Saturday, May 26, 2012

Buddham Sharanam Gachhami !

Long before India started exporting spices or software, Ideas, Thought Leadership and Spirituality were the earliest exports from India to the world. The zero and the decimal system, which forms basis of the numbering system that the world uses today, was invented in India. Kautilya’s Arthashastra, written in the 4th Century BC, laid down the principles of governance, public administration and taxation several centuries before modern-day economics or political science was born. Wonders of modern science, from aircrafts to surgeries have all been mentioned in ancient Indian texts. Ayurveda holds the secrets of good health which modern day researchers are trying to discover and patent. Sushruta’s Sushruta Samhita, written in 800 BC mentions more than 300 surgeries, including the likes of plastic surgery, cataract and caesarian section. The techniques of Yoga and Meditation as key to a healthy body and a healthy mind are seeing resurgence in the West.

Grand Buddha statue at the pagoda
One of the ideas that India gave birth to, and were embraced by the world, were the teachings of Gautam Buddha. From Mongolia in the North to Sri Lanka in the South, and from South East Asia to Japan, Buddhism is today the fourth largest religion in the World. Close to half a million people in the world follow Buddha and his teachings as their principal religious order.

Buddha taught that suffering is an ingrained part of existence, but it is possible to end it by following the right path. The right path, he said is the eight – fold noble path of right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. Buddha said no teachings should be accepted unless they are borne out by our experience and are praised by the wise. Buddha held that two qualities are rare among humans: Katannuta that is, Gratitude and Pubbakarita, which is, initiative to help others without expecting anything in return. These two qualities are the true measure of progress.

A grand Pagoda, styled along traditional Burmese architecture, has come up in Mumbai recently.  The pagoda, built by the Global Vipassana Foundation seeks to spread the true teachings of Buddha and  promotes the practice of Vipassana Meditation that was said to have been practiced by Buddha himself.

The Pagoda claims to contain the largest pillar-less dome structure in the World, 90 feet in height and 280 feet in diameter. Built using 2.5 million tonnes of stone and 3,000 truckloads of sand, the pagoda towers to a height of a 30-storey building. Underneath it is a huge meditation hall which can accommodate 8,000 people at a time. It has been designed as a replica of Shwe Dagon Pagoda of Myanmar. Relics of Gautam Buddha are enshrined at the site. The entire complex, apart from the main pagoda, contains several other structures such as an art gallery, a library, two other smaller pagodas, an auditorium, a food court etc. Exquisite samples of traditional Burmese architecture can be seen throughout the campus. The art gallery contains stunning paintings depicting the life of Gautam Buddha from birth to death. An excellent facility, to listen to the story of each painting as you move along the gallery, using a tape and earphones is available. This makes the visit to the gallery worthwhile and meaningful, as it enhances our understanding of the life of Gautam Buddha and his teachings. The pagoda is located off the coast of Gorai, in Mumbai. Take a look some day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A surprise called Nagaon

I have always been enchanted by beaches. Every beach has something new to offer, something different. I find it difficult to explain what it is – is it the water, the sand, the fresh breeze or the sun? May be the clouds, or the trees around. There is always something new, something different to see and experience. I wonder if there is a “beach therapy” around. Going to a beach is a medicine in itself. Nothing rejuvenates better than a visit to the beach.

So when a friend suggested we go to Nagaon for the weekend, I was only too willing to join. A few glimpses from my visit to Nagaon, which incidentally must also be the cheapest water sports centre near Mumbai.

Set sail from the Gateway

Mandwa is just an hour away
Can we see Vijay Dinanath Chauhan anywhere?

Can you see a Ganesha here?
The journey is a ship watcher's paradise - click here for more

Surprisingly high tides, right on the shore make Nagaon a delight for sports lovers

Enchanting sunset makes the visit unforgettable!