Thursday, 31 December 2015

The Missing Goat

I got this interesting forward from one of my friends. While the accuracy, place and time of the incident cannot be verified, the story has some interesting points to ponder, think about and valid take home points.
Mr and Mrs Goat with Family

It all started one lazy Sunday afternoon in a small town near Toronto in Canada.  Two school-going friends had a crazy idea.  They rounded up three goats from the neighbourhood and painted the number 1, 2 and 4 on their sides.  That night they let the goats loose inside their school building. The next morning, when the authorities entered the school, they could smell something was wrong.  They soon saw goat droppings on the stairs and near the entrance and realized that some goats had entered the building.  A search was immediately launched and very soon, the three goats were found.  But the authorities were worried, where was goat No. 3?  They spent the rest of the day looking for goat No.3. There was panic and frustration. The school declared a holiday for the students.  The teachers, helpers and the canteen boy were all busy looking for the goat No. 3, which, of course, was never found.   Simply because it did not exist.

We are all like those folks in the school – we may have our own goats, but are obviously looking for the elusive, missing, non-existent goat No.3.  So instead of making the most of what we have and focusing on our strengths, we worry about the missing piece – our shortcomings. Our mind is so programmed to see the things to completion, a continuity and a carry forwardness. If this is denied then the program gets messed up. An absence of something is always larger than presence of something.

Do the best you can with what you have and be grateful for what you get. Success and happiness will come your way. (Depending on your Karma, you get both Happiness and distress over the course of time.)
There is a nice verse from Srimad Bhagavatham,
sukham aindriyakam daityā
deha-yogena dehinām
sarvatra labhyate daivād
yathā dukham ayatnata
Translation: Prahlāda Mahārāja continued: My dear friends born of demoniac families, the happiness perceived with reference to the sense objects by contact with the body can be obtained in any form of life, according to one’s past fruitive activities. Such happiness is automatically obtained without endeavor, just as we obtain distress. (Srimad Bhagavatham Canto 7. Chapter 6.Verse 3)

By the way, Stop worrying about goat No.3.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Parachuting and Types of Learners

Parachuting with a Coach

What is the use of holding leaves when your hands are already burnt. This is an old telugu saying which means, some of the mistakes we commit in life are irrevocable or can’t be turned around and you have to live with them. For example, someone decided to jump off the plane, I mean Parachuting. So it’s a thrill that some people want to experience it. So there are steps and training provided so make sure that the parachute opens in time and one lands safely. Here, one makes a choice to jump and expects all these things to happen as per normal and have exciting time. So one makes a conscious choice to jump, jumps off and follows the steps for safe landing. Very rarely, the parachute doesn’t open and people had injuries, died etc.. very rarely. Anyway, once you jump and you are in the air being pulled by the earth’s gravitational force, you have to do what you need to do.You can’t say that, look all this looks risky, I am not going ahead with this and want to go back to the plane. Sorry, it’s too late. So in life also, we get these things and that’s how we all learn our lessons in different ways.Srila Prabhupad gave this classification of people based on their learning.Got this from Wiki "Despite the perception of danger, fatalities are rare. About 21 skydivers are confirmed killed each year in the US, roughly one death for every 150,000 jumps (about 0.0007%).In the US and in most of the western world skydivers are required to carry two parachutes. The reserve parachute must be periodically inspected and re-packed..."
Reminds me of a joke from a movie I saw long time ago. A comedians car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and that guy asks for a lift.When, the protagonist of the movie stops to give him lift. This guy locks his car, takes the Wires off from the Battery, puts a padlock to the bonnet, goes back again, opens the Bonnet and smashes the engine with a huge stone and then sits in the car.The Hero asks him, what is that you are carrying ? He says, its an umbrella.Then, what about the one in the Bag. He replies it's a raincoat, incase I loose the umbrella.Well, a bit extreme comedy.
It is said that there are four types of people,
1. The First Class one - is the one who hears from others like someone elder to him, from the Saintly persons, Holy scriptures and learns and understands what is right or wrong.
2. Second Class - is the one who doesn't learn by just hearing but, they like to see others and then follow.
3. The third Class one - is someone who doesn't understand by hearing or seeing but, wants to personally experience and then learns his lessons.
4. The Fourth Class - Of Course are the ones who does not learn either by hearing, seeing or even by personal experience.
I know, it hard and not practical to be always the 1st Class but, let's at least try for the 2nd or 3rd class or a mixture of all and hopefully never the 4th Class.
The photo you see is that of one of my good friend who did this parachuting few years ago.I asked him, if he would do it again.He said never because, though it wonderful and adventurous is, there is an element of risk which is not really required. I thought, I agreed with him. In Bhagavatam, it is said that this human form of life, body is very precious and special because, although it is temporary, with this body one can enquire about the Atma Tattva, the nature of Soul, God, Absolute Truth etc. It’s good to have some fun and adventure but, not worth taking unnecessary risks - is what I think also. More ever it is said in Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavatam that our thoughts, desires and actions decides or creates, the body we are going to get in our next life. So if someone is addicted to flying in the air etc. next life they may get the body of a bird. King Bharata was contemplating on his pet deer and he had to take on the body of a deer in his next life.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Lincoln Square Park and Taking Time for Relaxation and Introspection

Lincoln Square Park, Carlton - Melbourne

This is where I go during the lunch break at work. It’s a small area called Lincoln Square Park, situated off Swanston Street in the City of Melbourne between Queensberry and Grattan Streets, Carlton. The location is close to Melbourne's CBD, University of Melbourne and right in front of my work place. I like this place because of the beautiful and majestic trees in the Park. I simply go there to sit down and do my mantra meditation. Sometimes, I simply sit and hear to the birds sounds, see leaves and fruits of the trees. It’s also interesting to see number of people who come here to relax. They normally come here with a take away, have their lunch. What I noticed is that even while having lunch, people are talking on their Mobile. Infect, before they start eating they call someone and finish their lunch while still  conversing. Otherwise, people are busy watching Facebook or WhatsApp. I know a friend who told me that as soon as he goes home, he starts the TV so that he doesn’t feel lonely. While it is good to be social and chatty, what is happening is people are losing their ability to think, plan or introspect. They are afraid to be alone, to be silent and feel uneasy to face the realities of life. To add to this, today's life is so hectic and busy, people rarely get a chance to think deeply about themselves or the world.
Wikipedia says "Introspection is the examination of one's own conscious thoughts and feelings. In psychology the process of introspection relies exclusively on observation of one's mental state, while in a spiritual context it may refer to the examination of one's soul”. So how many people do this.? Very few. And, the result is constant tussle of emotions like, hankering and lamentation, attachment and renunciation, comparing oneself with others,criticize.What I feel is that, it is important for everyone to take time out in silence, close to nature which means even the simple act of sitting under a tree or watching some birds which can be done in anywhere in a city or countryside.
I would like to call Introspection as looking inside. Focusing your attention to your internal world, talking to your mind, finding out what your real intentions are. Is it really needed or required.? How does it matter, what is inside, as long as you are happy, enjoying life, talking to friends ?.

This reminds me a quote "“When you squeeze an orange, you'll always get orange juice to come out. What comes out is what's inside. The same logic applies to you: when someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, or says something unflattering or critical, and out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, tension, depression, or anxiety, that is what's inside. If love and joy are what you want to give and receive, change your life by changing what's inside.” 
                                                                                                                                     ― Wayne W. Dyer."
“Speech is silver, but Silence is Golden proverbial saying, meaning that discretion can be more valuable than the most eloquent words”.
Again in Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10. Verse 38 line 3 -  Lord Krishna Says the following “maunam caivasmi guhyanam - Of secret things I am silence.Srila Prabhupada further says in his Purport to the verse "Among the confidential activities of hearing, thinking and meditating, silence is most important because by silence one can make progress very quickly".

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Giri Goverdhan Puja and a Mountain of Sweets

Worshiping the  Govardhan Mountain is a tradition started by Lord Krishna himself, 5000 years ago. This festival is celebrated to commemorate the lifting of Govardhan Mountain by Krishna. This is an age old tradition followed in Mathura, Vrindavan and all the Krishna temples across the world  by preparing a replica of the Govardhan mountain with sweets. I visited the local ISKCON temple to take part in the celebrations. The atmosphere was electrifying,jubilant,fun and that of a devotional fervour.All the devotees circumambulated the sacred Govardhana Mountain, offered their obeisances to the Giriraj and other deities in the temple.Of Course, after that there was a sumptuous feast with varieties of items and the sweets from the Govardhan Mountain.Everyone was served with  sweets of their choice.

Giri Govardhan @ Iskcon Melbourne

Giri Govardhan @ Iskcon Melbourne

Giri Govardhan @ Iskcon Melbourne
Giri Govardhan @ Iskcon Melbourne

Giri Govardhan @ Iskcon Melbourne
The pastime of baby Krishna lifting the Mountain is quite interesting.The demigod Indra forgets that Lord Krishna is the Supreme God, enacting the pastimes of a cowherd boy in Vrindavan.He thought that, Krishna is an ordinary village boy with some mystical powers.Indra on certain occasion became angry that Lord Krishna persuaded his family and the residents of vrindavan to stop worshiping him and instead worship a Mountain called Govardhan.The whole pastime is beautifully described in Srimad Bhagavatam.Lord Krishna decides to teach Indra a lesson and instigates the festival of Indrostav. Indra king of demigods gets furious and out of pride and false prestige he fails to recognise the Supremacy of Lord Krishna, who  at that time was acting as a 7 year old village boy. He sends all the clouds to inundate the whole of Vrindavan with torrents of rain. Seeing this, Lord Krishna lifts  the mountain of Govardhan like a Mushroom from the ground and keeps it floating on his small finger. All the villagers, the cows,calves including the family of Krishna takes refuge under the mountain for seven days. Krishna assures them of safety and for seven day, all the people remained there without any hunger or thirst.Indra finally, realises his mistake and along with Surabhi the celestial Cow and Airavata, comes to Krishna and begs for forgiveness. He bathes Lord Krishna with the Milk from Surabhi Cow and Airavata – Indra’s elephant carrier, who had the water from holy rivers holding in its trunk.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Some thoughts on Celebrating Diwali

Diwali Lamps
Depavali or Diwali signifies the victory of good over, evil. Our scripture say that, this is the day when Lord Rama with Mother Sita, returned to Ayodhya.
Also, this is the day when Lord Krishna with his wife Satyabhama, killed Narakasura, who was a powerful demon.
It is said that in Satya Yuga - the Age of truth, demons lived in different worlds.
In treta Yuga, they lived in the same world as Human beings but, different kingdoms or countries. Lord Rama and Ravana.
In Dwapara Yuga, they started appearing within the same families. Pandavas and Kauravas.
Lo and behold, In Kali Yuga which is now both demons and demigods (qualities) reside within the same person.
Diwali Fireworks
On this auspicious Diwali day, let us drive out the demons hiding within us, with a lamp of purity and knowledge.
Most people clean their houses and remove the clutter from their homes. Let us remove all the dirtiness like, Hatred, intolerance, injustice from our hearts.
Today Most people pray to Lakshmi for wealth and prosperity. Let us not be like Ravana, who wanted to enjoy Sita separately from Lord Rama.
Let us pray to the Supreme Lord to kill all those demons, Ravana, Narakasura,Banasura (a friend of Narakasura)and many more, seen and unseen hiding in our hearts.
Let us all celebrate a wonderful Diwali by cleaning our hearts to get rid of Lust, Anger, Greed and replace them with qualities like, Happiness, joy and love.

asato ma sadgamaya
tamaso ma jyotirgamaya
mrtyorma amrtam gamaya

Lead me from the asat (unreal) to the sat(real)
Lead me from darkness to light
Lead me from death to immortality
(Brhadaranyaka Upanishad).

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Halloween day - Trick or Treat ?

Halloween Dressup
Halloween, All Hallows' Eve, or All Saints' Eve, is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 of October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. Halloween is celebrated as a day to commemorate the ancestors, Saints and Martyrs.These days, Halloween is becoming popular day of celebration not only among kids but also the adults. So, the day usually the houses are decorated with all scary, ghostly things like, Cobwebs, Skeletons, Pumpkin - Jack o Lantern and anything that displays some touch of spirits. So the Halloween parties of kids consists of celebration by dressing up in ghostly cloths, games, food and plenty of lollies. The adult parties are a mix of scary and stylist historic costumes like Prince,Knights and Princesses or just anything that is different. Whatever it is, it looks like the retailers made a good profit, this year by selling all those masks and Costumes, lollies, electric lamps and Pumpkins. I asked few people but, no one seems to know the origins of wearing the costumes originated from. However, I got the information from net that, Halloween thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. Trying to scare ghosts away by becoming more scarier than them.? Yeah, it looks like we are succeeding in this effort. Well, all for fun and some good time. I came across these photos from my friends Facebook page and she graciously agreed for me to post them on my blog.
Halloween Finger food - Short Bread with Almonds
I had some interesting feedback and comments from friends about this celebration. One of my friend complained that, his son is refusing to come for an evening walk with him because, one of the home's in their street had this really, scary decor of Halloween, a dead body hanging with its throat choked by a rope, in their front veranda, almost on the road. Another colleague told me that, he heard few knocks on the door but, did not open the door because, they are some kids coming to ask for Lollies and treat on the Halloween eve. He explained me the concept of treat or trick which is, when people come asking like that you either trick them by giving them a Gift pack with nothing in it or with a note which says, "You are tricked" and the other option is simply give them a treat, a bag of lollies, chocolates etc. He can’t be bothered to do either and that's why he didn’t open the door.
Halloween jack o lantern
Overall, I see the modern day Halloween as another form of Celebration, having fun, doing something differently, get some happiness and joy in the celebration. It is interesting to note that everyone in this world is seeking Happiness. Not even a crazy person wants misery. In his craziness, he does something crazy that he thinks will make him happy. Even people who go into depression, it’s not that they want to be that way. It is not that they don’t want to be happy. It is just that, they are unable to be happy. The holy scripture called Vedanta Sutra 1.1.12(Vedanta means the pinnacle or end of highest knowledge or Sutra simply means Rules) says, 'Ananda Mayo Bhyasat'- by nature the living entities are pleasure seeking. Furthermore, it is said that because we are spiritual beings nothing material can satisfy us. What this means is that, Objects can satisfy the senses of the body. Various emotional gratifications can satisfy the mind. But the heart is yearning, longing, to love and to be loved. So we are trying to find that experience of pleasure in so many ways in this world but, nothing material can actually satisfy the heart.
Personally, I don’t have anything against Halloween parties or all the fun people are having but, the main point the Vedic scriptures point out is that we are trying to find the pleasure in wrong things and wrong places. And, even if they find some happiness, that is for a short period and fleeting and in fact actually can make people frustrated and angry. The final and true place to repose our love or seek the ultimate pleasure is by connecting with that possessor of that unlimited pleasure, the Supreme God. And once someone experiences that supreme love and pleasure from God, they experience the unlimited bliss and happiness which naturally extends to all the living beings who are part and parcel of the supreme lords creation. This is the love, compassion and happiness experienced by so many saints and devotees of the God that we see in different religions of the world.
I Hope you all had a Good Halloween day celebrations..

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Austerity of Speech and Socrates Test of Three

Austerity means being in a state of self-control or a state of denial.In sanskrit, it can be translated as Tapas or following a steady practice with the aim of spiritual or higher gains.In Chapter 17 of Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna explains various types of austrities that elevate ones consciousness from the material or worldly platform to that of spiritual.The verse 15 below, especially talks about the austerity of speech.
“anudvega-karam vakyam
 satyam priya-hitam ca yat
 svadhyayabhyasanam caiva
 van-mayam tapa ucyate
Translation: Austerity of speech consists in speaking words that are truthful, pleasing, beneficial, and not agitating to others, and also in regularly reciting Vedic literature(Bg 17.15)”.
I think, this is a very important verse that is useful not only for spiritual but also for day to day basis. It is the general tendency of people to gossip about something or someone, either at work place or
meeting up with friends.Gossip - is the root cause of so many misunderstandings,tensions,friction between people and friends. The whole atmosphere and the relationships are spoilt just by this.Ever wonder why people gossip ?. I think one reason is that people who feel low or bad about themselves get a temporary relief by talking bad about others or trying to expose or show something negative in others.And, there are so many other reasons like, people gossip to get some attention, popularity, envy, to make them feel part of a group etc. It is said that if you find a fault in someone, it is because you have that same fault within you – hundreds of times more than what you are trying to show in another person. Of course, this is not same as constructive criticism by some well wishers, parents or seniors. Thus, control of tongue or urge to speak nonsense is the most important aspect of Austerity of speech.
In ancient Greece,Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom. One day the great philosopher came upon an acquaintance who ran up to him excitedly and said, "Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of  your students?"
"Wait a moment," Socrates replied. "Before you tell me I'd like you to pass a little test called, the Test of Three."
"Test of Three?"
"That's right," Socrates continued. "Before you talk to me about my student let's take a moment to test what you're going to say. The first test is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"
No," the man said, "actually I just heard about It."
"All right," said Socrates. "So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second test, the test of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?"
"No, on the contrary..."
"So," Socrates continued, "you want to tell me something bad about him even though you're not certain it's true?"
The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.
Socrates continued. "You may still pass though, because there is a third test - the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?"
"No, not really."
"Well," concluded Socrates, "if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me at all?"

The man was defeated and ashamed. This is the reason Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.So next time, you meet someone and they want to say something to you, You know what to ask?.Is it true, useful and something good ?.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Which Exit to take and Whom to depend on ?.

An Empty Freeway

Long Time ago, when I was still new to Melbourne, I went to Tullamarine Airport to drop my friend.I don't know the route but, he was guiding me and reached Airport without much problem.He gave me ample instructions of going back with details like, which exit to take etc.But, you know when you are new, everything looks same and you get jumbled up with the names of the road.Becuase, I was smart (I thought so), I was not carrying anything like a Navigator or a Melway.And, it was a pre Smartphone era.So before starting from the Airport, I called one of my friend to ask for directions.It was a Saturday morning and he had a big night the day before.So, he picked up the phone and said, OK call me after 5 minutes when you are on the road. So I started off and after five mins, I called him and it went to his voice mail. Frantically, I tried again and again with no luck. Here, I am on the Freeway trying to figure out, which exit to take and avoid the Tollway and don’t know which exit to take. Somehow, I took one of the exits, the Bell street and managed to reach
home safely without paying Toll charges. After couple of hours, I got a call back from my friend and the first thing he asked me was, where are you.Apparently, he got a dream that I was driving on Hume Highway, on way to Sydney and looking for an exit. We both had a good laugh and he is still a good friend.The takeaway from this incident is that, in life you have to be careful about depending on people in making crucial decisions and choices.This is a simple incident but, in life we do come across many situations like this.For example, I know an elderly person, one of my relatives.He is scared of death and never wants to be alone.So, always wants to be
surrounded by some of the family members like his wife, children etc. But, really when the time comes, even though one is surrounded by all the people whom we love, who can save us from the imminent death.? When the time comes,no one can save others.
In Srimad Bhagavatam it is said,
atma-sainyesv asatsv api
tesam pramatto nidhanam
pasyann api na pasyat
Translation: "Persons devoid of atma-tattva do not inquire into the problems of life, being too attached to the fallible soldiers like the body, children and wife, etc. Although sufficiently experienced, still, they do not see their inevitable destruction."
Deha - Body, apatrya - children, Kalatra - wife. Sukadeva Gosvami is telling Pariksit Maharaja that "These things will not give you protection."(Bhagavatam 2.1.4)

Further on, in the next verse he advises,
tasmad bharata sarvatma
bhagavan isvaro harih
srotavyah kirtitavyas ca
smartavyas cecchatabhayam
Translation: O descendant of King Bharata, one who desires to be free from all miseries must hear about, glorify and also remember the Personality of Godhead, who is the Supersoul, the controller and the savior from all miseries.   (Bhagavatam 2.1.5)

Friday, 9 October 2015

The three gates leading to Hell

tri-vidham narakasyedam
dvāram nāśanam ātmanah
kāmah krodhas tathā lobhas
tasmād etat trayam tyajet
There are three gates leading to this hell – lust, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul.(Bhagavad Gita 16.21)
Lust, Anger and greed as explained by Lord Krishna are the three gates that leads one who is affected by these qualities to hell. These qualities should be given up by a man of discrimination because, they cause the degradation of the soul. Generally, the demons are described as having these qualities and a person who becomes prey to these himself  becomes demoniac. And, of all the three a lust is considered as the most deadliest and insatiable and difficult to control. It is said that nothing in the three worlds can ever satisfy a lusty person. Lust is said to be more deadly than a snake poison because, a snake bite can be cured by administering a right antidote but, there is no remedy for lust.
Thus, when one tries to satisfy lust, there are some serious implications. One who is lusty can never be satisfied permanently. And, when one get temporary enjoyment and happiness by the action, they in-turn make him more lusty and more greedy, because he wants that happiness more and more. When someone is unable to satisfy lust, anger develops and greed arises. That is , whatever he is not able to enjoy, even other also should not be able to enjoy.
This is what happened in the case of Ravana, who was so lusty that he was not happy, even after having enjoyed beautiful woman, and having hundreds of wives, the moment he heard about Mother Sita and incited by Shurpanaka, he immediately wanted to enjoy her.Disguised as a saint, he kidnapped her by force. In the process he lost everything, including his brother, his son and all his army of demons. Finally, he lost his life killed by mighty arrows of Lord Rama.The problem of Ravana is that he wanted to enjoy Sita, separately from Lord Rama.
Generally, Lust is used to denote a strong desire for sex, but it can also mean lot of things like being lusty for power. Basically, any strong or dirty desire that is abnormal and cannot be satisfied. The only way to control lust is by purifying ones consciousness by practice of spirituality, by developing right conduct, regulating ones life and habits, developing vairagya or detachment. By experiencing a higher, spiritual taste one gradually able to gives up the lower modes and tastes.
Once a colleague of mine told me that, he was cleaning up his bedroom, ward robe and took out nearly 25 t shirts and shirts. Some of them he wore only once or twice and others he never wore them at all. Then, I asked him why did you buy so many, when you don't or cant wear them?.This is OK, I thought especially when I remembered the wife of former dictator  president and military rules of Philippines,served as a First Lady  she had about a collection of 3000 shoes which were destroyed by termites and floods after lying in storage for 26 years.

Nothing in this world can satisfy a lusty person.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Supreme God - The Perfect Creator

This is a small instructional and Moral story typed verbatim by my son Gopal, from one of his story books.I told him to do so, just to keep him busy and not disturb me from what I was doing.When I saw what he had done, I was quite impressed and decided to post it here.The simple story helps us to illustrate, how Supreme God is the perfect creator of everything, animate and inanimate we see in this world. Right from highly intelligent Human beings, Huge trees, Mountains, Rivers, Stars, planets, the Sun and the Moon. If we carefully observe, we realise that everything is created in a perfect way and nothing came about by chance. There is an intelligent creator, the most perfect and Supreme being who is behind everything including ourselves. That’s why in Srimad Bhagavatham the Supreme God is called the Otam and Protam, like the threads supporting a cloth going horizontal and vertical across the length and breath. He is also mentioned as Aniyor Aniyan and Mahato Mahiyan – the smallest of the small and the largest of the large. In Bhagavad Gita, The Supreme Lord explains the same as below –
“mattah parataram nanyat
 kincid asti dhananjaya
 mayi sarvam idam protam
 sutre mani-gana iva
O conqueror of wealth [Arjuna], there is no Truth superior to Me.Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread (BG Chapter 7 Verse 7)".

Let’s get into the story my son typed from his story book.
It was a hot day. Ramu began the long journey to his uncle's village. On the
way,Ramu saw a huge banyan tree spreading its branches, welcoming him to
rest under it's shade. Ramu lay down on the cool grass,reveling in the shade of
the old banyan. As he rested , he looked up at the branches of the tree. He noticed
the tiny fruit on the huge banyan. He said to himself, "I believe that the great lord
is the most intelligent of all. But why did he create a huge banyan tree with such
small fruits! "He thought about the pumpkin creeper in his backyard.  The creeper
was slender but it's fruit was so big. He thought,"surely the lord has made a big
mistake! The huge tree must have large fruits and the small plants, tiny fruits."
The cool breeze and the soothing shade of the banyan tree slowly lulled Ramu
into a deep slumber, when suddenly... The breeze blew harder. It became stronger
and swifter.  The branches of the banyan began to shake. Some dried leaves and
fruits fell to the ground. One bunch of fruits fell on Ramu's head...
He awoke with a start and shook with fright as he wondered what had hit him. 
He thought "If it has been bigger I would have been badly hurt!". He folded his hands
and thanked the lord, "you are the wisest! You made this great big banyan tree for
weary travelers like me to rest under but made it's fruit tiny so that they will not
get hurt badly. I shall never doubt your creation again. You are the PERFECT
Ramu thus understood that since, lord is perfect everything created by him is

The invocation Mantra from Isopanisad says,
“Om purnam adah purnam idam
 purnat purnam udacyate
 purnasya purnam adaya
 purnam evavasisyate
The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance”.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Stress Management lessons from Bhagavad Gita

Stress - We all knew it, have felt it and seen it in life affecting us or someone around. The most intriguing thing about stress is that while for some people, it shows up their face and behaviour, others manage to hide and cover it.Whatever it is, it will affect both, the ones showing up or suppressing it.In today’s world, people are living lives ridden with Stress due to career, job, relationships, Finance etc.
Few years ago, one of my colleague at work suddenly complained of chest pain, palpitation and an ambulance was called. Within an hour, she was in a hospital ICU getting treated for Heart attack. Everyone, including myself were surprised. How can such a thing happen to her. She was a happy, friendly person, married and the husband works in the same company.?
Stress at Work

Work Overload Stress?
Another time, I went to a Migration agent to invite him for a cultural function. The moment, I saw him, I thought Gee.. He looks stressed out. Initially, he thought I was a marketing person just door knocking. When I told him about the event, he whole mood changed and thanked me for inviting him. I asked him, what he is up to and he told me that he is about to go for MRT – Migration Review Tribunal hearing of one of his client. Way back, I wondered – how people take on the stress and troubles of others because they are getting paid
There was one more colleague of mine, who would come to work with red eyes and looking sleepy. He told me that, he gets woken up by these two birds every morning at 6AM. He was quite angry and wanted to take a gun and shoot them. But, what is the problem ? They are actually doing a service to you by waking up in the morning and you don’t need to setup alarm in the mobile. He told me that, he actually goes to sleep very late 2:00AM by watching late night shows, sports. Why.? Because, he can’t go to sleep early. Why? because he lost all his Super or Retirement Money by investing in wrong shares.
So what to do about stress ? There are numerous things that you hear like, pressing a stress ball, punching pillows, exercise, pets, Music, Meditation,walking,doctors, Psychologists and medicines etc. But, again here there is so many choices to make which, in turn puts people into more stress. Should I go for this doctor or that doctor.? Should I go for Allopathy, Homeopathy or Ayurveda, should I listen to Western music or Eastern Music. While, I think all these have some results, it is actually even better to the cause or root of the problem. In software testing, we have something called Root Cause Analysis which is a method of problem solving used for identifying the root causes of faults or problems. This is where Srimad Bhagavad Gita, a revelation from God, a doctrine of universal truth, said to be the essence of Vedas and Upanishads comes to the rescue in eliminating the Root Cause of Stress.
A number of eminent personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, Aldous Huxley, Henry David Thoreau, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Carl Jung, Bulent Ecevit, Hermann Hesse etc. read, praised, drew inspiration and strength from this holy book. Bhagavad Gita is a holistic scripture, deals with all kinds of problems, anxieties, troubles, stress the human beings had to go through in day to day life. For example, verse below from Bhagavad Gita informs that the most crucial and important reason for stress, one goes through in life is attachment to a particular outcome or result.
“karmany evadhikaras te
 ma phalesu kadacana
 ma karma-phala-hetur bhur
 ma te sango 'stv akarmani (Bhagavad Gita 2.47)
You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty”.
So the universal message given out is that we should carry out our duties and obligations in life towards our parents, society, world with integrity and honesty and not to worry about the results.You have the right to perform your duty but, not the results. Learn to work without attachment and not expecting the returns But, what about the performance and productivity. People think that, if you are not attached to the fruits or outcome, the productivity may go down. But, the opposite is true that, the productivity actually goes up by being detached because, there is less stress.That is why surgeons don't operate on their family members, or the businessman managing his own business is more stressed and the reason, why so many people fail in a driving test.But, as you can see, Karma Yoga or acting dutifully without attachment is an art and science. There are different stages and paths one needs to learn and practice like, Sakama Karma Yoga where one is attached to the fruits of action,Nishkama Karma Yoga where one is selfless and not attached to the results.

As per Bhagavad Gita, A Yogi is not the one who creates things from his hands or stays in the ground with his face buried (as you see in places like Kumbha Mela), but one who can perform his prescribed duty, under most distressing conditions, still remain calm and equipoised. As you can see, all this is from the one verse of Bhagavad Gita. There are numerous Root Causes and solutions explained in the preceding chapters, all the way to the 18th Chapter.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Janmashtami – Appearance day of Lord Sri Krishna

The Janmashtami festival is celebrated on the eighth day (Ashtami) of the Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) of the month of Shravan (August–September) in the Hindu calendar. This weekend is going to be a very busy, exciting and happy time of the year. This is the biggest event of the year organised by ISKCON- Melbourne. Thousands of people visit the temple and there is a continuous prasadam distribution that will be happening all over the weekend. I do little bit of volunteer work at the temple. There will be cultural programs, children activities, dramas and other events. Luckily, this year Janmashtami happens to come on the weekend and the temple authorities decided to conduct the program for two days. Probably, the highlight of the whole program will be the mid night darshan, when a number of devotees fill the temple room and pay their respects to Lord Krishna. The atmosphere will be electrifying, with hundreds of devotees singing the Kirtans glorifying Lord Krishna who made his appearance 5000 years ago in Mathura,India. Just like Sun rises every day and sets in the evening, Lord Krishna makes his appearance and disappearance in one universe and goes on to do the same thing in other universes for the pleasure of his devotees.
A verse from Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4, text 6 the Lord says
ajo 'pi sann avyayatma
bhutanam isvaro 'pi san
prakrtim svam adhisthaya
sambhavamy atma-mayaya
Translation:- Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all sentient beings, I still appear in every millennium in My original transcendental form.

If you are in Melbourne, do visit the temple. It is actually, amazing to see so many people coming from all parts of Melbourne. It’s a time to catch up with lot of old friends and some of them come only once a year, on this day and do as much service as they can. Of course, there are number of service opportunities for someone interested. Overall, I can assure you that it will be a spiritually rewarding experience and the best weekend break you can get. 

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Jhulan Yatra – The Swing Festival

The Jhula or Swing
This is a sweet and wonderful ceremonial festival where the deities of Radha and Krishna are placed on a beautifully decorated swing or Jhula and the pastimes of the divine couple are enacted by swinging and offering prayers to the Lordships. Here are some photos from the ISKCON Temple in Melbourne. This is a festival which reflects the devotion and mood of devotees of Lord Krishna. Everyone gets a chance to push and swing, invoking a loving servitude and happiness. This is observed for five days with the last day of the Jhulan Yatra coming to an end on the Balaram Purnima – the appearance day of Lord Balarama festival. The swing is decorated everyday with different flower garlands, creepers, leaves etc. One day, as I was standing in the long queue, waiting for my turn to push the swing, a Australian standing behind me said this, “ How wonderful and sweet is this festival ? This is the heart of all religions, the unconditional love for the God. But, not many people can see this”. But, you are here and I think, you can see it – I said. And he replied “ Oh Yeah – only a fraction of it. I am lucky and happy to be here today”.  
Jhulan Yatra

Radha Krishna Deities

The Swing ready with Radha Krishna Deities

Friday, 28 August 2015

One day, do we have to sell chocolates ? It’s all about Karma

Selling Chocolates
Seriously, many of you must have done this at least once. Selling Chocolates, on the behalf of your Child to raise donations or funds to your child’s school or some Welfare society ? . So, I walked into the kitchen at my workplace to warm up my lunch and right there on the Microwave, I saw a box of Chocolates (Freddo Frogs) and an interesting message “ One day You’LL have to sell Chocolates for Your Child’s school. Contribute to the sense of social obligation for everyone to purchase NOW, before it is your turn....” This raised some interesting thoughts and doubts in my mind about law of Karma, action, inaction and reaction.
Logically speaking, as per the above statement, we can derive that everyone who has or would have a child, children will have to sell chocolates, because it is normal that almost every kid school goes to a school. And, every school has and will have one of these fund raising activities, passed on to its students which are passed on to their parents. After all, it is for a good cause and kids should learn these things quite young and of course parents are there to support them. Then, secondly it is a social obligation to buy a Chocolate because who knows, one day you will be doing the same thing. And, if you don’t buy one – tomorrow you may have to sell chocolates yourself and then, because of your bad Karma, you won’t be able to sell any chocolates, either eat them yourself or donate them to your friends for free and pay from your pocket. What if you don’t eat chocolates at all and you won’t buy or sell any chocolates ?. Shut up you silly mind, I said to my mind. It is really getting complicated. Of course, the seller (one of my colleague, did not use the word Karma but, that is what it implicitly means.) These days, everyone knows about Karma and that’s how all the roadside beggars, Chuggers gets all the money. Really, the intricacies of Karma – the law of action and reaction are very hard to understand. If this can get so complicated for a simple thing like this one, what about our daily dealings ?
There is an interesting verse from Chapter 4, Text 17 of Srimad Bhagavad Gita,
karmano hy api boddhavyam
boddhavyam ca vikarmanah
akarmanas ca boddhavyam
gahana karmano gatih
Translation: The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is, and what inaction is.
     So there is Karma – an action or deed performed which produces resultant good or bad reactions, Vikarma – actions that are performed through the misuse of one's freedom and for which one suffers in the present life or by going down to take birth in the lower life forms  and Akarma - Actions that free one from the cycle of birth and death. There is also something else called Ugrakarma – actions that are really harmful to a person doing them and also to the whole society and environment.
So Bhagavad Gita advises us that if one is serious about spiritual life and desirous of getting free from this material body, do something good for ourselves and for the whole society, one needs to be careful about the actions one is performing. Because, Karma (Vikarma, Akarma, Ugrakarma) is like a fire, whether you know it or not, it will still burn – if not handled properly.

Karma Cafe
Now sometimes people might get so much bogged down by thinking all these things and they decide to stop doing any work or activity. Infect, this is what Arjun wanted to do. He wanted to renounce work because work means actions and reaction. But Lord Krishna explained him that the very nature of a soul is to be active and conscious. No one can service in this world by inactivity, even if one is inactive, his mind is always actively thinking. Thus one who physically restrains his senses but, mentally thinking about the sense objects is called a pretender and he cannot achieve any good. Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita explains, how one should perform his duty without expecting any results, always thinking of him, offering the results to him called Karma Yoga. There is also Jnana Yoga, path of Knowledge and Bhakti Yoga – path of devotional service explained in Bhagavad Gita. Knowing all these will make one not hate Karma but, appreciate it.I recently read a facebook status message which read " Love the Karma ; The guy who to told me off in the parking lot, came for the job interview".

Friday, 21 August 2015

How Can You Learn About God?

Sunrise - A Chalk Pastels Painting by my Son Gopal

“Wow, it a beautiful painting of a Sun setting” –I said, looking at this painting of my 8 year old son. “No Daddy, it is a sunrise” my son replied. “Oh, sorry it looked like the birds are coming back home” I replied. “No, they are actually flying away for food” my son said.Ok, whatever it is, it’s a nice painting - I quickly corrected myself. So, this is what it is. Every one of us has their own perception of reality, what they see, how they see and how they perceive things. Depending on one’s mood, perceptions and Psyche one interprets things in a different way. I am sure, someone else looking at this might wonder, where is the sun ?
One of the question or thought that I always get and many philosophers wondered is that, does two people share same reality. Do they see or the same object or hear the same sound at the same time. How do we know ? We simply assume that because, this is so and so, I can hear, feel, touch it, the other person also should be perceiving it in the same way. But, it is a well-documented, researched  and noticed fact that our perceptions are greatly influenced by the amount of attentions that we pay to a particular thing, by past experiences, motivations, context, faith and so many other factors. In other words, our reality is built by ourselves or the experience of reality is psychologically constructed.
An interesting verse from Srimad Bhagavatham explains that “Atmavan Manyatae Jagat” - everyone looks at the world from their eyes, thinks of others from their position. For example, when a person is hard of hearing, he thinks others can’t hear. A man thinks others like himself. I have recently experienced this thing.Something happened to my right ear and for about, two days I could not hear anything. But, when I speak, my voice would amplify and I would hear it myself and too loud. So, what I used do was, to speak too soft or low to others and my friends would not understand what I am saying and they were saying, what.? Thank God, it’s all over and I am back to normal.
There is a nice story of Frog who used to live in a small well. One day, another Frog which visited a Ocean came to see him and was trying to explain him how vast is the ocean. But, this frog which is accustomed to living in a small three feet water and had no experience of  seeing an ocean  is trying to figure out how big is the ocean compared to his well. He said, is it bigger by 10, 20, 100, 1000 times.? How can there be any water reserve that’s bigger than that.? An Ocean is beyond the limits and comprehension of that Frog in the well.
Similarly, people try to apply their logic and reasoning to know, find out God. They try to define God by logic, reasoning, by experiments. But, the Supreme God is beyond our material sense perception and material knowledge. For example, think of  Something like – God Paradox or Omnipotence Paradox, which try to define God and his powers through logic and reasoning. Man can go on arguing for centuries and millenniums but, cannot come to a conclusion.  
The omnipotence paradox is a family of semantic paradoxes that address two general issues and three specific issues:
Is an omnipotent entity logically possible?
What do we mean by "omnipotence"?
What do we mean by "power"?
What do we mean by "logic"?
What is the relation between power and logic?
The omnipotence paradox states that: If a being can perform any action, then it should be able to create a task that it is unable to perform. Hence, this being cannot perform all actions. On the other hand, if this being cannot create a task that it is unable to perform, then there is something it cannot do.
In the Mahabharata it is mentioned that the Supreme God cannot be perceived by logic and reasoning but, he is actually residing in the hearts of the great Paramahamsa devotees and through their mercy one can learn about the God.

Here is a nice excerpt from one of Srila Prabhupad’s lecture -

Lecture on SB 7.9.8 -- Hawaii, March 21, 1969: So our folly is that we are trying to study Krsna, or God, by our own standard, frog standard. We do not know how great Krsna is, how His potency is great, how He is manufacturing, how He is... Because we think, "If we have to manufacture something, I require some tools, I require some energy, I require some ingredients. I have to collect it. Then I can make." Therefore we are surprised, "How Krsna can make, or how  God can create, this universe? Where is that instrument? Where is that ingredient?" They cannot. They are thinking in that way, that "I require instrument. Krsna requires the hammer and the saw to manufacture this comic manifestation." I am thinking in that way. Therefore I cannot believe it, how the cause of this cosmic manifestation can be a person. They are thinking impersonal. Impersonal bigness, they think it is very important. Actually, it has no value. Background is person. Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita that “brahmano hi pratisthaham” I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman. That is the mistake of civilization. We think everything in our own standard.