India has never been more ‘nationalistic’ in recent history. With the wave of elections and the upcoming big one in 2019, it is even more obvious that a string of jingoistic messages are being floated. In equal measure though, is the ‘liberal’ front of things questioning ideologies and far standing traditions. The term ‘liberal’ is a more recent concept in the history of time (earliest references are 17th century) wherein freedom of religion, a general acceptance of free thinking, open and transparent society are fundamental tenets. Traditionally India has been a unitized fabric of rulers and the ruled; and religion has been inseparable, as it is today. Mighty kings fought and expanded their vast empires stretching all the way from Afghanistan to parts of present day Burma even. Up until the 10th century, predominantly, three religions were practised: Hinduism, Buddhism & Jainism. I shall not get into the Aryan-Dravidian divide and shall discuss India as it stands. Let us start from the time when a coherent system of barter, metallurgy, pottery, politics, warfare and agriculture was developed. Religion and state were never separated and yet society prospered at various times and at other times there were setbacks. How has the country fared from the view of the modern ‘liberal’ tag during several phases of her existence?
Continue reading “Liberalism in India – A historical perspective”
Traveling through peak winter in cold places is never fun. On a recent work cum holiday trip I was presented with two options – take pictures at -20°C or stay warm in rented rooms. Needless to say, I chose the former. Working my way through parts of Boston, New York, Colorado and Minneapolis over the course of just a little under 4 weeks, I managed to get some wintry snowy pictures with shaking hands. I leave a few here.
Continue reading “United States in December – A Photo Essay”
Kanchipuram has always been one of the most important religious cities of the world. Housing over a hundred temples, all at least a 1000 years old, it has been a confluence of Shiva, Vishnu and Shakta tracts of Hinduism. The capital of the Pallava dynasties for centuries, the city is sacred to many as one of the most potent centers for spirituality. It is one of the Sapta Puris or Seven Cities (Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Kashi, Kanchipuram, Ujjain and Dwarka). These cities are the select places of high spiritual elevation and spiritual masters have time and again been born in these places. On one warm summer afternoon, I visited the matha (an institute of asceticism usually started by a spiritual master) of one such exalted masters, Upanishad Brahmendra.
Continue reading “The little known Matha of Kanchipuram”
Having traveled through the slightly off the beaten path of Northern Spain, I thought it might be useful to pen down some practical information on how to travel through this part of the vast and beautiful country of Spain. I often found more information on the bigger and more popular cities of Spain but found it a little difficult to get easy information on this part. Its my humble attempt to list a few things that might be useful to someone planning to travel here someday!
Continue reading “Practical info on traveling through Northern Spain”
Seated right along the border of France and Spain and flanked by gorgeous beaches, San Sebastian is a walhalla of fine dining and is a perfect getaway from France or Spain for a long weekend. My last stop along the northern coast of Spain, I took a morning bus from Santander to San Sebastian passing through Bilbao. I could have chosen to spend my time in the bigger Bilbao instead but I was ready for a more intimate and chic affair with San Sebastian.
Continue reading “San Sebastian – My 48 hours in the Basque city”