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culturama your cultural gateway to india

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Cownter-Intuitive

An expatriate shares her experience of being chased by cows in Delhi.

April 2015 Volume 6, Issue 02

Rs 40

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Of Bovine Ilk

Did you spot the cow? We did, in different parts of India.


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Dear Readers, When I spoke at IBM’s 100th year, a couple of years back, it was to share my own journey in entrepreneurship in the field of cultural and gender intelligence. The group of 500 women listened first to the company’s worldwide CFO, Mark Loughridge, who started his speech with, ‘Holy cow! I didn't realise we would have such a room full of colour!’ He was a brilliant inspiration, and my story of how women have to stay on the workforce balanced his in a small way.

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That day I started to think of a special issue of Culturama, which would be dedicated to the cow. I had explained to Mark that the expression ‘holy cow’, which Americans use as an exclamation, probably came from India! The cow is many things – it represents wealth, gentleness, usefulness and the quality of giving, which caused it to be elevated to the status of divinity. Given that India was largely (and continues to be, in some parts) an agrarian economy, it played a key part in the life of the people. In the Vedic period, it was seen as a form of wealth. While economics may have played a part in the cow being given an exalted status as divine, there are strong mythological and cultural reasons behind this tradition – which are explained in detail in our Feature (Pg 26). When religion and practicality came together, the practice of looking after cows took root in India. In Focus (Pg 16) looks at two people – one in India and the other in the United States – who have established cow sanctuaries. For visitors to this country, the cow evokes images of fun – and it is only in India that a cow can bring traffic to a complete standstill! The Lighter Side (Pg 52) is a collection of an expat’s experiences with cows in India, while our Picture Story (pg 54) captures unique scenes that feature the bovine animal that can be seen only in India. We hope you enjoy this issue! Go* – get it! Ranjini Manian Editor-in-Chief globalindian@globaladjustments.com * ‘Go’ in Sanskrit means ‘cow’.

Commemorating 20 years of learning, sharing and promoting Indian culture at Global Adjustments With 10 hand-picked snippets about each of the 29 Indian states, trivia segments and beautiful pictures, this book is a collector's item. For corporate and bulk orders, write View t he video at to info@globaladjustments.com http://tinyurl.com/m734xsm

This animated video is a guide to the unique cultural markers of all 29 states, as well as a mnemonic tool to help you remember them in alphabetic order.


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This photo, taken by Manfred Zink from Germany, won the ‘Crowd Favourite’ award at the Beautiful India Expatriate Photo Competition, 2014.

Letters to the editor

Editor-in-Chief Ranjini Manian Associate Editor Yamini Vasudevan

Dear Editor,

Senior Designer Prem Kumar

“What a lovely Culturama issue (March 2015)! The magazine has come a long way from the time when you started.”

Finance Controller V Ramkumar

Annelise Booysen, India

Sub-Editor Shefali Ganesh

Circulation S Raghu Advertising Bengaluru Meera Roy Chennai Amritha Suresh Delhi/NCR Neha Verma Mumbai/Pune Tasneem Sastry To subscribe to this magazine, write to circulation@globaladjustments.com or access it online at www.culturama.in Chennai (Headquarters) 5, 3rd Main Road, R A Puram, Chennai – 600028 Telefax +91-44-24617902 Email culturama@globaladjustments.com Bengaluru 17/16, Ali Asker Road, Off. Cunningham Road, Bengaluru – 560 052 Mobile +91 99869 60316 Email culturamablr@globaladjustments.com Delhi-NCR 1414, DLF Galleria Tower, DLF Phase IV, Gurgaon, Haryana – 122009 Mobile +91-124-4389488 Email del@globaladjustments.com Mumbai #1102, 11th floor, Peninsula Business Park, Tower B, SB Road, Lower Parel, Mumbai – 400013 Tel +91-22-66879366 Email mum@globaladjustments.com Published and owned by Ranjini Manian at #5, 3rd Main Road, Raja Annamalai Puram, Chennai – 600028, and printed by K Srinivasan of Srikals Graphics Pvt Ltd at #5, Balaji Nagar, 1st Street, Ekkattuthangal, Chennai – 600032 Editor-in-Chief Ranjini Manian Disclaimer Views and opinions expressed by writers do not necessarily reflect the publisher’s or the magazine’s.

Dear Editor,

“Congratulations on the momentous 20-year journey of ‘Global Adjustments’. I saw the recent video of the Indian States Anthem, which was very apt and descriptive. And I enjoy reading the magazine, including your editorial! Well done again and best wishes for continued success.” Arun Bewoor, India

Dear Editor,

“My husband and I are fans of your magazine. It is a pleasure to have such an informative and high-quality publication in Chennai every month. It is also a pleasure to see my husband’s photographs published from time to time. Unfortunately, the March 2015 issue of Culturama contains one of his pictures, but without a photo credit. I am sure it was an honest mistake; the photo is on page 55.” Stefania Scardigli, Italy

The photo of goli soda bottles (right) by Carlo Sem from Italy was featured in the Picture Story in the March 2015 issue of Culturama. We apologise for missing out the credit on the page. To buy a limited edition print on canvas, write to thesemsindia@gmail.com

culturama – Subscribe Now! Get your copy of Culturama as a hard copy or as an e-magazine visit www.culturama.in to subscribe For other enquiries, e-mail us at culturama@globaladjustments.com or call us on +91-44-2461 7902


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Culturama’s contributors 01 Susan Philip is a freelance writer based in Chennai, and the editorial coordinator of Culturama’s various coffee table books. 02 Dr. Chitra Madhavan is an author and eminent scholar in the fields of history and archaeology. Apart from several research papers, she has also written a series of three books on the ‘Vishnu temples of South India’. She is also a soughtafter speaker for talks on history and heritage walks.

03 Pratibha Jain is a Chennaibased writer and translator, well known for the award-winning cookbooks Cooking at Home with Pedatha and Sukham Ayu. She specialises in documenting the spoken word – be it grandmother recipes or spiritual discourses. www.pratibhajain.org 04 Jen Mullen is a language graduate, who has lived in the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Australia and India. Her greatest linguistic faux-pas was

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to call someone a ‘buffalo’ instead of saying ‘good morning’ in Tamil. 05 Eknath Easwaran (1910–1999) was a spiritual teacher, author, and translator and interpreter of Indian literature. In 1961, he founded the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation and Nilgiri Press in northern California. 06 Devdutt Pattanaik is the Chief Belief Officer of the Future Group, and a writer and illustrator of several books on Indian mythology. www.devdutt.com

07 Pavithra Srinivasan is a writer, journalist, artist, translator and editor - not necessarily in that order. She's fascinated with history, and loves writing children's fiction for adults. www.facebook.com/ pavithra.srinivasan 08 Anita Krishnaswamy is President of Global Adjustments and a relocation expert. She has several years of experience working with expat clients across the country.

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Advisory Board members 09 N. Ram is an award-winning journalist and former Editorin-Chief of The Hindu. He is Director of Kasturi & Sons Limited, publishers of The Hindu. 10 Suzanne McNeill lived in India for seven years, first in Chennai and then in Delhi. She

has now returned to Scotland, where she works as a freelance writer and graphic designer. 11 Babette Verbeek is a correspondent for BNR Nieuwsradio who previously worked in Amsterdam and Milan. Now she joyfully explores the beauty of South Indian culture.

12 Marina Marangos is a lawyer by profession but enjoys travel and writing. She lived in India for four years before moving to Australia. She blogs at www.mezzemoments.blogspot.com 13 G. Venket Ram is an acclaimed photographer and the creative mind behind many a

Culturama issue. To know more about his work, log on to www.gvenketram.com 14 Kathelijne van Eldik, from Holland, has been in Mumbai since 2004. Her employment with an airline is not a surprise, considering she has been raised in different countries and has it in her DNA to travel.


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Contents Regulars 14

India Now

A recap of events, people and places that made news in the past month.

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In Focus

Two people – one in India and the other in the United States – put the principle of compassion into practise by protecting cows.

26 Feature

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From mythology to history, the cow has been regarded as a divine being – we take a look at its role in daily life and customs in India.

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India’s Culture 10

Short Message Service

Short, engaging snippets of Indian culture.

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In your Kitchen

Prepare a nutritious soup with cow’s milk and vegetables.

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Festival of the Month

We celebrate Mahavir Jayanthi – an important festival for those who follow Jainism.

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Ten for the Road

Trivia about an Indian state – featuring Madhya Pradesh this month.

India Writes

A space for discussing the best from India’s world of literature.

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Look Who’s In Town

Expats in India share their stories on a practical theme for everyday survival in this country.

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Calendar of Events

See what’s going on in the main cities and suburbs.

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At Global Adjustments

Myth & Mythology

Stories from India’s mythology, reinterpreted for practical living.

Journeys Into India 54

Picture Story

In roads and houses, fields and temples – there are few places in India where you will not see a cow or two!

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Passage to India

Stories of visitors and conquerors who came to our shores and left a lasting mark on our society, culture and politics.

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Seeing India

We look at Global Adjustments’ 20th anniversary celebrations, and the musical extravaganza that was Aikya 2015.

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The Lighter Side

An expat shares her experience of interacting (read: being chased!) with cows in Delhi.

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Give to India

Featuring worthy NGOs and charitable organisations across the country.

Relocations and Property 66

At Home

Tips to harmonise the energies in your home – the Indian way.

69 An expat takes her kids on an adventure across the South.

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Holistic Living

Learn to put your attention on a leash to create an alert, invaluable companion that will help you build better relationships as well.

Space and the City

Property listings across the metros. The cow in this icon is the Kamadhenu – a divine being that could fulfil all desires. This icon is used in all those stories that are centred on the cow. Turn to Page 32 for an interpretation of what Kamadhenu stands for.


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by Suzanne McNeill Short cultural snippets for an easily digestible India

Art, Textile and Craft

Bobbin Lace from Kanyakumari The craft of making lace isn’t one that’s immediately associated with India. However, at Kanyakumari, at the southern tip of the country, there is a tradition of lacemaking that began in the 19th century with the arrival of missionary nuns from Europe, particularly Belgium. Bobbin lace, which takes its name from the bobbins that manage the lengths of cotton and silk thread, was seen as a means that could offer young women a form of employment that required no costly materials; their work was exported back to Europe. Today, women’s cooperatives draw on the dwindling number of Kanyakumari’s talented craftswomen to produce handmade lace for the luxury market in India and beyond.

Words

Food and Drink

In Vedic astrology, the nine grahas are the planets that form part of the natural law that governs the whole universe. They are cosmic entities that hold sway over all living beings. Astrological calculations are influenced by eclipses of the sun and moon called surya grahan and chandra grahan and how these events correspond to the positions of the planets. Griha means ‘house’, and a popular Hindu ceremony that is performed when a family first enters a new home is the griha pravesh. The garbhagriha is the innermost sanctum of a Hindu temple, where the temple deity resides. Hinduism considers the body as a griha, in which the atman or self resides.

Kalaadi is a traditional dense cheese made in the hill regions of Jammu and Kashmir. Made from cow’s milk soured with lemon juice, kalaadi is an essential ingredient in Kashmiri street food and relished by the locals. It is usually fried in its own fat in a very hot pan so that it is crisp on the outside and melting inside, then eaten as part of an evening snack called kalaadi-kulcha – stuffed inside a warmed paratha (flat bread) with chopped onion and tomato, and a sauce such as green chutney.

Graha vs Griha

Kalaadi Cheese – Jammu and Kashmir


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Urban Adventure

Interpretations

The ancient city of Surat, a port city on Gujarat’s western coast, is known as India’s diamond hub and is famous for diamond cutting and polishing – 90 percent of the world’s unpolished diamonds are now processed here. Tight-knit family networks of merchants, brokers and manufacturers are concentrated in the grid of streets in the Mahidharpura Diamond Market area. The atmosphere is enterprising and busy, with stones worth millions of rupees changing hands daily, often traded in packets by groups of men debating price, quality and source on the streets themselves. All sizes of stone are traded, from prized large diamonds to crushed powder, and like so many of India’s markets, Mahidharpura has a festive atmosphere that is well worth experiencing.

Haldi is the Hindi name for turmeric, which has long been considered auspicious and is used extensively in ceremonies. The haldi ceremony is a joyous ritual, accompanied by singing and dancing, in which a paste made of turmeric, sandalwood powder and milk is applied to the bride’s body on the morning of her wedding day to enhance her beauty. Traditionally, turmeric was used as a beauty treatment to ensure radiant skin and to detoxify the body. It is believed to ward off evil spirits, and to usher in a life of prosperity for the couple. The anti-carcinogenic properties of turmeric have been recognised by modern medicine.

Mahidharpura Diamond Market, Surat

Photo: Nicole Alice, USA

Haldi Ceremony

He Lives On

Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi Born into an aristocratic family in Bhopal in 1941, ‘Tiger’ Pataudi was a talented batsman who overcame injury to become captain of India. Pataudi’s father had been a gifted cricketer in his own right and had played for both England and India. As a schoolboy, Pataudi junior was a cricketing prodigy, and made his first-class debut aged only 16. His promising career was threatened by the loss of vision in his right eye following a car accident in 1961; yet, within a year, Pataudi was selected for India, becoming the youngest ever test captain at 21. He played 46 Test matches between 1961 and 1975, and scored 2,793 Test runs including six centuries. Pataudi was a man of great charisma who was adored by his players. He was calm and intelligent, but played with fierce competitiveness. He died in 2011. Test matches between England and India are played for the Pataudi Trophy.


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India now by Susan Philip

The month that was

As we enter a new month, we take a quick recap of events, people and places that made news in the past month

Politics and Polity

was unveiled at the famed Parliament Square this month. Churchill was an outspoken critic of Gandhiji, while Mandela was deeply influenced by the Mahatma’s ideas and ideals. India’s Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, who unveiled the statue, created by renowned British sculptor Phillip Jackson, was accompanied on the dais by British Prime Minister David Cameron, Culture Minister Sajid Javid, megastar of Indian cinema Amitabh Bachchan, and Lord and Lady Desai, founding trustees of the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust. Gandhiji’s grandson, Gopalakrishna Gandhi, was also present. Jaitley talked about the deep and enduring connections between the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest, while Cameron paid tribute to Gandhiji as “the man who turned the politically unimaginable into the politically inevitable”. The statue commemorates the 100th anniversary of Gandhiji’s return to India from South Africa to start the struggle for self-rule. As Lord Desai pointed out, he is the first Indian and the only person who never held public office to be honoured with a statue in the Square. Gandhiji’s idea of non-violent non-cooperation as a means of securing rights and privileges influenced a great movement in the United States. What was the movement and who spearheaded it? A: The Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King Jr.

New Government takes charge in J&K

Scientifically Speaking

A new innings in governance has begun in Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state in India, with Mufti Mohammed Sayeed being sworn in as the head of a coalition between his People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This is Sayeed’s second stint as Chief Minister, while the BJP is participating in the governance of the state for the first time. Sayeed, now the 12th Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, had held the same office about a decade ago, also as the head of a coalition government, but with the Congress party at that time.

Flying by the Sun

To know more about Jammu and Kashmir, look up the ‛Ten For the Road’ section in the December 2014 issue of Culturama – http://tinyurl.com/msow57w

Memorial for the Mahatma Mahatma Gandhi has joined Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela in London. A statue of the man who gave the world a whole new concept of non-violent protest for a just cause

Ahmedabad was on the route map of the world’s first solar flight, on a circumnavigation of the globe. Touching down at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, the pilot, Bertrand Piccard said “I’m happy to be in India.” Solar Impulse 2, the Swiss aircraft, is on a round-the-world trip, propelled, both during night and day, solely by solar energy. The whole 35,000-km journey is expected to take more than 25 flight days spread over five months, and is


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aimed at spreading awareness about the importance of renewable energy and clean technologies. India was on the route map of another epic, if fictional, journey around the world. Which book chronicled that famous trip? A: ‘Around the World in 80 days’ by Jules Verne

In Line for a One-way Ticket to Mars There are three Indians on the 100-member shortlist of applicants for a seat on a one-way trip to Mars. They cleared the third round of selections. A whopping 2,02,586 people had originally applied. Taranjeet Singh Bhatia, studying for a Doctorate in Computer Science at the University of Central Florida; Ritika Singh, who lives in Dubai; and Sharada Prasad, a 19-year-old girl from Kerala, will compete in the next round of selections. The exercise is being conducted by Mars One, a not-for-profit organisation based in the Netherlands to select a group of 40 people who will be sent to the Red Planet to set up a human colony there. The chosen ones will be sent out in batches of four, starting 2024. The third round involved personal, online interviews with the Chief Medical Officer of the Project, and candidates had to impress him with their understanding of the risks involved, their motivation to be part of this trail-blazing project and their abilities as team players too.

Made in India Molecule India has brought out an indigenously developed rotavirus vaccine, to protect against diarrhea, which claims the lives of almost 80,000 children aged below five each year.

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“We have realised a dream by bringing out the first Made in India Molecule. We have also maintained our pledge to offer ROTAVAC for $1 to governments in low-income countries,” said Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech, which participated in the product development and testing process. A vaccine innovated in India, developed in India and to be made in India, would be a big boost to the ‘Make in India’ initiative, he added. For tips on fostering better US-India business relations, read ‘Make it in India’ by Ranjini Manian and Joanne Grady Huskey.

Arty Happenings Rock of ages Gudiyam Caves: Stone Age Rock Shelters of South India, a documentary film by Ramesh Yanthra and Cameraman Vasantha Kumar, has won the honour of being chosen for screening at the Cannes Film Festival in May. They document the history and importance of the caves, located just 60 km from Chennai. Archaeological evidence points to the caves being inhabited by Paleolithic Man, and to the presence of early hominids here 100,000 years ago. Hopefully, the documentary will create awareness of the importance of this site, and prompt steps to preserve it for posterity.

Sports Spots On a Swiss Roll Kidambi Srikanth made history by becoming the first Indian to win the Men’s Singles Swiss Grand Prix Gold badminton title. He beat defending champion Viktor Alexson from Denmark in a thrilling final at St. Jakobshalle.

ROTAVAC is expected to significantly bring down both fatalities and hospitalisations caused by diarrhea. The threedose product, developed in collaboration with the United States, was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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An Indian woman has won the women’s singles crown twice already. Can you name her? A: Saina Nehwal


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In Focus by Shefali Ganesh

Reviving tradition, naturally With India going the manufacturing and services route, there is a risk of ancient agrarian wisdom being lost. Two individuals – one in south India and the other in the United States – are making an effort to protect the cow and revive the traditions centred around the animal

A few hours from Chennai, a group of schoolchildren make their way up a grassy path of a village, wonder writ large on their faces. It is not every day that they get to see paddy being planted in the fields, cows being milked or manure being prepared from cow dung. After some energetic efforts at planting the saplings, they enthusiastically ask the farmer how long it will be before they can get some rice to eat. The children are at a farm run by Parampara (which means ‘tradition’), a Chennai-based NGO that attempts to remind Indians about the wisdom of the country’s traditions. At the helm of the organisation is Manjulika Jhaver, a lady who has been propagating Indian heritage for the past three decades. Pan to a group of visitors at a farm in Pennsylvania in the United States. There is no paddy grown here, but there


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Photo: Parampara, Chennai

are cows – more than 20 of them. While one of them answers to the name of ‘Vedanta’, another moos when her name, Bharati, is called. Amidst the crowd of animals is Sankar Sastry, the man who started, and runs, the Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary. They may be miles away from each other, but Manjulika Jhaver and Sankar Sastry run their farms with a common goal – to provide a sanctuary for the cow, an animal that India considers divine. For Sankar, the farm is an “act of pursuing his love for the all-giving cow”, while Manjulika defines Parampara as “a movement dedicated to paying our obeisance to Mother India”. According to Manjulika, Indians have forgotten traditional practices that form the core of Indian wisdom. She elaborates, “Culture is practising wisdom. There is a body of

wisdom available in our country, but we choose to ignore it. We seem to have forgotten the ‘soul-level’ knowledge that our ancestors had. Do we actually know who we are?” The answer to her question lies in her pet project – the Bharatiya Vedic Krishi Parampara farm. Translated to mean ‘traditional Indian farming using the Vedic knowledge’, the farm is centred around the cow. Over the years, as India moved from being an agrarian economy to one that focused on manufacturing and services, cows have been rendered homeless. The Parampara farm celebrates the cow, which, in Indian culture, is seen as a ‘divine mother’, one that gives unconditionally to the human race. The farm offers a home to more than 40 cows, and sets an example of sustainable organic farming for the modern Indian, who has lost touch with the roots. The farm contributes to a cleaner environment


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Manjulika Jhaver and Sankar Sastry (right) believe that it is in our best interests to revive ancient Vedic practices in agriculture and daily life.

by using only the by-products of the cow, such as ‘gomium’ (cow urine fortified with herbs) to ward off pests, rather than commercial pesticides. In the United States, where cows are looked upon as sources of food, Sankar has rescued some of them from being sent to the slaughterhouse. In the 42-acre Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary, he houses around 20 cows, a few dogs, cats and even a pair of turkeys. For Sankar, a retired professor of engineering, the sanctuary is more than just a hobby. He explains, “The cow is the most compassionate being ever created, and the plight of this animal inspired me to create a sanctuary for her. As an engineer, I dealt mostly with inanimate things of nature. However, being a farmer is an entirely different feeling. I deal with living beings – trees, insects, grass and birds, which act and live according to the laws of nature. By saving the lives of cows, I feel that we are also acting according to our true nature.” Sankar has some rules for the farm – no injury to any living beings, and not using chemicals, hormones, insecticides and fertilisers. The cows are allowed to graze freely in the natural green spaces.

With a few volunteers, who pitch in to help part-time, Sankar runs his farm independently. He says, “As Mahatma Gandhi said, cows are rugged animals that require little care – just a little love.” Perseverance has its rewards. Manjulika says, “Thanks to the benevolence of the cows, the farm produces an abundance of organic rice, ghee, milk, mango and coconuts.” Sankar Sastry also vouches for the quality of milk and ghee that his farm produces. The Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary markets the cow dung patties generated from the cows on his farm to temples in the neighbourhood. Through a holistic approach, the Parampara Foundation has achieved its vision of being “a space to collectively honour and practice the eternal principles and traditions of our country” and is a key player in preserving Indian heritage. Visitors to the Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary take with them the essence of Sankar’s words, which is a quote by Aurobindo: “I look into the eyes of the cows, and I see one thousand mothers looking at me with love.”


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PhotoS: Parampara, Chennai

The fact that our world needs a culture of self-sustaining practices is not news to us – but what are we doing to contribute in a positive manner to our planet? We ask Manjulika Jhaver and Sankar Sastry for their views: Can you list some ways in which we can move towards a ‘green’ life? Sankar Sastry (SS): Cuba has banned cow slaughter and promotes the use of oxen for farming; this should be the way forward. Organic farming will result in better health and lesser diseases. Try to be as eco-friendly in as many activities of everyday life as possible. Manjulika Jhaver (MJ): Follow your swadharma or duty as a human. Eat more sattvik food (which is broadly defined as vegetarian, and which includes less spice and chilli). Acquire knowledge of your ancestors and pass it on. What are some virtues we can imbibe from cows? SS: Cows are full of love and compassion. They also are paropakari or ‘all-giving’ – they give us endless quantities of milk, ghee, yoghurt, cheese and cowdung. Love, compassion and a giving nature are some qualities that we can emulate. MJ: The cow shows us the method of achieving social and personal fulfilment and freedom by giving care, love and bliss all around.

What are some notable changes that have come about through efforts at your farm/NGO. SS: We have visitors who admire the cows and love them when they come to the farm. Sometimes they feel uncomfortable when they realise that they eat these loving animals. There is now a strong vegetarian movement in the United States. So far, four people have stopped eating beef after visiting the sanctuary. A journalist became a vegetarian after his visit to the farm and even wrote about it in his newspaper. MJ: The Parampara Awareness Club tries to revive ‘soul-level’ knowledge through the first step – awareness of being human. The club tries to reinforce what the scriptures subscribe for human evolution – Aham or awareness of oneself, Idam or awareness of all that envelops us, and Tatam or awareness of the source from which all emanates and returns. These three principles are brought about by Parampara through its Austerity Centre, which tries to tell people to live judiciously and recycle their excess material possessions. Proceeds gained from the sale go towards education of the underprivileged. The Tulsi Movement is another project, in which children are educated on the importance of the plant and the role it plays in nature as an air purifier.


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Ten for the Road by Susan Philip

Madhya Pradesh

Global Adjustments has created an animated video that captures the unique cultural markers of all 29 states. View the video at: http://tinyurl.com/m734xsm

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How the land lies: ‘Madhya’ means middle, and ‘Pradesh’ is land. By name and fact, Madhya Pradesh, ‘MP’ for short, lies at the heart of India. Bhopal is its capital. This landlocked state is the second largest in the country.

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Political Pressures: Madhya Pradesh had the distinction of being the biggest state in India till pressure for subdivision of some of the states to create new ones yielded results, and MP’s southern part was hived off to form the state of Chhattisgarh in 2000.

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Past Glories: This part of India has seen many dynasties in power – the Mughals, the Guptas, and the Mauryas all ruled here. It fell within the boundaries of the great Emperor Ashoka’s vast kingdom. Each of the dynasties left its distinctive mark on the architecture as well as on the culture and lifestyles of the region.

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Ethnic Fingerprint: The Gonds, Bhils, Baigas, Korkus, Santias and Kols are some of the major tribes found in Madhya Pradesh. Tribes make up about 20 percent of the state’s population. Many are cultivators by tradition, and earn their living from the land and crafts related to nature. Some, like the Santias and Kols are skilled in traditional forms of warfare. Some tribes are still nomadic, but others are giving up customary practices, influenced by modern ways of life.

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Culture Quotient: Tribal dances like the Gaur, an energetic hunting dance of the Gond tribe, mirroring the movements of the bison from which the dance takes its name, and the Lota dance, performed by women balancing full pitchers of water on their heads, are typical of this part of India.

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Personality Plus: The 16th century musician Tansen, one of the famous Nine Gems of Emperor Akbar’s court, hailed from this region. Legend has it that Tansen’s rendition of the raaga ‘Megh Malhar’ could bring showers of rain, and when he sang in the raaga ‘Deepak’, lamps came alight! Gwalior, in Madhya Pradesh, hosts the much-looked-forward-to annual Tansen festival at the musician’s tomb.

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Sights to See: The Bhimbetka group of caves is the repository of what is considered the largest collection of prehistoric art in India. They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as is the Khajuraho group of temples, famous for their erotic sculptures. Sanchi, filled with Buddhist stupas, is another World Heritage Site in Madhya Pradesh.

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Tasty Treats: The lip-smacking mutton rogan josh was a recipe that evolved in the heart of India. So did the seekh kebab and the shammi kabab. The bafla, gheesoaked wheat cakes, and the sabudana (pearl sago) kichdi are other famous dishes of Madhya Pradesh. If you have a taste for heady local brews, try the liquor distilled from the flowers of the mahua tree.

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Crafted with Care: Madhya Pradesh is well known for its textiles. The handloom Chanderi and Maheswari variety of silk are much sought after, and so is Kosa silk. Block printing by hand and vegetable dyes are widely used in textiles produced here.

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Worshipfully Yours: Started in 1949, the Aalmi Tablighi Ijtima (roughly translated as International Islamic Congregation) is an annual conference held at Bhopal. It is so well attended that over the years the venue has had to be changed to accommodate more people. Held in December, the discussions are centred on Islamic principles and way of life, and on spreading peace.


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Global Wellness Series

Cardiology is the science that deals with heart and its disorders. The heart is an organ that works hard to pump and circulate blood to the entire body. Regular exercise and a healthy diet will help to prevent heart ailments. A heart attack is caused by lack of blood supply to the heart muscle due to sudden blockages in its blood vessels. In such cases, primary angioplasty is the best way to save the heart muscle. It is performed by opening up the blockage. This procedure is performed through the wrist artery where the blockage is cleared with a balloon and a stent (a small well designed drug coated metal coil/tube). Coronary artery bypass operation can be performed for patients with multiple blockages in the arteries. Keyhole or minimal access surgery is the preferred option.

A Healthy Heart Dr.Arun Dhanasekaran, Department of Cardiology, Global Hospital tells us how to keep the heart healthy and prevent ailments

Special pacemaker devices (CRT) help the functioning of weak hearts. Heart transplant is performed for irreversible weakening of heart with good result. Minimal access valve repair or replacement is performed through key hole (smaller) cuts in the skin. Special devices delivery shock therapy (AICD) helps to review a patient after a cardiac arrest. Prevention of course is better than cure. A balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fruits along with regular exercise will reduce the chances of getting any heart ailments. Walking for 20-25 minutes a day and at least 5 days a week is a good start. Blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol needs to be monitored and controlled well.


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Photo: mykitchentrails.wordpress.com

In Your Kitchen by Pratibha Jain

A Tonic for Health According to ayurvedic texts, regular intake of cow’s milk cures diseases, improves sleep and adds to our overall good health – if drinking it straight is not for you, try out the easy soup recipe that we have included


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VEGETABLE SOOPA Soups, known as ‘soopa’ in ayurvedic texts, are an ideal start to dinner. Compared to clear soups, milk-based soups are considered a little heavier to digest, so they can be followed by a light meal.

Ingredients: ½ cup cabbage, finely chopped 1 carrot, finely chopped 4 to 5 French beans, finely chopped ¼ cup shelled green peas ¼ cup corn kernels 1 tsp wheat flour 2 cups boiled cow's milk A generous pinch of pepper powder Salt, to taste 2 cloves 1 tsp ghee (preferably cow's ghee)

Directions: In a pan, heat the ghee and add the cloves. When they splutter, add the vegetables and sauté for a few minutes. Pour in 1½ cups milk and ½ cup water slowly, and allow the mixture to simmer for 10–12 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked but crunchy. In the meanwhile, dry roast the wheat flour over low flame for one minute. Cool it and mix with the remaining milk (½ cup), making sure there are no lumps. Add this to the boiling soup. Allow the soup to simmer for 2–3 minutes and take it off the flame. Season with salt and pepper, discard the cloves and serve in small soup bowls. The recipe is from ‘Sukham Ayu: Cooking at Home with Ayurvedic Insights’ by Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain.

Ayurveda, the ancient medicinal science native to the Indian subcontinent, tells us that food is medicine. The ancient seers studied the properties of substances, including food ingredients, to give us principles of dietetics best suited to our health. This is dependent upon each person’s body type. By eating in accordance with our body type, we can maintain a healthy body, which in turn has its own correlation with a healthy mind. Ayurvedic texts proclaim that habitual intake of cow’s milk cures all diseases, bestows good sleep and lengthens the fountain of youth. A shloka (verse) in Sanskrit describes it as ‘jeevaniyam rasayanam’, which means that cow’s milk promotes long life and is an ideal rejuvenator. Cow’s milk has a sweet essence and post-digestive effect, and is recommended by ayurveda because it is easier to digest than milk obtained from other animals. Among the Ayurvedic texts, Bhavaprakasha states that daily intake of cow’s milk is a healthy practice. It is good for many diseases including senility disorders. Patients suffering from bone-related disorders are given ayurvedic treatments and massages that use milk. Ashtanga Hridaya propounds that cow’s milk is nectar for those who are debilitated by diseases. It has a therapeutic effect when it is taken after tiresome activities such as walking long distances, excess speaking and exposure to sun. Intake of small quantities of milk mixed with spices such as coriander, fennel and dry ginger is recommended after rigorous fasts. Cow’s milk relieves insomnia and increases digestive fire. Indian foods use milk in various forms such as milk-based sweets, many types of porridges, raitas and, of course, the ever popular buttermilk. Hence, the daily intake of milk in its pure form can be kept to a minimal. On the whole, milk is considered as heavy for digestion (even

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though cow’s milk is easier to digest than buffalo milk), so it is best avoided during detoxification therapies when the diet should be light for digestion. The heaviness of milk can be balanced by the addition of spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and black pepper. Thus, ayurvedic soups are spiced with cloves and pepper, while the payasams are balanced with cloves and cardamom. An important ayurvedic principle is satmya or compatibility. We must take care to avoid foods that are incompatible with each other. Because milk primarily contains sweet essence, it is compatible with other foods that have sweet essence, but not with sour foods. For instance, just as the sourness of lemons can curdle milk, so too when we eat sour fruits or yogurt, sour cream or cheese, we must avoid milk at that time. The action of hydrochloric acid in the stomach causes the milk to curdle. Charaka Samhita states that milk is also incompatible with bananas, mangoes, jackfruit, melons, cherries, sour fruits, fish, meat, yogurt and bread made from yeast. So when we make milkshakes with fruits such as bananas and mangoes, we must take care that the fruit is fresh and sweet. The principle of satmya is also dictated by habitual intake. When we grow up eating certain foods and food combinations, our body gets habituated to it and thus those foods become compatible for us. However, an understanding of the basic nature of food substances can help us develop good eating habits, thus leading to healthy longevity. Finally, a word about compassion towards animals. We are aware that when food is cooked and served with love, it becomes truly nurturing. In the same way, when we consume milk which comes from an animal that has been treated with tenderness and love, it becomes nectar-like and wholesome.


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Photo: Cassia Reis, Brazil

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Feature by Dr. Chithra Madhavan

the

god

of all things From being the tiller of the land to the giver of food, the cow has been not just an important part of India’s heritage but also a holy one


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Photo: Louwman-De Bruin, The Netherlands

Cows, called go, gau, pashu and dhenu in Sanskrit, have had a revered place in this country from ancient times. The Vedas, the oldest literature of India, repeatedly mention the cow. The verses of the Rig Veda, the oldest of the four Vedas, reveal that the society was a pastoral one and, naturally, cows and bullocks were prized possessions. They were the most important form of wealth, an economic asset, seen as a symbol of abundance and a medium for exchange. The ancients relied on it for dairy products, for tilling the fields and for the cow dung, which was used as manure, as it is one of the best natural fertilisers. Cow dung has been hailed for its anti-bacterial properties and it is still used as a natural disinfectant in traditional households across India. The Rig Vedic Indians were aware of the importance of the cow and large sheds were constructed for accommodating cattle which were taken very good care of. Special terms like ‘sva-sara’ for the time of morning when cows were grazed and ‘sam-gava’ for the time in the evening when the cows were driven back home are given in the Vedas. Prayers and rites for making people rich in cattle have been mentioned in

literature known as Grihya Sutras. Prayers averting evil from cattle are also known.

Kamadhenu, the Celestial Cow Kamadhenu, the celestial cow, is, according to Indian tradition, the mother of all cattle. The word kama in Sanskrit means ‘desire’ and dhenu is ‘cow’. Kamadhenu is believed to be the cow that fulfils the desires of all those who propitiate her. She is also called ‘Surabhi’ and ‘Nandini’, although, according to some sources, Nandini was Kamadhenu’s daughter. According to many ancient Sanskrit texts, Kamadhenu rose, along with other precious items, out of the Ocean of Milk when it was being churned by the Gods (devas) and demons (asuras). She was taken by Indra, the leader of the Gods, to Indraloka, his abode. There are several episodes connected with Kamadhenu and her owners other than Indra. Indra once saw Kamadhenu crying in Indraloka. When he asked her the reason for her grief, she replied that the cattle, who were her children, were groaning in pain because of the yoke upon them on the agricultural fields in the world


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of men. Indra subsequently caused heavy rains so that there would be no ploughing, thus giving respite to the cattle. In the Ramayana, India's well-known epic, there is an episode connected with Kamadhenu. A powerful ruler, King Vishvamitra went hunting to the forest with a huge retinue. He visited the ashram (hermitage) of Sage Vasishta who offered to feed all of them. The sage requested Kamadhenu to use her divine powers to feed the large gathering and she obliged by giving them a sumptuous meal. Vishvamitra, amazed at the powers of Kamadhenu, requested Sage Vasishta to give her to him. In return, he would give Vasishta thousands of cows. On being refused, Vishvamitra tried to take Kamadhenu by force, but she assumed a terrible form from which emerged warriors who fought with the king’s soldiers and defeated them. It is common to see framed pictures of Kamadhenu adorning the walls of the pooja rooms (sacred altar) in India as the divine white cow, with numerous deities of the Hindu pantheon on various parts of her body. According to a sacred scripture called Devi Bhagavatam, when Krishna (an incarnation of Vishnu, the protector of the universe) and his wife Satyabhama were thirsty, the former, by his will-power, created the cow Surabhi from the left side of his body. When Krishna drank the milk Surabhi had produced, the earthen pot in which it was stored fell down and broke. The spilt milk spread over a large area, which turned into a lake of milk. Krishna also has the name ‘Gopala’ meaning ‘protector of cows’, as he tended the cows of his village, Gokulam (which literally means ‘family of cows’). A well-known incident from Krishna's life is of the time he saved his people and cows from torrential rain by lifting the mountain Govardhana and making them take shelter under it.

An Object of Reverence Cows are prominent subjects in history and folklore as well. A wellknown traditional story in Tamil Nadu connected with the temple-town of Thiruvarur is of King Manu Neethi Cholan, a ruler wedded to justice in his kingdom and a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He is said to have hung a bell outside his palace – it was to be rung by anyone needing justice. One day, the bell was rung by a cow whose calf had been run over and killed by the chariot of the king’s son. The king immediately ordered his chariot to be run over his son, thereby killing him. The story ends with Lord Shiva rewarding the devout king by bringing not only the calf but also his son back to life. It is common in India to see cows inside the premises of temples. They are raised so that their milk can be used for worship of the deities enshrined inside. The ritual of pouring milk over the stone images is an important one. There are many stories connected with temples wherein the main image once in worship was buried under the earth in later years. Cows, knowing where such images were buried, went to these places and poured milk from their udders, thus giving an indication of the deities under the ground. These were then unearthed and consecrated in the temples. Sculptural representations of cows pouring milk on the lingam (a symbol of Lord Shiva) are often depicted on the walls and pillars of temples. Go-shalas or shelters for cows have been organised all over India. These places protect cows that are ill, old and which have stopped giving milk. There

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The story of how King Manu Neethi Cholan delivered justice to a cow is etched in stone in Thiruvarur in Tamil Nadu. 1. The cow asks for justice for its dead calf. 2 The bell that was rung to alert the King to an act of injustice. 3. The King sets out to deliver the sentence. 4. The prince is run over by a chariot. Photos: S. Rajah Iyer


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The painting depicts the love that Lord Krishna had for cows. Krishna was also called ‘Gopala’, which means ‘protector of cows’.

are many who contribute to such go-shalas on birthdays, anniversaries or auspicious events. Many houses, especially in semi-rural or rural areas, have one or more cows for providing milk to the family. It is a common custom to name the cows after Goddesses. Gomati Mantra is a sacred prayer for getting the blessings of cows. When recited, standing in the midst of cows, it is believed that the person who recites the mantra would be blessed with wealth and prosperity. Panchagavya (pancha is ‘five’ and gavya is ‘from the cow’ in Sanskrit) is a product made using five ingredients from cows – cow-dung, urine and milk, and curd and ghee that are made from cow's milk. They are mixed in a given ratio along with banana, tender coconut water, water and jaggery, and allowed to ferment. The final result is an organic product is believed to have beneficial effects for humans as well as crops and plant life. Go-dana or giving away cows in charity was considered a very good deed and was one of the most important ways in which a person could gain moral merit. The practice of giving cows in charity to temples is still in practice in India and many of the present-day temples still have certain areas inside the premises where cows can stay. Worshippers going

into the temples usually make it a point to feed the cows. Inscriptions etched on the walls of temples, especially in South India, are replete with the donation of cows to temples. The milk and milk products, such as ghee, were used in temple rituals. It was enjoined upon the kings of India that they must donate liberally, especially on the occasion of coronation or the birth of a prince. Sixteen great charities called mahadana are enlisted in the scriptures; one among these is the go-sahasra or the charity of giving a thousand cows to the needy and deserving. One of the important rivers of South India is the Godavari which has been praised in the ancient sacred works.


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Photo: Marianne Van Loo, The Netherlands

A deep-rooted belief is that those who worship this river and bathe in it will be prosperous and will get the benefit of performing the Gomedha Yajna (a ritual connected with cows in ancient India).

The Greatest Sin Go-hatya or the killing of cows was considered a great sin in India, and this belief is still prevalent. The Yajur Veda forbids the killing of cows in any manner. The term ‘aghnya’ (not to be killed) has been applied several times in the Vedas to the cow, thus showing that it was a sacred animal. In ancient India, the punishment for killing a cow is given in detail in a book called Agni Purana. Among other things, the sinner had to live in a cow-shed for a month, drinking only barley water. He had to follow other cows and look after them – feeding them and cleaning them. Observing a fast, he was to give away in charity 10 cows and a bull, failing which he had to give away all his wealth. If a person stopped a cow for other people to kill, he had to incur one-fourth of the punishment. If he stopped the cow and tied it for being killed, he would incur half the punishment. If a person stopped the cow, tied it and also provided the weapon for killing it, he would bear three-fourths of the punishment. In fact, a long hymn in the Atharva Veda shows the reverence for the cow

when it mentions a death penalty prescribed for the act of killings cows. Many inscriptions issued by kings of India in the ancient and medieval eras, which describe donations of land to scholars and to temples, end with imprecatory verses stating that those who may confiscate the land thus given would incur the sin of killing a hundred thousand cows.

The Centre of Festivals Maatu Pongal, an important festival in Tamil Nadu (and also of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh) in January, is in celebration of cows and bulls, which play a major role in cultivation. On this day, the cows are bathed, have kumkum (vermillion) smeared on their foreheads and are garlanded. It is common to have a traditional house-warming ceremony when people build a new house or move from one house into another. On these occasions, a cow and calf are brought into the new residence as they represent prosperity which the people inhabiting the house want in plenty. An 8th century inscription issued by a king of the Pallava dynasty of Tamil Nadu poetically states: ‘May the sacred cows, whose every limb is purifying and whose purity is demonstrated as it were, in the form of white milk that they yield, grant your desires’.


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Interpretation Team Culturama

The Kamadhenu The Kamadhenu is a cow that is believed to have the power to fulfil all wishes. In Indian spiritual interpretation, it represents life’s ecosystem, which consists of creation, sustenance and change. Mythically, various Hindu deities reside in every part of the Kamadhenu. For instance, the horns are said to house the Divine Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva; while the udder is hailed as an ocean of nectar and the eyes pertain to the sun and the moon. The four legs of the Kamadhenu embody the four Vedas and are considered to be as strong and enduring as the Himalayas. Agni, the God of Fire and Vayu, the God of Wind reside in her shoulders. Kamadhenu is regarded as the source of prosperity, and also a symbol of the all enduring Mother Earth.


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India writes

iREAD

Pashu: Animal Tales from Hindu Mythology by Devdutt Pattanaik

Reviewed by Yamini Vasudevan

Where do all the animals come from? Did you say single-celled organisms? Devdutt Pattanaik has a different answer for you. He says that all living beings – those that crawl and fly, those with two or four legs or more – all of them originated from sages, gods or demi-gods. And their stories come together in this book. At first glance, Pashu: Animal Tales from Indian Mythology may seem like a children’s book – with its illustrations and big font. However, read the first couple of pages and you will be hooked onto the stories told within. There is the story of how Vinatha, mother of Garuda, the eagle, is tricked into becoming the slave of Kadru, her sister. There is the tale of Sushobhna, wife of Parikshit (grandson of Arjuna, the famed warrior), who forbids her husband from taking her near a water body. Parikshit fails to follow her advice – and his wife jumps into the water and becomes a frog. A prince named Manikanta tames the tiger that is sent to kill him and became famous by the name of ‘Ayyappa’. The union between a sage and a nymph who took on the form of a parrot results in the birth of a sage called Suka – a man with a parrot’s head. Unlike stories with typical ‘happily ever after’ endings, these stories focus on the turn of events as they are – without justification or explanation. They remind us that creation is a dynamic process, and that there is always room for things that do not conform to the norm (hence, the presence of ‘different’ beings as a separate category). This is not a book you can read once and put away. The many tales, strung together on the thread of mythology, keep coming back to you long after you put away the book. What was the name of the exotic creature – half-human, half-deer – that held Bhima as his slave? Who are the parents of the Aswini twins? What is a yali? And so, you pick up the book and turn the pages – and lose yourself in the stories once again.

About The Author Devdutt Pattanaik is a renowned author, mythologist, and leadership consultant, whose work focuses on deriving management insights from mythology to reveal a very Indian approach to modern business. He has authored over 30 books, of which many are best-sellers. Visit www.devdutt.com


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Look Who’s In Town Mumbai

Maximum Mumbai British-American Sue Oxley lists out some tips on how to make the best of the bustling city In Mumbai, Sue Oxley sees more than just the noise and smells of the city – she sees “the vibrant colours of the beautiful saris worn by the ladies walking down the streets” and, of course, the “huge variety of amazing foods on offer – that are expanding my waistline”. The blogger, who has been in the city for a year and a half, writes about her experiences in www.nofixedabode4sue.com. When she arrived in Mumbai along with her husband, Sue’s view about the city was that it was “a fun adventure in a part of the world we had never explored”. The adventure transformed Sue’s life: “My time in Mumbai has changed me, made me look at life differently, and I will be forever thankful for this opportunity”. With that, Sue steers us through the act of making a home in Mumbai.

open to all nationalities. Mumbai Connexions (www.mumbaiconnexions.com) is a group of expatriates who give their time and resources to support each other. •

Traffic Stress: Going around Mumbai is time consuming (owing to the heavy congestion on the roads), noisy (Mumbaikars love their car horns) and seemingly disorganised (to a Westerner’s eye). Relax, allow for extra time and have a camera on hand to document the unique journey!

Be open to new adventures: Use your time to try something new. Of course, there are many yoga classes you can take, but India has so much more to offer! Photography lovers will find a wealth of opportunities in this colourful country. Volunteer with a non-governmental organisation (NGO) or learn a few words in Hindi so you can surprise your driver or housemaid.

Understand culture: Dig deeper than the standard guidebook to find places that make this city tick. Hindu festivals abound, but Mumbai also has sizeable Christian and Muslim communities, as well as Zoroastrians, Jains and Buddhists.

Discover Mumbai's history: Most people know about the British influence on Mumbai, but there is plenty to discover about how life changed over the years. The Indian Tourist Board offers guided tours of many sites with extremely knowledgeable guides who will fascinate you with their stories.

Sue′s Six-fold Path •

Positive mindset: It is amazing how people have such a strong opinion, both negative and positive, about a country that many have never even visited. Keep an open mind and discover for yourself all that Mumbai has to offer.

Expat groups: There are many expat groups in Mumbai that are not just a social outlet but will also help you get information about where you can buy certain items and how Mumbai works. They also provide support, as they understand that the transition can be challenging. Options include the American Women's Club of Mumbai (www.awcmumbai.org), which is


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Look Who’s In Town Bengaluru

Cultural Conundrums Bettina Berns from Germany leads us on a cultural discovery of the ‘garden city’ Dr. Bettina Berns, an international relations expert from Germany, is on her second stint in Bengaluru. Over the past three years, Bettina has discovered how the city has changed from a calm, laidback town to a vibrant, modern city. “At first sight, the cultural scene of Bengaluru seems to be very Westernised, but on a closer look you find lots of Indian classical music, song and dance events as well as talks on the vast Indian cultural heritage,” she says.

Arty Party •

Bengaluru has a number of very good small theatres with versatile programmes.

The National Gallery of Modern Arts is a beautiful place to visit, not just for its exhibitions but also for the atmosphere, the beautiful buildings and garden.

The Alliance Française de Bangalore arranges a multi-faceted programme every month, ranging from exhibitions to theatre plays and movies to concerts of all genres.

(Off) Key Notes Many musical instruments suffer in the hot and moist climate. Once, the right leg came off a grand piano shortly before the concert of a renowned Austrian pianist! The right side of the piano was propped up onto some boxes and a plant placed before them to cover them up. Unfortunately, the boxes were a little higher than the left leg, so the poor pianist had to play up and down a slope. The audience enjoyed the concert even more and the pianist was impressed by the flexible mindset of the Indian music lover.

Tips for the Taking •

Apart from the newspapers, check websites like www.timescity. com and www.mybangalore.com, and register your e-mail address on the mailing lists of cultural institutions.

A great number of fashionable pubs are organising their own cultural programmes – ranging from stand-up comedy to jazz concerts. On weekends, you will be spoilt for choice!

When In Germany Whether you live in a big city or a small town in Germany, there are plenty of opportunities to listen to all kinds of concerts. •

The best way to enjoy Western classical music is to practise it yourself! Just join one of the many lay choirs that exist.

Tickets for big concert halls and operas are expensive, but there is always a choice of smaller events that are free or affordable.

Try to get colleagues or friends to accompany you. It helps to have someone explain to you what you might not understand.


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Look Who’s In Town Chennai

Kids Ahoy! American Brandi Baltzer gives us the insider’s guide to entertaining children in Chennai

Brandi Baltzer probably thanks the British for a key positive influence they left behind in India – when she landed in Chennai with her family, she was grateful that all the roads signs were in English! “We moved here from Istanbul, Turkey, with our three children. As we travel a lot, it makes it so much easier when you can read road signs”. A year in the South Indian capital has made Brandi the best go-to person for a list of child-friendly places in the city.

Handler Tips

Kinder Joy School: We are very lucky to have a great school in Chennai – the American International School Chennai (AISCH) is highly regarded for both academics and for nurturing children. It is also a great resource for parents – the school invites parents to be involved with the school, has cafés to hang out in and a plethora of parentcentric programmes. The Parent Community Association also publishes ‘Chennai Chapters’, an annual guide to Chennai, which is available at the school and at Tryst Cafe. I have found it to be an invaluable resource for listings on shopping, restaurants, places to visit, and so on. Outdoors: My children love animals and have enjoyed visiting the Crocodile Park, Snake Park and the zoo. Ideal Beach Resort is also a great place for a beach day. The movie theaters are great, as they screen English movies. There are also several wonderful cultural places to explore, such as Mahabalipuram and DakshinaChitra.

Be prepared for the hot weather and bugs with hats, sunscreen and bug spray.

Locals are very interested in expat children – some children like the celebrity status while others might feel uncomfortable. If your child is uncomfortable, a polite but firm ‘no’ to taking pictures or pinching/staring will usually solve the problem.

When potty emergencies arrive, the best places for clean Western toilets are hotels and restaurants.

It can be a huge challenge to make the transition to another country/culture with a family. The most popular advice is to stay positive! Also, try to build a network with other moms so that you have a strong support system.

When in the United States We lived in San Francisco, where there are endless options for entertaining and educating children – arts, theatre, museums and nature (beaches, forests, parks). You can easily fill every day with something fun to do – which is probably why Americans are so busy! For someone moving from India to San Francisco (or visiting the city), I would suggest exploring the different options on the Internet first, as all necessary information is readily available online.


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Advertiser's Feature

Sports with a difference

There was excitement in the air. The collective heart beats of hundreds could be heard. The cheers reached a crescendo as the annual sports meet of Canopo playschool got underway in South Chennai. The Canopo playschool hosted their annual sports meet in the month of February, inaugurated by Ms.Lakshmi and Ms.Prabha from the Indo-German College of Commerce. The sports meet marked the completion of the student orientation programme of the year. Cheers from the spectators and teachers could be heard while the students took their places on the field. The colours of Canopo playschool, white and purple were all around in the form of the balloon décor. The clicking of camera’s and the palpable excitement marked the start of the meet. The commitment and enthusiasm of the staff was visible in the remarkably coordinated exercises performed by the students. The crowd too seemed to be energized and their OOHS and AAHS were synchronized with the performances of the children. The colorful parachute drill by the children with smiles on their face made the event even brighter. There was special sports mime performance by the Canopo staff

to showcase the importance of sports and to encourage the gathering after which there were also events conducted for the parents, staff and children which was the most exciting part of the day. The whole day was amazingly harmonized with parents and staff stepping out in the sun to cheer their children. It isn’t fair to close it without mentioning the organizing team ”Edu Sports” who did a tremendous job throughout the day and made the sports day successful. Children were also taught that winning or losing doesn’t matter whatever it is participation plays a vital role. In that way every child that participated was encouraged by giving them a memento to each of them. The program ended with the prize distribution and the vote of thanks. These memories will be cherished by the Canopo family for the years to come. Canopo Playschool is at No29A, Rajasekaran Street, Mylapore, Chennai – 600004. Telephone: +91 44 42124100, +91 8870000606


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Passage to India by Pavithra Srinivasan

The Mountain Song

Illustrations: Lalithaa Thyagarajan


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A Chinese visitor to Kanchi in South India is met by a man who seems more like a pauper than a member of royalty. However, the meeting is a momentous one – for it would lead to the sharing of wisdom that would survive generations to come Day 2, Month of Chithirai, 485 CE Outskirts of Kanchi, the Pallava Capital, Ancient Tamil Nadu “Get help,” Yan whispered. “I’ll hold them off as much as I can.” He stared at the gaunt, unkempt man who sat astride a horse next to him. “Go – now!” A few hours ago… Thondai Mandalam, Yan Xiao decided, had been much maligned. As a first-time traveler to Tianzhu – South India – from China, he’d met and conversed with earlier visitors, and while many had praised the rich delta of Thanjavur, or the lush Pazhani Hills, few had good words to say of the “dull, barren lands south of the town Thellaaru”. Of course, Kanchi, famed capital of the Pallavas, their hosts, was different. Yan, still cradling impressions of Jiankang, had been favourably impressed. Kanchi played host to travellers from all over the known, civilised world; Chinese, Greek, Ethiopian, Arabian and South Sea visitors rubbed

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shoulders in the Peru Veedhi, the Principle Avenue of the city, buying everything from incense to wonderfully wrought gold ornaments (Yan had bought a pair of bangles for his pretty wife, Chi Hui), listening to orations from visiting dignitaries at the Royal Halls, or being entertained by streetplays depicting the life of the Buddha in ancient monasteries. Mellifluous Sanskrit and colloquial Prakrit fell upon his ears from all directions, and he was charmed by the sight of tiny children, held fast by their parents, carrying blooming lotus flowers, to place at the feet of the divine Buddha, within Kanchi’s numerous viharams. And the cows! He’d been fascinated by the cows, wandering in great herds, wearing pretty bells around their necks – for these were sacred animals, in every way. “Pushpeshu jaathi; purusheshu Vishnu; narishu Rambha; nagareshu Kanchi…” Yan chanted softly, remembering the popular Sanskrit verse that celebrated Kanchi as the greatest among cities. “What about the vast wastes of Thondai Mandalam, eh?” came a voice from his left, and Yan turned, startled. A man – lanky, almost gaunt, his skin stretched over bones – rode a mediocre horse. Ah, yes. Yan remembered that the man had been introduced as royalty – third son of King Simhavarman (or something like that) who, surprisingly, hadn’t been trained as a kshatriya, a warrior. He’d been assigned to escort Yan’s party to Chirappalli’s famed monastery, but, so far, hadn’t seemed appealing in any fashion. The only thing


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about him that caught Yan’s attention was his eyes – a bright, piercing blue that was startling in this land of black eyes. “Well?” demanded the man. “Ignore the barbarian,” whispered Yan’s aide, Fan Yu, who had disliked the sardonic man on sight. “I hear he sits in some cave in outlandish places, staring at walls for days.” He twisted his finger against his head. “Mad.” Yan pursed his lips, but said nothing. Away to his right, Dharmaghosha was encouraging one of his six disciples to

expound on the famed Diamond Sutra (Buddhist spiritual verses). “Myself, I prefer Master Kumarajiva’s translations,” Yao Jian was saying. “Such poetry, such flow, and you just seem to understand everything better. “A phantom, a drop of dew, a flash of lightning. That is how to meditate on them, that is how to observe them. If that’s not setting out the very basics of enlightenment…”


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“I much prefer enlightenment through plenty of discussion,” announced Lin Sao. “If the observances of rituals are said to help even great souls…” Yan let the words wash over him in a soothing cadence, his mind flitting away from deep, spirituals thoughts to the landscape around him. Many had warned Yan that this was not really the prettiest of places. “It’s just a lot of rocks, boulders, scrubby bushes and straggly trees,” a Persian merchant had described.

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“I fear you will not like it – you, who are used to the wondrous peaks of China.” However, Yan’s impressions were markedly different. Having wandered through the beautiful forested Song Mountains, he could appreciate the stark bleakness of these lands; the wonderful, varied birdlife – the mysterious rocky outcrops that loomed against the sky seemed to possess a surreal, otherworldly beauty, a gentle song – all of which, of course, were studiously ignored by his companions.


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They were skirting a small, rocky hillock. Yan was just about to call their attention, when the two escort guards at the front stopped. The rest of the party did too, suddenly uneasy. Silence enveloped them. Not a bird stirred; the insects had stopped chirping, Yan felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise. Years as military assistant to Xiao Zilun, Prince of Baling, son of Emperor Wu of Southern Qi, had made him sharp. Something like the roar of the oceans reached them from a distance. Echoing off the hillocks. Closer and closer… The horses of the guards in front were rearing up, neighing, terrified. And then, Yan saw them. Wild dogs. Teeth bared. Snarling, slavering, spit dripping off their jaws. Eyes red and gleaming, mad with the scent of blood. He’d heard of these, hunting in packs, waylaying parties, ripping them apart... Oh, God! Chaos erupted. Horses neighed; humans screamed. The guards were clearly clueless. Another moment and the dogs would be almost upon them. “Yan!” shouted Lin Sao, terrified. “Do something!” There was no more time to waste; Yan turned to the Pallava prince by his side, silent all this while. “Get help,” Yan whispered to him. “I’ll hold them off as much as I can. Go – now!” The man smiled, revealing neat, white teeth. “Fear not, Wu of Liang,” he said in a smooth voice. And then, to Yan’s surprise and consternation, he spurred his horse forward, riding right up to the pack. The dogs would tear him into shreds! “What’s he doing?” Lin Sao whispered. “Good god, he really is mad!” Even Dharmaghosha looked petrified as they all cowered on the ground, their horses having shaken them off. Only Yan still remained seated on his horse – and thus had an excellent vantage point for what happened next. The Pallava prince climbed off his horse, brought his hands together, beginning a series of movements that were strangely rhythmic. Moving along his legs, stomach, shoulders…as though gathering, sweeping along, ushering in something. Yan found the man’s movements strangely hypnotic. Just like the dogs…that were not attacking. They pawed the ground, glaring at him, but they weren’t attacking. What the hell was happening? And then, the prince knelt on the ground. Oh, God. Yan really didn’t want to watch the man being ripped… Wait…what? The prince raised a hand. Held it to the dog’s face. Silence, for a long moment. Man and beast stared at each other. And

then, the dogs took a step back. And another. The next second, they had all raced back into the wilderness. Everyone stayed as thought turned to stone, unwilling to believe what had just happened. The Buddhist monk and his aides stood up, bewildered. The prince rose, and turned to look at them, a sardonic smile on his face. His eyes glinted in the afternoon sun. Like brilliant sapphires, Yan thought. “How?” Dharmaghosha whispered. “I opened my mind – and his,” The prince pointed to the now departed wild dog. “That was all.” And then, something even more incredible happened. Dharmaghosha took a few steps forward and prostrated at the prince’s feet. “Great one, teach me. Accept me as your disciple.” “What is it that you wish to learn?” “Whatever I must. I thought I knew everything – but obviously, I do not.” Everyone else followed Dharmaghosha, moved beyond words. Only Yan – still stupefied – stared at him, aghast. “Why did you call me Wu of Liang?” he blurted. “I am Yan Xiao.” The prince smiled. “Because, that is how you will receive me – in your royal court.” Slowly, Yan fell to his knees. “Forgive me for not treating you with the respect you deserve.” “You haven’t answered my question yet.” Yan blinked. “What do you think of the vast wastes of Thondai Mandalam?” A smile trembled on Yan’s lips. “They are now as dear to me as the forested slopes of the Shaolin in the Song Mountains.” Bodhidharma, erstwhile Pallava prince and future master of Zen Buddhism, smiled. “One day, I shall come to China, Wu of Liang. And yours will be the only royal court I enter.”

Facts from the Past Although mystery shrouds the history of the legendary Bodhidharma (5th century CE), it’s now accepted that the Indian prince introduced Chan, or Zen Buddhism to China, and the whole world. Some say that he is the father of Shaolin kung fu. It is also a fact that Bodhidharma avoided courts and royalty, with one exception – when he visited Emperor Wu, first of the Liang dynasty (464–549 CE), and held a Zen discourse with him, which has survived through the ages.


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April 2015

“The Joy of Motherhood” The story of Mrs. Priyanka Acharya and her unforgettable journey into motherhood. ĝe decision to change both your doctor and clinic in your seventh month of pregnancy is not an easy one to make. As an American who decided to stay put in Chennai for the delivery of my rst child, I had resigned myself to the fact that I would not be receiving the same quality of maternity care that is available in my homeland. I never thought the day would come where I'd be saying that my birthing experience in Chennai was far better than it would have been in America! In our rst meeting, my physician Dr. Kavya Krishnakumar gave me ample time and opportunity to discuss anything and everything. ĝe receptionists and nurses always greeted me with warm smiles, and every procedure was carried out gently and with full explanation. My doctor made herself completely accessible to me, so I never hesitated to reach out to her at any point during my last trimester. ĝe accommodations were luxurious, and the team of people present at that crucial hour felt like a group of old friends there for the sole purpose of supporting me. Post-delivery, the special food prepared for me was delicious as well as nourishing, and the visits from other doctors proved that Dr. Kavya is not an exception: all Motherhood doctors are thorough, patient, and reassuring. One piece of advice my mother gave me during my pregnancy was that I would want to look back on my birth experience as something pleasant and beautiful, making the setting a crucial factor. I feel so lucky that Motherhood came to Chennai just in time for the arrival of my son, and I thank their team for giving me the happy memory I will carry with me for life. Yours sincerely, Priyanka Acharya /motherhoodindia

HYDERABAD | BANGALORE | CHENNAI

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Indiranagar- #324, CMH Road, Ist Stage, Tel: +91 80 25190000 / 2520 2233/ 44 | Fax: +91 80 2520 3355 Sarjapur Road- #514 / 1-2-3, Kaikondara Village, Opp. Total Mall, Tel: 080 42666 000. Hebbal - # 2266/17 & 18, Service Road, G Block, Sahakara Nagar, International Airport Road, Tel: 080 4666 0000.

Road #12, Banjara Hills, Tel: 040 6733 9999. Clinic at Gachibowli, Tel: 040 6900 0370


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Calendar of events

April

Presenting the best of India’s events in different categories across Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and nearby suburbs

Art & Exhibitions

Handcrafted Ceramic exhibition Mumbai

Monographic art exhibition Chennai

Curators of Clay, a pottery and clay studio, presents an exhibition of handcrafted ceramic ware in a solo exhibition. The collection of utilitarian tableware at the exhibition has been crafted by potters Bhairavi Naik and Rohit Kulkarni, who own the studio. Every piece is handcrafted – they make the clay themselves, and have created their own palette of glazes – thus ensuring a truly bespoke ceramic experience. Plates, platters, bowls, casseroles, jugs – everything you needs to serve a good meal will be on display.

German artist Rosemarie Trockel will present an exhibition of her monographic art. Renowned for her work in international contemporary art, Rosemary works on traditional as well new visual media in ink, charcoal, pencil, collaged or computer drawings. The use of different mediums provides the viewer with an opportunity to form varied, personal connection to the art pieces presented.

Date: April 9 to 11 Venue: Artisans, 52-56, Dr.V.B Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda Time: 1100h to 1900h

Date: March 31 to April 30 Venue: Lalit Kala Akademi, Greams Road Time: 1000h to 1800h


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April 2015

Photography Exhibition Delhi

Events

American Photographer Craig Semetko is holding an exhibition of photographs that were taken during his three-month stay in India. Travelling around the country with no real agenda, the photographer found that his collection of pictures became a body of work, which was compiled in the book India Unposed. The exhibition, known by the same name, features these exquisite black and white photographs.

European Film Festival All India

Date: March 26 to April 18 Venue: Vadehra Art Gallery, Defence Colony Time: 1100h to 1900h

Art Exhibition Bengaluru NGMA Bengaluru will present its exhibition titled ‘Jamini Roy 1887-1972: Journey to the Roots’. Curated by Ella Datta, the event will showcase more than 200 works of art by renowned artist Jamini Roy. Sculptures, drawings and sketches are also part of this exhibition. Date: March 20 to April 30 Venue: National Gallery of Modern Art, Manickavel Mansion, Palace Road Time: 1000h to 1700h

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The 20th European Union Film Festival will be held across cities in India and will screen a collection of 20 award-winning, recent European films. With drama, romance, comedy, documentary and more in store, the festival has something for everyone. Movies such as The Age of the Cannibals (Zeit der Kannibalen) will be screened. Entry is on first-come, first-served basis, and the schedule is available at the Alliance Francaise branches and Goethe-Institut offices. Date: March 31 to August 1 Venue: Please contact the Alliance Francaise branches and Goethe-Institut offices in Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Coimbatore and Ahmedabad.

Music Concert Chennai The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra will present a Sibelius Evening with acclaimed conductor Sir Simon Rattle and violinist Leonidas Kavakos. Taking centre stage in this concert will be the Third and the Fourth Symphony, both representing a fusion of Nordic melos and trendsetting concepts. Adding a distinctive touch is a 30-minute interactive music appreciation and analysis, conducted by musician Anil Srinivasan. Date: April 4 Venue: Goethe-Institut Auditorium, Nungambakkam Time: 1830h


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World Dance Day Bengaluru

Film Festival Bengaluru

India’s largest single-day gathering of dancers will take place in Bengaluru on the occasion of World Dance Day. A full-day programme, it will feature 108 artistes, including musicians, gurus, teachers, designers and photographers. Books on dance and films will be shared and displayed at the venue. A seminar on ‘Dance Matters’ will bring together dancers and film makers discussing various issues related to dance in India.

The immensely popular show, which has been sold out for four years running, is back! The Short Sweet Ten Minute Theatre Festival will have 12 shows featuring 60 different groups from Bengaluru, Mumbai and Chennai. They will entertain you with comedies, dramas and thrillers – all in ten minutes. Each show will have 12 new plays each night!

Date: April 26 Venue: Alliance Francaise: Bengaluru, Thimmaiah Road, Vasanthnagar Time: 1000h onwards

English Theatre Mumbai A Perfect Couple is a black comedy, based on the relationship of two male friends who are divorced. A group of other friends visit them once a month to play poker – the comedy starts when they fight, tease and pass witty comments about their relationship. Things get truly crazy when two girls staying in the same building come over to visit them. Who wins the poker game? Who takes away the girls? Date: April 26 Venue: The Hive, Chuim Village Road, Khar (W) Time: 1930h

Date: April 5 to May 3 Venue: Alliance Francaise: Bengaluru, Thimmaiah Road, Vasanthnagar


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Festival of the month

Mahavir Jayanti April 2

The Palitana Temples in Gujarat are the among the holiest spots for Jains

Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated by the Jain community as the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavir – the 24th and last of the Tirthankars or Jain monks. Born in 599 BC as a prince in what is now the state of Bihar, Mahavir renounced the throne at a young age and became a monk. His ideology of ‘noninjury to all living beings’ forms the core principle of Jainism. While some regard him as the founder of Jainism, others view him as a reformer of the religion. Mahavir Jayanti is one of the most important festivals for the Jains, and is celebrated with fervour. Temples are decorated and the idol of Mahavir is taken out in processions, accompanied by followers chanting hymns. Sermons that reiterate his teachings are held. An important aspect of the festival is charity – undertaken in the form of alms to the poor or donations to cow shelters.

Lord Mahavir

To Visit: The Pawapuri shrine in Bihar, the birthplace of Mahavira, hosts grand celebrations for Mahavir Jayanti. The ancient Jain shrines of Mahavira in Rajasthan, Girnar and Palitana in Gujarat, and the Parasnath temple in Kolkata are some places where celebrations are held on a grand scale.


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Make It in India being launched by Ranjini Manian, John Parker, Joanne Grady Huskey and R. Seshasayee

At Global Adjustments by Team Culturama

20 and Counting Global Adjustments celebrated its 20th anniversary on March 6 in an elegant ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Chennai. The event, which included cocktails with clients and well-wishers, as well as the launch of Make it In India: Global CEOs, Indo-US Insights (which was authored by the company’s co-founders, Ranjini Manian and Joanne Huskey), was attended by a select group of top industry leaders, diplomats and sportspersons. The book launch was followed by a panel discussion on Indian and American business culture by Ranjini Manian, Joanne Huskey, John Parker (Former MD, Ford India; Retd EVP – Ford APAC and Africa) and R. Seshasayee (Executive Vice President, Hinduja Group). John Parker had helped Chennai become the automotive capital; he was Global Adjustments’ first client. When the panel opened up the discussion to the floor, participants raised questions about doing business between the two countries, cultural dos and don’ts and commonly misinterpreted actions. Key tips given included the need to keep an open mind to new experiences but keeping in touch with one’s roots, and learning more about the ‘other’. Ranjini Manian of India and Joanne Grady Huskey from the United States, who founded Global Adjustments – India’s premier relocations firm, believe that cultural intelligence is a key element in forming strong business relations. They asked 11 CEOs – from IBM to Facebook, and more – questions about coping with behavioural differences, and presented their advice in an easy-to-read format.

GRAB YOUR COPY NOW!

Buy the book from Amazon Paperback, US

Buy the book from Amazon Paperback, India

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“Our company, an American auto parts manufacturer, was one of the earliest clients of Global Adjustments. Ranjini Manian and Joanne Grady Huskey’s newly fledged cross-cultural firm helped us assure productive collaboration between our Indian and Western employees as we integrated the Indian plants into our international operations. I am pleased, but not surprised, to see the success of Global Adjustments.” – N.K. Mainland, HR Planning Manager – International (retired), Monroe Shox “Having been witness to the start in the 1990's with Ms Joanne Huskey it must have been an arduous but I am sure wonderful two decades to see the institution you both started, grow and develop into one with such a high profile and respected stature.” – Arun Bewoor, Former client, Bush Boake Allen “Congratulations on your 20th anniversary. That is definitely something to be proud of, especially knowing that you helped a lot of families adapting to the wonderful life in India.” – Nathalie Brantsma, Auckland, Former client, Hilton Group


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Violins, Voices & Values

Fashioned as a musical monologue, based on three prominent characters from the Mahabharat – Karna, Drona and Bhishma, Aikya 2015 was a delight for the senses and tonic for the soul. Entitled ‘Violins, Voices and Values’, the concert was centred on the need for a conscious appreciation of the greater good in all that we do. At the event, held on March 7 at The Music Academy in Chennai, Chief Guest Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar (Secretary, National Foundation for Communal Harmony) reiterated the cultural underpinnings of India’s heritage and history, and touched on the need for greater understanding of our (diverse) fellow Indians. Renowned violinists Ganesh and Kumaresh enthralled the audience with their musical interpretation of the theme. In a first-time collaboration, they were joined by eminent vocalists Bombay Jayashri and Sudha Raghunathan, who shared the stage as special guests. Beginning with a herald of the three great heroes, the concert touched on the concept of dharma or righteous living, and ended with an appreciation of how compassion is the key to a life well lived. The last song, ‘Govind Bolo’, reiterated that all paths to God are forged out of love, and that we are all one. (Watch this song at www.youtube.com/user/globaladjustments.) To mark the theme of oneness and harmony, Global Adjustments produced a coffee table book, ‘29 Indias: One Nation’, and a song titled ‘Indian States Anthem’, which were released on this occassion. For more details, refer to the column below the Editor’s letter on Page 3.

We thank our partners:

I convey my earnest and profound compliments and commendation to you for the remarkable work you are doing to promote unity, oneness, mutual respect, harmony and greater understanding and cooperation between different communities, religions and countries. – Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, Secretary, National Foundation for Communal Harmony “The stage was simply spectacular And a hush fell on all of us when the curtains opened for Aikya. The music was wonderful and the concert most touching in its theme.” – Joanne Grady Huskey, Co-founder of Global Adjustments and Founder of iLIVE2LEAD “Splendid! As always each detail worked out. Top marks for Stage set. Bless u and entire team.” – Rochelle Shah “The program was awesome. We thoroughly enjoyed it! Our culture in music form rocked!” – Aruna and Viswanath Anand (Viswanath Anand is former World Chess Champion and Indian Chess Grandmaster) @RanjiniManian @ thekiranbedi @RajkumarHirani Amazing! The artist is extraordinary & concept lovely. Celebrate India! – Shashi Tharoor, author and Member of Parliament


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The Lighter Side by Marina Marangos

CoWnter-intuitive Situations

Photo: Donald Shortman, UK


culturama

The peacock is the national birds of India. The cow is the national animal by people’s choice. Both are protected and considered special, if not sacred; and if there is anything you should be aware of, as an expat coming to live in India, it is that cows are truly a breed apart and that you must not, under any circumstances, hurt them or be nasty to them or do anything that might endanger their existence. There is a reason I am telling you this, but you will have to read to the end to find out why. Some of the background to this sacred animal might help you understand the issues. So, if you come across a book called Holy Cow by Sarah MacDonald, you will understand why she chose that title to describe her life and experiences in India. They are, without doubt, ubiquitous and holy at the same time. In a nutshell, the cow offers so much that it may never be killed. There are even places where old cows can be taken to be looked after and I have come across a sick cow in the road, covered with a blanket, with food left at its head. The cow’s products – milk, curd, ghee, butter, urine and dung – are all vital to Indian homes and often feature in their pujas. They are mentioned in the Rig Veda, are part of Indian mythology, and often appear in artwork or carved in temples. Even the word cow is a permutation of the Sanskrit word ‘gau’. So, for all its years on the Indian subcontinent, this animal has been universally protected and looked after. There is even a festival for it called Gopastami, which is essentially a holiday for cows. They get to have a bath, get all dressed up, and, if they have horns, choose a really bright colour for them (a bit like having your nails done, except there aren’t so many to get through). The Nandi bull is often seen in temples and perhaps the best example of it is to be found in South India, which I have had the privilege of visiting. With the rise of cities and motorways it is not uncommon, indeed quite common, to be hurtling down the motorway at considerable speed only to come to a grinding halt to allow a cow to amble across the four lanes at its pace. Can you imagine how it would have been if the tiger had been afforded as much protection? Certainly its numbers would have been healthier – but, somehow, I could not see it befriended by the general public. So cows take over and they do so with no compunction or guilt or any fear of punishment or chastisement. One columnist asked the question: “What is the greatest traffic hazard in Delhi today? Cows.”

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“THE Cow IS the national animal by people’s choice. They are protected and considered special if not sacred. However, While we have to be very mindful of not hurting the cows, no one warns you that you have to be mindful of cows who might just decide that you are game for the day.” Bibek Debroy, a columnist for India’s Financial Express, wrote: “As our national animal, the tiger may be close to extinction. But the cow is very much around and may soon become our new national animal.” To solve the problem, Debroy offered a tongue-in-cheek solution. “Let them have reflectors and, if not license plates, at least identity cards. Only genuine Delhi cows should be eligible for social security and other benefits.” When the Commonwealth Games were held in Delhi, it was rumoured that 75,000 cows were relocated from the city. It would seem that some of them have found their way back and continue to lead their quiet lives. Except, that is, when they encounter an animal that they are curious about and which they don’t readily recognise – such as my dog. On a walk together, we came across a large group of cows. My dog, being a bigger coward then the cows, emitted some pathetic yelps, which immediately attracted the cows’ curiosity. There clearly wasn’t much excitement in the field they were in that day. The next thing we know, they are closing in on us, curious to meet this little creature, which was increasingly feeling a bit hemmed in. Before we knew it, they were chasing us both down the lane, with me frantically beating a retreat, waving my stick in the air in an effort to stop them in their tracks. I survived to tell the tale, and the dog gave cows a wide berth thereafter. So, while we have to be very mindful of not hurting the cows, no one warns you that you have to be mindful of cows who might just decide that you are game for the day.


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Welcome home: Cows are revered in India for several reasons – principal among which is the fact that, in Hindu mythology, the cow is regarded as a holy animal, in whose body all Gods are said to reside. Little wonder then that cows get free access to homes – with householders ready to feed them as well! Photo: Lair Showalte

Picture Story by Team Culturama

of bovine ilk

Ogden Nash, The poet, once said, ‘The Cow is of bovine ilk; one end is moo, the other is milk’. In India, the cow is not just bovine, but divine too. From the fields to temples to homes, see the many roles the cow plays in this country


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Moo(w) Away! This gardener has developed a resourceful way to make his job of mowing the lawn easier. The bulls yoked to the grass cutter pull along the man and his machine across the lawn in an effortless lawn mowing process! The bull is worshipped as Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva in India. Photo: Khahn Hoang, USA

It’s Lonely at the Top: These stucco figures adorn the roof one of the sub-shrines within the 7th century Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Mylapore, Chennai. Hindu temples are primarily palaces for the god, whose embodiment is worshipped at the heart of the complex. Kapaleeshwarar is a Shiva temple, represented here by figures of Nandi the bull, Shiva’s vehicle, flanking a guardian deity.

Party Animal: No doubt, this technicolor cow – with its jazzy sun glasses – is the life of the party! Photo: Enric Donate Sanchez, Spain

Photo: Tanja Brixblaich

The Soothsayer: The gaily decorated cow (or bull), known as the gauri gai in North India, and boom boom maadu in South India, is trained to nod its head when a drum is beaten. The owner asks questions such as ‘Will this girl marry a rich man?’ He beats the drum and the cow nods with a vigorous ‘Yes! Yes!’ Photo: Laurence Pont

Fuel Power: In rural India, the cow is looked upon as a giver of milk, tiller of the soil and as the source of dung, which is stored as a precious fertiliser. The dung cakes also double up as the key ingredient to the havan or holy fire. Photo: Carlo Sem, Italy


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Seeing India by Jennifer Mullen

Of Paddy Fields A mother of two takes her young kids on a trip across the south – in an attempt to explore new places in India, and to expose her children to religious, biological and geographical diversity When I became a mum, I resigned myself to the fact that my well-worn backpack would gather dust in the cupboard and any travelling would now be done vicariously through Peppa Pig’s big yellow campervan. When we made the life-changing decision to move to India, the dream of exploring dusty ancient cities and having picnics next to serene paddy fields suddenly seemed like a genuine possibility. For most expats moving to Chennai with young children, a good tip is to start off on small, slightly cautious day and weekend trips, such as Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry and Kanchipuram. We quickly realised that our small children would squeal with delight as they were propelled round a strange new town by auto and were not intimidated by endless hands squeezing their soft pink cheeks. With this new confidence under our belt, the idea of undertaking a coast-tocoast road trip to Kerala began to take shape. When I first approached our travel agent, he seemed rather surprised that we wanted to go by road, as opposed to by air. I explained that, for us, the essence of a road trip is not the destination, but the journey. Many people say that India is like a giant jigsaw puzzle of many different interlocking countries – therefore, I wanted to peek into the nooks and crannies where the edges of these pieces meet.


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Photo: All photos by the author

and Campervans


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The plan was quickly put into place: 900 km, one Tempo Traveller van, a driver, two enthusiastic visitors from Europe (who were not fazed by the prospect of being trapped in a bus with two children aged three and five), plus our family of four. The route would cover Chennai to Pondicherry, Madurai, Munnar, Alleppey and, finally, Kochi – over a period of 10 days. Of course, shunting small children across the breadth of India, you need to put into place a detailed preparation plan – one that would be the envy of a Mumbai dabbawala. We decided to travel on alternate days and had a kit of emergency buckets, snacks, pills and potions, as well as audiobooks and music playlists to alleviate potential boredom. When people ask how you manage your children on long journeys and you mention giving them tablets, it is quite amusing to watch them wonder if you are talking about electronic or the medicinal kind. In this case, Angry Birds and Roald Dahl stories meant that the adults had hours of uninterrupted travel time, gazing out over fields of sugarcane, okra and coconut plantations. When planning any road trip in India, a key element is getting good advice about distances, as the quality of the

roads can vary enormously. We were slightly concerned about the Pondicherry to Madurai journey, which, being 335 km, looks like a long stretch. The reality was only about five hours of top quality, dual carriageways, lined by banana plantations and small, bustling towns. It was also clear we were en route to a very sacred place, given the number of pilgrims dressed in black, staff in hand, striding barefoot towards Madurai. The journey from Madurai to Munnar looked like a trivial 153 km hop on Google Maps; however, owing to the NH49 snaking as dramatically as a spitting cobra, with around 17 sharp hairpin bends, as it climbs over the majestic Western Ghats, this day was more like eight hours. Given the lack of footpaths and open spaces in big Indian cities, it is also important to make sure that young children get ample time to run around and burn off energy after long travel days, to prevent them bouncing off the walls of your hotel. Fortunately, in places such as Madurai, the lofty open spaces of some of the main tourist attractions do provide ample leg stretching opportunities. On entering the illuminated labyrinth of the halls in the Sri Meenakshi Temple, it feels like you are in a vast, subterranean film set. The engineering prowess and artistic


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ability of the ancient south Indian craftsmen are truly remarkable – much more so, given the importance and relevance that this temple still holds nowadays. We chatted briefly to some Madurai locals in the Thousand Pillar Hall – they said that their regular family time involves just coming here every Saturday night as a group. We also saw excited clusters of worshippers striding purposefully through the halls, as if magnetically pulled towards their final destination. In a bizarre way, it reminded me of the excitement and jostling of crowds at the opening of the January sales back home. Likewise, the Indo-Saracenic architecture of the Thirumalai Nayak Palace, although slightly worn and shabby, is still breathtaking. Constructed in 1635 by King Thirumalai Nayak, using an Italian architect, the enormous yard is framed by towering pillars and elaborate arches, which, in turn, reveal huge ceiling paintings. If there was ever a place to master the 360-degree panorama shot on your camera, this is it! Madurai also has some incredible hilltop temples. One such structure, the Thirupparankunram Temple, is perched on top of a spectacular granite hill. To reach the summit, one must climb the 800 or so red-and-white chequered steps, which are framed at ascending heights with mandapam-like structures, crowned with intricately coloured carvings. From the top, we could feel the electricity in the air, as large storm clouds rapidly approached and the earthy smell of rain radiated from the rock face. As the rain poured down on our plucky Tempo Traveller on the way back into Madurai, the waterlogged roads and whole world around us was transformed into a deep shade of taupe. One of the highlights of the trip was exploring the emerald green tea plantations of Munnar – a place so quaint and idyllic it almost feels like an outpost of Middle Earth. We hadn’t expected that taking two small blonde children into a tea plantation would cause such a stir, but we are enthusiastically greeted by many of the female workers, who discarded their shears, to come and say ‘vanakkam’. Needless to say, the rather peeved foreman in his long socks and uniform from a bygone era scolded us for distracting the workers, but we only smirked at the determination of the workers to take a break from their laborious day to holding our offspring, who would have felt light as a feather when compared to the 35 kg of tea leaf bundles they carry on their heads. In contrast to the mist cloaked hill stations around Munnar, the maze of backwaters around Alleppey feels like a

completely different state. One of the most memorable things about Kerala is how it sounds around 5 pm in the afternoon. Kerala at dusk has a slow heartbeat, as the hollow sounds of the traditional chenda drums roll across the water. The wind rustles and stirs the palm trees, as it would the folds of a silk sari, and, from the vast expanses of floating vegetation that drift like mini continents, there is the cacophony of birds. Note: You will need to stop your children chattering as you bank this memory, or your recollections will be more like the raucous sounds coming from one of the many duck farms you cruise by on the house boat. Although our children are still young and may not remember the thick aroma of exhaust pipes and sandalwood of Madurai, or the white icing sugar facades of churches perched on the river banks of Kerala, we hope that it will have planted a sense of curiosity about the world in their minds. They have now seen where many types of food come from first hand and will have observed religious, biological and geographical diversity.


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Give to India by Shefali Ganesh

The Animal Havens A temple that doubles up as a bird hospital, a sanctuary for cows – there is even one for donkeys! In India, all animals are seen as divine in their own right, and we look at three animal sanctuaries that embody this sentiment Renowned Indian saint Ramana Maharishi loved animals and they, in turn, loved him. Wild animals like snakes often entered his ashram – in fact, a snake is said to have looked into the eyes of the saint, stopped and then retreated. Compassion towards animals, as they are God’s creations, is something that Ramana Maharishi often taught. This principle is espoused by several spiritual leaders, and is followed by many Indians in daily life. Such is the compassion towards animals in India, that it is common to see a homeless person share his last roti with his pet dog or cat. Cows abound on the road, appearing to be homeless – however, look carefully, and you might find a tilak (holy red powder) on its forehead, showing that someone has recently fed it and worshipped it. The Indian practice of eating traditional meals on banana leaves is not just being eco-friendly, but is also a source of food for the cow. While individuals have their own way of showing love and respect for the animals around them, there are organisations that put together goodwill and resources to do all they can for homeless animals as well. We have spotted three such organisations that help provide a home for helpless animals.

Photo: Mollie Davids

The Madras Pinjrapole is a charitable trust in Chennai, capital of Tamil Nadu, which has been providing shelter to homeless cows since 1906. The trust, which was started in the memory of Chathur Boojasoss Kushaldoss, a Gujarati merchant, is the oldest and largest such shelter in the city. The word ‘pinjrapole’ means ‘cow shelter’ in Gujarati. The shelter has around 2,000 cows in its premises and was recently renovated to support the animals during the fiercely hot summer months. The trust is supported by donations – the monies thus received are used to feed the cattle, and arrange for free medical camps for animals on Sundays. The Madras Pinjrapole is located at Konnur High Road, Ayanavaram, Chennai. Call +91-44-26620360 for more details.


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tamil nadu Let your spirituality soar The Donkey Sanctuary in Leh, Ladakh is a ‘home for homeless donkeys’. The sanctuary was born out of a casual conversation that South African journalist Joanne Lefson had with her tour guide, Stany Wangchuk on the number of stray donkeys in Ladakh. The traditional beasts of burden donkeys were replaced by automation and the number of strays on the roads increased. In 2007, Joanne and Stany found the right place to start the sanctuary and there has been no looking back since then. The donkey sanctuary stands out with its bright coloured walls, and Joanne’s funny cartoons of the donkey. Donkeys can be adopted or funds can be donated towards the requirements of the sanctuary. The Donkey Sanctuary is at Korean Temple Road, Khakshal Village, Leh, Ladakh. Email stany.wangchuk@gmail.com or joannelefson@iafrica.com for more details.

In the crowded Chandni Chowk area of the capital city Delhi is an ancient Jain temple that is popularly known as Lal Mandir or ‘red temple’. The Digambar Jain Lal Mandir is known not just for its intricate architecture but also for the Birds Hospital that is run in its premises. This charitable arm of the temple was started in 1956, as an extension of the Jain principle of ‘non-injury to living objects’. The hospital gives free treatment for birds, squirrels and also provides shelter to wounded birds. As an exception, birds of prey are not sheltered here, but are given treatment, as they are not vegetarian. The Birds Hospital is located opposite the Red Fort, Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi.

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Photo: Juan Pablo, Mexican

Myth and Mythology by Devdutt Pattanaik

Animal Matters

Nature does not value the predator more than the prey – It is the human eye that makes some animals villains and some animals victims


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Nature does not value the predator more than the prey. It is the human eye that makes some animals villains and some animals victims Have you noticed that Shiva rides a bull and Parvati a tiger? In nature, tigers eat bulls. Have you noticed around Ganesha a snake and a mouse? In nature, snakes eat mice. Have you noticed that Vishnu is associated with an eagle and a serpent? In nature, eagles eat serpents, and serpents feed on eagle eggs. The artist who created these images was clearly aware of this. She/he used this imagery deliberately to communicate something about the role of the divine in nature’s food chain. Who does God care for – the predator or the prey? In mythologies around the world, the phrase ‘The tiger and goat are friends’ and ‘Where lion shall lay with the lamb’ refers to heaven, where there is no predator or prey. In stories, the predator is often portrayed as the villain and the prey is the victim. A hunting pack of wolves is equated with bands of marauders, while a herd of deer is equated with a group of frightened villagers. We are conditioned to think ill of the creature with fangs and claws. We are conditioned to feel sorry for the herbivore and rage against the carnivore. Is that because the predator frightens us? Is that because blood repels us? Zoologists have observed that in forests where apex predators like tigers and wolves have been killed, the population of deer rises dramatically, which results in destruction of vegetation as a result of over-grazing which, in turn, impacts water bodies like rivers and ponds, and even rainfall. When the apex predator was reintroduced, as in the case of wolves in Yellow Stone National Park in the United States, frightened deer restricted their movements, and this led to vegetation growing unhindered in

some areas. This had a huge impact on the fauna, steadied the soil and impacted the flow of the river. In nature, all animals matter. The strong eats, the weak get eaten. Both contribute to the ecosystem. Nature does not value the predator more than the prey. Each one has been given strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats, to enable survival. It is the human eye that makes some animals villains and some animals victims. Take the case of sheep and wolves. Taking care of sheep makes economic sense; they are also easy to breed. Wolves eat sheep and are wild, refusing to be domesticated. Naturally, it is easy to see sheep as embodiments of goodness and wolves as embodiments of evil. Such artificial qualification of animals, based on human needs, has led to animals like bats and snakes being ruthlessly hunted because they are deemed ‘unholy’. In India, the holiness of the cow has made it a political issue. In Israel and Arabia, the unholiness of the pig has made it a political issue. In nature, flesh is neither holy nor unholy. It is just flesh. This is acknowledged in yoga texts. Food is anna and flesh is anna-kosha in which the atma (soul) resides. We eat food and that food contributes to flesh. What is flesh for us is food for another beast. In nature’s eye, saint or sinner, we are simply another creature’s food.

Published on 18th January, 2015 in Mid-Day. Reprinted with permission from www.devdutt.com


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5 Join Us Every Saturday India Immersion Centre in Chennai facilitates a weekly spiritual fellowship group following Easwaran’s Eight Point Programme of Meditation. E-mail us for more information at globalindian@globaladjustments.com. If you are in other cities, visit www.easwaran.org for e-satsangs.

Holistic living by Eknath Easwaran

Taming the self Learning to put your attention on a leash can create an alert, invaluable companion and prevent disruption in human relationships as well

Photo: Melissa Freitas, Brazil


Attention is very much like a dog. Some years ago, my friend Steve acquired a large, affectionate and utterly blithe-spirited retriever pup whom his son named ‘Ganesha’. Ganesha had a lot of energy, and he had never been trained – he was accustomed to doing whatever he liked. If you put him in the yard, he would dig under the fence. Leave him in the bedroom and he would chew up your slippers. Take him for a walk and in a minute he would be halfway across a field chasing a deer. So Steve started to train him. For a while, I thought it was the other way around – Ganesha would bark and then Steve would run after him. But now, after a lot of patient practice, Ganesha has learnt to heel and to expend his energy on a fast run at the beach instead of on bedroom slippers. Attention can be trained in a very similar way. At first, it wanders restlessly all over, looking into everything and everybody. But, if we put it on a short leash and recall it many, many times, the great day will come when it will heel and obey. Then it becomes an alert, invaluable companion – very much like a well-trained sheepdog, which I have seen follow all kinds of complicated instructions. Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that there is no limit to the degree to which attention can be trained. That is how responsive it is. Almost every disruption in human relationships – between parent and child, man and woman, friend and friend, worker and co-worker – can be prevented by learning control over attention; for with attention comes loyalty, interest, desire, trust. I can illustrate with the most fascinating of relationships: the romantic. Suppose Romeo and Juliet had turned out differently, and the two lovers had married and settled down to a normal domestic life. After a few years, as sometimes happens, Romeo’s attention gets restless and Juliet loses her attraction. Once the very sight of her made him think of flowers and bubbling brooks and the ‘light, sweet airs of spring’; now she just reminds him of the laundry and his morning espresso. Once he used to hang on her every word;

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Photo: Roopak Verma, USA

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now he answers everything with ‘Fine’ and ‘Have a nice day’. After a while his attention falls on Rosaline, his old flame. Now she reminds him of flowers and brooks; his attention grabs on to her and will not let go. If he could read what most of us read today, the advice he would get is, ‘Follow your desires. That is where happiness will be’. But that is precisely where unhappiness will be. If Romeo’s attention cannot stay with Juliet, how is it going to stay with Rosaline? After all, Juliet is the same Juliet, no less attractive than before. But Romeo is also the same Romeo. If he cannot get control over his attention, happiness can only get farther and farther away. The moment you hear the brook babbling and start thinking about spring, withdraw your attention completely from Rosaline and focus it on Juliet. With practice, we can focus our attention by choice just as intensely as it is focused by first love. Then Romeo will find that every day with Juliet is as sweet as the first. Every morning he will be able to exclaim with fresh wonder, ‘It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!’ And the love between them will grow deeper and richer every day. As Teresa of Avila says, ‘Amor saca amor’ – love draws out love.

Reprinted with permission from ‘Spiritual Revolution’, an article by Eknath Easwaran from The Blue Mountain Journal. Copyright The Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, P.O. Box 256, Tomales, CA 94971, www.easwaran.org. (Extract from http://www.easwaran.org/learning-to-love-blue-mountain.html)


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At Home by Anita Krishnaswamy

Fire Power Given its ability to burn away negative energies and purify all that it comes in contact with, fire has several benefits that can be harnessed for the well-being of the home and family

the house. It is associated with productivity, vitality and digestion, and can help improve the health and well-being of the inmates of the house. Here are some tips to help harness the power of fire in your home: -

The energy that flows around us is a part of the larger balance of the cosmos. Our homes can be seen as a miniature model of the cosmos. The five main elements of nature – fire, earth, wind, space and water – have their rightful place in the cosmic scheme. Represented by the deity Agni in Hindu tradition, fire is said to be a purifier of all elements. During many Hindu rituals, a havan or holy fire is created, into which offerings (such as ghee, grains and cloth) are put in. It is believed that the holy fire acts as a channel by which they are sent to the Gods and ancestors. Parsis (members of the Zoroastrian community in South Asia) consider fire to represent the presence of God, and their temples have a fire that is kept burning at all hours. As a flame can dispel darkness and spread light, they regard this as a metaphor for the light of wisdom that banishes the darkness of ignorance. Thus, fire can be used to minimise the effect of negative energies and create space for positive energies to flow around

Photo: J.D. Lenoir, France

In Vaastu Shastra, the southeast is said to be the ‘home’ of the fire element, while the northwest is for air. Given the interconnectedness of both elements, both directions are conducive to the placements of all things that represent the qualities of fire (heat and light). Gadgets and appliances such as stoves, fireplaces, open cooking appliances, lamps and heaters should be placed in the southeast or northwest corners of the house.

- You could light up some earthen oil lamps or camphor in the morning and evening in these corners. Burning of incense sticks is also beneficial for the house. Those who do not like the typically strong fragrances of Indian incense sticks can look for milder versions with lavender or other herbs. -

Ensure the southeast corner of the house is not cluttered, and does not house a water body like an aquarium or fountain. Cushions, paintings or other home accessories in shades of orange, yellow and red could be kept in this corner.


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Culturama April 2015  
Culturama April 2015  

Holy cow! Did you just spot the unique cover of the April issue of Culturama? Yes! That is a cow peeping out from a house! This special issu...

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