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Showing posts from 2019

Bhaja Govindham

While studying Vedanta, many texts written by one of the greatest thinkers and philosophers of the 7th century, Adi Sankaracharya, are referenced. He was a great writer both in prose and poetry. Bhaja Govindam is considered to be one of the minor works of Sankaracarya. But due to the melody and the rhythm in the verses, it is beautiful and has become widely popular. For an intelligent student, sincerely studying this would remove all his/her delusions (Moha) and that's why it is also called  Moha Mudgara. I just completed reading Swami Chinmayananda's commentary on Bhaja Govindam and was inspired to learn how to chant the verses. But I couldn't find a proper reference to have all the verses in one place to help me read (Sanskrit and English typefaces). So I collected them from various places and decided to jot them down here for anyone looking for them. Verse 1 भज गोविन्दं भज गोविन्दं गोविन्दं भज मूढमते | सम्प्राप्ते सन्निहिते काले नहि नहि रक्षति डुक्रिङ्करणे ॥ १ ॥       bh

What Is Vedanta and How I Began Studying It?

In this journey of self-exploration, destiny put me at an interesting doorway almost during the same time last year. I was at peace and happy in terms of where I was in life for the most part. At the same time, I had many unanswered questions with the primary one being what the purpose of life is. I lacked clarity on what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Like I usually do, when I did not know the answers, I googled. Not surprisingly it did not give me the clarity that I was seeking :-) Many a time, I felt like when I wish for something genuinely, someone leads me there. In this case, it was my longtime college friend. One fall morning last year, I drove up to her place, making plans all of a sudden to surprise another college friend on his birthday. One of the days during my stay there, she took me along to one of her study group gatherings to meet her teacher from Chinmaya Somnath . I got a chance to have an honest interaction with her teacher. I shared with her that I was lo

Inktober 2019

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It is Inktober month. For those who are unfamiliar with what that is – an artist named Jake Parker created this ten years ago in 2009 as a challenge to improve his drawing skills. Since then, it has become a worldwide endeavor where thousands of artists take part in the challenge every year. I have done this for a couple of years previously but I drew random drawings. This year I decided to follow the official prompt list provided for Inktober, and use birds as an inspiration for every prompt. I had to do quite a bit of research on birds and learned so much in the process. Most of these were drawn with watercolors. I used brush pens and white gel pens at times for highlighting. A couple of these were done digitally on my iPad. These are the art supplies I used: King Art Dual Tip Brush Pens White Sakura Gelly Roll Pens Pentel Brush Pen Copic Drawing Pen

Shifting From Outward To Inward

Our memory gets clouded with time and all we are left with are our perceptions of what we remember. Is there a specific time or day when I felt the urge to look inward? I don’t think so. Every experience has brought me here to this moment where I’m writing this. I will try my best to recollect some thoughts which had a huge impact on me along the way. Being born in a Hindu family, I’ve been raised to pray to God in the form of various deities. My family was neither too orthodox, nor too religious. But that was something which was done culturally, there was no questioning it. I used to follow the norm without understanding the significance or meaning of God. For the longest time, I remember trying to find out what God means to me. From my childhood till my late twenties, I did not dare to question it because I felt stupid that I failed to understand the purpose, while everyone else seemed happy just bowing down to God to pray and go about their activities. As I started growing up and ge

Be Here Now

One big hindrance to not enjoying the present moment is that we are not actually in the present moment. Questions like – Did I do that right, did I give my best, what will happen if this doesn’t work out, why did he/she behave that way with me, will I be able to afford that thing I want to buy, etc., occupy our minds. These questions in turn result in actions and reactions that are not conscious. That is because they are not based on truths; they are based on assumptions, guilt, anxieties, and fears. We might be thinking of the past regretting what we might have done, being mad or upset with someone, or some unpleasant situation, or maybe even just recollecting pleasant memories. We might be thinking about the future anxious about it, wondering if things will work out as we want, wondering about the results of our actions. I have been guilty of doing all of the above for a long time in my life. It took me a while to realize how unproductive that was. I think of myself as a hardworking

What Is Happiness?

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What makes me happy? This question steered the direction of my life. For a long time, the answer to that question determined my actions. There are a lot of things that made me happy. I was happy when I got new clothes as a kid. I was happy when my parents bought me a computer. I was happy when I saw my kids play as toddlers. I was happy when I got a new phone. I was happy when we got a dog, and so on. There are a lot of things that made me unhappy. I was unhappy as a kid when my Dad wanted me to stay at home to study for an exam while they went on a vacation. I was unhappy that I didn’t have a scooter in high school. I was unhappy that my dog chewed on my glasses, and so on. The list of these things that make us happy/unhappy goes on and on, as we go through these pleasant/unpleasant emotions every day. If we observe closely, we are happy when our desires are fulfilled and unhappy when our desires are unfulfilled. So is the trick to keep on fulfilling desires to be eternally happy?

Give Thanks

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My new favorite thing to do these days is to listen to podcasts while walking. A few days ago I caught an episode about gratitude and how it’s an important attitude to have to grow spiritually. I took some time to contemplate what I am grateful for in my life. All I could feel was immense gratitude for everything/everyone who has been a part of my life thus far. Some memories were very pleasant and some which were not so pleasant. But in retrospect, I’m grateful for each of those experiences. I do not want to bore you with the long list right now. I will mention one that I feel most thankful for. I am very grateful for all the knowledge that I have been able to gain over the years, to develop the attitude of thankfulness even when things don’t go the way I desire. This attitude by itself has largely changed me as a person. I am still not at a place where I can practice gratitude in every moment but I hope to get there someday. At times, it is difficult to be grateful when people or s