Thursday, 7 November 2013

Saptamatruka Poojan

Original article on Samirsinh Dattopadhye's Blog
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On Thursday, 24th October 2013, Param Poojya Bapu, in His discourse, spoke on a very important topic. It is the ardent wish of every parent that their child should lead a long and healthy life. Traditionally, Shashti Poojan has been performed for this very purpose. However, over a period of time, this poojan has gradually lost its importance and has been reduced to a mere ritual. Param Poojya Bapu through his discourse guided about the significance, importance and the formal procedure of performing this poojan.
Param Poojya Bapu said that the poojan was first performed by Rishi Agastya and his wife Lopamudra and by Rishi Vashishtha and his wife Arundhati, together, after becoming mothers for the first time; both of them delivering at the same time. This poojan came to be known as ‘Saptashasti Poojan’.
We have read in the Matruvatsalya Vindanam of how in the course of the war with  the demons Shumbha and Nishumbha, all the Gods had sent their respective ‘Shaktis’ (powers) to help Shree Mahasaraswati. These seven Shaktis are known as the ‘Saptamatruka’ of whom Goddess Kali is their chief commander (Senapati). The names of the seven Matrukas are as under;

1. Maaheshwari – The shakti of Shankar, she is five faced and rides on Vrishaba (bull). She has a Trishul (trident) in her hand.
2. Vaishnavi – The shakti of Vishnu, she rides on Garuda (Eagle) and has a Chakra (discus), Gada (mace) and Padma (lotus) in her hand.
3. Brahmaani - The shakti of Brahma, she is four faced and rides on a Hans (Swan). She holds a Kamandalu and an Akshamala (string of beads) in her hands.
4. Aindri – The shakti of Indra, she rides on an Elephant and is armed with Vajra.
5. Kaumari – she is the shakti of Kartikeya, is six faced and rides on a peacock.
6. Naarsimhi - One whose face is that of a lioness. She is armed with a Gada (Mace) and Khadga (Sword).
7. Varahi - One whose face is that of a boar, and rides on a white buffalo, she is armed with a Chakra, Khadga (Sword) and Dhaal (shield)

The Poojan of these Saptamatrukas is the ‘Saptashasti’ Poojan itself. After Bapu’s own birth, this poojan was performed in his house. An image of the Saptamatrukas used during this poojan was shown by Bapu to all Shraddhavans during his discourse on 24th October 2013. While talking about the significance of this poojan, Bapu further stated that Shumbha and Nishumbha were killed by Mahishasuramardini in the form of Mahasaraswati, Shumbha’s son Durgam somehow managed to survive. He survived not because he had assumed the form of a crow, but because of the motherly love which arose in the hearts of these seven Matrukas, even though he was the enemy’s son. Mahasaraswati was pleased by this act of their’s and she blessed them saying, “the person who, after the birth of a child in his house performs poojan of matrukas, that child will be protected by you”. Hence, in every household it became a practice to perform poojan of these Saptamatrukas after the birth of a child.
Thereafter Bapu gave complete information about the manner in which the poojan is to be performed

Poojan Preparation:
1. Take one small Pooja table (Paat). Draw a ‘Swastik’ or ‘Shree’ using rangoli because these are auspicious symbols. The poojan decoration has to be done on the paat only and not on the table or Chaurang (stand) because we are all children in front of Mothi Aai. The first step of the child would be a small one measuring the height of a ‘paat’ and hence ‘paat’ be used in the poojan decoration.
2. Spread a shawl / sovala / bed-sheet / on the ‘Paat’. Rangoli may be drawn around the ‘Paat’.
3. On one poojan thali (tamhan) place wheat and level its surface.
4. Place one betel-nut (supari) at the centre and six others around it.
5. Place two coconuts on both sides of the poojan thali on the ‘Paat’; apply haldi (turmeric powder) and kum-kum on the coconuts.
6. On the inner side of both coconuts, in front of the poojan thali place a small pile (raashi) of red akshata (grains of rice mixed in kum-kum). These raashi represents the wives of the Ashwinikumars, the two doctors of the Gods. They are real twin sisters and their names are ‘Jara’ and ‘Jivantika’. These two never stay separated from each other, just as the Ashwinikumars do. They are the ones who play with the child when it is small. It is believed that they take care of the child and it is in response to them that the baby smiles till the time it turns 3 months old. (a) Jara represents the giver of long life. “Let the child live till it becomes very old” is the blessing that it gives. (b) Jivantika means the one who blesses the child by giving protection towards its health as long as the child lives.
7. Place four betel leaves on four sides of the ‘Paat’. Place a supari on each one of them. Placing of supari signifies invoking God. Invoking God by placing betel leaves and supari is akin to invoking without chanting any mantras, as stated by Katyayani, the form of Adimata incarnate. Placing of betel leaves signifies that the invitation has reached God as this is Katyayani’s resolve.
Saptamatruka Poojan Preparation
8. On the rear side of the pooja thali (plate), touching it, place the photograph of Saptamatruka.

Poojan Procedure: 1. This poojan is to be performed between sunrise and sunset only. It can be done on any day, even on the day of Amavasya.
2. The poojan is to be performed only after the birth of the child and that too by the father of the child. While doing the poojan, the father should place the child on his lap atleast for some time. This poojan can be done anytime, 3 days after the child is born.
3. The poojan is to be started by chanting of “Vakratunda Mahaakaaya…”
4. This is followed by chanting of Gurukshetram mantra. After this, it is mandatory to take the Sadguru’s name.
5. Offer haldi and kum kum on the supari kept on the betel leaf. If possible, apply wet kum kum. After that offer haldi, kum kum, askshata and gandha (sandalwood paste) on the supari kept in the poojan thali.
6. Further, the poojan is to be performed chanting ‘Navmantramala Stotram’ given in the Matruvatsalyavindanam. This stotra has to be chanted atleast once; those who are desirous of chanting more than once may do so
7. While chanting the stotra, offer fragrant flowers dipped in gandha and akshata. If fragrant flowers are not available, then ordinary flowers will suffice. Offer flowers on the suparis, the photo of Saptamatrukas, and also on the pile (raashi) of Akshata representing Jara and Jivantika. Offer flowers only when the Navamantramala Stotram is chanted for the first time.
8. Light the lamp and dhoop.
9. Prepare seven plates for naivedya and offer Puran (a sweet made of gram and jaggery) and Varan (lentil soup). Alongwith this, also offer dry coconut with jaggery as naivedya. If it is not possible to offer seven plates for Naivedya for any reason whatsoever, then only jaggery and a half of dry coconut may be offered.
10. Lastly, after offering Naivedya, offer the lotus flower, as it is the favoured flower of this God.

Bapu further stated that the poojan is to be done only after the birth of the child and the first poojan is to be done by the father of the child. While the poojan is being performed, the child’s mother should sit for the poojan atleast for some time.  If, for some reason, the child’s father is not present during the poojan, then the grandfather (father’s father OR mother’s father) of the child can perform the poojan. If even they are not present then any one of the child’s close male relatives may perform the poojan. Once the child grows up, then the mother of the child can do the poojan anytime for the child without any age-bar. One can perform the poojan of the child any number of times; on the child’s birthday or after the child recovers from illness or any other day or occasion. During this time, the poojan can be performed by the parents together or individually. Likewise, once the poojan is performed, there is no compulsion to repeat the poojan. If there are more children in the house, then it is always preferable to do the poojan separately for each child. However, if due to some unavoidable circumstances the time is not available, then the poojan may be performed for all the children together.
Saptamatruka Poojan

Once the poojan is over, the poojan decoration should be kept as it is for atleast 3 hours, after which it can be removed any time. The flowers and suparis may be sent for visarjan (immersion). Wheat may be used as Prasad in the household cooking. Alternately the same wheat can also be offered to a cow as this is always considered pious. Naivedya may, as usual, be partaken by the members of the household. The photograph of Saptamatruka is not to be sent for immersion. Rather it should be kept in the house in a secure place. The photograph can be photoframed and kept at the place of worship (Pooja room). In future, if a new child is born in the house, then the poojan is to be done preferably by getting a new photograph.
The photographs of Saptamatruka are available at Shree Gurukshetram and Shree Harigurugram.
A copy of the ‘Navmantramala Stotram’ required for the Saptamatruka poojan is appended in Sanskrit, Marathi and Hindi language alongwith this post. As stated by Param Poojya Bapu, during the poojan this stotra is to be chanted in any one of the three languages viz., Sanskrit, Marathi or Hindi.
I am confident that every Shraddhavan will surely do this poojan individually at his house.
Hari Om
॥ हरि ॐ ॥
अथ नवमन्त्रमालास्तोत्रम्।
या माया मधुकैटभ-प्रमथनी या महिषोन्मूलिनी
या धूम्रेक्षण-चण्डमुण्ड-मथनी या रक्तबीजाशनी।
शक्ति: शुम्भनिशुम्भ-दैत्य-दलिनी या सिद्धिलक्ष्मी: परा
सा चण्डि नव-कोटि-मूर्ति-सहिता मां पातु विश्वेश्वरी॥
स्तुता सुरै: पूर्वम्-अभीष्ट-संश्रयात् तथा सुरेन्द्रेण दिनेषु सेविता।
करोतु सा न: शुभहेतुरीश्वरी शुभानि भद्राण्यभिहन्तु चापद:॥
या सांप्रतं चोद्धत-दैत्य-तापितै: अस्माभिरीशा च सुरैर्-नमस्यते।
करोतु सा न: शुभहेतुरीश्वरी शुभानि भद्राण्यभिहन्तु चापद:॥
या च स्मृता तत्क्षणमेव हन्ति न: सर्वापदो भक्ति-विनम्र-मूर्तिभि:।
करोतु सा न: शुभहेतुरीश्वरी शुभानि भद्राण्यभिहन्तु चापद:॥
सर्वबाधाप्रशमनं त्रैलोक्यस्य अखिलेश्वरि।
एवमेव त्वया कार्यं अस्मद्-वैरि-विनाशनम् ॥
सर्वमंगलमांगल्ये शिवे सर्वार्थसाधिके।
शरण्ये त्र्यंबके गौरि नारायणि नमोऽस्तु ते॥
सृष्टि-स्थिति-विनाशानां शक्तिभूते सनातनि।
गुणाश्रये गुणमये नारायणि नमोऽस्तु ते॥
सर्वस्यार्तिहरे देवि नारायणि नमोऽस्तु ते॥
सर्वस्वरूपे सर्वेशे सर्वशक्ति-समन्विते।
भयेभ्यस्-त्राहि नो देवि दुर्गे देवि नमोऽस्तु ते॥
 ॥ हरि ॐ ॥
॥ अथ नवमन्त्रमालास्तोत्रम् ॥
जी माता मधु-कैटभ-घातिनी        मर्दी जी महिषासुरां
जी धूम्रेक्षण-चण्ड-मुण्ड-नाशिनी   वधे रक्तबीजासुरां।
निर्दाळी शुम्भ-निशुम्भ-दैत्यां        जी सिद्धिलक्ष्मी परा
ती चण्डिका नव-कोटी-मूर्ति-सहिता   प्रतिपाळो आम्हां लेकरां ॥
अनिरुद्धमाता नवमन्त्रमालिनी। करो बाळाचे संरक्षण मातृकासम्राज्ञी॥
अभीष्ट-पूर्तिसाठी देवादिकांनी    स्तविली भजिली जिला ती आदिमाता।
शुभहेतुरीश्‍वरी ती माय आमुची   करो शुभभद्र, हरो सर्व आपदा॥
अनिरुद्धमाता नवमन्त्रमालिनी। करो बाळाचे संरक्षण मातृकासम्राज्ञी॥
उन्मत्त दैत्यांमुळे गांजलेल्या    आमुचे क्षेम करो पराम्बा सुरवन्दिता।
शुभहेतुरीश्‍वरी ती माय आमुची   करो शुभभद्र, हरो सर्व आपदा॥
अनिरुद्धमाता नवमन्त्रमालिनी। करो बाळाचे संरक्षण मातृकासम्राज्ञी॥
जी स्मरण करताचि हरे दु:खक्लेश । भक्तिशील आम्ही तिला शरण असता।
शुभहेतुरीश्‍वरी ती माय आमुची   करो शुभभद्र, हरो सर्व आपदा॥
अनिरुद्धमाता नवमन्त्रमालिनी। करो बाळाचे संरक्षण मातृकासम्राज्ञी॥
सर्वबाधांचे प्रशमन           करी त्रैलोक्याची अखिलस्वमिनी।
आमुच्या वैर्‍यांचे निर्दालन   करावे हेचि त्वा भक्त-उद्धारिणी॥
अनिरुद्धमाता नवमन्त्रमालिनी। करो बाळाचे संरक्षण मातृकासम्राज्ञी॥
सर्वमंगलांच्या मांगल्ये   शिवे सर्वार्थसाधिके।
शरण्ये त्र्यम्बके गौरी   नारायणी नमो अम्बिके॥
अनिरुद्धमाता नवमन्त्रमालिनी। करो बाळाचे संरक्षण मातृकासम्राज्ञी॥
सृष्टीची उत्पत्ति स्थिति लय   करी जी आद्यशक्ति सनातनी।
वन्दितो गुणाश्रये गुणमये     वात्सल्यनिलये नारायणी॥
अनिरुद्धमाता नवमन्त्रमालिनी। करो बाळाचे संरक्षण मातृकासम्राज्ञी॥
शरणागत पामर लेकरां       तत्पर जी प्रतिपालनी।
प्रणाम तुज सर्वपीडाहारिणी   क्षमास्वरूपे नारायणी॥
अनिरुद्धमाता नवमन्त्रमालिनी। करो बाळाचे संरक्षण मातृकासम्राज्ञी॥
सर्वस्वरूपे सर्वेश्‍वरी   सर्वशक्ति-समन्विते।
भयापासून रक्षी आम्हां   देवी दुर्गे आदिमाते॥
अनिरुद्धमाता नवमन्त्रमालिनी। करो बाळाचे संरक्षण मातृकासम्राज्ञी॥
॥ हरि ॐ ॥
॥ अथ नवमन्त्रमालास्तोत्रम्॥
जो माता मधुकैटभ-घातिनी        महिषासुरमर्दिनी
जो धूम्रेक्षण-चण्डमुण्ड-नाशिनी      रक्तबीज-निर्मूलिनी।
जो है शुम्भनिशुम्भ-दैत्यछेदिनी     जो सिद्धिलक्ष्मी परा
वह चण्डिका नवकोटीमूर्तिसहिता   चरणों में हमें दें आसरा ॥
अनिरुद्धमाता नवमन्त्रमालिनी। करें बच्चे की सुरक्षा मातृकासम्राज्ञी॥
अभीष्ट-पूर्तिहेतु सुरगणों ने   की जिसकी स्तुति भक्ति वह आदिमाता।
शुभहेतुरीश्‍वरी वह माँ हमारी    करें शुभभद्र, हरें सर्व आपदा॥
अनिरुद्धमाता नवमन्त्रमालिनी। करें बच्चे की सुरक्षा मातृकासम्राज्ञी॥
उन्मत्त दैत्यों से ग्रस्त हैं हम     करो क्षेम हमारा पराम्बा सुरवन्दिता।
शुभहेतुरीश्‍वरी वह माँ हमारी    करें शुभभद्र, हरें सर्व आपदा॥
अनिरुद्धमाता नवमन्त्रमालिनी। करें बच्चे की सुरक्षा मातृकासम्राज्ञी॥
स्मरण करते ही दुखक्लेश है हरती।    भक्तिशील हम जब शरण में हों उसके।
शुभहेतुरीश्‍वरी वह माँ हमारी    करें शुभभद्र, हरें सर्व आपदा॥
अनिरुद्धमाता नवमन्त्रमालिनी। करें बच्चे की सुरक्षा मातृकासम्राज्ञी॥
सर्वबाधाओं का प्रशमन   करे त्रैलोक्य की अखिलस्वमिनी।
हमारे बैरियों का निर्दालन   करो यही माँ तुम भक्तोद्धारिणी॥
अनिरुद्धमाता नवमन्त्रमालिनी। करें बच्चे की सुरक्षा मातृकासम्राज्ञी॥
सर्वमंगलों का मांगल्य   शिवे सर्वार्थसाधिके।
शरण्ये त्र्यम्बके गौरी   नारायणी नमो अम्बिके॥
अनिरुद्धमाता नवमन्त्रमालिनी। करें बच्चे की सुरक्षा मातृकासम्राज्ञी॥
सृष्टि की उत्पत्ति स्थिति लय   करे जो आद्यशक्ति सनातनी।
वन्दन तुम्हें गुणाश्रये गुणमये   वात्सल्यनिलये नारायणी॥
अनिरुद्धमाता नवमन्त्रमालिनी। करें बच्चे की सुरक्षा मातृकासम्राज्ञी॥
शरणागत दीनदुखी संतानों के   परिपालन में तत्पर जननी।
प्रणाम तुम्हें सर्वपीडाहारिणी   क्षमास्वरूपे नारायणी॥
अनिरुद्धमाता नवमन्त्रमालिनी। करें बच्चे की सुरक्षा मातृकासम्राज्ञी॥
सर्वस्वरूपे सर्वेश्‍वरी   सर्वशक्तिसमन्विते।
भय से हमारी सुरक्षा करना    देवी दुर्गे आदिमाते॥
अनिरुद्धमाता नवमन्त्रमालिनी। करें बच्चे की सुरक्षा मातृकासम्राज्ञी॥
मला खात्री आहे की प्रत्येक श्रद्धावान आपापल्या घरी हे पूजन नक्कीच करेल.
हरि ॐ
 मी अम्बज्ञ आहे
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Importance of Exhibitions and Trade Fairs

Original article on Samirsinh Dattopadhye's Blog
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Last week, on the 18th of October, 2013, to be precise, I happened to visit an exhibition on Architecture, Construction and Engineering held at the National Exhibition Centre (NESCO) at Goregaon, Mumbai. This exhibition named ‘ACE Tech 2013 – The Future of Building’ was organized by The Economic Times; ACE being the acronym for Architecture, Construction and Engineering respectively. I myself being a civil engineer have always nurtured the passion of trying to get to know more about the various technologies relating to these fields, from the past and present as well as the future is likely to be.
exhibitions and trade fairs, Exhibitions, Trade Fairs, NESCO, ACE Tech 2013 – The Future of Building, Architecture, Construction, EngineeringI had been at NESCO to attend this exhibition on 18th October 2013 along with few of my colleagues. We reached at 10:00 am in the morning. Though I had actually planned this visit only for a few hours, I actually ended up spending the whole day immersed in knowing about the various new products and technologies that were there on display.
What we saw here was a wonderful spread of architecture and construction related products and technologies; a treat for engineering minds, ranging from tiles and ceramics, natural and engineered marble, decorative and architectural lighting, doors and windows, hardware and fittings, air-conditioning and refrigeration, paints, coats and wall coverings, etc.

Deception Point by Dan Brown

Original article on Samirsinh Dattopadhye's Blog
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After reading Digital Fortress authored by Dan Brown I could not hold myself from picking up Deception Point, yet another masterpiece by Dan Brown. As usual the narrative of the book was in his typical inimitable style – very lucid and clear. What makes Dan Brown a class apart is his unwavering focus on being clear and precise.  These are the very principles which Bapu has time and again emphasized upon for making our lives meaningful and successful.
Deception Point
I read the Marathi translation of the book which was wonderfully done by Ashok Padhye. It’s great to see Mehta Publishing House making these quality novels available to Marathi readers.
Deception Point, Deception, Dan Brown, Ashok Padhye, Mehta Publishing House, novel, bookDeception Point starts from an ultra-secretive technical intelligence agency and the highest political echelons of the world’s most powerful country. It is from here that it transports the readers to the harsh and inhibited ice-shelves of the Arctic Circle, and back again to the political and media hallways of power of the country’s capital. Most of the technologies and weapons systems described in this novel by Mr. Dan Brown are totally unheard-of and seemingly extremely futuristic. It is important to note that Mr. Brown has confirmed their existence and regular usage by armed forces, but that it is highly classified. The various cases and examples of usage of these technologies underline the extreme importance and need of most of the militaries, the world over to possess advancements, to win the new-age battles against extremely hostile and brutal enemies and terrains. This is the exact point that justifies and aligns the recent purchases of advanced warfare systems by India, which is geographically, politically and militaristically placed in a volatile and precarious region and situation.
As the name suggests, Deception Point is the story about a deception, which is the most effective weapon of this era. This novel is story of treachery and a bunch of lies that are weaved together and controlled by a mysterious power-broker  an intelligence tsar who doesn’t stop at hiding anything, but the truth. The deception is made to feel so true and real. The deception not just fools all, but has the potential to change the course of the impending presidential elections, which ultimately would have a huge bearing on the space policy of not just that nation but of all the nations across the globe. But finally, the truth prevails.
The novel certainly showcases that pure truth, love and joy are the only three most basic and most important principles of this the mankind; and anything beyond it is just ephemeral.
I sincerely feel and recommend that every socially aware and responsible reader should read this book.
Hari Om
Shri Ram
I am Ambadnya

Middle East Situation – World at the Crossroads (Part I &Part II)

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Just when the situation in the Middle East was reaching boiling point and waiting to explode in the form of an expected US-led attack on Syria, a piece of smart and shrewd diplomacy by the Russian President, Vladimir Putin undid it all for the US.  Putin’s op-ed in the New York Times, while questioning the US plan of attacking Syria, without seeking UN approval, saw this as an attack not just on Syria but on the relevance, existence and future of UN itself, the organisation formed for achieving lasting world peace. Putin’s op-ed concluded with an astounding jolt to the global community and especially to the US, when he compared the fate of UN with the League of Nations, a precursor of UN in the post First World War era. This op-ed was the single most important factor that put the US on the defensive and brought it to the negotiations table with Russia on the issues concerning the situation in Syria and more particularly on the use of chemical weapons there.
Middle East, Syria, Russia, US, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, op-ed, League of Nations, New York Times, UN, Bashar al-Assad, Assad, Putin, Obama
Vladimir Putin – President of Russia
While it appears that an armed conflict has been averted for the present, the possibility of its recurrence in future cannot be ruled out at all. In response to a proposal from Russia, Syria has agreed to give-up on its chemical weapons and facilities. Although the US has agreed with Russia on its proposal on Syrian crisis, there still remains a major and dangerous difference in opinion between the two sides, as to how the US would respond in case Syria goes back on its words. A few days back, the US had even hinted at using the military option in the event that Syria backtracks on its promise. However, the US President Barack Obama carefully avoided any mention of this during his address to the United Nations General Assembly last week. It is important to note that at a time when the US has agreed to this Russian brokered deal, they have also started preparing for increasing weapons supply to the Syrian rebels fighting the government forces. Along with the US, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar too are assisting rebels through all possible means. The Syrian rebels have also found growing sympathy from Turkey and Jordan as well. At this same time, Syrian President has claimed that the external forces, especially Turkey that are supporting the rebels will have to repent, as the rebels that they are currently supporting would turn against them in the days to come. All these happenings certainly point towards the possibility of escalation of strife and violence across Syria, in particular, and the Middle East, at large, in the days to come.

Middle East, Syria, Russia, US, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, op-ed, League of Nations, New York Times, UN, Bashar al-Assad, Assad, Putin, Obama
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
Meanwhile, there has also been a frenzied exchange of accusations between the US and Syrian rebels on the one side and Assad regime and Russia on the other, for fixing the blame for the use of chemical weapons on civilians. In what appears to be a brief respite for this war-torn region, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Netherlands head-quartered intergovernmental organisation, that promotes and verifies the adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention, has confirmed that they have received a dossier from the Assad government on the Syrian chemical weapons programme and facilities, as per the Russian brokered deal.  However, the Russian President’s statement at this juncture that it would be difficult to believe that the Assad regime would give up on its entire stockpile of chemical weapons as also the facilities has made the Western powers sceptical and eyebrows have been raised about this entire arrangement.  The Assad regime has estimated that it would take them one year to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile and that the whole process would cost around $1 billion. It is also worth noting that the former US Secretary of State and a veteran diplomat, Henry Kissinger has expressed doubts over the deal reached over Syria with Russia. Like Putin, Kissinger too has said that Syria may, at best, destroy 90% of its chemical weapons and continue to maintain the rest. Kissinger further claimed that even the significantly reduced stockpile of chemical weapons would pose a major threat. While bashing Syria on the one hand, Kissinger surprisingly said on the other that it is in interest of the US to trust Russia at this point in time over the Syrian agreement.

Middle East, Syria, Russia, US, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, op-ed, League of Nations, New York Times, UN, Bashar al-Assad, Assad, Putin, Obama
Bashar al-Assad – President of Syria
Meanwhile, on last Friday, the UN Security Council voted unanimously for a resolution that makes the OPCW legally binding on Assad’s regime. However, under a compromise clinched between Russia and the Western powers last week, the said resolution does not provide for automatic punitive measures against the Syrian government if it fails to comply. Meanwhile, the implementation of the resolution passed over Syria has begun with the UN informing that its weapons inspectors in Syria have commenced their investigations at a total of seven sites where chemical weapons were allegedly used, including three incidents after the 21st August 2013 attack on Syrian civilians. Though all the parties involved have reached a consensus on dispersing the war clouds that had gathered over the Middle East, the sharp differences of opinions and perception between the two camps continue to remain.

Middle East Situation – World at the Crossroads (Part II)

Both the US and Russia have significant vested interests in this region. Continuance of a favourable regime in Syria is of utmost importance to Russia. Russia maintains an extremely important military base in Syria at its port city of Tartus, in form of a naval installation which is their sole existing military facility outside the former Soviet Union. This is the very reason for Russia to steadfastly support the Assad regime.

At the same time, other nations in the Middle East, particularly the Sunni nations, which are allies of the US, are extremely keen to overthrow the Assad regime. Qatar has a keen interest in supplying its natural gas to Europe. Qatar had planned to install a pipeline for supply of natural gas to Europe that would run across Syria. However, the plan had received strong opposition from the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Assad regime, while rejecting the Qatari pipeline proposal to Europe, on the one hand, inked a similar deal worth almost $10 billion, in cooperation with Iran and Iraq during July last year. It may be of interest to note that the clashes between the Syrian forces and rebels actually coincided with the inking of the deal by Syria. It is believed that Saudi Arabia too had done hectic lobbying with Russia to get it on board during the period in which Qatar had proposed its gas pipeline. Saudi Arabia too is very keen to have a friendly regime in geo-politically sensitive Syria, in order to foster and maintain its dominance in the fuel trade.
Traditionally, Russia has been a leading fuel supplier to Europe. The European nations have been alleging the use of this fuel by Russia as a weapon against them. Hence, Russia would be the last nation that would want fuel from the Middle East to reach Europe. This is another important reason for Russia’s continued support of the Assad regime in Syria. As a result of this complicated mesh of vested interests of all the parties involved, a long-lasting resolution to the Syrian crisis seems a distant reality and the current peace efforts seem be just a temporary arrangement.
Middle East SituationAlong with the Middle Eastern countries, the US and Russia, other countries are now gradually getting drawn into this issue. European allies of the US, namely the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, Luxembourg, Spain and the Netherlands have pledged financial aid worth $430 million for Syrian refugees. The United Kingdom has also declared an additional package of $3 million which would be dedicated for destruction of Syrian chemical weapons and facilities. China, along with Russia, has traditionally sided with Syria and blocked several US-sponsored anti-Syria resolutions in the UN. China has been unsupportive of any military action against Syria and has recently claimed ‘dialogue’ to be the only and the best available option to resolve the Syrian issue.
Middle East SituationThe threat of increased violence not only poses a serious challenge to the stakeholders involved, but at the same time it also poses serious challenges before a country like India, that imports 80% of its fuel requirement and depends heavily on the Middle East for its supply. The US has already put sanctions on Iran, which was one of the leading fuel suppliers to India. Iran gives 90 days credit to Indian oil companies and its crude is cheaper than that from Saudi Arabia and Iraq. It also accepts part of the payments in Indian currency. Hence, India saves precious foreign exchange if it buys fuel from Iran. However, the US sanctions on Iran have forced India to reduce its imports from Iran. Similarly, Syria has offered India stakes in its oil and gas fields. There are 14 onshore oil blocks and 6 offshore oil blocks in Syria. However, due to the current situation in Syria, Indian companies have temporarily suspended their operations over there. Projects of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. are also part of it. India is also involved in a steel plant in Syria.
Political imbalance in fuel-rich Middle East has always led to a surge in fuel prices. The Indian rupee is already in a free fall, making imported fuel costlier. A rise in fuel prices could spell further trouble for an already troubled Indian economy. Oil accounts for about a third of India’s import bill. According to most analysts, an attack on Syria could push oil prices to $150 levels, from the present level of about $115. If fuel prices were to go higher, it will be very difficult for the Indian government to contain inflation.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Foundation Laying Ceremony of First Shree Aniruddhadham

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Hari Om Friends
I have just returned from Dudhalgaon, the site of the first Shree Aniruddhadham (located on the Pune-Alandi road), after performing upasana and poojan at the site, on the most auspicious occasion of Guru Pournima, which set into motion the construction work on the project. I have got down to writing this post as I just could not wait to inform all my Shraddhavaan friends about this extremely historic event.
A total of 18 of us left Mumbai early at 7.00 am and reached the site at around 12.15 pm. We were joined by around 350-400 Shraddhavaans from 30 upasana centres from Pune district. Upon reaching there, we gathered that it had rained heavily the previous day and the entire ground was slushy and muddy. People at the site were at a loss to figure out how the foundation laying ceremony would happen today. But, by the time we reached the venue, there were barely any tell tale signs of yesterday’s heavy rains. The sun was out in full glory and the skies were a clear blue. Such is the krupa of our Sadguru.
A stage had been erected on which were placed photographs of Mothi Aai, Dattabappa and Bapu, Aai & Dada. The Mahadharmavarmans Dr.Yogindrasinh Joshi and Dr. Vishakhaveera Joshi went on stage for performing the Upasana. All Shraddhavaans present participated in the Upasana, which lasted around 45 minutes.
Thereafter, I, along with the Mahadharmavarmans descended on the floor of the pit from where the foundation was to be erected. There, using turmeric paste, I drew the skanda chinhaswastika and deep on the floor of the Foundation, from where the first pillar was to be erected, Thereafter the Mahadharmavarmans offered flowers at the same place. We also broke coconuts and sprinkled the water around. I had brought along with me Udi from Happy Home which also I sprinkled around.
Thereafter, the first trolley containing cement concrete for the Foundation was brought for emptying in the pit. The Mahadharmavarmans assisted by the workers emptied the concrete into the pit, thereby setting in motion the construction of the first Shree Aniruddhadham. This is truly a very historic day in the annals of mankind.
Temporary sheds have been constructed on the site which houses a material testing lab, a site office and staying quarters for the labour.
Bapu has said that the first ever Shree Aniruddhadham will be inaugurated on the Ramnavami of 2015.

Recipe of Wheat Concentrate (Gavhache sattva)

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In His discourse of 27th June 2013 Bapu spoke about ‘Gavhache sattva’ (Gahu=wheat. sattva=the concentrate. Gavhache sattva=the concentrate of wheat). I am sharing the recipe of this nutritious dish: 
Soak the wheat (grains) in water overnight. On the following day, drain the water and soak the wheat once again in fresh water. Repeat the same procedure on the third day too. On the fourth day drain the water and adding a little fresh water, grind the wheat (in a mixer or on the grinding stone). Now squeeze and strain the ground mixture in a vessel and cover it. 
Open the lid after six or seven hours. The thick concentrate settles down in the vessel leaving a watery fluid floating above it. Drain the fluid and store the thick concentrate in a jar or a closed container. 
Variety 1:For those who need to watch their weight:1) The wheat concentrate – 1 bowl (वाटी ) 2) Water – 4 bowls (वाटी ) 3) Asafoetida (Hing) – 1 teaspoon 4) Salt – to taste 5) Powdered cumin seeds (Jeera) – to taste   
Mix the above ingredients and cook on slow fire. Keep stirring the mixture to avoid lumps. 
Variety 2:For the underweight (or the lean):1) The wheat concentrate – 1 bowl (वाटी) 2) Ghee – 2 teaspoons 3) Milk – 1 bowl (वाटी) 4) Sugar – 2 teaspoons 5) Powdered cardamom – to taste 
Stir the ghee in the vessel. Mix in the wheat concentrate, the milk and the sugar. Cook this mixture on slow fire. Add the powdered cardamom (optional). Stir continuously until this blend begins to glisten indicating that it is cooked. Remove from fire. 
The wheat concentrate prepared in the above way contains the essential goodness of wheat and so is high in its nutritive value. It is recommended that a standard sized bowl of the preparation be eaten every day. 
(Note: The video of this recipe would be provided soon)

Digital Fortress

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Just a couple of weeks back, I finished reading an extremely interesting book titled Digital Fortress; a techno-thriller novel written by the renowned American author Dan Brown who has authored the international bestseller novel, The Da Vinci Code. I read the Marathi translation of the book which was wonderfully done by Ashok Padhye. Its great to see Mehta Publishing House making these quality novels available to Marathi readers. 
Digital Fortress transports the reader deep within one of the most powerful intelligence organizations on earth; an ultra-secret, multi-billion dollar agency whose existence is hardly known to its countrymen and the world.
The book describes in absolutely gripping detail, how this organization comes to being held hostage… not by guns or bombs, but by a software code, so ingeniously complex, that if released, it would cripple the intelligence system of its country. The book opens up before the reader a mysterious, unknown world of IT driven technologies and machines. It throws light on an altogether different aspect of Information Technology, which is particularly used in the field of intelligence. The book showcases the extent to which an individual or an organization can go to protect the national interests of his country.
With its unrelenting pace and unexpected twists and turns, particularly where the agency is scrambling to avert the biggest intelligence disaster in history, and to foil a desperate bid to destroy a creation of inconceivable genius by an impregnable code-writing formula that threatens to forever alter the balance of power, Digital Fortress is virtually ‘unputdownable’.   
It just goes to show that hi-tech advancements in technology can be a double-edged sword, which may be used for massive destruction if it falls into the wrong hands; but, if used judiciously and positively it can bring about development and betterment and also act as a deterrent against anti-national elements. India’s nuclear policy of ‘no first strike’ is a classic example of judicious use of advanced technology.
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Bapu and Sports

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Bapu, on an umpteen number of occasions in His pravachans has emphasized the importance of playing various sports and outdoor sports in particular. We all know that Bapu was a keen sportsman Himself during His younger days, particularly distinguishing himself in the outdoor sports. A couple of weeks back I was fortunate to see Bapu in ‘action’ once again, when we a few of us had gone for a week’s outing along with Bapu, Nandai and Suchitdada at a resort located not very far from Mumbai. The monsoon had just begun and the whole place was lush green. The resort had a great facility for various sports, with a huge indoor court. Bapu, Aai and Dada had a great time playing various games such as badminton, table tennis and even cricket. It was indeed a beautiful sight to behold watching Bapu and Aai playing badminton and then Bapu bowling to Aai and Aai hitting a ‘sixer’ off a ball. More than enjoying the game, playing it, we all enjoyed watching Bapu, Aai and Dada playing.
While playing a game of cricket, Bapu asked all the ‘boys’ to participate, and bowled to each one of them; and in the process completely bowled them over.  I am attaching a video clip that, I’m sure, you will not only enjoy watching but will also treasure it for the rest of your life.
Bapu preaches what he practises. Bapu has time and again stressed upon the importance of sports in our lives. Bapu himself was an expert badminton player. He also excelled in football, cricket and Indian sports like kabaddi and kho-kho. You will be surprised to know that Bapu was an excellent rugby player and is an expert swimmer too. Bapu is also an expert in Kushti (wrestling) and has even prepared akhadas for kushti contests. During our last picnic at Umergaon I also enjoyed playing pool with Bapu and Suchitdada. My thoughts go back to the time when the Gurukul in Jui Nagar was under construction. One day when Bapu had gone to Juinagar to check the progress made on the project, he called for an impromptu game of cricket with the volunteers at Juinagar. Bapu, as many of you may be knowing, is an expert in the ancient Indian martial arts. 
Bapu has always maintained that, “the family that prays together stays together and the family that plays together stays together”. To make all of us play these outdoor games Bapu has himself taken the initiative and established Aniruddha’s Institute of Bonsai Sports. This Institute is the brainchild born out of Bapu’s research.  Here Shraddhavans are taught and made to play various outdoor games within minimum available space and even with less number of players.
Bapu has always maintained that playing outdoor games develops and hones our personality, inculcates in us a sense of team spirit and prepares us both physically and mentally to face the tough challenges that might come our way.