Friday, June 28, 2019




A friend has sent me this photo with a request to add something to it.  I am instantly reminded of late Moti Lal Saqi 's  besutiful gazal. I add some  lines of the gazal to this photo..

Vanaan bulbul chhu gul Royan
Dohaai gotchh Nau-Bahaar Aasun..

Pozaai guv akh akis Praarun,
Reitcher  tchharun bujeir gaarun,
Dohaai ma Aashqas Maashoq sundh
 gotchh intezaar Aasun..

(Moti Lal Saqi)

"To these blushing flowers,
The bulbul says:
" Shouldn't everyday ,
this  spring be there for us ?"

True for us ,
To wait for each other,
To seek eachother's welfare
And plan a happy old age .
But why on earth ,
A  lover has to keep waiting
for the desired and the cherished ?'

Peace be to saqi sahib's soul. He left this world in a hurry and so early..

(Avtar Mota)

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Sunday, June 23, 2019





'JAMMU  OF 1905'

Reading ..'Thirty Years In  Kashmir 'by Dr Arthur Neve...Published in 1915...

 Dr Arthur Neve  writes about ' JAMMU OF  1905 ' .as he saw it .....I quote from his book..

“Jammu became capital of a kingdom larger than England , with tributary  peoples speaking  a dozen distinct languages and dialects, and at the Darbaar in the olden days ,one might have seen not only Dogra princes and Sikh generals. Punjabi officials ,and kashmiri Dewans and Brahmins ,with bold Rajput veterans of many fiercely  contested mountain campaigns , and  those who had been subjugated ,  Tibetan chiefs from Shigar ,Dard chiefs from Astor or Gilgit ,with their picturesque and truculent followers ,all clad in most diverse costumes. Many of these petty Rajas were often treated with the utmost contempt by the court menials.

 In 1905 Lord Curzon held a Darbaar and declared that Maharaja of J&K shall be invested with full powers . Till then , the state was administered by a council of which , several members were appointed by the British Government . A few months after this , King George , the then prince of Wales  visited jammu. The city was decked in the height of oriental splendor . A beautiful camp was laid around the new Residency at Satwari .It was estimated that 40000 British Pounds were spent by the  Maharaja in connection with the regal display by  the state that was always short of money , and which is terribly backward in such important matters such as roads and sanitation.

Basant or the first day of spring  is a great festival in the city . New Year’s day or Nauroz is also observed by a special Darbaar . Perhaps the most popular is the Dussehra held in Autumn .

In former days , all Europeans visiting Jammu were received as  guests of the Maharaja .The courtesy of princely welcome was not limited to gracious reception and polite phrases , but extended to lavishly furnished guest houses with all kinds of supplies . One could order any kind of  tinned provisions like  oyster , salmon and anything except beef  in any shape and form. Wine too would be unstinted

Those days there was no road in jammu  fit for driving in .The chief roads consisted of badly laid paving stones interspersed with cobbles. Narrow stony paths led steep   down the cliff to the river , and at all hours , strings of women with  water pots and water carriers with Mashaqs ( water skins ) might be seen scrambling up and down  the town. There were  quiet  deep water  pools ( Talabs )  where I could enjoy an undisturbed bath and narrow paths where pretty wild flowers grew .

It was interesting to see people fording rapids ( river and streams  )  where the water was nearly waist deep . Few seemed to trouble about their wet garments , which would soon dry in the  warm sun: their chief care was for the loads balanced cleverly upon their heads .

There were other attractions such as Ajaib Ghar literally meaning ‘ wonder House .’  I was provided with an elephant as i was a state’s  guest . Next day ,  i decided to meet the Maharaja .  I mounted the elephant that had a silver howdah and a small staircase  and we swayed  up slowly through the Bazaar   that had steep stone paved road and finally under the archway into the Palace.

After a few days of stay at jammu , I began my journey to kashmir via Banihal pass through a path  that was just a pony  track .When it became dark , there was a danger of getting off the route into some side valley merely leading to some mountain villages. Sometimes at night mail runner bells were heard , and one appeared carrying a torch to keep off any panthers , with which the dense thickets of these outer hills were infested . These Dak runners lived in thick straw sheds built near the path at an interval of four or five miles , and had to be ready at any hour of the day or night to start on to the next stage with Dak.  They were sturdy , unkempt fellows , who could keep a steady jog trot for the entire stage  and repeat it after a short rest. These young Dakwallas were surprised to see an Englishman on the path but cheerfully consented to pilot me ‘ Follow the torch lights’ . I was handed over to the guidance of another torch bearer , and so traveled till past midnight .
It was at times very weird to see the shadows of  the hills outlined against the starry sky , and the fantastic shapes of  many of the old trees . One could hear the splash of a water fall , a distant hoot of an owl, or dogs in some far off village. At a camping ground , i found many traveler resting , and was glad to get some little   grass  for my pony, whose reins i looped to my ankle , and then flung myself down on the bare ground with my saddle bags as my pillow , and was soon fast asleep.’

I would like to conclude this mini post  on ' Jammu of 1905  ' with Firaq Gorakhpuri's poetry selected from his collection 'Gul e Nagma'.

Ishq thhaa ek din daastaan dastaan..
Aaj kyon hai vohee be zubaan be zubaan..
Aaj sangam saraasar juve ishq hai,
Ek daryaa e gham be karaan be karaan..
Doondtay doondtay doond leingay tujhe ,
Go nishaan hai tera be nishaan be Nishaan..
Mere daar Ul amaan aey Hareem e nigaar,
Hum phirein kya Yuun hi be amaan be amaan..

( Avtar Mota )

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Saturday, June 22, 2019




A collection of poems by Vijay Saraf ‘Meenaghe’.
Price Re1600/-  in India . 

Overseas  GBP 20 and US$25.
( 35% concession to Artists , Writers , Performing Artists ,Students , Libraries and 60% concession to those earning upto 2.5 lacs per annum )

Before i say anything about the book and the poems included in it  , it is quite relatable to introduce the author   for a better  understanding of  the book and its contents .

Vijay Saraf ‘ Meenaghe ‘ (born 1956 ) is a well known artist of our state who served  as Principal and Dean , Faculty of Music and Fine Arts , University of Jammu . Trained at J J School of  Art Mumbai,  Vijay Saraf  ‘Meenaghe’  has  exhibited  his work  (  1974 onwards  )  in solos  and groups at various places in India .His work is on display at National Gallery of Modern Art New Delhi, Lalit Kala Academy New Delhi ,E. Alkazi Art Heritage New Delhi , Bank Of America  New Delhi , Raj Bhawan Jammu, Dogra Art Museum Jammu , Rashtriya Lalit Kala Lucknow , North Zone  Cultural Centre Patiala, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University Katra   and many other places   . Some  prominent private collectors  who possess  his work are  Vivek Burman ( Dabur ) Dr Karan Singh , Nusli Wadia  ( Bombay Dyeing ) , Satish Choksi (Mumbai )  , Kirti J . Seth (Mumbai) , family of A R Antulay  (Mumbai ) , Dr Farooq Abdullah  many more . 

 Shri Vijay ‘ Saraf Meenaghe ’ is a poet , photographer  and  Musician. He  has done  installations and  Murals  in ceramic tiles, terracotta  and mix media as a part of his commissioned work at many places   . His paintings  have received  positive and excellent  reviews in National newspapers  from  eminent writers and Art critics like  Keshav Malik, Ranjit Hoskote , Santo Datta , Dhyaneshwar Nadkarni , Niyatee Shinde and Manjula Padmanabhan.

The book under review contains 183 crisp Hindi poems in blank verse spread over 737 pages .  Most of the poems in this collection  are  supported by matching  illustrations done by the author himself .The beauty of this collection lies in something unique that i have come across for the first time in my life. Every poem has been translated into English , Urdu, Hindi , Sanskrit , Dogri , Kashmiri and  Punjabi  apart from  beautiful transliteration in Sharda and Dogri Akhar . This is  a great effort  to maximize the reach of the book . And in this task ,  he  has been assisted  by a team comprising of   Mohan Singh ,    Shuja Sultan ,  S N Pandit ,   R L Betab ,  Sham lal Raina and  Baljit Singh.

In his foreword, the author has expressed  sincere gratitude to Lala Mulkh Raj Saraf , Ved Rahi , O P Sarthi and so many other   relatives , teachers and friends .

This is a poetry collection  by a painter. The painter in him comes live in various poems . I have seen his paintings also and quite often,  the poet  in him is visible in his canvases . Let me take up some poems for review .  

A small poem at page number  ten of the collection under review  is about flowers and colours .The poem expresses artist’s  love for colours . And on this earth, colours are best represented by flowers . Here is the poem :
Phoolon se
Tum agar  baatein karo 
Aur  karte raho ,
Sach-muuch ,
Tumhe  yaad hi  nahin rahega
Ke tum inhein
Todne aaye thhay ..
 The above poem in English translation appears as under at page 10 of the book ..

‘With the flowers ,
If thou ever converse ,
And keep on conversing –
Really , You will forget ,
You had come to pluck them..’
Another small poem is as under:

‘ Khudgarzi ko dost bana kar
Ghar uss ke
daawat par  jo gaye-
Chugte chugte
Hum kabootaron ke
Pankh kat chuke thhay ..’

 The poem conveys  something that most of us have felt  or experienced.  Is present day  friendship another name of selfishness ? Does dishonesty rob a man of his capacity to fly free ? The flying power of a  pigeon may  decline  should he keep running after grains procured dishonestly . This mini poem comes close to Dr Iqbal’s popular couplet  from  Bal-e-Jibril  . I quote :
‘Aey  tair-e-lahooti!  Uss rizq  se maut achhi
Jis  rizq se aati ho parwaaz mein Kotaahi’

(O Bird, who flies to the throne of God,
You must keep this truth in sight,
To suffer death is  far nobler
 Than  the bread that clogs your upward flight.)

Another small poem is as under:
‘ Me
Kuchh  bhi  nahin  huun_
Yahi  baat
Yaad dilaate hain
Meray aangan mein
Pedon se girte
Sookhe  pattay..’
This poem is based on the deep philosophy of existence ,  Maaya- jala of the visible world and  the transitory nature of life on this planet. Green leaves full of life today shall inescapably fall to dust  tomorrow  . This comes  close to Kabir’s  popular Doha ;
‘Pataa toota daal se  le gayi pawan Udaai
Ab ke bichhde kab mile door padeinge jaaye .’

( The  wind carried away the leaf
that  fell from the branch ,
 Alas ! once   separated  ,
 It might  not meet  the tree again
Once  it falls to a  distant ground)

This poem also comes close to a very popular couplet of Poet jagan Nath Azaad. I quote
‘Maine poochha  ke zindagi  kyaa hai
Haathh se gir ke jaam toot gaya ’

( I sought to know the meaning of this existence ,
My wine  glass slipped from my hands and broke  )

There are so many other poems that need to be commented upon. For example a mini poem “ Dukh baant diya……. toote gamlon mein phool ugg aaye hain ‘ on page 402 conveys that sorrows need to be shared . Shared sorrows may become flowers .
The painter is visible in some mini poems .  In style and content , these mini poems look like Japanese  Haiku. I quote:

(a)    ‘Nazdekiyaan
paas paas sun rahi hain,
Chhaanv dhoop se bahut naraaz hai .. ’

(b)   ‘Sooraj bhi thithur gaya
Uss ke
nange jism ko dekh kar’

(c)    ‘Baadalon ka aanchal
Devdaaron ki
chupp bhari udaasi  ko chhu ke
Apne aansuvon se
Halka kar detaa hai ‘

The book can be directly purchased from the author who resides at  Jammu . He is available on mobile 9419195849 and 7889536356 . The book opens a new window  of interest and when  painters  write   poetry they tend to make  you happy and contented .

( Avtar Mota )

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A brief story of SMGS ,  SMHS , SANITORIUMS and some other HOSPITALS  in J&K State.

(Photos... Foundation Stones  of SMHS Hospital Srinagar 1940 ,   Foundation stone of Zenana Hospital Rainawari 1908 and Opening of  Govt Medical College Srinagar 1961)

People of J&K state  witnessed the wonders of modern allopathic medicine and surgery during the period of Dogra  rulers. All this was possible  with the arrival of  christian missionaries in the state.. Both Maharaja Partap Singh and Maharaja Hari Singh were strong supporters of modern allopathic medicines.

 Maharaja Hari Singh had opened some dispensaries and two Sadar Hospitals in the state , Sadar Hospital of Srinagar operated from present lal Ded Hospital on a small scale though it had  installed an imported X Ray unit in 1919.

Apart from Government run dispensaries and Sadar Hospitals ,   Christian missionaries had  opened dispensaries at various centres in Jammu and Srinagar , it was Maharaja Hari Singh who was keen on opening two full fledged public hospitals  in the state . Accordingly two public hospitals were built in the state. One named SMGS (Sri Maharaja Gulab Singh) Hospital at Jammu and SMHS ( Sri Maharaja Hari Singh ) Hospital at Srinagar .SMGS Jammu was built at a  cost of Rupees Eight lakh while an expenditure of rupees  Thirty five lakhs was incurred to build SMHS Srinagar.. SMGS was thrown open to public by Maharaja Hari Singh on 6th  May 1940  , the foundation stone of SMHS Srinagar was laid by Marquess of Linlithgow, the Viceroy of India in 1940 . The  viceroy was on a visit to kashmir . SMHS  hospital  Srinagar was inaugurated by his successor, Lord Wavel on 11th of October 1945. A public hospital was also set up in Mirpur now falling in POK. .

Credit for opening two TB sanitoriums ( Tangmarg and Batote )  goes to Maharaja Hari singh. Film maker Ramanand Sagar stayed in Tangmarg sanitorium and urdu writer  Manto in Batote . Both recovered from  the dreaded Tuberculosis .. Dr Rahi Masoom Raza ( who wrote mega TV serial Mahabharata )also stayed at Tangmarg sanitorium for some time and recovered fully from Tuberculosis. Tangmarg sanitorium was set up in 1929. A 6 to 9 months stay at the Sanitorium cured so many patients from the dreaded Tuberculosis. Sanitoriums became redundant after the discovery of antibiotics.

Opening of Srinagar hospital was delayed as suitable piece of land could not be located in Srinagar city. Finally  the Hospital was   built on land provded by Hadow Mills Carpet Factory. That is why the hospital was  also known as Hadow Hospital . With the passage of time , word Hadow became  Hedvun  in kashmir. It is so called even to this day.

It is worth mentioning that prior to opening of SMHS Hospital ,  Christian Missionaries had set up four  Hospitals in kashmir valley. These hospitals were located  at Drogjun Srinagar ( Srinagar Mission Hospital) ,  Baramulla (St Joseph Hospital) , Anantnaag (Mission Hospital)  and Zenana Hospital Rainawari(Now known as JLNM Hospital) .

Drogjun  Hospital  Srinagar was started in 1898 while St Joseph's Hospital Baramulla was opened in 1921. Rainawari  Zenana Hospital was  opened in 1911 while Anantnaag Mission Hospital was  rebuilt and   restarted in 1892 . Besides this the missionaries also opened a Zenana Hospital at Nawakadal  presently being used as premises of  Nawakadal Girls   College   .

In 1891, a separate Leper Hospital was established by by Church Missionary Society  at Bahraar near Nagin lake.

The foundation stone of  Zenana Missionary Hospital at Rainawari was laid by C Tyndale Biscoe on 17th October 1908.

The missionaries also started an asylum for mentally sick near Badamvaari garden Srinagar. This hospital is now  known as Govt Psychiatry Hospital.

Apart from land provided by the state, All these Hospitals recieved  some finacial aid from Maharaja Partap Singh and Maharaja Hari singh .

And finally in 1961,  J&K Government opened state's first  Medical  College in srinagar .

(Avtar Mota)

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Saturday, June 15, 2019




( Photo 1 ..Harivansh Rai Bachan, Sumitranandan Pant and Ramdhari Singh Dinkar.Photo 2  .Saint Bhagwan Gopinath ji of Kashmir)

To this photo i am adding some lines from a poem that Pant ji wrote on Saint Gopinath ji of Kashmir...

Modern Hindi poet Sumitranandan Pant wrote a poem on Saint Gopi Nath ji of Kashmir. Justice Shiv Nath Katju of Allahabad  was a follower of Saint Bhagwan Gopi Nath Ji. He  was  also associated with Kashmiri Samaj  of Allahabad.  Justice Katju  was a great friend of Pant Ji. Through him, Pant Ji came to know  about Saint  Bhagwan Gopi Nath Ji of Kashmir. The poem was read by him in  a gathering  at Allahabad on 27.11.1976. Pant ji died in 1977.

 I quote some lines.

"Jyoti bhoomi jai Bharat desh
Jyoti charan dhar  vichre prabhu-var
Jahaan vividh dhar vesh.

Leitay yahaan dhooli par Ishwar
Ramkrishen Gautam ka tan dhar
Aaye Gopinath  Mahatama
Laaye prabhu sandesh..

Shradanjali arpit kartaa mun
Mangal-mai ho divya aagaman
Paavan karo dharaa ko unke
Padh raj kan, har klesh
Jyoti bhoomi jai Bharat desh."

(Avtar Mota)

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Tuesday, June 4, 2019


                                   ( Baba in centre And Ravi Shanker on extreme right  )
                                                   ( Ravi Shanker and Annapurna Devi )
                                                           ( Baba in his room )
                                                                    ( Baba's room )

                                ( Nal Tarang Created by Baba from unused gun barrels )
                                                 ( Baba with Ali Akbar and Ravi Shanker )
                                                         (Ali Akbar Khan )
                ( Ustaad Aashish Khan Debsharma )


" Na takht-o-taaj mein na lashkar-o-sipah mein hai
Jo baat mard-e-qalandar ki bargah mein hai"

( Allama Iqbal)

(A monarch’s crown and mighty army can never give such glee,
As can be felt in presence of a Qalandar bold and free.)

 A friend who visited Baba’s  house  in Maihar ( District Satna ,Madhya Pradesh  )     told me as this:- 

“The cot on which Baba slept , is preserved . Photographs of Swami  Vivekananda , Goddess  Saraswati, Sri Krishna , Gurudev Tagore, Jesus Christ, Sri Hanuman Ji    and Beethoven still hang on the walls of the room.Nal Tarang invented by Baba from out of use gun barrels  is  also preserved " 

Baba's house is a Museum now. It is visited by  many lovers and connoisseurs  of his  music .Maharaja Brijnath Singh of Maihar State  appointed Baba Allauddin  as his court musician and made him his Guru in Maihar where he eventually settled to teach. In 1926 he started his music institution by teaching war orphans and destitute children. `Madina Bhavan`, his home, became a Gurukul for music.

The world of Hindustani  classical ( instrumental ) music  will rarely  see a musician as great and perfect as Baba Alla ud din Khan.
 Baba   played Sarod with both the hands . Not Sarod alone , he played  many instruments, something that shaped his pedagogy.  He would mesmerise his listeners when he played Veena, Surbahar, Sitar, Sarod,  Shehnai, violin or even flute .In fact Baba was a musical genius who could  play any instrument that he could lay his hands on.

  Maihar String  Band  ,  an orchestra with Indian instruments was his creation. To  his son, Ali Akbar Khan, he  taught Sarod, his daughter Annapurna Devi learned the Surbahar. To  Ravi Shankar and Nikhil Banerjee, Baba taught   sitar,   to Robin Ghosh he taught   violin and to to  Pannalal Ghosh he taught  Bansuri or Flute .

   Baba's  daughter Annapurna Devi married Pandit Ravi Shanker in 1941 and they were divorced in 1960. Pandit Ravi Shankar writes this in his  autobiography,' Raga Mala' :-

“There was no love or romance or hanky-panky at all between Annapurna and myself, despite what many people thought at that time. I do not know how she truly felt about the match before marriage, although I was told that she had ‘agreed’.” 

 Baba's son Ali Akbar khan was he foremost virtuoso of the lute like Sarod, whose dazzling technique and gift for melodic invention, was often on display in concerts with his brother-in-law Ravi Shankar.

The violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who brought Ali Akbar  Khan to the United States in 1955, called him “an absolute genius” and “the greatest musician in the world.”

And the well known musician Aashish Khan  Debsharma  ( Born 1939 ) is Baba's grandson.  He also learnt music from Baba . Aashish  has been awarded  Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2005. In 2006, he was nominated for a Grammy Award in the 'Best World Music' category. And in 2007,  Aashish  became the first ever Indian classical musician to be made  a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain .About baba , Aashish says :

" I had started my Taalim with dadu (Ustad Allauddin Khan) at Maihar, at an age I didn’t even properly understand what music was all about. I was petrified of him; he was very strict and discipline meant the world to him. I had to do 12 hours of Riyaaz every day, broken into four-hour slots. On certain days, he would get so involved that Taalim would stretch for much longer, till I was completely drained. Whenever he was away on concerts, Pishi (Annapurna Devi) would give me Taalim. It was a different world altogether. However, my father (Ustad Ali Akbar Khan) was easy to train under.  " 

 Baba  was fond of Samkeerna (compound) Ragas, and created many Ragas  of his own.  Madan Manjari (named after his wife), Prabhakali, Swarasati, Shobhavati, Madhavasri, Hem Bhairav, Madhavgiri, Bhagvati, Hemant, Hem Behag , Manjh Khamaj and many more . Many of these have not become common. From  Maihar repertoire; Manjh Khamaj is perhaps the best knownl

As a principle, he never accepted cash or gifts from his disciples. As a matter of fact, he took care of the food and lodging expenses of his disciples.

It is said that Baba was a hard task master . For one complete night ,  he tied his son Ali Akbar with a tree  when he could not pick up some notes . He would make his disciples get up at  5 AM even during winters  by removing their bed sheets and sprinkling water over their faces.

With a long and luminous life of extraordinary creativity behind him, Baba Allauddin Khan lived in Maihar from 1918 until his demise in 1972. Baba was born  in  village Shibpur now in Bangladesh .His father, Sabdar Hossain Khan, was  a musician.

A devout Muslim who prayed five times a day , Baba   was also a great devotee of Maa Sharada (Saraswati) of Maihar Temple and Lord Shiva .Baba would read out from the Holy Quran, Ramayan and Bhagwat  Gita to his disciples.

Dr S. Radhakrishnan was an ardent admirer of Baba and his music. 

( Avtar Mota )

Sunday, June 2, 2019



" The endeavours and conclusions of the sense-bound intellect can not be the last word in man’s search for truth. An intellectual approach to truth will end only in agnosticism; and often in cynicism. But the whole being of man seeks to experience truth, to realise it. … This rising above rationalism to direct experience and realisation, this growth of man from the sensate to the super-sensual dimension, is the special message of Indian spiritual tradition."

(Swami Ranganathananda)

( Head Monk Rama Krishna Mission Belur .)

About Hurt and suffering ,  Swami Ranganathananda  says:

" Hurt and pain are unavoidable as long as we exist but all our efforts must be put in a direction that will make suffering optional. Even within  hurt , lies a pack of positive energy . It throws up many good things for us . Hurt wants us to get up ,  look around and below. Never lie down when you are hurt. It is like a violent sea  storm  that also throws up  costly  shells, pearls, coconuts , wood and many useful things. You need to get up, look around and thank nature .
Keep in mind to forget yesterday's losses. We may  lose what we have today  should we always  remain busy  in remembering what we lost in this journey."

Swamiji has written essayas, articles and delivered lectures world over. Some prominent books written by swami ji can be listed as under:

(1) The Christ We Adore

(2) Eternal Values for a Changing Society Vol I Philosophy & Spirituality

(3) Eternal Values for a Changing Society Vol II Great Spiritual Teachers

(3) Eternal Values for a Changing Society Vol III Education for Human Excellence

(4) Eternal Values for a Changing Society Vol IVDemocracy for Total Human Fulfilment

(5)A pilgrim looks at the world-Volume 1

(6)A pilgrim looks at the world-Volume 2

(7) The message of Prophet Muhammad

(8) The message of the Upanishads

(9) Role and Responsibility of Teachers in building up Modern India

(10) Human  Values in Management.

(11) Science And Religion

(12) Divine Grace

(13 ) The universal Message of Bhagwat Geeta Volume 2 to 3

(14) Bhagwan Buddha And our Heritage.

(15) Practical Vedanta and the science of Values

(16) Spiritual Life of the Householder

(17) The Indian Vision of  God as Mother.

(18) Children, Humanity's Greatest Assets.

(19) Approach to Truth in Vedanta.

(20) Our Cultural Heritage And Modern Orientation.

I  feel privileged to have heard Swami ji in person. A great human being and a man who's  mission  remained truth and  Unity of Mankind.

(Avtar Mota)

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