Sunday, January 17


"Prayer is the movement of trust,
of gratitude, of adoration, or of sorrow,
that places us before God,
seeing both Him and ourselves in the light of His infinite truth,
and moves us to ask Him for the mercy,
the spiritual strength, the material help, that we all need"
......Thomas Merton
***Photo: A lonely roadside tree that caught my attention.

Wednesday, January 13

An 'In-Touch' Relationship...

Each time 'creation’ is discussed, there is always a thought of God making material out of nothingness. This thought is fair because, every human as a child, begins to visualize creation as the work of God. It is only later that he exposes his beliefs to the rational world that calls for many other explanations for Creation.

Beyond concentrating on the very act of creation, I move further away to the consequences of creation. One of the most exiting prospects of the creation story is that we can keep ‘in-touch’ with God. If I put it in another way: I cannot run away from the Creator nor the creation. Each time we review the creation with all our wisdom, it strengthens our ‘in-touch’ relationship with the Master of the Universe. The mystic, the learned or even a poor illiterate on the street experience this bond very strong in their lives.

As a child, I used to play around with toy cars. In these toys, a key was used to wind-up a mechanical spring and once left on the floor would race across the room. The fact is, once I put down the wound-up toy, it would just rush away anywhere it likes. There wasn’t any control on them! However, I think creation is not like that. The creator and the creation have an intimate communion, a connection and a relation. As the ‘touch’ of the Master is reflected in every bit of the universe, the story of creation stays alive and ticking.

The story of creation would have been different if this ‘in-touch’ relation was missing in its very heart. Like a mechanical toy with no controls, I would be rushing across my floor...banging here and there, sometimes toppling and ultimately stopping cold dead, less.

Of the many visualisations of the Creation, Michelangelo’s painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (Rome) stands apart. Here, the ‘in-touch’ connection in creation is so profound. Michelangelo seems to be telling that the creation would have been a lot poorer if this ‘connection’ was missing. There is another beauty in this painting that keeps talking to me: God and His creation are footed almost on the same level and are seen facing each other (making an eye contact). What a marvellous visualisation!

*** The Stamp: Mint block of four quadruple from my collection. ‘The Creation’ of Michelangelo was issued as a commemorative stamp in 1975 to celebrate the quincentenary of the painter. This is the first quadruple stamp ever issued by the Government of India. Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, the then Union Communications Minister who released this beautiful and unique stamp described this masterpiece as a “superb, aesthetic expressions through the medium of human body". "Michelangelo proves that there is something that unites the whole of humanity” he added***

Friday, January 8

Bath bathe and the art of washing oneself...

English can sometimes drive us crazy. I started to take it up seriously not long ago. It was on one those occasions that I encountered my blessed ‘bath’. Bath looks a humble pie to crack. But believe me, it is full of fun to see someone stuck in a bath.
Some years ago, it so happened, that I was heading an assignment with a real estate developer. Having sold a villa to an NRI based in UK, he faxed me that he wanted all his comfort-rooms to have a bath. It took me a little time to understand what my UK client really wanted: he wished to install a long narrow container that people sit or lie to wash themselves. But then in a project where there was so much scarcity for water, how he be running a bath so lavishly anyway? To have a bath in a bath when there is so little to run a bath can be challenging! Oh! But I was told later that it is the Britons who have a bath. Instead, the Americans prefer to take a bath!
Fixing an ‘e’ to bath makes bathe out of bath. This is a trickier act. Well, you will agree with me that to bathe in a wave than in a pool makes life more adventurous. Bathe can also mean just washing oneself in a bath. Do you know that both the Britons and the Americans prefer to bathe a wound before dressing it up?
I came to know only recently that bath could be cruel to some. Well, many Americans took a bath last year when one smart old guy from the Wall Street, called Bernard Madoff, made off with lots of their wealth. That is a different kind of bath altogether!!

Wednesday, January 6

Thoughts on Master's garden

Some days ago, we heard a lot of news about the world nations thrashing out a plan to cut toxic wastes and CO2 emissions. Each time people sit together to talk of cutting toxic wastes, the so-called developed nations and the developing nations differ in their approach to this problem. For a common man it does not matter so long as his life runs as usual. When it ceaselessly rains, two things can happen: a rich man’s villa may become a nasty ‘water front’ and he realises the value of respecting nature and her forces. And the poor... perched with whatever they have on their head, they’ll ford through this water, mud and slime to reach safe-heavens.

Whenever world sits together to dialogue on environmental issues, it gives me faith in humanity that something is at work positively. However, it is with trepidation that I observe how world religions are voting these issues. Different belief systems have different approach to ecology and nature. By and far, all religions have shades and beliefs that uphold environment as a work of God. In the Eastern tradition, environment has been always revered for its mystery and power. When incorporating the best of simple living, the Buddhists have been most successful in displaying a life of frugality in these modern times. Monasticism in Christianity and Sufism in Islam are fighting for survival. The eco-friendly living habits that these communities cherished have long lost its message and meaning.

As world communities battle out to sustain the environment, simple lifestyle should be at the heart of any planning. I ask myself, “What happened to the time I worked with my hands and feet?” Leading a simple life at an individual level is the beginning of the best for the world ecology. Religion should be a call for encompassing the ecology with sustained living.
Faith should be radiance for sustaining God’s creation and beauty.

The Bible says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” My stewardship calls for taking care of Master’s garden.
Can I?

Sunday, January 3

A salute to Marwari...

For the famous warriors of Rajasthan the Rajputs, the Marwari will remain indispensible in their stories of valour and chivalry. Marwari is one breed of Indian horse that has captured the imagination and the hearts of every Indian horse lover. For hundreds of years, the Marwari carried not only the queens and the kings, the nobles and the elites but also the war heroes and the brave. From the arid deserts of Rajasthan to the ramparts of Red Fort, the Marwari carried the brave-hearted and the fallen to their destiny. The word ‘Marwari’ means ‘from the land of death’. In its glorious times, the hoof-beats of the Marwari horses were a signal to the enemy of the arrival of fighters ‘from the land of death’. It is said that to know and love a Marwari is to enter into a magical realm of the world of mythical horses... a world where the brave and the audacious galloped their way to make their dreams come true... and a world long lost for all of us to the power of combustion engines and automobiles.

Traditionally, the Marwari horses are warhorses. For sure, no one knows how this unique breed emerged. Most agree that it has emerged from inter-breed crossing of Mongol and Arabian horses. The vitality and the vigour of these horses have always hallmarked it for the battle. In fact, only the Kshatriyas (the fighting cast) and the Royals were allowed to mount a Marwari. For them, these horses were divine. The Rathores, the traditional rules of Marwar, believed that the Marwari horse could only leave a battlefield under one of three conditions – victory, death or carrying a wounded master to safety. The most famous story on that line is that of the celebrated Marwari steed Chetak. In 1546, at the battle of Haldi Ghati, the Rajput King Maharana Pratap lost to army of Akbar the Great. Mounted on his Chetak, Maharana Pratap wanted to flee the battlefield. But Chetak was mortally wounded with one foot severed. Still, he wouldn’t fall to give up his master. Chetak speeded away on his three feet, carrying the king to safety. Then, as he reached a swollen river, he finally galloped across it, collapsing dead, to save his master’s life. According to the legend, Chetak passed away in his masters arms. Later, Maharana Pratap erected a monument in Chetak’s memory at Haldi Ghati. It stands today as a living monument of a great horse’s devotion to his master.

As India became independent, the colourful traditions for which Marwari horses stood became tarnished and insignificant. There was even a common notion to eliminate this breed as it has always symbolised the imperial class. After large scale culling, the purebred Marwari were an endangered breed in the post- independent India. But for the efforts of a hand full of Rajput families and a few horse lovers across the world, India would have lost this marvellous breed from her soil.
Looking at the four sets of beautiful stamps issued by the India Post on ‘Horses of India’, my mind gallops back to the great times of these horses: times when the brave and the rich mounted them for victory and adventure...times when princes mounted them to charm their sweethearts... and times when they were indispensible for a civilisation to tick.

Chetak and his times are lost forever... we can only be reminiscent about it now.
Top photo source: the Web
Stamps: From personal collection.

Friday, January 1

A Connect With Us...

There are many stories in the Bible. The story of Creation is one of the most famous. Anyone can find it in the first two pages of any Bible. The story of Creation was and is one of the most debated stories in the Bible world. Different people debate it for different reasons.

As an adult, the creation chronology interested me most. At the beginning of every year, I read the creation story. These rereading of the same old story has spoken to me new insights every time. In the Creation story, God made the light on the first day. A close reading will tell that God never specifically made darkness. It seems to have existed by default. Then, ‘God saw that the light was good’. Bible says, God even ‘separates’ the light from the dark.

For me, it is of joy to believe that God is a beacon of light... a clear separator of the light from darkness. God doesn’t seems to mess up what is ‘dark’ and what is ‘light’ in His creation acts.

At the threshold of a New Year, isn’t that a great comfort to know that this Author of light is still
making a connect with us!...God is making a connect with us to let us separate the ‘light’ from the ‘dark’ in our day-to-day living.