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.

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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 )





‘hgang in dharamshala’ the film – now on Youtube!

5 08 2014

Director’s note.

Can you trek your way to Nirvana?

The above question is the result of an experience that we, as a lot, had during our trip to Dharamshala. Twelve friends, twelve entrepreneurs who set out for a petite get-together in this hilly town, returned as if they were reborn. And I am not exaggerating. It’s been almost 6 months since, and each one is showing a sustained attitudinal shift in their lives. What made this possible?

It all started with a letter we sent to His Holiness Dalai Lama’s office requesting a private audience with him. We shared the dilemmas bothering us and wished he sheds some light on it. Unfortunately(or fortunately!!) the meeting did not happen as HHDL was traveling during that period. But the fact of the matter is, we did get those answers without seeing HHDL; the events of the trip made us realize the answers to those dilemmas!!

The entire lot, each one of us, while returning, felt as if we were called to this place. We all believed,until this point, that the trip is our plan, but in the end we realized that we are all a part of a bigger plan.

This was felt in particular, at the trek of Triund. The trek that we took up just for kicks, made us sweat and battle like never before. With scarce resources as we ventured into the un-chartered, it took us to some mind-altering discoveries. Lasting for 9 hours, the trek tested our individual capacities and brought us face-to-face with values of togetherness and kinship along with courage and conviction. From being entrepreneurs fixated to the word ‘achievement’, we came back discovering a powerful agent called ‘letting go’.

As I came back home, I felt in me an uncontrollable desire to attempt to articulate this experience of ours in a visual medium. What I had with me were some thousand images and couple of hours of random video footage. I tried to put them all together in a manner that it makes some sense to the one who engages. I used voice over technique to narrate our mind state and have relied extensively on the songs to convey what we had felt. There is not much footage of the Triund trek which is of greater significance, but than that’s fine.

It may not make any sense to an unknown viewer, maybe. But anyone who knows this lot or any one from this lot, will definitely see some value in this effort. The discerning viewer will enjoy some breathtaking panoramic shots of the magnificent Dhauladhar range, taken right from the top of Triund.

Having said this I put forth the following disclaimer :
‘hgang in dharamshala’ is not a narrative film, nor it claims to be a document of a certain trip. It is a visual memoir of what we friends felt, experienced and realized during this 4 day period. To put it humbly it is just a home video, albeit with a difference.

The film is already shared with family and friends, but we have received lot of requests from many other friends, relatives and well-wishers who wished to engage themselves with this effort.

For them and for any one who ends up here, the film is made available on youtube. FYI the film is uploaded in two parts. Find below the links.

And yeah, watch it till the end the credits roll, it ends with an original poem recital by …

Yours truly,
Mihir Gajrwala





I wish to die, now – Video brief

3 05 2014

As mentioned in an earlier blog, as a new author, I need to be sensitive about my readers doubt. And I need to address the barriers that might prevent a mindful individual to engage with my writing.

With this thought a careful campaign is being gradually put in place to generate greater engagement.

This video is a brief about what the book “I wish to die, now”, is and what a reader can expect from it.

As an expressionist this is my maiden attempt to engage with readers from various cultures and societies. The campaign is an attempt to bridge that gap so that a sustained connection can be made at higher cognitive level.

Here it is – the video brief on “I wish to die, now”.

Happy exploring !

Mihir





ક્યાં લઇ જાય છે આ રસ્તો / where is this road taking me

17 01 2014
‘dharam’ means ‘ones truest nature’, that part of you that cannot be taken away, that which cannot cease to exist. That is your ‘Dharam’. ‘Shala’ means ‘a designated space’. A designated space as in a  school that would teach you ways and give you means to realize your truest nature is called a ‘Dharamshala’. When we set out on this fun and getting together of friends trip , our only notion of Dharamshala was of a peaceful and serene hill station of North india.
Over 90 hours of being in mindful conversations with friends, after more than 30000 kms of collective travelling and after a soul stirring 9 hour trek in snow and walking our way to about 9000ft above sea level it dawned upon us that we happened to be in a school to learn and to understand our true nature, we found we are in DHARAMSHALA.
The trek of Triund, apart from its aesthetics and natural beauty turned out to be an experience that left me speechless. Yes, someone as expressive as me, is left speechless. This is after about 2 days that the whirlwind of overwhelming thoughts are settling down, and i am seeing some faint meaning in all that was felt. We started the trek as a fun holiday excursion not knowing that it would take a sharp turn and become a challenging trek where we will have to battle against odds like bad weather, uncompromising terrain, resource-lessness, fear and despair.
We battled it with guts, trust, hope, togetherness but mostly with a ‘careful unconcern’ and humour which is so unique to our lot. Never did any of us had anticipated that at the end of 9 hours the trek of Triund would give us the greatest lesson of our lives – lesson of conviction, courage, hope, causality, trust, friendship and above all the lesson to let go. Individuality gave way the belief in ‘interdependence’.
Most of our times are spent in planning. In trying to control the tomorrow. As they say living in the illusion of control. But if we apply only a bit of common sense, it is so evident that nothing is in your control. The point from where you start, the journey and the point at where you might end, nothing can actually be planned. All of it just happens.
I often share it with friends – that when i start writing a poem i actually do not know where it will end. Invariably rhyme precedes the reason. Infact i give meaning to it once i would have completed it. From this perspective i am actually not the writer, i am only a  medium. The poem doesn’t come from me, it comes through me. This is exactly how the entire life should be taken. That you are not the doer, you are a mere medium – is the ultimate way to live. The acceptance of this fact is the way to reach to experiences of contentment and happiness, the only path to rise above the set paradoxes. The trek of Triund taught this to us.
The verses below are an attempt to distill all of the above in the form of a poem. From one perspective it is a description of the beauty, wonder and amazement that was experienced during the entire Triund trek and from a certain perspective the verses are a metaphorical expression of life as i decipher it, at this point in time of my existence.
As i said above, I am giving meaning to it after the poem is written, these words actually occurred to me at different points during the 9 hour trek of Triund.
Image 
ક્યાં લઇ જાય છે આ રસ્તો , ક્યાં લઇ જશે આ રસ્તો ,

વગર જાણે ચાલ્યા કરું એના પર હું આમ અમસ્તો  .     (2)
આડા-અવળા ને ત્રાંસા પથરા થી અંકાયેલો આ રસ્તો ,
લીલાછમ ઘટાદાર વૃક્ષો થી ઘેરાયેલો આ રસ્તો ,
તાજા બનેલા બરફ થી શણગારાયેલો આ રસ્તો ,
ના દેખાતા પક્ષીઓના સંગીત થી ભરાયેલો આ રસ્તો ,
કુદરત ની અતુલ્ય ચિત્રકલા સમક્ષ વસેલો આ રસ્તો ,
ક્યાં લઇ જાય છે આ રસ્તો , ક્યાં લઇ જશે આ રસ્તો   (2)
નવા દ્રશ્યો મારી આંખ ને બતાવતો આ રસ્તો ,
મિત્રોના અંતર ને ઓળખવાનો આ રસ્તો ,
ભણેલી ફિલસુફી ની પરીક્ષા લેતો આ રસ્તો ,
નિયતિ ની યોજના થી રૂબરૂ કરાવતો આ રસ્તો ,
આસ્થા ની જ્યોત ને અખંડ બનાવી જતો આ રસ્તો ,
ક્યાં લઇ આવ્યો છે આ રસ્તો , ક્યાં લઇ જશે આ રસ્તો   (2)
જે જોયું છે તેનું સ્મરણ કરાવાનો  આ રસ્તો ,
જે નથી જોઈ શકતો એનો એહસાસ કરાવાનો આ રસ્તો ,
જ્યાં પહોચ્યો છું ત્યાં સુધી પહોચવાનો આ રસ્તો ,
જ્યાં નથી પહોચી શક્યો , ત્યાં મને લઇ જવાનો આ રસ્તો
જ્યાં નથી પહોચી શક્યો ‘નિર્દોષ’, ત્યા મને લઇ જવાનો આ રસ્તો  .
ક્યાં લઇ જાય છે આ રસ્તો ક્યાં લઇ જશે આ રસ્તો ,
વગર જાણે ચાલ્યા કરું એના પર હું આમ અમસ્તો  .




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.





It’s time to go Pink!

20 04 2013

The premise of any healthy society is based on its capacity to satiate the needs of hunger, thirst, livelihood and JUSTICE of the community at large. Now this society is no one else but all of US – together. And so it is our responsibility to take care of these needs of ours and our fellow beings. But what is occurring is that – we are more focused on satisfying the first three needs viz – hunger, thirst and livelihood, that we have ended up lowering the importance of our need for JUSTICE. We have come to believe that an entity called GOVERNMENT will supply us Justice. And we have started to ignore the fact that we cannot survive without Justice.

The fact remains that society over time has only become more unjust, in more ways than one. Be it dilapidated remains of age old caste system, systematic unequal distribution of political power and a high degree of gender intolerance – all of these have resulted in a creation of ungrateful and delusion seeking society that breeds Injustice.

When I am hungry I seek food, when thirsty I seek water, when unemployed I find an employment – but what do I do when I experience injustice. In our upbringing the society does teach us how to fetch food and water and it does equip us with skills to make us employable. But we never really instill in ourselves the ability to be Just and the desire to find Justice, when denied. Experiencing injustice and not fighting for it is OK in our country.

But then, once in a while some individuals who go through unfathomable injustice, find this latent need for justice activated in them. Once activated, I believe, it must be so strong that all the other basic needs become insignificant in comparison to their need for Justice. We call them revolutionaries, mahatma, messiah etc. What binds them all is their absolute intolerance towards injustice.

The point I am leading too, is the realization that Justice will not come to us, if we do not seek it. Today when we hear/read about the atrocities being subjected to the women folk of this nation, deep inside we all wish to have justice. But we are so blinded in the rush of our other needs that we do nothing but feel despair. We remain helpless. We wait for times to change. We wait for a messiah to come and save us.

While we wait in despair in our comfortable chairs, somewhere in a village in Uttarpradesh a group of middle aged women have taken up lathis in their hands to fight for justice. They wear Pink, they beat up abusive husbands and corrupt menfolk of the society and they call themselves the Gulabi Gang*. They exist since a decade and now their area of concern has widened form women issues to other societal evils like child marriage, corruption etc. Many legal cases are pending against the founder Sampat Pal Devi, but her need for justice remains unsatiated and she works every day of her life to satisfy this need of hers. Today there are more than 20,000 women who are part of Gulabi Gang.

I have been brought up to be a non-violent individual. My own perceptions of universe have further developed my belief in the virtue of non-violence. And as much as I believe in Justice I believe in the value of non-violence. Simply put ‘hurt’ cannot be ‘just’. Today as I read through the atrocity** carried upon a little girl child of our community for the first time ever I feel the urge to be violent. Not just the ones who committed the crime but all the perpetrators identified needs to be punished, in the most severe fashion. If law of the land is found incapable, let’s find our ways to provide Justice.

Am I being selfish and fearful under the veil of being ‘non-violent’? Is it time to weld the lathi?  I know the roots of any evil have many dimensions and they all need to be addressed if one has to eradicate them. But lathi for sure would address a few of those many unknown dimensions.

Having said that, I am not advocating rioting and killing. By ‘welding a lathi’ I mean taking strong, affirmative action for the cause of Justice.

If we do not find food, we die of hunger, if we do not search for water we would die of thirst, if we do not find livelihood, we would not have means to survive; similarly if we do not fight for Justice, we would become extinct. History has recorded this, it took a while to build Rome, but it did not take as much time for Rome to disintegrate.

It’s time to join the Gulabi Gang, its time to go Pink!

*  http://www.gulabigang.in/

* * http://www.ndtv.com/article/cities/delhi-rape-accused-left-girl-to-die-say-police-356613