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!

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

Lord Ram – the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu

Bronze Lord Ram Set with Lakshmana, Sita and Hanuman
Bronze Lord Ram Set with Lakshmana, Sita and Hanuman

Shri Ram is the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is one of the most worshiped deity by Hindus in India. Diwali, the festival of lights, is probably the most celebrated and biggest festival, and is observed by Hindus, Buddhist, Jain’s and Sikhs, commemorates Lord Ram’s victory over the demon king, Ravan, and the return to his kingdom Ayodhya after completing his 14-year exile.

Purpose of the incarnation: The purpose of incarnation of Vishnu was to slay the demon Ravan, the king of Lanka. Ravan acquired a boon from Lord Brahma, which made him invincible and indestructible by Devas (The Gods) or Asuras (The demons). The sages were put into great misery and hardship by this demon and it became necessary to put an end to his reign, this lead lord Vishnu to to the earth as a man as only a human can slay the demon Ravan.

Sri Ram: According to the great epic Ramayan, Ram was born in Treta Yug (era), as the son of Dasharatha, the king of Ayodhya. Dasharatha had three wives and four sons, Ram being the eldest and his mother was Kaushalya. He was an ideal son, and idol of chivalry, prowess and virtue. Ram and his brother, Lakshman grew up to the princely stature and became masters of all weapons under the guidance of the great sage Viswamitra. In the mean time, Ram got married to Sita, daughter of Janaka, the princess of Mithila, and Lakshman marries Urmila, sister of Sita. Dasharatha was planning for the coronation of Rama as the king of Ayodhya, but he was in extreme agony, when this idea was strongly objected by Kaikeyi, one of his wives, as she wanted her son, Bharath to become the king. She also demanded that Ram must not enter the kingdom without completing 14 years of exile.

Bronze Hanuman statue friend of lord Rama
View all our Lord Hanuman Statues

Exile: Knowing the demands of his step-mother, Ram agreed to go for the exile and ignoring his contempt Lakshman and Sita joins him. Even though, Urmila wanted to accompany her husband, Lakshman. However, Lakshman refuses the wish and assigns her to take care of his parents. Though disappointed, the broad minded Urmila accepts her husband’s orders and stays back to look after the old in-laws. During the period of exile, Ram meets Lord Hanuman, the great monkey, who is a true devotee of Ram. During his exile, Lord Hanuman protected the Saints from the vindictive actions of the demons.

During the exile, Ram settled in a calm and beautiful place, Panchavadi and lived a happy life. In the mean time, Surpanakha, the sister of Ravan, meets the charming brothers and becomes so attracted to Ram and proposes to marry him. Ram denies the request, and asks her to propose his brother, who is alone without a wife. Surpanakha follows Ram’s advice, but Lakshman rejects her, and this makes her angry. The outraged demon tries to harm Sita as she considers Sita to be the obstacle that prevents her from getting the love of Ram. Ram saved Sita and asks Lakshman to teach Surpanakha a lesson. Lakshman attacked her with his sword causing injuries to her nose and breast.

Disgraced and mutilated, Surpanaka, thirsty to take revenge, complains to her brother about the attack and how she was insulted by the two handsome princes. Ravan came to know about the immense love Ram had for Sita and this made the clever Ravan think of separating Sita from Ram, as Ram will not be able to bear the departure of his love. Ravan in his golden chariot reaches the ashram of Maricha and seeks his help to work out his plan. Maricha first denies the request for help from Ravan, but coming under the pressure of his king, finally he agrees to help him. Maricha gets killed by Ram, during the abduction, while Ravana succeeds in kidnapping Sita away from the ashram.

Ravan was much enchanted by the beauty of Sita, and pleaded her to marry him. However, Sita denied the powerful demon. She was taken to Lanka, where she spent her days alone in her beloved memories and wept. Ram was so desperate, and began to search for Sita everywhere. Finally he meets Jedayu, who witnessed the cruel act of Ravan. Jedayu reveals Ram that she was taken to Lanka in a flying golden chariot. With the help of Hanuman and army of monkeys, Ram constructs a floating bridge “Ram Setu” to Lanka and reaches Lanka to regain his kidnapped wife. After a ferocious war, which lasted for many days, ended with the carnage of Ravan, and Ram got his wife back, safe and sound.

Return to Ayodhya: After 14 years of exile, Ram, Sita along with Lakshman reaches Ayodhya and resumes the throne, as per the wish of Bharath, who was ruling the empire on behalf of Ram. The death of Ravan restored peace and happiness to the world. People began to worship Ram and it still continues. You can find a lot of temples around the world where Ram is the main idol of devotion.

You can easily identify statues of Lord Rama.  He is always depicted in a standing position, with a bow and arrow in his left and right hands respectively. He always carries a quiver on the back and is normally accompanied by Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman. He will be always be wearing princely adornments.

Ram and Sita started to live a happy life again, but the fate was cruel to Sita, as the people of Ayodhya began to talk ill about her. Ram who was an ideal ruler, felt unhappy to know that his people doubt about the innocence of his wife. Finally, he decides to leave Sita, even though she proves her loyalty in the fire ordeal.

Even though, Sita was so devoted and loyal to Ram, she had to live a lonely life. Urmila is often considered as a forgotten heroine since no one values her sacrifice as she sacrificed her valuable 14 years away from her husband for the sake of Ram and Sita.

After reviewing all these points, whom can we consider as the real leading lady – Sita or Urmila?

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