This is in response to a question about why Indians are consuming more meat compared to our western counterparts of late.
I feel meat eating has been equated to wealth in many minds. I remember once when Dinesh had gone to Africa to a small village, they were going to slaughter a goat in his honour. He convinced them that it was not required, that he was vegetarian, and one goat lived on at least for some more time.
Why does Sri Sri Ravi Shankar travel in “attention grabbing” cars or fly in choppers? Why can’t He travel in cheaper cars?
Got asked this question on Quora.
Here is my answer:
Here is a scenario:
This Navaratri, I decided to do something different than the usual fasting… Something that would be longer lasting, than just starving myself and giving myself a headache at the end of it (Pitta… Need regular food, otherwise I explode)
So for each day of Navaratri, I am going to imbibe a new good habit. Stuff I know I should be doing, but don’t.
Will keep adding my new habits everyday …
Day 1: Visiting our Ashram Ganesha every day. It somehow rounds off the day for me, and brings a sense of sacredness… Feels really nice!
Day 2: Brushing my teeth every night. I know I should be doing this, but I usually remember when I am tucked up in bed and so end up not doing it. Fought the Tamas, got out of bed, brushed teeth and wrote this line too!
Day 3: Bhanu Didi had made an absolutely brilliant album (music by the super talented B. Prasanna with whom I made the Sri Symphonic Bhajans album) called Cosmic Resonance. It’s a collection of mantras of Shiva and Devi, amazingly arranged and enchantingly sung.
One of the mantras is the Devi Kavacham. Guurdev was mentioning that whoever listens to the Devi Kavacham on a regular basis will be granted victory and success in whatever they do.
My good habit for Day 3 is to listen to the Devi Kavacham everyday. It’s so pretty and the Devi’s armour would be great to have on my side!!
You can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZ58d2YotY4
Day 4: To read at least a page of Knowledge everyday, first thing in the morning. In case you are wondering, I pick and choose between Gurudev’s Knowledge Sheets, The Bhagavad Geeta (I only read the translation, not the interpretation, Gita Press Bhagavad Geeta books are the best!) and Yoga Vasishtha.
Day 5: Eating a bowl of fresh fruit every morning… It’s recommended that you eat three or four varieties of fruits, and those fruits should be of different colours.
Daily having fruits for an appreciably long time ensures your body detoxes and makes your liver really happy!
Day 6: Last month, I had a splitting headache and couldn’t sleep the entire night. I sat on our balcony around 5:00 am and watched the world come alive… I watched a sunrise after a very long time, and it was such a magical, delightful, wonderful experience … My good habit for Day 6 is to watch a sunrise at least once a week!
Day 7: Our family spent the entire month of May in Matheran when we were children, a beautiful, idyllic hill station very close to Bombay. There are no motorised vehicles allowed in Matheran and the only way to get around is to walk, ride a horse or sit in a hand pulled rickshaw…
Of course, we would walk all the time and everywhere. That’s where I developed my love for walking in the woods so to speak and ashram is such a perfect place to go for long walks… yet i don’t do it as often as I know I should … My good habit for Day 7 is go for walks every day… especially when I am in a walk friendly place like our wonderful, enchanting Bangalore Ashram!
Day 8: is the Day of Chandi Homa – The culmination, The Super Biggie!!
It’s the day when people who have been fasting, get back to eating rather dramatically! There is typically an 18 course meal for lunch and you don’t need dinner that evening, or breakfast and lunch on the next day
My good habit for Day 8 is to eat smaller and more frequent meals and eat them slowly and really savour the taste of the meals that are so lovingly cooked for me (or by me). I had been doing that for some time and was feeling so nice, then the bad habit of eating too much break fast started… And it goes pretty much down hill after that…
So fruits first thing in the morning, followed by a small servings of good food 4 to 5 times in the day seems to be the way to keep my stomach really happy and loose weight in the bargain!
A gulp of freshly squeezed lemon juice with a few teaspoons of water at the start of the day also helps big time and I am going to restart that as well.
Day 9: The last day and the last night of this enchanting magical time… I think my good habit for day 9 is to make sure i follow the ones I created for myself on the earlier 8 days …
Have a wonderfilled year ahead … Shanti Rastu, Tushti Rastu, Pooshti Rastu!!
All the very, very Best!
A little known fact about Gandhiji is that he used to meditate daily for about an hour. He was once known to have said, “I am so busy today that I can’t meditate for an hour. I will have to meditate for two hours!”. He knew the power of meditation and personally, I feel that’s how he managed to be who he was and do what he did.
Here is a story from Gandhiji’s life you may not find in any history text book. His secretary accompanied him on a trip to some hill station. During the train ride Gandhiji was dictating a letter to his secretary. The train was labouriously climbing up the mountain, when there was a sudden noise and their railway carriage stopped and slowly started moving in the opposite direction… Something had happened and the carriage had separated from the main train and was now moving downwards, slowly but surely gaining speed.
There was panic and pandemonium in the compartment as it hurtled down the tracks. Gandhiji calmly continued to dictate the letter to his secretary.
The secretary was aghast. He said we may all die in a few minutes and you want me to continue writing this letter?!
Gandhiji replied – You are right, we may die in a few minutes, and if that happens, it really doesn’t matter what we do right now… but if we don’t (die) then we are wasting all this time! And he continued dictating the letter…
This is really Living in the Present Moment!
Btw, if you are wondering how I got to hear about this story, it’s from the secretary himself – Pt. Sudhakar Chaturvedi. He is still alive, lives in Bangalore, and is perhaps India’s oldest living person.
28th September was promising to be an incredibly busy day. Everything we had planned for Dinesh’s 40th birthday was going to come together all at once. I didn’t see much point in pretending that there was no surprise, so I just told dinesh point blank that he was to leave Vyas Kuteer and come back only a little before midnight. So he knew there was a surprise, but he had no idea at all about what it was!
We all decided that we would gift him a fantastic home theatre system. Complete with a huge screen and a 1080p 3D projector. I must have badgered everyone I knew who was into any sort of electronics. I spent hours on the net researching which projector was the best to get. Finally, I zeroed in on a brilliant Sony. Went to watch a live demo and was completely sold on it. Then came the tricky part. To get everything ready so that Dinesh has no clue about it.
I had always wanted wooden flooring in our hall and thought this was the perfect chance to do some interiors. That would act as a decoy for Dinesh. So while there was all the work happening in plain sight, there was also some secret wiring happening also in plain sight. Shavina gifted us two beautiful recliner chairs. I had Dinesh believe that those were his birthday present and unfortunately they came in too early…
On the 28th after shooing Dinesh out of the house, we went to work to clean everything up. Wooden flooring can leave a lot of debris everywhere. After about 5 hours of sweeping, mopping, cleaning, sweating and throwing junk out of the house, the projector people came to set it up.
Instead of an 11 foot screen, they got a 12 foot one and so the carpentry had to be hastily redone. Holes were drilled and things were slid into place. The screen looked amazing and the projector delivered better picture quality than most theatres in India. With the recliners, it’s the perfect set up. Only while getting this setup done, my immaculately cleaned hall looked like a war zone all over again.
We had another round of cleaning, dusting, mopping to get everything in perfect order and it was only at 11 pm that the house was totally clean and ready to be decorated. Rajiv, Rima, Ankita, Gowri and me were the cleaner uppers and Tanu, Upasana, Hema and some others were the decoraters.
All our friends started to troop in around this time and in true Art of Living style immediately became hosts instead of guests. Everyone rushed around getting everything in place…
At 5 minutes to midnight, Dinesh showed up at Vyas Kuteer. We blindfolded him, and took him into the hall and sat him down on the recliner. Then everyone shouted and he had to guess the names of all the people who were there. Some people had arrived earlier and spent the day hiding from him in the ashram. He managed to get a few names right. Then we started Mamma Mia the movie. He heard the familiar music and there was a smile on his face. I think he was expecting to see some video we may have made for him. As we removed his blind fold and he saw the humungous screen and the movie come alive right there in our hall and all the people who loved us so dearly there with us, he did a double take and made a sound that can be described only as an utterly pleasant shocked laugh – You had to be there to see his face! Everyone shouted above the din of the movie Happy Birthday Dinesh Dada!!!
We watched for a bit, then we went up to the terrace which was romantically lit up with candles. It looked like a dream out of some fairy tale. A lovely breeze wafted around us as Dinesh saw his birthday cake or rather cakes. Café Vishala team had outdone themselves by making 40 cupcakes ranging from white chocolate to dark chocolate – 40 shades of Chocolate!! This was combined with some delicious dips and home made bread. And chocolate ice cream made with jaggery instead of sugar!
The one person who was missing from the celebration was Rupal. She had sent a voice recording to be played to Dinesh while cutting the cake. And as the voice note was getting over, she suddenly stepped out from the shadows. She had been there all along!! What a total surprise!!!
We talked and joked and sang and laughed and told stories and then did it all over again.
We slept that night only because of sheer exhaustion.
The next day Gurudev met everyone and that was the icing on the cake!! It was so wonderful to be with all our friends again and feel the love and joy and blessings from them.
Dinesh and I must surely have done some utterly wonderful things in many lifetimes to be blessed with such fierce love from so many, many fantastic people!!
Happy 40th to the most fabulous, amazing, wonderfilled person I have the privilege of knowing!!
Many dear friends had gathered in Vyas Kuteer to wish me on my birthday that was imminent. Around 11 pm on the 21st of September this year, I decided to oil my hair and shampoo them. As soon as I announced this, there was a sudden frenzy of action that started around me.
I watched bemused as someone walked in with candles, someone else with matches, yet another asking if I had “soothing” music. Turned out that their surprise birthday gift for me was giving me a full salon treatment right in my own bedroom, in my own lounging chair! Only it was supposed to happen the next day. When the night before I said I was going to shampoo my hair, Project Hair Spa was instantly preponed by a few hours.
Tanu made up a heavenly smelling concoction of honey, vanilla, cinnamon, banana, milk and olive oil. It was good enough to eat. Ankita had a bite and said if there is any left over, she would have it as dessert. The goo was put in my hair, rubbed into my scalp and I was asked to sit quietly and pretend to listen to music. They couldn’t find any spa music so they decided on ambient sounds that are plentiful and really relaxing at night in the ashram. Besides, you don’t need a music system or a play list.
I sat smelling deliciously of cupcakes, slowly getting cravings for pastries and cinnamon bread. Meanwhile I was given a pedicure by Ankita. She said my feet were softer than her hands and went thru the motions of putting whatever foot cream she could lay her hands on.
The real drama began once the 45 minutes were up. I was ceremoniously escorted into the bathroom, made to sit on a stool, asked to bend over and warm water was gently sloshed on my head with the aim of washing out the cake mix.
A bit of it came out. A lot of it didn’t.
The gentle sloshing intensified.
Some more of the goo reluctantly left my tresses. Quite a bit of it resolutely stuck on. The banana bits had got well and truly tangled into my hair. No amount of water was dislodging them.
I was told to relax and close my eyes, as a distressed whispered conference happened a few inches above my head. They all decided that next time, they would whirr the bananas in a mixie before putting it into the hair. Meanwhile, I was still hunched over with someone pouring water and trying to tease stubborn bits of banana out.
We should put lemon. Dandruff comes out with lemon, surely so will the banana.
Shall we put in some curd and see what happens?
Let’s just put a lot of shampoo…
In a few minutes, I had soapy banana bits, soaking in luxurious lather. Water managed to get the lather out. The banana bits just got well shampooed.
Then some of Upasana’s neurons made a few wild connections with some half forgotten dendrites, and she suddenly exclaimed let’s use conditioner and a comb. Conditioner was liberally massaged into the hair. Then slowly and carefully, my hair was combed down with a fine toothed comb and the banana bits finally bid adieu to my head. After this, they left me to shave and shower which I did and came out feeling gloriously warm and cuddly.
Amazingly, I lost hardly any hair and when everything was done, my hair felt like a dream. Soft and wavy and smooth and silky. The spa succeeded beyond all expectations! It was really a fantastic birthday gift!!
Dinesh was with Gurudev and I refused to start my birthday without him. He came back from Gurudev around 1 am. Then we did Guru Pooja. A lovely meditative Pooja, followed by Ganesha’s aarti, followed by the Devi Kavacham that Bhanu didi has sung so melodiously in her CD Cosmic Resonance. We all slipped into a twilight of meditation and sleep, enveloped in the warm glow of love that everyone was feeling for everyone.
Then as we came out of that scrumptious state of Being, Kamesh said there was cake on the terrace. And so, everyone trooped put onto the terrace, and I cut my birthday cake which was incidentally made right before me and stored in the fridge as I was having dinner that night at Café Vishala. Loud singing, even louder laughter happened as everyone tucked into that really tasty cake and soon just one piece was left.
Gowri points to a huge carton and says bau open your birthday gift. I said why have you guys got such a HUGE box for an iPad Pro? (Hint, Hint!) … I cut the tape open and out jumped Abhi! He had a party popper in his hand that refused to pop as he shouted Happy Birthday BAUUUUUU!!!!
What a fantastic surprise!! The popper finally popped showering all of us with confetti and good wishes. Then I realized that abhi had been taped into the carton for over 2 hours. He had a pillow with him and said he even went to sleep for a while. The loud singing was to wake him up. He had the last piece of cake.
What a fabulous start to a year. This is precisely how birthdays should be. Full of crazy surprises, wonderful food, heartfelt love and the best of friends!! Thank you very much to everyone who planned this wild and whacky birthday for me, and to all of you who wished me and made my day so very special!! You guys totally rock!
PS Dinesh wrote a poem for me – It’s on his facebook page – Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/dineshghodke
A cool story from Lord Ganesha’s childhood…
His brother is quite the fitness freak. Does his exercise daily, eats proteins, flexes his muscles, you know the type right?… and often mocks Ganesha’s “lazy” ways. possibly even signed him up for a Naturopathy treatment at the Ayurveda hospital…
Ganesha just smiles, and lovingly takes all the taunting.
One day when nothing works to get Ganesha to move, Kartikeya challenges him to a race… 3 times around the world! Whoever comes first gets the yummy fruit that their parents have got as a gift.
Ready, Steady, GO!!
Kartikeya jumps on his beautiful vehicle, the peacock and races into the sky. Soon he is just a blip (One wonders what the peacock had had for breakfast… Must have been some rocket fuel) and starts whizzing around the world.
Ganesha just yawns and settles down for a bit.
When Kartik has whizzed by the second time, Ganesha’s mom asks him if he wants the fruit and if he does, he better do something about it!
Ganesha gets up, stretches a bit and then with great devotion, his hands folded, slowly walks around Shiva and Parvati (His Parents).He finishes 3 rounds, just before Kartik and a very exhausted peacock come screeching to a halt. Amidst the smell of burning feathers, Kartik to his utter amazement sees Ganesha joyfully chomping away at the prize fruit, which should have been his!
He righteously demands an explanation. And he doesn’t want any nonsense that he has been hearing for a very long time – But darling, Ganesh is younger to you. You should share stuff with him. Be a good elder brother… so on and so forth…
Ganesha in between mouthfuls of an extremely tasty fruit explains that his parents, Shiva and Parvati are the world to him. And since the race was just about going around the world 3 times. He did exactly that, and did it much faster (and more efficiently… the mouse was very happy too)
than his hot shot older brother.
Everyone laughs and agree that you really cannot expect to win an argument (or a race) with Lord Ganesha. He is not known as the Lord of Knowledge for nothing!!
Ganapati Bappa Moriya!!!!!
Yes. Ice Cream… Well, sorbet actually
You will need an ice cream maker to make this recipe. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, follow the steps on this website: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/how-to-cook/how-to-make-ice-cream-without-an-ice-cream-maker
7 ripe medium to big sized tomatoes
20 fresh fragrant basil leaves
Juice of 3 lemons
2 cups powdered jaggery
1 cup water
Finely chop the basil leaves.
In a small pan, bring to a boil – water, jaggery and basil leaves. Stir so that the jaggery dissolves completely. Cover and keep aside for about an hour.
Peel and deseed the tomatoes. Puree them. Add the lemon juice.
Add the basil jaggery water to the tomato puree and stir well so that everything is nicely mixed. Chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
Put the mixture into an ice cream maker and let it churn.
You will be surprised and delighted at the creaminess of the sorbet and the utterly amazingly different taste that will explode on your tongue!
Makes enough for 5-7 people.
Mayur found it a little too sweet for his taste, I didn’t. If you are like Mayur, I would suggest using maybe half a cup less jaggery.
How to be content?
If you are not content, it means you have some unfulfilled desires. Right?
Do you have the faith that these desires will be fulfilled? If you do, then there is no problem, your mind will become calm and contentment will dawn.
For many people this is not the case. They have so many unfulfilled desires and have absolutely no faith that these will be realised. In this case, you have to learn to drop these desires. You are going to die. What difference is it going to make, if a particular desire is fulfilled or not?! If you can take your mind to this place, you are done. The remembrance of your own mortality will calm your mind and you will instantly start to appreciate what you have in life and contentment comes to you.
If you can’t even do this – well then, Pray. A sincere prayer is definitely answered. It’s quite amazing to know that unfulfilled desires can lead you to prayer and surrender to the Divine!
Pray, work for whatever it is you desire, and wait, and know that your desires and you yourself will be taken care of.
If you see any of the Gods in the Hindu pantheon, you will see that they have many arms. One of these arms is usually held up, with palm facing outwards, another held down and blessings coming out of it. Ever wondered what it means?!
It means – Wait, Wait … It’s coming to you… Wait, Wait … I am giving!
Ask, Pray, Work, Wait.
Don’t forget to Smile!
Nature has taken 4.5 billion years of evolution to set the stage for the drama of Human Life.
A planet colliding into Earth, Meteor bombardment for more than 20 million years, volcanic eruptions for longer than that, Ice ages lasting 100 million years or more, the dinosaurs being destroyed after being on the planet for 165 million years, mass extinctions, acid rains, earthquakes and tsunamis of ferocity greater than anything we could even dream of … You name the catastrophe, it has happened. All of this slowly nudging our planet over the millennia to become compatible to sustain us, along with approximately 8.7 million other species that also call Earth their home.
Global warming is a very serious threat to life as we know it. The temperatures on Earth are higher than they have been in the last 1000 years and the accumulation of green house gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, in the atmosphere more than what has been in the last 500,000 years. All this has happened in the last 50 years. We have managed to bring ourselves to the edge of destruction in just the last 50 to 100 years.
If things continue the way they are now, we may go virtually extinct. Our version of life will become History…
The good news is that more and more people are becoming aware of how their life style choices affect the planet and the lives of millions of others, and are making conscious, healthy decisions that are planet friendly. Amazingly these choices also contribute to vastly improved quality of life and personal health for these people and those around them.
The Moon has been watching over us since our first baby steps as a species, and frankly, we have given her more reason to frown and cry as we devastate Earth.
This Guru Poornima, let’s make the Moon smile.
We have compiled a short ebooklet of things you can do from now on to improve the quality of your life and tread gently upon this wonderful planet of ours – Spaceship Earth!
Please download by clicking here.
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