Monday, February 9, 2015

My Rainbow - seven riveting short stories | Fate by Isha Setia. (Part-II)

Her fear of music and dancing had overtaken our lives and she had no idea what it was doing to me. Even though she had told me on numerous occasions about how poor singers and dancers were treated, I couldn't comprehend what made her so violently opposed to it. (The Amrapali-Upagupta story is very interesting.)  She never spoke of it. Nor did she ever speak of her husband, my father. I had never seen him – not even in a picture. He was either dead or had abandoned us. (Allusion to Shri Ramchandra? The girl is Lava or Kusha? Were they twins, as is popularly believed? Also, the notion that Vedic marriages were airtight may be incorrect. The narrative says Ramchandra went in pursuit of the golden deer. Golden deer is a metaphor for personal fortunes, dreams, etc. In other words, he left - to pursue his personal goals/objectives/dreams. So, he was not only a selfish and insensitive/callous husband but also an irresponsible parent. (Is the Karna analogy applicable? Karna was born with a metaphoric kavacha [body armour] - implying a pitiless nature, emotionally hardened, indifferent, deficient in human sensibility: not emotionally or morally sensitive. An incorrigibly self-centred person: the I-Me-Myself type? Self-righteous and over-righteous? A charlatan but a successful charlatan, someone who makes elaborate, fraudulent, and often voluble claims to skill or knowledge; a flamboyant deceiver, too much show and tell and gloss?) Did Ramchandra realise his dreams? And yet, he was unhappy, unable to find happiness... as one gathers from Mirabai's bhajans? A persistent feeling of emptiness? Accomplishments will seem empty if there is no one to share in the glory. ... Prince Rukmi, a vassal of Jarasandha, did not want to antagonise the mighty emperor. His goals/objectives did not converge with those of the Krsna-avatar. Rukmi was the only one who was not part of the dharma-yuddha, "battle" for change, 'battle' of ideals, principles, values etc – for a better society to emerge.) 

I quickly turned away from the door, and said something that I immediately regretted: "What's wrong with a little dance, ma?" (Shiva is Nataraja. The one who is Krsna is also Shiva. Dvarka and Kailasha: one and the same? Humankind must learn to delight in and appreciate the small things, the simple joys and pleasures?)

She dropped what she was doing and stood straight, glowering at me. "Now, you listen to me girl. When women like me and girls like you dance and sing, we are treated no better than courtesans. Society shuns us and treats us like sinners. We are exploited and ruined forever. All this is not for people like us, and certainly not for you. Don't you ever think yourself a heroine."

I heard her quietly, as always, even though my heart was thudding at her anger and ringing with disappointment. I regretted having protested, both for her sake, and for mine. It was unfortunate, because I am really good-looking, from what I see in the mirror, and what my friends tell me. I take after my mother – I am tall, slim and have a pretty oval face, not half as beautiful as my mother's but still quite attractive. I liked the way I looked and the way I walked. My friends said I had quite a swagger about myself, especially with my long plait swinging behind me and some even went so far as to say I could have been a performer. (Swagger: Vishnu – the long-striding one, one who walks with steady, determined strides, a confident walk or self-belief, exuding a palpable sense of self-confidence and positive vibes/energy. An inner glow of satisfaction. Someone who can light up a room with her presence (Gauri). Some people charm others the moment they enter a room. Swag: a synonym for swagger, a type of presence that exudes confidence and is sometimes interpreted as arrogance/attitude. The way a person presents himself or herself. Tashan. Having an attitude is not the same as being a mean, selfish, insensitive [cold-hearted], inconsiderate, self-obsessed, self-righteous or over-righteous, preachy/didactic, melancholic, sullen, pretentious, cynical, annoying, duplicitous, vain or presumptuously conceited, domineering, ignorant, manipulative or a misogynistic person, there's a difference between taking charge and being aggressive or condescending. Overbearing people can be very annoying and over time they can [emotionally] fatigue, overwhelm or exhaust others. One can be powerful by being quiet and restrained, or by being intrepid in one's choices or actions even if it's only in small, everyday ways, or by being able to prioritise things that require debate or discussion and decision-making, so on and so forth. Panchali: because of the enigma that is Panchali. The ability to keep people guessing. Long plait: Allusion to the Indus seal depicting what could be the "Ashta-Matrika", the eight forms of Parvati/Durga? The seal depicts a deity standing in the arch of a peepal tree (the sacred fig tree, a kalpataru), wearing a headdress of bullhorns and bangles on both arms, looking on a kneeling devotee/worshipper. Seven figures, wearing long dresses [skirts] and bangles on both arms, are moving in a procession before her; their female character is [also] suggested by the one long plait of hair. This seal could be an early depiction of the Ashta-Matrika – the eight forms of Parvati/Durga. BG 10.26: || aśvatthaḥ sarva-vṛkṣāṇāḿ || ~ "among trees, I am the peepal (ashvattha)." ... The Peepal (aśvatthaḥ) - the Bodhi Tree, the Tree of Enlightenment, is the personification of Vishnu/Keshavah/Narayana/Hari. The Bodhi tree, the Tree of Enlightenment, is also the symbol of Gautama Buddha's message in general, since the Buddha ('the Enlightened One' or 'the Wise One') had overcome mundane (banal, narrow, selfish) aspects [limitations] - of geography, language, history, culture, and so on. Thus the Buddha belongs to all of humankind.)

What happened next is why the memory of that day is etched so clearly on my mind.

My mother must have felt bad for having spoken to me like that. Or maybe she felt it was time I knew. Whatever it was, she held me by the hand as I walked to the corner of our hut that served as the kitchen. "Sit down, child, let me talk to you today." We both sat down on the dung paved mud floor as a vessel full of parboiled rice bubbled and hissed on the fire. Her face was serious, faraway and I thought I saw a painful film of water in her eyes. (Hut: Panchal Kanya, Princess Panchali, preferred simplicity and sobriety to ostentatious behaviour and immoderation? Immoderation or insobriety is a propensity for extremes in one's actions, beliefs, or habits. Vessel = Drona. The barn owl (lokkhi pyancha/Uluka) is the vahaan of Sridevi. The barn owl has a medium frame and a heart-shaped face. Barn Owls don't hoot, like typical owls, but instead produce screeches. They can also hiss like a serpent.  What could the barn owl analogy signify? Barn Owl-like characteristics?)

(The idiom: 'wise as an owl'. The barn-owl analogy: Someone exceptionally learned, wise and sagacious, not conventionally good-looking, but possessing an appealing personality (charisma/charm, attitude, intent, earnestness, depth and sincerity, wit and humour, effort, purpose), style, or talent... and hence exudes plenty of mojo? ... The barn owl analogy also implies a stoic person, someone with a straight face, a poker face (an impassive facial expression, used to prevent giving away one's purpose, feelings, or situation). The 'Barn Owl': someone of somber disposition, character, or manner, having a sober/sedate demeanour (not frivolous, insincere or capricious/impulsive, considers (a matter) carefully and often slowly, as by weighing alternatives). The no-nonsense type: stern, staid, firmly determined (resolute, resolved: purposeful, firm in purpose or intent), genuine, measured, careful in thought (unhurried, cautious: to think over/cerebrate/reflect, prudent), full of concern, or restrained and dignified in manner. Cogitative or contemplative: to think about or discuss something very carefully so as to make a decision (in a process of reaching a decision) or to make a choice (thus a choice or decision is made with full consciousness of the nature and effects). Thoughtful and quiet, the intellectual type: deep, cultured, intellectual, literary, sophisticated, scholarly, distinguished by sincerity and intensity of purpose. ... The unique/distinctive Barn Owl is associated with auspiciousness and prosperity. Not only are barn owls good for the environment and for humans, they are also generally quiet. They are a gardener's, a farmer's and a nature lover's delight. Barn owl characteristics: Facial disk (heart-shaped) to improve hearing, as well as asymmetrical ears, ability to turn head 240 degrees - for a wide field of vision, eye sight at night as good as those during the day, combed feathering at the end of the wings to greatly reduce sound while flying, long legs and talons as an effective defense. It has a keen sense of smell, which along with the ability to see in low light is very helpful. Its soft feathers also muffle sound, thereby making it stealthy. Barn owls make good parents: Some Birds lay eggs and leave them to fend for themselves while barn owls raise and teach their young until they are old enough to have a mate and nest of their own.

The barn owl is 14-20 inches in length and has a wingspan of close to four feet. Barn owls are known for their penetrating sights (binocular vision with improved depth perception and the ability to judge distances) and evolved keen senses that make them very efficient (such as keen hearing; especially acute hearing even in poor light or complete dark). They are able to fly virtually silently because of a fringe on the leading edge of their primary feathers that helps muffle sound. Their wings are broad and large for their body size to help them stay aloft with minimal effort. Facial disk: the face is distinctly shaped with a disk-like structure that surrounds the bill and eyes. It can use its facial muscles to alter the shape of this disk and funnel sound more efficiently to its ears, greatly amplifying its hearing.) 

"My mother was a dancer," she began, her voice low but level. My heart sank, but I waited for her to go on. "The British ruled the country then. We lived in Lucknow. ("Lucknow" is the anglicised version of "lakhnau" (according to one legend, after Lakshmana). As per the legend, Lakshmana had a palace or an estate there, which was called Lakshmanapuri ("Lakshmana's city"). The settlement came to be known as Lakhanpur (or Lachhmanpur) by the 11th century, and later, Lucknow. As per another legend, the city was known as "Lakshmanavati" after Lakshmana. It changed to Lakhanavati, then Lakhnauti and finally Lakhnau (before being anglised to Lucknow). However, none can say when Lucknow or Lakhnau was first used. As per yet another legend, Lucknow is connected with Lakshmi, the deity of wealth, prosperity, good health, nourishment and fortune. It was originally known as Lakshmanavati ("fortunate" - as in 'a cat has nine lives'?) Gradually it became: Laksmanauti, Laksmnaut, Laksnaut, Laksnau and Lakhnau. "Badshahi Angthhi", a Feluda story, is set in Lucknow. It is about a magnificent ring believed to have once belonged to emperor Aurangzeb. 'A cat has nine lives': according to a myth in many cultures, cats have nine (or sometimes seven) lives. The myth is attributed to the natural suppleness and swiftness cats exhibit during certain situations. It could be a metaphor for extraordinary survival instinct, innate behaviour or the inherent inclination for self-preservation. Lakshmana: relentless, someone who stops at nothing to get what he wants; someone who doesn't take no for an answer and his way is the only right way for him, a metaphoric bulldozer, a propensity to bulldoze.) She was beautiful – more beautiful than that woman in the poster there," she arched a brow in the general direction of the cinema hall, "and more beautiful than any woman you have ever seen. She had no education. She danced to make a living. In those days, and even now, such women have no respect – the society shuns them. I came into this world and tumbled onto the dance floor, following in my mother's footsteps. Eventually she grew old and died a very unhappy woman. But before she died, she told me she had saved some money secretly. That money was with a man who lived in Lucknow. It was enough money to help me start a life of dignity someplace else. She pleaded with me to run away. I was illiterate, had never set foot outside the house, and was afraid of angering the woman who controlled us. But when my mother died, something clicked inside me and I upped and ran one night. I got into the first train I saw and reached Patna two days later – not Lucknow. I was feeling like I had fallen from the frying pan into the fire. But a good man came to my rescue. He brought me to Daltonganj, married me and we began a life. But less than a month later, life dealt its fatal blow. He retired after a meal one night and never woke up. His heart must have stopped working, or something. I never found out. He wasn't old, maybe 30 or 35. (Allusion to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar? One of the 14 "Manu" - honorific for lawgiver? Riksharaj Jambavana)? You were to be born and I knew I had to survive. I picked up the pieces of my life with whatever he had left behind – it wasn't much. In the whirlwind span of just a month, I had escaped that horrible place of abuse, got lost, met a man, married him, found happiness, started living a better life, become a widow, and fallen back into penury – with a child on the way. Your father's savings dried up and eventually, I had to start working to keep body and soul together. But I was grateful to be far from that hell." My mother paused, lifted the vessel off the fire and busied herself with work, avoiding my gaze. I think she was crying. I knew how hard she worked to give me a life of protection. My mother made barely enough to keep us alive. I often went with her to the households, helping her with cleaning dishes or clothes or sweeping the floor when she was feeling tired or unwell.

I reached out and hugged her. We held each other and cried like there was a river of tears flowing out of us. The evening (shyam) had long passed into midnight (ghanshyam). It had stopped drizzling. We had stopped crying. Feeling much lighter, we ate a sumptuous meal.

I was relieved that my father had been a good man. It meant a lot to me.

That was a night I would never, ever, forget.

The very next week, a circus came to town. Its huge canvas dome was so tall that I could see it from my house itself, even though it lay beyond the cinema, near the railway station. I'd heard that the dome could seat 500 people. At night, it lit up, announcing – Grand Apollo Circus – with tiny blinking lights. (Huge canvas dome: the architecture of places of worship, the temple shikhar, the church steeple, the pagoda roof, the dome and minaret – all have something in common. ... In architecture, a cupola is a small, most often dome-like, structure on top of a building. Often used to admit light and air, it usually crowns a larger roof or dome. Barns often have cupolas for ventilation. Cupolas often serve as a lantern, belfry, or belvedere above a main roof. In other cases they may crown a tower, spire, or turret. The chhatri, seen in Indian architecture, fits the definition of a cupola when it is used atop a larger structure. (VasukiNaga accompanying Vasudeva and shielding the baby Krsna from inclement weather - the chhatri analogy?) The cupola is a development during the Renaissance of the oculus (a "bull's-eye"), an ancient device found in Roman architecture, but being weatherproof was superior for the wetter climates of northern Europe. The oculus was used by the Romans, one of the finest examples being that in the dome of the Pantheon. Open to the weather, it allows rain to enter and fall to the floor, where it is carried away through drains. Though the opening looks small, it actually has a diameter of 8.2 m allowing it to light the building just as the sun lights the earth. The rain also keeps the building cool during the hot summer months. The oculus was widely used in the architecture of the Byzantine Empire. Early examples of the oculus in Renaissance architecture can be seen in Florence Cathedral, in the nave clerestorey and topping the crowns of the arcade arches. Since the revival of dome construction beginning in the Italian Renaissance, light-transmitting cupolas and other round windows, openings, and skylights have replaced open oculi. Use of oculus windows became more popular in Baroque architecture.)

(Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion and Greek and Roman mythology. Depicted as a beardless, athletic youth, medicine and healing are associated with Apollo, yet he was also seen as a divinity that could bring ill-health. The Romans referred to Apollo as Medicus ("physician" in Latin). Perhaps he was worshipped as the divinity of healing and, possibly, of physicians. Apollo, the son of Zeus and Leto (the patron deity of Lycia and who was identified with the wolf), has a twin sister Artemis. He is also known as Lycegenes ("born of a wolf" or "born of Lycia"). Apollo functioned as the patron divinity of music, poetry, art, archery, plague, truth, medicine (healing), sun, light and knowledge. Hermes created the lyre for him, and the instrument became a common attribute of Apollo. Hymns sung to Apollo were called paeans. As sun-god and god of light, Apollo was also known by the epithets Aegletes ("light of the sun"), Helius ("sun"), Phanaeus ("giving or bringing light"), and Lyceus ("light"). As god of the sun, the Romans referred to Apollo as Sol ("sun" in Latin). Apollo was worshipped throughout the Roman Empire. In the traditionally Celtic lands he was most often seen as a healing and sun god. ... Romulus and Remus are the twin brothers and central characters of Rome's foundation myth. (Some parallels with Lava and Kusha?) Romulus is given the credit for founding Ancient Rome - so legend has it. The story of Romulus, his twin brother Remus, and the founding of the city of Rome is one of the most familiar legends about the Eternal City. (Ayudhya or Ayodhya means: the Invincible City; it can also be called: the Eternal City.) Romulus was the eponymous first king of Rome. How he got there is a story like many others, involving a drastic or extensive rise in fortune, and a storied birth. ... Romulus and Remus were abandoned by their parents as babies and put into a basket that was then placed on the River Tiber. The basket ran aground and a female wolf discovered the twins. The wolf nursed the babies for a while before a shepherd found them. The shepherd and his wife then brought up the twins (as foster parents). Romulus and Remus grew up as simple shepherds. (Can 'She-wolf' be an allusion to a woman belonging to a clan and/or kingdom with a wolf emblem or insignia?) The story is somewhat reminiscent of the Kunti-Suryadeva story; wherein foster parents brought up their son (Karna). Kunti, who was still very young, is said to have put Karna in a basket and placed the same in the River Ganga. Adhiratha (the royal charioteer of Hastinapura) who was childless, saw the basket, picked up the baby and brought him up as his own. The baby was thus brought up by Adhiratha and his wife Radha. This Karna is known as the greatest daanveer (a man who would never refuse the request for any gift or donation even if it were to be unhelpful for him). Is this Karna an allegory for large (elephant) ears, implying good listening skills? (Suryadeva = Ganesha-ji? Kunti = Krsna. What could Durvasa mean?) Is the Dushyant-Shakuntala story [also] applicable, wherein (after their Gandharva-Vivaah) once Dushyant returned to his kingdom, he was unable to remember/recollect anything about Shakuntala? Bharata was their son. Is the story about Raja Drupada humiliating Dronacharya also applicable? Dronacharya's wife Kripi and their infant son, Ashvatthama – could it be a reference to the baby Karna? Dronacharya's rejection of Eklavya = the Chitrangada-Arjuna story? (Physical attractiveness mattered to Arjuna, more than talent, values, etc. Although Arjuna himself is unlikely to have been conventionally handsome, given the barn owl analogy. (Also, Acharya Chanakya was not handsome.) Chitrangada, despite her formidable reputation as a warrior, was unattractive, ugly-looking - kurupa. It took a while before Arjuna could look past appearances. Were Nagakanya Uloopi and the Manipura princess Chitrangada one and the same? Babruvahana/Babhruvahana was Chitrangada and Arjuna's son, while Iravat/Iravant/Iravan was Uloopi and Arjuna's son. Perhaps the many stories represent the various phases of the Arjuna-Krsna relationship.) The story about Siddhartha Gautama deserting two-year-old son and Yashodhara in the service of a greater cause, a higher ideal? (Yasodhara = Yesu/Jishu/Jishnu?) This story is somewhat reminiscent of the Kunti-Suryadeva story. Was the child born through surrogacy - the 'Immaculate Conception' analogy? Could the Bheeshma (Devavrata) and Amba/Ambika/Ambalika story be applicable? Amba/Ambika is a reference to Parvati. Ambalika implies: a young girl or perhaps a teenager.)

The posters on the wall in front of my house changed. Now they had pictures of all the exciting acts in it. Even my mother, who never said a word, could not help comment on the size of the tent in the posters. (A big tent approach is one that is inclusive of a wide spectrum of constituents and groups, a widely inclusive composition that embraces (i.e. is open to) people of diverse backgrounds, opinions, talents, skills, aspirations etc. The big tent approach is obverse of ideological rigidity.) I'd also heard that the lions, elephants, horses, pigeons and parrots had special carriages. The tickets were expensive, especially because the circus had a world famous dancer as a star attraction. Her name was Veronica and people said she was a true blue gypsy from a foreign land. (Gypsy: allusion to the Roma people (the Romani or Romany) whose ancestors came (to Europe) from Northern India, perhaps from the areas that could have been a part of the Harappan Civilisation? Bohemian: Free-spirited, someone to whom a sense of personal freedom is especially important. Unconventional in appearance, behaviour, etc.) Her posters were captivating. Long, wavy, shiny, black hair; deep green eyes, ruby red mouth and long slender fingers with red nails. Oh! She was a beauty. They said her performances were jam-packed and people kept asking for encores. My friends spoke endlessly about her beauty, elegance, dazzle and mesmerising dance. (The peacock analogy? Vishnu - the Mohini-avatar? Sri Rama/Sita? Maria/Mariam? Kristu - Christ?) I'd heard people talk about it everywhere – at homes, at shops and on the streets. I longed to see it. But of course, it was out of bounds for me.

(Deep green eyes: Green Emerald Gemstone or Panna: Emerald harmonises and strengthens the positive influences of Budha (mercury). Budha (Mercury) is the "prince" in Jyotish and is influenced by Surya and Chandra. Mercury is impartial, evocative, delightful, and youthful. Budha (Mercury) is famous for ready wisdom, and the power of communication. Associated with the respiratory system, nervous system and speech, Budha makes people more skillful, clever and delicate. Budha is shown riding a lion with an elephant's trunk, which points towards the dual nature of Budha, readily apparent in those with Gemini ascendant. Emerald or Panna is associated with the brain, strong intellect, memory, intuition, education (teaching, learning), writing, drawing, perception, vitality, wisdom, communication skills, confidence, humour and wit, sense of understanding, generosity and affection. Emerald increases power of faculty, gives mental peace, pacifies the anger and increases eye-sight. Emerald helps to lift depression and insomnia, it keeps the body healthy and mind happy. Also known as: Markat mani and jamuran. Panna is associated with SarasvatI, the deity of wisdom and intellect. (Emerald is derived from the Ancient Greek word smaragdos, "green gem". A fine emerald must possess not only a pure verdant green hue but also a high degree of transparency to be considered a top gem. Emerald, the green variety of Beryl, is the most famous and valuable green gemstone. Its beautiful green colour, combined with durability and rarity, make it one of the most expensive gemstones. Deep green is the most desired colour in Emeralds.)

Ruby or Maanikya: This is the gem of the Sun. The effulgent Sun = Savitr. The highest avatar = Savitri or Maanikya, the personification or embodiment of the Sun (Supreme or Highest Enlightenment symbolised by the allegoric "halo"). In other words, the harbinger, creator or initiator of a new dawn (a figurative maha-yuga of four phases, commencing with Sat/Satya/Krita Yuga, the best phase of all). SarasvatI/Savitri, the deity of knowledge, wisdom, literature, creativity, music, arts, culture and eloquence = a [figurative] forgotten river as well as a perennial knowledge stream and a repository of timeless knowledge, wisdom, inspiration and consciousness. BG 10.21: || jyotisam ravir amsuman || ~ "of lights (radiance, effulgence, luminaries) I am the radiant sun." It could also be a reference to the Summer Solstice, a day having the longest period of daylight. Maanikya is associated with concentration of mind and lustrous skin, intellectual capabilities, self-respect, courage, confidence, optimism and writing and speaking powers. It is also associated with leadership qualities. Ruby or Maanik is called Suryamani in Sanskrit. Also known as: Padmaraga, Red-lotus colour gem, Shona-Ratna, Red jewel, Ravi-Ratna, Gem of the sun. (The Syamantaka mani is associated with the Krsna-avatar. It is a reference to divinity in human form. Syamantaka mani and Maanikya could [therefore] be one and the same. However, could Syamantaka mani be a reference to Jyotirlingam? Could Jyotirlingam be a sobriquet for Maanikya (Gem of the Sun)? Could the legendary Koh-i-Noor be an allusion to Maanikya?)

The peacock analogy indicates a charismatic or magnetic personality, someone with a sense of calm self-confidence and authenticity, a pleased, attractive and confident smile, a good, genuine smile, one who is charming and exudes plenty of positive energy and personal magnetism. Such a person knows how to project self-assurance and confidence and get the mojo working. Others may be instinctively drawn to such a person because of a nearly indefinable quality known as a magnetic personality. Someone blessed with such a personality may not be the most physically attractive or best-dressed, but his or her natural charisma makes him or her more compelling to be around. Such a person is an excellent listener with the power to make anyone feel important, empowered and validated, and [thereby] instantly making someone's day. (By being a good, empathetic listener who's genuinely curious and interested in the other person, by paying close attention and responding thoughtfully.) To be truly charismatic, one need to be able to not only impress, charm, and listen to a group of people, but should also be a person who is good at engaging others, so people will naturally gravitate toward him or her. When a charming or charismatic person makes a request or asks others to take action, many people find themselves willing to fulfill those requests without question. While not always the centre of attention, magnetic personalities radiate a powerful and slightly mysterious influence, and are often extremely wise and thoughtful. Their natural charisma and sincerity makes them perceived as very trustworthy, and they may naturally attract followers, whether or not they are eager to lead. Also, within that one avatar, various forms, modes and aspects can be seen. BG 10.28: || prajanas casmi kandarpah || ~ "Of causes of procreation, I am kandarpah (Cupid, and Kamadeva, the deity of love)."

Mohini-avatar implies the ability to captivate absolutely anyone (a diverse group of people or audience). That's charisma — a sort of magnetism that inspires confidence and adoration, drawing others powerfully and instantly. To exude confidence and to look at ease (not "distant", unapproachable or standoffish), to be genuinely interested in people, to be a good listener, to be curious or fascinated by people in some way, to be interested in how people feel, what motivates or annoys them, or what knowledge they hold, about something they like or are passionate about, to engage the other person to talk more about his or herself, etc etc. This makes the other person more comfortable to share and express him or herself. To assume rapport, to build rapport - so as to be able to overcome an initial awkwardness and to expedite the warming-up process when meeting new people. This is a powerful tool during interaction. One can build rapport just by asking questions. It makes people feel more welcomed and comfortable around a person, they feel special, it [also] makes them feel fondly toward that person. Charm is the art of having an attractive personality. However, charm isn't always an outward expression, but an inward one too. Charisma isn't the same thing as confidence, but appearing confident can make a person more charismatic because his or her confidence will put others at ease and inspire faith in his or her abilities. If people see someone as a confident person, they will naturally want to be around that person. Confident people are generally positive people because they love who they are and what they do. No matter whom they're talking to, he or she would always try to charm that person and make them feel like the only person in the world, make them feel that what they've done matters, and that their thoughts are valued. It can make the other person feel connected. Charismatic people smile genuinely when they greet someone, the smile implying that they're excited about getting to know them. They also compliment people freely, but genuinely, and accept compliments graciously. Perhaps they find a creative way to say something nice and say it immediately, instead of waiting too long (thereby making it appear insincere). Compliments are a motivation; they raise others' morale/dignity/confidence and make them feel fondly toward the person. To have true charisma, one should be able to talk to anyone about any topic, and be a good and attentive listener. To make eye contact, and to keep eye contact throughout the conversation; to look people in the eye when he or she is talking to them. (Looking at people directly in the eyes projects confidence on a person's end while making the person he or she is speaking with feel that they are interesting enough to gaze upon. This is not the same as staring anyone down, but to not glance around or look everywhere but at them... because that won't appear engaged.) A brief touch on the upper arm can emphasise one's agreement or empathy with something someone says, and it can make the other person feel an emotional connect. Being charismatic isn't the same as pleasing people. Charismatic people don't especially care about what others think (in the sense that they can turn a deaf ear to negativity). They could, however, be a little bit of a tease, with the ability to laugh at oneself, to poke fun at oneself. They need not have to be self-deprecating to show that they're aware of their shortcomings, and to let people join in on laughing at them. 

Encores: The leela is not whodunit, but how-it-is-done, since SheshaNaga (symbolising fixed mindset – an inability, and intransigence or [perhaps] obdurate refusal (out of arrogance/conceit/vainglory etc) to change and evolve for the better [i.e. to undergo progressive transformation – to self-reflect/introspect, learn, unlearn, adapt and evolve, to imbibe humaneness and dharmic aspects/values and become better as human beings] from one's set way of thinking and behavioural aspects. SheshaNaga is the eternal adversary (a deviously manipulative mind, an unenlightened mind). Therefore, it is an eternal duel of wits. AnantaNaga Vishnu and SheshaNaga are familiar adversaries. The essence of the leela is: Satyameva Jayate. (Truth stands invincible or 'Truth always prevails'. ... Truth should not be misconstrued in a narrow sense. SheshaNaga symbolises all vices in humankind. Truth = AnantaNaga, who represents sattvic or dharmic aspects. Truth is [essentially] a reference to the Eternal Divine, the divine power – to whom all of humankind prays. The Almighty has always been there and shall always be there, and is thus referred to as the Truth (Sat or Satya, Purusha-uttama Satya, the most evolved of all beings/souls). Vishnu AnantaNaga (the eternal, imperishable, enlightened divinity) will triumph over SheshaNaga. In the words of Tagore, 'Shesh joy-e jyano hoye shhe bijoyi tomaari kachhetey haariya...' SheshaNaga is also known as Baladeva and Halayudha. He is known for his strength, and worshipped as a deity of agriculture and fertility. Hence, he is known as Balarama ("Strong Rama", Rama with a plough). Balarama is equated with Lakshmana – a manifestation of Shesha. Balarama is also depicted with a cup. (A devotee of Bacchus? Turning the pursuit of pleasure into an artistic provenance? Gross excess and unbridled abandon? Devoted or passionately attached to some particular pursuit of Bacchus?) SheshaNaga's iconographic depiction is that of a five-headed or seven-headed serpent. Could it imply that SheshaNaga has five or seven manifestations (each of whom [probably] with more than one identity), and that they together constitute the entity known as SheshaNaga? A group of five or seven malevolent and ignoble persons, unclean minds and hearts: exceptionally inhuman (unkind, unfeeling (emotionally hardened, with paishasic (inhumane or depraved) tendencies), non-progressive [unenlightened, obsolete, regressive or primitive mindsets], rancorous, self-righteous, tyrannical) and materialistic (a gluttonous attachment to materialistic aspects, insatiable acquisitive instinct, or coarse material attachment – the Bakasura analogy?) 

Satyajit Ray's "Satranj ke Khiladi" is very interesting. One can never tire of watching this masterpiece. Chaturanga (Sanskrit: caturaṅga) is recognised as the earliest form of chess, or a probable ancestor of the game of chess. Chaturanga was a battle simulation game, which rendered Indian military strategy of the time. (In 600 AD, the Persians who called it Shatranj learned this game.) Some of the earliest archaeological evidence of oblong dice has been found in Harappan sites such as Kalibangan, Lothal, Ropar, Alamgirpur, Desalpur and surrounding areas. Dicing is believed to have later spread westwards to Persia, influencing Persian board games. (The Sanskrit Chaturanga to the Persian Satranj.)

Lucknow owes much of its kebabi reputation to the "Sepoy Mutiny". Were it not for that, and the subsequent dethroning of the last Nawab - Wajid Ali Shah of Awadh (anglicized to Oudh), these kababs would have never reached the common man. After the abdication of the Nawab, the second line of the taluqdars, the rajware and the nawabeen patronised the chefs. After 1952, however, (i.e. after the abolition of the zamindari system) these cooks ended up opening shops or catering for weddings. ... Wajid Ali Shah was what can be termed connoisseur of aphrodisiacs. He apparently married an astonishing 359 times and is said to have netted 2000 sparrows in a single night! Sparrows were treated as a delicacy and their flesh used for making chidi pulao, eaten only in winter as it was considered an elixir too hot to be consumed during summer. The nawab, who was eventually destined to be the last ruler of Awadh, ascended the throne of Awadh in 1847. A man of pleasure, a great patron of singers, musicians, dancers and artists, he was also known as Qaisar, but preferred "Akhtarpiya" for his numerous compositions. He was a poet, playwright, composer, dancer and great patron of the arts, widely credited with the revival of Kathak as a major form of classical dance, besides being a munificent patron of the light classical form of thumri. An accomplished dilettante, he found himself a misfit for the high office to which he was elevated. He established his famous Parikhaana in which hundreds of beautiful and talented girls were taught music and dancing by expert teachers engaged by the royal patron. These girls were known as paris (fairies). Widely regarded as a debauched and detached ruler, maladministration and lawlessness gave the British the reason they were looking for, and formed the official basis for their annexation. (Although Awadh was, for all practical purposes, under British rule well before the annexation, with the Nawab a little more than a purported or putative ruler, the British were [nevertheless] determined to grab the coveted throne of prosperous Awadh - "the garden, granary, and queen-province of India".) Thus, Wajid Ali Shah's kingdom, long protected by the British under treaty, was eventually annexed in an atmosphere of gaiety and merriment on 11 February 1856 – days before the ninth anniversary of his coronation.

Amrapali-Upagupta: There is a beautiful story of Amrapali (also known as Ambapali), a nagarvadhu (royal courtesan of Vaishali - the capital city of the Lichchavi clan) and Upagupta, a Buddhist monk, a disciple of the Buddha. (Amrapali was found at the foot of a mango tree in one of the royal gardens in Vaishali. Amra = mango, and pallava = young leaves or sprouts. According to some stories, Upagupta was the spiritual teacher of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka. Maurya is derived from Mayur, the peacock.) A danseuse par excellence who commanded the love and admiration of an entire town, Amrapali - a lady of extraordinary beauty, charm, and grace, had the rich and the famous vying for her attention. Amrapali (despite adulation and material opulence) craved peace; Upagupta's bearing exuded contentment, great awareness and grace. Amrapali depended on the adulation of her audience; Upagupta spurned the attentions of the rich and famous. Their stories were different, but the Buddha's wise teachings linked their lives. There are lessons to be learned from this story. For Upagupta, ahimsa (non-violence) did not merely mean desisting from negative or unpleasant thoughts, actions and behaviour, but also in doing positive good and showing empathy and compassion. When Vasavadatta (Amrapali) was shunned by society and had nowhere to go, Upagupta took her to his hermitage. ... Sanyasi Upagupta is a beautiful work by Tagore. The story goes as follows: One night, Upagupta - an ascetic, a disciple of the Buddha, lay asleep on the dusty ground by the city wall of Mathura. The sky was overcast with clouds, and the doors were all shut. In the prevailing darkness, a dancing girl passed that way. Though she was carrying a lamp in her hand, her feet tinkling, touched the chest of the ascetic. He woke up startled; he saw the light of the woman's lamp. (It fell on his kind eyes.) She wore a pale blue mantle, and was drunk with the wine of her youth (in the bloom of youth). She wore precious jewels. She lowered her lamp and saw the face of the young ascetic. His [young, smiling] eyes were full of tolerance (sympathy, acceptance, endurance, patience), tranquility, serenity and compassion. His face reflected peace and was austerely beautiful (reflecting the beauty of an ascetic, not conventionally handsome; an ascetic is someone who does not have a gluttonous attachment to materialistic aspects, insatiable acquisitive instinct or coarse material attachment, obverse of the Bakasura analogy). The young woman sought forgiveness for inadvertently waking him up. She (a little diffidently) extended her hospitality. However, Upagupta tells her that he could not go with her then, but when the time comes, when the time is appropriate, he will go. Suddenly, there was a fork of lightning in the dark and gloomy (cloudy, overcast) sky, the clouds rumbled. (The trishula analogy, signifying Pralaya shankha, the cosmic phenomenon of re-energisation - OM. 'Every dark cloud has a silver lining.' Rainbow is called Meghdhanush, Ramadhanu or Indra-dhanuSha in Sanskrit. It symbolises hope, fresh flavour, happiness and positivity. The imminent [figurative] arrival of joyous, vibrant spring, Rituraj Basant - the king of all seasons, symbolising hope, renewal, optimism and a complete renaissance. Spring = Sat/Satya/Krita Yuga. BG 10.35: || ṛtūnāḿ kusumākaraḥ || ~ "and of seasons I am flower-bearing spring." The spring season also [symbolically] indicates a new beginning. (Basant Panchami is celebrated on the first day of spring, the fifth day (Panchami) of Shukla Paksha (the fortnight of the waxing moon) of Magh Masa.) Heralding the onset of spring, Basant Panchami celebrates nature as new foliage and newly-bloomed flowers fill the visual landscape with vibrant colour, displaying their delicate hues in all their glory. Fields of yellow mustard charm the heart. Wheat crop starts swaying like gold. Colourful flowers start blossoming. The day of Basanta Utsab is (thus) celebrated as the welcoming of colours and happiness. There are abundant colours all around. With the fadeout of winter the trees beam with delight... and welcome the spring season with plentiful colours and sweet fragrances of fresh flowers. Even humans lose their lethargy and feel a new energy flowing through them. (Vasant/Basant = springtime.) Vasant is a vibrant raga and the happiness it exudes is endearing and irresistible, it ushers in the festive spirit, one that dispels pessimism and instills hope. Basant Panchami, which marks the fadeout of winter and heralds in spring - the season of hope and joy, is dedicated to SarasvatI. This day is also commemorated by praying to Krsna. The festivities commences from spring season and carries up to Panchami of Krishna Paksha of Falguna month, i.e. it begins with Makarasankranti and ends with Mahashivaratri. Holi is celebrated at the approach of vernal equinox, on the Phalguna Purnima (Full Moon) - i.e. on the last full moon day of the lunar month, Phalguna. (Phalguna is [also] a reference to Arjuna.) After a passage of seven months, in the month of Chaitra, on a chaitra evening, the townsfolk were busy in festivities. It was the festival of flowers in spring season. The trees were full of flowers. The people were in a merry mood; they were joyously celebrating the festival. Happy notes of a flute came floating in the warm spring air from afar. The night was lit with the full moon. (From the mid sky quietly smiled the full moon on the silent town.) The streets of the town were lonely. Upagupta was walking along the lonely street; while overhead the lovelorn (bereft, longing) koels uttered from the mango branches their sleepless plaint... wondering whether at last the night of abhisaar has arrived. The ascetic passed through the city gates and stood at the precincts of the city wall. (Beyond the well-defined boundary of the town, and into the outside limits.) Suddenly, he saw a woman lying in the shadow of the wall. She was the same dancing girl who had once [inadvertently] woken him up and then graciously offered hospitality. (To awaken can also be about the 'awakening' of spiritual consciousness, the awareness of being a part of a vast and endless consciousness, of becoming conscious of oneself in many ways – Self-awareness or Self-realisation. It could [also] be about 'awakening' of the mind, the power of the mind, to spread mind-opening knowledge. The 'awakening' of the living and conscious energy, the latent spiritual energy, kundalini, that lies dormant in the sacrum bone (a large, triangular bone) at the base of the spine – which when awakened [figuratively speaking] increase brain power (i.e. to energise and empower the brain cells) leading to intellectual brilliance.) Vasavadatta was [now] lying on the ground outside the town, with sores and wounds all over her body. (Basanta is also a reference to small pox. SarasvatI is also known as Basanti, the personification of Basant or spring. Chandi is a manifestation [form] of Durga/Shakti. As the manifestation of Basanta Chandi she cures 'Basanta' or small pox. (Putana as "stinky" can be a metaphor for pustulant sores, the eruption of which is a symptom of chicken pox. Putana can also be a metaphor for nutrition that is toxic.) Holi, amongst the most distinct festivals of India, evokes the buoyant spirit of the spring season. Holi is also known as "Basanti" festival from the season Basanta. Holi = to offer oblation or prayer to the Almighty as Thanksgiving for good harvest. Spring was a time of small pox, and Basanta was the pox season. Basanti was celebrated initially to apply turmeric paste on the skin as an antiseptic and to prevent pox. Later, turmeric was replaced with various [organic, natural] colours and the festival became Holi - the festival of colours. Durga Puja is also held in the spring season, it is known as Basanti Puja. Basanti, from Basanta or Spring. Basanti Puja is observed in the season of Spring. Basant is the Hindi term for Spring. This puja is performed in the month of Chaitra. (Chaitra Navratri or Vasanta Navratri - the nine-day festival observed in the month of Chaitra, is celebrated in North India for nine days beginning on the first day of Chaitra month and culminating on the ninth day - the Sri Rama Navami day, commemorating the appearance day [the birth anniversary] of Sri Rama, the Rama-avatar.) Durga Puja held in the month of autumn is known as Sharadutsab or Sharadiya Puja - autumnal worship. The rituals of Basanti Puja are similar to those of Sharadiya Durga Puja. The only difference is in the usage of Ghat (Kalash) for 'Bodhan' (to awaken [invoke] the deity). The 'Ghat' is not used in Sashti puja because this puja is performed on time (i.e. when it is meant to be performed). 'Untimely awakening [invocation] of Durga' is done on Sashti during Sharadiya Durga Puja.) The townsfolk had shunned her... deeming her a polluting influence. She was desolate and forsaken. Upagupta did not hesitate to offer his service (seva - care, empathy, affection, emotional shelter) and help. He sat by her side, took her head on his lap (anke), offered water to her thirsty dry lips, and smeared her body with sandal potion. The delicate fragrance of the blossoms pervaded the night, the koels sang, the night was drunk on the full moon. The monk nurses her with care, and when asked who he was, he replies that the time for their togetherness has come. ... It's a beautiful poem. What is best about the poem (Abhisaar) is – how Tagore contrasts Time. When Vasavadatta had everything, Upagupta knows its not going to last. (In the sense that it might [then] have been a mere infatuation and with time, would have faded away.) He came when she needed his help, and she had nothing to give in return. Goodness never requires anything. This masterpiece by Tagore shows the impermanence of fame, adulation, youth and physical beauty and the essence of love. Who the Buddha and who Vasavadatta – that's a paradox. Dancing girl and Nataraja. Natesha or Nataraja – the exuberant dancing Shiva, full of joie de vivre (full of energy, enthusiasm, and spontaneity; joy of anything one might do, the quiet joy in being one's self, a joy of everything, a comprehensive joy, a philosophy of life). Happiness is to be found within oneself. Nataraja = The One who is at the helm of the Cosmic Dance, the sutradhar of the cosmic phenomenon of Creation, Maintenance (balance, sustenance, preservation) and Re-energisation (renaissance, renewal, invigoration). Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva = SarasvatI, Sridevi and Parvati, the three different aspects. Shiva ('the good' or 'the auspicious') is also the supreme yogi. (Yogi derives from yoga, confluence, fusion; yogi = the one who binds or connects, the one who holds it all together.) The honorifics used for divinity signify certain attributes or quality. The Amrapali-Upagupta story is also somewhat reminiscent of the Krsna-Yashoda and the Valmiki-Sita story. Maharshi Valmiki and Maharshi Vashista could be one and the same. (... Celebrated with energy and enthusiasm, the invigorating fervour of Holi pervades everyone - the young and the young-at-heart alike. It is a time for rejoicing. It is a festival of sharing (generosity) what has been harvested and to welcome the spring season. The essence of Holi festival is acknowledging and joyous celebration of the spirit of oneness (cohesion, harmony), of equality, of unity in diversity, and to reset and renew... submerging all unpleasantness and prejudice. Holi has a special musical flavour. Originally, Holi was regarded as a festival to celebrate good harvest and fertility of the land. In Vrindavaan and Mathura the festival is celebrated for 16 days (until Rangpanchami) in commemoration of the eternal love of Radha for Krsna. The festivities usher in spring, the celebrated season of love. Holi is also associated with the Hiranyakashipu-Prahlada-Holika story. It commemorates the day when Putana and Holika were annihilated. On the eve of Holi, Chhoti Holi, is (believed to be) celebrated in commemoration of this event. It celebrates the victory of dharma over adharma and also the triumph of devotion to divinity. For some Holi commemorates Rama's coronation. ("Rama-Rajya" - inclusiveness, welfare of all, could be euphemism for Sat/Satya/Krita Yuga, the best of all phases.) BG 10.31: || pavanah pavatam asmi rāmaḥ śastra-bhṛtām aham || ~ "Of harbingers of positivity I am the wind (pavana: a breath of fresh air, like a healing zephyr) and among the warriors, I am Rama" - i.e. "warrior" against negativity (tamasic aspects) in the hearts and minds of humankind viz., retrogressive thinking or obsolete mindsets, intellectual ennui, spiritual impoverishment, indifference, ignorance, conceit, torpor, pessimism (despondency, hopelessness), prejudices, so on and so forth. 'Of purifiers (to de-clutter) I am the wind (pavana)' = a breath of fresh air (like a healing zephyr) = mist-dispelling, dispeller of unpleasant aspects, and harbinger of hope and positivity. Rama = Sri Rama/Sita, a reference to Sridevi, the highest/direct avatar. Avatar = manifestation of divinity in physical/human form.)

The sores and wounds are [very likely] figurative, essentially implying indignities, contemptuous insult or humiliating affront, unkind words and behaviour, and trivialising/disparaging, derisive or demeaning epithets/labels. In other words, mean-spirited or malicious/spiteful/rancorous/slanderous/unpleasantly severe or deliberately hurtful language or behaviour.

Nagarvadhu is interpreted as courtesan or royal courtesan. However, naagar = sweetheart, dearest, significant other, heartthrob, someone adored or beloved, the apple of one's eye. Vadhu = better half or spouse. Thus, Nagarvadhu can also imply: the light of one's life or the love of one's life... who is also the better half/spouse. And so, the RadhaKrishna relationship can never grow old. (Nagarvadhu could also imply an epithet or sobriquet, which probably gave rise to the popular belief about Krsna having 16,108 wives and innumerable gopis.)

Kamadhenu is also known as Surabhi ("the fragrant one" — possibly alluding to the flower/bloom/kali imagery). Surabhi could signify a charming, dynamic and radiant persona, full of energy and enthusiasm: fresh as a flower or 'fresh as a daisy'. BG 10.28: || dhenunam asmi kamadhuk || ~ "among cows I am the Surabhi." Nandini and Surabhi are synonyms of Kamadhenu - symbolising prosperity, plenty, good luck, sustenance, non-selfishness, etc. It is essentially a metaphor for Sridevi and Bhudevi – the deity of fortune and the personification of earth/nature. (Sridevi and Bhudevi are one and the same.) Since cows are a metaphor for rivers, Surabhi could [also] allude to SarasvatI. Other sobriquets used for Kamadhenu are Sabala ("the spotted one") and Kapila ("the red one"). Kapila ("the red one") possibly implies a healthy reddish complexion, while Sabala could imply self-made, or self-empowered, the obverse of helpless (mentally strong and emotionally resilient, to have emotional fortitude, to derive the strength to do something through one's own thoughts - despite negative or regressive attitudes, inherent biases, misogyny or unfavourable circumstances). Sabala ("the spotted one") could [also] be an allusion to a spotted feline, the [allegoric] leopardess or cheetah, known for its swiftness and stealth. (Kapi-dhvaja = the flag/banner of Kapila, or a flag/banner with an image of Kapila? Arjuna is also known as Kapidhvaja, one with the flag/banner of Kapi. The leopard was thought at one time to be the result of cross-breeding.) However, Sabala ("the spotted one") could [also] imply the presence of pale patchy areas of depigmented skin, i.e. portions of the skin losing their pigment. (Skin with vitiligo, when exposed to a black light, will glow blue. In contrast, healthy skin will have no reaction.) If the affected person is pale-skinned, the patches may be less visible. However, sun-safety must be adhered to, so as to avoid severe sunburn and melanomas. Apart from contact with certain chemicals, research suggests vitiligo may arise from autoimmune, genetic, oxidative stress, neural, or viral causes (environmental factors). Siddhartha Gautama is Kapila. Therefore, it could be that the Buddha had pale patchy areas of depigmented skin. And, if the populace were to be ignorant, then unkind words, sarcastic comments and insensitive behaviour would have been a possibility. (The Amrapali-Upagupta story is somewhat reminiscent of the story about Jesus healing a leper.)

Kamadhenu is also sometimes described as a Matrika ("mother") – a respectful honorific. Panchali and Mary Magdalene – both have been at the receiving end of pejorative language (perhaps due to the personal biases of the translators and redactors who were more often than not influenced by medieval sensibilities and/or reflected the prevalent regressive societal mindset/norms/values.) Mariamma is a reference to Kali or Kalika. Is Mary a variant of Maria, Mariam or Mariamma? Mother Mary and Mary Magdalene – were they one and the same? "Mother" is very likely a respectful honorific. Jesus is unlikely to have been Mary's son, just as Ganesha-ji was not Parvati's son. Jishnu ("the irrepressible one") is a reference to Arjuna. Is Jesus a variant of Jishnu? Yasodhara is a reference to Siddhartha Gautama's spouse. Yasodhara may have been shortened to Yesu or Jishu. Could Jesus be a variant of Yesu or Jishu? But then, who was Joseph? Was Jesus Mary's spouse or beau (spousal equivalent?) Could Mary have been married twice? Was Jesus the second husband? What 'Immaculate Conception' could imply? Surrogacy? Or something to do with DNA testing? (Immaculate = nirmal, nishkalanka, without blemish, pavitra.) Could it be that Jesus and Mary had a baby together, but Joseph brought up the baby? Jesus-Mary-Joseph: is the story about Devaki-Vasudeva-Kansa applicable? Or is the Prahlada-Hiranyakashipu story applicable? Or is the Bheeshma-Satyavati-Santanu story applicable? (Ganga = Satyavati.) Could Joseph be the equivalent of Karna of the Mahabharata who remained steadfastly loyal to Duryodhana and was duly rewarded? (Karna, the antithesis of Arjuna, became the king of Anga courtesy of Duryodhana. Karna, overweeningly ambitious; his was a single-minded pursuit of material success and status.) Joseph = Balarama/Lakshmana (who was also Ravana, Vibhisana, Kumbhakarna, Hiranyakashipu, Kansa etc etc?) Kansa was the usurper king of the Vrishni kingdom with its capital at Mathura. Ravana is said to have become the King of Lanka by usurping Lanka from his half brother, Kubera. ... The one who is Brahma, is also Vishnu, is also Shiva, is also Rudra, is also Byomkesh, is also Parvati/Durga, is also Kalika (Mariamma), is also SarasvatI, is also Sridevi, is also Bhudevi (Vasudeva), is also (the personification of) Prakriti, is also Sri Rama (Sita), is also Krsna (Panchali), is also the Buddha, is also Christ (Maria), so on and so forth. Divinity must be understood in totality, just as the epics and other stories too must be comprehended in totality, so as to understand their essence. One is [however] a tad curious about R.K. Narayan's "The Guide" – if Satyajit Ray were to helm its cinematic version, that is. 

There is also the story of Prince Kandarpaketu and Vasavadatta, daughter of king Shringarashekhara of Kusumapura. A distraught Kandarpaketu (searching for Vasavadatta) wanders for several months and finally chances upon a stone image of Vasavadatta. He touches the image, and miraculously, the stone turns into a responsive, vibrant Vasavadatta (who had been petrified into stone by a hermit's curse). This is reminiscent of the story of Ahalya. That Vasavadatta returned to being a responsive, vivacious person upon being touched by Kandarpaketu confirmed that he has been her husband in former lifetimes [manifestations] and is destined to be her husband in this and future lifetimes [manifestations] as well. Her father, King Sringarasekhara, recognises this and gives her hand in marriage to Kandarpaketu. (Perhaps one of the reasons that the divine power appears amongst humankind as the avatar (manifestation of the divine in human form) is to be able to spend time with the soulmate, the other half of the same consciousness. So, the scholars and dramatists that have sought to depict Shri Ramchandra and Sita/Sri Rama as an ideal couple etc etc have not quite understood the essence of the epics and the other stories. None else will do. (Panchali married Arjuna. She declined Karna's proposal, which antagonised him. Arjuna = Radha/Yashoda/Dronacharya/Dvaipayana Vyasa. Thus, Krsna-Dvaipayana Vyasa. The Valmiki-Sita equation has somehow been ignored.) Even if (by chance) the avatar were to be married to anyone else other than the twin soul, the petrifaction motif is applicable – implying unhappiness, boredom, emotional dissatisfaction, and discontentment. A severance of ties will [therefore] be inevitable. Thus, Ardhanarishvara – the syncretic form; they are each others anchors.

There is [probably] a feeling or sense of belonging, of emotional and personal support (a strong emotional attachment, the feeling of a close personal association, of belonging together, of a unique spiritual connection), of happiness felt in a secure relationship. It is an authentic and enduring connection, a sense of mutual commitment (of mutual admiration, fondness, respect and appreciation, to not only complement each others strengths and shortcomings but to also add value to one's perspective and choices); the profound feeling of mutual caring, to feel delighted or proud of a mate's accomplishment, and the satisfaction that comes from sharing (and persevering toward) goals and perspective. It provides the emotional security that is necessary for two different personalities to accomplish other tasks. This close affective connection (with each other) is [likely] the result of an affinity that is formed through knowledge and experience of the other (i.e. through a sense of profound knowing, a deep connection, through emotional and interpersonal awareness of the other). It requires communication (conversations), regard, transparency, vulnerability, a deep understanding of each other, intense loyalty and reciprocity and a certain level of trust as well as a greater sense of perspective. Cognitive or intellectual intimacy takes place when two people exchange thoughts, share ideas and enjoy similarities and differences between their opinions... especially if they can do this in an open and comfortable manner, i.e. when each can be "themselves" around one another and open up fully. (Emotionally intimate relationships are different from exchange relationships (which are about getting close to someone in order to get something from them). Exchange relationships are fragile and do not endure when there is any level of disagreement or difficult situation. Emotionally intimate relationships, however, are much more robust and can overcome considerable (and even ongoing) disagreements or differences of opinion or odds and challenges.) ... This is because of an affinity, of an understanding of what the other had been through, that no one else could truly understand; where two individuals connect with one another on a deeper level than just basic intellectual and emotional interaction; when they are joined in an eternal way with the mate of their soul. It is not affected or limited by separation or distance; since they have overcome the barriers of persona and egoism to the soul level, the unity of their souls is not easily severed. Even across distances twin souls can stay attuned to each other. "Two souls with but a single thought, two hearts that beat as one." - John Keats. When two people are connected, with an affinity from the soul, so strongly, that the souls become one. So much so they can even feel each others pain, and happiness. It is something that is [perhaps] beyond explanation.

The Bhagavat Gita refers to the transmigration of the human soul based on accumulative karma. The soul is jiva-atma – the human soul or individual soul, the essential nature, the eternal aspect, the Self. According to the idea of reincarnation and the evolution of the soul (the jiva-atma), each soul goes through (i.e. experiences) various lives and circumstances to progress spiritually (and intellectually). The physical form is merely the vessel in which the soul shelters. Therefore, human beings often carry some aspects of previous incarnations (manifestations). As per the Yoga Vashista, the mental impressions of past lives are not only carried over to the present life, they also manifest themselves in myriad ways. This may help explain genius, innate ability, talents etc, i.e. being born with certain biological capability. The intrinsic (innate) personality traits of an individual are merely the reflection of the personality of the soul. Perhaps humans can also connect with soulmates and/or kindred spirits, i.e. souls they have met before (in a previous incarnation), thereby embracing a connection that has greater meaning than can be fully understood or explained. ... Atma-gyana or Knowledge of the Self is not at a superficial level; it is at a more deeper and perceptive level. (Atma = the Self = the human soul). The soul has always existed. It is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless. The soul is gender-less, it is uncreated and is never born; it merely acquires a new physical form. The soul is a part of the Divine Essence or cosmic energy (Cosmic Light, Light Divine or Divine Effulgence), which is the basis of all creation. The Divine Essence or Divine Effulgence is the light that many perceive in the Nirguna (i.e. impersonal or nirvikaar – without qualities or attributes), avyaktah (unmanifested – to the human eye) and niraakar (formless) mode of the divine. This is Advaita-ism (monism). The Param-atma (the Almighty, the Higher Soul or the Higher Self) is not to be misconstrued for the Divine Effulgence. The Almighty is the Lord of Creation – the Cosmic Ruler, the Creator and the cosmic teacher. Unlike the rigorous monism (Advaita-ism) of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-Gita also integrates dualism (Dvaita – the two aspects of divinity, the impersonal Nirguna Brahmn [the Divine Effulgence] and the Saguna Brahmn [the active principle, the Almighty] and theism (āstika – belief in the presence of a higher, divine power to whom all of humankind prays). ... The soul is the eternal aspect that carries ingrained or innate personality traits (which are unlikely to change or at least undergo a significant change). Thus, the skin on a person [i.e. the physical form] shall not reveal the true identity. When an individual become totally connected with the Self (atma), by overcoming ego-consciousness etc, it is the state of complete wisdom (the stage where nirvana is attained). It is the state of a Buddha - Supreme or Highest Enlightenment; one then possesses the supreme knowledge that dispels all illusions. Such a person transcends egocentricity and is non-deluded (by sense objects, material aspects or by transient aspects). Such a person is imbued with the light of wisdom (internal wisdom or perception, insight and accurate interpretation) - the ability to see the larger picture, transcend egocentricity, and find the deeper meaning inherent in all things.)

The story of Nala and Damayanti: Nala was a young and handsome king who ruled his kingdom of Nishadha. (Jara - the hunter, is part in the Mahabharata. Guhaka, the Nishadha king, is part of the Ramayana. It was Jara's arrow that pierced the Krsna-avatar's left foot while she was resting underneath a peepal tree; the avatar merely smiled and left the body. (Arjuna performed the obsequies for Krsna and for Vasudeva.) The narrative says Jara had mistaken Krsna for a deer. Deer is imagery for destiny, Bhagya-Vidhaata or Lord (dispenser) of destiny. Could Guhaka imply caveman-esque? Undisciplined, of unrefined manners, boorish? Vibhisana and Dushasana implies: an uncivilised or uncouth human being, a rude, loutish or boorish person, a brutal, vicious, ruthless/cruel or remorseless person, someone innately inhumane, lacking pity/empathy or compassion: crude, uncultivated or unsophisticated, intemperate or undisciplined. Dushasana can also imply: a selfish [self-serving] or pathetic ruler.) Princess Damayanti was the daughter of King Bhima of Vidarbha. (Bhima implies a powerful or influential ruler.) Nala was infatuated with Damayanti and wanted to marry her. He sent a golden swan to the princess to tell her how handsome and kind he was. (Mahisasura too was infatuated with Parvati and sent emissaries to convince her to marry him. Asura Vivaah: In this type of marriage, the groom is totally unsuitable vis-à-vis the bride. However, despite not being a suitable match for the girl/bride, he willingly gives as much wealth as he can afford to the bride's parents and relatives. It's a type of bribery.) Many Princes and several devas also sought Damayanti's hand in marriage. (Nala = drain, implying bad garbage. Euphemism for a good-for-nothing: an irresponsible, meritless [without virtue], or feckless person, a couch potato, a self-indulgent idler, and one who shirks responsibility. Nala implies: the dirt of humanity. A person of wicked soul. Malevolent and wicked. Someone with an irresistible urge or inclination for doing negative or wicked things. Deceitful and full of cunning. Morally depraved, ignoble or vile, peevish or petulant (given to temper tantrums). Emotionally hardened (unfeeling, not conscientious) and utterly shameless (wanton, brazen, presumptuous, unprincipled, impudent, licentious, smart-alecky). Of foolish understanding (a dullard, not knowledgeable, imprudent, having a minimal sense of responsibility and disregard of outcome or significance), untrustworthy, treacherous, obdurate (a refusal to change for the better), excessively self-righteous, lacks generosity of spirit, discontented, exceedingly covetous, mean, easily riled, supercilious, impulsive, obnoxiously conceited and boastful. Speaks irrelevantly or chatters constantly (as in 'empty vessels make the most sound'), lacks gravitas. A man of pleasure, and a complete antithesis of a man of wisdom; having an inordinate dislike of and aversion for wise, accomplished and learned persons, inability to acknowledge and/or appreciate knowledge and merit. A person of low moral values or no ethical boundaries (inability to differentiate between dharma and adharma, is self-serving or indulges in blatant/myopic opportunism or compromises for short-term gains, to whom a pledge or promise means nothing). Unclean mind and heart, one whose conscience is dirty. The Manthara analogy: symbolising crookedness of heart, deviation from moral rectitude, deviousness, conniving trickery, unscrupulous and a hypocrite. Lakshmana: A deviously manipulating person; relentless, someone who stops at nothing to get what he wants; someone who doesn't take no for an answer and his way is the only right way for him, a metaphoric bulldozer, a propensity to bulldoze. (Insincere, given to affectation [pretentiousness], willfully false or habitually deceptive; adept at throwing dust/sand into people's eyes; pusillanimous, ungallant. Meru = spine. Kumeru: spineless, lacking a spine. Obsequious, ingratiatingly servile, overtly submissive, given to obsequious flattery, unctuous and sycophantic.) Buffaloes or water buffaloes wallow in thick sloppy mud. Malevolent persons always regard themselves as cheated of what is their due, and brags about their [supposed] acts of greatness and charity. They see others with malicious eyes (thinking everybody else to be like themselves). Such persons delight in picking faults in others, especially in learned or meritorious persons, and never give others their dues (i.e. they praise their associates, but remain silent when the merits, accomplishments or achievements of other people are proclaimed in their presence; there is a reluctance to acknowledge it). Nala could be euphemism for Mahisasura (the figurative buffalo demon) – perhaps implying buffalo-like characteristics or attributes. Mahisasura had shape-shifting abilities. This could imply he possessed the ability to project [façade, charade] a different (perhaps a righteous and benevolent) image of himself to the populace. Or could it be that he was a psychopath/sociopath with a mask of sanity? (The attributes of a malevolent and wicked person are mentioned by Bheeshmacharya (Bheeshma) and Devaguru Brihaspati in the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata. Bheeshma = Devaguru Brihaspati = Arjuna = Yashoda = Dronacharya = Dvaipayana Vyasa = Radha = Maharshi Vashista/Valmiki = Vasuki Naga/Nandi. Therefore, Arjuna could not have showered Bheeshma with arrows... keeping Shikhandi at the forefront. It was Karna who did it. Karna = Lakshmana/Balarama/Mahisasura/Hiranyakashipu, Kansa, Dushasana, Putana, etc. Shikhandi [Shikhandin] is mentioned as neither man nor woman. It could imply a cross dresser. Bheeshma declined to fight him. Karna is Pandu. Pandu was unable to father children. Was he medically unfit (anemic, a weak heart, prostate problem?) or could he have been a gay man? The equation between Pandu and Shikhandi has [somehow] been ignored, as has the one between Krsna and Dvaipayana Vyasa.)

Mahamaya is a reference to Parvati. Therefore, Damayanti could be an allusion to Parvati. (Dama or dam also implies: courage, breath and vigour.) At Damayanti's svayamvara (gathering of suitors), Nala and Damayanti got married. Dvapar and Kali felt that they had been cheated and swore that they would make life difficult for Nala and Damayanti. (This could imply Nala made life difficult for Damayanti. Emotionally draining. Mentally fatigued. Emotionally choked. Emotionally and psychologically exhausted. Emotionally depleted. Perhaps, jealousy issues, and feelings of frustration, inadequacy, machismo, so on and so forth. Lack of emotional hygiene. (Machismo: a strong or exaggerated sense of masculinity stressing attributes such as domination of women, and aggressive/abusive behaviour; exaggerated pride in masculinity, perceived as power, often coupled with a minimal sense of responsibility.) The difficulties of a marriage between unequals, especially if the man is insensitive, competing with her (due to a desire to succeed) or is attempting to win the Master of the Universe title. Marriage can be a partnership of unequals, in the sense that both can have different strengths, however it should be a partnership with respect, courtesy and consideration on both sides. Harmony and balance is required, a couple needs to find a common ground. There should [also] be compatibility, a willingness and ability to adjust. Decisions should be made jointly, and one person should not attempt to have total say over the other. Nala and Damayanti were totally incompatible - of completely different dispositions, motivations and perspectives, of vastly different experiences, awareness or understanding. In the stories of Parvati her spouse is referred to as Shiva and is depicted as chillum smoking, hard drinking, ill tempered, disreputable, easily propitiated (easily flattered) and a dancing mendicant. (Could it be a reference to Nala? However, Shiva – 'the good' or 'the auspicious' - is an honorific that cannot be extended to Nala.) Both Himavat and Menavati (Parvati's parents) were unhappy with his antics. Himavat is said to have once thrown him out of his house. The story about Siva (Nala?), as a mendicant, receiving alms from Annapurna (Parvati): could this imply that he did not have a stature of his own, that he was not an accomplished person? Was she totally out of his league - the mendicant analogy?) Kali, the deity of the fourth (malevolent) era, the ghor kaliyug phase, had been infatuated with Damayanti, and now wanted revenge on Nala. (The demon Kali is not to be misconstrued for Kalika, a form of Durga. The demon Kali is the personification of all vices of humankind in the ghor kaliyuga phase, the lowest phase of a maha-yuga or time-cycle of four phases. It is also euphemistically known as the 'Iron Age' of ignorance and confusion, the age [phase] of considerable intellectual and spiritual depletion, stagnation/impoverishment'.) Kali gained control of Nala's body and tricked him into gambling away the royal treasury. According to some versions, Nala lost his kingdom at dice. (This could imply that Nala and the demon Kali were one and the same. Excessive attachment to dice = a habitual gambler. Someone with a taste for gambling (capricious, unreflected decision-making) with a minimal sense of responsibility, and disregard of outcome or significance. The Vibhisana aspect. Dice in general in Sanskrit are known as aksa; the oblong dice are distinguished with the name of pasa, pasaka, parsa – all being variants of one another and connected with the Hindi pasa and the Punjabi phansa. The oblong or cubical dice (akṣa) is the precursor of the more primitive vibhīṣaka - small, hard nuts drawn randomly to obtain factors of a certain integer. Vibhīṣaka may have been the precursor to the epithet, Vibhisana.) Damayanti went into exile (vaanvas) with Nala, but she sent her children to her father's kingdom. In the forest (vaanvas), still under the influence of [the demon] Kali, Nala abandoned Damayanti. (A marriage between an irresponsible and gluttonously materialistic person with an unenlightened mind, and the deity of knowledge, wisdom, literature, creativity, music, arts, culture and eloquence, is unlikely to sustain. Theirs was not only a marriage of unequals, but also of incompatibles, and possibly an exchange relationship, where one person expects something out of the other. Also, infatuation cannot be the basis for marriage, with time it would fade away. Besides, both were familiar adversaries.) Damayanti underwent many tribulations. Finally she took up the position of the waiting woman of the princess of Chedi. (This could imply Nala = Shishupala, the king of Chedi, and that he was condescending towards Damayanti. Shishupala, a cousin of Krsna, was also Krsna's implacable foe. (Shishupala and Rukmi were vassals of Jarasandha.) Due to his hostility he was contemptuous and scornful of Krsna and also used pejorative language (opprobrious invectives). Opprobrious words criticise in a mean, hurtful way. Krsna forgave his misdemeanours a hundred times – as per a promise to Shishupala's mother. Shishupala in a former existence is believed to have been the adharmic Hiranyakashipu. He was also Ravana. However, could Shishupala imply someone who nurtured/nourished children? Or was a foster parent to orphan children? Philanthropic-minded? Debauchery and vice? Pedophiliac? Putana (toxic nutrition) = Shishupala? Karna too used pejorative language against Panchali, to please Duryodhana. Shishupala = Karna. Chedi = loopholes, mean in speech.) Meanwhile, Nala rescued a serpent, Karkotaka, who bit him, causing the venom [euphemism for negativity, malevolence, wickedness] to afflict Kali who had gained control of his body. Nala was not in pain, but his form changed to that of a hideous dwarf. (Karkotaka is unlikely to have been one of the five Naga worshipped along with Manasa Devi [a form of Shakti] on Naga Panchami. Here, Karkotaka could imply someone with crab-like characteristics. Karka = crab. After coming into contact with this crab-like person, Nala's malevolence increased manifold, i.e. he became more and more wicked, selfish and unrighteous. The dwarf analogy: lack of stature, personality, gravitas, knowledge, social commitment and positive, progressive or righteous effort and/or accomplishments.) He took service with Rituparna, the King of Ayodhya, as a charioteer (implying an underling, minister or advisor?); from Nala he became Vahuka. (Vahuka: someone who used coercive methods or strong-armed tactics? Multiple marriages and/or dalliances? Vahu = of many. A middleman? Someone whose services could be hired? Nala as Bahuk/Vahuka: Bahuk or Vahuka can also imply 'one with a hump', a crooked person. Nala could [therefore] be the scheming Manthara, metaphor or personification of crooked mind and heart, an unclean conscience; a self-serving opportunist; a person of low moral values or no ethical boundaries.) Rituparna, a king of Ayodhya, was a master mathematician and profoundly skilled in dice. He was son of Sarvakama. This could imply unprincipled, intemperate, immoderate and wanton, self-indulgent (seeking gratification), prurient. (It could also imply exaggerated self-image, to covet more than one's calibre or capacity. The 'all-or-nothing' gamble.) Damayanti was brought back from Chedi by her father, Bhima. She later came to know that Nala might be in Ayodhya, so she sent a false message to the King of Ayodhya (Rituparna), saying that a second Svayamvara for her was being held. The King naturally rushed to participate, and his chariot was driven by Nala, who thought that his wife had finally given up on him. On the way, Rituparna taught Nala the art of skillful dice-play, in return for knowledge about horses. When this exchange was completed, Kali was expelled from the body of Nala (implying the figurative arrival of Satya Yug - the best of all phases?), but he still retained his ugly appearance. (Mahisasura is unlikely to have ever been handsome. He could only become more ugly.) Once in Vidarbha, it was obvious to Rituparna that no svayamvara was taking place, but he held his peace. With his new-found skill in dice, Nala challenged his cousin to a rematch and won back his kingdom, all his wealth and much more. (Insatiable quest for wealth and material success - the Bakasura analogy. Karna's was a single-minded pursuit of material success and status. Karna = Bakasura.) Damayanti waited for Nala to come to her, but he would not, for he thought she did not want him. Finally with the help of her trusted servant she discovered that the hideous dwarf Vahuka was really Nala. Once they were reunited, the curse on Nala was finally lifted and he regained his handsome form. (This perhaps implies the fadeout of the ghor kaliyuga phase (the 'Iron Age' of ignorance and confusion') and the commencement of a new maha-yuga, a four-phase cosmic cycle... beginning with Sat/Satya/Krita Yug – the figurative 'Golden Age', the best of all phases. The four phases represent the spiritual and intellectual evolution of humankind. Nala, the personification of all vices of humankind in the lowest of all phases, the ghor kaliyuga phase, is the metaphoric Moriarty, a devious mastermind, the lynchpin. He is the personification of the 'Iron Age' of ignorance and confusion', the age [phase] of considerable intellectual and spiritual depletion, stagnation/impoverishment' (which leads to an exponential increase in excessively selfish and adharmic aspects - individual and societal values, thoughts, behaviour/actions, which in turn results in a substantial depletion in empathy and social commitment). He is the demon Kali, and therefore, he cannot be part of Sat/Satya/Krita Yug – the best of all phases. Nala's swansong or something more = King Mahabali's patala-pravesha. Bheema, one of the Pandavas, trumped Bakasura. Panchali chose the mighty Bheema to decimate Dushasana. Hiranyakashipu was torn apart by the fourth avatar of the Dasavataar. The fourth and fifth avatar of the Dasavataar could [also] be a reference to the vahaan. (If necessary, Vishnu can act through the vahaan: a special assistant, the person for all seasons and situations.) Sridevi's Uluka (barn owl) = the veena adorning the arm of SarasvatI = Shiva's Vasuki and Nandi = Dawon, Durga's lion and tiger, so on and so forth. Durga is also known as Sherawali.) ... Indra, Varuna, etc being part of Damayanti's svayamvara (looking exactly like Nala), and yet Damayanti recognising Nala... since he was the only one blinking. This could imply Nala was the first to blink in any situation: an inability to withstand hardships or tribulations, an unscrupulous, pusillanimous and self-serving opportunist. Damayanti would have tried her best to reform Nala, to put some sense into him, to put some perspective into him. However, given his intransigence (his supremely stubborn ways that is his innate nature, he is immune to change, immune to learning, incorrigible), she would have given up on him. However, could the story [also] imply that Damayanti remarried, this time to someone from Ayodhya? (It is unlikely to have been Ramchandra, though.) No svayamvara implies a quiet marriage, and/or a secret marriage? A nice quiet (small and intimate) ceremony instead of a large, elaborate wedding and flamboyant revelry? Could the Nala-Damayanti marriage have been a feigned marriage, a pretend marriage? ... Parvati (Durga) is MahisasuraMardini, 'The Annihilator of the Buffalo Demon'. So, despite all of his machinations, deception, charade, malevolence and trickery, it was 'Satyameva Jayate' (Truth stands invincible or 'Truth always prevails'). The triumph of dharma over adharma (malevolence) is inevitable. Hiranyakashipu/Ravana (along with his malevolent sister Holika) was annihilated, however, it is unlikely that Ramchandra became the king of Lanka. 

The epics and the other stories is part of leela, for humankind to understand and imbibe the appropriate ethical lessons, to cultivate the capacity to think, to discuss (i.e. informed, sensible and objective discussion, quality debate, instead of an inconsequential one) and for thoughtful reflection. This will lead to (individual and collective) intellectual and spiritual evolution. Critical thinking is to have the mental maturity and intellectual calibre to differentiate between negativity (malevolence) and positivity (dharma), between what is important/necessary and what is unimportant/unnecessary. Dharma is not about textbook moralism; it is about one's moral compass, an inner sense that serves to guide a person's decisions, behaviour, commitment and effort.

One afternoon, as my mother went to work in the households, I went over to the railway station, nearby. It was not far from home. I don't know the exact distance, but it wasn't far from home, and though my mother didn't encourage it much, she allowed me to go there as long as I stood outside the fence and not entered the station. (A psychological condition (timidity), constraint, inaccurate prejudices and dichotomies, restriction or compulsion (regardless of the rationality or reason) of staying within the [questionable and/or archaic] norms, notions or parameters of what is prescribed? Obligation to adhere to the proverbial 'Lakshmana-rekha'? ... The realm of ignorance (wherein the thought process is non-progresive) pervades [and shapes] many aspects of societal values and behaviour. Education does not always help remove it from the mind. Broadening of the thought process or expanding horizons of the mind is, therefore, irrespective of what is understood by rote-learning or textbook education. The way an individual thinks shapes the mindset, perception and behavioural aspects. Negative stereotypes or social conditioning convey normative "concepts" or assumptions of a culture, gender, behaviours, and so on. Overcoming stereotypes is about changing mindsets through changing the language. Mindset change is vital for progress. Changing the language changes the mindset. Changing the mindset can [therefore] have a huge positive effect on societal aspects.) I just loved counting the cars on the goods trains that went by. I was so fascinated by where they came from, and where they went, that I could gaze at them endlessly. A light drizzle had begun but I stood under a tree and it was all right. (The twin unicorn seal shows twin unicorns underneath the Ashvattha tree. Ashvattha = where horses stood/sheltered. The twin unicorn: Gemini or mithuna aspect? One can tell it's a peepal tree by the heart-shaped leaves.) I was just going to watch the late afternoon train, it was the longest train, and if I was lucky, it could be carrying tanks and military vehicles – my favourite. But on that day there was an entirely different kind of excitement at the railway station. A little away from the main platform, a train was getting ready. Loaders were noisily loading equipment and boxes of all shapes and sizes, people were running about busily, orders were being shouted across the length and breadth of the long chain of cars, and lions were snarling and roaring. It was the circus train, and the troupe was packing up to leave.

(Pather Panchali is the masterly Satyajit Ray's debut film, and the first film of his 'The Apu trilogy'. The sequel to Pather Panchali is Aparajito (Unvanquished). Pather Panchali depicts poverty, underrepresented people, disempowerment and a can-do spirit with a kind of open-eyed simplicity that resonates with the audiences of this film, they begin to empathise with the characters. The film has a universal humanist appeal. Satyajit Ray is possibly the most natural of directors. The narrative is not self-conscious and eschews exaggeration for social realism using more open narrative structures, a leisurely pace and rhythm, a somewhat rambling quality, the landscape, actors who look like ordinary people, etc. The film never feels embarrassed in its portrayal of poverty and rural culture and sensibilities, instead it is honest, authentic and normal, a slice of life. There's respect for human dignity. Satyajit Ray framing his universe through the lens of his vision is clearheaded, thoughtful, a little poetic, sometimes lighthearted, sometimes entertaining, non-judgmental, bringing a fresh and somewhat wiser perspective and eschewing melodrama, cynicism and overstretching of metaphors and clichés. Attention to detail is meticulous. Ray's films resonate very differently on the palate. And Pather Panchali is no different. The film is about an impoverished family struggling to make both ends meet (in early twentieth century, in a remote village). It's about their present — a difficult, struggling present. There is daily frustrations, impoverished desperation, suffering, contemplation, inflections, wonder, appreciation for the little joys, family disagreements, an old, loving, feisty and storytelling aunt, a couple of mischievous and innocent children, there's also the discrepancy between modern and traditional living, and aspiration for something more or something else. Durga and Apu secretly relish tamarind paste, while their mother is complaining about hardships to their father. Trying to see a train is one of the highest aspirations. The discovery of a train by Durga and Apu in a field of white kash flowers is one of the riches of Pather Panchali. They run across the field trying to glimpse the train... joy, happiness and a sense of accomplishment writ large on their faces. They follow a candy-seller whose wares they cannot afford, enjoy the theatre and witness a marriage ceremony. All of these are remarkable aspects of the film. 

Train could symbolise the need for upgrading, skill-development or skill-enhancement, to strengthen and augment capacity as well as the necessity to constantly rethink, re-assess and re-examine... so as to avoid obsolescence, linearity in thinking process, ineffectiveness, oversimplifying (to simplify something to the point of exaggeration, delusion, ambiguity, speciousness/illogicality or error), lethargy/slothfulness, and [hence] figurative stagnation. It could also symbolise the 'train of thought' or stream of thought, a succession of connected ideas, a path of reasoning, pattern of thinking or sequence of ideas: one's thought process, introspection, internal monologue. It could also be about a cultural and religious engine, the growth engine, an employment engine and/or an economic engine (for a diverse economy). It could also be about the need for eschewing ad hoc fixes and superficial or piecemeal understanding, and the need for comprehending the micro and macro aspects/ingredients that constitute the larger picture. There is a common thread that runs through the past, the present and the future, the ongoing stream. The past and the future have a common term: kal, there's continuity. Thus, it is necessary to eschew a linear approach (linearity in thinking process, discussions and understanding), and the need for integrated, holistic approach and solutions. Train could also symbolise collaborative efforts and methods and collaborative learning platforms that enable students and teachers to stay connected, to maintain strong relationships. ... The expansive railway connectivity binds the social, cultural and economic fabric of the country by removing the distance barrier for its people. The Indian Railways have played an important role in the development of industries and agriculture. The year 1853 heralded the arrival of railway in India (the first commercial passenger service, a 14 carriage long train drawn by 3 locomotives). A few other railways are known to have operated in India prior to 1853, for carrying materials and supplies. A steam locomotive, Thomason, was used for hauling material in Roorkee for the Solani viaduct in 1851. The much-needed railway connectivity and the English language played an important role in bringing together diverse geographical realm, peoples, languages, and festivities and culture thereby creating a feeling of unity during the British rule. It was [therefore] a crucial factor in uniting hearts and minds of people of diverse regions.

I was drawn to it, irresistibly. I crossed the fence without even noticing it, and stood outside the car that had to be Veronica's. (The need for crossing the proverbial 'lakshmana-rekha', barriers of the heart and mind: ignorant, regressive, inhumane and worn out social norms and traditions that seeks to monopolise divinity?) She stood at the entrance, talking to someone, her magical hair blowing in the light wind. I wanted to get closer, as close as I could. I was transfixed, even a loud thunderclap did not distract me. (BG 10.28: || ayudhanam aham vajram || ~ "Of instruments (a tool or implement used to facilitate or achieve, a means by which something is done, to accomplish a purpose) I am the thunderbolt (vajram, euphemism for diamond gemstone)". Avatars are unlikely to carry equipment per se. Diamond Gemstone or Heera: The diamond reflects the colours of the rainbow, symbolising hope and optimism. Diamond is associated with brain, stamina, and health. The significance of diamond or heera could be measured in terms of its hardness and luster, transparency and luminosity, pleasant appearance. Diamond helps an individual get to the essence of things, insight, and lack of illusion. Sanskrit: Vajra, Lightning bolt or thunderbolt, Hiraka, Diamond, Bhargava-priya, Beloved of Venus.) I have no idea how long I stood there, gazing at her. Suddenly, the skies opened up in a phenomenal cloudburst and the melee on the ground turned into a stampede. I was pushed and shoved and pummeled. Feet flew around me and I could barely move, leave alone run. (Matthew 5:13 is the thirteenth verse of the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. It is part of the Sermon on the Mount. ... In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his followers, who are mainly fishermen and other simple people, "Ye are the salt of the Earth." People who are salt of the earth are thoroughly good types: decent, dependable and unpretentious, the most worthy of people, people having good qualities, i.e. basic, fundamental goodness. The phrase 'salt of the Earth' can be used to describe any simple, good or worthy person, a person or persons of great kindness, an individual or group considered as representative of the best or noblest elements of society, i.e. people who are the essence of the land. Salt is traditionally a mark of social worth. The phrases 'worth one's salt' and 'true to one's salt'. So anything described as 'salt' is valuable. There are a wide number of references to salt in the Old Testament. It is very likely a reference to the labourer, a person engaged in physical work. (The ordinary is extraordinary.) Cicero described Rome as light to the world. The phrase 'the salt of the earth' derives from the Bible, Matthew 5:13. Matthew 5:14 (the fourteenth verse of the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament): You are the light of the world. Along with Matthew 5:13, this verse became the theme of World Youth Day 2002: "You are the salt of the earth ... you are the light of the world". (A beacon to the rest of the world.) And then a giant pair of hands picked me up and pushed me right inside the door of the car. I tried to free myself, but the hands belonged to a mountain of a man – he must have been the show's body builder. (Bheema? Ghatotkacha? Mainak Parvat? Mainak, a celestial golden mountain, the brother of Parvati and Ganga, was 100 yojana in width, 800 miles. Ghatotkacha: ghat = a pot or pitcher, kumbha; utkacha probably derives from utkoch. This word could be interpreted as ghus or bribe (in modern terminology) and is considered as a stymieing factor to development and progress; perhaps our ancients considered it as reward or consideration, incentive - for services rendered. The utkoch [incentive] probably varied depending on the service provided. So, maybe the ancients put a cap on it, as in parameters etc.) I could not free myself nor climb out. I found myself in the car's doorway, among suitcases, bundles and a few other people. Before I could protest, the car door closed shut. It had suddenly become so dark outside that once the door closed, it became night-like inside the compartment. Panic gripped me. I didn't know whether to cry, scream or plead. Such was the rush outside that no one paid any attention to me. I tried opening the thick door but I could not even turn the handle. The door leading into the inner compartment was closed – Veronica must have gone inside. (Door: an allusion to Dvārakā or Dvaravati, 'city with many doors'? Dvaraka/Dvarka = Haridvar? Dvarka: gateway, where world meets? Prayaga - confluence, fusion? Dvaraka is also known as 'the Golden City', implying prosperity, a prosperous city?) I banged on it but the noise outside, the din of the rain and the non-stop thunder drowned out all sound. There were two other girls in the car. I looked helplessly at them, pleading, but they looked disinterestedly at me. They looked like helpers, and quite at home in that space. The train lurched suddenly, paused briefly, lurched again, blew out a long shrill whistle and started chugging off.

My heart began to sink and I felt sick. I shot up quickly in a last ditch attempt to escape, banged my head against a shelf or luggage, and passed out. Total darkness. (In Sleeping Beauty the infant princess was cursed by the wicked fairy Maleficent, who foretold that on her 16th birthday, she would prick her finger on a spinning wheel's spindle and die. A good fairy attempted to reverse the wicked fairy's curse, instead of dying the Princess went into a deep sleep. (Spinning wheel is not to be confused with the Kalachakra ('Wheel of Time'), the pinnacle of Buddhist wisdom, nor should it be misconstrued for the Buddhist Dharma Chakra gracing our National Flag.)

If someone's heart sinks, he or she starts to feel worried that something was really wrong, a feeling that something unpleasant is going to happen. A sinking feeling = a feeling caused by uneasiness (nervousness, anxiety) or apprehension. It could also be due to a feeling of claustrophobia, migraine, motion sickness or vertigo. Ditch = to abandon. Ditch = furrow. Seeradhvaj Janaka (a Rajarshi, having advanced spiritually and reached the state of a rishi) was a king administrating the kingdom of Mithila. Janaka found Sita while ploughing (as part of a yagna for the rains in his drought-hit kingdom) and adopted her. Sita is known by many epithets. She is known as Jānaki - the daughter of Janaka, and/or 'of Janaka' - of the people, and Maithili - the princess of Mithila. (Jana = people. Janaki = of the people, belonging to the people, well-wisher of the people. Sita/Sītā or Seeta = darzi, mender: a skilled mender who specialises in mending or healing of hearts and minds (to reform or to correct). Seeta/Sri Rama is the maintainer [support, sustainer] aspect of divinity. A stitch in time saves nine. This proverb is a counsel of prudence, of timely effort, that preventive maintenance is preferable to slothfulness or procrastination. Timely effort leads to better success. The proverbial expression was perhaps meant as an incentive to the lazy. 'A stitch in time saves nine' is an anagram for 'this is meant as incentive'.) Her foster-father Janaka had earned the sobriquet Videha due to his ability to transcend body consciousness (out of body, kayaheen?); Sita is therefore also known as Vaidehi (implying Phantom?) Sita is said to have been discovered in a furrow in a ploughed field. She was discovered, adopted and brought up by Seeradhvaj Janaka, king of Mithila, and his wife Sunayana. Janaka was the honorific for the Kings of Mithila. In other words, Janaka was the honorific of the monarch who ruled the Videha Empire from Mithila. BG 10.27: || narāṇāḿ ca narādhipam || ~ "and among humans I am the monarch" (Cakravartin: a wise, thoughtful, enlightened, sagacious, considerate, discerning/perceptive/prudent, levelheaded [reasonable], commonsensical, cool-headed, sober, progressive and unbiased ruler, a unifier and binding force). The Almighty is the Sovereign/Monarch of the galaxy. The Supreme Being is also Aryaman (the noble one - implying dharmic and sattvic [noble] qualities). The Milky Way galaxy itself was seen as the path of Aryaman (the noble one) or the Ganges of the sky (akash-ganga).

A sharp torchlight flooded my face. Shielding my eyes, I wondered why my mother was pointing a light at me. Then it hit me – I was not at home and it was not my mother. (Mother: an allusion to Yashoda? Could Janaka of the Ramayana = Yashoda of the Mahabharata?)

I was on a train. My mother. My mother would be sick with worry. "Stop the train, stop the train, I have to go home," I tried to scream but no sound escaped my parched throat.

Then a melodious voice called out: "Bring her here, Rita." My head hurt and I touched it to discover a rather large bump. Sobs wracked my body, I was so afraid. The lady with the torch spoke to me kindly and asked me to follow her. I did.

(Torch: As per the narrative of the Ramayana, Hanuman-ji torched Lanka. However, Hanuman-ji is also vAtAtmajam, Pavana-Putra and SrI rAmadUtam (representative of Sri Rama). Pavana-Putra or vAtAtmajam = son of pavana (wind). As per the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Rama is the figurative pavana (implying a breathe of fresh air, a gentle mist-dispelling zephyr) to dispel the allegoric 'fog' of tamasic aspects (ignorance, torpor, indifference, retrogressive thinking/mindsets, worn out or obsolete social norms and traditions, and so on) of the ghor kaliyuga phase (the figurative/symbolic 'Iron Age' of ignorance and confusion), so as to bring about an intellectual re-energisation (an intellectual, scientific and artistic renaissance - to change obsolete or regressive social values and notions by invigorating or 'awakening' humanity, to 'awaken' the minds of the people). Sri Rama (Sita, Sridevi/Bhudevi) is the personification of nature (prakriti), and deity of the earth. Sri is a respectful honorific for Sridevi, the deity of prosperity, good health and fortune. ... So, why would Hanuman-ji have attempted to destroy Lanka? Sita was the princess of Lanka, after all. Maybe the canny Ravana craftily passed the buck of blame onto Hanuman-ji? Sri Rama and Krsna are one and the same. Therefore, Lanka and Dvaraka too are one and the same. ... Ravana (who is also Balarama, Hiranyakashipu, Bakasura, Vibhisana, Kumbhakarna, Santanu, Kansa, Dushasana, Mahisasura, Putana, Lakshmana, etc) usurped Lanka. But what was Pradyumna's reaction to it? (Pradyumna, Krsna's son, is also Prahlada, Kartik, Aiyappa and one of Lava and Kusha.) Did he not object? Did he accept Kansa aka Ravana as the ruler of Lanka and not stand up for Vasuki? What about Kunti and Suryadeva's son (referred to as Karna) who was brought up by foster parents? (Kunti = the deity of the Earth = Vasudeva. Suryadeva probably implies a wise and learned person, a sage/rishi.) What happened to this Karna? What happened to Vasudeva and Devaki's baby? How and why did the people accept Ravana as their king? Did they get taken by appearances? (The Buddha had often cautioned/advised not to judge people from appearances or ostentatious behaviour.) How did Ravana side-line VasukiNaga/Nandi?

Prahlada was a daitya, epithet for an offspring of a deva (positive person) and an asura (negative person). Prahlada is known for being conscientious and for his unflinching faith in Vishnu. But he is also known for his excessive obedience, so much so that he would comply with whatever Hiranyakashipu asked of him. Since he felt his father had every right over him, he honoured Hiranyakashipu's authority, the only exception being his staunch devotion to Vishnu. Despite all of Hiranyakashipu's efforts Prahlada did not change his mind, he refused to accept Hiranyakashipu as greater than Vishnu. Perhaps the lesson from the Prahlada-Hiranyakashipu-Holika story is that excessive obedience to authority may not be a good thing. One must [also] cultivate the ability to think (clarity of thought, clear reasoning, cogent thinking) to be able to make well-thought out decisions and choices. ... Kansa, the usurper king of the Vrishni kingdom with its capital at Mathura, is said to have heard an aakashvani (daiva-vani), saying, his days of tyranny will soon be over and that the eighth child of Devaki was to be his nemesis (the source of retributive justice for negative actions and undeserved good fortune). Kansa was the maternal uncle of baby Krsna (i.e. to Vasudeva and Devaki's baby. Vasudeva is a reference to Krsna. Devaki = of Deva.) Whether this child and Prahlada were one and the same?)

When the door to the inner chamber of the bogey opened, my eyes flew wide open. I could see Veronica, right before my eyes. It was like a dream. My sobs stopped suddenly as though someone had switched them off. And I didn't know what was true – my nightmare of being thrown inside this running train, or this vision before my eyes.

She was tall with large luminous eyes. (Luminous eyes: Eyes with natural brilliance? Someone who speaks more with her eyes instead of words? From classical texts we gather that Krsna's eyes were shaped like lotus petals (Pundarikaksha, Padmalochana; Vishalaksha, large-eyed). Vishnu is 'the lotus-eyed one'. The avatar [SarasvatI] is referred to as Vishvaroope Vishalakshi: large-eyed in the universal form, the Vishvaroop, the all-encompassing form of divinity.) Her hair flowed over her shoulders and back in thick, glossy waves. (Keshavah? Kesha = hair. Rishikesha? A bun or topknot - symbolic jata?) She was slim as an hour-glass, and her red dress became her. (Red represents both Santa Claus and Valentine's Day. Red is the warmest and the most energetic colour in the spectrum. It stands for: energy, vigour, enthusiasm, strength, power, confidence, determination and valour. Red is also a very emotionally intense colour, it is the colour of longing, sensitivity, deep love and passion. The colour red has very high visibility, and so it can be used to grab attention, when one doesn't want to sink into the background.) I could not take my eyes off her. I entered the room with some trepidation. It was so luxurious! I could see a round table, perfectly polished with two chairs by its side. One dresser, which was laden with all the cosmetics a girl can ever dream of, a large wardrobe and a compact pink bed with a blue duvet flung over it. (Pink signifies romance, love, and camaradrie. It denotes feminine qualities and passiveness (detachment, dispassion, composure, restraint, moderation, imperturbability, unobstrusiveness, unpretentiousness, peaceableness, patience, endurance, fortitude, perseverance, humility). Blue is for trust. It also represents: meditation (self-reflection, introspection), peace, calm/tranquility/serenity, unfathomable depth, stability, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intellect, patience, decision-making and truth. Vishnu is lohitah, reddish-hued. The pale-red lotus is the Highest Lotus or Supreme Lotus; this lotus is highly revered and signifies the highest deity. Pale-red = paTalaH in Sanskrit. Did paTalaH-putra become Pataliputra? "Putra" could be a term implying citizenry. Could Patala be a reference to the famed city of Pataliputra - the capital of Magadha? Magadha formed one of the sixteen Mahājanapadas or regions. Pataliputra (Pāṭaliputra) was a city that began to grow as a center of commerce and became the capital of Magadha. It was the centre of cultural change. Lanka = Dvaraka = Haridvar = Rishikesha = Prayaga = Magadha?) The floor was carpeted and muffled the sound of footsteps. I stood staring at it all, open-mouthed, oblivious of the fact that Veronica was looking at me intently. I probably looked like an urchin, my face streaked with tears and grime. My clothes were in no shape, either. I was a mess. (The condition of humankind, due to substantial indifference, prejudice, complacency, etc?) She looked perplexed but calm. Before she could speak, I told her everything in one breath, my sobs returning in full force. Veronica's expression turned to compassion (allusion to the Buddha?) and she very kindly asked me to use the washroom in the corridor to clean up. When I returned feeling a little human again, Veronica asked me to sit down. I did, on the corner of her bed. She said it had been six hours since the train had rolled out of my town... (There is need for physical hygiene, but emotional hygiene, emotional well-being, is more important. The sixth avatar of the Dasavataar is Parasu-Rama ('Rama of the Axe'). The seventh avatar is Sri Rama, the Rama-avatar – the restorer of emotional hygiene. Paat = jute. Paṭṭa = silk. Pāţali gur or "khejur gur" is sugar extracted from the sap of date palm trees. It's darker in colour and richer in texture and flavour. Patali is very delicious. It has much more flavour and tastes way better than cane jaggery (akhher gur). The most notable application for its use is in paayesh or paramanna, in place of sugar. The sweet smell of khejur gur is pure bliss, not enough words to describe it. Paayesh is traditional kheer (rice pudding) made with patali gur. The gur imparts a caramel-ly flavour to the kheer/paayesh, thus making it intensely rich, incredibly delicious, and definitely memorable. Pāţali gur is a winter specialty, and Pāţali gur-er payesh is savoured during Makara Sankranti and Sarasvati Puja. ... Ikshvaku is derived from the Sanskrit ikṣvāku, which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word ikṣu, which means 'sugar cane'. (Sanskrit: Ikṣvāku. Pali: Okkāka). Ikshvaku is a reference to the dynasty or lineage of Ram (Ramchandra?), King Iksvaku probably being the progenitor of the lineage. There is Sri Rama (Sita) and Ramchandra in the Ramayana (Sitayana). Perhaps the wrong one has been glorified as a model spouse and ideal ruler. Rama-Rajya has nothing to do with Shri Ramchandra. (Ramchandra and Lakshmana/Balarama were [very likely] part of the five-headed or seven-headed SheshaNaga, and therefore, charlatans.) Perhaps there is a need to cleanse the narrative of the epics and the other stories of misconceptions and misperceptions.) 

(Hourglass: an instrument for measuring time, a sandglass that runs for sixty minutes. (Horology). An hourglass is also known as sandglass, sand timer, sand watch, sand clock and egg timer. Sandglass: a timepiece in which the passage of time is indicated by the flow of sand from one transparent container to another through a narrow passage. Factors affecting the time measured include the amount of sand, the bulb size, the neck width, and the sand quality. Alternatives to sand are powdered eggshell and powdered marble. Hourglasses were an early dependable, reusable and accurate measure of time. The rate of flow of the sand is irrespective of the depth in the upper reservoir; also, the instrument will not freeze in cold weather. Once the top bulb is empty, it can be inverted to begin timing again. Recognition of the hourglass as a symbol of time has withstood its obsolescence as a timekeeper. The hourglass is often depicted as a symbol that human existence is fleeting (the "sands of time", or time running out, signifying the transience of things or that time and tide wait for none.) The Cosmic Ruler is also referred to as Kaalpurusha or Kalapurusha, Time personified, or the Timekeeper of the (mathematically precise) universe. And so, [perhaps] the universe functions like clockwork. The phrase 'Time and tide wait for none' implies no one is so powerful that they can stop the march of time. "There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." - William Shakespeare. In other words, time is the most precious thing, unquantifiable, incapable of being quantified or precisely defined mathematically. Its value cannot be quantified.) 

"Someone must have mistaken you for a circus worker and helped you into the train, not realising that you were actually a bystander. I'm sorry about that, child. I promise to talk to the circus manager and do something, all right?" she said very kindly, bringing a fresh rush of tears to my eyes. She explained to me that the owner-cum-manager had his car right near the engine, and we were nearly at the back of the train. There was no way to communicate with him, not unless the train stopped somewhere. As soon as the train made a stop, at a station, she would send word to him, she explained. "Come, come, it's not so bad," she said soothingly and asked Rita to bring a plate of food for me. I was touched by her affectionate behaviour and in my distraught frame of mind, it was difficult to keep tears at bay. But I felt enormously better. 

(Empathy, kindness, warmth, optimism, positive behaviour, gentleness and courtesy, humanistic concern and humane gestures will go a long way to gently soothe and reassure people who are distressed or distraught, it will comfort them, assuage their pain and ease their strain, it will help to provide succour and hope, confidence, a sense of purpose and peace of mind. Service to humanity, service to the cause of humanity, is service to divinity. That is true worship. It is [therefore] essential to eschew indifference, snobbery and aloofness and to re-imbibe empathy, compassion and humaneness.

Rita: an allusion to Krita Yuga, also referred to as Sat/Satya Yuga – the best of all phases/epochs? (Sat or Satya Yuga is also known as Krita Yuga since this phase will emerge with the sincere and collective effort and endeavours of humankind.) Or could Rita be an allusion to Amrita-Imroz - the muse of each other's soul, the wonderful chemistry the kindred souls shared, a fascinating, unique and fond relationship of rare understanding, and a contemporary love legend that can retain its freshness season after season? Some love stories reverberate like hymns in this universe. The much younger Imroz – egoless, self-effacing, full of folk wisdom, a man any woman would yearn for, was a confidante, a dedicated and loyal partner, a sincere and true lover, a companion for years, and a candid critic to Amrita Pritam, one of the most eminent and prolific contemporary literary figures, a path-breaking writer who is amongst the immortals of Punjabi literature. ... When one loves without ego, without argument, without pretension, without making artificial commitments, and without calculations or material considerations/expectations (quid pro quo), it is a love that is any woman's dream. | The history of two young star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet is believed to have taken place while in Verona. It could be that vernacular versions or an oral tradition about the history of the two noble lovers already existed. Finally, in 1596, Shakespeare gave to the world his popular version.)


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