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Celebrating Sakti, The Feminine Principle

The concept of Mother Goddess worship is now lost (except perhaps surviving in token symbolisms) across the world, as religious orders broke down and changed over the course of human history. It however survives and thrives in India through its Sakti worship. This form of Devi worship, which started with the beginning of human civilization and still continues unbroken, is thus a joyous celebration of nature and womanhood.

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Worship of the feminine principle or Sakti, also variously termed as the Devi, Matrikas or Mother Goddesses, is considered as the oldest religion in the history of human civilization, and the worshippers are known as Saktas. Here the Devi is not limited to being just a consort of a male devta (as Uma or Parvati in Shaivism, and Sridevi and Bhudevi in Vaishnavism), but here She is the one in focus as the main deity. This article will take a look at this worship of the feminine principle or Sakti from early human history, which wondrously still continues among the Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist communities.

Paleolithic burial in a foetal sleeping position.

Mother goddess from the Harappan culture c 2500 1900 BCE.

Venus of Willendorf, Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, 22000 to 24000 BCE, Upper Paleolithic.

GOING BACK IN HISTORY

In all ancient cultures or primitive societies women were seen as the foundation pillars upon whom rested the important tasks of giving birth and rearing the young, while teaching them what were seen as social norms, culture-heritage, behavioral habits, and traditions of those times. The women were seen as life producers with regenerative capacities, hence her organs that helped in procreation became the symbols of new life, and motherhood became the core figure in magic-religious cults of those times. The Paleolithic female figures found in abundance from various excavation sites with exaggerated maternal organs, stand as an evidence, showing the popularity of Mother Goddess worship in prehistoric times; a practice still popular in India, in a more developed form of  worship of the Sakti or the feminine principle.

A regular supply of food and offspring would have been the most important requisites of the primitive society, thus one can assume that preservation of life would be at the core of any prehistoric religious cult. As a general norm it is seen that the way of life of a group of people tend to define the basic framework for the type of deity and manner of worship in that group. From hunter gatherers, as the primitive society moved towards food production or farming, the regular food (hunted or farmed) acquired a high degree of importance and sacredness, and the women’s capability of procreation soon got associated with the plants and animals that kept the society nourished in ancient times. Thus, the primitive mother goddess figures (from Middle and Upper Paleolithic times) that we see with grossly exaggerated sexual organs initially would have been part of some fertility rituals asking for greater production of game and human offspring. During the Neolithic times as the society slowly moved towards agriculture, the religious beliefs started adding agricultural rituals alongside the hunting ones that were already in practice. The graves found in the upper Paleolithic sites across the world held skeletal remains with bones that were reddened using ochre, along with food, tools, weapons, and ornaments. Red being the color of regeneration, and the foetal positions of the skeletons, tend to point to a Paleolithic belief that the soul or body would regenerate (a rudimentary concept of re-birth) and start a new life again. However, Neolithic graves show some changes and the visibly greater pomp and reverence in laying down the body under the earth, pointed at a changed belief where the body was believed to affect the crops that sprung forth from the Mother Earth. Thus, during the Neolithic times the Mother Goddess was not just a life-creating mother, she was also the Mother Earth from whom the crops sprung, and who like any other woman could also be influenced with gifts and entreaties, who would help when entreated with various rituals and rites. Across all later cultures spread across Egypt, Mediterranean, Syria, Iran, and parts of SE Europe, female figurines in bones, stones, or clay have been found that are said to be the direct descendants of the images of deities created by the older Mesopotamian, Syrian, and Greek societies.

LOOKING AT THE INDIAN SCENARIO

Paleolithic era of the Old Stone Age is correlated with food gathering or Hunting societies/economy; while Neolithic era roughly relates to the transition from food gathering to food producing societies, though the latter has no uniform time frame in terms of the economy. This is especially so in India, hence it is more logical to focus on the anthropological categorizations, which can be better identified and recorded from among the different surviving Indian tribes (many of whom were still following the prehistoric customs until very recently). From a study of the existing Indian tribes three main types that had been derived are hunting-food gatherers, pastoral, and agricultural. However, the three are not mutually exclusive, nor do they have any particular chronological order. So often, we find pastoral communities that practice agriculture along with stock raising, and agricultural communities that indulge in stock raising along with hunting. Regarding the rites and rituals followed by the food gatherers and agricultural societies, the worship of mother goddess was at the core of all their magic -religious beliefs. However, the pastorals had a very different way of living, and they endured greater hardships in their daily lives. The pastorals were more dependent on a good leadership to protect their cattle, and this in turn gave rise to the development of community heroes and ancestors, who were worshiped and highly revered by the members of this community. Since the pastorals spent a large time under the open skies and endured the wrath of the nature in form of storms, harsh sun, or heavy rains, their gods were inevitably connected to the sky, in which nature and astral objects were personified as gods. The Supreme God of the pastorals is thus a man who leads and protects them, much like the headman of a joint patriarchal family. On the other hand, agricultural societies who are dependent on the earth to produce their crops developed the worship of feminine energy and the cult of Mother Goddesses, which involved rituals related to fertility and magic.

MOTHER GODDESSES AND FERTILITY 

The concept of Mother Goddess and associated fertility rituals is the most primitive and longest surviving religious practices in the world. The belief that women can multiply crops and fruits because they can create children out of their bodies was universal across all ancient societies. Thus, came the belief that what is sown or planted by a pregnant woman will also grow to bear fruits much like the child in her womb, while a barren woman will make the fields barren too. As per the prehistoric thinking, women, who were also the first cultivators,  with their child bearing capabilities would create a similar effect on the earth’s vegetative powers leading to good harvests, and thus women were seen as repositories (storeroom) of agricultural magic. In prehistoric era people would apply their own experiences from life to the various things that they saw around them, which is now known as principle of analogy. Thus, natural productivity was compared to human procreation capability, and earth mother or the mother goddess was conceptualized from a human mother. There are innumerable such examples from old Indian literature. Almost all the Puranas and Smritis (law books for various sects) have the line Ksetra-bhuta smrta nari vijabutah smrtah puman, where kshetra (seed-field) refers to woman (woman is mentioned as a seed field also during the marriage ceremonial rites), and a man is identified as the seed. This likening of the woman to the field or earth means that the functions of the two are the same, with the belief that conditions that lead to a woman becoming fertilized applies also to the Earth.  The same belief continues in the ritual known as ambuvaci (observed on and from 7th day of the third month of the Hindu calendar). It is believed that that during the four days of the ritual the Mother Earth also bleeds to prepare for fertilization. All kinds of agricultural work like ploughing, sowing etc, are suspended at this time so that Mother Earth can rest during her menstruation (also refer to the rituals of Kamakhya devi in Assam during ambuvaci).

The tantric form of worship also lays special importance to the menstrual blood for the same reason. Here in comes the use of the color red/vermilion, which we see being used in almost all Indic religious traditions. The Bhil tribes before sowing their fields followed the traditions of setting up of a stone smeared with vermilion. Since vermilion or red color symbolizes the menstrual blood, the smearing of vermilion implies the passing of the energy of procreation to the earth and making it fertile. The Mohenjodaro Mother Goddesses mostly have a red slip or wash paint over them, as are the Venus figures of Willendorf (Austria). Briffault who connected the red color with menstrual blood and fertility further said that in many countries across the world it was an ancient custom for women to color their bodies with red ochre in order to improve their chances of fertility. The same tradition is still seen in Hindu women who wear vermilion (sindur) after marriage, signaling their bindings to one man and the readiness to procreate, and it is for the same reason that widows and unmarried girls do not wear sindur. Holi, which is also a ritual of fertility, originally showed the profusion of color red.

In Tantric form of worship the focus remains on the rituals centering on the female genitals (lata sadhana), and the tantric yantras that symbolize female organs. During Durga puja a yantra known as sarvatobhadramandala symbolizing the female procreation organs is drawn on the ground in the form of alpona. Then a purnaghata or a purnakumbha symbolizing the womb is placed on it and sindurputtali or the figure of a baby is drawn on the ghata, and finally five leaves or amrapallava is placed on the ghata with a sindur-smeared coconut on top. Thus, this simple fertility ritual connects female regenerative powers of both humans and plants (human and natural fertility) to ensure continual procreation.

That the yantra and purnaaghata is associated with fertility is best depicted in the murti of a mother goddess found on the hilly slopes facing the river Krishna in Nagarjunakonda. It depicts the lower part of a female figure in a sitting or squatting position with legs doubled up and set wide apart and the feet facing outwards. The bifurcated part prominently shows the vulva or the yoni-dvara, and the ornamented broad belt or girdle (mekhala) from below the naval creates a purna-ghata like imagery. Satapatha Brahmana equates a purnaghata with the mother goddess while Kathasaritasagar is more detailed in its comparison of the purnaghata with that of a womb.

The concept of Mother Goddess worship is now lost (except perhaps surviving in token symbolisms) across the world, as religious orders broke down and changed over the course of human history. It however survives and thrives in India through its Sakti worship. This form of Devi worship, which started with the beginning of human civilization and still continues unbroken, is thus a joyous celebration of nature and womanhood that has the power to create new life, give birth, and keep the human species alive.

Disclaimer: Photos taken from the internet are for representation purposes only and have no commercial use.

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Snehalata Memorial Foundation brings Sambhav on Stage at Triveni Kala Sangam

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During the last two years, a lot of shows were organized online due to the raging pandemic. Now, most of the organizers have decided to conduct their events offline. Snehalata Memorial Foundation established in the year 1992, is a social organization that aims to spread awareness about classical music throughout the world. Snehalata Memorial Foundation is set to organise Sambhav on Stage with the tagline ‘Gayan Vadan Nritya’. The program is being organized at Triveni Kala Sangam, 205, Tansen Marg, Mandi House, Delhi, 110001 on the 19th of May 2022 from 6 PM onwards.

The program will start with a vocal, followed by a Tabla duet, and end with a Kathak trio recital. The performers have already performed online, this time they would be performing offline. During covid, the upcoming performers have suffered the most and Snehalata has planned to encourage young artists and present their art in front of the audience.

In a candid conversation tabla artist, Saptak Sharma who will be performing in the event said, “It’s completely an honor for me to be performing for Snehalata Memorial Foundation. Especially getting an opportunity after a long gap of 2 years is a whole another experience. I’ve been attached to this organisation and did some online concerts during the lockdown as well. A big thanks to Binay ji and the whole team for making this possible and getting the artists back on stage. It’s a whole different thing to live with the audience in a face-to-face way as compared to the online sessions. The essence of classical music lies in the baithak systems in which the artist is being praised by the audience and the music flowing out of that is completely felt differently. It’s always said music can only be felt and not seen. And that’s the best part about being on stage when you realise your audience feeling your music and reacting to it.”

The event features

Classical Vocal Recital by Abhijeet Mishra

Accompanists:

Sarangi – Ejaz Hussain

Tabla – Kamil Khan

Duet Tabla Recital by Saptak Sharma and Ashutosh Verma

Accompanist:

Sarangi – Mudassir Khan

Kathak Recital by Harshita Vaish, Disha Gupta, and Sagar Vishwakarma

Accompanists:

Sarangi- Ejaz Hussain

Vocal- Zaki Ahmed

Tabla- Shubhan Khan

Padhanti- Aishwarya Rawat

Venue-Triveni Kala Sangam, Delhi

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‘WE AT ICCS ARE OFFERING CUSTOMIZED OUTSOURCING SOLUTIONS WITH BEST TECHNOLOGY & INFRASTRUCTURE’

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In response to The Daily Guardian, Divij Singhal, Founder & CEO, ICCS, said ICCS’s mission is to outperform the industry by fostering innovation and forming collaborations with the world’s largest brands, as well as enthusiastic leaders and employees. The company envisions being one of the worlds’s most recognized and trusted BPM service provider, offering exceptional value to customers across all industries through cutting-edge technology and world-class service.

Q: What made you launch this business?

A: We looked at the domestic service industry and it was growing in the country and skilled people for voice and non-voice would be needed. We evaluated that there is a niche that can be created in this industry by the amalgamation of people and technology. That motivated us to be a part of this BPO industry.

Q: Goals and objectives when it is founded.

A: The goal was to be a leading player in this space of domestic BPO with the right quality and consistency being delivered to our customers at the right price.

Q: Business success so far

A: Our growth is consistent with the growth of 25% YoY, and something which we really can cherish is all our customers who started with us continued together, and we both grew over time. We believe in high quality and besides, we also give them the technology to improve their customer experience turning into retention.

Q: What will be the industry trends in 2023.

A: New-age technologies are emerging and making their mark in businesses across sectors. We feel that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in particular will be buzzwords and their impact will be such that the BPO sector will witness growth concerning the people in the coming year. The yield per employee will increase and this trend will render a positive impact on the valuation of the BPO industry

Q: What are your future plans?

A: We are indeed joyous that we have had a successful run so far. Indeed, we had our fair share of ups and downs. But we take pride in the fact that we have surpassed them all and are bracing for exponential growth in the future. As far as our growth plans are concerned, we at ICCS are looking forward to expanding our footprints in tier 2 regions as well as in the metro cities. We are also planning to hire 1000+ employees by the end of this year. From the business perspective, our focus is to increase our presence in the healthcare and retail distribution verticals. On the whole, we are striving to bring about innovation as well as foster associations with reputed brands at the global level.

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True to its name, Vibe – The Sky Bar, a rooftop bar at DoubleTree by Hilton Gurugram Baani Square is back to serve its patrons.

Blessed with breathtaking city views and sparkling ambiance, this high-end rooftop bar is an ideal place to socialize with friends and family or for a corporate gathering. Wind down after a busy day in comfortable lounges while you enjoy the sophisticated bites and handcrafted concoctions to lift your spirits.

Enjoy an open-air dining experience in re-imagined spaces secured with stringent safety norms, where Mukesh Kumar, Executive Sous Chef has introduced an array of delectable choices in the eclectic menu which includes The Giant Chicken Wings, Kaffir Lime Gamberi, Kasundi Salmon, Crunchy Amritsari Fish Tots, Tenderloin Boti Popsicles, Raan, Ragi Chickpea Falafel, Mexican Tacos, Citrus Creme Brule, DoubleTree Cookie Pastry, and many more to choose from.

Timings: – 04:00 PM–12:00 AM

Average cost for two: INR 3500 plus taxes

For reservations: +91 9711216466

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LOGIC OR INSTINCT, WHICH DO WE FOLLOW?

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During the last days of 2004, as a giant tsunami-ravaged a dozen countries, killing almost two hundred thousand people, researchers noticed something odd at the Yala National Park in Sri Lanka. The park, home to several hundred species, hardly had any animal carcasses. National Geographic magazine quotes observers reporting strange behavior from animals before the tsunami hit. Elephants screamed and ran for higher ground, turtles changed paths, and dogs refused to go outdoors. What did the animals sense that humans didn’t?

The pinstriped world of Wall Street might seem far removed from the forests of Sri Lanka, yet the same animal instincts run deep. Billionaire investor George Soros said that the onset of back pain is, for him, often “a signal that there was something wrong in my portfolio”. In his son’s words, Soros often “changes his position on the market” because “his back is killing him”. A study by researcher John Coates observed that traders who were more aware of their body rhythms made more profitable trades and could sense when ‘something just felt right.

Does this mean that we should trust our ‘gut instinct’ more often?

The answer, unfortunately, is not that simple. Almost every trader or gambler who places a bet feels that ‘today is going to be my lucky day. A look at the ranks of failed gamblers tells us that blind reliance on instinct can lead to ruin. Examples abound not just of businesses but entire kingdoms which were destroyed because the leader chose to act on an impulse or a whim. Giving our instincts a free run is like letting an angry elephant loose in a bazaar.

Scaling up and running a large enterprise requires standardization, and standardization leaves little room for subjectivity. Not surprisingly, our professional worlds elevate logic over instinct. The parameters for business decision-making, whether at Board meetings or client presentations, prioritize measurable metrics and tangible calculations. For a firm to say that decisions are made based on ‘gut feelings’ of key executives would be comical.

And yet, something valuable is lost when we rely too much on logic. Logic is often just a way for us to rationalize and reduce dissonance with a decision that has already been made based on our emotions. One needs to look no further than debates on Twitter or WhatsApp groups to witness this. Data can often be tortured to spit out a conclusion that suits a particular viewpoint.

In the numerous Board or investment committee meetings that I have attended, I have noticed that if you peel beyond the veneer of logic, key decisions almost always rest on softer factors, such as trust in the management team. Great investors focus on qualitative factors, such as the drive, energy, or integrity of the founders, instead of relying on metrics alone.

Can we leverage this power of instinct in our lives? Experience has shown me that there is a way.

First, we need to build deep expertise in the field in question. Coates’ study was done on experienced traders. My involvement in the stock markets dates back twenty-five years. Over two-thirds of those were spent focusing on left-brain analysis, involving numbers, financials, strategy, metrics, and so on. But in the last eight years, I have been able to transcend these and understand the softer realms of temperament, awareness, subtler patterns, behavioral biases, and so on. Yet, the latter would not have been possible without the former. The logical parts need to be integrated into muscle memory for the instinct to be robust.

Second, we need to polish our antennae. Today, as we increasingly tune into digital noise, we have lost the connection to nature and to the cues that it gives us. We need to tune in to signals from our bodies, minds, and the environment. Coates found that successful traders exhibited greater self-awareness of their body rhythms, such as heart rates. My practice of mindfulness meditation forms the core of my creativity, as it enables me to tap into intuition and get ideas for my writing.

As we eliminate the dust and cobwebs from our antennae, we re-establish our connection with our inner compass and with activities that nourish us deeply. We are then able to tap into the vast primeval universal intelligence. This intelligence works through processes that transcend logic and opens us up to the true power of instinct and intuition.

S.Venkatesh is the bestselling author of AgniBaan and KaalKoot, a leadership coach and an investor who has held key positions with JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and Macquarie. He writes about mindfulness and its link to creativity, business and wealth.

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Satellogic Inc. (NASDAQ: SATL), a leader in sub-meter resolution Earth Observation (“EO”) data collection, announced today that it has agreed with UP42, a geospatial developer platform and marketplace enabling direct access to Satellogic’s satellite tasking high-resolution multispectral and wide-area hyperspectral imagery via the UP42 API-based platform. The agreement includes the archive of high-frequency, high-resolution Satellogic data.

The companies made the announcement today at the Geospatial World Forum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where UP42 CEO Sean Wiid and Satellogic Business Development & Sales Director Eldridge de Melo are featured, speakers.

“This exciting new collaboration gives UP42 customers a distinct advantage in rapidly creating geospatial solutions,” said UP42’s CEO Sean Wild. “Users can now derive insights from Satellogic data using algorithms and data fusion via our developer-first platform.”

Direct API access to Satellogic’s multi- and hyperspectral data – with intraday updates – supports rapid, timely, and frequent monitoring of critical assets in diverse sectors, such as energy, utilities, local government, and security. The UP42 platform’s REST API and Python SDKs can be fully customized, allowing UP42 users to build cost-effective solutions and quickly deliver end products to their clients.

“Our mission of democratizing access to critical Earth Observation data means making our data available where it’s convenient for end-users,” said Thomas VanMatre, VP of Global Business Development at Satellogic. “UP42 is a leading geospatial marketplace with value-added capabilities, enabling its customers to access and analyze data without extensive expertise. It is collaborations like this alliance with UP42 that will increase adoption of EO data across new markets, driving better decision making and outcomes.”

The growing Satellogic constellation currently consists of 22 operational small satellites, capable of acquiring 4-band (RGB NIR) multispectral data at 70 cm (1m native) spatial resolution over a 5km swath and up to 29-band (460-830nm) hyperspectral imagery at 25m resolution over a 125km swath.

During pre-processing, Satellogic imagery is optimized for analysis by Machine Learning (“ML”) and Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) applications – a significant benefit for UP42 users who will have access to more than 75 ML/AI algorithms on the UP42 platform.

UP42 users will be able to apply Satellogic data sets and extracted knowledge to support projects in a range of applications spanning the public and private sectors, including Agriculture and Forestry, Energy and Sustainability, Critical Infrastructure Management, Finance, and Insurance, Environment and Climate, and Government.

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OTT is giving more opportunities to actors: Aamna Sharif

In an exclusive interview with NewsX, actress Aamna Sharif mentioned that OTT is giving her the scope to perform different things as an actor and she is grateful that she is being able to be a part of all three platforms. For an actress, digital or OTT is an interesting place to be, plus the medium is big and gives opportunity to every actor for different sorts of roles and performances.

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Actress Aamna Sharif recently joined NewsX for a fun conversation as part of our special series NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, the actress opened up about her role in the series Aadha Ishq, what drew her to the role, and much more.

Speaking about what attracted her to ‘Adha Ishq’, Aamna said, “The title itself is beautiful. I believe all of us have experienced adha ishq once in our life. It is a beautiful love story between Sahil and Roma, the journey of Roma (played by Aamna). The story shows the ten years of Roma’s journey of what happens in her life. The interesting part of this love story is that a couple in love gets separated and later their children fell in love. It’s a different concept which is most exciting.”

Talking about doing a romantic genre, she said she loves being a part of such projects as she is a romantic person and loves watching love stories. Adding further, she said, “I have been playing different roles and was waiting for something like this to come, something as intense as Aadha Ishq.”

When asked about her experience of working in an OTT platform and the scope of digital platforms, Aamna said, “I am loving it, I think it’s a blessing for all the actors because of the kind of scope it provides to all the actors for performances. The last show, which I did, was also a very challenging role and Roma has so many layers to its character. It’s a dream for any actor to do such challenging roles and OTT is giving that scope and space.”

Aamna further shared that it is very important to watch other actors’ performances. She explained that she loves watching the work of other actors as it is important to learn as an actor.

When asked about her previous role in Komolika, Aamna said, “I was scared to play Komollika as I have never played such a role ever before, even though in ‘Ek Villian’ my character had shades of grey but not as much as Komollika in KZK2.”

While talking about her last two years’ experience, Aamna said “The last two years have taught us to value small moments in life and be grateful towards life.”

Aamna further stated that OTT is giving her the scope to perform different things as an actress and she is grateful that she is being able to be a part of all three platforms.

Aamna Sharif stated that ‘Kahiin Toh Hoga’ was a game-changing project for her as it changed her life.

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