Manusmriti and Forbidden Food.

Goa University runs what is called Visiting faculty public lectures, these are usually a one credit course, for those who want accreditation else it is just a learning process. Most of us are there many taking time off from work the classroom is a pleasant mix.

Initially I had the time I attended a lot now I choose. Prof.Dr, Kumkum Roy is a faculty I love listening to. And this time she had the right mix that interested me, the Theragathas, Manusmriti and more.

Actually what we like to visualize as ancient India, the glorious age of Hinduism, had no Hinduism, it had a way of life with right and wrong,  and Manusmrithi was not really very touted or adhered to, having said that lets just have a look into what does Manusmrithi actually say about meat eating.. What Manusmrithi prohibits is the meat of an unconsecrated animal (5.27 – 57).

They don’t for a Brahmin is quite stringent but since I was curious about meat I am just focusing on it.  The Manusmrithi of course prohibits all carnivores’ birds, and single hoofed animals, but interestingly it allows a lot of poultry.

The Manusmrithi calls a man who eats the meat of some animals as eaters of that animal’s meat but a fish eaten is referred to as eater of every anima’s meat, therefore he must avoid fish. The pathhina, the rohita fish are allowed when they are used in an offering to gods or ancestors, while Rajiva, Simhatunda and Sasaka fish can be eaten any time.

While wandering and unknown animals or birds are prohibited. Animals with five nails are permitted, like the porcupine, hedgehog, monitor lizard, rhinoceros, the tortoise and the rabbit get edibility permit, so do animals with incisors in only one jaw with the exception of camel.

On the other hand a village hog, garlic, a village fowl, onion or leek intentionally eaten topples the Brahmin off his caste (11.213, 219)

Sacrificing animals and birds and feeding their dependents is permitted to Brahmin.

Eating meat is allowed if it is sacrificially consecrated at the behest of the Brahmin.  The Brahmin is also allowed meat when his life is at risk.

The food chain as created by the Prajapati is the hierarchy of the life breathe or the prana… mobile and the immobile need nourishment for life breathe, the immobile are food for the mobile, the fangless for the fanged, the handless for the handed, the timid for the brahve, the eater does get defieled byh eating living beings suitable for eating if if he eats them day after day, for the creator himself fashioned both the eater and the what is being eaten.

The Manusmrithi very specifically states that when a man eats meat whether it was purchased, procured by himself, or offered by someone else after making an offering t the gods and ancestors, he does not become defiled. The twice born is also allowed meat when faced with adversity. But eating ritually consecrated meat is allowed.  But killing an animal for futile reason or eating because of an urge is not acceptable.

Interestingly a person abstaining from meat and a man who offers the horse sacrifice every year for hundred years gain the same merit and the horse sacrifice or the ashwamedha entails, eating the meat of the sacrificed horse.

Very categorically the Manusmrithi says there is no fault in eating meat, in drinking liqueur, or in having sex these are natural activities of creatures, however abstaining from such activity, however brings great rewards.


gokarna (1)
distance mangroves

Yesterday being  Ganesh Chaturthi, we decided to drive down to Gokarna.

I have no pictures of either temple or the surrounding, for I was lost in memories of the two which visited years ago.

The legend has it that Ravana the Lord of Lanka, carried the atma lingam of Shiva, fearing the consequences of this, the deva’s decided to take it back from him. When Shiva gave him the atmalinga the condition was it should not be placed on the earth, for the moment it was placed on the earth it would take root.

Enroute, Ravana needed to ease himself, but placing the Atmalinga on the earth was not an option. That was when Ganapati appeared as a young Brahmin boy and offered to hold the linga, just as Ravana began relieving himself, Ganapati called out him. The condition the boy Ganapati had placed was Ravana was to return by the time he called him thrice.

In quick succession Ganapati called out two more times, then placed the lingam down on the earth and vanished, Ravana tried his best, to uproot the linga, but his efforts were futile the only thing he achieved was distortion of the lingam to the shape of the ear of a cow. Hence Gokarna.

When we were working with Nagananda play, with dialogue ,”hey gokarnanatha” I placed my place geographically in southern peninsula, but interestingly Nepal has a town with the same name, on the banks of river Bagmati , the Gokarna Aunshi that falls on the new moon between August- September is the an important event when sons honour their father, and if the father is dead then the shraddha is performed.

Like I mentioned before my first visit to the town was years ago, it was a sleepy town, with the temple and the Kotitheerta pond at the center, people came down to perform the final rites of their departed ones. Particularly if the person who died was young.

One of the Brahmin houses would host the people till the rites were over.

This time round the time has changed with Goa getting flooded with tourists, the hippie and the Indian junkie crowd has moved down to Gokarna. Spiritual vendors have put up their spa’s with yoga, meditation, and massage thrown in. not to mention the availability of Marijuana and hemp.

The temple premises are still clean, unlike Udupi, or any temple up north. Most temples have the system where the money from the hundi goes to feed people, and for other social activities, while the sarvajanika annaprasada is handled by Venky’s—yes the chickenwallah.

Maybe we can now look at more relevant things to donate to the temple like that contraption that allows the recycle of plastic, or the contraption that uses bio-waste to create fuel. Those asbestos sheets used to keep the pradakshina path dry could be replaced by solar panels, though the very purpose of connecting to the nature is lost when we cover the walking path.

Anyway its interesting to see how we appease the gods on our terms without putting ourselves out of our comfort zone.

gokarna (2)


Cupid and Psyche

indispireA love story that inspired me

There are love stories and love stories, with a hero, a heroine, sometimes, two heroes, and two heroines various permutations and combinations. These are accepted norms of love stories, but then there are love stories. The love story of the soul with life and its romance with romance. That I find fascinating.

There are times when you want to say, “I love, but…” its that but that takes away the the I love you, for there are no ifs, buts or when in love. Its just there, and always. No beginning, no end. it’s the condition less state of the heart. Not a feeling that comes and goes at the whim of the emotion. It is there in our heart, a part of our heart an eventually grafting itself into each limb and cell of our bodies. Love changes our brain, the way move and talk. Love lives in our spirit and graces with its presence each day, until death.

Saying I love you but… is as good as saying I don’t love you at all.

Can you remember when your loved ones name was just another name that rolled without thought off the tongue, but when you acknowledge the love, then the name brings abundance of sentiment attached with each letter. The name that one played so carelessly , so easily suddenly ecomes sacred. It can no longer be thrown around lightly or be repeated without deep thought.

I think of the actress Rekha, who uses language to describe Mr.Bacchan, but it is as if he is the nameless, because those letters grouped together in that familiar form… carries too much meaning for her capricious heart, so she refers to him as,”Woh”

All the love stories are captured beautifully by the story of Eros and Psyche, the Greek art talks of it, as early as 4th century BC. The novel Metamorphoses is the most vibrant source of the tale, its all about overcoming the obstacles to the love between Psyche the soul or the breath of life and cupid, and eventually their ultimate union in marriage.

The fame of Psyche’s beauty almost eclipses that of Venus, and Venus the goddess of love sends cupid to exact her revenge. But Cupid is enamoured by Psyche and arranges to have her taken to his palace. He visits her at night telling her not to look upon him. Psyche’s jealous siblings convinced her that he is a monster, so smuggles a lamp into the chamber to see him.

His beauty startles her, so much that the oil from her lamp drips onto  Cupid and awakens him. He abandons, while she wanders round the earth looking for him, until she submits to the service of Venus. Venus tortures Psyche and sends her on a series of quests, the quest of Psyche follows the Hero’s cycle with her despairing and receiving divine help. On her final task is to retrieve a dose of Proserpina’s beauty from the underworld. Psyche of course succeeds, but on her way back, she opens the box with hope of benefitting from it, and that sends her to a torpid sleep. Cupid, finds her in this state and revives her by returning the sleep to the box. Jupiter grants Psyche immortality and she weds cupid.

This story manifests in so many ways, as the eternal love between Radha and Krishna the atman and the parmatma of Hindu philosophy or the Sufi way of the divine love, the story can be a folk tale, a fairy tale or a myth. But the eternal, love of the mortal and immortal.

I am Veritas

I am Veritas

I am VERITAS goddess of truth.  Myth has it that I hide at the bottom of the ocean, and that I am elusive. Well, not really true, I am elusive because you do not really know how to see me.

When humans refer to truth it is used to mean being in accord with fact or reality, or even fidelity to an original, or even fidelity per say.  Just ask someone what is the opposite of truth, commonly heard answer is falsehood, and is generally translated to factual or ethical meaning.  But like all gods and goddess I am a concept, I am feminine because I change, and re-invent myself depending on where you view me from. I am much debated both in philosophy and religion. I am different if you talk law, or when you talk science, or even when you talk everyday life.

Language and worlds are but means human convey information to one another, I am cast into fatigues, by what words term as criterion of truth and arguments are on questioning what is the truth, and truth bearers are capable of being true or false it is quite amusing how mankind struggles in defining me, recognizing my presence hence cannot accept my multirole presence.

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”  Said Mark Twain I beg to differ, when

When Radhika, gave me up she did a greater good, she let her mother die in peace and contentment believing that her son and grandson care for her.  I VERITAS the goddess of truth, salute her–

“T his number is out of service” was the response when Radhika dialled her Nephew Aditya’s number.

“Hello, Radhika”

Great thought Radhika, it was sister-in-law  Rema calling from the US, her son Aditya was in town.  “Hi Rema, amma is recovered fine, can we shift her back to Malleshwaram? There seems to be some problem with Aditya’s number.”

“Oh! Actually there is no problem; Aditya is back in the US.”

“HMM, he could have told me, I would have collected the keys and had Nanjamma, come back to care for amma,”

‘There is no need for it, where will Nanjamma stay?’

“Why like before”

“Well, it’s not possible the new owner might now like it.”


“Yes, Amma signed the house over to Aditya and he sold it, as he will not be settling in India anyway.”

It was as if a lightning bolt hit Radhika, she remembered her mother, saying that Aditya had her sign the contract for renovating the house, the truth, was Aditya had cheated his grandmother. That truth would kill Radhika’s mother, so Radhika decided not share the truth, with her mother after all the end was not really far off.

Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.”  ― Barbara De Angelis I think you should listen to Anjali’s story. She was in the middle of personal crisis, being very different from her family, she was being measured in the yardstick that was not hers, it did lead to a lot of rift more important, and it was creating a conflict within her. Family get together meant underlying currents and tension. But neither did she want to hurt her mother.

Eventually she knew she had to make choices that she believed in, and deal with things the way she her belief guided her. She actually put on her paper, what hurt her, and what she intended to do with the toxic relationship in her life, how could she neutralize it?

She decided to tell her offender the truth, this was an interesting way to tackle it, “Aunt Mrudula, I need to apologize to your daughter.”

Aunt Mridula  was extremely smug, “No, no, why, you are older these things happen in the family”

Now since this was a family event the general gossip mongers started flocking round to listen to the conversation,

“Aunt Mridula, I have to apologize because when I listen to your daughter, I was listened to her with this thought that here is the self opinionated, judgemental , obnoxious bully, and  my experiences with her made me think so,”

Suddenly Aunt Mridula, figured that it was not a great idea, yet Anjali continued, sharing each episode where Aunt Mridula’s daughter’s words and behaviour had hurt her.  The truth had been expressed but with the right wrapping, sometimes it takes great planning to utter the truth.

Mark Twain  said “Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it.”  This is also true, for people would twist the facts to suit their truth and present that as the universal truth. Let me make myself clear,  when Guru Srivaru visited Amita’s house, there was one evening when  they ran out of food, and food had to be catered in from a restaurant nearby, Amita casual shared this with Guru Srivaru, few minutes later when one of the disciples went up, Guru Srivaru asked her, “What is the problem, have you run out of food?”

The disciple was speechless,

“For how many 4 people? What do you plan to do, get food from outside?”

Tears began streaming from the disciple’s eyes she rushed down and shared with other disciples how all knowing Guru Srivaru was.

I become integrity when you tell yourself the truth, and honesty when share your truth with others. Living with integrity means not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values, making choices  on what you believe and not what others believe. Above all, don’t lie to yourself. As Fyodor Dostoyevsky observes, the person who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and loses all respect for himself and  others and having no respect he ceases to love.

I am both beautiful and terrible, and should be handled with great caution.

written for indiblogger happyhours –“Kinley 2014 TVC

Srisuktam and Akshaya Trithya.

Kalasha at a Puja.
Kalasha at a Puja.

Srisuktam and Akshaya Trithya.

The festival of Akshaya Trithya symbolically welcomes abundance into life. This abundance is family focused, and creates richness of relationship, food, and wealth.

The Brighu Purana states the worship on Lakshmi on Akshaya Trithya helps to overcome the insecurities that we harbour within us and achieve peace and prosperity. The Phala shruti of the SriSuktam states,

Na krodha na cha matsaryam

Na lobha na shubhamatih

Bhavanti krta punyaanam srisukta jaapinam.

That is to say that he who meditates on the SriSuktam is freed from greed, jealousy and other sins.

What occurs to me is– he who meditates on SriSuktam, would mean he who studies and assimilates it. This leads to a state of acceptance, which in turn would keep greed (a reaction to the insecurity of scarce) and jealousy (a reaction to the insecurity of want) .Practising the SriSuktam is also a part of being proactive, and when one becomes proactive then the progression is balance.

Abundance and prosperity is personified as Goddess Lakshmi. In icon worship the goddess gets symbolized as the Kalash 1. This Calash is ritually worshiped.   Goddess Lakshmi is believed to reside on that point on our forehead when the central parting of hair begins.

Lakshmi -- Alakshmi
Lakshmi — Alakshmi

The Bhagwatam says “Putram, Pushpam,phalam, thoyam yomeya bhaktyaprayccati” if a person can perceive the grace of Goddess Lakshmi in everything and everybody the person automatically overcomes arrogance and attachment.

The worship of Goddess Lakshmi does not call of elaborate rituals, or purification rituals. All it requires is recognizing and surrendering to the omnipresence and omnipotence of the Divine.

  1. Various texts prescribe various ways of creating a Kalash.  The Late Swamiji of Admar Mutt of the Udupi Octate always insisted on mansapuja, that is what is guided by your instinct and intuition. This was seconded by my husband’s Guru Sri Paramahamsa Gyaneshwarji of the Kurukshetra Audhoot Ashram so I create the Kalash with a kumbha or pot, pour water till it is half full. A coin/ring a circle of mango leaves, and a coconut on top.
  2. Creating altar—this is again personal. I have my altar such that I pray facing   the East.

Divine nourishment


Akshaya Trithiya celebrates abundance. This abundance is personified by DhanyaLakshmi.

Food or what is refered to as “Anna” is one of them. The sacred texts say

The hymn to Annapurneshwari talks about Anna being pratyeksha maheshwari. The visible divine.  For food is the primary need of every living creature in the plant and animal world. “Anna ghata prana” is the energy nourished by food.

Of the 5 kosha’s that layer the human atman, Annamaya Kosha is the first. This is That, that is nourished by the food taken in.  The annamaya kosha defines the physical existence of man.

The belief is that from Aakash emerges Vayu from who emerges Agni from who emerges water from which emerges bhoomi who in turn creates Man.

Since it is the food that sustains us through life needs to be honoured.  So much so the Taittreya Upanishad says “Anna brahmajnana dware” that is nourishing one’s body right is the pathway to nourishing the soul in turn can guide us to the ultimate truth.

The physical body is nourished by the pranah. Likewise the nourishment is housed in the Anna. And all life is dependent on this nourishment for survival.  So “annam bau kurveeta tadvratam” that is nourishing another being becomes the supreme sharing and tithing says the Thaittreya Upanishad.

The relevance of food is prana to the body, it means security to a householder, the alms to a mendicant, in terms of dharma it becomes tithing and realizing understanding and experiencing the underlying connectivity of all this is one of pathway to the ultimate truth that the soul seeks.


Seasoning life with seasons.

bhasaRtu samhara, the cycles of season, or rtushringara the romance of season.  That is what it all about cycles, decay and rebirth.  In Sanskrit poetry seasons are entwined with love, both erotic and divine. They are parallel and interwoven.

IBL-vasanta-2Vasanta spring, the eternal companion of the Kamadev, the lord of love, adorned with flowers and clothed in green, the poem by Jayadeva

When winsome westerly winds
caress comely creeping cloves
As bumblebees’ buzz-buzzing and cuckoos’ coo-cooing
resound in huts, in coves, in groves,
In springtime, the sensual season so languorous
long for forlorn lovers,
Krishna strays and plays, my friend,
dancing with young girls.
The poem by the Sanskrit poet Jayadeva, describes Krishna in spring. Spring the king of all seasons, the companion of the God of Love.
Between 20th of March and 22nd of March is the Vernal equinox the official first day of spring. Spring is the nature’s way of saying “lets party!”

IBL GrishmaGrishma.–The  summerr? The summer sounds
actually one does not really pay much attention to it. Its only when the poets highlight it that we notice it.
to the kids it means no more pencils no more books, no more teachers dirty looks. To mothers it means no lunch boxes to pack, to Indian grandparents it means grandkids home.
To mother nature—sings a different song, there is an unreal element here like a mirage, the heat saps the enmity between predators, you don’t need wealth to cool your life-like the famous Indian poet Bhana says, the season allows it by itself by sending the breeze through the sweat which is coolant.
The Indian summer is legendary, the cracking of dawn is with the chirping of migratory birds, and then come the crackling parrots, on tree tops, these slowly leave the stage for droning bees that come to the jasmine flowers as they are at the peak of their fragrance. As the day moves on it’s a mirage of peace and harmony between predators created by the lethargy of the summer heat.  Every minute activity seems so exhausting, sanguinity is the only possible reaction to life.

IBL-VARSHAThe heat breaks, with Varsha the rains. As a dancer for me movements of nature are most inspiring. The swaying trees, the changing tempo and rhythm with the intensity of the breeze. Varsha heralds the season of shared blankets and warm coffee. The thunder heralds the duel between the sea and wind to win the green donned maiden earth.

The rhythm of the thunder the flash of the lightning music of the storm evokes a dance in the soul.

Sharada— Rains tumult of rains has given way to stillness. The rivers are meandering and the skies are clear. It is the season of beauty, of bright sun, lustrous moon, glowing blue sky, gentle flowing rivers and clear water. Lakes, that are rich in white and blue lotuses, the lazy swans floating just after a long flight from the Himalayas. Trees

uddhṛtānāṃnijamupadiśantyāsthitipadaṃare full, of flowers and fruits, hence the season to thank Lakshmi the mother of abundance, Kubera the divine treasurer, to honour Narakasura the symbolic representation of debris and decay.

Dadhatyā śālīnām avanatim udāre sati phale |

Mayūrānām ugraṃ viṣam iva harantyā madam aho

Kṛtaḥ kṛtsnasy’ āyaṃ


vinaya iva lokasya śaradā ||

Guiding the swollen waters back within their normal bounds, bowing low the rice loaded with grain, drawing out the peacock’s drunken desire as if it were a terrible poison – see, autumn is taming the wide world.

3.8 Mudrārākṣāsa – Viśākhadatta

The paradoxical winter warmth

IBL-HEMANTAWinter or Hemanta as we call it Sanskrit is a favourite of mine. The description of this is done by a Sanskrit poet as follows:

Gaja-pati-dvayasīr api haimantas tuhinayat caritas pṛṣatāṃ patiḥ |

Salila-saṃtatim adhvaga-yoṣitām atanuta atanu-tāpa-kṛtaṃ dṛśām ||

The winter wind, lord of water drops, freezing even rivers deep as the mightiest of elephants is tall, produces a stream of hot, painful tears from the eyes of women whose husbands are away.

I love winter when the landscape weaves its magic. It is like a mystery waiting to be unveiled. The story has its nebulous secret. There is there solitude, there is loneliness. There is a sense of privacy which no other season gives. Spring, summer or fall people sort of buzz around. While in the monsoon the drone of nature may take getting used to, it is the winter that provides quiet stretches for one to savour the sense of belonging to one’s own self.

Keeping warm, is a luxury in itself. Winter being milder in my part of the world, we tend to wear thick cottons or thin woollens. Silks are the norm for daily dressing.

The festivals involve dishes made of Til ~also known as gingelly that is sesame. Roasted sesame is dropped into melted or caramelized jaggery to which ginger, cardamom and cashew bits have been added. This is rolled into small balls. Til is supposed to be a keep warm nutrient that helps one tide over the winter scarcity.

Keep warm food are spicier, tangier yet lighter. Ginger, pepper flavours.

ibl shishiraShishira —the fall, the season of diminishing winter, shishra in Sanskrit poetry usually include bedroom scenes and many times morning after descriptions. The external world is not interplay to depict the interpersonal erotica. Sometimes there is no reference to externals except may be referring to body warmth of the partners. It converts the bitter cold into stimulus for body contact. It is so specific that it is called as shishira sukha or pleasures of shishira.

Keśān ākulayan dṛśau mukulayan vāso balād ākṣipann

Ātanvan pulak’-odgramaṃ prakaṭyannāvega-kampaṃ gateḥ |

vāraṃ vāram udāra-sītkṛta-ravair dantacchadaṃ pīḍayan

prāyaḥ śaiśira eṣa saṃprati marut kāntāsu kāntāyate ||

Ruffling their hair, making them close their eyes, violently snatching their clothes away, giving them goose bumps, making their limbs tremble with excitement and eliciting from them again and again loud gasps that chap their lips – this śiśira wind now seems to be these women’s lover.

Verse 3944 in the Śārṅgadharapaddhati and verse 1854 in the Subhāṣitāvali – anonymous in both

End of the day it is all about Shifting with nature’s energy—change of season

In today’s world office jobs and supermarkets have made it possible to provide for ourselves and our families regardless of nature’s cycles. While most of us no longer depend directly on nature’s seasons for our livelihood our body’s clocks still know deep down that a change of season means a change in us too. If we don’t acknowledge this we may feel out of sync, as though we have lost our natural rhythm. These days, autumn is more likely to bring thoughts of going back to school than harvesting but into classes the chill in the air tells us it is time to move inside and prepare for the future. We can consciously celebrate the change of season and shift our energy by setting time aside to make the same change we see in nature. We change our colours like falling leaves and wilting blooms by putting away our bright summer colours and filling our wardrobes and living areas with warm gold’s, reds and browns,

While plants concentrate energy deep in their roots and seeds we can retreat to quieter indoor pursuits, nurturing seeds of endeavors, which need quiet concentration to grow. We can stoke our inner fires with our favourite coffee, eat, cider or cocoas while savoring rich hot comfort foods that the season brings on array of fall colors, potatoes, pumpkins, corn etc. as animals begin growing their winter coats and repairing their dens for hibernation we dust of our favorite sweaters and jackets and bring blankets out of storage creating coziness with throw rugs and heavier drapes. We can also light candles or fireplaces to b ring remnant of summer’s fiery glow indoors.

By making a conscious celebration of change we usher in the new season in a way that allow us to go with the flow, not fight against it. We sync ourselves up with the rhythm of nature and the universe and let it carry us forward nurturing us as we prepare for our future.

the bird of six seasons, as described in the Yajur veda.
the bird of six seasons, as described in the Yajur veda.

We have our favourite seasons, we have our likes, our dislikes, yet season is a muse for creative energy. like Julian Barnes says in Flaubert’s parrot, “When you’re young you prefer the vulgar months, the fullness of the season, as you grow older you learn to like the in-between months, that can’t make up their minds, perhaps it’s a  way of admitting that things can’t ever bear the same certainty again.. ”

“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”
― Yoko Ono

My sincere thanks to Sreenivasa Rao  and Venetia Ansell when I wrote the intial article