Written by Cab Ven Elk
Thank you for taking the time to read this review.
Let’s start at the end.
I find that this a very difficult book to talk about. Not because the events within it occur in reverse, from actions to dialogue. No, it’s something deeper. There is a sensation that this book provides you with as an experience that will be robbed of any meaning if it has to be narrowed down into words. As with all the most important feelings in life, words would only be a devaluing factor. There is an immense part of this book that is best left discovered subjectively, otherwise it will prejudicially shape the way you experience it.
But then again, isn’t that the same as what experiencing a lifetime is like? Filled to the brim with knowledge you can only gain from the subjective experience of actually going through it yourself.
This is the core truth that lies within the pages of Martin Amis’s 1991 masterpiece, Time’s Arrow or The Nature of the Offence.
This book has 3 parts, 8 chapters and consists of 165 pages. If you read the blurb on the back of the book you will learn that the main character is Dr. Tod T Friendly. This would falsely have you believe that there is a protagonist in this story, which Dr. Friendly certainly is not. He isn’t even the main character. In my subjective reading of this book, I found the narrator to be the main character. This isn’t a third-person narrative either, it’s first person subjective.
This might all come across as a bit bewildering or convoluted at first, and it might make this book sound too intellectual to be engrossing, but that is certainly not the case here. The main issue lies within the secret that experiencing the book fresh, without much prior knowledge, holds.
Therefore I’m not going to focus so much on telling you about Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis, as what I will be going into the precious details about the background reasons why you should read this book.
In this story we have what’s known in modern literature as an unreliable narrator. I mentioned before that this narrator is not Dr. Tod T Friendly – but in a way it is him. The unreliability of the narrator of this book versus the unfolding events reminds me very much of the relationship between our ego and our subjective experience in this life. We constantly tell ourselves stories that do not always run parallel to our own reality, because they are controlled by the ego. The narrator of Time’s Arrow experiences a different life than Dr. Friendly lived, albeit merely in a different direction.
A great theme that this book leaves with you is the idea of our relationship with knowledge and each other within the objective reality we are roaming in on this planet.
Sounds rather deep doesn’t it?
Well, to fully comprehend the idea of this book, let’s go back a little deeper and look at three important other cultural ideas provided to us by three other vastly different individuals.
Four years after the release of this book a film by Richard Linklater was released, starring Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy. The film was titled Before Sunrise. In this film two strangers meet per chance while travelling in Europe, and the entire film is their conversation with each other up until the next morning, when they both have to depart. It is a thought-provoking art film that explored many facets of what it is to be human – love, life, loneliness, identity, etc. There would two more films in the trilogy, with the latest Before Midnight being released in 2013.
Richard Linklater is known for his interest in the less quantifiable aspects of existence. He often works it into the narrative or theme of his films. The Before trilogy featured these two characters and are, in themselves, engrossing dialogues. But it was my first experience with a later film of his titled Waking Life, where I first met these two characters. In this slightly psychedelic film, Linklater goes through a stream of consciousness narrative about the nature of reality and lucid dreaming, as well as our relationship with the idea of inertia and death. In one of the scenes, we cut to a couple lying in bed, with colourful rotoscopic-like animation creating a visually-subtle psychedelia.
This couple in Waking Life is Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, continuing a part of their conversation from the Before films.
In this conversation, Julie Delpy expresses her subjective experience of her own life. She reintroduces us to the scientific anomaly that is the brain at the moment of death. It has been said that those last few nanoseconds of brain activity at the moment of our death is comparable, in our minds, to an experience that might last for what feels like months or even years. In this scene, Julie Delpy expresses that she feels that her own entire life is simply the replaying memories of some old woman who is busy dying and experiencing those last few seconds of brain activity.
To the inexperienced mind tied to the arcane rules of time, this might sound like a depressing outlook to have. Yet, what Delpy’s character experiences is, in reality, the lack of that dissonance we have with our own mortality. Accepting your own aged self as living in a parallel reality to your own can be quite humbling. Something Dr. Tod T Friendly, the doctor in Time’s Arrow, clearly never did.
When it comes down to it, we experience the image of ourselves in instant snapshots of memory. We are never fully aware of how we have progressed as much as what we are fully aware of ourselves at any one given instant. You aren’t able to “see” your own growth as much as what you have two “visually comparable” instances of yourself in your mind. The “old you” and the “new you”. The one before and the one after. And yet, we are aware that there must be motion between these two versions of ourselves, because the progression occurred.
Which brings me to the second out of the three crucial iconic thinkers who contribute to understanding the theme of this book – Zeno of Elea, the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher.
Born around 495 BC, Aristotle called him the inventor of the dialetic method. The dialetic method is a form of philosophy in which there is a discussion between two individuals, both of whom hold different points of view about a subject. Yet, they actively endeavour to resolve the matter through establishing the truth, using reasoned argumentation. Is this the same as debating? No. In the dialetic method there is no room for emotional subjectivity, because it is after the ultimate truth. Just like the two characters from Linklater’s Before trilogy.
What is the ultimate truth of life then? What is the secret behind a life lived outside of the constraints and rules of time – such as the narrator in Time’s Arrow?
We try to make sense of this life as we go through it and in many occurrences we stumble across certain paradoxes that challenge our ways of thinking or our beliefs, and they change us forever.
Just like the unpredictable ways in which Dr. Friendly, our supposed main character, changes by the end of the book. Neither you, nor the narrator, will believe it.
The word paradox comes from the Greek word paradoxon, which translates into “that which is distinct from our opinion”. A paradox usually occurs when we try to make sense of something through accurate and consistent logic and premises, but no matter how hard we try, fail to do so.
One of the most famous paradoxes, made by Zeno of Elea himself, is The Arrow paradox.
Zeno states that if one is to shoot an arrow from a bow into the air, once it is flying, it is actually at rest. That’s right, not moving. At rest.
Zeno argued that in every single instance of time that the arrow is flying, it is simply in a singular position of space, unmoving until the next moment where it is in the next position. In this supposed “moment” the arrow can not be moving toward where it is, because it is already there, nor can it be moving to where it is not, because no time has elapsed in this isolated moment. Much like when we try to fathom in our mind how we have progressed in time and can only see these snapshots of our former selves. The “old” us and the “new” us.
Zeno’s Arrow paradox seems to make sense if you completely disregard the knowledge we have gained as humanity about physics and the nature of motion and inertia in the mass amount of historical time since. Zeno’s arrow would finally be split by a certain philosopher who would be born over 2400 years later.
The year is 1908, and the philosopher Willard Van Orman Quine, the third critical mind in understanding Time’s Arrow, is born.
Quine later went on to ascribe that there are three different types of paradoxes. He would state that Zeno’s paradox is falsidical, meaning it appears to be true based on a certain logical assessment within a certain state of knowledge or condition of understanding, but that said state is fallacious in some sense – meaning there is no real insight into the paradox and it actually remains unresolved.
Think of how we perceived the earth to be flat before we had the means to traverse the globe.
“When we drive, we don’t look where we’re going. We look where we came from.” the narrator notes of Dr. Friendly’s driving.
If you’re a fast reader you can read a page in about a minute. If you consider that the average epic movie nowadays is on average 150 minutes or so, it would stand to reason that you could read this entire book in an afternoon. Right?
However, that would not be possible.
Despite its brevity, Time’s Arrow is meant to be read slowly. This is due to the fact that, just like in life, if you rush through it, there will be many helpful nuances that you will miss in the background. It would simply not make sense.
Take your time with this book.
This book’s events unfold as the narrator experiences it, and the narrator joins us at the start within those last few seconds of brain activity, as it escapes from Dr. Friendly’s dying body. The filter you have to read through has to also keep in mind that the entire rewinding events of the book unfold within this space of those last few seconds of brain activity.
“Wait a minute. Why am I walking backwards into the house?” the narrator notes of Dr. Friendly’s return to his home from the hospital.
Looking back, it goes without saying that every second writer worth their weight has attempted to write a holocaust novel. Time’s Arrow certainly takes a new approach at this subject, but it addresses so many bigger facets of existence within the concept of unfolding time and unreliable perception.
This is a book about about our relationship with time, knowledge and each other.
Not to mention the poetic approach to an incredible rewinding view of the world. In this world, doctors hurt, time rejuvenates, and caring forces maliciously encumber those who they seek to aid. Violence builds and love destroys. In one passage a moment of rage causes a pile of splinters on the floor to turn into a chair in Dr. Friendly’s hand “at the flick of a wrist”.
The narrator’s view is very much in line with how we view knowledge and how we view ourselves, and perceive of an “old me” and a “new me”. We are constantly evolving, just like the two main characters in this book. But, just as with them, we have no idea what version of ourselves is coming next and the two can’t communicate with one another. This is usually because these two versions of ourselves can never truly meet, as they live in different spaces, just like Zeno’s supposed slumbering arrow within its isolated moments.
So, the different versions of you in these moments of time are never able to perfectly collate decisions with repercussions, because one makes the decision to smoke for two more years and the other stands on fifteen years beyond the habit, but still has the repercussive chest ailments, for an example. And if there is a gap between these two entities what does that mean for morality within the concept of time?
If no action can be measured logically against a starting point, because on the very quantum level we are ever-changing, does this not mean that the morality of actions is an obsolete concept, if you know there is more to life than all of this? Perhaps not, but this murkiness, this “fugginess” of morality and reality is where Time’s Arrow takes us, as we traverse deeper into the shallower waters of Dr. Friendly’s life as a German practitioner in a concentration camp during World War 2.
“Probably human cruelty is fixed and eternal. Only styles change…” our narrator in Time’s Arrow muses of Dr. Friendly’s life and interactions and observations.
“…Intellectually I can just about accept that violence is salutary, that violence is good… A child’s breathless wailing calmed by the firm slap of the father’s hand, a dead ant revived by the careless press of a passing sole, a wounded finger healed and sealed by the knife’s blade…”
One of the greatest morality paradoxes we face in modern history is the facet of the sheer magnitude of corporeal and spiritual damage of hundreds of thousands of people – not just during World War 2 but during any war – and the incidental knowledge we have gained from these atrocities, separating time and morality exclusively.
Such as microwave technology that has managed to make cooking a more affordable commodity for thousands today, being a result of accelerated innovation during the Cold War era and developments of nuclear technology that cost the lives of thousands. Not to mention the horrific experimental surgeries inflicted during World War 2 within these same camps where the likes of Dr. Friendly would have resided. The same horrific experiments that bore hundreds of pages in German notebooks that provided us with the precise surgical knowledge to be able to save the little girl’s leg that go trapped under the bus today. This proves that within the realm of time, morality is a mere coat of paint on the wall. It is a single resting arrow, not moving within context.
“Time passes. Cars are fatter and fewer, and imitate animals with their fins and wings. Syringes are no longer disposable… Last week they came and took away my colour TV. The gave me a black-and-white one… After the Moonshot, I remember, a little light went out in everybody’s head; suddenly the world seemed cosier, more local, fuggier. World opinion, on the other hand, disappeared slowly. Like dental self-consciousness. You see ogreish smiles all over the place these days, and nobody minds… Everyone becomes more innocent, constantly forgetting…”
It’s funny that Martin Amis chose to write Dr. Friendly as a character who is obsessed about his teeth. Amis himself paid a fortune to endure a painful capping of his own teeth when he moved to America. He, of course, is the son of the famous 1950’s writer Kingsley Amis. Martin’s father never really read any of his books, and although the two both share the unique instance of talent, they maintain a healthy creative distance. Whereas Kingsley’s work was considered cult classics and hilarious writing back in the 1950’s and 60’s, Martin has been compared to Flaubert and James Joyce by some. He has also been touted as one of fiction’s angriest writers, but it is all in self-awareness.
It is true that he tends to write about the less attractive aspects of humanity, but in Time’s Arrow we get a masterful reflection of something so much deeper than just depravity.
It’s interesting to note that Kingsley’s second wife, Martin’s stepmother Jane Howard, was also a celebrated British author. In her second novel The Long View the story was about a marriage, but the book’s plot was described in reverse chronology.
In later years, Martin would encourage her to write the series of books that she is still known for today, The Cazalet Chronicles.
It seems the inspiration cross-pollinated between Martin and his stepmother, which leaves me with the most heart-wrenching line in Time’s Arrow that I will leave you with today:
Read Time’s Arrow to find out why this line hits you in the gut. This book is an experience that will take time, but also obliterate it at the same time.
In the spirit of this book, let’s end at the beginning.
Have you read Time’s Arrow yet? You really should.
Written by Vanamali Devi
Our Puranas (books on the stories of the gods) are studded with stories of an amazing variety of gods and goddesses who are the dynamic representations of the abstract Supreme Power called Brahman, as given in the Vedas. These stories are not fairy tales, but they are the reflections of the revelations of the rishis. The rishis realised that it was imperative to create ideals of perfection for the society in order to help it evolve to higher states of consciousness. Their language is couched in mysticism since that was the only way in which these great esoteric secrets could be communicated to the normal human being whose mind is conditioned by names and forms from birth onwards. The Puranic stories are like abstract paintings that suggest a different dimension to the mind and enable it to comprehend the intangible ideas that are expressed through these forms. The mind of man has to learn to focus on some form that inspires him before proceeding to the formless.
The figure of Ganesha has a deep spiritual significance. It symbolises the idea of the emergence of life from earth and the unfolding of consciousness from matter. His dual form of animal and human points out to us that we too can aspire to a supra-mental level even though we have come from an animal background. The apparently ludicrous figure of Ganesha mounted on a small mouse is actually a representation of this theme and meant to give an impetus to the human being to realise his own inner divinity. Ganesha is the first letter in the alphabet of symbolic forms devised by the rishis.
He is the most popular of the gods in the Hindu pantheon. Even votaries of other gods have to pay obeisance to him before starting their rituals to their own chosen deity. Hindus start all religious ceremonies and even worldly affairs of importance by breaking a coconut to Ganesha. He represents the power of the intelligent will unfolding the spiritual life from the world of matter. Hence, he is associated with the Mooladhara Chakra at the base of the spine which denotes the element “earth”. He is said to be God of gravity that is the base of all existence. Anyone who wants to get into the Hindu fold has to supplicate Ganesha first.
Vyasa is the great sage or rishi who is the author of the eighteen Puranas. He was a master story teller. He said that stories serve as pools in which the reflection of Reality can be caught. The subtle essence of Reality can be caught only through allegories, symbols and stories. They have to be read with the sensitive heart of an artist and not with the carping intellect of the scientist. If we listen to them with the innocence of a child, they will open our hearts to a vast vista of mysticism and romance for which the human heart actually craves.
Vyasa saw the totality of nature, both her outer physical phenomena as well as her inner invisible psyche. The forms of the various gods and Ganesha in particular are the visible signs for expressing the invisible. One who meditates on these symbols will be able to penetrate the subtle psychic presence in them and attain a comprehensive view of the totality of the cosmos. He will also be able to dive into the recesses of his own psyche and get higher spiritual experiences. This is the truth underlying the often-bizarre forms of the Hindu gods as in the case of Ganesha. They translate the Infinite in terms of the finite and the spiritual in terms of the material. By fostering our faith in the symbols and forms of the deities we can establish a rapport with the deity that will draw us closer to the Supreme, of which they are reflections. In this unique way Vyasa succeeded in getting the incomprehensible Supreme, reflected in the liquid poetry of the Puranic literature and created a myriad forms or altars for worship which would be suitable for different personalities.
Now let us first see what the word Ganesha or Ganapati implies. The word “gana” comes from the root “gan” which means to count. “Ganya” means limited and “aganya” means unlimited or infinite. “Ganya” includes the whole of manifold creation, everything that the human intellect can comprehend. Therefore, Ganapati is the Lord of all finite things. He is also “Ganyaapati” — Lord of everything in creation. The “aganya” or Infinite has taken on a finite form as Ganapati or Ganesha in order to
uplift humanity out of these finite forms. The ganas are the subtle creative powers and elements that cause diversity and create obstructions in the universe. Since he is Ganapathy or the leader of the ganas, we have to contact him so that these obstacles can be removed. He not only removes obstacles from our physical life but also from our spiritual life. When a devotee takes a wrong path, he also places obstacles in our way so that we are forced to take a different path which is better for us.
The most striking thing about Ganesha is his elephant head. There is a deep esoteric reason for this. The elephant is the largest of the vegetarians in the animal world. In fact, it is the most powerful and massive creature on earth. It is long-lived, vigorous, has a large brain and an excellent memory. Elephants can be trained to become great friends of the human being. You find that in Nature animals that are feared by men and beasts alike are all predators and flesh eaters. No one fears a vegetarian giant. This is one of the reasons that the elephant was chosen as a most auspicious symbol in Hinduism. Most houses in India have an idol or picture of Ganesha at the front so that they can pray to him before going out.
An elephant’s trunk is the most amazing instrument known to man. Human ingenuity still has not been able to devise such an instrument. It is capable of lifting huge logs of wood as well as of picking up small pins lying on the ground. With this trunk, Ganesha is capable of removing every obstacle in the path of his devotee. His large ears act like antenna to receive all possible sounds and thus he can easily gauge every situation. In an esoteric sense he can discern the real from the unreal. His huge belly is a symbol of the whole universe. Everything emerges from the cauldron of his belly. His small eyes show his ability to make minute observations.
The fact that the insignificant mouse is his vehicle is the most enigmatic portion of his figure. According to Hinduism, consciousness is ingrained even in the grains of sand. It turns into intelligence after passing through many rudimentary forms. The mouse is a fitting symbol for this. It is a creature of the earth and lives in burrows and holes in the ground. Its body touches the earth all the time. It cares only for the satisfaction of its palate. It has a primitive intelligence encased in ignorance. It is restless, avaricious and worried. On the other hand, the elephant is the symbol of power and wisdom. The fact that Ganesha rides on such a creature shows that the liberated man keeps his worldly desires completely under control. The picture of Ganesha mounted on a mouse shows that the human being has the power to be calm and majestic and reach the infinite source of all power. However, most of us continue to be rats and rush about in the rat race of life, fighting and squabbling over trivialities. Thus, his whole image is a graphic picture of the immense possibility of the human being to reach the heights of consciousness.
There are many accounts of the birth of Ganesha. The most popular one comes from the Shiva Purana. Once when Shiva had retired to the high Himalayan peaks for his meditation, Parvati felt a bit unsafe when she went for her bath to the pool since she had only two female attendants. In those days there was no soap, so she had smeared a mixture of turmeric, sandal powder, mud and various other unguents over her body. Before she got into the water, she scraped this out and made a beautiful figure of a boy. Parvati is Prakriti or Nature which is latent with infinite creative potency. It gives birth to life that emerges and evolves and eventually turns into consciousness in the human being. So, she breathed life into the figure of the boy she had made. She made him stand at the door of the path leading to the pond and told him to obstruct anyone who tried to enter.
When Shiva returned from his meditation, he found his way barred by the child who absolutely refused to let him in. Shiva sent his ganas to rout the boy, but they were defeated and eventually Shiva himself came and cut off his head. Parvati was distraught to see the headless torso of her boy and threatened to destroy the whole world if her son was not restored to her. Shiva immediately sent the ganas to cut off the head of the first creature they found who was sleeping with his head turned to the north. As it happened, they found an elephant and brought his head and Shiva fixed it on the torso. The priests muttered some mantras and the body came to life. The body was that of a boy and the head was that of the elephant. Parvati was delighted to see her son alive even though he had the head of an elephant.
She took him on her lap and christened him “Vi-nayaka”, the one who is born without a sire. This happened on the fourth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Bhadra (August/September) and hence this day is celebrated as his birthday. When his trunk is turned to the right his figure is a representation of the mantra Aum as written in Sanskrit.
Actually, the fourth day of the bright half of every lunar month is believed to be the day for Ganesha and is known as Siddhi Vinayaka Chaturti. However, the fourth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada (August/September) is the most important and is known as Mahasiddhi Vinayaka Chaturti. As mentioned above, this is the day on which Parvati created Ganesha. It was on this day that his first birthday was celebrated in Kailasa.
This festival had been celebrated in Maharashtra for centuries in private homes but the great Marathi ruler Shivaji made it a public event in order to foster nationalist sentiments among his subjects while they were fighting the Mughuls. Later when the British banned political rallies, this festival was revived by the great leader Lokamanya Bala Gangadhara Tilak who made it into a national festival. He hoped that when people came together to celebrate the birth of a god, they would forget their differences and stand united as the citizens of one country – Bharat. He was one of the fore-runners of the Indian national movement to free the country from the British. Today Ganesha has become so popular that the festival is celebrated all over the world.
The Mahabharata gives the mythological story of this festival. The Pandava king, Yudhistira once asked Krishna the reason why people who do many good deeds get no rewards. Krishna replied that Ganesha had been specifically created for giving benefit to those whose good deeds had not been rewarded. He recommended that the fourth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada should be kept aside exclusively for the worship of Ganesha especially by those who suspected that their good deeds were not being recognised.
On the day of Ganesh Chaturti, devotees are advised not to see the moon. It is believed that one who sees the moon on Ganesh Chaturti will get Mithya Dosham or Mithya Kalank, which means that they will be falsely accused of stealing.
This year, Ganesha Chaturti falls on Friday, September 10, 2021. As per Vedic astrology, Madhyanna Kala or mid-morning is considered to be the most appropriate time for Ganesha Puja. This year the auspicious time for the puja is from 11:03 am to 13:33 (Duration: 02 hours 30 mins)
A simple method of worship is as follows:
This puja should be done for three, five or ten days depending on your convenience and on the last day the idol should be immersed in some water. Another novel idea which many people are doing now is to keep the mud figure in a mud flower pot and fill it with mud and water and plant a flower in it. Thus, it will not pollute any water and you will get a special flower in your garden with Ganesha’s blessings.
The ceremony in which he is immersed in water is known as visarjan. The ritual is done to signify the birth cycle of Lord Ganesha. Parvati created him from the earth so we make his statue out of earth. The idol is immersed in water so that Ganesha may return to his home after his ‘stay’ at the devotees’ home or temple where his rituals are conducted. While it might seem like a good idea to skip the visarjan and keep hosting the God for fortune and prosperity, it is said that the power that suffuses the statue after 10 days of worship is all a human can bear. So it is not to be kept longer!
In cities the idol is taken to the sea or river and immersed in some water body. The devotees take the idol through the streets, singing, dancing and shouting ‘Ganapati Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya’ in which we beg the Lord to return the next year.
The breaking of coconuts in front of Ganesha in order to remove all obstacles on our path is an offering that is very special to him. This has an esoteric significance as is usual with all Hindu rituals. The coconut represents our prarabdha karma or the karma of our past lives for which we are either being rewarded or punished now in this life. When we break the coconut, we should have the mental attitude that we are offering this load of karma to him and begging him to deliver us from them. The outer fibrous covering of the coconut represents the gross body which carries a lot of desires and attachments. Before breaking the coconut, we have to remove this fibre of attachments. Then we break the hard shell which is our ego and then expose the white kernel of our pure desire to be united with him. Finally, the sweet water of our love is poured over him. In South India we always break a coconut before we start on a journey or before we start some new enterprise.
May Ganesha’s blessings flow over all those who read this, and may he remove all the obstacles in their path!
Aum Ganeshaaya Namaha!
Written by Sathya Shivakumar (Global Member – Himalayan school of Traditional Dance)
Lord Ganesha has a universal appeal and the principle that He represents touches the hearts of everyone in every walk of life as much as it does a yogi on the spiritual path.The primordial sound “Aum”, when represented pictorially, resembles the trunk of Ganesha.
Ganesha is visualised as the custodian of Root chakra or Muladhara chakra. The saint poetess Avaiyar describes Ganesha as the Guru principle, the one who initiates the Kundalini energy to rise above and reveal the knowledge of the supreme self.
Ganesha assumes myriad forms and can be cherished by one and all by connecting to one or more of his many facets. For instance, Ganesha is seen as Nritya Ganapathi (Dancing Ganesha), Bala Ganapathi (Adorable child), Siddhi Ganapathi,(The bestower of Siddhis) or Yoga Ganapathi (The ascetic one) to name a few.
In India, it is customary to offer our salutations to Lord Ganesha at the beginning of any auspicious event. It may seem like a ritual but when one grasps the inner meaning, it is of great significance in the path of spirituality.
The most important aspect of the act is Surrender. But why Ganesha, one may wonder!Mohanji sheds light on this aspect. Ganesha’s elephant head represents the cosmic consciousness or Rithambara Buddhi. When the limited self identifies with the ego and personality, it cannot perceive the vast, unfathomable potential of the soul. By honouring Ganesha, the one who represents that unborn, infinite bliss, one can connect to the infinite dimension of the soul that is as grand as the mighty elephant.
Personally, Ganesha enthrals me with the captivating elephant head. To me, it is a reminder of the immense power and courage one can exhibit while being gentle and majestic at the same time. Power is usually associated with carnivorous animals but the Elephant possesses immense strength and is a herbivore!
Even the act of offering a coconut or the traditional practice of breaking the coconut as an offering to Ganesha has a subtle meaning, upon reflection. It means that we have to break free from the shackles of the mind to unleash the power within. While coconut has a hard exterior, once the outer shell is broken, it reveals a pure, soft interior, just like our own. We may all have hard layers that are a concoction of all the negative emotions we store up such as anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, boredom, sadness etc. However, when we go to the core of our self, all that can be found is divinity.
The Modak that Ganesh is offered represents the pure soul concealing the sweetness of the divine. Ganesha is indeed a favourite of artists too. Art, to be experienced in its full splendour, presupposes that the artist fully surrenders to the art. Surrender is the act of dissolving the limited notion as a personality into that of being one with the art.
May we celebrate the sweetness of our true self and endeavour to spread this fragrance of true love by soaking in the myriad dimensions and possibilities that Ganesha represents.
Written by Deloshni Govender (President MFSA)
“When eating fruit, remember the one who planted the tree.”- Vietnamese Proverb
It has been a difficult trek to get to the fruit, but as we enjoy the sweet nectar of the fruit as a team, we have immense gratitude for all those who helped us plant the tree.
MFSA’s (Mohanji Foundation South Africa’s) journey to find land started in June 2016.
Our beloved Guru who is the inspiration, driving force and power behind our every action, visited South Africa in June 2016. He gifted us a substantial sum of cash which was a seed donation for this project. Thus, the seed was planted.
Sulosh Pillay and Roy Naidoo were a few of our very first benefactors for this project, each giving us a substantial sum of money to give our fundraising some momentum. Their donations inspired us and we were able to start fundraising in earnest. Maheshwari Mohanji and her family led a wonderful “Buy a Brick” fundraiser which also brought in funds and motivated us even further.
It was with much excitement and huge hearts that we reached for the heavens. We viewed many properties way out of our price range from Knysna to Limpopo, hoping and praying that some huge benefactor would believe in our mission. Yugen Naidoo drove across the country to view properties and submit proposal after proposal to the team.
In 2016 we had a team consisting of Keshnie Pillay, Sulosh Pillay, Yugen Naidoo, Dineshran Naidoo and Nishal Mahadeo who all flew to Port Elizabeth at their own expense to view the property. Over 3 days, they drove the length and breadth of the Eastern Cape looking for property.
Their sheer dedication was inspiring. Swaami Bhakthananda went to many different prominent business people to canvas our project. Each time he would come back dejected but he would start again the very next day with even more determination.
It was not meant to be as the Universe meant for us to work really hard, feel the pinch of every cent which was earned. We had to squeeze our egos into place and go out to ask sponsors and devotees for money. Many of you reached deep into your pockets to help us with whatever you could spare. Many of you worked tirelessly to support this project in kind and with your blessings. Each cent and each blessing has brought us to this point where we can call a piece of land our own.
Our Shirdi Sai Murthi arrived in SA in February 2019. We were super excited and He was stored at Swaami Bhakthananda’s home which is also the Dattatapovan Ashram in Westville. Swaamiji had sleepless nights worrying about keeping Shirdi Sai in a box and went out of his way to look at land for constructing the Temple for Sai. Dozens of prospective sites were viewed by Swamiji and his team consisting of Nameshri Maharaj, Dhiren Naidoo, Prathiba Singh, Bhavika Amrathlall, Nazeema Botha and Ajay Singh. Many others also helped search and it will probably take us a few pages to name them all. This shows the power of what can happen when a group of like-minded and focused people come together for a higher cause. They not only looked for land, they also spent endless hours raising funds. Each step they took led us closer to this goal we achieve today.
In June 2019, we discovered an abandoned Temple site in Northdene. We were convinced that this was the one!!! We visited the site, did prayers and Swaami Bhakthananda spent many days clearing the area around the temple site. We followed all channels to see how we could purchase the property but we found that the land was now in the hands of the Government. We applied through the correct channels to acquire the land and were disillusioned when it was held up in claims lodged for the land. This went on for many years and we still held hope.
In February 2021, we were given an ultimatum at the Global Summit. Get your act together, or else Shirdi Sai has to move to another location where He can be installed. We all got onto the project with full force. Ami Hughes, Lakshmi Mohanananda, Shaloshini Naidoo, Keshnie Pillay, together with Swaami Bhakthananda spent hours online together searching for property while Swaami Bhakthananda and his team would view the property for suitability. Shaloshini spent many hours documenting all the sites searched and included a feasibility analysis. After many searches, we found a great piece of land in the Stanger area. Swaamiji was ill but still made the trip to view the land with his team. This land was not easily accessible and he didn’t like the access roads which were very bad. He was very disappointed but light flooded in and Grace flowed. The estate agent said, he may have something else for us. We dared hope that this would be the right one, and it was. Despite viewing a few more properties (one lovingly arranged by Keshnie Pillay), we decided on the 12-hectare piece of land which we now call our own.
Once the team made the decision to purchase on 17 March 2021, it was a back and forth for Swaamiji to get the paperwork all done. He followed up on every document and made sure that it was submitted on time. The paperwork was thus completed and the first payment was made on 14 April 2021.
With scarcely enough to pay for the first payment, we were now back to worrying as the second payment was due by July 2021. A few generous donors came through, one from our board itself and we managed to get the funds for the second and final payment.
On 03 June 2021 the second payment was made and we breathed a sigh of relief. We were almost there. On 06 July 2021, the transfer was lodged and on 09 July 2021 the transfer was final. This was pure Grace as anyone who lives in SA would tell you that this usually takes months. The lawyer had also told us that this will take up to 3 months. Its only Mohanji’s grace which flowed and fast tracked it all.
We now could not wait to have the title deed in our hands. It was on the blessed occasion of Ganesha Chathurthi and the birthday of Sri Pada Sri Vallabha that we got the news that the title deed was ready for collection.
We had a time frame of a week to collect the title deed and Swaamiji was away for the week so he asked that the team collect the title deed. This was done on 16 September 2021.
After collecting the Title Deed we went to visit our land again and we were surprised to see that a once fully dried up stream was now actively flowing, although quite small, through the entire property. We looked at this as even more Grace flowing into our project.
This project could not be possible without the efforts of every team member of MFSA, Swaamiji and his team at Dattatapovan Ashram and every single one of you. This collective power is what got us here and we bow in gratitude to each of you.
We wish to thank all who have contributed to this project. We wish to also thank all those nationally and internationally who support our programs. Our success is due to your consistent efforts.
We wish to also place on record our thanks to all our global teams, especially our Global Management Team and CEO office for their support and guidance.
To all our Acharyas in SA and abroad, we express our gratitude for your love, the consistent programs and the value that you add to SA and the world.
We still have a long and exciting journey to complete. To the incoming board and project team, we bless you with strength and empowerment to see this project to final completion. We express our thanks to Mr. Duggal and the global management team for all the guidance and advice over the past weeks which has enabled us to maintain our momentum.
Through our many storms and trials, we have made it past a huge hurdle. When the power of intention is strong and there is purity in our actions, we can achieve more than we anticipated. Please do keep connected with us for more developments with this project.
We lay this project and all its successes at the feet of our Guru Mohanji.
A Dream to Ponder
Written by Mohanji
David woke up from a beautiful, profound dream. It was, in a way, both elevating and disturbing. He saw himself as a boy, along with his grandfather who is no more, strolling down on the banks of a river. It was evening. Sun was turning red. Birds were flying home after a full day of being There was a gentle, cool breeze. The village was very familiar. He has been there before. out.
Grandfather was holding David’s hand and he seemed a bit extra cautious about David’s security. As they walked through the walkway running parallel to the river, they witnessed and experienced many beautiful sights and sounds. What caught David’s attention and his waking memory was a prayer that came floating from one of the small huts, apparently from the throat of some children. It went somewhat like this…
“Different spaces, different times
Oh Lord, thou carried me like a faithful boatman.
Safe and Secure, Safe and Secure…
Through the time and seasons alike
“Different faces, different tunes
Oh Lord, thou protected me like a mother bird, her children.
Safe and Secure, Safe and Secure
Through summer, winter, spring and rain.”
A feeling of powerful protection enveloped David. It gave a strong feeling of reassurance. Grandfather’s hands and the lovely prayer accompanied and re-inforced his feeling of well-being. David called his grandfather ‘BABA’. He was deeply connected with his grandfather, to the extent that they knew one another’s every subtle vibration, let alone profound emotions. As they walked on, he asked his beloved grandfather:
“Baba, where are we going?”
Baba smiled and said: “I want to introduce you to my friends. We went to school together, we played in the same team, and grew up together, just like you, Mark and Alf.”
David smiled, “Baba, I cannot imagine you as a young man, let alone a boy”.
Baba laughed aloud. “I was not born old. I was not this old always”.
Baba was a tall man with slightly drooping shoulders, one side of his shoulder bent slightly to the front and to one side. He was of extraordinary character. He was always in command of every situation. He was never seen emotional. Always jovial, calm and collected. He always used his intellect and quite knew what he was doing. David has never seen him idle, even at his old age.
Their journey ended at a graveyard in front of a church near the river. David was surprised.
“Where are your friends? Will they come here? Are we meeting them here?” This was indeed an uncommon place for any friendly get-together.
Baba said, “No. They are already here”.
Baba took David to a stone which read “William Smith”. Baba said “Will has been my classmate and my best friend. He was the best man at my wedding too. An unshakable strong man, a brave heart. He had worked hard in foreign lands, made his money and returned home after his retirement. We met after a long time. He was a firebrand in his youth, daring and charming. When he came back after all those years, he looked tired and withdrawn, a bit too distracted. He seemed more interested in isolation and hid himself from society, as much as he could. I tried to bring him back to some old personal memories to revive his old vigour. But he showed no interest at all. He had three children. They all fought with him at his old age over property and money. They even abused him and never agreed with whatever he told or asked them, or wanted them to do. Finally, he died broken-hearted, alone. Will was once a strong man, everybody’s hero. I could not see him so heartbroken and deserted. This is what old age does for some. David, if we are not careful enough to nurture relationships while we can, later on, life could bring isolation and alienation. That can even be called “living in hell”, with no love, warmth and togetherness, exactly the things that one craves, when one is weak and unprotected.
David said: “Baba, are all your friends dead?”
(The graveyards of farm animals are human stomachs!) Human Graveyard. All of them have had their lives and all of them have had their deaths. Caring for the Living is more important than caring for the dead. Often, we ignore the living and care for our dead. We do things upside down. We should certainly respect the dead, but not at the cost of the living..
Baba smiled and said “Not all. Some are still alive. But, they are old, you see. Most cannot move on their own. They need help. They are heavily dependent on others. Old age often makes people invalid and handicapped.”
David felt quite relieved that his grandfather can move on his own and is relatively healthy to that standard. Yet, David experienced a strange kind of uneasiness creeping up his throat. He felt that he would get depressed by meeting all these old friends of his grandfather in the graveyard. Yet, he knew that Baba had a purpose, even though it was not quite entertaining for David. He said: “Baba, let us go home. I am not feeling good.”
Baba said: “David, two more introductions and we shall go home.” Baba tried to cheer David up who was slowly settling into his gloom.
The next tombstone read “Stephen Summer”. “He has been our pilot man.” Baba spoke as if it was a joke. David was too withdrawn by then, to enjoy any jokes. The whole situation made him extremely uneasy.
“Even when we were young, he wanted to become a pilot and fly aircraft. He got into the army and moved into the air command segment and became a pilot. He has participated in many wars and bombed many people and places. And that was his deepest regret in his later years. Fighting nagging cancer in his abdomen, though looked after well by his devoted wife Lisa, whenever we met for a coffee, he would say “How many people have I killed in my young days!!!. Women, Children, Men, Old and Young. I do not know their faces, thank God. But, they haunt me every night. Faceless bodies come forth and ask me “What did we do to you, to destroy our lives? We were just beginning to live, taste the sweet and sour buds of life, you wrenched us out of our beds. How will you pay us back, how will you give us back our lives?” Regrets were eating into his flesh. Steve repented day and night. He even welcomed death as a solace to his aching conscience. He refused to be treated and used the pain that his illness profusely gave as a kind of purgatorial from his sins.
He thought death would finally redeem him. Helplessness tormented him. Finally, he gave up and here he stays”, Baba pointed out at the gravestone.
The last one was that of Eric. He was an actor. He was after fame and recognition. He became addicted to intoxicants and died quite young. He could not ever find a stable relationship and even though he had many children from different women, there were none to take care of him, nor look after him at his death bed. He died alone, in a hospital, with a longing to see his children and experience their love, which he never nurtured when they were young. I tried my best to convince some of them to go and meet their father who was on his death bed. None showed any interest and gave me lame excuses. He never cared for his children when he was young. The children never cared for him when he was old, sick and helpless. Life is like a mirror. You reap what you sow.”
“As for me, I have been quite mediocre, compared to them all, and I did not go anywhere from this place. They all saw the world outside this village. I did not see much beyond this village. I saw only my inner world. My world has been within me. The whole world was within me. In the end, they could not hold on to their large world, but I could. I am not boasting, but just proving a point. I learned to make buildings and do some farming which made my living. More than grains, I sowed love and I nurtured it. I distributed it in this village itself, as best as I could. Your grandmother was a great soul. She never allowed any visitor to leave our house with an empty stomach. More than the food, our genuine care satisfied our visitors. We have always been quite self-sufficient, yet our neighbours always shared their happiness with us, just like we did. They cared for us, and considered us worthy of their time and space. There is no substitute for HARD WORK. There is no substitute for LOVE.”
“I have been busy and my life has been quite rich and meaningful. As a hobby, I learned astrology. I never practised astrology for money. I just guided a few who came to me to shed some light on some of their personal confusions. Astrology is the ability to read into one’s destiny using the movement pattern of planets and stars. If destiny was a variable, astrology would fail. Fortunately, it is not. Destiny is constant, pre-determined. The science of astrology is based on a definite road map called destiny, a pre-planned journey that one takes in one lifetime. It is a science. It is sheer mathematics. The element of free will and the element of grace can always alter that to some extent.
Thus, I lived a simple life, away from the rush of the towns and lived long enough to see my wandering friends dead and buried! How many dreams and aspirations we chewed on during our youth! How many dreams we weaved. Some were realized, and some were left unfulfilled. I have no regrets. It is time for me to go too. I may not survive this summer. My time is near. Death does not frighten me, nor am I worried about my life after death.”
“I do not know any God. I have not seen God. No God has come to me and guided me, let alone come to criticize me, beat me, or judge me. I believe that for the hungry, God is food and for the cold, God is warmth. In the summer, God comes as a cool breeze and in the spring, God appears as blossoms. I believe there is no God apart from its various forms. I believe God expresses itself through us too, as kindness, compassion and Love, while Devil, if there is one, expresses itself as jealousy, hatred, anger, and revenge. I do not know any grand philosophy nor do I want to know. What is the use of knowing it, if I cannot use it? I do not want anything that I cannot use or practice.”
David then saw his grandfather, grandmother, his parents and all his cousins at an outdoor party near a beautiful river. All were singing and dancing and there was immense love and sense of belongingness in the air. David sang many songs and had lots of fun.
There was a lot of food and drinks on the table, and when he touched a piece of bar-be-cued meat of a suckling pig-ling, (a speciality at important gatherings) he heard the voice of his grandfather again, even though he could not see him. “Remember David, that baby pig did not die happy, for you. It was forcefully killed. It was murdered for your enjoyment. Snatched from its mother’s breast while it was drinking its mother’s milk. Its mother is still alive and missing her child. Some of its brothers and sisters are still alive. Eat with clear understanding. Eat with awareness.” David dropped the meat. He could not consume any meat anymore.
He woke up with clear memory of the entire dream and he knew that his dear departed grandfather has just conveyed a very important and life-changing message to him. He had just used the medium of a dream to convey it, because he had already left this world and there was no way he could talk to David.
This was a crucial point in David’s life as he was getting more and more involved in a particular path of education that he chose and he was getting too introverted, indifferent and insensitive towards the outside world because of it. Even though his parents never interfered, he had taken a lot of responsibilities onto himself and was already suffering the pressures, pains and weight of it. Anxiety over the possibility of failures or defeats were also affecting his self-esteem. David got a clear remedy to his dilemma from his Grand Father’s message. He decided “LIFE HAS GOT TO BE SIMPLE! Why do we make it complicated? We must definitely work hard. But, we must love our work. Love for work will remove all pressures and pains. If we love what we do, old age cannot make dents in our life.” The life of Baba’s three close friends clearly made David understand the futility of mad pursuits. Everything eventually ends up in the grave.
All emotions, ego, ambitions end up in the same place. A life filled with love and laughter is worth more than the millions in the bank. He decided that he should appreciate what has been given to him, rather than be always dissatisfied, focusing on what he could not achieve as yet. He stopped comparing himself with others and judging or criticizing himself. He understood that he has always been in pursuit of something or the other that he did not have, ignoring everything that he already had. He realized that failing to enjoy the available materials or relationships always lead one to permanent disillusionment and eventual depression. He also realized that constant resistance to everything also consumes a lot of energy and it makes one tired. David decided to shift his life in 180 degrees. Love is the remedy. That is all he needed to learn and remember. Love is all one needs. He woke up to a completely new life.
P.S. Sometimes, protecting angels will take you to the astral plane and deliver such experiences. Its memory stays, if it is relevant to your terrestrial life. In order to keep the memories, directions and guidelines would be well engraved in the conscious memory, if that information was expected to be used in one’s life. It would be presented as a dream, even though it is an astral experience, a total communion. This is just for your understanding. Please understand that there are millions of permutations and combinations possible in our existence. So, do not think in terms of any specific patterns. Everything is individualistic and unique. Each moment is unique and each method is unique. One’s food could be another’s poison. So, do not judge experiences, but value them. Everything has relevance in some way, to someone.
Originally Published on January 01, 2012
In Celebration of Humanity and Respect In Dubrovnik, Croatia
Written by Sanja Stankovic
Humanity is witnessing a momentous change in our history today. Despite the significant advancement in technology and human living conditions in the past decades, we have also unleashed a destructive force on all of nature, and onto ourselves. World wars, pandemics, destruction of rainforests and oceans, displacements, natural calamities, riots, and many other man-made disasters have affected all life on this planet.
The fundamental root cause of all that is happening is the erosion of respect humans should have for each other, for nature, and for our planet. What we respect, we also protect. When we lose respect, we fall prey to our greed and insecurities. Through our reckless materialistic way of life, we have failed to protect what should be protected the most – life itself – life in all forms on this planet.
This pandemic has taught us that we simply cannot continue to live life the way we used to. We have taken so many things for granted. Because of exploitation, our relationships, freedom to socialize, our lives, and the enjoyment of everything that the world and Mother Earth have provided for us has been endangered.
During this global crisis, we learned that we can indeed live without many things; but we cannot live without RESPECT.
World Consciousness Alliance organized a two-day Festival – Respect 2021: Festival of Art and Music to celebrate and bring forth the “Culture of RESPECT” to humanity through the medium of Art & Music.
This fundraising event supported charity initiatives of ACT Foundation in Croatia and ACT Foundation South Africa, which are currently supporting families and children who are victims of violence (South Africa) and who are affected by the earthquake and left without a home (Croatia). (see more about ACT Foundation: https://actfoundation.org/home/)
On the first day of the event (29th August), lovers of Art engaged in an online auction of artwork pieces, donated by established artists: Ivona Pleskonja (painter), Damir Šagolj (Reuters photojournalist, Pulitzer award 2017), Nikola Krivokapić (graphic art), Biljana Cincarević (painter), Brian Rasic (photographer) and Foundation of Mersad Berber.
On the second day of the Festival (30th August) participants enjoyed a benefit concert with performers: NenoBelan&Fiumens, Ines Trickovic jazz trio, Jelena Fassbender, Graham Caldwell and AsalSinanović.
Fundraised money was directed towards ACT Foundation (in Croatia and Africa); what an amazing way to celebrate humanity – by showing solidarity to those in need.
Sponsors of the festival: Opereta Nekretnine (Zagreb, Croatia), 4 Sobegospođe Safije (Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina), Jana water, Jamnica (Zagreb, Croatia), KatijaŽivković Photography (Dubrovnik, Croatia), Hello Dubrovnik (Dubrovnik, Croatia), Adriatic Sunsets Tour Agency (Dubrovnik, Croatia), PR agency Manjgura HR (Zagreb, Croatia) and Sankhya Candles (Subotica, Serbia).
World Consciousness Alliance is already planning their next events in the series planned for 2021 on a theme of respect and solidarity towards nations and countries that need support. Would you like to be a part of spreading the culture of RESPECT AND SOLIDARITY? Then join the WCA movement and support the causes by volunteering, performing on their event or donating. Check out their social media:
Facebook / *Please LIKE the page and FOLLOW the WCA!