All about dreams!

blog-dreams

All about dreams

We have always been fascinated by the mysterious and the unknown. There is an element of curiosity within each one of us, wanting to know answers to many things for which we may never get one straight answer. Like the seven blind men describing the elephant, people have an opinion on every matter, sometimes it may be right, sometimes may not be. It is a point of view. You are wondering what I am getting at.

Have you gone to bed and woken up after a terrible nightmare where you feel you have lost the power to scream for help or yell, cannot move your legs and hands, you are paralyzed with fear with some devilish creature about to pounce and devour you. Suddenly you break into a sweat, your breathing becomes so hard and then of course you wake up with a start and a jolt. For a moment you are still unsure where you are. And slowly reality dawns, you come back to your senses and feel the reassuring presence of familiar objects around you. Sounds all too familiar, is it not? All of us go through such experiences sometime or the other. I too became so fascinated with the subject of dreams and started looking up for information on the subject. This is what I found.

There are so many desires that we have each day. To fulfill each one is really impossible or maybe even one life time may not even be enough for this. So maybe we try to fulfill these desires in our dreams where we feel we are actually leading a parallel life. Another interesting explanation I came across was that every day we see so many things, meet so many people and go through so many experiences. All these get recorded in the sub conscious. They are stored in a folder somewhere in the corner of the brain. But the strange thing is that the ones that manifest in our dreams are the ones that stand out, maybe out of fear, anxiety, something we desire so much etc. Another point is that the human brain cannot create original images. The strangers we see in the dreams are likely to be people whom we have bumped into at some point of time in our life. These must have been stored in our sub conscious memory. So all those we see in our dreams should be people we have seen somewhere at sometime may be even in the distant past. What a fascinating thing our brain is to bring out these in the form of images.

What about color, have you checked that out. Do you dream in black and white or in color. Scientists say it can be in both, I hope to remember to check this one next time I get a dream.

So many studies have been carried out on dreams, so I guess it is a universal fascination. One study says we forget 95% of our dreams. We dream during REM periods (which is when we have Rapid Eye Movement in our sleep) which can range anywhere from 5 minutes to half an hour long. In the course of one night this happens multiple times. This means we can even have 5 to 7 dreams in one night itself. A very recent study conducted by a group of scientists from Harvard Medical School made quite a stunning revelation. They say that dreams are not any random series of abstract images or sights but they are real events that take place in an alternate universe. These they say can be accessed during dream like states. Now that’s one whale of an idea!

But the most unique kinds of dreams are those that carry a message or give a peek into the future, these border on the para normal. They may hold a key to the future as has been reported. Two weeks before Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, he dreamt of a funeral at the White House. American novelist Mark Twain dreamt of his brother’s body in a metal coffin, shortly before he was killed in a boating mishap. After the Titanic sank, many people reported that they saw visions of an impending disaster at sea. These are like premonitions.

Yet another kind of dream is where many writers have seen storylines unraveled and sometimes whole content given. The famous poem Kublakhan was written by the poet Coleridge after a dream vision. Mary Shelley also wrote her novel Frankenstein after seeing it in dream. Closer home in India, Buddhakaushika Rishi wrote his great work Rama Raksha Stotra after Lord Shiva commanded him to write the verse in a dream. The sage saw the Lord rendering the entire 38 stanzas in the dream and he wrote it at dawn as soon as he woke up. He says it in the stotra itself, Aadhishtavan yathaa swapne—he says. What a great piece of divinely commanded work.

Indian Scriptures is full of amazing and unbelievable tales. An entire temple in South India was built and consecrated in a dream sequence. A unique temple was built by a great devotee of Lord Siva called Pusala Nayanar. He never believed in idol worship or rituals, but loved the lord dearly. Hence he would worship the lord in his mind performing manasa puja. He desired to create a grand temple for Siva but was too poor to build one. He did not get disheartened as he was used to performing mind puja, so he decided to build a temple also in his mind. Step by step the temple grew in his mind and soon a beautiful structure was ready to be inaugurated all of course in his mind. He chose a holy day for the consecration ceremony and installed the deity with all pomp and splendor.

Coincidentally, the Pallava King Kadavarkon had just completed the construction of a grand Siva temple in the capital city of Kancheepuram in South India and had chosen that very day for consecrating the temple he had built. The lord appeared in his dream and instructed him to postpone the date of consecration as he said that he had to be present at his devotee Pusalar’s newly built temple at the town of Thiruninravur on that particular day. The king had to obey the divine decree but decided to visit the temple that the lord had favored over his own. On reaching the place he could not find any new temple nor did anyone have any idea about its construction. The king went straight to Pusalar’s house and was astonished to learn about the temple the saint had built within his mind. He narrated the lord’s appearance in his dream and his preference for the saint’s labor of love over his grand construction.

Isn’t that an amazing story and should you visit Thiruninravur even today there stands a temple that later Pallava kings built in honor of that great devotee. The lord is worshipped as Hrudayaleeswarar meaning the ‘lord in the devotee’s heart’. Now that is what is called a dream temple!!!!!

Ordinary Men- Extraordinary Lives!

4.Mahatma Gandhi 1930s -There is no path to Peace. Peace is the path

Manjhi- the Mountain Man, a powerful biopic based on the real life of Dasharath Manjhi opened in cinemas nationwide last Friday. Compared to the fanfare that one sees normally for all big ticket movies, this was low key and why not? The man himself was relatively unknown; no one celebrated his life while he was alive. Yet it has taken a bold director to unearth the story of a real life hero and bring it to the knowledge of the world.

Who exactly was this man? He was a poor laborer who lived in Gehalaur village near Gaya in Bihar. He used to travel far everyday in search of work and his loving wife used to bring lunch for him every day. One day as she was crossing the path taking his lunch, she slipped and fell, injuring herself seriously. Now he had a real problem in his hands. The nearest hospital was nearly 55 km away and she died as she could not receive medical attention. What’s new in this story you may ask? For this is a familiar report we always read in the papers almost every day. And we might forget the story as soon as we have finished reading the report. But not Manjhi. He got up like a man possessed and decided that day that he would not let anyone die for want of medical attention if he could help it. But a great mountain stood between his village and the nearest town that could provide medical care and villagers had to circumvent the long distance to reach the hospital. So he single handedly took a chisel and hammer and started carving a road through the mountain. Fellow villagers thought he was a total lunatic. But he did not care. In fact he said ‘When I started hammering the hill, people called me a lunatic but that steeled my resolve.’

For 22 long years, he worked with determination and a never say die spirit and the result- he dug up a road that could shorten travel from 55km to 15 km to the town that had a hospital. What an inspiring tale. But he died an unsung hero in 2007 though the Bihar government proposed his name for a Padma award. Another inspiring tale is about the jungle man Jadav Moloi Payeng. He was only 17 when there were floods in his village and he saw thousands of snakes washed dead in the waters. He asked the village elders “what would you do if all of us die one day, like these snakes. They just laughed and smirked but I knew I had to make the planet greener,” He went to the forest officials asking them to plant trees. They mocked at him and said ‘you do it if you want’. That was it. Jadav decided to plant trees. For 30 years he planted bamboo saplings in an area that had been washed away by floods. Today, that same land hosts 1,360 acres of Jungle called Molai Forest, named after him, the man who made this possible single handedly!

These are inspiring tales of ordinary men doing extraordinary things but alas we don’t celebrate these men or their feats. Once, when our former President Dr. Abdul Kalam went to Israel, he saw the newspapers full of inspiring stories and he bemused when will India ever get this kind of culture. Our papers are full of sensational stories of murders, of rapes, of bomb blasts and terror attacks, we have forgotten our real heroes who can inspire and motivate us to do something for others. Recently I saw a Facebook post which was to this effect- Do you think you are too small to make a change, then think of what a tiny mosquito can do inside your blanket when you are fast asleep. I think all of us can, if only we apply ourselves to it, until then, let us raise a toast to the Manjhis and Payengs of the world!

A seminar on Nutritional benefits of vegetarian diet!

Kenya Vegetarian Club and Hindu Council of Kenya Kisumu branch arranged for an interesting talk on the Nutritional Benefits of Vegetarian Diet on 25th October 2015 to celebrate World Vegetarian Day which was in the first week of October.

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The event was well planned by the founder chairperson Mrs Vaishali Kamal Shah of Shrivedant Foundation which runs the Vegetarian Club in Kenya. The event was held at Ram Garhia Singh Sabha, Guru Nanak Darbar Temple in Kisumu.

  

  

Ms Vaishali explained why we should help locals to turn vegetarian. The main emphasis was on the vegetable farming to help local women to be self-sufficient and promote tree planting. She also explained the effects of meat production on environment and what measures we need to take to avoid the same. She narrated how vegetarianism is an integral part of hindu culture and religion for centuries.

Ms Komal Shah explained how and why we should avoid meat, dairy and poultry products. She also shared some tips for healthy lifestyle and supported the idea of promoting vegetarianism in different parts of the society. Mrs Shobhna Shah narrated vegetarianism in Jainism and Mr Balvinder Singh Rupra explained what Sikhism has to say about vegetarianism.

The highlight of the event was the participation of various schools’ students. They brought up many ideas about water conservation, avoid air pollution, cleaning process of the used water, explained the benefits of nutritional food. Every participant was given gifts and there were six winners in different categories of food presentation and the environmental projects. Kisumu Junior and Senior Academy and Jalaram school participated in the exhibition. Sujata Derodra, co convener helped in the arrangements and Ms. Alka Vaghela encouraged students of the school to participate in the exhibition.

More than two hundred people from various communities attended the talk which was also attended by ms Atiano Otiano, the county representative of Kisumu. Hindu Council of Kenya Kisumu branch and Kenya Vegetarian Club have joined hands to plan the massive tree planting project in coming months with Ms Atiano Otiano and her representative of governments.

Temples-Providing leadership, networking and serving as resource center

kibigori Vaishali and Kamal Shah

Temples or Mandir or Devalayam in Sanskrit is the house of god, place of worship and a platform to connect with the inner soul. Temples have been a significant part of Indian culture for thousands of years. It has been a torch, a leading light, a social image of the society and a place to find the solace.

Currently, many famous temples across the world have become a source of income, a sort of business proposition. Many want to come and boast about what they do, make an impact socially, flaunt the riches they have, and beg in front of god to get more and more.

After maintaining Kamleshwar Mahadev Temple for two years successfully, I have made some interesting observations on how to maintain the premises and how to run a temple successfully depending on the location and the available resources.

Location

The location of the temple is the most important aspect to decide as it has to be approachable by all means of transport. Especially on the foreign shore, we don’t have the luxury of walking as we mostly commute in private vehicles or public transports. The serenity, cleanliness, vibration and other vastu related facts needs to be checked as that surely affect the intensity of the prayers. If the temple premise gives you a feeling of a commercial place, you won’t be able to concentrate and become one with god.

Maintenance

After the temple is built, the maintenance of the place is the most important thing, we are mostly ignorant about cleanliness of the temples and hence majority of the temples in India are not visited by urban people. We need to remember that a temple is the house of god and we can’t take it for granted. Maintaining and cleaning the premises with water every day, periodic cleaning of the facades and the outside of the temple, ensuring that people don’t throw garbage anywhere in the premises by keeping dustbins everywhere, spending money on maintaining the toilets are some of the minimum things that have to be done.

We find the sorry state of devotees coming into temples for Prasadam and waste the same in large quantity. That is because we have failed to educate our people on the right and wrong, the basic etiquette of life. With growing number of people in the world dying due to malnutritions we must emphasis on not to waste any food.

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A centre that fulfills many needs

A temple need not serve as a spiritual destination alone. The vast spaces inside the temple along with its mandaps and columns can aid in carrying out so many tasks, in that sense they are not merely sacred spaces but they serve as secular spaces also. When we visit any ancient temple, we can see the celebration of life unabashedly in the many statues, painting or architecture. Love, romance, birth, death, celebrations – all these form the themes of the temple art. Our ancients never divided the spiritual and the mundane into water tight compartments. Every aspect of life was celebrated and no topic was taboo. And that is the reason why the function of the temple extended beyond being a moral guardian of the masses. Since time immemorial, they have been centres around which the arts, community celebrations and economy have flourished. Temples have served as the hub to celebrate events like marriages, birth of a child, annaprashnam or offering the first solid feed to the child, Vidyarambham or initiation into letters, other significant life events, religious festivals, dance and music festivals like the Chidambaram Dance Festival or Konark Festival. Temples also managed lands endowed to it by its devotees upon their death. They would provide employment to the poorest. Some temples had large treasury, with gold and silver coins, and these temples served as banks.

Today we know that the social and ritualistic activities of the temples are the most prominent reasons for people to come and visit the same. Daily prayers, daily rituals, arti of the diety atleast twice a day, offering of food, bathing etc. should be performed without fail. We can use the temple space imaginatively and have programs that attract the youth. We can combine service initiatives with contemporary topics that aim to de-stress lives, offer short term courses that help the participants in personality development, yoga, spiritual entrepreneurship, value based management etc by offering practical solutions. This should be undertaken by traditional temples too as people visit temples not as worshippers alone but would like to seek solutions to real life problems. This would make temples largely relevant and can attract people from all walks of life. There is great potential if only our mandirs were to tap into this missing link.

Other activities like satsang, spiritual talks, celebration of the festivals throughout the year, encouraging youngsters to enlist for social causes should be part of any temple. It not only engages the community but also helps them to grow in their spiritual journey. I also feel that temples should become a center of matrimonial and job opportunities. We have been noticing that it is very difficult to find a suitable partner in any community in today’s hectic life. If the temple committee comes forward to pitch in, it would help our children to find a good partner and settle in life within the Indian and Hindu community.

A good committee makes a huge difference in running a temple successfully. The older group of people needs to invite youngsters to be part of the team. I also recommend we have a teen forum where they organize their own programs to empower youth and encourage them to bring the society together.

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At a time when the social media is shrinking distances, temples can also pitch in by serving as places where socially relevant contemporary issues can be debated; these can be telecast live in the local channels to attract more participants for forthcoming ventures. Temples can also serve as nodal centres where medical camps or screening programs can take place. In our Kamleshwar Mahdev Temple we had a medical camp where local African children were screened and treated.

Education should be a great idea to focus upon not academic or religious education but moral education which is woefully lacking in the regular curriculum these days.  A temple can be an amazing place where these are spoken about on a regular basis, over time there is bound to be some change in the thinking of the masses. Temples are not centres where people visit to do business with the divine, it can be an amazing resource centre where people are taught how to live, that is live right and the onus lies with those who build and steer temples. Children, youth, women, the aged – there are various segments among our Hindu populace that would like to use their weekly visits to temples to pursue more meaningful lives. It requires creativity, commitment and campaign on the part of temple committees to tap into these resources, to focus on inner engineering so that people can learn the art of living well.

The power of Silence!

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The world around us is so full of noise. Sometimes we keep hearing noises inside our heads even though everything is quiet outside. Add to this all the everyday noise. We have become quite immune because we keep hearing it continuously that somehow it has become a part of our life. Let’s just make a list, the fan whirring, the air conditioner humming especially when it is due for a service check, the washing machine swooshing, the microwave setting off the timer alongside the oven- my god we should be the noisiest planet in the whole universe. Now as if this were not enough, we see children and young adults, plugging in to their earphones and either listening to music, making a call or watching a television show.

With so much noise, all we can expect is only cacophony not the least symphony and absolutely no chance of harmony at all in our life. Our ancient lifestyle called for deep periods of introspection and long stretches of silence. If we are continuously engaged in such chatter, we cannot listen to our inner thoughts. It is important to spend some time where we shut down all external noises and just silence our thoughts and sit still. This is called reflective meditation. In the stillness of the mind, we can get insights to many of life’s problems. But the most important thing in today’s world we are so hooked to so many things that tearing away from them is going to be quite a difficult task. I think we need to keep our mobiles away, disconnect with the outer world and most importantly take our mind away from them. No point trying to sit still while the mind is thinking of the whatsapp messages received just then.

Maunvrat is a form of practice that is quite common in many households. Elders observe this as a fast and don’t talk to anyone. Quite a difficult task, I must say. Gandhiji used to follow this practice and would communicate by writing if there was anything urgent to convey. There are so many great saints in our culture who have observed silence as a way of life. Bhagawan Sri Ramana Maharishi, the great Saint of Thiruvannamalai is supposed to have given profound messages to his devotees – all in silence. Arthur Osborne who has written the Sage’s biography describes the Maharishi’s habitual silence which communicated more than speech and his intuitive grasp of a questioner’s mind and his simple answers to the most complex questions. All these attracted many Westerners and Indians to his feet. But how do Gurus use silence to influence their disciples. Sri Aurobindo has explained this well in his book Record of Yoga where he talks of Prakamya and Vyapti.

By Prakamya we have perception of another’s feelings; by Vyapti these feelings are felt striking on our own consciousness or ours are thrown into another.   It is possible by vyapti to communicate anything we have in our systems – thought, feeling, power, etc – to another and if he is able to seize and hold it, he can make it his own & use it.  The teacher & the guru habitually use this power of vyapti which is far more effective than speech and writing.   Every thought, feeling, sensation or other movement of consciousness in us creates a wave or current which carries it out into the world-consciousness around and there it enters in any adhara (support) which is able and allowed to receive it.

Perhaps that is the meaning of the adage Mounam Vyaakyaanam -the Guru preaches through silence as seen in the Dakshinamoorthi picture who is sitting under a tree and giving profound lessons to his disciples through the language of silence.

Sometimes our environment can also help us in achieving the stillness of the mind. There is a great connection between us human beings and trees. In our ancient books, there is a lot of reference to men seeking enlightenment by sitting under trees. The Peepul, the banyan- all these are very significant trees that we come across in books. Great masters have gathered their pupils and given discourses under trees. The Buddha is supposed to have become enlightened under a tree. Maybe the vast expanses, the green foliage the positive vibrations flowing out of the trees all these are factors that help in achieving calmness of the mind. Nature has that unique healing power. Every time I see a sunrise on the beach, go trekking on the mountains or dip my feet in the cool waters of a river, I feel a strange pleasure and I know I am not alone. Just that we have forgotten to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. I strongly feel that Kenya has such serene beauty of nature which can actually give us a lot of opportunities to become one with god. I can feel the difference between advanced countries and Africa in case of spirituality.

If we are able to tune inwards due to the power of silence, then we can feel a bout of energy surging through us. We feel refreshed and also ready to take on the world with a fresh perspective.

 

Seminar on Bhagwad Gita at Nehru Center in London!

The Bhagawad Gita holds an eternal fascination to man and the wonder is that each time you read it, like an onion, you can keep peeling different layers from it. I have always been attracted to the Gita and each and every commentary that I have read has helped me gain fresh insights into this little wonder book. Imagine my happiness then to be invited to a seminar on the Gita which was held at the Nehru Centre in London in September 2015. It coincided perfectly with my trip to the UK so I decided to make the most of it.

The Gita is not a religious scripture followed by followers of a particular religion; oh no it is timeless, eternal and has a universal appeal because it provides solutions to every problem under the sun in a simple, logical and humane way. Thus the Seminar comprised of eminent scholars from all over the world who had gathered there to share their ideas and get enriched in the process. Members of the managing committee were drawn from India and England.

A high point of the program to me personally was when one of the keynote speakers, Mrs. Suryakanthi Tripathi remarked that she referred to my website www.indianscriptures.com everyday and has even bookmarked it. She was full of appreciation at my endeavor and congratulated me for presenting articles on a wide range of subjects from our Scriptures in a language easily understandable to the lay public. Scriptures like the Gita should be presented in a simple manner so that the common man can relate to it and follow it easily and the series Layman and the Gita presented on the site does exactly this.

    

The Seminar saw presentations by well-known academicians and scholars and these are the points what I gathered from them.

Mr. Brian Black is a lecturer of Religious studies in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at the University of Lancaster. He discussed how and why Bhagwad Gita was spoken in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. It created an impact in the listener’s mind about the importance of the knowledge shared by Krushna.

I observed that many misconceptions about Vedic scriptures continue to prevail in people’s minds. The western scholars are highly influenced by scholars from the early 1900’s who presented the Veda in a derogatory manner. They still use the words like Brahamanism etc. which doesn’t exist in our scriptural directory.

Prof. Peter Flugel studies and propagates Jain scriptures and has an amazing in-depth knowledge of various Jain sutras. I felt truly proud of our community members who have emphasized on various such scriptures to impart knowledge to millions.

James Mallinson is a lecturer in Sanskrit and Classical Indian Studies at SOAS, University of London. He shared his true life experiences of the Kumbh Mela, how society connects with each other in India, the importance of Yoga in Bhagwad Gita. Prof. Theodore Proferes is a senior lecturer in Ancient Indian Religions at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. I was truly impressed with his way of presenting the Mimamsa point of view in
Bhagwad Gita. He stated that the theory of Karma is well explained in Gita and that it truly helps us to identify where we stand in life and where we want to go.

Swami Sarvapriyananda from Ramkrishna Math and Mission explained the Vedantic point of view of Bhagwad Gita. Vempaty Kutumba Sastryji explained how Gita strides across like a colossus and time stands still in its pages. Therefore its message is relevant to all people at all times. His paper explained the points of Atman and how it is explained in the Gita.

The most impressive part of the talk was the recitation of various verses from the Bhagwad Gita by Stephen Peter Thompson. He has been teaching Panini, Gita and Upanishads at various universities and centers across UK. He traced the connection between the verses of Chapter 2 of the Gita with Katha Upanishad.

It was nice to know the interest of the Indian High Commissioner to UK in such topics. He shared his idea of the Gita and also spoke of the need to hold such gatherings more often in London. On a personal note, I requested him to see my website and share his comments which he agreed to do.

    

           
           
I also met Prof Shaunaka Das, the Head of the Oxford Center for Religious Studies in another occasion. He answered all my queries and inspired me on how to look at scriptures from an academic angle. How to understand them from an international point of view? I can hardly wait, I am eager to take my research to the next level and make it visible on an international platform. His guidance is really going to help me to learn the Bhagwad Gita differently.

My profile!

Hey! It is difficult to say few words about yourself. But let’s try. I am the founder owner of Shrivedant Foundation (www.shrivedant.com) in India, Kenya and United Kingdom. The foundation aims to bring forth the pearls of wisdom from ancient Indian scriptures. My team could manage to collect more than 45000 pages of various scriptures under one portal http://www.hinduscriptures.com. After building a Shiv Temple in Kenya with my husband, I moved on to fulfill my dream of promoting vegetarianism in Africa, hence launched Kenya Vegetarian Club. www.kenyavegclub.com.  Our team is of geeks, researchers and New media professionals who publish researched content on websites, mobile platforms, books, journals and magazines. We aim to open a university solely dedicated to Indian scriptures one day.

After securing a couple of Diplomas and Degrees (Masters and Post-Graduate) in International Business, Management, Marketing, Internet Technology and Financial markets,  I felt they are useful only for the employments and to survive corporate jobs. Hence had to lay my hands on various work profiles while working with the family in their businesses. After studying almost all the theories of management in the management school,  I wanted more. A typical nerd in the university campus, I started studying more about Indian scriptures during the weekends till the librarian would come and request me to leave the library so that he can go home. First book in this series was Chanakya’s Arthashastra which lead to many more books, research papers, meetings with so called representatives of Hindu culture and religion etc. But my insatiable desire of knowledge didn’t end there. It is when I decided to fulfill the huge gap between the seeker of authentic knowledge and the scriptures in the world. This gave me an idea of combining my knowledge of technology, management, keen interest in research and present them as www.hinduscriptures.com.

The site actually changed my life, lifestyle, thinking pattern, approach, ambition, endeavors, circle of people around me, friends, emotions and made me much stronger person what I am today. It didn’t end here, it has added few more virtues too and made me ambitious, focused, more responsible towards the society, empathetic and more sensitive. Eventually sharing the real knowledge of Indian scriptures is the aim of life. I am ready to go to any length to fulfill this goal till the last breath of life.

This endeavor led me to compile the details about Indian lifestyle into the study material. We have recently launched courses called Hindu Culture and Lifestyle Studies on the website www.hinduculturestudies.com. It is also available in the form of self study books and one can teach into the classrooms too. We will make it available in various book stores online and offline very soon.

My passion for saving the environment and nurturing nature is taking shape slowly through Kenya Vegetarian Club. I am able to reach out to farmers, women and youth to empower them in the field of agriculture and organic farming. I surely want to appeal to my readers to go for tree planting wherever possible, donate some seeds to poor farmers and ensure not to bargain with them while buying any  such produce from them. You may find clues on how and why to do it in my book called The Veg Safari.

Awards and accolades:

  • Hind Rattan Award by NRI Welfare society in Delhi 2017
  • Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Sanman in the house of Lords in London in 2016
  • Authentication certificate for the content of the website and course material from Deccan College of Pune, India
  • Appreciation letters from eminent personalities like Shri Narendra Modiji, Smt Anandiben Patel, Shri Vijay Rupani ji- Chief Minister of Gujarat, Swami Avimukteshwaranandji, Pujya Bhaishree Shri Rameshbhai Oza, Shri Morari Bapu etc.
  • Various certificates from Kenyan bodies for contribution to uplift the locals as well as various Indian communities
  • Nav Rattan Award – Delhi – 2016
  • Honorary Doctorate in Social Sciences from the Young Scientist University of America

Chanakya Niti!!

chanakay5I am so glad that finally I completed watching series of Chanakya on DVD. It was an interesting journey watching this saga after so many years again. This series was released more than 20 years back in India which I watched again after more than a decade. I could relate the same to the book I had studied during my university days and also found it relevant to today’s time as well. I am sure why readers would like to know who was Chanakya?

Chanakya was a great thinker and writer who wrote a brilliant treatise on statecraft called Arthashastra. The treatise is relevant even today because Chanakya gives practical lessons on statecraft, strategy and governance. Many people believe that he is the first among nationalists because he was interested in unifying his country and rule them under one sovereign king Alexander. His strategy and vision helped in the consolidation of power and setting up of the mighty Mauryan Empire.

Neetishastra is another great work written by Chanakya and contains golden maxims that can be used in the modern day too because of its relevance. The set of ethics laid down in the Neeti Shastra can be followed by anyone in conducting his daily duties. There are many other Neeti Shastras in our country written by great men of wisdom like Brihaspati, Shukracharya, Bhartrhari and Vishnusharma but what is it that makes Chanakya’s work stand out. Perhaps it is the way he has applied his teachings. He teaches us that high ideals can become practically possible if we work towards achieving our goal in a progressive and determined manner.

The maxims are relevant today as much as they were thousands of years ago. Maybe we just have to substitute organizations and modern equivalents for the ancient language used by Chanakya in these maxims. He begins by offering salutations to Lord Vishnu, the lord of the three worlds. He narrates that these maxims were given for the public good. Therefore with an eye to the public good, I shall speak that which, when understood, will lead to an understanding of things in their proper perspective.

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In one sloka he says do not inhabit a country where you are not respected, cannot earn your livelihood, have no friends or cannot acquire knowledge. This is so true in this age of globalization where Indians keep migrating to other countries. We have to be careful to go to places where we are respected or where we know we can live honorably.

Save your wealth against future calamity. Do not say, “What fear has a rich man, of calamity?” When riches begin to forsake one even the accumulated stock dwindles away. Is this not true? World over we see people becoming bankrupt either due to wrong decisions or unethical practices which makes even the rich bite the dust. So never abuse wealth or think that we can survive after indulging in mal practices.

Test a servant while in the discharge of his duty, a relative in difficulty, a friend in adversity, and a wife in misfortune. Chanakya tells us of the ways of the world. Who is a true friend? A friend in need is a friend indeed. He is a true friend who does not forsake us in time of need, misfortune, famine, or war, in a king’s court, or at the crematorium (smasana). It is rare to find such loyalty and if we are lucky we should try to keep such loyal friends with us always because they are very rare in this world.

The most beautiful aspect of the neethi shastra is that it caters to all the four purposes of human life, that is dharma, artha, kama and moksha. So we can see the spiritual and the mundane sitting side by side in the maxims. Spiritual life is not something that has to be pursued in isolation. It has to run parallel to our daily duties or material pursuits. As long as your body is healthy and under control and death is distant, try to save your soul; when death is imminent what can you do? Here he exhorts us to spend our time in remembering spiritual things when we are strong and healthy and most important it should become a habit from a very young age. Because when death becomes imminent either due to disease or old age the last thing that will cross one’s mind is, thoughts on the higher self.
A few thoughts keep repeating in the neeti, this shows the importance Chanakya gives to these topics. One is learning. . Learning is like a cow of desire. It, like her, yields in all seasons. Like a mother, it feeds you on your journey. Therefore learning is a hidden treasure. All our life we should keep learning as it keeps our mind fresh. We should be open to new knowledge and be eager to learn something new every day. The same thought is stressed in this maxim- Let not a single day pass without your learning a verse, half a verse, or a fourth of it, or even one letter of it; nor without attending to charity, study and other pious activity. Thus, lifelong learning is something that he stresses for all of us, if our minds have to grow and not get embroiled in the mundane. All other forms of wealth may desert us but learning keeps company till the last according to Chanakya. A learned man is honoured by the people. A learned man commands respect everywhere for his learning. Indeed, learning is honoured everywhere. A person may be born in a noble family but it is only learning which makes him a complete human being. There is so much of stress given to learning and knowledge that the author has spent many verses in glorifying it. Those who are endowed with beauty and youth and who are born of noble families are worthless if they have no learning. They are just like the kimshuka blossoms (flowers of the palasa tree) which, though beautiful, have no fragrance. Who is a poor man? One who suffers from the poverty of ignorance. One destitute of wealth is not destitute, he is indeed rich (if he is learned); but the man devoid of learning is destitute in every way. Those who are destitute of learning, penance, knowledge, good disposition, virtue and benevolence are brutes wandering the earth in the form of men. They are burdensome to the earth.

Chanakya hits the nail bang on the head when he advises us on always choosing the best. No compromise, strive to reach for the best is his advice to us. It is better to be without a kingdom than to rule over a petty one; better to be without a friend than to befriend a rascal; better to be without a disciple than to have a stupid one; and better to be without a wife than to have a bad one.

Chanakya also writes about the importance of our Scriptures, yagnas, true wisdom and the benefits of leading a life of virtue. What are the qualities of a man who wishes to rise above the ordinary? Purity of speech, of the mind, of the senses, and a compassionate heart are needed by one who desires to rise to the divine platform. Here Chanakya speaks of inner purity not just saucham in the external sense. Compassion is a great virtue that has to be cultivated if a man has to elevate himself to divine stature. There is no austerity equal to a balanced mind, and there is no happiness equal to contentment; there is no disease like covetousness, and no virtue like mercy. Chanakya rates compassion as far greater than knowledge. For one whose heart melts with compassion for all creatures; what is the necessity of knowledge, liberation, matted hair on the head, and smearing the body with ashes? A compassionate heart is better than all other penance or austerities.

There are many references to food and water throughout the niti. Chanakya is a great advocate of vegetarianism. He has no patience for the dull heads and flesh eaters and brackets them all together. The earth is encumbered with the weight of the flesh-eaters, wine-bibblers, dolts (dull and stupid) and blockheads, who are beasts in the form of men. The wise who discern the essence of things have declared that the yavana (meat eater) is equal in baseness to a thousand candalas (the lowest class), and hence a yavana is the basest of men; indeed there is no one more base. Water taken at different times has different uses for the body. Ayurveda also prescribes which is the appropriate time when and how water should be taken. In the niti, Chanakya also remarks Water is the medicine for indigestion; it is invigorating when the food that is eaten is well digested; it is like nectar when drunk in the middle of a dinner; and it is like poison when taken at the end of a meal. Contrary to opinion which divides society into high caste and low caste, Chanakya remarks in many places that a man will be called as a chandala on account of his deeds not merely because of his birth. Caste based divisions entered society at a much later stage and has acted as a divisive force. This does not have the sanction of our scriptures. He is a chandala who eats his dinner without entertaining the stranger who has come to his house quite accidentally, having travelled from a long distance and is wearied.

Yet another strand of thought that runs through the niti is the true meaning of charity and benevolence. Like compassion, he treats these virtues also with great importance. We must use our talents or riches not just for ourselves but for the benefit of others too. One whose knowledge is confined to books and whose wealth is in the possession of others, can use neither his knowledge nor wealth when the need for them arises. He who nurtures benevolence for all creatures within his heart overcomes all difficulties and will be the recipient of all types of riches at every step.

Other topics are about a good and virtuous son, devotee of God, friendship etc. His thoughts on women are quite parochial and many may not agree to them especially in the modern age.

 

Consumerism

Consumerism 

 The more I travel the more I know that people have started becoming shopaholic. We buy more than we actually need. Many economies of the world are crumbling down due to overconsumption of products. Have you ever thought that we have moved from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market? Sellers want to sell their products no matter what. They would go to any length to create a demand for their products so that they can sell. Increase in online shopping has given an ease and convenience to the consumer who can access anything at the click of a button. Relatively small town consumers too have access to products now with online services and cash on delivery facilities; all these have created a large consumption. While traveling I found that most of historic monuments have got turned into shopping malls. The culture of any country has been lost. There is no difference left from one country to another.

Let’s see the following data and information I gathered while researching the concept of consumerism. It just opened my eyes as to how difficult it is to control our desire to shop.
Buying is a habit – a bad habit

The Americans are compulsive shoppers. A country with a USD 600 billion trade deficit – about 5% of their GDP – is basically importing more junk than it can pay for. And the US has done this for decades. This means that the US government has printed US Dollar bills – which it gives to the Chinese and other exporting countries – and gets plastic toys, furniture, and clothes in return. Once in a while the Chinese send the Americans counterfeit parts for their billion dollar defence programme!

Two years ago, the savings rate of American households had turned negative. Their annual income was not enough to match their consumption. Not only were they busy buying Chinese goods, they were busy buying homes to put all those goods in and now they had a mortgage debt to repay. With jobs shipped offshore unemployment is north of 9%. Furthermore, salaries in the US have not increased over the past decade – with the exception of salaries of the financial sector and the lawyers, amongst others.

If you have visited a typical American home, the first impression that you will get is: Wow! These guys don’t need to buy anything for the next few lives! Yet, the mall is where you need to be – or maybe the online version of it. The in-flight magazines in US planes are full of junk that you never need, but feel that you should buy. The US consumer breaks the myth espoused by advertising gurus who believe that “advertising does not create a want, it merely fulfils a need”. No sensible person would need most of the products advertised in the in-flight magazines, yet the promotions create that “want”.

The first day of shopping is traditionally the day after Thanksgiving, which is always observed on the last Thursday of every November. To make it easier for the ever-consuming Americans to consume, many stores began their “Black Friday” on Thursday itself. People stood in queues and camped in tents for hours to be able to buy more. “Black Friday” allows you to buy limited products at some pretty good discounted prices for a limited time. (As an aside, we have our own version of “Black Friday” in India except that business groups get to buy national assets like coal, gas, iron ore, spectrum and assorted paraphernalia at discounted prices on a daily basis! The astute Indian buyers don’t stand in queues and pitch in tents, though. The well-connected Indian buyer just makes the right phone calls and gets it done.)

Drink rationally, invest rationally

The point is that the solution to an out of control drunkard is not taking him to the bar again and serving drinks on sale. The Americans need to save. They need to pay down their debt. A recent report by the Federal Reserve states that US household debt is USD 11.7 trillion – it declined some 0.5% over the past 3 months. But delinquent payments – people who are paying late or cannot fully pay their debt – have increased and nearly USD 1.2 trillion of loans would be in this category. The good news is that people are buying fewer homes – and renting more. Disillusioned by the myth that home prices can only increase and by the difficulty of getting mortgage loans due to subdued salary levels, the US consumer is renting.

But this is only the beginning of a long, secular trend in the US: there is a need to repair their personal – and national – balance sheets. The US – and European – consumer is dead for all practical purposes and cannot be relied upon as an engine for economic growth for the next 3 years. That music died in 2008. The drunken consumer has already been in a rehab clinic for the past 2 years with muted bursts of activity.

US, Europe, and Japan are in trouble. China has its own economic issues and bubbles to deal with. India has its challenges. The markets will continue to jump around in all directions based on silly news and new silliness. Don’t let these daily, wild gyrations scare you – or enthuse you. And don’t forget to understand your own needs and your ability to take buy and repay for it.

My Body! My Temple! 

Our body is the most complex and durable machine ever built. Not even the most advanced robot is capable of matching the abilities of a normal five year old child. If you treat your body as your temple, it will nurture and bless you with remarkable health and happiness. Though I know that being ‘18 till I die’ is realistically impossible, I am fanatical about being fit and energetic – even when I grow old! I believe that one can control the decay of one’s body and health through various kinds of yoga, pranayam and vigorous exercise. Good habits are vital, too. I have been a vegetarian all my life. I don’t smoke and drink. I avoid cold drinks and frozen food most of the time. When I’m tired, I go for fruit juices, milkshakes and coconut water instead of tea or coffee. I also hit the gym regularly to keep myself fit. However, I still feel that I need to do more to stay healthy and keep looking for ways to increase my stamina.
My friends often wonder how I control the temptation to binge on something unhealthy. My answer is simple – I have never been the kind of person who gives in to an impulse. If I need to cut down on something or lose a few kilos, I do whatever it takes to get there. It doesn’t matter if you’re completely out of shape. Your body is tremendously forgiving and I’m sure you’ll reap the benefits sooner than you think!

What we eat is what we are!

Food! The most important part of our life. Many of you will agree that most of the people on this earth live to eat. If you are a foody, it is a boon to be born in India. This is the place where you will get to taste more than four thousand various cuisines across the country with many combinations of gravy and spices. Because of the climate, our life style and right food habits we never had to worry about weight or any related diseases. The modern lifestyle invited many such problems hence we need to rethink about the food we eat.

Let’s find out what kind of food you should eat and what to avoid for having a complete balance of mental peace, health and strength.

A must have,


Fruits, dry fruits and salads:

It is not a secret that one should eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. But very few know the science behind how and how much we should eat. Breakfast is the best time to eat fruits as the stomach is empty and the essence of fruits directly goes into your blood cells. It is recommended to eat one fruit at a time and take a break of fifteen minutes before the next one. Having a fruit juice is definitely not a good idea as you tend to lose the important fiber while filtering it. Follow our original trend of eating only seasonal fruit as they work best on your body keeping the outside climate in mind.
Dry fruits are loosing its ground in today’s modern life style. But they are the best and the shortest way of achieving a great health. If you want to improve vitality and strength, eat black dry grapes, walnuts and nuts. If you do the workouts regularly, black grapes would be the best thing to have before you start your gym sessions, which was recommended to me by a senior trainer at the gym in London.
Many of us swear by salads with different types of dressings. But remember one thing, anything uncooked creates gas in the body, it is the home for worms as mostly we don’t clean the salads with warm water and it doesn’t give any satisfaction to our taste buds. Including herbs, pepper, olive oil and ajwain or aniseeds to your salad will help in avoiding gastric problems.

Why be a vegetarian?

The human race exists since millions of years. As we evolved we invented variety of cuisines to satisfy our taste-bud. But originally, our body was designed to have fruits and vegetables only. They have a life in them in some ways and work on our body positively helping us grow in health, vitality, positivity and emotional strength. They get digested faster comparatively and have absolutely no side effects to the body.
We included grains and other pulses as we got evolved and added spices for the flavor and aroma in the food. Some of spices also have medicinal properties, which really prevents many unwanted diseases in the body.

The non-vegetarian food is high in cholesterol, fat and many unwanted properties which are damaging to the human body. Our body was never designed to digest such food as it takes almost three days to digest one piece of meat; hence it takes a toll on the digestive capacity of our inner organs. I know that half of the world population lives on meat products but then they are the ones who are suffering with all sorts of diseases. The ratio of people suffering from cancer is much higher in the western world due to meat eating compared to India which is largely vegetarian.

So think twice before eating such things as your body is not the graveyard of dead animals.


What to avoid!

Alcohol, soft drinks and processed juices
Alcohol is the most tempting liquid on this earth and the most difficult thing to leave if you have been enjoying it for years. But trust me, the world of full consciousness and awareness is much more beautiful than what you see after getting a bit tipsy or drunk. As everyone knows that alcohol is responsible for liver problems, memory loss, loss of appetite, loss of physical strength and stamina and the most important thing is you tend to invite unnecessary disputes with people which you could have avoided otherwise.
I have seen many relationships getting spoiled because of the alcoholism of the husbands in most cases and wives in some cases.


Soft drinks

Everyone knows the adverse effect of soft drinks but nobody knows how to avoid them and control the craving for it. Most of the soft drinks are as strong as toilet cleaners. Many scientists have proved that if you put a human bone in any cola drink it will melt in seventy-two hours.
It also reduces your stamina, is extremely high in sugar and highly acidic for your digestive system. I know many people who drink cola while eating which is the most dangerous thing to do as it prevents your natural acid to digest the food in your stomach thus creating problems in the immune system. It is the most common replacement to water while we are on the move but it actually dehydrates your body leaving you even more thirsty.


Processed juices

We tend to get carried away by many advertisements on processed juices which claim to be natural. But the actual life of any fruit juice is thirty seconds after it is extracted. The manufacturers of the juices have to use highly concentrated salt based preservatives to keep the juices fresh which are certainly not healthy. It increases the weight, reduces the white cells of the blood resulting in lack of stamina and is high in bad sugar.

We mostly drink juices in flights, house parties, as evening snacks, serve guests and drink after workouts. Replace it with fresh juices, coconut water, barley water, milk shakes, green tea, herbal tea etc.

 Wafers, icecreams,biscuits

This recommendation is only for those who are practicing any form of meditation and want to grow in their spiritual path.
Our body, mind and soul get affected by certain kinds of food, environment, our circumstances, people we associate with and how we think. The food is the most important thing as it controls our emotional self and we tend to think and react to our circumstances in that manner.
If you have been meditating for a long time, you will surely get disturbed by any such food intake while practicing as it is exactly the opposite to pranik food which is mostly recommended by yoga and meditation gurus.


Processed and fast food

As many scientists have proved that the major reason for various types of cancer is the western lifestyle and food which is mostly processed with many chemical ingredients. Just like juices, the life of the cooked food is only two- three hours and not meant for any kind of machine treatment or acidic preservatives. The moment it gets processed, it creates cancerous bacteria which are harmful for the body.

What I think! on a funny note!

Being a person of intensive thinking; I felt that it is very important to understand the important aspects of life more deeply. So thought of penning them down with a twist. Pragmatic though funny!

  • The Internet – The most powerful driver of global change
  • Movies – A mirror to our innermost fantasies
  • Books – A magic carpet that whisks your mind away to new lands
  • Religion – Has the potential to both cripple and uplift the society
  • Meditation – A healing balm for the soul
  • Ayurveda / Herbal Medicine – The only practical route to good health
  • Men – Vulnerable beings who are perennial slaves to desire
  • Women – God’s only beautiful creation
  • Having fun – Work hard, but party harder
  • Procrastination – Robs you of life’s most precious commodity: time
  • Politics – the cruelest game the human brain can ever play
  • Relationship- the only hope for emotions to survive
  • Love – God’s best emotion ever created
  • Heart- always pumps for all the wrong reasons
  • Spouse – a free punching bag to cool your temper
  • Spouse – a reason to come back home
  • Spouse – an ultimate reason to live
  • Spouse- an ever-lasting reason to smile
  • Sky- the ultimate limit
  • Sky- the best way to define father for its sheltering nature
  • Mother – the ultimate definition of given
  • Mother- a symbol of sacrifice and care
  • Father- the best guard
  • Father- our identity on this plan
  • Friends – the biggest time-pass
  • Friends – true savior in case they are genuine
  • Friends – a handbook of experiences

Theory of Karma to gain liberation or moksha

A look at the karma theory in the 4 religions

We all believe that we have some kind of permanent residence here on earth. We plan, prepare, hoard and organize plans for a long overhaul forgetting that we have all come with a return ticket. Life is often compared to a journey and all our relatives and friends are like the fellow travelers we meet on the journey. Some get off before we reach our destination point, still others continue even after we get down. Our Indian religions keep pointing out to this so often. Still we tend to forget this simple truth. Karma, reincarnation, liberation are words that we across in all the four religions that have had their origins in India.

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To the followers of Vedic Hindu scriptures’ based lifestyle, the law of karma is a fundamental belief. ‘As we sow, so shall we reap.’ We go on accumulating results for our action and keep reincarnating or taking so many lives until the soul obtains moksha or liberation. Krushna describes in Bhagwad Geeta to keep doing the work and leave the fruit of the Karma on him. He says that we always belonged to him. We have come to this material world due to some karmic results and it is our duty to perform karma which can lead us back to him. The only way to escape this karmic bond is by offering everything to god, to do nishkama karma- which essentially means, doing an action without looking at its fruits.

sikhism

The youngest religion Sikhism asserts that our lives are connected to karmic debt. The more karmic debt we have, the more number of times we will come back to earth and as we make an effort to reduce the karmic debt, then we are a step closer to God. A good Sikh is one who has got rid of the karmic debt completely after which he will reunite with the creator.

Jainism explains karma in an interesting manner. Karma is not an immaterial concept there. It is said to exist in the form of subtle particles. When the jiva is overcome with passions, then these particles enter the jiva and it acquires a body. In order to get disembodied again, the jiva has to go back to the pure state again. Only then can the jiva get freed. It is for this that every jiva has to follow the sadacharana or observance of ethical discipline.

The Buddha himself is supposed to have reincarnated many times. The Buddha made use of the powerful analogy of taking birth as an animal in the next birth to caution simple laymen to lead a life of virtue. This fear of being born as a lower life, that is as an animal, kept people away from mischief. But it cannot be taken too literally. The entire process of change from one life to the next is called “becoming again”. Karma operates as a moral law in the universe according to Buddhism as a continuous chain reaction of cause and effect. The Dhammapada says, “All that we are is a result of what we have thought, it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts.” So we can change our Karma with our good thoughts, good words and good actions. We can reach the enlightened state of the Buddha by raising ourselves with our goodness thus escaping the clutches of karma.

We thus see that these 4 religions speak of reaching god or achieving reunion with god by progressing with our own self effort and transcending the cycle of birth and death, by finally merging in the ultimate being. This is referred to as achieving liberation or moksha or nirvana.

I generally prefer to write in few words to explain any points to keep up the interest of the people. If any of you want to know more about any of these theories feel free to ask me. OR you may go through our website www.indianscriptures.com

 

 

Theories of Moksha in various vedic beliefs in Bharat- part 2

I was thinking about the statement that ‘India is a cradle of many religions’. Well, that means India must have always been a tolerant country that has welcomed newer thoughts getting infused into existing religion and breaking out into new religions. That speaks volumes about the nature of its people who were ready to embrace any new thought, invention, discovery fully aware that nothing can ever shake the mother tree which can withstand any great storm without getting affected. Thus our country with its ancient religion has seen the birth of religions like Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism.

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Hinduism speaks about pluralism that is- all paths lead to the same goal ‘ekam sat viprah bahudah vadanti’– Truth is one; the wise call it by different names. There is no rigidity here. You can have sadhus sitting in the icy perch of the Himalayas or you can have karm yogis going about their dharm without any other care except to do what is ordained to be theirs. In between you can also have the mad frenzy of those rushing to temples to participate in community worship. And then there is the silent seeker who goes about his quest quietly and finds peace in the silence of his being. Oh, the wide variety that our religion offers, there is such a basket of options you can choose what suits you best. I love this pluralism that is accepted here.

Fascinatingly, this pluralism is also there in Jainism. It was Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and philosopher who said famously, ‘everything we hear is an opinion not a fact; everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.’ Reality is always dependent on one’s perspective and this certainly cannot be considered as the absolute truth. The Jains accept that reality can comprise of many truths as seen from each one’s perspective and are willing to accept that premise.

Buddhism is also amazingly pluralistic. Sikhism also seems to extol the same thing. Sikhs are always advised to follow the path shown by the great gurus and prophets. The holy book of the Sikhs (the Sri Guru Granth Sahib) says, “Do not say that the Vedas, the Bible and the Koran are false. Those who do not contemplate them are false.”

The thought expressed in each of these is so true that I feel enthused to delve more so I can learn more. I started reading on the various rituals observed by these four religions and was quite startled to see there is a string that runs through all of them even in this aspect. The fire ritual, havan, yagnas are terms not just restricted to Hinduism but I learnt that Mahayana Buddhism in Japan, Tibetan Buddhism and some other branches of Buddhism adopted them and absorbed it in their respective cultures. So also, the prayers to the ancestors- This too seems to be there in these religions. In Jainism the likeness is even more similar. Prayers for a good baby soon after conception, celebrating the new born, naming ceremony, offering the first solid food to the infant, beginning of the education process, ceremonies connected to marriage, death, building a new house, initiating new year, starting the financial year – all these bear close resemblance to Hindu customs but of course with a distinctive Jain slant like the recitation of the Navakar mantras and chanting the peace mantra. Hinduism speaks of Jiva karunya or compassion to all living beings and this can be seen fully fulfilled in Jainism and Buddhism.

I found Sikhism also to be speaking of many of the same things – the importance of consecrated water Amrit, prayers for the newborn, naming ceremony, importance to the soul and not the ephemeral body all seem to have a common thread running through them. It is only when we understand these features we can appreciate the beauty of every religion or sect. These theories state that most of the religion or sects originated in Bharat have many similarities and believe in growing on the common grounds of reincarnations, liberation, cycle of birth and death, karma and strong family bonding. Isn’t this amazing?

Various theories of Moksha in Vedic scriptures part 1

5.Sri Adi Shankaracharya 8th Century -Gave Priciples of Advaita Vedanta

Hinduism is such a fascinating religion that the more I delve into it the more I am fascinated by it. It seems to offer something to everybody. Look at Adi Sankara, on the one hand, he has given us so many stothras like the Ganesh Pancharatna, Kanakadara etc. and many other vaidik rituals and in the same breath he speaks of a god with no form, of advaita philosophy which speaks of the highest state Aham Brahmasmi, oneness with an impersonal god Brahman. In this, lies the beauty and grandeur of Hinduism. Ekam Sat Viprah bahudah vadanti- Truth is One, the wise call it by different names. It is this apparent flexibility in the religion that has attracted followers from all parts of the world, because nothing is forced here and a genuine seeker can find answers to any question in our scriptures. There have been atheists and agnostics, believers and Vedantins- there is space for everyone here. I find this really amazing. Many paths, one summit.

The next thing that I like about this religion is reincarnation and the theory of karma. Otherwise how else can we convince people who question us about the apparently different lives that each individual leads though born of same parents or under same or similar conditions? Why, even the lives charted out for identical twins remain so different and distinct from each other. We have the most convincing explanation- Poorva janma karma. In other words, we will remain in the cycle of reincarnation until we are able to rid ourselves of all karmic debt. Once we are completely free of karma, our soul will be liberated from the curse of reincarnation and reunited with Brahman, the infinite perfect being. So in other words, we keep reincarnating until we progress over a period of many births and reach the ultimate goal of liberation. arti3But then liberation or moksha itself does not come easy. Our scriptures tell us there is no single window clearance for us to get liberation. We have the Yogas, which are methods and disciplines and we can use one of these or a combination and attain liberation or moksha. That’s a state where we are beyond birth, death, grief, pain or any such thing. We reach the state of Godhood. And so we have the many paths, the yogas- Raj Yog or the Path of breath control, Karm Yog- the path of service, Jnan Yog- the Path of knowledge and Bhakti Yog- the Path of devotion. The last one is the easiest and we see majority follow it diligently. Pujas, bhajans, discourses all these are done to show our devotion.

Each time I read some work or the other, my understanding grows a little more and I salute the ancient wisdom that could accommodate so many strands of thought without fearing that it would threaten its survival. In fact this oldest religion has stood the test of time only because it keeps reinventing itself fresh each time a philosopher or thinker propounds a new thought born out of the existing isms. Even the other religions born out of Hinduism share so many similar features that I feel like jumping in glee at the thought of vedic Hinduism being such a wonderful mother. There are so many commonalitiesin other school of thoughts like Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism which derived many concepts of reincarnations, karma and destiny from the main stream Vedic Hinduism.

We will continue with this discussion in my next article too.

Dayanand Saraswati

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I always thought there was only one Dayanand Saraswati whom we had read about in history books. Then, I came across his name while I was doing my research about eminent people in the field of Vedanta. I was more surprised when our PM Modiji told me about him and asked me to meet him. Modiji’s office called him about my visit and told the PA of Dayanandji to permit me to spend some time with him. He has not been keeping well. I was thrilled to find out that he was in Rishikesh. I went to spend two days in his ashram in March 2013. I had more than 100 questions to ask him about various topics of Vedanta. He answered patiently and also opened my eyes about the many facets of Vedanta which I had not touched upon. Inspite of having such dedicate health, he used take regular lectures of the students for more than four hours a day and spend whole day attending visitors.

The ashram is located in sylvan surroundings on the banks of the Ganga, right across the Aurobindo Ashram where famous rock stars of yesteryears would often drop in. I spent the beautiful days enjoying the dips in the Ganga near the ashram. I also met Ammaji who is the writer of the courses offered by Dayanand Ashram. I also shared some moments with various sadhus in the ashram during Guru Purnima which surprisingly fell during my visit. I will never forget what I learned from him. It amazed me to know that many scholars from different parts of the world come to the ashram to learn Vedanta as short or long term courses. I was fortunate to witness the ceremony of Diksha to a few followers who had made up their minds to dedicate their lives to the pursuit of Vedanta and spread the message of our Scriptures.

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