Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z for Zen

Zen is the art of supreme meditation that can be achieved through a conscious love of everything around us and the realization that we cannot conquer our circumstances. It arises from an unwavering love of the Lord, when we concentrate on just doing our duty and not worry about the consequences. When the mind knows and absorbs this, it is at peace, it is in a state of Zen.

“Maadhav, I have understood that this war is for the establishment of Dharma, but what will be the consequences of my actions?” Arjuna wanted to know. His mind refused to accept that going to war with his cousins was the only way out. He was afraid of the consequences of the war, he was scared to think about the future, and he turned to his master for help to clear his mind.

The Lord chanted a sloka-

"Na Cha Mam Tani Karmani, Nibandhanti Dhananjaya,
Udaseenavadaseenamsaktam, Teshu Karmasu."

“Parth, let me tell you a story,” said Krishna proceeding to explain the meaning of the sloka to him.

“In a forest, a pregnant doe is about to give birth. Her labor pains have begun and she knows that her little one is expected any time now. She settles in a clearing close to the river and readies to deliver the fawn.

Just then she notices a hunter staring at her, his arrow strung up in his bow, ready to make its kill. She turns to the other side, but there is a lion, waiting to pounce upon her and satiate his hunger. To add to her woes, thunder and lightning shake up the skies and start a forest fire. There is no way she can escape. Even if the hunter and the lion miss her, the fire will surely kill her. She will be hunted either which way. What can she do?”

“She must think of a way to escape,” said Arjuna, his mind wandering aimlessly, and mentally trying to find a way to save the doe and the unborn one.

Krishna smiled. “No, Parth, the doe did not attempt to do anything. She let Prakriti take care of everything.”


“She concentrated on the job she had at hand. There was no way in which she could control her circumstances. There was no way she could influence its outcome. She trained her mind to concentrate only on delivering the fawn.”

“Who finally killed her?” asked Arjuna, already feeling sorry for the doe.

“Just as the hunter was about to release his arrow, lightning struck him, killing him at once. The arrow that released from the bow missed its aim and hit the lion instead, killing it instantly. The thunder gave way to rain which doused the forest fire.”

“So the doe was safe.” Arjuna smiled, relieved and happy.

“Not only was the doe safe, she gave birth to a beautiful fawn that lived to see the day, because its mother had decided to be at peace with herself and her surroundings. She concentrated on giving birth which was her first priority, without worrying about the future or the consequences. Her mind was in a state of Zen.”

When the heart trusts the master entirely, and the love for the Lord pervades everything else, it achieves a Zen-like state, when it is at peace with itself and the circumstances.

This day...last year... Z for Zen 
(I didn't realise until now that I did the same word last year too!!)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y for Yearning

Yearning or intensely longing for someone can cause the heart to ache, and can cause an intense emotional upheaval. 

This tale is about Radha's yearning for her beloved Krishna and his yearning for her.


 Radha’s eyes filled with tears and they flowed freely drenching her fair cheeks. It had been so long since she had seen her Krishna.

“Why do you cry Radha? Haven’t I come back just for you?” said Krishna wiping her tears.

“Let them flow Krishna, let them wash away the yearning I have held in my heart for so long,” she said.

Krishna closed his eyes, his own eyes beginning to fill with tears, hearing her speak thus. How could he who knows everything be oblivious to the pain of his beloved?

They stood for a very long time under the Kadamba tree, their hearts as laden with yearning as the fruits on the tree under which they stood, holding each other in an embrace that came after years of separation.

Krishna remembered seeing Radha for the last time as he had left for Mathura. “Must you go, Krishna?” she had asked him repeatedly, holding his hands, and shriveled up by his feet, till he could console her no more.

As Krishna mounted his chariot to leave Vraja, he had looked longingly at Radha, his heart heavy with sadness seeing her disconsolate self. His eyes followed her till he could see her no more, and her eyes ensnared by his love, had followed him back till the chariot disappeared into the woods.

“Like a flowering creeper in the forest wilderness, I have often ventured alone at nights to search the woods for you, Krishna,” she said, “I have stalked every haunt where we have spent endless time in each other’s company,” she said, breaking down into an uncontrolled frenzy, and he held her gently, sharing in her agony.

“I have pined for you too, my love,” he said, gently stroking her head, “I saw you everywhere; I saw you in every woman, I saw your eyes in the twinkling stars, I saw your face in the beautiful moon, and I have wished every moment that you could be by my side.”

“I saw you everywhere too, Krishna,” she said, “I saw you in every grain of sand, in every drop of water, every morsel of food and every breath of air.”

Her love for him had surpassed his in all possible measures.

For days after his departure, she had wandered aimlessly and had lost interest in everything that she did. She was hopelessly impassioned and madly in love with him and seeing him leave had broken her heart.

“My friends made fun of me as I stood by the well, lost in your thoughts, even as my pot overflowed with water. They laughed at my trembling gait and endless sighs,” she said, like it was entirely his fault.

He smiled at her sudden transformation from a lovelorn woman to an innocent child, and held his ears, a sorry look in his eyes, as if asking for forgiveness.

Her innocence then changed to guilt and she fell at his lotus feet, even as he looked at her confused, “Forgive me Krishna. I was so angry with you at one time that I tried to forget you, and banish you from my heart.”

Krishna smiled. “The yogi performs arduous meditation so that he may get a tiny glimpse of me in his heart, and this lovesick girl strived to banish me from hers?” he teased her.

 “Radha, you are the support on whom I rest eternally, you are my life, my atma, and I’m dead without you.” 

And then he sang a soft tune for her;
Can you separate the white from the milk,
or the burning from the fire?
Can you separate the smell in the earth,
or the dampness from the rain?
Then how could I ever separate
 you from me, aren’t we the same?

Radha smiled and took off from where he left,
I have been formed, out of half your body,
Together we are one,
My heart, and soul rests in you,
as your heart and soul is in mine.

He then led her to their favorite place in the woods, and together they sat once again on the swing. As they swung wildly in the autumn breeze, he played his flute and she leaned on to him contentedly, soaking in his presence, the yearning in her heart finally fulfilled.

Image courtesy: Google

This day... Last Year...Y for Yap

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X for X-tasy!

Ecstasy. That trance like state when a person transcends normal consciousness. A state of consciousness when the spiritual awareness is at its zenith and the feeling of extreme love and euphoria sweeps over.

This is a tale of the gopis of Vrindavan and the pure ecstasy that they experienced in the embrace of their divine Krishna.

The gopis of Vrindavan were splashing about in the river Yamuna and as usual their discussion had veered to their favorite – Krishna!

“Have you seen his beautiful eyes? See how they dance with mischief!” said one.

“Ah! How they sparkle!” said another excitedly, “and his lips are like the bud of the lotus, and when he smiles, a thousand lotuses bloom in my heart,” she swooned and the others burst out laughing.

Their banter went on and on and they forgot all about the special vrata they had intended to keep for Maa Katyayani.

Who could ever have enough of the blue God?

“Aren’t you supposed to be hurrying up to offer your prayers to Maa Katyayani?” mocked Krishna perched on the branch right above them. “And here you are indulging in mindless gossip,” he chided them.

A collective sigh and a scream went out. “You are watching us bathe? How shameless!” they chorused. But deep inside their hearts, they were enjoying being watched by him as bathed naked in the river.

“Kaanha, do you know why we are offering our prayers today? So that we may join you in holy union!” and they all burst out laughing again.

“So come out and pray then,” he teased back, “Let me see who offers the most sincere prayers.”

Suddenly one of them realized that the clothes that they had left on the banks of the river were gone.

“Kaanha did you steal our clothes?” she asked.

He waved out a couple of their clothes from the branch above. “Here they are. Come and get them,” he teased.

They pleaded and prayed, they begged and bowed, but he refused to budge. Finally, covering themselves with their bare hands they emerged out of the water one by one.

“Why did you make us do this Kaanha? they cried as he handed them back their clothes.

“You said you want to come to me, didn’t you?” he asked.

“Yes, Kaanha, but do you want us to come to you naked?” they were still wincing at the humiliation.

Krishna laughed.

When the soul approaches the Supreme lord, it must be stripped of everything. It must be bereft of all that is not part of its inner-self, all that is just an external covering, the ego, the pride, the anger, the shame, the deceit, the ignorance, the pretense of goodness, and impurity of body, mind and soul. It must stand naked and alone, with nothing to save the life within itself. And only then will divinity come forth as its savior.” 

He paused and smiled. “The clothes were merely symbolic, my sweet Gopis.”

Tears welled up in their eyes, and they bowed before him in reverence.

That night, he granted them their wish of merging with him. As moonlight flooded the woodlands, he played his melodious flute, enrapturing the gopis and drawing them to him like bees to nectar. Even shrubs and trees, flowers and leaves, and birds and animals, stood enchanted by the rapturous divine musical rendering.

As they stood around him with their eyes closed, meditating upon him, they realized his embrace; a rain of ecstasy drenched their souls and their material piety felt exhausting. 

What ensued was the divine raas-leela when each Gopi had her own Krishna and he soaked them individually in his love.

An enchantment so divine that it cleansed their souls and an ecstasy so profound that they could want nothing more.

 This day...Last Year...X for Xcellence

Monday, April 27, 2015

W for Worship

“When love and worship merges together, its power can move not just the mountains, the oceans and the earth but the entire universe.”

This is a tale of love, of worship and of devotion to Krishna. This is a tale of a Gopi, who stood so awestruck by the image of Krishna holding up the Govardhan Mountain on his little finger, that even when a boulder fell on her head, the image of Lord Giridhar filled her heart with an undefined, unmanifested sweetness, and an ecstasy beyond description. She died to be reborn as Meerabai, and came to be known as the epitome of worship filled with infinite love for Giridhar Gopala.


“I wish to worship my Lord before I come with you,” she said to the people of Mewar who had come to take her back to the palace.

They nodded and waited outside as Meera closed the door of the sanctum sanctorum and locked it from within. She bowed before the idol of Krishna and hugged the idol of her Lord.

“Giridhar, do you remember the time my mother joked that you would be my husband?” She had been just nine years old then, but she had taken those words to heart. The thought of marrying her Lord had filled her with immense pleasure! “In my mind, I have been married to you since then, Giridhar,” she said cleaning the idol and bathing it in water. “No one understood my love for you Shyam, but can I fault them?” As she decorated the Lord with flowers, she sang a soft tune reminiscent of those days.

I am madly in love in with you 
and no one understands my plight. 
Only the wounded 
understand the agonies of the wounded,
Mira's pain will subside 
when Shyam comes and places his hand on her wounds.

“I have spent every moment singing your praise, and you stood by me in all those moments. I feel blessed,” she said tears flowing out of her eyes.

“Poison couldn’t kill me, neither the most poisonous snake. The poison, you turned to nectar and the snake to a garland of rose. And when they tried to starve me, you nourished me all the more.” Frustrated with Meera’s devotion, her in-laws had tried to kill her many times, but each time, her Krishna had come to her rescue.

And then she picked up her ektara in one hand and danced as she sang again.

I might not distinguish 
splendor from filth 
but I’ve tasted the nectar of passion. 
I might not know any Veda, 
but you swept me away
I frolicked in heaven, ecstatically bound 
to you my lord. 

The love for her Giridhar Gopala, that had begun in her past life as a Gopi was now filled to the brim and bursting over.  It had been a difficult life, but fulfilling nevertheless. She had risked humiliation, had been called insane, and had borne threats to her life, but nothing could stop her from worshipping Krishna.

“Giridhar,” she said, “I am tired my Lord, all I want is to sleep,” she said settling at his feet again and closing her eyes, humming one last tune.

Sleep has not visited me the whole night, 
Will the dawn ever come? 
O my companion, 
Once I awoke with a start from a dream. 
Now the remembrance from that vision 
never fades. 
My life is ebbing as I choke and sigh, 
When will the Lord of the Afflicted come 
I have lost my senses and gone insane, 
But the Lord knows my secret. 
He who deals out life and death 
knows the secret of Mira's pain.

The sound of the songs subsided and the people waiting outside got impatient after a while. They broke open the door, but Meera was nowhere to be seen.

The Lord had absorbed his most ardent worshipper into himself.


Here is one of my most favorite Krishna bhajan sung in praise of Meera's love for Krishna. Gives me goosebumps each time I listen to it.

P.S. The couplets marked in italics are written by Meerabai.

This day...Last year...W for Wish

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V for Virtual Love

Virtual love…very common these days, you’d say! But did you know virtual love existed in the days of the Mahabharata too…Don’t you believe me? Read on then…!


Sage Durvasa was leaving Bhojpur after the ‘Maha Yagna’. Kunti bowed before him to seek his blessings.

“I am very pleased Kunti,” said the sage known for his mercurial temper, “You have looked after me very well. Here is a mantra which I want to give you,” he said, whispering a divine chant in her ear. “Whichever supreme power you think of as you chant this mantra, he will appear before you in human form and fulfill your desire like a slave. He will fill your womb with a progeny as refulgent as himself,” he said blessing her.

Kunti beamed with happiness. It was such an exciting proposition!

As she went to sleep her mind was full of curiosity. Would the sage's blessing indeed work? Whom would she invoke? Who were the most powerful among Gods?  The entire night she tossed and turned in bed without a proper answer.

Morning brought with it the first rays of the magnificent sun. As the golden rays streamed in through her window and fell on her eyes, she opened them dreamily.

“Pranam Suryadev,” she said bowing to offer her first prayer of the day to the sun god. 

Blessings Kunti...,” She heard a voice. Was the voice in her head or did she hear it aloud?

Surya dev was it you? Or am I dreaming?

Suryadev laughed. “It is indeed me Kunti.”

Suddenly she was excited. Could she really talk to the sun god? She skipped out of bed and pranced across to the garden in the eastern most corner of the kingdom. She stood under the fragrant champa tree and looked at the cool ball of orange in the sky.

It must amazing to look down upon the whole world from above, she thought, looking at the sun.

“It is indeed wonderful.”

So the sun god was indeed talking to her! Oh! This was exciting!

“Tell me what you can see Suryadev.”

He regaled her with his descriptions of the planets and the stars, the rivers and oceans, the hills and valleys, the trees and kingdoms, and everything in between. Before she knew, the sun had turned a fiery yellow and she could bear to look at him no more.

“I know it is difficult to look at me now, Kunti. Come to me when the day turns to evening,” he said.

She waited all day to see him again and time moved at its own slow pace...and then it was evening and she saw the yellow sun turn orange again.

Excited she rushed out to the river bed in the west.

Suryadev…” she called.

Yes Kunti.”

She smiled. She had so many things to ask him! They spent the next hour talking about how his presence affected various life forms, how he towered over the entire solar system and so on and so forth. He spoke and she listened, in rapt attention.

Kunti was in high spirits as she lay down in bed that night. It had been an exciting day; she had been conversing with someone she could not even see; at least not in his human form. Would he talk to her again tomorrow?

The next day and for many days after that, whenever Kunti called out to him, he would come, and she would spend hours talking to him, learning about him and telling him about herself.

She was amused when he told her that he had three eyes and four arms.

“What do you do with so many arms?” she had asked him in child-like wonder.

“I hold two water lilies in my upper hands each symbolizing the emission of radiation and god consciousness. I encourage worshippers with the third and bless them with my fourth hand,” he said.

She was intrigued as he described his golden chariot pulled by seven mares.

“Each mare represents the seven chakras in the human body, and they also represent the seven colors of the rainbow,” he had explained.

Every night as she retired to bed, their conversation would repeat themselves in her ear and her fondness for the sun god was quietly reaching its pinnacle.

“You are beautiful, Kunti,” he had told her one evening, “You are also noble, and pure.” She spent that entire evening listen to him extolling her beauty and virtues.

As the days passed, she was filled by an intense desire to see him. Oh! If only I could meet you, she pined. “Can I never meet you Suryadev?


Then suddenly she knew. She had the mantra given to her by sage Durvasa, why not use it to summon Suryadev, she thought.

“Kunti...wait…” warned Suryadev.

But she was sick in love with him and nothing, not even her unmarried status, could stop her from summoning the sun god.

Closing her eyes, she chanted the mantra and Lo! Suryadev appeared before her in all his glory. As he stood before her, she willed him to take her into his arms, and a glorious congress occurred.

Time stood still as they made tender love, soaking each other in the throes of passion and bliss.

What she did not know then, was that as much as she had basked in his love, it would later be the cause of her own misery and unhappiness.


Suryadev blessed her womb with his progeny, and thus was born the mighty Karna. He sported luminous celestial earrings and a golden armor on his body and was not only the world’s best archer but also the most charitable being every to tread the Earth.

This day..last year..V for Vibgyor

Friday, April 24, 2015

U for Unrequited love

Love does not always find its destination. Unrequited love can not only be painful, it can also make you revengeful.

That is what this tale is all about. 


The Pandavas were spending 13 years in exile after Yudistir lost them all in the gamble with Duryodhana. Arjuna decided to visit his father, the king of gods, Lord Indra. Lord Indra was thrilled. He treated his son to the best and exquisite things in Indralok, indulging him like a doting father. 

One evening they were watching the celestial apsara Urvashi performing a dance in Indra’s court. Arjuna looked adoringly at Urvashi and seemed to be lost in her beauty and grace. He sat through the performance as if in a trance.

“Wonderful,” he praised her after the dance was over, “You are immensely talented and mesmerizing. No wonder the devas, and gandharvas are so smitten by you!”

She beamed at the lavish praise heaped on her by Indra’s handsome son and his words kept echoing in her ears long after the day was over.

Later, Chitrasen, the gandharava musician visited her. “Ah! Urvashi, you seem to be lost in someone’s thoughts,” he teased.

Urvashi blushed, her cheeks flushed pink.

“Oh ho, so you are blushing now? That can only mean one thing,” he said studying her face, “you are in love, aren’t you my dear?”

She smiled, blushing a little more.

“Do you want me to guess who has stolen your heart, Urvashi?”

She raised an eyebrow, looking surprised. 

How would Chitrasen know? Maybe he was just waiting for her to bite the bait. 

She kept quiet waiting for him to speak.

“It is Lord Indra’s son,” he said, like he had read her mind. “It is Arjuna, isn't it?

Urvashi couldn’t control her excitement. “Yes, Chitrasen, yes,” she said throwing out her hands and spinning round and round in circles, “Arjuna is the one who has stolen my heart. But how did you know?”

“That was easy, apsara. He is smitten by you too. I saw him sit transfixed as he looked at you, his gaze never wavering for a moment, like Kamadev had struck him with one of his arrows,” explained Chitrasen.

“You think so?” she asked him, “I caught his gaze a couple of times too! He did not lose a moment before praising me after the performance, like he was waiting just to speak to me.” She laughed hysterically. “What should I do now, Chitrasen?”

“Tell him your feelings, you innocent thing, he is not going to be here forever. Make sure he knows you love him too and do that before he leaves,” he said pinching her cheeks lightly with love before he left.

Urvashi ran to Arjuna’s chamber, partly excited, partly embarrassed. Her heart beat wildly as she tried to think what she would say to him. As she stood at the door to his chamber, she saw him. He was reclining on the couch, eyes closed, bare bodied, a silk vastra draped below his waist. She stood in the doorway, admiring his glistening body, imagining how it would be to lay her head upon his bare chest. She looked at his handsome face, his perfect lips and sharp nose. He had Indra’s charm and Kunti’s beauty.

She sighed.

She tiptoed into his chamber, but the sound of her anklet woke him up. He sat up, surprised to see her.

She sashayed up to him, in her own inimitable style, her silken veil flying all around her, smiling seductively before seating herself beside him.

Arjuna was visibly embarrassed. He stood up with folded hands, “Devi, may I know the reason for your visit?” he asked.

“I have lost my heart to you Arjuna,” she said, trying to put an arm around him.

Arjuna instinctively moved away. He was shocked to hear her speak thus. “No, Devi, you mustn’t speak like that. I have looked upon you as someone to be revered.”

“You can also respect the one you love Arjuna.”

“Forgive me Devi, but I do not have such thoughts for you,” he said beckoning her to leave.

Urvashi was furious. Smote in love, and angry in unrequited love, she cursed him, “For spurning my love, Arjuna, I curse you to lose your manliness and be scorned as a eunuch.”

Arjuna was stupefied. He stood as if turned to stone.

When unrequited love  to hatred turned
Hell had no fury like a woman scorned! 



 Later, Indra modified the curse, such that Urvashi’s curse would be effective for just a year, and that too of Arjuna’s choice.

And this curse did come handy, during the thirteenth year of exile, when the Pandavas had to live in disguise, Arjuna lived as a eunuch, Brihanalla, teaching dance to young Uttara.

This day..last year...U for Unique

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T for (Love) Triangle!

 The thought of sharing the love of your life with another is impossible. But when that significant other is Krishna, you hardly have a say in the matter!

This is a tale of a love triangle, one-up-manship and competition to win over Krishna. So how did the Lord untangle this triangle?


“Narayana…Narayana…” sang Narada muni in praise of Lord Vishnu, as he descended in Satyabhama’s courtyard, clanging the kartal in one hand and veena slung across his shoulders.

Satyabhama bowed her head in reverence. “What brings you here munivar? she asked.

A mischievous smile spread across the sage’s lips, and his eyes sparkled with the thought of the aftermath of his statement, “I should not be telling you this, devi…but….” he paused for effect, with a I-should-not-be-telling-you-this look in his eyes. “No, I think, I should leave,” he said starting to depart.

Satyabhama was suddenly curious. “Mahamuni, come and be seated,” she said, “I’ll get you some fruit nectar to drink.”

“If you insist,” he said shrugging his shoulders.

She offered him the fruit nectar and he drank it happily.

“Now tell me what the matter is,” she asked.

“I heard that Krishna, your husband, has given the exotic Parijata flowers to Rukhmini. I also heard he didn’t give you any? Tch tch…how could he do that? Isn’t he supposed to treat all his wives equally?”

He waited for her to absorb the news.

“The Parijata was obtained during the Samudra-manthan. It is the most fragrant of all flowers, and it is also Krishna’s favorite. If he has given it to Rukhmini, it means that he loves her the most, isn’t it?”

He had? Satyabhama looked hurt. She loved Krishna with all her heart. Didn’t he love her as much? Why had he not given her those exotic flowers?

“Oh, I’m so sorry I hurt you,” said Narada pretending to sympathize but all the while trying to suppress a smile, “SeeThis is why I wouldn’t tell you.”

“Oh, Munivar, what should I do now?” she asked, feeling humiliated, “How do I find out if Krishna indeed loves me.”

“That’s easy, devi,” said Narada, “He got her a flower, you ask him to get the whole tree,” he said winking mischievously. His work done, he took leave of her, clanging his kartal once again and chanting his lord’s praise, “Narayana….Narayana.”

Satyabhama was so hurt, she immediately sought an audience with Krishna.

“What is it my love, you look upset,” asked Krishna, oblivious to the fire the mischievous sage had ignited in her mind, “Did something happen?”

“You don’t love me, my Lord,” she said sulking like a little child. “You love didi Rukhmini more. That is why you got her the Parijata flowers and got me nothing. Narada muni has told me everything.”

Krishna closed his eyes and sighed. Narada…wait till I meet you.

“The Parijata is in Indralok,” he reasoned, “Indra will be furious if I bring it here. I can get you some flowers if you want.”

“If I want? Why wouldn’t I want?  You should have got me the flowers, but…before I asked you for it,” she pouted, “Now I want the tree. If you love me, get me the tree.”

“No my sweetest heart, I love you as much,” he said trying to pacify her. “You both are like my eyes, how does one love one eye more than the other?”

“Prove it. Get me the tree,” she said stubbornly.

Krishna realized the futility of arguing with her. What was with these women and the competition amongst themselves?  Was it so difficult to comprehend that he loved them equally?  

 And thus he set forth to Indralok to get the tree. After an intense battle with Lord Indra, he managed to procure the tree for her.

Satyabhama was thrilled. You love me the most, my Lord? I knew it!” she exclaimed.

“Where do you want to plant it?” he asked.

She pondered over it for several minutes. Rukhmini must know that Krishna loved his Satyabhama the most.

“Lord, plant it on my side of the garden, but close to the wall between my garden and Didi’s”. It would be a reminder to Rukhmini that Satyabhama was the Lord’s favorite.

Krishna saw through her plan and smiled to himself. “So be it,” he said.

Just as he finished planting, he saw Rukhmini look at the Parijata tree and was suddenly worried. He asked her, “Now are you about to ask me whom do I love more?” The perils of having too many wives, he thought.

“No, my Lord,” said Rukhmini, “I know you love me the most, because you planted the tree in such a way that the westward wind will drop all the flowers in my garden. Satyabhama may have gotten her tree, but finally, I get the flowers, don’t I?”

Krishna smiled. Women.


This day...last year...T for Trust

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