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Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.
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Posted: September 10, 2009
About 20 years ago, at the age of 40, I did not know the effective meaning of deity. Though I was a strong believer in God, I did not have practice of any ritual in my life, even to the extent of lighting incense in spite of meditating very regularly and doing pranayams. I had a liking for Sanskrit chants though I do not understand the language. From a music store once by chance I happened to purchase a cassette on Vishnu Sahashtranama, not knowing what it really meant. I liked it to a great extent and played it for a couple of hours every morning for a very long period of time.
About 17 years ago I was making up my new house having employed an architect. A little before it came to finishing stage, I visited a crafts exhibition in which my supplier had brought a large collection of bronze statues of god and goddesses. Since my main business was exporting handicrafts I had developed a passion for them and had decided to have some for interior of my new house. I did not know which god to select as interior décor of my house. I selected one which had the best craftsmanship according to my choice, not recognizing his title or name. Since the house was not yet done, the architect put it in an ideal place with very ideal layout in my living room. Before I started to meditate every morning at 4 am I would go to this statue and remain silent before it for a few moments. Those few moments involuntarily gradually turned to minutes and then to many more minutes. During the process I often went into strange acts which were not in my conscious control. Once for 3 days in a row my right hand would form circles around the statue. On the third day some thing in me told me that I should be lighting incense. I used to export a lot of incense and used to gift them to relatives for their daily use but had never lighted one both at home and in office in my life until then. Now I started to use them and came to the statue with a couple of them lighted in my hand. I started hand movements of various types probably forming symbols of which one has prominently remained in my life till date. They would be circles in clock wise as well as anti clock wise direction. I began conversing with the statue. I started breathing along with him. The breathing link would stop when I raised any doubt about this happening in my mind. Upon mental questioning, he would inhale when I exhaled and he would exhale when I inhaled! I couldn’t be convinced more about the power that be.
Hindu males got to be having 6 strings of cotton thread across their body dropping from left shoulder what we call ‘janiyu’. (It is 3 strings for a bachelor). It is put on after an important ceremony performed between the age of 7 and 11. As we grow with more of our own sense, we discard it! With advent of time there are many who do not go through the ritual but the priest at the time of marriage performs a short ritual of it before the actual ceremony of marriage. I was the one who had discarded it. This statue made me come back to it. By way of my involuntary actions, I would draw thumb lines in cross direction on my body in which janiyu got to be worn. After a couple of days of this action, something in me told that I should re-start using the janiyu. Thereafter, I have had many experiences of energy work with my janiyu as a tool. I happened to share my experiences with one of my good knowledgeable friends. He came to see the statue and recognized it as that of Lord Vishnu the sustainer of universe! Lord Rama is one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu and my name Ramesh means worshiper of Ram. I now came to know my deity and came in practical touch with Him. Every morning there were new acts filled with different experiences until one day He shown bright illuminating light for a very long time during which I wept profusely all the time telling Him do I really deserve this form of His. At that hour there is no lighting in the living room except for a small halogen bulb above the statue.
This is one of my most memorable experiences of life. It taught me few lessons.
One is that life opens up upon right time without actually planning for it. Just being and respecting the moment is good enough to take one along the journey destined for. You couldn’t be running faster to reach. Each day is a step towards our destiny.
Having played the cassette of Vishnu Sahashtranama continuously for hours daily for a few years I was taken towards my deity Lord Vishnu. Even if I did not understand the meaning of those words or sounds they helped me reach Him. We come across advisers throughout our lives.
Advisors could be teachers but not guides. Each one of us has his own path for the journey. Nobody except your inner self could guide you on the path only if you follow your inner voice silently without even bringing to your notice that you are following your inner voice.
All From India – Good Food & Sacred Music
Posted: June 4, 2009
I dedicate this post to these wonderful people - my new friend from India, Ramesh and his lovely wife and family. Ramesh has shown me the warmth and kind nature of the Indian people. I also dedicate this post to my dear friend Johnny Naugle, an Atlanta peace advocate with a great appreciation for Indian culture and the works of Gandhi. Several months ago my friend Johnny introduced me to Snatam Kaur. I knew she sang sacred music from India and I liked the peaceful emotions her music evoked. That was about it. When we learned she was on tour and Atlanta was a concert destination, it seemed appropriate that Johnny and I attend. I had no idea that I was in for an experience of a lifetime.
I dedicate this post to these wonderful people - my new friend from India, Ramesh and his lovely wife and family. Ramesh has shown me the warmth and kind nature of the Indian people. I also dedicate this post to my dear friend Johnny Naugle, an Atlanta peace advocate with a great appreciation for Indian culture and the works of Gandhi.
Several months ago my friend Johnny introduced me to Snatam Kaur. I knew she sang sacred music from India and I liked the peaceful emotions her music evoked. That was about it. When we learned she was on tour and Atlanta was a concert destination, it seemed appropriate that Johnny and I attend. I had no idea that I was in for an experience of a lifetime.
Our evening stared with dinner at a local Indian restaurant, Planet Bombay. The owners and staff provided an authentic experience from décor to cuisine. I enjoyed Vegetables Biriyani and Johnny had Tofu Tikka Massala. One taste of the yogart and tandoori spice sauce on Johnny’s entrée and I almost took it away from him. I didn’t; I behaved. But I am going back for this dish – all for myself.
The concert (I use this word loosely) was held at a local yoga institute. The performance room seemed large enough until hundreds of people arrived – most sitting on the floor in perfect yoga form. They knew why they were there and what to expect. Snatam performs Sikh devotional music; the practice of kirtan. In India’s devotional traditions, kirtan is call-and-response chanting. Although Snatam is Colorado born, the influences of her early exposure to India are very obvious. The musical experience was as authentic as the Indian culinary experience.
Now I must say, it was not a concert. When I think of a concert I think of a person or group sending music to the audience. We might hum a familiar tune, but for the most part we listen. Not so with kirtan. This is participatory at it’s best. The beauty of the melodies, the integration of performers & audience and the nature of the lyrics, soulful praises to God, all create a feeling of Oneness that is beyond words. Oh to have discovered all this 20 years ago – but then I might not have appreciated it then like I do today.