Flashback – Of Blessings and Regrets…

The year 2015 is ending in a day and we would continue the journey into 2016. If I were to believe that the time zones — past, present and future — run parallel then, years lose their significance. Or do they?

If I could time travel to any time in the past, where would I go and what would I change? Have we all not contemplated this possibility at least once in our lifetime? To say that everything has been perfect would be egotistical of me. To say that I wouldn’t change a thing would be a lie too. However, my better sense might advise me that any small change could result in a butterfly effect. I love the coinage of the chaos theory. It gives a lot of significance to the inconsequential flapping of wings of a butterfly, making us believe in the worth of our seemingly irrelevant existence. Having said that, from the point of view of existentialism or rationalism, I believe in the individualism, not of the existential kind, but of the spiritual kind. Hence, I believe in self-worth and the importance of my existence. Because, each soul’s existence is of prime importance in this creation, and that meaning has been the sole purpose of this creation.

For an individual, there is always a room for improvement, and satisfaction with the existing circumstances takes away the zeal to work for the change. Acceptance of the status quo as the will of God is another way to look at it. However, that acceptance in Srimad Bhagavad Gita was to destroy the ego. If Chapter 18, Verse 16 says, “Therefore one who thinks himself the only doer, not considering the five factors, is certainly not very intelligent and cannot see things as they are”, then Gita also lays emphasis on karma. However, the only important karma is devotion towards Him and all actions performed for Him. Any other action is either mechanical or to feed the ego.

I did begin this thought reminiscing the childhood and the things that I could have done differently. I could have tried not to be a rebel. My rebellion was limited to the thought process, and many a times, giving a voice to these thoughts. However, I always ended being more traditional in my actions. I could have been more accepting, saving many a heartache and arguments, and a few friends too. The free-spirited soul in me shaped my personality, making me vocal, loud, aggressive, and restless. This restlessness could have been channelized into education, making me a doctor, perhaps. I could hardly ever picture myself as a girl or woman, coy and graceful. I was always a person, communicating, expressing, behaving, and interacting with others. It took me a long time to read people, to know that mostly I was a girl to them. Most ‘boys’ were not used to being freely spoken to, and misread me. It aggravated me a lot. I would go ballistic, hating the people and the thought. Now, when I have taken solace in the fact that I am old and may be, I am a person now, it still hasn’t worked.

I have so many personal regrets — of not have educated myself enough, of still managing to waste this useful life, of not being as soft-tempered, of being easily irritable, of being loud, and of not being a better mother and a homemaker.

Is it too late to give up the laziness and work harder? Interestingly, I keep going back to the only philosophy I believe unflinchingly — Srimad Bhagavad Gita — The Song of Lord Krsna. I wish that I had more gyan, and devotion. Ultimately, only unconditional love and devotion matters for the spiritual individualism, more than existential life. Even without being all grace and poise, I would like to be a wiser person. Probably, the wisdom brings the poise and the acceptance, along with the much-needed peace.

My wishes are very selfish, only for my most cherished family and self, wishing that 2016 is the year of better self-realisation, a year of more God’s graces, of peace, more love and devotion. May 2016 be the year of revelling in Krsna consciousness, of immersing self in Him.

 

||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||

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The Problem with ‘God’

THE PROBLEM WITH ‘GOD’ by Maria Wirth

MARIA WIRTH

‘God’ is a much used word yet hardly anyone pauses to find out what is meant by it. ‘Isn’t it clear?’ religious people may ask and answer:  God is the Highest, the Creator of the universe, the Almighty who knows whatever any human is dong or thinking and it is He who will give the punishment or reward in the afterlife.

This is a predominantly Western notion. Nobody will quarrel with the fact that this universe and we included have to come from somewhere and ‘God’ is given as the verbal answer. Yet somehow, ‘God’ has acquired strange attributes in the mind of westerners, never mind if they are believers or unbelievers. He is invariably male, has strong likes and dislikes and has supposedly communicated those likes and dislikes to some special people who informed humanity about it. Reading the Old Testament and the Koran reveals a God who is…

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What is Religion good for?

Maria Wirth has summed it up beautifully…to question is to find…if someone stops you from being inquisitive, then you must wake up to see the damages it can do to your spiritual growth…

MARIA WIRTH

In many parts of Europe, religion has become an important topic only in the last few decades. In the 1970s, religion or rather Christianity, which used to mean religion then, seemed obsolete. It was considered something for children and old people. Ever since Christians got the freedom to leave the Church not so long ago (in the 19th century in northern Germany), many did so. And after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin came back from space and declared that he had not come across God, the Church lost out further.

Just an example: when I was a child in the 1950s, in our small town mass was held every day at 6.30 a.m., at 7 a.m. and 3 times a week at 8 a.m. Since long now, there is no daily mass. Only the three services at 8 a.m. have survived. When I was a child, three hours of fasting were…

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Flashback – Significance of Diwali…

Diwali is special in India.  Diwali is special for my family.  Diwali holds a great significance for me personally.

The days of my childhood, when we used only ‘diyas’ and wax candles for illuminating our houses, are filled with fond memories.  My father loved this festival and always mentioned it, beaming with excitement.

My paternal house had a courtyard in the centre on the ground floor. Our tenants occupied the ground floor.  From the first floor, where my family lived, we could look into the courtyard from the balustrade railing that lined the four corridors of the first floor.  The other side of the corridors was lined with rooms.

I, along with my father, brother, and uncles, would go around the house, lighting candles and ‘diyas’ on the railings of the terrace on the second floor, and the balustrade railing on the first floor.  We would also fill the balconies of the rooms, looking out on the street, with candles.  The stairs, the entrances to each room, and the elevated corner outside the kitchen, would all be filled with lighted candles.  I remember the strong breeze and a nip in the air on Diwali each year.  Filled with exuberance, I would run across the entire house, relighting the candles that would blow-off by the strong winds.

Then, there were some Diwalis at my maternal grandparents’ house, with my cousins, aunts, and maternal uncle.  The family occupied the ground floor of the house and their tenants occupied the first floor and the apartment on the terrace.  The entire neighbourhood would come out on the streets to burst crackers.  I particularly remember a couple of Diwalis there, just before we lost my maternal grandfather; the Diwali where we fired crackers till the wee hours, and fired rockets at the cars on the road. Then there was that one car which was having trouble with the accelerator.  A young man was driving it and trying to avoid the rockets.  The fun part was that he got it functioning and turned around to drive past our house, hooting with joy, racing and defeating our rockets.  We had the best laugh ever, having strangers enjoying with us.  Another Diwali, in the following years, was with my future husband, in the same house.  We were not sure if something was brewing in our hearts, something must have been because within a year we were married.

Some memorable Diwalis were with him, at various air force stations of our postings.  My zest had no bounds.  Posted away from Delhi, at places where Bengali sweets are not easily available, we would make our own sweets.  I loved making chocolate fudge at home.  However, the focus was on preparing some good savoury dishes for the visiting officers, families, etc of the unit and the station.  Invariably, the day would end with a round of the station, visiting every household, a gathering at the officers’ mess, a firework display, and some good food and wine.

After resettling in Delhi, my Diwalis did not lose their sheen.  I have stayed as excited over the last nineteen years, buying endless candles, putting up electric lights for over a week, buying Diwali gifts for family and friends, decking up on Diwali, and passing the bug of exhilaration on to my two children.  It is my favourite festival too.  Maybe, because it was my father’s favourite and is my tribute to him.  I hope that my children will remember my love for the festival, and wherever they are, they will celebrate it with as much fervour as a remembrance for me.

||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||

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Talk to students in memory of Swami Vivekananda

I have been following the posts by Maria Wirth, a Hindu of German ancestry. She has spent a lifetime learning scriptures and following Vedas. Her articles are illuminating…

MARIA WIRTH

(This one-hour speech happened to be a first for me, and I want to thank the students that they made it easy for me and looked interested throughout.)

My three main points:

  1. To encourage the students to know and be proud of their heritage.
  2. To point out what is lacking in the west
  3. To give inputs on Jnana, Bhakti, Karma and Raja Yoga – the way of life which enables one to tap/ realise the Divinity within.

Here is my talk, most of it recreated from the points i had made:

Knowledge of India’s wisdom – and Swami Vivekananda was an excellent teacher of it – is very much needed as western education (and Indian education is also still western education) is highly lopsided.

Only yesterday I saw a news item: a 12th class student from Haridwar was fished out from the Ganga. He had posted on facebook “I…

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So You Think You Are The Saviour.

Another sad day. This time Paris under siege. Another atrocious action. We are wasting our lives on wars, whatever the kind. I believe, this is the definition of ‘Kalyug’. There is only one identity for all. We are souls in material body with the prime ‘karma’ or intent to realise Him, attain Him, and His Paramanand. Does it matter if the world is realising Him or not, whichever form you may think to be right? If you really want to be the saviour, then save people from poverty, wrongdoings, intolerance for everyone – similar or different, illiteracy, opportunism, lethargy, predation…otherwise, just stop this war. Your afterlife will not be pleasant with such deeds. The day we start saving our individual souls by doing the right thing – starting with ‘ahimsa’ in thought, words, and actions – the entire world will be saved. Stop being the world’s saviour. You are not. In doing so, you are being labelled ‘terrorists’. Our gurus have said that do not perform any such deeds that discredit the name of your ‘dharma’ and your ‘gotra’. So stop discrediting your kind, your religion. Some wars result only in annihilation, of one and all. Reiterating the same by reblogging my earlier post.

sarikanandacerebrate

How do I begin to express my grief at the News from around the world?  I am a person of faith and I would be miffed too if someone ridiculed my faith.  Will I go to extreme of picking up a weapon and killing?  Never.  My faith specifically warns against hurting others, leave alone murdering.  Even though, my Lord Krishna advised Arjun to wage a war for ‘dharma’ or ‘righteousness’.

So many wars have been waged to bring erring individuals on track.  Some were fought in the parts of the world where people were living without faith, without the love of God, without propriety.  However, these were battled under the able guidance of an Avatar or a Messenger of God.  During these times, a fear of God was also instilled in the people.  When only love of God is not enough to guide the flawed, fear of Him furthers the…

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Is Hindu Dharma good and Hindutva bad?

I wish the clarity to spread like I see in Maria…

MARIA WIRTH

 My article “When Germany is Christian, is India Hindu?” got amazingly good response with thousands of facebook likes. However, some readers felt I made a mistake by not distinguishing between good, tolerant Hinduism, which is a private belief, and bad, intolerant Hindutva, which stands for the ‘communal agenda of an extreme right Hindu party’ that wants to force uniform Hinduism on this vast country, an act which is completely un-Hindu and against the pluralism of India.

Is Hindutva really different from Hindu Dharma and dangerous? Or have those, which coined the term, an interest in making it look like that? No doubt, Hindutva has a bad name in the eyes of many, in spite of the ruling of the Supreme Court in 1995:

“Hindutva is indicative more of the way of life of the Indian people. …Considering Hindutva as hostile, inimical, or intolerant of other faiths, or as communal proceeds…

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