Category Archives: free writing

Be the process

In the endeavour to better oneself it is important to keep on analysing one. And the standard by which one which one has to measure oneself is the Bhagavad Gita. Because in the Gita the Lord has clearly mentioned all those qualities which makes a person better and makes her or him beloved of Him.

Shri Caitanya Mahhaprabhu has left just 8 verses called as the Siksastakam or His 8 fold instructions.

You can read the entire text here but one verse is my absolute favourite:

trinad api sunichena
taror api sahishnuna
amanina manadena
kirtaniyah sada harih

One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.

If you read the words clearly ‘lower than a straw in the street and tolerant than a tree’….It is good to read isn’t it? But is it so easy? I mean so humble that anyone can step on you and so tolerant that you stand tall in rain or shine, cold or heat is not easy at all. Maintaining your cool even if someone insults you or takes you for granted is not easy at all.

You may think where is she heading? Let me elaborate. Growing up in Bhilai I was an outsider because I was the so called ‘Madrasi’. Everyone belonging south was a Madrasi. Then when I came down South I was the person who had lived in hte North, so again an outsider. When I was in Bahrain I was an outsider. So technically I have never belonged but that doesn’t matter either because the only thing that matters is that I belong to Krishna. But what irks me is when people show their superiority.  This place doesn’t have good vegetables as my place. This place doesn’t really have any seasons. People from North re aggressive. People from South are shallow. And then it becomes personal too sometimes. How can you be so quiet? Your son is quiet too just like a girl. Why is he wearing pink? Isn’t pink for girls? My son heard the last quote and was quite candid, ‘Krishna made all the colours, he didn’t label any colour as for boys or girls’. End of argument.

Which made me think that though Krishna said,

amanitvam adambhitvam
ahimsa ksantir arjavam
acaryopasanam saucam
sthairyam atma-vinigrahah

Humility, pridelessness, nonviolence, tolerance, simplicity, approaching a bona fide spiritual master, cleanliness, steadiness and self-control are some of the constituents of the path of knowledge.(BG 13.8)

And all these qualities are so difficult to adapt. Arent we prone to boasting or to flaunt ourselves. Humility is really a very difficult virtue. I mean how do you or what do you do when you are attacked or insulted. How can you be aloof?

We often tend to forget that every individual, society or nation has its own plus points and minus but who are we to judge. Why is it so difficult to accept the other just as they are. The answer is ignorance. We like to gloat to show our importance because we don’t know how good the other person is.

But does that mean we accept others insults, their taunts because we are humble. To a limit maybe yes but not always. Humility and tolerance should be to a limit that your confidence is not shaken. I will repeat a story often told before:

Narad muni met a snake who was very aggressive. He explained to the snake the virtues of non violence. The good teacher that he is, Naradmuni converted the snake to the path of non violence and went his way. After sometime when he returned he thought of meeting the snake again to see how he was doing. He finds the snake in a battered condition. Though the snake had turned non violent, the people didn’t know about it and thinking him to be dangerous had beat him black and blue. Narad muni smiled and said, ‘Child, yes you are non violent now but when people were attacking you, you could have shown your fangs, they would have run away.’

And that is what we have to do. Be humble, respectful and nonviolent but when attacked show your fangs politely.

It is a long way when all the people respect each other and not show superiority, it will be a long time before the North South divide is crossed. ( to tell the truth we show solidarity and unity only when we are abroad). But World peace begins with individual transformation; let the others be; let’s start our transformation now.

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My Quest

A Happy New year to all those who are reading this post. This is a special year as I complete a decade of a quest for inner peace. 2009 had been quite an eventful year. In my restlessness I had started blogging ‘Searching Self was born as a quest of a person at crossroads. With a brief health scare and an earnest begging for a way out, by the end of that year I was slowly edging towards my destiny.

Material comforts didn’t comfort me and yet disappointments baffled me. I knew I was in search of a higher truth but how could I unravel it? As I yearned for these truths; a sudden calmness came over me as if the truth was just around the corner. The blog helped me to put across my fears, my anxieties, my thoughts and memories out at the world and maybe made my mind a lot empty to contemplate.

Too much junk impedes the normal functioning ot the mind.

yada samharate cayam kurmo ‘nganiva sarvasah
indriyanindriyarthebhyas tasya prajna pratisthita

TRANSLATION

One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws his limbs within the shell, is to be understood as truly situated in knowledge. (Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2 Text 58)

When we aim for something we have to concentrate just like a wrestler who needs a fixed amount of nutrition to maintain his weight and single minded focuses on training. A spiritual quest is similar. We need to shut out all worthless thoughts and activities and concentrate on the self. The above shloka gives the example of a tortoise. When a tortoise feels danger it withdraws within. And thats what one in the spiritual journey has to do.

onasti buddhir ayuktasya na cayuktasya bhavana
na cabhavayatah santir asantasya kutah sukham

TRANSLATION

One who is not in transcendental consciousness can have neither a controlled mind nor steady intelligence, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?(Bhagavad Gita Chapter2 Text 66)

So once I got to a path, I began in earnest, there were classes to attend, discoveries to be made and lessons to ne applied but was it easy? There were inner turmoils and external as well. Misunderstandings in personal life, inner demons and numerous other attractions. And that meant there was no peace.

I asked a senior, why is this happening, I know this is my path but why am I in this turmoil. And he asked me, ‘have you ever churned Yoghurt?’ I said Yes. ‘When you churn the entire liquid is in turmoil, it changes its density, it changes its nature and then only you get butter’ and as a parting shot he added,’ When the milk ocean was churned, poison came first and much later nectar.’ It took me a couple of days to exactly understand the full implications but I understood this much that I was not failing, what was needed was patience.

vihaya kaman yah sarvan pumams carati nihsprhah
nirmamo nirahankarah sa santim adhigacchati

TRANSLATION

A person who has given up all desires for sense gratification, who lives free from desires, who has given up all sense of proprietorship and is devoid of false ego—he alone can attain real peace. ( Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 2 text 71)

It is not easy to control senses especially in today’s age but then as my seniors told me the trick was not to control them but to engage them elsewhere and to be precise in higher consciousness. Read Bhagvad Gita or Bhagavatam, cook for the Lord, take his darshan etc. When the senses got a higher taste they lost their appetite for the mundane.

I am still in the process. It is not easy to throw away the garb covered from so many births but I am patient.

2018 was not a good year. Health of dear ones, relationships on which I had invested a lot of time went sour  and lot many more troubles but the important part is I kept my head high and did not succumb.

And then my mother said, ‘because you were in this quest you kept us all afloat’, I felt that peace which I had been longing for long within me.

I tell you mothers can say the deepest thought in the easiest way.

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How to deal with crisis

In the world which we live, we are constantly facing some or the other crisis. The first problem that we fear is sickness either ours or our loved ones. Apart from the physical limitations we also have to deal with the financial implications. It is a case of the lion’s lair or the shark’s mouth. The second problem especially of people living in the Middle East is that of job insecurity. This problem escalates if you have children. Then you feel the sword hanging over your head 24*7. What if you or your spouse lose your job in the middle of the school year? You may search for a new job but what if you don’t get? If you decide to return to your home country, will your children get admission in the middle of the year? How to deal with such situations?

Our scriptures have divided our miseries into three:

  • Adidaivik: The miseries caused by the demigods like earthquakes, floods, tsunami
  • Adibhautik: Miseries caused by other living entities like dengue because of mosquitoes or your colleague creating problems for you at work etc.
  • Adhyatmik: Problems caused by your own mind. Why is she staring at me or I am not good enough etc.

But very often, we over selves are the cause of most of the miseries. More often than not it’s our ego the I, me, myself which cause problems for us. Colleague causing problems for you very often than not is the cause of an over inflated ego. (adibhautik), Similarly Adhyatmik Problems too are caused because either you think too much of yourself or too little.

Then you may question how do adidaivik problems arise? As we know we were all living peacefully in the spiritual platform along with the Lord but somewhere the desire to enjoy or Lord arose in us. And so Lord created this material world in which we were supposed to enjoy but at the same time we were supposed to do some prescribed duties. When we did these duties like different yagnas, the demigods would be satisfied and they would bless us with ample rain, food etc. Repeatedly doing these duties would arise our God consciousness and we would start serving the Lord and ultimately return to the spiritual world. But the age of Kali is very troublesome. We tend to forget our duties and we incur the wrath of the demigods in the form of flood, tsunami etc. If you are not a believer and you want a ‘scientific’ explanation then let me explain. We have used this earth, this environment to fulfil our greed. The incessant cutting of trees in the Western Ghats and the subsequent floods is an eye opener to all. I shudder to think with our reckless lifestyle what more is in store for the future.

We have heard about the acronym SOS. SOS or save our souls often used by people who have lost their way in deserts pr wilderness. This acronym holds true for us who have lost our way to the actual goal of life which is going back to Godhead.

  • The first thing when crisis hits us is to remember that I am not this body But a spirit Soul. However big the problem is the fact remains that it will not be carried over to your next birth. So don’t panic, this too will pass. The eleventh shloka of the second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita explains this perfectly

sri-bhagavan uvaca
asocyan anvasocas tvam prajna-vadams ca bhasase
gatasun agatasums cananusocanti panditah

TRANSLATION

The Blessed Lord said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead.

Be dispassionate…try to look at the problem from a third angle. So the important thing is to Observe. Is there any opening in the market for my qualification…can I secure a place for my children in my home town. Don’t panic but observe. Most of our problems are of the body and it helps when we disengage and watch

  • Weigh possibilities scratch out what is not feasible.

So what is SOS…we are spirit souls, observe from all angles and scratch out options

What gives strength during moments of crisis?

  • Faith in the Supreme Lord. Take all problems as a test
  • Something better is planned for me. We say, man proposes but God disposes. That is often true because He has better plans for us.
  • Whatever happens we learn something and the experience makes us stronger.
  • I am not alone. The Lord stands by Me. As explained in the fifth shloka of Chapter 4 of the Bhagavad Gita        sri-bhagavan uvaca
    bahuni me vyatitani janmani tava carjuna
    tany aham veda sarvani na tvam vettha parantapa

Translation; The Blessed Lord said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!

So we have never been alone, He has always been with us.

Whatever struggles we face if we are in the path of Krishna consciousness, is a step nearer to Krishna. As Bhagavan says in Bhagavad Gita 4.9

janma karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so ‘rjuna

 TRANSLATION

One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.

Whatever crisis you come across if you are in the right frame of mind, you lead to Krishna. So take all crises as stepping stones.

(Excerpts from a class taken of 16th October 2018)

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Have faith

art-beads-bracelet-271607.jpg

 Picture courtesy : pixabay.com

We are a generation always in the search of quick-fixes.So in that quest google is the winner and we all have become mini-engineers,doctors, plumbers and what not. Once a handyman in Bahrain had screamed at us,’Jiska kaam hai usper chhodd jiye'( Leave the work to the person who does it) when we had suggested something. That is how ‘intelligent’ we have become.

But there is one thing which does not have any quick fixes or rather has one but we can talk about that later. And what is that? Our karma. What is written in our fate has to be lived. Or in other words what we sow,we reap. The punya( good karma) and the paap(bad karma) keep on accumulating and from time to time we keep on enjoying/suffering the reactions. There is no shortcut; if it is suffering you suffer, no escape from it.

Very often we say,’you should have faith in the medicine for it to work’. Especially when you are taking homeopathy or ayurvedic medicines. Similarly when going through a low phase like suffering losses or bad health many people give you some remedies. Chant this, do that, do this. And you do. if you do it is fine but don’t do anything halfheartedly. Do it if you believe, if you have shraddha in what you are doing.

When the ‘jiva’ that is the frag-mental piece of the Lord wanted to enjoy the world by itself, this whole material world was created. But along with the world, the Lord also gave out solutions. He knew that someday we would have enough of this material world and would want to go to our eternal world and so he gave remedies. Our vedas are full of remedies, you want health, worship this demi God, you want wealth worship that demi God and so on. So when you are in need someone suggests some remedies; chant this, do this,; don’t turn up your nose because our Vedas do give us solutions. And these solutions do reduce our sufferings or problems BUT only if you have shraddha or faith..

We say follow your dreams but you can follow dreams only if you have faith.

We take paracetamol for fever because we have faith on it.

Similarly if someone is suggesting some remedy, do it only if you have faith in it.

As I said earlier, there is no escape from karma. And these remedies just reduce the intensity. But there is one permanent remedy from all that and that is chanting of the holy name. But that too needs shraddha. Chant the holy name and see all your karmas dissolve and go back to your eternal home where there is no suffering. That is the only quick fix to escape karma.

tam eva saranam gaccha
sarva-bhavena bharata
tat-prasadat param santim
sthanam prapsyasi sasvatam
TRANSLATION
O scion of Bharata, surrender unto Him utterly. By His grace you will attain transcendental peace and the supreme and eternal abode. (BG 18.62)

 

 

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From ignorance to light

Life throws up surprises every now and then. Like you are doing good in your job and suddenly the business shuts shop. Or you are a businessman but you suffer multiple losses. Life can be so unpredictable. Like you are happy, you have finished with your responsibilities and you want to relax and suddenly you discover that you have a lump which is not just a lump.

No, this is not about me.

When I read blogs I often feel it unrealistic. We write about the urban upper class but what about the towns and the villages. Isn’t there a story there.

What about common life, why has it become so uncommon?Quotefancy-1520040-3840x2160

As I said earlier there is so much to write about in the mundane.

I think about life, the ordinary struggles and the shocks and the surprises we keep getting now and then and I want to unravel the mystery.

I know a lady who has raised her two children singlehandedly. her husband is somewhere. I do not know whether her husband was an alcoholic or abusive or both. I never asked. I didn’t want to hurt her anymore than what she was already hurting. But heard that her husband used to come now and then demand money, take and leave.Until one day her son now grown up and earning, threw him out and threatened him.

Out of curiosity I had asked her son once, why your mother tolerates him. He just replied mother can never refuse beggars.

And then it hit me. She was not tolerating him, neither was she doing it as a sense of responsibility. She was doing it as a duty. the duty of a human not a wife; of helping those who are needy. was she right, was she wrong? I am not going to judge her but I realised that every scene has so many angles.

Life when it wants just to show some angles, it throws some surprises. And then the Lord, the witness watches how we deal with it. I look back at my journey from March 31st 2004 and see how I have evolved and with all humility I bow down and hope that I have evolved well. It was that day I discovered that I had pituitary adenoma which subsequently lead me to partial darkness and the knowledge that I have to be on support of external hormones but it has led me to an absolutely delightful journey of self discovery. A discovery which earlier I may not have embarked upon earlier. Have I been good or have I been bad, I will not judge but the fact is that today I am grateful that I had the chance to see so many ups and downs to discover myself.

Someone very dear is going through the same trials. I just hope that she too takes this opportunity to discover self.

The shloka in my mind:

tesam evanukampartham aham ajnana-jam tamah
nasayamy atma-bhava-stho jnana-dipena bhasvata
TRANSLATION
Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance. (BG 10.11)

 

 

 

 

 

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My friend

As I shed tears, the better half asked,’ Do you want to please Krishna, yourself or the others?’ I stopped myself and thought hard.

this is not something new. Call me emotional or call me sensitive but I get hurt easily. Any relationship/friendship I put my 100% and then when I don’t see the same reciprocation, I get hurt.

Apart from the fact that I am a straight forward person, the other problem is that I get attached and the normal course when you get attached is that you start expecting. Now attachment with Expectation is a lethal combination. And try as I might,it is impossible for me at least at this juncture to remain unattached.

Now you may wonder why this  rant. Well as it always happens I try to do the maximum for the family and friends but when I see them backbiting or let us say when things do not go as per my expectation I get upset. And as usual the tears flow

Being able to cry anywhere is a strength.  Not a weakness.  I'm not scared of feeling my emotions. I don't feel the need to hide and bottle them up. I AM a strong woman BECAUSE I cry.

courtesy: https://goo.gl/images/q5WESu

But then the husband said, ‘who are you trying to please?’ And that made me think. It made me think of this shloka.

gatir bharta prabhuh saksi
nivasah saranam suhrt
prabhavah pralayah sthanam
nidhanam bijam avyayam
TRANSLATION
I am the goal, the sustainer, the master, the witness, the abode, the refuge and the most dear friend. I am the creation and the annihilation, the basis of everything, the resting place and the eternal seed.(BG 9.18)

I always get a lot of strength from this shloka. Over a period of time  I have realised there is nobody that is truly yours. In numerous instances you will find that your parents,your siblings, your spouse, your children and your friends all have different agendas. Though they may be with you theoretically, they are not really yours. The only person who is truly with you, with your ups and downs, being your witness, and giving you strength is the Parmatma. He guides you too that is if you are ready to listen. As soon as I this realisation came, I felt peaceful, the tears dried and I was ready to face the world again.

 

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The impermanence of it all….

As I stand idling on the balcony, a sudden wave of nostalgia hits me. I remember the good old times spent in Bahrain. The sevas I was fortunate to have; the classes attended all memories wash over me.

It is not easy, fifteen lovely years especially the last eight are not easy to forget. As I long for some company I remember my sisters at the temple or the ladies in my bhakti vriksha who had become like my daughters. As I cook in the kitchen I remember who likes the particular dish that I am preparing or how it was cooking in the temple kitchen particularly on Saturdays for the Kannada Bhagvad Gita class. As I clean my home my mind conjures up images of the mass cleaning on fridays after breakfast in the temple.

Memories can sometimes bring a smile on your lips and yet sometimes torment you with a sweet ache in the heart.

The last twenty-five years I have been like a nomad, flitting from place to place. enjoying each place and yet not getting attached to any. Bahrain in that way had been special. A place where I started my marital life, made a home, had a child; experienced the highs and lows that life brings with it and yet I always used to remind myself that it is temporary, one day I will have to leave it all.

Today where I am placed I love it. I am independent, I don’t have to wait for anybody to pick me up if I have to go somewhere, I have family close by, the weather suits me and yet a tiny piece of my heart has remained in Bahrain.

And then I remind myself that the change was inevitable. One day or the other it had to be.

 

The most important lesson that I have learnt in this whole relocation is how easily we forget ourselves. I knew that life in Bahrain was temporary. One day I had to move and yet I got attached.

Similarly even though I know that this body is just an outer covering I/We get attached to it, to the relations attached to that body . Even though I know that this relations are of this body, I still get angry if their opinion is different than mine or I am carried away by someones praises.

If only I could remember that none of these are permanent…..one moment we are praised; another criticised, it is just the duality of this world.

While in Bahrain there were so many sevas. Sometimes cooking, sometimes preaching, sometimes cleaning, sometimes dressing and so on. And each seva used to give so much bliss. If I could just remember that bliss and carry on ultimately waiting for that day when I would be able to personally serve the Supreme Lord….now that would be blissful indeed.

man-mana bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi satyam te
pratijane priyo ‘si me
.
TRANSLATION
Always think of Me and become My devotee. Worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend. (BG-18.65)

 

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