Thursday, December 3, 2020

Annadaan –Mahadaan


“Ma, are chole bhature ready?” I used to ask my mother as soon as I opened my eyes every year on 3rd December until I mastered the art of cooking.

“Ya, chole are ready and I will fry hot bhaturas for you after we all do hawan and you do charity.” This would be my mother’s reply as she was always been an early riser.

My mother’s response would always astir my celebration mood.

For every occasion my menu was fixed – chole bhature. Not only that but whenever I eat out my menu was already decided – chole bhature. I did not like to go in restaurants that did not serve chole bhature. Although I loved to try chole bhature in different restaurants from dhabas to luxurious hotels.

As my age increased, the size and quantity of bhaturas decreased on my plate. With God’s grace, the quantity of donation of chole bhature improved with each passing year.

According to Shrimad DeviBhagwat Mahapuran अन्नदानं महादानं (annadaanam mahadaanam) which means donating foodstuffs is the greatest charity and अन्नदानात्परं दानं न भूतं न भविष्यति। (aanadaanatperam daanm na bhutam n bhavesyate) There is no charity as grand as donation of foodstuffs, neither in the past nor in the future. Because of generous believer in these philosophies, I love to donate edible items as much as possible.

My daily charity includes feeding birds, squirrels and stray animals like cow, bull and dog. I collect my organic kitchen waste like vegetable peels, green leftovers, broccoli stalks and feed stray animals with them. On every weekend, I cook ladoos or halwa to feed stray dogs. It is pleasing as well as sometimes embarrassing that five or six stray dogs always escort me whenever I visit a local market. While travelling in car whenever I notice a group of monkeys, I feed them with fruits, roasted channa or any other edible item that I am carrying in my bag at that time. I feel it is our duty to feed them, as there are no fruiting trees left on the roadside and there is not much food for them in the fields.

I even love to feed different species with my hands. Surprisingly, I had fed biscuits to tree pie on my palm. I had fed baby nilgai with chapatti, rabbit with Armenian cucumber and langoor with roasted channa. I have also fed herbivorous animals like camel, horse, donkey, elephant, goat, sheep etc. It is my ardent wish to feed tiger on my palm. ;)

In the winter season, when there is ample of organic vegetables from farm, I prepare different types of pickles and then gladly distribute them among my employees. I love to prepare meals like puri, chole, halwa after completing any Sadhana especially Devi Sadhana and distribute them in my locality. Whenever I eat out in a restaurant, I always bear my driver’s meal expenses. I generously donate on various occasions in bhandaras in the temples so that the nutritious and delicious food reaches even to those who cannot afford it. On solar eclipse, Diwali, Makarsankranti or any other festival, I prefer to distribute fruits to janitors and sweepers.

Tula daan means charity equivalent to one’s weight. From my birth until today, my weight is measured and foodstuffs of equal weight are donated to needy person(s). The optimistic thing about this daan is that my weight is still on increasing trend. ;)

So today, is the day for feeding others with chole bhature. It is my humble request with everyone to celebrate 3rd December after my death as chole bhature day! :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

How many times do you breathe in a minute?


“How many times do you breathe in a minute?” The teacher asked the class of trps students, a training course for income tax return filing. “When I say ‘START’, begin counting your breathes and after one minute I will say ‘STOP’ then you all have to stop counting and tell me the number of times you have breathed in one minute.”

In February 2007, I was one of the students of this class. Every student stated the number of breaths around 18 except me.

“It can’t be 5!” He said surprisingly. “Chandrika, do not take long breaths like in pranayama. Just breathe normally.”

I counted again by taking short breaths as much as possible. This time it was 7! I must be doing it incorrectly. Leave it. My mind went back to the teacher’s voice.

“A normal person breathes 12-25 times in a minute. I am breathing 32 times in a minute and my doctor tells me that I will not be able to live a long life like a tortoise.” He chuckled. “He asks to quit smoking, as I am chain smoker. I drink heavily on weekends and I love nightlife. I have a girl friend, she is C.A. like me. Tell me something about yourself, any student.” 

The students were as bore as the subject.

He would then explain where they first met, what she liked, what were their future plans. All of sudden he would then start teaching the subject matter again. He used this trick to grasp the attention of students, as most of us were non-commerce students with no knowledge of income as well as tax. Moreover, we found it too difficult to focus on advance level of the subject matter without any foundation of money matters. He must be the only teacher on earth to teach income tax with a tinge of romance!

Now, I stay in Delhi and NCR. In polluted air, my normal breathing rate is 2-3 times per minute. If I am in a forest, sanctuary or in Himalayas then it drips. When I am doing meditation or pranayama it drops further and sometimes stops for a short period.

A person with stressed mind will have shorter breaths and a person with peaceful mind will have longer breaths that mean a tenses person will breathe more number of times in a minute than a calm person. If a person is in deep thinking or meditating then the breathing will be slow or suspended for some time. The breathing becomes irregular and unsteady if the mind is filled with negative emotions like anger, jealousy, envy and hatred. Mind and breathing are interrelated if you control one the other will be controlled involuntarily.

The easiest way to slow down your breaths is to exhale for longer time. Inhale gently and exhale slowly and completely. One can also practice yogic breathing with the proper use of diaphragm. Breathe in slowly; expand abdomen, then rib cage and finally the upper portion of lungs. Make the maximum use of your lung capacity. While inhaling imagines that, all the positive virtues like happiness, joy, peace and calmness are moving in. Breathe out gently, contract abdomen, then rib cage and finally relax upper portion of lungs. Concentrate on the air going out and imagining that all the negative emotions like anger, fear, hatred and stress are moving out.

How many times do you breathe in a minute? Count it. With practice, slow down it to experience happiness from within.

P.S. 1. Pic - Sketch is drawn by me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Power of Mantra


To quench my quest for meditation, I picked up the book ‘Meditation and Mantras’ by Swami Vishnu Devananda from the bookshelf of Nehra Library, Hisar which was one of the best libraries in India. Although it had a vast collection of books and journals mostly related to agriculture and its allied subjects even though it had a good collection of general books. In 1999, I often visited that library for my research work and sometimes just to pass the time.

I flipped the pages and saw a smiling photo of Swami Sivananda, founder of Divine Life Society. His irresistible smile was full of peace, kindness and compassion. His face was radiating with sheer bliss. Swami Vishnu Devananda had dedicated this book to his master.

To know why saints were always smiling, I got that book issued in my name. After thorough reading, I came to know about different ways of doing meditation as the theory and practical applicability were explained in detail. I was excited to try at least one but was not sure whether I would be doing it for long time or for a brief period just for fun.

I opted for the easiest one - Japa Meditation. It is building up or accumulating power of mantras by repeating them with love and devotion. There are different types of mantras. Saguna mantras (with form) e.g. Om Namah Sivaya, Om Namo Narayanana, Hari Om, nirguna mantras (without form) e.g. OM, abstract mantras e.g. Soham (I am That I am), Aham Brahma Asmi (I am Brahman) and beej mantras e.g. Aim, Hreem were listed. As there are, many paths to the top of a mountain so there are many mantras to God realisation. Which one should I chose? I did not know the correct pronunciation of beej mantras so I could not opt for them. Abstract mantras were abstruse and nirguna mantras were esoteric. I was left with only one option -Saguna mantras. It was easy to concentrate on the image of deity. The author emphasised that neither mantra nor deity once selected can be changed. To maintain good speed one has to stick to one path, one mantra and one deity to avoid spread of his/her energies in exploring all the other alternative paths.

I feared that if I selected a difficult mantra, I might lose interest after some time or might found it hard to chant because of change in responsibilities with time. As I would be bound to one mantra and one deity therefore, I chose the easiest mantra and the simplest of all the deities so that I could stick to it throughout my life.

I fixed an hour for chanting, focusing and meditating on that mantra facing East at the same place. To my surprise, I started having experiences in meditation as mentioned in that book just after a few months. Experiences only assured me that I was moving on the right path but for further progress, I had to ignore them completely. My goal was not the vibrant lights but the Darshan of the deity. According to Divine Life Society, if one does the chanting of mantra 13 crores of times with faith and devotion, the deity manifest itself in front of him/her.

With time, my responsibilities increased and I could not afford to sit for meditation for long hours then I decided to chant the mantra while doing my daily activities like car driving, waiting for business meeting, cooking, walking, swimming and even while moving in an elevator. My hands were busy with the work but my mind was remembering God all the time rather most of the time. I had chanted that mantra crores and crores of times. Yet I had not chanted it 13 crores times!

Constant repetition of God’s name had helped me to put a check on my negative emotions to some extent. I was not satisfied with my progress as they sprang up every now and then. The Nature showered It’s kindness and manifested in the form of Human Guru as Om Swamiji who not only helped in removing my unpleasant emotions but also showed the right divine path. His presence, words and teachings removed the thick dark forest of ignorance and purified me. His grace and presence spiritually elevated me. He is an ocean of bliss, knowledge and compassion. He helped me in lifting my head from the quagmire of worldly maya.

Swami Sivananda says, “The Guru is God Himself manifesting in a personal form to guide the aspirant. Grace of God takes the form of the Guru. To see the Guru is to see God.”

P.S.- 1. If you missed out the story of Kalavati told by Om Swamiji then you can watch it here.

2.  Amidst my chanting routine, I never forget to take my daily dose of Pingu, Shaun the Sheep or Chip and Dale to keep the kid inside me alive. ;)

3. Pic was clicked by me at Kishangarh, Rajasthan

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Namopathy - A panacea


“Ma, please tell a story.” I requested in feeble voice as I saw her entering my room. I made such requests nearly 10-12 times a day sometimes even more.

She replied, “As soon as I am free, I will narrate you interesting story from the new book. It is about a bear that lived in the snow. The book is full of coloured pictures. But right now, I am busy with household chores and looking after your younger brother.”

“The bear lives in the forest not in the snow.”

“It is a different story.”

I lied down quietly on the bed eagerly waiting for the different story.

I was on bed at the age of four and a half years. My whole body was covered with different sizes and shapes of pustules. The pain was unbearable. But I did not cry. I did not shed tears. My only way to escape from reality of aches was into the world of imagination!

My father hardly got ant time to tell me a story but whenever he got some, he used to tell me the same story about the monkey and the crocodile from the Panchtantra.

One day, when I get bored of repeated narrations, I said, “Papa, why do you always tell me the same story? I do not want to listen it repeatedly. Please tell me some other story.”

“I tell you the truth. I do not know any story. I learnt this story only for you.” My father replied. “I am busy. Whatever time I get, I give it you instead of giving it to your infant bro.” As he stood up from the chair to go away, I asked him to repeat the same tale. It was better to hear the same story instead of none.

My naniji (maternal grandmother) knew many stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas. She was an excellent narrator of folk tales and fairy tales. She was never short of stories. However, she occasionally visited us because of her household responsibilities and her health. She could tell stories for hours and hours without taking a break. Her visit was always a jackpot for me!

 “Once, there was a school going boy named Chandan who used to live in a village with her mother. They were very poor as his father was no more and her mother earned little by selling cow’s milk.” My nanaji (my maternal grandfather and my mother’s uncle) narrated this to me. He came to know that my health was deteriorating fast and I would not be able to live for more days. All the doctors in the town were consulted but nobody knew what the disease was! Allopathic medicines were worsening my condition day by day. My parents were tensed. To relieve us, one day he came to our home after his office hours.   

“He had to cross a dense forest to go to school which was situated in the nearby village. His classmates were rich who came to school on carts but Chandan was the only boy in the school who came on foot. One day, the teacher asked all students to bring milk from their home. All the students were rich who can easily spare milk. Chandan could not bring the milk as her mother sold the milk in lieu of wheat floor for the dinner. Next day, everybody brought milk except Chandan. The teacher scolded him. Without giving any ear to his story, he forced him to bring milk immediately. He disappointedly went to his home and told the whole story to his mother. Her mother said, “Why does the teacher need so much milk?”

 “The teacher’s daughter marriage has been fixed day after tomorrow and the teacher has to give a good feast to the bharatis.”

“Go and ask Gopala (protector of cow and a name for Lord Krishna), He will arrange it for you.”

He started back for school. In the middle of the forest, he closed his eyes and cried “Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala,

Gopala, Gopala, Gopala,Gopala, Gopala, Gopala.”

“What happened next?” I asked.

“He is calling God for help. Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala, Gopala. (One mala – 108 times)”

Lord Krishna manifested in front of him and asked politely, “My child, why are you calling me? What do you need?”

He shared his problem with God. He listened to him and gave him a lauta (small vessel). He took it and looked in it. It had very little milk.

He said, “The milk is not enough. The teacher wanted the full lauta, moreover this lauta is too small. Gopala, atleast fill it to the brim.”

Krishna said, “Give this lauta to your teacher.” And He disappeared.

Half-heartedly he took the path to the school. He gave lauta to the teacher. The teacher mocked at the size of the lauta. The teacher poured the milk in the bucket. The bucket got filled and some milk spitted on the floor. Surprisingly, the mini lauta still had milk in it. The teacher rushed to his house which was nearby and filled drums, kadhais, patilas, and all the big vessels he had. But lauta still had milk. The greedy teacher started filling all the small vessels like glass, katori (bowl) etc. with milk. The lauta still had milk. The teacher got tired of, realised his mistake, and asked for forgiveness.

That very day, my nani suggested the name of a vaidji (Ayurvedic doctor) to my father. Next day, in the morning we were in his clinics. The vaidji checked my eyes, tongue, nadi etc. and told that the medicines given to her reacted; the blood became impure which resulted in pustules. He suggested that every morning I should take fresh neem juice, mishri (sweet granules to beat bitterness) and roasted channa (helps in fresh blood formation) before eating anything. He also prescribed medicated oil for applying on my ruptured skin.

My father fed me bitter medicines and my nanaji (grandfather) told me stories of Chandan in which he was trapped in some trouble, called Gopala for help and then some magic happens for three-four months until I was cured. My nanaji gradually increased the number of malas in between the stories. One such story had 108 malas of Gopala which means 11664 times.

According to Swami Sivananda, “When Allopathy, Homeopathy, Chromopathy, Naturopathy, Ayurvedopathy and other ‘pathies’ fail to cure a disease, the Divine Namopathy alone can save you, The Name of the Lord is a sovereign specific, a sheet anchor, an infallible panacea and a cure all for diseases.

Gopala saved me! :)

P.S. – Photo clicked by me

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Digital Library

Near about 20 years back.....
“It’s retro Jupiter and not combust Mars which is causing problems in your life.” My family astrologer confidently told me. At that time, I did not have the knowledge of astrology. Even though his statement was contrary to other astrologers but I had firm believe in predictions. As per his suggestions, I did charity work related to Jupiter to dilute its negative effects. Even now, I did them regularly.

Near about 15 years back.....
I studied astrology to know the truth. I found out that my family astrologer was right because Jupiter aspects strengthens Mars as well as removes the negativity of Mars and moreover Jupiter damaged the house in which it is placed. At that time, most of the problems in my life were related to the house occupied by Jupiter. I decided to do more charity work related to Jupiter like donating mango, books, yellow coloured clothes, gold etc.

Near about 7 years back.....
As Jupiter represents education and learning, I started a charitable library in a commercial space that I owned. From my personal collection, I donated near about 1000 books to the library and spared my four almirahs for keeping books. My friends, relatives, neighbours and even strangers donated books generously. Popular newspapers and magazines were subscribed to attract all age groups. A part time librarian was appointed to look after it.

Near about 6 years back.....
A nominal fee of Rs. 200/- was fixed as security of two books that can be issued at a time to a member. Seven persons registered out of that only two or three were regular visitors. The rest did not bother to visit as they did not have interest in reading books or they issued books of more price than security and returning them would be a lost affair.   

Near about 3.5 years back.....
I kept pushing, dreaming that one day it would be full of students. My money was draining in librarian salary, newspaper bill and maintenance charges. After librarian’s wife died, he resigned, as he had to look after his grandchildren. After tiring search, I was not able to find a librarian in my budget. I had to put a lock on the library. I failed.

Near about 3 years back.....
Whenever I failed, I jot down the reasons why I failed.
1.      The library was located at commercial place. It was amidst a posh colony of the town. It was close to two main schools.
2.      The place was well illuminated and ventilated.
3.      I had the books for all age groups and on various subjects.
4.      The library was located in North- East of the building. (According to Vastushastra, it is the best place for studying.)
5.      There was good sitting arrangement with basic electric facilities.
6.      I did the proper marketing by advertising in newspapers and on cable T.V.
7.      The fees were nominal.
Then, why did I fail???
I prepare a list of persons from whom I can seek guidance and advice in this matter.
On the top of the list was the name of my former colleague who had retired from the post of librarian from a reputed college. She patiently listened to my problems then explained that people had lost interest in reading books. They loved to read on internet. Change the library as per the demand of the people. She introduced me to digital library, a library that neither had any librarian nor any books but remained full of students. She assured me to show such a successfully running library in her vicinity.
I rushed to her place.
She accompanied me in collecting all information and data needed to start a digital library. Now, I had a new idea, new concept, new motive but no funds.
Near about 2 years back.....
I sharply cut my personal expenses to drain my funds for the renewal of library. The digital library now had desks with selves and comfortable chairs to accommodate more number of students. To monitor the students CCTV cameras were fitted. A Wi-Fi connection with unlimited data was installed so that the students could learn without any obstruction. Fans, lights, power back up and all the modern facilities were there! But students were not there!!

Near about one and a half year back....
I advertised again on local cable TV and newspapers. At last, one student joined! He came regularly from 10am to 2:30pm on weekdays and took breaks on weekends and other holidays to spend time with his family. He was preparing for civil services. Two more students joined but didn’t showed up after two-three months.

Near about one and a half month back....
I called my employee Mr. ‘A’.
I – How many students are coming these days in the library?
A – Two old and three new students.
I – What new students are preparing for?
A – One boy is preparing for tax and another for police and the girl is preparing for service.
I – How do they come?
A – The two boys came from two different nearby villages on bus. And the girl came from a nearby colony on scooty. The boys came according to bus timings. They came early so I opened the library at 7:30am and they left late in the evening. I closed it at 6pm.
I – I will pay you extra for that. Do they move out of library in between 10.5 hours time?
A – No, they bring their lunch from home. The whole day they sit together and study together.
I – Are they coming regularly?
A – Yes, they came even on weekends and do not take any break on religious festivals.
I – Have they paid their fees?
A – Yes, they have paid the previous month fees but now they are asking for two days discount as I have closed the library for two days because of local lockdown for sanitisation for corona.
I – Are they asking for two days discount???
A – I told them, “In this library, you have to pay only Rs. 200/- per month for unlimited data and unlimited time where as the prevalent market rate is Rs.600/- per fortnight for only 6 hours and Rs.1200/- per fortnight for 12 hours. The total fees of all the students is not enough to pay WiFi bill as WiFi charges are too high in this area and the other expenses like maintenance are also borne by us. And now you are asking for 13 rupees and 30 paisa discount?!!”
I smiled.
If there are students in my library who study nonstop for 10 long hours, without any break and want to save Rs.13/- even, then success is not far behind. One day, my digital library will be full of serious studious students.

I will succeed.

P.S. 1. Pic : Clicked by me as I love to play scrabble.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

A start-up from scratch

June, 2020
I received a message on Whatsapp. It was from a guy let’s named him Mr. ‘G’ who was a hotel staff in a small town of Rajasthan. I meet him once while my stay in that hotel near about two years back.
Mr. ‘G’- For the three months, I am not going to hotel. I am at home.
I – Everybody is at home. Almost whole world!
Mr. ‘G’- I do not know what will happen next because hotel business is closed due to corona. I am upset.
I – Do not worry. Most probably corona medicine will come in the market by July end or August. After that, everything will be fine.
I tried to soothe him.
Mr. ‘G’- Today, Locust attacked my fields for the third time. They are active in our district.
I – You can shoo them away by burning dry leaves, by burning crackers, by beating utensils, by clapping or by playing loud music. Moreover, Rajasthan Government is giving compensation for crops damaged by locusts. You can contact Patwari (Land revenue officer) of your village.
Mr. ‘G’- We shooed them away. But they are visiting our fields again and again.
I – Next time, if they came then catch them during night. Grind them in a mixer and sell that paste to nearby poultry farm. They will give you good money.
I suggested not only humorous but also monetary gain idea to cheer up his mood.
Mr. ‘G’- Ohh! Good idea! J
But I am really worried how to meet my daily expenses.
I – Take up a local job to meet current expenses like organic farming, vegetable selling, handicraft making, carpentry, pottery making, puppets making, block printing, embroidery, mirror work etc.
Mr. ‘G’- Here everything has come to a standstill, as it is a small town.
I recalled that every nook and corner of the town had hotels from budgeted hotels to luxurious hotels, from mud huts to glamping tents from suburbs to resorts. However, one thing was common in them that their names had ‘bagh’ either as first, middle or last word, may be to give an assurance to the customers that if they stayed in this hotel they would be able to have a glimpse of tiger.
I – I can understand as hotel industry is one of the worst hit businesses.
Mr. ‘G’- I have a small farm house. I wish to start dairy at small scale. I have two cows. I want to buy a buffalo but it doesn’t fit in my budget.
He didn’t pick up the options suggested by me but picked up one according to his knowledge and skills. One step towards becoming an entrepreneur!
I – A buffalo will cost around one lakh or even more. You can take loan. Do you have Kisan Credit Card?
Mr. ‘G’- No.
I – Get one. You can take loan of 2-3 lakhs on very low rate of interest of 2-3% by mortgaging your land to any authorised bank. Kisan Credit Card is a not so new scheme launched by the Government to give instant loan to farmers for buying seeds, manure, fertilizers, insecticides, agricultural equipments and to do other agricultural related work.
Mr. ‘G’- I will try.
In my area, some greedy farmers had taken loan from Kisan Credit Card, and had invested that money in fixed deposits at higher rate of interest of 7-8% in other banks and were making good profit from the difference in the rate of interest.

After a week,
Mr. ‘G’- I have selected a good breed buffalo and I am interested in buying that but I am not able to arrange funds. I am tensed.
I – I told you about Kisan Credit Card.
Mr. ‘G’- The land is my father’s name and I have discussed it with him. The process will take time. I need money urgently.
I – You can take personal loan from the banks in which you have account(s).

After one hour,
Mr. ‘G’- I talked with a bank employee and I have filled the form. Let’s see when it will be passed.
I was amazed to see this message as it was Sunday evening and almost all the banks were closed. May be he had applied for loan online. I appreciated him that he had a risk taking ability and had a quality to overcome obstacle(s) to achieve goal.

After two days, the message flashed.
Mr. ‘G’ – Congratulations, Madam. I bought a buffalo and calf yesterday. Now I will be able to do my dairy work.
I - Best wishes for your business! May it prosper and grow!
Mr. ‘G’ – Thankyou very much, Madam. I need your blessings.
We all have potentials sometimes just needed a little push!

Pic: He send this pic to me.
P.S. Please don’t forget to tell me who you find more beautiful – buffalo or the necklace she is wearing? ;)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Book Review : The Magic of Friendships by Shubha Vilas

A true friendship energizes the soul and refreshes the mind. Sometimes it is so deep that words are not necessary to understand each other’s emotions. A true friend is always with you whatever happens in your life, accepts you as you are and loves you unconditionally. Do you have a true friend in your life? Nah! Then become one for someone!!

The Magic of Friendships by Shubha Vilas explained how one can make good friends and how one can become a good friend. According to the author, there are four types of friends – Badhus or associates, sakhas or friends, priya sakhas or confidential friends and suhrits or best friends. The Wheel of Friendship helps in analysing all kind of friendships one have. In our friend circle, there are many bandhus, some are sakhas, a few are priya sakhas and rarely is a suhrit. From bunch of posers, how to trace out a true friend is a difficult task but it becomes quite easy after reading this book. It includes questionnaires, quizzes, inventories, test and some fun activities that inspire one to enrich friends as confidential friends and strangers as friends.

The author very well explained that friendship is a responsibility and not a competition. He also throws light on creating value in friendship, peer pressure effecting self-esteem and friends beyond friendship. The language is simple and state forward.

It includes heart touching stories from Mahabharata, Ramayana, Panchtantra and modern times. It guides readers to find out simple solutions to the complex problems in friendships and teaches the art of becoming a good friend. The narration is appealing and motivates one to be good friends with parents, pets and self. It also discusses about the pros and cons of online friendships.

Author has embedded some beautiful gems in it. Some of the quotes which I liked are as follows :
1.      It is easy to see fault in others, but it is difficult to see fault in oneself.
2.      Friendship should not be about competition, it should be about helping each other grow.
3.      It’s not the quantity of friendship that matters but the quality of it.
4.      Before you beat others, you need to achieve victory over yourself.
5.      Every time you enjoy their (Priya Sakhas or Confidential friends) company, you come back supercharged and happy.
6.      Sakhas or friends encourage you and push you way more than you can push yourself. They can see the good in you even when you can’t see it in yourself.

The author is a TEDx speaker, lifestyle coach, storyteller and author. Ramayana : The Game of Life is his bestselling series. He has written Roar with Courage, Conquer Fear, Adopt Patience, Stand Strong  and Radiate Confidence based on Bala Kanda, Ayodhya Kanda, Aranya Kanda, Kishkindha Kanda and Sundara Kanda of Ramayana epic respectively. He is also the author of Open-Eyed Meditations and Perfect Love : 5.5 Ways to a LastingRelationship. The focus of his work is the application of scriptural wisdom in everyday living, addressing the needs of corporate and youth through thought provoking seminars. Curious to know more about him, then visit his website –

G. Randolf quotes that good friends are hard to find, harder to leave and impossible to forget. This book is the best gift for your best friend that will always be a bond between you and your friend. J

Monday, July 13, 2020

Book Review : Radiate Confidence by Shubha Vilas

Radiate Confidence is the fifth book in the series of Ramayana – The Game of Life by Shubha Vilas. The author has written Roar with Courage, Conquer Fear, Adopt Patience and Stand Strong based on Bala Kanda, Ayodhya Kanda, Aranya Kanda and Kishkindha Kanda of Ramayana epic respectively. Radiate Confidence is the modern retelling of the Sundara Kanda of Valmiki’s epic Ramayana. According to the author, the Bala Kanda covers a period of almost 13years, the Ayodhya Kanda almost a year, the Aranya Kanda stretches over roughly 13years, while the Kishkindha Kanda describes a period of a little over two months. But the Sundara Kanda covers just five days and more than three-quarters of the book covers a two-day period when Hanuman leapt to Lanka.

Sundara Kanda is about Hanuman’s journey across ocean to Lanka in search of Sita, Lord Ram’s wife. Hanuman was fondly called ‘Sundara’ by his mother Anjani therefore Sage Valmiki (author of Ramayana in Sanskrit) named this Kanda as ‘Sundara Kanda’. It tells the adventure of Hanuman and his selfless service, strength and devotion to Lord Rama.

Sundara Kanda is about our purpose of life – our own search for a goal in life. Hanuman shows is that the goal of life is Sita, who he is searching for in this kanda. For a gyani, Sita is shanti or peace. For a devotee, Sita is bhakti. For a yogi, she is adishakti or subtle energy. The truth is that everyone is in search of Sita.

The language is lucid and simple to understand. It guides readers to find out easy solutions to the complicated problems and teaches the art of ‘being patient and finding success’. The narration is mesmerizing and motivates one to overcome obstacles in one’s journey. It helps in expanding one’s steadfast focus and faith to accomplish mission.

Author has embedded the story with beautiful gems. Some of the quotes which I liked are as follows :
1.      When a leader plants the seed of encouragement on one’s mind, it grows into a tree of hope for many minds.
2.      One must keep on going toward one’s goal and not be perturbed by people’s reactions and treatment.
3.      Enthusiasm is the chemical that keeps the milk of life from turning sour.
4.      Winning wars is about breaking confidence. Winning hearts is about building trust.
5.      The highest form of compassion is kindness shown to a person one hates.
6.      Those who live in the past are often blind to the present realities.

The author is a TEDx speaker, lifestyle coach, storyteller and author. Ramayana : The Game of Life is his bestselling series. He is also the author of Open-Eyed Meditations and Perfect Love : 5.5 Ways to a Lasting Relationship. The focus of his work is the application of scriptural wisdom in everyday living, addressing the needs of corporate and youth through thought provoking seminars. Curious to know more about him, then visit his website –

It is an excellent read for mythological readers. The best part of this book is the ‘Lessons from Hanuman’s Jump’. I am sharing a part of it here. To read it full you can buy this book from the link given below.......

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Guru’s Blessings

On Facebook, I have subscribed to various pages about movies as I love to know more and more about movies. I can watch anything and everything – drama, comedy, action, romance, thriller, historical fiction, philosophy etc. One day, while surfing on Facebook, I came across this clipping about Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. It was from Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna, a Bengali movie with subtitles in English.

In this movie clip, Totapuri, an itinerant Naga sannyasi initiated Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa into sannyasa. Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa experienced Nirvikalp smamdhi. Totapuri said, “How strange! What I have attained after 40 years of strenuous practice, you have achieved in only 3 days.” (T-11.15) Guru’s blessings can reduce 14600 days of hard work to only 3 days. I liked this clipping so much that I not only watched this whole movie but also decided to write a post on it.  

My personal experience is also similar to it. I have committed thousands of mistakes while chanting and hundreds of errors while meditating. Many times I am not able to pronounce the mantra correctly, numerous times I am devoid of bhakti (devotion), several times I am not able to focus on the deity even then just because of Guru’s blessings I have divine experiences in my meditation.

On this auspicious occasion of Guru Purnima I want to express my gratitude to my Guru by humbly saying, “Thankyou ji!”

Photo – Sketch is drawn by me.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The hungry babies

While cooking, a morsel fell on the floor; I picked that up, opened the window and put it on the windowsill thinking that some bird would take it away. I turned back and started cleaning cooking range and slab. I went to the sink to clean the scrubber. The sink was located close to window. I looked out. I found a baby squirrel relishing that morsel. I was happy to see it. The tiny hands were holding the foodstuff very delicately and were chewing it extremely slowly as if it did not know how to feed itself. May be it was its first meal, outside the nest and out of the mother’s custody!

In the evening, I put peanuts on the windowsill. And I was amazed to see that two baby squirrels were feeding themselves. The explorer baby squirrel must have called its sibling to enjoy novel food items. I increased my frequency of keeping various food bits and pieces on the windowsill. As soon as I kept any edible item on windowsill, I did not know how but they came to know and would quickly come to the windowsill to feed themselves.

Two days went by, watching two of them growing up. In the evening, I cut the fresh watermelon for myself. I took out the seeds and put them on the windowsill for the babies. When I returned to the kitchen after feasting on melon, to my utmost surprise there were three babies on the sill. One was searching with its nose, which seed to be picked up, the other one was holding the seed in its tiny hands, removing outer cover with its recently grown sharp teeth to enjoy the soft nut inside and the third one was bewildering what to do. It could not decide, as it was the newcomer, smallest and fragile. The most active baby came near, put its mouth close to the weakest sibling as if teaching how to hold, bite, chew and swallow food. And the next moment, little one was copying its healthy siblings. Suddenly, mother squirrel came jumping on each one of them, quickly filled her mouth with seeds and hopped back. After all she was a mother, she had to stock for the rainy days!

The three hungry babies loved to eat peanuts, pomegranate seeds, watermelon seeds and muskmelon seeds. But most of the time, they were so hungry that they could just eat anything and everything!

The day before yesterday, I put some water in the bowl for them, as it was too hot outside.
Pic : Although it was very difficult to click them but somehow I managed to click one of the three babies.
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