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Monday, August 31, 2009

Dreams are the seeds - HT inner voice

Babita Kejriwal

We all have dreamt great dreams, had great visions right from the innocent times of our childhood. But due to lack of encouragement from our elders and contemporaries, they fade away to the darkness of some remote corners of our hearts. Some very predominant ones may be rekindled in future, depending on many factors, whereas others just wither and die down.

But if we know the laws of life, the abundance waiting for us, we will not find any of our goals worthless. If we have sufficient belief in ourselves, if we can envision it happening in our minds, we will surely attain success. It is said that each thing is achieved twice in our lives: once in our minds and the other in reality.

The universe is waiting to give us everything that we need and require all the time; it is up to us to take it or leave it. If we focus a lot on our goals, dream of our successes, we are giving a lot of energy to it, thus ensuring its fulfillment. No dream whatsoever is impossible. I read a story of a young girl with spectacles, who wanted to be a pilot.

In those times it was not allowed, but her father encouraged her, assuring her that her dream will definitely come true. And sure enough, when she grew up, aviation rules changed and pilots with spectacles were allowed. My father-in-law dreamt of building his own bungalow in his young days, though it seemed impossible at that time, yet he nurtured his dream and sure enough he did it in later times. And you could give many such examples in your own society.

Let us cultivate the fertile minds of all, including children. Let the children grow whatever they wish, in the gardens of their minds.
Allow them to live life kingsize, broaden their horizons and have an expansive consciousness and meet all their dreams with open arms. All you have to do is to encourage and give them your hearty support. And see their dreams turning into realities.
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Your Own Thoughts Constitute Your Future-Dr.Lakshmi Jain

The power to think as you wish to think is the only power over which you have absolute control.If your 'thoughts' are of a positive nature, you would be having happy 'thoughts' and would be making your future happy and bright.If your thoughts are of a negative nature, you would be having miserable 'thoughts' and would be making your future miserable.Your mental attitudes,that is,the way you think,fee land believe,shape your 'future'. Because you have the power to influence your own subconscious mind and to control the mental pictures,you are the Master of your 'Future'.In this context look to the following inevitable stages:
Watch your 'Thoughts',
they become your Words;
Watch your words,
they become your Actions;
Watch your actions,
they become your Habits;
Watch your habits,
they become your Character;
Watch your character,
it becomes your Karma;
And your Karmas become
'Your Future'.

Dr.Lakshmi Jain(

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

An act of godliness - HT inner voice

God has his own ways to help people in trouble. This I realised when I had negotiated successfully a large order with a top steel company. I was elated and wanted to celebrate the success that had come my way.

But as I came out, no cabs or autos were available for returning to my hotel. I was stranded in a new place. To add to my discomfiture, menacing dark clouds started gathering and it could start pouring any moment. I started walking past the elegant houses dotting both sides of the broad road, impatiently looking for a cab. Suddenly a gleaming limousine pulled up beside me in front of an imposing bungalow.
At the wheel sat an immaculately dressed gentleman. I briefly explained my predicament and requested for a lift if he was going towards the hotel where I had checked in.
He raised his eyebrows, reflected for a while and there was a flicker of a smile. Then, as if on an impulse, he asked me to get in.

The distance to the hotel turned out to be much more than I had imagined. But he drove me right up to the gate and I shook his proffered hand. I expected him to proceed in the same direction but he made a quick U-turn. The tyres screeched on the asphalt and it quickly vanished into the gathering darkness.

Consider my surprise and my gratitude when it became clear that he had actually picked me right in front of his house where, in fact, he had slowed down to enter. To this day I rue that I could not adequately thank the unknown benefactor.

What he had done was a noble and remarkable deed for an unknown man. It won't be going too far to say that the Good Samaritan sent by God had saved my perfect day from becoming a nightmare.
God does take a fatherly care of us. But do we realise this and try to be a little more loving and caring?

G.K. Gupta

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My name is my joy - HT inner voice


One's name is an integral and inextricable part of one's being. It is a person's most prized personal possession which gives him an identity. A child starts responding to his name even before he understands anything. A name is co-terminus with one's existence.

When addressed by name, it gives a feeling of affection and warmth -- though there are situations or relationships where addressing by name may not be proper, or may be so perceived. Until a few years ago -- things have changed now though -- it was considered to be improper, if not a sin, for a wife to address her husband by his name. Once when I asked my maid about her husband's name, she replied, "who jo roz subah aasmaan mein ugta hai" (one who rises in the sky every morning). Yes, his name was "Suraj" , but she dared not utter the word.

I wish to share an incident which moved me. There is a teenaged boy who comes to collect garbage every morning. He has been doing so for years and I have often heard people addressing him, "oye ladke" or "oye chhotu".

The other day I asked the garbage collecting boy his name. He paused in disbelief at this query. "Madamji, hum to apna hi naam bhool jate hein -- koi hamein hamare naam se nahin pukaarta" (we forget even our own names as no one addresses us by our name).

I was touched. And when I called him by his name, there was a gleam in his eyes, a smile on his face; a feeling of elation as if he was saying to himself, " yes, I too have a name, an entity. What if I don't have enough food or clothes? What if I don't have enough food to eat?" Think, how many of us call such boys and girls by their names? Why do we deprive them of a feeling of being a human being just like ourselves? Think.


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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mother's glorious path - HT inner voice

On August 26, 1910, a girl was born in Skopje, Albania (now Yugoslavia) as the youngest child of a devout Catholic family. Little did her parents know that the child, named Agnes Gonxha (meaning flower-bud) was to bring glory to their name, by becoming one of the greatest and most respectable figure of the 20th century. The world today knows her as Mother Teresa.

Here is a story by Mother Teresa about donations: "I was once walking down the street and a beggar came to me and said, 'Mother, everybody is giving you something or the other, I too want to give you. Today, the whole day, I got only 29 paise and I want to give it to you."

"I thought for a moment: If I take it he will have nothing to eat tonight, and if I don't take it, it will hurt him.
So I put out my hands and took the money. I have never seen such joy on anybody's face as I saw in his. It was a big sacrifice for that poor man who'd been sitting in the sun all day and had only received 29 paise. Just a mere 29 paise didn't mean much and I could get nothing with it; but as I took it, it became like thousands because it was given with so much love." (Excerpted from the book, "Mother Teresa, a Simple Path") For Mother Teresa, who used to say, "Give until it hurts," such a donation meant a lot. She always used to say God, after all, doesn't look at how much we do, but with how much love we do it.

When we are suffering, we are so focused on ourselves that we have no time for others. To give when one barely has enough for one's own needs is to be truly generous. Today, on her birth anniversary, the best tribute one can give her is to vow to follow in her footsteps. Only then this tension-filled world can be turned into one where nothing but love and peace will prevail.

Praveen Kumar

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Monday, August 24, 2009

The joy of help - HT inner voice


We consider ourselves the kindest of the persons on earth. We give charity, do sacrifices and give trouble to ourselves in order to prove our so-called magnanimity. Sometimes we do these acts as repentance, while on other occasions for self- satisfaction.

I too, like many others, used to consider myself a kind-hearted person. I always gave a helping hand whenever the need arose. My philosophy in life is to help others even if it is not that easy. And the return you get comes from those you help in the form of happiness and satisfaction.

Incidentally, I work in the human resources development area. By virtue of being in this area, I come across people with scores of personal problems. I try to deal with them in the most humane manner. I considered blood donation as the noblest of the karma and started donating blood, wherever called for.

I came across a case in my organization in which the son of one of our employees was suffering from a deadly disease. I, without waiting for him to ask for it, offered myself for blood.
I left that organization but kept in touch with him and kept donating blood.

Recently, a news item caught my attention. It said a young boy from Delhi donated all his organs before dying. He gave life to three persons with his eyes, heart and liver. Can you imagine the joy and buoyancy he would have brought in the lives of these persons and their families?
And since then I was forced to look within and be more charitable. This was the time I realised how small I have been. But the generosity and magnanimity of such people inspire you to do more. And who says if I do something for others, I'm doing it for them?
It's for my own peace and satisfaction. Am I not being selfish even there?

Roopak Vasishtha

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Lord of success - HT inner voice

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ganesha is the formless divinity encapsulated in a magnificent form. The universe is a group of atoms and energies.
The Lord of these groups of atoms and energies is Ganesha. He is the supreme consciousness that pervades everything and brings order in this universe.

We are all familiar with the story of how Ganesha became the elephant-headed God. Parvati created a boy out of the dirt of her body and asked him to keep guard while she bathed. When Shiva returned, the boy did not recognize him and obstructed his passage. So Shiva chopped off the boy's head and entered. Parvati was aggrieved. To pacify her, Shiva instructed his helpers to get the head of a being sleeping with the head pointing to the north. The helpers got the head of an elephant, which Shiva affixed to the boy's torso and Ganesh was born. But there is a deeper meaning to all this.

Parvati is symbolic of festive energy. Her becoming dirty signifies that celebration can easily become Rajasik or feverish. Dirt is symbolic of ignorance and Shiva is symbolic of supreme knowledge. So when Ganesha obstructs the path of Shiva, this means that ignorance does not recognize knowledge. Then knowledge has to overcome ignorance. This is the symbolism behind Shiva chopping off the boy's head.

The elephant represents both knowledge and power.
The head of the elephant signifies wisdom. Elephants don't stop at obstacles. They just remove them and walk ahead. Ganesha's big belly represents generosity and total acceptance. His upraised hand depicts protection, and his lowered hand, palm facing outwards, means endless giving and an invitation to bow down ­ symbolizing we will all dissolve into earth one day.

And why does Ganesha travel on something as small as a mouse? The mouse snips and nibbles away at the ropes that bind. The mouse is like the mantra which can cut through sheaths of ignorance, leading to the ultimate knowledge represented by Ganesha.

So, when we worship Lord Ganesha , these qualities within us are awakened.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Month of soul searching - HT inner voice


The concept of fasting is common to all religions in one form or the other. The only way Islamic fasting differs from those of other faiths is that the duration is longer, 29 or 30 days (depending on the sighting of the moon).
Fasting in Islam involves abstinence from not only eatables but also from all kinds of evils.

Saomor ( fasting) happens to be one of the five pillars of Islam, the other four being Tauhid (belief in one God), Salat (praying five times a day), Zakat (charity) and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).

Ramzan means exercising restraint on one's food and drink out of one's own free will; but more importantly, it is complete abstention from anything that is negative and that a true Muslim must lead the whole of his life as he does during the month of Ramzan.
Fasting teaches one the principle of sincere love as it is practised out of deep love for God.

It equips one with a creative sense of hope and an optimistic outlook on life. The person who observes his fast properly is certainly a man who can discipline his passionate desires and place his self above the mundane physical temptations.

The spiritual significance of Ramzan is the night of Qadr (night of most virtues) as per Kitab-alSiyamchapter of Haythami's Majma'al Zawa'id. It happens to be the night of 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th, or 29th of the Ramzan month. It could be any of these nights and the best way is to be awake on all these nights for prayers.

It was in the month of Ramzan that the holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed who in turn laid down certain general recommendations for practising fasting.

Muslims during this month also observe the special night prayer known as Tarawih in which Quran is recited. Besides, recitation and the study of the Quran is intensified at home both by men and women.

And Iftar happens to be most cherished time during Ramzan for it is an occasion of reunion and reconciliation.

Firoz Bakht Ahmed

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Learn to love nature - HT inner voice

Learn to love nature Water crisis has become a serious for serious worry. Our rivers and the Himalayan ecology are getting destroyed.

We treat our rivers as tradable commodities. Development now means making a fast buck from nature. High dams are obstructing river flows. Rivers thrive only if they flow freely. The natural free-flowing water is clean, even drinkable. Reservoirs turn it into trapped, stagnant water. Now the existence of many rivers is under threat.
Water in the Ganga is reduced by almost half, quality is affected. The glaciers at Gaumukh have receded; at Gangotri the water channel stands alarmingly reduced.

We Indians have a reverential approach towards rivers.
Flowing water has links with civilisations and culture.
Habitations come up along river routes. At this time of water shortage, it is imperative to evolve a sensible approach towards nature.

A Himalayan river like the Ganga brings along nutrientrich soil down to the IndoGangetic plains, contributing to land-formation and fertility of soil. This stops happening as dams as in Tehri and others will trap this rich silt. Result: farmers may be forced to use chemical fertilisers far in excess.

We should learn to value and appreciate the natural river flows. River bank communities ought to be involved in protection and ensuring purity of river waters.
However, micro-hydel projects, that do not disrupt river flow, are welcome. They could be used to lift water to regions for afforestation.

If we wish to save India from water crisis, we ought to cover the lower Himalayas with trees. This may develop into a people's movement.
Care should be taken to plant mixed species, specifically trees with broad leaves. The roots of trees with broad leaves spread far and wide conserve water and enrich the soil.

Plantations providing nuts, edible oilseeds, flowering trees for honey, seasonal fruit, fibre, medicinal plants and timber should cover the lower regions of the Himalayas that give to north India snow-fed perennial rivers. Once these are done, the bliss of free-flowing rivers will bless us all, and life could be richer and happier.

V.N. Chhibber

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A non-pilgrim's progress - HT inner voice


There is nothing like a retreat in the Himalayas. All the more if that includes Kedarnath, the abode of Lord Shiva. My professed rationalist husband insisted he was no pilgrim, but a holiday lover, only to escape the scorching heat of Delhi.
But once on the narrow, 14-km uphill trek from the Gaurikund base camp for the Himalayan shrine, I found him fervently raising full-throated chants of Har Har Mahadev, Jai Bhole Nath and Jai Baba Kedar, along with fellow travelers. He was no less a pilgrim than anyone else.

Was it the magic of the Himalayas? Or the ambience suffused with the spirituality that had converted a hedonist, holiday lover into a pilgrim? I am convinced it was the grace of the Lord that had brought the metamorphic change during the day/s trek. Even as my husband insisted he was more of a tourist, it was his subliminal faith in the power of Shiva that made him flow with the tide.

A dip in Gaurikund, the hot water pond named after Shiva's consort at the base camp, prepares you for the adventurous journey and the ensuing spiritual experience.
Even if you are not the religious type, I would say Kedarnath is a perfect getaway from the plains' summer heat. The trek is through the Nandankanan Himalayan Wildlife Sanctuary, punctuated with cascading waterfalls.
The craggy, rugged, narrow path, littered with heavy snow, lends a romantic touch to the journey.

Even as the trek almost saps you of all your vitals, the breathtaking scenery all around is its own reward. On sighting the dome of the shrine as you ascend the last lap, you get to feel that the super human effort was worth it.
With the jingling of temple bells as the background score, the scene is just spellbinding.
The religious merit of the pilgrimage apart, even for an adventure seeker, the journey itself is cathartic. It rejuvenates your body, sooths your mind and elevates your soul.
A must visit for those wanting to experience spirituality.

Suman Kapoor

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Are we all empty? - HT inner voice


One of the most interesting and debated Buddhist concepts is Shunyata (emptiness). The moment you utter "emptiness," you get the idea of nothingness. So, is there no difference between emptiness and nothingness?
The ontology of Buddhism, more precisely Mahayana Buddhism, makes it clear that emptiness means "inherently empty," whereas ''nothingness" means just nothing.
So, the difference is as big and as clear as between yes and no. An example: When we say the glass is empty, it does not mean there is nothing in it. It's not empty at all.
It is full of air.

That is why the famous phrase, 'form is emptiness, emptiness is form' has remained a much debated paradox in Buddhist philosophy. The Buddhist view of emptiness is different from its superficial meaning.
Buddhism stresses on the inherent and essential emptiness of the glass (e.g.) because the glass being empty means it does not exist on its own.

That throws up another question: what is non-inherent existence? Can we say that the glass ultimately does not exist? The glass does exist, but like all other things around us, its existence depends on other conditions.
What is the glass made of?
Is there an element or component in it that has its own existence? The components, the shape and the function on their own cannot make up the glass. All of them put together make the glass.
Therefore, we can say the glass, or for that matter any other object, comes into existence only when the specific conditions come into play.
Only then our mind computes the idea of an object coming into existence.

Here, one may rope in Greek philosopher Plato whose theory on objects was the antithesis to Buddhists' Shunyata concept. Plato held the view that there is an ideal essence in everything around us ­ be it an animate or inanimate object. There is a section of thinkers who gives Plato credit for his theory as the "essence of the object ultimately exists in the realm of the mind."

But I am told that isn't as simple as that!

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Humour is God's gift - HT inner voice

Humorist Jaspal Bhatti has said that religion is the greatest enemy of humour.
He might have spoken the truth but the problem lies not so much with any religion but with the attitude of self-appointed leaders of different faiths.

Of all living creatures, only human beings are gifted with the capacity to laugh. Humour is a special gift of God. Sense of humour is all about tolerance and the capacity to take oneself lightly. But tolerance for fellow human beings and other living creatures is also the first and foremost quality that any religion should aim at to inculcate among its followers. Then, where is the contradiction?
Well, the problem arises when some people take their religion too seriously and humour too lightly.
Hindu texts have many references when gods and their followers are shown as targets of humour. Vishnu's most ardent devotee, Narada, is the butt of so many humourous tales.
Listen to any preacher and you will find that they make good use of humour to put across their religious or spiritual message.

Can any religious conviction be true if it is threatened by so innocuous a thing as a laugh? In fact, the pure spirit of a religion is strengthened when someone pokes fun at the unnecessary ritualistic practises that come to be associated with religions. Kabir did it when he said, "Kankar pathar jod ke masjid layee banai. Ta chadh mulla bang dey, kya bahar hua khudaye? (By collecting some stones and rubble a mosque was made from which the mullah gives the call to God as if He were deaf).

Nor did he spare the Brahmins. Lampooning them he said, "Pothi padh padh jag mua pandit bhaya na koi, Dhai akshar prem ka padhe so pandit hoi". (The world died reading tomes of scriptures but no one became a pandit. Pandit is that who internalised the two and half letters of the word love).

Those who seek to curb the freedom to laugh should realise that a carefree laughter is one of the most sublime spiritual experiences.

Satish K. Sharma

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Find Lord Krishna in you - HT inner voice

Lord Krishna is a God of many splendours. Varied and various are the aspects of his divinity.

He is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He is the Krishna of the Mahabharata, a great strategist, pacifist and counsellor. He is the Krishna of Kurukshetra, the great teacher, who manifested his Universal Form to his disciple Arjuna. He is the Krishna of Vrindavan, a god of love, of "madhur bhakti," in amorous dalliance with the Gopis (cowherdesses).
He is ragi as also viragi.

The story of Krishna's birth, as told in the Mahabaharata, is that Vishnu plucked out two of his hair, one white and the other black. These two hairs entered into the wombs of Rohini and Devaki, the two wives of Vasudeva. The white hair became Balrama, and the black hair (kesa) became Krishna. Hence the name Kesava.

Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, is "vyapke parameshvare"- one who, having created this world, reentered it. In order to rid the world of the forces of evil, sin, selfishness and the wicked oppressions of Kansa, Lord Krishna descended to the earthly plane.

Explaining the purpose of his birth, Krishna says in the Gita: "for the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked, and for the establishment of the righteousness, I come into being from age to age" ( Gita-- 4.8).

As God of Love, Krishna chose Vrindavan for his love ­play (Ras Lila). When he steals the clothes of Gopis , they request him to return their clothes. He exhorts them to come out, because they must not conceal anything, including their naked bodies, from their Lord, who knows them too well. They come out of the Yamuna and receive their clothes, as well as divine grace.

Today, when the world is torn apart because of selfishness and hatred, we must look for a Krishna within each one of us.
Only then we can hope to live a blissful life.

C. D. Verma

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Golden moments - HT inner voice

As I walked barefoot on the sparkling white marble floor of the Golden Temple, a chill ran down my spine.
However, the culprit was not the freezing winter morning but the thought that crossed my mind. No matter how much I tried, I failed to picture the serene environment marred with bullet sounds and dead bodies. Circling the parikarma surrounding the sacred tank, I saw several people taking a dip in the holy waters. The sound of Gurbani reverberated from all four corners of the complex. Despite being an atheist, the positive vibes of the Golden Temple engulfed me.

The Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib, also referred to as The Golden Temple, is culturally the most significant shrine of the Sikhs and one of the oldest Sikh gurdwaras. It is considered holy by Sikhs because the eternal Guru of Sikhism, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, is always present inside the Golden Temple. Its construction was mainly intended to build a place of worship for men and women from all walks of life and all religions. There are four doors to get into the Harmandir Sahib, signifying that it is open to everyone.

The architecture of Golden Temple represents a unique harmony between the Muslims and the Hindus way of construction and this is considered the best architectural specimens of the world.

I decided to read a few books out of the so many available on the subject. All I could understand after reading them was that the 1984 incident has been dissected religiously, politically and emotionally. Neither the army nor the government could comprehend the gravity of the assault. The army blamed the terrorists, the terrorist blamed the government and the government blamed a handful of people.

Standing on the banks of the sarovar, my heart ached for men, women and children who lost their lives.
Life has moved on but the wounds remain as fresh.

Ragini Gulati

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Breed no worries - HT inner voice


We have the habit of making worry our constant companion. Even for small things, we start worrying. Consequently, there's a continuous feeling of uneasiness. And there seems no easy way to "cast off" our worries.

However, we can train our mind to forget things which are a source of stress. There is story of school teacher, who always entered his class with a glass with some water in it. He held it up for all to see and asked the students. "How much do you think this glass weighs?" He told the students that the exact weight can be known only after weighing.
Then he asked them "What would happen if I held it up like this for a few minutes?".
"Nothing, sir", the students answered. "Ok! What would happen if I held it for an hour?", the teacher asked.
"Your arm would begin to ache." said one of the students.

"You are right, now what would happen if I held it for a day?" "Your arms could go numb, you might have severe muscle stress and paralysis and have to go to hospital for sure!" was the reply. "Good.
But during all this, did the weight of the glass change?" asked the teacher. "No" "Then what caused the arm ache and muscle stress?" There was silence. One of the students ventured: "Put the glass down." "Exactly!" said the teacher, and added : "Life's problems are something like this. Hold it for a few minutes in your head and they seem okay. Think of them for a long time and they begin to ache. Hold it even longer they begin to paralyse you. You will not be able to do anything."

It's important to think of the challenges in your life, but more important is to have trust in Lord and to put your worries aside at the end of every day before you go to sleep.

That way, you are not stressed; you wake up every day fresh and strong to take up any challenge that comes your way.

Rajendra Bist
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Monday, August 10, 2009

The joy of silence - HT inner voice

Bhushan Kachru

I some times wonder how nature is blissful in silence.
Indeed amazing. The rivers flow in silence, the trees provide shelter and wisdom in silence, the sun and the sand are silent. Even we surrender in silence. Isn't silence, therefore, the song of eternity?
The other day I came across a beautiful experience of silence by a young American.
She practised silence by sitting along the banks of the Ganga at Rishikesh. Her trance of silence was her effort to flush out negativity. "By chanting a simple mantra in silence, my mind becomes one with my Guru," she said.

Attaining a silent mode does appear difficult initially but gets simplified as we dig deep into it. Meditation and calming exercises is one such route to a silent road. Some of us might feel that taking a vow not to speak amounts to silence. I do agree that most of the time, it is not easy to silence our mind. Even if we keep quiet, our mind produces all sorts of thoughts.

I watch amazingly many young people today stressed out in their daily lives and unable to gain composure when in silence. They want to be in a place filled with sounds from all directions. They chatter without thinking about what they are saying.
Chatting all the time reflects a mind in flux. I have observed many times that silence needs to be our response to anger, criticism and greed.

Silence is conserving our mind's energy. A monk once rightly said: "Silence is like a monastery. We create a little quieter corner up in the mountains, away from the rest of the world." Silence not only makes us magnanimous but also improves our listening skills. It is a communicational therapy that reduces anger, minimises criticism and adds to our creativity and imagination. Some times silence is more powerful than speech. It reflects our inner peace, contentment, and force of attraction.
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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Accountability is the key to better society - HT inner voice

We may all agree that life is a game of uncertainties. Our intellect falls short to anticipate even the near future.

On one hand, life appears to be full of challenges, many miles to go, many milestones to accomplish. On the other, it looks as if we are marching relentlessly towards nowhere.

There is a measureless hustle and bustle to take care of all our needs. We cannot turn our face from accepting the fact that we have been becoming more and more self-centered.

All our calculative moves nourish our insatiability. In the race towards perfectionism, are we not heading to a more ambiguous situation? Rational deliberation seems struggling to find its due place.

For most of us, it is hard to appreciate these words because we act as if we are living in a world of diligence. Our sense of worth would not like to lend ears to such words.

Giving optimism its due respect, we cannot move away from accepting the reality that we are turning worthless. We are still to learn to take pleasure in giving happiness to others.

We cannot and should not retreat from accountability that we owe to the betterment of society. There is nothing wrong in cultivating an aspiration for achieving something worthwhile.

But the means we take to fulfill the desires must be fair. Time and again, we indulge in unreasonable means to gratify our longings.

The need is to rise to the occasion. Being sensible among all creations, the situation demands us to take some productive actions expeditiously to assure the future generation of an environment full of opportunities and happiness.

There is no dearth of willingness. But this is not everybody's task.

We cannot expect everyone to turn the tide. The responsibility lies on the shoulders of those who hold key positions.

Jasbir Singh
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Friday, August 7, 2009

Thread of sacred love - HT inner voice

Raksha bandhan is a unique festival which marks the universal love between sisters and brothers in an exemplary manner. It signifies downright 24-carat sacred love and lasting bond. Shrawan Purnima marks the day every year when sisters tie the thread of bondship and brothers vow to offer their continued protection and support to their sisters. The sisters tie the thread chanting a mantra --yen badho bali raja danvantro mahabal/ Ten twambhunukmi rakshenami ma chal ma chal. There are many legends about Rakhi, and according to one of them, king Bali was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Vishnu had taken up the task to guard his kingdom, leaving his own abode. Laxmi, wishing to be with her Lord, went to Bali disguised as a Brahmin woman to seek refuge till her husband returned. During the Shravan Purnima celebrations, Laxmi tied the sacred thread to the king and revealed everything about her. The king was touched and sacrificed everything he had for the Lord. Rakhi has since traversed the length and breadth of the barriers of caste and tradition to remain limited to brothers and sisters. And people who subscribed to the concept of brother-sisterly love, it acquired a universal and a social significance in course of time.

Today Rakhi is one of the most celebrated festivals ushering in and cementing the bond of sacred ties between sisters and brothers. The holy thread, known as mauli, is tied in three rounds across the wrists of brothers, or whosoever is treated as a brother and who lives to love and protect her through her life.
R. L. Pathak
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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Discovering serenity in Kalady - HT inner voice

THIS IS travel time for many of us. I was persuaded to go to Kalady in Kerala by a colleague who assured me I would love its sacredness. Never having heard of Kalady, I went there simply because the local Ramakrishna Mission ashram agreed to accommodate me. Once in Kalady, I was hooked to its serenity and the simplicity of its people. The mission monks directed us to the birthplace of Shankaracharya and we went as curious tourists. Soft Vedic chants made the atmosphere instantly uplifting. Faded pictures at the Kalady temple told the incredible story of the little boy who went on to single-handedly revive the Vedic religion. In 788 CE (a disputed date), at time when nearly 72 warring religious sects rent India, Shankara was born to an elderly, childless couple who, the belief goes, were assured by Lord Siva that He would incarnate as their son. Shankara's enemy was misinterpretation, which could be defeated only with a proper understanding of the Vedas. Seven-year-old Shankara wanted to be a sanyasi, but his mother was against the idea. One day, a crocodile caught Shankara by the leg in the river. Certain he was about to die, he cried aloud for permission to take 'emergency' sanyas before he breathed his last. His mother agreed - and the crocodile miraculously vanished! A bleeding Shankara proceeded from Kerala to the Himalayas to find a guru. Swami Govindapada Acharya asked him who he was, to which he replied, "I am neither fire, air, earth nor water, but the Immortal Atman (Self) hidden in all names and forms."

From there, Shankara went to Kashi to re-establish Vedic knowledge, and wrote commentaries on the Brahma Sutras, Upanishads and the Bhagvad Gita.The story is long and fascinating and I was very glad to have seen Kalady, the crucible of the Hindu revival.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Coming of age at 50 - HT inner voice

There are junctures in life where the gears change. These are interesting periods of transition, the most significant ones, as you step into your fifties.

You realize that you cannot sprint up the four flights of stairs to reach your apartment, that you have to mind your ways as you savour your ice cream with your daughter, not to forget the irksome dimming of vision as you read the morning newspaper. Watching a movie in the comfort of your living room seems a more desirable prospect than an evening out at the theatre over popcorn and pepsi.

And yet it is an age where in most cases the friction between your efforts with or against the flow of life have ignited a wisdom which clarifies, ease with ones kinks which makes it possible for you to laugh at yourself, a resetting of priorities which prunes life and highlights its small pleasures and profound beauty. Public opinion matters less and loneliness often becomes an old forgotten melody as you discover the warmth of aloneness and the soothing rhythm of your solo song.

You discover that the best part of the day is sunrise time, that the most delicious meal is home cooked daal and rice, that the routine is indispensable for a healthy life and that health is more important than bank balance and romance. And yet true happiness is an inner contentment and a peaceful feeling.

Sharda Batra
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Monday, August 3, 2009

In commune with nature - HT inner voice

Once I saw a man standing near an anthill, his eyes closed and hands folded. Over with his silent prayer, he started offering rice, milk and sugar at openings of mini tunnels in the earthen, mound like nest of white ants.

This took me back to a scene in Nobel laureate J.M.G. Le Clezio's novel, Onitsha, set in Nigeria, wherein he portrays a black native boy admonishing his white playmate for demolishing in a fit of rage a termite fort. "We never break them, they are gods," he says remorsefully.

Nagapanchami (July 26 last) is the day when conservative Hindus worship snakes as gods and feed them milk. Khushwant Singh's short story, The Mark of Vishnu, is critical of such superstitious practices, but Romulus Whitaker, internationally acclaimed expert on King Cobra who helped create a snake park in the jungles of Agumbe in Karnataka, has only words of praise for local forest dwellers who never do any harm to these reptiles.

A recent news report spoke of fishermen of Karwar releasing back into the sea the dolphins that get trapped into their nets accidentally. A marine biologist said though fishing nets get damaged, local fishermen never kill dolphins as they are considered sea gods.

It might appear strange to a rational mind to elevate termites, snakes and fish to the level of gods, but it is a fact people across cultures find ways to live in harmony with nature and its creatures. Such acts are unique ways of communing with God and a desire for peaceful coexistence.

Suman Kapoor
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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Death is biggest gift - HT inner voice

Nobody wants to die. Why? To me, death is the "sure shot cure" of every suffering of life.

But, instead of adopting this prescription, we all try to keep it at bay through ineffective remedies. I may sound a bit too pessimistic and seem to have been nursing an escapist attitude, but I have sufficient reasons to believe that 'death' is 'bliss' for one whom it embraces and a 'curse' to one who watches it from close quarters.

That is, I cannot afford to apply this theory to my near and dear ones because it is they who make me love my life. However, a time comes in everybody's life when all the reasons to live exhaust and life becomes a burden.

And yet he remains scared of dying. This is the magic of the Amighty.

"Ibaadat Mein Bhi Rehta Hai Hamein Jaan Ka Khatka, Hum Yaad-e-Khuda Kartey Hain Kar Le Na Khuda Yaad." When we are born or are 'brand new', we are invaluable for others.

And when we become a burden on them, we turn "antique and vintage" for ourselves that we try to save like a "flame in the thunderstorm." I think 'death' is the 'biggest' gift 'Almighty' can give to anybody.

By doing so, in a way, he offers the mortal soul a seat beside HIM. What more one can seek from him. When we touch the feet of our elders, the bless us for long life.

What for? To suffer longer, to crib longer or to see more and more people leaving you. Instead, the blessing should always be, 'May God bless you with peace'.

Rajneesh Batra
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Saturday, August 1, 2009

A salute to dear mom - HT inner voice


When one's mother passed away, one feels that one's world has collapsed. It takes several days before one recovers and realizes the futility of getting into grief because life is impermanent and what comes must go. One comes to understand that death is a blessing as it relieves one of all kinds of sorrows and worries.

My mother, 79, passed away recently, and from what I could get directly or indirectly, she was "ready to pass on" rather than drag along to suffer life's innumerable problems and diseases.

She was very well contented with her achievements in life, and hence saw no more meaningful role to play hereafter.

Here was a pious, happy and peaceful life getting” out of control", and her key to get out of crises was to her family temple several times a day. That was her way to lead a stress-free and painless life of eight decades.

She wanted and prayed for a peaceful and painless exit, and she got it. She had a massive heart attack and collapsed among the flowers in the small garden in front of our home. She was all cheers and in good spirit before her life's journey came to a sudden end.

She lived in her small world of kitchen, family members and spiritual gurus; and aspired for northing but a darshan of the recently incarnated Lama Kushok Bakula.

Whenever I visited her, I saw her praying for His Holiness's darshan before she could bid adieu to life. She was not afraid of death and, like John Donne, challenged it.

She taught me, in her own humble ways, the values that helped me to be contented and helped. She taught me about the importance of hard work without being obsessive about any returns.

Maa, I salute you and promise to follow your steps .And if there is away, when my turn comes, I will look "out there" for you and so that both of us can rest together in peace, forever.
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