The Trilogy of Shiva: A book Review

 

‘The Trilogy of Shiva’ by Amish left me astonished. Due to my research work I couldn’t complete it in a go, which I usually do and it took me nearly two years two cover all three parts. The first two parts were so exciting and engaging that I could not resist myself to read the third part though very late but finally completed and pursued me to write the review.  The narrations of the story were action packed and spell bounding. The characters, situations, their morals, there understandings and intelligence is extraordinary. Being the student of ancient history I am well aware of mythological stories which he was narrating along with historical and archaeological background, he has chosen to depict the story. I will say that he has done a commendable work on mingling History and mythology in a fictional way to make it a perfect fiction plot. One thing that I would like to mention and appreciate here, the way he has demonstrated the Snatan Dharma and its values. I am not choosing the term Hinduism over here because I consider it’s a broad umbrella.

Shiva, the protagonist of the story is the Flag bearer of the fact that with all the fears, gulit, compassion, humility like a normal human being he passed all the odds and attained his godly stature by conquering it. It is shown that he was Destined to do it and his Karma was in harmony with his destiny.  Like, there is only one Buddha, only one Mahavir which suggest that there are people who are destined to do some great things. One person amongst us can bring the change in the society.

The society was based on merits, no discrimination of gender can be seen for example characters like Sati was a great warrior, kankhala as the prime minister of Meluha, Kali as the queen of the Nagas, Ayurvati as the head of medicine department, Tara as student of science, Anandmayi etc all stand on the platform of feminism which gives an idea of an idealistic society.

This trilogy is good example of teaching today’s generation a lesson on Dharma. Dharma is not religion. It’s a way of righteous living. Following ones inner voice. It’s a blend of many terms like Faith, Righteousness, law, code of conduct, truthfulness etc. There is no one term in English which can define it.

He has justified all his logics that he had implemented in the story whether it’s giving life to Indus valley civilization, using the terms that are used in history like the name Meluha, Hariuppa. The writer has exploited the historical facts and amalgamated them into the grandeur of myths like Relationship of ancient Indian civilization with Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Human relationships are beautifully depicted in the books and by no means reduce the communication of the characters to frugal human exchange. The relationship of Sati and Shiva is an epitome of how consorts should be without generic clichés.

This story emancipates a universal principle and resonates with the times we are living in which is applicable to all yugas or time. We are witnessing several ethnical differences in our society just like the world created by Amish and he has given interesting arguments to subdue these problems. He actually asks the readers to celebrate differences and gives an insight into the worlds which has many truths. This book gave a perspective to me and allowed me to see the world sans the black and white spectacle.  It taught me to be non judgmental.

The series talks about the fact that if not checked the good will eventually turn into evil and the world will find solace in the constant change which is important to regulate the balance of the world. An idea of how we can perceive a problem and find a solution out of it.

I would like to recommend this series to bibliophiles and those who don’t like reading books then I think they should have a glance; one might get hooked to it.

P.s- I would like to thank yogita khatri for those enormous discussions we had on these books by Amish.

Glimpses of Upper Mustang, Nepal

Traveling to Upper Mustang made me realize how great Himalayas are, engulfed with so much of beauty and diversity. Every place has its own distinctiveness, in spite of sharing the same terrain.

dsc_0129

In mid july I left for Nepal to assist Mark Aldenderfer in his American- Nepal archaeological project in Upper Mustang. Assisting him on field was like a dream come true for me. Team consist of Tina Warnnier who taught me the basics of bones analysis, Jake Nortan and Liesl Clark gave me tips on photography and filming, Mr Everest Peter Athans gave many lessons on mountaineering,  the Nepali fellows like Jiban, Jyoti, Mohan and bhaskar who always made an effort to make me feel like home and Marion, a French scholar who became a good friend of mine, together we shared around two months working both at mustang and later at ladakh and last but not the least those two wonderful kids of peter and leisl, fynn and cleo my movie partners.

This one month that I spend at Nepal was full of excitement and adventurous experiences. from climbing a mountain in rain and getting all dirty when reached at the top, clicking archaeological pictures of the artifacts, getting lost in the streets of medieval town of Lomathang, seeing the old ruins of monasteries, a total diverse style of chortens in the area, to trekking for almost 16- 17 kms in a day, getting stuck at jomsom for 3 days and rescued by a helicopter eventually got my first helicopter ride with an amazing American pilot jimmy.  These bunch of experience had taught me a lot not just about archaeology but about life as well. That spirit of not giving up, no matter how many times you slip while climbing a mountain in rain, no matter where you get lost, no matter how tiugh it gets going, you have to keep moving.

Nepal was astonishing whether walking beside lake in pokhara or visiting the three durbar squares of kathamandu. The traditional architecture was profoundly affecting, though due to earthquake buildings were destitute but government of Nepal is trying hard to keep them safe.

DSC_0184.JPG

with Mark Aldenderfer

IMG_20160720_104807496.jpg

Me with my Girlies- Marion, Liesl, Tina and Cleo

dsc_0043

Fynn tring to capture the view through his Drone

dsc_0045dsc_0052

dsc_0006

The caves at such a height is a mystery in itself

dsc_0055

dsc_0061

dsc_0064

Dr. Steve treating patients, while Jake filming

dsc_0074dsc_0090dsc_0119dsc_0126

 

dsc_0145

The Team

dsc_0146

dsc_0180

Caravan

dsc_0208dsc_0217dsc_0235

img_20160717_114041007img_20160723_071827025

img_20160724_080846865

The last village Samson, at Nepal china border

img_20160724_121631803

The curious mind: Jake filming the local lady 

img_20160726_161716053

Medieval capital Lomanthang

img_20160731_154617544

Experience of first heli ride

dsc_0286

camping

 

Streets of Udaipur

No matter how much you roam around in this place, you’ll fall in love with this city again again.. 

This is an attempt to show a glimpse of streets of Udaipur through my view. The heritage walk took around hathi pol and city palace with my friends Nupur and Suramya. 

Shopping bags with full desi style

These beautiful paintings all around made the place more beautiful

Frames, whether it be a window or for the photos

Lighting all around and some conversation

A unique use of steel buckets, just loved the concept

Painter babu, with his creation of Shrinathji

Graffiti

Mithaiwala, can’t resist to try some local sweets

When in rajasthan you ought to buy some handicrafts stuffs

Symbol of love and dedication, meera bai

Mesmerizing Gangor ghat

My heritage walk guides, Suramya and Nupur

The clock tower

Haveli

The door with these amazing dwar pala paintings

Just can’t get enough of this place will be back soon to explore this marvelous place again. 

Carving your own space

​A girl has no home of her own, until she has her own home. By this, I mean a home that she owns, neither the one she is from nor the one she will be going to. Knowingly or unknowingly people will make you realise that you don’t belong here. So girls, it’s very necessary to be financially Independent so that you don’t need to go through all those dialogues like when are you going, why you are even here, this is my home and you have to work according to me, etc etc. I am sure some had heard even worse. 

That sense of belongingness, that sense of power and that independent feeling can never be achieved until you carve that space of your own. Why to hear such things and feel bad when you know you are capable enough to go out and stand tall among that crowd. 

Creative room of one of my friend Priyam @new delhi

And for that independence leave no stone unturned just work hard for your goals and grab them. Always remember sky is not the limit. It’s good if you have loving and caring people around for whom this stuff doesn’t matter but it will be more good if you have earned that space of urs where only you matters. No, I am not saying you to be selfish I am just saying you are worth it. 
#just a thought

Tashigang Retreat

Micheal was telling me to visit this retreat site since October, but due to shortage of time I couldn’t visit it last time. So, I made up my mind to visit it this time. On one fine day sitting in Hotel Deyszor (Kaza), I was thinking about how to go to that site as it was more then 1 hr journey from there. Then Jaywant appeared and I asked him whether he was interested to visit this site, and as expected he was ready to explore this hidden retreat site at 14440 ft ASL.

By the way i must introduce you with Jaywant, (i call him Jaywant sir though :p )he is a retired businessman from Goa who loves traveling. In 2014 he travelled solo from Kanyakumari to Lisbon in his meghdoot (his car) in 4 months. Amazing person ,isn’t he? Then a couple named Abhay and Nandini along with the owner of the hotel, Meme and Karan also joined us for this adventures trip to Tashigang retreat site.

IMG_4457

And we call it middle of no where picture (Nandini, Abhay, me and Jaywant. Karan and meme is missing in this picture. :p)

 

We started our journey post lunch around 3 pm and reached Tashigang around 4.45 pm. In between we had an exclusive view of kee monastery, chicham village, kibber village, and gete village with its little lake.

image

That little lake at gete village (amazing color)

o
image

Chow chow mountain (summitted just once by a Japanese)


image

Horses running in front of meghdoot (yes that's what Jaywant named his car)

The way itself was so beautiful that it felt like it should never end.
horses crossing your way in between, with chow chow mountain looking at you. As if they are calling you.

image

A view of Key monastery from the road

image

Kibber village, from the other side of the road

We had a cup of tea at meme’s cousin’s place and after that his cousin took us to that retreat site. It was around 20 to 30 min hiking from Tashigang village. (Dnt expect it too be a very big village. Its a village of just five houses.)
While walking you will actually feel that you are in middle of no where. Its an amazing feeling to be there. On the opposite side of the ridge you will see Langza village. Both tashigang and Langza are famous for its fossils findings. And the view from there is spectacular.

IMG_4505

one of the encarving at the retreat site

 

After reaching the retreat site we saw two mud houses, which are used as retreat. Its an active site, monks still come for meditation. Inside the retreat one can see the well executed encarvings of Budda and Bodhisattvas.

IMG_4525 (1)

another encarving

 

Spending some quiet time over there we came back. Meanwhile, Karan did some running practice, its like a grassland and looks like a good camping site. It was pleasant and serene experience to visit a place like this.

IMG_4551

and one more image

Then we visited a lakhang (temple) in the village. It contains mesmerizing paintings of Bodhisattvas. A must visit place it is. One of a scholar at international conference on Spiti at Oxford, gave a presentation on this lakhang.

image

A painting on the ceiling

Above the village one can see three lattos (the village deity). They are in red bule and white colour. Looks like as if they are guarding this village.

image

Chortens (in the back lattos cab be seen)

image

All 6 member 🙂

Around 7 pm we went back to kaza, in our way back we did some off road driving which was an adventures experience. Places like tashigang which are at such a height gives this kind of ample opportunities to you.

image

This amazing camping ground

And a sunset like this this is a cherry on the cake. Isn’t it marvelous?

image

Picture says it all

City cruise on river thames

I hop in city cruise from london pier which is beside london eye. As I had a pre booked online ticket so, i went through a fast track line & collected my ticket from the ticket collection centre at the pier. After waiting for a while I hop in and went upstairs to grab a seat of my choice. I was fortunate enough to get one in spite of rush hours.
image
All set to sail, left big ben behind.

Whole cruise was full with people of different nationalities. Children seemed very excited for the upcoming journey, so did i. I have never been into the cruise before and this was my very first experience. We started our journey with a warm welcome from one of their crew member. He started his commentary, as it was on volunteer basis, he told us if we don’t like his commentary then we do have an option of picking up an audio cassette commentary from downstairs but everybody applauded and appreciated his work and said he can carry on.
image

image
London bridge and shards

image

Tower bridge

image
Tower palace view from Thames

During our journey, with full enthusiasm he was telling us, about the history of the major buildings, bridges and areas that we were crossing, like for example shards, Shakespeare theater, london bridge, london eye, Millennium bridge, tower bridge, maritime museum, anchor pub etc. His commentary was very lively & full of humour. Everyone was pleased listening him.

image

Anchor pub
image
The wall @Greenwich
image
Maritime museum @Greenwich

First, we stopped at tower pier. People who want to visit tower bridge, palace and other near by places hop of & while few hop in as well. I carried on my journey on the cruise itself. Next and last pier was Greenwich, yes at 0° 0′ 0″. Over here one can see the famous wall, maritime museum etc. Like any other famous place in london, Lot of people can be seen here. Again the process of hop in hop of can be seen.
image
People clicking pictures

image

Cafeteria in the cruise

And then the cruise turned back, we again reached tower pier but this time (at 5 pm) we were fortunate enough to watch the tower bridge going upright. (For Which it is famous for). It was a moment full of excitement for me as i always wanted to see it. Meanwhile, a big ship crossed it. The bridge came to its normal position after 10 mins. While crowd was filled with joy at that moment. Series of photography specially selfies can be seen. As you can see in picture below :-
image

image
London eye view from Thames @Westminster pier

At last we came to Westminster pier and everyone hop of, while the other group who were waiting for there turn hop in.

With this my first experience of being on a cruise came to an end. I thoroughly enjoyed its each moment. But as I was very tied to walk so, I decided not to hop of at any pier and I chose to just sit back. It was gratifying to see the city from the Thames.

First International Conference on Spiti

Being a scholar, presenting a paper in Oxford University was always I dreamt of and this dream came true on 6th  May 2016. When I finally presented the paper entitle ” Contesting Antiquity & Development: Interdiscplinary insight into the rock art preservation in Spiti valley, Himachal Pradesh” co authored by Vijay k. Bodh, an Anthropology research scholar from Panjab university at First international conference on Spiti i.e., Spiti Valley: Recovering the past & exploring the future at Wolfson College, Oxford University.

IMG_20160507_065219223.jpg

Wolfson College, Oxford University

The conference was started with the welcome speech by professor Ulrike Roelser then with a keynote address by Deborah Klimburg-Salter followed by the convener’s speech which was delivered by Yannick.

Our was the first paper in the first session chaired by Mark Aldenderfer. Our Paper was an output of the ten-day field visit to the various rock art sites in the Spiti valley during October 2015, organized by I.G.N.C.A. (Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts), New Delhi. Spiti valley in North Western Himalayan region falls under the administrative unit of Lahaul&Spiti district in Himachal Pradesh.  The paper was a
comprehension of the rock art sites identifying threat perspectives to ancient art
form to ensure better preservation and conservation efforts. The paper adds a
new dimension of hydro-electric projects and their direct consequences onto
rock art sites in Spiti valley. It enlists some of the important rock art
sites along with an inventory of potential threats challenging the overall integrity
of these sites and also enlists probable solutions that could effectively sustain
the tests of social and climatic change.

The term ‘petroglyph’ refers to an image created by removing part of a surface by incising, pecking, carving, or abrading. Scholars often use terms such as “carving”, “engraving”, while pictographs refers to paintings of early time usually painted in caves or rock shelters. The recent documentation in Spiti reveals rock shelter sites along with pictographs. While petroglyphs are rather found in open air galleries located along the banks of the River Spiti or hilltops.

Threats are perceived both natural as well as manmade. Natural threats are due to weathering process, exposure to sunlight, precipitation and dust. As such there are signs of flaking, cracking, blasting, and accumulation of microbiological growths etc could be seen on the surface of the boulders containing rock art. The man-made threats are basically the superimposition, graffiti making and destruction of the boulders for construction purposes without knowing significance of the rock art. In the last few years, numerous sites have been destroyed totally or partly. Vandalism and new construction habits using stones rather than mud-bricks are further threats. The sites are identified forms parallel trails along the river bank and on the ancient salt trade route. The Rock art Sites have probable culture links to those found in Tibet and Laddakh region

.

IMG_20160506_112821355

Me , presenting the paper

 

The construction of hydro projects in the valley would also pose threat to the existing rock art distribution in the valley. A recent survey reveals newer sites having petroglyphs and cave art in the valley. There is a great possibility of locating more findings in the valley. A majority of the rock art boulders are situated near the State highway while others are distributed in remote locations. The rock art boulders have been facing the challenges of expanding economic growth, broadening of roads, graffiti, weathering, defacement and destruction. The local administration along with nodal agencies is working on preservation and conservation works. But paradoxically the allotment of hydro-electric projects in the fragile and culture rich valley poses a serious threat to the existing and unidentified artifacts.

In case a hydro project overlaps a rock art site, it could lead to the immediate damage of the site. The heavy construction work and additional anthropogenic movements would amplify the negative consequences. These are often built-in the surroundings of raw material: virgin rocks or those bearing images are equally smashed to be used as building material. Hence, a large-scale destruction of rock art sites, old settlements is on the cards.

Recommendations:

  •  Identification of Rock Art Sites in Spiti valley followed by an official inventory of the same.
  • Scientific Numbering and Naming of the sites and rock boulders, invite intervention by Archaeological Survey of India.
  • Ensure minimal transport and removal of rock art boulders from the original site; in-situ art forms carry more research value than the transported ones.
  • Scrap Hydro-electric developments in the vicinity of art sites, if possible
    Earmark no trespassing zones, in case hydro projects are to be commissioned somehow.
  • Include Participatory Rural Appraisals methods to ensure local participation in preservation.
  • A formulation of a “Rock Art Sanctuary” in Spiti shall be the last resort. Under circumstances that render it difficult to preserve them in – situ.
  • Exhibition could be organized in nearby cities like in Manali, Reckongpeo and Shimla as well as in Delhi to spread awareness.
  • If the rock images cannot be protected in situ or moved to a safe place because of their larger size or inaccessible location, the only answer is to reproduce them, using photography, plastic sheet reproduction or laser scanning and 3D Scanning.

Everybody appreciated our work and gave many kind of suggestions for the better preservation of the Rock art in the area. Over there Amy Heller, Carmen Auer, John Belezza, Dieter Schuh, Pascale Dollfus, Melodie Bonnat, Virendra Verma, Henri Namgyal, Patrick Sutherland, Tashi Tsering etc presented there papers on Spiti Valley. Lochen Tulku Rinpoche gave the closing speech followed with a diner along with a Mongolian throat singing performance by Bat-Erdene Nyamdavaa.

IMG_20160506_201742211    Bat-Erdene Nyamdavaa with his instrument

IMG_20160506_190300306

dinner table

IMG_20160507_093352275

with Rinpoche

IMG_20160507_181442647

Rinpoche giving their blessing and presenting Khatak to everyone.

All delegates were concerned about spiti’s heritage. Monasteries like Tabo existed for 1000 yrs in that area but now the major question arises is that, will they be able to survive another 1000 yrs? as climate is changing which have a direct effect on the paintings as well as the exterior part of the monastery. other aspect of concern was lack of awareness among the people. suggestions have been put forward to organise awareness campaign in the region to make people aware of their unique heritage. which is not just limited to its monasteries but further extends to its culture as well as its environment.

ICS-Delegates_2016.JPG

Delegates

Spiti Escape(part 2) A picture Travelogue

DSC_0077.JPG

At Komic Village, height 4587 m ASL.

DSC_0225

The biggest centre of Buddhist learning in Spiti Valley, Key Monastery is over 1000-year-old. It is the oldest training centre for Lamas. It is located at a height of 13,668 feet above mean sea level in Lahaul Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh in north India.

DSC_0359 - Copy

A young girl of spiti with Traditional jewellery.

DSC_0371 - Copy

The other side

DSC_0335 - Copy

traditional dress along with jewellery of people of spiti

DSC_0275

mud chortens at tabo

DSC_0657

Regional horticulture research sub-station

DSC_0611 - Copy

At local house

IMG_20151004_180918902

Tabo Monastery, It was founded in 996 CE 

IMG_20151004_181042435

Tabo Monastery

IMG_20151004_185003485

At guest house of Tabo Monastery

IMG_20151005_174405326

The alluring path towards Tabo

IMG_20151005_091249897

Cold dessert

IMG_20151006_100827735

A view of Tabo Monastery along with Tabo village from a hilltop

IMG_20151007_101235576

Women making mat

IMG_20151008_085621581

Handwoven local shawls

IMG_20151008_100345740

Bridge that connects to Pin Valley, A stone in a shape of crocodile in spiti river(with its crystal clear water)

IMG_20151008_100527261

Valley view of Spiti

IMG_20151008_101113589

Divergent, Signboard shows towards Kaza and Dhankar

IMG_20151008_102942292

Thats Dhankar Moanstery on a hilltop

IMG_20151008_105541173

At Dhankar Monastery

IMG_20151008_131340727

Glass of local wine known as ‘Chang’

IMG_20151008_110140036

Kangling, an instrument used in worship

IMG_20151008_114147252

about Dhankar Monastery

IMG_20151009_094514366.jpg

Chichim Village

IMG_20151009_115820244

Old lady working in the field of potato

IMG_20151009_125414440

Houses at Spiti valley

IMG_20151010_124650472

Sumling Village

IMG_20151010_200514018

Few quotes on travelling at cafe of Kaza

IMG_20151011_075348624_HDR

Ruins of a Monastery

IMG_20151011_075122231

A view of Kaza from a hilltop

IMG_20151011_105739408

Snow leopard at monastery in komic

IMG_20151011_143925682

Chham Dance by monks of Monastery at Komic

IMG_20151011_150053504_HDR

After dance people taking blessings from Lama

IMG_20151011_150339093

Young lad on Royal Enfield

IMG_20151011_144038465

Chham dance

IMG_20151011_163919151

A beautiful view at Langza village

IMG_20151011_164732695

Magnificient View

IMG_20151012_174852802

Sea-buck-thorn tea also known as Leh berry tea

IMG_20151012_180426576

Fossils collected from Spiti Valley

IMG_20151013_072555317

Losar Village