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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bringing Devotion Home: Creating a Home Altar and Morning Practice

Spirituality has replaced religiosity for many people, with people taking charge of their beliefs and relationship to the sacred. In the same way, so has the home altar or sacred space evolved.

For many years, the home altar was an abandoned concept: only orthodox or very devout homes kept the tradition. But now, rather than a proscribed space, the home altar has become a sort of new hearth, a gathering space, a touchpoint - where individuals create connection and make meaning of their own. It’s personal, and varied and rich.

Selecting the Perfect Piece: Meaning and Gemstone Malas

Gemstones have a special meaning in many types of devotional practices. We've put a lot of thought into what goes into Dharma Boutique - in the gemstone and mala category, as both bracelets and necklaces, we've selected a few pieces that we think are especially beautiful, made by hand by artisans we've encountered on our travels. 
One of the most common inquiries we get is around the meaning of the stones and how to choose the right one.  So, whether you are looking for a special gift for a friend or wanting to use these gemstones for healing purposes or as a touchstone in your own practice, knowing the language and symbolism may make the choice more meaningful.   So, in that spirit, here's a primer: 
Turquoise is associated with friendship, protection, wisdom, and good luck. It is also used by some people as a healing stone for inflammation, stomach ailments, and general pain.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Swimming in Devotional Art

Dharma Devotional India Art
Troves of uniquely framed devotional art
I’ve been digging through some of my old travel photography, being instantly drawn back into past adventures the way rummaging through old photographs allows us to do. When people visit my Dharma Boutique shop they often comment on the smell as they come into the rooms (“Oh, it reminds me of India!”), as so many of the vintage and antique items still possess elements of the aromatic essence of their origin. As you enter the big room, on your right is a wall of literally hundreds of framed devotional art prints: antique frames filled with original lithograph prints from the early/mid 1900s, as well awesome reproductions of old hand-painted miniatures.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Murtis in their Natural Habitat

One of the more unusual items I have collected and offered in my Dharma work over recent years has been a constellation of old marblemurtis, the temple statuary seen ubiquitously in homes, temples and roadsideshrines across India. When properly installed, these murtis are considered literal forms of the divine, and worshipped as a manifestation of the Deity represented—in the above photograph taken near Keshi Ghat in the sacred Yamuna River town of Vrindavan, we see Shiva, Parvati and their son Ganesh with the Yamuna flowing past.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Masters and Simplicity: The Veena Makers

We were in south India, and in search of a harmonium maker.

After asking around, we were assured that the right place had been found, and a few of us hopped into some tuk-tuks and headed out, down bouncy dirt roads, far out of town, until we came to this small workshop, which was NOT in fact a harmonium maker (surprise, surprise) but another kind of handcrafting.

Here, in this open air, dirt floored workshop, 3 generations of men were handmaking beautiful Veenas. 

You can see the progression below, from the raw wood to the instrument being tuned.   Each one of these takes a month to make, and there are usually several in process at once.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

More Vrindavan pics, 2

The last round of Vraja photos...

The Hare Krishna on chanting walkabout near the MVT Guest House, viewed through my rickshaw wala's windshield

Small child doing the pump-n-fill at the local water source

Barefeet immersed in the results of the day's unexpected April downpour

Pretty nice pooch perch!

Cows and bhaktas roaming the back streets of Vrindavan

More Vrindavan pics, 1

1:25 a.m., Thursday April 9th, 2009
New Delhi, India

A few more parting shots of Vraja…

A sweeping rooftop view of the sacred Yamuna River (just to the right of the white spires) snaking through the town of Vrindavan

Me enjoying an unseasonal April downpour in the bazaar

Man selling devotional items, including some of Shyamdas' translations, in front of a temple in Jatipura

Flags waving atop the Sri Nathji Temple, Jatipura

Madhusudan ji showing Maharaji's son, Dharma Narayan, his iPhone

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