NATURE & MAN

Snap!! Snap! Snap!
Went my fly-trap
And there lay the victim in front of me
Nay! The culprit turned victim!

He made his own destiny
He dared to invade your home
And hence was the culprit
And you had to kill him
You were his victim and he became his own!

A thought flashed in my mind
Have I committed a sin?
My conscience reassured me
That it was not a sin, for, killing for survival is not a sin!

Primitive man roamed about
In the plains, in the desert, and in the jungle
He scaled mountains
And traversed the seas!

He lit a fire with dried wood
And killed deer, fish or rabbit
And roasted it it and had it
To satisfy hunger gnawing at his ‘insides’

He feared the Lion, the Elephant and the Leopard
But he overcame his fear in the fight for survival
And stood face to face with the wild animals
And killed, to leave the meat to be eaten ‘Nature’s Way’

But he took the skin of the lion, the leopard and the tiger
And these kept him warm and saved him from the cold
He cut sheep fur
And wore it like a cloak around his neck!

Slowly but surely did he befriend many a bird and animal
Of the desert, the jungle or the plains
He kept the parrot, the cat and the dog as his pet,
He had camel’s milk in the desert and cow’s milk in the plains

He cut timber and made his home
And the elephant carried it for him
He mounted on the camel
Which took him across the desert!

The horse , and the mule kept him company and carried his load
On his way up the mountains
To explore new lands
Hoping to see more like him!

Be it the jungle , be it the plains
Be it the desert, or be it the mountain
He lived by the laws of the jungle
The survival of the fittest!

While at sea, he was caught in a storm
He had to fight it out at sea with the shark
Perhaps it is not man’s enemy as sworn by man
But was ‘tuned in’ Nature’s Way to kill
Yes to kill for survival at sea!

Then God looked at him and said to himself
He is evolving! Let me help him!
He gave him the company of woman
They started living together!

They gave each other company
Man did all that muscle and strength could do
Woman did all that she has been ‘programmed’ to do
Then they had sex, had children and built a home!

Thus did man start his journey
But now what?
Where is he going now?
What has he gained and what has he lost – on the way from the wild to civilisation?

Does he still kill for survival?
Or has he distanced himself from all flora and fauna
By moving away from ‘the Laws of Nature’
And breaking them for his selfish ends?

He catches fish, crab and partridge
And gives food to his palate rather than his intestines
He kills animals and sells their sin for his gains
And cages the wild to train them for entertainment
And he kills sharks for the thrill of adventure!
And may be to tell himself ‘ I am the strongest”?

From the Jungle to Civilisation
Nature’s Way to way far from Nature!
Does Nature say “Wake up, Man! Before its too late!
Why move so far away from me that you may lose yourself?”

EGO & ITS ROLE IN CHILDHOOD

Ego is part of parcel of one’s personality, according to me.

The ego of a child during early adolescence and the troubling teens is a tool to be used to by parents and elders in a family to help a child to grow up into a strong personality – ‘a hard nut to crack’. It can be used to build up his or her self-esteem that is necessarily to be boosted at that tender age, or , at least, not to be stamped upon.

Self-esteem, if not built up and boosted by people and situations in the child’s environment can result in ‘famished ego’. This aspect of ego-building reminds me of the scaling of the snake ..snake-shedding. A snake has scales on its skin mainly to protect itself from external danger . The scales are multicoloured to enable the snake to attract its prey…Nature’s Way! If the scales were not formed on the skin of a snakeling, it would be vulnerable and easy prey to its predators. Then either it would be fatal for it or it would end up with an imperfect skin with scales torn, broken, tattered here and there. So the Maker has given a gift to the snake – it can shed its skin i.e. the innermost layer formed in the beginning is intact, only the outer layers are shed and new scales grow in its place. What a wonder! Similarly, if a child’s ego is hurt at a tender age, that child wont have any tool to protect himself or herself against the onslaught of the world – for, the innate nature of man’s world, exclusively, is to encroach on , infiltrate into or invade any ‘space’ – be it physical, mental or emotional – if given a chance. In the case of such children, only the Power Supreme can intervene and give a new ‘scale’ and a way for the child, and the same child , when he or she grows up as an adult , may have withdrawal syndrome , tacit or apparent as may be, or, end up in taking to drugs or drinking, or may get into depressions, may commit a crime and end up in jail, or even commit suicide or land up in a mental asylum being ,not able to cope up with and to survive in today’s world. What a pity!

The most unfortunate fact is that most of these hurts at the early age of a child are not at all intentional. They are just caused by unawareness of basis child psychology for which one need not necessarily be literate, due to which the why and how about the child’s likes and dislikes, fears and inhibitions, feelings and emotions, may not be understood and skilfully handled by those around him orher. Hence environment created for the child by the words and actions and behaviour of all who are part and parcel of the child’s daily life may not be conducive to his or her growth. The ego is torn apart, tattered, beaten up, stamped upon.

Its encouraging that in our community there are no more child marriages and too early parenthood i.e. even before the parents are themselves mentally and emotionally strong and mature enough to know that parenting is the harder part of the entire show. Labour and nursing and taking care of the basic needs for the child are comparatively much easier though they may not appear so.

I hope and pray that every parent together with his or her spouse, understands this and brings up the child in an atmosphere conducive to his or her growth. Then the ‘scaling’ or ‘skin shredding’ will happen and new scales will grow ‘Nature’s Way’ . Then his or her ego will not be so famished to make him or her so desperate as to lap up every bit of praise that comes his or her way thinking that it is the truth,or, react too strongly against any word or act of blame or condemnation here also thinking the same way.

The other extreme of environment that can harm a child is by bloating the self-esteem of the child to humongous proportions so that the child’ when he grows up has a ballooned -up ego, which , he or she thinks, is his real self, and hence is not ready to grow out of it or shed it to grow new scales Nature’s way. Such a child can also grow up in a way that he or she will rebel openly against anything or anyone that challenges his or her unquestioned ‘superiority’. Again, that is only an imbalance, It is just the child – not yet grown up, due to wrong handling by people around. And those children can never accept defeat in any way and life has to show him the mirror sometime or other. Then he also lands up in the same situation as the other children do – stress, rebellion, depression, suicide, drinking, drugs etc.

Is there a way?

Yes! There are courses for children from the age of 8 for handling the stress and repercussions of growing up pains . /these courses go a long way in leveraging their mind , feelings and emotions into creativity, positivity and balance in those years of turmoil. Along with this there are also courses for simultaneous nurture to the growing intellect to bring out its intuitive powers . If there is a will, there is a way!

O Lord ! Pray every child be given his or her birthright – abundance of love, care and self-worth , and, his or her share of building up and boosting of self-esteem by those around .

EGO & RELATIONSHIPS

Is EGO a blessing in disguise or a curse ?

Well, Ego, left to itself, is as harmless as a ‘paper tiger’.

The same EGO can be used as a tool for man to build up and sustain lasting relationships, leaving alone exceptions.

If one blows into one’s ego and balloons it up beyond all proportion, it may come in the path of clarity in ‘vision’ and clash with similar ballooned egos, resulting in deluded understanding of each other’s intentions behind thoughts, words and actions. It is this phenomenon of man-handled or mind-handled ego that leads to inefficacy in building up and sustaining good and lasting relationships…by the right balance.

What happens, generally, is that the relationships, which had been the most beautiful, may turn out to be the most nightmarish. Instead of introspecting and trying to understand why it is happening in the relationship, we keep our eye outwards and look for a ‘safe’ peg to hold on to …other kindred spirits with similar experiences in relationships serve as such ‘pegs’ and all get together to reinforce what they want to believe in and are comfortable to accept as the truth. It is just a passing of negative vibes through the collective consciousness created by ‘such birds of the same flock’ . Even if deep within, some or many of us know that, what is apparent may not be the truth, either about us or about others , that it may just be ‘coloured vision’ of each as per convenience, or, for survival in and approval of the society we move in, we are complacent about it. So we don’t try to shed the tattered ego-skin and grow a new one to protect . Instead, we just try to patch it up here and there, just like they do the broken roads in my place of residence. This leads to a continuum or a vicious cycle of thought, word, action, blame, reinforcement, scandal, revenge and it can even can lead to chronic mental and emotional imbalance, depression, suicide and murder.
This false ego skin can become even harder than moss crusted on a rock by centuries of erosion. No one but the two parties concerned can make a u-turn in their relationship which too may take years, or lifetimes, as, all those who suppress these feelings of hate, anger and revenge may be born in the next lifetime in the same wavelengths but in different roles, to complete their ‘circus-act’. How unfortunate.


But there is a ‘ray of light’ here, as well. If either party ‘wakes up’ and ‘descales’ the false ego , Nature comes to his or her aid to grow new ego-scales that form just a defensive shell. And then, regardless of whether the other party forgets and forgives and leaves all negative feelings in this world and lifetime itself, the ‘awakened’ soul is free from such a relationship for the next lifetime to come.

I cannot vouch for it, but I am convinced that one’s deliverance from past impressions are dependent only on oneself – ‘man makes his own destiny’.
I know this has happened with one of my closest friends and some of his kith and kin. It started with a few words and abusive and derogatory language blurted out in a moment of unawareness and lack of equanimity. My friend, who had been very close to the other, took it in, ‘verbatim’ – took into his heart and didn’t know how to drop it, and he stored it in deep storage in the mind for many years, thereby slowly killing himself. This was followed by pits of depression, rebellion, anger, hatred, revengeful reaction , and, it carried on to change that once-upon-a-time closest of relationships into a story of hate. It came to such a point that he went into a pit of chronic depression and even almost resorted to suicide .


But, the Power Above knows when, where and how to intervene. Earlier, my friend had been trying to fight it out in every way he could to get the other to realize his mistake, but later, he just put up his hands in despair and helplessness . He is a very spiritually inclined individual, He started looking inward rather than looking outward , and started working on himself for survival.The Powers intervened to give indomitable courage, and strength of mind to brave all the muck thrown against him – muck – mar his image – among other kith and kin, so also his social image. It took its toll on my friend for quite some time, but now, he just walks and talks and ‘walks the talk. He is a live example to me of how the Power Supreme can manifest in one’s life to lead him to true self-esteem, that doesn’t depend on external triggers. Now he is one of the most successful in his career, which is also his greatest passion in life. He is clean within and doesn’t bode any anger towards even those who had been, and, even now, may be, slandering him. Hence his focus is only on what he needs to do in life. He makes goal after goal in his career ,and, inspires many who get bowed down by the trials of life and relationships. I am really happy to see the change in him – a total transformation for the good – for he is a very simple soul, very loving and lovable, and now that he has found his inner strength, he is making a difference to many lives. God bless him!
I think failure or success in most of the relationships is due to consciously or unconsciously letting ego build a wall in between. One needs to hold the reins on one’s ego, for, if one lets go of it, one’s perception becomes deluded. This can affect all relationships in one’s life. If the other side is also a victim or slave to his or her ego, clash of egos happen and slowly but surely, a. once-upon-a -time relationship of love and belongingness ends up as a story of anger, hate and revenge. And it can get worse if neither party becomes aware of it or else doesn’t have the courage required to look within rather than without, to know why a relationship has undergone a drastic change for the worse over a period of time . Both parties become cozy in an artificial comfort zone of ‘I was and am always right; he or she is wrong’ etc. Relationships change overnight between bedfellows, between best friends,and, among kith and kin to the greatest of enemies! And that too on trivial nugatory pretexts! How unfortunate!

And it is even more unfortunate when one realises that the other party is also not bad. Our friend’s lifelong enemies , as they declare themselves, are wonderful human beings. But they are blinded and deafened by their egos – poor, unfortunate souls whose egos don’t allow them to say ‘sorry’ even once for hurting our friend, though without intention. They really loved my friend so…so …much beyond what I can say…no wonder it is said “ Love hurts more than hate”. It is in love with attachment that one crosses all limits and becomes unaware so that one harms more than heals. No one is bad or no one hurts anyone with intention, given exceptions. It is the ego that makes one see intention behind the other’s mistakes and so also, it is the ego that goads one into negative thoughts, words and action irrational behaviour that may or may not harm the other, but definitely, will harm oneself. Ego if given ‘loose rope’ to, can overpower one to make one lose clarity of mind and intellect, putrefy one’s feelings and emotions and make one behave as if one has lost one’s sanity. Most unfortunate!

Is there a way? Yes!
1) willingness to look inward and get out of that ‘I am always right and the other is always wrong’ mode.
2) Sudarshan Kriya and meditation done on a regular basis can help one to understand oneself better and build up the courage to change oneself for one’s own sake, at least, if not, for the world.
Sudarshan Kriya heals, surely, sooner or later, over a period of time – depends on how hard ‘the crust’ is. But regular practice will surely bring a miraculous transformation in one’s mind and hence thought, word and action. One learns to leverage one’s thoughts, words and actions from and to the heart centre rather than from and to the monkey-mind controlled by the grossest level of the senses, and the ego. Then one uses the ego only as a defensive tool and not as an offensive one, just like the tortoise that draws into its shell when it senses danger it cannot deal with, from outside its shell.
One needs to cut through one’s ego-shell and reach the heart-centre, to be able to communicate with the others in an efficacious manner, and, this is particularly true when it comes to mending broken relationships.

I intend to celebrate DIWALI this year with a difference – not to burst firecrackers in my premises and pollute the environment without But ..look ‘within’ and clean the ‘environment within’ by bursting the ‘balloons’ of false ego if any, and make an earnest attempt to forget and forgive and improve my relationships. What about you?

HAPPY DIWALI

DIWALI – THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS

Diwali becomes a festival in its true sense ( in the true sense of any festival, for that matter) when the mind, illumined by ‘The Light From Within’ becomes a ‘prism’ and refracts
Whiteness ( the clean, totally transparent mind, which doesn’t absorb anything but just lets everything pass through it – may be, Meera can represent it?) through the seven chakras into a ‘rainbow of colours in life’- i.e. it gets translated into practical day-to-day life to bring about a beautiful balance of mind between apparent opposites . To explain, the mind(it can be called the mind or the consciousness at that stage, I think) learns to be, most of the time just a witness to one’s feelings and moods that may keep oscillating like a pendulum many time, and emotions that may uplift or pull one down, and intellect, that may reflect the crystal-clear mind or its clouded skies among apparent opposites in life….joys and sorrows, pain and pleasure, love and hatred, and the like.

VIBJYOR

Violet Stands for ‘VICTORY TO THE SELF’
Indigo stands for. ‘ EQUILIBRIUM’
Blue stands for ‘INFINITY’
Green stands for. ‘PEACE’
Yellow stands for. ‘PURITY’
Orange stands for. ‘SELF-EFFULGENCE’
Red stands for. ‘COURAGE’

These colours make life ‘A Celebration’ moment-to-moment. Every thought, every word, every action is ‘SWAYAMBHOO’ is what has always been there ‘within’ . They come from within and go back within ‘To the SOURCE’. All external triggers burst into the ‘infinite space’ of the Five Elements but as ‘damp squibs’. No more pollution ‘within and without’.

Lasting Joy, bliss, peace, contentment, fulfilment, gratitude – cannot be a a result of thought-word-action cycle of oneself and other embodied souls around. For, if these are a result of these, they won’t last long.

Unless, of course, if it comes from, may be, experiencing God in the Formless ( very, very rare) , through the forms of Mother Nature, or, more easily, for the common man, by coming into contact with and becoming ‘one of the chosen ones’ one of the Enlightened Masters, who becomes the launch-pad for the seeker of Truth to set off on his or her journey . During this journey, he or she may experience moments of real joy and bliss, and infinite peace and gratitude.


Realisation of this Truth marks DIWALI – the lighting of the ‘Akhanddeep’ ‘within’, that ‘dispels’ all ‘darkness’. The seeker opens his or her ‘inner eye’ like an infant who is born in the predestined time and place, and takes time to get used to the light and then opens his or her eyes and looks around, or, so, it seems, to the world outside. Those of us around him or her say “Look! He or she is smiling! The Goddess is showing him the Lotus’; “Look! He or she is iangry and impatient for his feed’. The latter are all our interpretations of his or her apparent behaviour but it may not be true.
Just like a newborn, I am just opening my ‘inner eyes’. I am feeling, sensing, experiencing the ‘Presence’ of the Divine Mother – while being nursed, cuddled, loved, made to sleep in meditation. My senses, my feelings, my emotions, my mind, thought, word and action – all seem to come from the world and go back to the world. Well, it is so, and , at the same time, it is not so! For, all these world-experiences are instruments that turn me inward and bring me back to ‘Myself’ – ‘The Source’.
“I AM NOTHING! I KNOW NOTHING! I DO NOTHING!”(courtesy HH ‘Sri Sri”& His “Sudarshan Kriya”) I am happy ‘HERE AND NOW’ – in this lifetime; in this world, in all relationships and situations around. There is plenty of time to grow up ( who wants to grow up?..not I, for sure!).
DIWALI – THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
Light of GRACE OF THE GURU/THE MASTER/GOD
KNOWLEDGE
LOVE
PEACE
CONTENTMENT
FULFILMENT
GRATITUDE
HAPPY DIWALI

In FOND MEMORY OF MY (Late) FATHER

He was tall, handsome and stately
And was born and brought up like a king
He lived his life ‘kingsize’
And passed away on 8 November 2018

He grew up in plenty
But lost his father even before he turned twenty
And so was he left with a big legacy from his dad
Not only of riches and royal pomp but also of a big family to care for

He married early in his mid twenties
And built a home with my mom who was almost a decade younger than him
A home built in early marriage of two great souls
Who became victims to life’s trials and tribulations

We were six of us – his offspring
Of whom four are still alive
We also had our ups and downs with our parents
While we grew up on the ‘roller-coaster’ of life!

I am the last but one of their children
And I grew up to see their descent
Yes! descent from the peak of name, fame and prosperity
From royal struggles to the struggles for survival of the common man!

I was at too tender an age
To be able to withstand the ‘thunderbolt’
That hit them and pushed them to a fight for survival
Survival not only in terms of sustenance, but also of the ‘home’ of yore!

But my dad was a fighter to his last
And braved all that he had to confront
Along with my mom – his consort in pleasure and pain alike
So they fought on and we survived – to live!

He instilled human values in us
And rooted us in cultural values
Values that have seen us through
Yes! Seen us through in all walks and times of life till today!

His chants of Vishnu Sahasranama
Continues to reverberate
In my ears, heart and soul
In those moments that I remember him as he truly was!

Yes! In those moments that I cut through my ego
And connect with him beyond his
And then I find my way to his heart
Where there was and is only Love, Love and Love!


His outbursts of temper
And all that I wished he had not been
Were all a result of stressful situations to deal with at too early an age!
I now wonder how he could have survived all that!

O Dear Appa! I love you so!
You have always been a teacher of life to me
In most ways as ‘what to be’
And in a few as ‘what not to be’!

So were you Simplicity and Grandeur put together!
The noblest of souls that ever lived on Earth
And the simplest at heart
To those who can break through your ego-shell and reach beyond !

U gave us confidence
You gave us the inner strength
You passed on to us the most precious gift
Of unshakable faith and unflinching courage!

How I wish I had known you as you truly were
You were like the coconut – all hard outside but very soft within
But I was at too tender an age and stage of my life to know
Hence I am free of guilt and regret !

As I was yet to grow out of my troubling teens
And was yet to grow up to be strong like you
So I landed up in a hell of mental and emotional muck
And held you and mom responsible for it!

For then was I so sensitive as to be weak
And didn’t know that you and mom were victims of circumstances
So was I and all those who grew up with me
Each of us struggled and all are victims!

O Dad! You were the best as you were ,for God had willed you to be so
And I will be born to you and mom in every lifetime that I may take
But I know that all our collective karmas are cleared
All your prayers have been answered!

Yes! The names of Lord Vishnu that you and mom kept chanting
Have reached His ears and entered His Heart
For He has has come to me in this lifetime
In the form of my Beloved Master, Sri Sri!

Souls are born in clusters and live together
As predestined by the Power Supreme
So will I be born to u and mom again
May God be praised and May His Will be done!

Yes! May the Lord be praised for this
For, If you and mom had not given birth to me
I would not have come into this world and this lifetime
To get My Master and to learn the SUDARSHAN KRIYA!

Yes! The Sudarshan Kriya has cleared the muck of lifetimes, may be
And still may be clearing some
And as I breathe the rhythms of ‘So Hum’
I hope and pray that His Love and Grace Infinite
Will reach all my near and dear ones of the past, the present and the future!

Thank you Appa for giving me this life
Thank you for what you were and how you were
For you were perfect for me in His Plan
To bring me to this moment!

So have you done your best for all of us
Now pray don’t be in bondage with us
Let us be and let us struggle through and break free
Each in his or her own predestined time and lifetime!

Wherever, you are, in spirit or embodied
May you rest moment to moment
In peace and freedom from bondage
Bondage that you struggled through- to break free!

O Beloved Master! Pray bless my father
Pray shower on him Your bounteous blessings
May he be blissful, peaceful and content
May He keep Lord Vishnu enthroned in his heart for ever!

(Note: It is my father’s first death anniversary on 27,28 & 29 October as per our astrological calender)

A JOURNEY INCOMPLETE?

Is my life ‘ a journey incomplete’?
This question rose up as a wave from ‘within’
And lashed against the shore of ‘The Self’
As I read my friend’s message on FB!

I observed their movement and let them be
And continued with my household chores
With a mind ‘stilled’ by the quest for the unknown
But refreshed by the ‘lashing of the waves”!

And as I sat to meditate for a few moments
I traversed the mind-and-matter realms
And went into a ‘hollow and empty ‘niche’’ within
It came ‘flooding’ into my mind!

Yes! So is she right! It’s a journey incomplete
It is well and good it is so or when one experiences it to be so!
For man’s real journey may not end with death of mind-and-matter
And it may or may not end in a lifetime or two or even ten!

With this realization starts his journey
Yes! His real journey towards ‘The Self’
What he was born for – a journey of the spirit
It is a journey back to ‘The Source’!

One’s journey is not just about birth and death
It is not about love and hate and relationships of this world
It is not about name and fame
And so is it not about success and failure in worldly terms!

These may be experiences ‘on the path’
These may be instruments for one’s growth
It doesn’t matter if these are one’s credentials or not
For what matters is ‘to keep playing the game of life’!

Yes! Playing the game of life with the ‘sportsman spirit’
Is making the journey of a lifetime complete in my view
So in that sense my journey is complete
But only in those moments when I am a sportsman!

And when it comes to the real journey
It is an endless journey for the embodied soul
Rightly so My Master Sri Sri says
“There is no destination; but there is a goal in every step.”

A soul takes up ‘oars of a lifetime’
To ‘an unknown but predestined destination’
It embodies itself time and again
And a time comes when the curtain falls!

Yes! When the curtain falls and a soul exits the stage
No more embodiment – the journey also comes to an end!
That lifetime is the last and It is completed!
Back Home! Back to the Source! Paradise Regained!

So again I reminisce my friend’s message
And it hit me in a ‘flash of light from within’
That the journey of any lifetime is complete
May be in the sense that it is another step ahead ]
Or may be as the last step for ‘THE ETERNAL HOME’!

“Poornasya Poornamadam
Poornaath Poornamudachyate
Poornasya poornamaadaaya
Poornamevaa vasishyathe”

(Shanthi mantra mainly from ‘Ishaavaasya Upanishad’( if I remember right)

SPIRITUALITY vs. IDOL WORSHIP


The topic that stares at you before reading my perceptions is so vast and unwieldy – ‘Spirituality’, that I felt it is better expressed relatively i.e. what I want to say may be better understood by taking a specific example such as Idol Worship.

Do the above seem opposite to each other?

The question came up from within when I became witness to an altercation between my friend and her son, the other day.


It all started with a festival being celebrated at my friend’s house. A lot of people, including me, had been invited.
Now, when it came to me of the rituals where the family had to collectively worship the idols kept at the altar, my friend’s son refused to be party to it. He said he doesn’t believe in idol worship, and besides, God cannot be in so many forms as were kept at the altar. He called it sanctimony in the garb of religion and spirituality.

The instant reaction of a believer in idol worship will be a judgement of the boy and not a mature and empathetic insight into the reason for his conviction.

The boy had been brought up from a very early age in another country with a different culture. And, to add to it, though there were many of our countrymen there, the boy chose to move in social circles which absorbed exclusively their cultural values. They neither light lamps not do they offer worship in the way we do. But they light candles and pray together on festivals.

Well, it’s a good thing to be familiar with all cultures and the cultural values of every country. Anyone is free to absorb and practise any one of these exclusively,or, absorb what appeal to him or her from each and every culture be it of one’s own country, or , be it of another.

But what we need to be aware of is that , just like every culture has built up its values as required for the welfare of the people of that place,and, as appropriate in those times of evolutionary history.
Idol worship has been part and parcel of our culture for ages, even before the time Swami Vivekanand spoke for it in reply to a caustic comment by one of the kings of ancient India, who didn’t believe in it.

To recollect the episode, when the king laughed at the belief in idol worship, Swami Vivekanand called the king’s minister, and asked him to spit on the photograph of the king’s father. He refused to do so. Then Swami Vivekanand explained it . Just like the minister could not spit on the king’s father’s photograph because it reminded him of the man, a believer in idol worship does so because it reminds him of his God.

We cannot condemn any culture and judge the values it upholds as we have not lived in those surroundings and experienced it and understood how and why it came into practice. I am not an expert on this, but my ‘higher sense’ tells me that as Hinduism spread to different parts of my country, each community adopted its values, but tinged with a few customs and rituals as exclusive to that community. But, everywhere, idol worship or keeping a symbol as a medium to worship is a practice – be it a single idol or be it many idols of Gods and Goddesses, as depicted in the religious texts.

I don’t think there is anything wrong in worshipping an idol it is understood to be a symbol of the qualities that it represents. I mean – it is just a symbol – a medium – for bringing us back to the Source, which is nowhere outside – not in any idol or any place of worship but within us. The others are only reflections of what’s within.

All these idols and places of worship were created by Man himself to instil discipline in man by instilling awe and a little bit of fear of the unknown power and by making the idols appealing to the senses to turn the latter inward.

In fact, almost or all the cultures of this world have their ways of worshipping God, as they believe in – some worship animals, some birds, some trees, etc. and just like we have gods and goddesses and stories about them, we also have different Gods and Goddesses, in the most ancient cultures,and each culture has its own ways of worshiping and pleasing the Gods to bring good luck, prosperity etc.

But, unfortunately, in our culture, with the passage of time, many of the values symbolised by these idols got linked to religion and all its paraphernalia and then and there started the bone of contention as to who should worship whom; who or what God is and is not, etc. How unfortunate! The intention with which these practices such as idol worship must have been created, took the back burner , thereby creating barriers between man and his neighbour, between races and cultures, between different FAITHS. Most unfortunate indeed!

I strongly believe idol worship or any sort of worship, rituals etc. are not detrimental to growth but become so, by deluded or a conceptual understanding of such practices.

If one wants to keep a stone idol and worship it as a God or Goddess, let one do it, if it takes one back to one’s Source within i.e. helps him to connect with the power within one, within everyone around one, and, everywhere.

If one wants to keep just a symbol of what or who God is to one, let one do so.

If one believes in God but doesn’t believe in forms and believes that one can Reach God without form, let one attempt it.

If one claims that there is no God, that one doesn’t believe in God, let one be so, as long as one believes in oneself.

But the important thing is – how can I say ‘My practice, my values are right, or, God is only what my culture depicts Him as; all others are a farce?

How can I laugh at or condemn other practices? When I think of it, if I had been born in another country other than the one I live in, and had grown up there amidst its values, I would have adopted those values. This is the crux of the matter.

Man didn’t chose his cultural values himself – it came as a package with his birth and growing up. But when he becomes an adult, he is free to choose his own values of life which can be all-inclusive..the best from every culture.

It is when man forgets the divide between religious practices and cultural values that all hell is let loose.To sum it all up I would say – as long as there is no dichotomy in the mind among cultural values, religious practices and spirituality as such, all is well.

Every individual spirit is on its self-quest – aware or unawares. The path chosen by the spirit assuming a human body to reach its destination is Spirituality.

If cultural values and religious practices are tainted with superstitions and exclusive approach; if man dilutes and distorts these values to be exclusive for his vested interests, he has not understood the basic benchmark of spirituality – ‘all-inclusive’.

Spirituality is just the means to to an end – not an end in itself. It is the individual track of each seeker, who can be compared to an athlete on the racing tack, running the race. No track is longeror shorter than the other. They are different from the start to the finishing line – yet – the same in terms of ‘the race’. The goal of spirituality is love,bliss, peace, contentment and fulfilment in life .Idol worship, worship of Nature, worship with symbols , worship as ‘the Formless’ – any and all are justified as expressions of spirituality, as long as these bring the above for the one who does it as well as for others around. But if, on the other hand, it brings strife, discontent and discord and ‘cut-throatism’ it cannot be spirituality in its real sense.

MOTHER NATURE

We are here today and till now, because
1) God willed it so
2) Our parents became the instruments to give us this life. ( whatever it is, and however it is, it is precious – a step forward in Man’s journey towards ‘the Final Destination’).
3) God has given Man Mother Nature . ( We were born to our parents, and, we are being nurtured and our lives are being sustained by Her bounteous Gifts.

Nature is the greatest of gifts given to man by The Maker.

All the Five Elements, The Sun, The Moon, The Stars, The Flora and Fauna – all of them orchestrate Nature’s Symphony.

But have you seen the Flora and Fauna ? The trees, flowers, the animals, the birds, their hunger for food or sex, their fear, their anger in self-defence alone – are all always in ‘the Present Moment’. So many bloom in summer or winter or all seasons,, many wither away when winter comes , many leaves turn yellow and fall in autumn – all Creation Preservation and Destruction Nature’s Way.

Now, what about Man? Is he with All Creation in honouring Nature and preserving its bounteous gifts? Not everyone, and, Not Always. Now- what I mean is that – all are not aware that – everything we claim to be honouring is just a convenience, For, I think , we honour something only as long as it gives us whatever we want, and, when we want. Have you noticed? In winter – we want the Sun to come out and give warmth and light; in peak summer, we shy away from the Sun’s heat and find comfort in the luxurious coziness of our air-conditioned houses.

When we honour Nature and preserve Her Purity, come what may, we are in tune with All Creation.
Nature will take Her own course of evolution .

But, when we dishonour Her and pollute the environment, she reacts in ways such as Earthquakes, floods, drastic shift in global climatic conditions and the like. These, if not checked immediately, may bring man to endless suffering; that will leave a mere ‘wasteland’ for our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren ( I don’t say ‘posterity’ here, for personalising the term may hit harder but faster), and, ultimately, I am afraid, The Earth will no longer be fit for man to live in.

Pure unpolluted land, sky and air , unadulterated food, non-acid rain, non-toxic fire will become HISTORY.

Let’s wake up and get back to our nature – Nature’s Way!

MYTH or LOGIC?

The other day, I happened to read an article on certain customs and rituals of our community , many of which (though not all) seem to be exclusive and not all-inclusive I. e. free of bias based on gender, caste etc.) which triggered the ‘woman’ in me, the ‘logical thinker’ in me, the ‘believer’ in me, and, it goaded me to put my ‘thinking cap’ on for my sake, for the sake of all women, and, for the sake of all men and women who have a scientific temperament and the spirit of enquiry and courage to explore the Truth.

I am myself quite chagrined about many rituals and myths among my people, which may be a matter of convenience in a male chauvinistic community, or, may be due to an unscientific temperament. Fortunately, many of these are giving way to rational thinking and the customs of a community are no longer accepted blindly by the younger generation The latter don’t believe in anything that cannot be scientifically, logically explained.

Many of the older generations believe and practise most of these blindly just because it comes down in the name of tradition from the forefathers. In fact, many of these that have come down from the ancestors have a logical or scientific explanation to them, but we are not able to explain all of these to our youngsters as we have simply adopted them as part of our lives. But many are unfounded, impractical and based on superstitious beliefs, which have made life ‘a living hell’for many women in those parts of my country where there is more of illiteracy and people are still obsessively conventional or conservative. And it is not only the illiterate, who are the victims. It is all the more unfortunate that these myths and practices are practiced by many so-called literate and educated people as well.

On the other hand, the new generation generally depend, may be, justifiably, more on ‘Google Maa ‘rather than asking for explanations from their elders. But they don’t take the time to dig into the facts available on the net when it comes to these age-old practices in the name of religion and divinity. They defy it outright, being sceptical to the point of missing out on the spirit of enquiry and on the opportunity to learn and adopt all those practices which may be really the most practical lifeskills required for this age.

ENVIRONMENT & FESTIVALS

Boom!!!Boom! Boom!
So do the sound of crackers ‘rent apart’ the environment1
To portend the celebration of Diwali
One of the festivals we celebrate!

But is n’t it a celebration for many
But which may cause harm to many?
Yes! So do many become victims of our celebration
Yes! Celebration that may injure many and take many a life!

It may harm those who make fireworks in the fireworks factory
It instils fear boundless in many birds and animals
And so also bring discomfort to infants and patients
And can even mark a ‘final adieu’ to some who may get burnt and lose their lives!

Festivals are a means to celebrate
Yes! To celebrate by getting together truly as ‘ONE’
And spread joy, peace and good vibes ‘within and without’
To cleanse oneself and all around!

What if a festival when celebrated defeats its purpose?
For the purpose of creating a happy environment for all?
Is it worth it to celebrate festivals in such ways
As may be nightmarish for many a victim – man, fish, bird or animal?

A grand feast and new clothes
Firecrackers and oil-lit lamps everywhere – in homes, in the streets and in the public places for some!
But may be electrocution, blindness
Or burns – fatal or otherwise for others!

Not fair, is it?
Such gross injustice in the name of festivals?
Let’s take a vow together
For this Diwali to come!

No Firecrackers that end up in pollution
No lighting lamps in public places
Where by-passers may come to harm
And we become the instruments for playing with others’ lives!

Our rights end where others’ rights start!
There may be many who don’t celebrate Diwali
There may be many who don’t celebrate Id or Christmas
As many festivals celebrated are ‘exclusive’ , at least in our minds!

Global leaders we aim ourselves to be
And secular as we are known to be
Let’s us pray together and feast together
Let us pray and feast, sing and dance and celebrate together
Be it Bihu! Be it Christmas! Or be it Id!

A festival is just a medium of expression
Yes ! An expression of joy, contentment and peaceful co-existence
It is an excuse to reminisce the good things of life
And to to forgive and forget and give ourselves and others a chance!

Yes! To once again truly come together as ONE
Devoid of all barriers of caste, colour and race
Devoid of nationality , FAITH and all man-created barriers!
Festivals are meant to mend walls and break walls, if any!

It doesn’t mean I need to eat meat
To celebrate with my friend who does
It doesn’t mean I need to do idol worship
To celebrate with someone who does!

To respect all Faiths and festivals as that which connects us to the ‘ONE’
Is the ‘must’ step to break imaginary barriers
So, be it idol worship or Midnight Mass
It is left to one’s choice

Man needs to be all-inclusive in the mind
Though may be exclusive in beliefs and practices
So I can’t say “ My festivals, My beliefs are good; theirs are not”
It is the birthright of man to choose his life, his Faith, his God!

So do all festivals have a common goal
To be festive together in spirit!
And thus radiate joy and peace in the collective consciousness
To make a difference to the environment!

Come one! Come all!
Let’s celebrate with one another
And make our lives and lives of others and All Creation
A true festival moment-to-moment!