Devotion – The highest form of intelligence!

Today, I came across this wonderful quote by the well known seer Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. 


In one of his discourses, available on YouTube, he talks about how devotion is the highest form of intelligence and living life. If you are a devotee, you will conquer every struggle in your life easily. It is the simplest way to be… there is no struggle, no ups and downs… just leading your life in pure bliss. 


…Because a true devotee knows, there is a huge power around us, who is managing things in the best of our interest. Do check out sadhguru’s videos. 

Have a blissful weekend!

Image and video courtesy Google & YouTube

Anecdote – Lesson by my grandma!

My grandma is a grand old lady nearing a century. If you look at her, she may appear formidable in the beginning and then a ringing laughter would ensue, dismantling the image you had conjured up in your mind. The fact is, she is both formidable as well as light hearted. A unique, delightful combination!

Born and brought up in a royal family ( Kharsawan, Jharkhand), she has always had that regal bearing. She believes in maintaining distance from her kids, grand kids, great grand kids as well as recently added a great great grand kid. And we are all supposed to behave in her presence. We rise when she enters the room and remain respectful in her presence.

During my childhood years, we lived with her, so, we had the opportunity to observe her from the closest quarters. I discovered her lighter side later in life. Initially, I was apprehensive of her. She commanded and the household ran according to her. But as I grew up, I discovered the lighter, fun side of her personality. There have been many instances when she would have us in splits.

Here is one such incident. One of our cousins was going to meet a prospective bridegroom. In arranged marriages in India, girls and guys are introduced by their families, they meet up, chat and then a decision is taken unanimously. 

So, this cousin was both excited as well as scared before her first meeting. Our granny called her and said, “If you like this man, try to do little something to make him fall for you.”

We were seeing another aspect of our grandma. We all asked, “what?”. She immediately showed us how to woo a husband – “Look sideways at him and then look down… blush… look up again at him… look down and blush again. And then smile juuust a little.” We doubled up with laughter!

I don’t know whether my cousin looked sideways at the prospective groom or not but they ended up getting married!

(Sharing a picture of my grandparents)

I look up to my grand old lady because she always had the audacity to laugh at all challenges that came in her life. In her almost 100 years of life, she has seen many ups and downs. All her peers are long gone now, times have changed but she has remained strong.

I adore her because she is quite broad minded, child like and her booming laughter lightens the most serious of situations. A great devotee of Krishna, she follows what the playful God  says – to celebrate life as it is!

Long live my grandma!

When I lied about something…

   
 ( A chit chat with Him)

Recently, I lied about something to escape an uncomfortable situation. It was a small lie… did not hurt anyone nor did it bring any major benefits to me. I just escaped a situation. But a lie it was!
My heart felt a little heavy. So, I thought of talking to Him and asked – Will you forgive me for my tiny sin? 

He said – It is important that you forgive yourself. I love you the way I have always loved you. It is you who have to take care of your Self.

I defended myself – I have not done wrong to anyone. I just protected myself with the help of that lie.

There was no answer from Him. 

I nudged Him again –  Is a lie wrong in all its forms?

Thankfully, He answered – if your heart is light nothing is wrong, if your heart feels heavy. You have done some damage to it. Remember, every sin sickens your conscience and weakens your Self. You get weakened over time. It has nothing to do with Good or Bad, Right or Wrong. It affects your Self. There is no external force keeping a check over you, it is your Self, who is the witness to all that you do. I am and will always be with you until you throw me out of your heart.

I asked further – And how sick is my heart?

He answered – You are a better judge! Just remember that as long as you feel the heaviness after committing a ‘sin’, I am around. With time, people learn to ignore the heaviness. They start believing in deception. Deception makes life easier but  with time, you will be disconnected with your Self. I make life heavier but I connect you to your Self. 

I said – Is that all you do, mighty God? You just connect me to my Self?

He laughed – Yes, that is all I do. Rest, is all your own doing. You create your own paradise and hell. And remember, try never to alienate the ‘self’ witness, the moment that connection breaks, life may seem easy but you would be lost forever. 

I asked –  But how do I heal the heaviness in my heart?

He said – By admitting that it was a fault and resolving to tell the truth. Damage control is important. 

I asked – And why do I need You as a mediator between me and my self?

He smiled – It is your choice. Establish a connection with your Self and you will not need me. I and your Self are no different. I am just on a large scale. Presently, you need me because you have been taught to listen and pray to me, all your life.

I said – Well,  much ado over a small lie! You certainly look a little less dreadful to me, now that I know that you do not punish  people or send them to hell.

He laughed.

I said –  Okay, I think I will not repeat that lie again to strengthen my Self. I find it funny to realise that my life is all about my Self. This Self creates heaven, it creates hell! And poor religious fundamentalists, they have been fighting and killing for You. 

He said – I know. They are the lost ones…

I said – So, will you always be around no matter what I do…?

He said – Yes, I will always be around as long as you don’t start avoiding me. I do not avoid people, they avoid me!

I simply said – Alright, that means, I will have to stay clean, so that I don’t avoid you.

He smiled – Yes, my dear!

I smiled.

Random sketches of the eye!

  When I was a little girl, I used to love sketching. I drew faces and figures all over my copies and books. I would often get frowns from my parents and teachers but it would never deter me.

My aunt is a lovely artist and I drew inspiration from her works. Even my sisters loved to draw figures and landscapes but I primarily focussed on the face, specifically the eye!

These days I hardly paint because colours demand a lot of time and effort. And also because I don’t want my kids to get supercreative and make artworks all over the house. But I do sketch a lot whenever inspiration strikes me.

Today, I felt like sketching the eye and I drew some random sketches in about fifteen minutes.

Here are the pictures…hope you will like themūüėÄ

  
  
  
  
And finally, a sketch of Krishna, I made recently. 

  

Did you know Sri Rama had a sister?

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Yes, you read it right! Sri Rama had an elder sister Shanta¬†(born of Dashratha¬†and Kaushalya), who was given away for adoption to Kaushalya’s sister. To read in detail click¬†here¬†.¬†There are a few other random facts I found out about Ramayana. I thought that since it is Dussehra time, the timing is just right to share!

For the benefit of non Hindus, let me first elaborate that the festival Dussehra is symbolic of victory of good over evil. Ramayana, the epic, written by sage Valmiki deals with the story and glory of Lord Rama, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Lord Rama had killed the very powerful demon king Ravana, who had abducted his wife Sita, on this day. Since then, Dussehra is celebrated across India.

But there are a few lesser known facts which many do not know. I would like to share a few interesting ones I came across:

1)During the exile period of Rama, Laxman¬†and Sita, Laxman¬†never slept. He is, hence, also called ‘Gudakesh’ meaning one who has ‘defeated sleep’.

2) Laxman’s¬†wife Urmila¬†slept both his and her share of sleep so that Laxmana¬†could protect Rama and Sita. It is said that she slept for 14 years and woke up when her husband returned to Ayodhya.

3)  Vashishta, the guru of Raghukul dynasty named Ram. He explained that the name Rama is a powerful mantra. It is made up of two beeja aksharas(alphabetical seeds): Agni beeja(Ra) and Amrutha beeja(Ma). Agni beeja energises the soul, mind and body. Amrutha beeja reinvigorates the prana shakti(life force) in all the body.

4) After killing Bali by using deceit, Lord Rama promised that Bali would have his revenge in his next birth. Bali was reborn as Jara the hunter who killed Krishna – the next reincarnation of Lord Vishnu.

5) Ravan, the demon king with ten heads was killed at the eve of Dussehra. His ten heads symbolises the ten sins within us. They are:

  1. Kama vasana (Lust)
  2. Krodha (Anger)
  3. Moha (Attachment)
  4. Lobha (Greed)
  5. Mada (Over Pride)
  6. Matsara (Jealousy)
  7. Swartha (Selfishness)
  8. Anyaaya (Injustice)
  9. Amanavta (Cruelty)
  10. Ahankara (Ego).

Hope you liked these lesser known facts of Ramayana. Allow me to wish you a happy and prosperous Dussehra. Festivities have just started  my lovely friends and the great thing is Рthis will last till Diwali ( and in some parts of India till Chath puja).

Wishing you great fun and festivity ahead!!!

Image courtesy Google

The Bride of Thirteen – 2

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Bent but not broken, she stood looking at the garden from the verandah of her bungalow. Her dimming vision did not allow her to see the untended garden, so she just saw flowers in bloom.

She thanked Him for the flowers!

She would be 100 in a couple of years. She took out one melt in the mouth candy and savoured its taste. Mmmm…! She missed ‘paan’ (betel) but the candies were not bad either. One of her granddaughters had got it from Oman. As she turned to go, the scent of red roses filled her being and took her back to the time when she was a bride of thirteen.

That seemed more like a lifetime ago, in the pre-independence era of India. She was getting married to a prince from a faraway state. The purdah system (married women covered their faces) was a dominant practice at that time but otherwise the women from royal families lead a lavish life. She was fortunate to be the daughter of a Ruling Chief and her marriage was a grand affair.

The royals of different states vied with each other in a show of extravagance at her wedding. Veiled women laden with Banarasi Silk, Velvet and Chiffons and resplendent in gold and diamonds fluttered around. The men had moustaches and long beards and they wore intricately embroidered Sherwanis that made them look noble, chivalrous as well as intimidating.

She had a crimson embroidered veil on her face and she was held by maids in waiting. She didn’t know what was happening as she couldn’t see from under the heavy veil. All she could smell was roses everywhere…on her hair…under her feet…in the garland in her hands. They were perhaps leading her towards the dais where marital rituals were to be performed. She heard that they were filming the wedding – a rarity in those pre-television days. She wanted to peep out of the veil but that would have been improper and scandalous!

She heard people talking that a train full of guests had arrived with the prince. Her father left no stone unturned to give them a spectacular welcome. Folk dances were performed, sword fights were staged, fascinating nautch girls (dancers) from Benares danced Kathak in the ‘janwasa’ and the guests merrily immersed themselves in revelry.

The maids made her sit on a mat and one of them whispered in her ear, “You are lucky princess. The prince is very handsome and perhaps he will take good care of you.” She heard them laughing. The bride was dark, skinny and average looking…little more than a child! She was enjoying the excitement until now. She was ecstatic to be the centre of attention and being fussed over. She had spent the last few months admiring her clothes and jewels but the maids’ words made her anxious.

The full reality of being married dawned upon her. She will have to leave her house, her parents, playmates and embrace a new life. She knew her in laws place was different from hers culturally and socially and the prince was a complete stranger. One day, out of the blue, her parents announced of her impending marriage to an unknown prince from a strange land. Arranged marriages were supposed to be unquestionably accepted in those days.

Moreover, she had thought of it to be some fun event but now it seemed cruel. She was venturing into the unknown and she didn’t know how she would survive in a different place without her loved ones.

The rituals lasted through the night and she slept fitfully between mantras. Whenever her covered head drooped to one side, she would be poked and nudged to wake up. She felt that getting married was a terrible job! She was not liking it anymore.

The following day,the world started treating her differently. The bridegroom and the guests left for the boarding house to change and get ready for farewell. Her status had suddenly elevated, she was a married lady now! She was asked to walk slowly, talk in whispers and wear a veil covering her face. Her mother instructed her for the umpteenth time to behave properly in front of the in laws and not bring shame to the family. She had to be docile, sweet and humble under all circumstances. This forced transformation from a girl to a lady was nerve wrecking.

She had so many questions to ask…but no one was listening to her. She wanted to talk to her siblings but everybody was busy preparing for the ‘vidaai’ (farewell) ceremony. For her, everything was about to change and they expected too much from her! The bride of thirteen felt like crying at the top of her voice. However, there was one thought that made her feel better.

“Well, not everything is going to change,” she muttered. There was ‘one person’ who would not leave her on her own even if the world did. ‘He’ would make sure that everything would be alright. ‘He’ would ensure that her husband, the handsome prince, like and befriend her.

She walked towards the prayer room and picked up the idol of Baby Krishna. He had been her favourite playmate, confidante and sweetheart all this while…she knew that He would make sure everyone else loves her in her new home!

She gently put the smiling Krishna in her gold potli (purse) and smiled broadly. There was nothing to worry, she would not be sad, lonely and miserable anymore. He was with her!

Her daughter-in-law’s voice broke her reverie. She had brought tea for her. It was also time for her favourite TV show. She gave one last look to the roses, smiled fondly and turned to go.

To be continued….


(Loosely based on the life of my grandmother, who will be 100 in a couple of years)

Image courtesy  Google