Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Success: Objectivity in Life

Coming towards the year-end, many people will be looking back at 2013 and wonder how successful they have been. Success generally comes in terms of work and earning money, achievements, marriage, etc. People may find they have been successful in one area, yet lacking in another. Or they have been successful all the way through, yet still a sense of insecurity or sadness is there.  What is it that binds us to sadness? How come we can't just be happy with what we have and the way we are?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

All Natural, Organic Deodorant

Nobody can question the vastness and perfection of nature. Nature works in such a way, that it really takes care of everything. The creation works because if these unwritten laws, and through that, it is sustained.

With our bodies too. When we are cold, our body-hair stands up in order to catch heat and insulate the body. And when we are hot, we sweat. Sweating is like the body's natural air conditioning. It uses water to cool down the body.

Unfortunately, deodorants these days intervene with this system.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Shānti Mantra: Bhadram Karnebhih

This Shānti Mantra belongs to the Atharva Veda, and is chanted before Mundaka Upanishad, Māndukya Upanishad, and Prashna Upanishad. Shānti Mantras are always chanted by both the teacher and the student, praying for shānti in the class, and in one's life. Shānti in terms of learning comes as freedom from any type of obstacles which may stand in between the student and the study of the Upanishad, or between the student and the teacher. Even if the commitment is there, there can be unforeseen obstacles which will make it difficult. Thus, we pray and tap into the grace of Ishwara, asking for our efforts to be utilized well. Success comes through both the student's effort as well as one's grace.

This Shānti Mantra is also a general prayer, and can be chanted by anyone seeking for good health and wellbeing. In this prayer, different devatas are invoked- each devata presiding over a different part of creation. Here, the student addresses Indra, the Sun, Garuda, and Brhaspati, asking for their blessing.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Living Inspiration

I am sharing an inspiring story with you, in the form of an animation. Over the past few years, the people that I have been meeting and spending time with are quite different than the usual batch. What makes them different is that they have taking a huge step in their lives to go against the norm, to swim upstream, to stand out.

How? By doing exactly what they love to do. By following their passion. By making the absolute most of their lives.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Shānti Mantra: Saha Nāvavatu

There are in total ten śhānti mantras in the Vedas. These mantras are very popular and are usually chanted at the beginning and end of a class. Each veda has their own śhānti mantras, and thus before the study of an Upanishad the respective mantra is chanted. The mantras have their own svaras- this means there is a specific way to chant it, as per the Vedic tradition.

Śhānti mantras are mantras invoking peace and harmony. Each mantra finishes with chanting the word "śhānti" three times. Pujya Swamiji says, this doesn't mean that there are three types of śhānti; there is only one. But there are three types of problems that can deny our śhānti. When chanting these mantras we pray for freedom from these problems.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Secrets from Mother India: Natural Face Wash

It's been almost seven months that I am using natural products in my daily routine. Having found out what kind of horrible things are present in our cosmetics, I really didn't want to continue poisoning myself any longer! :-) This includes shampoo, soap, face wash, deodorant and moisturizer. 

How is it that in general we are not aware or realizing that what we put on our skin, gets absorbed and enters our bodies?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Atma Puja: The Divine in You

Sometimes people may wonder, why do you worship a form, a mūrti? To many people it's confusing to see the manifold forms of Gods and Goddesses, and they get lost in understanding the meaning behind it.

Actually, it's very simple. In Hinduism we say there is only one. One Lord, one all pervasive power, one shakti. This power represents the force in and through the universe, and includes the creation of nature, the law of karma, and the order in each part of our life. As it's very obvious, there are so many aspects in creation. There's creation itself, sustenance, destruction, there's motherhood, fatherhood, dance, music, knowledge, etc. All of these aspects, are depicted in a form, which we call a mūrti.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Kara Darshanam: Invoking the Goddesses

On October 5th 2013 a very auspicious festival has started in India. It's called Navaratri, and it's a 9 night/10 day festival where they worship the three main Godesses for three days each: Durgā, Lakshmī, and Saraswatī. These nine days are very powerful for prayers, especially when praying for a good life partner, love, health, and financial security.

There's a beautiful small prayer which we can do in any place. It may be difficult to find a temple or an alter to pray to a Goddess, but with this prayer it's not even necessary! Because we invoke these three goddesses in our own palms.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Secrets from Mother India: Tulasi

Tulasi (Also pronounced as Tulsi) is a holy plant in India. It is found in almost every household, either inside the house or by the entrance. It's a plant that is worshipped as a Goddess, and is often offered to Lord Vishnu during temple puja. 

They say:
"Every home with a Tulasi plant is a place of pilgrimage, and no diseases, no messengers of  Lord Yama (the God of Death) can enter it."- Skandapurana
This herb grows widely all over India, and is highly valuable for its medicinal properties. There are many varieties, but the most popular ones are the black (Krishna Tulasi) and white (Shiva Tulasi) variety.

Friday, August 16, 2013

"Who Am I?"... Part 3: The Limitless, Whole.

In the last two posts of this series, we went through the enquiry of the common error to get stuck at a certain level of limited self-identity. Whether it be with the body, or with the mind and emotions, it can cause tremendous damage if unable to overcome. One can end up living with the constant feeling of insignificance, while this is in fact the opposite of what you are!

But... the question still remains.. If I am not the physical body, not the emotions, not the mind, not the intellect, nor the swinging moods of happiness and unhappiness (सुख दुःख sukha dukha), then what is it that I am? 

Vedanta gives the answer.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Secrets from Mother India: Turmeric

Turmeric, called Haldi in Hindi, is a spice found in every Indian lady's kitchen. It is added to food, curries, vegetables, etc for its coloring properties as well as its good aroma. Turmeric in powder form is another multi-purpose spice, with many great health benefits. In fact, it's something I take quite frequently, and always bring with me when I travel- just in case. One pouch of turmeric can replace a whole lot of antiseptics and medicine-pills! Turmeric is definitely a topper on my list!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ayurveda at Kairali

 I recently visited the Kairali Ayurvedic Healing Village  for some ayurvedic treatment. To describe it in 3 words, it was: TOTAL relaxation and rejuvenation! Kairali is located in Kerala, South India, near by a small town called Palakkad. It is an absolutely beautiful resort, nestled among many rice fields and coconut trees, away from the busy city. As you drive towards it, you can already feel the calmness and peace settling upon you by seeing the beautiful landscapes. But as soon as you enter the resort, the real tranquility takes over.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"Who Am I?"... Part 2: The Mind & Emotions

In the last post  we went through a common error that happens for every human being on this planet... That we restrict our identification only to the superficial, physical level, thereby creating an immense sense of smallness in each of us.

Another common trap is to identify with the emotions and the mind. When our mind gets restless, we are all over the place. It is often said that humans have monkey minds, and this is no surprise to any of us! From the moment we wake up, the thoughts start coming in, and they don't stop, until we go to bed. Even then, they can keep us from falling asleep! We are all the time overwhelmed with "to do's", "not to do's", "shoulds", "shouldnts", worries, fear, grief, pain, anger, etc. In fact, we are totally submerged in them. We live our life by them, without even realizing it. This can cause tremendous amount of stress and strain to a person, and can easily flow from a mental disturbance to a physical ailment. Let's take a deeper look!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Who Am I?"... Part 1: The Body

Every human being, at some point in their lives, will come up with the same questions... Who am I? What is my purpose on earth? Why am I here? Why did this thing/event/situation happen to me? Why ME??

For some people its a natural state of thought process to be contemplative. For some people these questions arise after retirement when they have plenty of free time to think about life.. and for some people these questions only come after a traumatic experience in life; when suddenly they realize, life on earth is delicate. 

In Sanskrit the term for such inquiry/ exploration is called विचार vicara (pronounced Vi-Chaa- ra). Doing vicara about the self helps one to understand, and realize, who we really are. I intend to guide you along atmavicara over the next few posts, to see where we commonly get stuck, and how to come out of it.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Secrets from Mother India: Sesame Oil

Sesame Oil is a tasty oil that can be used for cooking and health purposes. It plays a HUGE role in natural healing, as you will see mentioned below.

Oil pulling
This may be a complete new concept to you but I tell you, it does MIRACLES! Oil pulling is an ancient old, ayurvedic method of cleansing the mouth, teeth, and tongue by swishing oil around in the mouth. It is to be done first thing in the morning for most effective results. Swishing around the sesame oil (preferred) between the teeth for 10-20 minutes collects all the bacteria that have been accumulating there overnight, literally "pulling" them out of your system. It is a very effective detox!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Light Within You

Did it ever happen to you that you felt something from inside and simply knew that it was the truth? No matter how far away this feeling was from what was going on outside, you could feel that this tiny little spark from within had the answer and was going to lead you to the right direction?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Secrets from Mother India: Fenugreek

Fenugreek, called Methi in Hindi, is widely used in Indian cooking. It adds a delicious yet crispy flavor to any curry or sabji (vegetables) dish. Both the seeds and the leaves can be used, each giving their own flavor and benefits. 

Besides being used in the kitchen, methi is another miracle food that can be used for a variety of things! Being rich in vitamins, minerals and protein, methi can be applied on the skin, hair, and taken internally with medicinal properties. It's known to remove toxins, increase digestion, and provide a relief for long-term diseases.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Secrets from Mother India: Coconut Oil

Living in India, one gets exposed to a whole new world. Every day is a day of learning and new lessons. From food, to customs, to history, to language, to culture, to nature, etc etc. Besides my spiritual studies here, I have also created a profound interest in natural healing, and what better place to learn about this than India! This country is so rich in its natural resources, fertile soil, and an abundance of tropical fruits and vegetables. I will be sharing with you some personal recipes which i discovered and tried over the last three years. This is not based on any doctor's prescription, but from books, ancient folk remedies, and trial-and-error i have come to a growing database of remedies.

Having (almost) become a South Indian mami by now, it almost self explanatory that the first item i will talk about is: COCONUT OIL.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Spiritual Interview

This is the translation of the interviews conducted by Aradhana magazine, and Himsa Virodh- both Gujarati magazines.

Q: How did you end up in India, studying vedanta and living a spiritual life? 

My interest in spirituality started in my teenage years, when i was introduced to yoga asanas by my mother.
She took me along to a class, and from that time onwards i would regularly attend classes. This continued during college years also, being the only one of my friends waking up early on a sunday morning just to go to yoga class. After college (McGill University, Montreal) i moved to Dubai in 2009 and started working in marketing. It was during a holiday in Indonesia, where the seed was planted and my life would quickly undergo a drastic change.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What You Seek, Is Yourself

Recently I gave a small satsang talk in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, at the Sivananda Ashram. It was organized by my dear local uncle, Mr. Arun Oza, who had invited some entrepreneurs, lawyer colleages and professors to come and listen. Thereafter two magazines had published it in Gujarati, a women's magazine called "Aradhana" and "Himsa Virdodh" magazine. Below is the summary of it, in English:

Human beings have one thing in common; we are all searching for happiness. We search for happiness all around us: in our jobs, in belongings, in other people, etc. What we usually find is that they give us happiness for some time

A New Beginning... Invoking Lord Ganesha

In India, whenever there is there is an inauguration of something new, whether it is a new house, a new car, or a new business, before doing anything else, they invoke Lord Ganesha.This is done to invoke the blessings, and pray that all obstacles and difficulties may be removed in this new venture. Ganesha has an enormous shakti power which undoubtedly reaches all people and situations. It gives a sense of security, like a green signal, indicating that we can go ahead, inaugurate, and enjoy the new chapter that we are starting.

How is Lord Ganesha invoked?