Category Archives: Lessons

Old clothes/new clothes

Appa looked out from the window. It was a sunny day. Everyone had put their clothes out to dry. Suddenly he became thoughtful and sat down.

Susheela came and asked,’ Appa I made some bondas, shall I bring them here or will you come to the dining table?’

‘No, Susheela, I am not hungry, maybe later’, said Appa.

‘What has happened to you Appa, you used to enjoy eating….you hardly eat now’, complained Susheela

‘What do you see outside, Susheela?’, asked Appa.

‘Clothes put for drying’, said Susheela.

‘You wash clothes when it is dirty and then when it cannot be used any further; what do you do with it Susheela?’, asked Appa

‘Throw it away’, she replied.

‘I too need a new body Susheela, this one has become useless’, said Appa

Susheela stood there transfixed not knowing what to say.

‘Free me from all this entanglements Susheela, let me go, I cannot carry on any further’, he added

Tears welled up in Susheela’s eyes and she rushed out.

She rushed to the other room where Arjun, her husband was working on his laptop she  leaned on his shoulder and started weeping.

‘What happened Sush’, a concerned Arjun asked.

Susheela repeated what Appa had said. Arjun was thoughtful. It was true that from some days his father was tired. His wife was too attached to her father in law. She was an orphan and had been raised in an orphanage. his father had met her on a routine visit to the orphanage, liked her and got her married to his son.  Like a mother he had trained her to be a good companion.Their camaraderie was so good that sometimes he felt jealous.

‘Maybe it is time for him to be free Sush, don’t hold him back. His body is battered, let him go’, said Arjun

‘ I will be an orphan again’, said she.

Arjun sighed. ‘For your selfish interests,how long will he carry his worn out body Sush’, he asked.

Susheela looked at him with her swollen eyes.

Some days later Appa left his body.

Susheela sat near his body reminiscing the old days mumbling under her breathe, ‘may you get a better body appa and better companions too’.


Bhagavad Gita chapter 2 Shloka 22 says:

vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya navani grhnati naro ‘parani
tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany anyani samyati navani dehi
TRANSLATION
As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.
A time will come when each one of us will have to leave this body and take on a new one. Our effort should be to get a better body and a better life.
——————————————————
Today is Day 2 of Write Tribe Festival of words

 

 

 

 

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What is your biggest fear?

What is that you really fear?’, I asked

Some said Death,  what happens if I die, what will happen to my children?  Some said uncertainty. Some said they are afraid of hurting someone and so on…

‘I am afraid that I will not be  able to bring my son to the path of spirituality’, I said and continued….

Nitai Sevini Mataji in one of her lectures has said, ‘ as a woman, as a mother and your success as a mother  depends  on whether you succeed in kindling/ awakening the love for Krishna in your child’s heart.’

But to do that are you equipped enough? Have you realised the truth yourself? How will you convince your child, if you are not convinced yourself?

A mother once took her child to a saint, ‘Swamiji,my son eats too much of chocolates even though the Dentist has asked him not to. His teeth have begun to rot and yet he doesn’t listen to me. Swamiji thought a while and asked her to come with her child after four days. The lady returned after four days, the Swami called the boy near him, patted him on his back and said lovingly, ‘Son stop eating chocolates from today else you will lose all your teeth’ The woman took the child home. But from that day he never ate any chocolates. His mother was astonished. She returned to the Swami in some days and asked, ‘Swamiji when I asked my son not to eat chocolates he didn’t listen to me but you said once he listened. How?  And why did you call us after four days when you could ask him to stop the very first day. The Swami smiled  and said, ‘I couldn’t advise him the very first day because I too had the habit of eating chocolates. How could I convince him without convincing myself? That is why I called you in four days. First I convinced myself and then when I advised him, he listened.

So How good are you or how good is your sadhana? First make yourself capable to bring your child to the path of bhakti.

Firstly do you believe that Krishna indeed is the supreme personality of Godhead?  Yes, He is. In the eighth  shloka  of the tenth chapter He himself proclaims to be so.

aham sarvasya prabhavo mattah sarvam pravartate
iti matva bhajante mam budha bhava-samanvitah
TRANSLATION
I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.
So when He himself is proclaiming that I am the source, is there any scope of doubt.

Secondly, how surrendered are you?  Are you willing, are you ready toallow him to take charge of yourself? In the 66th shloka of the 18th chapter Krishna says

sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah
TRANSLATION
Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.
Such a beautiful assurance. He will take care. Full stop.

Thirdly, what are you going to do to satisfy or to make Krishna happy? This needs practise. Your consciousness should change from me to Him. Meaning whatever you do, you should do with the bhava of satisfying Him.

To develop this bhava it is not so difficult. Show your gratitude in every step? Thank him for what He has given you.  Thank Him for the home that He has given you, thank him for the food, thank Him for the bed you sleep on etc.

Once you come to the level of gratitude start  your devotional service with the nine ‘angas’ ofdevotional service- shravanam, kirtanam, Vishnu smaranam, pada sevanam,  vandanam, arcanam, dasyam, sakhyam,  atma nivedanam.

And what happens when you become a devotee and serve Him?

sa evayam maya te ‘dya yogah proktah puratanah
bhakto ‘si me sakha ceti rahasyam hy etad uttamam (4.3)
TRANSLATION
That very ancient science of the relationship with the Supreme is today told by Me to you because you are My devotee as well as My friend; therefore you can understand the transcendental mystery of this science.
One of the advantages of becoming a devotee is that the wisdom flows through us, the most confidential knowledge is unveiled
ananyas cintayanto mam ye janah paryupasate
tesam nityabhiyuktanam yoga-ksemam vahamy aham
TRANSLATION
But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form-to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.
Understand this carefully, He carries what we lack and preserves what we have. Isn’t that wonderful!!

 So those are just two inferences which happen when you become a devotee. In my own life I have witnessed how Lord has held me in His hands and led me out of difficult circumstances.

Once you are firm with your belief, start with your child? For this there is a simple acronym RIP. Rip through maya, from this material existence. And what is this RIP :

Read with the child books like BhagavadGita, Bhagvatam, CaitanyaCaritamrita. Read at least for half an hour. Let the child soak in our heritage through our books

Involve them in activities like aarti, altar cleaning and decoration, preparing of bhoga.

Prasadam. Prasadam is potent.Feed them sumptuous prasadam.  And see how they evolve


Excerpts from a class taken on 15th May@ Bahrain

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Of faith and belief

I started the New Year in an exceptional way. I got up at 5.30 in the morning and went to the washroom. A pair of eyes looked straight at me. I went into shock…and then it ran and then I noticed that it had a tail too. And then I screamed.

But nobody heard me. I took a stick and tried to bring it out but then thought otherwise; how could I control it if it came out.

I gathered my wits, closed the door of the washroom and ran to the neighbours who stay  upstairs as they too get up early. At first they didn’t open the door but then when they did, uncle who must be in his late 60s immediately came down. Trapped the rat and threw it away.

I thanked him immensely and just bowed down at the altar, I just had to thank the Lord for such good neighbours.

Some months back, my gas cylinder ran out and I could not connect the regulator to the spare cylinder. In Bahrain I never had to do all that and now I didn’t know how to do it. Son had to go to school and I had to prepare his tiffin. Again the neighbour next door came running and helped me out.

Managing alone when the husband is away in another place or country is not easy. There are so many things to be done. But then the point is we are so very illusioned especially in today’s age.

We think that we are the doers but the point is that not even a blade of grass moves without the will of the Lord

And when I think of this statement….I am filled with gratitude for everything; the home I live in, the food I eat, the neighbours I have, everything. The Lord has seen that I can stay comfortably and even if there are some problems He sees that they are solved.

Earlier there have been sleepless nights worrying about something or the other, now I sleep just like a baby because I know that He is taking care.

Everyday I understand new facets of the shloka: ananyas cintayanto mam ye janah paryupasate
tesam nityabhiyuktanam yoga-ksemam vahamy aham (BG 9.22-

But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form-to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.)
We often stay trapped in the words I, me, myself whereas in actuality, we can do nothing, whatever we do is in illusion; maya. As kids we were so happy knowing that parents are there to take care of us. As adults too it is so easy to just have faith and believe that He will take care.
Yesterday was my weekly Bhagvad Gita class. Later the Head Mistress asked me, ‘Why were you walking slowly mataji, are your legs paining?’. I said, ‘ No, I just walk slowly because I don’t see properly’. I could see that she wanted to ask me how, so I told her. And then she asked me a question that I am often asked, ‘ How do you manage mataji’.
And that question always makes me smile because what is there to manage when He is taking care.
It is very easy to quote scriptures but the real knowledge starts to flow in when you really start believing and surrendering yourself.

 

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Questions

Questions scare us. Most of us have had sleepless nights thinking about which questions the examination paper will hold or which question the interviewer will ask. The latter is more scarier. Because whether the answer is right or wrong doesn’t matter. What matters is that the answer is in sync with the interviewers line of thought. Now how can we know what is in the mind of somebody and what does he really want to know. That is another difficult question.

In the great Mahabharata war, Dhritarasthra had asked such a question. We all know that Dhritarashtra was blind but he was desirous of knowing what is happening n the war. Vedvyas who also happens to be his uncle blesses Sanjaya who happens to be Dhritarashtra’s adviser with divine eyesight. which means that even though Sanjay is far away he is able to ‘see’ what is happening  in the battlefield. Dhritarashtra is very happy with this arrangement.
So the Bhagavad Gita which means the song of the Lord begins with Dhritarashtra asking Sanjaya
dhrtarastra uvaca
dharma-ksetre kuru-ksetre
samaveta yuyutsavah
mamakah pandavas caiva
kim akurvata sanjaya
Dhrtarastra said: O Sanjaya, after assembling in the place of pilgrimage at Kuruksetra, what did my sons and the sons of Pandu do, being desirous to fight?
It seems that Dhritarashtra just wants to know what is happening on the battlefield but that is  not so simple. He is more concerned with his sons. He being guardian of his brothers son; he should have been impartial but he was not. At every point we  can see his selfishness,- when Draupadi was disrobes, when the game of dice took place…every moment his partiality can be seen.
So in this shloka Dhritarashtra doesn’t really want to know what is happening… he really wants to know whether his sons are winning.
But technically he knows what the result will be because he says ‘Dharmashetre. So in dharmashetre nothing wrong happens, truth wins. So it is evident that Pandavas will win because they are on the side of dharma.
Sanjaya like a clever interviewee knows what is in the mind of Dhritarashtra. And instead of answering directly he dodges the question. He tells about the military formation, the might of both sides and so on.
Its only at the end when Krishna has finished advising Arjuna and Arjuna has fully surrendered that Sanjay answers the question by saying
yatra yogesvarah krsno
yatra partho dhanur-dharah
tatra srir vijayo bhutir
dhruva nitir matir mam
Wherever there is Krsna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality. That is my opinion.
So what a clever person Sanjaya is. He is diplomatic, sharp, well versed in language and yet delivers the message subtly
 
That is how we have to answer interviews too, confuse the interviewer a little dodge a little, scrutinize some more and yet deliver the message.
Interestingly the Bhagavad Gita also gives us tips on how to ask a question. But it is more related to questioning your guru
tad viddhi pranipatena
pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti te jnanam
jnaninas tattva-darsinah (4.34)
Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.
So a golden message given here, be submissive. It’s only when the egos are down that anything can be learnt.
There is a story which comes to mind. When Raavana is about to leave his body, Shri Ram advises Lakshmana to go and approach him ans get some knowledge. Lakshmana goes and stands near his head. Raavana refuses to acknowledge him. Lakshmana goes back to his brother and says that Raavana didn’t acknowledge him. Ram laughs and sends him back saying that he should stand near his feet with his palms folded and enquire submissively.  Lakshmana does so and is blessed with Raavanas wisdom.
translation of shlokas courtesy asitis.com

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Devotional Service daily

Some time back we had done a play with kids, It was more of an exercise for children to understand how we can practise bhakti on a daily basis.

What happens is though the philosophy is clear to us, we don’t really know how to practise. So this was a small exercise as to how to really practise bhakti.

The response was good. This was a musical play and the children actually enjoyed presenting it and later on some of the kids came and told that now we have actually understood how life should be. Needless to say the satisfaction that I got that day was immeasurable.

————————————————————————–

Actor 1: Devotional service do they say….but how to do that; do tell me. They are so many things to do, how do I do it in a day…

Actor 2: So many?? They are just 9, you forgot or what? Prahlad Maharaj said:

             śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ
smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam
arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ
sakhyam ātma-nivedanam 

So easy..

Actor1: I know, I know But how to do that in a day. How do I do that in a simple way??

( All together moving in circle Hmm, hmmm)

Actor 3: Sravanam…. Means listening. I can listen carefully to what matajis say. I can attend lectures in temples too.

Actor 4: We can read devotional books and listen to  each other’s notes on it

(All together hmmm)

Actor 4:Kirtanam thats singing. Thats easy. Hare Krishna, hare Krishna ( all together singing maha mantra moving here and there)

Actor 5: We can sing in school, at temple and at home too. Hare Krishna, hare Krishna….

(all together)

Actor 5: Vishnu smaranam…….always remembering Vishnu. How to follow that in a day?? Remembering the Lord in every way…., how do I do that?

(All thinking….how to do that, how to do that)

Actor 6: I know I know Vishnu Smaranam means remembering Him always, right?

Actor 3: Say then: How will you do that?

Actor 6: ‘Get up in the  morning, Go to the altar and say; ‘Thank you for this wonderful day Krishna’

(All together: Thank you, Thank you)

Have your bath and then say thank you Krishna for I have water and a nice place to take bath in

(All together: Thank you, Thank you)

Before having your breakfast thank the Lord for the yummy food that you got

(All together: Thank you, Thank you)

Before going to school Thank the Lord, for because of Him, you can go to school

(All together: Thank you, Thank you)

Actor 7: Hmmm So in this way we can remember Him always

Actor 6: Yes, Yes

(All together: Thank you, Thank you)

Actor 1: Pada Sevanam. How do I serve Lord’s lotus feet when I have not met Krishna yet

(All together . Hmm)

Actor 7; I know I know. Parents, Grand Parents, teachers aren’t they our well wishers and in a way God for us

Actor 3: yes of course

Actor 7: So we can help them, we can serve them…

Actor 4: ( Clapping) And we can do even Pada Sevanam to them

( We can do that, we can do that)

Actor 2: Arcanam…Deity worship…how can we do that

Actor 8 ; You know I have a laddoo gopal. I dress him up and care for him, I serve him food and clean His altar. He is my best friend and He brightens up my day

(  In Background Serve the deities, yes serve the deities)

Actor 9: Vandanam means singing nice prayers to the Lord. I know how to do that

(All together: How, how)

I have made a nice prayer, would you like to listen to that.

(All together: Yes, Yes)

Oh my Lord, Oh my beautiful Lord

You are my sunshine, you are my breathe

You are my inspiration,

You are my best friend

With you to guide me, with you by my side

I am a happy person and so very confident too

so Be with me

( All together Be with us, be with us)

Actor 10 ; Dasyam, Sakhyam; servitorshio, friendship how to do that. Neither am I Arjuna who has Lord besides Him always. Neither am I Hanuman that I can serve Him firsthand. So how do I follow that, how do I do that?

( How do we do that, how do we do that)

Actor 11: I know I know

(how how)

Like a friend follows his friends advice, like a servant follows his masters orders; we can follow what Krishna has said in the Bhagvad Gita. For he is my dearest friend and he is my beloved Master

(Oh yes, Oh yes)

Actor 12: Atma nivedanam…how do we do that

Actor 13. Oh that. That is easy. When he is our dearest friend and when he is our beloved Master then what is the problem to Surrender to Him. Whatever I do… whatever I say is everything for Him

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare hare

Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare hare.


The whole play was enacted with the help of various instruments like keyboard, cymbals and mrdanga. The audience of young children was enraptured

Hope the children remember the lesson throughout their lives

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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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Gowri and Ganesh

Pardon me if I sound foolish but till now I had thought that Ganesh Chaturthi was Ganesh’s birthday. See I told you, I know you must be thinking what a fool she is.

Ganesh Chaturthi has always been special. It meant gorging on varieties of food and of course a holiday. Years back in Bhilai we used to go to a family friend’s place who celebrated it in their home. It meant that all konkanis got together that day and amidst the rituals, we chatted and ate.

Mumbai Ganesh Chaturthis were also special. It meant celebrating at the sisters place. And on the ‘visarjan’day going to Saath rasta simply because we could see all the idols. And of course we feasted that day too.

Now it is more about going to the ancestral home (if we are in India). If we are in Bahrain it means preparing a feast at home and then going over to the festivities at Maharastra Mandal. In short this festival is special and we make the most of it.

But I am digressing!!

One day Gowri that is Parvati decides to go to her maternal place but then it is ‘Shravan’. It is raining and of course Shravan is a sacred month, which has a lot of rituals involved. So Shiva advises her not to go.

Then comes Bhadrapad. And Gowri again requests her husband for permission to go home. Now as it is known Shiva loves Gowri a lot and cannot bear separation from her.( One of the reasons that unmarried girls are asked to perform Austerities on Monday-Shiva’s day’ so that they get loving husbands as Shiva) So he says no. She says I cannot ignore my parents. It has been so long since I met them, I have to go and meet them. After a long and loving debate, Shiva agrees to send Gowri

But on one condition. On the fourth day Ganesha would come to her parents home to take her. She agrees.

While coming down o Bhumi she comes as water and that water mixes with the soil. So that is why a symbolic idol is made of clay or mud and she is worshipped on the third day of Bhadrapad. So she comes down to bhumi for three days from the first to the third day of Bhadrapad. And on the third day she is worshipped and a feast is prepared. The married ones are given gifts of ‘sowbhagya’ that is bangles, cloth, kaajal etc and the unmarried ones are given some gifts too.

The point to note is that Gowri festival is about celebrating the married daughter coming to her maternal place. Unlike to the stories which we hear that a daughters place belongs to her husband’s place. Gowri festival celebrates the arrival of the daughter to meet her parents. It is a day of rejoicing, meeting and of course food.

And then it is the fourth day of Bhadrapad and Ganesha arrives to take his mother back and it is a double celebration. Firstly the grandson has arrived, secondly it is Lord Ganesha. so celebrations galore. But the grandparents want to spend some more  time with the daughter and the grandson. So they entice him with some more of the yummy food and He agrees. And this goes on till the fourteenth day and Shiva cannot take it anymore and threatens to destroy the world.

And so the grandparents along with the neighbours, friends and relatives take both of them and leave them near the waterways and they leave as they came-in liquid form. And that is why the idols are immersed in water.

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