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Nine sacred lives of modern India

I am currently reading William Dalrymple's Nine sacred lives from modern India.

Let me tell the back ground story here. Me story. People think me reading books and I read only novels, is some how a sin. Some other people think that I read only fiction because some how I am intellectually challenged and can not understand non-fiction.

With that in sub-conscious mind I picked this book. I was not sure whether I will read much of the book as it is not a fiction, and not even a self help book.

But I was wrong. The author has a beautiful style which some how touches us.

The book describes stories of nine different people of modern day India. And each story is different. But similar, as all these people of religious people. Not the religious people like our politicians who ask for good time to take oath as ministers, so that the throne will stick to their bottoms as a "Feviol ka jod. Not even religious as the swami, sadhu who use God to loot and explot the common people.

These are truly religious people, for whom God is an integral part of their life.

There is a monk(ess) from Rajasthan who has left her rich house, her parents and everything else and is thinking of ultimate sacrifice - sallekhana , which is fasting gradually stopping eating one thing at a time, until they stop eating and drinking altogether.

And there is a Theyyam dancer from Kerala who dances dressing himself as a God or Goddess, during which time he some how connects with God and can answer the questions asked by people. The fact that he is a lower caste person does not stop Brahmins from bowing to him during these Theyyam, but they will not even let him inside the house during other days.

Similarly the book tells us a story of devadasi from Belagavi, a phad story teller from Rajasthan, a budhdhist monk who is trying really hard to penance for his sins, a sufi saint who prays to God in Sindh but is worried about new generations educated by Madrasas preaching against Sufism.

I was slightly skeptic whether a phirangi  can understand India and its religion. I am wrong.

My rating 4.5/5

Edit: I think in the next edition of the book he should say 10 sacred lives and add Rampal. But on a serious note, how many Rampals, Asarams, Nithyanandas should take incarnation in our "punya bhumi" till people realize Godmen are just "men", and nowhere close to God. 

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Someshwara shataka

ಚರಿಪಾರಣ್ಯದ ಪಕ್ಷಿಗೊಂದು ತರು ಗೊಡ್ಢಾಗಲ್ ಫಲಂ ಈವಿದಾ
ಮರಗಳ್ ಪುಟ್ಟವೆ ಪುಷ್ಪವೊಂದು ಬಳಲಲ್  ಭ್ರಂಗಕ್ಕೆ ಪೂವಿಲ್ಲವೆ
ನಿರತಂ ಸತ್ಕವಿಗೋರ್ವ ಗರ್ವಿದಂ ನೃಪ ತಾಂ ಲೋಭಿಯಾಗಲ್ ನಿಜಂ
ಧರೆಯೊಳ್ ದಾತರು ಪುಟ್ಟರೆ ಹರ ಹರಾ ಶ್ರೀ ಚೆನ್ನ ಸೋಮೇಶ್ವರ

Will a bird in the wild go hungry just because one fruit tree dries up? If one flower withers, will not the bee get any flowers? If one haughty king is miserly, will there be no patrons (of poetry) on this earth?


ಕೆಲವಂ ಬಲ್ಲವರಿಂದ ಕಲ್ತು ಕೆಲವಂ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಂಗಳೋದುತಂ
ಕೆಲವಂ ಮಾಳ್ಪವರಿಂದ ಕಂಡು ಕೆಲವಂ ಸುಜ್ಙಾನದಿಂ  ನೋಡುತಂ
ಕೆಲವಂ ಸಜ್ಜನಸಂಗದಿಂದಲರಿಯಲ್ ಸರ್ವಜ್ಞನಪ್ಪಂ ನರಂ
ಪಲವಂ ಪಳ್ಳ ಸಮುದ್ರವೈ ಹಾರ ಹರಾ ಶ್ರೀ ಚೆನ್ನ ಸೋಮೇಶ್ವರ

Learning from wise men, reading from good books, observing others  work and learning from good company, these are the ways a man becomes omni-scient (sarvajna - one who knows everything). Just like many streams join together to make an ocean.

P.S.
1) If you find some of my wordings in this shataka is wrong, please let me know. It is a 40 year old memory.
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