Life of Mushroom- From dust to dust, a Micro vision to the Human story?

Come rainy season I wait for a chance to devour wild mushrooms.. my favourite dish which I can never resist that too with a generous dab of butter and otti (rice bread -like peta bread-, staple breakfast of Kodavas). Mushroom foraging, harvesting and eating is a risky job; a tiny error could cost your life or you might end up in mental asylum! But quite instinctively we knew which ones (8-10) were edible by sight, a knowledge just slipped into our system somehow. The taste and flavour can only be experienced and cannot be described:while growing up mushroom hunting was a delight to us as we got to wade barefoot on the rainwater, collected on the clean grass splashing all around, carried an umbrella yet fully wet, an time which can never be relived. Yet just a ray of hope in the distant horizon, teeny-tiny chances, if, Kasturirangan Report is implemented.

Mushrooms are fungus that grow almost everywhere, on every natural material imaginable (tree, logs, soil, decomposing leaves, dung, mulch, compost, etc.) in different shapes, sizes and colours. Even ants and termites grow them as food. It’s hard to delineate the shapes, mostly with a domed cap on a stalk with gills on the underside of the cap. It’s something like the fruit of a plant with millions of invisible seed called spores but it’s hard to say if it is Vegetarian or Non-vegetarian food!! Who cares… I am a gourmand when it comes to wild mushroom!

Without leaves and requirement of sunlight, it pops up magically without any clue within a week or more after a good rain (rains) right in front of your eyes if you happened to be around. It also returns to its point of origin within no time if left in nature.

Recently, I had the unexpected privilege of recording it in the span of 3 – 5 days and that’s when I realized how close it is to our own life cycle! If one can compare this process to 5 days of human life then cycle of our life process say 100 years could be few days of the life of Mother Nature. Creation from dust to dust, the disposal technique of Mother Nature is unbelievable. No wonder the Rishis of yore opted for cremation over burial…

Mushroom decay process depends upon the condition around. I remember Oprah Wimfrey telling, with the makeup, fan and light anyone could be made to look gorgeous not just models or film stars.. Similarly with the sun, rain and air in control, the entire creation could be altered!! I have seen mushroom drying naturally in warm climates like Mysuru in the absence of rain.

The first reaction from my Son when he saw the pictures, whose opinion is very important to me, was yukkk… yukkk Mamma… can’t imagine…did you really photograph it? How could you?!? I joked, yeh I did, everything happens for a reason, I was supposed to that’s why the process cycle was very small. The decay was accelerated as the results of hot day temperature and rains in the evenings. I left the place on the 5th day… letting nature’s recyclers enjoy the remains.

The mushroom had bloomed on 27/05/2017 on the mud parapet at my sister-in-law Shanthi Somanna’s house in Mythadi, but unnoticed till 28/05/2017 evening so by the time it was plucked, it was unfit to eat. My SiL is a sweetheart and was very sad that I did not get to eat it, and to make me happy, kept it in a plastic tray in the coffee drying yard for me to photograph it. I spent quite some time with the mushroom (almost till the end) until by mistake my husband drove over the tray breaking it in the process.

The pictures are self-explanatory… inspite of all the activities the stem standing firm almost till the end is in par with the bones staying for a long time to tell the tales.

Day one was missed out in the wild.

Day Two

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Day three

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Day four

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Day Four evening..

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Final chapter of Mr & Mrs. Mushrooms

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Manhattan and Mahabharata – Kali or Dajjal? (Part 1)

Prediction for Kali-Yuga & Who is the Son of God, the savior of the earth??

A fiction based on a dream like experience… To understand why the different beliefs & names of some countries appear in this article, please read till the concluding part… any feedback on this is much appreciated & could be added to the article..

“Kali Yuga started with Gold, continued to be fueled by Black Gold (Petrol) & will end with white gold (sweet Water).”

It is said that “What is in the Mahabharata can be found elsewhere, but what is not in the Mahabharata cannot be found anywhere.” Mahabharata has covered everything under the sun what we have heard & what we would perhaps hear in the future!! Something one can ever dream off, from ultimate atomic weapon with the knowhow to call it back, to growing babies outside the womb, to woman having sex change, & then capable of fathering a child as a man, to keeping a head alive after being separated from the body, to revive a dead child in the womb!! Mahabharata has a network of well-connected stories taking its reader through a maze where many lives of the same person is depicted projecting the cause & effect very clearly: information which is enough to cover the length & breadth of the universe!!

The same seems to apply to New York’s Manhattan: what you don’t find in Manhattan you perhaps can never find elsewhere!! Take a journey with me to put the pieces of puzzle together to know Manhattan is the place where Mr. Kali will dwell & who is the yellow clad Son of God, who could be the one finally to subdue him!!

It’s about 2 am & I am awake as I could literally hear my daughter in law with a childlike enthusiasm & smile whisper in my years: “Mavi”, (Mother in law) “look, its KALIYUGA”.  I wondered how it could be… she is sleeping downstairs with her husband & me here with my husband next to me. Then strangely the day’s events started falling together in DETAIL.

I had heard it before couple of hours ago in the evening of September 11, 2016 at Central Park as she moved quickly towards me in a Mayan Aztec style top & red short skirts as her little purple tote bag made a sound similar to a calf’s bell in the neck. As she walked behind me & my son along with my husband with her, chirping like a bird offering us horse carriage rides or juice or tempting with deserts at Plaza, the bell sound followed me around. Seemed like she had a big list in her mind to offer us!

I love Central Park; it always makes me happy. For me it’s not the Times Square or the shopping or the sprawling B-M-W bridges but the soulful Central Park is the most attractive place in New York. I remember the last visit in 2015, few hours before our departure, I had dragged my unwilling husband for a small walk & ran inside to capture its soul, an eternal melody from the past played by the Native Indians.

As usual my son started explaining to me the new strange scenario (or phenomenon?) when I asked him what was that special thing happening under the Golden Lady at the Grand Army Plaza? The Sherman Monument was surrounded by a mass of down cast humans which kept growing as the time passed. I remembered the first day of summer at Boston couple of years ago where the entire Bostonians seemed congregated at the park celebrating the arrival of Mr. Sun after a long cold winter.

My son laughed & said Mum, it’s the new video game from Nintendo called Pokémon Go. Someone with a simple idea making a whole lot of money. Pokémon (pocket monsters), free-to-play, location-based augmented reality game by Niantic. Monsters are kept in magic containers called Pokeball & one has to capture the maximum so that they can be trained to fight each other. Displayed on your smartphone screen, which you catch at a specific location or PokeStops. In the real word it seems to have swept many nations across capturing the human imagination…. & supposed to have guided the players to commit crime, death, accidents, etc., etc.…..

I said oh…. It seems to have made virtual slaves of both young & old alike. I remember reading that Japan banned it after a death & few countries including Kuwait has banned it too. As we moved, the crowd seemed increasing. Every pair of eyes focused on the mobile screen unaware of their own presence. Some stood, some sat & some followed the pull of what on the screen I had absolutely no idea. I told him can you please take picture & I can post with a simple caption. Otherwise my articles are always lengthy & many complain.. including you… let me surprise my readers. My son suddenly stops & looks at me with a grin & surprised eyes. He is my man with all the patience on Earth to explain things to me & tolerate me when I shout or advice even now!

He continued… how people are lead to Central Park to capture the virtual points. I could see People flocked, literally flocked like cattle or goat herd following the gadgets & the software like following Pied Piper, unaware of the presence of the next person just for a virtual free point. There was nothing tangible, not even a melody to follow… For me it was a sad sight….these were not the RATS but the REAL PEOPLE….

Story of King Ravana from Ramayana – Part 2

Brahma’s promises:

Both Ravana & his brother Kumbhakarana, performed severe penance for thousands of years, seeking power & immortality from Lord Brahma. But Brahma (incidentally their great grandfather) declined to grant the immortality saying only BrahmaN is immortal & whoever is born, has to die & I cannot change that law of nature, for anyone! However, as requested by Ravana, in lieu he gave the alternate boon that no Devas/Devis-heavenly beings-ganas-yakshas-rakshas-snakes-all wild animals cannot kill him & his life would be concentrated at his naabhi (navel) aided by the nectar of Immortality. Also obtained some divine magical weapons too & Brahma exited in a hurry… before the list could go any further!! On the other hand, Kumbakarna made the spelling mistake while asking for boon  as the Devas fearing for their survival, with the help of Godess Sarasvathi (Godess of learning), managed to trick him into saying “Nidrasana instead of Indrasana” (throne of sleep instead of Indra’s throne) ending up sleeping all his life instead of ruling as king of heaven!!

Armed with loads of boons (now a day’s wealth/power plays the role of boon at least in India), Ravana started flexing his muscles in all directions & in all the 3-worlds as he was almost invincible & there was absolutely nothing or no one could stop him. Ravana failed to add humans as he never thought that any human would be capable of killing him. On the tenth day of the battle, Vibhishana advised Sri Rama to strike the arrow on his naval to kill him. Armed with the boon he managed to drive out Kubera & usurped the kingdom of Lanka along with it the prized Pushpaka-vimana too. The celestial architect,  Vishwakarma is supposed to have redesigned the beautiful, idyllic city & built the palace in gold.

The catch 22 weapons: Yama

Ravana is also known as the conqueror of Yama, the Lord of death.. Boons could back fire too… when standing in front of the bhaktas (Devotees), sometimes the Devas & Devis loses their balance & like how a parent does not know how to say no to their offspring, they too involuntarily yield to the whims of their devotees… {For some reason the following episode reminds me of the hit & run cases of Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai, etc., etc., rich parents pampering their off springs with expensive cars & the thrill seeking youngster ending up killing someone with speed}. Fearing the fearless Ravana & his atrocities, Lord Indra, the king of heaven asked Sage Narada to find a solution to help him safeguard his crown (olden day UN!… may be better still).

As usual Narada wanted to do something & one day he went to Ravana & suggested that he pick-up a fight with Yama, & defeats him which would make him rather famous. Ravana was not very fond of Narada but the suggestion sounded very lucrative, if he could defect Yama, the Lord of Death then everyone would fear him more.

Yama aka Dharma Raja (King of righteousness) was protector of the Law, judge of the “ultimate court” who decides the path (naraka-swarga or hell-heaven) to each & every soul. The only certainty in a living being is the death. Hence everyone has to meet him one day or the other.

The reason Narada wanted Ravana & Yama to fight was that Lord Brahma had granted Yama an infallible weapon called Kala Danda (time stick). The weapon once fired would kill anybody before it… no matter what boons he had to protect himself. So if at all there is a chance of killing the invincible Ravana it would be through Kala Danda!! {Among all kinds of killers, time is the ultimate because it kills everything Bhagavad Gita 10.33 }.

After sowing the seed of greed in Ravana, Narada quickly went to Yama. As Narada was conveying the unexpected message to a shocked Yama, Ravana already reached there with his army. The army started the fight, creating loss in Yama’s army. Then Ravana & Yama fought for 7-days & night & finally Yama decided to use his Kala-danda. Meantime Brahma came running there… & requested Yama not to use his ultimate weapon. Then Narada understood the situation… what a fix… If Yama fired the weapon, only two things could happen – either Ravana could die or he could survive. If Ravana died, Lord Brahma’s boon to Ravana that he could not be destroyed by any Deva, would become false! (Like modern day politicians!) If Ravana survived, his boon to Yama’s Kala-danda as the ultimate weapon of destruction, would become false! Sage Narada shook his head wondering why his father made such rash promises & expected others to keep it up for him. Meantime, Brahma created an illusion & made everything look like a dream… while Yama disappeared, Ravana went home happily for winning the war!!

The trigger of the Ramayana:

Ravana abducted Sita disguised himself as a mendicant seeking alms while his uncle Maricha guised as golden deer lead Rama & Lakshma away from her. Abduction became the cause of his death & liberation from his second life on earth. The reason for the abduction is not clear as only he could answer – if it was his lust or was he in love with Sita or his humiliation that he could not win her hand at Swayamvara? Or was it the insult to his favourite sister by the Rama & his brother Lakshmana (blinded by brotherly love & family honour)? Or simply he wanted to get killed & go back to his gate-keep’s post as soon as possible. Or perhaps it’s the culmination of everything? Ironically even to this day humans react in most of the situation mentioned yeh?

Ravana is portrayed as a womanizer, & it is his obsession of women which brought him a curse resulting in his death. A beautiful Sage-woman Vedavati was performing penance with the intention of winning Lord Vishnu for a husband. When Ravana saw her at her hermitage in the jungle was enchanted by her pious beauty. When she rejected his advances, Ravana proceeded to forcibly take her. Vedavati who was in love with Lord Vishnu could not tolerate it, she created a pyre & let herself be consumed by the fire. However before dying she prophesied that she would return to the mortal world as the cause of his death {as his own daughter – many say that Sita is in fact was his daughter & thus his lusting after his own daughter is one of the reasons for his downfall}. Vedavati is said to be re-born as Sita, thus becoming Lord Vishnu’s (as Rama) wife, & became the cause of mighty Ravana’s conquest & death.

It was puzzling to me as why he never forced himself on Sita & waited for her to consent before he married or force himself on her, which does not fit into the bill of womanizing! But there is also a legend which says: After seeing the beautiful Apsara (celestial dancing girl) Rambha, Ravana tried to molest her who was pleading him to let her go. Incidentally Ramba was betrothed to Kubera’s son Nalakuvara. Ravana was enamoured of her, & her plea of his would be daughter-in-law did not deter him. Nalakuvara then cursed that Ravana’s heads to fall off, if ever he forced himself on any woman. This curse is said to have kept Sita chaste, while she was his captive for nearly a year.

Ravana’s Shiva devotion:

Like all the sons, Ravana was very fond of his mother Kaikesi. One day when he went to meet her, she was at the sea shore worshiping a Shiva Linga made out sand. As a undisputed, mighty & wealthy king, he was sad to see his mother with the Sand Linga & promised her that he would get a very special Linga for her worship from Lord Shiva himself. So, he set out immediately towards Kailasa & tried to go straight to see Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva’s Vahana (vehicle) cum Gate keeper Nandi, blocked his way & refused to let him enter (history repeats in another form!) Already reached the status of invincible, Ravana did not like it & an argument broke out. In the end, angry Ravana tried to dislodge Mount Kailash on which Lord Shiva was meditating. Knowing Ravana’s arrogance, Lord Shiva pressed the mountain with his toe crushing Ravana’s forearms, which made Ravana to let out blood-curling screams in agony, hence to be known as Ravana (one who screams). Again here the process of lesson on humility continues. Stuck under the mountain, Ravana decided to appease Shiva & calm down his anger, pulled out his own nerves with his bare hands, wound them around his toes & used them as strings to play music. He used his own body as a Veena & sung praises of the Lord. In the bargain Ravana became one of the greatest devotees of Lord Shiva, even offering one of his heads & composed the Shiva Tandava Stotram. (A statue of Ravna at Koneswaram temple, Sri Lanka depicts this). Lord Shiva eventually relented &, pleased with his devotion, gave him the Atma Linga (the one found at Gokarna, Karnataka) to be taken to his mother. However, he was deprived of his hard work, through the plots of Devas, once again fearing for their status & the power Ravana would eventually obtain (this time with the help of Lord Ganesha, son of Lord Shiva). Ravna also acquired knowledge of magic & expertise in usage of divine weapons, Chandrahas, a divine sword (with a note of warning that if it were to be used unjustly, it would return as the three-eyed one & destroy him). Ravana has many other names, including Dashaanana, Dashamukha, Ravula, Lankeshwar, Ravaneshwaran, Dasis Ravana, Dasis Sakvithi Maha Ravana, etc., etc.

If Ravana is considered a villain in India, in Sri Lanka he is considered a hero, the Greatest Emperor in Asia. Evidence of His lost Palace & many other sites are found along with artifacts including his mace & even the Ashoka Vana/Vatika where Sita was kept is also exists… some say that the Fortress at Sigiriya Rock (I had the privilege of climbing to the top in 2015) in Matale district near Dambulla belongs to Ravana. Even though it’s in ruins, it’s clearly visible that such a fete is humanly impossible!! Evidences were also found in India, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, etc. whether people believe or not the legend lives on.. bring different perceptions. In the end, all happened for Jaya/Vijaya to come out clean & to teach us a lesson. So the cause & effects are always one behind the other.

Note: The third birth: The third & final was towards the end of the Dwapara Yuga as Shishupala & Dantavakra (an ally of Sri Krishna’s enemy Jarasandha) to be slayed by Lord Krishna along with Balarama (Mahabharata). After which they went back to Vaikuntha. If you are wondering who was guarding the Vaikuntha during their absence?  Well it was me of course!!}

To read more about Ravana, and my unique analogies to modern history, check out my 3rd and final article.

Tippu Sultan – Kodavas – British : A Triangle of skepticism. Tippu Series Part 10: Tippu as a father (Indian?)

Tipu’s childhood experience became the foundation for his cruelty, dispassion, aloofness… A soft delicate body with the cold stone heart… one can have a glimpse of it in the episode of the return of his sons from 2 years of captivity.

As Tipu’s reputation preceded himself, at the end of the third Mysore War {1792 Treaty of Seringapata war} the British exacted harsh terms from Tipu. Under Cornwallis, the Company had initiated a war of conquest, annexed a great deal of territory, demanded a huge indemnity of Mysore, & taken 2-young boys as hostages until the further terms of the treaty were carried out. This was a very unusual treaty article; although the taking of hostages to safeguard the peace was common during the 18th-century, these individuals would typically constitute military or political advisors of a ruler, adults who were part of the administration of the polity in question

It was a rather mean move but for British it was sort of tit for tat since Tipu had taken the sons of Britain as prisoners & converted them in the previous decade, his own sons would be forfeit to the Company in the wake of its victory in the 3rd Mysore War. That was the only way British could ensure or guarantee the peace. The hostages, Abdul Khalik & Moiz-Ud-Din, 2-young sons of Tipu Sultan aged 8 & 5-years old, would spend the next 2-years as the captives of the Company – honored & well treated captives, but still captives nonetheless.

An event highly publicized by media… boys departed without much ado with Cornwallis… While 21 gun salutes was rendered, Tipu watched departing from the rampant…

after the term, upon their return, on their entrance into the pavilion, the young Princes sprang forward to the throne where their Royal Father sat, & prostrated themselves before it. & here the etiquette of Asiatic courts put nature completely to flight; for the father, instead of advancing to embrace his darling children, contented himself with coldly placing a hand on the neck of each; & on the instant the Prices arose, & respectfully retired. It is a remarkable fact, that not a syllable was exchanged at this extraordinary interview.