Friday, 25 April 2014

My Spiritual Journey Answered All My Questions

'We are spirits, in a material world' ~ Rock Band, The Police

We are born into this material world where our perceptions of our surroundings are ruled by the senses, what can be seen, felt, heard and smelt occupy our minds the most. As a natural consequence, we spend a majority of our lives pursuing objects and pastimes that please our senses. As our desires get fulfilled, new ones give birth in this unquenchable cycle.

Inner satisfaction is elusive. Despite of our best attempts to please our senses they are insatiable because they are dependent on external stimuli. Wisdom dawns on us more often when we are guided by a spiritual master, rarely by introspection. 
Was I any different? Although I have been a devotee of God for the most part of my life, the questions 'who was I praying to', 'why was I praying' were unimportant to me.My belief in God was so total that I did not care to dig deeply within myself.

However, 'Who am I', 'What is the purpose of my life' and 'What happens to me at death' were facets of life that puzzled me. 
Serendipity brought enlightenment. I was at my in-laws and had heard a few sentences being read out from the Gita to bring peace to the soul of my mother-in-law who had recently passed away. As most of the other religious sermons I normally had been hearing were in a language unknown to me, Sanskrit, my mind used to drift away.  However these words being read out in my mother tongue made so much sense that I began listening with rapt attention. As it happened, they had a spare copy of the Gita, which I readily accepted.

Around the same time, my sister was hospitalised for a week on account of her dengue illness. I volunteered to be by her side for the week that she was there. An excellent opportunity to read the Gita without being disturbed. That week changed my life: no, this is not an exaggeration. Introspection can get one only this far, a spiritual master throws light in the darkest recesses of the mind. 
Bhagavad Gita As It Is was and is my spiritual master. It made me understand life, myself and my relationship with God with great clarity. Not only were all my Whys, Whos and Hows answered but I was blessed with fundamental insights that shaped my life.


Can a Book do this?
'In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmological philosophy of Bhagavad-Gita, in comparison to which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial'  ~ Henry David Thoreau
So what did I learn from the Gita?
Yes, we are indeed spirits in a material world. Trapped, seeking to break free.
Karmayoga is the first rung on the path to spiritual advancement. For survival, man has to work in order to satisfy his own and his family's basic needs. Karmayoga in its truest sense means doing one's work as duty without expectation of any fruit from one's labour. It does not mean one should give up all familial ties and responsibilities or live the life of a monk. In fact, fulfilling one's duties is a Karmayogi's way of life. The core of Karmayoga is detachment from the fruits of all work. Even while engaging in work, we thus free ourselves from material bondage

Yoga is
 perceived by the majority as Ashtanga Yoga: physical exercises (asanas) that are
practiced for well being. Actually, Yoga is a way of life."Yoga is balance – in body, in social relations, in thinking, in emotion, in understanding, and in the very being itself."
This is not to suggest that the conventionally practiced Yoga is of little use: in fact it is immensely beneficial. I am alive because of my eighteen years of Yoga practice. Understanding Yoga as a way of life changes the way one approaches it.

Meditation is another much misunderstood process. Some tell me it is focusing on one's breath. Concentration on just thing (candle light for instance) is someone else's conception.
These are just the steps to prime your mind.So what really is meditation?
A state of thoughtless awareness. It is only when the mind has been emptied of relentless thoughts that you can experience a tranquility unlike any other. This connects you to your Soul. A divine experience.

I had posted a thought on a Facebook Spirituality Group. The moderator gently reminded me that this Group was about Spirituality not God. I promptly deleted my post. I could not fathom this disconnect between 'spirituality' in this sense and God. Obviously the term spirituality has to imply that we are spirits, not material bodies. Our bodies are mere vehicles of the Souls. The body goes through the same life cycle routine for everybody: Birth, growth, old age, death? What then? Is that all there is to it? 
We take birth again and in new vehicles(bodies) for the soul, birth after birth.Our souls are immortal, unborn and indestructible. If that sounds incredible, who is the Creator of our Souls? Evolution can account only for our material bodies. Thus what is spirituality if not our connection to God? Spirituality without acknowledging God is similar to breathing without inhaling air.

The Supreme Soul, God is not only my Creator but of the Universe, too.
Dr.Brian Weiss, a Psychiatrist, in his seminal work, Many Masters Many Lives has documented research in past lives and reincarnation, revealing how his patients recalled lives with minute details from as early as the stone ages! There was a distinct thread between past and present lives of his patients ( the karmic cycle). The NDE (Near Death Experiences) recorded by him also narrate an uncannily similar experience by all his patients: all of them being welcomed by God. His findings resonate a lot with the teachings of the Gita. Since I had read the Gita much earlier (now am onto my fifth reading), this research validated all my beliefs (not that I needed any!).

Bhaktiyoga
('bhaktiyoga is devotional service) the most powerful of them all. The Gita
itself says that in the stressful lives we live, it is virtually impossible to read all the scriptures, follow every prescribed ritual. By devoting all my energies to Him, by accepting Him as my Supreme Master, the reason of my very existence, I detach myself from all wordly attachments, while still fulfilling all my duties to family and society.

The Bhagavad Gita offered me a simple, easy to follow path:

  1. Karmayoga: work without being attached o the fruits of my work ( I learnt that I was a mere custodian of all my possessions, therefore, it was futile coveting them)
  2. AshtangaYoga and Meditation: were tools to conquer my wandering mind. The mind is the biggest barrier between me and bliss. It is thus said, 'conquer your mind, conquer the world'
  3. Bhaktiyoga:  By focusing all my attention on Him, thinking of Him as often as I can and by being grateful to Him, I have discovered the easiest way of surrendering to Him.
As for God. The Creator of the wondrous universe, who ensures its smooth functioning with clock-work precision, the Supreme Soul who sits in my soul and yours too.
How do I describe You, God?

Just wish to bask in Your Glory, just wish to surrender to You.




Friday, 4 April 2014

A Little Poetess Takes Wing

It was a Sunday morning and my wife, daughter and I were attending a very special event. Special, rare, magical. Puneet Bhatnagar, my friend and Mentor had invited us to a launch function. It was an informal gathering of thirty to forty, mainly consisting of families.

The occasion was the launch of Puneet and Shailja's daughter, Adhya's Book, a compilation of her poems. As befitted the Event, the launch was preceded by some fun and frolic culminating with the Book release.

What makes this event so extraordinary? Adhya, the bubbly Poetess happens to be all of eight

years!! It is commendable that her parents have created such an environment for to express herself creatively. What's more, Adhya is home schooled, another out of the ordinary step, an initiative of Shailja. Undoubtedly, Adhya has inherent talent (in her genes too: writing and creativity are family friends!) Puneet is a Blogger and Author too, besides his advertising background. All the same that talent needs to be nurtured and encouraged. Congratulations to the parents in this respect!
As for Adhya, am floored by her insights! Thoughts which only an innocent mind could come up with. Imagination unsullied by dreary realism.



Got immersed in the sheer joy of a child's uninhibited creativity!

Here's a small peek into her world,
'My Little World',
as the Book is evocatively titled.









Who Painted The World


Who painted the morning skies?

And those pretty butterflies?


From which market
Do you get the fluorescent white
Which fills the moon so bright?

Who filled the sea with blue?
Clouds have different colours too!


Who dyed the trees with green?
Everywhere it is seen!

Who painted the bamboo shoots?
Who coated the colour on fruits?

I don't know who painted these
What a great mystery it is!


-Adhya Bhatnagar


(This poem reproduced here with prior authorisation of Puneet Bhatnagar)
Discover more about this Book and the people behind it here:
My Little World
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