Chanting on Rosary?

Gurumandala very gracefully decided to publish one small article I had written some time ago. It can be found here:

Chanting on Rosary?

All glory to God and Gurumandala.

Shivoham!

Niraj

 

 

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Tattva Shakti : Reflections Atop Himalayas

How many ramblings have you heard on the prospect of leaving all materialistic pursuits and going to Himalayas, to live the life of a renunciate? Well, many among my family members have been tortured with such misgivings when I vent out my fascination for Himalayas. Yogananda writes in his autobiography, the incessant inner call to run away to Himalayas and the abortive attempts that were best laid but thwarted by his brother’s ingenuity. He eventually lived among mere mortals, most of his life in a nation steeped in materiality. Higher designs, one may conjecture. In every spiritual novice or stalwart, there is a prominent pull towards the Himalayas. At the exasperation and despondency called life, when things do not work out as per our designs, even men steeped in desires wish to leave everything and forge ahead to Himalayas. Such a longing is usually temporal but they do spurt out every now and then.The magic of Himalayas stems from its majesty, and more so because it is and has been home to sages who have lived and hallowed it for ages.

My long cherished desire to visit Himalayas found sudden fulfillment when at my Guru’s beck, I was to traverse to the Ranikhet, a small village nestled among the Kumaon ranges. Ranikhet it was, the witness to the divine union of Lahiri Mahasaya and Babaji; I was thrilled and exuberant at the prospect of the spiritual inundation that my soul would experience.Ranikhet is a long journey and I took the shortest possible expedition to reach the land hallowed by the pious. Disembarking at Kathgodam railway station, I was already suffused by the emotions of longing for Ranikhet, around 90 kms drive.

The populace of Uttarakhand present a simplicity and an ease in the pace of life. I found it uncannily different from the daily rut of morning office rush at Pune. Why Vivekananda cried hoarse about religion as an experience dawned upon me at once. Experience is like knowing what you already thought you knew – it is like bringing to life a reality that has till now been only surrogate reality, known to you through someone else no matter howsoever erudite and sagely. What happens when your pace on meaningless pursuits slow down in life? Life and meaning dawns upon you. The non reasonability of pursuits you have been undertaking and its apparent concomitant ills seem obvious. Apparently, its not possible to remain in the muck and realize its muck (ask the wallowing pig). Our scriptures talk likewise – they give a clarion call to remain in a state of witness, sakshibhava.

My journey from Kathgodam to Ranikhet was in a shared cramped Mahindra, which I opted for obvious reasons. You slip into the shoes of the locals – you smell, live, think like them. Conversations are interesting and you begin to get the pulse of the populace – sure yet subtle. Ranikhet – somewhere in a forest near this place, Lahiri Mahasaya found his reawakening by the all pervading Babaji. Yet, I felt a little crestfallen. The place, with its flea market and grocery shops, didn’t inspire the soul stirring song that I had dreamt of – here, it was business as usual and I felt nauseous and found myself wishing to be back home as soon as I could.

My sojourn with my Guru was planned at the Foundation for Contemplation of Nature, run by Mr Ajay Rastogi, a well read and well behaved man in essence. Well read and well behaved usually are oxymorons that few are able to transcend. The virtue of being well well read almost always is trumped by the vice of being a snob – the idea of being well read gets into the mind and convolutes the ego and pride. In many senses, he was more akin to a spiritual seeker than an intellectual canon. A group of 10 seekers including me descended, torn away from the whirlwind of daily meaningless ventures, to find peace and solace with our own self – in the presence of our Guru.

Thereafter started the regime that we never knew existed anywhere in practice – but only in apocryphal canons. From 6:30 AM to 10:30 PM, with a few hours of rest, we went through the unravelling of the secrets of the Tantra way of life. Tantra, which conjures up imagery of ash laden men bearing skulls on the mast of their walking sticks, is misplaced. The entire tapestry of sadhana was a mix of hathyoga, dhyan, mantras, pranayama, chanting, japam, healing techniques with brief spells of master’s discourses on how we are an exact replica of the universe. How what’s residing inside this body is strewn outside as well. What’s within is also without. Know yourself and you easily know the world and God. Heal yourself and the world is healed. Words that seemed platitudes hitherto rang true in its import. The surrogate truth became my personal truth.

Religion is not just about faith. Faith is needed to begin and persevere in the initial stages. Eventually faith yields to experience – prolonged faith sans experience shall wreak havoc in this world – there shall be spells of religious hegemony and blood letting on the pretext of religious supremacy. Slowly religion seeped not through intellect and heart and consciousness but through every pore of body and every moment of existence. The presence of Guru and Guru Mandala, the sum total of the cosmic presence of the lineage of Gurus – ensured that the practices of Tantra be absorbed it its entirety and without any harmful effects.

The routine was rigorous, and yet there was not a moment of monotony or distraction. The sinking feeling that pervades and suffuses one every morning while preparing for a futile day was lost to the joy of the soul. The singsong of the soul reverberated with the song of the avian comrades. As within, so without – the phrase rung to verily true.

When the Samaveda proclaimed – Ye shall find restful sleep at the end of a hard day’s work, it reverberated well with our Guru Mandala. Bodily exertion is a key element in spiritual progress. The mind and intellect must give way to body and must work in tandem. Restful sleep is the yoga of the common man – it’s the samadhi that a soul drifts into effortlessly. Our daily regime also included visits to Chamu Devi temple, perched atop the topmost peaks of Ranikhet and Majkhali. Hatha yoga and tree plantations ensured our regime was complete – rejuvenation for body, mind and soul.

At the end of four days, we were initiated into the second level of deeksha in Tantra and let loose to merge back into the maddening crowd. There is no redemption in the lofty peaks of Himalayas. A sadhaka’s acid test is to keep the flame burning with Lord’s glory in the whirlwind of materiality and millions of souls striving towards materiality. Budhhas and Mahaviras had to traverse back to common folk to pay back the spiritual debt that each elevated soul owes to a searching soul. As a sadhaka, the Guru’s wishes to strive towards elevation and also help others in the process should not be lost to me, I reflected.

We came back to Delhi and bowed at Guru’s feet to bid farewell for then. The reassurance that Guru Mandala’s omnipresence will protect and help us sustain the flicker that our Guru had lighted up in our hearts was great. Thus ended the trip to Ranikhet, opening up new frontiers and possibilities for ten love parched souls who went atop to find God’s love.

P.S.: Ma Shakti Devpriya and Acharya Agyaatdarshan have been tirelessly working towards the emancipation of sadhakas and lighting their hearts with the fire of God’s love. They also work towards welfare of the world through Sacred Association, an NGO which works in the field of education, theology and poverty alleviation for the masses.

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Om Mani Padme Hum

 

The reverberations of Om Mani Padme Hum seems so innate, so intrinsic to the starkly denuded ranges, the monasteries and public discourse that makes one realize why there could not have been another religion pervading this part of the nation.

Only Buddha could have brought such peace, such contentment to the region; there is a stillness of mind that comes beguilingly effortlessly – such which could only have been achieved by a seasoned monk restraining his mind.

The bells that toll, the chimes that set in, the folksongs, the soft hearted demeanor of its populace – all utter in unison the grandeur of the central underlying theme of their existence – Buddhism.

The day and the folks are essentially unhurried in their ways and manners – the morning bells still set in, the Om Mani Padme Hum is still the link that separates the impending day and the expended night, much like the sunrise. This is a populace that still hasn’t lost the reason of life in the face of economy and advancements.
Always a votary of Hindu hegemony over the world, the reason of many religions no longer remained lost to me – there dawned a realization why a heathen’s life is essentially a waste, a tiring journey upstream that will and should never get rewarded.
What plethora of pages on religious tolerance and equity could not bring, this one moment of effortless meditation brought the understanding with a flourish.

Seated there, at the monastery, I could not think of the epoch when Buddha did not pervade the soul of this land and the heart of its inhabitants. How this part would have waited, with bated breath, for its ultimate redemption under Buddha must have been a tale of patience.

It always belonged. It always breathed Buddha.
With this flourish, I was purged of the two deadly fascinations of mankind: the idea of the hegemony of one’s own religion and the zeal to rid the earth of its religious variety.

May this land always belong to the Buddha. In it lies its redemption, its potency and its flourish.

P.S: This is a revelation that dawned on me during my trip to Ladakh… which was wonderful in ways more than one!

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Those Wonderful Smileys

A national survey from the American Dental Association, Crest(R) and Oral B(R) finds that the smile outranked eyes, hair and the body as the most attractive physical feature.

Seemingly true. The philosopher would say that the Zen has always smiled; the Zen will always smile. The devout would say Krishna smiled almost incessantly. The artist would sing the glory of the smile of the Mona Lisa. Just everyone seems to have a story to tell of how a smile attracts.

The Buddha always smiled. The Gods are always shown smiling. The prophets have worn incessant smiles of their faces. Sri Sri Ravishankar has been reckoned as the modern day sage who always smiles.

Everyone seems to be enthralled with a smile.

Smile has an almost equivalent counterpart, though not as beneficial. It is laughter. Laughter is a great healer, yet not as potent. Smile surpasses laughter in efficiency to rejuvenate the human body.  A subtle, feeble smile is sustainable whereas laughter is spasmodic and unsustainable. Undisputedly though laughter regales the body and de-stresses it, yet it is irregular, with jerks and starts and cramps and irregularity of breath. A smile soothes and tranquilizes and is more unceasing; it is more lasting than temporal and fleeting laughter.

The habit of smiling incessantly transforms a person. The likeability of people who smiles is a notch higher above others. A face is an outcome of the expression it wears over and over again, and a usually frowning face will develop certain lines that betray the person’s affability, or lack of it, too easily.

We certainly have a long way to go in our faith that the best things in life come easy and free. A smile is that magic wand that touches a heart and renders the hardest of hearts flow with love. It heals too. Recall the solace found in the smile of a nurse while we are convalescing from major illnesses; which is why the mission of a lot of service organizations is driven by the phrases such as ‘service with a smile’.

What am I doing these days? I am learning how to smile. As I do it over and over again, I realize that I have put to use my frown muscles more prominently than the smile muscles. Even if I smiled, it was a lopsided smile, just the twitching of one side of my lips; yes, the smirk that can cause grievous pain and anger to the heart that receives it.

I am smiling more. More and more; yet not like the Cheshire cat; I try to wear a genuine one, one that should fountain forth from the peace and serenity within; a smile less phony and more meaningful. To remind me of that, I have jotted a reminder on my notebook that I often use, which flows thus “Smile a little more; your face feels like just out of a bunch of rotten tomatoes 🙂 ”

For all the virtues of Abraham Lincoln, I still cannot condone the mournful visage he sported.

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May God Play Dice….

So, does God play dice? Heck, I couldn’t have cared less had things not started moving against me. In real life and real terms.

It is when such a turn of fate happens that one turns pensive. How does God decide to mete out a fate to someone? Is there an intelligent design that issues judgments and pronouncements on what can become a nightmare or a revelry in the trip called life? It certainly, is no mean task. Not meager either.

The orientalist turns the charge to something I did in some distant past – karma. So God is absolved of any seeming involvement in design of a pilgrim’s fate. He, therefore, is absolved of any flaws in its design too.

The occidental debunks karma. There is just one life. There is just a dice. God or no God, is optional to one’s choice.

To me, it is easier and less painful if God plays dice and not chess or checkers. Indifference is better than intelligent antagonism. It is better to believe that ill luck & misfortune is meted out to me by the chance of a dice than by the intelligent moves of the Cosmic Beloved.

KN

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One liners are awesome… some can make your day as you keep thinking about them…they are the way to meditation in today’s rushing world…

A few of mine interleaved with others…the ones without name need not necessarily be mine…pray the progenitors of those powerful thoughts forgive me…

  • The brevity of life….
  • I came. I saw. I proved. I realized the futility. I let Go.
  • The best things in life are edible 😛
  • Agreed God does not play dice… how abt chess or poker?
  • A yogi surpasses all in his hedonistic pursuits
  • Hand in Hand!!! Hand in glove!!!
  • There is superstition in shunning superstition – Lord bacon
  • I thought I would be the homemaker & you the bread earner, because feminists convinced me with the idea that women can not alone equal men, they can better them. So I thought I’d see for myself what promise do women hold in this beautiful world owned by Her!
  • Some people complexify, others simplicate!
  • I rejoice just for myself and perennially find myself short of reasons 😦 I rejoice for others and find reasons aplenty 🙂
  • If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise. ~ Johann von Goethe
  • God proposes, man disposes ~ from Chirag
  • One should live life infinitesimally incrementally… not worries about the next moment and no regrets about the previous…
  • Blue Ocean Strategy is when you wear blue to take my breath away 🙂
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Tribute to Krishna :)

From among the very few of my hindi Xpressions…

Hail Krishna!!!

Here’s the link, Pink!

Xpressions

Niraj

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