The Third Eye.

This photograph is of Swami Dandapani. No, I am not a Sales Agent for him but am posting this here to illustrate something else. If you were to ever meet me in the mornings when I am at Pune, you will see me with the same kind of Vibhuti horizontal stripes on my forehead as well as the tilak just above the nose and between the two eyebrows.

These two applications indicate that I follow Shaivism. The horizontal lines are symbolic of inevitable destruction of the body as the material used is ash from our sacred fires. Ash is symbolic of the human body becoming ash after cremation. When one applies the ash on his body, one remembers that he is subject to becoming ashes.

The tilak is more important for this post. The spot where it is applied is called the Ajna Chakra in yoga. The material used is either sandalwood paste or kumkum powder or both. I use both. Applying this on one’s forehead during morning prayers is to invoke the earnest request to open the third eye of the individual, which would enable him to differentiate between the real and the unreal, or the permanent and the impermanent.

I am delighted that my favourite Comics character wants to become a Shaivite!

Which Mythical Lost Treasure Do You Think Is Real? Why?


My fellow 2 on 1 blogger Shackman has suggested this intriguing topic for this Friday post. I bet that he will come up with some great myth but I have to simply share with my readers this article in the Forbes Magazine to say that I don’t think that it is real. I know that it is real.  It was not lost either.  It was just hidden away and faith kept it that way for centuries safe from marauding invaders and colonists.

From childhood, I had been hearing stories about the treasures in the temple and it has taken over seven decades for all that to be proved right.

There are any number of stories like this in indeed but, I doubt that anything can come close to this one for the sheer wealth kept away in vaults. You simply have to google for Indian lost treasures and you will see what I mean.

Another not quite lost treasure but a very interesting clip on one of India’s greatest kingdoms.  Not much known outside a small community of Sikhs and their admirers like me.

And, before you see the clip, please remember to go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say on the topic.

History – An Unintended Consequence Of Migration.

As I wrote in my last Friday post, I am deeply into reading about history and here is something fascinating that I found which I am sure will be of interest to my readers too.

In the late 13th Century BC, a military elite called The Mitanni migrated from the East (India) into Northern Iraq and there are many war stories about them in that region’s history. A treaty that they entered into with the Hittites was solemnized in the name of Vedic Gods Indra, Varuna, Mitra and Nasatya. The Mitanni also took with them technology of Indian origin – Iron. Noteworthy is the fact that this was five centuries after mass production of iron took place in South India.

Interestingly, the Mitanni God Mitra would remain a popular deity in the Middle East and, centuries later, would witness a major revival in the Roman empire (where he would be known as the solar god Mithras). The cult of Mithras would become very widespread in the late Roman period, and would produce serious competition with Christianity. The pagan Romans used to celebrate a big festival called Saturnalia that went on for a week from December 17. At the end of the festival on 25th December, the Mithras cult would celebrate the feast of Sol Invictus or Unconquered Sun. Many scholars believe that when the Christians came to power they simply took over the popular pagan festival. (After all, the exactly date of birth of Jesus Christ is not known.)

Mind you,not every one agreed with this choice and the Orthodox Church still celebrated Christmas on 7th January. The Puritans would later disapprove of the unseemly heathen celebrations that clung to the festival and would try to ban Christmas in North America and Britain in the 17th and 18th Centuries. 25th December survived nevertheless as official Christmas day and a festival celebrated by Christians and non Christians alike. Thus one of the unintended consequences of early iron age migration seems to be that the world has come to celebrate the birthday of an ancient god from Haryana in India!

PS. Even today, the phrase Indo Aryan is used in many communications, like the Wikipedia article on Mitanni though the Aryan invasion / migration of India has been thoroughly disproved by archeological and genetic findings. This is a topic by itself for another post in the future.

PPS: My source – The Ocean Of Churn by Sanjeev Sanyal.

Schmaltz.

This is a communication from a friend, a hard boiled banker / successful entrepreneur who recently lost his pet dog, unexpectedly and suddenly.

“Is it true that pets can take on their caretakers illnesses and sacrifice their lives in order to save their caretakers? Three months ago, when I was declared diabetes free after a struggle of 15 years, I was ecstatic. Little did I know that XXXXX was the price I would have to pay for this freedom. She passed away because of Diabetes.”

schmaltz
ʃmɔːlts,ʃmalts
noun informal
excessive sentimentality, especially in music or films.
“at the end of the film the audience are drowned in a sea of schmaltz”

Earlier this week, many stories were published all over the world about families reuniting after decades. And, while I was looking for material for this post, I came across another story. I leave it to my readers to decide whether it is a true one or created out of some fertile imagination.


There was a young woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things in order, she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in.

Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the young woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.

“There’s one more thing,” she said excitedly.

“What’s that?” came the pastor’s reply.

“I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand,” she told him.

The pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing quite what to say.

“That surprises you, doesn’t it?” the young woman asked.

“Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,” said the pastor.

The young woman explained. “My grandmother once told me a story that I never forgot and I have tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement. Here’s her story:

“In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘Keep your fork.’ It was my favourite part because I knew something better was coming . . . like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful and with substance!’

So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder, “What’s with the fork? Then I want you to tell them, “Keep your fork . . . the best is yet to come.”

The pastor’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the young woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice her age, with twice as much experience and knowledge. She KNEW that something better was coming.

At the funeral people were walking by the young woman’s casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over, the pastor heard the question, “What’s with the fork?” And over and over he smiled.

During his message, the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the young woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolised to her. The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either. He was right.

So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.

This topic is my idea for this week’s Friday 2 on 1 blog posts. I suspect that the other blogger is likely to come up with a totally different idea. Please do go over to see what Shackman has to say at his blog.

Sleep Is The Best Meditation.

The title is a quote from The Dalai Lama.

Way back in 1978 I was burning both ends of the candle and a very dear friend put me on to Transcendental Meditation to prevent me from self-destructing. I found it very helpful and became an evangelist for it with the zeal of a typical convert. I subsequently moved on to Vipassana Meditation and have stayed with it for over 34 years now. In between, I also learnt Yoga Nidra which I take recourse to on and off at need. I had learnt all three techniques from trained and qualified teachers.

Having explained my qualification and experience to write about meditation let me come to the topic and what I think that the Dalai Lama meant with that quote.

Meditation of all three techniques listed above takes one into stages of conscious awareness and deep silence. Properly and regularly practiced, this takes one to a lifestyle free of tension and anxiety. It helps if one also follows some kind of spiritual / religious life, though not necessary as a precondition.

In sleep one goes through stages of awareness, dream states and deep sleep sans dream stages. Exactly the same sequence that one goes through in meditation albeit with full consciousness. I suspect that the Dalai Lama wants to convey the need to sleep effectively to recharge one’s battery as it were, which is what meditation does. If one cannot meditate, at least proper sleep should be sine qua non for a stress free life.

If one is blessed with both, so much the better!

I have suggested this topic for this week’s 2 on 1 Friday blog posts where Shackman and I write on the same subject. Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say on the matter.

Do you have a code that you live by?

The answer to the question is, in all humility, yes, I try to. While I succeed mostly, I confess that there are occasions when I slip. I normally take whatever steps that need to be taken to make amends when I slip.

As my readers know, I am a Vedantin and as such try to follow the Indian code of conduct called Yama and Niyama.

Yama consists of the Moral paths and Niyama consists of the ethical paths.

Yama.
1. AHIMSA: Respect for all living things and avoidance of violence towards others.
2. SATYA: Truthfulness.
3. ASTEYA: Non stealing.
4. BRAHMACHARYA: The virtue of celibacy when unmarried and fidelity when married.
5. APARIGRAHA: The virtue of non-covetousness.

Niyama:
1. SAUCHA: Cleanliness/Hygiene. (Physical and Mental)
2. SANTOSHA: Contentment.
3. TAPAS: Spiritual practices and austerities.
4. SVADHYAYA: Self education / Life long pursuit of wisdom.
5. ISHVARA PRANIDHANA: Surrender to the Supreme Power.

This topic has been suggested by Shackman for this Friday 2 on 1 blog post where he and I write on the same topic. Yu can see what he has to say at his blog.