04 February 2013

Love, Longing and Peace

Mithila Painting, Madhubani Bihar  
Ardhanarishvara / ShivaShakti

The district of Madhubani was carved out of the old Darbhanga district in the year 1972 as a result of reorganisation of the districts in the State of Bihar. Madhubani fairly represents the centre of the territory once known as Mithila and the district has maintained a distinct individuality of its own. It is said to be that Madhubani is the world's second city who adapted democracy.

The word "Madhuban" means "forest of honey" from which Madhubani is derived, but sometimes it is also known as madhu+vaani, meaning "sweet","voice/language". Madhubani is the cultural heart of Mithilanchal, being the birthplace of many literary people and home to Madhubani Paintings. Maithili has highly developed literature. Madhubani has produced several authors in different fields. Vidyapati wrote collection of poems known as "Padabali". Dr. Jaikant Mishra wrote History of Maithili literature. Mukund Jha Bakshi wrote Mithila Bhasamay Itihas, a first historical book in Maithili.

Madhubani painting or Mithila painting is a style of Indian painting, practiced in the Mithila region of Bihar state,India and the adjoining parts of Terai in Nepal. Painting is done with fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks, using natural dyes and pigments, and is characterized by eye-catching geometrical patterns. There are paintings for each occasion and festival such as birth, marriage, holi, surya shasti, kali puja, Upanayanam (sacred thread ceremony), and durga puja.

Madhubani painting/Mithila painting has been done traditionally by the women of villages around the present town of Madhubani and Darbhanga to the west. The painting was traditionally done on freshly plastered mud walls and floors of huts, but now they are also done on cloth, handmade paper and canvas. Madhubani paintings are made from the paste of powdered rice. Madhubani painting has remained confined to a compact geographical area and the skills have been passed on through centuries, the content and the style have largely remained the same. And that is the reason for Madhubani painting being accorded the coveted GI (Geographical Indication) status. Madhubani paintings also use two dimensional imagery, and the colors used are derived from plants. Ochre and lampblack are also used for reddish brown and black respectively.

Madhubani paintings mostly depicts human association with nature and the scenes of deity from the ancient epics. Natural objects like the sun, the moon, and religious plants like tulsi are also widely painted, along with scenes from the royal court and social events like weddings. Generally no space is left empty; the gaps are filled by paintings of flowers, animals, birds, and even geometric designs. Objects depicted in the walls of kohabar ghar (where newly wed couple see each other in the first night) are symbols of sexual pleasure and procreation. 

This painting is, in fact, simplistic manifestation of the philosophical heights achieved by Indian civilization for the universal power of love, longing and peace.

The synergy of love and the supernatural generates power of unimaginable intensity and scope: power to play, not control, to dissolve, not dominate, to enhance and enchant, not seduce, to teach and inspire, not deceive, to direct, not manipulate. 


In some eastern cultures(India,Nepal,Burma) the cow is placed above all beings other than human. In these cultures, humans are in gratitude of their dependence upon cows for a variety of daily resources. The cow was above all revered for dairy products and as a beast of burden for tilling the fields, and for its dung as a source of fuel and fertilizersThe cow gives so much and takes so little. The cow and bull also represent the symbol of Dharma, the principles and disciplines of yoga to encourage equality and harmony among people, which in the end encourages selfless behavior.

Mahatma Gandhi declared "I worship it and I shall defend its worship against the whole world." 

Kamadhenu, "from whom all that is desired is drawn", also known as Surabhi(another name for an ordinary cow)is a divine bovine-goddess described in Hindu mythology as the mother of all cows, the source of all prosperity. She is a miraculous "cow of plenty" who provides her owner whatever they desire and is often portrayed as the mother of other cattle as well asthe eleven Rudras, "lower animals", goats, swans and "high class drugs"(what? mushrooms?)

In iconography, she is generally depicted as a white cow containing various deities within her body. Another representation of Kamadhenu shows her with the body of a white Zebu cow, crowned by a woman's head, colorful eagle wings and a peacock's tail.
All cows are venerated in Hinduism as the earthly embodiment of Kamadhenu. As such, Kamdhenu has never had a worship cult dedicated to her nor are there any temples in India where she is worshipped as the chief deity. Rather it is the living animal[the cow wandering freely about India] which is the perpetual object of worship.
Cows are often fed outside temples. They are worshipped regularly on all Fridays and on special occasions. Every cow to "a pious Hindu" is regarded as an Avatar (earthly embodiment) of the divine Mother. 

Kamadhenu is regarded as a form of Devi, the Hindu Divine Mother, and is closely related to the fertile Mother Earth, Prithvi, who is often described as a cow in Sanskrit. Devi means to give, the strength to give, the ability to give more and take the minimum. This is known as devata. Similarly the cow takes less from us and gives us more. The sacred cow denotes "purity and non-erotic fertility, ... sacrificing and motherly by nature, and retains the sustenance of human life"

The Mahabharata records that Kamadhenu -Surabhi rose from the birth of this world during the churning of the cosmic ocean (Samudra manthan) by the gods and demons eager to be the first to acquire Amrita(ambrosia, elixir of life). She now dwells in Goloka - the realm of the cows located above the three worlds (heaven, earth and netherworld, Patala.
Cow's milk and its derivatives such as ghee (clarified butter) are integral parts of Vedic fire sacrifices, which are conducted by Brahmin priests; thus the mythical Kamadhenu is sometimes also referred to the Homadhenu—the cow from whom oblations are drawn. Moreover, the cow also offers the Brahmin—who is prohibited to fight—protection against abusive kings who try to harm them. As a goddess, she becomes a warrior, creating armies to protect her master and herself.
"The horns and hunch of cow are like two powerful pyramids. We receive the strengths of stars and sun through the medium of cow dung, milk, curd, ghee etc. The place where the cow is tied does not produce any vastu related ill effects. If there is any malefic effect of any planet, serving the cow with chapatti(bread) & jaggery(sugar) calms down the malefic effect."

"In India a black cow is tied in the Shiva temple, when we see the Shiva along with the black cow then we are able to overcome the malefic effects of planets in our natal horoscope. When we see the ankles of the cow we protect ourselves from sudden deaths. Taking rounds of the cow ie. Parikrama, is equivalent to visiting all the holy places in India." 

As the pipal tree and holy basil plant give oxygen similarly cow is the only animal, which emits major amount of oxygen. If one spoon of pure ghee is poured on the burning cow cakes dung (fuel) then they can produce one-ton oxygen, therefore ghee made with cow milk is used in sacrificial fires. There is no better natural method to remove pollution from the air.

The cow milk, butter, ghee and buttermilk are like nectar. 
  • The cow dung is not simply feces but the purifier of feces. Its manure as a fertilizer produces the best quality of grains, fruits, and vegetables.  
  • Cow urine is a divine medicine. It is anti-bacterial, anti fungal. It is the base for bio-pesticides, good for all agricultural crops being grown organically. Cow urine also contains copper which helps to remove toxins inside the body if consumed based on medicinal ayurvedic methods.  
  • Pure ghee made with cow milk on the cow cakes, the smoke emitted thereby subsides the effect of poisonous gas.
  • Drinking organic cow milk gives strength and is believed to increases pure qualities in the human mind.

19 March 2012

Tilak, Tikka and then there's the deadly Sindoor - Indian Make Up

The tikka / bindi rests on the face at the sixth chakra, the ajna, and it not only looks gorgeous, but also carries a great deal of significance in tantra. Symbolizing a third eye, it represents insight and the ability to gain control over desire and various other elements within the body. Aligning with the ajna chakra, also means the ability to see into the future, command emotions and unite male and female energies.
tantric image of third eye tika
The tilak also symbolizes the third eye, or mind's eye, associated with many Hindu deities, and the idea of meditation and spiritual enlightenment. In the past, tilakas were usually worn by gods, priests, ascetics, or worshippers, but is now a common practice for most Hindus to adorn themselves at temple visits, on pilgrimages, melas or significant dates. It can express which Hindu tradition one follows. It may be made with sandalwood paste, ashes (vibhuti), kumkumsindhoor, clay, or other substances. The pastes are applied by a smearing to the forehead and in some cases to the upper part of the head. Occasionally it extends vertically or horizontally on a large part of the forehead and may cover the nose also.
sadhu baba with tilak
Sindoor is the mark of a married woman in Hinduism. Sindoor is a traditional vermillion colored cosmetic powder from the Indian subcontinent, usually worn by married women along the parting of their hair or at the center crown called maang - The parting of hair is symbolic of river of red blood full of life. Usage of sindoor denotes that a woman is married in many Hindu communities, and ceasing to wear it usually implies widowhood
Methods and styles of applying the sindoor vary from personal choice to regional customs. 
This red sindoor is significant for the married woman as she is full of color. It is first applied to the woman by her husband on the day of her wedding.After this time she must apply this every day herself in the parting of her hairline. Single women wear the dot in different colors but do not apply sindoor in their maangHindu widows do not wear the sindoor, signifying that their husband is no longer alive. The wiping off of the sindoor is very significant for a widow and there are many rituals associated with this practice; the most common being the mother-in-law or older sister-in-law wiping off the sindoor when the woman becomes a widow. The widow will break her bangles and remove her bindi as well. Many Hindu women will also remove their nose ring and toe rings as well. When she becomes a widow she adopts the white dress and removes all colour from her face including the bright red sindoor.

Known DANGERS of Sindoor:
"Modern sindoor mainly uses vermilion, which is an orange-red pigment. Vermilion is the purified and powdered form of cinnabar, which is the chief form in which mercury sulfide naturally occurs. As with other compounds of mercury, sindoor is toxic and must be handled carefully. Sometimes, red lead (lead tetroxide, also known as minium) is also added to sindoor. Red lead is also toxic and a known carcinogen for laboratory animals, though its carcinogenicity to humans has not been established. Traditional sindoor was made with turmeric andalum or lime, or from other herbal ingredients. Unlike red lead and vermilion, these are not poisonous. In early 2008, allegations of high lead content led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to recall batches of Sindoor from several manufacturers."

And here is one from a site that sells vermilion: 
"Some authorities consider natural cinnabar to be non-toxic. Anita Albus writes that the deadly poison of mercury becomes harmless when it is stably bound with sulfur. However, we consider cinnabar and vermilion to be toxic and urge caution in handling the dry powder pigment, as well as the pigment dispersed in medium."

So ask yourself the question why nothing is done to safeguard millions of women in india who use this pigment each day to adorn their part? This posting has led me to this info and now I also abandon the use of the red powder pigments for my sindoor unless I can confirm its substance to be non toxic.

16 March 2012

libro libre

Artist Alicia Martin has been creating amazing installations using books here are a few I admire:

This work, Biographies, consists of 5000 books and is the third time this artist has built a similar work.

these last two are my favorites they invoke two personalities in my mind: the minimalists obsession with hiding objects of excess from view or the exploding mind of a hoarder.

14 October 2010

the where with all

no thing
nothing is
not is no possibility
never is not my destiny
yet i gladly accept your grace into my heart
all rainbow hued
the decanter full spilling itself into the everything
in all time
2/15/10 Shantiniketan Stn.

29 September 2010


In the labyrinth of my desire

I long for you, the other.
In the empty halls of my mind
the image of you grows beyond the walls.
In the garden of my heart 
your memory blossoms eternally 
beside the roses of the Goddess' mala.

photos taken in the Imam BaraImam in Lucknow, India


all things are coming and going.
infinity is the forever
as the cycle becomes and unbecomes -winds and unwinds.
"as above, so below"
it is the mirror of my soul
the figure 8 is that symbol I walk 
until there is no walking, no talking, no undoing, 
none undone.
infinity is the place of no matter, no exit, nothing -
beyond profound.
we are arrived.
as there is no train to catch
no wait station between
no baggage check
infinity is this moment
in your eyes reflected in the cosmos.
...we shall surely meet again in kama loka