Well I’m back from my 10-day Thai Yoga Bodywork course, and will resume a normal posting schedule.
While I was gone I visited a couple interesting places. One of which was the Narayana Gurukula Bangalore location. This small and simple ashram is watched over by a sweet lady known to visitors as “Ma”… and some really menacing looking dogs. Above is the interior of what might be called the main hall. There are some interesting stone carvings and artworks across the property as well as a little stone temple and a lilliputian book house.
I wasn’t familiar with Narayana Guru before my visit. There have been so many gurus in India, and it’s hard to know of them all. However, this particular guru and his disciples (one of whom, Nataraja Guru, started the Gurukulam) held forward-thinking views on society and spirituality. A Hindu, Narayana guru advocated unity between traditions and a focus on introspection as the route to betterment.
This was taken at the Grand Palace in October 2012 as some foul weather was arriving.
A few things to keep in mind:
1.) The Palace is open all day almost everyday but tuk-tuk drivers tell bald-faced lies, saying that it’s closed for an hour or two. They do this so they can get a fare. The loudspeakers blaring an announcement to not listen to anyone who attempts to divert you, doesn’t dissuade them. They will say that there is some special event involving the King or Queen that has shut the complex down. Don’t believe it.
2.) Cover your thighs. While there are lots of places (temples and so forth) that say they require such modesty, this is one of the few places that seems to strictly enforce it. If you don’t want to end up wearing a communal sarong, leave the daisy dukes in your hotel room and wear some bigboy/biggirl pants (or at least long shorts.) I wore walking shorts that went to the top of my knee, and was fine.
The National Museum of Cambodia is picturesque. The collection is small and simple, but impressive in quality. For those of us who run out of “ooh” and “ahh” stamina after a few hundred artifacts, it’s just the right size. It’s also not stuffy in the usual way of museums– large barred windows are unshuttered while the museum is open. (This is probably less than ideal from both the perspective of security and artifact preservation, but it gives the place a certain ambiance, and maybe helped the exodus of the bats that took up residence during the museum’s dormant period)
It’s great to see what they’ve done with the place considering the state of disrepair it was said to be in after the Khmer Rouge period. With respect to my comment about it not being a large collection, it’s a wonder that any collection exists at all after the wave of lootings from the French through Vietnamese soldiers that took place in the country.
Be forewarned, once one is inside, one will be confronted by Buddhists from a monument preservation society seeking donations at about half a dozen different Buddhas around the museum. If you aren’t a Buddhist, this can be a bit of an annoyance. If you are a Buddhist, you may find their approach disconcertingly unBuddhist. They will try to press incense into one’s palm in order to corner one into paying homage to the Buddha so they can make some dough for their cause. However, they don’t follow one around once refused (as similar individuals have been known to do at Angkor.) It may be a great cause, but they’d probably do better if they restricted it to one per museum and not one per gallery, and just let people drop cash rather than insisting on the idol worship first. I’m nondenominationally happy-go-lucky myself, but I can imagine this being troublesome for some visitors. At any rate, it’s symptomatic of the country’s poverty and their inability to support their deity at the level to which he has apparently become accustomed.