Monday, 1 December 2014

25 Inspiring Facts about the Bhagavad Geeta

  1. Bhagavad Geeta means the Song of the Lord.
  2. Given in a battle field, the setting is symbolic of the ethical, moral and spiritual struggles of the human life.
  3. Compiled by Sri Veda Vyasa, it is found in the largest poem ever – Mahabharata which has 1 lakh verses
  4. A Holistic book, Geeta covers the topics of JEEVA, JAGAT & ISHWARA – The Individual, The World & God. 
  5. It is a Moksha shaastra- Scripture whose main purpose is Freedom from sorrow and experience of Permanent Happiness. 
  6. It cures the problem by the treatment of the root cause and does not merely provide relief.
  7. First word of Geeta is  dharma and last word of Geeta  is mama. To summarise what the Geeta deals with is – Mama Dharma or  My Dharma.
  8. When one says geeta, geeta, geeta….it becomes taagee or Tyagi. It means one who renounces.  Renunciation of the ego and ego-centric selfishness is the heart of the Geeta and not mere external renunciation.  
  9. It’s a universal scripture.  Not only meant for Hindus.  There is no word Hindu in the whole Geeta. 
  10. Arjuna's delusion was destroyed through the Knowledge of Dedication, Devotion and Discrimination given in the Geeta. A dejected Arjuna transformed into a dynamic man of action through the Geeta way of life. 
  11. The teacher and the student of the Geeta lived a family life and yet discussed about the highest spiritual truth, detachment while loving, inspiration inspite of stress at work, selflessness in serving the society, higher way of living etc. Hence Geeta is relevant to all and not only to renunciates. 
  12. Active Resistance to Evil and Aggressive Goodness form the basis of Sri Krishna’s clarion call to Arjuna to perform his duty. Geeta does not advocate escapism.   
  13. Geeta inspired non-violent Indian freedom fighters like Gandhiji and revolutionaries like Khudiram bose alike. Balgangadhar Tilak, Vinoba Bhave even gave lectures on Geeta when they were in prison to the prisoners and wrote commentaries on it.  
  14. Gandhiji used to say that I open any page of the geeta when I have a problem and I find my solution there.  For him Geeta was his “Spiritual Dictionary”
  15. All the 6 schools of Philosophy accept the Geeta.
  16. It is the essence of the Upanishads
  17. Geeta has 701 verses in 18 chapters.  It is found in the Bhishma Parva of Mahabharata from Chapter 25 to 42.
  18. Geeta is a smriti.  It presents the ancient vedic concepts in the context of modern times. Presents concepts like Yagna in a modern light by interpreting it as team-work for a selfless cause. 
  19. Sri Krishna talks in the Geeta from 5 different standpoints – As Infinite Consciousness, As the Creator Ishwara, As Sri Krishna, As a Teacher, As a friend. 
  20. Geeta is a part of Prasthaana Trayi – The three key texts of Vedanta which a seeker must study and follow- Brahmasutras, Upanishads and Bhagavad Geeta
  21. It is considered as the most popular and followed text of Hinduism
  22. It consists of Both – BrahmaVidya – Pure Science and Yoga-Shastra – Applied Science
  23. The whole Geeta is written in mainly Anushtup Chanda(Meter with 8 syllables in a quarter) and a few verses are in Trishtup Chanda(Meter with 11 syllables in a quarter)
  24. 701 verses of the Geeta are as as follows:  Dhritarashtra -1 verse, Sanjay - 41 verses, Arjuna - 84 Verses & Sri Krishna - 574 verses
  25. Geeta is a synthesis of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga & Jnana Yoga  which cater to the Action-Emotion-Vision aspects of the personality

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Illuminator Am I


Illuminator illumines the illumined.  
Illuminator remains unaffected by the illumined. 
Illuminator appears as the illumined.  
Illumined can never know/cover The Illuminator.  
Illuminator is independent of the illumined. 
Illuminator is One. Illumined are many. 
In the Illuminator, there is no illumined.  
Illuminator alone IS. I am That. 

From the Illumined to The Illuminator is the journey of life 
& true celebration called Deepavali. Happy Deepavali.


Life’s Light




In the night of ignorance, dark & long
Winds of desires blow uncontrollably strong
Attachments bind & blind the vision
Fears & anger benumb all sensation
Despair & despondency make one weak
Confused and confounded, one's life looks bleak 

Out of causeless compassion, a Master arrives
To ignite our inner-lamp He ceaselessly strives
He quietens our desires through devotion
Teaches detachment by serving a higher vision
Transforming Fear into love & anger into empathy
Negating our false identity, He uncovers our Divinity 
Darkness to light, confusion to clarity
Is life's Journey, from Finitude to Infinity

Temptations-declined Service-Inclined
Welfare-confined, Personality-Aligned
Extremely Kind, everything-combined
Infinity-enshrined, Divinity 'defined'
Never-resigned, always-unwind 
A flame without a flicker is a Yogi's mind

He lights our ‘light’. He is our Life’s Light 
His Presence makes our life, Light 


Having awakened, She woke us up too
'Awaken others' is all She wants us to do 
Lets Share 'Knowledge' out of Gratitude
Ignite many minds as per our aptitude 
With a positive attitude, Centred in Solitude 
Reaching new altitude and magnitude

Wishing you Happy Diwali(2014), 
a Prosperous New Year &
a Life of Fulfilment.  

Invoking the Grace of the Lord & 
Blessings of the Guru-Parampara
on you and family. 



Thursday, 18 September 2014

Yep to YEP

Introspecting on life
In the face of its strife
Inquisitive about its purpose
Improving their focus
Integrating the BMI
Inquiring into the Big I
Igniting minds
Inspiring lives
Identifying one’s dreams
Involving teams
Innovating spirituality
Improving reality
Informally sharing
Increasingly caring
Incomparably daring
Intensely Selfless
Infusing Oneness
Inquiring Highest
Invoking Deepest
Interacting Widest
Insightfully Learning
Inconspicuously Serving
Incessantly Growing
Industriously serving their Nation
Inexhaustible is their Determination
Intriguing is their transformation
Impressive are Chinmaya-Yuvaveers
Imbibing the wisdom of The Seers

Immense is the strength of YEP (Youth Empowerment Programme)
Immense is the strength of Yep! (Yes)
Indeed say Yep to YEP!
(YEP - Youth Empowerment Programme is a Value-Based Leadership Programme. Those who complete this programme are called - Yuvaveers / Yepsters.  For more details about the upcoming 9th Batch of YEP, click here )




Saturday, 30 August 2014

Lord Ganesha’s Birth - Within



The following story of Lord Ganesha’s birth is from Shiva Purana

Two Divinely beautiful maidens Jayaa & Vijayaa attending on Mother Parvathy, once approached her and told her: “Generally, all the Ganas(Attendants) are more loyal to Lord Shiva than to you.  Though they do not neglect us, we feel that we should have a very powerful Gana for ourselves, who will be implicitly loyal to you.”  Parvathy heard them but kept silent.

Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva and Parvathy, is a place of pilgrimage for all devas, rishis, ganas and others.  They reach in their hordes there, to worship and to sing praises of the Lord and to obtain fulfillment of their desires.  They spread all over the place, setting their camps in the vast open spaces in Kailash.

One day, Mother Parvathy wanted to refresh Herself by taking a bath in the cool waters of the large bathing pool in Kailash.  She summoned Nandi, the Chief of the Ganas and told him to guard the entrance of the bathing pool, so that no one would wander into that area and disturb her.  So, Nandi stood guard and the Mother entered the pond and began Her bath.  A little while after, Lord Shiva Himself came there.  Nandi told Him in all reverence about the Mother’s Instructions, but the Lord brushed it aside and went straight to the Pool.  Parvathy was abased to see the Lord in front of Her.  She recollected the promptings of her attendants Jayaa & Vijayaa and decided to create a Gana who would be absolutely loyal to her.

On a later occasion, when Parvathy wanted to have a bath, she rolled out of Her body some dust and out of it created a handsome and powerful male form, and enlivened it with Her spiritual power.  She called him Vinaayaka(created without a naayaka or male involvement, here indicating the Lord) .  “You are My Son,” She said to him, “and extremely dear to Me!  Please stand guard for Me at the entrance of this bathing pond and allow none whomsoever to come in without My Permission.”  She gave him a stout stick and endowed him with Her Powers.

After some time, Lord Shiva came that way.  Vinaayaka stopped Him and refused permission to go in.  The Lord said, “What a fool are you?  I am the Lord of Mother Parvathy and this is My own house and bathing Pool.  Who are you to refuse permission to Me to enter My own Place?”

Vinaayaka said, “You may be anybody.  But I have the instructions to allow none to enter here.”  The Lord was amused and he retreated a few steps and stood there.  He asked His Ganas to find out who the new guard was?  They went and asked him, “Who are you? Where from are you and what are your intentions?”  Vinaayaka replied, “Im the attendant of Mother Parvathy and I am here on Her instructions to guard the entrance ot the pond.  You have come here on your Lord’s instructions to remove me and make way for Him.  But please note you will not succeed in your plan.”  A confrontation therefore became inevitable and in this battle, Lord Shiva cut the head of Vinaayaka with His Trident.  Mother Parvathy came out to see Her dear son lying headless.

Overcome by anger and sorrow, she went about destroying everything that came on Her path.  The gods and rishis shuddered with fear and confusion.  They assembled together and started praising the Mother with divine hymns.  She clamed down a bit, but told them that She would be happy only when Her son was restored to Life. 

It was not possible to stitch back the head smashed by Lord Shiva’s Trident.  So Shiva sent out His Ganas with an instruction that they should cut out and bring the head of the first living creature which is seen lying with its head pointing towards the North.  During their search, they first found an elephant sleeping with its head towards the North, cut it out and brought it with haste to Kailash.  Lord Shiva joined the head of the elephant with the truncated body of Vinaayaka & imparted Life to it. 

The form immediately became a very handsome Divine Child.  Mother Parvathy was extremely pleased and took Her son in Her lap and blessed Him.  Thus was Ganesha the elephant-faced God born.

Symbolism of the story:

Kailash is our own Pure & Peaceful heart.  Mother Parvathy is the creative mind ever in communion with Lord Shiva– The Consciousness & Guru who alone are Auspicious. Jayaa & Vijayaa represent comparison & jealousy.  Nandi is the intellect.  Ganas are the senses. 

Comparison & Jealousy create the insecurity in Mother Parvathy, the Creative mind, that she should have her own attendant.  Mother Parvathy listens but keeps quiet.  When Mother Parvathy(the creative mind) appoints Nandi(the Intellect) to safeguard her while she is getting refreshed in the pool of enjoyments/comfort zone, Lord Shiva(Guru & satsang) comes there and the intellect tells the Lord politely not to enter but the Lord brushes the intellect aside and goes in.  Creative mind is shocked and decides to make her own attendant who will be loyal to her, protect her and will be the most powerful amongst all other attendants (Senses).

So the creative mind creates Vinaayaka(Ego) and has the vanity of having created him without involvement of the Lord.  Naturally, Vinaayaka also is ignorant of the Lord.  Vinaayaka is given the stout stick of rudeness and impoliteness to guard.   Vinaayaka(Ego) guards the creative mind indulging in the pool of enjoyments/comfort-zone. 

Lord Shiva comes there and Vinaayaka stops Him.  Our ego not only is ignorant of the Lord but blocks the very Lord of our heart.  In the battle that ensues, the Lord cuts the head of Vinaayaka(destroys the ego beyond redemption) with His Trishul.    When creations spring from the promptings of the vanity, instead of Divine-Inspiration, then the imperfections of such creations would have to be removed with ‘ruthless mercy’

The Creative mind is shocked and becomes destructive mind.  Everyone tries to pacify it by singing its praises and it does become quiet but is adamant that its creation must be brought back to life. 

Lord Shiva sends the attendants (senses) to bring the head of a creature facing the North(Direction of Immortality, Knowledge, Austerity, Meditation, Peace etc. South is the direction of Death).  The attendants find an elephant sleeping(immersed in) facing the North(Knowledge etc.).  They cut its head and bring it. 

Lord Shiva  then replaces the head of Vinaayaka with the elephant’s head and brings him back to life.  Now he is the creation of both – Creative Mind and the Lord of the heart. His ignorance of the Lord is destroyed.   He is the Lord of Material Prosperity & Spiritual Illumination.  There is no vanity & no ego.  He is most auspicious, most powerful of all Ganas(Senses) and is called Ganesha(The Lord of all senses).

He is worshipped first.  He is worshipped before anything auspicious is begun, indicating to us that let the ego be destroyed before any undertaking and let all our actions be based on Higher Vision, Knowledge, Selflessness.  Such actions will not only make one successful but also peaceful & happy.  They also lead to Welfare of all beings.  Bhagavad  Geeta Chapter 4 says –
“Yasya sarve-samaarambhaaha kaama-sankalpa-varjitaaha.
Jnaanaagni-dagdha-karmaani tam ahuh panditam budhaaha.”

Whose all beginnings are devoid of desire & fanciful imaginations, whose  actions have been burnt by the fire-of-knowledge, Him, the wise call a Sage. 

Ganesha is the remover of all obstacles because having destroyed the ego which is the cause of all obstacles, he helps others also to overcome the ego.  Just like Men of Realization who wake up to the Truth & help others to awaken. 

Story of Vinaayaka’s transformation into Ganesha is our transformation from selfishness to selflessness, from bondage to freedom. As Individuals & as a Nation we need to rise above selfishness & focus on the greater good of all.   Ganesha’s Birth is the birth of Wisdom, Success, Happiness & Peace within us. 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Listen!


  • Till recently, in communication workshops, the emphasis was on how to speak effectively.   Today the emphasis is on how to listen.
  • It is found that over 45% of the work time is spent in listening.  
  • We spend more than 40% of 24 hours, listening.
  • Listening efficiency herein will influence the outcome of the interactions and this efficiency has been found to range between 25 and 50% .
  • Atleast half of all new service ideas and 80% of product innovations, come from listening to the customers.
  • Employers must ‘listen’ to employees.
  • For harmonious relationships too listening is important.  
  • Lack of listening makes the other person feel unimportant.
  • Listening is also an expression of Love. 
  • Listening is not just hearing.  It is to hearing with attention and alertness
  • Lord Ganesha’s 2 big ears symbolise attentive listening
  • Creator gave us two ears and one mouth.  Listen twice and speak half .
  • “May we listen to the auspicious” says Atharva Veda
  • Silence(Mounam) enhances listening.  Quieter the mind, deeper the listening.
  • Vedas are called as Shruti, because for centuries, the Knowledge that was revealed to the Rishis was retained by the disciples in memory through listening.
  • In Vedanta Saar Swami Sadananda says – “Shravanam naama tatparya avadharanam”  Listening is determination of the essence of what is heard.
  • We listen with sympathy when we ‘understand’ others’ sorrows.
  • We listen with empathy when we ‘imagine and experience’ their feelings.
  • Listening is more than through ears.  It is through one’s entire being.
  • Listening is living in attention.
  • We do not listen if we are lost in our own world of personal fancies.
  • We need to stop speaking autobiographically, to listen truly.
  • We need courage to put aside selfishness and listen to others.
  • The scriptures say that “Shravanam Matrena Gnanam Bhavati”  If one ‘listens’ attentively with a prepared mind, Liberation is instant.  One need not even reflect and contemplate.
  • We tend to listen to what we want to listen(Filtered Listening) and not what is being said  (Factual Listening)
  • External Barriers to Listening –
    • Impaired hearing
    • Fatigue
    • Distractions& interruptions from- people, things, environment etc.
  • Internal Barriers to Listening - 
    • Prejudices
    • Self-centeredness
    • Assumptions
    • Attachment to one’s ideas & Views
    • Judging the speaker
    • Social distances
    • Pretending to listen etc.
  • Be aware of the barriers and barricade the same.
  • Listen with an Open Mind, with empathy.  Hold back hasty judgements. Don’t assume. Clarify your understanding
  • Note down all the words that affect you emotionally.  Be alert to know in what sense the speaker is using them.
  • A good listener keeps his eyes on the speaker.
  • Sit quietly and listen to every possible sound around you, within you.  Quieter the mind, deeper is listening.
  • ‘Listen’ to understand, before communicating to be understood. 
  • Every flowers speaks if you have the EYES to listen.  Think!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Why Pooja?





It is definitely possible to connect to the Lord without Pooja. But lets understand what is the significance of a pooja for a vedantic student:

A. Senses are extrovert and fickle. To withdraw the mind from the senses and focus on japa etc is not easy. We need to master the senses for it. Pooja provides an opportunity to engage the senses and also divinise them. We see HIS form, chant HIS name, offer flowers, naivedya to HIM, Listen to HIS glories etc. Walking to the temple, cleaning it, preparing it etc also train the senses and the mind. 

B. most of us complain that our mind wanders in japa or meditation. A person who has done pooja learns concentration, visualisation because one constantly keeps one form in the mind and does the offerings. For children especially its very effective. 

C. Integration also happens because Body, Mind & Intellect(BMI) come together. 

D. Develops a relationship with the Lord and channelise emotions through it. Hanuman looked upon Ram as the Lord. Ramakrishna as a mother. Meera as a beloved. Surdas as a friend. Whats my relationship with HIM i should find out and invoke love. When there is love we want to give. Pooja is giving what HE likes. Hence we say offer bilva, abhisheka, bhasma to shiva. Offer alankaar and lotus to vishnu. Offer kumkum to devi etc. Ofcourse it has symbolism too. 

E. From physical pooja to maanas pooja to japa to meditation. This is the order of progress. Try it and you will see the difference. 

F. Pooja is not a mechanical ritual. Its an expression of love and gratitude. One may say i can do that without pooja also. Fine. But the asana-siddhi, manah-shuddhi, sukhshma-buddhi and antarmukhi drishti that Pooja brings is unique. 

G. Mantras have their own powers and when chanted with meaning it prepares us for contemplation. 

H. To do a Pooja one has to live life in discipline and self-control. One cannot be indulgent and immoral and benefit from Pooja. It applies to all the spiritual practices. But rules for Pooja are simpler than for japa and meditation etc. 


I. Pooja has 16 steps. Each of them invoke a bhaav. Eg. archana reminds me to offer my vasanas, aarti- to surrender totally, pradakshina - to let HIM be the centre of my life and let life revolve around Dharma etc. Will that happen if i just sit in front of the Lord? Mind needs activity and dynamism.




K. Even if i dont know the meaning but if i do the pooja it will make me think- who is the Lord? Why should i worship? How? Etc. That itself is progress. Devotion arises. 

L. Whole day i think about myself. Pooja is a time to ask what does HE like? What can i offer HIM? 

M. I become more open to God's Grace 

N. Sattvik actions help us to earn punya and punya brings satsang in our life. Pooja is one of the most sattvik actions whether done knowingly or unknowingly. 

O. When devotion grows then only one goes beyond steps and becomes spontaneous. Without following the steps of Pooja, how can i be spontaneous? This applies in arts, science, martial arts, sports etc. One follows the rules/technique and then goes beyond into the zone of innovation or spontaneity.  

P. Pooja of a form is only a beginning. Slowly the same bhaav extends to all actions and whole world becomes our altar of worship. 

Its not the Pooja thats the problem actually. Its our lack of faith in the form, in pooja's effectiveness, our incapacity to submit ourselves to discipline and our belief that as an intellectual im not the -'Pooja-type'.

Lets put aside the intellectual skepticism and attempt Pooja to purify the mind. Start small and grow big.

 




Sunday, 6 July 2014

Ancient Story. Modern Learnings







Reflections on the above story:

  •       Inspite of many siddhis(Achievements) the ascetics still kept doing more and more rituals to fill their incompleteness and dissatisfaction .  Can the finite, incomplete worldly achievements remove our sense of incompleteness? No.  Yet we chase them more and more.  How much is enough for me and my family? We should ask this to ourselves.  Knowing this we can balance our external and internal pursuits and also avoid greed.  Incompleteness goes only by being aware of completeness within. In worldly life, action = achievement. In spiritual life, Knowledge = Achievement.  What is the priority we give to the pursuit of Knowledge?  How much time we devote for it? 
  •       Darukaa means a puppet in Sanskrit.  Not knowing that the Lord is the player and we are the puppets, the Rishis thought that their actions give them results.  Just like how many people today believe in ‘logic’ of cause and effect.  They believe in Nature/Science but not in existence of the Lord and that all happens by HIS Will(Inaction / laziness under this pretext is not encouraged).
  •          Ascetics engaged themselves in performance of rituals or sakaama-karma(actions for one’s desire-fulfillment).  Since ancient vedic times,  we have known that Mantra Vidya is sufficient to achieve one’s goals.  Single pointed mind focusing on a goal/desire performing the right actions would get what it wants.  Going a bit deeper, a single-pointed thought sustained without any contradictory thought could also ‘attract’ what we want to ourselves.  That’s the power of Mantra and a singlepointed mind.  Actions may not even be requird.  We thought that ‘The Secret’ was a recent discovery.
  •           Their achievements made them proud and arrogant.  They forgot the Lord.  Awareness of the existence of the Supreme Lord and His Remembrance at all times helps us to invoke devotion and be humble.
  •             True asceticism is not in depriving or torturing oneself by being away from sense pleasures(living in forest).  Its not in performance of rituals, mantras, chanting etc..  These practices do help but the purpose for which it is done is important.  If our actions, self-control, spiritual practices etc. are to reduce our ego, that is true asceticism.  Tapas is not to boost our ego but to burst it. Tap means to burn and also to shine.  One one hand it burns our negatives and ego and on the other helps us to shine as the Self which is our True Nature.
  •       Inspite of living in forests, away from temptations, the ascetics and their wives got carried away by Mohini and the Young mendicant.  What is true Sense-Control?   Senses and desires arising out of perception must be handled with discrimination.  Do I need it?  Is it dharmic to pursue this pleasure? What will I get even if I indulge?  Am I not happy without it?  Am I pursuing it with dharmic means or is there a compromise? Are some of the questions one can ask.
  •      Even when the Lord manifested to give knowledge to the Ascetics, they continued their rituals.  So many opportunities we get for satsang but do we grab them?  Many of us postpone it saying right now actions are important.
  •       Emotional anchoring is extremely important.  Without this, sense-control will not last long.   We try to anchor in people and get attached, angry etc. Devotion to the Lord is the best way of emotional anchoring.   Devotion brings emotional security because the Lord alone accepts us, loves us as we are and loves us unconditionally.  The story shows that absence of Self-Knowledge & Devotion both led the ascetics and their wives astray.
  •       What do we do to invoke Devotion?  How to connect with HIM daily and stay connected through the day?
  •       Ascetics got angry on the Mendicant because their wives were carried away by the Mendicant.  Why did they not trust their wives?  Why did they not try and find out who the mendicant was and what was his purpose before arriving at any conclusion?
  •       They set out to search their wives, but they also got tempted by Mohini.   The same purpose for which they got angry with their wives, they got carried away with.  .  How the mind tricks us!  Psychology says – What we resent or resist or hate, we strengthen that within ourselves.
  •       When temptations arise and we have no self-control, then we lose our discrimination and indulge and even do adharma sometimes.  The ascetics and their wives got tempted by Mohini and the Mendicant.  Their pursuit was wrong as they were married and committed.  Inspite of knowing it, they could not resist.  One may argue that in the story it was the Leela of the Lord. But in our life, we cannot justify lack of sense-control and indiscrimination.
  •       When Mohini disappears, they blame the mendicant and start fighting with him.  Not for a moment they take responsibility for their actions.  Extroverted mind engages in blame-game and becomes a victim of life.  One curses the Lord, fights with HIM and questions His Intelligence through the question- Why Me?  The Lord smiles.
  •       Satsang is achieved through Grace of the Lord.  Daruka-Vana ascetics were not even aware of what they were lacking and kept doing rituals but the Lord knew what they needed and the whole leela was done for that.  HE knows what we need, when, how, where etc.  Let us know that HE has placed us in the right place.  Lets keep doing our duty dedicating it to HIM.
  •       The ascetics forgot the Lord and even fought with him. But the Lord loved them inspite of everything.   No matter what we have done in life, let us know that The Lord loves us.  Drop all the guilt, negative feelings, low self-worth etc. and know that HE loves us and make HIS love our strength.
  • The Lord could have just started giving the discourse on importance of Knowledge but the Rishis would not have been able to understand the limitations of actions and importance of Knowledge if the leela was not performed whereby they saw the limitations of their powers and were humbled.  Just like Arjuna had to go through the despondency and surrender finally for the Lord to give him Knowledge.  
  •       Everyone deserves Self-Knowledge and Devotion. No one is undeserving.
  •      The right time to start seeking Knolwedge and to invoke Devotion is NOW and the right place is wherever we are. Lets start doing it.