Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pragyopnishad Part 2: Dev Maanav

How to become a divine person.

Dharm is only one kind and is the same for everyone – humanity and social responsibility. One should have: rishi chintan, good character and shalinta by nature.

Just like sun has many rays and oceans have many waves – we are all rays and waves from the same source.

Dharm has ten characteristics
  • Truth and intellect
  • Control and responsibility
  • Anushasan and vrat dharan
  • Sneh sounjanya and parakram
  • Sehkar and paramarth
One has to control the five gyan indriyan and the five karmindriyan.

Chapter 4

  • Body should be without disease.
  • Heart (man) should be balanced.
  • Character should be clean and bright.
Biggest thing to have pride is about doing your duty (karm)

Chapter 5 (Discipline and culture)

Your values should be strong even in the toughest times.

There is strength in numbers that is why culture is important, otherwise everyone will behave in whichever way they want causing all sorts of problems.

Every soldier understands the meaning of discipline. Even the smallest creatures like ants and termites know the benefit of discipline.

It is easy to spot a disciplined person.

Chapter 6 (About civilized behavior)

Your own behavior will echo for you in the other person – just like an echo in the well or a bouncing ball. (if you are rude then the other person will also be rude etc.)

One should not be lazy. Do the work for good, think good thoughts. The more the person is lazy the more he will think bad thoughts and lose everything.

Don’t do injustice and don’t tolerate injustice and don’t ignore injustice.

Chapter 7 (Sehkaar – cooperation)

One can only win and accomplish anything by cooperating with others. One should have charitable habits.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pragyopnishad Part 1: How to make the world better

Naradji came to visit Vishnuji because he can see that human beings are lost in the business of life and have not been able to understand the spirituality in life.

Naradji asks Vishunji: how can man learn about spirtiurality and sadhna while staying in the comfort of his home? Vishnuji is happy that Narajji asked this question because he was thinking the same thing.

Vishnuji says: it is a Kalyug now, situations are not good. To solve this we have to get to the bottom of the issue. To save a dying tree you have to take care of its roots, not the leaves. There is increase in diseases, crime etc., such that this world is almost at war. Astha is the issue.

Once can find only insects in dirty water, bad blood will only produce boils and pimples, so we have to clean these elements. In such times when all bad things have increased God will be incarnated. This incarnation (avataar) will be “Pragyavtaar”. This incarnation will have to bring idealism, socialism (community feeling) and such ideas to create a satyug type of environment. This incarnate’s work is very tough so it has to come down with all 24 attributes. Because of increase in scientific discoveries and such a widespread of egoism and greed God has to come only in form of consciousness (chetna).

I will inspire people in this incarnation is such a way that they can change the world. God’s consciousness and self-aware souls will make a good combination.

Naradji asks – so what do we do now?
Vishnuji says – souls that are aware will not keep quiet, they will come forward and we will meet.

  • Tatvagyaan leads to pragya.
  •  An idealistic person then starts to work on his soul cleansing. Whoever can do this can help the world.
  • Knowledge is karm.
  • Gayatri is kalpvraksh and kamdhenu, it is the amrit of the times.

Self aware souls never miss an opportunity to do things. They will always finish the matter at hand. Later other people wonder – why did I not do that? 
People of courage and ideals bring awareness through sacrifice. They will always have satisfaction, they will always have the respect of all and devi anugrah. They are just like fruit bearing trees, always giving no matter how much you take from them.

Pragyopnishad - Disclaimer

Pragyopnishad is one of the great books written by Shriram Acharya ji. I heard about it in the 9 day shivir and had promised myself that I would read this while I was in DSVV.  This book gives a detail description of how to live your life as a member of your family, community and globally.

My notes don’t do justice to the book and I may not be able to convey all of its meaning because of my poor understanding of Hindi, but I am trying to do my best to give you an idea of what this book is about. Some of the text may not flow into the other and that is all my fault. But I really wanted to jot down some of what I could understand and found important in the book.

As with any “granth” it is divided in parts and chapters.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lesson from Anhinga

Anhinga is a bird of Florida.  I had never seen it before in my life and now I see it all the time.  The stream next to my house brings plenty of wildlife around the house and most days, when the weather is nice, I just sit outside and enjoy nature.

(the stream/canal next to my house...with egrets in this picture)

Anhinga is a beautiful black bird with a beautiful long neck, so elegant.  I was sitting out one morning having my usual morning tea when I noticed a quick fluttering in the water.  In dove an anhinga into the water and its head came up in few seconds to breathe and then it dove into the water again.  It did this a few times.  After this ritual of finding food under water, the anhinga came on the grass, spread its beautiful black wings, dried itself in the sun only to get ready for its next dive.

(photo by Sapna Gupta taken at Loxahatchee Refuge)

Anhinga don’t have oil on their wings like other birds to repel water and keep dry, and that is how anhinga can swim under water unlike other birds.  Because of this it has to periodically dry its wings in the sun.  You can read about them here.  See an anhinga in underwater action in this video (I did not shoot this - I wish I's so beautiful)

Looking at this cycle of getting wet and drying of anhinga, I was thinking to myself that I have a lesson to learn here.  Anhinga lives both in air and water, it needs both to survive.  Going under water makes it wet and soggy, but it comes out and dries itself in the sun and goes right back to what it has to do – get under water to eat!  Why can't I be like that?  I have a part of life that I enjoy and some parts of life that I tolerate and get through.  Sometimes I feel that a lot of people are tolerating a lot in life and enjoying very little of it...(although I do hope we always have lots to enjoy in life!).

On occasions there are incidents that get me a little depressed or frustrated.  This is where I need to learn from the anhinga: I should find my sun, dry myself off from these feelings and dive right back into life.  Then the big question is: who is my sun or what is my sun?  Is there something I can do that will make me feel better?  Who can lift me up when I am down?  Who can I trust enough to tell them how I am feeling?  Who will give me the right advice?  Who will be true to me and help me dive back into life?  Do I need someone else’s help to do get up in life?  Or maybe my sun is really inside me and I don’t need to look outside for help.

The last option is of course the best one.  We should look inward to make our own sun shine for ourselves, whatever our sun might be. This can be very hard for an extrovert (like me), but we have to balance our introvert and extrovert personalities so we can learn to shine perpetually.

What I would really like to ask the anhinga is whether it likes being under water or in the sun!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Routine at DSVV

Having decided to give my time for two months, I was ready for anything and everything.  My nature is that I hardly ever get bored.  I always find things to do, whether it is socializing, going out to see places or simply finding a good book to read.  And I was in the perfect place for all of the above.

My Daily Schedule

Getting up early has never been my strong suit, so here also I was happy to sleep in.  Of course since the sun came out early, I had no choice but to be up by 7:30 am (is that late?).  And then spending another half hour in bed just lying, thinking about what to do that day and listening to the birds outside, was very enjoyable.

Breakfast at the guest house was lovely, especially since I did not have to make it – BTW – that goes for all the meals!!  I completely enjoyed not being in the kitchen for two months.  Mornings were for me; emailing, facebooking and socializing.  There were always some or the other guests at the guest house, so I would just spend time chit chatting with them until I had to go to work.

I would work from 11 am to about 12:30 pm or so and come back for lunch.  Usually I would have very little to eat for lunch because I was not hungry in such hot weather.  And after a while food got a little repetitive, which was just fine with me since I did have mild obesity (wink!!).  Some days I would take a 20 min nap after lunch, other days I would go to the Registrar’s office and be there until whenever they needed me.

Usually I would finish work by 5 pm in time for evening tea.  I would try to sit at the Mahakaal during the 6 pm meditation on campus.  After dinner at 6:30 pm, my student would come over and we would study chemistry till about 9 pm.

After 9 pm I would get time for myself again.  Since I get up late, I go to bed late too, sometimes past 12 am.  And that was the time I would spend reading books and writing about my day.  One of the books I really wanted to read was Acharya ji’s Pragyo-upanishad and I did.  My only problem was that I don’t understand Hindi very well and I could not appreciate the text in its entirety.  But I did finish it and I did wrote some key things for myself.  I will post those in my blog, as I understood them, as time goes on.

My Social Life

I never thought I would make so many friends in such short time.  The guest house was a great place to meet interesting people no matter whether they were Indians or foreigners.  The international students I made friends with were amazing.  They had such passion for being at DSVV and learning about Indian culture.  I could also feel the challenges they were facing in being at a place where hardly anyone speaks English (it reminded me of when I was in Brazil and could not speak a word of Portugese!).  I would help out as much as I could, but ultimately they were meeting their challenges themselves.

(Dinner with foreign students)

Between my rounds to the offices during work I met some really wonderful faculty and students of DSVV.   Again, thanks to emails and facebook that we can all keep in touch.

Almost every other evening I was on the phone with a family member or a friend.  Since I was not planning to visit any of my relatives, we would talk a lot on the phone.  It was really good for me!

Perks of DSVV

The library was a great resource for everything on yoga and Acharya ji’s literature.  Once I got my library card made, I had no shortage of books to read.

(Photo by Sapna Gupta.  Library at DSVV)

DSVV has many mango groves on campus and one the best perks of living there was an unending supply of fresh, naturally ripened mangoes.  Why would I eat any other fruit??

(My mangoes!)

The canteen was convenient; I enjoyed an occasional chaach, samosa or paraantha. Not to mention that I found a dhobhi, Naveen bhai, also on campus. He became my new best friend on campus.  Oh! Doing laundry for myself was such a waste of my time in India!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Evenings at DSVV

When I planned to go DSVV for volunteering I had no idea what I would be doing or what my routine would be. I knew I would be doing the 9-day shivir (camp) at Shantikunj. But after that was over it was going to be an adventure. So I was just doing what I was asked to do. The only thing I was sure of was that I wanted to stay at the university campus rather than at Shantikunj, because being in academia all my life that is the only place that I could think of being at.

During one of the earlier days I was taken to visit the Gayatri Vidyapeeth, the elementary through twelfth grade school sponsored by Shantikunj. I visited the chemistry labs there, which were great. The entire school was recently built so everything was new. The only thing that intrigued me about the chemistry labs were the fans….how do you operate a Bunsen burner under a fan? Alternatively how do you do experiments in sweltering heat without the fans? I suppose you build your lab schedule according to summers and winters (haha).

I also had the pleasure of visiting the 12th grade chemistry class at the school. I did not feel like teaching so I just talked with the students for 45 mins (yes I do have the gift of gab in class!). This turned out to be very useful 45 mins for me for the next six weeks.

One of the students from that class took the initiative to talk to me about getting tutored for chemistry while I was there. I can never say no to anyone, especially if a person makes an effort to ask me for something….. so I tutored her for the next six weeks. She was a such pleasure to teach – so smart, curious and a sweet personality! She would come over to see me every evening around 7 pm for two hours to learn organic chemistry. And after completing her studies (and sometimes even during) we would talk about everything under the sun; she was great company! It was a good experience for me to teach a student in India after teaching in USA for so long.

She was my boon in disguise because I don’t know what I would have done with my evenings if she had not been there (my Krishna really takes care of me in his own ways:-)). We spent so much time with each other and I really miss her now. Thank God for emails and facebook!