Mirror Mind

“Capture these moments”, exclaimed my wife, as we moved through Suru Valley in our journey towards Padum. I could sense the moment of disappointment when I chose not to pick the camera. I had a vision to showcase the beauty of Suru, not directly but through reflections in the still water clusters. That would mean, photographing the valley would have to be put...

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Waiting for Godot

So often we come across people who seem to be living a life of ‘nothing’. Observing them, I have often wondered, if they are the victims of destiny or circumstances? Is their existence reeling under the drama of ’cause and effect’, the law of karma – ‘As one sows, so shall one reap’? When the entire creation seems to have a...

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Thirty years in search of General Zorawar Singh

Not all who wander are lost!   Hundreds of human skeletons, some with frozen flesh attached to them, can still be found around Roopkund (16,500 feet), a remote glacial lake in the lap of Trishul massif in Himalayas. The presence of these skeletons was first discovered in 1942 by the Himalayan ranger H K Madhwal.   Roopkund lake, India Human Skeletons at...

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Decay & transformation

Decay, a journey to death Transformation, a journey of youth   As she played the violin, a shimmering candlelight  created the moment of ecstasy, proclaiming that the next phase of transformation is awaiting to happen.   Death is the least understood and most emotional phenomena, mostly cloaked in stories from our perception. When it happens to humans, we don’t...

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Never without other

Bromo is a perpetual reminder that the beauty is transient and never without its other. Like any volcanic heap of earth, it is a story of fertility and death, tranquility and disaster.   A misty morning spent in tracing the tragic in the serenity of the Indonesian highlands reminded me of Nanak’s profoundness about life, as expressed in a simple verse.   Tis siu...

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Humps of Nubra

The journey from Singapore to Leh (Ladakh, India) meant going from sea level to 3,505 metres in less than 24 hours. I had not had time to acclimatize and my heart was pumping hard to maximize the intake of every molecule of oxygen in the rarefied air.     Early morning I drove in a multi-utility vehicle to one of the world’s highest motorable roads,...

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Kashmir – The Afghanistan Frontier

Kashmir, the land of shawls, snow and sun, Was being eaten by Afghans like a bun. excerpt from “History of Sikhs (Vol V)” by Hari Ram Gupta   A little known fact is that if not for the ambition of Maharajah Ranjit Singh (Lion of Punjab, who ruled from 1799 AD – 1839 AD), to expand his empire into Kashmir, today this region would be part of...

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Tumult of existence

A journey across the salt range in Pakistan enabled me to reflect on the tumult of human existence, our daily battles between the realms of spiritual and existential desires!   From the abandoned remains of Choa Baba Nanak Gurdwara (left picture), where Nanak spread the message of spiritual love, as I looked towards the Rohtas Fort, it’s past use as a military might...

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White Cloud

A white summer cloud once arose, in harmony with heaven and earth, to freely float in the blue sky from horizon to horizon following the breath of the atmosphere. It abandoned himself to the breath of the greater life, allowing it to lead him beyond the farthest horizons to an aim that was already present within him, though yet hidden from his sight.   In the...

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Mind Horse

Mind is a stubborn horse. It always does what it is supposed to do, leading naturally to the path of least resistance. This mind horse can however be directed on a constructive path by riding the saddle of self-reflection, holding the reins of patience and balancing on the stirrups of experience.   Observing the Tengger horsemen riding at ease on the volcanic ash of the...

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You are not

I have wandered in search of your existence! In the midst of the glamour of this world to the fringes of solitude but you have remained a mere perception!   I have been taught to believe that you are a reality and this worldly existence a mere perception! However in your elusiveness, I now perceive that “YOU ARE NOT”.   The believers hail me a radical but I still...

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It is ME

In Pakistan at Mansehra, as I peered into the hall of the Mansehra Municipal library, in front of the marble structure in which once the scripture of the Sikhs would be kept, now there were tables placed with newspapers! In the hall where the community would once attentively sit on the floor to hear the verses from the Guru Granth Sahib, now the people were seated on...

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Illuminate

Nanak sang the songs of love to ‘illuminate’ the hearts of mortals! However today, ironically, at a short distance from the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan where Nanak breathed his last, a barbed wire along the Indo-Pak border remains ‘illuminated’ with high powered lights even during the bright daylight! Nanak’s lamps to ‘illuminate’ the...

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Kafir

If we all can passionately advocate that this world is a bouquet of coexistence then differentiating words like ‘Kafir’ that breed one-upmanship can hopefully lose relevance? ‘Kafir’, a derogatory word has its origins in the Arabic culture and applies to anyone who holds a different view about the Creator and the Creation!   In search for the remains of the...

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Rear view

One’s who forget history are destined to relive it! While the past can’t be changed, but it can serve as a rear view mirror to guide us into the future, to not repeat what could have been avoided. At Rawalpindi in Pakistan, with a heavy heart, I gazed into a humongous Pipal tree, whose roots have engulfed the walls of an abandoned mansion of a Sikh noble. He had...

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Heights of Depth

During a visit to Pakistan in October 2014, I had an interesting encounter with a Fakir, who in a moment of smile had said, “Climb the heights of depth!” For years, I was focused on scaling the ‘Heights of Height’, and am now attempting to climb the ‘Heights of Depth’. So during my return in 2017, I tried to search for the Fakir! Unable to trace him, I have...

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Frog salvation

On a dark moonless night, the perfect stillness of the Borneo Forest was being interrupted by the croaks of the aquatic frogs. As we walked through the swamp, our untrained ears were trying hard to locate the direction of the echoes.   We finally spotted them, an army of frogs in all colors, shapes and sizes!   My thoughts meandered to Kabir, who beautifully ridicules...

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None Behind, None Ahead!

        On the plateau, Vastness of heaven and earth. None behind, None ahead. Joy and sorrow within, I, the only companion,   On the Leh – Kargil road in India, fifteen kilometers east of Fotu La pass, at a height of 11,500 feet lies the Lamayuru monastery. While driving to Lamyuru, at a distance I saw a solitary old monk, twirling his prayer wheel, peacefully...

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Elusive

Elusive, Yet we remain adamant!   Is He a figment of our imagination?   Among all concepts of His existence, acceptance or rejection, the common thread is that humans are fixated in search for something! For most it is materialistic, while others look for beyond for the subtle. However all searches soon transform into a desire to experience something new! In this...

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They Died For All Free Men

The British empire under the banner of East India Company, in the early 18th century, controlled the entire Indian sub-continent, except for the “Sikh Empire” under Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The western boundaries of the British Empire ceded at the banks of River Sutlej in Punjab, while the Sikh empire continued to expand into Afghanistan, Kashmir, Ladakh and...

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