Four principles of spirituality

>> Sunday, January 1, 2012

Four principles of spirituality

The First Principle states:

"Whomsoever you encounter is the right one"
This means that no one comes into our life by chance. Everyone who is around us, anyone with whom we interact, represents something, whether to teach us something or to help us improve a current situation.

The Second Principle states:
"Whatever happened is the only thing that could have happened"

Nothing, absolutely nothing of that which we experienced could have been any other way. Not even in the least important detail. There is no "If only I had done that differently…, then it would have been different…". No. What happened is the only thing that could have taken place and must have taken place for us to learn our lesson in order to move forward. Every single situation in life which we encounter is absolutely perfect, even when it defies our understanding and our ego.

The Third Principle states:
"Each moment in which something begins is the right moment"

Everything begins at exactly the right moment, neither earlier nor later. When we are ready for it, for that something new in our life, it is there, ready to begin.

The Fourth Principle states:
"What is over, is over"
It is that simple. When something in our life ends, it helps our evolution. That is why, enriched by the recent experience, it is better to let go and move on.


Spiritual India-Pandit Bhimsen Joshi

>> Thursday, February 3, 2011

In the death of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, a spell is broken in the world of classical music. It was almost a physical blow to me to learn of his demise. We may never have another Bhimsen Joshi, sad indeed.

Personally, I don’t know much about music, leave alone classical music. Of course, I am interested in it, like to hear it, but as far as knowledge goes, I am a zero. Many years ago when I first heard Panditji rendering a Thumri, I fled from the room in which the radio was playing. My elder brother was and is a great fan of Panditji. He often listened to his songs and bhajans. He was always in a trance when he listened to one of Panditji’s compositions and barked us to leave the room when disturbed. After unwillingly listening to his Thumris and Khayals, his music and his voice began to linger in my mind. Without having any knowledge of what is Khayal and what is Thumri, I began to like both when Joshiji was singing. It captured the soul. Later, whenever he played on TV, I would leave everything and listened to him in rapt attention. Now I know why my brother scolded us when disturbed.

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi- the very name inspires awe. The name is like a great banyan tree of music sheltering all and sundry in the world of classical music under its branches. His style of Gayaki is unparalleled. It appears he went inside himself, forgot everything when he performed and truly enjoyed this divine gift of singing without bothering about name and fame. The most appealing aspect of his music was it appealed to both, those who knew and even those who did not know anything about classical music. A pillar of Kirana Gharana, the void his death has created, is difficult to fill, if ever. May God rest his soul rest in peace.


Spiritual stories-Destiny

>> Sunday, January 23, 2011

There was this man who was very poor. The man was hard working, simple, honest and god fearing. Totally devoted to Lord Shiva, he had never done anything wrong in his life. He even forgave those who wronged him.

Once Parvati (Shiva’s consort) felt pity on him and his poor condition, and implored to Shiva: “My Lord, you are very well aware of the pathetic condition of this devotee of yours. You know that he works really hard for his living, doesn’t get proper food to eat or clothes to wear. Even in this condition he never fails to worship you. Why don’t you take pity on him and help him? Such devotees should not suffer like this.”

Lord Shiva: “You are right, Devi. But it is his prarabdh (destiny) to work hard and remain poor. Every thing is linked to his previous karmas (deeds). I cannot interfere in that.”

Parvati: “You are the lord of this universe. If you want, you can help him.”

Shiva: “Yes, I can help him. But I cannot change his destiny. Even if I help him, he will remain what he is. I cannot and should not interfere with his destiny.”

Parvati: “Whatever, but I feel so sorry for him. At least, for my sake, try and help him once.”

Shiva: “Tathastu (so be it).

The poor man used to go to a particular temple every morning before he started his work and he used to take the same path each morning. Next morning when Lord Shiva saw him going to the temple as usual, he placed a bag full of gold in his path with the intention that the man would pick up the bag and when he did, Lord Shiva would tell him that he was pleased with his devotion and that the gold was is reward.

When the poor man was a little distance from the bag, he saw a blind man coming from the opposite direction with a stick in his hand for guidance. The simple and kind hearted man felt sorry for the blind man and thought “how the man should be suffering without sight.” Thinking this he closed his eyes to feel the experience of darkness and walked a few distance with his eyes closed. By the time he opened his eyes, the bag containing gold was a few steps behind him and he went to the temple without having any knowledge of the bag having been there in his path. So near, yet, so far.

Shiva told Parvati: “See, even if I try, I cannot change his destiny.”



>> Sunday, December 12, 2010

One of my ceiling fans would not start. I called the electrician of our society who, without bothering to ask for a ladder to inspect the fan declared that the wiring inside had burnt and it would have to be rewired. I called another electrician from a shop who, inspected the fan and announced that the motor would have to be replaced. Yet another came, opened the canopy of the fan and said that new wiring would have to be done. All three quoted exorbitant rates for the job, that is, almost half of what the fan actually cost. Now all the fans in my flat are from a top manufacturer and of the same brand, almost new.

Fortunately, the R&D manager of the manufacturer of these fans, on whose recommendation I had bought them, resides in the same building. I contacted him. He in turn, called his factory, asked to speak to a particular workman, explained the problem to that workman and ordered him to come to my place immediately. The fellow came, didn’t even bother to look up at the fan, went straight to the switch board, switched on the fan, juggled with the regulator a bit, and the fan started, as good as ever. The entire process took less then thirty seconds.

This incident reminded of a story I had read in my child hood, almost half a century ago A cargo ship, fully loaded with cargo was to sail the next morning. When the time came for the ship to set sail, the engine would not start. The in-ship engineers tried their best to start the engine till evening but failed. The next day more competent persons were called at a very high rate for consultations, but the engine would not respond. On the third day, worried about the cost of the grounded ship, decaying cargo and such other things, the owners of the ship, the captain and engineers had a serious meeting. It was suggested and almost decided that they should unload the cargo and replace the engine with a new one. The process would take at least ten days and expenditure and other losses would be huge.

Just then, a low cadre workman entered the room and suggested that there was an old seaman in that port, now retired, who had spent his life time on ships maintaining engines, be called and consulted. Irritated at this intrusion, one of the owners dismissed the workman saying: “Do what you like, just leave us alone.” The meeting continued.

An old battered man entered the room with an equally old and battered tool kit and asked to be taken to the engine room. The workman had already prompted the old man about actions taken earlier. The entire procession went to the engine room. The old man looked around a bit, familiarized himself with the set up and started to inspect the pipes. He put his ears wherever there was a bent in the pipe. On the fourth bent, he put his ears on the bent for a little longer, hesitated, went back to the third bent, listened, went back to the fourth bent, listened again, promptly opened his tool kit, took out a hammer and tapped the pipe several times. He put the hammer back and closed the kit in a gesture of the job accomplished. He asked to fire the engine and the engine roared to life. Relieved and happy, the owners asked him for his charges. Without hesitation, the old man said: “five thousand and five Dollars, sir.” The owners, quite amused at his audacity, decided to pay him, but one of them asked: “Five thousand for tapping the pipe?” The old man said: “No sir, actually five Dollars for tapping the pipe and five thousand to know where to tap.”
They paid him.


Spirituality-Blind faith is no faith

>> Saturday, November 13, 2010

Once upon a time there was this boy old enough to be sent to a Guru’s Ashram for training and studies. The boy’s father told him at the time of departure: “Always remember one thing son, ‘Guru devo bhava’, meaning, your Guru or your teacher is like God.” The boy took his father’s words to heart.

One day at the Ashram, Guruji said in his preaching to his disciples: “There is God in every creature (sarvam khalu idum brahma).” He elaborated this line in detail in his sermon of that day. This particular disciple grasped every thing that Guruji said, determined to follow his Guruji’s dictates.

The next day Guruji sent him on some errand in the nearby town. The boy, on his way to the town, kept bowing to everyone he met on the way, be it a man, woman, child, animal - whoever, considering ‘there is God in every creature.’ As luck would have it, a wild bull got loose somehow, ran after everyone injuring some and created panic in the town. Everyone tried to get out of the bull’s way to a safe place, but not our disciple. Some people saw the disciple right in the middle of the bull’s path and shouted at him to move away. The disciple was unafraid and kept chanting ‘sarvam khalu idum brahma’. A brave man, seeing this young sadhu in danger, came to his rescue. But our disciple shooed him away. As the bull came near, the disciple turned to it and bowed, only to be taken by its horns and flung far away, a few of his ribs broken. Some people took him back to his Ashram.

Later, the disciple, hurt more mentally than physically that his Guruji was wrong, asked dejectedly: “Guruji, if that bull had God in him, why did he fling me in the air?”

Guruji said: “You are right. That bull had and has God in him. But so does that brave man who came to your rescue. In fact, God sent him to your rescue. Why didn’t you hear to the God in that man?”



Spirituality-Who is better off

>> Thursday, November 11, 2010

Old time stories, which we in our childhood took for what they were, that is, just stories, were really remarkable. Their relevance never ends. Once some of us elderly persons, mostly retired, were sitting in our society compound when there was an argument between two members, elderly, but still in their jobs. One was a bank employee and another, a government servant. In the course of the friendly conversation, one said to another: “What you are talking yaar, you are lucky to have your government job. Little or no work and all pay.”

The government servant retorted: “What pay? You call it pay? You bank employees are well paid. Our salaries are a pittance compared to yours.”

The bank employee said: “Sure, but we have to work our arse off for that whereas you get whatever you get for nothing.” This argument continued to our amusement.

One senior most among us who usually remained silent, intervened and said: “Look, it is like this. The Bank employee thinks government job is better and our friend here thinks bank job is nice. Actually, both of you do not know about the other’s job well enough to qualify to make any comments. Both jobs must have their usual pros and cons. I know one thing, that both of you should be satisfied with what you are doing. I will tell you all an old tale.” The story went thus.

It is an old time and common custom was to remove your shoes and sandals or whatever footwear you were wearing before entering a temple or a place of worship. One day, all the footwear outside a big temple decided that enough was enough. They too wanted entry inside the temple. They felt that they were being insulted. They called the priest and said: “See, we take care of men’s feet, serve them wherever they go. They don’t move out of their houses without us. We protect their feet. But when they come to this temple to seek God’s blessings, we are left out. We can’t take this insult anymore. From now on, ask them not to remove us from their feet while in temple or we will take stern action.”

The priest was a wise old man. He answered: “No body says your job is not important. In fact, we can’t do without you. The reason men remove you is that the temple is a clean and hygienic place. You come from various places and if men take you inside, the place will become dirty. But yes, it is true that your work is thankless and we do appreciate it.”

Footwear would have none of it. They said: “No, it is not true. We have heard that because we are made of leather that we are not allowed inside. If it is so, your drums are also made of leather. Their tops are of leather. Still they remain inside. It is pleasant for them. They join in aartis (devotional songs), they get to smell sweet incense and all. While we wait outside they have good time inside. We want in.”

The priest, a wise man that he was, asked them to wait. He ordered his assistants to bring two drums and four thick sticks outside. Then he told the footwear: “You have all heard sounds of drums playing from here, have you not?” The footwear said they hear it daily and think how lucky the drums were to be part of the temple festivities, where upon the priest asked his two assistants to beat the drums. They did so with all their power. The footwear were taken by surprise. The priest said: “See, they are beaten like this daily, so much so that their original nice color is not visible any more. They are all black on the top because of the beating they take daily.” Saying this, he inverted the drums so that the footwear can see their tops, all beaten and blackened. The footwear had never thought of this. They were shocked and silent.

The priest finally said: “Remember, while you rest here and breathe fresh air, they take beating inside. Now you decide who is better off.”


Man and Beast

>> Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An ordinary man, Ramlal, was passing through a jungle when he heard another man’s voice: “Help, help, somebody please help.” Ramlal also heard an animal’s roar. Initially he was scared but being kind, he tried to hear and looked intently if somebody was in trouble. He saw a well nearby and realized that the shout of ‘help’ had come from the well. He went near the well and looked inside. A man and a tiger were trapped in that deep well. Both requested Ramlal for help. Though scared of the beast, the god fearing Ramlal somehow helped them come out and prayed silently that the tiger would not attack him. Both the man and the beast thanked him profusely.

The tiger spoke first: “Thank you my friend. You must be wondering why I did not attack this man in the well with me as is my ‘prakriti’ (natural instinct). You see, both of us were sailing in the same boat of trouble and sympathized with each other. We even gave moral strength to each other. However, I am grateful to you for saving our lives and if ever you are in trouble, just come here near this tree and call me. I will come and help you in whichever way I can, and that’s a promise.”

The man said more or less the same thing as the tiger, adding that his name was Zaverilal and he was a goldsmith by profession. Zaverilal gave Ramlal his address in the nearby town and promised to help Ramlal in his time of distress. Then they all went their own ways.

A few years after this incident, Ramlal was in some kind of financial trouble. He decided to check out his friends. He went to the jungle and called out for the tiger as instructed. The tiger came and listened to Ramlal’s tale of woe. The tiger took him to a nearby tree and asked Ramlal to dig the ground. Ramlal did so and found a pot of gold. The tiger said he was happy to help Ramlal and wished him good luck. Ramlal took the gold to the town where Zaverilal lived and requested Zaverilal to give him money against the gold. Zaverilal, a greedy man, instead took him to the king and complained that Ramlal had stolen his gold. He betrayed the man who had saved his life.

The king was a wise man. He listened to Ramlal’s side of story. He went to the jungle with Ramlal, Zaverilal and a few of his ministers. Ramlal called the tiger and the tiger vouched for Ramlal’s innocence. The king was mighty angry with the goldsmith, not because of his greed, but because of his betrayal and decided to punish him then and there. The king told the tiger to eat and devour Zaverilal if it wanted to. The tiger replied: “Maharaj, we have sailed the same boat once. I had called him a friend once. I cannot eat a friend, however good or bad he is.”

The king was very pleased. He promised the tiger protection against poachers. He also asked Ramlal to keep the gold and also gave him additional financial help to come out of his troubles.

Since then the tiger kept telling all animals: “beware of men.”


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