Monday, September 29, 2008

The Akash Bhairav Temple in Kathmandu

Samrakshyan as Upasamhar: The Akash Bhairav Temple in Kathmandu

Research material: Sri Akash Bhairavnath By Dr. Safalya Amatya

(Ghatasthapana 2008)

In Hindu deistic traditions, a supernal force that guides or moulds and to which we turn for respite and understanding is often defined as a manifest God. In simpler terms, the idol of worship or the deity is a visible form of an invisible force.

The life element thus enshrined is a belief, a traditional faith and a form of worship for appeasement and thanksgiving all at once. The Akash Bhairav is said to have been brought during the founding of Kantipur City, now modern-day Kathmandu. The city is famed for its temples as well as the colourful cultural ambience that complements its historical significance in Nepal.

The Akash Bhairav is famed to be a part of the Kirati tradition of divine 'institutionalisation'. Interesting to note, other famous manifestations or forms of the Bhairav are exhibited in recognizably important places. The Nritya Bhairav is housed in the National Museum in Kathmandu. A prachin murti of the Bhairav is also exhibited in the Doris Wainer Gallery in New York.

The dhalaut forms a critical part of the Bhairav statue. During the Lichhavi Period, the Bhairav was brought to public reach from the Shivpuri Danda by Shivadev I. Magnificent Bhairav statues still adorn the durbars of some of the key ruling dynasties of Nepal. Critically significant is the fact that the temple and the murti are instituted in accordance with the bidhi which roughly translates as the rites of deification.

The traditional Akash Bhairav Puja is accompanied by Upasana and Anusthan. Sacred water, sandalwood, flowers, fruits, incense and naibedya are some of the offerings for this puja. Legend has it that worship of the Bhairav is usually a mark of safety and strength. In the Nepali imagination, the Akash Bhairav symbolizes protection and goodwill for the nation and its people.

Religion, nation, people, belief, faith and traditional thanksgiving are all interwoven in this manifestation of Bhairav worship. The Akash Bhairav is also believed to be the jeevan tatwa. Culturalism and culturality are integrally bound in Bhairav worship and the temple itself. It stands as a grand testament to a cultural personification of Upasamhar.

The toran, dhalaut singha, shilapatra kakshya, mukut, tamako khasi, ghanta and twadeva are each built into the temple facade and the inner sanctum. The restoration of the temple has been supported by key international organizations. However, much of the restorative work was undertaken and completed by the community in charge of its upkeep. Community-based heritage preservation is fast becoming imperative in Nepal as it provides much of the backdrop and resources for restorative undertakings.

For eight days during the Indra Jatra, celebrations in the temple comprise of adorning the temple and the deity. This is followed by the Tantrik Puja, the Sagun Puja and the Kal Puja. The worshipper and the deity are held together in a uniquely 'reciprocal' dynamic.

Indra Chowk, home of the Akash Bhairav, was one of the principle trade centers and town squares of ancient Kantipur City. The Sri Akash Bhairav Guthi Sanchalak Samithi is a community organisation that manages the temple activities and upkeep.

Interestingly, it is believed that happiness is a key aspect of the fruit or 'returns' of the worship and offerings. The Akash Bhairav also holds a crucial place in the Dasai festivities. Music and songs embellish the celebrations. This intermingling of manifold cultural, religious, historical and social elements in Bhairav worship could signal the importance of the traditional faiths and cultures of Nepal.

(Comments will be appreciated.)

The Prelude

Fur Elise

Sunday, September 28, 2008




"An Equal Music"


The Terra Firma

When you look up at the firmament, what do you see?

Well, anyways. The horizon, perhaps, is more in sync with time. 'Save the Rain forests', they said. Did they tell us how?

Listening to the beats of the Merengue makes me think of fun. We also have the means and the wherewithal to really think and work out some tasks at hand. Needless to say, we are all strapped for time. The hourglass works best with soft sand. Am I right?

In trying to push the conservation ideal forward, I am often taken aback by the sheer volumes that we dedicate to various conservation matters. I love the lush greens and sparkling rivers. There is, obviously, much more to the Environment and Conservation than just what the naked eye can see, at any given point in time. The degenerative and degrading influences are also, sometimes, nature taking its course. Well, that's how it seems to me.

The point I am trying to make is that we might be able to serve the goals better if we understood and appreciated 'co-dependence' and 're-investment' better. Or at least, better than I am aware of. It takes millions of years for a glacier to form. Perhaps, the fact that upstream is most likely to affect downstream in converse ways should also be factored in.

Oh Dear! What could the matter be?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The terrestrial.

Have you seen tigers in familiar territory?

I saw some tigers play and find companions in a TV documentary today. The name 'Discovery' should be remembered.

The tigers looked even more beautiful than I could imagine. The surroundings were playful too. Shade, summer, stream, strength and succor.

The deer, antelope and sundry other forest dwellers looked happy . Well, happiness is a relative term.

The colours on the dwellers are so amazing. The fawn and the fierce seem almost alike. Well, that's my perspective, anyways.

Science is fascinating. What makes it even more wow is the objects, subjects and territories that it expounds on, explicates and enumerates. The sounds, the habitat and the light play seem almost idyllic. 'The Idylls of an Inhabitant?' Habitation behaviour is also wow to me. Co-habitation, of course, we all know about. Co-existence, on the other hand, is quite mystifying.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Thamel: The Thrill of Moondance

Thamel: The Thrill of Moondance

"All that man is, all mere complexities"

Once touted as a polar opposite of the rest of Kathmandu Valley, Thamel reaches unto the visitor with a piquancy that very few can resist. Grafting together life and fun in a uniquely Nepali way, it is often a place of respite and rejuvenation. Having overcome the "high-brow disdain" earned in its early years, it is now, irrefutably, an indispensable part of the cityscape.

The Pashmina wools set against trekking gear is surprising, to say the least. Narrow lanes that merge and drift become exciting thoroughfares for people as they holiday here as well as rest and experience the bohemian sub-culture of Kathmandu. The eclectic restaurants and barhopping traditions are alive and well for all.

The glamour of the Mandala paintings and the Thangkas lend a provocatively spiritual element to the place. Life-size statues of Gods and Goddesses that adorn the shops further elaborate on a tradition of worship that has long made Nepal a 'spiritual haven'. Peeking at the wares by the roadside reveals a veritable collectible 'warehouse'.

Ignoble strife and economic downturns notwithstanding, Thamel could very well have sustained the travel and tourism influxes in Kathmandu through many of its ups and downs. Life in Kathmandu City is intricately and visibly supported and enriched by Thamel's intermeshed essence. The 'melee' label is, sometimes, coloured by an atmosphere of lively social gathering.

As a born again wayfarer, I enjoy each 'outing' to Thamel. Imparting a feeling and consciousness of hustle and bustle alongside a free-spirited awakening of fun and liveliness, the place is one of my favourite hideouts and venues for food and fun.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

a white dragon.

A resplendent pose


"Who rose like shadows between man and God;
Till that eclipse, still hanging over heaven,
Was worshipped by the world o'er which they strode,"

The Triumph of Life
(PB Shelley; 1822)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A reiteration.

The call of the wild just does it for me, sometimes. How 'bout you?

Having worked close to the conservation dialectic, I often find myself taken aback by the wildlife and their careful natural grandeur. There must be some essence of life that keeps them so unharmed and yet so vigilant. The White Tiger looks with wary eyes but also seems to beckon with a note of strength.

The White Tiger

Have you been watching the wild life footage on the television recently? I saw some today that merit a great deal of thought and time. The young and the restless do often get their way even in the wild! And the wise can make good judgments for the pack.

The White Tiger had almost reached mythical status. It might be endangered but it looks fierce, majestic and beautiful. The land seems to surround it with foliage and feeling. Its strong gaze tells of a being almost too intelligent for the jungle. Or, perhaps, the jungle protects it from becoming a circus object. We do really need to rethink the way we view the wild and the wilderness children.

"Of This Time, Of This Place."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

"Blue Ridge Mountains..."

Shoals on the shore.

"The word bites like a fish.
Shall I throw it back free
Arrowing to that sea
Where thoughts lash tail and fin?
Or shall I pull it in
To rhyme upon a dish?

I don't exactly recall the first time I saw the sea or was nearby. The strange feeling of a vast, vast body of water just spreading itself across the horizon is quite indescribable. I was nervous for a while at a beach while on a vacation. The waves could swallow me up in an instant and nobody would figure it out. It was cold that day and breezy. The wharf was somehow less threatening. And when I finally did take a dip, it was like being on a dinghy of water. I wanted to rush back to land but I was equally enthralled by the cool waves that seemed to lap up its space.

We took pictures and when I look at them now, I think I should have made them into a postcard or two and sent them to 'all we who travel these days.' ;-)

The sand feels warm and soft. How does it stop those large waves from crashing helter skelter?

I went to a river beach as a young kid and the current was like ripples of laughter. Like ripples of warning too.

"Those sea-girls wreathed in sea-weed dark and brown..." I feel a little awkward waxing magical about our natural treasures. I mean, the sea's been around for a while now, hasn't it? But as I ponder the 'experience of awe' that many of them evoke, I'm thinking... what a world!!

"like dawn on the last shore..."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A ritual of faith.

On destiny.

"Destiny in the Brechtian universe is, as a rule, pretty grim. But it is always man-made and potentially changeable through collective action."

This was a statement that stared at me from a paper sometime back. It still resonates somewhere in my mind. Bertolt Brecht knew what life could be like, huh?

As a fledgeling artist and writer, I find my work 'promising'. That comes from having read great, great literature and seen some very potent art. What do you think? Meandering around my current lot is, at times, infinitely exciting. It is, also, unwieldy and somewhat lacking in direction. Realizing that I can actually sketch a decent sketch was like rediscovering Vivaldi. You have heard of the Four Seasons, haven't you?

So, catharsis and renewal notwithstanding, I do hope you like the stuff here. Polishing and refining will be, henceforth, also integrated. I had learnt so much over the years and then I thought, jeez, I'm not exactly getting any younger. Ergo, the passionate and vociferous assertion of creative potential.

A Byzantine reverie?