Sunday, April 29, 2012

My sister Dolly...

This post is about a person whom I loved as a child and who was very special; my elder sister Usha whom we lovingly called 'Dolly' which actually later became 'Daally' in daily usage. Just like her name, she was like the first gentle rays of the morning sun. Unfortunately, she passed away in 1988 in a mishap when I was in my 3rd grade. To this day, I still regret that I didn't get to spend as much time with her as I should have. These are the memories of a 7 year old...

I was very young to remember everything about her but there a few things about her which are still fresh in my mind to this day. She was very good at writing absolutely beautiful and unique doodles of exquisite women faces. I used to admire them so much and also had saved some of them for quite a number of years. I tried mimicking her sketches myself but couldn't get it as good as her. The features of the women in her sketches would be Oh-so-delicate, just like my sister. She was one of the softest and gentlest person you could find. Also given the fact that she was almost 21 years older to me (yes, I know, I know!) she was more like a second Mother to me. I know of her more as a mother than a sister since I was so young. Maybe if she was around now I could have had a heart-to-heart sister chat with her and could have understood better of who she was as a person and what her deepest desires were.

She used to be just a little over 5 feet but she had loooong, thick, jet black hair which went all the way and below her waist. She was a very simple lady with very simple desires. While leaving for office she used to dress in a very simple manner but still she managed to look very pretty and elegant. I remember she used to always wear a violet colored, single stranded crystal beads necklace which I used to love. I used to think that the necklace represented my sister in many ways, as it was simple and short but at the same time unique, elegant and gently radiant just like my sister's personality.

She used to help me with my homework everyday evening and teach me Maths. Her handwriting was round and beautiful just like pearls. I remember spending hours together just admiring her handwriting. The same cannot be said about my handwriting though... :-) I also remember that I had a batty problem at school in LKG. I somehow couldn't bring myself to write the small letter 'f', weird isn't it! My teacher was very impatient with me since I used to always make a mistake. But Dolly corrected my mistake in a jiffy by patiently teaching me the right technique. I used to feel that with her as my teacher I could master anything very easily.

Back then itself she had done a course in COBOL programming and she used to tell me that she was good at it. She used to really enjoy her computer classes. I used to peek into her notes, just to admire her handwriting though. My Mother also used to tell me that she was very good at her studies but she was painfully shy. She had very few friends and one Kalpana was her best friend since childhood with whom she shared all her secrets. She also loved to eat raw rice while it was being cleaned. My mother used to berate her saying that it would rain during her wedding if she ate too much of raw rice and true to her words it did rain cats and dogs on her wedding night.

This brings me to her wedding day. I was literally everywhere. I was so excited with the happenings. The main episode that I remember was her reception during which my sis was looking soooooo gorgeous, just like the women in her doodles. She was so beautiful that evening that I just couldn't keep my eyes off her. That is the day I realized that my sister was a beautiful person not only on the inside but on the outside as well! I also cried so much that night after she left. I was mainly worried about who would help me with my homework going forward!!! I also remember that I cried even more on the day she left us which was just 3 months after her wedding but that is something I do not want to remember.

When I come to think of it today, I am literally opposite to her in nature as well as physical appearance. She was short while I am quite tall, she had a perfectly round face while I have an oval face, she had thick long hair while I have messy curly hair, she had big beautiful eyes while I have medium eyes, she was gentle as a lamb while I was quite tomboyish, and we had so many years separating us hmmm....but nevertheless the face remains that we were sisters :-)

Daally, these are some tattered memories I have of you. I just wish I got to know more of you but nevertheless I am happy that I did know a warm and sweet person like you atleast to some extent.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Divine plans and actions - Part 2

This post is continuation of my previous post of the same title...

As a child and even to this day, I respect deities from all religions. As I was schooled in a Christian institution, I was used to praying to Lord Jesus Christ in the church of our school compound. Also, for a few years I used to celebrate Christmas at home with a self-made Christmas tree, Crib, Star and the works. I used to always listen to the evening prayers which echoed from the mosque near my house. They used to supply me with my daily dose of the divine. As a kid when I used to visit the temple, I used to always ask for something but later I used to go to the temple and just sit in meditation. I came to realize that God is everywhere and he knows what I want. I don't have to explicitly tell him anything, so my temple time was just my quiet time with God.

I also used to 'dislike' human beings as a kid since I always felt that we are capable of only giving love on a conditional basis. I used to love animals for the selfless love that they showered on us without expecting anything in return. In that sense, I always felt that animals were spiritually superior to us. But as my world expanded, I did meet a few people who changed this perspective of mine for good. I have also come to realize that if you are a spiritually mature person you can give much more love to the world and change it in your own small but significant way.

In my 7th grade, I had a dream of Shirdi Sai Baba who came and protected me from some horrible goon. He then told me that I will one day find my true calling which I eventually did.

There was magic in the divine power which I used to always feel. On Ganesh Chathurthi, my joy used to know no bounds. I used to make all efforts to decorate my house to welcome home our little Ganesha moorthi (statue). Now after my spiritual realization, I realize the important role that Shri Ganesha plays in our spiritual upliftment. Also I used to adore him since he was an elephant-headed God. I used to just love animals. I used to always have one recurrent dream since my LKG days and that was to construct a massive hospital for animals where they could get free treatment. This was the dream I had day in and day out and animals both tame and wild used to visit my hospital for their treatment. I religiously watched Maneka Gandhi's 'Heads and Tales' show and was a vegetarian for almost 9 years! I sure hope to get my animal charity stuff rolling sometime in the near future but that I will keep reserved for another post.

I was very artistically expressive, whenever time permitted that is. I used to sketch drawings of the different deities, compose poems about Nature and the purpose of our life on Earth. I used to be quite a shy child but I was a God-fearing individual. I used to always be implicitly aware of the dharmas that keep us grounded as human beings and used to never cross my limits. But I think once I got into college and got into the rigmarole of studying, studying and more studying somewhere this divine connection got weakened a bit and I lost track of my spiritual quest. But as they say, in our darkest hour do we find the greatest light, I think I again got back on track of my spiritual quest through Sahaja Yoga and the rest as they say is history!!!

Divine plans and actions - Part 1...

My life 'changed' from all perspectives the day I started to meditate. It is now 9 years since I started my spiritual journey...but it is only now that I am beginning to understand so many things at a somewhat deeper spiritual level. I guess each one of us learns and graduates at their own pace.

When I reflect back, February 2003 was the day I got my spiritual realization. The day I got my realization is still etched very clearly in my mind and I still cherish Feb 9th as a very important date. But, as I am growing in my spiritual ascent, I realize now that this day was just one of the many events which occurred in my life which served as 'spiritual markers' to the beginning of my spiritual life. I always knew that I was a special child and now I have to come to fully realize the reason behind it. My Mother Shri Mataji was there even back then to guide me gently through my life.

I would like to use this post to reminisce some of those events which held significance from a spiritual perspective. As a kid, I used to always go to the terrace of my house and look at the moon and stars and ask them, what is my purpose. This is something which I did on a regular basis, since back then something inside me told me that life is not very shallow and holds much more deeper meaning than what I was seeing with my open eyes. I used to believe that somebody up there was listening to my questions and that I would one day get the answers to my question.

As I have mentioned in one of my previous posts Punyakoti, I was in 3rd standard but the poem touched me so deeply that it is difficult to describe in words. It is the first time I realized that I was such a sensitive person. When I watch movies even to this day I always like to watch ones which have some moral or higher meaning attached to them. As a child, Moral Science class used to be my favorite!

This post seems to be growing in length, hence let me split it into 2 parts to make reading comfy...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Salute to my Mother-

in-law (this part is inconsequential anyways :-)). Yes, I would like to dedicate this post to my Mom-in-law (whom I lovingly call Maami) because she is one helluva woman! I guess this is not something very common for a daughter-in-law to do but I think anybody in my place would have done the same. She is one unique woman and no, she is not very highly educated nor is she a hi-flying city-dweller.

She is a simple woman from one of the remotest village in Tamil Nadu but her qualities would put even a city lady to shame. I must say, she is the epitome of the Indian Woman. It is women like her who still weave love into India's fabric to this day. She has nerves of steel - rugged on the outside and soft as butter on the inside. She is not the one to be worried about her looks but she worries all the time about how well-groomed her children look. She makes sure that all the people in her family have had a satisfied meal before she even touches a morsel of food herself. She sacrifices like it is nobody's business. I am not sure if my words would do enough justice to her shining character but I am making an attempt.

From what I know of her, I must say she is one gutsy woman. She is totally and unconditionally selfless when it comes to herself but when it comes to her children she is the most selfish person, just like a Mother hen who protects her chickens... :-) She would smile and bear anything for their happiness. She would sleep on the bare floor but she would make sure that her children are sleeping on a silk-cushioned mattress. The most highest qualities of a Mother, she possesses.

Today's woman spends more time on her outer beauty but forget to nurture their inner qualities but we have to remember that outer beauty will wilt away very soon, it is our unique qualities as women which will shine through over time. I know this is beginning to sound like one of those forwards where all the ideal qualities of a woman are described, but I know of no other way of describing her and I am not even sure where I should start describing her.

She remembers all the little dialogues, all the little incidents, all the glances of her children and her relatives from years ago and relates them like it happened just a couple of hours ago. She does exaggerate a bit when it comes to her children but which Mother doesn't!

She has a steely resolve and when she wants to get something done nothing can stop her from it. You know life is not very easy in the villages and she isn't deterred by anything, be it the blistering Tamil Nadu summer afternoons, the highly musical mosquitoes, the nasty bug, the missing helping-hand, her painful backache or the occasional snake in the bush. The task has to get done and that's it and waking up at 4 am in the morning is just another normal daily routine for her.

She cares for her cows and goats like they were born of her and they respond to her in the same way. Rain or blazing Sun she makes sure that they are well-fed and well-watered. She can understand their calls better than anyone else and she nurtures them most with her love.

Love, is the main ingredient which makes her world go around and that is the only language she knows well. Love for her children, her relatives, her animals, her plants, her neighbors everybody who comes in contact with her. She believes in just giving, giving and more giving. She just keeps giving like the Goddess Lakshmi, there is just no end to her giving. I am not sure of what I can ever give her because I have no time to pause and think since I am so busy just taking from her, so much love she has to offer everyone! She hides her tears from her children so that they do not feel her pain and ends up hiding it from herself too...! She just loves unconditionally and doesn't expect back anything in return.

Her qualities have permeated into her children too and I am lucky to be married to one of her children. So, I have come to realize that the best way to make your children loving is to be loving yourself as children learn by imitation and the Mother is the first person they mimic. But being loving doesn't just come naturally to everyone. But if there is one woman like her in every home, there is no doubt that India would retain its long lost glory and be the shining beacon of hope and love to the whole world again.

All I want to say is that I am Oh-so-lucky to be her DIL atleast and if I can even manage to be 10% of what she is during my lifetime then my birth as a woman would be truly fulfilled. A most respectful salute to Mother India too who produces women of such awesome character. Also hope more DILs have such beautiful things to say about their MILs. Amen!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Why we shout in anger???

Came across this gem of an article on Facebook :-)

A Hindu saint who was visiting river Ganges to take bath found a group of family members on the banks, shouting in anger at each other. He turned to his disciples smiled and asked.

'Why do people shout in anger shout at each other?'

Disciples thought for a while, one of them said, 'Because we lose our calm, we shout.'

'But, why should you shout when the other person is just next to you? You can as well tell him what you have to say in a soft manner.' asked the saint

Disciples gave some other answers but none satisfied the other disciples.
Finally the saint explained, .

'When two people are angry at each other, their hearts distance a lot. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other to cover that great distance.

What happens when two people fall in love? They don't shout at each other but talk softly, Because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is either nonexistent or very small...'

The saint continued, 'When they love each other even more, what happens? They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love. Finally they even need not whisper, they only look at each other and that's all. That is how close two people are when they love each other.'

He looked at his disciples and said.

'So when you argue do not let your hearts get distant, Do not say words that distance each other more, Or else there will come a day when the distance is so great that you will no longer be able to hear each other.'

The hymn prophet Muhammad's uncle wrote in praise of Lord Shiva...

Just came across this one...talks about India's greatness. Let us Indians realize this and be deeply indebted to Mother India and not abuse her. We are just so lucky to be born here and probably it is a result of our previous punyas...

Prophet Muhammad's uncle Umar-bin-e-Hassham (also known as Abu Hakam or Abu Jahl) was a renowned poet whose famous Arabic poem in praise of Lord Shiva, included in Sair-ul-Okul and cited on a column in the (fire worship pavilion in the rear garden of the) Lakshmi Narayan Temple in New Delhi, runs as under:

Kafavomal fikra min ulumin Tab asayru
Kaluwan amataul Hawa was Tajakhru - 1
We Tajakhayroba udan Kalalwade-e liboawa
Walukayanay jatally, hay Yauma Tab asayru - 2
Wa Abalolha ajabu armeeman MAHADEVA
Manojail ilamuddin minhum wa sayattaru - 3
Wa Sahabi Kay-yam feema-Kamil MINDAY Yauman
Wa Yakulum no latabahan foeennak Tawjjaru - 4
Massayaray akhalakan hasanan Kullahum
Najumum aja- at Summa gabul HINDU - 5

The man who may spend his life in sin and irreligion or waste it in lechery and wrath - 1
If at least he relent and return to righteousness can he be saved? - 2
If but once he worship Mahadeva with a pure heart, he will attain the ultimate in spirituality - 3
Oh Lord (Shiva) exchange my entire life for but a day's sojourn in India where one attains salvation - 4
But one pilgrimage there secures for one all merit and company of the truly great - 5

Source: Sair-ul-Okul, P. 235