Wednesday, January 27, 2021


( Avtar Mota near three  Harwan Tiles displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,New York )
( A Harwan tile at Los Angeles County Museum)



Some art historians and scholars are of the view that the emaciated, crouching and almost naked ascetics appearing in the terracotta tiles recovered from Harwan and various other archaeological sites like Kutabal, Semthan, Ushkur and Hutmurrah in J&K have no link with Buddhism or Shaivism as is generally believed. Scholars like Robert E. Fisher are of the view that the tiles are part of an Ajivika religious site, later reused in a nearby Buddhist monastery. A few curators from the US museums describe these terracotta tiles as " A Tile with Ajivaka" in their museum catalogue. 

 Ajivika was a sect in ancient India. It is said that Ajivikas wore no clothes, and lived as ascetic monks in organised groups. They practised severe austerities. The Ajivikas mostly spent their time in large earthen pots wherein they practised penance. Buddhist and Jain texts are somewhat  critical of the Ajivikas and their leader Makkhali Goshala. That in itself goes to prove that Ajivikas must have been rivals of Buddhists and Jains. The Ajivikas were known to eat very little food that was needed for bare survival. However, some texts of Buddhism accuse them of eating secretly. Similarly, some Jain texts describe a violent quarrel between Mahavira and Makkhali Goshala. Being influential, Ajivikas had many powerful followers, especially during the Mauryan rule.  Even  Emperor Ashoka, who spread Buddhism all over India and Southeast Asia was an Ajivik for most period of his early life. Bindusara, father of Ashoka believed in Ajivika way of life.

 According to Buddhist sources, Makkhali Goshala , the founder of Ajivaka sect was a contemporary of Gautam Buddha and Mahavir Swami. Some sources say that he was a disciple of Mahavir Swami. It was a rival sect to Buddhism and Jainism. Philosophy of Ajivaka sect is not found in its original form. It is obtained from secondary sources such as Buddhist and Jain scriptures. Some scholars believe that Ajivika, Jainism and Buddhism  originated from the same source - the Shramana School.

 Ajivikas formed a third heretical sect besides the sect of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism and that of Mahavira Vardhamana, the twenty-fourth Tirthankara of the Jainas. The three heterodox sects react against the ritualistic creed of the Vedists. The cult of Ajivikas was founded by Makkhali Goshala, the contemporary of Mahavira Vardhamana, on the basis of strict determinism with a belief in the all-embracing rule of Niyati (principle of order). According to Gosal, it was Niyati which ultimately governed our action, controlled phenomena and left no room for human volition.

 Ajivikas and their ways of life  has been reflected in many terracotta artefacts recovered from ancient archaeological sites of India. Many caves in Bihar have Ajivika inscriptions. The images — especially flowers, elephants, and swans found in these terracotta tiles appear to represent Ajivika way of life although not much direct  information is available about their religious beliefs.


In her seminal work  “Lakulisha-Pashupata (Philosophy and Practice)’,   Geetika Kaw Kher  writes this :-

“Some early examples about the kind of cults and sects prevalent in Kashmir in early centuries of Christian era can be seen at Harwan (identified as Shadarhadvana by Stein (grove of six saints), a locality mentioned in Rajatarangini.These days, strenuous efforts are being made to project Harwan as an unproblematic Buddhist site and promote it as a destination for cultural tourism by linking it with the great Central Asian tradition. In this effort, scholars have deliberately underplayed facts and attributed all monuments found in the area to Buddhists, ignoring any other cultic possibility.

Immediately around the Buddhist stupa is a narrow fringe of figured tile pavement. Closer examination showed that nearly all pieces were fragmentary and no group of adjacent pieces completed a motif. Such incoherence is usually seen in monuments which are constructed using fragments of existing monuments, such as the Quwat-ulIslam mosque in the Qutb complex, made from the remains of 22 Jaina and Hindu temples. Though iconoclasts in their zeal to ravage whatever is left of the past try their best to eradicate proof of its existence, there are always some clues, some hints hidden at deeper levels, and it is for the discerning eye and questing mind to locate them. The tile pavement thus raises interesting questions regarding the original monument to which the tiles belonged. Closer scrutiny of the hillside revealed that the ruins were arranged in level terraces, on each of which stood several buildings. On the highest terrace was excavated a large apsidal temple built in picturesque diaper-pebble style masonry. The temple consists of a spacious rectangular antechamber with a circular sanctum covered with a terracotta tiled floor with various motifs. The plan of the temple is very similar to Lomas Rishi cave in Barabar hills (Bihar) and the early chaitya at Kondivite near Bombay.

There is no trace of a stupa, while what remains at the site is a low section of the wall and original floor of the courtyard, which were faced with stamped terracotta tiles. The floor tiles were arranged to suggest the form of an enormous open lotus, possibly representing the cosmic lotus. The lotus symbology pervades all Indian art, whether Hindu, Buddhist or Jaina. Similarly, the motifs found on these floor tiles do not point towards any sectarian affiliation. That these tiles occupied exactly the position they were laid in by ancient workmen is borne but by the fact that each one bears a number in Kharoshthi script, the order of the tiles in a series being in strict accordance with their consecutive numeral order. The existence of Kharoshthi numerals also more or less allows one to tentatively date the tiles. According to R.C. Kak, by the 5th century AD Kharoshthi ceased to be the main language in the area and the fact that even a common labourer was expected to know the language points to the time when the language was at its peak popularity; hence he suggests 3rd-4th century as the date of the structure.[2] Most curious and interesting are the tiles running all around the temple, depicting three naked ascetics in the central band with a row of geese holding half blown lotus in their bill in the lower band.

The upper band portrays figures conversing above a railing. The division of space as well as the conversing figures on the top band is very similar to Kusana Mathura sculptures from 2nd CE. On the basis of the script and style, the tiles can be dated to 3rd-4th century AD. The facial features resemble faces found at Ushkur and Akhnoor regions.Most interesting here is the posture and the nakedness of the ascetic figures–both unseen in Buddhist representations. Hence one

cannot club them together with the stupa and vihara ruins. This shows that before the Buddhist monuments were constructed, a part of the site or the whole site was dedicated to some other sect or cult. The ascetics are shown seated in “kakasana” and seem to be in meditation. The possibility of the monument being dedicated to Ajivikas seems probable, because the ascetic figure seems to fit the description of an Ajivika ascetic. Plan-wise also, it has similarity with Lomas Rsi cave which along with Sudama cave have been dedicated to Ajivika monks .”


Were there some large Ajivika settlements or movements in the Kashmir valley during the ancient period especially in the early second to the fifth century? Did the Ajivikas move out of Kashmir that led to complete vanishing of this terracotta art after the arrival of Huns? There is an imperative need for serious research on the issue.


(Avtar Mota )

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Saturday, January 23, 2021


( Copper Alloy ,11th century sculpture created during Chola period in South India on display at MET Museum ,New York.)
" The whole thing is there, you see. The world of space and time, and matter and energy, the world of creation and destruction, the world of psychology. We (the West) don’t have anything remotely approaching such a comprehensive symbol, which is both cosmic and psychological, and spiritual."……………..( Aldous Huxley on Shiva Nataraja sculpture)
Shiva happens to be one of the most important Hindu deity. He is also known as Mahesha , Hara , Shankara , Pashupatinatha , Ishana ,Mahadeva ,Shashishekhara, Gangadhara ,Dighambara ,Mrityunjaya, Vyomkesha , Girisha , Bhujangbushana ,Prajapati ,Veerbhadra , Vishveshwara ,Krativasa ,Pinaki ,Srikantha ,Trilokinatha Tribhuvaneshwara, Mahesha, Kapali, Shitikantha , Maheshvara, Shambhu, Rudra, Trilochana, Devendra , Neelakanta, Subhankara ,Natesha , Nataraja and by many other names .As Nataraja , he is considered as the Lord of the Dance . As Nataraja (Sanskrit: Lord of Dance) Shiva represents apocalypse and creation as he dances away the illusory world of Maya transforming it into power and enlightenment. The cosmic dance of Shiva symbolises the interplay of dynamic and static divine energy flow, containing the five principles of eternal energy — creation, preservation, destruction, illusion and emancipation. 
As Natraja , Shiva’s cosmic dance sets in motion the rhythm of life and death; it pervades the universe, as symbolised by the ring of fire that is filled with the loose, snakelike locks of the god’s hair. One pair of his arms balances the flame of destruction and the hand drum (damaru) that beats the rhythm of life while another performs symbolic gestures: the raised right hand means “fear not,” and the left hand (gajahasta) pointing down toward his raised left foot signifies release from the ignorance that obstructs realization of the ultimate reality. Shiva is shown perfectly balanced, with his right leg planted on the demon of darkness (Apasmara), stamping out ignorance. The tiny figure of the personified river goddess, Ganga, is caught up in his matted, flowing locks. 
Chola Kings (ca. 907—1279) of South India were perhaps the greatest patrons of art and sculpture . The image of Shiva as Nataraja was especially popular in the Chola period, when craftsmen produced large quantities of the figure sculpture in bronze and, measuring up to 1.4 metres in height, they were often carried in religious processions and festivals to represent the god. The well-known dancing figure of Shiva as Nataraja was evolved and fully developed during the Chola period and since then many variations of this complex bronze image have been modelled. Chola Nataraja is often said to be the supreme statement of Hindu Art. In Nataraja sculptures, Lord Shiva is shown performing Tandava with a flaming halo. He holds a Damru and Agni in his two hands and makes an Abhayamudra gesture with another hand. This gesture is done to dispel all fears while he tramples the Apasmara Purusha (illusion, which leads mankind astray) under his right foot. The energy of his dance makes his hair fly to the sides.
The dance of Shiva symbolizes not only the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction but also the daily rhythm which is seen in Indian mysticism as the basis of all existence. At the same time, Shiva reminds us that the manifold forms in the world are Maya- not fundamental, but illusory and ever-changing.
The Nataraja dance poses also the five acts of Shiva known as Srishti or creation ( the Damru vibrations representing creation of the universe ), Samhara or destruction ( for regeneration ), Sthithi or maintenance( Shiva as protector ), Tirobhava or concealment( creator of Maya ) and Anugraha or blessings ( leading to Moksha or liberation ). Some of Shiva’s dancing poses are now codified in classical dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Kucchipudi, and Mohiniyattam. The artist who conceived and fashioned the form of Nataraja has undoubtedly created the greatest masterpiece in Indian art. The renowned art historian, A K Coomarasamy writes this:-
“A great motif in religion or art or any great symbol becomes all things to all men, age after age, it yields to men such treasure as .they find in their own hearts.”
French sculptor, Auguste Rodin ( 1840-1917) was a great admirer of Nataraja sculptures. Auguste Rodin, considered the ‘father of modern sculpture', was widely respected for his works such as ‘Thinker' (1904). I saw 'Thinker' at the MET Museum, New York. Housed in a hall on the first floor, I saw many Rodin sculptures in the MET Museum, in New York and also came to know what Rodin has said about Shiva Nataraja sculptures. I quote Rodin:-
"Shiva Nataraja is a perfect expression of rhythmic movement in the world. I saw the cascades of energy coming down from outer space in which particles were created and destroyed in a rhythmic pulse. Shiva Nataraja has what many people cannot see—the unknown depths, the core of life. There is grace in elegance, but beyond grace there is perfection."
One of the world’s premier institute known as CERN, has the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments to study the basic constituents of matter – fundamental particles. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world's largest and most respected centres for scientific research. It houses the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. Interestingly, the scientists at this premier institute in Geneva have installed a 2-metre tall statue of Shiva Nataraja in the premises.The plaque to this sculpture reads this:-
“Hundreds of years ago, Indian artists created visual images of dancing Shivas in a beautiful series of bronzes. In our time, physicists have used the most advanced technology to portray the patterns of cosmic dance. The metaphor of the cosmic dance thus unifies ancient mythology, religious art and modern physics.”
For modern physicists, Shiva’s dance is the dance of subatomic matter. The metaphor of the cosmic dance thus unifies ancient mythology, religious art and modern physics. Dance, whether the cosmic dance of Shiva or human dance, if we understand them righty, we see they lead to freedom. Shiva’s dance lies in his own nature, all his gestures are his own, spontaneous and purposeless- for his being is beyond the realm of purposes. Noted Physicist Fritjof Capra, in his book Tao of Physics, says this:-
“ Modern physics has shown that the rhythm of creation and destruction is not only manifest in the turn of the seasons and in the birth and death of all living creatures but is also the very essence of inorganic matter, For the modern physicists, then, Shiva’s dance is the dance of subatomic matter. Hundreds of years ago, Indian artists created visual images of dancing Shiva in a beautiful series of bronzes. In our time, physicists have used the most advanced technology to portray the patterns of cosmic dance. The metaphor of the cosmic dance thus unifies ancient mythology, religious art, and modern physics.”
This insight of Capra’s is what catapulted Nataraja into the status of a global icon in the 1970s. But he credits his ability to make these connections to his familiarity with works on mysticism by eastern and western scholars—like Coomaraswamy’s Shiva essay. “I immediately saw parallels to some ideas in quantum physics,” Capra says. This idea of the eternal universal dancer has so deeply caught on among physicists and cosmologists that in 1993, an abstract sculpture called Cosmic Dancer, was launched into the Russian Mir space station.
According to Ian Crawford, professor of planetary science at the University of London, the cosmic dance of Shiva as Nataraja represents particle physics, entropy and the dissolution of the universe.
The grandeur of the conception of Shiva as a cosmic dancer is a synthesis of science, religion and art with Nataraja, the "Lord of Dance "as its greatest exponent. An ancient Chola poem describes the symbolism of Nataraja as under:-
“The sound of his sacred drum awakens the cosmos into being;
his uplifted hand of hope sustains and protects it;
with his purifying fire, the ego is destroyed;
his foot planted on the ground is an abode of rest for the tired soul, caught in the binds of illusion;
and his lifted foot promises release.”
( Avtar Mota)

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Sunday, January 17, 2021




Emperor  Akbar spent a fortune in translating sacred texts of various religions into Persian. These texts were lavishly illuminated. For this, he created a translation department in his Darbaar that had many translators. Abdul Qadir Badayuni (1540–1615), historian and  the first Grand Mufti of India during Akbar’s rule,  was made overall in-charge of the translation section. Abdus Samad and Mir Syed Ali , artists from Shiraz were also engaged in the workshop that was set up at Fatehpur Sikri. More than hundred artists ( mostly Hindus)  were also brought from Gwalior ,Gujrat and Kashmir for completion of the task. 

  Ramayana and Mahabharta were also translated into Persian during this period. Mahabharata was translated by Naqib Khan. Many artists were also engaged for illuminating  Ramayana and Mahabharata. The prominent names in this category are Dharam Das  , Makara, Daud, Mahesh, Ahmed Kashmiri, Bhawani, Mohana, Narayan Khurd, Bhagwan and Lohanga.
This painting is a page from Mahabharata  ( Razmnama ) illuminated and translated during Akbar's rule.  Ahmed Kashmiri, the artist who did this painting has shown Arjuna attempting to quench the fire that Agni created to help his father-in-law, Niladhvaja, in his battle against Arjuna. This painting is held by the British Library (UK ).
Some paintings from Ramayana and Mahabharata in Persian translation are also lying with the Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York, Museum Rietberg, Christies and Asian Art Museum (San Francisco ).

Ain I Akbari informs us that Akbar would personally see the progress of artists on weekly basis. He would either increase the emoluments or give gifts to good artists. Abul Fazal writes that Basawan, Dasvanth, Nanha and Bishen Das were Akbar's favourite court  artists. Other artists  who were engaged included Kesu, Lal, Madhu ,Jagan and Mukund.

Ain-i Akbari also deals with Akbar’s administration, household, army, the revenues and geography of his empire. It provides rich details about the traditions and culture of the people living in India. It also gives statistical details about crops, yields, prices, wages, and revenues.

Akbar's  Darbaar had some the greatest artists, scholars, poets, and singers of the period . Akbar's  love for  art ,poetry, music  and knowledge made him collect  his “Nine Jewels or Naurattans” who excelled in their respective  fields . These nine jewels were :-

1. Birbal (Mahesh Das) the court Jester.
2. Miyan Tansen(Tanna Mishra) the court singer.
3. Abul  Fazl  (The chronologist) who wrote Ain I Akbari.
4. Faizi ( The court Poet)
5. Maharaja Man Singh (Army Consultant)
6. Fakir Aziz ud Din (Sufi Singer)
7. Mulla Do Piyaza (depicted as Birbal's Muslim counterpart)
8. RajaTodar Mal (Finance Consultant)
9. Abdul Rahim Khan e Khana (Writer of Hindi Couplets).

( Avtar Mota )


Badayuni wrote history of Akbar's rule in India wherein he criticized  the king for his practices ,which according to him,  were not in conformity with Islam. He also didn't like Akbar's liberal approach , reforms and elevation of non-muslims to key posts . This book on Akbar's rule remained concealed and was brought out only during the rule of Jahangir. Badayuni has also been critical of Abul Fazal .Abul Fazal,a  Vizir  in Akbar's court,  wrote Akbarnama in three volumes. Ain I Akbari  is the third volume of Akbarnama. He also translated the Bible into Persian . His details in Akbarnama are considered as realistic and have become the  major source of history with regard to Akbar's rule in India.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021


   ( Hatim Telvyon..The traditional  Story teller from Kangan, Kashmir wearing a Pheran with Laadh)
( A Kashmiri Muslim woman wearing a Pheran with Laadh )

  (Mrs Assiza ,the Doonga woman wearing a Pheran with Laadh Photographed by Marion Doughty in 1898 A.D. in Srinagar)


In olden days, there was little  difference in the Pheran  ( cloak or an overall ) of  a poor   Kashmiri Pandit and Muslim   . The pheran used by  Muslims also had the usual  'Laadh' . Both ,Pandits and Muslims would  use  Khraav ( wooden Sandals or Khadaaoon) or a Pull'hor in their feet .  Laadh was/is a fold of the cloth on a long Pheran at its bottom. The Laadh was possibly meant to cover shrinkage of the cloth .It could also be for some other reasons ; I am not sure. However , Khraav( wooden sandals)  and  Pull'hor ( dry grass sandal) was used by Pandits and Muslims. Later while Pandits retained the Laadh in their Pherans , Muslims made  Pherans without Laadh.

Beneath this long Pheran , a common Kashmiri   could easily hide  his poverty .See page 24 of the book :-

( Avtar Mota)


Marion Doughty was in Kashmir  sometime at the close of 19th century. Mrs Assiza cooked food for Doughty . Marion Doughty lived in a  Doonga. This photo and details are from  Marion Doughty's book"  Afoot Through The kashmir Valleys" published in 1901.
I have seen some old photos of 19th  and early 20th century wherein Pandit and Muslim Pherans have Laadh..

Hatem  Tilawoen ,the professional story teller from Kashmir was always seen in a  Pheran with Laadh. Aurel Stein  met him along with Pandit Govind Koul. He was a shepherd from Kangan area , illiterate yet a master story teller.

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 For this photograph ,I  wrote...

Shaand paeth gayi  kaarwaan  raatus pakaan 
Dard  shaharuss  rooz  raatas  trap-trapaa..
Kathh karav adha vaen khasav naarein natein
Chhopp karav  seenas andhar dazvien gaejja.

In English ,I would say this:-

( Caravans  moved    past  my bed pillow all along the night ,this city of pain   had night long activity .
Speak it out and you are  instantly in the gossip Bazaar,
should you go silent, 
then carry a   burning furnace  inside your  Bosom……)

(Avtar Mota)

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Monday, January 11, 2021



( Painting source: Website of  "The Jammu And Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages" )


River Vitasta finds mention in Rigveda , Kathasaritsagara , Natyashastra ,Varahpurana and Mahabharata . In Mahabharata we read this :-

“If anybody bathes in the waves of the river Vitastā, with vow and fasts, for seven days he would become as pure as a hermit.”

 (Mahabharata Anusasana Parva, Chapter 25, Stanza 7)

 The Vitasta Mahatmayas inform  that Goddess Uma, Laxmi, Aditi, Sachi, Diti and Ganga along with their spouses  had come to Satisar  to witness  the draining out of the water and killed  of the demon Jalodbhava . Rishi Kashyapa had also requested them to bless the land. The Rishi approached Goddess Uma or Parvati  first who in turn sought the concurrence of Lord Shiva. In Vitasta Mahatmayas, we read this:-

“ Parvati requested her consort Lord Shiva; "O, father of the World, I shall assume the form of a river but make a stroke with your spear near the abode of Nila, where O Lord while breaking the mountain was placed the pointed end of the plough. By that stroke, I shall flow to meet the great river, Sindhu."

And then while agreeing, Shiva struck his trident on Bhadra Shukla Trayodashi the 13th lunar day of the month of Bhadrapada to make way for the Vitasta to flow out of Vitastatra or Vyeth Vothur, its source--- the Neel Nag. Vitasta has flowed down for centuries over which the ancient civilization of Kashmir flourished. Kashmiri Pandits still observe the day Parvati manifested herself in the form of Vitasta. 

 Also known as Vetha Truvah, the day was celebrated by making offerings of cakes made of rice flour while reading Sholkas from Vitasta Mahatmayas. In the evening, the women would go down to the banks of the Vitasta and illuminate them with Diyas ( earthen-ware lamps ). Thus for the Kashmiri Pandits, the Valley remains the land of Shiva while river Vitasta is not only a symbol of Goddess Sati (Parvati ) but also the cradle of their ancient civilization.

   The festival of Vetha Truvah also finds detailed mention in Tuzik -i -Jahangiri as under:-

“On the night of Thursday, 19th, the Kashmiris had lined up with lamps on both sides of Bihat ( Vyath ). It is an ancient custom that every year on this day, everyone. whether rich or poor, whoever has a house on the bank of the river, should light the lamp as done on Shab e Barat. I asked the Brahmans the reasons for this, and they said that this day the fountainhead of the River Jhelum was disclosed and the custom had come down from old days that on this date must take place the festival of Vyath Truvah. Vyath means Jhelum and Truwah means thirteenth: As this day is thirteenth of Shawwal, they light Lamps. In this way, they call it Vyath Truvah. Undoubtedly, the lamp lighting was good. I sat in a boat and went round to see it .”

( Source page 167 and 168 of 
The Tuzuk –i- –Jahangiri or Memoirs of Jahangir translated by Alexender Rogers )

 In ancient and mediaeval Kashmir, river Vitasta was accordingly treated as sacred as Ganga. In the Kotitirtha Mahatmayas of Kashmir, we read this:-
 “Here in Kashmir exists Sati ( Goddess Parvati ) herself personified as river Vitasta, who destroys all sins and by merely thinking about whom, one gets the same reward as is received by bathing in holy places of worship. The water of river Saraswati takes three days to purify a man, that of Yamuna takes seven while the water of Ganga purifies a person instantly, but the water of Vitasta has the power to purify even by a mere thought of it.”

 Each Hindu deity has a particular Vahana or vehicle on which it travels. These vehicles are generally animals or birds. While painting the deities, artists have also painted respective Vahana. Generally, the deities are shown riding their Vahana, However, the Vahana ( bird or animal ) is also shown pulling the chariot of the deity or walking alongside the deity. A Vahana may enhance the powers of a deity and the deity's Vahana can be seen as a symbolic representation of his or her "power" or meaning within the pantheon of Hindu deities. In painting, we have seen Goddess Saraswati’s vehicle is a beautiful peacock or a swan while Shiva is shown riding a Nandi bull. Similarly, Ganesha’s carrier is shown as a mouse. The Vahana or vehicle of Durga is a lion. The chariot of Aditya or Sun god is driven by seven horses while the Vahana of Vishnu is shown as a Garuda or sometimes the Sheshnaaga.

In Kashmir, based on Nilamata Purana, Vitasta Mahatmayas, Kotitirtha Mahatmayas, Sharda Mahatmayas, Harmukatganga Mahatmayas and the folklore, river Vitasta is shown with Matsya or fish as its Vahana ( vehicle ). In painting , Goddess Vitasta with four arms is always shown seated on the Matsya   or a fish as its Vahana. 

In many  paintings , Matsya as a golden horned fish is  shown  pulling the boat with Rishi  Manu and the seven sages and saving them from floods. 

Matsya or fish is  an Avtara of Vishnu . In this appearance,   Lord Vishnu saved the world from a great flood. It was Lord Vishnu, who took the form of Varaha (wild boar) to pierce the mountains in the North West of Varahmula (now known as Baramulla) and drained the water  of Satisar lake to create Kashmir,  a land submerged under the lake.

( Avtar Mota )

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Sunday, January 10, 2021




In 1987, prior to leaving his office due to the end of his  term, the then President of India, Giani Zail Singh visited Kashmir along with his family . In  this  photograph, he is seen  with journalist fraternity of Kashmir. I can recognise  some senior journalists like M.L . Kak, P.N Jalali, Ghulam Nabi Khayal, Bashir Ahmed Bashir( cartoonist), J. N. Sathu, Zafar Mehraj, Mohhamad Sayed  Malik, Shyam Kaul, Shamsuddin Shamim J. N. Raina, Altaf Hussain, Mohan Chiragi, B.L.Kak, O.N.Kaul, Sufi Gulam Mohd,, Khwaja Sonaullah Bhat,C.B. Kaul.P.N Kaul Vakil  and some more .

.Giani Zail Singh was the seventh President of India, serving from 1982 to 1987. Prior to his presidency, he was a politician with the Indian National Congress party, and had held several ministerial posts in the Union Cabinet, including that of Home Minister.

He also served as the Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1983 to 1986.

( Avtar Mota)

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Saturday, January 9, 2021



                                                    ( The Dancing House )

                                                           ( The Dancing House )

                                                 ( The Dancing House at night  )
                                                     ( the Dome of the Dancing House )
                                                           ( Prague and the Vltava river )
                                                         ( Prague )
                                               ( A view from the top )

Prague , the capital Czech republic is a historic city . A beautiful city that has many baroque buildings and Gothic churches on either sides of the river Vltava . Like Jhelum , Vltava divides the city into two parts as it moves through Prague .From the Communist coup d'état in February 1948 to the ‘Velvet Revolution’ in 1989, Czechoslovakia was ruled by the Communists . The country belonged to the Eastern Bloc and was a member of the Warsaw Pact and of Comecon ( headquartered at Moscow ) . In what is now known as the “Velvet divorce” ,on January 1, 1993, Czechoslovakia split into two independent states, the Czech Republic and Slovakia .
The Vltava River is the waterway around which the city has developed over the past 1000 years. In Prague alone, Vltava is spanned by over thirty bridges and footbridges. Its water gently laps the edges of ten islands. Everyday , one can see dozens of steamers, rowboats and pedal boats glide through its waters. The river is the soul Prague . At 434km in length, it is the longest river in the Czech Republic.
Prague is a city of old bridges ,Baroque statues, museums , beer bars , cafes , restaurants , art galleries , river cruises, parks , old castles and happy crowds. In Prague alone , there are more than fifteen art galleries apart from several museums . Frenz Kafka ( writer and philosopher ) , Jaroslav Seifert ( Nobel laureate poet ), Karel Capek ( famous writer ), Bertha von Suttner ( Nobel laureate novelist ), Gerty Theresa Cori ( Nobel laureate medicine ), Jaroslav Heyrovsky( Nobel laureate chemistry ) ,and Alphonse Mucha ( famous artist ) were all from Prague . And then Martina Navratilova ( tennis player ), Madeline Albright ( Politician in the US ) . Rainer Maria Rike ( poet and novelist ) and Jan Hammer ( the great musician ) belong to Prague. Sigmund Freud was born in Prbor just four hours drive from Prague . The well known film director Milos Forman was a Czech from Caslav just one hour’s drive from Prague. And our Hindi writer Nirmal Verma lived in Prague for more than 10 years. He was invited by Oriental Institute to initiate a program of translation of modern Czech writers like Karel Capek, Milan Kundera, and Bohumil Hrabal, to Hindi. Presently Prague has about 500 Indians who are in business or jobs . Some of them have settled permanently.
                            ( Nirmal Verma)
Written as CZK, Czech Koruna is the currency of the Czech republic. On the conversion scale , one Czech Koruna is equivalent to about 3.50 Indian rupees .Euro may not be accepted at all places although Czech republic is a memeber of the European Union. Like at every tourist place , one needs to be careful at crowded night life area known as Wenceslas Square where some incidents of pickpocketing have been regularly reported . This area is full of strip clubs where some women go after the tourists groups and ask for a hug . Many innocent tourists have been pickpocketed during these hugs . Prague is otherwise safe and crime free.
The Czech people read a lot. They appreciate art and music. Even a cab driver or an apartment security guard can be seen reading a book if he has nothing to do. Talk to them and you find that they know who is who in music , performing arts and literatue.That makes a great society .
On the corner of Resslova Street and Rasinovo nabrezi, about a hundred metres downriver from the National Theatre, stands the best known - and the most controversial - modern building in Prague, the Tancici Dum, or Dancing Building. Featuring two curved towers "waltzing", it is also occasionally referred to as the Fred and Ginger Building. The location is a walking distance from the underground station Karlovo namesti.
The Dancing Building is the work of two men: Prague-based architect Vlado Milunic, who had the original idea for the building, and the celebrated American architect Frank Gehry, perhaps best-known for the stunning Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Milunic first conceived of the project back in the mid-1980s, in the company of his neighbour, the then-dissident Vaclav Havel. Both men lived beside where the Dancing Building now stands. Milunic writes this :-
"First we asked Jean Nouvel, but he refused, because he said we only had 500 square metres and that's not enough for two architects. We contacted Frank Gehry, and when Frank saw my beginning, my sketches, he promised to collaborate with me on this project. From that time, the first meeting was in '92 in Geneva, to the finish of the building in '96 we made a nice building with Dutch money."
At the site of the Dancing House, an old building existed that was bombed in second world war . The debris was finally removed in 1960. The neighboring house (with a small globe on the roof) was co-owned by Czech ex-president Vaclav Havel, who lived there from his childhood until the mid-1990s. He ordered the first architectural study from Vlado Milunic (who has been involved in re-building Havel's appartment in the neighboring house). Afterwards the Dutch bank ING agreed to build a house there, and asked Milunic to invite a world-renowned architect. Milunic first asked Jean Nouvel, who rejected the invitation because of the small size of the site (491 square meters); he then asked Frank Gehry, who and he accepted the challenge. Gehry had an almost unlimited budget, because ING wanted to create an icon in Prague. The construction started in 1994 and the house was finished in 1996.
The building is an example of deconstructivist architecture, with an unusual shape. It reflects a woman and man (Ginger Rogers and Fred Astair) dancing together. Construction is from 99 concrete panels each of different shape and dimension, each therefore requiring a unique wooden form. The external fixed frames look like windows . The external view gives a 3D effect to the viewer.
Its unusual shape and technical solutions caused a big public debate. After ten years emotions are over, and the house has its place in modern Prague. In 2005 the Czech National Bank issued a gold coin with the motif of the Dancing House, as the final coin of the series "10 Centuries of Architecture."
The Dancing House is used by offices , shopkeepers , hotels and restaurants . La Perle de Prague, a well known restaurant is located on 7th floor gives a grand view with of Prague and river Vitava with some landmark buildigs . To have this view , you need to enter the restaurant and buy something .There is an art gallery also in the Dancing House . The restaurant on the rooftop is also an ideal spot to sit and relax. Everyday , this place is thronged by tourists from all over the world who go up the Dancing House to have a majestic view of river Vltava and the historic city of Prague .
If ever you decide visit Prague then learn these words to recieve hospitality and smiles from people :-
Vyborne ........Great
Velmi dobre..... Very Good
Diky za skvely pokec... It was really nice talking to you.
Dekuju...Thank you
Diky ...Thanks
Moc dekuju.. Thank you very much .
Prosim.. You are welcome (after the other person says ‚Thank you‘ )
Vazim si toho.. I appreciate it.
Moc to pro me znamena ... This means a lot to me.
Ja taky dekuju .. Thank you too..
A common phrase spoken by Czech people is ‘Trpelivost ruze prinasi‘ meaning ‘patience will bring roses‘. So , Wait for my next post ; So long so much .
( Avtar Mota )

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Friday, January 1, 2021



WELCOME.. 2021

I wrote these lines for the year 2021..

" Ab Corona na koyi aur  sitamgar hoga ,
  Na koyi khauf kisi ka na koyi dar hoga ,
 Naghme har simt  havaaon mein  bikhar jaayenge,
Zindagi me wohi pehli si khushi paayenge,
Sur to achhe  hi lagenge jo taal achha hai ...
Ek Birahmin ne kaha hai ke ye saal Accha hai..

A very happy and prosperous 2021 to my Facebook Friends.

( Avtar Mota)