it attracts musicians and admirers of his art. His disciples included a number of famous musicians like the Thanjavur quartet brothers, Ponnayya Pillai, Vadivelu, Chinnayya and Sivanandam, the Venna player Venkatarama Ayyar of Avudayarkoil, the son of Shyama Sastri, Subbaraya Sastri among others.

Navavarna Kritis
Composition Raga (scale)
Kamalamba SamrakshatuAnanda Bhairavi
KamalambikeThodi
Kamalambaam Bhajare Kalyani
Sri Kamalambikaya Katakshitoham Shankarabaranam
Kamalambikayai Kambhoji
Sri Kamalambikayah Param Bhairavi
Kamalambikayastava Punnagavarali
Sri Kamalambikayam Sahana
Sri Kamalambike Ghanta
Sri Kamalamba Jayati Ahiri
Sri Kamalambike Sri

Categories
Carnatic Music Carnatic Music Trinity

The Carnatic Music Trinity: Shyama Sastri

LEGO Shyama Sastri by TheLegoCreator

Shyāma Sāstri (1762 – 1827) was born in a Brahmin family living in Thiruvārur. He received instruction in the Vedas, Astrology and other traditional subjects early on and learned music from his maternal Uncle. He was then trained in music by Adiappayya, a noted court musician of Thanjāvur. Although Shyama Sastri did not compose as much Kritis (songs) as his two contemporaries, Dikshita and Tyagaraja, his compositions are known for their literary and melodic proficiency. He composed about 300 pieces in all. Moreover, the scholarly nature of his pieces made them more suited to the learned than the lay. There are also some Tamil Kritis attributed to him. Most of his compositions exalt the virtues of Goddess Kāmākshi. He composed Kritis and Svarajatis with the Mudra (signature), Syāma Krishna. He was probably one of the first to compose in the new form of Svarajati musical genre, where the pieces would be rendered solely in a singing or instrumental form. Before this, the Svarajati was primarily a dance form. His three famous compositions are referred to as the Ratnatrayam (three Gems) they are, Kāmākshi Anudinamu, Kāmākshi Padayugamē, and Rāvē Himagiri Kumāri, composed in the ragas (scales), Bhairavi, Yadukula Kambhoji and Todi respectively. He was known for composing in the complex of Talas (beats) and revered for his singing ability. Shyama Sastri had two sons, Panju Sastri and Subbaraya Sastri. Panju was a devoted worshipper of the Goddess, Bangāru Kāmākshi. Subbaraya was trained in music by his father and became a gifted composer and a noted player of the veena. At his father’s behest, he was also trained by Tyagaraja. Shyama Sastri had some students who passed on his compositions, Alasur Krishna Iyer became a renowned musician at the royal court of Mysore. Porambur Krishna Iyer popularised many of his teacher’s works.

Kamakshi Anudinamu by Bharat Ratna M.S. Subbulakshmi