Sunday, February 26, 2012

THE STORY OF A WELL

When I think of a well, the picture comes to my mind is old deep well, without any motor pump used in our village in olden days. All the houses have their own well and there was no need of purification of water further. The water from well was as sweet as honey. During summer time, the level of water goes down and the villagers get a time to clean it. Its a skilled act to go down to a well having circular rings.

I still remember my father climbing down to a well whenever he wanted to pick anything which accidentally fell into it. As time passed, I too learnt how to descend in to a well. There is no projection or hooks to hang on, but mere balancing will protect the person from falling down. Now, as a city dweller, I cant see any well in the nearby places. I’m afraid people do not know how can a well be constructed or how can we descend into without ladder. The picture of old village well creates a nostalgia in my mind. That is why I said ‘yes’ when a friend invited to me to visit an old well in this metro city.
Ugrasen ki Baoli,(Ugrasen’s Well)
is a protected monument by the Archeological Survey of India. This is a 60-meter long and 15-meter wide historical step well on Hailey Road near Connaught Place,in New Delhi, India. Although there are no known historical records to prove who built Agrasen ki Baoli, it is believed that it was originally built by the legendary king Agrasen and rebuilt in the 14th century by the Agrawal community which traces its origin to Maharaja . Water temples and temple step wells were built in ancient India and the earliest forms of step well and reservoir were also built in India in places like Dholavira as far back as the Indus Valley Civilisation.

A water well is an excavation or structure created in the ground by digging, driving, boring or drilling to access groundwater in underground aquifers. The well water is usually drawn by an electric submersible pump, a trash pump, a vertical turbine pump, a handpump or a mechanical pump (e.g. from a water-pumping windmil. It can also be drawn up using containers, such as buckets, that are raised mechanically or by hand.
Hand dug wells provide a cheap and low-tech solution to accessing groundwater in rural locations in developing countries, and may be built with a high degree of community participation, or by local entrepreneurs who specialize in hand-dug wells. Hand dug wells have been successfully excavated to 60 metres and are inexpensive and low tech (compared to drilling) as they use mostly hand labour. Construction of hand dug wells can be dangerous due to collapse of the well bore, falling objects and asphyxiation, including from dewatering pump exhaust fumes.


In a village,one day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried sadly for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to rescue the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all took shovel and other tools and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of mud that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Donkey relaxing after coming out of well
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The “Living” Sculpture

Khajuraho is just a small modest village with no more than 3000 residents surrounded by the forestland. As Khajuraho gets a fair number of tourists from all over the world every year, hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops have sprung up in large numbers at the entrances to the two distinctive groups of temples here. Aeroplanes are not a thing of curiosity for the villagers anymore and the emblem of a warrior fighting a lion single-handedly and with his bare hands seen frequently at the temples is said to be the depiction of the valiant warrior-king who was the head of the clan of the Chandela Rajputs who built the temples. Chandelas are believed to be the descendants of the Moon God himself. The construction of the temples is said to have started in the mid- 9th century and continued until the early 12th century and due to the lack of records of the building activity, the names of the thousands of sculptors, architects and masons, who must have contributed in their construction has been lost forever into obscurity.


Chandela dynasty had already lost its glory by the time the last temple was completed. Khajuraho was the capital of the Chandelas for a brief period but for most of the part, it was their religious center. However, there have been many theories regarding the sculptures adorning the facades and interiors of the Khajuraho temples. Some of them believe these temples to be centers of tantrik mysticism, which regards sex as an important part of human development and the attainment of the Absolute.









Others believe that they were constructed as such to lure men and women back to the family and worldly life, which play an important part in Hinduism, from the austerities preached by the Buddha that were gaining favor with people of that time. Since thick forests surrounded these temples thus shielding them from the Mughal armies. T. S. Burt, the British engineer who re-discovered the temples in the mid-19th century found the sculptures offensive. However, the local villagers and tribals have regularly used the temples ever since they were constructed, especially, the temple of Matangeshwar Mahadev for worshipping. It was General Alexander Cunningham who worked hard to gather details about them for the first time in his Survey of India reports. It was his efforts that stirred interest in people about the place. Later, the roads were constructed, facilities were provided for and luxury hotels were planned here and thus, started the resurrection of Khajuraho

The Khajuraho temples do not contain sexual or erotic art inside the temple or near the deities; however, some external carvings bear erotic art. Also, some of the temples that have two layers of walls have small erotic carvings on the outside of the inner wall. There are many interpretations of the erotic carvings.


They portray that, for seeing the deity, one must leave his or her sexual desires outside the temple. They also show that divinity, such as the deities of the temples, is pure like the atman, which is not affected by sexual desires and other characteristics of the physical body. It has been suggested that these suggest tantric sexual practices. Meanwhile, the external curvature and carvings of the temples depict humans, human bodies, and the changes that occur in human bodies, as well as facts of life.


Some 10% of the carvings contain sexual themes; those reportedly do not show deities, they show sexual activities between people. The rest depict the everyday life of the common Indian of the time when the carvings were made, and of various activities of other beings. For example, those depictions show women putting on makeup, musicians, potters, farmers, and other folk. Those mundane scenes are all at some distance from the temple deities. A common misconception is that, since the old structures with carvings in Khajuraho are temples, the carvings depict sex between deities.


Another perspective of these carvings is presented by James McConnachie. In his history of the Kamasutra, McConnachie describes the thought-provoking 10% of the Khajuraho sculpture as "the apex of erotic art": "Twisting, broad-hipped and high breasted nymphs display their generously contoured and bejewelled bodies on exquisitely worked exterior wall panels. These fleshy apsaras run riot across the surface of the stone, putting on make-up, washing their hair, playing games, dancing, and endlessly knotting and unknotting their girdles....Beside the heavenly nymphs are serried ranks of griffins, guardian deities and, most notoriously, extravagantly interlocked lovemaking couples."
While recording the television show 'lost worlds' for the history channel at Khajuraho, Alex Evans, a contemporary stonemason and sculptor gave his expert opinion and forensically examined the tool marks and construction techniques involved in creating the stunning stonework at the sites. He also recreated a stone sculpture under 4 feet that took about 60 days to carve in an attempt to develop a rough idea how much work must have been involved.Roger Hopkins and Mark Lehner also conducted experiments to quarry limestone which took 12 quarrymen 22 days to quarry about 400 tons of stone. These temples would have required hundreds of highly trained sculptors.(courtesy)


The sculpture of a laughing elephant
The moment I stopped car near by ,a group of guides surrounded me .It seems none of them know the details thoroughly . But at last I succumbed one man. His English is as old as that of Chandela dynasty though they appear in jacket and sun glass. I stopped the car and asked him to go, the moment he told me that he would charge me extra if I go even one minute beyond the three hours as agreed. The guides are more interested in the tourist visiting the shops nearby rather than explaining the life that is depicted in stone. The narration in English by the tourist authorities is good and helpful. I joined with a group from abroad and find the guide highly experienced and informative.


….don’t depend on untrained guides though they may appear with jacket ,cap and sun glasses……
The stones have got life here. The facial expression of each sculpture is mesmerizing and stunning, revealing to the situation which is depicted. Unfortunately very few look on the face of the sculpture. It wonders me that few sculptors have on modern cloths –made as a part main stone –which remind you of the apparel and costume of a city dweller.
Sculptors with beard
Over the course of history, men with facial hair ie. beard, have been credited various qualities such as wisdom, sexual virility, masculinity, or a higher status; although beards may also be alleged to be associated with a lack of general cleanliness and a loss of fine-tuning. Biologists characterize beards as secondary sexual characteristics because they are unique to one gender, yet do not play a direct role in reproduction. When one of my friends often boast of the freedom and advantage of being a man whereas the women have a lot of genetic problems, the process of shaving of beard regularly comes to my mind.

In ancient India, the beard was allowed to grow long, a symbol of dignity and of wisdom. The nations in the east generally treated their beards with great care and veneration, and the punishment for wastefulness and betrayal was to have the beard of the offending parties publicly cut off. They had such a sacred regard for the preservation of their beards that a man might pledge it for the payment of a debt.
A beard can be explained as an indicator of a male's overall condition. My father used to tell me this when I watch him shave, when I was five or six. I respected beard men those days. As time passed, I started shaving almost every day and even carry the wound of a quick shave on my face; still I didn’t learn any lesson. I like beard and hate shaving.Many things came to my mind when I saw beard sculptors at Khajaraho.Wherever, erotic life is described along with values of life, the sculptors carry beards. Depending on our education, culture or country we live, grow up or work, we may be influenced by our surrounding and even pulled away or distracted from your own goal of life and true values.
How a Sculptors can be valued.? We have our own goals and destinations, and the sculptors stay humbly out of the way. The problem with sculpture is not that people today reject the characteristic of old cults and traditions, it's that we are moving along with the unexciting, modern art.Yes,value has a value only if its value is valued.

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