Category: Artwork


 

 

Cover-Vol3-The East

 

By Laura J. Merrill

 

Readers of Sharon St Joan’s blog site, “Echoes in the Mist” (recently changed from “Voices-and-Visions”), will be familiar with her ethereal poems, which have always resonated with me as a view into the sacred soul of Nature.

 

Over the last two years, Sharon has graciously devoted some of her time and creative talent to composing twelve poems for the latest volume of Secret Voices from the Forest—Thoughts and Dreams of North American Trees.

 

Volume Three: The East, in which you will find her verses, concerns a few of the trees native to the eastern part of this continent—from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Ocean—some well known and some quite uncommon, and some wholly unique to this continent, although not necessarily familiar to all of us; examples are Sugar maple, American chestnut, Pawpaw and Tulip Tree.

 

These brightly illustrated volumes familiarize us with each tree, utilizing facts about it and its native surroundings, as well as a few particulars about some of the animals and other plants that share its environment. At the same time, each tree is given a chance to “speak for itself,” in a section titled, “Reflections,” in which we can imagine how the tree might see its place in the world and how it may view us, as fellow travelers on the Earth.
In the world of books about nature, these publications are distinctive, blending fact and fantasy for adults who are willing to consider the idea that we are all equal participants in the great work of Creation.

 

You can find this, as well as the first two volumes, The West and Midcontinent, on Amazon at this link.

 

Enjoy!

resized Idol Thief book launch 31 aug (2)

Invitation-mysorepainting

womens craft bazaar-2017

sridharan-lecture

exhibit of paintings.jpg

 

 

 

ID 4545510 © Dbpetersen | Dreamstime

 

Listen, and hear

 

Within the moon the silent flight

 

Of white

 

Crane

 

Feathers,

 

While stars ring like bells in a sky of snow.

 

Did you know

 

That the moon is hollow

 

And it chimes?

 

Now, past clouds of bitter rain,

 

Of weathers

 

Sullen in the jagged wind,

 

At a sharp bend in the long road,

 

Shines the light of butterfilies beyond the shards of the dark,

 

The spark

 

Of grace, as yet unimagined,

 

A hand of tree bark

 

Offers peace, abhaya mudra: “Fear

 

Not,” a message,

 

Seek and ye

 

Shall find

 

All truth

 

Within the call

 

Of the star, cloaked in a misted shawl.

 

Soon, between the bones of yesteryear

 

Rise the rushing waters to the ridge

 

Of ending times.

 

There at the top of the narrow stair

 

Opens the rock-enchanted desert that will echo eternity,

 

Shimmering stones,

 

Who

 

Sing that the shadow

 

Has gone, though it is not that the shadow

 

Has gone, but just that the sun is real and the shadow not, after all,

 

And so

 

The holy one, unknown, will walk again on the straight path,

 

Will hold the innocent deer high in his hand

 

(In the land

 

Of the gold dragon who gnashes

 

Her emerald jaw,

 

Extending her five-toed

 

Paw)

 

There the brave one walks, placing the sun anew,

 

Engulfing the burning cities of the mind,

 

And – casting death at last behind,

 

Cleanses the earth of ashes.

 

 

Poem: © Sharon St Joan, 2017

Photo: © Dbpetersen | Dreamstime

 

 

 

 

Red_pottery,_IVC.jpg size 670pixels

Red pottery from the Indus/Saraswathi Civilization

 

By Sharon St Joan

 

There were no highways then and no paved roads. When the little girl went with her brothers to tend the cattle on top of the hillside, she could see a long way, out over sloping plains dotted with green trees. The sky was blue and the air was clear. When they returned at sunset, the small bricks of which their house was made shined gold in the rays of the setting sun, and there seemed to be magical beings dancing in the air. She watched as her grandmother took newly made, fired, ceramic vases out of the kiln, incised with red and white patterns, sometimes drawn in a row along with the horned head of a bull or a tree with outspread branches.

 

Nearby, the Saraswathi flowed, a vast, magnificent river, silver in the sunset, so wide that she could not see the other side. Her father had told her that it went all the way to the sea, and that the sea was much, much bigger than the lakes nearby – it was bigger even than the land on which they lived. No one they knew had ever seen the sea, but they had heard about it. On it sailed boats from other lands, and on these other lands, there lived people too. To the south, in the centuries to come, all along the river many other towns would grow up, possibly hundreds, and in the north among the hills, the river narrowed, and it sprang out of great rocks that lived near mountains, covered in snow year-round, that touched the sky, enormous high mountains where no one lived but only the Gods, and the Great God who brought into being – and would some day destroy – all the worlds.

 

Around seven thousand years passed, and during this immense span of time, the towns along the river, part of the Indus/Saraswathi Civilization, grew into enormous, well-planned metropolises, with great paved roads, two-story houses, indoor plumbing, great public buildings, amazing art work, and writing. Around three thousand BCE, they rivaled the cities of Sumer and may have been the largest, most highly developed, most populated cities in the world.

 

Mohenjodaro_-_view_of_the_stupa_mound

Mohenjodaro, one of the great Harappan cities

 

Over many centuries, the great Saraswathi River narrowed in width, growing thinner and thinner, like a ribbon. Eventually, around 2000 BCE, it went underground, and reappeared only seasonally, with the monsoons, when the water flowed again for a few months at a time; now it is called the Ghaggar. With the going underground of this river, the people were unable to make a living on a land with little water; they moved on, some to the west, and many to the east. A few stayed nearby, living on in the deserts of Rajasthan. The great cities fell into ruin.

 

Nearly ten thousand years after the little girl used to climb the hill to tend cattle with her brothers, her lost city was known by the name Bhirrana. Her family’s house and her neighbors’ houses were found and dug up out of the sand by archeologists. No one knew her name or even that she had lived there. At first, no one knew how long Bhirrana had lain asleep in the sands. Nearby village people had known that there was an old town there, buried by the winds, but no one knew its history or its age. Archeologists came and dug. The more they excavated, the clearer it became that Bhirrana was not only part of the Indus/Saraswathi civilization, but also that it was at least as old as the great cities of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. Now it appears that it is, in fact, much, much older. Going back to the very beginnings of the Indus/Saraswathi civilization, to around 9,500 years before the present, Bhirrana is now believed to be the oldest city that has been found anywhere in India.

 

The ceramic ware that the little girl and her grandmother made and fired in their kiln was similar to the ware fired in villages further west in what is today Pakistan and also in the other Indian towns along the Saraswathi River; it is called Hakra ware. Bhirrana represents the earliest phase of what became the great Indus/Saraswathi Civilization.

 

The true age of this little town was revealed quite recently – by work done in 2015 and 2016. A scientific team examined animal remains found buried in the riverbed, testing the bones and the teeth of Bhirrana’s cattle and goats to determine phosphorous isotopes and date the remains. (Please see the link below.) The dates they found go back to over 9,000 years ago.

 

1024px-YamunaRiver

The Yamuna River, which flows to the east of the Ghaggar

 

Renowned archeologist B.B. Lal, in his 2002 article, The Homeland of Indo-European Languages And Culture: Some Thoughts (please see the link below) also traces the Neolithic stage in the northwest Indian sub-continent back to 9,000 years ago.

 

This is far older than anyone had imagined until recently and extends the age of the Indus/Saraswathi Civilization – and the age of Indian civilization — back to nearly 10,000 years. India has some of the earliest cities ever found and, arguably, the oldest continuing civilization in the world.

 

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The Ghaggar River today

 

The life of the little girl is, on one level, imaginary, but not really, because surely there was actually such a little girl among the residents of Bhirrana. The continuity of India as one of the oldest, unbroken, ongoing cultures in the world cannot really be disputed. The threads of the other great early cultures of the world have been strained and broken, some recently, some long ago – ancient Egypt, China, and Sumer. Like many cultures in the Middle East and beyond, India too was invaded by foreign armies, but India survived. Her culture and her traditions were never extinguished by conquering armies, and they live on today.

 

This though may be just the beginning of all there is to discover about the story of India. On nearly every continent, there are hints, remaining to be followed up – of the profound influence of ancient India on the history of the world.

 

© Text, Sharon St Joan, 2017

 

Photos:

Top photo:

Author: Thorsten Vieth

“This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.” Wikipedia.

The Yamuna River, near the Haryana border, as it crosses the Taj Mahal, flows to the east of the Ghaggar River.

 

Second photo:

Author: Amy Dreher

“This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.” Wikipedia.

Red pottery with red and black slip-painted decoration from Harappa , around 2500 BCE.

 

Third photo:

Author: Saqib Qayyum

“This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.” Wikipedia.

A view of Mohenjo-Daro, existing around 2500 BCE.

 

Fourth photo:

Author: NoiSe84

“This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International, 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.” Wikipedia.

The Ghaggar River today.

 

Sources:

 

One: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep26555

Oxygen isotope in archaeological bioapatites from India: Implications to climate change and decline of Bronze Age Harappan civilization

  • Authors: Anindya Sarkar, Arati Deshpande Mukherjee, M. K. Bera, B. Das, Navin Juyal, P.Morthekai, R. D. Deshpande, V. S. Shinde & L. S. Rao
  • Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 26555 (2016)
  • doi:10.1038/srep26555

 

Two: http://www.hvk.org/2002/0302/200.html

The Homeland of Indo-European Languages And Culture: Some Thoughts

Author: Prof. B. B. Lal

Publication: Bharatiya Pragna

Date: March 2002

Re-published in Hindu Vivek Kendra

 

Three: http://indiafacts.org/aryan-invasion-myth-21st-century-science-debunks-19th-century-indology/

Aryan Invasion Myth: How 21st Century Science Debunks 19th Century Indology

A.L.Chavda

Site: Indiafacts

5/05/2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kolu-mail

1*1000CEDSC00262

 

By Sharon St Joan

 

Inside a stone structure near the temple, langur monkeys played in the rays of the late afternoon sun.

 

Like nearly all Hindu temples, the Virupaksha Temple at Hampi began as just a small shrine; it is thought to go back to around the seventh century CE.

 

Virupaksha is the God Shiva, and this is a living temple, which means that people still go there to worship so many centuries later.

 

Over time many rulers contributed to its growth. Around 1000 CE, the temple was expanded. In 1510 CE, on the occasion of his coronation, King Krishnadevaraya, the iconic emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire, added a complex comprised of the inner eastern entrance, or gopuram, a pillared hall, and many more shrines.

 

Near the temple entrance are several graceful statues of Nandi, the sacred bull who is the vehicle of Shiva; he gives permission to each devotee to enter the temple. One of the Nandis has three heads. There’s nothing mysterious about this, the sculptor simply gave him three heads, but normally Nandi has only one head.

 

*2Nandi by VirupakshaDSC00293

 

Quite far away, perhaps a tenth of a mile up high in a structure of pillars built by the side of a mountain, near where the monkeys were playing, the original Nandi looks out towards the temple – a very imposing figure carved out of a giant black boulder.

 

It is said that it was Nandi who taught Shiva to dance. The dance of Shiva is an important one since Shiva is the God of destruction, and one of his two dances is the tandava, the dance which brings the world to its end. The other is a gentle dance during which the world begins anew.

 

The destructive aspect of Shiva is not in any way unkind or malevolent. It is essential; without destruction there can be no renewal. It is the essence of how the cosmos works, causing the wheel of life and death to turn. There are many worlds, many levels, both seen and unseen, and many Gods, yet they are all One, the ultimate Brahman.

 

To be separated and cut off from the truer levels of being is to live in a world of turmoil and unrest. To be in touch with the deeper levels of reality and with the Gods, is to know peace and truth.

 

*3boulders near NandiDSC00300

 

Many thousands of years ago, during the time when the Rig Veda, the oldest book in the world, was written, there existed another, earlier, magnificent phase of Indian civilization. The ruins of over a thousand cities which existed along the banks of the Saraswathi River, in India, and spread out encompassing a far wider area, have been found, along with other already well-known ancient cities such as Mohenjo Daro and Harrappa, now in Pakistan, which were all part of the same civilization. The artwork found there shows clear evidence of continuity between the customs and worship of Indian people then and today.

 

The Rig Veda describes the Saraswathi River as being vast and energetic, a huge, dynamic river. Eventually, the Saraswati River dried up and most of it went underground, which is how it remains today. Archeologists and geologists have noted that the last time the Saraswati River was flowing in full force as a huge beautiful river was around 5,000 BCE. This has led to their being able to date the time when the Rig Veda must have been composed as no later than 5,000 BCE – which means that the history of India goes back at least seven thousand years, and possibly much, much farther. Many more fascinating confirmations of this very ancient antiquity are described in an article in the IndiaFacts newsletter – please see below for the link to this and also for the link to Michel Danino’s book, Land of Seven Rivers.

 

One of the most intriguing pieces of artwork found in the Indus-Saraswati Civilization is the depiction of a God believed to be Shiva. Portrayed as a yogi, he is surrounded by animals and is shown as the God of the natural world. Shiva is a sacred being, the beginning and the ending of all existence, of the entire cosmos. His living beings — the animals, the plants, the trees, the rivers, the mountains, and all of nature, are sacred too, and they are to be cared for and worshipped.

 

*4one of the Virupaksha gopurumsDSC00277

 

Within the Virupaksha Temple, in the late afternoon, one can feel an age-old connection with levels beyond; an ancient continuity that is only evident when there is still a link with the past – when we are not lost in a present that is chaotic like a boat cast adrift without moorings. Like the temple trees whose roots provide a grounding strength, the centuries and centuries that go back into the mists are rooted in an ancient truth that is always there, a light shining through the forests of time.

 

© Sharon St Joan, text and photos, 2017

 

Photos: Sharon St Joan

 

Top photo: A part of the Virupaksha Temple that goes back to around 1000 CE.

 

Second photo: A giant Nandi overlooking the temple.

 

Four: Nearby boulders.

 

Five: One of the temple gopurams.

 

 

Aryan Invasion Myth How 21st Century Science Debunks 19thCentury Indology – the IndiaFacts newsletter http://indiafacts.org/aryan-invasion-myth-21st-century-science-debunks-19th-century-indology/

 

 

Lost River: On the trail of the Sarasvati by Michel Danino https://www.amazon.com/Lost-River-Sarasvati-Michel-Danino/dp/0143068644/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498344116&sr=8-1&keywords=Michel+Danino