Friday, 27 March 2015

Cricket - India loses in Semi Finals match against Australia

Cricket - India loses in Semi Finals match against Australia. To the dismay of so many cricket fans, Cricket lovers, while the people who support Indian team are lamenting, the ones who support Australia are jubilant and happy. That’s why, this world is called a world of duality, and also it’s interesting and irony to note that what happiness is for someone may be a distress for others. For example, a smoker might be enjoying his smoke and the Cigarette but, the non-smoker is irritated and furious. While someone listening to that blasting music through his headphones is enjoying the music, the person sitting beside him is disturbed and so on.

My opinion is that, no win is permanent and whoever wins the Cup this time, there is no guarantee that it will be theirs for ever. So, enjoy the game but, don’t lose your mind and heart on it. Take it easy and be happy.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Love the Trees, Save the Trees

Here is a true tree lover. Did not want to cut down the tree for his wall and he just let it grow and built a fence around it.
As a child, I had great liking for trees. I loved to climb trees, spend time on trees eating fruits. In our family home, there used to be Guava tree and as a child I used to always climb the tree and eat Guava fruits. A whole range of things used to happen on the tree. Few of my friends used to come to my house to play and we would share the branches of the tree and divide amongst ourselves. So, the group members need to take the permission of the branch owner, before going to that branch and eat any of the fruits from that branch. Sometimes a bunch of Monkeys would come and that is the time, when everyone has to jump from the branches and run for their life. Neem tree used to be my other favourite tree, where I would spend lot of time eating ripe neem fruits. Neem tree wood is very strong and gives nice shade. Of course, there are so many other medicinal properties to the tree twigs, leaves and fruits etc. The next one was a Banyan tree, which was huge and hard to climb. But, it was worth the effort because it’s a nice place for watching birds and squirrels.

Talking about trees, there is a famous movement in India called, Chipko (To Hug) through the act of hugging trees to protect them from being felled. In legend, this practice began with Amrita Devi while protesting against a King's man who wanted to cut a tree. In khejarli village 363 Bishnois sacrificed their lives in 1730 AD while protecting green Khejri that are considered sacred by the community. The modern Chipko movement started in the early 1970s in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand, then in Uttar Pradesh with growing awareness of rapid deforestation. The landmark event in this struggle took place on March 26, 1974, when a group of peasant women in Reni village, Hemwalghati, in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, India, acted to prevent the cutting of trees and reclaim their traditional forest rights, which were threatened by the contractors assigned by the state Forest Department. Their actions inspired hundreds of such actions at the grassroots level throughout the region. By the 1980s the movement had spread throughout India and led to the formulation of people-sensitive forest policies, which put a stop to the open felling of trees in regions as far as the Vindhyas and the Western Ghats.Today, it is seen as an inspiration and a precursor for Chipko movement of Garhwali’s leader is Sunderlal Bahuguna.Bahuguna was evacuated from Old Tehri to his new home on July 31 along with his wife to a two-storeyed house at Koti, a little hillock overlooking the Bhagirathi river. I was a little bit saddened to learn this news (which is a few years old) because, I actually visited his house in a village in Uttarkashi and stayed there for a week.Met him and his wife, who are so simple and plain hearted. I will write more about it, next time when time comes.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Video Game Addiction - Building and protecting Castles

We all remember when we as a child, used to build castles in the sand, along the beach or with mud, stones and bricks. Then, we stay around it as long as we can, play being the King, protector and maintainer of that Castle. When, its time to go, we leave and go away. Next day you comeback and everything is gone. We understand that's the way things work. No matter, how many forts and castles are built? It’s only the matter of time they all are going to be destroyed. It was fun and acceptance of the fact that, things here are temporary. There is no attachment or expectations about my Castle that I built, yesterday. Now, this modern digital age, we have an issue. Firstly, people started building Castles in the Cloud or web. I am sure, you know better than me. I am talking about that game, where you build Houses, Castles and Forts. And, then you take so much pain to protect it. People, download, so many extra features, Mods, weapons what not, so that their castle is safe and secure. Recently, I met a friend who told me that one of his Colleagues at work is so much addicted to playing this game, which he could not literally go to sleep because of the fear that someone may come and destroy his Castle in the web or Cloud. And, it kept happening that every time he built one, someone would come and destroy it. He got infuriated and kept downloading the latest updates, Mods and weapons. In a span of one year, he spent around good $2000 dollars and finally got fed-up with the whole thing and stopped playing. And, my friend asked him “so what about your Castle? He his reply was, “That’s the reason I spent so much money on it and made impregnable, secure, so that no one would enter or destroy it and I can sleep peacefully”. Can you believe It.? The actual game costs between, 8 to 25 dollars but, makes one so crazy that they can spend thousands of dollars on it. So why do people play these games? There are number of reasons like, boredom, loneliness, a sense of achievement, being a creator and maintainer of something. Ultimately, these people are doing this because; they are getting some taste out of it. Millions of copies of these games are sold to people all around the world. This is only, the speck or tip of an iceberg. There are thousands of Game Videos uploaded by the Veterans of the games to the you tube, who train or show the aspiring people can watch them, learn the new tricks of the game etc. Then, there are additional plugins that enhance the user experience of what is being played. There are blogs talking about the games, its updates etc. And, the list goes on, endless. Video game addiction is an excessive or compulsive use of computer games or video games, which interferes with a person's everyday life.

This reminds me of a verse from Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 3 Karma-yoga TEXT.27
prakrteh kriyamanani
gunaih karmani sarvasah
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. (By Srila Prabhupada)
We all want to be a Creator, maintainer and enjoyer. So I built a Castle in the virtual reality, or in the air which can be called as Phantasmagoria and, then I start worry about maintaining, protecting and enjoying walking in the Palace corridor, viewing from the wall of the fort for virtual enemies coming to attack, who are created either by the computer software program and so other geniuses like me and taking all this trouble for something that actually doesn’t exist in reality..
Video game addiction - it is simply mind boggling. Young Kids, teen age, Adults everyone is addicted to this thing which is causing apart from health problems, Loss of Money, troubled social and family life etc, people are wasting the most precious thing in life - The Time. Regarding the value of time, Chanakya Pandita says, all the riches of this world cannot buy or bring back a moment of time lost.
Similarly, Prahlad Maharaj in Srimad Bhagavatham says that, this human form of life even though is temporary and cause of all suffering, it is the most valuable one because, it is only through this form, one can realize Supreme God and get away from the cycle of Birth and death. If you misuse this chance of human life, the Vedic Scripture  warn us that, you might slide back into lower species of life and be born as one of 8,400,000 species of life form.

This problem is so great that, it’s included as one of the addictions list. Again, there are thousands of websites and blogs - as a start up, you can try the below link that I found good with my quick 2 mins google search. I am sure there would be many more like this.

The bottom line is- please don’t waste your time in these useless games, do something real, practical, go out in the open air, play some real indoor or outdoor games. Finally, I leave you with this - The Vedanta-sutra (1.1.1) states, athato brahma jijnasa: "(Now that you have taken up this human form of life) Now one should inquire about Brahman - The absolute truth, the transcendental, spiritual nature"

One request... This is not one person, one community's problem. This is everyone’s problem, irrespective of Age, Gender, and Location etc. I request your kind comments and feedback, your experiences of this Addiction and how you resolved it or helped someone to resolve it.

Friday, 13 March 2015

The three Modes of Material Nature

The 14th Chapter of Bhagavad Gita contains a detailed description of three modes of material nature, how a spirit soul is influenced by these modes, what are the symptoms of these modes, how they influence us and finally, how to get freedom from these modes by practice of Bhakti or devotional service. Thus, the three modes Goodness, passion and ignorance can be compared to three primary colours Red, Yellow and blue. By combining these three colours, an artist can create thousands of combinations. Similarly, by the combination of these three modes 8, 40,000 species of life forms are created.

Bhagavad Gita 14.18:
urdhvam gacchanti sattva-stha
madhye tisthanti rajasah
adho gacchanti tamasha
Those situated in the mode of goodness gradually go upward to the higher planets; those in the mode of passion live on the earthly planets; and those in the abominable mode of ignorance go down to the hellish worlds. (Translation by Srila Prabhupad)

In this verse, Lord Krishna is explaining the future destination of a Soul based on the type of material mode a living being is situated. One in the mode of goodness will progress to the higher regions and higher birth like that of a demigod or a place in heaven etc. The one who is in the mode of passion will stay in the earthy region and the one in the mode of ignorance will gradually go downward into the lower regions of the hellish world.
The three modes of material nature are like chains, which bind the conditioned soul to the material world. Thus, we can compare the Mode of Goodness to Chain made of gold, passion to a silver chain and ignorance to that of an iron chain. Unless one transcends these three modes of material nature, a Soul will not become free and get himself away from this cycle of repeated birth and death. Thus, even though the mode of goodness is conducive to , as explained in this verse – going upwards or for a higher form of life, unless one practices devotional service and elevates himself to the mode of Suddha Satva; Pure Goodness, there is danger of one falling down from the higher level to the lower level. It was also explained by Lord Krishna that these three material modes of nature of always competing within an individual to gain supremacy. Thus, a person for some time can be in the mode of goodness and immediately get into the mode of passion or ignorance. Thus, a person in the mode of goodness gets up in the morning, worship demigods in the house, on way to work may make a donation for Save the Children org, in the office become passionate and start arguing with colleagues, in the mode of ignorance come back home tired, consume alcohol and fall into deep sleep completely oblivious to the world.

This brings us down to the point of different factors that affect how a soul is influenced by the three modes of material nature, which are listed below
1.Agama – which Sastras we hear. Hearing is the powerful tool that can influence our nature. The sound makes up our thoughts and our thoughts make up, what we are. There are shastras written for people in the mode of goodness, passion and ignorance. Thus, hearing the right Shastra like Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatham will purify our consciousness and help one to get into the mode of goodness and ultimately in to pure goodness.
2. Apah – The water we drink and the types of food we eat. Lord Krishna explains that there are foods in the mode of goodness which are fatty, juice and food in the mode of passion which are Spicy, hot and foods in the mode of ignorance which foul smell, putrid etc. Similarly, what we drink – pure water is better than a soft drink or a Beer. That’s why it was advised by Krishna to offer the food stuff which is in the mode of goodness and eat the remnants or the prasadam by which one will not incur any sin.
3. Praja – Our association. Association is infectious. It is rightly said - a man is known by the company he keeps. People resort to substance abuse or become alcoholic only because of bad association. So we need to be extremely careful while choosing our companions. We should seek company of those whose life is an emblem of purity and virtue. Such noble souls can easily transform our lives.
A south Indian poet called Yogi Vemana explains the value of right association Telugu is as below,
Veru purugu ceri vrukshambu ceracunu
cida purugu ceri cettu ceracu
kutsitundu ceri gunavantu ceracura
visvadabhirama vinura Vema !
Translation: - A root-worm infects the roots and destroys the entire tree. Termite infects and destroys the whole tree. Similarly a vile one spoils a virtuous person. Good company and association with wise people are essential for one to remain virtuous and to do good.
4. Desa – where we live. Place where one lives influences the person and for a particular mode to gain supremacy over others. For example, if a person lives in a city in a high rise apartment and thought the day he see only a concrete jungle, he naturally becomes passionate and workaholic always running to work, earn money etc.
5. Kala – the time of the day. It is said that Brahma Muhurtha or the time – 2 hrs before sunrise is excellent and conducive for meditation on the Lord and similarly the day time is for passion and night for ignorance.
6. Karma – Our activities, which means our daily routine of how we get up, what kind of work we do and how we earn our livelihood.
7. Janma – Our conditioning from birth which includes the environment we grew up, the way we are brought up in a family and the way we are taught to respond to situations.
8. Dhyana – Our thoughts. There is a saying in Vedas, which says “Yad Bhavam, Tad Bhavati” – You are what you think or your thoughts make up what kind of a person you are.
9. Mantras – what we chant. There are a number of Mantras some of which are used to worship demigods for some temporary benefits like Saraswati for studies, Ganesh for removal of obstacles etc. There are also mantra to worship the Supreme Lord Krishna and other purusha avatars like Narasimha, Rama etc. Each mantra is different and gives different results.
10. Samskaras – The varnasrama ceremonies we undergo which begin with impregnation and end with burial. For example, ceremonies like Garbhadhana samskara to beget a right child, determines what kind of Soul one attracts during the time of conception of child. These samskaras helps to purify the consciousness of a person which ultimately determines the results one receives.

So, two people are looking from a prison window and one is seeing the stars, sky and the moon, while the other person is watching all the filth, garbage and gutter down below. In life, we always hear people giving excuses, saying things like, I was not lucky, I did not get a chance or the time was not good but, what really makes the difference is ourselves. How we react to the different situations in life. That brings us to the point, why or how some people react differently. It’s because of the way we conduct our lives, put ourselves in the right direction and right mode.

The great philosopher Socrates at the age of 70 was sentenced to death and was asked to kill himself by drinking a cup of poison. In front of 500 spectators, when he drank the poison, his students asked him “Where shall we bury you?” His reply was, “firstly you have to find me to bury me”.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Chinese New Year - Year of Goat

Saw this impressive Dragon procession today in Swanston Street - Melbourne. I was told that this is a part of the celebration of Chinese New Year. As per Chinese calendar, this year is considered to be the year of Goat or associated with Goat. The actual New Year day, this year for Chinese was on Feb 19th.The 12 zodiac animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. So, depending on the Month and year you are born, you are associated with a Animal. There you go, I just found out that I am a Pig; that too a Gold Pig.What are you.?

 Interesting stuff, from one of the oldest cultures of the world.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Gauranga - The Golden Avatara

Navadvip - A drawing of nine Islands

Today is the appearance day of Lord Krishna Chaitanya, also called as Gauranga the one whose complexion is that of golden colour. When you look up on the net, you get interesting and different descriptions about Lord Chaitanya. He is described as the greatest saint of 16th century in west Bengal, appeared in a place called Navadvip (Nine Islands).Some describe him as a great social reformer who fought against the Muslim rulers for freedom of practicing the Hindu religion. Some other name him as a pioneer of the Sankirtana movement - the congregational chanting and dancing of gods names. Some others describe him as the person who displayed the highest sentiments, ecstatic symptoms of love for Lord Krishna.
River Ganges, Just after the Sunset
However, one needs to go further we realise that Lord Chaitanya is none other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who took the form of a devotee to distribute the holy name and love of God more freely. Thus, Lord Chaitanya is the combined form of Lord Krishna and his dear most devotee Srimati Radharani. Not only, a number of Vedic scripture confirm this point, including the vedas and Srimad Bhagavatham, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Chaitanya Bhagavatha, Chaitanya  Mangala.
The incarnation of Lord Chaitanya is also called, Chana avatar or the hidden incarnation because, the Lord never allowed anyone to call him as god and would close his ears as soon as someone, calls him so.The reason for this is clearly explained in Chaitanya Charitamrita by Krishnadas Kaviraj gosvami, that this incarnation of Lord is to show and teach common people how to be a devotee of the Supreme Lord.
Lord Chaitanya introduced and  popularised the 16 syllable Mantra , “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna  Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare “, which is a mantra that can be chanted by anyone irrespective of caste, creed, sex or age and also, any time, place and circumstances.
I am posting some of the photographs from my last trip to Mayapur, two years ago.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu at Simantadvipa.

Some Flash of thoughts

Strathearn-Otaki, New Zealand

I just came across this beautiful photo I took few months ago. The place was so nice, calm, serene and refreshing. And, the following thoughts came to my mind.
Everyone should take time to rewind, relax and introspect. See where you are going, what you want in life, what is happening with your life. Try to think of something higher other than, eating varieties of dishes, watching movies, playing video and mobile games, buying new gadgets, new mobiles. I have a friend who bought Iphone 5 and before buying, he was looking forward to it and after he brought, he didn't like it. Then, he sold it off for a lesser price and after selling it, he is now thinking maybe it would have been a better option to keep it and looks and works better than Iphone 4. Anyway, now he has his eyes on Iphone 6.
So the only way you can get off this Hedonic treadmill is to engage in higher pursuits by getting away from the crazy rat race. It is said that, People make more money, more money, see other doing it and continue making more money. It’s a Hedonic treadmill that people can’t get down from i.e. one Keeps walking just to stay in the same place.