From darkness to light

In a foul mood I went banging doors and slamming things. Yes, I do such absurd things or sometimes just yell. It takes the stress away. And I get back to normal, Nowadays I just yell ‘Krishnaaaa’ and then calm down. But today I didn’t do any yelling. I was too stressed to do even that. No, nothing very critical. Just that water supply in our building sometimes plays errant. No water and I get tensed up. I start imagining all sorts of troubles eventually leading to my bad karma and my ‘sufferings’.

Yes, I tend to be melodramatic.

Today I didn’t yell. Nor did I blame my karma. Today my position was of a warrior who has accepted defeat even before the war has begun.

I went about folding clothes, arranging cupboards when I looked around and saw the lighted ‘diyas’ at the altar.

I love the sight of diya (mind you the oil diyas not the wax candles). I love the flames playing around in a dark room. Somehow it lifts my mood up, makes me calm and makes me believe that there is hope.

I am immediately reminded of the line, Tamosama jyotirgamay’ lead me from darkness to light. It also means coming out of ignorance to knowledge.  Always darkness is linked to ignorance. Lying down at night when sleep eludes, even the simplest problem looks gargantuan.  The same problem in the day time is minuscule.

I remember a similar prayer sung in school, ‘Lead kindly light amid encircling gloom’. The essence is the same, leading from ignorance to knowledge, from darkness to light. I have not had chance to study other religions but I am sure others too speak of the same truth. After all what is religion… its a means to advance to knowledge and erase the ignorance from our hearts.

Lord Krishna in the Bhagvad Gita Chapter 10 Text 11 says:

tesam evanukampartham
aham ajnana-jam tamah
nasayamy atma-bhava-stho
jnana-dipena bhasvata
Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.
In this shloka too darkness has been compared to ignorance.
We may think we are elevated, that we are ‘gyanis’ the knower of all truths but the fact is that we know very little. And that little itself is enough to make us puffed up with pride. But those who are humble enough to keep on serving the Lord come what may;  He himself lights the lamp of knowledge in his heart.
Such a simple formula.
So do I have the endurance to carry on against all odds? The illnesses, the material discomforts, the sudden doubts of faith? That time can only tell. Till then I will look on to the lamps in the altar and bring courage to the heart.
Tamso maa jyotirgamaya….Lead kindly light…..

 

 

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Longings of the soul

As a teenager I remember sitting with my friends in  the hostel room suddenly bursting into tears. This happened a couple of times. It was assumed that I was homesick. But now when I think back I understand that it was spiritual longing.

I was quite happy in the hostel. The company was good and yet I felt that I lacked something. That something was amiss. I was meant for something else. This feeling persisted even when I finished my professional course and after some time landed up with a job. Even the so called jobs which I landed up with failed to give the satisfaction that I was longing for. Its only after two decades that I realised that I was never made for a corporate job. And I have languished so much over my lack of ability to get a good job.

It is now that I realise that firstly I was not made for those jobs that is why I never was satisfied. Secondly My Lord saw to it that I come up to the devotional path because I  was never made for the other jobs. Today nothing gives me more peace and happiness than my preaching/teaching.

How did this transition happen? Was it gradual, was it sudden? It was gradual. To think of it, I didn’t have to struggle much to understand what I really wanted. After the initial hiccups, I just withdrew and let Him guide me along. So  just a five letter word helped me……F.A.I.T.H.

I just relied on him and He went on showing the way. If I had used that fundamental to guide me from the beginning, life would have been much simpler . I would have progressed much more on the devotional path. But then everything has a place and time.

 

There is a beautiful shloka from the Bhagbad Gita

nehabhikrama-naso ‘sti
pratyavayo na vidyate
sv-alpam apy asya dharmasya
trayate mahato bhayat
TRANSLATION
In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.(BG 2.4o)
In simple words whatever spiritual gains you make in this lifetime remains with you even if you keep on taking successive births. The material knowledge and wealth which you gather remains limited to one lifetime. You may be a surgeon but the skill of a surgeon will remain with you for that lifetime. and if you die and take rebirth and again want to be a surgeon, then you will have to undergo the same process all over again.
Whereas spiritual knowledge is never erased from our memory. It remains as it is. You keep upgrading your knowledge but it can never be ‘formatted’.
So when I used to get upset and cry maybe it was the souls need to get back to its actual self, to its true identity.
This shloka also talks about the most dangerous fear. Which is the most dangerous fear? The fear of death and then being botn again NOT as a human. But for one on the spiritual path, it is guaranteed that he/she will take a human form again. That is the reassurance being given here.
So after a lot of trial and tribulations and errors, I have finally found my path and the peace that it gives me is everlasting.

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Stories for children-Sudarshan chakra stands on a pillar

Sudarshan chakra had started feeling proud. ‘Hah, who has the food fortune of being with the Lord except me. I am great, the Lord holds me in his own hand, hah’, he thought.

 

The Lord Jagannath understood what was happening, ‘Hmmm’, he thought, ‘ Sudarshan has become proud. Time to teach him a lesson’. ‘Sudarshan,’ he calls out, ‘Come here’.

 

Sudarshan comes and offers his obeisances and asks, ‘are we going somewhere my Lord’.

 

‘Not me, but you’, Says the Lord. ‘Go to Abhayaranya where Hanuman is doing tapasya. Ask him to come here.’

 

Sudarshan is crestfallen. He was thinking of going on some mission with the Lord but here he was being sent as a messenger boy.

 

So he zooms to Abhayaranya.

 

‘’Ahem’ he says clearing his throat.

Hanuman  looks up.

 

‘The Lord wants you in Puri, come soon’, says Sudarshan and zooms away.

 

Sudarsna chakra immediately returned to the temple, reaching there before Hanuman. As Hanuman neared the temple gates, the sudarshan chakra started to move swiftly around the mandir paramiters blocking the path of Hanuman and preventing Him from reach the Ratna Simhasana.

 

Hanuman asked himself,’how can i meet my lord?’ He took shelter of Lord Jagannath simply by remembering Him. Immediately by the mercy of the Lord, Hanuman was empowered and developed six extra arms from His shoulders Thus He became asta bhuja Hanuman.

Four hands had four sudarsana chakras

2 hand were offering pranams

2 hand were chanting the holy name of the Lord.

 

Hanuman then proceeded towards the ratna simhasana to meet with Lord Jaganntah.

 

‘Huf, hmmm’, he huffed and puffed.

 

‘Why, what Happened Sudarshan’, asked the Lord.

 

‘Nothing my Lord’, said Sudarshan meekly.

 

‘You think yourself as great, eh’, said the Lord. Sudarshan stood quietly. For the offence of giving problem to Hanuman from now on I will not hold you in my hands but you will stand on a pillar’.

 

‘no, no , mY Lord, please don’t do that. I have served you for so long….please forgive this lapse of mine’, cried Sudarshan.

 

‘Hmm’, said the Lord of the Universe, Jagganath, ‘So it is….But you have offended Hanuman, so you will have to stand on a stick but then you will also be perched on the top of the temple and so you will also be known as Neel chakra. Those who cannot enter the temple will look at you from outside and will get the same benediction as they get when they have my darshan inside the temple.’

 

And so it is from that day, Sudarshan stands on a pillar and also on the top of the temple.

 

Sudarshan chakra had started feeling proud. ‘Hah, who has the food fortune of being with the Lord except me. I am great, the Lord holds me in his own hand, hah’, he thought.

 

The Lord Jagannath understood what was happening, ‘Hmmm’, he thought, ‘ Sudarshan has become proud. Time to teach him a lesson’. ‘Sudarshan,’ he calls out, ‘Come here’.

 

Sudarshan comes and offers his obeisances and asks, ‘are we going somewhere my Lord’.

 

‘Not me, but you’, Says the Lord. ‘Go to Abhayaranya where Hanuman is doing tapasya. Ask him to come here.’

 

Sudarshan is crestfallen. He was thinking of going on some mission with the Lord but here he was being sent as a messenger boy.

 

So he zooms to Abhayaranya.

 

‘’Ahem’ he says clearing his throat.

Hanuman  looks up.

 

‘The Lord wants you in Puri, come soon’, says Sudarshan and zooms away.

 

Sudarsna chakra immediately returned to the temple, reaching there before Hanuman. As Hanuman neared the temple gates, the sudarshan chakra started to move swiftly around the mandir parameters blocking the path of Hanuman and preventing Him from reach the Ratna Simhasana.

 

Hanuman asked himself,’how can I meet my lord?’ He took shelter of Lord Jagannath simply by remembering Him. Immediately by the mercy of the Lord, Hanuman was empowered and developed six extra arms from His shoulders Thus He became asta bhuja Hanuman.

Four hands had four Sudarsana chakras

2 hand were offering pranams

2 hand were chanting the holy name of the Lord.

 

Hanuman then proceeded towards the ratna simhasana to meet with Lord Jaganntah.

 

‘Huf, hmmm’, he huffed and puffed.

 

‘Why, what Happened Sudarshan’, asked the Lord.

 

‘Nothing my Lord’, said Sudarshan meekly.

 

‘You think yourself as great, eh’, said the Lord. Sudarshan stood quietly. For the offence of giving problem to Hanuman from now on I will not hold you in my hands but you will stand on a pillar’.

 

‘no, no , mY Lord, please don’t do that. I have served you for so long….please forgive this lapse of mine’, cried Sudarshan.

 

‘Hmm’, said the Lord of the Universe, Jagganath, ‘So it is….But you have offended Hanuman, so you will have to stand on a stick but then you will also be perched on the top of the temple and so you will also be known as Neel chakra. Those who cannot enter the temple will look at you from outside and will get the same benediction as they get when they have my darshan inside the temple.’

 

And so it is from that day, Sudarshan stands on a pillar and also on the top of the temple.

 

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Time to be thankful

Days have not been good, eh? The devastating floods and then we hear about the shootouts. One natural and one man made…or is it?

When I look around here that is Bahrain I wonder, when will nature demand its place. For every where I see mass construction, filling up of sea, creating artificial islands. Why are we trying to become God? When the creator created the world with 75% water. He must have had his reasons. Who are we to tamper with it?

You may say that the flooding of Chennai is due to poor planning. The drainage system has not been upgraded, the lakes have shrunk and in some cases disappeared altogether; my question remains who are we to tamper with nature?

There is a beautiful shloka:

bhoktaram yajna-tapasam
sarva-loka-mahesvaram
suhrdam sarva-bhutanam
jnatva mam santim rcchati (BG 5.29)
TRANSLATION
The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.
The entire world belongs to the Lord. We are those who live here till the time we are good enough to go back to the spiritual world. Then why do we try to horde things or lord over mundane objects.
Many of us have multiple houses while many more spend their whole loves just for a place which can shelter them. Some have wardrobes full of clothes  and some can’t afford a single new pair.
If all of us could be satisfied with the essentials, there is enough for everyone. Nature actually produces enough for everyone. But then some decide to horde and some cannot afford.
Many stories are heard about how Hindus helped Muslims, how people opened their homes, it would be good if we thought of nature too sometimes and how we are abusing it.
And let us all remember that nothing is really ours and be thankful for whatever is given to us.

 

 

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Stories for Children-Gajendra

There was an elephant called Gajendra. He was the king of elephants and when he moved the earth trembled. Th shrubs were stamped and the smaller animals fled when they heard him walk. Such was his presence.

One day Gajendra went to the Trikuta mountain with his entourage of wives and other elephants. Trikuta is a beautiful place with lots of rivers and lakes. In one of his valleys was a garden belonging to Varuna named Ritumat. This garden was full of flowers and fruit trees. In the midst of this garden was a beautiful lake with golden lotuses. To this lake, Gajendra came with his entourage to have his bath.

All of them had good fun frolicking in the water. All but Gajendra left the lake. He kept on spraying water with his trunk.

Suddenly a crocodile came up and caught one of his legs. In vain he tried to free himself up. But crocodile in water is mightier than an elephant. The friends and the wives looked on in horror but none could do anything.

The fight between Gajendra and the crocodile lasted for a 1000 long years. The friends and the wives had all gone away. Gajendra was getting weaker and weaker when suddenly he remembered the prayers he used to say in his previous life.

In his previous life Gajendra was a king named Indradyamuna. When he got old he took retirement and went to the forest for meditation. As a part of his austerity he took a vow of silence. There came one day a sage named Agastya. When Indradyamuna remained silent without greeting the rishi, he was angry and cursed him.

Gajendra plucked a golden lotus and started praying to Visnu. ( his beautiful prayers are given in the Shrimad Bhagvatam as Gajendra Moksam)

The crocodile in his previous life had been a Gandharva called as Hutu. One day while in water, just for fun he had pulled a leg of a muni named Devala. Devala muni had cursed him to be a crocodile. As soon as Shri Vishnu heard Gajendra’s prayers, he mounted his vehicle- Garuda and reached the lake. He took his chakra and chopped off the crocodiles neck thus awarding him salvation.

And then he asked Gajendra, “why did you take such a long time to call out for me” and then he summoned a golden aeroplane and took Gajendra with Him to His abode.

Picture courtesy: http://www.harekrsna.de

Glossary-muni, rishi means sage

Moksam means liberation

 

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Stories for Children-Dhayiya

+

There lived a boy named Dhayiya in a village with his father and stepmother. Now this boy was a bit on the heavier side. He was called Dhayiya because every day he ate ro-tis made of 2 and a half kilo of wheat flour. ( in Hindi dhayi means two and a half).

L-ife was fine, He went to school, played and of course he had his dhayi kilo rotis.+

Then one day his father left this world.

Now there was no source of income. His mother fed him for some days but then money ran out.+++++++

For some days his neighbours took care, then some relatives and then some villagers. But because of his appetite, none could feed him for long. Ultimately one day he was sent out of the village.

The boy started walking. During meal time he felt hungry but there was nothing to eat. Finally it was pitch dark, he was in a jungle and he was very very hungry. So he started crying. After some time, he saw a tiny lamp burning somewhere. Hee just followed the light and reached a temple. The priest there was just about to lock up and leave, when he noticed Dhayiya crying. On understanding that Dhayiya was hungry, he gave him the food offered to Sri Ram and Sitaji, the presiding * of the temple.

The priest said, ‘Eat and then go back to your village’

Dhayiya ate and slept there only.+

Next day the priest enquired,+ ‘-Why you didn’t go home?’

Dhayiya said, “my mother and my village people have pushed me out of the village, I will not go back there’

‘Hmm’, the priest said, ‘What work can you do?’9+

‘I know nothing except eating, ‘Dhayiya said.

‘Hmm’, the priest said, ‘In that case, you can take the cows to graze in the morning and bring them back in the evening. And you will get your rotis of two and a half kilo wheat flour in the morning and evening.

Dhayiiya was happy and life was fine till ekadashi——+.

On ekadashi the priest told Dhayiya that he would have to fast. Dhayiya said he cannot fast.

The priest said, ‘Alright, I will give you your two and a half kilo of wheat. You make rotis yourself but take care to offer it to the Lordships before eating’

Dhayiya says ok.

So he makes five rotis each of half a kilo each. And then he calls on the Lord, ‘Oh Ramji, come and have some food’ but no one comes, Again he calls out. And then again.

Third time he notices a man with a bow and arrow. Dhayiya keeps a plate ready. But then he notices Sita. He prepares a plate for her too. Both eat one one and then ask for more, So he gives them one more each and thinks that alright he will manage with one today. But then Sita mata and Ramji ask for some more and divide the one left amongst themselves.

So Dhayiya has to fast that day.

15 days pass. Its ekadashi again.

This time Dhayiya asks for 5 kg of wheat flour. The priest is puzzled but doesn’t say anything.

This time Dhayiya makes five rotis of 1 kg each,

But this time Ramji, Sita mata come along with Lakshmana. And they polish off all the five chappatis. So Again, Dhayiya observes Ekadashi that day too.

The next Ekadashi, he asks for seven and a half kilo of flour. Now the priest is really curious, He pretends to go our but instead he hides behind the bushes.

In no time Dhayiya calls out, “O Sita Mata, O Ramji”.

In some time Ramji comes, Sita Mata comes, Lakshmana comes, followed by Hanuman.

Dhayiya says, ‘If you want to eat, cook yourself’.

Ari Ram sits in a corner, Hanuman goes to fetch firewood. Lakshman goes to draw water from the well and Sita mata sits to knead the dough. Dhayiya begins to massage the Lord’s feet.

But the priest can see only Dhayiya and no one else. He comes forward and says, ‘Boy, have you gone mad, what are you doing?’

Dhayiya understands that he can’ see anyone and requests the Lord to show Himself to the priest too.

Everyone appears, the priest is astounded.

He falls at Dhayiya’s feet and says,’ So many years I served the Lord but He didn’t appear in front of me but you with just your firm faith, love and devotion could see the Lord.’

Moral : Faith matters, Only love and devotion can bring you near to the Lord.

 

 

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Stories for children-Dhruva

King Uttanpada had two wives Suniti and Suruchi. Suruchi was more dear to the king than Suniti

Suniti had a son named Dhruva. Dhruva one day went and sat on his father’s lap. Suruchu got angry and asked him to get down. Dhruva was very angry and asked his motherSuniti why he could not sit on his father’s lap. His mother sadly replied that only God can answer that question. Then Dhruv asked, ‘Where can I find God?’ Suniti replied, ‘in the forest’.

So Dhruva went to the forest and started searching for the Lord. Narada muni was impressed by his efforts. He gave him a mantra to say out loud, ‘Om Namo Bhagvate Vasudevaya’

So Dhruva started his tapasya along with reciting the mantra.

  • In first month he ate fruits every third day
  • In second month he ate leaves every sixth day
  • In third month he ate drank water every ninth day
  • In fourth month he inhaled every twelfth day
  • In fifth month he stood on one leg

Pleased with him the Lord appeared before him and asked him what he wanted

Dhruva was so happy to see the glorious form of the lord that he said he was happy to see Him and he did not want anything else.

Then the Lord said when your father becomes old and goes to the forest, you will rule the kingdom for 36000 years. After that I will send you a golden aeroplane and then you will live in a star of your own.

The bright twinkling star near the North Pole, is Dhruva’s home and is known as Dhruva star.

(painting By Raja Ravi Varma sourced from Wikipedia)

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