Saturday, January 12, 2008

A couple of photos

This gives a fairly good idea of what the ashram's main portion looks like. Of course this is only a small part of the whole complex. Swami Veda's quarters, offices, library are upstairs to the left. The meditation hall is in the lower part of the same edifice, to the right. My office, which is in the manuscript room, is in the lower part of the building to the left. The structure on the right of this picture is the yajna shala. You can see the hills in the background.


This is the view outside my office, looking out over the cottages, where paying guests stay. The large buildings in the back are a dental college.







This picture is of me in my office, standing in front of the cabinets which house the manuscripts. I have a better picture of my office but I will have to add it later.


Sorry about the layout.

3 comments:

jijaji said...

Your look very saintly here Jagat, how long will you stay there for..?
jijaji

Harisaran said...

People keep tell me how much India has been changing and improving from the last ten years... The picture, which show "the view outside my [your] office, looking out over the cottages" is a considerable sign that dramatic changes are taking place in the economy.

Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

People keep tell me how much India has been changing and improving from the last ten years... The picture, which show "the view outside my [your] office, looking out over the cottages" is a considerable sign that dramatic changes are taking place in the economy.

Economic improvement does not necessarily mean quality of life. It is a fact that the rapid economic growth of India is in fact quite disastrous. The new and 'nice' looking buildings proliferating in the country in the last decade actually means a tremendous toil on the environment. Indeed, if the economy carries on as is, it is only a matter of time that India will be facing massive national security issues. Historically, India has been increasingly challenged in key areas such as infrastructure, health and sanitation. The sudden economic boom not only worsens the problem , but risks conditions for factual life improvements to never be within reach. In a matter of the last decade, sustainable clean water and clean air has practically become nonexistent in India. Proportional to the amount disappeared, and at the rate of its disappearance presently, the sources of natural clean air and clean water in India are virtually doomed.
So, pictures of ‘nice’ urban structures such as the ones posted here, unfortunately tell only a small fraction of a story. The truth is, once out of those fancy buildings, one has to literally walk on trash, feces, medical waste, all kinds of unsanitary, never properly managed rubbish, thrown just about everywhere as has been the practice for hundreds of years in India. The only change introduced is the large amounts of plastic, rubble and other no biodegradable materials added to the littering. The concept of environmental cleanliness is just not present in Indian habits, just as the concept of personal cleanliness is equally dubious. Recently it was on the news how a westerner CEO of a large corporation, on his first business trip to Bangalore, was shocked to find that the ‘fancy’ building where his company held an office did not have toilets for public use. The result was that workers in the complex, when there wasn’t enough time to make it to the street, urinated in the elevator.
The real problem is that culturally Indians do not perceive their situation for what it is. If in the West we are in denial about the severity of the environmental issue, in India the great majority of the population is not even aware of it. Apart from the affluent class who can afford to travel abroad (and therefore experience higher standards of sanitation), most Indians do not think that pollution is quite the problem that it is. It goes hand in hand with the country’s practice of crapping in public and thinking it culturally acceptable, if such can be even considered thinking. Indeed, environmental initiatives [such as cleaner fuels for public transportation in Delhi] are actually motivated by a political type of thinking than of factual perspective on health and security. Such initiatives are more of celebrations in a vacuum than real solutions. They aim to generate a sense of importance in its beneficiaries, but unfortunately, for lack of connectedness and concerted action, they might even work against real rescuing and preservation of India’s life resources as a whole.

The real question is, is the environment at all a concern to Indians, or is it a roadblock in the country’s recent acquired hunger for cheesy living?

The environment is not at all disconnected from perfection of life. It is believed that traditionally India was a land of enlightened people, where higher thinking led naturally to simple living. Was that nothing but myth? Wisdom must generate wisdom, but where is it? One look at India today and one is hard pressed to reject its stories of past spiritual glory.

We devotees go to India for spiritual purposes. It is becoming increasingly difficult to accomplish that so much of our time and energy goes to taking care of our battered immune systems once there. The air, the water make us sicker and sicker with each visit. The unsanitary conditions of the places also take a toll on our minds, it is impossible to not be disturbed by the filth, the noise, the neglect.

Recently here Gaurasundara protested Jagadananda’s joking about Krsna manifesting as a banghi. Devotional zealousness aside, Jagadananda was addressing the topic of sanitation in the world. The topic in question was the fact that for the first time in history a semminar was held to address the issue of management of human waste in the world. It says something for its people when statistics show that 75% of the inhabitants of a nation simply do not have installed toilets in their dwellings. India and China are such nations. We go to India for spiritual understanding. Like so many pilgrims, Jagadananda was very likely speaking from his disgust with the condition of the various vaisnava dhams throughout India. If Krsna himself has to come and clean up, what does that speak of his devotees? Indeed, when the life of the dham is at stake, environmental concerns are no less related to bhakti than sravanam or kirtan, or complex perspectives on sidhanta.