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Finding the Devi in the Mundane

The nine nights
of the Devi, a
time to dive deep
and experience
the presence of
the all pervading,
scintillating
energy. A time
to wake up to
this awe-inspiring
presence.
 
For those who find
the journey within
difficult, the ancient
rishis had a simple
solution; to find
her presence in
the very mundane.

Continue Reading »

The Thousand Names

Each one,
beautifully
juxtaposed,
like a garland
of scented
flowers;
ebbing and flowing,
in a rhythm
like a mountain river,
penned with
deep love,
kindling love
and devotion,
the thousand names
not enough
to describe the
infinite attributes
of the Radiant One!

Chanted and heard by
millions and millions
in the timeless, recurring
cycles of manifestation
and dissolution of the
yugas.

As the white light
dispersing
from a prism
forms a rainbow;
the Names,
a constant reminder
of the underlying
presence
of Divinity in
this colorful,
pulsating,
Universe.

As the rainbow
gets recomposed
and merges with
the white light,
so to, chanting
and hearing the
names,
takes one back
to the source
– the effulgent,
Radiant, Loving One

I wrote this article for the Indore Management Associations journal’s Commemorative issue published in Jan 2011. Haven’t been able to find a online issue of the same and I thought I will reproduce my article out here. It is pretty long, so you have been warned.

There is a consensus amongst thought leaders, that today’s management and leadership principles were not developed to cope with the rapid pace of changes we are seeing in our workplaces. The unremitting pace of work, the need to respond to emails urgently, the blurring of lines between work time and leisure time, the invasion of  Millennials in the workplace, the advent of social media etc.– the workplace does not look the same as it was say even 10 or 15 years ago. And we all know that the years ahead will bring even more transformations that we may have not yet thought of. So how do we prepare ourselves adequately for the times ahead? Are there any leadership principles that we can borrow that have stood the test of time? It seems like there definitely is a list of leadership attributes that have stood the test of time that we can definitely borrow to fool proof our leadership skills.

Continue Reading »

The Game

Five Thousand years ago
in the midst of a battlefield,
the awareness having gone,
down in the dumps, Arjuna,
had the presence of mind
to ask The Lord this question:
 
How does one maintain a
constant awareness?
 
The Radiant Lord,
creator of this Universe,
compassionately enumerates
his presence in all things
animate and inanimate
in this magnificent creation
of His. 
 
As He lists out his omnipresence
one stops to savor and relish
every word uttered as the creator
talks of His awe-inspiring creation
and His underlying presence
behind the entirety, stirring 
unknown chords in my heart,
as one vaguely recognizes familiar
faces on the street.
 
Passing through the sands
of time, five thousand years later,
I wonder at the same question
as the awareness of the presence
dissipates in the humdrum of daily life.
 
All it takes is an email, 
a harsh exchange,
an unmet expectation,
a plan gone wrong,
tough life challenges,
and hundreds of things,
big and small 
enough to throw me 
out of equilibrium,
and for the presence to
vanish as the mind races
to abysmally low depths.
 
As I sit on the yoga mat
going through the sadhana,
so beautifully laid out by My Master
The practice becomes 
experiential as the breath
recharges the body and brings
the mind back to equilibrium.
 
The Lord tells Arjuna,
recognize My presence 
through My attributes and
in everything.
 
I struggle enormously
to recognize and
to make that Awareness
and Presence my own;
 
I want it – not just in flashes, 
not just in deep meditation,
not just as an intellectual understanding -
but in an unbroken continuum
all throughout, 
on and off the mat.
 
Till then, I have to 
make an effort to see
that presence
in that email,
in that harsh-exchange,
in that unmet expectations,
in life’s tough challenges
and in all the things
that throw me off balance…
 
The game, I guess is, 
to get thrown off balance,
and to get up and say
Gotcha! I caught you there!
and then the Lord will
smile for he would have
found a playmate willing
to play His game on His turf
with His rules!
 
Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10. Guruji gave a commentary on this chapter this week and unfortunately haven’t been able to watch it yet. This poem came up today after the Sadhana and I thought I will share it with you. 
 
Don’t forget to pass around the word about my book “The Gita in My Homework“.

The Prime Minister of India one of the most stirring speeches heard in 68 years of Independence. There was a lot of anticipation and the PM did not disappoint, this was an extempore speech of over an hour without any notes or teleprompter etc. Spoken straight from the heart. 

After hearing platitudes for several years, it was refreshing to see and hear a PM who understands the aspirations and needs of the people of this country and talks about meeting those needs systematically through a leadership model that is contrarian to what we have experienced in the last 68 years.

The PM began by saying that he is speaking not as a Prime Minister, but as a “Pradhan-Sevak” or Chief Servant of the people of India- putting the emphasis on concept of service based leadership or servant based leadership.

It is absolutely heartening to see that The Prime Minister of India gets the Leadership model absolutely rightContinue Reading »

 

Hundreds of them

some branded

lots of cheap ones

lay scattered all

over the house

all within an

arms reach for

years to jot

down thoughts

sign off bills &

courier receipts,

poke the tightly

sealed envelopes open

and

for a hundred

other random things

 

Then,

one by one

they started

disappearing.

First from the

writing table

and then all

the one’s that

were in sight

and finally even

the one’s that

lay quietly  hidden

for years in

nooks and corners

far away from

visible eyes.

Guess what?

Even the one’s

that were in

drawers were

not spared.

 

Neither reasoning

nor explaining

nor cajoling

or even threats

seems to have

any effect.

 

I am now resigned

to the fact that

I have three pen

lovers at home

who I guess eat

them for lunch

at school and

The High Court.

 

Thank you

@Meena, @Tanvi

and @Sreesh

for emptying the

riches accumulated

over years

 

Now who

swiped off that

Cross Pen?

What a Guru Poornima – thanks to @twitter, a Direct Message went out to over 373K followers of @SriSri and I did get one too!!

DM from SriSri

DM from SriSri

And here is the transcript from Guruji’s talk at Boone, today, reproduced from Art of Living Website :

You just sang this song, ‘Ajo Ananthaya‘. Ajo means Never Born, Ananthanya is InfinityNitya Shudha is Forever Pure, and Sat-chid-ananda is Pure Bliss.

Guru principle is like the space, and you cannot avoid space. Whether you recognize that there is space or not, is another question. You cannot escape from air. Whether you recognize there is air or not is another question. And today is the time for you recognize that there is air; there is space.

You know, air is there everywhere but when you sit near the fan, you feel it. In the same way, in the world, in the universe, the Guru principle is there. When you recognize it, you feel so great, and you feel bliss.

Recognition of the existence of the Guru Principle, and the role it has played in life, is Guru Poornima.

In our body, the throat chakra is for gratefulness. Above the throat chakra is the Ajna (Agya)Chakra, that is the seat of Guru. So gratefulness is a way to reach to the Guru Tattva.

And then where does the Guru lead you to? Bliss (pointing to the top of the head), i.e, theSahasrara Chakra. So, Guru is sandwiched between gratefulness and bliss.

This Guru Principle is that which removes darkness, it is that which removes all suffering.

We chant, ‘Bhishaje bhava roginam‘, which means, it is like the medicine for those who are stuck in small little worldly things; the disease of small mindedness. It is called a disease because the mind wants to get out of the suffering. Guru Tattva brings that absolute comfort.

You know, there are some people who live without light; they don’t even know of electricity. Animals live without electricity, without light; they don’t need it. But human beings need light when it is dark. So human beings need the Guru Tattva, they need the knowledge. People living without knowledge are equivalent to animals.

One without wisdom lives an animalistic life, it is not a human life. So, it is fashionable to be civilized and to have a Guru in life. If there is no Guru in life, it means life is uncivilized; like one who does not know anything of technology.

It is a privilege, a good fortune to have access to knowledge. And this ancient tradition, from millenniums has preserved this beautiful knowledge, and today we feel very grateful! It is an occasion to remember and to celebrate life with knowledge, life in knowledge, and life for knowledge. It is wisdom that can eliminate misery in the world. If wisdom cannot bring happiness, nothing can bring happiness. So we have this privilege to spread happiness, wisdom, and knowledge.

Wisdom is not just information, it is a quality of consciousness; it is a quality of life. Wisdom does not come just by studying and attaining degrees, or by stuffing yourself with information. Something triggers inside and you become wise. Some Naadi (energy channel) inside, or some part of your consciousness flips over and you become wise. I think so!

Wisdom is not attained just by reading a lot. You cannot just read a lot and be very wise in everything. Wisdom is a quality of consciousness, a quality of life, and this gets transferred by good company. That is what happens.

The Presence of the Guru does not bring you any information, it shifts the quality of consciousness, and that brings the wisdom to your mind.

Now, should we go and sit in front of a Guru all the time to become wise? Not necessary.Wherever you are, simply feel the presence of the Guru Tattva.

Guru Tattva is in-between the eye brows. The Ajna Chakra, where the pituitary glands are situated, that is the seat of the Guru. In the science of Yoga, the Ajna Chakra or the space in-between the eyebrows is called the seat of the Guru. It is situated above the Vishuddhi Chakra(in throat region); the pure space. You enter the pure space, you enter into meditation, and you reach to the Guru. And it is the Guru who pulls you into meditation.

You are stuck in the heart region where there is love, hatred and fear. If you have to get out of hatred and fear, you have to get into the inner space. And who pulls you into the inner space? The Guru Tattva. So the Guru pulls you into the inner space.

When you come to the inner space, what happens to you? You become pure, i.e., Vishuddhiwhich means So Pure. The heart becomes pure, the mind becomes pure, and that connects you to bliss, which is the Sahasara Chakra.

This is the science of Yoga. It’s so amazing if you go into the depth of it. Every moment it reveals even more.

So do not think that just by words, by reading books, or by stuffing yourself with a lot of information you can become wise, no! Wisdom comes by that shift; that is why it is called Grace.

Grace (or Good luck) means what? That which you cannot explain. If you could explain how you got something then it is not luck.
When do you call something your luck? When you cannot explain the cause of it. Of course, same for bad luck also. If you have bad luck, you say you can’t explain it. So it’s the gratefulness which leads you to Guru Tattva and the bliss further on, and vice versa, because when you find that solace, then you feel more grateful.

So, what is wisdom? It is a quality of consciousness; like alertness.

What is alertness? (Sri Sri snaps his fingers) Your presence in now! You know when you suddenly become alert, your mind shifts (sort of, opens), and suddenly you are all alive. Words cannot describe what alertness is! In the same way, words cannot describe what wisdom is.

Everyone in their life, sometime or other, have experienced a little bit of wisdom. Whether one has maintained it or not is another question.

It is wisdom that holds the key to happiness. No wisdom, no happiness. So people seeking happiness will have to go come to the Guru. People seeking knowledge will have to come to Guru. People seeking a better quality of life have to come to the Guru; they have to acknowledge the Guru principle in their life.

One of the saints of the middle ages, a great yogi said, ‘Who drinks the nectar? One who has a Guru. One who doesn’t have a Guru in their life, he goes thirsty, he has no juice in his life; he does not know true joy. But one who has a Guru drinks the nectar; again and again he drinks the nectar‘.

There is plenty of nectar in the inner realm of our being. One who has a Guru drinks it in abundance. One without a Guru goes thirsty all his life.

He is describing our own physiology, which means, in this (pointing to the head or Sahasara Chakra) there is bliss, there is nectar. When there is Guru in life, then you get access to it, otherwise life becomes meaningless.

There are a lot of beautiful poems written on this. I’ve not read them all, only heard a little bit here and there. But the essence is how the quality of consciousness gets shifted, and the shift is a gift (wisdom is a gift).

The company of the wise brings that shift in the consciousness, or its given to you as gift, and so you feel thankful. It is not something that you earned in your life. You cannot earn it but it is being bestowed on you, and that is the key.

Many people think wisdom means reading a lot of books. Wisdom has nothing to do with books. Wisdom has nothing to do with gathering information. It is just the quality of consciousness that shifts in the mind, and that is bestowed by the Guru Principle, by acknowledging the Guru in life.

One has to acknowledge from one’s side. The Guru does not accept or reject anyone. It is the student, the disciple, who accepts (a Guru) as his Guru.

In India, there is a famous story of Eklavya (a character from the Hindu epic, the Mahābhārata).Eklavya is considered the epitome of a disciple.

As the story goes, Eklavya wanted to learn archery to save the deer in the forest that were being hunted by the leopards. He was the son of a poor hunter. So he went to Dronacharya (a master of advanced military arts) and requested him to teach him archery, but Dronacharya rejected him because he was the teacher of the Royal family, he was a Raj Guru. He was teaching the royal princes of Bharat (India).

In those days, if you are a teacher of the royal princes then you cannot take someone else and teach them archery and make them equal to the prince. It was not considered ethical.

You are teaching archery to the prince so that you make him a great archer, to protect the nation. So you cannot teach someone from the street the same knowledge. It was forbidden to make anyone as powerful as the prince. His duty is to make the prince very powerful, so he cannot create a competitor. Otherwise the nation would not be safe and secure.

So, Eklavya wanted to take Dronacharya as his Guru, but Dronacharya could not accept him. This was the law of the land, that you have to exclusively train the princes.

Nevertheless Eklavya accepted Dronacharya as his Guru, and he went home and made a statue of his Guru. He learnt archery and became even better than the prince. He became an expert. He would just hear the sound of the animal and shoot an arrow at it.

One day, Arjuna, the prince found out about this. He saw that Eklavya was far better than him. So he went to Eklavya and asked him, ‘Who is your Guru?’

Eklavya said, ‘Dronacharya is my Guru’.

Arjuna then goes to Dronacharya and shouts at him. ‘What is this? This is cheating. You are supposed to teach only me, but you taught this man and made him more skilful than me’, he questions Dronacharya.

Dronacharya was baffled as to who was this student of his, whom he had not taught, and who has become a competitor of the prince. Then they both go and meet this boy. Eklavya leads them to the statue that he made of Dronacharya which he considered as his Guru.

Dronacharya then says, ‘You have to give me some Dakshina (a gift as fees for learning)’. He asks Eklavya to give him the thumb of his right hand as a gift (without the thumb there is no archery). Eklavya without a second thought gives the thumb of his right hand to the Guru.

This story is viewed as the Guru to have a very cruel attitude. The boy has learnt on his own, while Dronacharya goes and asks for his thumb taking away his skill. How bad this Guru was! This is one way to see: the Guru robbed the student of his skill. But from the other side, if you see, if it were not for this incident, nobody would have ever known Eklavya.

Though on the outer level it seemed as if Dronacharya had done injustice to Eklavya, but actually Dronacharya uplifted Eklavya because this one act made him immortal. So when people think of devotion, they think of Eklavya, and not Arjuna.

See the greatness of Dronacharya, he took the blame on him and uplifted his student. That is why, even if the Guru is wrong, if your devotion is there you can never go wrong. But the Guru is not wrong, it appears he was partial but he uplifted Eklavya and preserved his Dharma (duty) also. His duty was to maintain the law of the land: You cannot have anyone much better than the prince.

This is a beautiful story. There is a full dialogue on this which people say is very good.

Yoga Vashishtha is another very nice story of how Vashishtha gives knowledge to Sri Rama. You should read Yoga Vashishtha, it is a very beautiful way in which Vashishtha gives knowledge toSri Rama and uplifts him from depression; makes him realize that he is an incarnate of the Divine and the light of the world.

So again, wisdom is a quality of consciousness. It can be developed through sadhana, or grace, not through information. Wisdom can directly be instilled in two ways:
1. Through spiritual practises (sadhana). Through sadhana that quality of consciousness develops in you, or
2. By putting your attention on it.

See, whatever you put your attention on, that quality comes into your consciousness. You become that. If you keep thinking about monkeys all your life, then… (laugher). Or if you keep thinking of someone who is angry all the time, you will also get into that state of anger. Haven’t you experienced this? (Many raise their hands)

So wherever the mind goes it absorbs those qualities. So when you put your attention on wisdom, then your consciousness becomes like that.

That is someone who is enlightened or very wise is called Pratah Smaraniya. It’s a very common word used in India. It means, that which is worth remembering first thing in the morning.

As soon as you wake up whom do you think of? Whomever or whatever you think of, your mind assumes that quality. That is why it is said, when you wake up in the morning, think of the Guru, or any wise person, or any saint, so that your consciousness becomes like that. Then the whole day passes by like that because you have incorporated wisdom (by remembering the Guru), and the quality of consciousness has changed to that level. This is called Pratah Smaraniya.

A man of great achievement and a saintly person is called Pratah SmaraniyaPratahmeans Morning, and Smaraniya means Worth Remembering. That which is worth remembering first thing in the morning.

Usually people say a prayer before going to bed, and as soon as they wake up, they say a prayer. Like that, in the morning it is worth remembering those with wisdom so that you become wise.

That is a practice, and it makes a lot of sense.

We are in a world where emotion catches emotion. If some people have an emotion, others catch that emotion. Similarly, wisdom catches wisdom. In the company of wise people, your quality of consciousness also shifts. If it doesn’t, then you have to think why not? Maybe Time could be a factor, because it is impossible not to change when there is wisdom in somebody around you.
Remember this: Wisdom is not information. It is a quality of consciousness.

When you walk around today, or any day from today, think that you have a diamond inside of you, a gem inside. You have acquired some gems, some wisdom. Walk in life with the feeling that you’ve been given something very precious.

A lady saint called Meera, a devotee of Lord Krishna, could not make progress without a Guru. So she went to a cobbler (a person who makes shoes), and he became her Guru, and then she sang the song, ‘Payoji Maine Ram Ratan Dhan Payo‘ (meaning: today I got the most precious wealth).

Though she was a devotee of Krishna, the Guru gave her the mantra ‘Ram‘ (laughter), and Ram and Krishna are completely opposite. Whatever Ram did, Krishna undid it all. Have you heard the comparison between Ram and Krishna? (Audience says, ‘No‘)
Ram was born at 12 noon and Krishna was born at midnight.

When Ram was born there was a big celebration, but when Krishna was born there was fear all around.
Ram was born in a palace, Krishna was born in prison.
Ram will not cross the line and would obey what his father said, and Krishna never listened to his father.
Many such things, completely opposite. That’s why people say, you should follow Ram and notKrishna. You should listen to what Krishna said but you should act like Ram. It is easier for the parents and the spouse.

So she used to sing the name of Krishna all the time, and her Guru gave her the mantra ‘Ram‘, and so she sings, ‘Payoji Maine Ram Ratan Dhan Payo‘.

What I am saying is that, even though her Guru gave her the mantra ‘Ram’, it did not cause any conflict in her. If someone is Christian, a Sikh, a Budhist or a Hindu, it doesn’t matter. Whatever religion you are born into, or whatever religion you practise, it doesn’t matter. The spiritual wisdom carries you forward, so honour the knowledge. That is why Meera sings, ‘Payoji Maine Ram Ratan Dhan Payo‘. It is a very famous song in India; most Indians have heard this. So Meera says that this is a wealth I received, a blessing I received.

It is a great wealth.

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