Last year when Hari & I visited University of Wisconsin-Madison to browse through their library, we picked a newsletter on the way. It is titled “Go Vegetarian, Go Vegan” published by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). This newsletter highlighted the cruel treatment of cows, pigs, hens, chicken – which form the bulk of meat industry – here in US at the merciless hands of the butchers and money-oriented food industries.
Consumers are interested only in consuming the end-product which is some chunk of meat wrapped air-tight neatly in some container and frozen, and are not giving even an iota of thought of the violation of life behind it. If only we pay attention to the means and the process behind the scenes that results in the end product, it would be very heart-wrenching and the food could not be even looked at without feeling a sense of sadness. This whole meat-producing industry survives by a mindless and irresponsible consumption. Unless and until we consumers pay attention to what food goes in to our mouths, what has been sacrificed or compromised to result in the food, the food that we eat cannot bring us health and happiness. Violation of life is in itself an antagonist to whole well-being.
As the year 2013 is approaching, I am trying to think in, out and through the “Black Box”. A question that has occupied my mind for a long time – at least since a decade – when I captured the question in my mind in the following picture (in the year 2003).
Life is filled with race – for money, luxury, comfort, security, fame, name, recognition, success etc – all the “so-called” ingredients for a happy life. Most of the humanity seems to be in search of something exquisite, which it fails to comprehend, but engages itself in a race for the above things in the hope that it can achieve that exquisite goal. The above things give security and freedom, I am sure, but do they give unperturbed happiness, peace, contentment?
This post has been on my mind for quite a while. It is a very painful paradox that on one hand, societies and communities all over the world celebrate Women’s divinity, strength, beauty and wisdom, but on the other hand, women are assaulted, brutally raped, physically and emotionally abused. I have noted these atrocities in the history leaves of every society in every country. We can measure the depth of percolation of the value system in a society by looking at how the society treats Women, Children, and Prisoners Of War (POW), and it does not paint a pretty picture. Every society is failing and falling apart in this basic moral system.
Women are being looked down as objects of enjoyment and pleasure, more so in some sections of society laden with poverty, alcohol, drugs and struggle of survival. No matter the color, race, age, education factors, women are violated, abused, humiliated and their freedom mishandled. There is always apprehension for the physical safety of daughters and sisters. Newspapers all over the world are abound with such news of violation of Women’s honor. What a despicable condition !
Below is poem “Even This Will Pass Away” written by the poet Theodore Tilton on the transience of events and occurrences in life and how Time does not stop at either a happy or sad occasion. This concept gives a lot of strength to face life. I came across this in Swami Sivanandaji’s literature and he suggested to write this on a piece of paper and keep it with you in your pocket. I did it accordingly. I even have it in my office prominently where I can see while working. It helps me to remind myself that any elation or any depression is bound to pass away.
EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY !
By Theodore Tilton
Once in Persia reigned a king, Who upon a signet ring, Carved a maxim strange and wise, When held before his eyes, Gave him counsel at a glance, Fit for every change and chance: Solemn words, and these were they: “EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY.”
Trains of camel through the sand Brought him gems from Samarcand; Fleets of galleys over the seas Brought him pearls to rival these, But he counted little gain, Treasures of the mine or main; “What is wealth?” the king would say, “EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY.”
We convey our best wishes to our readers on the happy, holy and auspicious occasion of Ganesha Chaturdhi. May Lord Ganesha remove any obstacles on our spiritual path – physical, mental, emotional, social, gross, subtle – and help us in progressing onward. The difficulties one encounters in undertaking a task and completing it are enormous, more so in the field of disciplining mind and assimilating spiritual teachings. Ganesha Chaturdhi gives us the opportunity to worship that aspect of Lord through which we can remove these obstacles. Hence Ganesha is called “Vigneswara” or “Vighna Vinaasaka.”
The Ganapathi Atharvasirshopanishad, a hymn in praise of Lord Ganesha, was taught to us by Swami Pratyagbodhananda ji few years back. The Text and Audio file are attached for your use. Please use them for chanting the stotra on this festival day and be benefitted.
Text of Ganapathi Atharva Sirshopanishad
Audio rendition of Ganapathi Atharva Sirshopanishad:
Recently I got a book called “Miracle of Love – Stories about Neem Karoli Baba” when I went to Madison Univeristy Library, and since then I am absorbed in reading it whenever I have time. It contains personal experiences and stories Maharajji’s (as Baba is called) by his disciples and devotees, compiled by the famous Ram Dass, his western disciple. The time setting is between 60-70’s since Maharajji passed away in 1971 (He was a contemporary of Swami Sivananda). It is a very engaging book, and each incident and narration is instructive and has a spiritual message to convey.
I have known the name and form of Neem Karoli Baba when I was studying in BITS, Pilani. But I did not know much details about him at that time as I know now. We have a very small and beautiful Hanuman Mandir in the campus grounds of BITS, Pilani (in Rajasthan). Hari and I owe a lot to this temple. For me, personally, it is the source of blessings and divine grace. (Pilani itself has bestowed blessings one me since I met my husband Hari there, but that is a different story :)). Everyday in the Hanuman mandir, after the Aarati and Prasad, there would be Tulasi Ramayan Path. That is where I have got my initial knowledge and interest in Tulasi Ramayan.
Hari Om. Recently I returned from India and pilgrimage to Rishikesh, Badrinath in Himalayas. In this journey, I have experienced how life and death are interwoven in the Indian thinking. Generally, body is not given so much of importance and somehow a subconsious feeling of vairagya (detachment, dispassion) towards the body (whether genuine or not) governs the day-to-day living.
I was talking to our friend, Sri Rajuji, yesterday morning and he was narrating how he felt the presence of Lord Siva in the crematorium grounds he visited to perform the last rites of his sister-in-law. Lord Siva is said to roam in the crematorium grounds smearing the ash that is left over after burning the body. What remains of all the pampered body is just but a handful of ash.
Swami Sivananda ji said to remember 4 things…(1) Remember God, (2) Remember Saints, (3) Remember the pains of Samsara and (4) Remember Death.. Rembering any of the above is sure to make one’s life divine.
I was reminded of a poem I wrote around 10 years back about the dance of death, and I wanted to share it all with you here. I have seen deaths in the family and friends circle and it inspired me to write the below poem. It is difficult for near and dear ones to come out of the pain, but Time is the greatest healer and if we adjust our perspective towards Death, we can only welcome it. Below is the poem:
Swami Sivananda ji Maharaj had emphasized a lot on engaging oneself in chanting and writing the Divine Names. I derive great inspiration from him.
Around five years back, I acame across a nice booklet consisting of articles signifying writing Rama Mantra by an Organization called SHRI DADU LEELA ” RAMA NAMA PARIKRAMA” SHODH SANSTHAN,. This booklet also carries personal experiences and spiritual sadhana of devotees and practitioners who set aside a time every day and wrote the Rama Nama.
This organization encourages people to take up a committment of completing a given number of Rama Nama matra writing and sending it to them for storing it in the temple.
Please click the below image to download the booklet.
You can download the Rama Koti book prepared by Saranaagathi Team by clicking below image. Print on a printer which has both-side printing. Once you get all printed, just fold the bunch in half. Your booklet is ready !