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Renuka Narayanan

Renuka Narayanan is a commentator and columnist on religion and culture.

Articles by Renuka Narayanan

Themes that will never ever leave us: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

Set language politics aside and you will find that there is, indeed, much to admire in early Indian poetry in English.

Sarasvati rules every field of knowledge. She does not care for complacency or ego.(Getty Images / iStock)
Updated on Nov 12, 2017 08:43 AM IST
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Seven leaves to a sprig and other stories: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

Saptaparni has an ancient past in the annals of Ayurveda. Its bark-extract is said to boost immunity and help treat deep tummy disorders, malaria and epilepsy.

The saptaparni is the state tree of West Bengal. It’s called chatim in Bengali. Graduating students of Vishvabharati University are ceremonially handed a sprig at convocation.(iStock)
Updated on Nov 05, 2017 08:51 AM IST
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An affection for flowers and a respect for tradition: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

Fashion designer Dries Van Noten made it big from his small hometown, Antwerp.

Belgian fashion designer Dries Van Noten .(AFP)
Updated on Oct 28, 2017 07:07 PM IST
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A verse to warm you on a winter dawn: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

I treasure memories of enchanted evenings at the annual Bhakti Utsavs in Delhi, particularly the year I heard a certain, moving Sanskrit verse on Shiva...

Thoughts of Shiva and a Sanskrit verse can prompt unsparing introspection.(iStock)
Published on Oct 21, 2017 08:49 PM IST
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Another story of Dipavali: SheBaba by Renuka Narayanan

The personality of the Kanchi Paramacharya is an inspiration for the spirit of the festival of lights

This Dipavali, light lamps of good thoughts and small, sweet acts of loving kindness.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated on Oct 15, 2017 09:36 AM IST
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When the journey is lawn, think green: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

From being used in traditional crafts to finding mention in the Ramayana, grass has an interesting place in Indian culture

Rural brides in the Mithila region are said to weave many dainty boxes and baskets from Sikki grass for their trousseau and it’s a skill to be proud of.(iStock)
Updated on Oct 08, 2017 10:56 AM IST
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In an ancient tale, a message for today: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

The Tamil epic Manimekhalai upholds dharma as a way of life, free of present-day politics.

In the tale, the monk Aravana Adigal, stands tall as the representative of the Buddha.(iStock)
Published on Sep 30, 2017 08:12 PM IST
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An ancient tale that unites light and love: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

Through every epoch, Sriman and Sri have been inseparable. But while Sriman will punish wrongdoers, Sri is so compassionate that she forgives everybody out of love.

If we could be the lights of kindness, our country would have a better chance of being a nicer, more compassionate place.(Getty Images / iStock)
Published on Sep 23, 2017 08:00 PM IST
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Delhi weekend: You woudn’t want to miss the Russian ballet, Swan Lake

This weekend, Swan Lake, the iconic Russian ballet will be performed for the first time in its entirety in India

The ballet tells the story of Odette and prince Siegfried.(ICCR)
Updated on Sep 23, 2017 01:20 PM IST
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Rediscover five precious gems in the Mahabharata

Hinduism is unique in the way that it encourages a personal relationship between the believer and the Great One.

Be the charioteer: It is time for us to reclaim our personal connection with our faith.(Shutterstock)
Updated on Sep 17, 2017 07:59 AM IST
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Why not be decent. That’s always a good start: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

We need to relearn how to accommodate our differences, how to meet in good fellowship and share differing opinions with civility.

Gauri Lankesh, RIP: Decent people do not gloat when a journalist is gunned down for doing her job.(Burhaan Kinu / HT Photo)
Updated on Sep 10, 2017 01:52 PM IST
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Blurred boundaries between the rulers and the ruled

A king can wield several kinds of authority. The most incorrect is that driven by egotistical sentiment. This is also true of us as individuals, and as a mob.

It can be hard to pick a right path when a ruler is forced to bow to the will of an emotional mob.(ImagesBazaar)
Updated on Sep 03, 2017 12:12 PM IST
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Reflected in ancient verse, a time of hope: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

A Supreme Court ruling for privacy feels like a fresh start, and a good time to revisit celebrations of Spring in the poetry of Amir Khusro.

(Getty Images / iStock)
Updated on Aug 27, 2017 09:31 AM IST
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A prayer from a time when hope was young and strong

The ancient verse below has a cultural continuity all their own. It represents, to me, a human wish for the ages, cast in verse.

It’s interesting to think of the ancients, then young and inquiring, gazing out on a golden day and feeling blissful about existence. That optimism and cheer seem nice continuities to keep.(Getty Images / iStock)
Updated on Aug 20, 2017 11:46 AM IST
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An early heroine of independence: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

In the early 12th century, a young child bride ran away, cast off her clothes, and declared herself married forever to Shiva.

(Getty Images / iStock)
Updated on Aug 12, 2017 03:22 PM IST
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A poetess, a king, and a message for us all: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

In our ancient literature are reminders that we are better all around when we are kinder to one another.

Calm after the storm: It is in times of trouble — whether political protest or flood — that Indians tend to show the most delicacy of feeling.(Getty Images / iStockphoto)
Updated on Aug 06, 2017 08:47 AM IST
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One long party that’s good news and bad: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

The kanwariyas do disrupt Delhi needlessly and it’s natural that tired urban commuters going about their daily grind resent the annual Shravan invasion.

North and south, I’ve seen that we can behave very well on yatra. So is the ‘kanwariya syndrome’ basically a male phenomenon? Is it about ‘testosterone as a lifestyle’ for the duration?(HT File Photo)
Updated on Jul 30, 2017 07:36 AM IST
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How drumbeats won the battle of Changshao

Statue of the General Kumbhira, The Twelve Divine Generals. Represents 9pm-11pm of the day and Boar of the Chinese 12 Zodiac, and is armed with a broadsword.(Photo: Shutterstock)
Updated on Jul 23, 2017 07:55 AM IST
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A symbol that was set right over time: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

While on diplomatic assignment in Bangkok in 2009, it was gratifying to note that my Jewish neighbours knew the true meaning of the svastika.

The svastika is an ancient and auspicious symbol of the Hindu tradition. It is inscribed on Hindu temples, ritual altars, entrances, and even account books.(iStock)
Updated on Jul 16, 2017 08:28 AM IST
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Sometimes, it’s good to listen to our young: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

This Guru Purnima, I uphold Manas Tirtha — pilgrimages within one’s own mind — and young Indians as a force of good.

(Getty Images / iStockphoto)
Updated on Jul 09, 2017 08:40 AM IST
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Quiet forts and their noisy stories: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

The history of our forts tell us that people across communities should visit each other, share food, friendship and activities as individuals, not blocs.

On 10th July, 1806 at Vellore Fort, in modern Tamil Nadu, a historic mutiny against the British took place.(Shutterstock)
Updated on Jul 02, 2017 07:42 AM IST
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The undimmed lustre of two legendary Basra pearls: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

The tale of two Sufi saints from Basra, Iraq, whose legacies shine as brightly as the famous pearls from the region.

The Sufi code of ‘simple living and high thinking’ was embodied by the woman saint of Basra, Rabia al-Adwiya or Rabia al-Basri.(iStock)
Updated on Jul 01, 2017 05:16 PM IST
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A moment of truth by the temple steps: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

We need to dust up ‘daan punya’ as a value worth keeping from the olden times, and remember how very politely Ram behaved, even with Ravan.

(Getty Images / iStock)
Updated on Jun 24, 2017 09:14 PM IST
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Turmeric tales amid unfunny peahen porn: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

A folk tale I recently heard, about how turmeric got its wonderful qualities, oddly legitimises the ‘boys will be boys’ narrative.

While it’s been proven that turmeric has many healing properties, the folk tale about its ‘holiness’ is a complicated frappe of health, religion and culture.(iStock)
Updated on Jun 10, 2017 09:38 PM IST
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Narad muni, calendar quirks and our first-known journalist: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

We, modern Indians, must try and understand Narad muni’s role as cultural messenger. It could help us value the importance of good intentions in communication today.

This month saw festivals relating to two vital change agents, one historical and one mythical: the Buddha and Devrishi Narad muni.(iStock)
Updated on May 21, 2017 08:56 AM IST
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A leaf from the big Asian notebook

China still abides by General Zhou’s discipline and upright attitude.

Made in China products are found in abundance in India.(Shutterstock)
Updated on May 14, 2017 10:45 AM IST
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The importance of lessons in life skills

Learning domestic life skills will not only improve self-esteem and save money; such regular activities will keep those increasingly Indian lifestyle diseases away

Updated on May 08, 2017 05:28 PM IST
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The casual cruelties of upper-caste India: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

It’s time the younger generations called out, politely but firmly, the casteist and sexist attitudes that are holding us back at home.

Published on Apr 29, 2017 09:31 PM IST
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Thinking cool thoughts in mind-destroying heat: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

Two electricians toiling in 43-degree heat remind me that I’m not crazy for staying positive amid the incessant whining of the privileged.

Updated on Apr 29, 2017 09:31 PM IST
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Midway through the month of super-heroes: Shebaba by Renuka Narayanan

April in India is pretty amazing for how many famous birthdays from myth and history fall in it.

A scene from the highly decorated Anandi Lal Poddar Haveli in Rajasthan’s Shekhawati region, depicting Rama and Sita. In the old days, cultural literacy meant that you only needed to see an image in order to recall at least a dozen stories and moral messages.(Getty Images / iStock Photo)
Updated on Apr 22, 2017 08:04 PM IST
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