The Wisdom Tree film… a spiritual journey that traverses farther yonder!

On a dark, stormy night, driving on an empty road in Northern California, Steve Hamilton, a self-conflicted quantum physicist meets with an implausibly bizarre car accident! Dr. Trisha Rao, a compassionate but unwavering neurologist attending to Steve’s injuries, and an anguished FBI Agent, Mike Parker, attempt to untangle this baffling accident. The mystery deepens as the trio stumbles upon clues rooted in fine art, music, mysticism, spirituality, and science. The confounding clues trigger a cascade of questions; before long, the troika foresees the inevitable — the human race is at risk! With twists in the plot, this sci-fi drama progresses to avert a looming catastrophe.  A haunting background score with ethereal vocals, integral to the story, lends to the timeless dimension of The Wisdom Tree film, essentially a fiction story.

The Wisdom Tree melds quantum physics with eastern mysticism in a riveting mystery that swirls around human desires and their latent fears. The knotted plot of this sci-fi drama tangles around an exquisite backdrop of fine art paintings, Indian classical music, and new age elements, alluding that the universe is multidimensional, strange, and harmonic; and, as some eastern spiritual traditions have long maintained, “All is One”. Amidst this harmonious confluence of colors, shapes, shadows, light, space, time, mystery, math, music, and the mystical, lurks a profound question, “Could this be true?”

Recently, did you watch the film première at AMC Metreon in San Francisco? Or, their next screening in Orinda, East Bay, California? Well, if mysticism, mystery, sci-fi, spirituality, art, music are your scene, you may not want to miss this film. Ever since its private screenings earlier in 2013 at Emory University, Atlanta, and at the Science and Non-Duality Conference, San Jose, audiences and invitees have been intrigued by this indie. Here’s the small catch… it isn’t mass-distributed. Hence, you may want to sign up to request a screening in your town. If this subject excites you, you may even want to volunteer and get your friends, family, like-minded folks near you at your Meet Ups or Groups to sign up. The sooner you all sign up, and the more number of folks express interest, the sooner it will be screened in a town near you. Well, I’ll make this easy… watch The Wisdom Tree film trailer. 😉

Oh, I almost forgot to mention… the ravishing Sheetal Sheth is in the key role as neurologist, and Patrick Alparone, a fine theater actor you may know of already, plays his first film role as quantum physicist. Check them out. There are many fine actors this film has drawn. The crew also includes some eminent Oscar winners and other award nominees. Personally, it all speaks well of Writer/Director Sunil Shah, and the co-producers of the film, Laura Techera Francia and Renu Vora. There are many names you may recognize. Visit their facebook page, or join their growing number of followers on twitter… indeed, they’re active.

Explosions at Bodh Gaya!

My tympanic membrane is tired, and hardened from the continual onslaught of explosive news. Not only tired of the terrorism, I’m sickened by the endless rapes that women suffer mercilessly. Add to that the helplessness one feels, reading about the pointless deaths of hundreds, thousands – en masse!

Now, worse, am defeated by the mindless attempt at destruction of something sacred… not merely from a religious perspective; but it’s the sanctity of a brick structure that withstood the test of time, and weathered the elements for over two millennium – The Mahabodhi Temple! By using explosives, miscreants shook the foundations of an edifice that is symbolic of ‘ahimsa’, non-violence, and is sacred to millions of people across the globe.

A while back I posted photographs from a visit to the ruins of Nalanda, not far (56 miles) from Bodh Gaya in Bihar; also an institute of higher learning in Ancient India, particularly for Buddhist monks. I dread to think of the damage that depraved minds are capable of doing… and shudder at the thought of the pain they are causing those who are perhaps the few among the peace-loving people remaining in this world.

Buddhist Monks at Nalanda


Buddhist Monks at Nalanda
by chitralekhan

Modern day monks… at the ancient center of learning, in Bihar, India.

When I visited Nalanda in November of 1996, it was the Chinese Year of the Monkey… 4694 Bing-Shen! So, “What’s the context?” you may well ask… well, among the Buddhist Jataka Tales, is also a delightful but profound story about The Monkey King, stressing upon the importance of self-sacrifice.  🙂

Much of what we know today about Buddhism can also be attributed to the accounts written by renowned Buddhist monk, Xuanzang (Hsüan-tsang)… scholar & traveler sans camera! 😉 🙂

The Ruins of Nalanda University


The ruins of Nalanda University
Originally uploaded by chitralekhan

The excavated remains of an ancient center of learning… from over 2000 years ago!

I may not be able to visit Taxila (now in modern-day Pakistan) in this lifetime, but was very fortunate to be able to walk around on the very same grounds of Nalanda where, at one point in history, Buddhist monks and scholars had meditated. Steeped in history, this site is truly fascinating!

Soaking under the blazing hot sun – even in early November ’96 , with a basic camera loaded with 35 mm Extachrome slide film (alas, transparencies in this digital era are now relegated to photography history), I clicked as many pix as possible in a matter of a couple of hours.  Oh yeah, at the time,  it was fun… even without Flickr… 😉  Just a low-end camera, with amateur photography skills, but the joy of travel surpassed all other pleasures… the pix were so I could view them at leisure… even much later!

(Oh no, no plagiarizing… besides, in the pre-internet, pre-broadband era you’d have to contact a photo stock agency, and they’d charge what seemed then like an arm and a leg… I know, we used a lot of those in our ad campaigns!) 😉

Plan of excavated ruins: Ancient Nalanda University


Plan of excavated ruins: Ancient Nalanda University
Originally uploaded by chitralekhan

Layout of Nalanda University, (Bihar), India: one of the ancient higher-learning institutions, particularly for Buddhist monks from near & the Far East… think 5th & 6th centuries B.C. Alas, it still remains among UNESCO’s tentative lists of designated World Heritage sites:  Excavated Remains at Nalanda

I took this photograph in the pre-digital era, in November 1996… while on a tour of Jain & Buddhist pilgrim centers in Bihar… Samed Shikharji, Pavapuri, Rajgir, Kundalpur, etc.

Teaching children to apologize… and adults as well.

The ten days of repentance for Jewish people beginning with Rosh Hashanah will conclude with Yom Kippur also considered The Day of Atonement. For the Jains, Paryushan may be somewhat its equivalent… 8 days of atonement through penance and repentance… around August-September every year; in 2009 it ended with Samvatsari on 3rd September.

Reading Lisa Belkin’s piece today, I’m reminded about a little confrontation I had a year ago with a 14-year-old niece whom I was supposed to oversee [in addition to waking her up at 6 a.m. for school, making breakfast, packing lunch for school, 4 p.m. snack,  preparing dinner, doing the dishes, doing her laundry (provided she dropped her clothes off  in the laundry-basket)…] while her parents were traveling outside the country for over two weeks. When simply inquiring why she did not call  to say she’d be late after school one evening, she yelled back at me saying she’s an adult and that I needn’t be concerned or worried about her safety! At the time, I was taken aback by her sudden volatile outburst. I responded saying that no matter what she believed, until her parents returned, I was assigned a responsibility, and the least I expected was a quick phone-call simply to state that there was some unexpected delay in returning home for a specified reason. Well, on a long distance phone call the same evening, I felt I was admonished by her parents. They said that perhaps there was something amiss in their own upbringing of their kids. It was very tiring at the time and the entire episode seemed rather silly. I ached to return home – a thousand miles away!

“But in this rude and raucous age, apologies have become pro forma. People apologize not for being offensive (“I did something to hurt you, and I am sorry”) but rather because someone might have taken offense (“If your feelings were hurt, I am sorry.”)”… quoted from The New York Times.

To all whom I may have hurt, knowingly, or unknowingly, by words or deeds, or thoughts, I humbly say Michchhami Dukkadam.

Gayatri Mantra… enunciation for my reference.

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Aum (ॐ) Bhur (भूर्) Bhuvah (भुव:) Swaha (स्व:)

Tat (तत्) Sa-Vi-Tur (सवितुर् ) Va-Re-Ny-Am (वरेण्यं)

Bhar-Go (भर्गो) De-Vas-Ya (देवस्य) Dhi-Ma-Hi (धीमहि)

Dhi-Yo (धीयो ) Yo (यो ) Nah (न: ) Pra-Cho-Da-Yat (प्रचोदयात् )

Learn these words by uttering them aloud. To practise saying the words, listen to the intonations in the chants .

When chanted accurately, breathing should improve.

Ultimately, this should help improve overall respiration.

Now, there are: 24 syllables i.e. 3 lines of eight syllables each…

ॐ भूर्भुव: स्व: तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं । भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि, धीयो यो न: प्रचोदयात् ।।

Aum Bhur Bhuvah  Swah

Tat  Savitur  Varenyam

Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi

Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat

In a nutshell, from the explanations detailed in the above links my understanding is as follows:

Aum = OM = primordial sound. ‘Beej’ Mantra i.e. ‘Seed’, “Pranav” – i.e. most fundamental mantra.

Bhur Bhuvah Swaha” = describe fundamental qualities of the Supreme being.

Bhu-r = Earthy | Divine | a Constant | Life itself

Bhuvah = Consciousness | Supreme Being untouched by Sorrow | Supreme Being is ‘Anant’ – limitless, boundless

Swaha = Connect with the Supreme Being to experience Bliss

Tat = He or That (third person, referring to the Supreme Being)

Savitur = Bestowed upon mankind by “Tat = Supreme Being”, is the fountain (of knowledge to distinguish right from wrong) as well as the immense ‘potential’ or ‘power’ to act, empowered by this fountain.

Varenyam = An uninhibited acceptance of the one who is worthy to lead i.e. this Supreme Being who has endowed each of us with the knowledge and has empowered us to act righteously.

Bhargo= the purity of the Supreme Being’s Light that allows each of us to see through the darkness of maya = illusion.

Devasya = Likeness (of qualities) to the Supreme Being, since each of us exist because of that being (and as an extension of him? I wonder).

Dheemahi = Focus on the purity of the Supreme Being (embodiment of virtues) i.e. meditate to remove thoughts that are anything but pure.

Dhi-yo= Allow the influence of the Supreme Being to impact one’s ‘intellect’ = ‘dhi-yo’.

Yo = Third Person ‘that’ i.e. The Supreme Being

Nah = an earnest sincere request to the Supreme Being on behalf of the entire universe and its inhabitants (a family as a whole, with everyone connected somehow) to continually endow us with that generous fountain of knowledge + potential to act righteously.

Prachodayat = a summary, culminating from the above, completing this acknowledgement of the Supreme being and the request to the common benefactor with the end goal of peace, prosperity and fundamental joy.

Sathvaro Radheshyam No… brought to you in the US by…

It’s Sunday and in my determination to locate the sponsors/organizers of the dance ballet production, here’s the precise theme information I found:

Gujarati Dance Ballet produced by Arpita and Nilesh Thakkar
Gujarati Dance Ballet produced by Arpita and Nilesh Thakkar
Gokul, Vrindavan, Nathdwara or say, "Shrinathji".
Gokul, Vrindavan, Nathdwara or say, "Shrinathji".

India Journal’s review of “Sathvaro Radheshyam No”

In my search for the US schedule of this Gujarati production, I finally found at least one review: India Journal’s review for the dance ballet.

Now I have the names of all the promoters; national: Natwar Thakkar of 999 Enterprises Inc and Hiren Parpani Productions; regional sponsors: Harshida, Harish, Dhanesh Parmar of Dhanraj & Tisha Entertainment Inc along with C N Travel and Highglow Jewelers.

Wow, given that no one has thus far been able to write to me providing me with info I needed yesterday, I must now carry out a search to locate the afore-stated names, so as to contact them, and find out if there are shows scheduled in the Southwest.

Hello, would anyone out there in cyberspace care to make my task easy? Would really appreciate it. In the meanwhile, “Thanks”, India Journal. 🙂

Yet another “forward” titled, “This is shocking”!

Here I am, sipping on my first coffee of the day, opening my mail-box and voila… the most recent email attempts to unnerve me for the rest of the day. But guess what, I’m not shocked, because I’ve received this not once, but several times from different sources. The visual of a boy with his arm under a car, about to be amputated, does not evoke the response it was supposed to generate! Ostensibly, he stole a piece of bread, and this is the punishment meted out to him… in Iran! If at all this indeed is true, and not just a stunt, as may well be the case, the brutality of such incidents seems to be very deep-rooted… going as far back as 1900-1600 B.C.E. — the Old Babylon period of the Amorite Empire.

The Amorite rulers, who were believed to have “descended from the gods”, enacted “lex talionis”, or the law of equal or direct retribution. This law empowered them to rule over people’s lives. (Note that it is administered only by the state, or by those who are “above retribution” and are thus exempted from being victims of revenge.) Many of us learned a long time ago that in the Middle-Eastern world, it is this Code of Hammurabi — “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, an arm for an arm, a life for a life” — that puts the fear in people, which, in turn, prevents the common man in many of these nations from committing crimes. Punishments, in retaliation, match the nature of the infraction, or, figuratively speaking, you reap what you sow!

Is quid pro quo not too simplistic a view, I wonder, where it seems that none of the following are taken into account i.e. the context (one’s poverty), the intent (to quell one’s hunger), the reason (one may die without food), the action (stealing food), the perpetrator (a young child), the punishment (chopping off a limb), nor the exhortation (showing no mercy). In this context of theft, here’s another disturbing viewpoint.

Even so, in my mind, this does not vindicate the violence towards women; the brutality that Nicholas Kristof’s “acid column” brought to light. Unlike the case of the young boy, there is no ambiguity regarding this infliction of physical pain over women.

Although the code of the Amorites is a subject of discussion at Law Schools such as Yale and others across the nation (and the world), perhaps for my own understanding, I should borrow this book from the library. Here’s a page from it, which I saw online.

From the Code of Hammurabi, the mighty Ammorite!
From the Code of Hammurabi, the mighty Amorite!