Activity of mind is necessary for existence. In our day-to-day life cannot move with an inactive mind. However the mind gets so engrossed in the activity that it forgets the very purpose of this activity and blindly gets caught-up in the unceasing cycle of mental activity. Mind gets tired with this unending mental activity.
Secondly every moment the mind perceives the world around it through the five senses. Every perception gives rise to some thoughts and emotions. Some are pleasant and some unpleasant. These perceptions along with associated thoughts and emotions get stored in memory as impressions. Stronger the associated emotions stronger are these impressions. Thus we collect millions of impressions with passage of time. Some impressions are strong, some are not so strong. These past impressions in the mind colour our perception of present moment. Unless the mind is free from all past impressions it will never be able to perceive the present moment ‘as it is’. Unless the mind is free from all past impressions it will never be able to perceive the Truth ‘as it is’.
Tired mind and too many impressions in the mind cause:
Loss of enthusiasm & energy
Lack of focus
and finally, derangement of the mind.
Nature has given some inbuilt mechanisms like sleep and dreams to erase or dilute some of the impressions. However present day hectic and stressful life demands something more. Meditation is the solution for all these problems of the mind.
Meditation is a delicate art of doing ‘nothing’ on the level of thoughts and yet having completely restful and alert mind. A meditative mind is silent and at the same time an alert mind. Meditation gives mind the deep rest it yearns for and at the same time it cleanses the mind of unhealthy impressions. It improves perception as well as improves communication and expression. It energizes and rejuvenates the mind in all aspects. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji says, “Meditation brings inner peace, gives energy to cope up with difficult situations and unites the hearts and minds of people.”
Meditation is a skill which needs to be mastered. The easiest and most effective way to learn meditation is to learn it from a Guru who has mastered the art of meditation. In a very subtle way the meditative mind of a Guru gently guides the mind of a disciple on the path of meditation. On this path the communication between a Guru and disciple is almost non-verbal. The few words the Guru utters, to guide the disciple into meditation, are there only to communicate something which is beyond words.
8th AUGUST 2015 is a special day for meditation and all the meditators. It is a golden opportunity for the uninitiated ones to learn meditation. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji will be conducting online guided meditation for the whole world from Russia. This event “The Planet Meditates” aims to bring together over 100,000 people meditating at the same time all over the world, and also setting a Guiness Record! It is an opportunity to experience meditation with the Master as well as opportunity to participate in a World Record event. It is said that when 1000’s of minds meditate together it has leaves a positive impact on the whole planet.
Don’t forget to become a part of this historic opportunity by registering onhttp://planetmeditates.org/ .The event is scheduled on 8th August 2015 at 2:00pm GMT / 7:30pm IST. Log on to http://artofliving.org/webcast or the Sri Sri App on your mobile to join the LIVE online meditation with Sri Sri.
Most powerful were his thoughts and dreams…. to transform India into a prosperous nation
Avul Pakeer Jainulbadeen Abdul Kalam.
Former President, eminent scientist, researcher, author and humanitarian Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam breathed his last on 27th July’15 bringing an end to a selfless life dedicated to empowering his fellow countrymen especially youth and children.
Dr. Kalam is mainly credited for the vision 2020 roadmap to enable India to be an economic and intellectual superpower and put an end to poverty and illiteracy. Dr. Kalam has been conferred upon with many awards and honor including Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration along with India’s highest civilian honor Bharata Ratna along with 43 honorary doctorates. He has also received international honors and PhDs from USA, UK, Switzerland, Singapore and Canada. As many as 6 biographies have been written on him while he authored as many as 17 books meshing serious thought ideology with his experiences as a scientist, researcher, teacher and a political leader with a strong undercurrent of humanism and patriotism.
Born into a fisherman’s house in Rameshwaram, Tamilnadu in 1931, He had a strong spiritual and interfaith influence courtesy to his three close friends in his childhood — Ramanadha Sastry, Aravindan and Sivaprakasan. Dr. Kalam’s deep interest in ancient Indian wisdom, heritage and spirituality had its seeds sown in childhood.
After graduating from Madras Institute of Technology, Dr. Kalam joined DRDO as a scientist and designed a small helicopter for Indian Army. He later moved on to ISRO to give wings to the space aspirations of India. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam spent four decades as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He was intimately involved in India’s civilian space program and military missile development efforts. He thus came to be known as the “Missile Man of India” for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology. Nurtured the mentorship of Satish Dhawan, Vikram Sarabhai and Dr. Brahm Prakash, Kalam and his team went on to design many satellites and launch vehicles starting with SLV-II (Rohini). He also directed two projects, Project Devil and Project Valiant, which sought to develop ballistic missiles from the technology of the successful SLV programme. Despite the disapproval of the Union Cabinet, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi allotted secret funds for these aerospace projects through her discretionary powers under his directorship. He played an integral role convincing the Union Cabinet to conceal the true nature of these classified aerospace projects. He went on to make many special ballistic missiles for India, which included Prithvi, Agni. India owes its development as a nuclear nation to his organizational and technical support for Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998.
Every mission of him wasn’t a success. There were poking failures which stuck sore thumb out. Every time he failed, the media and the scientific groups criticized him. But Dr. Kalam came back strongly. During the Agni and Prithvi missile, the projects have been criticised for mismanagement and cost and time overruns, he gave a fitting reply by proving them wrong with successful completions. In 1998, along with cardiologist Soma Raju, Kalam developed a low cost coronary stent, named the “Kalam-Raju Stent”. Dr. Kalam, strongly believed as a scientist and thinker about using science and technology to take inventions to people across the social and economic barriers of people and bring across difference in the lifestyle and perception.
Dr. Kalam set a target of interacting with 100,000 students during the two years after his resignation from the post of scientific adviser in 1999. He mainly identified himself with the youth and the teenagers of the country and strongly believed in the power of knowledge empowerment and intellectual thinking. He would insist on the power of dreaming and innovation and the ability to bring out the transformation – both in the self and society. His words came in with a remarkable sense of power often sprinkled with witty humor and unmistakable commitment to bring about a transformation and change in the status quo. Post his thumping victory and assuming his office as the 11th President of India, He travelled across the length and breadth of India and interacted with lakhs of students. He would often take ideas and align their thoughts about becoming responsible, innovative, committed to make India a knowledge superpower and a developed nation by 2020. He strongly urged the student fraternity to think, read, question, work towards a new beginning. Probably no youth leader have inspired the youngsters in the country so much as He did at his age.
Dr. Kalam took an active interest in other developments in the field of science and technology, including a research programme for developing bio-implants. He also supported Open Source technology over proprietary solutions, predicting that the use of free software on a large scale would bring the benefits of information technology to more people. He had the knack of making the impossible look possible and he actually made it possible for ordinary people to dream they could be anybody. And he believed in making India an in-house superpower. The designer of state of the art technologies and path breaking innovations never pursued a PHD from the abroad.
Often when we talk about winner not doing different things but doing things differently, Dr. Kalam is a striking example.
Once, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam rejected the suggestion to put broken glass on the wall of a building that needed protection. Dr. Kalam refused broken glass on walls of DRDO in view of bird safety highlighting his deep rooted sensitivity. Be it a young kid from the corner of India or a scientific advisor to the Prime Minister, He listened with precious attention and unmistakable submission and conviction. Always known to have carried minimal security and changing the status quo, Dr. Kalam sessions were filled with dynamism. He is reported to have rushed into the crowd to stop power cuts from disturbing his interactions and refused to have sit on Presidential chairs on his interactions with kids.
President Kalam has given up all his life savings and salaries to a trust he founded named PURA (Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas) walking the talk of keeping rural development close to his heart. And when he led, he led by example. He was patient for his autographs and clicking pictures. He was known to have written Thank You cards by himself and also dialed and congratulated people himself reflecting his humility and his simple nature. A famous story on the internet reports that –“ When a subordinate of President Kalam at DRDO couldn’t take his children to an exhibition due to work pressure, He surprised his subordinate and took the children instead” reflecting his care and concern for his subordinates and people. He never preached belongingness, sensitivity and innocence but lived it in every moment of life.
Dr. Kalam was deeply spiritual. He took interest in Tamil poetry and played the veena. Kamal endorsed Carnatic devotional music and a strong advocator of ancient Hindu culture. He used to read Bhagavad Gita and was a strict vegetarian. Many of his speeches quoted remarkable quotes from the Gita, Vedas, Upanishads and other Indian texts. A strong advocate of Indian soul with a global outlook, Kalam represented a true Indian at his heart.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has lauded Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam as a man of humor and his deep care for society.
Human race, knowingly or unknowingly, is practicing ‘Yoga’ since time immemorial. The primitive man while hunting for his pray with his bow outstretched, arrow pointed at the heart of the pray, body and breath still and mind totally focused was ‘Yogasth’ (centred in Yoga). The ‘eureka’ moment of the great scientist Archimedes was a ‘Yoga’ moment.The ‘wow!’ moment we experience when we see an extraordinarily beautiful sunrise at a hill station is a ‘Yoga’ moment. A five year old, when he eats his favourite ice-cream, forgetting the whole world outside is experiencing ‘Yoga’ moment.
With time, the original meaning of the term ‘Yoga’ got distorted. The techniques practised to achieve the state of ‘Yoga’ itself came to be recognized as ‘Yoga’.
The word ‘Yoga’ has been derived from Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ which means “to join”, “to integrate” or “to unite”.
In simple terms ‘Yoga’ is the state of harmony or union of body, mind and the spirit.
On an individual level our existence has two distinct aspects. First is the gross aspect (visible) i.e. our physical body. The other is the subtle aspect (invisible) which includes our breath, thoughts (mind), intelligence, memories, ego and the Self. Most of the times there is no harmony between these different layers of our existence due to reasons like health conditions, surroundings, past memories, expectations, ego, emotions etc. Only when all the layers of our existence are in harmony, we can give our 100% in whatever we are doing, we can work to our fullest potential, we can enjoy our life to the fullest, and this is the purpose of ‘Yoga’.
Thousands of years ago in ancient India the enlightened Masters realized that ‘Yoga’ is the way to remove misery from human life and it is also path to realize the full potential of human life. They realized that by practising certain techniques and ways any ordinary person can achieve perfection in ‘Yoga’.
Maharshi Patanjali perfected the art and science of ‘Yoga’ as a discipline. Maharshi Patanjaliknew that irrespective of race, religion and culture the human mind works on the same principles. He knew all the tendencies of human mind and knew the ways to overcome these tendencies. He compiled the essence of his teachings in a systematic way in “Patanjali Yoga Sutras”.
With practice of ‘Yoga techniques’ the vacillations of mind in past and future reduce. Mind stays more in present moment. The tendency of mind to hold-on to negativity reduces. Misery reduces and joy increases in life. Our skills of perception, observation as well as expression increase. ‘Yoga’ gives us more clarity in thinking and better communication skills. Slowly the mind gets trained to remain centred even in adverse conditions.
During day-to-day activities we are partially aware of our physical body and usually not at all aware of the subtle layers of our existence. At a physical level we are doing something and at the same time we are doing different things at thought, intellect, memory and ego levels. Our total energy is dissipated in different directions without our awareness. With regular practice of ‘Yoga techniques’, our fragmented existence gets integrated, different layers of our existence come in harmony with each other and we can achieve single pointed focus of our energy in any activity we undertake. With the help of ‘Yoga’ we can achieve excellence in any activity.
The verse “Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam” means “Yoga is skill in action”. Practice of ‘Yoga’ bestows us with skill in action and conversely when we are doing any action with total perfection at that time we are centred in Yoga.
Modern man has to face so many challenges in his day-to-day life. He/she has to play many different and contradictory roles throughout the day. In office he/ she has to be a boss for subordinates, a good friend for colleagues; at home a loving husband/wife/son/daughter; in kitchen a good cook; for children a good father/mother/teacher and so on. All these roles and expectations create lot of stress and tensions in life. With a regular practice of ‘Yoga’ techniques one can skilfully play all these roles perfectly without getting stressed.
On physical level ‘Yoga’ bestows us with many benefits like increase in energy level and stamina, improved body posture and flexibility, increase in immunity level and hormonal balance, improved digestion and elimination etc.
With increased awareness through practice of ‘Yoga,’ one slowly realizes that at some level the whole universe is inter-dependent and inter-connected. It is the same energy or consciousness which manifests in millions of forms. With this realization, belongingness and love increases, hatred and violence reduces, the whole world becomes a better place to live.
Life starts flowing in a direction to ‘unite’ with its very Source!
If you’re looking for a slick Hollywood pot boiler, then skip this one. This is a film without a taut story. So, if you want a good story, you’re hunting in the wrong place. The Tree of Life. Does the plot move around a magical tree that materializes over night on the front lawn? Nope!
Even the word ‘movie’ is deceptive here. Yes, there are moving images, but more like a montage or a series of montages tracked onto some stunning music with occasional whispered monologues. It is these precious strands of thought, whispered to the great consciousness, that bring cohesion to the images. And the audience listening to those familiar silent prayers become that Universal Consciousness: listening, witnessing as Life unfolds its dramas.
Life. The very word implies death. Life carries with it the shadow of death. Each character must deal with the reality of death: the death of one’s friends, family members, one’s own death, the death of childhood; each phase of life implies death on some level for the new to flourish…the endless cycle of birth and death, the wrath of Nature and the unexpected renewal and blossoming of life.
The film begins with death…and of living in the shadow and memory of one who has died. “Where were you, to let a boy die? Let anything happen?” is the mother’s anguished cry to God. “Will you die too?” asks the distraught son of his mother. Life rolls on two wheels, made clear as the film opens, “the Way of Grace and the Way of Nature”. The mother, played by Jessica Chastain, ever kind, loving and forgiving, symbolises the Way of Grace. She holds the family together. She is perfectly cast – a delicate beauty much like a wisp of passing life.
The camera closes up on Brad Pitt, the father, as the mother’s voice over reveals, “Nature only wants to please itself, get others to please it too…likes to Lord it over them.” A good introduction to what is to follow…the typical, earning male stereotype, Lord of the Manor, who takes it upon himself to tirelessly ‘educate’ his young sons. Of course he is well meaning, but it comes at a painful price (for his family!).
Are you patient? Has life delivered its lessons of Patience to you? Can you make sense of your life? Have you even tried? Perhaps this is what director Terrence Malick is asking us, the audience. He has done his best to capture the incomprehensible unfolding of life with individual beliefs, confusions, doubts and questions posed by the actors given roles to play in this grand scheme called ‘Life’. Are we not actors struggling to make sense of our lives and although we are so minuscule compared to the vastness of the Universe are not our concerns real and felt and lived?
If these are your concerns: Who am I? Where am I going? What am I doing here? What is all this about? Then this is the movie for you! It unfolds slowly, like huge waves forming and dissolving in slow motion, the movements of Nature merging with the movements of Man.
There are many pauses, slow dissolves, the screen goes black momentarily, reminders of life and death, of the mind going blank, stories beginning, ending and merging one into the other. An effortless meeting of generations living and gone on the sands of Time. The film captures dramatically the meeting of the river with the ocean, and the meeting of the child with the grown up self, the grown up with its childhood parent, as past, present and future freely mingle as one. The movie ends with a grand embracing of the self, forgiveness, love and joy, a quiet celebration on the shores of a grand ocean of life.
It did strike me that had the family learned the Sudarshan Kriya and practised it along with meditation on a daily basis, there would not be an eternal lifetime of mourning. There would be no space or reason to remain unhappy “when all the world is shining around and love is smiling through all things.” Gurudev (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) would certainly have ensured they imbibe the wisdom that “Life goes on, people pass along. Nothing remains the same.” That is the path of viveka, of discrimination we all live by at The Art of Living.
Given the spectacular and recurring images of water in its varied forms (whether in the form of a gardener’s hose enticingly spraying water on the mother’s feet, an inviting swimming pool, a river flowing wide, the lashing waves of an ocean) I wonder whether Ocean of Life would have been a more apt title. This is definitely a must see film for those of you who enjoy experimental movies, classical music, nature that takes away your breath…and mostly for those of you who, long after the show’s over, like to ponder over that mystery we call life, your life!
Nepal is a country rich in heritage and tradition. It is endowed with mountains as high as the Everest and plains of the tarai. The Nepalese (Gorkhas to many) owe their origin to various surrounding geographies, be it Tibet or north India. The Shah dynasty which ruled Nepal for most part of its existence could perhaps be from the plains of India. The founder of Nepal Prithvi Narayan Shah drew his spiritual strength from Baba Gorakhnath, from where comes the word Gorkha the founding place of the Shah Dynasty, from where they emerged and unified Nepal as one entity. Since time immoral the brave warriors from Nepal came to be known as the Gorkhas. In India, Baba Goraknath’s name is synonymous with Gorakhpur, the history of Nepal and India being intertwined. Siddhartha was born in Lumbini, in present day Nepal and became Buddha in Gaya in present day Bihar, India. Sita from Janakpur in present day Nepal was married to Lord Rama and spent the rest of her life in present day India. The Pandavas were working in the kitchen of Raja Birat during their Agyatwas in present day Biratnagar in Nepal. In fact if local folklore is to be believed they hid their weapons in the Vijaypur Hill in present day Dharan town in Nepal.
The Gorkhas who were recruited into the British Indian Army have a very rich tradition of Velour from time immemorial. So much so that one of the bravest sons of Free India Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw once commented “If a soldier says he is not scared, then either he is lying or is a Gorkha”. To this day the Chief of the Nepalese Army is the Honorary Chief of the Indian Army and Vice-Versa and they exchange words when they meet. In fact the present day Indian Army Chief is from the Gorkha Regiment. A Gorkha Officer in the Indian Army spontaneously greets with the salutation Jai Gorakh. In fact recently when a Colonel of the Gorkha regiment made the supreme sacrifice in Kashmir, his young 11 year daughter saluted her dads mortal remains with the Gorkha War Cry” Katar Hunu Bandha Marno Ramro”(its better to die than being a coward) electrifying the already emotionally charged Gorkha troops of his regiment.
A country so rich in tradition with its various tribes and castes and sub-castes, people here have very high kinship within their own tribe or caste group and as a downside of which racial strain with other groups. With the coming of democracy, these differences long swept underneath have started coming to the surface resulting in mushrooming of political parties and interest groups of all shades and colour, many a times pulling in different directions. The Gorakhwani of Baba Goraknath “ Hath na Kariba, Padha na Rahiba, Dhera Dhariba Paon”(Neither be too aggressive, nor to passive, move gently) seems to be fading.
In this present day environment Nepal needs a new wave of spiritual awakening, a call for which was given by the world renowned spiritual master Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, when he visited the city of Dharan on 1st March(Fagun 18th Gata) 2013. He said “from now on every 1st of March (Fagun 18th Gata) should be celebrated as Nepali Topi Diwas” so that Nepalese who are fast losing their traditions and pulling in different directions, to come together under the banner of the Nepali Topi and start moving with a common agenda and direction with pride in their culture and tradition. A people need to be proud about their past to be confident about their future. Societies that have forgotten their roots have had various ills affecting them like drugs, AIDS, depression and divorce.
Since the clarion call given by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, the Art of Living Nepal along with various other organization like the, Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Red Cross, Udyog Vanijya Sangh, Janjati Mahasangh, Marwari Samaj and many other like minded organizations have been celebrating Fagun 18th Gata as Nepali Topi Diwas each year. On this day thousands of people from across various towns and cities, wearing their traditional dresses and the Nepali Topi march through the streets singing songs in praise of the Nepali Topi and their country. More and more organizations and people are joining each year, including parliamentarians, senior police officials, college lecturers and businessmen with the custom also spreading to the villages.
Today many calenders across Nepal have entered March 1st (Fagun 18th Gata) as Nepali Topi Diwas. The aim is to instil pride in your own culture along with accepting the good things from other parts of the world, with the overall vision of what Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji says, “Deepen your Roots and broaden your Horizon”. While addressing the United Nations, Guruji said, “Those who take responsibility do not pray and those who pray do not take responsibility. I pray as well as take responsibility” . This statement becomes important and relevant to emulate since for years Nepal went through exactly the same dichotomy.
Also, what Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji said while addressing the World Culture Festival in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, where people from across the world were presenting their cultural diversity celebrating 30 years of Art of Living ” One Divinity, One Humanity, Celebrating the Diversity is our Sacred Duty” cannot be more true today in the context of the logjam being witnessed.
An International Faculty of the Art of Living, Samir Jolly is the son of a Gorkha officer Late Brig S.C. Jolly, VSM.
A profile of a joyous warrior who fights on peacefully amidst adverse and scary events in a lab for living in enlightenment!
I couldn’t help laughing whenever Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji shares the story from the Ramayan in which a stray dog asks Lord Rama to make his attacker the head of an ashram as a punishment! It’s ironical to presume that being the head of an ashram would be such as a tough job that even a dog would consider it to be a harsh enough punishment to be meted out to his tormentor!
As the story goes, the dog had been a head of an ashram in his past life and it was so tough a job that he wished that we would be better off being a stray dog rather than a head of an ashram! And he was born as one!
The moral of the story is that it’s not easy to take care of an ashram! Fortunately, one doesn’t have to take another birth to experience it. Just a posting as the head of Art of Living’s ashram located in Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh would be enough to realize this profound wisdom and become strong enough not wish to be born as a dog!
This naturally-endowed beautiful ashram has its own ways of teaching most profound wisdom in very chaotic ways! It’s like Bagavad Gita in action. Profound wisdom of life in the midst of chaos! And chaos inevitably leads to bliss! That’s why I often joke around in AOL circuit that any long-term seva in Arunachal Pradesh is like training in how to live in enlightenment. And that’s what Swami Bhavyatejji, the current head of Art of Living’s Itanagar Ashram, is going through! And in dramatic ways!
The serenity, the beauty, the remoteness, the isolation of the ashram makes for a heady mix! Just being able to be happy without the creature comforts of a city life itself is a challenging proposition if one has even a little attachment to the material realm! For the sake of clarity, WiFi is a luxury and mobile network as erratic as the human mind! The beauty of the hill on the front and cool breeze from the river behind could become irritating if that’s all what you have to live with all the time!
Swamiji has no choice. He has been tasked by Sri Sri to develop and grow this remote but virgin ashram into one of the most beautiful ashrams of the Art of Living! And if you don’t take in the spirit, that could be a harsher punishment than the dog sought from Lord Rama! In these parts of the world, sometimes even getting a skilled labourer could be tougher than getting into samadhi! The same holds true of getting any type of raw materials! The nearest functioning airport is nearly 500 km away! And until recently, the nearest railway station used to be equally far!
To Swamiji’s credit, he has handled this challenging task like an enlightened soul! The ashram has been transformed beyond recognition. Infrastructural development is visible in every corner of the ashram. The atmosphere too has changed; there is a welcoming vibe that every visitor is noticing! The ashramites breathe easy with a sense of responsibility and commitment! Like a true sevak and sadhak, Swamiji has been putting his heart, head and shoulder into it. Being available and hitting the ground himself (often shedding his attire of dhoti and angavastram and getting into soiled Ts and shorts, he has been making sure that best is being done at the lowest cost.
He also has to deal with land encroachers on all sides of the ashram and secure the boundaries of the ashram. He even had to evict a group people who have settled themselves on the ashram land. The land issues can get very emotive in a place where non-locals are not allowed to own land. One has to manage the anger and emotions of all kinds of people from those who call you a ‘pakhandi’ a gundha to those who threaten you with a dao (sword). He has also to listen with patience to those who come seeking for large donations or to those who want help in getting mega projects sanctioned by the Central government!
And this has become a comfortable routine for Swamiji! And for sure, divine doesn’t like a routine existence! Last month, a gentleman who owns a plot just behind Gurudev’s kuteer in the ashram started baying for Swamiji’s blood without any provocation. First, his younger brother came and started abusing ashramites, calling them names and threatening with dire consequences! And when Swamaji tried to figure out what’s happening, he too was verbally abused. Without being cowed down and provoked, Swamiji explained to him how we had worked out the approach road they wanted through the ashram land! He looked convinced, yet they appeared hell-bent on scaring us to conceding a significant area of land for the approach road without suitably compensating us as agreed before!
The motives became clear an hour later when the gentleman, who happens to be a local politician, came with a group of supporters and started verbally abusing Swamiji. All attempts by Swamiji to talk out the matter were foiled by flatly saying he wouldn’t talk to a “son of a bitch”. The language used was so unparliamentary that it cannot be reproduced here! Yet, Swamiji kept his cool and refused to be intimidated! Instead of apologetic of his behavour, the gentleman filed a false FIR against Swamiji another ashramite, accusing them of misbehaving with him and sheltering undergrounds elements in the ashram!
The politician returned the same evening with a gang with the intention to provoke us. They even fired a few rounds in the air just to scare us! Yet, we tried our best to reason him out that we are here for social good and a politician like him shouldn’t be fighting with us and differences, if any, can always be sorted out mutually. But to no avail. We went away warning us that if the police don’t take action on his complaint within two days, his goons will cut Swamiji into pieces, saying it is the customary way of delivering justice!
The next day a police team arrived at the ashram with a Magistrate to take cognizance of the complaint! When the truth was seen, they couldn’t but laugh at the pettiness of the politician. They all felt if actions need to be taken, then it should be against the politician for trespassing into the ashram and spoiling the tranquility of the place! And when an assessment to this effect was filed by the Magistrate, the politician reportedly tried to put political pressure on the officers to take action against Swamiji. When that didn’t happen, a portion of the compound wall of the ashram was damaged under the cover of darkness!
And by the next morning, the administration ordered the deployment of police protection in the ashram for the safety of Swamiji and ashramites. Though we didn’t feel the need of police security, they insisted on it, saying the past records of the politician cannot be taken for granted. A team of 4-5 police personnel patrolled the ashram round-the-clock for a week! They ensured the damaged portion of the compund wall was re-erected without any disturbance!
The things are quiet now, though no formal settlement has taken place! We hope with time, this gentleman will also see reasons and recognize the solace we are bringing to the people of Arunachal Pradesh through Sudarshan Kriya and other activities!
Though scary, these episodes undoubtedly instilled us the feeling of being protected all the time. It reaffirmed in us the wisdom to accept and moved on! And, if this isn’t training in living in enlightenment, and what would be! And surely that stray dog knew what it takes to head an ashram!
Ayurveda says that the Nature or entire Universe is governed and composed by five gross elements (Pancha Mahabhutas) viz. Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. The human body is part of this nature so it is also governed and composed by these five elements. All these elements, more than physical substances, represent the specific qualities and properties associated with these elements.
Agni (or the biological fire of the body) has been given prime importance in Ayurveda from the point of view of health. Agni refers to the universal principle of transformation in all its forms. The Agni in human body is responsible for digestion, absorption, assimilation and transformation of food into nutrition and energy. Agni is also responsible for transformation of sensory perceptions and information into knowledge and understanding. Agni is vital for visual perception, skin lustre and regulation of temperature, confidence, courage, enthusiasm, laughter, mental clarity, intelligence and reasoning capacity. Agni is responsible for respiration and utilization of Prana. Agni helps in cellular metabolism (cellular level breathing) and maintains flow of cellular communication. Agni gives us patience, provides strength and maintains lifespan, vitality and vigour.
According to Ayurveda each of these five elements is linked with specific sensory organ, specific sensory perception, specific organ of action and specific motor faculty.
In case of Agni this co-relation is as below:
After looking at this table, one can easily understand why it is necessary to walk for some time every day to keep the vital fire inside burning.
It is said that each part of the human body is associated with a particular God. ‘Padayo Vishnu tishtatu’, meaning Lord Vishnu is present in the feet. Lord Rama is said to be present in the naval region, the seat of Agni (here, referring to the digestive fire). Lord Rama is also one form (avatar) of Lord Vishnu. Vishnu represents the maintenance principle. This again signifies that Agni is vital for maintenance of human body and walking is the best way to keep this Agni alive.
If you really go into the details, originally the Vedic tradition had only fire ceremonies. Fire sustains life. Without fire nothing will move. The first mantra of the oldest scripture known today to mankind, the Rig Veda, is about Agni, the sacred fire. In Vedic tradition, not a day passed without worshipping the Agni.
The fire element which is present in nature in different forms is also present in human body. When you worship the fire outside, the fire inside also gets rejuvenated. Our ancients knew this secret of life. Now also in many Hindu households there is this beautiful tradition of offering water early in the morning to the Sun. Water element denotes union, love, togetherness, being one with something. Sun denotes the fire element. In many parts of India “Chhath Puja” is performed where fast is kept and rising and setting Sun is worshipped by standing in water up to naval region and offering water to the Sun. Naval region is the seat of Jatharagni (digestive fire inside). Offering water denotes the union. When we worship Sun by offering water it revitalizes the Agni inside us.
“Surya Namaskara” or Sun-Salutation is a beautiful sequence of Yoga developed thousands of years ago. It is said that Sri Krisha used to practice this yoga sequence and taught it to Pandavas. “Surya Namaskaras” help in development of Manipur Chakra, (naval energy centre). Sri Krishna was also called as “Padma Nabha” because his naval chakra was said to be the size of fully blossomed Lotus (Padma). The qualities of clarity of mind, self-confidence, bliss, self-assurance, knowledge, wisdom and the ability to make correct decisions are associated with blossoming of the Manipur Chakra. It is the seat of digestive fire. Its mantra is ‘Ram’.
Agni is the fire inside us, the consciousness in us, which is so alive. It is such a great purifier. But the problem is – we do not allow the Agni to do its purification work.
In fever, our body becomes hot. Body activates its defence mechanism. It is burning all those foreign particles and bacteria that have entered the body. When this foreign bacteria or virus goes out of the body, our fever comes down. The purpose of fever is to purify our body. But as soon as fever comes we take medicines to subside the fever. We should remember that fever in a controlled form is good for us.
The fire of fasting (Jatharagni) can purify our blood and remove the toxins from the body. In Hinduism, Christianity, Jainism, Islam and in almost all the religions of the world, fasting and prayer are prescribed for purification. Hunger is connected with primordial survival instinct and it touches the deepest mental impressions (sanskaras) in us. If we do meditations and sincere prayers while fasting, it has manifold effect. It can burn all the rubbish that we collect due to actions of the past. It can burn lot of past Karma. But we never let the fire of hunger to come up. We keep stuffing our tummies before we feel hungry.
The fire of pure love and knowledge (awareness) can purify our entire existence at all the levels. But we never allow that to happen.
Let us again honour that ‘Agni’ or fire inside and outside which sustains our life and gives direction to our life.
“Om Mahaajvalaaya Vidmahe,
Tanno Agnih Prachodayaat”
~ Sanjay Sabnis
(With inputs from Vaidya Shrikant Bagewadikar, excerpts from the book “Ayurveda Simplified” by Dr. Nisha Manikantan and talks of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji)
Recently at Pune my wife and I were fortunate enough to meet a renowned master of Ayurveda. He was an elderly gentleman of around 60-65 years with an impeccable reputation as an Ayurvedacharya. It was vouched by many that he can tell the exact number of blocks in your arteries just by checking your pulse (Nadi Pariksha).
We were lucky to get his appointment even though it was one of his ‘off’ days. After doing our ‘Pulse Diagnosis’ (in which fortunately no blocks were declared), we got some time to talk with him. My wife asked him, “How come some people though very old still have a very alert and attentive mind, whereas some people lose the alertness of mind and enthusiasm even at the age of 50 -55 years?”
His answer to this question was an eye-opener.
He explained that, as per Ayurveda the body is made up of seven ‘dhatus’ (seven constituents):
Rasa – Blood serum, lymphatic fluid
Rakta – Blood cells
Mamsa – Muscle tissues
Meda – Fat tissues
Asthi – Bone tissues
Majja – Bone marrow and nerve cells (Brain neurons, spinal cells)
Shukra – Reproductive cells (Eggs & Sperm cells)
Ayurveda has beautifully explained the process of digestion. Ayurveda says that it is the fire (Agni) element in our body which helps in digestion. The digestion process is similar to a distillation column of a refinery. In a distillation column, different constituents get separated from the feed at different temperatures. Similarly during digestion separation of different nutrients from the food takes place at different intensities of fire (Agni). At low levels of ‘Agni’ the Rasa dhatu is produced. For producing Rakta a little higher amount of ‘Agni’ is required. Mamsa requires still more amount of ‘Agni’. And so on. Shukra requires the maximum amount of ‘Agni’ (energy).
Now with age, if we do not take proper care, this ‘Agni’ gets diminished. Suppose the ‘Agni’ in our body is just sufficient to convert food to ‘Meda’(fat) but not sufficient to generate ‘Asthi’ (Bones), then there will be accumulation of fats. Bones will not get sufficient nutrition. Bone problems will start. At the same time nutrition to bone marrow, nerve cells as well as reproductive cells will get affected. Brain neurons will start showing degenerative changes. Memory, attentiveness and alertness will reduce.
So the key to good overall health is proper digestion. If you don’t want to lose your vitality with age then you have to keep the fire inside you burning. How to keep this fire burning? The Ayurvedacharya suggested simple lifestyle changes and told that the key to maintain the ‘Agni’ was very simple – keep walking. .
He said that every day one should take ‘nature walk’ for minimum 45 minutes (at a stretch). Exercise inside a gym or any other type of yoga cannot be substitute for this ‘nature walk’. We have to walk in an open unprotected environment for 45 minutes. He said that the hormones released by the body when exposed to unprotected environment are different than those released under the protected environment.
He also insisted that we can have heavy breakfast and lunch but try to minimize or avoid our dinner. We can have fruits and liquids for dinner. We should keep a gap of minimum 3 – 4 hours between dinner and sleep. We should reduce the intake of wheat because wheat flour produces ‘Gluten’ which is not good for digestion. Roti of Jawar, Bajara, Makai or Rice can be taken in place of wheat roti. We should not drink lot of water immediately before or after meals. Only small sips of water should be taken during meals. Water can be taken 15 minutes before meals or 30 minutes after meal.
I have followed these simple steps since last few weeks and I am already feeling much more energetic and lighter.
This interaction with the Ayurvedacharya compelled me to read some more on Ayurveda and ‘Agni’.
Released in 2007, August Rush is a moving drama of hope and unwavering faith, the touching story of the 11 year old protagonist, August Rush, orphaned since birth, yet holding onto this one core belief that it is through music he will find his parents again.
August is born of intense parents, both musicians, and although he is unaware of this fact, his sensitive soul grasps music everywhere. He hears music in the rattle of the tram, in the clanging noises of New York, and all these sounds he intrinsically imbibes and harmoniously transforms in his soul, later creating an indelible and unique stamp on the music he composes.
The movie itself unfolds like a musical composition – opening softly with a scene of August in the fields listening to the music of wind moving through the paddy. It is here right at the beginning that he shares his secret to the audience: “Listen…can you hear the music? I can hear it everywhere…in the air, in the lights, it’s all around us! All you have to do is open yourself up… all you have to do is listen!”
It is innocence, and a return to the self, a sense of belonging to all of nature and the universe that can make one open to the music of the cosmos, the music that moves the planets and moves the self. It is this “opening” to a higher force or call it the “higher self” that invests the little boy with creativity and such unshakeable faith, even in the face of cruel opposition from those who have lost their innocence.
The boys at his orphanage taunt him and roughly awaken him at night. They have come to shake his faith, to break him, the way some people take joy from merciless acts. The huckster, who falsely claims to be his father, also mocks Evan (August’s birth name) when he is afraid of losing him, by cruelly telling him, your parents must be dead and gone, you are wasting your time looking for them.
This is a movie that will make you wonder…about that mysterious power that brings things together, scatters and then reunites them again. This is a story of ultimate victory of good over bad; one that proves that devotion beats doubt. It reveals that if there is something you want, more than anything else, and that if it stems from a pure intention, the Universe is there to support you, despite all the odds. It is a story of love, undying faith, loyalty, and supreme effort. What ties the trio together is their sincerity to find each other. The flame of faith that burns in them colors the certainty of their coming together.
Spiritual leader, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says life is a combination of fate and free will. When confronted by challenges it is foolish to despair and wail, “This is my destiny! I’m helpless!” Gurudev encourages us to apply our efforts. Our efforts will surely pay, if not bringing us the result that we desire, at least the relief that we tried our best. “Put your efforts and then let go.” The results are not in our hands. So it is best to do your best and then surrender to the Divine will.
Just when we begin to relax and rejoice at the prospect of a reunion of this star-crossed family, the movie reaches a crescendo as we watch August helplessly snatched away by his foster father, in the midst of the rehearsal for his grand debut performance. The tables turn once again when in a random meeting at the park, where August is back to collecting coins in a cap, his father walks up to him, admires his playing and rekindles his lost faith. Only a few hours before the performance August manages to run away from the peddler; ultimately breaking from the tyranny of deceit and doubt.
The movie ends in a gentle yet powerful finale with the long lost lovers finding each other in the crowd and August, on completing the composition, turning around to face the audience and his parents whom he intuitively recognizes. The movie ends with his winning smile.
This is a movie for music lovers and those inclined to muse over the dramatic twists of fate, a film that will certainly lift your spirits and rekindle the lost child in you, and make you believe once again: that in this world of uncertainties if you have the faith you can turn your fate around!
Vasant season is here !! The cheerful season of Vasant comes afterall the body stiffness experienced during Shishir. Cool mornings and warm afternoons of Vasant open up our limbs ecstatically. The Vasant season is all about beautiful flowers, awesome weather and diverse colorful nature. One such festival that comes during this time is HOLI!!!
With celebration in the air along with colorful faces, the festival of Holi is not just about all this. The scientific purpose is much larger. The energy conserved during the winter months is utilized for the celebrations of Holi. The type of foods eaten in winter produces kapha. This stored kapha begins to melt and dilute in the sunshine of the changed weather causing health problems, obstructing the tubes. Bonfires are lit and coconuts, tender plants of Vasanta, i.e pungent mango and neem flower stalks, are thrown into the bonfire. The smoke emitted from the burning of these plants burns up our kapha on one hand, and on the other, the aromatic steam which spreads in the atmosphere, prevents the new diseases borne out of the rising pitta.
In and around the region of Marwad, there is an old custom to smear the leather in the drums with poison removing herbs before drumming, so that the particles that rise up & purify the atmosphere. Another custom during the Holi festival days is to throw colours and coloured water at one another. Formerly, the colour used was only the colour of boiled Kesuda (flowers of Palasha tree) along with dried Abil and Gulal powders. Kesuda and Mogra flowers are coolants that protect against the heat and sunshine. This custom is meant to check our body constituents from being over heated in summer. Kesuda is a normalizer of pitta, balancing cold and heat. It keeps us cool in the heat and builds up resistance in the blood, preventing disease.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji explains the significance of Holi in a very simple manner, Holi is a festival of colours. Just like in nature there are different colours associated with our feelings and emotions. Each person is a fountain of colours which keep changing. Your emotions and desires burn you like fire. But when they are a fountain of colours, they add charm to your life.
Sudarshan Kriya harmonizes the rhythms of the body, emotions and puts them back in tune with the rhythms of nature. Being in rhythm, we feel good about ourselves, love flows naturally in all relationships.
So, this Holi, lets add this charm in our lives, Let the celebration begin !!!