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Aditya’s journey – from Prabas Patan to Kasheli

Surya from Nuggehalli temple 
Today is Ratha Saptami, I miss the related festivities at Kanchipuram. This year, I have had a “discovery” as precious as the “Dwadasa Adityas” in Varanasi last year. The Kanakaditya Mandir at Kasheli, near Ratnagiri in Maharashtra. I was at Ratnagiri recently and was so thrilled that we were going to a Mandir that houses a deity who had “fled” Gujarat during the persecution somewhere in 13th century. Somehow no one in the trip with me was even discussing the temple, and we went to a pre-historic site which was the main agenda of the trip, but we didn’t go anywhere near the temple. I was disappointed. I thought I would go as soon as I can – then I came across a write up that said starting Rata Saptami they have a week-long festival including a rath festival on the Ratha Saptami day. I quickly checked train tickets, thought will make a day trip and visit the temple on Ratha Saptami to have darshan of Surya. But, train tickets …
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Eminent professors and their hypocrisy

From politicians to Bollywood stars, many are at the forefront of their support to Jawaharlal Nehru University protestors. Beyond that the loud voices criticizing the government over the attack by masked men at the University are three eminent professors – Ramchandra Guha, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, and Raghuram Rajan. Being teachers in renowned universities they should know it better.

Violence at any educational institution is despicable. So is it in JNU. Was the masked attack by men on students, teachers, and destruction of property the first instance of violence?
Prof Guha, Mehta, who was till recently a vice chancellor at Ashoka University, and Rajan Finance Professor at Chicago University and also a founder of a new university in India, Krea, should know very well that the violence did not begin with the attack by masked men.
The first violent protests happened against the fee hike at the JNU. See here a snapshot from the recent Indian Express article on the JNU fee hike.

Those prote…

Adi Keshav to Pakistani Mahadev

A morning to remember from Kashi 

I felt like an original explorer that morning. I missed getting out by sunrise as I had planned. But, being a winter morning, it was still not too sunny when I ventured out at 8, and the streets were just getting a little busy in Varanasi. I got into an electric auto rickshaw and asked for Adi Keshav mandir. The driver drew a blank, and then I told him Raj Ghat. Still, he wasn’t too convinced. I opened up the GPS and told him to head straight towards Raj Ghat. I knew the best way would have been to go to Assi Ghat and take a boat ride rather than rough it out on Kashi’s streets. Just laziness or my dizziness in looking down into water while getting a boat, I avoided it. It was a pretty long ride, and once close to the right turn towards Raj Ghat we asked for Adi Keshav mandir and got directions. The GPS took us straight up to the lane inside where the temple is tucked in clearly.





We crossed the archaeological ruins of the old Kashi, what is considered…

Temple Art and Architecture under the Chalukyas of Badami (6th-8th century CE) - Part I

“The temple is the concrete shape (murti) of the Essence; as such it is the residence and vesture of God. The masonry is the sheath (kosa) and body. The temple is the monument of manifestation. The devotee who comes to the temple, to look at it, does so as a seer, not as a spectator” – Stella Kramrisch



The Early Chalukyan or the Badami, Western Chalukyan cave and temple architecture has been a subject of deep and long drawn research since the times of James Fergusson. Yet in the popular discourse and historical narratives the development in the South gets overshadowed by the study of either the glorious Gupta art in the North or the magnificent caves of Western India.
The Early Chalukyan temple territory is small if we consider the core of their construction in the Malaprabha valley (Mahakuta, Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal set in a 25 kilometers long Malaprabha river valley) in the present day northern Karnataka, though their overall footprint was large, spread across up to Alampur in pr…

Movies Without Popcorns

July 27, 2015
Yesterday’s expedition to watch Bahubali at a theatre unknown to me all these days brought back memories of all the strange movie going / watching experiences one has had over the years. From the time I can remember I have been watching movies – despite being an orthodox family, my father, his mother and her sister were all great movie buffs.
It was very selective, the kind of movies we would be taken to as kids. Grandmother had taken us as elementary school kids to watch some of the Russian circus movies, African Safari and likes. She was my long time movie watching buddy.
Sridhar was a preferred director, of course of the era when I started watching movies, while there mixed reactions to K.B at home. Dad hated Bharatiraja, in fact the only time I remember he lost his cool on me for watching a movie was when I accompanied someone to watch Kizhakke Pogum Rail for a second time. He watched Sigappu Rojakkal with his friend at Kutralam and that sealed his dislike for Bhara…

CE 2019: Athi Varadar Returns

Ineffable mass of grace
who dwells on the peak of Elephant Hill,
dark blue flame in the altar
of the Lotus-Born's horse sacrifice
wish-granting tree hugged by a slender creeper,
the milk ocean's daughter:
May he make us prosper! (Verse from Varadaraja Pancasat of  Swami Vedanta Desikan translated by Steven Paul Hopkins) 
The year 2019 is eventful for the devotees of Kanchi Perarulalan. Athi Varadar Vaibhavam, the darshan of original deity who resides inside the Ananta Saras Pushkarini happens once in 40-years, and 2019 July  – August  is going to be when He will be giving His darshan again. By the time you read perhaps the Darshan would have started. Those of us who have had His darshan in 1979 remember the devotion and excitement, and wait with same devotion now. But, for those of us who were too young to understand the history and circumstances of His Jala Sayanam, 2019 is different. The eagerness to see Him, to dwell into His Mahatmiyam is difficult to express.
The Varadaraja Swam…

Shyaamalaam Saralaam Susmitaam Bhuushitaam

Silent revolutionaries - Sowbhagyalakshmi Srirama Bharati
It was May 2017, and that trip to Chennai was not just a routine stopover on the way to Kanchipuram. In April I had won the Justice Telang Fellowship in Indology - with just no more than a love for Alwars and their verses and a deep interest in traditional performing arts I had chosen the topic 'Araiyar Cevai - Millennial Retrospective'. I didn't know where to begin. Someone told me Kalakshetra had archived 'Araiyar Cevai' and I thought I will begin there.
That is when a friend told me how she was part of the team that worked on that archiving, archiving works of Srirama Bharati, the man who took Araiyar Cevai from its traditional practitioners and setting to a secular stage. I had heard about his moving, devotion soaked Cevai but just around the time I got to know about him he passed away. Too young and too early - in 2000 when he was just 50. In May ‘17 when I searched for his videos online I stumbled u…