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Friday, 30 December 2011

What brings you back to work every day?

There was a survey that asked the question: “What brings you back to work every day?” Not getting into what I had answered for the survey, there certainly have been various reasons at various stages that have kept me going, ranging from the challenges of work, the exposure it gives, the opportunities to learn and do new things every day, and the people at the top who are the guiding force. All these continue to be true, but for the last year and a half though, the primary reason has been only one thing – that of working closely with some of the best people I have ever met. This has been an extremely rewarding experience, so much so that I feel I ought to do it some justice by blogging and sharing some of the creative content which got generated through this alliance.

The dedication, focus and integrity of a Chandana, the perseverance and inquisitiveness of an Ajay, the agility and the big picture perspective of a Sumit, the pursuit of perfection and attention to detail of an Aniruddha and the patience and responsiveness of a Thomas have all stood out during these months of intense activity.

Having spent some time with them, I now realize that these could very well be some of the best times I ever would have professionally. When you possess something so extremely valuable that it is very rare to find, it is important to realize what you have got and ensure that you cherish it to the fullest, as long as it lasts. And the very act of working in a team that includes the people and qualities I just stated is an exceptional feeling you would not want to let go of.

Last week was a special one in the sense that all of us could spend a lot of time together, with Sumit and Aniruddha having made a trip to Bangalore from Pune, and Thomas choosing to spend more time than usual with the rest of us despite having moved on from our group a few months ago. In addition to a lot of work that got done, there was enormous fun, with the coffee breaks and lunches becoming livelier, as we relived many moments of the past and made fun of ourselves and our work.

On a related note, having attended a couple of recent Astavadhanas of Shatavadhani Dr. R. Ganesh, a few of my office bus travels have  become a playground for my own abilities at coming up with literary verses, given the constraints that are enforced in the Astavadhana. Of particular interest was the “dattapadi” genre, where the pruchhaka scholar provides the Avadhani with 4 words and a topic on which a verse has to be written. He can also constrain the Avadhani with the meter to be used and the likes, among other things. The Avadhani now has to use these 4 words, which in most cases are completely unrelated to the topic on which the verse has to be constructed, and yet come up with the verse, by using one word each in each line of the verse.

A thought of writing a Shloka in the praise of Lord Rama came to mind, using the names of four of my colleagues, Chandana, Aniruddha, Ajay and Sumit. And this was what I could churn out after 3 days of “ideation”, during the refreshing early morning bus journeys: 

चन्दनानुलेपितं मंगलं मनोहरं
सूर्यवंशसारथिं विराजयन्महारथिं |
सुमित्रातनयसेवितं वानरादिवन्दितं
जानकीशं हरिं महानिरुद्धं भजे ||

chandanAnulEpitaM mangalaM manOharaM
sUryavaMshasArathiM virAjayanmahArathiM |
sumitrAtanayasEvitaM vAnarAdivanditaM
jAnakIshaM hariM mahAniruddhaM bhaje ||

Meaning (roughly):

I worship you, the one who is decorated with sandalwood, who is auspicious, who is captivating, the one who leads Surya Vamsha forward, and the one whose impeccable prowess is glittering across the globe, the one who is served selflessly by the son of Sumitra (Lakshman), the one is worshipped by the Vanaras (apes), and the one who is the husband of Janaki (Sita), the one who is (an incarnation of) Hari (Vishnu), and the one who is absolutely unconquered.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Hoysala Expedition Part 22: Someshwara Temple, Matighatta

Matighatta is a village in the Channarayapatna taluq of Hassan district, and is situated about 7 kms away from the world famous Jain pilgrim centre, Sravana Belagola. This village, which is close to my heart as it also happens to be my maternal grandparents' place, might very well be home to an ancient Hoysala temple. I say "might be", because it is not clear whether the Someshwara temple situated on the outskirts of the village belongs to their era or not, despite having the typical Hoysala emblem on top of the sanctum sanctorum. The old temple was renovated a couple of years back with the help of the Sri Manjunatheshwara Dharmotthana Trust of Dharmasthala, and the whole renovation campaign was spearheaded by my maternal uncle and retired teacher, S. Nagarajaiah. The scenic beauty of the coconut farms surrounding the temple premises makes it a place worth the visit.

Here's a photo collection, as usual:

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Hoysala Expedition Part 21: Nakeshwara and Govindeshwara Temples, Koravangala

The village Koravangala must have been a happening town during the Hoysala regime, for it had at least three temples built during those times. Along with the still-standng-strong Bucheshwara temple, the twin temples of Nakeshwara and Govindeshwara built in 1160 AD by the brothers of Buchi Raja, are also present. They are in a state of ruins and are neglected by the authorities, and what is disheartening further, is the fact that they have tried restoring the twin temples back to their former state of glory, but the renovation work has stopped midway, long ago.

A few pictures of the ruined temple complex:

Friday, 24 June 2011

Hoysala Expedition Part 20: Siddeshwara Temple, Marle

Continuing on from the Marle Hoysala temple visit, standing next to the Keshava temple is the Siddeshwara temple, another ekakuta shrine housing the Shiva linga named Siddeshwara in its sanctum sanctorum. Also inside the temple is a slightly broken statue of Ganesha. Outer walls of the temple differ significantly from the Keshava temple in that it has carvings of Vishnu's dashavatara, and other usual carvings we see in majority of the Hoysala temples. This fact puts to question the theory of both the temples having been constructed around the same time, since their design differ so much from each other. There stands a huge unprotected inscription that might hold answers to these doubts and more details about the lifestyle during the early Hoysala period, but with the neglect from authorities reducing the temple complex to cattle grazing yard and hideout for anti-social elements, this piece of history would soon bite the dust, although, I wish something is done soon to prevent that from happening.

A photo compilation of the temple, as usual:

Hoysala Expedition Part 19: Keshava Temple, Marle

Marle is a picturesque little village situated 12 kilometers away from the city of Chikkamagalur, and is host to what could probably be the first twin temples built during the Hoysala regime. Standing next to each other, in what could easily be referred to as neglected state, the temples of Keshava and Siddeshwara, convey the religious harmony that existed during the Hoysala regime.

Believed to be built in 1130 AD during the reign of King Vishnuvardhana, the ekakuta Keshava temple is characterized by the floral and miniature shrine designs on the outer walls that resemble the Doddagaddavalli temple, and is devoid of any sculptures of the gods and mythological characters. Here is a small video that showcases some of the temple's features:

Keshava Temple, Marle from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Hoysala Expedition Part 18: Bucheshwara Temple, Koravangala

With my Hoysala expedition briefly back on track, here's an update on my recent visit to Koravangala, a village 9 kms away from Hassan. This village is home to 3 temples of Hoysala period, two of which are in a state of disarray. This post, though, is about the ekakuta temple that stands tall within the small lakeside village, named the Bucheshwara Temple, built in 1173 AD by the prime minister of King Ballala, The Second, Buchi Raja. It houses the Shiva Linga named Bucheshwara in its only main sanctum sanctorum, and exactly opposite to this is a sanctum housing Suryanarayana, the Sun god. Also next to this is an enclosure housing Kala Bhairava, which has been locked out for a long time now.

Unique to this temple are the external carvings that showcase the story of Prahlada and Hiranyakashipu, with all the tortures Prahlada was subjected to, in order to make him forget Hari, the god he believed in. The long lonely walk along the banks of the Koravangala lake that takes one to the Bucheshwara temple amid the strong winds blowing across the coconut plantations gives a great feeling in itself, to the visitor.

Here is a photo compilation of the temple:

Bucheshwrara Temple, Koravangala from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Hoysala Expedition Part 17: Kedareshwara Temple, Halebidu

About half a kilometer away from the Hoysaleshwara temple of Halebidu, and adjacent to the Jinalaya complex of Basadihalli, stands the little known Kedareshwara temple. This trikuta temple is no inferior to the other masterpieces in and around the region, but has somehow lost attention of the authorities and tourists alike. Known to be built in 1220 AD, this temple is always locked these days, but in the middle of the day, there is enough sunlight that allows the visitors to get a sneak peek into the temple's beauty, and the Kedareshwara linga in the main sanctum becomes clearly visible. Outer carvings are as majestic as the Hoysaleshwara temple, with many a stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavata coming alive through the friezes that run around the star shaped basement.

Here is a look at the temple's beauty:

Kedareshwara Temple, Halebidu from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Heartbeat Ensemble concert of Ghatam Karthick and Co. at Bengaluru Gayana Samaja

Just noticed that the Carnatic music season has begun this week at Fort High School, Chamarajapete, Bangalore with the Rama Navami concerts, and that reminded me of the concert I attended a couple of months ago, of the "Heartbeat Ensemble", led by Ghatam S. Karthick, consisting of Embar S. Kannan on Violin, whizkid K. Sathyanarayana on Keyboard, Poongulam Subramanian on Mridangam and Arun Kumar on Drums.

Needless to say, the renditions and experiments of the group were mesmerizing, and the lyricist in Karthik, composer in Kannan were also in full display. A couple of snippets that I recorded from the concert:

Ghatam Karthick's Heart Beat Ensemble: Raga Jog from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Ghatam Karthick's Heart Beat Ensemble: Medley from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Hoysala Expedition Part 16: Hoysaleshwara Temple, Halebidu

After a longish break, its time to catch up on a few of my pending blog assignments, specially a few Hoysala expeditions I had carried out last November, which have not yet been written about. So here goes, back with possibly the most beautiful and the most historically important of all the Hoysala temples, The Hoysaleshwara and Shantaleshwara twin temples at Halebidu, at Hassan district of Karnataka.

Halebidu, which is now a quiet, but well known town in southern Karnataka, was once the power center of southern India, serving as the capital of the mighty Hoysalas for most of their reign. Known as Dwarasamudra and Dwaravati during those days, the city of Halebidu was ruined towards the end of 14th century when the rulers of north stared expanding their reach across India. However, the Hoysaleshwara temple stands tall having withered multiple storms of cultural oppression, and is testimony to the pinnacle of artistry of the sculptors of those times.

The temple itself is known to have been built in 1120 AD, when Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana was establishing the foundations of the empire that later earned great respect throughout southern India. Vishnuvardhana had been given the title "Hoysaleshwara", and that name itself was used to name the main deity - the majestic shivalinga - of the temple constructed during his time, indicating the respect his citizen had towards the great king. The adjoining sanctum has another shivalinga, which is named "Shantaleshwara", in the honour of Vishnuvardhana's famous queen, Shantala.

A video that depicts the beauty of the temple, with raga Saramathi as the background score as a tribute to the bhakti of the sculptors, here goes:

Hoysaleshwara Temple, Halebidu from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Hoysala Expedition Part 15: Veera Narayana Temple, Belavadi

The Veera Narayana temple at Belavadi, a village in Chikkamagalur district of Karnataka, is an epitome of symmetry. This trikuta Hoysala temple built in 1206 AD, houses Veera Narayana as the main deity, with Venugopala and Yoganarasimha in the the other two sanctum sanctorums. The temple is characterized by over a hundred neatly carved and designed pillars, and a lot of elephant statues of various shapes and sizes. The Tulunadu style enclosure at the entrance and the stone roof tops of the main temple are unique to this temple, and the statues of the three deities are outstandingly beautiful.

Although the Channakeshava temple of Belur, Hoysaleshwara temple of Halebidu and Keshava temple of Somanathapura come right up in th list of the most beautiful temples of Hoysala period and architecture, this temple at Belavadi is in no way inferior to any of the former three. The village itself has its place in mythology, with the Ekachakranagara of Mahabharata times, where Bakasura was defeated by Bheema, believed to have existed at the same place where Belavadi stands today. Although the more recent Udbhava Ganapati temple has started attracting more devotees, from the angle of serene architecture, this timeless beauty of Veera Narayana temple continues to mesmerize visitors even today.

The photo compilation is here:

Veera Narayana Temple, Belavadi from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Sights and Sounds of World Samskrit Book Fair: Part 2

Continuing from Part 1, here is more from the cultural programmes that happened on the sidelines of the World Samskrit Book Fair. On Saturday, 8th January, 2011, 1003rd edition of "Kavyachitra" was conducted at the Kuvempu Kalakshetra, Bangalore, in association with Samskara Bharati and Abhinaya Bharati.

Kavyachitra refers to a cultural entertainment model where a poet and an artist take up challenges from each other, audience, and experts to create poetry and paintings on the spot. Shatavadhani Dr. R. Ganesh was in charge of the "Kavya" part with Artist B. K. S. Varma took up "Chitra". Varma is credited with making painting, a form of "performing art".

Some pictures (click on them for larger versions) and videos from the mesmerizing two hour event are below:


1. Varma drawing Sarswati using colour soaked thread:

2. R. Ganesh concentrating on Varma's masterly work:

3. Flautist Venugopal also forgets to play his flute, enchanted by Varma's artistry:

4. Finshed Product: Godess Saraswati:

5. Humble Varma finishes another work, this time, depicting Valmiki and Shankaracharya:

6. Shiva Tandava:

7. Varma's challenge to Ganesh:

8. Varma responds to Ganesh's challenge:

9. Drawing Lord Vishnu from 'Om':

10. Depicting "Vande Mataram":

11. Great Samskrit scholar Gautam Patel from Gujarat is lost for words while expressing his experience of watching Ganesh and Varma at work:

12. Garba dance being performed by a group of people who had come all the way from Gujarat:


Kavyachitra Part 1: Shatavadhani R. Ganesh and B. K. S. Varma from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Kavyachitra Part 2: Shatavadhani R. Ganesh and B. K. S. Varma from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Kavyachitra Part 3: Shatavadhani R. Ganesh and B. K. S. Varma from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Sights and Sounds of World Samskrit Book Fair: Part 1

I had been to the World Samskrit Book Fair that is going on at Bangalore from 6th to 10th January, 2011, and here are some updates from that:

On 6th January 2011, day 1 of the fair, "Jnanaganga", an exhibition on the knowledge heritage of India was inaugurated by former India cricket captain Anil Kumble, and a model of "Samskrit Village", where all interactions happen through Samskrit, was inaugurated by Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri, the primary and secondary education minister of the Govt. Of Karnataka. Also attending the occation were N. Gopalaswamy, former Chief Election Commisioner of India, and industrialst Sadanand Mayya. Also at the end of day one, was classical singing by Vidwan Vidyabhushana.

Photos from the formal function (click on images for enlarged versions):

Photos of the Samskrit Village and Exhibitions (click on images for enlarged versions):

Video of Anil Kumble's speech (some unavoidable movements while recording)

Anil Kumble speaking at the inauguration of "Samskrit Village" from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Video of Vidwan Vidyabhushana's singing (again, some unavoidable movements while recording)

Vidwan Vidyabhushana singing on day one of Samskrit Fair from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Part 2 of this article, on Kavyachitra and other cultural programmes, coming up later...