Wednesday November 22, 2017

Beatlemania: The fab four’s India connection

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By Gaurav Sharma

The swinging sixties was an era of cultural revolution. The decade challenged social norms, customs and orthodox beliefs in order to establish greater individual freedom.

Music was the prime instrument that ushered in the fundamental transformation in social and mental outlook of people.

Leading the throng of 60s musicians, Beatles was the embodiment of what the sixties stood for; questioning, experimenting and experiencing.

What started off as a group of school friends playing music in local Liverpool clubs, eventually snowballed into an iconic band that took the world by storm, a British invasion equivalent to, if not surpassing the success of the East India Company.

Trendsetters

The fabulous four, as the Beatles was popularly defined by the media back then, had their own individual musical styles which culminated into a bright, original sound filled with  “ringing guitars and eclectic melodies”.

The swooning rock and roll was transformed into blues and psychedelic rock. The long, flowing hair carried by members of the Beatles became the emblem of rebellion for the disillusioned youth splintered with the bourgeois society.

The scale of the innovative uniqueness flooded in by the Beatles was so powerful that even legendary musicians such as Elvis Presley had to face a tough time maintaining their chart success.

India Connect

After attaining the zenith of their success, the music and philosophy of the Beatles underwent a surgical alteration.

Between 1965 and 1968, the group started experimenting with traditional Indian instruments. The coincidental contact began during the shooting of their second film, Help.

“The only way I could describe it was: my intellect didn’t know what was going on and yet this other part of me identified with it”, George Harrison, the lead guitarist of Beatles had famously remarked after delving his fingers through the sitar.

Pretty soon an instrumental called Another Hard Day’s Night; a medley of A Hard Day’s Night, Can’t Buy Me Love and I Should Have Known Better was performed on a sitar, tablas, flute and finger cymbals.

Following the instrumental, three songs influenced by the Indian classical style were recorded by George Harrison, namely Love You To, Within You Without You and The Inner Light.

Spiritual Contact

In 1967, Beatles had came into contact with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi after they attended a lecture given by the Indian guru at the London Hilton.

At the end of the lecture, the group had a private meeting with the master of Transcendental Meditation, following which they agreed to visit his ashram in Rishikesh.

An year later, the fab four travelled to Rishikesh in search for spiritual upliftment. Spending meditation seminars in Maharishi’s vast property perched on a hill, overlooking the majestic Ganges, the Beatles revitalized their minds in the natural solitudinal setting.

Soon however, the group had a bitter split-off with the Yogi. Rumours of misconduct with one of the women students supplanted by one of Beatles’ tiffed friends, Alexis Mardas led to the bitter downfall of their association with Maharishi

The meditation practice taught by Maharishi, however, continued to drive the Beatles.

Musical Rediscovery

The Beatles’ stay in India was the most productive periods for the members as songwriters.

Songs from The White Album and Abbey Road were particularly inspired from their tranquil stay in India.

Free for the first time from the influence of drugs, John Lennon, the co-founder of the Beatles wrote a string of songs such as Cry Baby Cry, I’m so Tired among others, finding himself unable to sleep.

Paul McCartney also wrote several songs--Back in the USSR, Wild Honey Pie and Rocky Racoon–after his spiritual discovery, although they had little to do with the stay with Maharishi.

Trio Depart, Harrison’s Odyssey begins

After a fortnight, the Beatles led by Ringo Starr made their way back to London. But by then, the Indian cultural roots had enveloped the heart of the lead guitarist, George Harrison in its mystical entirety.

Harrison took a flight to Madras to meet Indian sitar legend Ravi Shankar. Later that year, he learnt Sitar lessons in the hills of Srinagar under the umbrage of saffron flowers.

In the idyllic setting of the foot of Himalayas, Harrison became absorbed in the ancient teachings of India. He would continuously immerse himself in books such as Swami Vivekananda’s Raja Yoga and Paramahansa Yogananda.

“Through Hinduism I feel a better person, I just get happier and happier”, a joyful Harrison remarked in his days of self-discovery.

Mellows of Krishna

Indian theology excited Harrison and the devotion in his heart eventually led him to embrace Hinduism. After meeting the Hare Krishna devotees in London, Harrison became a lifelong devotee of Krishna.

Soon, chanting the Hare Krishna mantra and reading the Bhagavad Gita became an essential part of his daily routine.

On the material front, his songs also became a reflection of his new found perception of life. My Sweet Lord, a gospel classic released in 1970 encompassed words such as Hare Krishna and Hallelujah, and became symbolic of Harrison’s spiritual discovery.

All Things Must Pass, Harrison solo venture, reached the status of a critically acclaimed triple album and is till now rated as the best of all former Beatles’ solo album.

In 1996, Harrison flew back to Madras to record “Chants of India”, an album which he recorded with Ravi Shankar and considered to be his seminal work.

The Spiritual Beatle, as he is fondly remembered, George Harrison’s tryst with Hinduism, specifically with Krishnaism marked the defining moment of his life.

“I want to be self-realised. I want to find God. I’m not interested in material things, this world, fame–I’m going for the real goal”, a young Harrison had told his mother at the young age of 24.

Blessed with spiritual clairvoyance, Harrison’s death in 2001 fulfilled the prophecy of his past words, with his ashes spread across the Ganges in accordance with Hindu sacraments.

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7 Most Famous Temples to Visit in Uttar Pradesh

show up at these temples on your visit to Uttar Pradesh and enjoy the majestic beauty, architecture and not to miss, the devotional sound of the bells.

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Uttar Pradesh
Prem Mandir one of most famous temples in Uttar Pradesh. Wikimedia.

The state of Uttar Pradesh is regarded as an enshrined pilgrimage junction since the inception. Devotees from across the world solicit spirituality by visiting these temples of divine importance. Uttar Pradesh is known for its special attraction especially for the Hindu devotees since it is the birthplace for Vishnu avatars, Lord Ram and Lord Krishna.

Undoubtedly, you must show up at these temples on your visit to Uttar Pradesh and enjoy the majestic beauty, architecture and not miss, the devotional sound of the bells.

The listicle shows you a tour of these famous temples worth giving a visit in Uttar Pradesh.

Prem Mandir

Uttar Pradesh
Prem Mandir is one of the most famous temples in Uttar Pradesh. Wikimedia.

Built on the outskirts of Vrindavan, the Prem Mandir is dedicated to Lord Krishna. It was structured by the Fifth Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj. Statues of Lord Krishna and his followers cover the entire temple symbolizing the crucial events of Lord Krishna’s life and birth. The temple is known for its exquisite architecture and the sculptures. Devotees visit the Prem Temple to offer their prayings to Lord Krishna, during Janmashtami and Diwali.

Banke Bihari Temple

Uttar Pradesh
Banke Bihari temple main gate in Vrindavan. Wikimedia.

The Banke Bihari Temple of Vrindavan is a Hindu temple built by Swami Haridas, the solemn guru of the ancient singer Tansen. The temple is efficiently carved in Rajasthani style. The literal meaning of Banke is “bent in three places” and Bihari means “supreme enjoyer”, which suggests that the main idol Lord Krishna is in a Banke posture or the famous Tribhanga position. It has been claimed that Lord Krishna’s statue was hidden underground by a Hindu priest during the Mughal era. It was Swami Haridas who dreamt of Lord Krishna asking him to release the statue. Swami Haridas dug up the place, found the statue and built a temple for it.

Ram Janma Bhoomi Temple

Uttar Pradesh
Ram Janam Bhoomi Temple in Uttar Pradesh. Wikimedia.

Although Ayodhya is presumed as the birthplace of Lord Ram, it was in the town of Ram Kot where he was actually born. This temple is known as Ram Janma Bhoomi marking the divine presence of Shri Ram. Travellers visiting Ram Kot in Uttar Pradesh pay their homage to Lord Ram and admire the inscriptions on the temple walls depicting the life of Lord Ram.

Goraknath Temple

Uttar Pradesh
Gorakhnath Mandir in Uttar Pradesh.Wikimedia.

The Gorakhnath Temple is one of the most popular temples in Uttar Pradesh and is believed to have been structured at the exact spot where Saint Gorakhnath had meditated. The main feature of the temple is the garb griha where the saint is depicted as an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Tourists also visit the pond next to the Goraknath Temple called Mansarovar for peaceful meditation or boat rides.

Shri Krishna Janbhoomi Temple

Uttar Pradesh
Sri Krishna Janam Bhoomi Temple in Uttar Pradesh is the birthplace of Krishna. Wikimedia.

Shri Krishna Janmbhoomi is one of the most sacred places for Sanatan Dharmis (Hindus) since it is the birthplace of Lord Krishna. It is a prison cell belonging to his mama (maternal Uncle) Raja Kans where Lord Krishna was born.

Located in Mathura on the banks of river Yamuna, Uttar Pradesh, Shri Krishna Janmbhoomi temple is approximately 145 km from Delhi. The prison cell, commonly known as ‘Garbha Griha’, in the temple premise is the exact place where Lord Krishna was born.

Sarnath Temple

Uttar Pradesh
A Buddhist temple at Sarnath. Wikimedia

This famous Buddhist site in Varanasi, Sarnath Temple is popularly known where Lord Buddha addressed his first sermons. It is here where the lord set the ‘wheel of law’ in motion. Stupas like Dhamek Stupa and Chowkhandi Stupa are situated inside the enshrined temple. The temple aims to inculcate its thousands of visitors about the history and impact of Buddhist cultures.

Bharat Mata Mandir

Uttar Pradesh
Bharat Mata Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh has the Indian Map structure inside the temple. Wikimedia

The temple located in Varanasi is dedicated to Bharat Mata with the national flag in her hand and a tri-colored sari adorning the idol, who is regarded as a symbolized figure of unity in Diversity and integrity in India. It acquires a huge map of the Mother India on the ground denoting the statue of the Goddess or the Mother of India.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana

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Do You Know there are only two Leaning Temples in The World? Visit the Leaning Temple of Huma in Sambalpur

Huma is about 23 kms towards the southern direction of Sambalpur, Odisha. and is connected with Sambalpur and other cities of Orissa by road. The temple is situated inside the village of Huma.

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Leaning Temple
The Leaning Temple of Huma. Wikimedia.

The famous Leaning Temple of Huma built in 1670 AD is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is one of the only two leaning temples in the world. It was constructed by the ruler, Baliar Singh, the 5th ruler of the kingdom of Chauhan of Sambalpur, Odisha, India. The speciality of this temple is it’s structure skewed to one direction.

Reason Behind its Tilted Structure:

It is regarded that the reason for its tilted structure could be some interior dismounting of rocky bed at which this temple is positioned, either because of flood current inside the Mahanadi River or earthquake, thereby affecting the position of this original temple.  An interesting fact to be noted is that the other little temples inside the Hamlet are also tilted to various other directions.

The finest time to visit this leaning temple is October to March. Enshrine your spirituality during these months and celebrate the festive season in the town of Sambalpur, Odisha. Shivratri is believed to be the chief festival of this temple. Hence, it advances a huge gathering specially during Shivratri festival during March. You may also find ‘Kudo’ fishes on the bank of river Mahanadi near the temple who are given food by devotees as a part of the worship.

Leaning Temple
The Leaning Temple of Huma. Wikimedia.

How to Reach the Leaning Temple of Huma:

By Road – Huma is about 23 kms towards the southern direction of Sambalpur, Odisha. and is connected with Sambalpur and other cities of Orissa by road. The temple is situated inside the village of Huma.

By Rail – Sambalpur railway station is the closest station from Huma. You may find taxis and cabs to drop you 23 kms towards the temple of Huma.

By Air – Bhubaneshwar is the closest airport to Huma which is approximately 290 ms away from Huma. Catch a taxi or cab to drop you at the exact destination.

Leaning Temple
Huma Leaning Temple is one of the two leaning temples of the world. Wikimedia.

Where to stay:

There are various hotels nearby the temple at affordable prices presenting the pleasant view of the outside village.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana 

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10 quotes from Bhagavada Gita to kick start your day

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By Sakchi Srivastava

Bhagavada Gita or the Song of the God, in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, is a narrative between Arjuna and Krishna. Krishna passes on sermons and teachings on life and death to Arjuna. These teachings are universal truths which have proved their relevance through millenniums. They are of extreme relevance to people of all ages, no matter which nationality they belong to. These are eternal truths which help every individual to pass the necessary ordeals of life.

Here are 10 special quotes from the Bhagvada Gita which can enlighten the mind and the soul –

1. “It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.”
People are born in this world as individuals responsible for their own actions. They should make their own decisions no matter how right and wrong they are, without trying to imitate others. People should learn to take ownership of their life rather walking on someone else’s road.

2. “I am Time, the great destroyer of the world.”
As goes the great saying “Time and Tide wait for none”, Bhagvada Gita also propagates the beliefs that time is the most valuable ornament of our existence. Any being belonging to any age group cannot afford to waste it. It teaches us how to be organized and have a productive and meaningful life. Once wasted, it can never be compensated.

3. “O Krishna, the mind is restless”
The mind is a powerful element that cannot be controlled by any force. It is its own master. At one point people believe in something and at the very other moment they support something else. The mind is always in a state of flux.

4. ‘Reshape yourself through the power of your will.’
Life should be conquered by the will. Will is the strongest emotion which drives the entire existence. People’s will to achieve their goals or to become something in life helps them to achieve success.

5. “Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward.”
People have the right to work, but never to the fruit of that work. They should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should they long for inaction. Hard work should be the soul dedication and the result will follow. People should always be patience.

6. “There is nothing lost or wasted in life.”
Everyone has the privilege of living only one life. People come into this world without belongings but as individuals. They should not have regrets in this life. They don’t even lose their loved ones, they are all here.

7. “Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is.”
Every man is an individual with different opinions and perspectives. A man is known by his beliefs. Whatever he believes in becomes his identity.

8. “There is neither this world nor the world beyond nor happiness for the one who doubts.”
Anyone who doubts his decisions, his likings, his dislikes or is not confident about his choices will fail to be happy no matter how many chances are given to him. He will not find happiness in any state of mind.

9. “One can become whatever one wants to be (if one constantly contemplates on the object of desire with faith).”
All have hankering towards achieving goals in life. Though some are successful but some lose the battle because they are in doubt. People should understand humans have the capability to achieve everything in life only if they believe in themselves.

10. “I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
Anything that takes birth is destined to die. Everything, that breathes, which includes plants and animals, also have a lifespan.