Friday, 19 December 2014

Times of distress

St Vincent's Gardens, Albert Park
I am not sure, where the world is heading to. I was deeply troubled by the Hostage incident of Sydney, almost immediately came the news of killing of 144 Children in Pakistan, which was further more shocking. My deep condolences to the families of all the people affected. I was glad to have a chance to visit some of the Gardens and watch the huge beautiful trees, enjoy the quietness of the garden, the birds chirping.I think humanity needs to learn tolerance from trees and humility from grass.  
For my Xmas wish to all: May the gift of love, peace and happiness be yours at Christmas.   

The two gardens I visited are, the St Vincent's gardens, Albert Park and System Gardens, University of Melbourne Campus.
St Vincent's Gardens, Albert Park


St Vincent's Gardens, Albert Park

St Vincent's Gardens, Albert Park

St Vincent's Gardens, Albert Park

System Gardens, University of Melbourne

System Gardens, University of Melbourne

System Gardens, University of Melbourne

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Creating Positive Vibes at Workplace

Melbourne CBD - View from Southbank
How are you today? Good thanks. Are you running late today? Good thanks. Are you listening to me.? Good thanks. I call this faking or formality and have seen this at few work places. Worse than this is that you are walking in a corridor and someone you meet, walking right opposite to you, one of you company worker completely ignores you. It’s as if, you don’t exist at all. I guess lot of things can contribute to this like the Company work culture, work load, peer pressures, personal problems but, what I noticed that matters most is that nature of a person. Yes, it’s our personal choice as how you want to treat others. Of course, there is a saying “Treat others like the way you want to be treated", but for most people seem care less. But, what I have learnt and seen is that small things can make a big impact in people, place and the whole work environment. Small things like smiling at people, greeting them and listening to what they say, how they feel can make enormous impact on people.
One day at my workplace, I got into the lift and before the doors closed and I was about press my level 3 button, I noticed someone rushing. I quickly pressed the Lift - Open doors button and waited for the gentleman to get into the lift. That's all. He was so thankful and said, "Thank you so much, not many would do that. May you win a Million dollar lottery." I smiled and said" Thank you for your wishes. I don’t know about the lottery but, it does make me feel good”. So what was my investment for feeling good? Its 10 seconds of my time. There was a study by some Psychologist who determined that even if one person in your Facebook friends or even a friend of your friends list is unhappy, you are also unconsciously affected.
There is something called as "Emotional contagion".
The phrase "emotional contagion" embodies the idea that humans will synchronize their personal emotions with the emotions expressed by those around them, whether consciously or unconsciously, and thus that an emotion conveyed by one person will become "contagious" to others.
Psychologist Elaine Hatfield theorizes emotional contagion as a two-step process: Step 1: We imitate people; if someone smiles at you, you smile back. Step 2: Changes in mood through faking it. If you smile you feel happy, if you frown you feel bad. Mimicry seems to be one foundation of emotional movement between people. And, there are so many other theories but, the bottom line is that you can make the difference (Only if you decide to do so).



Friday, 5 December 2014

Mind Control - Stop worrying and start living

Me @ Currumbin Wildlife sanctuary Gold coast
I recently saw a video, where the speaker talks about how our mind is always rambling. Psychologists say that the three main functions of the mind is thinking, feeling and wanting. Thus, there is an intimate, dynamic relation between these three, where each is continually influencing the other two. For example, when we don’t want to go to work , the mind will start telling us, how painful and disgusting our job is. Thus we want to avoid going to work but, because we need that money for our living, we are compelled to go to work. Then, we are no longer interested in the work that we do or become grumpy and demotivated. The mind is always worrying about the past incidents and anxious about the future. The first quality of the mind is, it rambles. Day by day, it is becoming increasingly difficult to focus our attention on anything. With the advent of the Television with numerous channels - one would never watch a single program continuously. One watches something for 3 to 4 minutes and then, he wants to know what is coming in the other channel and the other and the other. Similarly the internet and our smart phones. Firstly, mobile phones themselves are such a problem, not giving one any time or privacy to do anything in life. Once, I in the office I was in a toilet and someone received a call when is busy. And, the person actually answered it. You can’t escape it.? Then, even though no one calls you, you have this smart phone with all the social networking apps, facebook, twitter, whatsup etc. You are continuously reading or looking at what others are doing instead of what you should be doing. In fact, you decide what you want to do by looking at what others are doing. Even though you have intelligence, as Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita, your intelligence becomes covered and you are lost in this desiring, hankering, hate,love etc.
Bhagavad-gita As It Is 7.27(By Srila Prabhupad)
iccha-dvesha-samutthena
dvandva-mohena bharata
sarva-bhutani sammoham
sarge yanti parantapa
Translation: O scion of Bharata, O conqueror of the foe, all living entities are born into delusion, bewildered by dualities arisen from desire and hate.
So, they are done a survey all over the world of number of organisations and the survey was about, how much time one spends actually on the work they are supposed to be doing. And, it came out that people spend only, 30 to 40% of the time working on the task they are supposed to be doing. Rest of the time? They are either thing - worrying about the past or anxious about the future. This is a great loss and have serious ramifications and consequences of the productivity of the workforce. What this means is that, what should take one 3 to 4 hrs. Will actually take 9 to 10 hrs. And, people are working overtime, stressed and tired.
Think about this - Ones daily routine is, have breakfast, go to work in a AC car or AC tram, get down at workplace, walk 10 steps and get into a AC office, start your computer, watch news and stuff in internet and attend few meetings, do some work and come back home. And, you are tired.? for doing nothing.? And, then as soon as you come home and open the door, your son comes jumping and shouting. He has been doing that for the whole day and he is not tired. And, he says, Daddy.. Park. And, you say..Ooh.. I am tired., leave me alone I want peace and some rest.
So, what is happening here? Please understand this. You don’t have intelligence to keep your mind focused and enjoying the present moment. It is your inabilities to keep you mind in the present that is giving you all the distress.
As petitioned by Arjuna,"Bhagavad Gita As It Is 6.34,(Translation and Purport by Srila Prabhupad)
cancalam hi manah krsna
pramathi balavad drdham
tasyaham nigraham manye
vayor iva su-duskaram
For the mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Krsna, and to subdue it is, it seems to me, more difficult than controlling the wind." and what was Lord Krishna's reply. ? "The Blessed Lord said: O mighty-armed son of Kunti, it is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by constant practice and by detachment.

Purport: The difficulty of controlling the obstinate mind, as expressed by Arjuna, is accepted by the Personality of Godhead. But at the same time He suggests that by practice and detachment it is possible. What is that practice? In the present age no one can observe strict rules and regulations, such as placing oneself in a sacred place, focusing the mind on the Supersoul, restraining the senses and mind, observing celibacy, remaining alone, etc. By the practice of Krsna consciousness, however, one engages in nine types of devotional service to the Lord. The first and foremost of such devotional engagements is hearing about Krsna. This is a very powerful transcendental method for purging the mind of all misgivings. The more one hears about Krsna, the more one becomes enlightened and detached from everything that draws the mind away from Krsna. By detaching the mind from activities not devoted to the Lord, one can very easily learn vairagya. Vairagya means detachment from matter and engagement of the mind in spirit. Impersonal spiritual detachment is more difficult than attaching the mind to the activities of Krsna. This is practical because by hearing about Krsna one becomes automatically attached to the Supreme Spirit. This attachment is called paresanubhuti, spiritual satisfaction. It is just like the feeling of satisfaction a hungry man has for every morsel of food he eats. Similarly, by discharge of devotional service one feels transcendental satisfaction as the mind becomes detached from material objectives. It is something like curing a disease by expert treatment and appropriate diet. Hearing of the transcendental activities of Lord Krsna is therefore expert treatment for the mad mind, and eating the foodstuff offered to Krsna is the appropriate diet for the suffering patient. This treatment is the process of Krsna consciousness."

Friday, 28 November 2014

About Quadcopters and life

Few days ago, I was walking along the St Kilda beach with my two kids and saw this funky copter. It was pretty cool. Had four wings and is extremely agile and moving quite fast. Of course, my kids are fascinated and we went and had a chat to the gentleman who was manning this little gadget. He was a truly a gentleman and explained me all about this thing called Quad(copter). There are rules and regulations for owning and flying this thing. There are lot of things that you can do with this. He went on explaining. Firstly, it’s not legal to fly this on the beach. It needs to be flown across the water because of obvious reasons like; it might hit someone and hurt them. Then, there is thing about privacy. Because, this can be fitted with a Video camera which can take videos. But, he explained me that unless it is hovering over same place for a minute or two, one cannot actually get clear or detailed view of people, someone sunbathing on the beach. That’s, why, I don’t come here when it is busy - He explained. The Quad's charge allows it to fly for about 20 minutes for a distance of 1 Kilometre, height of about 400 feet (above that is illegal to fly) and he is having a pair of glasses by which he can actually see the Quad. The, if something goes wrong, he loses sight of it, there is a button called Home or return to base and by pressing it, the Quad will come back without any further instructions. It costs about $1200 to get a decent one like this. This is his hobby and he already lost couple of them while flying on the sea.
Interesting - isn't It.? When can I get one? Gopal asked me and told him that he need to be at least 12 yrs to get one like this for him.
A Quadcopter 


A Quadcopter
Shortly afterwards, I reflected on this and thought about this gentleman. How passionate he was talking about his quad, what are things it can you, how he can control it etc. Surely, all of us want to be a creator, maintainer and a Master. In Bhagavad Gita,Chapter 3 Verse 27 there is a nice verse,
At St Kilda Beach
"prakrteh kriyamanani
 gunaih karmani sarvasah
 ahankara-vimudhatma
 kartaham iti manyate
TRANSLATION: The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature."
 So in general people think that they are the doer, doing things by their own will. But, actual fact is everyone is conditioned by the three modes goodness, passion and ignorance and depending on the mode that is prominent and dominant, that will dictate a person to act in such a way. Suppose, in a restaurant the waitress spilled coffee on a customer, depending on the mode people might react differently. Once person might say, that’s fine and goes and cleans his cloths. Other who is passionate might raise his voice and shout on the person who spilled the coffee and one who governed by the mode of ignorance might actually get up and bash the other person. Very good, one may say. I am not doing anything, it’s all the 3 modes of nature goodness, passion and ignorance that are making me do things and God is the one who controls everything so ultimately, it’s his fault. But, here is the caveat – you as a tiny spirit soul has some minute independence can actually desire for something to happen and basically whatever that happens to you is due to your desire and past karma that put you in certain situation.
Yes, we can all create and control something in our life. Just like, if you are walking along Swanston Street in Melbourne, you see a person controlling, juggling few balls by tossing them into air, one, two, three, four and catching and tossing one before the other one comes down. Think of the great God, who created this whole universe where he is actually making huge, gigantic balls of planets, stars floating and moving in their orbits with exact precision.
Brahma Samhita 5.35
eko 'py asau racayitum jagad-aṇḍa-koi
yac-chaktir asti jagad-anda-cayā yad-antah
andāntara-stha-paramānu-cayāntara-stham-
govindam ādi-purusam tam aham bhajāmi

Translation: He is an undifferentiated entity as there is no distinction between potency and the possessor thereof. In His work of creation of millions of worlds, His potency remains inseparable. All the universes exist in Him and He is present in His fullness in every one of the atoms that are scattered throughout the universe, at one and the same time. Such is the primeval Lord whom I adore.
 I think, I will write more about this some other time.. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Helping Your Child to become a better person

This is a superb forward I received. Worth reading every sentence.

Tirukkural written by Tiruvalluvar more than 5000 yrs ago , but not even One Kural of total 1337 have become irrelevant now. It's one of the ancient science on Human behaviour, which has not changed in-spite of environment & technology!  ...



SOME GOLDEN THOUGHTS TO PONDER:-

1. If your child lies to you often, it is because you over-react too harshly to their inappropriate behaviour.
2. If your child is not taught to confide in you about their mistakes, you've lost them.
3. If your child had poor self-esteem, it is because you advice them more than you encourage them.
4. If your child does not stand up for themselves, it is because from a young age you have disciplined them regularly in public.
5. If your child takes things that do not belong to them, it is because when you buy them things, you don't let them chose what they want.
6. If your child is cowardly, it is because you help them too quickly.
7. If your child does not respect other people's feelings, it is because instead of speaking to your child, you order and command them.
8. If your child is too quick to anger, it is because you give too much attention to misbehaviour and you give little attention to good behaviour.
9. If your child is excessively jealous, it is because you only congratulate them when they successfully complete something and not when they improve at something even if they don't successfully complete it.
10. If your child intentionally disturbs you, it is because you are not physically affectionate enough.
11. If your child is openly defied, it is because you openly threaten to do something but don't follow through.
12. If your child is secretive, it is because they don't trust that you won't blow things out of proportion.
13. If your child talks back to you, it is because they watch you do it to others and think its normal behaviour.
14. If your child doesn't listen to you but listens to others, it is because you are too quick to make decisions.
15. If your child rebels it is because they know you care more about what others think than what is right or wrong.
Change starts at home. Try a few if not all and see the see change in the relations.

This also made me to do bit of research on net about this and found this further information.
The Thirukural is one of the most valuable literary works in the Tamil language. It is a masterpiece of Tamil literature and is regarded as containing the purest form of human thoughts. Thirukural is a universal bible composed during the last of three Sangam eras. Thirukural was written by a great Tamil poet, Thiruvalluvar, who is believed to have lived sometime between 500-200 BCE. It is a classic of 1330 couplets, structured in 133 chapters in 3 sections.
Arathupaal, Porutpaal and Kaamathupaal.

Arathupaal – This section teaches aram (right conduct), good ethical behavior with conscience and honor.
Porutpaal – This section teaches porul, the right manner of conducting worldly affairs.
Kaamathupaal – This section teaches inbam (love), ultimate intimacy between men and women.
The first section has 38 chapters, the second has 70 chapters, and the third has 25 chapters. Each chapter consists of 10 kural (couplets) each, making a total of 1330 kural in 133 adhigaarams (chapters). Each kural consists of seven words in two lines – four words in first line and three words in the second line.

The first kural that is written is:
"Just as the alphabet ‘A’ is the beginning of all letters,
 so also, God is the beginning for this universe."


Interesting, Isn't it.? I am trying to get a genuine copy of the whole book or three books, if available.

Friday, 7 November 2014

A day trip to Hare Krishna Valley

Hare Krishna Valley is a beautiful 200 acres ISKCON farm located about 120 kms from Melbourne. Recently, I visited the farm along with my family on a special occasion called Go puja or worshiping the Holy cow. It is considered in Hinduism that a Cow is an embodiment of all goodness, its milk is the most nutritious containing all essential Vitamins, Proteins etc.
The farm itself was well maintained by an enthusiastic team of ISKCON devotees and consists of a main temple, kitchen and dining hall and other 3 cottages which can easily accommodate 15-20 people. The farm is located in Bambra, off Deans Marsh Road which is about 15 Kilometers from   Winchelsea. So, it’s about 65 K from Geelong. 
I shall write more about the farm in my next article but for the time being, I am posting some photos for you to see.

Have a good weekend..
Hare Krishna Valley

Cows @ Hare Krishna Valley

Go Puja @ Hare Krishna Valley


Nature @ Hare Krishna Valley

A small pond @ Hare Krishna Valley


A lake @ Hare Krishna Valley


My Kids - The eldest teaching the young one trampoline jumping

Thursday, 6 November 2014

All because of a single strand of hair ?

The other day, I was having lunch with my colleagues and suddenly one of the lunch box slipped and fell on the carpet. My colleague quickly picked up majority of the food back into the lunch box and rest he cleaned with some tissues. He said, "This food did not actually touch the carpet and I will eat it. Hopefully, I don’t get hair in my food". Immediately my other colleague said, Oh, that's bit hard to imagine and now, I don’t feel like having my lunch".
What makes a strand of hair so unwelcome and loathful that just by thought of it, one is not able to eat his lunch? Is it because that hair is no longer connected to or part of the source from where it came from?  Isn't it, the same hair that our song writers in Hindi Bollywood glorify? The hero sees the heroine getting up from her sleep and sings a song something like, “How beautiful is your hair. Your black hair looks like clouds blocking your beautiful moon like face. And, the same hair the moment it is separated from the person becomes so repulsive. Actually, this hair thing is a big issue and a stigma in the society. We all have seen these incidents of going to a nice restaurant and a hair comes in the food that's served, there is big argument and fight so on.
Got this interesting bit from online encyclopedia about the presence of hair in food:-
There is a heavy stigma attached to the presence of hair in food in most societies. There is a risk that it may induce choking and vomiting, and also that it may be contaminated by toxic substances Views differ as to the level of risk it poses to the inadvertent consumer. In most countries, people working in the food industry are required to cover their hair.When people are served food which contains hair in restaurants or cafes, it is usual for them to complain to the staff. Despite this, it is not a valid ground on which to sue the Restaurant in the United States, but in the United Kingdom it breaks the regulations of the UK Food Safety Act 1990, and people can sue over this.
There are a range of possible reasons for the objection to hair in food, ranging from cultural taboos to the simple fact that it is difficult to digest and unpleasant to eat. It may also be interpreted as a sign of more widespread problems with hygiene. The introduction of complete- capture hairnets is believed to have resulted in a decrease in incidents of contamination of this type.
Sometimes protein from human hair is used as a food ingredient, in bread and other such similar products. Such use of human hair in food is forbidden in Islam. Historically, in Judaism, finding hair in food was a sign of bad luck. 
Well, this incident in turn reminded me of a verse from Srimad BhagavadGita 15.7 , where lord Krishna explains to Arjuna that originally, as spirit souls, we are all part and parcel of him. But, the moment we become separate from God by ignoring him we start suffering.
mamaivamso jiva-loke
jiva-bhutah sanatanah
manah-sasthanindriyani
prakrti-sthani karsati
TRANSLATION
The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.
PURPORT
In this verse the identity of the living being is clearly given. The living entity is the fragmental part and parcel of the Supreme Lord eternally. It is not that he assumes individuality in his conditional life and in his liberated state becomes one with the Supreme Lord. He is eternally fragmented. It is clearly said, sanatanah. According to the Vedic version, the Supreme Lord manifests and expands Himself in innumerable expansions, of which the primary expansions are called visnu-tattva and the secondary expansions are called the living entities. In other words, the visnu-tattva is the personal expansion, and the living entities are separated expansions. By His personal expansion, He is manifested in various forms like Lord Rama, Nrsimhadeva, Visnumurti and all the predominating Deities in the Vaikuntha planets. The separated expansions, the living entities, are eternally servitors. The personal expansions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the individual identities of the Godhead, are always present. Similarly, the separated expansions of living entities have their identities. As fragmental parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord, the living entities have also fragmental qualities, of which independence is one. Every living entity has an individual soul, his personal individuality and a minute form of independence. By misuse of that independence, one becomes a conditioned soul, and by proper use of independence he is always liberated. In either case, he is qualitatively eternal, as the Supreme Lord is. In his liberated state he is freed from this material condition, and he is under the engagement of transcendental service unto the Lord; in his conditional life he is dominated by the material modes of nature, and he forgets the transcendental loving service of the Lord. As a result, he has to struggle very hard to maintain his existence in the material world. The living entities, not only the human beings and the cats and dogs, but even the greater controllers of the material world--Brahma, Lord Siva, and even Visnu--are all parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord. They are all eternal, not temporary manifestations. The word karsati (struggling or grappling hard) is very significant. The conditioned soul is bound up, as though shackled by iron chains. He is bound up by the false ego, and the mind is the chief agent which is driving him in this material existence. When the mind is in the mode of goodness, his activities are
good; when the mind is in the mode of passion, his activities are troublesome; and when the mind is in the mode of ignorance, he travels in the lower species of life. It is clear, however, in this verse, that the conditioned soul is covered by the material body, with the mind and the
Senses, and when he is liberated this material covering perishes, but his spiritual body manifests its individual capacity. The following information is there in the Madhyandinayana-sruti: sa va esa brahma-nistha idam sariram martyam atisrjya brahmabhisampadya brahmana pasyati
brahmana srnoti brahmanaivedam sarvam anubhavati. It is stated here that when a living entity gives up this material embodiment and enters into the spiritual world, he revives his spiritual body, and in his spiritual body he can see the Supreme Personality of Godhead face to face. He can hear and speak to Him face to face, and he can understand the Supreme Personality as He is. In smrti also it is understood that in the spiritual planets everyone lives in bodies featured like the Supreme Personality of Godhead's. As far as bodily construction is concerned, there is no difference between the part and parcel living entities and the expansions of visnu-murti. In other words, at liberation the living entity gets a spiritual body by the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The word mamaivamsah (fragmental parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord) is also very significant. The fragmental portion of the Supreme Lord is not like some material broken part. We have already understood in the Second Chapter that the spirit cannot be cut into pieces. This fragment is not materially conceived. It is not like matter, which can be cut into pieces and joined together again. That conception is not applicable here because the Sanskrit word sanatana (eternal) is used. The fragmental portion is eternal. It is also stated in the beginning of the Second Chapter that (dehino 'smin yatha) in each and every individual body, the fragmental portion of the Supreme Lord is present. That fragmental portion, when liberated from the bodily entanglement, revives its original spiritual body in the spiritual sky in a spiritual planet and enjoys association with the Supreme Lord. It is, however, understood here that the living entity, being the fragmental part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, is qualitatively one, just as the parts and parcels of gold are also gold.

(Translation and Purport by Srila Pranhupad)

Friday, 31 October 2014

Catuh-sloki : The four summary verses of the Bhagavad-Gita

The four verses of Chapter 10.8 to 11, famously called as Catuh-sloki are known as the summary verses of Bhagavad-gita. In this section of Gita, the Lord describes the nature of the pure devotees. He also explains His intimate relationship with them, where He gives them the proper understanding to attain Him. Lord Krishna is the source of everything and cause of all causes. All Vedic literatures like Atharvana Veda, Narayan Upanishad, Mahabharat, Varaha Purana etc confirm this. Those who understand this become His devotees and enjoy fixing their minds and hearts in Him. The Lord gives them the knowledge to come to Him.

Bg 10.8
aham sarvasya prabhavo
mattah sarva pravartate
iti matva bhajante mam
budha bhava-samanvitah
Translation: I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.
Bg 10.9
mac-cittā mad-gata-prānā
bodhayantah parasparam
kathayantaś ca mām nityam
tusyanti ca ramanti ca
Translation: The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me.
Bg 10.10
tesām satata-yuktānām
bhajatām prīti-pūrvakam
dadāmi buddhi-yogam tam
yena mām upayānti te
Translation: To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.
Bg 10.11
tesām evānukampārtham
aham ajñāna-jam tamah
nāśayāmy ātma-bhāva-stho
jñāna-dīpena bhāsvatā
Translation: To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.
(Translation by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupad)

As per Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, All four verses have a general meaning for practicing devotees (sadhakas), as well as an esoteric meaning relative to Krishna's devotees of Vraja and the gopis in particular, as well as those following in their footsteps in advanced stages of practice.  Krishna, proclaims Himself to be the original Supreme Person (svayam bhagavan).  The wise who perfectly know this, engage in loving devotional service to Krishna, and they derive great satisfaction & eternal bliss from conversing about Krishna. And to such persons, Krishna gives full understanding so that they can go to Krishna's abode. Otherwise nobody can understand Krishna by making mental efforts. Understanding inconceivable Krishna is beyond the limit of our limited & imperfect senses.

Thus, from the above four verses, the following can be summarised,
1. That, Lord Sri Krishna is the original source of everything. He personally created all worlds. All persons come from Him. This truth can be understood by hearing the sastra through bona fide authorities which leads one to surrender to Krishna in determination. One who thus, engages all his energy in Krishna Consciousness becomes a truly learned man.
Lord Krishna is the supreme person who existed before creation. Many Acharyas like Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakur to Srila Prabhupada, confirmed this theme as one of the most important teachings of the catuh-sloki. God in His original form is a person, and it is He who exists before creation.
Thus, it is clear that both before and after creation what to speak of during it Krishna is the center of all that exists. He is the real existence upon which all other existences depend.
2. The Lord describes the behavior of pure devotees and the very nature of Bhakti as below,
Krishna's pure devotee's relish discussing the topics of Him amongst   themselves and derive great satisfaction and happiness. They think of Krishna constantly and always engage in glorifying Him. Through these unmotivated and uninterrupted actions, they are blessed with knowledge of God, compliments of Krishna Himself.
The process of hearing and chanting acts for one's devotional life just like the process of watering acts for a seed. Hearing and chanting let the love of God in one's heart sprout and grow until it reaches Lord Krishna's lotus feet in the spiritual world. When this happens, one becomes fully absorbed in the love of God and cannot live even for a moment without being in contact with the supreme lord. As stated by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Sikshastakam – where he says “O Govinda! Feeling your separation, I am considering a moment to be like twelve years or more. Tears are flowing from my eyes like torrents of rain, and I am feeling all vacant in the world in your absence.”
Krishna specially reciprocates with these pure devotees, who are constantly serving and devoted to him by, giving them knowledge and guidance by which they can return to Him and personally dispel any ignorance that may remain in their hearts. There is no possibility of understanding the Supreme Lord by simply by mere mental speculation or any other paths like Karma, Jnana or Astanga Yoga. The only method or qualification to know the Supreme god, the absolute truth is to be engaged in devotional service with love and devotion. By doing this, even if a devotee does not take advantage of Vedic literatures to increase his Jnana or knowledge, a sincere devotee is helped by Krishna himself within his heart. Also, a pure devotee need not worry about the material necessities of life because, the Supreme Lord being pleased with such devotee, removes the darkness from the heart and everything is automatically provided.
Thus the essence of teachings of Bhagavad Gita is conveyed in the Catuh–sloki Verses where, a pure devotee is completely surrendered to the Supreme Lord by engaging himself in pure devotional service consisting of the nice processes like Sravanam, Kirtanam, smaranam, pada sevanam, dasyam, sakyam and atmanivedanam. The supreme lord takes a special interest and out of compassion removes the ignorance from the heart of the devotees through shining lamp of knowledge and takes charge of the life of that devotee. As a result, the devotee becomes completely free from all kinds of anxieties and materialistic endeavours becoming happy and blissful, full of Sat, Cit and Ananda.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Diwali- A festival of Lights

Also called Dipavali - meaning a row of lamps is one of the biggest festivals of India dating back to thousands of years back into history. There are a number of reasons why this festival is celebrated or how it came into being. One story is that, when Lord Rama came back to Ayodhya from his exile in forest and after battle and killing Ravana, the people of Ayodhya were so happy that all of them decorated their houses with rows of lamps.
There is also the pastime of Lord Krishna killing Narakasura or Bhanasura.It is said that Narakasura was not a demon by birth and in fact he was born to Bhumidevi - The goddess of earth. But, because of bad association he developed all these bad qualities like Covetousness, lust etc. and abducted and imprisoned 16000 queens from all over the world. Finally, he had his death in the hands of Lord Krishna (Satyabhama).To commemorate this victory over evil, people of Dwaraka celebrated by lighting lamps in their houses.
It is also said that during this day, Goddesses Lakshmi appeared from the Churning of Ocean for Nectar by Demigods and demons. That’s why people worship Lakshmi during Diwali. It is also said that during this time, the Supreme Lord incarnated as Vamana Dev and approached Bali Maharaj for three steps of land. With one step he covered the earth, second step the whole universe and the third step he put it on the head of Bali because, that was only place that the king could give. Thus, Lord Vamanadev took all the riches of Bali and awarded the heavenly kingdom back to King Indra. Of course, Lord appreciated the surrender of Bali Maharaj and giving up of all his riches to the Lord, because he promised so to the Lord and awarded his a supremely opulent place in lower planetary system known as sutala.
Diwali - Kids and Sparklers


Diwali - Kids and Sparklers
There is a great significance of lighting lamps. Think about this, imagine there is a dark place say inside a mountain cave, where no one entered and there is darkness for thousands of years. And, suppose someone one goes there and lights a lamp. The darkness will not start protesting saying, "Wait Mr Light, I have been living here since thousands of years and you cannot just send me of like that. The darkness will leave immediately, without a single word. Now, how much darkness is dissipated depends on how much light the person made in the dark cave.Similarly, Diwali is a time where we need to fill our heart’s which are like dark caves, with the light of Goodness by inviting the Supreme Lord to enter our hearts and then, the darkness cannot stay.
Let there be peace and prosperity in the world.
Let there be victory for the good over evil.
Let all the people and the living beings of the world are happy.

Wish you all a Happy Diwali - which is not about simply lighting up candles, lamps, fire crackers, sparklers and sweets but, by welcoming Lord Rama and Lord Krishna by imbibing all the good qualities in our heart.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The Month of Damodar (Kartik)

 

 This year, the Kartik Masa or Damodar month had begun from 8th Oct to 7th Nov 2014.Please read the glories of this month and take time to offer lamp to Lord Damodhar who allowed himself to be bound with ropes to his belly by mother Yashoda.It was an interesting pastime that when Mother Yashoda tried to bind Lord Krishna with a rope to a grinding mortar. What made mother Yashoda so angry? Well, it’s due to a small prank of our mischievous little Krishna. Actually, it was not much. He simply, broke few pots of butter that was kept hanging on the rafters in mud pots. He distributed the butter the butter to few of his friends and a couple of monkeys.

 When Mother came back to see 
Krishna, the scene was a complete mess. There is butter and broken pieces of mud pot lying everywhere. This made mother Yashoda not only angry but little bit concerned about the conduct of Krishna. It is OK today because it’s her home, but what if he does this to someone else.? She decided to punish Krishna and took a stick and started following the tracks - the little footprints draped in butter made by Krishna. Finally, when she saw where he is, Krishna saw her and started running away in fear of his mother. Acharyas describe this pastime as amazing, because one who is a Supreme God and who maintains the whole world is afraid of his mother and the stick in her hand. How is this possible? This is a contradiction? Yes, Supreme Lord is full of contradictions. Lord is Achintya - inconceivable. Once, some devotees asked Srila Prabhupad “Prabhupad, Is it possible for Supreme Lord to create a Huge mountain that even he cannot lift it.?" And, Prabhupad answered saying “Yes, everything is possible for God. He can create a huge mountain that he cannot lift and then he lifts it”. The same point is confirmed by Srila Bakthi Vinod Thakur in his Amnaya Sutra book- Sutra 6 "Because he has inconceivable potencies, it is proper that he has these mutually contradictory natures”. The same pastime is sung in Damodarastakam "Upon seeing His mother's whipping stick, He cried and rubbed His eyes again and again with His two lotus hands. His eyes were fearful and His breathing quick, and as Mother Yasoda bound His belly with ropes, He shivered in fright and His pearl necklace shook. To this Supreme Lord, Sri Damodara, I offer my humble obeisances." Seeing his mother becoming tired, Lord Krishna took pity on her and allowed himself to be caught by Mother Yashoda.She threw the stick in her hand and took a rope to tie Krishna to a grinding mortar so that he doesn’t run away and do no more mischief. The rope fell short by two fingers. And, she called the ladies of neighbourhood to bring more rope. Each time, the rope was falling short by two fingers for tying the knot. Finally, seeing that his mother is getting tired, Lord Krishna allowed himself to be bound by the rope and with the love of his mother. Ofcourse, this did not stop our little Krishna from further adventure.He went to the back of the house dragging the stone mortar with him, went between two huge tamala trees and with pull, brought down the huge trees.

Acharyas, explain the significance of two fingers that, one finger denotes the endeavour of the devotee and the other finger denotes the mercy of the lord. Both of these are essential for one's success in devotional life.
The Padma Purana describes the month of Kartik as Krishna’s favourite month. Devotional activities performed during this holy month are rewarded with greater spiritual results than usual so devotees often take vows to increase their spiritual practices or to simplify their material needs for the entire month. It is a way that they can remember Krishna more and increase their service to Him.
Glories of offering a lamp in Kartika:-
In the skanda Purana, Lord Brahma and Sage Narada, converse that "the month of Kartika is very dear to Lord Krsna".
 When one offers a lamp during the month of Kartika, his sins of many thousands and millions of births perish in half an eye blink.
·         Even if there is no mantras, no pious deeds, and no purity, everything becomes perfect when a person offers a lamp during the month of Kartika.
·         A person who during the month of Kartika offers a lamp to Lord Keshava has already performed all yajnas (sacrifice for the pleasure of the Lord) and bathing in al the holy rivers.  


·        
·         The ancestors say "when someone in our family pleases Lord Keshava by offering Him a lamp during the month of Kartika, then by the mercy of the Lord who holds the Sudarshan- Chakra in His hand, we will all attain liberation.
·         To one who either at home or in a temple offers a lamp during the month of Kartika, Lord Vasudeva gives a great result.
·         A person who offer a lamp to Lord Krishna during the month of Damodara (Kartika) becomes very glorious and fortune.
·         No sins exist anywhere in the three worlds that will not be purified by offering a lamp to Lord Keshava during Kartika.
·         A person who offers a lamp to Lord Damodara during Kartika attains the eternal spiritual world where there is no suffering.
All glories to the Lordship Sri Sri Radha Damodarji!

All glories to Karthik Masa!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

What is Gratitude.?

This was the first thought that came to my mind when I read a common email from one of my good friend. He was thanking all the people for the help that was extended to him. It was not a great help at all, just a basic human response to someone in trouble. Part of the email was as below and upon reading it, I almost had tears in my eyes." Many time I am reluctant to take service and unsure of how to repay for all the services that are been rendered to us I am prepared to remain to pay back by serving in some life time instead of going back to God Head." What great thing have we done to receive such words of thankfulness, appreciation, recognition of ones effort, indebtedness. What makes someone so different to others, who simply take others help in the hour of need and simply walk away when their job is done- called as using someone like a doormat.


Well, this is something that each one of us needs to develop and practice and needless to say, Gratitude makes wonders in ones life.


“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie

So, what is gratitude? There would be hundreds of meanings people can come up with. Some of the ones that I can think of after the email from my friend are,
·         Being thankful : Thankful to everything in life, the very fact that you are living, to the Supreme God who gave us this unique thing called Human birth and the life, being thankful for all the things that you have in life - friends, possessions, family, Sun, Moon, Fresh air, Nature so on..
·         Show appreciation and return kindness: Gratitude is not a mere sentiment and a lip service. It is actually, appreciating the work other person did for you, how much small or big and to return the kindness by means of words, actions and feeling to other, to God, to the world.
·         Being Grateful and thankful: which means, I don't deserve this but, because of so and so's kindness, I received this or I have this. Beauty, name, fame, recognition etc.
·         Sense of obligation and indebtedness: A person with gratitude has a sense of obligation. He thinks that because this person had done so much for me, I will do much more. I had to do it because; I am indebted to do so.
In the Vedas, we see prayers of gratitude at numerous places. As soon as one gets up from his bed and before he puts his feet on the Earth - one remembers how wonderful mother earth had been to him, and there is a wonderful prayer glorifying mother earth. Similarly, for Sun, Moon, water, air, sky, Cow, parents there are prayers of Gratitude.

Please, share your thoughts about Gratitude.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Have faith in God's Plan

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 6.Verse 30.
This is one of my favorite verses from Bhagavad Gita and the story below is one that I received from my well wisher. The story is so nice that, I immediately wanted to share it but, some how did not materialise till now. So, in short the moral of the story is that, God has plans and justice for everyone. We just have to have patience.
The story goes like this,
Once there was a sweeper in a well known temple and he was very sincere and devoted. Every time he saw thousands of devotees coming to see the Lord, he thought that the Lord is standing all the time and giving auspicious sight and He must be feeling very tired.
So one day very innocently he asked the Lord whether he can take the place of the Lord for a day so that the Lord can have some relief and rest. The Deity of Temple replied, "I do not mind taking a break. I will transform you like myself, but you must do one thing. You must just stand here like me, smile at everyone and just give benedictions.
Do not interfere with anything and do not say anything. Remember you are the deity and you just have faith that I have a master plan for everything. The sweeper agreed to this. The next day the sweeper took the position of the deity and a rich man came and prayed to the Lord. He offered a nice donation and prayed that his business should be prosperous. While going, the rich man inadvertently left his wallet full of money right there. Now the sweeper in the form of deity could not call him and so he decided to control himself and keep quiet. Just then a poor man came and he put one coin in the donations box and said that it was all he could afford and he prayed to the Lord that he should continue to be engaged in the Lord's service. He also said that his family was in dire need of some basic needs but he left it to the good hands of the Lord to give some solution.
When he opened his eyes, he saw the wallet left by the rich man. The poor man thanked the Lord for His kindness and took the wallet very innocently. The sweeper in the form of the Deity could not say anything and he had to just keep smiling.
 At that point a sailor walked in. He prayed for his safe journey as he was going on a long trip. Just then the rich man came with the police and said that somebody has stolen his wallet and seeing the sailor there, he asked the police to arrest him thinking that he might have taken it.
Now the sweeper in the form of Deity wanted to say that the sailor is not the thief but he could not say so and he became greatly frustrated. The sailor looked at the Lord and asked why he, an innocent person, is being punished. The rich man looked at the Lord and thanked Him for finding the thief. The sweeper in the deity form could no more tolerate and he thought that even if the real Lord had been here, he would have definitely interfered and hence he started speaking and said that the sailor is not the thief but it was the poor man who took away the wallet. The rich man was very thankful as also the sailor.
 In the night, the real Lord came and He asked the sweeper how the day was. The sweeper said, "I thought it would be easy, but now I know that your days are not easy, but I did one good thing." Then he explained the whole episode to the Lord. 
The Lord became very upset on hearing this whereas the sweeper thought the Lord would appreciate him for the good deed done. The Lord asked, "Why did you not just stick to the plan? You had no faith in me. Do you think that I do not understand the hearts of all those who come here? The entire donation which the rich man gave was all stolen money and it is only a fraction of what he really has and he wants me to reciprocate unlimitedly. The single coin offered by the poor man was the last coin he was having and he gave it to me out of faith.
 The sailor might not have done anything wrong, but if the sailor were to go in the ship that night he was about to die because of bad weather and instead if he is arrested he would be in the jail and he would have been saved form a greater calamity.

 The wallet should go to the poor man because he will use it in my service. I was going to reduce the rich man's karma also by doing this and save the sailor also. But you cancelled everything because you thought you know my plan and you made your own plans."