sarveshaam सर्वेशां

My house is full of inner light. The day began with an early meditation, a long cold shower and afterwards a rewarding chat with my daughters who unexpectedly knocked at my door bringing gifts and laughter in a no-birthday day.

I believe in the healing power of mantras. The sarveshaam mantra I’m sharing with you today is a Hindu prayer for Peace from the Vedas. It belongs to the shanti mantras’ sort and invokes harmony and tranquillity. As many of you might know, mantras may be repeated three or eleven times, as time permits and should be recited with a pure heart. Shanti mantras may be used to bless all those in attendance to a pooja or the individual, after a prayer session.

ॐ सर्वेशां स्वस्तिर्भवतु ।

सर्वेशां शान्तिर्भवतु ।

सर्वेशां पुर्णंभवतु ।

सर्वेशां मङ्गलंभवतु ।

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Om Sarveshaam Svastir-Bhavatu |                                                                                                                                            Sarveshaam Shaantir-Bhavatu |                                                                                          Sarveshaam Purnnam-Bhavatu |                                                                                            Sarveshaam Manggalam-Bhavatu |                                                                                                Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

Let it be so ordained (-bhavatu), that all the people (-sarveshaam), experience well-being (-svastir); let all the people experience peace or tranquility (-shaantir). Let all the people experience wholeness and completeness (-poornam); let them experience prosperity and auspiciousness (-mangalam).

May it so happen (-bhavantu) that everyone (-sarve) receives happiness (-sukhinah); let them all be saint-like (-santu) and be without disease and in good health (-niraamayaah). Let them see with their own eyes (-pashyantu) the goodness of life (-bhadaraani); and let them not (maa) contemplate in their conscious mind (-kashchidh) any sorrow inducing (dukh) thoughts while they remain beneficiaries (-bhavet) of good fortune (-bhaag).

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Through Love’s Great Power

vikrams-poem

prev6On March 20, 2014, The New York Review of Books published this poem with the article “India: You’re Criminal if Gay,”. The article was written by the poet’s mother, retired High Court Chief Justice Leila Seth. The trigger was the Indian Supreme Court’s killjoy re-instatement of a colonial anti-sodomy law that had been revoked in 2009. Vikram calls this “to undo justice.” His mother affirmed her love for her bisexual son and wrote: “The Supreme Court judgment means that he would have to be celibate for the rest of his life or else leave the country where he was born, to which he belongs, and which he loves more than any other.” Thus Seth divides his time between Delhi and a home in England that belonged to Metaphysical poet George Herbert, whose 17th century language echoes in this poem.

I kindly ask my readers go please read the full article http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2014/03/20/india-youre-criminal-if-gay/

Do Not Emoji Me

13903401_1072651389479219_8916923004144505474_nA single symbol can convey a complex message, I know. But decoding miscellaneous feelings and thoughts expressed in a streamlined manner using emojis is not my forte. Stupid me, I’m kindly asking my readers to stop sending me messages with faces making faces.

I don’t want to come across here as a conservative, humourless and miserable curmudgeon. But I must confess I wholeheartedly dislike adults over 30 who shorten sentences to the extreme of using 2 letters or insert 10 winking smileys to express and idea. No objection to brevity or humour, it’s just that to me this rather annoying trend among middle-age adults is indicative of linguistic incompetence and lack of thoughts; a turn off. Furthermore, I’ve got the impression that the over-adoption of childish net-neologisms reflects the refusal of certain adults to act like grown-ups, and a mindless desire to project themselves as ever young, and to never out-grow the teenage preoccupation of being “le dernier cri” Qué flojera!!!! Ever-green wannabes make me yawn.

I’m not cool. I like to listen. I like to read. I find long, and logical discourses super sexy. So please do not emoji me, talk to me.

Encountering Vishnu

You may call me crazy, but as much as I like the city, the only reason for me to move and live in NYC is the Metropolitan Museum of Art; I swear I would spend there every single weekend of my life.

George Lois contended that the DNA of talent is stored within the great museums of the world. I couldn’t agree more, museums are custodians of epiphanies and these epiphanies enter the central nervous system and deep recesses of the mind. The history of the art of mankind can inspire breakthrough conceptual thinking, in any field. One example suffices to prove my point: look at what the Met had in storage for us lunatics during a few months.

Ravi Varma Fine Arts Lithographic Press Shri Vishnu, 1894–1900 India, Lithograph; Sheet: 28 5/8 × 20 1/2 in. (72.7 × 52.1 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mark Baron and Elise Boisanté, 2012 (2012.523.6) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/78253
Shri Vishnu, 1894–1900

Vishnu is accompanied by his wives Sri Devi and Bhu Devi, who ride his celestial mount, the mythical man-bird Garuda, here depicted in full avian form. Vishnu is portrayed as “The Blue Lord,” richly garlanded in pearls and flowers, while his wives hold yak-hair fly whisks to fan their lord. All wear gold and jewel-encrusted crowns. Garuda has in his talons a cobra, the eagle’s mortal enemy, here symbolizing victory over nature spirits. This is a superb example of a chromolithographic Hindu devotional print designed by the famed artist Ravi Varma (1848–1906) and printed at his Fine Art Lithographic Press in Mumbai.

This print was part of the exhibition “Encountering Vishnu: The Lion Avatar in Indian Temple Drama”, in which Vishnu’s Narasimha (man-lion) appearance was celebrated with several dramatic sculptural depictions. They all explored the theme of Vishnu in his man-lion form, revealing himself at the court of an evil king in response to the king’s attempts to slay his own son for his unwavering devotion (bhakti) to Vishnu. This narrative was dramatically represented in painting as well, and when staged it was given heightened drama by the wearing of five powerfully expressive wooden masks recently acquired by the Met. This temple drama, known as Hiranyanatakam, is still performed in the Kaveri delta region of Tamil Nadu, in villages around Thanjavur in southern India.

http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2015/encountering-vishnu

Bijoy Jain

Two years ago I was invited to Mextrópoli, the first international congress for architecture organized by Arquine. I was well prepared to reconnect with several colleagues and acquaintances, but certainly not with Bijoy Jain. I was introduced to part of his work in 2013 during a short trip to India, but I had never heard him talk about Astrology and that alone made the conference worth. This renowned architect shocked an overcritical audience speaking about Monsoons, the Sun, the Moon and how these and other celestial bodies had influence on the way he works. Equally enthralling was the part on how he conceived space in Indian terms. Right in the middle of the conference I caught myself thinking: What’s the chance of a contemporary architect taking seriously the astral movement? What’s the chance of Alibagh coming to Mexico? Statistically maybe .000000001%. Lucky me.

Studio Mumbai

Jain humbly presented the working methods at Studio Mumbai, a collective of architects and Indian craftsman residents, led by him in south Mumbai. Studio Mumbai’s work is based on the act and process of constructing, on the idea of working collectively within the spirit of a workshop. It works with a human infrastructure of skilled artisans, technicians and draftsmen who design and build the work directly. This group shares an environment created from an iterative process, where ideas are explored through the production of large-scale mock-ups, models, material studies, sketches and drawings. Projects are developed through careful consideration of place and practice that draws from traditional skills, local building techniques, materials and an ingenuity arising from limited resources. Here ideas take form through a shared dialogue capable of integrating the thinking and making of architecture; an architecture that, without being self-referential, transforms thoughts into construction.

One can freely say that Bijoy Jain is a revolutionary in his own right. Many architects pay lip service to a building’s environment and local materials. Jain makes these his mantra so that the finished building doesn’t impose itself on the environment and the surroundings, but becomes part of it. It’s a singular achievement because this central idea runs constantly and rigorously through all of his work.

The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai

taj-mahal-palace-hotel-bombay-india_980x650I came there alone hoping to catch the last boat back to Alibagh; people quickly surrounded me, a kind swarm watching at me intrigued as if I was carrying a golden secret. And maybe I was; I didn’t know it at that time, but I was holding a seed deep inside of me, as if I was pregnant. My heart beating uncontrollably after the long run, his voice ringing “We’ll meet again” –You wish, what an arrogance!- I said to myself. I turned my head just to be sure nobody had followed me, and then I saw it for the very first time, and by that I mean I apprehended it. This great architectural body, the Taj Mahal Palace rising up reflecting the sun and establishing a visual dialog with the Gateway of India. Splendid.

Wait a minute. How can a facing reflect the sun in that particular manner at that particular time of the afternoon? Up the Mountain, Down the River? Was not W.H. Auden’s brother who said that the hotel’s peculiar appearance was due to a mistake? The builders could not read the plans that the architect had sent from Paris, and they build it backward.

Damn, busy as I was looking for Art I haven’t paid enough attention to the construction. How could I have missed such a huge, evident feature? No doubt, the Taj is built backward, its front facing the city, its back turned to the sea,…… the last boat to Alibagh is taking me away.

Nohemi Dragonné / Mumbai, 2013