May 10

Dr. D.V. Pai

IITB: Third Semester:

Along came a subject called Real Analysis: I used to hate that subject, the last time i had studied it for my bachelors, had an extremely sucky prof, who managed to make everyone in the class detest the subject… I was a fool, i actually hated the prof, and managed to transfer the hatred of the prof to the subject…

A Dr. D.V. Pai was going to teach Real Analysis to us, i hated the subject, very bad memories of it… needless to say, i didn’t attend any lectures.

It was mid semester exam time… i got 5 or 6 on 30 in RA…

One sunny afternoon, i get a phone call in my hostel. It was Dr. Pai. Could i please come and see him in his office soon? My heart was beating quite wildly, while we fixed up to meet within the next hour or so… I always like to get unpleasant things over as soon as possible. Shaved, Showered, put on some (relatively) clean clothes, did Kriya and walked to Maths Department, each step making me more and more apprehensive about the firing i was about to get… what he would say, and then what excuse i would give, etc, playing havoc in my mind… “Live in the present moment” did flash a few times… didnt help much though :)…

There was a storm in my mind as i climbed up the stairs to Dr. Pai’s office. I said Jai Gurudev a few times in my head and knocked on the door… Come in Mr. batliwala. His voice was very pleasant. Some hope flickered and as i entered and saw him smile as he looked up from some papers. Somehow he managed to put me at ease in the first 10 seconds that i was there in his office… Please sit down… What he said to me afterwards is kind of etched in my memory…

He said it gently, slowly and matter of factly:

In the 30 years that i have taught here, i have never failed a student, because i have always known that there is no such thing as a bad student in IITB, only a bad teacher. If a student does badly, its the teacher who could not ignite the passion for the subject in the student.

I do not expect you to come to my lectures. But i do expect you to know your subject. You have not done well in the midsems, so clearly you cannot do this on your own. i loved the way you play the piano… (He had heard me during PAF!) Someone who can play so well can easily learn Real Analysis…

Even more gently:

Will you please give me a chance to teach this subject to you?

By this time, my eyes were wet. He smiled a big smile and sighed. Will you have a cup of tea?

I will come to each and every lecture sir i promised, and i did for the rest of the semester, and his eyes always twinkled when he saw me… We shared a secret!

After all these years, if you are reading this, Dr. Pai, please know that you were one of the big reasons i stuck to it there at IITB and completed my degree. Thank you very very much for being part of my life… and oh yes, I still love to read up Real Analysis πŸ˜‰

May 8

Gurudev speaks…

There are various online blogs and forums where some (misguided?) people post defamatory and inflammatory things about Guruji… He was asked about this in a recent Satsang, someone who happened to be there wrote an account… Here it is:

In a satsang at the Art of Living centre in Germany last night, someone asked Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: β€œGuruji, I have observed that Guruphiliac seems to follow your every move and then write negative things about you. Why are they doing this?”

This is the gist of what Guruji said: I have inherited an ancient lineage and my job is to further its cause. Neither by thought, nor through word, nor by deed, have I ever done any harm to anyone, nor will I ever do so in the future; it is simply not in my nature. Nobody can expose me because there is nothing to expose: I stand tall, clean and naked in front of the whole world.
I do whatever maximum good I can, and I inspire others to do so. These people who keep writing about me simply cannot leave me alone – they must be in deep love with me! (laughter) When they keep comparing me with other people all the time, I must have made a very deep impression on them. I cannot help it if they can’t get over me – that’s the way I am! If I am that bad and fake, they should simply be able to ignore me and move onto the truth –why are they are holding onto me, again and again?

If they are trying to teach me a lesson, if their intention is to correct me, then I’m sorry, I am incorrigible! (laughter)

If their idea is to stop people from coming to me, and if people do stop coming just by reading these blogs, then I really thank them; it is good for me, it reduces my responsibility! If they think I am doing this for publicity, they are unaware of the disadvantages of popularity. I pity them. Celebrities enjoy only popularity, but spiritual leaders have a huge responsibility with that popularity. People do not go to celebrities for guidance and blessings, but with spiritual leaders they do.

If they think I have no right to exist on this planet, then they can crucify me; I am afraid neither of death nor of being defamed. I am not afraid, because nothing can destroy me.

We do charity with the hard earned money from our courses. We are, of course, rich with people and with good character, and I am ready to share this wealth with anyone.
Lest they understand that their hatred is nothing but love standing upside down.

May 7

Pumpkin Soup

Peel and cut into medium chunky pieces a small pumpkin
Wash and cut into chunky pieces 1 medium sized potato (dont peel it)
Prep up some french beans (about 50 gms), a handful of green peas
Chop up 1 tomato as well
Mash up 1 clove of garlic (optional)

Put a pressure cooker on medium gas and add some oil and a dollop of butter, as soon as the butter has melted, add the garlic and cook till light brown. Add a tablespoon of garam masala and a tablespoon of dhania-jeera powder, you may of course vary these proportions according to your taste… Cook for a bit.

Now add all the other veggies, salt to taste and saute for 3-4 minutes on high flame

Add water to cover all the veggies by about 1 inch, you may add more or less depending on the consistency of the soup that you want finally. Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles and simmer for 10 minutes on very low flame. Let the cooker cool down before you open it.

Use a hand blender and whirrrrr the cooked veggies until smooth, optionally adding some milk if you want a more liquid consistency for the soup… add a small blob of fresh cream to give a nice colour to the soup and a richer taste.

Serve hot with toasted buttered whole wheat bread!

May 7

Roasted Veggies

Here is a really delicious treat:

Set an oven to preheat to 200 deg

Wash and peel 2-3 carrots, 1 sweet potato, 1 radish and then cut them up into medium round slices
Wash and cut 1-2 zucchinis into medium round slices
Wash and cut 1-2 tomatoes and 1 medium potato into chunky thick round slices
Wash and cut up a broccoli into chunky florets
Peel 1/2 a small pumpkin and cut into small chunks

Feel free to add of delete any veggie you like, red, yellow and green bell peppers (capsicums) cut into chunks also bring a delightful flavour and colour to this dish… You can add any chunky vegetable to this, but not something like say okra (bhindi)

Grease a baking tray with a little butter and artfully decorate the veggies in it, drizzle some olive oil on them and sprinkle a bit of salt…

Put in the oven for about 30-40 minutes until the veggies are all well done. 10 Minutes before they are ready you may add some pieces of mozzarella (pizza) cheese, and keep in the oven until the cheese has melted and become golden brown…

Serve piping hot right out of the oven after decorating with a few basil leaves or sprigs of rosemary, with toasted whole wheat bread!

May 6

IITB and me

Many years ago, i was a student of the very prestigious IIT Bombay pursuing my Master’s degree in Mathematics. I would love to say that everything was great and i was doing well, but that was not the case… I had big expectations from an institute like IIT, hardly any of them were met! It was still the same old copy what the prof writes on the board and vomit it out on the answer sheet during exam time… Get good grades for accurate vomiting!

I was fed up with it… There are 4 professors in IIT who made me stick thru it: They were true teachers, giving a chance to the most uninterested student , giving their best at teaching and knowing that they can spark off a love for the subject even where there was no hope according to all the other teachers in the Maths Department… Their names are Dr D.V. Pai (he deserves a full entry on this blog and i will write about him later), Dr. M.C. Joshi, Dr. Amiya K. Pani (my guide for my MS thesis along with Dr. Joshi) and Dr. Rajni Joshi. There was also Prof. Murali Subramanian who was a brilliant brilliant teacher… Its so amazing that i can remember all their names and their classes as if it happened last week!

I would say almost all the other profs of the Maths dept totally sucked at teaching… they may have been geniuses and scholars in their own right, but i don’t think they ever learned or cared to impart that passion for their subjects to their students…

In any case, i was about to give up on IITB, and had actually stopped attending lectures, when a wing mate (Kedar Sohoni) called me and said look i dont care if you are flunking, we need you for PAF!

PAF = Performing Arts Festival … the HIGH point of extracurricular activities in IITB! Hostels are paired up with each other randomly and they have to put up an extravagant show! Music, Dancing, Dramatics, Sets, Lights, Acting… anything and everything that anyone knew how to do was showcased around a story… Hostel 5 needed me that year for music… I went back and that was the turning point… The 4 profs who i mentioned above saw me perform, decided that anyone who could play the piano that well, HAD to be interested and great at what he did and lectured me and cajoled me into giving my best shot… and i did! and in that semester i flunked 5 subjects out of 6 πŸ™‚ *deep gloom*

At the same time i was getting deeper and deeper into Art of Living… When i got back from my first Adv course, i couldnt stop talking about the Ashram, Guruji, Bangalore… and pretty soon had managed to get a few of my wing mates from IIT onto the next basic course… for the record, ramnik bansal was the first person to do the course after me…

I dont think i have desired anything more than becoming a teacher of the Art of Living, and the more i listened to Guruji’s Knowledge tapes and the more i did my Kriya, the more i was falling (oops.. no rising) in love with everything around me… and hating IITB πŸ™‚ By and by i was made a teacher (another story for another time) and it became even more difficut to do academic work during the day and teach the fantastic Knowledge in the evenings…

One day (after the disastrous semester) i went up to Guruji and asked Him if i could “give up ” my degree in IITB. I figured i could simply tell everyone that i went to IIT and omit to mention that i actually passed out of the institute πŸ™‚ …

He laughed uproariously for almost a minute… I was wondering about what the joke was… and then very gently He said to me, Bawa, in order to “give up” something, you first need to have it! otherwise how will you give it up? He said i want you to go from success to success, not from failure to failure! Go and study for me!

And somehow i started to get better and even excel at my acads… and cleared IIT with very good grades! I got one of the highest grades for my MS thesis and huge amounts of appreciation from a lot of profs… even the ones who used to groan inwardly if i was in their class and would pass me simply so that they wouldn’t have to see my face while i repeated the subject in the summer or the next semester πŸ™‚

Once i had accepted IIT the way it was, i had a rip roaring time there… made lots of friends, did well on acads, did brilliantly at extra curriculars… and taught hundreds of students the Art of Living course…

I never applied for a job at the placement office of IITB… I already had the Best Boss in the World!!!! πŸ™‚

May 6

Favourite Authors and Books – 1 (Enid Blyton)

It’s nice to start from the beginning πŸ™‚

Enid Blyton is an author who writes for people between the ages of 6 to 18 or so… I still enjoy her books (guess i have still not grown up)

Her worlds are all sunshine and splendour, animals that talk and fairies and pixies and brownies and elves and witches and wizards and nature and fun and good always triumphing over evil and happy endings!

The best of her fairy stories trace the adventures of 3 children and their cousins in the Enchanted Wood where they climb the Magic Faraway Tree (the tallest, most magical tree in the world) to explore the magical lands that come by weekly at the top of the Tree… Oh what fun to be in the Land of Birthday Parties or the Land of Treats, and deliciously scary to be in the Land of Secrets and saving the Tree from evil trolls… what a romp! I still have these books on my book shelf, and they never fail to bring back very sweet childhood memories of when i was reading them for the first time… everyone should read these πŸ™‚

Her other Stories for small children include the very funny Brer Rabbit Books, stories of Amelia Jane the very very naughty doll and the adventures of the Wishing Chair (a chair that flies to wherever you wish it to go) and Mr. Pinkwhistle a very good wizard with a naughty sense of humour that he uses to punish bad people πŸ™‚

The Circus series with the adventures of Lotta, a brave, fierce and mischievous girl who rides her horse Black Beauty in the ring and Jimmy and nice boy and his wonder dog Lucky… When i used to read these books i used to seriously question why i went to school… when i could have joined a roaming circus…

The Adventure Series include the Secret Seven books (didnt like them much, the secret seven are quite snobbish and too goody goody for my taste), the Famous Five (adventures with 4 children and their dog, very grown up, very brave and with nice moments of good hearted fun and frolic)

The “of Adventure” series were even better, with Jack and his talking parrot, gentle Lucy-Ann Jack’s sister, Phillip, a boy who could almost charm any animal, bird or insect with his presence and his sister who hates all creepy crawlies… incidental adults try to stop the children from getting into trouble and fail miserably and arrive only in the last chapter of the book by when the children have successfully captured all the baddies πŸ™‚

My favourites were the Five Find-outers and dog! I have just started to re read these… They are so much fun, 5 children, a dog, all sorts of baddies, an inefficient village policeman (Mr. Goon) and some really nice mysteries make these evergreen for me… They are sometimes laugh out loud funny πŸ™‚

The School Series: St. Clare’s, Mallory Towers and the Naughtiest Girl series made me ache to goto a boarding school πŸ™‚ full of really nice characters, students from different backgrounds and very funny or wise or strict teachers and all the (mis)adventures that can happen in a school, but with no one ever really meaning to hurt anyone else… These too occupy a place on my shelf and i wonder when my sister’s twins will start reading them…

There was another book called Those Dreadful Children which was about very prim and proper kids forced to become friends with completely crazy, full of fun very naughty kids (one family moves into the neighborhood and the fathers turn out to be school buddies…). Was a very nice tale about how 2 completely different types of people can learn, accept and become the best of friends…

I could go on… suffice to say that her books are good solid fun for young people, her language is great and her style is absolute innocence… highly highly recommended to anyone who is young or young at heart :)…

Curl up on a rainy day with some hot drink and read these books…

Jai Gurudeva!

May 4

Knowledge Byte

We were asking Guruji about the difference between a desire and an expectation…
He said, Desires are always for something nice or good, but an expectation can be for something bad… Like you may expect the share market to crash, i dont think many will desire that! πŸ™‚

Then He went on to say that there is really no difference between desire, fear and anxiety!!

He said that the mind (or that aspect of yourself that manifests stuff into the physical realm) cannot distinguish between a desire, some fear or an anxiety… so for example, if you are riding a bicycle, and are thinking, oh i should not bang into the pavement, i should not bang into the pavement, i should not bang……… The mind incorrectly assumes that that’s exactly what you want and manifests that! and so you bang! πŸ™‚

This little byte of Knowledge, this insight can explain every single happening in our life! The mind CANNOT differentiate between a desire, a fear or an anxiety, and will merrily manifest whatever it is that you are feeling and thinking strongly about…

We have the utsav in Bangalore in an open air place, and off late there have been a few clouds and some rumblings of thunder… Rashmin was listening to me while i was talking about what Guruji had said and remarked oh i hope there will be no rain… and i said thats it! if you think that, there is going to be rain! πŸ™‚

and he said, oh this is complicated… what do i think!?… Think about clear skies! is what i told him…

We are all so used to thinking “negatively”… hoping, wishing for things NOT to happen… and exactly that manifests into our lives!

Reprogram yourself to wishing and hoping for certain things to happen!! and then let go of the desire, ‘coz feverishness for the desire will make you go for certain into “what ifing” … and soon the thoughts and feeling about it not happening become strong πŸ™‚

Guruji once had remarked, whenever you wish for something, always wish, “Let me have this or better!” πŸ™‚ You may wish for a million dollars and the Universe actually wanted to give you a 100 million, but since your wish is for just a million, thats all you get… πŸ™‚

Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu!!! …or better!!!!! πŸ™‚

Jai Gurudeva!

May 4

Yogurt Potatoes

Here is a recipe for making the very humble potato in an easy and very different way:

Take 5 biggish potatoes, wash them thoroughly, if you have a scrapper, scrape em, otherwise just wash them well, do not remove the skin. Then plonk them into a pressure cooker with some water and salt and a dash of butter and cook until well done… typically 3-4 whistles and simmer for 10 minutes after. WAIT until the cooker has cooled down, and remove the cooked potatoes. (You can use the water to cook rice with a potatoey flavour :))

Mash them up, but don’t make a paste of them, leave some of them chunky, use your hands to do it, just squeeze them…

Put a pan on the stove and add some ghee or oil and heat till nice and hot… quickly add 1 dried red chilly, some curry leaves (7-8), some whole jeera (2 teaspoons or more according to your taste) and some mustard seeds (2-3 teaspoons or more according to your taste) and wait until they crackle and pop… i remove the red chilly at this point, you can choose to keep it in … Add the potato mixture to this and mix well… some salt may be added as well… stir well so everything combines

The next step needs to be done just before serving:

Heat up the mixture (if not already hot) and add a full box (400 ml) of dahi (yogurt) to it. Lower the gas and stir in thoroughly… add some shredded coriander, decorate with some finely chopped pieces of tomato… Serve immediately with hot rotis or toasted whole wheat bread…

The dahi adds an enchanting subtle flavour to the whole thing… Its really nice! Dont add any red chilly powder or turmeric to it, then the dahi’s coolness is compromised…

May 2

Satsang on May 1st (2008)

DSN in Chennai, Utsav in Jalandhar, a Financial Literacy Workshop in Delhi and Mumbai followed by another Utsav in Mumbai… In the past 3 months the YES!+ Team in India has brought the Grace to 10,000 (well, 9200, but with the Bangalore Utsav on 8th May we will cross 10,000 :)) young people! (with dinesh and me teaching)
While Saleel and Nanda are teaching their first Utsav Course in Indore, Dinesh and i headed back home to Bangalore Ashram, coincidentally Guruji also happens to be here for 3 days! (sly grin)
Bangalore is quite hot during the day, with very pleasant mornings and evenings, we even had a small shower of rain in time for Guruji landing in Bangalore…
Guruji led 3 sessions yesterday, a long meditation on the Adv course and 2 rocking sessions on the TTC I and II, that are all happening simultaneously on the Ashram… all too soon the sun was making a gloriously beautiful exit, and it was time for Satsang…

Satsang was in the amphitheatre (completely packed with people, so many courses going on and folks had come in from the city too) with the superb Vishalakshi Mantap as a backdrop, the open skies as the ceiling, and a lovely green lawn as a plush natural carpet beneath our feet… and an absolutely resplendent Guruji on stage…

Right in the beginning, there were a few people talking to each other and not participating , and Guruji gently admonished the entire crowd saying during Satsang, everyone should sing… and then later we will all meditate…

We sang old nostalgic Bhajans yesternight, the ones we used to sing almost 13 years ago, felt very nice.

Here is what i remember from the Knowledge He shared:

What do people get in an Ashram? Knowledge, Love and food! Make each home into an Ashram… whoever comes home, give them Knowledge, Love and food…

To a question about how to judge whether or not one is progressing on the spiritual path, He answered, see how you feel, how calm you can remain in problem situations, how you handle trouble that comes to you, how quickly negative emotions leave you, how much disturbance you can take…then He laughed…

He told us to be firm and gentle at the same time, so people will not take us for granted… Be tough, not aggressive!

(I like to say rule with an iron hand wearing a velvet glove :))

How to deal with grief on the passing of a close friend or family member? Don’t fight the grief… Knowledge, Dispassion and Satsang will allow you to move through it quickly and center you very fast…

Then we meditated, it was short, just a few minutes but oh so deep… and soon to the strains of Jai Jai Radha Ramana Hari Bol, Guruji left…

Jai Gurudeva!

Apr 30

The First Time

A start of something new today…

So far i have been studiously avoiding talking about my (our) experiences with Guruji… i think its time to start:

On Day 1 of my Art of Living part I (it was called Basic then, we later convinced Guruji that there was nothing Basic about it πŸ™‚ and so then it was renamed the Part I) course, even before i did the Pranayamas, there was a feeling of having come home… and i remember i went to my teacher, Rajshree, and very seriously asked her how does one become a teacher of this…

She laughingly told me, well, one completes this course first… Before i knew it, i was on my first overnight train journey (super exciting) to Bangalore for the Advance Course!! I was the only 20 something, everyone else was uncle and aunty, and everyone took turns in mothering and fathering me …

We reached the Ashram at 1 am. Rajshree had filled up all the registration forms for us, and we were all quickly dispatched to our respective Kutirs after hot cups of tea (?) or ragi … dont remember…

I dont think until then, i had ever slept that well… a Presence enveloped me as i fell into a deep, restful sleep and then woke up to melodious flute music being softly played outside our door (by Phillip)…

The day went by quite fast, and then it was time for Satsang… i had no idea what that meant… but we all had dinner and gathered together in the Meditation Hall (then just newly built) and some people started singing some bhajans… which as a devout Parsi, i totally rejected :)… I remember thinking, we dont do Bhajans!!!

I was sitting next to an old lady… she turned to me and asked is this your first time? and i said yes it is… and she said have you ever met Guruji before? and i said no… she smiled serenely and said Dont see Him with your eyes, see Him with your heart…

And then, something changed in the room, a figure clad in white floated in… You cannot say He walked or ran or jogged or anything other than floated in, He was walking on air… He playfully jumped onto the stage and sat in a small chair which had His yellow asan on it… and all sorts of things happened to me that i still cant explain… I guess it will be enough to say that, I knew i was home, that i was loved, that i had found what i was unconsciously looking for and that i simply felt incredibly good for no reason at all…

Then the satsang started in earnest and some truly melodious bhajans were being sung and the musician in me was swaying… and effortlessly and unthinkingly i was singing… and even at that very blissful time making mental notes of who i have to bring here to experience this…

Later, after a fairly painful and yet remarkably wonderful 5 days of the Adv course, Guruji met the group from Mumbai in His Kutir, and all i remember from that meeting is Him looking at all of us and then saying, one of you is going to become a really great teacher who will teach thousands of people… As He was saying this, His gaze roamed on the entire group and stopped at me for a few seconds as He completed the sentence… I like to think that He meant it was me πŸ™‚

Jai Gurudeva!

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