Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren
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Why aren’t there Brahma Temples?

Why aren’t there Brahma Temples?

Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren
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Well, except the big one in the city of Pushkar, which we’ll get to shortly.

“Shrine, shrine, everywhere a shrine.” A small Shiva shrine in Jaipur, 2010.

Hinduism has a huge, colorful pantheon of gods and goddesses–some say 330 million!  The three main players, if you’ll excuse my casualness, are Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu.   There are temples to Shiva, Vishnu, and seemingly countless other deities all over India, from grand, ornate temple to small, simple curbside altars–sometimes just a candle and a picture.  However, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Brahma temple in the mix.  There are a few reasons for this that I’ve run across.

Rather than paraphrase, here’s the story as found on nuhindusociety.org:

According to Puranas, once the other two of the triads of Hindu Gods, Brahma and Vishnu were fighting over each other’s prowess. Horrified at the intensity of the battle, the other gods asked Shiva to intervene. To make them realize the futility of their fight, Lord Shiva assumed the form of a flaming Linga in between Brahma and Vishnu and challenged both of them by asking them to measure the gigantic Lingam (symbol of Lord Shiva).

Awestruck by its magnitude, Brahma and Vishnu decided to find one end each to establish supremacy over the other. Lord Brahma took the form of a swan and went upwards while Lord Vishnu assumed the form of Varaha–a boar–and went into the earth towards nether land. Both searched for thousands of miles but neither could find the end.

On his journey upward, Brahma came across Ketaki flower. Exhausted and bewildered with his search to find the uppermost limit of fiery column, Brahma made Ketaki assent to lie that he had seen the top of the column where the flower had previously resided. Accompanied by his accomplice, Brahma confronted Vishnu and asserted that he had indeed discovered the origin of the cosmic column.

At this point, the central part of the pillar split open and Shiva revealed himself in his full glory. Overawed, both Brahma and Vishnu bowed before him accepted lord Shiva’s supremacy. Lord Shiva also explained to Brahma and Vishnu that both of them were born out of him and that the three were then separated out into three different aspects of divinity.

However, Lord Shiva was angry with Brahma for making a false claim. The Lord cursed Brahma that no one would ever pray to him. (This legend explains why there is hardly any Brahma temple of significance in India.) Lord Shiva also punished the Ketaki flower for testifying falsely and banned her from being used as an offering for any worship.

Liar liar pants on fire, huh?  That’s one moralistic tale which might allude to the lack of Brahma temples.  Here’s another rationale, from rivr.sulekha.com::

Brahma temples are rare. Why is Lord Brahma not ritualistically worshiped like the Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu across the peninsular India? Sanskrit literature is full of metaphoric stories including the one where Shiva is supposed to have cursed Brahma that he shall not be worshiped on Earth.  Metaphorical stories are a peculiarity of the Sanskrit literature. The job of these stories is to motivate members of the society to do a certain thing or to deter them from doing certain other thing.

The true philosophical reason why Brahma is not worshiped like the other deities is as under: Worship involves faith and faith to certain degree means accepting supremacy of someone without questioning. Brahma, on the other hand, represents true knowledge. …Knowledge and faith are philosophically antithetical concepts. …. Ichnographically,  Brahma  is shown sitting on a blue lotus flower (Pushkara in Sanskrit). Anyone who is familiar with lotus will know that they bloom through a complicated network of root system submerged in the soft mud. This muddy foundation of the Lotus  flower is an artists pictogram of  intellectual ferment.

Ritualistic  worship of Brahma who is an embodiment of the true knowledge, would have been a philosophical contradiction….

What unsettled my intellectual sensibilities is that the media coverage claimed that offering Pooja at the Pushkara temple of Brahma washes all the sins and leads to wish fulfillment. A gross trivialisation of a thought. Acquisition of true knowledge neither washes the sins nor does it fulfill wishes because acquisition of such a true knowledge makes both these aspects irrelevant.

As Brahma represents knowledge, and knowledge and faith seem to dominate opposite sides of the philosophical spectrum, having Brahma temples would be an oxymoron of sorts.

image courtesy of indiatraveldiary.com

That said, there is one primary Brahma temple in Pushkar, a city in the Indian state of Rajasthan.  The temple’s current structure is believed to be about 700 years old, although the temple site and previous structures have been there for 2000 years.  BJ visited while in Pushkar in 1995, and we are leading a private tour to this area in early 2013.  We’re very excited to once again visit this rarity and treasure of a Brahma temple!

 

Let’s talk about Turmeric

Let’s talk about Turmeric

Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren
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Let's Talk Turmeric

Turmeric Root image courtesy of znaturalfoods.com

I’m going to go ahead and say what you all were thinking:  Turmeric is an under-appreciated, much-maligned spice in the United States. (You were all just thinking that, yes?)  Turmeric, or haldi in Hindi, is probably best known for its inclusion in curry powder (side rant: “curry powder” as we know it has as little to do with Indian cuisine as Martian rocks. Curry powder does not a curry make).

Turmeric is what gives that powder its yellow color, as pure turmeric is a rich, deep, all-staining, saturated yellow-orange.  If you see actual turmeric root in a grocery store or farmer’s market, you might not even realize what it is.  Looking like a cross between ginger root and a caterpillar (right?), this spice is probably one of the best things you can consume to achieve and maintain optimal health.

Turmeric has a very potent compound in it called “curcumin” (nothing to do with the spice cumin, mind you).  One of the ways I used it most in my acupuncture practice (and in my personal life) is as an anti-inflammatory.  When we think of inflammation, often we think of just aches and pains.  However, chronic inflammation underlies almost all of our chronic, degenerative diseases, from arthritis (“-“itis” simply means “inflammation) and inflammatory bowel disorders (like IBS & Crohn’s) to asthma (inflamed air passages) and eczema (inflammation in the skin). Turmeric can also be helpful with skin irritation topically; in fact, Johnson & Johnson markets a band-aid with turmeric in it in India! Not only is it a powerful anti-inflammatory, but it is a big boost for the liver.

The liver has over 500 jobs in the human body; the one we hear about most is its role as our “filter.” Everything we ingest has to be “sampled” by the liver, either to be tossed out or used. Turmeric boosts this filtering mechanism of the liver, leaving it more time to accomplish its 499 other important tasks.

Even more exciting is research being done in the West now about turmeric in its relation to dementia and Alzheimer’s.  Curcumin has been found to decrease the amyloid plaques in the brain that are consistent with Alzheimer’s.

By now I hope you’re asking yourself, “Where can I score some of this magical root?”  In fact, you may even have a jar of powdered turmeric in your pantry right now.  Although I traditionally like to use food as medicine first, this is one situation where you’re better off with a good supplement.  In the fresh root or powder form, curcumin in concentrated at about 1-6% of the whole. In comparison, supplements are typically standardized at 95% curcumin by weight—big difference.  I have had patients protest in the past, insisting they’ll just add turmeric to their smoothies (have we mentioned how potent the taste is?)  That lasts about one day before they come back and buy the pills.

There is an axiom in Chinese Medicine that the milder the taste in food and herbs, the milder the action; the stronger the taste, the more potent the action.  If you’ve had turmeric in any dishes recently, you can vouch for its strong taste; if a quarter-teaspoon can pack such a wallop, imagine what therapeutic doses will do! In addition, some turmeric supplements add a black pepper extract (patented under the name “BioPerine”) that increases the bioavailability of turmeric immensely.  It is well worth your money to seek out one of these brands; my favorites include Vitality Works, Gaia Herbs, and Planetary Herbals, based on their price, quality, and ethics of the company. It’s a win-win-win; joint health, brain health, liver health, general anti-inflammatory properties, all in a ginger-meets-caterpillar shape.

It is well worth your money to seek out one of these brands; my favorites include Gaia Herbs and Planetary Herbals, based on their price, quality, and ethics of the company. It’s a win-win-win; joint health, brain health, liver health, general anti-inflammatory properties, all in a ginger-meets-caterpillar shape.

 
The information contained on this website is general in nature and should not be a substitute for, or be used instead of, a clinical or therapeutic relationship with a health care professional who is fully familiar with the specifics of your case.  The information on this website may assist you in your personal, general research, but none of it constitutes the practice of medicine or any other healthcare profession.

Want to learn more about turmeric? Helen over at HealthAmbition.com created a great turmeric resource, chock full of cited research. Head on over to read even more about this amazing root!

Tell me all your thoughts on…Satellite Dishes?

Tell me all your thoughts on…Satellite Dishes?

Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren
Latest posts by Lauren (see all)

image courtesy of aandjantennas.com.au

I rented a car this weekend that had XM radio, and I spent 99% of the time  rotating between 2 or 3 stations that played exclusively 90’s music. As expected, “Counting Blue Cars” by Dishwalla came on more than once or twice.  When I got home, something moved me to look more into the band, specifically its name.  I knew that  a “wallah,” in Hindi, was someone that sold a good or service; the most commonly heard term is “chai wallah,” or someone that makes and sells spiced tea.   Could there be a connection?

Apparently, “dishwalla” was a term used for those who sold and illegally wired satellite dishes in India–hence Dish Wallah.  This exposure to the medium of television broadened people’s cultural horizons rapidly.  The band resonated with that idea, as their goal was to expose people to a broad range of music, and they quickly appropriated the name.

And that’s your 90’s trivia for the day, with an Indian twist!

Blue City of Jodhpur in The Dark Knight Rises

Blue City of Jodhpur in The Dark Knight Rises

Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren
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This is what happens when you google image search “Batman in India.” Ask a silly question…get a silly picture.

I’m a big Batman fan–have been since I was a little girl.  I’ve been waiting eagerly for months (ok, years) for The Dark Knight Rises to open, and BJ & I finally made it to the theater tonight.  Don’t worry–no spoilers here (except for the fact that Alfred mentions my favorite drink, Fernet Branca!)

Of the many things that made me jump up in my seat during this movie, one was a backdrop–Jodhpur, India.   One scene takes place in a seemingly desolate, isolated landscape–with a bright blue city in the distance.  That city, Jodhpur, is the 2nd largest in the Indian state of Rajasthan.  BJ first traveled to Jodhpur in 1995 and was taken aback by the vividness of the surroundings.   The “Blue City” got its nickname–not shockingly–from the blue paint on many of the houses and structures around the town.  The color blue signified the home of a Brahmin, but quickly caught on with other castes, as well; in addition, it is said that the blue color deflects heat and repels insects more efficiently (maybe I should wear blue more often). The fort you see in the same scene is Mehrangarh Fort, one of the largest in India.

While not on the itinerary in 2013, we will surely create a tour to Jodhpur, India in the near future–not only for the culture, the food, and the history, but to walk in Bruce Wayne’s footsteps.

photo courtesy of WikiTravel

(more…)

Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren
Latest posts by Lauren (see all)

Around the World Journeys

 

World Wonder journey coming in late October 2022–stay tuned and check out 2020’s itinerary for inspiration!

Asia

 

India

Nepal

  • Oct 31–Nov 9, 2021: Treat, Spay, Love in Nepal–celebrate the dogs of Kathmandu on Kukur Tihar. Coming soon!

Mongolia

Sri Lanka

  • Coming in February 2022!

Bhutan

South America

 

Galapagos

Argentina, Chile & Easter Island

Wonders of South America Journeys

  • Jan 6–20, 2022: Patagonia (Argentina and Chile) & Iguazu Falls, coming soon!
  • Late September 2022: Wildlife Wonders of South America, coming soon!
Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren
Latest posts by Lauren (see all)
Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren
Latest posts by Lauren (see all)

Cultural & Wildlife Journeys

 

Around the World Journeys

South American Eclipse Adventure

Galapagos

Kenya

Mongolia

Nepal

  • Treat, Spay, Love in Nepal–Celebrate Kukur Tihar! Coming soon! Oct 31–Nov 9, 2021:

Sri Lanka

  • Coming in February 2022!

Bhutan

Buddhist Journeys with Tricycle: The Buddhist Review

 

India & Nepal

  • Pilgrimage to India & Nepal: Walking with the Buddha, Oct 10-24, 2021, coming soon

Mongolia

Sri Lanka

  • Coming February 2022, stay tuned!

Ladakh

  • Coming Summer 2022, stay tuned!
Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren
Latest posts by Lauren (see all)
Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren
Latest posts by Lauren (see all)

January – March

 

April – June

 

Check back for more exciting journeys!

 

October – December

 

 

 

 

 

Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren
Latest posts by Lauren (see all)
Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren
Latest posts by Lauren (see all)
Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren
Latest posts by Lauren (see all)
Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren
Latest posts by Lauren (see all)
Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren
Latest posts by Lauren (see all)
Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren
Latest posts by Lauren (see all)
Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren
Latest posts by Lauren (see all)