Saturday, August 31, 2013

Why Puffed Rice And Not Rice Are Offered To Lord Ganesha

Lord Ganesha is shown with big tummy and craving for eating sweets (ladoo or modakas) and puffed rice.

Both sweets and rice are addicting in nature and consuming them regularly can lead to metabolic syndrome which presents with diabetes and high blood pressure. In Hindu mythology for this reason it is said to avoid eating carbohydrates atleast once in a week.

Ganesha is in each one of us depicting our inherent weakness for eating carbohydrates.  To prevent metabolic syndrome Ganesha is shown to consume Bilva leaves, Durva grass juice, fruits of elephant apple and Jamun, all having anti diabetic and insulin sensitizing properties.

Ganesha is also shown to be eating puffed rice and not plain rice. Puffed rice is a safer carbohydrate than plain rice.

The importance of puffed rice is mentioned in many places in mythology. The main mention comes in Kubera Ganesha interaction in one of the Purana (Vedic message in the form of stories) story.

Kubera (the god of wealth) became proud of his wealth and invited child Ganesha for a meal. Ganesha increased his appetite so much that there was nothing else to eat. When Kubera made Shiva to intervene, Shiva gave Ganesha a handful of puffed rice, which he ate, and immediately his hunger was suppressed.

This teaches us two Vedic lessons. Firstly that handful of puffed rice given with love and eaten with devotion is more important and filling than all the wealth of Kubera flaunted to impress others.

Secondly that a man of perfection (Ganesha) has an endless appetite for experiences. Lord Shiva, the perfect Guru, alone can satisfy the hunger of such devotee by giving them a handful of “puffed rice”, representing the “baked vasanas”, burnt in the fire of knowledge’. Only when the lust is burnt up the enthusiasm for experiencing life is quietened.

The spiritual message is that one should learn to control the lust and burn it in the fire of knowledge.

In mythology the symbolic representation of rice is for lust (attachments, desires and greed) and puffed rice for baked lust.   Rice is equated to lust being a carbohydrate with high glycemic index and proneness to obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Apart from carbohydrates lust can also be for sex, cigarettes, alcohol and narcotics. The answer for any lust is either to discard the lust or to think before getting indulging in it.

Medically also puffed rice is better than plain rice. Puffed rice or murmura is to rice what popcorn is to maze. Puffed rice however lacks the essential amino acid lysine and therefore is not a complete meal by itself. It is about 10 times the volume of regular rice. A cup of plain puffed rice contains only 20-25 calories. Puffed rice is recommended healthy snack and healthy fast food for preventing diabetes. It is light, dry and gives a feeling of fullness. It is also gluten-free.

In mythology puffed rice has been mentioned at many other places also.

1.When Sudama went to meet Krishna he carried puffed rice as a gift which Krishna relished. Puffed rice indicates a healthy gift and that only a person who has controlled his lust can meet Krishna the consciousness.

2.Ramakrishna has been mentioned having his first spiritual ecstasy at the age of six or seven while eating puffed rice. Spiritually again it means that only those can achieve spiritual ecstasy who have mastered lust.

3.In marriage rituals also both bride and groom are required to offer puffed rice into the fire. The spiritual message is again that both groom and bride need to leave their lust before they enter into a new relationship. This is again shown in another marriage ritual Laaja Homam where the bride with the assistance of her brothers makes offerings of puffed rice into the sacred fire.

4.In Buddhist mythology puffed rice also depicts the end “one who cannot be reborn” and puffed rice is used at funerals. Puffed rice represents rice that cannot be grown again.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Let the mud settle down

Once Buddha while travelling happened to pass a lake. Buddha told one of his disciples, I am thirsty. Do get me some water from that lake there. 

The disciple noticed that some people were washing clothes in the water and, right at that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake. As a result, the water became very muddy, very turbid. The disciple thought, how can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink! So he came back and told Buddha, The water in there is very muddy. I don’t think it is fit to drink. 

After about an hour later Buddha asked the same disciple again to go back to the lake and get him some water to drink. This time the disciple found that the lake had absolutely clear water in it. The mud had settled down and the water was fit for drinking. So he collected some water in a pot and brought it to Buddha.

Buddha looked at the water and said, See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be … and the mud settled down on its own and you got clear water… Your mind is also like that. When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own. You don’t have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tips to Fight Depression

During the phase of depression sometimes we become pessimist and our negative thoughts make it hard to attain back the peaceful state. As we are already depressed due to tough circumstances, these negative thoughts add fuel to fire and steal our peace of mind making it really hard to concentrate even on routine things. So what should be done to fight the depression and negativity? Below are the tips to be considered:

1- Try not to think about problems and rough circumstances again and again; instead focus on the solution. Think what needs to be done to fix the issues.
2- Change your environment. Take a break from your routine life and visit some relative or explore some new city/country.
3- Stay away from negative people. Remember, if someone is negative, he/she is spreading negative germs. Keep yourself germ-free.
4- Read newspaper or a good book on daily basis.
5- Go to market and buy yourself something you like. Feel good about it.
6- Surround yourself among happy people. Spend quality time with joyful and colorful friends.
7- Adopt some good hobby and spend time on it e.g. gardening, blogging, book reading etc.
8- Visit an Orphan house and spend time with children. Help them financially if possible. Give gifts. This act gives real inner happiness.
9- Think about the positive events of your life. About your childhood, education, fun trip, a friend's wedding etc.
10- Go to a religious place and spend time in prayers to get peace of mind

Why Lakshmana could not kill Ravana?

We need to understand Ramayana in the language of Internal Ramayana taking place in the body everyday in which Rama represents consciousness, Sita the body and Lakshmana, the determined mind with an aim. 

Ravana is synonymous with ego, which the determined mind (Lakshmana) cannot kill. Only the consciousness can kill the ego. Consciousness gets activated only in parasympathetic mode, which in turn takes over only when the person has control over the breathing.

Control over breathing in mythology means your friendship with Hanumana which represents the Prana Vayu.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why was Meghnaad killed by Laxman and not Ram?

We need to understand Ramayana in the language of Internal Ramayana taking place in the body everyday in which Ram represents consciousness, Sita the body and Lakshman, determination or mind with an aim. Here Meghnaad means Rajas or Rajoguna which can be killed easily by controlling the mind. Rajoguna activates anger, cynicism, aggression etc. Once you control the mind, you can kill your aggressive behavior.

Lakshman killing Meghnaad means that for killing of Rajoguna you do not need the help of the consciousness or the Rama.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lord Krishna – The Great Teacher and Healer

Lord Krishna was a great teacher and a healer. He gave perfect counseling to Arjuna when he was in the state of acute anxiety, confusion, indecisiveness and depression. His supreme knowledge, skills and understanding of human relationship were responsible for convincing Arjuna that he has to perform his duty, regardless of who his opponents are.
There are basic principles which one must learn from teachings of Bhagavad Gita to get, if one wants, to the right state of mental and physical strength.
1. The 1st principle is listen, listen and listen. In the first chapter of Bhagavad Gita from Krishna only listened to Arjuna. One must learn to listen to others. Out of 18 counseling sessions which Krishna took with Arjuna, one full session was devoted only to listening to Arjuna. Fifty percent of the emotion of a person is out once he has spoken to the Healer about his or her problems.
2. 2nd principle is to remain non-judgmental while listening. This is beautifully described in Chapter 2 shloka 10. While listening, Krishna did not show any signs of anger to Arjuna even at those extremely difficult moments. On the contrary, Krishna kept on smiling and listened patiently. This is another avenue where most of the healthcare workers fail in their relationship with the patients. We (doctors) sometimes become annoyed with the patients because they narrate unrelated details of their health problems. We need to understand and appreciate their predicaments.
3. 3rd principle is that every answer should be validated by reasoning. Throughout 18 counseling sessions between Arjuna and Krishna incorporating 700 question and answers, Arjuna was given proper reasoning, either experiential or based on sound logic. Krishna never forced Arjuna to believe in what He was saying without getting convinced about it.
4. 4th principle is that of reassurance. Krishna re-assures Arjuna on two occasions. Firstly, when he said that “I’ll appear whenever there is adharma” meaning thereby that whenever there is injustice someone will come and set it right. In terms of a Healer the doctor should convincingly say that wherever there is a disease I will be there”. Again in Chapter 18 shloka 65, Krishna says that anyone who takes conscious decision and interprets things with full devotion, there is no reason why he or she should not become happy or healthy. He again assures Arjuna that he is going to be successful.
5. 5th principle is depicted in the last shloka of Gita (18.78) which summarizes the importance of a good doctor-patient (teacher-student) relationship where Sanjay says to Dhriharashtra that when there is a Healer like Krishna and a patient like Arjuna, there is no reason why there will not be a victory.

The Science Behind Birth Of Krishna In A Jail Of Ignorance

Krishna represents Brahman or God consciousnesses or consciousness- the self. The birth of Krishna is synonymous with the process of self-realization.

 Normally desires and negative thoughts core our consciousness with ignorance. The journey to self-realization involves removal or shedding of this ignorance which can only be done by the eight spiritual principles as described by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

 And these are Yama (self control); Niyama (self-discipline), Asanas (bodily postures); Pranayama (control of breath), Pratyahara (withdrawal), Dharana (one pointed), Dhyana (contemplation) and Samadhi (self-realization).

 These eight limbs or eight steps signify the journey of eight days after full moon falling on Rakshabandhan, a day celebrated to control one’s lust.

 Ignorance is symbolized by a PRISON, which represents darkness; narrow-minded approach (small entry gate) and limitedness to everything (small room). The chain in the prison means the bondages to lust, greed, desires and ego.

 Birth of Krishna in the prison means ‘self-realization out of ignorance’. It can only be acquired by adhering to the eight principles of Ashtang Yoga with Tapas (Abhyasa) or hard work.  Krishna, born, as the eighth child of Devaki, represents tapas of eight limbs of yoga. The self-realization can only occur after the seven strips are successfully negotiated and the mind is purified in the process.

 In the state of Samadhi, there is spontaneous birth of the self. In this state (sama = equal; dhi – intelligence) one controls equality and balances between good and the bad.

 The symbolization is that, as Krishna was born, the chains that bound his father fell off; the doors that had been bolted flew open and the prison guards immediately went into sleep. Then Vasudeva, the father took Krishna and went to Gokul, by placing Krishna in a basket and walking across the Yamuna river, where at the same time Yashoda, consort of Nanda, had given birth to a female child.

 The ‘chains’ here mean the bondage to the external world and the five senses. A self realized person is free of these bondages. The opening of gates symbolizes control over lust, desire, greed and attachments. Sleeping of the guard symbolizes, that in a self-realized state, one is totally cut off from the world. Everything else perishes and one gets detached.

 The thunderstorm, the rain, and the fire, all represent the internal turmoil of uncontrolled desires and hatred. The moment Krishna’s feet touch the turbulent water, everything settles. The spiritual lesson is that by turning inwards and towards one’s pure consciousness any turbulent state of mind can be controlled.

 While acquiring all that, one must control the ego and keep the desires inwards and not have egocentric desires. Controlling the ego is depicted as a snake sitting over the basket and guarding Lord Krishna.

 The baby girl born at Gokul represents the Mayashakti, which was killed by Kansa (the ego of the body).

 Controlling the desires and attachments is easy but controlling the Ego is the most difficult. That is what is represented by the fact that at the time of birth of Krishna, Kansa still remained alive. It took many years for Krishna (self realized state) to kill the ego (Kansa).
 Acquiring a state of self-realization should not be the ultimate goal in life. After self-realization, if the ego is not controlled one can misuse one’s spiritual powers. The ultimate aim in life should then be to kill the ego, which is what Krishna ultimately did.

Krishna: The Messenger of Love and Happiness

Krishna teaches us the path of acquiring inner happiness. It can be understood by the four cycles of Krishna described in the Vedic literature: Krishna the Child, Krishna the Husband and Friend, Krishna the Preacher and Krishna the Sanyasi.

The childhood of Krishna describes the methodology and components of a child education.  Krishna, pure consciousness, was born as the eight child of Devki representing that during pregnancy one needs to follow the eight limbs of yoga to get a child with no disease.

Initial childhood is full of pure consciousness that spreads love to everyone without any discrimination. The only thing the child during this period does is to steal and spread love and that is what Krishna as Makhan Chor depicts.
With time the child’s mental faculty starts developing and distracting the child’s mind. During this phase of life, the child needs to be taught to control the thoughts and mind by learning viveka (discrimination between good and bad) and doing abhyas or hard work. The episode of Krishna entering into the pond (thoughts) fighting with Kaliya (duality of mind) and controlling it represents the same. This also coincides with the time a child should be sent to the school.
The next phase of childhood is activation of intellect which in Krishna’s life is depicted as the questions in his mind “Radha kyun gori, main kyun kala?” The incident is during Krishna playing Holi with Gopis and Radha. This happens when the child gets an exposure to the worldly atmosphere and starts getting attached to it. This is the time for the child to be taught control of mind and intellect by one point concentration on the object of concentration. This is also the time when the child should be taught the purpose of life, and the aim for which he has to live in future (usually adolescent by this time).

Krishna controls the intellect by winning over Indra (intellect) and raising the Govardhan Parvat (turmoil of the mind) on one finger and saves the public from the rainy storm (wavering thoughts). The one finger here indicates one point concentration on the object of concentration. Once the child is taught how to control the intellect, he or she completes spiritual education and learns about the true self.

Control of mind (Kalia) and intellect (Indra) leads the child to the next phase of life. In Krishna’s life it coincides with Ras Leela where Krishna is seen dancing with Radha and every Gopi. This also reflects the time for the internal ego to get killed and one acquires the qualities of humility. Killing of Kansa depicts the killing of ego. Once the ego is killed and humility is acquired Radha and flute are no more required and Krishna is now a perfect man and is ready to enter the next ashram of life called Grahasthashram. Radha (body) gets merged with consciousness and flute (humility) is a part of the nature. One now acquires a sudarshan chakra or a weapon to take decisions and adopt the good and kill the evil.

Krishna is always depicted as a blue color God with yellow clothes and a flute in his hands. Blue color indicates everything is possible and yellow clothes indicate that one can acquire it provided one has the flute, a hollow wood representing egoless nature.

Whenever Krishna is shown with a flute, the female figure with him is Radha with blue sari and yellow color, along with gopis (thoughts) dancing around them indicating that the thoughts of the mind are in symphony with each other and there is a union of mind, body and soul. Here the soul is represented by Krishna, mind by the flute, thoughts with gopis and body with Radha.

The second phase of Krishna’s life is shown as a perfect achiever and friend, which is evident from the story of Sudama.

The third phase of Krishna’s life represents Krishna as an advisor, which shows his role in Mahabharata and his preaching in Bhagavad Gita. He teaches the message of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Gnana Yoga and Raja Yoga for acquiring excellence in life and inner happiness.

The last role of Krishna as a sanyasi is the end of Krishna’s life. The four cycles also coincide with the four ashrams of life.
To achieve inner happiness the message from Krishna’s life is to learn to make efforts to control the mind, to win over the intellect by one point concentration and to acquire qualities of humility and killing internal ego. Only with this can one become a perfect man like Krishna.



Monday, August 26, 2013

What is common between childhood marriage (Bal Vivah) and night time marriages?

As per Vedic literature and also the Bhagavad Gita, the auspicious time for any work are Uttarayan period from January to July near Purnima during day time and while Yagna is taking place. 

Today marriages usually take place in night contradicting the above Vedic ritual.  The original of night marriages goes back to Mughal Era and when in some of the Rajyas (Princely States) it was a custom that men of the king would run around the State and attend day marriages and if they find that the bride is beautiful they will pick her up to spend the first night with the King. 

To get away from this, people started marrying their daughters in the evening so that their beauty could not be seen by men of the king.  The same probably was ritual of Ghoonghat where the women and unmarried women and the newly married women were supposed to wear Ghoonghat so that they were not seen by the elders in the family, society and the rulers. 

Bal Vivah or the childhood marries were also prominent in this era and one of the reasons might have been that better to marry a girl while she is young and immature than to wait for her to grow up into a beautiful lady and picked up by rulers to spend first night with them.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Prayer for inner happiness

Stress is defined as the physical and mental reaction to the interpretation of a known situation. In absence of a known situation, there cannot be a stress. One cannot be stressed about a person who has just died in New York in an accident unless he or she is a known person.
There has to be a right, conscious-based interpretation of the situation as the same situation can bring happiness to one and stress to the other.

The most important consequences of stress, physical or mental, therefore, depend on the right interpretation of the situation.

The interpretation or judgment in the body is governed by chemical reactions and is controlled by the balance of autonomic balance system which in turn is governed by the interaction of parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system.

During the phase of acute stress when the sympathetic system is predominant, heart rate and blood pressure rises and a person cannot take correct and decisive decision. He or she is likely to make mistakes which can often be detrimental to ones living. Sympathetic mode is basically the mode of flight or fight reactions of the body.

Correct conscious-based decisions can only be taken in a state of relaxed mind when the intention is inserted in the field of consciousness. The relaxed mind state of the body is the parasympathetic mode, which is healing and is evident by reduction in heart rate, blood pressure and increase in the skin resistance.

Most conscious-based decisions will be based on truthfulness, will be necessary and will bring happiness to both the persons and the surroundings.

The yogic lifestyle by which a person learns the dos and don’ts of living, does regular practice of correct postures, indulges in daily pranayama and practices regular withdrawal from the outer atmosphere, helps in preparing a state of physical and mental body state which is more receptive for conscious based decisions. Yoga Sutras of Patanajli included them in ashtanga yoga as the processes of Yama, Niyama, Asanas, Pranayama and Pratyahara.

Prayers have no value when the mind is not at rest. All of us have participated in hundreds of mourning prayers, each lasting for two minutes of silence. This prayer has no value if the two minutes of silence is not observed. If prayer is done without it the mind will remain restless and we will keep on thinking these two minutes are not over yet. The process of silence does shift our awareness towards test and parasympathetic state and temporarily we get to be in contact with the memories of the departed soul and we pay homage to him or her. 

Today a large number of organizations are teaching the process of meditation but the same cannot be taught unless a person practices procedures by which the mind gets relaxed.
The eight limbs of Patanjali focus in detail about pre-meditation preparations and once that is learned one can go to the other three limbs which are dharna, dhyana and samadhi.

Yoga asanas are different from exercises. They stimulate and stretch all or one of the seven charkas, autonomic plexuses, and ganglion and there located ductless endocrine glands. Also during a yogasana the mind is in the exercise and not wondering here and there.

While yogic exercises at rest are termed yoga asanas and the same yogic meditative exercises with activity are called traditional Indian dances. Western exercises and dances do not follow the principles of yoga.

Many international studies have shown that over one-third of the people during their lifetime pray either for their own illness or for somebody else.

All hospitals should have spirituals areas. The prayer and meditation rooms in a hospital setting invariably will provide an arena which will improve patient-doctor relationship and will reduce the rising disputes amongst them in the country.

Do we get a human birth every time we will die?

As per Vedic sciences, Hindu philosophy believes in rebirth unless your Sanchit and Prarabdha Karmas are totally exhausted. 

It also believes in liberation in which once your past karma’s debt is over, you do not take a rebirth.

On the other hand, Garuda Purana says that you can take a birth in animal species which means you can be born like a donkey or a dog. Vedic science on the other hand says that once you get a human body, you will either be liberated or get another human body only.

The message of Garuda Purana can be read and interpreted in a different perspective. In mythology humans are linked to animal tendencies. For example, bull is linked to sexual and non-sexual desires, peacock to vanity etc. Probably, people who wrote Garuda Purana meant that if you do not live according to the Shastras, you will end up in getting another human body but with animal tendencies and behavior. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Spiritual Prescription: Who am I? - Know Your Soul Profile

“I am not my physical body, as I know, once my body dies, nobody wants to touch it.” (Adi Shankaracharya in the Bhaja Govindam) 

“I am not my mind as I know whenever I am in trouble; the mind asks the heart for help” (Deepak Chopra in the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success).

“I am my consciousness which is residing in the core of my heart” (Svetasvatara Upanisad 5.8). 

“This consciousness is nothing but a web of energized information situated in the void” (Chandogya Upanishad Chapter XII — the Birth of the Gross 
from the Subtle) 

“the consciousness is timeless, has no beginning, no end, weapons cannot cut it, air cannot dry it, water cannot wet it and fire cannot burn it” (Bhagavad Gita 2.23, 24).

Each one of us has a physical profile (as defined by our height, complexion, collar number, waist size, etc.) and has a mental or ego profile. A few examples of ego profile: my bank balance, car, job designation, locality of residence, size of house, contacts, power, clothes’, etc.

Similarly each one of us also has a soul profile. We should give sometime to ourselves for knowing our soul profile and revisit it at least once in a week.

According to Deepak Chopra, to know the soul profile one should ask seven questions to his or her consciousness while sitting in a meditative poise or in state of relaxation. The answer to each question should be either in three words or three phrases.

1)         What is my purpose of life?
2)         What is my contribution going to be for my friends and family?
3)         Three instances in my life when I had my peak experiences.
4)         Names of three people who inspire me the most.
5)         Three qualities which I admire in others the most.
6)         Three of my unique talents.
7)         Three qualities I best express in my relationship.

These twenty one answers will characterize your soul profile or will be your passport for every action you perform in your life.

In day-to-day’s life, one should act from the soul profile and not from the ego profile. Soul profile cannot be manipulated while the ego profile can be.

There are only three ways of improving one’s soul profile and these are:
1.  The choices one makes should be soul-profile oriented and not ego-profile oriented. Whenever there is an opportunity for an action, ask the head for choices, then ask the heart to choose one, and finally order the hand to take action. A soul-based action is the one which is based on the truth, is necessary, and which makes the person and the people around him or her, both happy.
2. Total clarity of vision of “What do I want” and also “What I don’t want”.
3.  Learn to enter into discontinuity of thought processes using “beej mantra” or doing primordial sound meditation 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening.

These can also be equated to the eight limbs of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, where the “choices I make” represents Yama and Niyama, “what do I want” represents Dharma and the “entering into discontinuity” represents Dhyana and Samadhi.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Relaxation during work

Stress is the reaction of the mind and the body to the interpretation of a known situation. The only way to remove the stress is to either change the situation, change its interpretation or live the yogic lifestyle in such a way that stress does not bother the mind and the body. 

Changing the situation may not be possible always since you cannot change your boss or the job. The best answer, therefore, is to change one’s interpretation. 

There are a lot of exercises which can be learnt to change the mindset from positive to differently positive. One should live like a fish who can swim against the current of the water. While thinking differently one should learn to withdraw like a tortoise and persist like a boar and these three principles are taught by the first three incarnations of Lord Vishnu. 

Changing interpretation may take time, therefore, one should learn the technique of yogic lifestyle which teaches one as to how to manage stress and shift one from sympathetic to parasympathetic mode. The exercises involve Yogic Asanas, breathing exercises, slower parasympathetic breathing exercises, deep breathing exercises, satvik diet, yogic exercises, regular oil massage etc.

I normally teach my patients and students to follow a specific regime on every day of the week. On Monday, I teach them to practice non-violence communication which involves no criticism, no condemnation and no complaint. 

On Tuesday, I teach them to call at least 25 people they have not talked to in the last six months and write their pending work and in the night practice their express writing for three minutes. 

On Wednesday, I teach them to give a non-materialistic gift to others which can be a compliment, smile, a word of appreciation. 

On Thursday, I teach them to think differently for every situation they face. Before doing any activating, they should ask themselves – is it necessary, is it based on truthfulness and will it bring happiness to them and to others? Only then action should be taken. 

On Friday, I teach them not to eat cereals and on Saturday, I ask them to do some sort of charity and I ask them “How can I help the society, family and others?” 

On Sunday, one can do a little bit of cheating.

If stress is not managed properly, one can end up with ulcers, blood pressure, heart attack, depression, diabetes etc. Stress may not cause heart attack but definitely can precipitate it. Stress can rupture the blockage in the artery supplying blood to the heart and precipitate acute heart attack. Similarly, it can precipitate an attack of acute paralysis if it ruptures the clot present in a artery supplying blood to the brain.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rakshabandhan to Janmashtami

Rakhi is generally recognised as a celebration of a bond of love between brother and a sister. But how many of us have actually thought about what this tie entails?

Rakhi is synonymous with purity of the relationship and purity of the self and consequently of the soul. It is not merely a thread tied on the brother’s wrist by the sister whereby the brother pledges to protect her from any worldly harm. In a broader spectrum, it is a chance to free oneself from one’s internal enemies – the vices, especially the lust including the sexual one. A man is pulled down by his negative energies and Rakhi gives him a chance to retrospect and pull out of that dark side.

This multi coloured thread with multiple decorations and motifs is tied not necessarily only by one’s sister, but can be tied by any woman who shares a platonic relationship with a man. There is a complete absence of a physical relationship and has no age or space barriers between the two connected by this sacred thread. Simultaneously, it is absurd to think that a mere child or one who stays miles away would be able to offer protection to his ‘rakhi’ sister. The matter which is of prime importance here is the bond of spiritual love established between two individuals of the opposite sex.

Eight days after Rakhi we celebrate Janmashtami. The sacred thread tied during Raksha Bandhan connects us to Janmashtami, when we celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna. In this period of eight days between ‘Purnima’ and ‘Ashtami’ we get a chance of cleansing and purifying our soul and subsequently getting reborn again.

This seven-day period, symbolic of the time taken for creation of the world by God can be likened to a recreation of the self by us. This period is to be seen as a time for penance when all negativism is purged to achieve the level of pure spirit. Needless to say, all forms of ‘spiritual downers’ should be abstained from, so that a hindrance free communion with the soul is made possible. In fact an ideal gift to one’s sister can be the shedding of a strong vices in that person.

The message of Rakshabandhan is that of love and purity. We can see it as a thread tied on behalf of God to set us on Godly ways. The initial representation of Rakhi as a pledge to protect the sister and her right to be protected by the brother has gained wide propagation due to the fact that in Indian history and mythology there have been instances when this facet of tying a thread on a man’s wrist has been highlighted. Rani Padmavati sent a Rakhi to a Muslim king to ask for help when she was besieged by enemies. In the realm of the Gods, we have Indrani tying a Rakhi on Lord Indra. There is also the tradition of tying Rakhi by a Brahmin to a Yajman.

 The connection between Rakshabandhan and Janmashtami is highlighted keeping in view the spiritual aspect of man’s life, which is the ladder that helps him to achieve oneness with God.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Definition of Health

Health is not mere absence of disease; it is a state of physical, mental, social, spiritual, environmental and financial well being. All aspects of health are not defined in allopathy.

During MBBS, medical students are taught more about the physical health. Social and mental health are covered only in few lectures. Community health is a separate subject but never given its due importance. Spiritual health is not defined at all and financial health is hardly covered.

Yet, in day today practice it is the social, financial, spiritual and community health which is the most important during patient-doctor communication. It is incorporated in the four basic purposes: dharma, artha, kama and moksha.

 Dharma and artha together forms the basis of karma which righteous earning. You are what your deep rooted desires are. Most of the diseases today can be traced to a particular emotion, positive or negative. Anger and jealously are related with heart attack, fear with blood pressure, greed & possessiveness with heart failure. Unless the mind is healthy, one cannot be free of diseases. 

The best description of health comes from Ayurveda. In Sanskrit health means swasthya, which means establishment in the self. One is established in the self when there is a union of mind, body and soul. Most symbols of health are established around a shaft with two snakes and two wings. The shaft represents the body, two snakes represent the duality of mind and the two wings represent the freedom of soul. 

Sushrut Samhita in Chapter 15 shloka 10 defines the ayurvedic person as under:

Samadosha, samagnischa,
Swastha iti abhidhiyate.

From ayurvedic point of view for a person to be healthy must have balanced doshas, balanced agni, balanced dhatus, normal functioning of malkriyas and mind, body, spirit and indriyas full of bliss and happiness.

Human body is made up of structures (Kapha) which have two basic functions to perform; firstly, metabolism (pitta) and movement (vata). Vata, pitta and kapha are called doshas in ayurveda. Samana dosha means balance of structures, metabolism and movement functions in the body. Agni in Ayurveda is said to be in balance when a person has normal tejas and a good appetite.

Ayurveda describes seven dhatus: rasa, rakta, mamsa, medha, asthi,majja, shukra and they are required to be in balance. They are equivalent to various tissues in the human body. 

Ayurveda necessitates proper functioning of natural urges like urination, stool, sweating and breathing and that is what balances in malakriya means.

Ayurveda says for a person to be healthy he has to be mentally and spiritually healthy which will only happen when his or her indriyas are cheerful, full of bliss and devoid of any negativities. For indriyas to be in balance one has to learn to control over the lust cum desires, greed and ego. This can be done by learning regular pranayama, learning the do’s and don’ts in life, living in a disciplined atmosphere and learn to live in the present.

Regular pranayama shifts one from sympathetic to para sympathetic mode, balances the mind and thoughts and helps in removing negative thoughts from the mind. For living a disabled life one can follow the yama and niyama of yoga sutras of patanjali or do’s and don’ts taught by various religious gurus, leaders and principles of naturopathy. Living in the present means conscious or meditative living. This involves either learning meditation 20 minutes twice a day or learning subtle mental exercises like mind-body relaxation, yogic shavasana, self-hypnotic exercises, etc.

According to Yoga Sutras of Patanjali a person who eats thrice a day is a rogi, twice a day is a bhogi and once a day is yogi. The take home message is: to live more one has to eat less. 

Swar yoga defines the importance of respiration and longevity. According to this yoga shastra, everybody has a fixed number of breaths to be taken during the life span. Lesser the number a person takes in a minute more is the life. It also forms the basis of pranayama which is nothing but longer and deeper breathing with reduced respiratory rate. To be healthy one can remember to follow the principle of moderation and variety in diet & exercise, regular pranayama & meditation and positive thinking.

Monday, August 19, 2013

What are the celebrated formulas of Vedanta?

1. Satyam Jnanam Anantam Brahma: Brahman is Truth, Knowledge and infinity. 
2. Brahmavid Brahmaiva Bhavati: The knower of Brahman becomes Brahman.
3. Santam Sivam Advaitam: Brahman is Peace, auspiciousness and Non- Duality.
4. Ayam Atma Santah:  This Atman is Silence.
5. Asango Ayam Purusha: This Purusha is unattached.
6.  Santam Ajaram Amritam Abhayam Param: This Brahman is Peace, without old age, Immortal, Fearless and Supreme.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

3rd CPR 10 Camp for South District Delhi Police

Inaugurating the 3rd CPR 10 Camp for South District Delhi Police, Mr. B S Jaiswal, DCP South said that the job of Delhi Police is not only to handle crime but also to provide first aid when needed. He said that South District Delhi Police has taken initiative of training all its personnel in the technique of CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, so that they can provide not only basic first aid but also cardiac first aid.
Administering a training to over 600 Delhi Police personnel, Padma Shri & Dr. BC Roy National Awardee, Dr. KK Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India said that even gasping is a sign of cardiac arrest. One should start chest compression hands only CPR in a gasping person.

Dr. Aggarwal further said that a person can be revived even after 10 minutes of death if at the time of death the body temperature is lower than 950F.

Cardiac first aid, which involves learning the technique of CPR 10 is effective in cases of heart attack, electrocution, drowning, chocking or any other sudden death.

About HCFI: The only National Not for profit NGO, on whose mega community health education events, Govt. of India has released two National commemorative stamps and one cancellation stamp, and who has conducted one to one training on" Hands only CPR" of 61668 people since 1st November 2012.

The CPR 10 Mantra is – "within 10 minutes of death, earlier the better; at least for the next 10 minutes, longer the better; compress the centre of the chest of the dead person continuously and effectively with a speed of 10×10 i.e. 100 per minute."

What are the two basic truths of Vedanta?

Two Hindu principles that symbolize the outcome of freedom of thought were conceptualized four thousand years back by unnamed rishis in Rig-Veda which says, “This world is one family” (Vasudaiva Kutumbakam) and that “The Universal Reality is the same, but different people can call it by different names” (Ekam Sat Viprah Bahuda Vadanti).

In these two statements made in ancient Hindu India, we see the seeds of globalization and freedom of thought.

Most religions teach belief in One God. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are, in fact, Semitic religions essentially speaking of One God. Even Hinduism that talks of many gods, in its highest form speaks only of One God.

This was defined in the Sanskrit verse in the Rig Veda: “Ekam Sat vipra bahuda vadanti” (The Truth is One, but scholars call it by many names.)

“Vasudaiva Kutumbakam” defines that you and me are not different from each other and we are the part of the same web of life. The same spirit is shared by you and me and we are just the two sides of the same coin. And hence, it adds on to say, how can there be any conflict between us?

The truth is one, but is perceived differently because different people are at different levels of evolution in spiritual terms. Everybody perceives it with their level of understanding and perception. For an uneducated village society even an entry of intelligent person in the village will be perceived as of GOD.

Vedanta upholds the reality of this indivisible, immanent and transcendent truth called Spirit. Vedanta denotes one's identity with the rest of humanity. According to it, there is no stranger in this world. Everyone is related to one another in the kinship of the Spirit. In Vedanta, there is no ‘I’ and ‘for me’; but is ‘ours’ and ‘for us’; and ultimately ‘His’ and ‘for Him’.

If the Vedanta philosophy is rightly followed upon, it will obliterate all evils. It is the science of right living and it is not the sole monopoly of the Hindus. It is for all and it has no quarrel with any religion. It preaches universal principles and Vedanta is the only universal, and eternal religion. It is a great leveler and it unites all, giving room to all.

Spiritual prescriptions learnt from patients

In a hospital practice, we all see sufferings all the time. When we were young in medical college, we w quite often got disturbed seeing the sufferings of the people. During our career, we have learnt a lot of spiritual prescriptions from our patients. Not only do they help us heal our patients but have also changed our perception about health and sickness.

 I recall Swami Bodhanand, a disciple of Swami Chinmayananda, was once admitted with us. When I asked him to give me a spiritual message, he told me only two words “Detached Attachment”. He said, “As a doctor you should behave like a lotus leaf. It is wet as long as a drop of water is there, but once the drop is out, the leaf is as dry as if the water was never there.” The message was that “we should be attached to our patients as long as they are with us. The day they die, we should be completely detached from them or else we will not be able to treat other patients”. 

I saw another spiritual guru through our Chief Anesthetist. The fee he paid to me was a spiritual message “Suno Samjho Jano Karo- Hear Understand Wisdom and Doing”. He said that hearing is different from listening, listening is different from wisdom and wisdom is different from doing. Unless you hear, understand what you have heard and implement, learning has no value. 

One of my Buddhist patients gave me a spiritual learning, which has helped me a lot in my routine clinical practice. He taught me the basic Buddhist message that there is suffering all over; there is a reason for every suffering and it is possible to maintain sufferings.  This message fits into the main message of Hinduism and also the main teaching from Garud Purana. 

In Hinduism, we know that the very fact that we are born in this life means that in our last life, we could not get liberation as Hinduism believe that after liberation you are not reborn. Not getting liberated in the last birth means that some sufferings were left in our life. The basic purpose of this birth, therefore, is to face sufferings. When the basic purpose of our birth is to face sufferings, then why suffer from these sufferings. Every time we suffer, we should thank God that he has reduced one more. The period in between two sufferings is called a Happy period (Sukh). In fact, this period is nothing but a period of rest given to us by God to prepare our body for the next suffering. This as a concept of counseling helps my patients to manage most of their mental disturbances.  

Sometimes not telling a patient that he is suffering from terminal cancer works. One of my patient’s father, aged 83 years, was found to have extensive cancer of the prostate. Medically, we all gave him three months’ to live. My patient had no guts to tell his father or the family members that he (the father) had extensive cancer. He took me into confidence and played a game with the family. We gathered all the family members and told them that with the surgery this cancer had been cured. A party was organized in the evening to celebrate the cure. The magic happened; he lived for the next 9 years almost a symptom free life. I have tried this on many of my patients thereafter and it works. The probable explanation was loss of fear of death, a confidence in his doctor and faith in his own self. 

The way to live to 100 years is to go on working in life. My great grandfather-in-law was 75 years old when I got married. That year, he gathered all family members across the world and said that his purpose of life was over; he would like a collective family photograph and like to quit the world. Nothing happened for a year. On 20th July next year, he again acted in a similar manner. The whole family from across the world gathered but he remained alive for another year. This went on for three years. Suddenly, we played a spiritual trick on him and told everyone to convince him that he is going to live for 100 years as he has many more work of the family to be done. Every year, we used to give him law students from within the family to be taught (he was a lawyer himself), or give him the responsibility of finding a boy for some eligible girl in the family. We made him teach and search for a prospective bride or groom for years together and he actually died at the age of 100 years.

This is the beauty of a positive attitude in life.