Albert Joel

Chronicling India

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Hindu religious customs

Traditional Hindus believe in sanatana dharma (worshiping many deities). Hindus have an elaborate system of rituals for everything related to a religious function, be it performing a simple puja (worship), conducting a complex sacrament ceremony, fasting, celebrating festivals and fairs, bathing in sacred rivers or lakes, going on a pilgrimage, or conducting a complex ceremony marriage. In addition, Hindus have the largest number of vrata (fasts) and festivals; according to P. V. Kane, there are about one thousand religious activities during the Hindu calendar year, the chief of which is Mahashivratri, dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Every date in the Hindu calendar and every day of the week are marked for some kind of worship. For example, the weekdays are named after seven of nine planets to be worshiped. These nine planets, called “Navagrahas,” are the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter...

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Vedanta Philosophy

The Vedanta is not interested in cosmology or the processes of creation. All such schemes are for it symbolic and mythical, and in these areas it is content to borrow from the Sankhya and Yoga traditions of Sanatana Dharma. What interests the thinkers of the Vedanta is the reality-status of the world, and the real nature of oneself: the question, Who am I?, takes on a central importance. ‘The noble ones,’ writes Shankara, ‘the seekers of liberation, are preoccupied only with the ultimate reality, not with useless speculations about creation. Hence the various alternative theories about creation come only from believers in the doctrine that creation is real.

It is a widely accepted principle of Indian thought that anything which changes cannot, in an ultimate and final sense, be real. Reality is not something which comes and goes. It requires stability of being; as the Shiv Puran puts...

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North Indian Tourist Itinerary

This tour is a broader version of the overdone Golden Triangle trip that normally concentrates on the Konark Temple, Puri Jagannath and Lingaraja, Bhubaneshwar. To have a more comprehensive and meaningful experience in India, I suggest including Khajuraho and Varanasi, which add a spiritual dimension, and five overnights for relaxation: three nights at architecturally rich yet lesser known destinations; two nights at a game park. Since air travel is unreliable, I organize most of the tour by car with driver, which also allows for impromptu stops along the way.

Duration: 17 days

GETTING AROUND: Travel by car and driver from Delhi to the Khajuraho temples, then fly to Varanasi and fly back to Delhi.

THE MAIN ROUTE: Three days: Delhi to Jaipur. Drive 122 kilometers (76 miles) from Delhi to Rajasthan’s Neemrana Fort Palace, located just off the main highway between Delhi and Jaipur. This...

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Syncretism in Hinduism

From what has been said it might be supposed that religious forms are unimportant to Hindus. This is far from being the case. All over India they are loved and worshipped and taken with great seriousness. No one who has watched Indians passionately celebrating the birthday of Lord Krishna or Lord Ganesha could suppose that Hindus are indifferent to religious forms. And yet it remains true that behind this worship, and even among men and women of very simple background, the consciousness that the form they are worshipping represents a supra-formal principle, and that this is its true reality, is rarely altogether absent. It is not the form, but the god who is thought of as having descended into it, which is under worship. Anyone who has seen Indian villagers worshipping, let us say, the lovingly decorated image of Goddess Lakshmi on her festival day, and then, at the end of the...

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Theory of Emotion

Differential emotions theory provides a structure for understanding the role of emotions in depressive symptomatology (Izard, 1972). According to the theory, the 10 fundamental emotions (interest, enjoyment, surprise, sadness, anger, disgust, contempt, fear, shyness, and guilt) each have motivational characteristics. Each emotion has its own neuromotor program and emotional expression is activated by neurochemical changes. Both internal and external events can trigger neurochemical change and thus emotional expression. As an emotion is experienced, it may become associated with other emotions such that certain emotions tend to occur together or may influence the expression of other emotions. For example, the concurrent experiences of joy and sadness reduced the facial expression of sadness in boys, whereas the combined experience of sadness and anger increased the facial expression of...

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What is the point of Yoga?

A. W Watts attempted to explain Yoga as a sort of psychotherapy, but made the common mistake of estimating on a purely psychological level. There is doubtlessly a great similarity between Yoga and psychotherapy. However, the former does not stop at a mere ‘integration’ or, as some prefer to call it, ‘actualisation’ of the psyche; it aims at nothing less than a complete transformation of man. This will have to be elucidated. The purpose of psychotherapy is, as we understand it, to fully restore the capacity of functioning of a man, to free him from mental duresses and to make him mature emotionally and in his social relationships. Usually the person undergoing psychotherapy is afflicted with some negative dispositions, physically and mentally.

In other words, he becomes to the psychotherapist a patient. Yoga, on the contrary, generally starts with the normal, healthy individual. This...

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Indian Classical Music - Passion & Philosophy

The term “Indian Classical music” ought to embrace both the classical music of the South, called Karnatak music, and the classical music of the North called Hindusthani classical music. Karnatak music which is a great system of music is confined to a limited area in Southern India and its influence has not penetrated into other parts of India. An example of this is the Shivashtakam and Rudrashtakam. On the other hand, Hindusthani classical music, originally the music of the North, is now universally recognized all over India. Therefore, for the sake of convenience, the terms Indian classical music and Hindusthani classical music, are identically the same in meaning.

Instead of conducting a technical discussion of classical music and its grammar, and analyzing how a Shiva Stuti differs from a Shiva Stotram, it is far better to understand the true spirit of its art. How to answer the...

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Will TV be the same without Mahabharat?

Now that the battle of Kurukshetra has begun, I have to ask, how long will the show go on? It couldn’t possibly pull itself beyond 3 months. The war is going on at a clipping pace after all. PinkVilla reports that there are rumors about the show going dark, but it also interviewed Tewary about it, and he seemed to be plotting something else, ala Shakuni!

Here’s what he says “We have a lot in store. I can’t reveal what it is at this moment. Expectations really put a lot of pressure on everybody and that isn’t a way to live life. I have made an effort to challenge myself with every story that I had to tell. But the fact is that we have no control over the outcome. Then why expect any result of the efforts I put. All I can do is try to remain honest to my work.”

Talk about beating about the bush!! But if Star knows its business, and I believe it does, they’ll find some way to...

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The Himalayan Environment

Vasukhi Tal
The Himalayas have much to offer, but the environment is fast changing and can have a potentially disastrous effect on human populations. Climate change has had an impact on some pilgrimage places. The Chorabari glacier, some 12,800 feet above sea level in the steep glacial cirque above Kedar temple, is the headwater for both the Kanthi Sarovar and Vasukhi Tal lakes. Kanthisarovar is also known as Gandhi Sarovar, and it is the place where Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes were immersed upon his cremation.

The area finds mention in a story of the epic, the Mahabharat, where the Kaurava Karna and his king Duryodhana go for a pilgrimage for Shiva, has been retreating year after year and is now the focus of intensive research to determine just how fast the glacier is melting.

In the three years between 2004 and 2007, the snout of the glacier retreated some ninety feet, and it is now being...

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Religious Tourism and its Obligations

Tourism is one of the most remarkable success stories of modern times. The industry, which began on a massive scale only in the 1960s, has grown rapidly and steadily for the past 30 years in terms of the income it generates and the number of people who travel abroad.

It has proved to be resilient in times of economic crisis and shows no signs of slowing down, despite the uncertainty, caused by the events such as September 11, other terrorist threats, and even unexpected new illnesses like SARS in the beginning of the new century.

According to World Tourism Organization data, more than 715 million people were travelling internationally in 2002, generating more than US$472 billion in earnings. The outlook for the first decades of the century are even more astounding. Forecasts predict 1.6 billion international tourists by the year 2020, spending more than US$2 trillion annually— or...

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