Ram Navami Special – To you we surrender!

This year, the festival of Ram Navami brings immense hope and light to our world, which is being ravaged by disease and sorrow.

We all need a break from the continuous news of distress and hopelessness due to Covid 19. And Ram Navami has arrived just in time to remind us of the value and benefits of surrender.

Just the sight of the lotus feet of Shri Ram assuages all fear and problems regarding the future. We are reminded that He is there, He will take care of the world. Ram, to you, we surrender completely!

I wish you all  Sukh (happines), Samridhi (wealth), Shanti (peace), Saubhagya (good luck) and Swasthya (health) on the birthday of Sri Hari. May with the blessings of Shri Ram everything works out well for you, your family and our world. Jai Shri Ram!

(Images courtesy Google)

 

 

Three Men and God

So, one day, three men, who were friends, began their search for God in the magic jungle. They reached the jungle and looked around. The first friend, saw a cave, and unwittingly entered it thus losing his way entirely. But his search for God was so intense, he did not care about darkness or dangers and walked on. It was a very tough, long, long journey, with no companion, no food and absolutely nothing for support. He became skeletal and hardships troubled him at every turn. There were beasts around, and scary thoughts as well as physical handicaps but he continued walking just because he knew nothing else to do. Eventually, he found the exit of the cave and concluded God is ‘Nothing’. And instantly got enlightenment.

Soon after this, his second friend called him from a nearby stream. He was rowing a boat, looked drenched and tired . On reaching the shore, he got down, tied his boat and came to sit by his first friend. The first friend enquired about his journey. The second friend said -“When I lost sight of you two, I found the river and the boat. The journey was exhausting, with severe ups and downs, and there were agitating storms and heavy rains. At one point of time I was sure to drown. But I found a certain balance, somewhere in the middle. So, this understanding helped me to find the perfect balance in the boat. The whole time, I stayed on the middle path, and I survived.” The moment, he uttered – Middle Path, the second friend got enlightenment! Now, they waited for the arrival of the third friend.

The third friend soon joined them. He came running down a hill, and looked healthy, happy and upbeat. His two friends asked in chorus – “How was your journey, friend?” The third friend said – “Divine and blissful!!! You see, when I lost my way, I was terribly sad and scared. I climbed a mountain top, looking for both of you, but couldn’t see you anywhere. But then, I found a very interesting rock. I began to sculpt the rock and created a fascinating companion.” He showed a rock statue of a little, naughty looking boy to his friends. “I was missing your company, my friends, so I would talk to this statue, the playful guy. This guy answered all my questions. And you know, He became my guiding light. He made mockery of the dangers and I learnt to laugh with him. We enjoyed exploring the jungle – the cave, the river, waterfalls and mountains….all was fun, because I had Him. I was free of fear, sadness, stress and attachment because He was with me and I was devoted to Him.” The moment, he said – Devoted, the third friend got enlightenment.

Then, the statue suddenly laughed and said – “Journey matters friends, as much as the destination. And if you find devotion, you attain the highest form of intelligence and life becomes a breeze.” The three enlightened men smiled together.

(This story alighted in my mind out of nowhere and I thought of capturing it in this blog.)

Just a Thought – You’ve got my back!

When you know someone up there has got your back, you’re afraid no more. You soar, you dive, you float or you fall flat, nothing matters! You look up and say – you’ve got my back, why should I worry? And you smile at the thought of someone watching over you, loving you, protecting you and sometimes pushing you…so that you learn to stand up! But all along you know, it’s all for your own good!

(I took a small break from blogging. But I’m back my friends to share my life and thoughts with you almost every week. Sending lots and lots of love and peace your way!)

My Grandmother’s Sakhi!

Generally, vanity and jealousy are two strongest negative emotions in women. But when two women, surpass such base feelings, and form a sublime spiritual bonding, then great friendship happens.

Such was the case of my maternal grandmother and her Sakhi (friend) – a lovely, charming woman who always stood by her. Also, making of their friendship had its roots in the noble Sakhi Tradition – an ancient ritual of female bonding, practiced primarily by North Indian ladies.

Now, a little about this interesting tradition which unfortunately no longer exists – According to ‘Women’s Lives Women’s Rituals in the Hindu Tradition’, “The sakhi relationship represents a female-female union that imitates the marital bond, but may surpass blood or marital kinship bonds in terms of its professed meaningfulness in women’s lives.” 

The ritual would be initiated by tying a sacred thread or sending over some food or goodies to a lady with request to be friends. When the other party accepted, the ladies in question would take an oath to be a part of each other lives, stand by each other and actively participate in each other’s functions etc. 

They would promise each other – “Everyone including parents, spouse or kids may leave you but I will never leave you.” When such ritual friendships were formed, the bonding took on spiritual fervour. It was considered a great sin to bad mouth, cheat or betray a Sakhi.


It is said that this ritual had its roots in mythology – the relationship among Radha and her sakhis were very strong and they could feel each other’s emotions.

Something akin to this happened between my grandmother and Sakhi Nani (as we fondly called her). I don’t know who took the first step but they formed this sacred friendship. At that time they were young, beautiful brides in a village that observed strict purdah. They had to be meek and respectful… sort of stifled always. I guess, this relationship allowed them to be themselves – to talk and laugh freely. 

My grandma would cook special dishes for her Sakhi and send over to her house. Her sakhi responded with equal enthusiasm. My grandfather died when my mother was very young, Sakhi Nani and her family did their best to support my grandma during the worst phase of her life.

My grandmother later moved with us but she always missed her Sakhi. I never heard her mentioning one negative word about her throughout my life. She would keep aside little things to gift her special Sakhi. And it was fun whenever we went over to the village –  Sakhi Nani and her huge family always welcomed us with open arms. 

Sadly, both the Sakhis are no more but till date, even the little kids in our homes know the story of their great friendship.

This was a rare tradition of women-only participants in a male dominated society. We ladies have a private little world, filled with feelings, nostalgia and things that only a woman can understand. Wouldn’t it be great to share this with a lifelong Sakhi, who would not be judgemental!

These days when sacredness has left almost every relationship, I wish the beautiful tradition of Sakhi had lived on…

Images courtesy Google

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

The pilot who loves to write!

When Squadron Leader turned author  Manish Kumar got introduced in one of our favourite Whats App groups by the enthusiastic admin, the group members were more than happy to welcome him. His book ‘Be Your Own Pilot’ has been climbing charts and we wanted to know more about him.

BYOP has sold a number of copies till now. In Amazon.in, it had been in top 50 Bestsellers list. It has sold out thrice in the US and is selling in almost 15 countries including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Japan and Netherlands.

In a chit chat on his personal wall, he talked about his journey from being a pilot to a writer. His noble profession enabled him to undergo various enriching spiritual experiences that led him onto the path of writing. Here is an excerpt:

Q: What is ‘Be Your Own Pilot’ all about?
Manish
: In this inspirational fiction, I talk about the unlimited power and potential lying dormant in every soul, waiting to be awakened. The moment we become aware of the power within, we stop being a victim of circumstances, get off the autopilot called fate and take control of our life.

‘Be Your Own Pilot’ is about the journey of a boy from a small town who realizes his dream of becoming a pilot, learns the lessons of life on the way and goes on to inspire others to follow their dreams. His Flying Instructor implants wisdom into the flying lessons and teaches him to take the flight of faith. The book shows the way – how, by aligning personal desires to the benefit for mankind, it is possible to lead a deeply rich and satisfying life.

Q: What was the inspiration behind BYOP?
Manish
: During my tenure in the Indian Air Force I survived many near-fatal accidents. I and my crew were lucky to come alive out of these situations. These incidents made me delve deep into the meaning and purpose of life. I realized that my Life’s purpose was to show people way to live a meaningful and purposeful life. Hence, I wrote the book.

Q
: Please tell us about your career as a pilot? The challenges and the highlights.
Manish
: Initially, I was posted to a VIP Squadron and was a part of the formation carrying VVIPs like The President, Vice President, Prime Minister and the Service Chiefs. Flying with them requires precision and there is no room for error. 

Later, I was posted to an operational Squadron. I flew extensively during Gujarat Cyclone and Earthquake in 1999/2000 doing rescue and relief work. In one of the sorties I rescued 05 fishermen, who were afloat on wooden planks after their fishing trawler was destroyed in the Cyclone. I was awarded the Chief of Air Staff Commendation Medal for saving their lives.

Q
: Have you had any formal training as a writer? Your message to upcoming writers?
Manish
:I had no formal training as a writer but I consider John Harricaharan, the Creative Writing Guru and the best-selling author, my mentor. I have read all his books on creative writing. He has also been kind enough to write the foreword for Be Your Own Pilot.

My first suggestion to all budding writers is to read or watch John’s story of Professor Peterson (click here).

Next is to fall in love with words. Once you are in love with them, you can feel intuitively whether you have used them correctly or not. 

Lastly, write with your heart. Express your true feelings. Do not bother about what the Publishers or Readers will think. And don’t worry about grammar or other mistakes. There are people to correct them. The world just wants your original story. Write it.

Q
: Who is better Manish, the pilot or Manish, the author?
Manish
:I had become a Pilot with the sole aim of saving a life someday. After that was achieved, I moved over to shaping lives. Today, I have better and immense opportunities to touch lives through my book and lectures. You know, I had a reader who was about to commit suicide after being rejected from a job-interview. Luckily, he had the book. He read it and it gave him hope. So, I find being an Author is better than being a Pilot but I do miss flying at times.

Q
: What would be your next venture?
Manish
: We are trying to make a movie based on “Be Your Own Pilot.” I am also in between two books. “Souls : United at Last” is a true love story of Soulmates who meet after a few births. “The Fall Guy” is a science fiction in which I have borrowed the characters from Ramayana and Mahabharata and fit them in the modern context.

If you are looking for a nice self help book, this summer, do try this one! I tried and loved it.

http://www.amazon.com/Your-Own-Pilot-Manish-Kumar/dp/8184301359