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Curious Kestrels~


Are rare for me to find.


This pair was mating on the rooftops in Alsace France.


Kestrels are a type of falcon that live all over the world.


These were photographed in Canada and France.

Kestrels will hunt and nest in populated areas if prey is available.


They don’t bother building their own nests, preferring to steal other bird nests!


They often hover in mid-air over prey, before dropping to consume them.

Cheers to you from the quite handsome French & Canadian Kestrels~

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The Tepe Telegrams

Starting from 2007 new excavation areas were opened at Göbekli Tepe´s southwestern hilltop. They were meant to get a better understanding of the architecture of the tell – would the stratigraphical situation from the southeastern excavation areas repeat here? And indeed, soon buildings characteristic for the younger Layer II appeared.

image description The sculpture of a standing person and its find spot at Göbekli Tepe’s southwestern hilltop (copyright DAI, photos D. Johannes, K. Schmidt, drawings excavation team).

Many of the rectangular or ssemi-rectangular buildings discovered at Göbekli Tape show evidence of rebuilding, repairing or further modification. One very large room, discovered in area L9-17, for instance was at some point in its life-cycle subdivided by two walls into one large approximately square central room with two adjacent smaller chambers. No entries to these chambers could be identified, but an access through the roof is a possibility. In the eastern chamber soon a pillar…

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GarryRogers Nature Conservation

GR:  Here’s an annotated bibliography that explores alternatives to perpetual growth. Perpetual growth is the idea that economies will fail without continuous growth. It assumes that there are unlimited resources for growth. The idea guides our business enterprises and spills over into our social beliefs including our definition of well-being. The bibliography is part of the effort at MAHB to avoid global catastrophe.

Economy by spDuchamp | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

“The current economic system being utilized and internalized relies on perpetual growth. It has long operated counter to the reality that we are confined to a finite planet with finite resources. Yet, this system continues to be practiced and promoted globally. As the environmental and social repercussions of disbelief in limits become increasingly clear, so does our need for a new economic system —one that is not wedded to growth. Neither growth in the number of consumers…

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robertscribbler

I think it can be fairly said that we are a people who believe in a better future. That the ideals of America are founded on building prosperity and expanding prospects — not only for ourselves, but for our fellows and for those generations that are to follow.

Americans have often been described as a ‘can-do’ kind of people. A people who will undertake any challenge to advance or protect our nation and to graciously extend her kind virtues to the huddled masses of a troubled world. Be it the freeing of slaves, the emancipation of women, the facing down of tyrannical dictators, the liberation of scientific inquiry, or the exploration of our Earth and the vast realm of space we have doggedly decided to march forward and on.

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Stephen Liddell

Many of us are familiar with the use of ancient civilisations making monuments that in some way link up to either our calendar, the sun, moon or stars.  From the stone circles in the British Isles the Mayan temples in Central America, ancient civilisations often focussed much of their wealth, manpower and engineering to either worship or make calculations that were vital in providing a real or imagined sense of control over their existence.

New research recently published in Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry by experts at Edinburgh University have made something of a breakthrough of two stone pillars at Gobekli Tepe in southern Turkey.   Rather than trying to help predict the seasons or the motions of heavenly bodies however, it has been discovered that instead the stone carvings remember a cosmic disaster which occurred in our planet 13,000 years ago.

The markings suggest that a swarm of comet fragments hit Earth…

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These guys weren’t part of my plan for the day!


I was going to show you Baden-Baden,

but the Mandarins got in my way!

Why are Mandarin Ducks swimming wild in Germany you may well wonder?


Although Mandarin Duck populations are dwindling in their native Russia and Asia, some escapees from captivity are breeding in the wild in Germany and The UK. I happened upon these guys today on the Oos River in Baden-Baden Germany.


So, it is cheers to you, and Happy Spring, from the gorgeous Mandarins in Baden-Baden Germany~

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Natural History Wanderings

Audubon has an article by Kenn Kaufman explaining how birds know when to migrate

Back in February, unseasonably warm temperatures swept over much of North America, buds began opening on trees, and flowers began to bloom weeks early. Naturally, birders began to ask: Will our migratory birds come back earlier, too?

That question doesn’t have a simple yes or no answer because the timing of bird migration is . . . complicated. Every species is slightly different; short-term changes in weather do have an impact, but so do a variety of other innate and environmental factors.

Read this quick primer on how North American avians schedule their spring journeys at How Different Spring Migrants Decide When to Head North | Audubon

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Narasimha ShDSC00350

 

By Sharon St Joan

 

On this planet, as we all know, life began in the sea, with the fish and other sea creatures; then came reptiles like the turtles, as animals began to adapt to life on land. Great sea turtles still swim in the sea, but they lay their eggs on the shore. Then the land animals, like the boar, appeared. And of course, much, much later humanoid beings appeared, including the several species of early humans.

 

In Hindu tradition, one of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu is Narasimha, who is half-man, half-lion. Preceding Narasimha are three Vishnu incarnations that have an animal form: Matsya, the fish, Kurma, the turtle, and Varaha, the boar. The incarnations that follow Narasimha are all human in form: Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Ballarama (or in some sources, Buddha) and Kalki.

 

Interestingly, this progression throughout time corresponds to the theory of evolution: first a fish; then a reptile; then a mammal; then a half-mammal half-human, followed by the human forms.

 

An eighteenth century painting This work is in the public domain in India because its term of copyright has expired.808px-Narasimha_oil_colour

 

How did ancient Hindu seers know about the theory of evolution—which was only “discovered” by Charles Darwin in the nineteenth century? Well, they seem to have known quite a lot of things. Ancient Sanskrit writings are filled with scientific treatises on mathematical and scientific topics, especially astronomical knowledge, a lot of which was only “discovered” many centuries later by Europeans, yet this knowledge was there all along, and was written down in very early Sanskrit texts.

 

We are so used to thinking that only modern humans, within the past few centuries, have possessed any real knowledge about the world, that we remain ignorant of all the thousands of years of human history in which there is evidence that humans knew far more than we give them credit for.

 

In any case, Narasimha stands on the threshold between the animal and the human forms of Vishnu. He is an intriguing figure.

 

Author Adityamadhav Narasimha at Simhachalam Temple in Visakhapatnam

 

Many stories in Hinduism and in legends all over the world, portray the great battle that takes place between the self-absorbed forces of darkness and the beings of light who defend the innocent from wrongdoing. Narasimha is a defender against injustice.

 

Once upon a time, so one of these stories goes, there was a demon named Hiranyakasipu who didn’t like Vishnu very much because in a previous incarnation Vishnu had killed his younger brother. This had happened because one day the brother, Hiranyaksha, had brutally attacked and then tried to drown Mother Earth at the bottom of the sea. In his role as protector of the innocent, Vishnu had saved Mother Earth from the sea, and killed the demon brother.

 

The demon Hiranyakasipu, who was perhaps afraid because his brother had been killed as a consequence of his evil deeds, feared death and wanted to live forever.

 

So one day, he approached Brahma to ask for the gift of immortality. Brahma replied that that gift was not within his power to bestow, but, at Hiranyakasipu’s insistence, he agreed to do the next best thing. Brahma granted him a boon – that he would not die either inside or outside, neither during the day nor the night; also that he would not be killed by any weapon, or by any human being or any animal. Hiranyakasipu was quite happy with all this and felt pretty certain that he would now live forever.

 

A few years passed, and Hiranyakasipu had a son named Prahalada. Unfortunately for Hiranyakasipu, his son became an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. This upset Hiranyakasipu no end because he saw Vishnu as his mortal enemy. One day just as the sun was setting, Hiranyakasipu came upon his son Prahalada, who despite all his father’s objections, was still praying to Vishnu. He even said to his father that Vishnu is all-powerful and is present everywhere. Thoroughly exasperated, his father shouted at him, “Look at that pillar; is your God Vishnu inside that pillar?”

 

Prahalada replied, “Vishnu is inside every pillar and even every twig.” Losing his temper completely, Hiranyakasipu picked up his heavy mace and smashed the pillar into pieces. Out jumped Narasimha. By this time Hiranyakasipu was swinging his mace wildly, and his son’s life was in danger. To save the boy Prahalada, from the wrath of his father, Narasimha lifted the demon Hiranyakasipu up off his feet and killed him with his bare hands.

 

As it turned out, Hiranyakasipu was after all subject to death, despite the boon granted by Brahma, because he was killed at twilight – neither in the day or in the night; by Narasimha’s powerful hands, not by any weapon; in the doorway, and therefore neither inside nor out, and he was killed not by any animal or any human, but by Narasimha, who was part man, part lion. Perhaps the lesson is also that no matter what kind of deal one tries to strike with fate or with the Gods, one cannot evade one’s karma.

 

As an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Narasimha is a fierce and powerful, magical being who protects those who call on him from harm and danger.

 

The twenty feet high, beautifully carved statue of Narasimha at Hampi, however, was not immune to the violence done by the invading army which destroyed the city in 1565. His legs and hands were cut off, and they lay nearby on the ground for several hundred years until significant restoration work was done in the 1980’s by the Archeological Survey of India. Now he looks down, once again an imposing presence, ready to spring into action to bring about justice and rid the earth of evil.

 

© Sharon St Joan, 2017.

 

Top photo: Sharon St Joan. Narasimha at Hampi.

 

Second photo: An eighteenth century painting of Narasimha. Wikipedia: “This work is in the public domain in India because its term of copyright has expired.”

 

Third photo: Author: Adityamadhav83 / CC BY-SA 3.0, Narasimha at the Simhachalam Temple in Visakhapatnam.

 

 

1 Vitthala Temple with musical pillars.jpg

 

By Sharon St Joan

 

The now deserted site of Hampi, in Karnataka, in south India, covers 25 square miles, of stunning ancient ruins – the temples, palaces, and bazaars of this ancient city.

 

Knocking on the pillars of the beautiful Vitthala Temple is no longer allowed; but when they used to be struck, each pillar would produce a unique musical tone.

 

The main temple features 56 columns – each of the columns is made up of a circle of musical pillars — long, slender, and graceful. The rock that resonates contains large quantities of metallic ore, including silica. Other temples in India also feature musical pillars, including some at the Chidambaram Temple on the east coast and at the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai. They produce a clear, bell-like sound, with each pillar sounding its own unique note. In some cases, when one pillar is rung, others in the same circle will also ring.

 

Begun in the Fourteenth Century, the Vitthala Temple was expanded later on by the great Vijayanagara king, Krishna Deva Raya in the Sixteenth Century.

 

Vitthala is a traditional name by which Krishna is known in this area.

 

The structures at Hampi, as is typical of old temples, are constructed in two sections, the bottom part being built of heavy stone, and the top section made of clay bricks which are much lighter, so the structure is stable with the heavier stone on the bottom. The clay bricks tend to wear away easily over the centuries, while the stone sections, less affected by weathering, remain much as they always were.

 

DSC00116.JPG

 

In front of the Vitthala Temple at Hampi stands a great stone chariot. The stone wheels of the chariot are made to be able to turn, just as they would in a real chariot; however, to prevent damage to them, they have been fixed in place in modern times and no longer revolve. Inside the chariot is the icon of Garuda, the winged being, part man, part eagle – or part brahminy kite, who is the vehicle of Lord Vishnu.

 

Where, a few centuries ago, two stone horses were placed in front to pull the chariot, now there are two stone elephants instead. The horses were destroyed by the invading army that leveled the city of Vijayanagara (Hampi) in 1565. The topmost part of the chariot, made of bricks is also gone; the great carved stone section of the chariot remains.

 

A powerful, magical being, Garuda is seen as one who has access to mystical knowledge and insights. Ferocious and fearless, he targets evil with his keen eyes and sharp claws. He is particularly an enemy of snakes.

 

This does not mean, however, that snakes are evil. Like all the animals of the earth, snakes are innocent beings. The nagas, who are mythical snakes and serpents, possess great knowledge of the earth; after all, snakes live within in the earth so they know it well. (Even in western mythologies, dragons guard the hidden treasures of the earth.) Snakes, however, are also likely to eat eggs, which does not endear them to birds.

 

It may be said that eagles, hawks, and all birds, have an opposing worldview from that of snakes – the birds’ domain is the sky, the realm between heaven and earth, so their perspective is opposite to that of snakes, but neither one is evil (There are, in fact, a few birds that do make their homes in caves in the earth, but only a few.) In many mythologies, among the peoples of South America, for example, there are tales of feathered serpents – who, one supposes, must have an affinity with both snakes and birds.

 

DSC00129.JPG

 

In any case, Garuda’s realm is the space between heaven and earth; his home is the skies, which he traverses to carry Lord Vishnu from his heavenly home down to the earth. Whenever unrighteousness holds sway over the earth (which seems to happen quite a bit), Vishnu descends to the earth, where he incarnates as an earthly being to overcome injustice and set things right again.

 

3 Painting - Vitthala Temple.jpg

 

The number of avatars of Vishnu varies from one source to another, but most commonly is said to be ten; of these, the ninth is Krishna. These are described in Dr. Nanditha Krishna’s beautiful “Book of Vishnu,” where she writes, “Vishnu means all-pervading: he is the all-pervading sun, whose rays envelope the earth, who protects the sacrifice and sends forth the rain and is the final abode of the pious dead…Benevolence, goodwill, and willingness to help his devotees whenever they call upon him are characteristics that made Vishnu popular in an increasingly material world and which brought him into the world in several incarnations.”

© Text and photos, Sharon St Joan, 2017

Photos:

Top photo: The Vitthala Temple, with its musical pillars.

Second photo: The stone chariot of Garuda.

Third photo: A flowering tree in the courtyard.

Fourth photo: Traces of painting still present on one of the sculptures.

The Book of Vishnu, by Dr. Nanditha Krishna, is available on Amazon –www.amazon.com

 

 

 

Bharata Bharati

Sri Rama

Dr. Subramanian SwamyIt is well-established by GPRS-directed excavations done under the Allahabad High Court monitoring and verification in 2002-03, that a large temple did exist below where Babri Masjid structure once stood. – Dr Subramanian Swamy

True and devout Hindus believe Lord Sri Rama was born in Ayodhya, the then capital of a flourishing kingdom of the Suryavansha dynasty. Rama is venerated as Maryada Purushottam, and worshipped by Hindus of the north. As an avatar of Vishnu, he was first propagated by Tamil saints Nayanmars and Alwars; the north later came to accept Rama, especially thanks to the saint Tulsidas. In that sense, Sri Rama was the first truly national king of India, supra region, supravarna or jati.

The exact spot where Rama was born has been and remains firmly identified in the Hindu mind and is held as sacred. This is the very area where stood from 1528…

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