Monday, May 31, 2021

Gift a book


How will I gift a book?

It was October 2020.

Seldomly, I stepped out of my house as a preventive measure for COVID 19. Moreover, there was no bookshop in the vicinity; neither huge showroom with wide range of books nor small store with limited number of second hand books. Even years after staying here, I had never met a book lover; neither with huge collection of books in his drawing room or who has just minimal books that too borrowed from here and there.

Reading just one chapter per day for better grasping, I had finally finished Shrimad Bhagwat MahaPuran in almost one year. I wanted to donate fresh volumes of the scripture to a genuine reader who would also be benefited by studying them. Therefore, I was in search of a bookstore.

I got an idea! I requested my known book shopkeeper although he was in a different city than I was, to give Part 1 and Part 2 of the book to a suitable person, as there was a huge rush on his shop. He was reluctant because of a traditional believe that donation should be solely done by my generous hands. I tried to explain that COVID situation is a rare of its own kind. Under such exceptional circumstances, if he would donate book to somebody with his generous hands even then the good karmic points for that act would add up on assets side of my karmic balance sheet, as I would be paying for it.

Finally, he agreed.

Time and again whenever I enquired, he would have one or the other excuse like he was busy as it was Navratri or he was out of the town for bulk purchase or he could not find any good reader yet. At last, I decided to search someone who resided in the same city. I picked up my diary to have a look at the names of the persons. I found one. I called the number. He honestly told me that he had read that book two years back as well as he had one copy in his tiny collection.

I further scrolled in my diary and came across the name of Pandit ji of Hanuman Mandir, coincidently the bookshop was situated behind the temple. He gladly agreed to take the book, as he had not read it before.

For the delivery of book, I dialled shopkeeper’s number who was more eager and elated to inform me that after intense search and research ultimately he had found a genuine reader, an aged person. On hearing, instead of getting happy, I got perplex. He had made the commitment to a senior citizen as well as I had made the commitment to Pandit ji. What to do now?

“Do you have two copies of both volumes?” I asked.

“Yes, I do have.”

With a sigh of relieve, I said, “Give one copy of both volumes to that elderly person and one copy of both volumes to Pandit ji.”

He gladly accepted the offer of Double Dhamaka Sale!

While transferring payment in his account I reflected that it was Ma’s wish to give away two copies of Shrimad Bhagwat Maha Puran instead of only one.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

An SMS - That I still remember after 11 years

‘Gud nite’

This SMS flashed on my Nokia tiny light-blue mobile around 9:45pm. I was half-surprised and half-amused to see it from a person with whom I had my first business meeting just seven hours before and this was his opening SMS in spite of usual ‘hi’ and ‘hello’. I forgot his name but let us call him ‘Deepak’. He attended the business meeting along with his father who seemed to be more interested in boasting about their commercial as well as residential properties in Delhi NCR rather than doing any fruitful business related discussion. At that time, I was a newbie and did not know how to bring the discussion back on track. Somehow, I managed to finalise the deal and I exchanged phone numbers for further contact in future.

At that time, I was too exhausted to type a reply to that exceptional SMS. Therefore, I put the phone aside, closed my eyes, prayed to God and went to sleep. Early morning, I discussed it with my yoga students who were my friends more. They all suggested me to ignore that stupid SMS.

After a few more meetings with his talkative father, I came to know that Deepak was married from a quiet long time but did not have any issue, which was resulting in a conflict between the couple. Last month, she returned to resolve all fights after staying six months at her parent’s house. She wanted some properties to be transferred in Deepak’s name and his father-in-law elatedly fulfilled her demand.

One year flew away working satisfactorily with them, and then I started facing some problems from their side like delayed payments, making less payment because of some or the other excuse. I discussed it with my father who ordered me to end the deal and searched a new party. In the final meeting, Deepak’s father who was always keenly interested in narrating about his family told that Deepak was from his first wife who died soon after giving birth to him. He had two daughters from second wife that were married and well settled in Gurgaon and Faridabad. Deepak’s wife was under the treatment for test tube baby in Delhi hospital and he elatedly added that now, the baby was two months old.

I lost all contacts with them after the end of business deal with them. Near about one and a half year had past, then one day, I received a call from an unknown number. Those were the days when one got spam calls only from international numbers and this was an Indian number. Therefore, I picked up the phone and was surprised to know that on the other side was Deepak’s wife.

She offered a business deal, which I politely declined. Afterwards she started narrating her sad story without any tinge of sadness in her voice, “My husband and my father-in law are no more.”

Before I could utter a word she said, “I went to attend my cousin’s marriage. On that, very night Deepak’s stepmother killed both of them. She gave them poisoned liquor to drink. I am having dispute with her over the property, which is in Deepak’s name.”

“And baby?” I interrupted her.   

“It died when it was five months old.”

Untimely Deepak wished ‘Gud bie’ to his wife.

I still remember that SMS even after 11 years had passed may be because it was the height of stupidity or may be because of its exceptional spellings!

Pic – I have drawn this sketch using my left hand 

My confusion regarding Nav Durga Sadhana


One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight

It should be nine.

I counted again like a nursery kid but the result was unchanged.

I was counting the number of days from 22 June, 20 to 29 June, 20. These were the days of Ashadha Sukhla Paksha from Pratiprada (First) to Navmi (Ninth) for Gupt Navratri. I was planning to do Nav Durga Sadhana. As of partial lockdown in my area because of COVID 19 I found it difficult to arrange the material required for yajna therefore I decided to go for mental offerings and prayers.

Is there a tithi kshaye?(Is one day less this time)

Before lockdown, I was busy winding up my financial matters and buying groceries. In this chaos, I forget to buy panchang (lunar calendar) for the Vikram Samvat 2077, the next year. I thoroughly searched online panchangs but could not find out which tithi is kshaye (date is missing/ decreasing) as I was earlier used to consulting only Shri Martand panchang which was available in the book form and was considered as one of the best panchang in India.

I requested my book shopkeeper to Whatsapp me Ashadha Sukhla Paksha page, as I had to do some date bound Sadhana. He was a kindhearted person and did the needful without taking a single penny from me. Just a glance to that page, I came to know that shashthi tithi (sixth date) is kshaye (missing).

Now what should I do on the fifth day of Navrata? Should I totally skip the sixth day pooja or should I do fifth and sixth day pooja on the fifth day?

I recalled an incidence when last time I visited the ashram; I was waiting for my turn for 120 seconds long personal meeting with Swamiji. An aged woman along with one young woman (most probably her daughter-in-law) went inside the meeting room to seek blessings from Swamiji. There was one more couple before me and then it was my turn. After a few seconds, young woman came out; most probably old woman was to be initiated. As the door opened, young woman went inside to support the old woman in standing up and in walking through the passage. They both were about to leave the waiting room, then they recalled that they forget to ask a very important point. They came back and requested Swami Vedananda Om ji to give one more chance to meet Swamiji to clarify their doubt. He politely requested them to explain the dilemma. On listening to them, he inquired, “Did he say anything about which type of beads should to be used?” The old woman said, “No.” He said, “Then you can use any type of beads you wish to use. If he had not said anything then you can make your own choice. You can choose whatever you are comfortable with.”

Did Swamji said anything about tithi kshaye (less days) or tithi badhat (more days)?    

I thoroughly searched the Nav Durga Sadhana notes if Swamiji had said anything in this regard and I by chance had missed it out. I could not find anything. Now, it was my choice to pick a comfortable option.

It further puzzled me. When my mind could not find an effective solution, it flipped the question, “What would you do if there is a tithi badhat (more days)? Would you skip the sadhana on the extra day or would you repeat the same day sadhana on two days? ” Obviously Sadhana could not be skipped in between therefore I would opt for continuation of Sadhana by repeating the sadhana of that tithi even on the extra day. Similarly, for tithi kshaya without skipping the Sadhana for the sixth day, fifth and sixth day Sadhana needed to be done on the fifth day! I finally decided.


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

My first experience to meditate in Himalayas


Nauni, you must have heard this before. No! While going to Shri Badrika Ashram via Solan you must have noticed it. If not, next times do not forget to see this eye-catching mid-point between Shri Badrika Ashram and Solan. It is a beautiful mini hill station, which is also famous for Dr. Yashwant Singh Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry.

In May 2000, I visited this place for the first time. It was very small but very pretty! The steel blue coloured mountains had not so steep slopes, the huge trees were overload with green leaves, the birds were chirping the glory of DevBhoomi, and the monkeys were there to imitate us. My eyes were searching for a waterfall but they were all dried up because of summer, only the zigzag path they took to come down were distinctly visible. Moreover, the vast Giri River had squeezed to a thin hairline stream that was barely visible from the road.

At the dawn, I came out of my room in the balcony to enjoy the fresh morning. The curved roads partially covered with thick green foliage of Indian cedar and bikul trees. A soothing, a refreshing breeze with a light fragrance enthused me to meditate right here, right now! I sat down crossed leg on the floor, closed my eyes and within a few minutes I was experiencing the calmness and the serenity. A bright light manifests between my eyebrows at Eye chakra. It happened effortlessly. While at home whenever I meditated, it would take me 15- 20 minutes or even more to reach up to that level. That might be the reason why most of the yogis and rishis meditated in Himalayas and not in plains.

I had hardly enjoyed those moments for a few more minutes then I felt something wet on my left cheek. I came back in this world. Someone was licking my face. When I opened my eyes, my pet female dog, Kartiki was jumping and wagging its tail to say, ‘It’s time for the morning walk! Hurry up!!’

Monday, May 10, 2021

My childhood passion of 2500 matchbox covers collection

My school was at walking distance from my house and the walk was through a forest like area. While going school I would notice which tree was blooming, which was falling off leaves and which one was shedding fruits. In just 5 minutes, I would reach school. While returning, I would collect wild flowers, leaves, weeds, fruits, seeds, stones and bird’s feathers. I would reach home in 45 minutes with my pockets, hands, Tiffin box filled with my latest acquisitions. My mother would lovingly decorate wild flowers in an attractive pot in drawing room, would ask me to keep the leaves in old notebooks between the pages so that they could dehydrate without curls, would give me fresh fruits and flowers to play ghar-ghar on the same day and would keep the dry fruits and seeds in my almirah. She would only throw anything precious from my treasure if it caught fungus. Surprisingly, I still have the same taste; my cupboards are packed with dry leaves, different shapes, and sizes of stones, shells, minuscule collection of old coins, bird’s features and cast off snake’s skin.

One day, I brought a tiny scorpion with me. My mother asked me to release it, as it was poisonous. Next day, I brought an earthworm, she told me that it made the soil fertile and we lived in a flat where there was no soil. I caught baby grasshopper, she advised me that its mummy would be worried on not finding it. I tried two red beetles; she did not like the idea. I caught a vibrant butterfly to impress her but she was adamant of not converting her home into a mini zoo!

I hid a snail in a matchbox but one could not hide anything from mother’s observing eyes. As I was curious to know, what it is doing inside, I was opening and closing the matchbox repeatedly. She ordered to let go the living being in its natural habitat and keep the beautifully printed matchbox. Hurray! That was a green signal from her side that I could collect one more thing while returning home.

Soon the collection started growing because of attractive images and colourful pictures on the matchboxes. There was so much to learn! Learning with fun – I liked it that way. Wherever I go on the road to bazaar or to a relative’s or a friend’s house, my eyes were searching for only one thing –a matchbox cover with a unique cover. I even started liking my smoker relatives despite of a peculiar irritating smoky smell from them!

My mother helped me in categorizing those match boxes according to the picture printed on them like buildings, edible items, numbers, flowers, birds, animals, insects, things, means of transportation, lights n lamps, sports n games, celebrities, babies, film stars and ads. Under her guidance, I kept them group wise in a photo album. Her plan was to get an album somewhat like stamp collecting album but after lot of searching she could not find such an album in which matchbox covers could be stored. Same year, some of the leading newspapers of Haryana covered a story of a young girl with her photo who owns a great collection of matchboxes! :)

Now, seeing my passion my relatives, friends and known – all began to help me in growing my tiny treasure that was no longer tiny. It became huge and massive and could no longer be stored in photo albums. The bulkiness of matchboxes was taking plenty of space in my cupboard. To store them in less space became a big question.

My father, the busiest person on the earth one day, missed his train to a business trip and decided to spend Saturday and Sunday with me. His innovative plan was to make it more attractive, which could be stored with ease in less space and could be increased manifolds in future. He asked me to remove dust from the matchboxes and to discard the duplicate ones. He cut and removed all the parts except the cover of the matchbox. It was still bulky, he calculated. He removed the wood from the covers by soaking them in water and peeled the cardboard matchbox gently rather very gently. He cut the white papers into thin slips that could fold in between. His idea was not to paste the whole matchbox on the sheet but to hold it with that tiny piece of paper. He demonstrated me to paste the folded paper on matchbox carefully so that it was not visible from the other side. According to category, he pasted them on the chart-papers already cut into album size. Until then, my collection is maintained in that form.

Throughout the year, I would collect matchboxes and would arrange and paste them in my summer vacations. It was lying untouched from quite a long time because of my busy schedule. As this year is different, we are having corona vacations again; I make up my mind to arrange matchboxes in the album.