Happy Makara Sankranti

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Today is Makara Sankranti. We do have set rituals that accompany these festivals. Do we understand the essence of these festivals or is it too mechanical in nature? Do we have an answer for our kids who would like to know its significance?

 We celebrated Bhogi yesterday at our apartment having a bonfire. Kids just loved it. These festivals indeed bring us all together as a family to mark its importance but the essence of it is lost somewhere. What will our future generations carry forward when the soul of the festival is forgotten? When the spirit is lost, importance also faints. Maybe that is why kids like to be confined in the four walls and play video games than to be on the roof flying kites.

My grandmother once said while you burn old things on bhogi. Do remember to also discard your vices along with the things in the fire. She said this does not only mark a new season but also a new beginning to inculcating good thoughts. It stayed with me. Every time I celebrate it, it reminds me to start afresh at all levels.

Sankranti is the movement of the Sun from Dhanu Rashi into Makara. It sets the completion of harvesting days and calls for an elaborate 4 day celebration. One of the days is marked to recall the role played by the animals in harvesting and in our lives. Forget about paying respects, we indulge in betting on cock fights, bull fights, elephant mela etc etc. We torture them more than respecting them.

 Sankranti in Sanskrit is derived from the word Sankramana meaning commencement of movement. Now “Movement”, that’s an interesting word. Isn’t it? Anything that has life has a beginning and an end. Gita says Jatasya hi Dhruvo Mrutyh,Druvam Janma Mrutyascha. Movement takes place in Space. Now Space is still. So, we can say movement is supported by stillness.

Numerous Planets are hung in that space revolving around that one Sun which makes life possible. Gita says like the Sun that illumines the whole universe, there is only one Atman that illumines the entire field of physical activity (ref:Chapter 13, shlok 33). Movement, however it be, can only be enjoyed by the One who has experienced the stillness of his being. Would you want to disagree on this? If the movements in our lives are unfavourable, we experience lopsidedness. Latest study shows one in every 10 Indians are depressed (ref: article,Times of India dtd 29th March 2015 read”One in 10 Indians depressed and do not ignore the subtle symptoms”). Depression,stress and anxiety are no longer foreign to us. Trying to calm our mind and disciplining it for an hour or so each day will help us to create a balance. Else, we might be forced to get introduced to stillness as we grow old. We should befriend the stillness when we have control on the movement.

We are taught to pay respect to the Sun who contributed to our existence on this planet on Sankranti. Is it not necessary to pay attention to the SELF which is the source of our existence?  Ponder on it.

His Symbols and Our Interpretations

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The world is full of symbols. However you decode them so is your life. Spirituality is not free of concepts. Now is there a right way of decoding it. Have we ever questioned this to ourselves? What we do in the name of religion is it the right way to reach the Ultimate reality “The God”? Or are we doing it according to our beliefs and convenience?

Are we the one to show the light to the One who lightens our whole World inside out?

Are we the one to feed the One who feeds the whole World?

Are we the one to quench the thirst of the One who fills the rivers and water bodies?

Are these not symbols to understand the sookshmaarth. Are we not literally translating and thereby failing to understand the deep meaning of the symbols. Bhagavet Gita shlok 26 in Chapter 9 says

Patram Pushpam Palam Toyam

Yo Me Bhaktya Prayacchati

Tad Aham Bhaktyupahrtam

Ashnami Prayatatmanah

Literal Translation is: He who offers me a leaf, flower, fruit or water with love/devotion. I accept that offering of such pure hearted souls.

We call God the ultimate truth for a reason. He is not like us entangled in the gunas .He is beyond it and equating him to the beings obsessed over the sensory objects is CRIMINAL.

Gita says Ishwara sarva bhutanam Hrd-dese rjuna Tisthatithe If God is in everything then why would he ask for anything from here. There is nothing that is not him in this universe. Then what is he intending to communicate by this verse. That is where Tatva Jnanis like Shankaracharya, to name one has defined this beautifully.

Patram—the Leaf, our wavering MIND

Pushpam—-the flower, our blossomed Intellect

Phalam—-the fruit, our fruits of actions (both levels: physical and mental)

Thoyam—the water, our Chittam

He is asking us to surrender that wavering mind, intellect, karma phalam and chittam to him. Since you are a part of the supreme Reality, he is asking us to connect to him. Now that makes sense, if you do not get the leaf, fruits or water it is okay. But you are in control of your subtle body and that is what you can offer to him.

So, the symbol or concepts that were brought to existence is to remind us of our Real Identity. When we light the lamp, it is to remind us to shun that ignorance and to bring knowledge or light to be one with the Truth. When we offer water, it is to remind us that as water takes the form of the vessel it is in. So can your chittam take the form of GOD(devoid of thoughts..Silence is his language). Offering flowers symbolises the Buddhi devoid of Aham Aakaram.

If we revisit our practices to understanding God, we might end up understanding Us. The only reason we all look up to “he” is to attain peace and to silence that blabbering head. We can do that and that is what Vyasa Maharishi is trying to teach us in this Divine conversation between Krishna (Consciousness) and Arjuna (Mind).

Mind Travel From The Martians To The Real ME

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I stumbled upon an old article in DC about Indians travelling to Mars. Was swirled while reading this article which had few of the Indian Martians photographed. It talked about those Indians who might be the first to step up on Mars. Their beliefs, fears, love for adventure, enthusiasm being the first bunch to the planet.

Few questions rose in my mind after reading the article.

  1. Are we aimlessly walking?
  2. What is the goal that we are trying to achieve? Is it to do good for: the society, our family, our human race, our self?
  3. While humans reinvent new goals upon reaching old ones. Where are we going to stop?
  4. Do we really know what we want?
  5. Can we take the ‘want’ that we achieve here with us while we leave this world?
  6. Can going to Mars solve our problems: Our Earth, the scanty resources, the human race?
  7. Why haven’t we understood and not found an answer to appease our minds about worry?
  8. Why are we happy about being a pendulum, rocking from happiness to sadness?
  9. Are we even exploring in the right direction?
  10. Is development limited to materialistic or to be extended to mentalistic levels?
  11. Do we not notice our minds contradicting its statements all the time? They call it a one side journey. Will they regret taking this decision to Mars?
  12. Are we not reinventing ourselves every day?
  13. Is that reinventing happening out of introspection?
  14. Do they still not carry the same minds to Mars? Does that mean destruction for Mars too?
  15. Is abandoning and adapting the only meaning of life? Are we not abandoning our planet which has served us all through?
  16. What might have been running in the head of a project manager with a year old baby deciding to take on to a journey and never to be back?

My questions are not to put down those brave Martians but to question the capacity of our minds to take such a decision. The Mind which perceives the world on the basis of beliefs and experiences and eaches reflection of the Truth is different from another.

If we have a clear mind, maybe we would not repeat the same mistakes that we did to this planet in the name of development.

Have you heard of any prisoners who want to go back to jail after their release. They will be on the search to commit another crime. We just don’t understand such folk’s, right. How are we different?  We also go from one body to another with no learning…one prison to another isn’t it? Never willing to liberate our ‘SELF’.

Two-Faced Life: Enquiry Into The Unspoken Dark Face

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Are we afraid of being called a Pessimist if we dare to look at the other face of life? The face which we avoid thinking. A face of distress, fear, loneliness, old age, ill health and death. Is there anybody who is left untouched by this face? If the answer is, No. Read further..

As we grow and move among different relations that had found its place with time, fiercely trying to hold on to a few and at the same time repelling against another set. Do we realize how foolish this exercise is?

Neither the ones we are struggling to keep stays with us forever nor can we steer clear of the ones we want to avoid. We are so mechanically doing this regimen of likes and dislikes that we forget what this oscillation does to our physiological and psychological health.

We go by the Socioeconomics, theory of Social exchange so blindly that we repeatedly commit the same mistakes each time in creating the same problem. Where is the learning? And for God’s sake when did our likes and dislikes remain the same ever? We know very well, what we dislike today maybe our liking tomorrow. So the object of like or dislike has no effect on us but how we perceive it, makes the difference. If we need a cure, we should not be looking at the surface but to dive in to heal the source.

If you notice, pair of opposites co-exists in any situation/thing. Advaita proclaims there is unity in their duality and we need to balance these opposing forces.

In Srimad Bhagavad-Gita, the Great Guru Krishna says “sukha dukhe same kritva, labha labhau, jaya ajayau, tato yudhaya yudhasva, naivam papam avapsyasi: if you are able to maintain that sameness, meaning not influenced by these pair of opposites(here are happiness-sorrow; gain-loss; victory-defeat)and engage in battle and thereby you will not incur sin. To do this, we need a balanced mind. To make that happen, we need to change the way we think.

Life is all about change.The changing nature of everything external to us is to appreciate this moment-NOW and to change our minds schema to widen its view. Without this, there can be no progress.

We first have to acknowledge the fact that we can’t change people around us completely. But, we are in a position to change ourselves. And immediately series of questions pop up:why do we want to do that? Is it not difficult to move away from our status quo especially when situations or people around aren’t helping? This is the argument that we have to win in order for our mind to acknowledge the need for change.

Everything around is so hollow if we dispassionately carry out a thoughtful investigation. Our mind is never content with what it gets yet seeks another milestone. When we reach there it becomes obsolete. And upon analysis, we understand everything comes with a price. Whatever Life gives us comes with an expiration date.

We don’t have to struggle much to apprehend the transitory nature of Life. It stays a true teacher.

Are we not fighting a losing game when we bet our life to only what we see external? Why don’t we retreat to harmony soldering with peace? Lost somewhere and lost to a world of nothing, living a slave to the sensory stimuli. We have lost our way. Does this mean life is not worth living? No. It is not worth living in agony. It is to live fully.

Even the Holy Books addresses our intellect to awaken from the slumber and raise to unite with the Ultimate Consciousness. They urge us to uplift ‘The Self’ from its conditioned state and to face life with faith.

Let’s embrace life and make it a remorseless journey with hearts filled with joy. As the adage goes “Sometimes, the journey is more important than the destination”.

 

Desires makes Man Mystique and drives him to Mysticism

What is Man? Is he not a bundle of Desires.

If DESIRE maketh the man. Then, what is this desire?

If we look into Upanishads they say desire springs from our vasanas, our deep-seated mental impressions that are carried forward with rebirths.Psychoanalysis says with drive born of desire gives birth to arousal and actions.

Have you ever wondered why does this make the most evolved species on this planet mystique? It is because our desires, thought or actions are different, considering we being equipped with the same mental faculties.

We as humans are constantly learning from our surroundings, experiences and society. These propel our desires too other than our inbuilt mental impressions. They sometimes can end up riveting in diametrically opposite desires (coming in conflict with each other) which creates conflict. Not many understand their mental faculties which lead them into physiological and psychological problems

Can we fulfil all our desires? Not all desires are fulfilled for reasons like they being innate depravity of our nature or against societal norms. Such are either sublimated or repressed which can lead to tension, anxiety and even depression.

Though born of the same blood, each perceives a situation/thing in more than one way (in his or her own way). Not even identical twins think alike. As we perceive the world so we act which makes us different from other species. Perhaps the development of the Prefrontal Cortex explains this. Also, this makes the concept of right and wrong foreign.

Now old scriptures do have an answer to this mystery and science second the same. They ask us to be detached from our thoughts and that help us make an unbiased decision.

Now the word detachment frightens us and many have interpreted this word in zillion ways, making it a Yogins right. Battling the internal and external conflicts few decide not live a compromised life and continue on their journey to self-knowledge, choosing Mysticism.

I marvel at such strong desire to go beyond the intellect to understand the meaning of life. It might sound to many like a wild goose chase but simple small steps can take us to the less travelled side of life. It shall equip us with the strength to lead a more positive life.