These thoughts are unedited and free – flowing. Thus, this piece may seem abrupt.In scriptures we see Brahma as the Creator energy. You will note that he never destroys. He never kills. Is he seen as ever giving a curse? Yet, you see the Goddess – the quintessential Mother and she comes to us in all forms. She kills, protects, nurtures…… This is how the meaning unfolds to me – Brahm is the potential. It manifests itself into two main categories – Male and Female. We see both have 3 properties – Create (Brahma / Parvati), Protect (Any and all Goddess forms / Vishnu) and Destroy (Shiva / Kali, Durga).Which aspect becomes active depends on what the devotee wants and which aspect the devotee invokes. In social situations this is how I apply it. Both Men and Women have the power to create, nurture, protect and destroy (all according to dharma). Which aspect in men and women is dominant depends on what society expects of them. Each aspect has its place and its time. To actively suppress one and encourage the other is unnatural. Each individual must be allowed to express (or not) each aspect of its personality as it comes naturally to her / him. It’s the active suppression that leads to reactions and aberrations. For centuries, women were refused support by families when they tried to express themselves in ways other than maintaining homes. When a woman was not satisfied by maintaining a home and wanted to express herself in larger magnitude, she was not allowed. This suppression led to an aberration – today’s feminism that doesn’t allow her to freely express her maternal home maker side. Hopefully, in time after swinging in extremes we will find a place of quiet contentment and free expression in the middle path.For centuries, men too have suppressed their nurturing selves. They have been mocked for responding to natural beauty, for showing empathy…… for acknowledging their emotions and therefore they have been mocked essentially for looking inward. In some ways I believe the true victims all these centuries have been men. They have been actively deprived of opportunities to look within and to develop the nurturing aspect which is so essential for creation. Even as a protector a man is taught to protect by using authority like an Asura. He is not taught to be Vishnu – Vishnu who comes to Bhu Devi’s assistance in the shape of a Varaha and gently lifts her on his tusks ensuring no harm comes to her. Vishnu who only takes the role of a Guru when she asks him questions. Vishnu who is ever smiling and uses his wit to tackle the Asuras. Vishnu who asks “Where do I put my third step O Bali!” giving Bali a chance to achieve greatness with his answer. He is NEVER imposing his will. Always standing by and only interfering when Adharma crosses a boundary / limit. It is therefore no surprise that SO many men in our society are now lost and behave like Asuras. They suffer from an aberration caused by telling them “raising children is a woman’s job. you just earn the money.” They have been deprived of the opportunity that raising a child presents – Becoming better versions of ourselves.
Beauty Compassion and Love cannot be explained, only experienced. This is where we started our reflective journey. Last week we joined my sister, her husband, a friend of hers and my parents for a vacation of 4 days. During this trip Beauty Compassion and Love amalgamated to present themselves as Grace.
My sister Somu often spoke of Bow Lake in Canada as a mystical place of stillness where all thoughts cease. Last time I visited Bo lake with her was in November 2017. During that trip I experienced no such stillness and attributed it to traveling with my toddler son Unmukt. Therefore, this time when someone expressed hope of a similar experience my knee jerk response was “I doubt it since we are traveling with this loud one.” A few moments later the highway began running parallel to waters of Bow River and despite utter chaos in the car I found my mind still. It lasted for a minute till the water was visible. After that every time waters of Bow became visible my mind stilled.
I understood it as Bhagwati’s grace. Lovingly she was reminding me that the stillness within is ever present unaffected by the chaotic cacophony around us. It simply waits for us to be felt. That evening she sent me another message through my little one.
Unmukt asked for the story of Kanakdhara Stotram as we waited to be served at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. At the end of the story he wanted to hear the stotra. Since I don’t have it memorized my father pulled it up on YouTube. The video had Lakshmi’s image and Unmukt asked “Why does Devi hold the Lotus?”
Mother holds a Lotus flower to remind us that just as a Lotus is born in muddy waters but never immerses in it so should we live in the Sansara (world). Never immersed always floating above it spreading the fragrance of our essence.
Every year I conduct a Summer Camp at Hindu Center for children aged 6-12. Our specialty or USP is “A Samvit Perspective”.
The most popular feature of our Camp is “The Discussion Session”. Every camp we pick a subject and every day of that camp we discuss it.
Last year’s subject was Happiness. We talked about how can we be happy? We talked about all things that take away from our happiness – fear, greed, envy, selfishness, self centered attitude…..
It was a major hit!
A mother came to me and shared her experience-
Mom and daughter had been arguing about something for few days. One evening on her way back from the camp daughter says “Maa I am sorry for our argument. I was not looking at how my decisions affect you. I feel I have been making myself and you unhappy for days for no reason!”
Often parents come up to me and say this camp has made our children think in ways we have never seen them think!
Success story right?
Today I am not so sure.
In one of Swamiji’s pravachans he said something to the effect that as long as we live in the illusion of lacking, everything we produce will be lacking.
Past few weeks I have felt depleted. It’s not a welcome feeling. I think I would prefer sadness! Anyways, it got me thinking ……. how to be happy became serious business! I was looking for practical tips. I started with eating healthy, sleeping better, being active ….. it helped …. but not really. Then suddenly something just clicked. All those discussions I had with the kids last year were rubbish. The answer is so simple ! Daily Gratitude. Thanking Bhagwati for everyday moments of joy, beauty and comfort is the simplest road to happiness.
This is what I am thankful for today:
1) We woke up early
2) Unmukt got ready without a fuss
3) I had a delicious Peanut Butter Sandwich for breakfast
4) I was able to get not 1 but 2 coffees in the morning from 2 different places
5) Papaji had his cataract surgery and he is doing well
6) Unmukt wanted to go visit his grandfather in the hospital
7) We were able to see papaji in the morning at his office
8) Unmukt was able to spend time with Alina (cousin sister)
9) I got to spend time with Alina
10) At the coffee shop Unmukt offered to wait for me in the car while I got my coffee
11) My to go salad I bought in the morning was tasty and not at all soggy when I had it for lunch
12) Munmun is making dinner tonight
13) Sachin Ji was able to get a ball autographed by Cam Newton to help raise money for my favorite cause “Project Alive”
14) I am writing a post on my blog!
15) I watched a movie today!
16) There is a good chance that I will be able to finish a writing assignment I have been working on!
17) I feel better than I have felt in weeks!
18) 18 reasons to be grateful and it’s only 4:40 pm
You see, everything we create is a reflection of the distance between our Maya shrouded thought and our Sanatan reality. Last year’s camp discussion on happiness reflected that distance in me. This year’s discussion on gratitude will also reflect that distance. My only hope is that the movement is continually inwards to a place of stillness.
Please click on “Project Alive” to donate. Every penny, every paisa counts and every Rupee or dollar gets us that much closer to saving my Buddy Finn’s life