Update – South India

On my buying trip to India in February I made it a point to visit the people who we donated rice to during the covid lockdown. I wanted to meet them, hear their stories, and see first hand if we touched their lives in any way.

I was uncharacteristically nervous on the drive there.


Please click here to follow my journey throughout Asia on our Instagram page. I recently traveled through North and South India and Nepal.


My first stop was the young woman who was pregnant during COVID last year and did not have a place to live. Here she is with her husband and daughter, now 9 months old. Her daughter is a beautiful, happy and healthy young girl. As we were leaving she told me “thank you” in English and I could see in her eyes that she truly meant it. The “thank you” touched me deeply.


Next, we visited the family with two blind sons. Only one was there at the time. The mother was a wonderful woman who was all smiles and chatting to me in Tamil. She showed me her house and how they all slept on the floor together in one cinderblock room with a corrugated roof and a fan. She told me that when she got the rice, she immediately started a fire to start cooking it because they literally had no food to eat. She was so thankful for what we had done for her family.


We visited a village that could not have been any more marginalized by society. They lived on the outskirts of town with no water or electricity. No government aid gets to them and they are purely subsistence living. On the drive getting there I was amazed at how my friend, Balan was even able to find these people. When I was there Balan told me how some of the villagers were amazed that the rice was whole grain rice. They were used to only eating cracked rice, basically, they could only afford the low-quality rice that had some defects to it.

It was an incredibly rewarding and difficult day for me. It was rewarding to connect with the actual people we donated rice to, look into their eyes and feel how appreciative they were of our help. It was difficult because you can see how large the issues are with poverty in India and the world. As much as I would love to solve the issue, it is not something that one person can come in to correct. It would take a massive effort to change society.


Balan and I were brainstorming over things we can do in the future and hope to bring another donation opportunity to everyone again soon.

Thank you again to everyone who donated to help make this happen.

~Kyle Tortora, Founder, Lotus Sculpture


Click to watch the video of my experiences visiting the people we donated rice to during the covid lockdown.

Nepal – The Birthplace of Buddha

I met the same sadhus who I met with my mother 16 years ago when I first visited Nepal at Pashupatinath Temple

It has been 16 years since I first visited Nepal. Lotus Sculpture has never imported any statues from Nepal so this past week was like a buying trip 20 years ago, exploring Kathmandu valley and searching for new artisans with exceptional statues.
Happily, we found them!


Please click here to follow my journey throughout Asia on our Instagram page. I recently traveled through North and South India and Nepal.


Here is Mr. Shakya holding a gold-plated statue of Indra in a loving embrace with Shakti. I loved this man! he had a youthful charm to him that was infectious.

The moment that I laid my eyes on this stunning Nataraj statue I knew I would have to bring Him home with me. I have never before seen a dancing Shiva in this style. It is a perfect statue in casting, form, and painting.


From the moment I met Siddartha I knew I had met a lifelong friend. He has a calm grace and inner peace that emanates from him. And he has some amazing statues like this amazing Vajrasatva (coming to Lotus Sculpture soon)!


Going from shop to shop finding some hidden treasures like this copper double dorje brings out the inner Indiana Jones in me.

View all our accessories.


Batsa is a young 29-year-old artist shown creating a wax mold of Vajrayogini. He uses yak bone to shape it. The saliva keeps them from sticking together which differs from how stipathis (wax modelers) of South India create their wax molds. He spends all day drawing and creating wax molds. I loved him. He is a dedicated, true artist!

Learn about all Lotus Sculpture’s artists


I knew I was going to find amazing statues, but when I saw some amazing prayer wheels I had to learn where and how they are made. The mantra “Om Mani Padme Om” is pounded into copper sheets and then made into a prayer wheel and filled with prayers. I know you will be as excited about them as I am!


Mahesh is a Master craftsman! All of his statues are made at another level of artistry. I can not wait to show them to you!

View all our masterpieces


We are going to have a big selection of masterpieces coming from Nepal! As big a selection as Indra’s arms are wide.

Vajrasatva is jeweled with rubies, red coral, and emeralds. Stunning carving!



“Being in Nepal was like experiencing my first buying trip as a young man 22 years ago. With every step I took on the streets of Kathmandu, I was in search of something new for Lotus Sculpture, a new artisan or a new art form. Every day was exhilarating!”

~Kyle Tortora, Founder, Lotus Sculpture


One sees colorful Prayer flags fluttering everywhere

Refreshing the temple outdoor deities with a coat of paint.

Here are the ghats or steps where bodies are cremated at the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was a very heavy difficult day for me. There were children begging, old sadhus laying on the ground in awful health conditions that aren’t appropriate to share, and then seeing bodies burning on funeral pyres really affected me. The Buddha said that “all life is suffering.” It was easy to understand why he uttered those words so long ago. It was also very easy to see the impermanence of all life in those moments as both life and death were on display in front of me.


A beautiful Manjushree statue sits with a sword raised beneath a blue sky filled with prayer flags. 
What a sight!

5 Shiva Mantras, Chants, Shivarathri Hymn, Shiva Worship

Maha Shivarathri is the most auspicious of festivals dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva.  Here are 5 Shiva Mantras to help you celebrate Lord Shiva!  It is believed that on this day Lord Shiva appeared to the world in the form of a pillar of light, or Jyotirlinga. Lord Shiva, the primordial teacher, is believed to be easily pleased; thus, any worship offered to him – regardless of its simplicity or grandeur – is thought to bring about great merit. All across India, and in many Hindu communities around the world, nightlong vigils are observed in honor of Lord Shiva. Devotees offer abhisheka, or a ritual bath, to bronze and stone sculptures of Lord Shiva in his many forms. Among the most popular of the forms that receive worship on this day are the Shiva Linga, Lord Dakshinamurthy, Lord Bhairava, and Lord Somaskanda.

Since Shiva is easily pleased, offering milk, water, leaves, flowers, clothes, fruits, or even an oil lamp is commendable. Simply meditating upon the form of Shiva with a pure mind and utmost devotion is considered the highest form of worship. The sage Adi Shankara wrote Shiva Manasa Puja as an affirmation of this notion. In this beautifully composed hymn, Shankara performs the Puja of Lord Shiva with vivid and devout imagination. Reciting this hymn on the night of Maha Shivarathri is the best way to begin or end the night’s festivities!




1.

“Ratnaiḥ kalpitamāsanaṃ himajalaiḥ snānaṃ ca divyāmbaraṃ
nānāratna vibhūṣitaṃ mṛgamadā modāṅkitaṃ candanam
jātī campaka bilvapatra racitaṃ puṣpaṃ ca dhūpaṃ tathā
dīpaṃ deva dayānidhe paśupate hṛtkalpitaṃ gṛhyatām”

Meaning:
Oh ocean of compassion! Oh lord of those bound by the noose!
I imagine a throne made of precious gemstones to seat you, cool water trickling from the Himalayas to bathe you, divine clothed embroidered with various jewels to adorn you, flowers composed of jasmine, champak, and Bilva leaves, divine incense, and a bright oil lamp.
Oh Lord, please accept these offerings which I imagine in my heart for you!

2.

“Sauvarṇe navaratnakhaṇḍa racite pātre ghṛtaṃ pāyasaṃ
bhakṣyaṃ pañcavidhaṃ payodadhiyutaṃ rambhāphalaṃ pānakam
śākānāmayutaṃ jalaṃ rucikaraṃ karpūra khaṇḍojjcalaṃ
tāmbūlaṃ manasā mayā viracitaṃ bhaktyā prabho svīkuru

Meaning: Rice pudding and ghee in a golden bowl studded with the nine precious gems, five dishes prepared with milk and curd, plantains, juice, tasty water infused with herbs, and the aromatic betel leaf. These I have prepared in my mind with utmost devotion. Please accept them oh Lord!

3.

“Chatraṃ cāmarayoryugaṃ vyajanakaṃ cādarśakaṃ nirmalaṃ
vīṇā bheri mṛdaṅga kāhalakalā gītaṃ ca nṛtyaṃ tathā
sāṣṭāṅgaṃ praṇatiḥ stuti-rbahuvidhā-hyetat-samastaṃ mayā
saṅkalpena samarpitaṃ tava vibho pūjāṃ gṛhāṇa prabho

Meaning: I offer a splendid umbrella to shade you, fly whisks and a fan to cool you, a spotless mirror to see you, music from the vīṇā, bheri, and mṛdaṅga to please you, sweet songs and dances to entertain you, a full prostration to respect you, and abundant forms of hyms to praise you. Please accept my puja oh Lord!


Worship of Shiva Linga

4.

ātmā tvaṃ girijā matiḥ sahacarāḥ prāṇāḥ śarīraṃ gṛhaṃ
pūjā te viṣayopabhoga-racanā nidrā samādhisthitiḥ
sañcāraḥ padayoḥ pradakṣiṇavidhiḥ stotrāṇi sarvā giro
yadyatkarma karomi tattadakhilaṃ śambho tavārādhanam”

Meaning: You are my soul, Parvathi is my intellect, your attendants are my five vital breaths, my body is your abode. My involvement in the world is nothing but worship unto you. My roaming feet are constantly in the divine act of walking around you, all my speech is in praise to you. All the work I do is a form of worship to you, oh Lord!

5.

kara caraṇa kṛtaṃ vākkāyajaṃ karmajaṃ vā
śravaṇa nayanajaṃ vā mānasaṃ vāparādham
vihitamavihitaṃ vā sarvametat-kṣamasva
jaya jaya karuṇābdhe śrī mahādeva śambho

Meaning: Whatever may be the sins I have committed with my hands and feet, those sins born of my hands and body, or the sins arising from my work. Whatever may be the sins born of my ears and eyes, or of my mind, or those sins arising from my doing what has been prescribed and not prescribed. Please forgive all of these sins, oh Lord. Victory unto you, oh ocean of compassion, the greatest and most auspicious of gods!



View All Our Mantras to Hindu Gods
including English and Sanskrit translations

10 Kali Mantras15 Saraswati Mantras4 Ganesha Mantras
6 Murugan Mantras8 Krishna Mantras7 Hanuman Mantras
3 Lakshmi Mantras8 Vishnu Mantras5 Shiva Mantras

16 Step Puja Worship in Hinduism

puja worship
A Hindu brahmin priest performing puja on a bronze Nataraja in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India

There are numerous forms of worship among Hindus, of which Puja is one of the more popular. The most widely accepted and followed system of Puja is the Shodasa – Upachara Puja, or 16 – Service worship.

The main purpose of this type of Puja is two-fold. Primarily it is to uplift the five senses of the worshiper and by doing so elevate him to a higher level of consciousness that will promote good thoughts and actions. Secondarily it draws upon the Indian traditions of honoring a guest, wherein each upachara is a service to the deity who takes presence in the sculpture for the duration of the Puja.

  1. DhyaanaMeditating on the deity that is being invoked.
  2. AavaahanaInviting the deity into the altar.
  3. AasanaGiving the deity a seat.
  4. Paadya Washing the deity’s feet with clean water.
  5. ArghyaOffering the deity water to rinse hands and mouth.
  6. AachamanaOffering the deity water to drink.
  7. SnaanaBathing the deity with various auspicious items.
  8. VasthraDressing the deity in clean clothes.
  9. YagnopaveethaOffering the deity a clean sacred thread.
  10. GandhaSpreading fresh sandalwood paste on the deity.
  11. Pushpa Offering fresh flowers while chanting the deity’s names.
  12. DhoopaSpreading incense smoke throughout the altar.
  13. DeepaWaving a lamp to illuminate the freshly decorated deity.
  14. NaivedyaOffering the deity food.
  15. Taambula ­– Offering the deity a refreshing mix of betel nut and leaves.
  16. Pradakshina & NamaskaraCircumambulating the altar and bidding farewell to the deity.

Among these sixteen services, five hold more importance than the rest. Together these five services are referred to as the pancha – upacharas, and include gandha, pushpa, dhoopa, deepa, and naivedya. Collectively, these five services engage the five senses.

  • Gandha – Touch
  • Sandalwood paste cools the skin and is a natural insect repellant.
  • Pushpa – Hearing
  • The recitation of the deity’s names that accompanies each flower engages the ears.
  • Dhoopa – Smell
  • Incense envelops the entire temple with a refreshing fragrance for the nose.
  • Deepa – Sight
  • The lamp illuminates the deity and brings out the beauty of the icon to the eyes.
  • Naivedya – Taste
  • Food that has been offered to the deity is eaten and entices the taste buds.

ganesh, puja ceremony
Bronze Ganesh in opening eye ceremony at the Cleveland Museum of Art

8 Krishna Mantras, Hymns & Quotes for Lord Krishna

Shri Krishna as the name means – He is the one who is capable of attracting everyone. The name Krishna also means absolute truth. Lord Krishna is the eighth and most famous avatar of Lord Vishnu who is symbolized as the best example of truth, love, dharma, and courage.

One of the most widely revered and most popular of all Indian divinities is Krishna, worshiped as the eighth incarnation (avatar) of Vishnu. Lord Krishna became the focus of a large number of devotional cults, which over the centuries have produced a wealth of religious poetry, music, painting, and sculpture.

Krishna affirms life in his pranks, music, and lovemaking

The rich variety of legends associated with Krishna’s life led to an abundance of representation in painting and sculpture. The divine lover (the most common representation) is shown playing the flute, surrounded by adoring gopis.

Here, are some of the most popular mantras of Shri Krishna used by devotees all over the world.








1. Moola Mantra

Om Krishnaya Namaha

Meaning: Salutations to the Lord Krishna


2. Krishna Gayatri Mantra: This mantra brings in high energy for activities and success in the job.

Aum
Devkinandanaye Vidmahe
Vasudevaye Dhi-Mahi
Tan No Krishna Prachodayat
Aum


3. Sri Krishna Ashtakam

Vasudeva Sutham Devam Kamsa Chaanoora Mardhanam |
Devaki Paramaanandham Krishnam Vande’ Jagathgurum ||

Adhasee Pushpa Sankaasam Haara Noopura Sobhitham |
Rathna Kangana keyooram Krishnam Vandhe’ Jagathgurum ||

Kutilaalaka Samyuktham Poorna Chandra Nibhaananam |
Vilasath Kundala tharam Krishnam Vandhe’ Jagathgurum ||

Mandhara Gandha Samyuktham Chaaru-haasam Chathur-bhujam; |
Parhipinjaa Vasoodaangam Krishnam Vandhe’ Jagathgurum ||

Uthpulla Padma Patraksham Nilajimutha Sannibham. |
Yaadhavaanaam Sirorathnam Krishnam Vandhe’ Jagathgurum ||

Rukmini Ke’li Samyuktham, Peethambara Su Sobitham; |
Avaaptha Thulasi Gaandharam, Krishnam Vande Jagathgurum. ||

Gopikaanaam Kusathvanthva Kunkumaangitha Vakshasam |
Srinike’tham Maheshvaasam Krishnam Vandhe’ Jagathgurum ||

Srivatsaankam, Mahoraskam, Vana Maala Virayitham; |
Sanka Chakra Dharam, Devam, Krishnam Vande Jagathgurum. ||

Krishnaashtakam itham Punyam Praatha Ruththaaya Ya:pade’th|
Ko’ti Janma Krutham Papam Smaranaath Thasya Nachyathi. ||


4. 24 name Mantra of Lord Krishna

Shri Keshvay namah, Naraynay namah, Madhvay namah,
Govinday namah, Vishnve namah, Madhusudnay namah,
Trivikramay namah, Vamnay namah, Shridhray namah,
Hrshikeshay namah, Padhanabhay namah, Damodaray namah,
Sankrshnay namah, Vasudevay namah, Prdyumnay namah,
Aniruddhay namah, Purushottmay namah, Adhoxjay namah,
Narsinhay namah, Achyutay namah, Janardnay namah,
Upendray namah, Haraye namah, Shri Krishnay namah.


5. Shri Krishna Aarti

Aarti Yugal Kishor ki Kijai,
Radhe Tan Man dhan nyochhavar kijai.
Ravi shashi koti badan ki shobha,
Tahi nirakh mera man lobha.
Gaur Shyam mukh nirkhat rijhai,
Prabhu ko rup nayan bhar pijai.
Kanchan thar kapur ki bati,
Hari aye nirmal bhai chhati.
Phulan ki sej phulan ki mala,
Ratna sinhasan baithe Nandlala.
Mor mukut kar murli sohai,
Natwar vesh dekh manmohe.
Oddhe peet neel pat sari,
Kunj Bihari Girvardhari.
Shri Purshottam Girvar dhari,
arti karat sakal Brajanari.
Nandnandan Vnishabhanu Kishori,
Parmanand svami avichal jori.


6. Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra: It is a 16-word Vaishnava mantra, the most famous mantra of Lord Krishna, which first appeared in the Kali-Santarana Upanishad.

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna,
Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama,
Rama Rama, Hare Hare

View this stunning Radha Krishna Statue

7. Shree Radha Krishna Stuti

Kararavinde Na Padaravindam
Mukharavinde Viniveshayantam
Vatasya Patrasya Pute Shayanam
Balam Mukundam Manasa Smarami

Meaning: I memorize the Lord in his infant form (Mukunda), who sleeps in a Banyan leaf. He is the one who puts his lotus life feet to His mouth, with the help of His hands.

Achyutam Keshavam Rama Narayanam
Krishna Daamodaram Vasudevam Harim
Shridharam Maadhavam Raamachandram Bhaje
Jaanki Naayakam Raamachandram Bhaje

Meaning: I sing the praise of Ramachandra, Who is known as Achyuta (infallible), Keshav, Raam, Narayan, Krishna, Damodara, Vasudeva, Hari, Shridhara (possessing Lakshmi), Madhava, Gopikavallabha (Dearest of Gopika), and Janakinayaka (Lord of Janaki or Sita).

Achyutam Keshavam Satyabhaa Maadhavam
Maadhavam Shridaram Radhika Radhikam
Indira Mandriram Chetasaa Sundaram
Devaki Nandanam Nandanam Sandadhe

Meaning: I memorize the Lord in his infant form (Mukunda), who sleeps in a Banyan leaf. He is the one who puts his lotus life feet to His mouth, with the help of His hands.

Tapta-Kanchana-Gaurangi Radhe
Vrindavaneshvari  Vrishabhanu-Sute Devi
Pranamami Hari-Priye

Meaning: I offer my respect to Shri Radha rani, who has a molten gold complexion. O Goddess, You are the queen of Vrindavana, the daughter of King Vrishabhanu, and are very dear to Lord Krishna.

Goloka-Vasini Gopi
Gopisha Gopa-Matrika
Sananda Paramananda
Nanda-Nandana-Kamini

Meaning: Radha rani is a resident of Goloka, known as Vrindavan, and is a cowherd damsel. She is the queen of the gopis and the divine mother of the cowherd boys. She is joyful and always experiencing the highest bliss. She incites strong desires in the heart of the son of Nanda (Lord Krishna).


8. Sree Krishna Stuthi – Sandhyanaamam: This stuti is written by the famous devotee Poothanam, praising Lord Krishna.

Anjana Sreedhara Charumoorthe Krishna
 Anjali Koopi Vanangidunnen
 Aananda Alangara Vaasudeva Krishna
 Aathangam Ellam Akattidene
Indiranadha Jagannivasa Krishna,
Innende Munnil Vilangidene
Erezhulaginum Ekanaadha Krishna,
Eeranju Dikkum Niranja Roopa
Unni Gopala Kamalanethra Krishna,
 Ullil Nee Vannu Vilangidene
Oozhiyil Vannu Piranna Naadha Krishna,
Oonam Koodathe Thunachidene
Ennulilulloru Taapamellam Krishna,
Ennunikanna Shamipickene
Edalalar Banannu Thulyamurthe Krishna,
Ereeyamodhena Kaithozhunnen
Aithikamaakum Sukhathilaho Krishna
 Ayyo Enikkoru Mohamille
Ottalla Kauthugamantharange Krishna
Omalthirumeni Bhangikaanaan
Odakkuzhalvili Melamode Krishna,
Odivarigende Gopabaala
Oudharyakomala Kelisheela Krishna,
Oupamyamilla Gunangalkethum 
Ambujalochana Ninpaada Pankajam,
Ambodu Njaanidaa Koombidunnen
Athyanda Sundara Nandasuno Krishna,
Atthal Kalanjenne Paalikkene 
Krishna Mukilvarna, Vrushnee Kuleshwara,
Krishnambujekshana Kaithozhunnen
Krishna Hare Jaya, Krishna Hare Jaya, Krishna Hare Jaya, Krishna Hare…

Meaning: I salute you, pretty Krishna, who is black and who carries Lakshmi with folded hands. 
Hey happy Krishna, who is decorated. He is also known as Vasudeva,
Be pleased to take away all my sorrows.

Hey Krishna who presides all over the universe and who is the consort of Lakshmi,
Please appear before me,
Hey Krishna who is the only lord of fourteen worlds,
You are the one, who fills all the ten directions fully,

Oh lotus-eyed Krishna, who is the baby cowherd,
Be pleased to come and live inside me,
Oh Krishna, who has taken birth on this earth,
Please help me to live without any problems.

Oh Krishna, you should put out the raging,
Problems of my heart, oh my baby Krishna,
Oh Krishna who is equal to the formidable Banasura,
I salute you with the greatest happiness.

Oh Krishna I do not have any desire,
And alas I do not have any desire,
And Oh Krishna the curiosity within me is great,
To see the beauty of your body, Oh Krishna

Oh Krishna, along with the music of your flute with drum beats,
Oh Lad of the cowherds, please come running to me,
Oh pretty and charitable Krishna, who is playful,
There is no comparison at all for your qualities.


I salute your lotus-like feet with love for you,
Oh Lord with lotus-like eyes,
Oh most pretty one, Ok Krishna, oh son of Nanda,
Please drive away my problems and take care of me.

Oh cloud colored Krishna, Oh star of the clan of Vrushnees,
Oh Krishna with lotus-like eyes, I salute you,
Victory to Krishna who is hari, Victory to Krishna who is Hari,
Victory to Krishna, who is Hari



View all of our Mantras to Hindu Gods
Including English and Sanskrit Translations

10 Kali Mantras15 Saraswati Mantras4 Ganesha Mantras
6 Murugan Mantras8 Krishna Mantras7 Hanuman Mantras
3 Lakshmi Mantras8 Vishnu Mantras5 Shiva Mantras

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