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18 October, 2012


Everything that we see in the world around us has some quality in it. From people to buildings, from the book we read to the music we hear, from our friend to our job profile, from our thoughts to our feelings, everything that exist can be divided into three categories (gunas);

Sattvic - peaceful, alert yet calm;


Rajasic - agitated and restless;


Tamasic - dull, lethargic and sleepy.

A meditation hall is sattvic while a shopping centre is rajasic. A house with cracks and cobwebs is tamasic. Many of us have so much tamas in us that we are not aware of the energies in and around us. As we become more and more sattvic, we become more and more aware of energy. As one evolves, one will be able to feel the energy present. Thus on an apple tree, some of the fruits are ripe (sattvic), some ripening (rajasic) and some overripe (sattvic). The three gunas pervade all existence, all actions. Sure all of us would have had the experience of being with a tamasic person, who sucks the life force right out of us and leaves us feeling depressed, tired and drained. We feel so sluggish in their presence that we find everything so depressing. And we have also had the pleasure of being with a person who completely energises us, cheers up and leaves us feeling excited to be alive. These people transfer their life force into us and make us feel beautiful.

When we are feeling sad or low, it is often because our energy (Prana) is low. You should have felt it when you had fever or when you felt down for absolutely no logical reason. Well, never underestimate the influence the food can have on us. For example, the food we ate yesterday is still impacting on our mental and emotional state today. If the foods that we primarily ate yesterday were predominantly tamasic, in all probability today we will be feeling dull and sleepy.

Therefore, eating foods that are high in prana can support us in regaining a positive state of mind. Which are those foods? Foods that are high in prana are called as Sattvic foods. Sattvic foods are those, which not only nourish the body, but also have a calming effect on the mind. Sattvic foods are traditionally easier to digest than the rajasic or tamasic variety and do not add to the accumulation of toxins in our systems. These foods include fresh vegetables and fruits, cereals and wholegrain, legumes, nuts, sprouting seeds, honey, herbs and some dairy products.

If you are feeling restless, chances are you have been eating too much of rajasic food. A certain amount of restlessness in us is better; it can propel us to be active. But too much of restlessness typically precedes emotions such as anxiety, anger, violence, lust, sorrow. This is because rajasic foods tend to over-stimulate the nervous system. They include spicy, hot, bitter, sour, pungent foods. Examples include chemically processed food, chillies, onion, garlic, alcoholic, carbonated drinks, chocolates and refined sugars.

If you are feeling dull and heavy (physically, mentally or emotinally). chances are you have been eating too much of tamasic food. Tamasic foods are rarely nutritious in nature. Prolonged ingestion of predominantly tamasic food can contribute to more serious conditions like depression. Even a small amount of it will leave you focused, uninspired an generally pessimistic and lifeless about life. These foods include fermented, canned, deep-fried, processed foods with a lot of preservatives and colouring agents added to them. Fast foods, food which have been cooked and then left beyond three hours will lose prana and become tamasic in nature. These foods adversely affect the functioning of our mental faculties.

What made Mahatma Gandhi walk miles and miles without any tiredness? He walked faster than others and survived only on a few sattvic foods. He neither followed calorie count nor any strict exercise. What made Mother Teresa move on with so much of life and dynamism day and night for the welfare of poor people? She survived on a few fresh foods. These people survived on pure foods and junk food did not picture in their day. They lived a pure life. When I say purity - it means purity in their thoughts as well as foods.

You live in this world as a body. This vehicle called body is a precious as your life. If you are suffering a sickness, how can be healthy? If your body is full of toxins, you will feel heavy and burdened. You cannot be light. You cannot move freely. There is no way for you to jump or dance without aches and pains. Look at the body of a child and you will know she is light because she is free from toxins. But as they grow older, they start thinking in negative ways and as a result develop energy blocks in their body. As you grow older you start eating wrong foods, which may be very pleasurable to your senses and as a result you suffer diseases. So, in a way you start eating junk foods because you start thinking wrong thoughts. So, to become sattvic you need to bring about certain modifications to your eating habits as well as your thinking patterns.

Basic guidelines to move towards sattvic

The old saying, "Early to bed and early to rise make a man healthy and wise" is absolutely true. Sun is the primary source of energy. The longer you wake-up, after sunrise, the lazier and sluggish you will be. The closer you wake up to sunrise, preferably before sunrise, it will make you energetic and dynamic. You can observe the dynamism of animals, birds and most of the elders in the family, they all wake up either at the stroke of sunrise, or earlier than that.

While eating, ensure that you feel the texture of food, the colour, the smell, the sound (like the crisp sound of biting an apple), and not to mention the taste, with some conscious effort. Chewing thoroughly will release all the flavours in the food, so you can derive the taste fully.

You have to be physically involved in some form of a dynamic activity. So, either play a dynamic sport on a daily basis or at least run or cycle or dance or swim for half-an-hour on a daily basis. It energises you.

Eat slowly. When food is eaten too fast, your brain does not have enough time to sense that your body had been fed enough to subside the hunger pangs. Physiologically, it takes about twenty minutes before your brain receives the full signal from your stomach and intestines. Consequently, if you quickly eat a lot of food, by the time this signal reaches your brain, you would be overstuffed and feel uncomfortable. For people who are constantly experiencing a bloated sensation, constipation, stomach pain or heartburn after eating, it is because they are eating too fast.

Sattvic Foods

Fruits, vegetable, grains and seeds are all nourished by natural forces, a reason why they are called sattvic foods. They are the main source of living energy and nutrients, which are vital to our health. Each plant has its own nature, characteristic properties and specialities and they each have their own timetable of growing and maturing. The time to consume plenty of any food is during its season, because the quality and nutritional content will be at its best. During season, these foods are healthier and have greater regulatory and therapeutic effects. In order to stay well and not to miss out on what nature has planned for us, eating seasonal foods is most essential.

Home made Food

There is nothing healthier than eating home-made food. Food made at home is fresh, of higher quality, hygienic, devoid of additives and is not over processed. Even at home, keep in mind that refrigerating, deep-freezing, re-heating, re-cooking and over-processing deplete the nutritional value of food and can make you feel tamasic. Home cooking has immeasurable benefits, much more than just being healthy. Eating food prepared by your loved one can have energising effect on you. Food prepared with love and affection has a direct bearing on our emotions. Restaurants and waiters are not emotionally connected to you. Though such foods taste good, something vital is missing in that food. The invisible ingredient - Love.

You are ingesting more than just food when you eat. Food must be eaten with concentration and awareness. The emotions we feel at the time of eating are very crucial. Chew only your food - not your projects or your worries. At times when you are worried, even eating healthy food is as bad as not having eaten healthy food. Being distracted with books, driving, computers and phones during a meal negates any hope of a complete digestive process.

It is the responsibility of every man to take care of his body and consciously shifting towards healthier foods will change the blueprint of your mind. Since every thought manifests as a powerful messenger molecule in the brain, by changing your way of thinking you not only improve your body but also your relationships and your destiny. If the pilot of an airplane decides to change its course by even half a degree the plane may arrive at a completely different destination. A change in thought can have a similar effect.

Source: An article written by Shobs in FT magazine.

14 October, 2012

Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr.Brian Weiss

Many Lives, Many Masters is the true life story that most people would find it hard to believe. Dr. Brian Weiss, M.D., psychiatrist by profession, graduating from Columbia University and Yale Medical School, spent years in the disciplined study of the human psychology, training his mind to think as a scientist and physician.

He held steadfastly to conservatism in his profession, distrusting anything that could not be proved by traditional scientific method.

In this book he recounts his experience with a patient, Catherine in 1980, who came to his office seeking help for her anxiety, panic attacks and phobias. When traditional methods of therapy failed, he tried hypnosis on her. During these sessions she recalled her past life experiences and even the time in-between her lives. Her recollections were so vivid and revealed information she could not have known at all, that he was convinced that they were definitely from the past lives. For the first time, Dr Brian Weiss came face-to-face with the concept of reincarnation and the many tenets of Hinduism, which as he says in the last chapter of the book, "I thought only Hindus...practised."

For 18 months, Dr. Weiss used conventional methods of treatment to help his patient Catherine overcome her traumas. When nothing seemed to work, he tried hypnosis, which, he explains, "is an excellent tool to help a patient remember long-forgotten incidents. There is nothing mysterious about it. It is just a state of focused concentration. Under the instruction of a trained hypnotist, the patient's body relaxes, causing the memory to sharpen... eliciting memories of long-forgotten traumas that were disrupting their lives."

Dr. Weiss started researching on this phenomenon to get a better understanding of what was happening to Catherine. He studied the works of Dr. Ian Stevenson, another psychiatrist from Virginia University, who had collected over 2000 experiences of children who had memories of their past life. Some even exhibited ability to speak languages that they were not exposed to (xenoglossy). He also found references of reincarnation in the old and the new testament. The Roman emperor Constantine deleted these references because he felt that this concept would weaken the growing power of the church by giving humans too much time for salvation.

During the initial sessions, the doctor regressed Catherine back to her early childhood and she strained and stretched her mind bringing out isolated, deeply-repressed memory fragments. She remembered from age five when she swallowed water and felt gagged when pushed from a diving board into a pool; and at age three when her father reeking of alcohol molested her one night. But what came next, catapulted skeptics like Dr. Weiss into believing in parapsychology, and in what Shakespeare had said in Hamlet (Act I Scene 5), "There are more things in heaven and earth... than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

In a series of trance-like states, Catherine recalled "past life" memories that proved to be the causative factors of her recurring nightmares and anxiety attack symptoms. She remembers, "living 86 times in physical state" in different places on this earth both as male and female. She recalled vividly the details of each birth - her name, her family, physical appearance, the landscape, and how she was killed by stabbing, by drowning, or illness. And in each lifetime she experiences myriad events "making progress... to fulfill all of the agreements and all of the Karmic (from Hindu concept of Karma) debts that are owed.

Dr. Weiss's skepticism was eroded, however, when she began to channel messages from "the space between lives", messages from the many Masters (highly evolved souls not presently in body) that also contained remarkable revelations about his father and his dead son. Catherine was able to provide information about them which no one else could possibly know. She revealed the Hebrew name of his father, the heart condition due to which his new born son died and the reason why Dr.Brian chose psychiatry. She also said that his son was born and to repay his parent’s debts. Often Dr. Weiss had heard his patients talk about near-death experiences when they float out of their mortal bodies guided towards a bright white light before reentering their discarded body once again.

But Catherine revealed much more. As she floats out of her body after each death, she says, "I am aware of a bright light. It's wonderful; you get energy from this light." Then, while waiting to be reborn in the in-between-lives states, she learns from the Masters great wisdom and become conduit for transcendental knowledge.

More than her recollections of her past lives, what I found amazing was her messages from time in-between lives. She heard messages from whom she termed ‘masters’ and they provide some profound philosophical insights. “Our task is to learn, to become god-like through knowledge. By knowledge we can approach god”. This sounded so much like Vedantic statement, “knowledge alone can lead to god-hood”

These experiences made Catherine increasing psychic. She was able to remember her past life recollections; however, she was not able to remember the in-between states. What was remarkable about Catherine’s knowledge according to Dr. Brian, which defied all other explanations, was that it was not only detailed and specific but beyond her conscious capacity. Within three and a half months of her first hypnosis session, her symptoms virtually disappeared. Here is another very Hinduism-like message from the masters “We have debts that must be paid. If we have not paid out these debts then we must take them to another life…”

Dr. Brian Weiss talks about this in the preface to the book, “It took me four years to garner the courage to take the professional risk of revealing this unorthodox information. Suddenly, one night, I felt the need to put this down on paper…. I knew that no possible consequence I might face could prove to be as devastating as not sharing this knowledge… I thought of my old Hungarian grandfather who died when I was a teenager. Whenever I would tell him I am afraid to take a risk, he would lovingly encourage me by repeating his favorite English expression: Vat the hell”.

Source: Excerpts from the book on "Many Lives, Many Masters" by Dr Brian Weiss

07 October, 2012





1.  Who are the people to whom you owe an infinite debt of gratitude?
       Our parents gave us the gift of this human birth.  They took care of us when we were utterly helpless.  They stood by us when we needed them.  Let us bow down to them with deep reverence of the heart and in some form of the other express our gratitude.
2.     Several failures and disappointments have helped us to shape our life. 
       Think of any five of them and express gratitude to God!
3.    All around you are the beauties of nature. 
       Today, let us thank each and every aspect of Nature.  In silence, offer your thanks to each and every little thing that makes this earth the beautiful plant that it is, for us to enjoy!  Think of the green grass, the trees, the birds in the sky, the clouds, the stars and the moon, the breeze, the rain...  Imagine what life on earth would be like without them!  Give gratitude to God for having given you the gift of sight and pray for atleast one blind man who is denied this great privilege.
4.     Today we shall make an earnest effort to appreciate those that do not understand us and criticise us at every step, in every round of life.  We shall count our blessings and feel grateful for everyone of them!  Where would we be without them?
5.     Take time to live - because life has so much to give!  Today, take time to appreciate all the things and people who make your life worth living.
6.     Today, let us give gratitude to those whom the world regards as fellow shevaks - but without whose help and active service the world would not be a clean place to live in - for example domestic servants, the laundryman and the street sweepers.  Let us thank them and offer them some little token of our appreciation.
7.     Today, let us express our gratitude to those whom we take for granted but without whom life would become an unbearable burden - for example family members and friends.
8.     Today, let us give gratitude to God, who has provided us with the five senses - sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing without which we would be no better than stones.
9.     Today, let us give gratitude to God for the gift of a healthy body without which life would become an unbearable burden for ourselves and others around us.
10.    Today, let us offer our gratitude for all those people who are always negative in their attitude and outlook.  Thank you God for having given us the wisdom and the strength to respond in a positive way to everything that happened to us.
11.    Today, let us begin the day by offering the simple prayer, "Thank you god for everything".  Let this prayer be on our lips throughout the day.  If we get a free minute let us utilise it in repeating this prayer, "Thank you God for everything".
12.    Begin the day by sitting in a silent corner and take in deep breaths.  With every incoming breath, breathe out an aspiration:  I feel grateful for the many blessings that I have received. 
        With every outgoing breath say: these blessings are not for me alone.  I must share them with those in need.
13.    Think of all the great ones who have influenced your life one way or the other.  Feel grateful that such great ones always keep on coming to the earth plane for our sake.
14.    Today make a list of emotional strengths you have that help you cope with the challenges of life:  Are you reliable?  Are you trustworthy?  Are you punctual?  Are you friendly?  Are you responsible?  Are you understanding?  Thank God for these positive traits.  Appreciate yourself as a person with these beautiful virtues.
15.    Today dedicate your gratitude to the teachers who have helped to mould you, make you, shape you and bring out your special strengths.  If you can, get in touch with atleast one of them and express your love and respect to him/her.
16.    Thank you God for forgiving all my faults and failings and giving me a chance to live the new life - a life of simplicity and service, of purity and prayer.
17.    What would life be without comforts? 
       Make a list of all the comforts that you enjoy.  From a cozy home, music, a vehicle, our gadgets, even a clean toilet at the work place.  Count these blessings one by one and send out your gratitude to God for them.
18.    Each one of us is blessed with talents.  Make a list of the talents you possess and feel grateful for them.  You may be a good singer, a painter, a dancer, or just a good conversationalist.  Feel blessed and thank God for these talents.
19.    What would life be like without friends with whom we can share our joys and sorrows?  Without being judgemental, love them and thank them for their friendship and support. 
        Make a list today  of the great friends who have made your life a happy journey!  Call up at least one of them to express your appreciation and to tell them what a difference they have made to your life.
20.    Think  of all the different types of foods (vegetarian) that have been provided on earth for man to eat and give thanks especially for those types which you like the most.
21.    Do music and songs make you forget your worries and woes?  Give thanks to the masters of music without whom our life would be dry as the desert sands.
22.  Every person has some faults and failings, weaknesses and imperfections. 
      Prepare a list of your faults and surrender it to the Lord with a prayer:  "I can't do it Lord.  But, You in Your mercy can free me from these faults.  Thank You god!  thank You God!"
23.   Think of  problems as steps of the ladder that lead to the Highest and pray, "In Thy mercy Thou hast sent me these problems.  Grant me the wisdom and the strength to solve them and draw nearer and ever more near to Thee!"
24.   Thank God for laughter and smiles, good humour and merriment!  Laugh out loud as often as you can today.  Share a joke or two with your colleagues.  Spread the sunshine of laughter around you.
25.    Make today a no-cribbing day.  Just for today, give-up criticising, complaining and finding fault with others.  Take life as it comes; take people as they are' do not sit in judgement upon anything or anyone, just for today.
26.    Make today a gratitude-to-God day.  Thank God for every incident -  good or bad that happens to you today.
27.  Make today an Appreciation Day.  Appreciate every person you meet and try to express that appreciation in words.  This includes your near and dear ones - your spouse and siblings - your children and friends, your fellow colleagues and your servants.
28.   Today you must make every person, who meets you, feel that he is very important person.
29.  Today let the words, 'May I help you" be on your lips all the time.
30.  Today let me visit a sick friend or carry fruits and distribute them to the poor patients in the government hospital.
31.  Are you one of those blessed souls fortunate enough to have the grace of Guru's presence in your life?  Today, thank your Guru profoundly and with all humility, for making a difference in your life.  Offer a little act of loving kindness as an act of thanks giving to your Guru.
Source: Excerpts from the Book "Stop Complaining:  Start thanking! by Dada D.P. Vaswani.

03 October, 2012

Why do we celebrate Sarasvati Puja?


In Indian Culture


Why do we celebrate Sarasvati Puja?



When you worship Isvara (Lord), it is the power of Isvara, that is worshipped, not Brahman.  It is the sarvajïa, the all-knowing Lord that is invoked  and not the satyam jïänam anantam brahma. In order to know the satyam jïänam anatam brahma, you are invoking the sarvajïa, the all-knowing Lord. Similarly, the Lord is invoked in various aspects. On Ganesha chathurthi  day, the Lord (Ganesha) is invoked as one who removes obstacles. On Sarasvati-püjä day, the Lord is invoked as all jïäna, knowledge.


Worshipping of books and tools

Goddess Sarasvati is worshipped on the ninth day of the Dasara or Navarätri festival by creating an altar of books. It is amazing that you can create an altar of books and worship it. You will find not only books, but also musical instruments such as the vinä or the flute.
The tenth day is Vijayadasami, when all the work tools are worshipped. It is called äyudha-püjä. No one likes to visit a blacksmith. However, you should visit him on the Vijayadasami day. The place will be absolutely clean. You will find sandal paste, flowers and garlands everywhere. Even the bellows will be cleaned-up and there will be no ashes. On that day, all the buses are adorned with lots of kumkuma or vermilion, sandal paste and flowers. In all cities, the drivers do the püjä in the morning before they start work. Even in government undertakings, any sädhana or tool such as a typewriter or computer is worshipped. There is jïäna involved in every tool, even in a simple spanner.  On the Sarasvati-püjä day, we worship knowledge; books and musical instruments are worshipped. Vijayadasami day is the day of technology or applied knowledge.

Everything is sacred

It takes a certain heart, a certain way of looking at things, to worship books and tools. The concept of Isvara (Lord)  makes it unique. Nothing is separate from Isvara. All the saktis powers are worshipped. 
All that we require is some symbol of knowledge. Any book contains certain knowledge, even if there are mistakes. Mistakes also imply jïäna, because to understand a mistake, you must have knowledge. Otherwise, you cannot know. To understand a mistake as being a mistake is jïäna. If you know the truth as it is, then it is true. If you mistake an untruth for the truth, it is a mistake. If what is untrue is understood to be untrue, then that is knowledge.  What is the knowledge of mithyä? It is jïäna. For the unreal,asat’, there is never any being, näsato vidyate bhävaù [Bhagavadgétä 2-16]. To understand what is not true, ‘asat’, is true, sat; this is jïäna. 
It does not matter what the book is. When you see your own books as an altar, your attitude towards them is different. It is based on the sästra or scriptures. What we call Hindu religion is this Vedic vision. All prayers are connected to this vision and based on this view. These things are not possible unless you get your concept of Isvara straight. You cannot worship a dumb tool! That is what we think about tools, but there is nothing dumb about them. There is jïäna or order involved. If the spanner is too small or too big versus the hole, then it won’t work! There is law and order involved and all of this is bhagavän (Lord).  All of life is thus, a process of sanctifying. From childhood, you learn to appreciate and look upon things as sacred. There is nothing profane in this world. This is how you are taught from childhood. This is so for all Hindus. They may not know Vedänta, but they certainly do know that everything is sacred. Everyone will say sab bhagavän hai, or everything is bhagavän (Lord). They may not know how and they may not have all the answers, but their attitude reflects this.


Navarätri festival in Tamil Nadu

In Tamil Nadu, many homes organize a golu (dolls) during the Navarätri festival. They assemble nine steps and on those steps, they display various forms made of clay, china, etc. You will find the whole world there.  You will even find a doll of an Englishman on those steps. They make it out of clay and paint it. All forms are represented. 
The top step is for devatas like Brahmä, Visnu and Siva. On the next step, you will see Ganessa etc. Then you will have the yakñas, kinnaras, angels, etc. that are described in the books. Then you will find all types of human beings; people from different countries and cultures. You will find all kinds of costumes. You will then find different kinds of animals, trees, and fruits.  The whole jaga t(universe) is there. It is the jagat-rüpini-sakti. In some houses, they will bring in modern technology with a train track and trains running, water fountains, etc.   All the ingenuity of man is employed!
Women call each other to visit their home.  “Please visit my home and make it sacred”. Both unmarried girls and married women come, dressed in their silk saris and beautiful ornaments. Girls are asked to sing. They sing in praise of the Lord. As boys, we would go behind the girls and women and wait for prasäda distribution, then go on to the next house for their prasäda, and then the next house, and so on. We would then compare to see which house distributed the best prasäda, and visit them again to collect prasäda, a second time! This is the popular festival of nine nights, Navarätri.

Festivals and other cultural expressions help maintain values and attitudes

There are many festivals. I consider some of these to be very relevant to our life, to our outlook, to our attitudes and to our values. How do you bring this relevance out? You create a situation like this and through it, you demonstrate your attitudes. It is like sending flowers or a card for a birthday. In every culture, there are a few expressions like this. If these expressions and customs are removed, life will be empty. Life will be robotic. These things demonstrate and re-establish certain values and attitudes. Such actions bring out the sanctity of these festivals.  
“It takes a certain heart, a certain way of looking at things, to worship books and tools. The concept of Isvara makes it unique.  Nothing is separate from Isvara.

Source: Published in Arsha Vidya Gurukulam and edited by Shri Krishnakumar (K.K.)
S Davey and Jayshree Ramakrishnan.