Guru’s position – a disciple’s perspective.

5 09 2014

Prologue : A teacher is one who wants to teach you, a ‘Guru’ is one who makes you learn. A students idea is ‘to be’, whereas a disciple (shishya) is the one who wants ‘to become’. In other words a student is looking for change while a disciple is aspiring to transform.

Whatever I say is with this context in mind.

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Many years back, must be my secondary school days, if i remember it well, around my wonder years,  back in time when I was studying in 8th or 9th grade, I happened to read a story. This story has had a lasting impact on my thought process. I do not clearly remember that story and its context, but it is this one scene from the story which has stayed with me and shaped my understanding. It goes like this.

A young disciple, completely devoted to his guru, was someone who was committed to follow on the path shown by his guru. He had this habit of always going to his guru whenever in some critical decision making situation. And the Guru would readily guide him out during each such instance; in the process the guru would enlighten the disciple. One fine day, in a similar situation as the disciple reaches out to his Guru, the Guru doesn’t offer him any guidance. The disciple is astonished and couldn’t believe this fact. The Guru sends him back by saying “Son, I have given you enough, I leave you now to imbibe all of that, find your own path, and make your own experiences. Its time you take your decisions without me.”

Now this incident from the story found its way deep within myself. Over different periods of my existence this story has provided me different lessons. It started with me believing that a ‘guru’ can only take one this far. One cannot have a guide to eternity. At some later stages i realized the importance of ‘swadhyay’ or ‘learning by self’. Further ahead I understood that it will all be fruitless if one does not learn to take his/her own decisions.

Over many summers of my existence I was fortunate to come across many learned people and many loving teachers. It was quite later in my young life that i discovered a ‘Guru’. It was destined for me to get my greatest lessons from this one person. However the above story was always a part of me, and hence in spite of total surrender I never actually became dependent. That infinite love and reverence can thrive and still one remains boundless was a unique experience and a learning for me. Secondly I knew that the physical proximity and one-to-one transfer of knowledge with the ‘Guru’ can only happen till a limited period of time. This understanding fueled my urge to learn and make the most of those transactions. Many individuals close to me, around that period, sensed a transformation in me, they sensed an urgency in me; I could not explain it to them, than, but deep down i knew that i need to build myself to a level from where I can be on my own. Also I never wanted to come to a point, like the boy in that story had to, where my Guru feels that his disciple has not learned to be on his own.

Many Guru – Disciple relations end in agony and bitterness or in sheer blinded dependence. The crux of this eventuality is the non-realization of the fact that – a guru can only take you this far. With this dawned another important learning from that story and a whole new dimension of learning opened up for me. A disciple is the one who is aspiring to move to a higher destination, in every which way. A ‘guru’ is the form who takes the disciple to that destination. However if one remains focused on the destination and not the form, than ‘guru’ dissolves his form and becomes a part of your being. Somewhere within you the ‘guru’ is installed, and without any one-to-one interaction the transaction continues. Whenever in doubts or in crisis  I am able to talk with my ‘guru’ without even talking with him. In certain extraordinary situations i would have resorted to the one-to-one interactions, but largely I have come this far with the help of the ‘guru’ within. Many times while I ponder on all that I have received from my ‘guru’, I end up tearful. The enormity of the receipt is so huge that all the ego inside me is pushed out by way of tears.

And so I learn that the ‘guru’ in the story while denying his disciple the guidance, has actually given him the greatest lesson anyone can learn. That ‘without’ can be turned into ‘within’.

This has been my experience since a decade now, whereby the ‘Guru’ has found a position ‘within’. In his distinct  style he had shared something, which for me is the articulation of the above learning. He said to a few of us, “I do not want you to be learned, I want you to be learners’.

In whatever limited capacity, with pride, I can tell myself, that I have not stopped learning and I know, the ‘Guru’ within would not let me decay ever.





Six Essentials For Blissful Living.

28 08 2014

for blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six Essentials for Blissful Living

Based on Jaina Knowledge
An interpretation by Mihir Gajrawala

©Mihir Gajrawala
Published on http://www.mihirgajrawala.com on 28.8.14

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Note : Many of the nouns and verbs used in Sanskrit, Prakrit and Ardhmagdhi do not have synonyms in English. Jaina knowledge documents exists in the above three languages. Historians and Translators (of English language) over centuries have created certain synonyms, which as per my understanding are misguiding. For eg. Vrat is made synonymous with fasting and Maya with magic or allure. Similarly Yoga is today a term which means Indian exercise system. There could be several such examples. To truly understand this words a lot of effort has to be put in understanding the context of the Indian knowledge base. However I wouldn’t say the same for vernacular translation works.

In my piece I have tried not to produce a translation. Instead the attempt is to share the crux of the subject in a totally new context. Wherever required I have made use of the original words.

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Each one of us is aspiring to be contended. In other words each one wants a permanent state of happiness. Putting it simply we all aspire to be blissful. The current order of world has prescribed us a certain way of living, a certain set of activities to be done at specific times of our lives. We all have subscribed to this prescription of schooling, economic pursuits, material achievements, wealth accumulation etc. Our common sense is enough to tell us that this prescription is not working. Than what could be the way to blissful living? How does one achieve a permanent state of bliss?

Jaina knowledge has, many eons back, discovered SIX essential activities or rituals which if executed on regular basis with honesty and belief has the potential to lead each seeker to a blissful state of being. However such a suggestion has always garnered stiff resistance and it has peaked in the current era. Before getting on to the main subject let us take a small digression here.

The two main arguments in support of resistance are: 1) the feeling that ‘rituals’ are useless and 2) the importance of theory over practice, when it comes to the domain of traditional wisdom.

These can be argued against as follows: We fail to understand that whatever we are doing today, for our living is also a ritual. A Ritual is not about a religious practice, it is about a certain set of prescribed activities to be done in a certain specific manner.

Secondly ‘Knowing’ per se is not the path, but ‘conduct’ acquired from ‘knowing’ is the path to bliss! In other words it is not knowledge, but the conduct based on that knowledge that leads to blissful existence! The essence of all knowledge is conduct and essence of all conduct is liberation. Knowledge acquired without intent for good conduct is ignorance and any form of conduct executed without the intent of liberation is an illusion. Knowledge that does not lead to right conduct and conduct that does not lead to path of liberation are rendered fruitless and meaningless, in the pursuit of blissful living.
In other words if one practices certain prescribed conduct, it would lead the seeker to the fruits that are linked with that conduct.
Simply put, a ritual is knowledge in action.

This forms the base for all the prescribed activities that a seeker must subscribe too. For all those demanding an explanation for existence of rituals should consider the above.

Now let us come back to the point.

The activities or rituals which have the potential to lead a seeker to a blissful state of being are the SIX Essentials. Before we move further let us define ‘Blissful state’. From a spiritual perspective we are aiming at ‘liberation’ or ‘moksha’. From a more worldly perspective we mean Healthy body, healthy mind, healthy relations and healthy career, a combination of these can be considered as a blissful state of being. So the essentials are a way to attain and sustain the above mentioned four states.

In Sanskrit these essentials are referred as ‘shadavashyak’ (षडावश्यक ). Shad (षड)  means SIX and avashyak (आवश्यक)  means essential requirements. The six essentials prescribed are :

  1. Samayik – To experience equanimity
  2. Chauvisathao – To cultivate higher aspirations
  3. Vandana – To develop gratitude
  4. Pratikramana – To re-calibrate the self
  5. Kayotsarga – To treat a transgressed mind
  6. Pratyakhyan – To develop discipline

These six essentials are same for both the monks (who have renounced worldly life) and the commoner. The life style of a monk and a commoner is extremely different, yet the SIX Essentials are said to benefit both of them.

Let us understand one more fact before moving ahead. Any act has three parts, 1)object/goal 2) doer and 3) method. Certain eligibility of all the three is necessary for the successful accomplishment of any act. We shall try and understand each of the six essentials with respect to its objective and its method. The focus of this article is the ‘ritual’ and hence we shall not spend much time on the eligibility of the doer. Though it is of equal importance we shall not be able to touch upon it here.

The Six Essentials

1. Samayik
Objective: the installation of the doctrine ‘I am better than none and I am lesser to none’ on the seekers mind.

The root of all our conflicts is ‘fear’ and ‘insecurity’. Fear exists in mind as it is conditioned to believe in comparisons. Comparisons lead to feelings of superiority or inferiority. Unless one is freed of these complexes it is impossible to find success in the journey to discover bliss.

In management context, unless one gains equanimity a fair and objective analysis of work done is impossible. In an organization there are only a few who are eligible for objective analysis.

In other words to be in a state of a new born child is the objective of this act. All the tools, techniques, rituals and activities that could help the effort of being in this state are ‘Samayik’. Equanimity is the true nature of every being; it remains hidden in unawareness and ignorance. ‘Samayik’ is the ritual or method or technique to discover this nature of self.

समत्वं योग उच्यते    (bhavad gita, 2-48)
योग:कर्मसु – कौशलम् (bhagvad gita, 2-50)

योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोध: (patanjali yogsutra, 1-2)

चतुर्वेगग्रनिर्मेक्षो योगस्तस्य च कारणम्।
ग्यान – श्रद्धां – चरित्ररूपम् रत्नत्रय च स:। ।  (Yogshastra, 1 – 15)

Many will find it radical when I say ‘Samayik’ is an equivalent of ‘Yoga’. To prove the point I have quoted three sages/scholars who are undisputed as far as their ability of comprehension is concerned. Sage Ved Vyasa in Bhagvad Gita has described ‘Yoga’ as equanimity and deftness of action; Sage Patanjali, helmed as father of ‘Yoga’ has described cessation of the perturbations of the mind as ‘Yoga’; Sage Hemchandracharya in his work ‘Yogashastra’ has described ‘Yoga’ as the technique to attain ‘moksha’ or Liberation. All these definitions of ‘Yoga’ are comparable to the concept of ‘Samayik’. To attain liberation, to learn right conduct, to develop equanimity, to free mind from presence of conflicts and develop stillness – both Samayik and Yoga have practically same results, which is transforming the mind of the doer.

Yoga has four types: Mantra Yoga, Laya Yoga, Raja Yoga and Hath yoga. ‘Samayik’ falls under the ‘Rajayog’ category which focuses on mind by way of self-discipline.

To sum it up ‘Samayik’ is a form of Yoga called ‘Raja Yoga’; the practical form of ‘Raja Yoga’ is ‘Samayik’

2. Chauvisathao
Objective : To cultivate and install aspirations of higher degrees.

Men have the tendency to become what they believe in. So it is important to have right beliefs. If for someone, a small hilltop is the only peak to visit, s/he will only reach till there, but if someone knows about the existence of Mt. Everest, the highest peak, than s/he might strive to reach there. This means that the quality of one’s pursuit depends on the quality of one’s aspirations. Given this, each one should understand and imbibe the highest possible aspirations on one’s mind.

This leads us to the inquiry that what is the ‘peak’ of blissful living? The peak of blissful living are the 24 Tirtankaras, who had achieved the most any individual can ever comprehend. Hence knowing about them, and accepting them as peak of existence is the second essential to strive for. A Tirthankar is a being who has become ‘Arihant’ – devoid of all conflicts. There cannot be a higher state of being than this. Each of the 24 Tirthankaras have exhibited 12 distinct qualities. ‘Chauvisathao’ is the technique to know and develop those qualities within oneself.

I would here take another digression to explain a basic tenet of Jaina Knowledge. In Jaina knowledge there is no ‘creator’. It believes that universe was, is and will remain. In the most ancient of Jain Texts one would find reference to the term ‘Pudgal’. It is mentioned that he Universe is a ‘Pudgal’; ‘Pudgal’ means that which is created and destroyed simultaneously. Today, in modern science, the twenty first century description of vacuum states that in a vacuum state where there is supposed to be nothing, there is a constant eruption of particles and destruction of particles. Creation and Destruction are happening at the same time in a vacuum state. All these years we believed that a vacuum means total nothingness; that nothing happens there. But now we know a vacuum state is phenomenally dynamic. Creation and destruction is happening at the same time. Modern Science is saying that today. This is what Jaina Knowledge has been saying since thousands of years ago. Scientists now talk about black hole – something which is nothing yet powerful. This fundamental of physics is already discovered in the meaning of ‘Pudgal’. There is no creation and hence no creator. In Jaina School it is not about ‘being’ it is about ‘becoming’. And hence the entire focus shifts from ‘creator’ to the ‘doer’. In that perspective it is an atheist’s religion. In Jain school ‘Dharma’ is not the end, it is a means to an end; the end is becoming one’s own self, discovering one’s true nature, totally free of all influences and impressions. The Navkar mantra considered among the most powerful sound in universe never talks about any individual. It only talks about qualities and states of being. Same is applied in various suggestions from Jaina Knowledge.

Many think that ‘Chauvisanthao’ is about worshiping the Tirthankaras. That is a grave misunderstanding. The entire focus of this essential is to memorize the qualities that make a Tirthankara. AS discussed above if the reality is not about ‘being someone’ but ‘becoming someone’, the pursuit is to be more, to be deep and to be constantly turning into something more and more. We can be more only when we desire more, to be at the peak. a Tirthankar is the peark, and if the qualities of 24 Tirthankaras are remembered regularly it can have unfathomable impact on the aspirations of a seeker which eventually would positively impact the quality of life of the seeker. Science has proved that habitual doing of any act has an effect on the mind and belief system.

‘Chauvisathao’ is the ritual to do the same.

3. Vandana
Objective : To develop gratitude towards learned beings.

It is not possible to travel the path of bliss without the guidance of a ‘guru’. A guru means ‘dispeller of darkness’. In our society there are individuals who have dedicated their being to knowledge and attainment of the ultimate state of liberation. These individuals have given up on the worldly chores so that they focus all their energies in the single pursuit of liberation. We call them monks or ‘sadhu’ and ‘sadhvi’. The qualities of right knowledge, right perception, right conduct and penance are what define a monk. The practical form of it can be seen when an individual exhibits a coherence between his/her deeds, words and actions.

Respecting and surrender to such a monk is the first step to path of bliss. Gratitude is the greatest quality of a seeker, and ‘Vandana’ explores this quality of a being.

In today’s world, we ask children to celebrate Teachers Day. We ask them to develop gratitude for their teachers who impart knowledge to them. Same applies for a seeker who is set on a higher pursuit of blissful living.

‘Vandan’ or ‘Bowing’ is an act which prepares a seeker for surrender. Surrender means absence of struggle, just falling. Such a surrender can exponentially open the receptivity of the seeker and make him  imbibe the higher qualities.

Vandana is the ritual for the same.

4. Pratikramana
Objective: To recalibrate the self through introspection and retrospection.

Influenced by indifference(towards self) the soul gets displaced, the movement of soul from its displaced position to its original position is termed as ‘pratikramana’ in jain science. In simple terms the process of re-calibrating a self indulged in digressions or the process of bringing the self back to self is called ‘pratikramana’.

Many of us working in corporate environment would have struggled with frustration, resulting out of one’s inability to attain one’s goals. This happens because in every day activities we lose sight of our goals. Worse is when many of us have no goals. Such a self remains lost and dissatisfied, irrespective of one’s potential and ability. Management Gurus have formed a theory that every company and every individual should have their personal Vision and Mission statement, which on timely basis should be re-looked at, so that one doesn’t lose sight of where one is heading.

From other perspective, the main reason for this displacement is too much focus on ‘future’ or ‘tomorrow’. The goal lies in the future and hence we remain focused on future, forgetting that learning lies in the past. Learning happens from knowing what happened before, what happened yesterday. Unless this is done, one cannot gain experience. One just blindly keeps on doing. And in all possibility will keep on falling in the same puddle every day, because one has forgotten to retrospect, one has forgotten to introspect, to look within!

Such an effort of introspection and retrospection when done in a certain disciplined manner for life’s objective of attaining bliss is called ‘Pratikramana’.

5. Kayotsarga
Objective: treating a transgressed mind

In our every day routines we are focused only on our physical being. Jain knowledge says that state of bliss can be attained once the focus shifts from matter to non-matter. Self is made up of both the matter and non-matter; non-matter is trapped within the matter that is how a physical being is constructed. Matter is known as ‘ajiva’ and non-matter is termed as ‘jiva’. ‘Ajiva’ is that which will die and ‘Jiva’ is that which cannot die, it is infinite.

Kayotsarga word is combination of Kaya (body) + utsarga(upward movement, arising) , meaning the act to experience the self beyond the physical boundaries. If one is able to establish this belief that s/he is more than this body, a completely new set of possibilities would emerge.

Continuing from above example of frustration from corporate life, many times even after having a vision or mission statement, even after regularly re-looking at it, one finds unable to see any direction. This is due to extreme negative habitual patterns developed which hurt the individual’s ability and capacity. The modern Management guru’s have no great solution for such a state. The only solution offered are ‘taking a break’, ‘a sabbatical’ or ‘switch your job’ kind of non-descript acts.

However if one is focused on attaining a blissful state of living such a wandering soul is offered a technique to overcome such severe perturbations.

The ritual to do the same is termed ‘Kayotsarga’; wherein one is made to experience the non-physical part of self. Simply put it is a deeper form of meditation.

6. Pratyakhyan
Objective : To develop discipline

The path to bliss is the path to gradually ‘not do’. Slowly and silently as the seeker starts realizing the fruitlessness of his actions, he should start to ‘not do’ those actions. There are innumerable actions that a self performs. And this realization may happen over a certain breadth of time. Given this it is important to build tomorrow upon today’s realization. The method to do this is by way to taking vows of self control.

Even in modern corporate context, a management executive is asked to keep a log of his/her learning’s and build his/her future strategies based on those learning’s. Same if applied to spiritual context can take one ahead in his/her path to bliss.

‘Pratyakhyan’ is the ritual to build self-control. None of the essentials would give benefit unless discipline and self control is practiced. There are systematic tools provided to help one develop such discipline.
I haven’t gone into the details of the procedures of each ritual. As discussed above for successful accomplishment of any act – eligibility of the objective, the doer and the method – all three are important. In this piece we have attempted to understand the objective and know the concept behind the method. We are not touching the details of method nor are we discussing the eligibility of the doer.

Many will have question, that if above is done in ritualistic manner, will one attain bliss? The response to that is – apart from the efficiency of technology the eligibility of the user is also important. A tablet’s efficiency and utility changes from user to user, even if they all have the same operating system. Same applies to this bliss attainment technologies.

These six rituals are the six essential activities to be performed to attain a permanent state of blissful living. There could be other activities too, but these SIX are the essential most; the compulsory ones.

Let us sum it up :
1. Equanimity
2. Higher aspirations
3. Gratitude
4. Re-calibration
5. Meditation
6. Self-discipline.

These Six terms are to be tattooed on one’s mind. If these SIX words are incorporated in one’s life, there is no stopping to achieve a healthy body, a healthy mind, healthy relations and healthy career.

These actions (essentials) put together is what in layman terms we know as ‘pratikramana’. A ‘pratikramana’ is actually a combination of these six essential rituals to be performed in a sequential manner as part of a regular ritual practice.

It is suggested to perform this at following intervals :
• Every morning at dawn : Rayasi pratikramana
• Every evening after sunset : Devasi pratikramana
• Every month : Pakhi pratikramana
• Every four months : Chaumasi pratikramana (on full moon day of kartk, Fagun and ashadh months of Jain calendar)
• Every year : Samvatsari pratikramana

Importance is given to different essentials in this different pratikramana’s. It is a deep science; having said that more than scientific exploration, the better way to understand it would be the way of doing.

Each of this essential can also be performed individually. Important is discipline and regular execution.

In our work and businesses we do keep audits at regular intervals, in order to know where the business is going. Even employees go through appraisals at regular intervals. The point is regular check points are pre-requisite for successful goal achievement. Similarly if the goal is a permanent state of bliss, the above discussed rituals would act as check points, on the path of spiritual progression.

Post Script: I would not want to categorize the above as a piece of research. And hence I am not offering the bibliography. However the strength and quality of the interpretation attempted is capable to withstand severe critical analysis. There is no claim about my authority on the subject. The above piece is an outcome of various readings, various discussions with scholars and my own observation of ritual practices that I have been part of in my family tradition. Hence I call it an ‘Interpretation’ and not an essay. I have deliberately kept it concise to garner greater engagement. This piece shall form the basis of further research and analysis work which I intend to take up; whereby I shall look at each of these essentials in greater detail. With this I humbly accept my limited capacity of comprehension and apologize for any pertinent errors.

 सिद्धि : स्याद – वादात्।

(To accept infinite beings made from infinite expectations and infinite perceptions is ‘Syadvad’. This acceptance is what leads one to ultimate knowledge and glory )





Dummies Guide to Guru Purnima.

12 07 2014

the immense gratitude that fills my heart, I cannot express it inspite of all my creative attempts, o teacher, accommodate me at your feet, and bestow me with your love filled devotion – krtagnata, verse 11, prayer on gratitude from chinmaya mission

I thought twice before giving the above title to this essay; putting the word ‘dummies’ along with ‘Guru Purnima’ which is linked with knowledge and learning, makes it an oxymoron of sorts. But than we all need to be guided, and hence I call this essay ‘Dummies Guide to Guru Purnima’.

Bhagvad says “You have got every right to do your sins, but you have got also a responsibility of coming out”.

The essay is an effort in ‘coming out’.

Guru Purnima is among the few ancient festivals celebrated across India. Now, the modern connotation of the term ‘festival’ is so clouded that it distances itself from the inherent meaning of the respective festival. Festival, this days equates with pomposity, over indulgence, wastefulness, consumerism etc. Apart from all that happened to our society over the last 500-800 years the worse that has happened is the loss of ‘mindfulness’. From being considered a vice, Indifference is now an accepted virtue.

Considering this I would describe Guru Purnima as an event and not a festival. To understand any phenomena one needs to understand the context, one needs to evaluate what happens before that event and what happens after that event. Over the course of next few pages, we shall try and understand this event through lenses of science, history and spirituality.

AxialTiltObliquity

winter solstice

summer solsticeThe first lesson of astronomy that we all know is that the earth’s axis of rotation is tilted. The seasons occur because the Earth’s axis of rotation is not perpendicular to its orbital plane. As a consequence, for half the year the Northern Hemisphere is inclined toward the Sun while for the other half year the Southern Hemisphere has this distinction. The two moments when the inclination of Earth’s rotational axis has maximum effect are the Solstices. Northern solstice is the moment when the sun reaches its highest position with reference to the North Pole. Similarly Southern Solstice is the moment when, the sun reaches its highest position with reference to the South pole.

After establishing a Solstice, we need to know the phenomena of Equinox. The moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator is called an Equinox. This happens twice in a year, at one point the sun would seem to be heading northward and at second time the sun would seem to be heading southward.

The two equinox and the two solstice have a strong bearing on the weather, climate and seasons on every point of earth. Northern solstice marks the end of summer at most places and southern solstice would be a winter period in the northern hemisphere. The northward equinox is when the spring occurs and southward equinox is when the autumn or fall occurs (in the northern hemisphere).

What I am trying to establish is the equation between the sun and the planet we reside on changes distinctly at this four points, and we being on this planet our equation with the cosmos changes too, bringing about certain qualitative changes in human physiology.

The below graphic will tell you when this four events occur during a year.
gp project_1In hindi Solstice means ‘Ayana’ and Equinox means ‘vishuv’. Summer Solstice is the moment after which the sun appears to be moving southwards hence in India we know this phase as ‘Dakshinayan’. For six months starting 14th of July it is the Dakshinayan Phase. Similarly six months from 14th January, the Winter Solstice are known as ‘Uttarayan’ in India. (As per Tropical Zodiac the two solstice occur on 21st of June and 21st of December respectively). Same are also known as Kark Sankranti and Makar Sankranti respectively. The points when Sun enters the Cancer position and Capricorn position are the two Sankranti’s.

Let me start by putting across some data to establish the science behind the existence of India’s traditional festivals. We have seen above that the relationship of earth and sun changes over the course of the formers revolution around the latter. Given this base most of our festivals are established, keeping in the mind the cosmic forces acting upon at that time. Agriculture is a simple example to understand this. Can seeds be sown out of its turn? Can land be ploughed at any time of the year? The answer to this, which we all know, is negative. In order to get a harvest ploughing and sowing has to happen at a particular time during the year, considering the seasons. Similarly Human being, who is a soul residing in the body made up of earthly elements can make most of the cosmic energy if certain things are done at certain time. It is a deep science.

In the figure below I have attempted to show various festivals and its relationship with astronomic situations along with reference to agriculture. if we divide the year in two halves, we shall see a pattern in the various Festivals that are traditionally celebrated in certain period. Lets have a look at this graphic.

gp project_2If you really see closely, the festivals that fall in the Dakshinayan are more rooted in sadhana and tapasya (focused on discipline and frugality). Most of the occasions to fast come during this period. From a health perspective due to monsoons and also sun being away, the metabolism of human body is at its lower degree as compared to the Uttarayan phase. From Agriculture point of view this is the time to plough and sow, basically time to prepare. And in the phase of preparation one should be more focused and disciplined, hence there aren’t many celebration occasions during this period. So the festivals are in coherence with these realities.

Now looking at the festivals that occur during the Uttarayan phase, they are more about celebration and sharing of joy. It is also the harvest period of the year, time to take yield. In modern terms also it is the end of Financial year, time to check your yield. Also the season of Spring, considered the most beautiful season occurs during this period. On the first day of Chaitra month one would find many festivals across cultures in the entire sub-continent. Geo-astronomically on this day, Sun is closest to earth, the following 21 days are supposed to be the hottest days of the year, time when earth recharges its batteries. So if you see each of the festival is in complete coherence with the cosmic arrangements. Any normal person celebrating these festivals in its true spirit is set to benefit.

The event of Guru Purnima occurs on the first Full Moon day after the Summer Solstice. This day, more than any other day of the year, the receptivity of every being on the planet is higher. The conditions are conducive for the one who is willing to outgrow.

The indifferent lot would argue with me, that ‘If I am prepared I do not need any such support’; my response is ‘a car would never run without the fuel, but the way it is maintained has a bearing on its functioning and its efficiency. Similarly a human needs to have the basic amount of energy to live his life, but if he is able to take care of himself by using this available science he would be better suited to achieve his goals.”

That’s about the science part. Let’s try and go beyond.

The above clearly establishes the strong scientific connect between the Hindu calendar and earths position in the cosmos. The traditional calendar takes into account the experience and impact happening on the human being due to difference of positions of celestial bodies around the earth. If we delve deeper we shall realize that the festivals are derivations so that a human body and mind can make the most of these celestial events for his or her well being and peace.

The first Full Moon Day of the month of Ashadha (June-July) is known as Guru Purnima.

This sacred day marks the very first transmission of the yogic sciences from Shiva – the Adiyogi or the First Yogi – to the Saptarishis, the seven celebrated sages. This momentous occasion took place on the banks of the lake Kantisarovar, which stands a few kilometers above the Kedarnath Temple in the Himalayas. Thus, the Adiyogi became the Adi Guru or the First Guru on this day. The Saptarishis carried this knowing offered by Adiyogi throughout the world. Even today, every spiritual process on the planet draws from the spine of knowing created by Adiyogi. It is said that the Saptarishis followed extreme ascetism and penance (tapasya) for 84 long years before the grace of Adiyogi fell upon them.

The followers of Jain tenet believe the Adi yogi to be Adinath, the first Tirthankara or the ford-maker of current time epoch. His place of sadhana is known as Ashtapada, a region located in the Himalayas. Legends say that Adinath invented the science of agriculture and in his kingdom the very first experiment of farming took place, in the form of sugarcane crop. Even today the region of Hastinapur (Western UP) is known for Sugarcane cultivation.

What does this piece of history tells us – it tells us the beginning of Knowing. It marks the moment on this planet when the instance of ‘transfer of knowledge’ took place for the first time. Today the beings on this planet have evolved and developed various tools of storage and dissemination of knowledge, and the world measures its progress in its ability to share, which is not limited to time and space. Thus more than any other ‘day’ that we celebrate, this day, this occasion of Guru Purnima should be celebrated.

Now, if we go back to the advent of seasons we would come to know that this period, after the Summer Solstice (Kark Sankranti) is when the fields are ploughed. Farmers across geography, with minor time variations, would start into the process of readying their farmlands so that seeds can be sowed at the right time. Else there would be no harvest. Going by this same mechanics, the body along with its intellect, which is nothing but a piece of earth, has to be ploughed during this period. The six months until the winter solstice, are to be dedicated to ‘sadhana’ (disciplined and dedicated practice) in order to evolve out of one’s transgression and limitation.

“This day, the day of Guru Purnima, the first full moon day after the solstice is a time when this planet and all life upon it are most receptive to the cosmic energy and possibilities. The next six months till the winter solstice is the best time to strive for evolving and experiencing the divine possibility that is innate in a human being “ ~ Sadhguru

The day should be celebrated as an event to set goals, and prepare oneself for higher learning’s. The day is an opportunity whereby one is able to do the ‘preparations’ better due to the existent celestial positions of that day.

There were times when holidays from work were worked around this available science; for reasons best known to each one of us, now we do not keep holidays on such important occasions and let the opportunity slip by. Imagine a farmer letting go the opportunity to plough and sow before the rains, would there be anything for him to harvest then??

If we look into various religious traditions, lot of festivals focusing on austerity and sadhana fall during this period. Hindus have their ‘Shravan’ month (July-augsut) for month long austerity. Jains all over maintain extreme austerity during the four months starting from this day. The festival of sacrifice ‘paryushana’ also falls during this period. We have looked into this point in detail above.

In Sanskrit “Guru” means “dispeller of darkness”. A guru is the one who dispels the darkness of ignorance and leads the aspirants to the path of enlightenment. “If you are willing, you can transcend all your limitations and evolve to a higher realm” ~ an aspirant who chooses to do this sadhana would want to start of by showing his surrender and gratitude for the route, through which he can reach knowledge – that route is a Guru. This day of Guru Purnima is the day to do this.

Thus, 1 – the appropriateness of the day to prepare oneself for learning and 2 – obeisance for the ‘guru’ , this two put together is the essence of the event called Guru Purnima.

Having said all of the above, I never required this essay to believe in the above. A decade back, almost around the winter solstice, while I was going through an emotional turmoil, dejected and depressed by some occurrences around me, my teacher, my Guru said to me “Mihir, this are petty happenings. After a period in time, you will realize the insignificance of these events which you are considering the core of your identity. Believe me, you are made for higher achievements, and you should start moving ahead.” These words are the spine of my self-belief, and made me realize at a very young age, that if armed with belief, guided by a ‘guru’ and fuelled by willingness – even a lesser mortal like me can transform. Not that I have proven my worth to my teacher, but my belief in my potential to transform remains undeterred. Given this background –  obeisance for the ‘guru’ come naturally to me, and this obeisance has further broken down my indifference, leading me to believe in the appropriateness of the day of Guru Purnima.

This brings us to the point where one would ask me, “Ok, we got it, so what should we be doing on this day?” I would suggest, take some time from your schedule, and spend that time out in the nature. Take a walk, sit back in a park, watch the butterflies, listen to soothing music, and just relax. And if possible meditate while the full moon shines upon you.

May we all be blessed by the grace of the Guru!

Shubh Guru Purnima !

 

with inputs from Isha Blog. Image courtesy : Wikipedia





hgang in dharamshala

30 01 2014

The dharamshala experience has been so overwhelming that words alone are not able to do justice to the effort to communicate it. Working on a Visual articulation of the entire experience by way of a film.

below are the links to the teaser and preview of the film :

 





Paradox of doing and not doing.

4 12 2013

Letter sent to The Office of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, seeking a private audience to His Holiness during my visit to Dharamsala with my friends in coming January.

Ahmedabad, December 2nd, 2013.
© mihir gajrawala

It is our misfortune that HHDL is not available in Dharamsala at the time of our visit. The Office of HHDL informed us of his unavailability.
I am sure that many would find a resonance in the thoughts presented in this letter. Hence sharing it here on my blog.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thought Map
A peep into our minds to explain the significance of being an audience to His Holiness

‘Paradox of doing and not doing‘

As entrepreneurship students we are educated to keep ourselves occupied in investing our energy in ‘achievements’. To work towards a better tomorrow, to work towards economic growth ; that you be more tomorrow than what you are today – is the mantra given. Yes our teacher did warn us to not equate this need to achieve with ‘greed’ and ‘short cuts’, but ‘achievement’ remains the fulcrum of our thoughts all through out.

A dozen winters have passed by since we completed our post graduation in entrepreneurship and set out to ‘achieve’. We are a bunch of individuals, separated by culture and geography, but bound by our sense of purpose.

Over these dozen odd winters, we have grown, we have changed in more ways than one; but our understanding still revolves around this word ‘achievement’. As any other individual, we have encountered both wonder and despair during our experiences and it has an impact on our comprehension on life. Over countless chats, numerous discussions, unaccounted hours of introspection, individually and collectively, we all have started to look at this term ‘achievement’ a bit more differently than what it was when we started our journey.

‘Sometimes things go wrong; that’s normal. But we have a saying in Tibetan, ‘Nine times fail, nine times try again’. @dalailama via tweeter

Yes we believe in the above. We exhibit this spirit in our endeavors; we manage to not get bogged down by failures. Having said that, readings of various spiritual masters have resulted in the germination of the belief that ‘any quantum of action if invested in a direction opposite to one’s nature will only generate disillusionment and dissatisfaction’.

At this point we all differ. Each one has a different perception of what this true nature is. But we all agree that none of us has ever experienced that infectious and innocent smile that we always see on the face of His Holiness. What is it that could give such perennial smile? If such a smile is the manifestation of being in ones nature, what direction may lead us there? And this makes us re-look at the concept of achievement. Does ‘achievement’ takes one away from ones true nature, does willful ‘giving up’ brings one closer to his true nature?

Does such a smile needs to be ‘achieved’ or it is an outcome of ‘giving up’ ?

We do not know. At this question we are stuck. We see a dead end. And so worldly speaking, we are in a situation where we have ceased to ‘achieve’; we are not growing any more (in our chosen fields of entrepreneurship). That is the paradox we are living in – the paradox of doing and not doing. The paradox of feeling ‘nothing’ amidst ‘everything’

We are TOTAL neither in doing nor in not-doing. We are neither someone nor are we no-one. We are neither fully Present nor completely Absent.

We do not claim to be seers or seekers. We are absolutely normal anybodies that exist everywhere. With all genuineness we accept the presence of hypocrisy in our expressions.

Who are we then? And why this mail?

Well we are a bunch of friends, 14 to be precise, who got united during our education some 13 years back. Many of us reside in cities quite far away from each other. We embark on this little vacation to discuss, introspect and meditate upon the above paradox, which we all are living in.

Our request is not to talk or debate. Nor do we have a list of questions. With above described mindset we wish to walk into the room of His Holiness, see His smile and just listen.

Legends say that Mahavira never spoke, He was only heard. We wish to have the blessing of hearing to His Holiness.

Thank You.





Why GOD exists? ~ an atheists anthropological narration.

2 09 2010

On the day of ‘Janmashtmi’ ~ the day celebrated by Hindus all around as Lord Krishna’s birthday; I find myself occupied by thoughts that bring me here. On this auspicious day Devotees express their love for Lord Krishna in a manner as varied and as weird as it can get. From luxurious fasts to mindless gambling; from joining mad rush at midnight at Krishna temples to touch the symbolic ‘cradle’ to taking an extended weekend off from work. Faith manifests itself in myriad forms.

Over last 5000-6000 years of human civilization the GODS have changed with changing times. Earlier, during the pre-historic times, during the period when humans were wanderers like animals there were no GODS. The basis of life was survival and not significance. Gradually with passage of time ‘culture’ started building up. ‘Culture’ is what a human society conceives as its values of significance for that period of time and for that geographical region. Families, Small colonies, housing and  more importantly agriculture showed up first. During this era the humans started realising their dependence on nature. Rains, soil, rivers, winds, fire etc. But they never could understand the methodology to control these elements. And hence the concept of ‘worship’ came into existence. What humans can’t control they either worship it or forsake it depending on their need at that point of time. If the uncontrollable element is needed than worship it and if it can be tamed or could be done away with, than gladly forsake it. During this times the elements of nature like Trees, Rivers, Winds, Rains, Forests, Sun, animals etc. were worshiped.

This quality of human nature led to evolution of culture and new concepts of property, irrigation technologies, animal husbandry and eventually trading and economics. And a new element called WEALTH came into existence. Across all times, most human race has been lazy intellectually; and they never put in efforts to understand and meditate upon any happening. And so understandable and controllable man-made concepts start becoming in-comprehensible and intriguing and uncontrollable. Same happened with the so-called evolved human race. The elements of wealth, property, technology etc. that came into existence to reduce their dependence actually made them more dependent. The human race became less dependent on older elements of nature and became more dependent on newer elements of economics (the function of which was to make them independent in the first place!!) And this obviously needed new sets of GOD’s.

It is important to note that by this time ‘language’ had developed and with it the never ending human imagination.  This led to creation of stories and legends of Great Men and Women, which we today refer to as mythology. So came Laxmi, Saraswati, Durga, Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh etc. With trade, economics and human population flourishing the conflicts of human race also increased manifold. Earlier  only physical strength was the medium and antidote for conflicts; but now with human imagination flying physical strength no longer was mighty enough. Something more mightier had come into force. And that was MORALS. Morals are guidelines created by a society/culture to get desired behavior from a large section of people. Aristocracy and morals came in almost at the same time. The people who weren’t intellectually lazy realised the need for dependence of the human race and so they utilised the power of language and imagination to create stories of GODS that preached moral values. Those intellectually powerful people were Kings and Aristocrats and rest all were mere subjects.

With passing time people realised that moral values ain’t holding true always. Even after subscribing to moral values they are not able to experience happiness. Be content with what you have, do not be greedy, do not look at others property, love your spouse, be obedient to elders, kindness, generosity, patriotism and many more such morals were on the verge of destruction. The aristocrats  realised it and so they had to come up with a sustainable format for allowing to maintain and manage morals. This led to the inception of the concept of ‘organised religion’. An aristocrat backed by a Religion can control the subjects in a much smoother fashion. The intellectually lazy subjects fell into the trap and diverted energies into the reciting of hymns and carrying out of religious rituals while the Intellectuals enjoyed being in control. With this another power center came into existence. A natural corollary of fostering Organised religion – the powerful religious leaders came into existence. With this came the era of Religion and ‘Bhakti’ as often referred in Indian history. Language and Literature and education all laced with the thoughts and concepts of religion- wherein it was talked about the world being created by GOD and GOD being the ‘All MIGHTY’. And so naturally the caretakers of ‘All MIGHTY’ viz. the Priests and Popes and Sadhus became more and more powerful. This era saw the beginning of worship of a ‘living human’ be it in the form of a Yogi or a Sadhu or a Priest or a Pope.

With passage of time Aristocracy lost its power to Religion. Religion could tweak Morals as per the needs of different times, and human race had already subscribed to Religious Morals. And so gradually KINGS died and Temples and Shrines took over. But Religion was not capable of managing peoples aspiration for wealth and ‘good life’ and so a new order, a new force was required. Society now had Haves and Have nots. People with wealth and property and People devoid of wealth and property. Conflicts arose. But religion kept them at bay. Growing trade led to the need of an entity which would uphold religion and also manage the arising conflicts. This led to invention of Democracy. The formation of GOVERNMENT. A body whose function is to take care of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ both and yet can never go above religion. Basically a care taker. By now this element has also become a force that wants to control rather than take care. And a totally new dynamic is formed. Political leaders and Preachers of Democracy became New GODs. World got Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and likes. This led the seed of the modern human society as we see it today. There is Government, there is Organised religion, there are Haves and there are Have nots. The four segments of the modern Human Race.

During this modern time, both human population and technological advancement are growing manifold. Globalisation and Internet have created a mixture of cultures. We have in our belief system our database of GODS and along with it modern education and globlisation are subjecting us to different stories and life styles. We earlier used to celebrate our GOD’s birthday with fast, but new western culture tells us that celebration has to be luxurious; and so came in Luxury fasts. The way they are done now. Where you have tons of options of eating even during fasts. The concept of introspection and meditation got transgressed into noise, luxury and show off. And this takes us to the brand new element of this modern era, which the human race is dependent on  FAME. After Nature, Wealth, Morals, Religious Gurus, Political leaders it is the era of CELEBRITY. In every possible field FAME is what the human race is trying to achieve. Hence Capitalism, Glamour, Fashion, Sexuality, modern Spirituality are the forces that rule the world. A new set of GOD’s which include the highest achievers of each of his forces are into existence. Each one has his/her own GOD. A Bill Clinton or a Dhirubhai Ambani for some; An Amitabh Bachchan or Shakira for some; An Armani or Versace for some; a Michael Jackson or a Lata Mangeshkar for few while a Osho or an Amma for others.

Religion is still sustaining. It has included FAME and CELEBRITY craving in its constitution in an implicit manner. Religion accepts charity, philanthropy, religious investments and donations as neutralizers for some other sins that you may  incur. The problem that is created is that under this arrangement only ‘haves’ of the society can get rid of their sins. What about those who cannot afford charity or philanthropy?? For the first time since its inception Religion is increasingly becoming distant from the ‘have nots’ of the society. What the ‘haves’ can control ‘have nots’ cant. And so the ‘have nots’ need an element which  they can worship inorder to express their dependence. This seems to be calling for a new order; a new set of GOD’s.

If at all I have to forecast. The answer to this last question will define the next age of human race. If I am correct than the signals are already showing up of this new element. An offshoot of Organised Religion – It is Religious extremism. And mind you the four segments of human race viz. The government, The Religion, The Haves and The Have nots they all are so intricately intertwined that  they all will together create a new set of GOD’s. This new GOD could be anybody from an Osama to a lesser known Wangari Mathai (noble laureate environmentalist)

From merely being an un-understandable element of dependency to being a complex caricature of Morals and lifestyle dependence the GOD has constantly changed. But the fact is GOD will always remain. Earlier human race was based on the value of ‘survival’ but now it is thriving on the value of ‘significance’. And so instead of being grateful or loving towards GOD;  we now Fear GOD.

Whatever we do or aspire to do is to feel significant. We study to give us a label, we choose a university which has some brand value, we wear clothes that says things about our status and attitudes, we follow religions that benefit us, we marry the one whom we can claim as our property, we build homes, businesses, relations …every damn endeavour is to feel significant. The fight for survival ends with life. But the craving for significance have made us believe that our ‘properties’ out live us. The more assets (both material and relationships) we have that could out live us, makes us feel more significant and more happy.

I do not believe in GOD. (maybe this statement is what makes me feel ‘significant’)





Clock.

9 07 2009

Late night, yesterday, it was pretty nice and windy; first signs of monsoons in the city. Bewildered and bemused (that’s how I reach home every night 🙂 ) I enter home. Locked the door, entered the living room; there’s this lone clock which hangs on one of the four walls of the living room. To inform myself of the time, I glance at the wall clock. The two hands were parted by a very narrow distance with shorter hand on 1.

Even after registering the time, I kept looking at the clock. It occurred to me, I HAVE BECOME A CLOCK; mechanical, time bound, boring and not in control of my own movement. This feeling angered me. It filled me with lot of anguish. Irritated, I move towards my room, put on the lamp, undress, lie on the bed, with clock on my mind. Slowly I get into thoughts, the angry feeling subsided and I was able to delve deeper.

Two interesting and very distinct aspects about the nature of clock are, 1 – The clock is not aware of time, it just keeps ticking. It does not know that by ticking it serves the purpose of keeping time for the world. The clock is unaware of the concept of time. And 2 – It never would favor anyone nor would be against anyone. It is the perception of the time-keepers who judge whether TIME favored them or not. To the clock this notion just doesn’t exist.

We too are like clock. We really do not know what purpose all our actions serve to the world or to the people who matter. Even if one wants to, there is no way to estimate the effect of ones actions or deeds. Just keep on doing what you think is right at that moment.

But we are humans, who are gifted with intelligence coupled with emotions. We cannot be as inanimate as the clock. So while we are ‘ticking’, we tend to question ourselves, and doubt ourselves. We bother for the ‘purposefulness’ of the being.

Thinkers, Spiritual leaders, and Philosophical thoughts they all boil down to one simple understanding that “YOUR ONLY WEALTH IS YOUR CURRENT HEART BEAT, THERE IS NOTHING ELSE THAT YOU CAN HOLD. SO DO NOT WASTE TIME WORRYING – NEITHER ABOUT BYGONES NOR ABOUT FORECASTS. INSTEAD, LIVE THE MOMENT. EVERYTHING ELSE IS ILLUSIONARY.”

In short just KEEP TICKING.

This message comes to us a thousand times via sms forwards, email forwards or some self-help authors or through quotes printed in Sunday newspaper. We all read it, share it, forward it and talk about it. But never even try to understand it, never even attempt to practice it. I belong to the same lot.

This proves that I am not like a clock at least in quality 1. Rather than just ticking I constantly keep bugging myself my questioning and doubting.

Probing further I also realized that the source of our anguish or joy is completely dependent on the response of others on our deeds rather than those deeds itself being the source. We thrive on the perceptions and judgments of people around and we do the same to others. Under the excuse of relationship, responsibilities, expectations, favors etc. we lose out on focusing on the act, the ‘ticking’. I belong to this lot too.

This proves that I am not like clock on the quality 2 point also. A clock ticks unaware of the perceptions of the people around, whereas my behavior is exactly opposite to that of the clock’s.

Being like a clock is not about becoming mechanical or boring neither it is about the sense of losing control nor being bound. These are just the notions that I derive from the judgments of the world around. No body, including our own selves, would know the eventuality of our deeds. The impact of our being on others varies from individual to individual. Being like a clock is about being aware that we are unaware.

Suddenly my eyes open. It took a few moments before I could realize that I was asleep since long. The lamp was still on, but  it looked a lot faded. That told me that its almost dawn. It is the sunlight coming through the window panes, which in turn is making the lamp look pale. Alas, the ‘light’ of the night is now merely a bulb mistakenly kept on!!!!

I found I was holding to the mobile in one hand, I look into the screen, it had a half written message in it. My eyes than move on the bottom right corner of the mobile screen, the time was 6:30. I get up, put on my bed wear, quench my dried throat, smile and go to bed again. Get up after a sleep of another 2 hours. While I get into the morning routine my mind started taking stock of all I thought I had thought.

Now, I wish I become a clock. I really wish that I enjoy my every ‘tick’.

With this I  wish ‘gdday’ 🙂 !