Friday, 23 May 2014

About Knowledge, the real and Most Confidential Knowledge

I came across this wonderful verse from shastras, which explains the greatness  and uniqueness of a Knowledge.
Na chora haaryam, na cha raja haaryam, na bhaatr bhaajyam, na bharakaari
Vyayam krute vardhat evam nityam vidhyadhanam sarvadhana pradhanam

Cannot be snatched away by thief, cannot be snatched away by king, Cannot be divided among brothers, it does not cause a load on your shoulders. If spent daily, it always keeps growing. The wealth of knowledge is the precious of wealth of all.

Naasti vidya samo bandhuhu, naasti vidya samah sahrut
Naasti vidya samam vittam naasti vidya samam sukham

There is no relative equivalent to knowledge, there is no friend equivalent to knowledge. There is no wealth equivalent to knowledge, there is no happiness equivalent to knowledge.

Then, I was further interested to know the what is the dictionary meaning of a Knowledge and the Wiki has this..

Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness or understanding of someone or something, such as facts, information, descriptions, or skills, which is acquired through experience or education by perceiving, discovering, or learning. Knowledge can refer to a theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. It can be implicit (as with practical skill or expertise) or explicit (as with the theoretical understanding of a subject); it can be more or less formal or systematic.[1] In philosophy, the study of knowledge is called epistemology; the philosopher Plato famously defined knowledge as "justified true belief". However, no single definition of knowledge exists, though there are numerous theories to explain it.

Ok. I then turned around to Srimad Bhagavad Gita, to see what Lord Krishna Says about Knowledge..

sri-bhagavan uvaca 
imam vivasvate yogam 
proktavan aham avyayam 
vivasvan manave praha 
manur iksvakave 'bravit

The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Iksvaku. Bhagavad-Gita, chapter 4, verse 2

raja-vidya raja-guhyam pavitram idam uttamam
pratyak savagamam dharmyam susukham kartum avyayam

This knowledge is the king of all wisdom, the king of all that is confidential. It is the purest and the topmost and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization it is the perfection of all religion and everlastingly joyful to perform. Bhagavad-Gita, chapter 9.2.

Finally, found this verse from Chapter 13: Nature, the Enjoyer, and Consciousness (Verses 8-12) with an excellent explanation of the meaning of the verse by Srila Prabhupad. Please, read, enjoy and become knowledgeable. Have a good weekend.


Humility; pridelessness; nonviolence; tolerance; simplicity; approaching a bona fide spiritual master; cleanliness; steadiness; self-control; renunciation of the objects of sense gratification; absence of false ego; the perception of the evil of birth, death, old age and disease; detachment; freedom from entanglement with children, wife, home and the rest; even-mindedness amid pleasant and unpleasant events; constant and unalloyed devotion to Me; aspiring to live in a solitary place; detachment from the general mass of people; accepting the importance of self-realization; and philosophical search for the Absolute Truth — all these I declare to be knowledge, and besides this whatever there may be is ignorance.


This process of knowledge is sometimes misunderstood by less intelligent men as being the interaction of the field of activity. But actually this is the real process of knowledge. If one accepts this process, then the possibility of approaching the Absolute Truth exists. This is not the interaction of the twenty-four elements, as described before. This is actually the means to get out of the entanglement of those elements. The embodied soul is entrapped by the body, which is a casing made of the twenty-four elements, and the process of knowledge as described here is the means to get out of it. Of all the descriptions of the process of knowledge, the most important point is described in the first line of the eleventh verse. Mayi cānanya-yogena bhaktir avyabhicāriṇī: the process of knowledge terminates in unalloyed devotional service to the Lord. So if one does not approach, or is not able to approach, the transcendental service of the Lord, then the other nineteen items are of no particular value. But if one takes to devotional service in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the other nineteen items automatically develop within him. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (5.18.12), yasyāsti bhaktir bhagavaty akiñcanā sarvair guṇais tatra samāsate surāḥ. All the good qualities of knowledge develop in one who has attained the stage of devotional service. The principle of accepting a spiritual master, as mentioned in the eighth verse, is essential. Even for one who takes to devotional service, it is most important. Transcendental life begins when one accepts a bona fide spiritual master. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, clearly states here that this process of knowledge is the actual path. Anything speculated beyond this is nonsense.

As for the knowledge outlined here, the items may be analyzed as follows. Humility means that one should not be anxious to have the satisfaction of being honored by others. The material conception of life makes us very eager to receive honor from others, but from the point of view of a man in perfect knowledge — who knows that he is not this body — anything, honor or dishonor, pertaining to this body is useless. One should not be hankering after this material deception. People are very anxious to be famous for their religion, and consequently sometimes it is found that without understanding the principles of religion one enters into some group which is not actually following religious principles and then wants to advertise himself as a religious mentor. As for actual advancement in spiritual science, one should have a test to see how far he is progressing. He can judge by these items.

Nonviolence is generally taken to mean not killing or destroying the body, but actually nonviolence means not to put others into distress. People in general are trapped by ignorance in the material concept of life, and they perpetually suffer material pains. So unless one elevates people to spiritual knowledge, one is practicing violence. One should try his best to distribute real knowledge to the people, so that they may become enlightened and leave this material entanglement. That is nonviolence.

Tolerance means that one should be practiced to bear insult and dishonor from others. If one is engaged in the advancement of spiritual knowledge, there will be so many insults and much dishonor from others. This is expected because material nature is so constituted. Even a boy like Prahlāda, who, only five years old, was engaged in the cultivation of spiritual knowledge, was endangered when his father became antagonistic to his devotion. The father tried to kill him in so many ways, but Prahlāda tolerated him. So there may be many impediments to making advancement in spiritual knowledge, but we should be tolerant and continue our progress with determination.

Simplicity means that without diplomacy one should be so straightforward that he can disclose the real truth even to an enemy. As for acceptance of the spiritual master, that is essential, because without the instruction of a bona fide spiritual master one cannot progress in the spiritual science. One should approach the spiritual master with all humility and offer him all services so that he will be pleased to bestow his blessings upon the disciple. Because a bona fide spiritual master is a representative of Kṛṣṇa, if he bestows any blessings upon his disciple, that will make the disciple immediately advanced without the disciple's following the regulative principles. Or, the regulative principles will be easier for one who has served the spiritual master without reservation.

Cleanliness is essential for making advancement in spiritual life. There are two kinds of cleanliness: external and internal. External cleanliness means taking a bath, but for internal cleanliness one has to think of Kṛṣṇa always and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. This process cleans the accumulated dust of past karma from the mind.

Steadiness means that one should be very determined to make progress in spiritual life. Without such determination, one cannot make tangible progress. And self-control means that one should not accept anything which is detrimental to the path of spiritual progress. One should become accustomed to this and reject anything which is against the path of spiritual progress. This is real renunciation. The senses are so strong that they are always anxious to have sense gratification. One should not cater to these demands, which are not necessary. The senses should only be gratified to keep the body fit so that one can discharge his duty in advancing in spiritual life. The most important and uncontrollable sense is the tongue. If one can control the tongue, then there is every possibility of controlling the other senses. The function of the tongue is to taste and to vibrate. Therefore, by systematic regulation, the tongue should always be engaged in tasting the remnants of foodstuffs offered to Kṛṣṇa and chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. As far as the eyes are concerned, they should not be allowed to see anything but the beautiful form of Kṛṣṇa. That will control the eyes. Similarly, the ears should be engaged in hearing about Kṛṣṇa and the nose in smelling the flowers offered to Kṛṣṇa. This is the process of devotional service, and it is understood here that Bhagavad-gītā is simply expounding the science of devotional service. Devotional service is the main and sole objective. Unintelligent commentators on the Bhagavad-gītā try to divert the mind of the reader to other subjects, but there is no other subject in Bhagavad-gītā than devotional service.

False ego means accepting this body as oneself. When one understands that he is not his body and is spirit soul, he comes to his real ego. Ego is there. False ego is condemned, but not real ego. In the Vedic literature (Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad 1.4.10) it is said, ahaḿ brahmāsmi: I am Brahman, I am spirit. This "I am," the sense of self, also exists in the liberated stage of self-realization. This sense of "I am" is ego, but when the sense of "I am" is applied to this false body it is false ego. When the sense of self is applied to reality, that is real ego. There are some philosophers who say we should give up our ego, but we cannot give up our ego, because ego means identity. We ought, of course, to give up the false identification with the body.

One should try to understand the distress of accepting birth, death, old age and disease. There are descriptions in various Vedic literatures of birth. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam the world of the unborn, the child's stay in the womb of the mother, its suffering, etc., are all very graphically described. It should be thoroughly understood that birth is distressful. Because we forget how much distress we have suffered within the womb of the mother, we do not make any solution to the repetition of birth and death. Similarly at the time of death there are all kinds of sufferings, and they are also mentioned in the authoritative scriptures. These should be discussed. And as far as disease and old age are concerned, everyone gets practical experience. No one wants to be diseased, and no one wants to become old, but there is no avoiding these. Unless we have a pessimistic view of this material life, considering the distresses of birth, death, old age and disease, there is no impetus for our making advancement in spiritual life.

As for detachment from children, wife and home, it is not meant that one should have no feeling for these. They are natural objects of affection. But when they are not favorable to spiritual progress, then one should not be attached to them. The best process for making the home pleasant is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If one is in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he can make his home very happy, because this process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is very easy. One need only chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, accept the remnants of foodstuffs offered to Kṛṣṇa, have some discussion on books like Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and engage oneself in Deity worship. These four things will make one happy. One should train the members of his family in this way. The family members can sit down morning and evening and chant together Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. If one can mold his family life in this way to develop Kṛṣṇa consciousness, following these four principles, then there is no need to change from family life to renounced life. But if it is not congenial, not favorable for spiritual advancement, then family life should be abandoned. One must sacrifice everything to realize or serve Kṛṣṇa, just as Arjuna did. Arjuna did not want to kill his family members, but when he understood that these family members were impediments to his Kṛṣṇa realization, he accepted the instruction of Kṛṣṇa and fought and killed them. In all cases, one should be detached from the happiness and distress of family life, because in this world one can never be fully happy or fully miserable.

Happiness and distress are concomitant factors of material life. One should learn to tolerate, as advised in Bhagavad-gītā. One can never restrict the coming and going of happiness and distress, so one should be detached from the materialistic way of life and be automatically equipoised in both cases. Generally, when we get something desirable we are very happy, and when we get something undesirable we are distressed. But if we are actually in the spiritual position these things will not agitate us. To reach that stage, we have to practice unbreakable devotional service. Devotional service to Kṛṣṇa without deviation means engaging oneself in the nine processes of devotional service — chanting, hearing, worshiping, offering respect, etc. — as described in the last verse of the Ninth Chapter. That process should be followed.

Naturally, when one is adapted to the spiritual way of life, he will not want to mix with materialistic men. That would go against his grain. One may test himself by seeing how far he is inclined to live in a solitary place, without unwanted association. Naturally a devotee has no taste for unnecessary sporting or cinema-going or enjoying some social function, because he understands that these are simply a waste of time. There are many research scholars and philosophers who study sex life or some other subject, but according to Bhagavad-gītā such research work and philosophical speculation have no value. That is more or less nonsensical. According to Bhagavad-gītā, one should make research, by philosophical discretion, into the nature of the soul. One should make research to understand the self. That is recommended here.

As far as self-realization is concerned, it is clearly stated here that bhakti-yoga is especially practical. As soon as there is a question of devotion, one must consider the relationship between the Supersoul and the individual soul. The individual soul and the Supersoul cannot be one, at least not in the bhakti conception, the devotional conception of life. This service of the individual soul to the Supreme Soul is eternal, nityam, as it is clearly stated. So bhakti, or devotional service, is eternal. One should be established in that philosophical conviction.

In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.11) this is explained. Vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvaḿ yaj jñānam advayam. "Those who are actually knowers of the Absolute Truth know that the Self is realized in three different phases, as Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān." Bhagavān is the last word in the realization of the Absolute Truth; therefore one should reach up to that platform of understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead and thus engage in the devotional service of the Lord. That is the perfection of knowledge.

Beginning from practicing humility up to the point of realization of the Supreme Truth, the Absolute Personality of Godhead, this process is just like a staircase beginning from the ground floor and going up to the top floor. Now on this staircase there are so many people who have reached the first floor, the second or the third floor, etc., but unless one reaches the top floor, which is the understanding of Kṛṣṇa, he is at a lower stage of knowledge. If anyone wants to compete with God and at the same time make advancement in spiritual knowledge, he will be frustrated. It is clearly stated that without humility, understanding is not truly possible. To think oneself God is most puffed up. Although the living entity is always being kicked by the stringent laws of material nature, he still thinks, "I am God" because of ignorance. The beginning of knowledge, therefore, is amānitva, humility. One should be humble and know that he is subordinate to the Supreme Lord. Due to rebellion against the Supreme Lord, one becomes subordinate to material nature. One must know and be convinced of this truth.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Sri Radha Ramanji of Vrindavan

Sri Radha Ramanji
Vrindavan is a town in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is the site of an ancient forest which is the region where, Lord Krishna spent his childhood days.The town is about 10 km away from Mathura, the city of Lord Krishna's birthplace, near the Agra-Delhi highway. The town hosts thousands of temples dedicated to the worship of Radha and Krishna and is considered sacred by a number of religious traditions such as Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Vaishnavism, and Hinduism in general.I went to the place myself, a couple of times and noticed that practically the whole town full of temples.
It is believed that the essence of Vrindavan was lost over time until the 16th century, when it was rediscovered by Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In the year 1515, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited Vrindavana, with purpose of locating the lost holy places associated with Lord Sri Krishna's transcendent pastimes.Lord Chaitanya wandered through the different sacred forests of Vrindavana in a spiritual trance of divine love. It was believed that by His divine spiritual power, He was able locate all the important places of Krishna's pastimes in and around Vrindavana.The Six Gosvamis Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Sanatana Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Sri Jiva Gosvami, and Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvamis, under the direction of Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Sanatana Gosvami, studied various Vedic scriptures and picked up the essence of them, the devotional service of the Lord.Under the orders and blessing of Lord Chaintanya, they established number of temples for Sri Radha Krishna and wrote many scriptures on devotional service with the support of the Vedic literature. 

Few days ago, it was the 472nd anniversary of the appearance day of Sri Radha Ramanji of Vrindavan. One of my good friend and well wisher in Vrindavan sent me these photos that he took on the day.

When grandson of Sri Krsna,Vajranabh, was planning to have the deities of Krsna made, he was consulting with Uttara, mother of Pariksit Maharaj as to how did Krsna look (as she was the eye witness to Krsna’s pastimes). Based on her guidance, Vajranabh made 3 deities – Sri Sri Madanmohanji Sri Sri Govindji, SriSri Gopinathji. Then he asked Mother Uttara to see the deities. When Uttara Mai saw the deities, she said that Madanmohanji feet is just like Krsna’s feet,Govindji’s chest is just like Krsna’s chest and Gopinathji’s face is just like Krsna’s face.
When the deity of Sri Sri Radha Ramanji self- manifested (appeared), all the Goswamis (and devotees) declared that Sri Sri Radha Ramanji has the face of Gopinathji,chest of Govindji and feet of Madanmohanji. Thus Radha Ramanji is exact replica of Sri Krsna.Also, Sri Sri Radha Ramanji even though standing alone is a Yugal Murti(deity of Lord Krishna along with Srimati Radharani). Radharani is constantly residing in the deity of Ramanji (and thus she is represented on the altar in temple by Her Sari and Crown). It is explained that the Radha Raman deity is 5 deities in one – the 3 main deities of Madanmohanji, Govindji, and Gopinathji, He Himself, and Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu or Radharani (Gauranga Mahaprabhu is Sri Sri Radha Krsna combined…as Radha Ramanji is self manifesting from Shaligram Shila which is Gauranga Mahaprabhu Himself coming to Gopal Bhatta Goswami).

Appearance of Lord Sri Radha Ramanji:-

When Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was touring South India, He spent the four months during the rainy season called Caturmasya in Shri Rangam at the house of Venkata Bhatta, the chief priest of the Ranganatha Temple. His son, Shri Gopal Bhatta, was then able to serve the Lord to his heart’s content. Being pleased by his devotion, Shri Caitanya gave him initiation and ordered him to go to Vrindavana after the disappearance of his parents. There he should remain with Rupa and Sanatana doing bhajana and writing books. – At the age of thirty, after the death of his parents, Gopala Bhatta, left for Vrindavana. When Lord Caitanya heard that Gopala Bhatta Goswami had arrived in Vrindavana and had met Shri Rupa and Sanatana Goswami, He was very pleased. At that time Mahaprabhu had already visited Vrindavana. Although Rupa and Sanatana had gone to visit him in Puri, Gopala Bhatta never received any invitation to go. Understanding his disappointment, Shri  Caitanya sent His personal asana and cloth to him through Rupa and Sanatana, which can still be seen on special festivals in Radharamana Temple. – Later when Gopala Bhatta heard of the disappearance of Mahaprabhu, he felt intense separation from the Lord, having associated with him only in his childhood. One night Lord Caitanya appeared in a dream and told him, "If you want my darshana, make a pilgrimage to Nepal." InNepal, Gopala Bhatta visited the river Gandaki. After taking his bath he filled his water pot and was surprised to see that some Shaligram-shilas had entered it.Emptying his pot, he filled it again, only to find the shilas had re-entered his water pot. Again he emptied his pot, and when he filled it for a third time he found that now twelve Shalagrama-shilas were there.

Thinking this must be the mercy of the Lord, he decided to bring those shilas with him to Vrindavana. –One day after returning to Vrindavana, a wealthy devotee approached Gopala Bhatta Goswami with dresses and ornaments for his Deity. Gopala Bhatta told him that as he was only worshiping a shalagrama-shila, it would be better to give to someone else who was worshiping a Deity and could use them. It happened to be Narasimha-caturdashi and thinking deeply on this incident Gopala Bhatta remembered how Lord Narasimha deva had manifested from a stone pillar. He then began to prey to the Lord, "O Lord, you are very merciful and fulfil the desires of your devotees. I wish to serve you in your full form." In ecstasy he read the chapters of Shrimad Bhagvatam about Lord Narasimha deva’s pastimes, and then took rest. In the morning when he awoke, he found that one of the twelve Shalagramas, the Damodara-shila, had manifested as Shri Radharamana. He immediately called Rupa and Sanatana and all the other devotees. They were all astounded by the beauty of Shri Radharamanaji. They remarked that from the feet to the waist He had the form of Sri Madana-Mohanaji, His chest was like that of Shri Gopinathaji and He had the moonlike face of Shri Govindadeva.Then with the blessing of all the Vaishnavas, he began the worship of Shri Radharamanaji which is still being continued today.
I went to this temple and what ever I said about the deity is so true. It is such a beautiful deity and also, the prasadam - Keer(sweet) served there tastes amazing.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Taking care of your real self – The Soul

Please find below a beautiful verse from Bhagavad Gita Chapter2 Verse 20, which talks about qualities of a Soul followed by explanation by Srila Prabhupad. 

na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
nāyam bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyah
ajo nityah śāśvato 'yaḿ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre

Translation: For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.
Purport: Qualitatively, the small atomic fragmental part of the Supreme Spirit is one with the Supreme. He undergoes no changes like the body. Sometimes the soul is called the steady, or kūṭa-stha. The body is subject to six kinds of transformations. It takes its birth from the womb of the mother's body, remains for some time, grows, produces some effects, gradually dwindles, and at last vanishes into oblivion. The soul, however, does not go through such changes. The soul is not born, but, because he takes on a material body, the body takes its birth. The soul does not take birth there, and the soul does not die. Anything which has birth also has death. And because the soul has no birth, he therefore has no past, present or future. He is eternal, ever-existing, and primeval — that is, there is no trace in history of his coming into being. Under the impression of the body, we seek the history of birth, etc., of the soul. The soul does not at any time become old, as the body does. The so-called old man, therefore, feels himself to be in the same spirit as in his childhood or youth. The changes of the body do not affect the soul. The soul does not deteriorate like a tree, nor anything material. The soul has no by-product either. The by-products of the body, namely children, are also different individual souls; and, owing to the body, they appear as children of a particular man. The body develops because of the soul's presence, but the soul has neither offshoots nor change. Therefore, the soul is free from the six changes of the body.

I found this instructive story which makes the about point further clear. 
Story of a merchant and his four wives:-
There was a rich merchant who had 4 wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to delicacies. He took great care of her and gave her nothing but the best.He also loved the 3rd wife very much. He's very proud of her and always wanted to show off her to his friends. However, the merchant is always in great fear that she might run away with some other men.
He too, loved his 2nd wife. She is a very considerate person, always patient and in fact is the merchant's confidante. Whenever the merchant faced some problems, he always turned to his 2nd wife and she would always help him out and tide him through difficult times. Now, the merchant's 1st wife is a very loyal partner and has made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and business as well as taking care of the household. However, the merchant did not love the first wife and although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her.
One day, the merchant fell ill. Before long, he knew that he was going to die soon. He thought of his luxurious life and told himself, "Now I have 4 wives with me. But when I die, I'll be alone. How lonely I'll be!"
Thus, he asked the 4th wife, "I loved you most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?" "No way!" replied the 4th wife and she walked away without another word. The answer cut like a sharp knife right into the merchant's heart.
The sad merchant then asked the 3rd wife, "I have loved you so much for all my life. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?" "No!" replied the 3rd wife. "Life is so good over here! I'm going to remarry when you die!" The merchant's heart sank and turned cold.
He then asked the 2nd wife, "I always turned to you for help and you've always helped me out. Now I need your help again. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?" "I'm sorry, I can't help you out this time!" replied the 2nd wife. "At the very most, I can only send you to your grave." The answer came like a bolt of thunder and the merchant was devastated.
Then a voice called out: "I'll leave with you. I'll follow you no matter where you go." The merchant looked up and there was his first wife. She was so skinny, almost like she suffered from malnutrition. Greatly grieved, the merchant said, "I should have taken much better care of you while I could have!"

Actually, we all have 4 wives in our lives
a. The 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it'll leave us when we die.
b. Our 3rd wife?  Our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, they all go to others.
c. The 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how close they had been there for us when we're alive, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave.
d. The 1st wife is in fact our soul, often neglected in our pursuit of material, wealth and sensual pleasure.

Guess what? It is actually the only thing that follows us wherever we go. Perhaps it's a good idea to cultivate and strengthen it now rather than to wait until we're on our deathbed to lament.

Friday, 9 May 2014

An humbling experience - visit to the beach

Whenever you take notice of something big, huge or powerful, you automatically become humble. Because you are reminded of how insignificant you are. It's not a de-motivating or demeaning feeling of insignificant but, you realize that you the part and parcel of wonderful universe created by the almighty God. And, as a result we become calm, serene with feelings of gratitude to the Supreme Lord who gave us so many wonderful things in life and start appreciating the beauty of life. That’s why, we all need to take time out to escape and explore the nature and beauty of the world. That we feel connected and part of the great cosmos. So, this always happens to be when ever I visit places like a beach, Mountains or forest. I took this photo of my son, able to catch his expression of awe and amazement on seeing the vast stretch of Water at the beach. Have a Good weekend...

"I have always wanted to become a saint. Unfortunately, when I have compared myself with the saints, I have always found that there is the same difference between the saints and me as there is between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and a humble grain of sand trodden underfoot by passers-by." Therese of Lisieux.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Road Trip - Melbourne to Sydney

It was a long trip with massive planning by so many of my friends. There was total of 4 Mini buses - 12 seaters and a car travelling to and back from Sydney. A total of 53 people including children. So much planning and hard work that was needed to be done.

For, starters I have never driven a 12 seater and thinking about driving made me feel nervous. But, what gave me confidence was that one with a full Car licence was permitted to drive it. Which means, it should be manageable? It hardly took me 2 to 3 mins to get used to the Big Vehicle and within 5 minutes, I was cruising on the highway and fully enjoying the drive. Thankfully, the driving was shared by two of my friends. We took turns in driving with a gap of 3 to 4 hrs.

Driving to Sydney, we have decided that Hume Freeway/Hwy is the best and the shortest option. It was a Drive 872 km drive, and took us nearly 12 hrs with number of stops for petrol, recreation, breakfast and lunch breaks. The speed limit  on the freeway is 110 kph; on non freeway sections it is mostly 100 kph except for towns and road works. The road is called the Hume Freeway in Victoria, the Hume Motorway between Prestons and Berrima, New South Wales. It is part of the Auslink National Network and is a vital link for road freight to transport goods to and from the two cities as well as serving Albury-Wodonga and Canberra.
We started about 7:30AM in the morning and by the time we reached our destination, it was 7:45 PM. considering all the breaks we had, it was not bad.

A special caution about Speed Cameras - Especially after You cross the border between Victoria and NSW at the River Murray between Wodonga and Albury, watch out for speed cameras at very regular intervals especially for the first 30 or 40 km.I was also told that there are also time over distance cameras as far as Broadford and on the NSW sections of the Highway, that do not just measure your speed at the cameras but also time your vehicle from camera to camera to determine average speed of the vehicle. Which means, slowing down just near the cameras won't work if you speed too much in between.

On the trip from Melbourne to Sydney there are mostly no towns as the Freeway/ Highway bypasses all of them. There are number of rest stops with toilet facilities and quite a few roadside service centres where food is available.

The road is mostly good and if you have right company of friends,it a pleasure to drive.

We got on to Hume Freeway from Cooper St, Epping and followed Hume Freeway to Lincoln Causeway in Wodonga. Took the exit toward C315/Albury from Hume Freeway.We entered New South Wales by Merging onto Lincoln Causeway.Before you get to Albury, there are service centres with food outlets and a petrol station on both sides of the freeway at Glenrowan.

We took at break by Turning left onto the Hume Highway/A31 ramp to Gundagai and following Hume Hwy to Sheridan St in Gundagai. Took the exit toward Gundagai/Junee from Hume Hwy.

We had our lunch break (lunch break) at Gundagai Anzac Park approximately 2hrs journey from Albury.Gundagai is a beautiful, sleepy little town and on the board at the entrance it was displayed that the population of the place is 3000 people. Gundagai it seems - means the quite one. The park was nice and kids had some fun playing cricket and football.Our next break was at Goulburn approximately 2hrs journey from Gundagai.

After the break we continued towards Goulburn and to Sydney.

From the Hume Highway a number of Wind turbines are visible which are part of the Gunning Wind Farm project. This is a wind farm development in the Cullerin Range, north-east of Gunning, in New South Wales.The wind farm is capable of producing 46.5MW of clean, renewable energy a year. Each of the 1.5MW turbines at the Gunning Wind Farm can provide sufficient renewable energy to power approximately 750 homes and save more than 5,250 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year. The 31 turbines can power 23,250 homes and save more than 162,750 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year.(This is one side of the story) The other side is that it causes too much noise, effects can be felt for residents living away 2Kms etc.

The final sections of the freeway into Sydney consisted of Tollways and miraculously from the Google maps navigation on the Samsung mobile, we got a freeway without tolls to our destination.Maybe, because we did not get into Sydney at all.

We have returned exactly the same way we went except, for lunch break we stopped at Holbrook which is a small town in Southern New South Wales. It is on the Hume Highway, 356 km North-East of Melbourne and 491 km south-west of Sydney between Tarcutta and Albury.The landmark and attraction of the town is the HMAS Otway submarine.The Holbrook council acquired a portion of the hull of HMAS Otway, an Oberon class submarine, after it was decommissioned by the Royal Australian Navy in 1995. The Navy gifted the fin from the submarine to the town.This part of the Otway is now displayed in Germanton Park in the heart of Holbrook.

Finally, it was a enjoyable and amazing road trip.Everything went well and had a positive experience at all the places we stopped and visited. The people were friendly and travelling with family and kids, I felt safe and no concerns. And, as one of my Colleagues at work told me "Once you actually drive from here to Sydney, I am sure that you will appreciate how big Australia is", and that was indeed true.