There have been requests for some “Knowledge” from me, tips on doing Seva, Sadhana and stuff like that…
You want Knowledge, read up all of what Guruji has written, listen to all His talks… then do it again and again…
Here is a tip for Seva and Sadhana: DO Seva, DO Sadhana, DO everyday
You want a thought for the day? pick a number between 1 and 7: call it X, then pick another number between 1 and 200: Call it Y… Open Knowledge Sheet Book number X to Page number Y (if Book X doesnt have Y pages, doesnt matter, open to last page of Book X) and READ! and IMPLEMENT!
and thats it!
ps i will keep the qna flwing, if you guys keep on asking
pps Dinesh gets far more keep writing comments than i do… *veiled threat*
I am finally initiated into the blogging rite; after lots of coaxing and cajoling, warnings and threats, bribes and brickbats, mild protestations and wild insinuations, having my ego pricked or pumped, dropping hints and offering bargains (the last one by Natalie – “if you commence blogging, I will start my 8 minute Ab exercises which I had taught them in california).
I must say, it feels good though, being here, being back, going forward with you all…
Bawa with his superb Spiderwicky narration inspired me to post one on Punjabwich Chronicles. (wich in Punjabi language means ‘in’). Punjab truly is the land of the lions. All men put a Singh at the end of their name which means lion. Even the women are extremely strong (though they add a Kaur at the end of their names); you can’t but be strong if you have to make so many parathas (the best and healthiest Indian rotis on the planet) everyday and work in the fields. Farming is the primary occupation of the state and dancing comes a close second. Laughter comes under preoccupation.
We stayed at Prince’s (he is a guy, in Punjab they have names like that, montoo, prince, honey, silky, etc, their dogs are called rajesh and deepak) place. Now this guy has a heart of gold (24 carat). He and his sister Minie (well, you are not a punjabi if you don’t have a nickname), infact his entire family welcomed us and the rest of Jalandar in their farmhouse with the love and hospitality that is truly the hallmark of rural India. I felt like doing yoga at soon as I reached his house – I figured out soon it was ‘cos the ride to his house (thanks to the road) was like a proper pre-yoga warm up and loosening up of all joints. At his house, one had a choice of the pool outdoors or a pool table indoors. Avinash taught me tricks on the table and I was soon pocketing balls left, right and centre. In between volunteer meetings, Guru story sessions and paratha parties, Mr Ravishankar (imagine having that name!) taught us dance – some classical Indian and Bhangra (traditional Punjabi) with lots of humor and style. Raviji was mentioning a conversation in one of his dance classes where someone remarked Punjab having no culture. He said, “No, we have one. Its called agriculture. We agree with everyone’s culture”. Ha ha ha (3 minutes laugher). The Sardars(the Sikhs, I think it means commanders or warriors) are the butt of most jokes in India. They enjoy a special place in Indian joke-dom like the Irish, or the Jews, or the Germans, or the blondes… do elsewhere.
The Sikhs have contributed immensely to Indian ethos. They valiantly resisted the Mughal Invaders’ conversion drives and the subsequent genocide (done in millions; the Jewish holocaust or Spanish Inquisition pales in comparison). The Sikh gurus combined spirituality and the fighting spirit (to defend their country and faith). Avinash (a Kashmiri Pandit himself, one of the 3,50,000 Hindus driven out of their homes in Kashmir – one of the worst human rights violation in the world in modern times) mentioned that had it not been for the Sikh Gurus, the Kashmiri Pandits would not have existed today.
Shakti and Bhakti (Strength and devotion) runs thick in the Sikh blood. Seva-bhav (the spirit of service) is deeply ingrained in their consciousness. Many a times you see a Sikh getting out of his Mercedes and taking care of people’s shoes at the Gurudwara temple. Besides, the Sikh feed people in the thousand on festival days or holidays.
One saddening part is that because Punjab was the epicenter of the Agriculture revolution in India, its prosperity grew quickly. People ended up with pots of money and lots of time, not knowing what to do with it. So, many youngsters gravitated towards cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. Even today, it remains as a major problem. And the solution in sight seems to be a revival of spiritual values in the land. Thats where Art of Living steps right in, with the YES!+ and Utsav course. Our first Utsav in Jalandhar had close to 3000 young people in rapture.
Utsav Act I: Feel more alive. The tag line seemed redundant for Punjab, the youth embodied life. It didn’t take much to get them on their feet and into action. In Satsang, before the first word of the song escaped the tongue, they would be up and about, dancing. Nothing deterred them, not even the fact that at times we had not so good (read horrible) singers. Which made Bawa comment, these guys would dance to anything, they dont need music, just put an electric generator on…
The Golden Temple was a treat, to the mind and the soul. Bawa wrote all about that… We got treatment usually granted to saints. I truly felt like an ambassador of Guruji.
Overflowing with gratitude and contentment we moved on to Delhi and then to Mumbai…
Well… i couldn’t wait… didn’t want to go slow anymore… so read in my usual breakneck speed… and it was a superb, satisfying little adventure with a man who loves to tell stories about the ordinary in a special extraordinary way…
Though he got a wrong idea about Sanyas (just a paragraph on it in one essay) and there may be a few things that he wrote which i dont agree with… it was a fun time!
His tales from the island of Crete are wonderful… some of them are laugh out loud funny, and the story the Meaning of Life (which is retold in this book) is as deeply moving and touching as it was the last time i read it… and i am so glad to see more of Dr. Alexandra Papaderos… I will leave you guys to read the book, without giving any of it away…
Thank You Mr. Fulghum… please do write more and more often…
Its a movie about global warming. Its the movie that got Al Gore (the hero), the Nobel Peace Prize. Its thought provoking, scary and told with humour and sensitiviy… It offers few solutions, but does provide some hope…
It also fails to mention that eating Non Veg food, and the meat industry contributes to 27% of global warming (that’s more pollution than all the vehicular traffic of the world put together) , coz Mr Gore himself is a meat eater, and that fact wouldnt have gone down well with the (decision making) people in the US and the Nobel Prize committee…
Its a well made film, that completely fails to give THE one solution that could really help our planet… unfortunate when politics, and personal ambitions are even in this time of crisis that the film so fantastically shows are put first…
Whoever is reading this, please know, that when you eat non veg food or just watch others eat non veg food and dont educate them, you are contributing to global warming and the rape of our planet…
You stop, and then gently educate and make others stop… for the sake of your health, the animals and our planet…
Jai Gurudeva !
All the books are simply small essays, almost never more than 4 pages long. He has a very wry wit, and a plethora of experiences of people of all sorts and places of all types… and he takes great pleasure in sharing it with us… Some of his stories are very funny, some extremely thought provoking and poignant… almost all without exception very interesting…
Here is an author for people to explore, who dont want to read “fat” books… though the book is fat… every little story in it is very thin, very enjoyable and hugely re readable…
It would be interesting to make Mr. Fulghum do an Art of Living course, take him to bangalore ashram and make him meet Guruji, and see what he writes about it…
Meanwhile, he has written maybe 7-8 books, and every one of them is quite superlative… i am about half way thru this latest one and though none of the essays in this one are laugh out loud funny, i am enjoying them and taking my time over them…
The trouble with books, especially good books, is that they take so long to write and just a few hours to read…
A superb, scenic, old , old house in some of the most beautiful countryside of the US, with autumn colours in the woods make the setting for this really nice fantasy, adventure movie…
Add 3 children, a screamy, brave older sister, 2 boys who are twins and maybe 12ish with very different attitudes (one guy fights with sister, the other just walks away… Why didnt you help me??? … sorry i dont do conflict!)
A struggling mother of the 3 who is obviously recovering from a useless husband who left her, and so is nicely out of the way most of the time… AND
a house brownie who turns into a small monster when angry, but can be made to cool down with honey, some funny, ferocious goblins, a hobgoblin who loves to eat birds, a griffin, a book of secrets that should not be opened, an evil, evil ogre who wants it…
Stir in some really tender scenes with mom and kids
season with cool fights between good kids and bad goblins
garnish with a lot of comic moments…
Serve in an ice cold auditorium in the middle of summer!!
You simply cant resist it… I loved the movie and so did all who came with us… and after all those special effects, you walk away with the feeling that maybe, it is just possible that maybe fairies do exist… all you need is a hobgoblin to spit in your eyes (ewww…) to make you see them!!
Can be 4 separate milkshakes as well (see earlier post on milkshake):
Apple + Cinnamon or
Banana + Walnuts + Vanilla or
Vanilla + Cinnamon or
Apple + Vanilla tastes fantastic as well
You may as well try apple + Banana (add very little banana to keep the flavour of banana from overpowering the delicate taste of apple)
Lots of Dates + Raisins + Walnuts + Vanilla makes a great shake as well… you guys get the idea? Keep adding and subtracting and you will see your range of milkshakes multiply!! Good maths huh?!
My Granny used to make this. I was just a runt of a boy at that time and dont really know all that used to go into this amazingly tasty meal she would make, but from what my taste buds can recollect and a few notes from my mom’s cooking diary, here is a recipe based on what we would eat at those awesome joint family parties every year. She used to use chicken or meat, i know better than that, so i use Soya Chunks instead.
You will need:
5-7 pieces of cinnamon
2 Tablespoons of dhania-jeera powder
salt to taste
1 Packet Nutrella Nuggets (Soya Chunks)
1 liter of Dahi
200 ml Coconut milk
5-6 medium potatoes
3 medium carrots
a handful (or a bit more) of green peas
1 full coconut (desiccated)
some ghee (totally depends on you how much you want to use)
Grind into a powder: 5-7 cloves, 7-8 cardamom, 5-7 big pieces of cinnamon
Cook a packet of Nutrella Nuggets (Soya Chunks), and squeeze them dry. To cook soya chunks just dunk them in boiling water for 10-15 minutes or so. Remember to add a bit of salt…
In a fairly large vessel, empty a whole packet (1 liter) of dahi, 200 ml of the coconut milk and add the ground spices, 2 tablespoons or so of ground dhania-jeera powder and some salt to taste. Mix well. Add the squeezed dry and cooked soya nuggets to the dahi marinade.
Cut into medium chunks 5 medium potatoes and 3 medium carrots, poke the chunks of potatoes and carrots with a fork a few times and add to the dahi marinade. Let it stand for 30 minutes or so, the longer the better.
Boil a handful of green peas (more if you like green peas), don’t let them turn dull, keep them nice and green until just cooked.
Meanwhile, desiccate a full coconut, and then put some ghee (the ghee used can be as little as 1 tablespoon full, you can add more depending on how rich you want to make the dish) in a hot tawa (girdle), and on a low fire roast the coconut in the ghee, until it starts to give off that yummy smell and browns a bit. Keep stirring, you don’t want to burn it.
Now in a pressure cooker, add the veggies with the dahi marinade and the roasted coconut. You may add some ghee to this if it makes you feel good.
Pressure Cook for 3-5 whistles and then simmer for about 10 minutes
Wait till the cooker has cooled, and open it… add the boiled green peas, garnish with finely chopped coriander or parsley and serve piping hot with brown or multigrain bread or hot rotis. The breads soak up the gravy really well. Please eat with your hands, don’t use spoons and forks and stuff while tucking into this delicacy
If you have the time and the patience and the inclination and have to cook this for hoards of people, instead of pressure cooking put everything in a bit pot and cook over a slow fire for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally (see to it that it doesnt stick and get burnt at the bottom, though personally i used to love that burned bit) or until done
I have observed that it tastes even better the next day, so cooking this in the afternoon and reheating it and serving it for dinner really brings out all the tastes… Remember to add the garnish just before serving. Wilted Coriander looks terrible!
You will need:
3 nice ripe bananas
1 ripe apple
A Handful of walnuts
1 tablespoon of Vanilla essence (This may vary depending on the type you use, it needs to have a hint of vanilla… thats all)
A Little bit of Cinnamon Powder
Milk which has been chilled (Put it in the fridge for atleast 2-3 hours), use about 1 liter of milk, adjust for the kind of thickness you want in the shake
Wash and cut the apple into small pieces, peel and cut bananas into small chunks.
Put into a mixie. Add the walnuts, Vanilla Essence (If you are still having sugar, you can substitute this with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream, use Natural’s or any one which has the nice french Vanilla flavour, if you live in Delhi, get the ice cream from Big Chill), chilled milk… and whirrrrrr away… to a nice smooth liquid.
Pour into a nice tall glass and just sprinkle a dash of cinnmon powder on the surface.
Serve chilled, drink immediately!
Let me do the Sri Ganesha on this blog with our account of Shivaratri. After a fabulous PDS (Pranayam Dhyan Shibir) in Mumbai with Guruji which was full of meditations, miracles and early mornings, we felt a nagging sensation in our heart that we did not have enough. (He mentions somewhere it being a sign of love and Seva – a feeling of ‘not enough’). So we decided to join the caravan onto to Surat for Shivaratri.
The noon before Shivaratri, on the way from Dadar to Bandra station to catch our train, we took a divine detour so as to say goodbye to Guruji in Ghatkopar. As we went to his place, he was giving a video byte to Zee TV. As we were already running late, I gestured to him with palms going round and round indicating ‘railway’ and lip-synched Surat. He acknowledged with a raise of his eyebrows and an impish smile (everything reveals itself in good time). We somehow caught the train in the nick of time, rather the train stopped and caught up with us and took us to Surat… but that’s a story I will leave for another posting?
For us, Surat is synonymous with Jigish. Bawa’s tryst with this city goes back to 1994 when he would conduct Basic courses at an unbawa hour of 4am with Jigish assisting. Foreseeing Jigish’s 3 bedroom small house would expand magically to accommodate 56 people during the shivaratri festival, we opted eventually to move to Jyotika and Bharti’s house. That house, like most of Gujarat has mastered feeding to an art-form.
People say shivaratri was blissfully divine. For Prasanna and me, it was chaotically divine. We were supposed to give a live commentary on TV of the puja proceedings. The presence of the Governor, accompanied by his paranoid security, sealed off our location settings. Then Sanskar TV’s bit of video and lot of audio decided to give up on us. So we ended up doing ‘Nishkaam Karma’ – fruitless effort, not to mention we had rollicking fun in the bargain.
Towards the end of the puja, we just dropped everything (read surrendered), and settled down to meditate. The bhajans started, and their tempo kept ascending until at it pinnacle, Guruji went into a soumya Tandav (Shiva’s Dance). The moment it begins, truly the entire universe comes to a stand still, the whole body is flushed with a million volts of energy, every cell in it is alive with sublime sacredness, and the very soul resonates with vibrant silence. In that very instant you know, you have done boundless benevolence to be there or have been showered with unconditional blessings to be physically present there.
He conducted ‘Hara Hara’ meditation with the invocation mudra and invited the divinity to settle here and now with all of us.
What Guruji said was…
The amazing journey from duality to devotion and devotion to oneness is shivaratri. For Love and Devotion there needs to be two, duality is needed… but Devotion when intensified leads to the Knowledge that there is only one!
The ancients texts asks us to become one with shiva and then worship him. So we do puja after enlivening the Shiva Tatva in every cell of our body. Shiva is the embodiment of innocence and we sit for puja with that innocence and fullness.
Shiva is worshiped with flowers and thorns. He accepts both. We too surrender both our positive and negative qualities. We offer ‘good’ qualities so we are not afflicted by its ego, and the ‘bad’ qualities with which we start identifying ourself.
Neelkanth and Bhadra – Shiva’s throat turned blue when he drank the dreaded poison signifying that we too have the power to take on negativity and transform it into benevolence. Offer all the anger, hatred and self-deprecating qualities. Shiva will only give something good and beneficial in return.
Shiva is also fury personified – he shows anger towards injustice and wrongdoing. It is a crime even to tolerate injustice. In that sense Shiva is complete.
At the onset of puja, we take a sankalpa for peace, prosperity, success and happiness for all those present in particular and for the whole world in general. It is a beautiful process of taking sankalpa by bringing into our consciousness the vastness of space and time and collapsing that into the here and now. A sankalpa taken in this charged, full-of-feeling atmosphere bears fruit easily.
Usually people go to places of worship with lots of demands and wishes, but people usually come to Guruji full of gratitude… no demands here, people are content and fulfilled already… That’s the specialty of Art of Living. And that’s what makes a Pooja with Guruji so much more potent and powerful!
Shiva is also the lord of the 5 elements (Bhootnath) – earth, water, air, fire and space. Honoring the elements is true worship of Shiva. In today’s age, people are most concerned about the environment. Being sensitive to the environment has been tradition of India since time immemorial. We respect the earth – before digging for a construction site, we do Puja. We worship the rivers and mountains… Infact puja itself done with all the 5 elements – flowers, water, rice, fire, fragrance everything is used. Awakening of the principles of these elements in us is puja.
The next day we did the Rudram again at 4:30 am and divinity seemed to talk hold of the very air and infuse it with sparkling joy.
The PDS started with Pankaj conducting Yoga gracefully, enthusiastically and with laughter and lightness. Guruji would lead meditations 30-35 minutes and they never seemed more than 5-10 minutes. People in hundreds experienced healing from illnesses, pains and sufferings. The sharing by participants brought out how Joy and good luck increased dramatically for countless many.
The arrangements were pretty smooth and things seemed to move with clockwork precision with hardly any friction. Rishi Vidyadharji seemed to be behind this organizational miracle. There were 26 teams altogether for Guruji’s visit and the man-in-charge Rishiji has absolutely zero conflict with anyone. That’s the power of Sattva. He would do Gurupooja everyday and meditate with everyone together. Guruji later on said that Karmaphal ki siddhi hoti hai sattva se. Aur sattva aata hai silence aur sadhana se. (Any action bears fruit only with Sattva. And this Sattva comes only through silence and meditation).
There was also an advance course being attended by 3000+ people being conducted by Rishiji…
Guruji sparkled with humour and Wisdom during the Youth Meet, and answered questions while playing random notes on a synth that was on stage… The notes somehow sounded fantastic…