Tag Archives: purpose

Stop before you Start!

18 Aug

Stop before you Start! 

~ the amber light for all spiritual aspirants, to pause before they start the journey

So you’re bitten by the proverbial spiritual bug. As soon as you’ve listened to a mesmerising Master eloquently explaining what enlightenment is, on YouTube, and soothingly assuring it’s a possibility for everyone – that includes, ahem, you! Or when you’ve seen your BFF lose weight miraculously, a mere month after s/he started a new yOgA practice, which s/he learned in your workplace itself. Or when you simply couldn’t put down the book on the methods for self-realisation that you picked up at the airport (at double the cost of Amazon, no less) during one of those pointless business trips. Or when your fav celebrity – one of the many, obviously, since there are one too many now – gushed about how her recent initiation into mindfulness has transformed her as a person overnight (though there is no proof of any such transformation, other than her own assurance to famished fans like you)!

Anyway, one or all of the above happened to you within the last fortnight and you’re all fired up to start the journey to know. Umm, you don’t know yet what you really want to know, but who cares about such nuances anyway. If your fav celebrity got transformed, you, her die-hard fan, too will most certainly get the transformation. And how could the bestselling book be wrong, you ask yourself. And the weight-loss too is a dangling carrot that’s hard to ignore. And, if in doubt, you can always check with the YouTube Guru, who seems to know about everything under the sun! So you can hardly wait and are all set to press the ignition button.

Wait… wait… wait… Hold on for one moment please. Consider this the amber light that may actually prevent you from wrecking not only your #MakeInIndia superbike by jumping the Red, but also potentially wrecking those around you – on the road or at home or even at work, for that matter. Please Stop, just for a moment, before you Start that journey, which might be inevitable, who knows.

The long journey to self-realisation is a lonely pursuit. And a very selfish one!

What the h#!!?,” you may baulk. “Aren’t there millions of seekers, like me, who are on the path, being part of so many spiritual organisations!,” you might marvel. Yes, but…

IMG_20170712_093824There may be many fellow seekers along the path, or on a different path, to the same destination. They may even be part of the same spiritual organisation that you chose to be a part of and may do all the same programs that you do and do all the daily practices that you are supposed to do.

But, rest assured, each journey is different and every seeker has to pursue the journey alone, even if s/he is part of a group of seekers. And because you are aligned with a group of seekers who are all guided by the same Guru doesn’t mean you are all going to work together for everyone’s enlightenment. Tsk.. tsk.. Self-realisation is such a self-explanatory term that one should never get lost in any imagination about it’s self-centered nature. There is no getting around the hard-to-swallow fact that it’s about you and you alone.

sp1.jpgIf I become a better person, as a result of my spiritual practices, won’t the people connected with me be thrilled?,” you may wonder. Indeed, they will be. And the weight loss would certainly earn a few more admirers as well. But…

There will be many spectators along the path – loving family, caring friends, acerbic critics, unqualified self-proclaimed masters, et al. All of them are but mere spectators, who haven’t started (or concluded – especially the half-baked masters) their own journey yet. In fact, many of them won’t even have a clue about the existence of such a journey. They are so entangled in survival that they may not even be interesting in knowing about it, let alone support you in pursuing it. So, don’t be surprised if the beloved ones end up being the befuddled ones, not being able to comprehend what’s going on with you, i.e. the person they thought they knew all along!

I’ve got a fantastic Guru guiding me man… someone so popular that everyone from politicians to celebrities to industrialists line up to be at his events that happen all over the nation!,” you may protest. Well…

Guru_Swamy3

If you’re blessed, you may actually have a Guru (Spiritual Master, not the head of some religious establishment), with boundless compassion to guide seekers like you, shining the light along the path. But even s/he isn’t going to literally hold hands, till you reach the destination.

Not only that, the Guru will strip you clean of all the pretensions of your very existence, including the facade of personality that you’re hiding behind, in order to eke out a living in this man-eat-dog mad mad world that’s hell-bent on self-destructing the only planet it has got to live, so far, in this vast, still expanding, universe. Be assured, it won’t be a pretty sight, when you’ve no other choice but to look at yourself, in all your true-self g(l)ory… eeew! And that’s exactly what a real Guru does to you, because Guru is the light that annihilates the darkness of your hilarious ignorance, which you presumed to be intelligence, until the tables are turned, upside down.

adiyogi41s.jpgAll right, now that your iMax sized imaginary world of spirituality is shaken a bit with shattering Dolby Atmos sound, you better pause for a moment at this Amber sign (umm, Amber is the warning sign, in case you routinely fail to notice or jump at the sight of it on the roads), before speeding away into the unknown, but not uncharted, long winding path of spirituality.

Oh hey, you’re totally free to proceed on the well-known path of religion, which is the always available alternative, which most humans find very comfortable to tread, during any part of their existence. But that’s not going to take you to where you may actually want to go, since, most unfortunately, all the savvy preachers, heavy tomes and slick videos and impressive social media posts won’t bother differentiating one from the other, i.e. religion from spirituality. They are distinct and almost diametrically opposite.

The journey to realise the Truth isn’t a fun tourist trip that anyone curious can undertake. It’s a challenging yAtrA (pilgrimage) that not many get to complete, within a lifetime.

Yet, it’s been diligently undertaken by many, willingly, from time immemorial. And most of them did (and still do) have a Guru to guide them along.

Of course, anyone can start it. Even you, who loves whistle-worthy silly dialogues like “ரிஸ்க்ன்னா எனக்கு ரஸ்க் சாப்பிடற மாதிரி!” (“Taking risk is just like eating rusk for me!”) can. No one’s going to stop you from starting. And no one’s going to be there to ensure you sustain it. Or even complete it. You’ll be on your own. All the way, from start to finish. Hard to swallow but hey, that’s how Truth is.

Fun fact: The spiritual journey neither has a fixed schedule nor predetermined levels of difficulty.

RealizationBoth the length and difficulty of the journey is determined by you, not anyone else. So, if at all you don’t make it all the way, or you take a very long time to make it – may be a few lifetimes, the only being you can blame is yourself. And the “I told you so!” spectators will still be around to rub some salt on your wounded ego.

Along the path, there will be…

  • a number of tempting side attractions that will distract you from continuing the journey.
  • many a roadblock that will test your resolve to continue the journey.
  • a multitude of moments when you will be so exasperated that you just want to drop everything and run all the way back to where you started.

Naturally, there will be a number of fellow seekers too, who will pat you on the back, saying “Well, we’re on the same boat sis (or bro)!” hoping to cheer you up.

With plethora of content and myriad media to consume it, there are any number of aids available to a seeker, who should know how to utilise them, to progress further, along the path. The YouTube video that ignited the fire in you is one of them. That overpriced book full of practical methods is another. And it’s quite possible to be so enamoured by such aides that you may be stuck right where you are, without even realising it. After all, more videos and books are getting published every day. From everyone who thinks s/he has figured it all out!

CDD9-3And, if and when you make it to the destination, in this birth or another, you may be utterly baffled to realise that the journey is indeed the destination and you didn’t even have to undertake the gruelling journey in the first place, to realise what has always been there, right within you. Bummer!

Yet, upon the conclusion of the journey, you will end up immersed in the state of eternal bliss, overflowing with compassion, just like those who have attained self-realisation, before you. From time immemorial. And here’s the best part. There’s absolutely no obligation whatsoever for you to even share the experience with anyone, let alone shine the light of your hard-earned gnAnA (wisdom).

For every Agasthya Muni or Adi ShankarA or RamaNa Maharishi or Sadhguru, there have been thousands of other realised beings who simply chose to remain in the state of bliss, finding no compelling need to share it with anyone else. It’s certainly possible for you to be like one of them. Seems like a very tempting bargain, eh!

GuruPurnima1All said and done, there is a reason why there have been and are only a handful of realised beings and Masters, even as the human population kept on growing relentlessly. They are the only ones who walked the path all alone, all the way, consciously avoiding the distractions, and reached the ultimate destination, with or without the guidance of a Guru. They are the ones who have seen the glorious light of Truth, shining forever, within themselves. They are the truly blessed ones who had the glorious darshan of the Ananda ThANdavA (dance of bliss or ecstacy), with their eyes closed. And only a few of them, in an outpouring of compassion, chose to guide others along the path, as Guru.

So, before you choose to get on the path of spirituality, which btw – just to reiterate, because it’s extremely important to know – has nothing to do with religion, simply because someone known to you has done so or some social media post has fired you up, do take a moment to assess yourself. And be honest with yourself in accepting the fact that you may not be ready yet.

20120625_143222The humility to accept your lack of readiness to even begin the spiritual journey in pursuit of Truth, is indeed the starting point of the enchanting journey to everlasting realisation of the Self! Your humble acknowledgement of “I don’t know,” will eventually become such an unbearable thirst that it can be quenched only by the one(s) who has been there and seen that. Who knows, s/he may happen to you in this lifetime itself (don’t ever try going around shopping for a Guru – it just doesn’t work that way), to nudge you along the path.

Well, the Green light is on. It’s up to you now to Pause your Start or Continue unwaveringly. Happy journey fellow seeker!

May Grace be with you for a purposeful Life overflowing with Joy.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

SG1

Swamy aka @PrakashSwamy is a seeker (full-time may sound funny, but that’s a fact) whose seeking was on-and-off from his teens (when a maternal uncle took him to a Transcendental Meditation program) and switched gears upward in 2009, when his Master Sadhguru (Mystic, Yogi and visionary founder of Isha Foundation, awarded the Padma Vibhushan by Indian Government in 2017 for the remarkable social endevours of his spiritual organisation) initiated him into the ancient Kriya of Shambhavi Maha Mudra. A few more advanced Isha Yoga programs followed, culminating in Samyama, the 7-day Silence program, in 2013. With Shivanga, the yatra to Velliangiri Mountains, aka Kailash of the south and the yatra to Kailash itself (in Tibet) happening in the same year (2013), Life, as he knew it until then, took a decisive turn. Swamy eventually bid farewell to his lucrative, and reasonably successful, corporate career in 2015, which he assures is a planned retirement, to pursue the VAnaprastha phase and experience Life, the way it is, with a definitive purpose – of attaining self-realisation.

UpaGuru1Swamy considers himself twice-blessed, since, apart from being guide by the boundless Grace of his Master, from within, his ongoing journey is also being actively guided now by his Upa Guru Shri Sohamanandaji (the other bearded one, in the above pics), who is kind enough to not only to dispel his ignorant assumptions about spirituality from time to time, but also to take him along on the life-altering yatras to spiritually charged spaces such as Pancha Bhuta Sthalas (sacred spaces of Lord Shiva, associated with the five elements) & Sabarimala (both in South India) and Char Dham, comprising of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedharnath and Bhadrinath (on the mighty Himalayas). These days, in his own words, Swamy’s existence – one day at a time -is focused only on “Read, Write, Meditate!,” not necessarily in that order.

Oh, in case you are curious, Swamy hasn’t attained self-realisation, yet.. ha.. ha.!

img_20161225_080543.jpgYou may enjoy knowing more about Swamy‘s spiritual journey and experience of Life the way it is in his poetry (Dhinam Oru Padhigam hymns – 218 and counting…), blogs, quotes and social media posts (links to all given below).

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

Follow Swamy Facebook | Twitter | Google+

Explore Swamy’s creation (blogs, quotes, poetry, reviews, photography…)

Been there, Seen that | Swamystery | Swamyverse | SwamyQuote

Swamyem | SwamyView | Swamygraphy

 

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Template living vs Life template!

1 May

Template living vs Life template!

One of the SwamyPals (a motley group of humans who have studied along / worked with or for / acquainted Swamy during this lifetime and for some unfathomable strange reason chose to remain connected with him, via an exclusive WhatsApp group) recently shared an article on the mid-life crisis faced by people. It’s one of those plethora of well-articulated, number list articles that can be sighted all over the www, which usually ends with an elegant invite to buy the article author’s book (how come even nondescript authors publish only best-sellers!) or sign-up for a signature training program that guarantees to change your Life, just like a million other lives or subscribe to his/er YouTube channel or at least follow on Twitter

1474812015120The problem with such articles – typically by western thinkers, philosophers, preachers (did ya know many popular leadership pundits / authors / trainers are preachers belonging to the multitude of congregations of Christian faith), trainers, pundits, et al – is that they’re always focused on templatizing humans, who are so diverse as a species that it’s utterly pointless to fit them into a template, for pretty much anything. Anyone who has gone through or have / know children going through formal education knows how horribly this templatization has gone askew. 

And the silly beings with an extra 6th sense that humans are, we invariably fall for such so-called deeper insights into the human psyche, supported by reams of research data or colourful Infographics from bigdata, and sign up gleefully for human software upgrade programs (it’s the Matrix, stupid!), generously offered as training modules by corporates – especially to the mid-lifers, i.e. Damagers, err.. Managers aka Supervisors, to ensure they never manage to get out of the BAUHumbug Template Living.

IMG_20161221_083334In the once-great culture of SanAthana Dharma (which, thankfully, is seeing a welcome revival), every aspect of living has been observed, analysed, contemplated and codified, to enable not only better living for all but also to remain undistracted from worthy pursuits of Life, while living vibrantly.

The SanAthana DharmA Life Template is so well crafted that it’s well nigh impossible to get caught in ridiculous things like early, late or mid-life crisis, if one is sensible enough to comprehend the purpose (context) of Life and apply the processes (content) of living. 

The human lifetime is practically divided into stages known as AshramA, each comprising of 24 years, which can further be divided into 12-year phases to enable a seamless transition from one stage to another.

Stage 1: 0-24 years ~ Brahmacharya AshramA 

~ the learning / student stage 

Swamily_PP10-12 ~ BAla ParvA or BrahmacharyA phase 1 – be a child – play, explore, be curious, learn using the senses, question everything, etc (mostly denied to all children, in this supposedly modern age, filled with a plethora of tools and technologies).

The UpaNayanam is an important event performed during this period to bring not only discipline in living (daily austerities to be performed, such as SanthyAvandhanam) but also to initiate the inward focus (through chanting of slOkAs, singing prayers and dancing, i.e. using devotion as a tool) at such a young age itself.

Formal education may also start at this stage, depending on the ability of the child and readiness of parents to actively support it.

12-24 ~ BrahmacharyA phase 2 – Learn life skills and ancient wisdom offered by the scriptures, under the tutelage of a respected Guru, in the Gurukulam (the present day schools don’t teach life skills & the boarding school is light years apart from the sacred learning space of Gurukulam), covering both physical (Hatha YogA, KaLari, sports, service to Guru, etc) and mental faculties (prANAyAmA, Mantra JapA, dhAranA, etc). Opportunities to practice the skills and earn (primarily to offer Guru DakshiNA) were also offered, to enable the transition to family life.

Swamily_PP2The focus of this stage is on DharmA (righteousness, ethics, values) & MOkshA (spirituality, awareness and practice of ways to attaining self-realisation). Artha (material aspects such as wealth) & KAmA (emotional aspects including sex) are kept aside through diligent practice of austerities and celibacy (where the current generation of students stand on those two is better left unsaid). 

At the point of transition to the next stage, the individual is offered a choice to either become a GrihasthA (housholder) or SanyAsi (ascetic). Nobody is ever forced to choose either option and the individual’s choice is respected and supported. 

Stage 2: 24-48 years ~ Grihastha AshramA 

~ the family / housholder stage

24-36 ~ GrihasthA phase 1 – get married (this could happen in the previous phase too, for specific reasons), work or offer services using the skills acquired for a living, raise a family, practice austerities prescribed in the scriptures, sustain spiritual practices.(though the work part happens today as well, there’s no appropriate application of life skills, because none are taught. Married life too is in tatters, because there’s no practice of austerities, which are designed to keep one grounded, truthful, thankful, empathetic and humble).

Swamily_PP5PANigrahanam or KannikAdhAnam aka marriage / wedding is a key ceremony at this stage, followed by the ceremonies to celebrate various stages of family life such as pregnancy (Seemandham), child birth (PunyAhavAchanam), first anniversary of the child (Ayushhomam), etc.

Nuclear families or community living was encouraged to ensure a sense of belonging by offering required help and guidance to each other, utilising skills and knowledge and sharing material wealth.

The focus is on DharmA (through lawful citizenship and rightful delivery of services), Artha (essential to make a living), KAmA (essential to start & raise family) & MOkshA (performing daily and Thithi specific austerities and continuing spiritual practices).

36-48 ~ GrihasthA phase 2 – mentor / guide children, who by now will be already in the Gurukulam or getting ready to learn about Life, share knowledge acquired (though experience) and wisdom gained (through ongoing learning and contemplation) with others, take care of elders (who will be in the later part of Stage 3 or earlier part of Stage 4 by now),

Swamy_PP1The focus is on Dharma (not wavering from righteousness), Artha (to serve others), KAmA (to be compassionate) & MOkshA (preparation for self-realisation).

Serving others – in whatever way one can – is emphasised during this phase. Service can be offered using limbs (Karma yOgA – selfless action), mind (GnAna yOgA – opinionless contemplation), heart (Bakthi yOgA – egoless devotion) or energy (KriyA yOgA – lossless transformation). This is primarily to prepare oneself to let go of everything else.

Stage 3: 48-72 years ~ VAnaprastha AshramA 

~ the knowing / seeker stage

48-60 ~ VAnaprasthA phase 1 – pilgrimage to holy places, reading scriptures & listening to spiritual discourses, contemplation on the true purpose of Life (based on knowledge acquired and interpretation of scriptures), seeking the guidance of a Guru / Realised Master (for attaining self-realisation), serving the Guru, effectively utilising the experience to offer help / guidance / service to anyone in need, practice detachment from all attachments of Stage 2.

Swamily_PP7The focus is on DharmA & MOkshA. At the end of phase 1, the ceremony of Shastiapthapoorthy (60th anniversary of existence) is conducted, celebrating the lives of two individuals spent together as GrihasthAs and preparing / prepared to pursue the spiritual path to liberation / mukthi.

60-72 ~ VAnaprasthA phase 2 – Officially an elder now, one can continue to guide the expanded family by remaining a part of it (detached from the Artha and KAmA parts, obviously) and offer service to others, while remaining surrendered at the feet of the Master, to continue the progress along the spiritual path.

Alternatively, one can leave the household and become a member of the Guru’s Ashram or any active spiritual organisation – either as a resident (GrihasthA without material & emotional attachments) or as a renunciate (mendicant and full-time sAdhakA / practitioner of sAdhanAs in pursuit of Truth).

The focus is on DharmA and MOkshA with a judicious mix of all four paths – KarmA or action (seva / service), Bakthi or emotion (devotional practices), GnAnA or wisdom (tapping into intelligence by keeping aside the intellect) and KriyA / energy (inward journey & exploration).

Stage 4: 72-whenever ~ SanyAsa AshramA ~ the renunciate / self-realisation stage

This is practically the realm of ShivA… the supreme being… the omnipresent divinity known as the Parabrahmam.

In an ideal case, if one has passed through the previous 3 stages in the right way, then there won’t be anymore self or I or ego left.

Swamy_PP10Living is a joyful vibrant existence, moving from one moment to another, with utmost ease.

The physical and mental faculties are useful only for serving others.

Material aspects such as name, lineage, fame, social status, wealth all remain immaterial.

‘I am not the body, I am not even the mind’ awareness keeps identity facades away. 

Guru is experienced as ShivA, a magnificent presence, not person.

Guru’s place is the holiest of places, for the rest of living time.

Guru’s words are the only scriptures to be referred, shared and cherished.

Contemplation is only to realise the self and attain liberation.

Devotion is towards all beings, offered in the form of absolutely selfless service, using KarmA, Bakthi, GnAnA and KriyA seamlessly.

Silence is  the most preferred way of communication.

Being still is the most important sAdhanA.

If one lives like that, at this stage or even earlier, the creator will have no other choice but to descend and liberate the self. That’s the proven – time and again – outcome of the Life template

It has happened to innumerable number of beings in BhArat and it is a possibility, even to you and me, even in these modern template living times. 

facebook_1409910586On the other hand, 

Having sailed through mindless rote learning during BrahmacharyA… 

Having performed routine tasks and read & believed innumerable number list articles during GrihasthA…

Having indulged in more material pursuits during VAnaprasthA and getting further entangled with one more generation of progeny…

One may just be peering out of the barricaded window of an upscale old age home or a high-rise apartment where the neighbour remains a stranger… 

Still enjoying all material comforts that money can buy, pretending to be connected with the fellow senior citizens also living there, counting the number of days that have gone by after the last telephone call or email or WhatsApp chat of one’s child/ren, who is/are now a proud citizen/s of some other nation, where more such dime a dozen number list articles continue to be published.

Still remaining nostalgic about glories of a long gone past…

Still religiously visiting temples and praying for salvation…

Still reminiscing about the power and status one possessed once-upon-a-time…

Still debating the state of secularism in the world’s largest democracy…

Still complaining about the quality of food, compared to what one used to relish during the haydays…

Still yakking endlessly about countless mundane things…

Still getting religion and spirituality mixed up and confusing others too…

Still thinking one knows pretty much everything there is to know…

Still striving to live up to someone else’s expectations…

Still trying hard to be like someone else…

Still remaining ignorant about the real purpose of Life…

Still inching towards the inevitable death – only to be born again to continue carrying the burden of the humongous load of one’s own KarmA… and, in all probability… 

Still reading one more number list article by an intellectual about… whatever!

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Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy

img_20161225_080543.jpgYou’re welcome to cherish other Swamy blog posts (SwamysteryBeen There Seen ThatSwamyviewSwamyverseSwamygraphy), Quotes (SwamyQuote) & Poems (Swamyem – including 200+ #DhinamOruPadhigam hymns), leave a comment and share it with your social circles.

You’re also welcome to stay connected to Swamy (@PrakashSwamy) on Social Media.

 

 

Past in Present!

15 Apr

The extended Swamily recently made a road trip to his home town Madurai, for his mother’s 70th birthday celebration ceremony (the traditional way with homam or havan, vedic chanting, etc). After the ever-customary Temple visit & purchasing all kinds of stuff (from eatables to brass items to Nannari sorbet to clothing to sticker bindhi to lamp wicks to gift items to rug cloth bags for saving the planet from plastics to what not…) and now-customary visit to Ramana Mandhiram (RamaNa Maharishi‘s uncle’s house, in the lane opposite to the South Gopuram of the world famous Madurai Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple, where BhagawAn had the profound death experience, while still in his teens, which set his historic one-way trip to the sacred town of AruNAchalA aka ThiruvaNNAmalai, to shine his “Who am I!” spiritual light on the world), they had some time in hand to visit the residence where they’ve spent several of their formative years. 

Present Past… 

During the return journey, the family took a quick detour into a suburb of Dindigul called NGO colony, where Swamy lived for a few years, during the middle & high school years. Swamy’s sister-in-law #3 (of the 3) made an insightful observation, when the extended Swamily were about to get down from the vehicle to see the old house at NGO colony, Dindigul.


Past Past… 

After being away from the family for a few years (for better education, he was left with his grandparents & maternal uncle’s family in Madurai, during the Primary school years, which happened at BAla Gurukulam & Sri VidhyAlayam schools, in S.S.Colony), this independent house (Swamy Sr’s first own house – quite an achievement then, for an honest government servant with a fairly large brood & an extended family) is where Swamy lived & studied from 6-10th standard (@ MSP Solai Nadar Memorial HSS, which apparently remains one of the top schools in the town); met with a life altering (quite literally) sports accident (shattered the knee cap due to improper landing at long jump – for which the PET didn’t bother to train anyone – that too immediately after a sprint, for which Swamy seem have a natural flair) not only abruptly ended his potential sports career (India still awaits an Olympics Gold in Sprint 🐥) but also forced him to discontinue the scholastic education (due to incorrect treatment by an allegedly drug-addict doctor, which resulted in 2 surgeries & prolonged the period of recovery to several months) that he (pretty much always) did well in (a State Rank in S.S.L.C & University Rank in Engineering will sufficiently substantiate that claim), for an year (which eventually made him Anna to his fellow students, then onwards, simply because he was an year senior to them 😜); became an ignorant agnostic for a short duration (blaming God for letting him down😣); turned believer (is it gnostic! 🤔) again; discovered (or re-discovered) his talent for sketching & writing (no formal training in either craft, other than joining a popular online course for painting & promptly discontinuing it soon 🙃); silently appreciated the value of family (hint: his left leg was in a PoP cast for months, due to 2 surgeries to fix his damaged knee, so he couldn’t go to the restroom on his own for awhile – at least until he could pull himself around with the cast 🤕), et al.


Long story short… or in today’s SoMe terms – blog story tweet 😁, that house occupied a significant number of gray cell real estate, to store piles of unreal memories, letting the mind reminisce the long gone past, as and when it liked. And there are a few other places like that as well (Swamy Sr was a humble – untainted as well – government servant, who was routinely transferred from one town to another, every two or three years), not only in Madurai, but also nearby towns like RAmanhAthapuram, Dindigul & UtthamapALayam.


Present Past… 

Incidentally, Swamy was inadvertently visiting some of these places, in the recent past, for different purposes. As a serious seeker, he is fully aware that there are no accidents or mere coincidences in Life. So, his sister-in-law’s (an intellectual & writer similar to Swamy, but doesn’t dabble on the spiritual space, unlike Swamy) remark triggered a thought train… (ah, that bloody wily mind… how glad is it to be in the thick of pointless action again.. & again.. & again.. 💭😱).

Here’s what she said (may not be verbatim, but close enough)…

Anna, you seem to be the most excited person, who wants to see this old house!

A pertinent point, considering the group of people getting out to see the house (now in dilapidated condition, locked out without any inhabitants) included 2 (out of 4) of his younger brothers (who too have lived there) & one more sister-in-law (who is familiar with the house) & the other s-i-l’s parents (who happen to be paternal aunt & her husband, for the brothers & thereby familiar with that house as well). The 3 kids (of the younger brothers) & the driver were just curious about all the excitement of the (yet-to-grow-up) adults, as they had no clue about the place. But the kids were naturally excited about climbing the wall & exploring the ancient dwelling of their parents, where they probably were the past replicas of them in the present! 😯


After spending a short while, checking every part of the house (it was locked, but one can go around, climb the stairs to the open terrace & also peep through the partially shut windows) & recalling a few interesting (or intriguing, depending on the perspective) incidents, the group left the derelict place, overflowing with memories of a long gone, but obviously not yet forgotten, past. The smartphones captured the house, frozen in time, for posterity, as it’s quite possible that none of them may ever visit it again! 


Past in Present… 

As the vehicle continued to clock kilometres on the expressway, speeding towards Chennai, so everyone but Swamy can rush back to their survival routine the next morning, Swamy recalled a different incident, from his Master Sadhguru’s life, which resonated with what he’s now going through. 

It’s called the Karma YAtrA, which enabled those involved in Sadhguru‘s consecration of the Dhyanalinga, (a one-of-a-kind perennial energy form, consecrated using the ancient mystical process of PrANa PratishthA, which is his Guru’s will that took him 3 births to complete), to experience their past, the memories of which was impeding their participation / presence, by exploring places of their past!

(you may know more about it here… http://isha.sadhguru.org/mystic/dhyanalinga/consecration-process/karma-yatra/)

After reaching Chennai late in the night (which can also be termed as early in the morning), taking a brief nap & waking up fresh, listening to the cooing & chirping of birds, it became clear to Swamy that, he has started visiting places of his past recently, not to remember the past (that was a reality a long time ago, but obviously not anymore) but to let go of it (as it has no relevance or value to the spiritual pursuit, progressing towards self-realisation). For good! 
Though Swamy’s state of awareness is still limited to only the Present Past (past events of the present birth / lifetime) and yet to expand to the Past Past (past events in previous lifetimes), he’s at least clear about what needs to be done in the present, ASAP, about the past… Quickly cover a few more places that enshrine memories… to complete the Karma yAtrA, i.e. journey to the Past in Present! 👍👣😌🙌

Be joyful 😌 & spread the cheer 🌻
~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy 


5 Steps to Tread the Seeker’s Path!

16 Mar

Swamy, a serious seeker (‘pro seeker’ will sound hilarious 😂)  has never searched for a Guru.🤘 Hard to believe, but true.

He probably (but seriously 🤔) searched for answers to the Big ?s of existence and His Master Sadhguru ‘happened’ 🙌, when either the time was ripe or when Swamy was somewhat ready to shed his Director Prakash (one of the many ‘pro’ identities) tag, or both. Until the happening, which was nothing less than a Tsunami (whose massive tidal wave is still sweeping Swamy away, like an uprooted tree), he didn’t even know about either Isha or Sadhguru! 👀

Despite being on the lap of a living Master for a while now, in whose lotus feet he has surrendered pretty much everything one considers precious in a survival focused existence, like any true seeker, Swamy truly enjoys being in the presence of other realised Masters (there are many, everywhere one cares to search) as well 😇

A few months ago, Swamy was blessed to be in the presence of NannagAru, a realized Master from RamaNa Maharishi’s GnAna yOgA path, at ‘நினைத்தாலே முக்தி தரும் ஸ்தலம்’ ThiruvaNNAmalai 😌, during the Pancha BhUta YAtrA he undertook along with 3 other fellow KailAsh yAtris.🙏

And the experience of being in NannagAru’s presence was exactly the same as being in the presence of his own Master Sadhguru 🙏😂🙌

Which was, once again, exactly the same in the Jeeva SamAdhi of GuruswAmy, a Siddhar who is a contemporary of BhOghar (of Pazhani NavabhAshANa DhandAyudhapANi fame) @ RAjapALayam (inside AmbalappuLi bazaar) 🙏😂🙌

Such experiences reiterate the well known, yet hardly deliberated or discussed, fact – All Masters have experienced the same omnipresent Truth and all of them are compassionate to offer methods for the rest of us – those who at least have made an attempt to seek answers for our pointless, pathetic existence as humans – to attain the exalted state that they attained and remain in, even after they leave the physical presence. 🙏😌🙌

Obviously, their methods vary. And our silly intellectual mind ends up experimenting with some (or many) of those methods and invariably ends up comparing them, amplifying the confusion manifold. And inevitably delaying the progress along the spiritual path. So, is there a way out, for a Seeker to get unentangled from the spider web created by his/her own mind, and make steady progress towards the objective of self-realisation?

🌺 

Of course there is. The way out (of mere survival), which essentially is the way in, has been the chosen way for all those who sought the answers before us. All one needs to get on that expressway to Emancipation is to follow these 5 simple steps diligently…

Keep the ‘acquired knowledge’ aka intellect aside ~ this is the hard(est) first step since this also requires disentangling one from oneself, i.e. the Ego / Perosnality 😱

This is a big ask and could potentially take many lifetimes! So, having a Guru, who is like a live GPS for navigating the vast spiritual terrain, certainly helps. Who knows (except the Guru!), one might even realise the Truth in this lifetime itself, if one knows how to ignore oneself, so that one can know one’s real self!

Shut the silly mouth, so one’s boundless stupidity remains safe within and doesn’t spread like an epidemic.🤐

Humans, over-rating their one additional sense, just talk too much, about everything, even though they know too little, about anything. Talking is a colossal waste of time and energy, both of which needs to be conserved, if one is serious about walking the long path to self-realisation. So, it’s important (critical!) for a serious Seeker to STFU!

🖖 Acknowledge the existence of something bigger, better, exceptionally capable and incredibly enchanting – even if one can’t see, hear, smell, taste or touch to comprehend that.🙏

Humans just a minuscule part of the immeasurable, vast creation, whose expanse, variety and intricacy is far beyond human comprehension (despite being endowed with that grossly over-rated sixth sense and carelessly overused five senses!).

We’ve absolutely no clue about how the Sun goes about its daily routine, like clockwork.

We still don’t have the ability to create even a single blade of grass – in any colour – ourselves.

We’re still in the process of deciphering our own species – quite possibly the most complex organism created, ever.

Yet we firmly believe we’re on top of the food chain and know stuff.

We don’t know. That’s a fact. 

So, we better acknowledge that fact and accept the presence of something beyond our comprehension. Call it dark energy or ShivA or Almighty or whatever. It’s very much there and we don’t have a clue about it. Even after millions of years of evolution into the most self-destructive species ever created. Clinging on to just a single planet in the vast space strewn with innumerable planets.

Whatever one doesn’t know, one can only know that from someone or something that knows a thing or two – including the one who doesn’t even know what one doesn’t know! So, we better acknowledge the presence of the One thing that seems to not only know everything, but has also created each and everything! 

✌🤘Remain still, i.e. sit quietly, daily, with a keen desire to know that higher power, which incidentally resides within every single piece of creation – including us ignoramuses 😌

Humans love being busy. The busier the better. 

“I’m more busy than my colleague / partner / neighbour / competitor…” seems like a badge of honour we’ll proudly wear.

Busy doing what? Studying more… Earning more… Acquiring more… Accumulating more… Hurting more… Destroying more…

Where does this business of busyness end? When the heck will it end? Will this ever end?

Being merely busy, either for the sake of it or to make more of something on the materialistic realm, doesn’t do anything for self-realisation, which is purpose of our very existence as human. And realising the self happens only when one can remain still. For increasingly longer periods of time. For a long time!

Silence is the way of the seeker, not to go forward but inward!

🖐 Strive – through some form of sAdhanA – till the Truth is realised, through profound inner experience. 😇

SAdhanA can neither be self-taught (unless one happens to be an exception like Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi) nor learnt from others’ thoughts – through books and many a colourful (and powerful) media.

That’s why a serious Seeker needs a Guru. Someone who not only knows (through deep personal & direct experience) the Truth, but can also teach a method or two and has the ability to offer the right SAdhanA (practice) concoction in the right proportion, for each and every Seeker. 

Anyone who tried to seek intellectually would know – intellectually, of course, not experientially – there are broadly four paths to liberation. But rarely does a Seeker stick to just one path and attain liberation. Seeking actually needs a blend of the four paths – KriyA, KarmA, Bakthi & GnAnA – and only a Realised being (Master is even better, but hard to find a true one – especially for the ‘Guru shoppers’ who go around with a checklist and keep hopping from one Guru to another, until there’s no one left) will be able to determine the mix that’s required to accelerate and sustain the seeking, until the journey is complete.

🌺

Swamy, whose serious seeking started in 2009, guided by the living Master Sadhguru, has no idea at which stage of realisation he is at present 🤔, but is absolutely sure about (& fully conscious of) a few indicators that keep reassuring he’s on the right path. 👣 And he’s totally focused on realising the Truth in this lifetime itself, so that he becomes free of the repetitive cycle of birth and death, forever.

🌺

So there it is… Five simple steps to either start or restart or reorient your seeking. Go on – confidently, steadfastly, diligently – along this well-treaded Seeker’s Path!  

🌺

ShivamEy That am ~ சிவமே தவம் 😌

GuruvEy Shivam ~ குருவே சிவம் 🙏

Sarvam Shivamayam ~ சர்வம் சிவமயம் 🙌

🌺

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy 

STOP to Start!

19 Sep

Swamy got a request to motivate students in a college recently. Swamy being what he is, a little bit of preliminary excavation happened, to understand the situation (not problem or challenge – always) better. What was supposed to be an hour or two long lecture on motivation (which, at least in Swamy’s view, is a sheer waste of time and energy on everyone’s part because motivating someone is near the top of the BAUHumbug list), may eventually blossom into a long-term intervention that will help the students get equipped to face the survival war zone called corporate career. But this post isn’t about that (though you’re welcome to avail Swamy’s Human Potential DISCovery + NURTURE offerings, for yourself or your organisation or institution). 

This kind of pointless flurry of activities happen all around us – especially so in the corporate training or learning & development space. 

80% of the training that’s offered to employees of corporates will remain ineffective because they don’t STOP before they start. 

Blinking..? Read on to know the Ws!

Anything a being – including silly humans – does in Life will be done better, if that being or the organization that the being is part of learns to STOP before they Start, well, anything in Life.

“S”trategy – What are you doing / going to do. To get to where you want to be. By when. 

Most people confuse Strategy with Why or How, but it is essentially the big What.

What do I / we want to be 10 years from now?

What will be the growth in our market cap 5 years from now?

What will our customers need 3 years from now?

What changes I / we must make to raise the bar of output / outcome by x% an year from now?

Consultants (yep, those suited, booted folks speaking jargolingo non-stop for hours to make you believe that your well-run business is doomed if you don’t adopt some vague cutting edge model with the tailored framework they’ll offer specifically to you for a pro fee of $300 / hour – oh, that’s a conservative estimate 😨) will vehemently raise their hands and voice that the last one isn’t strategy. Who gives a damn anyway, for it’s their business to survive on such hazy minutae .

In essense, if you don’t know what you want to be that’ll get you where you want to be in a certain amount of time – in future, obviously – whatever you’re about to start (or already doing) is going to sputter someway along like an automobile that ran out of fuel on a deserted road where your fancy mobile costing a bomb couldn’t find VoLTE signal to call for help!

Pic: The starting line-up for the 10km run, Chennai Marathon 2015 – Mrs & Jr Swamy are seen alongside the head of Isha Vidhya – a rural education initiative by Isha Foundation, to support which thousands of Isha Yoga meditators participate in the annual event. 

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“T”acticsHow are you going to do what you want to do to get where you want to be, by whenever (years or months or weeks or days or hours…).

Leaders (genuine ISI certified or generic ISO certified) spend tremendous amounts of time, effort & energy in Strategy, instead of Tactics, which is neither smart nor wise.

Contrary to popular belief, this is what leaders need to focus on and invest their energy, thoughts and action in, not the former one (though that’s important – to begin with), nor the latter (which we’ll get to know shortly anyway, won’t we). In fact, those who get immersed in the latter aren’t leaders at all, because they inadvertently cause more harm to realising their own vision. 

How will we become the No.2 player in our chosen space? (leave the No.1 to those who love high BP & excessive cholestrol & be joyful

How will we differentiate our product / service from the umpteen pretenders?

How can we navigate around the known roadblocks to get to where we want to go?

In a nutshell, this is the pacing of the marathon (Swamy’s long-distance runner bro & s-i-l will be delighted ;), without which, your chances of finishing the marathon (far more important than winning – ask any Olympian, if in doubt) are as slim as those models on the ramp with ridiculous waists that can’t hold that barely there clothing!

Pic: Swamy Jr Akash PC Iyer setting the pace in a segment of the 10km run, in the Chennai Marathon 2015. This was his first Marathon. 

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Operations – Ops is the Oops part of whatever you want to do, to get to wherever you want to be, by whenever.  

This is the breakdown of your S, i.e. What, based on the T, i.e. How, into actionable bits and pieces that can be comprehended, owned and acted upon by individuals and/or teams. Usually misunderstood as the plan, since Managers love to have as many plans as they can (isn’t that why they’re aka Damagers :O).

The crux of Oops, ahem, Ops is action, not the plan. 

In the IT services space (just as an example – other spaces aren’t that different), customers got so pissed off by the quantum of planning, which is grossly disproportionate to the quantum of action, they embraced a new model called Agile, almost en masse’ a few years ago. Reason is, Agile is all action – daily and hourly. Accountable action. That’s what Ops should be, not reviewing based on a plan what didn’t happen and why, a week or month or half-an-year later. But Agile is just an example. Ops is action. Period.

Pic: A sea of runners in action, in support of Isha Vidhya, at the Chennai Marathon 2015.

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, what the heck is the P then? Before that, let’s do a quick rewind to see if you’re ready to STO-P!

S(trategy) – What do you want to do / be, by when. S is envisioning (& articulating – for the benefit of believers / followers / doers to comprehend) the entire marathon, not just the start or stop.

  • Top-10 best-selling book in 3 years 
  • Medal at world championships 
  • 50% market share 
  • 100% placement for students

<fill your S here>

T(actics) – How do you go about where you want to be. T is comprehending (& detailing – for the rest of non-suit types to know) how to compete & complete the marathon.

  • Define the reader demography for the Top-10 bestselling book.
  • Will the style be third-person storytelling or first-person narration of events and facts. 
  • Ebooks or paperback or both. 
  • First of a trilogy or stand-alone. 

<detail your T here>

O(perations) – What are all the things that need to be done by when to get to where you want to be to be whatever you want to be. Oops, that’s how detailed Ops has to be, but not necessarily that confusing. 😀

  • What is the daily fitness routine? Each for how long? At what time?
  • What’s the change in daily diet? How many times to eat? What? When?
  • Which are the tournaments / competitions that are useful for progress? How to register? What’s the fee? Where will the registration fee come from? Who’ll do the travel & accommodation booking?
  • When do the reviews of progress happen? What will be reviewed? How to get instant feedback on changes to be made to the routine?

<list down your O here>

Pic: Wow, we’ve done it. Swamily, all 3 of them (their 2 charming 4-legged daughters couldn’t register to run along) have completed the 10km run in the Chennai Marathon 2015. Swamy & Mrs can’t run, due to major surgery in their left legs, so they walked the distance. Jr ran & walked the distance, for the first time in this lifetime. 
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You’re ready for P, only after filling the <your> segments of STO. No kidding! ✋

All right, you’ve now got the (aha, finally, something truly valuable, in this lifetime) Strategy, Tactics & Operations of something you want to accomplish. Is it time to start? Not so fast, dear reader.🙋

Do you know Why you want to do whatever you want to do to be wherever you want to be?

P is the Why. Big Why, i.e. Purpose.

Without clarity of Purpose, however fantastic your vision is, whatever level of insight your detailing has, whichever depth of detail your action plan has.. won’t still get you to wherever you want to be by when you want. 

Gandhi had clarity of Purpose. He got India freedom from the brits, once and for all.

Bolt had clarity of Purpose. He will remain a living legend, the greatest sprinter ever, for a long time.

Sadhguru had clarity of Purpose. His creation – the only Dhyanalinga on this planet – will sow the seed of liberation in all seekers who set foot in his space, for a very long time.

Pic: Swamily’s Purpose for participating in the Chennai Marathon – raise awareness about & support Isha Vidhya. 

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What’s your Purpose! Why do you want to do whatever you want to do?

That’s the P of STOP. The last but the most important piece of the puzzle. 

That’s Why you need to focus on the P first.👍

<fill your P here>.

That’s how you STOP before you Start – the Life Marathon!

Note: Isha Vidhya is an official Charity partner of the Chennai Marathon in 2016. Swamily will be participating to support Isha Vidhya, naturally. You too can!

Be joyful & spread the cheer 😃

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy

3 MGRs!

10 Sep

MGR (M G Ramachandran aka Puratchi Thalaivar) is a revered matinee idol & political leader in TamizhnAdu. And a BhArat RatnA as well. This post isn’t about that near mythical mass leader, who many pretenders still try to emulate & miserably fail. 

MGR #1 – Minimum Guarantee Return

This MGR #1 is the #1 reason why mediocre movies are made – especially in kollywood – still. 

Someone with spare change spends X crore (obviously, undeclared / non-declarable income) to fund a movie. That crap movie makes Y crores in theatres. If Y is greater than X, even by a minuscule margin, then that’s MGR #1. The same thing happens in education, media, fashion, healthcare, etc. 

While this MGR certainly makes a number of humans involved with making crap happy (it keeps the survival wheel in motion for thousands, obviously), he, err.. it also guarantees a steady stream of more such never-ending crap.

Humans (ahem, that includes you, presumably) who play it safe all life, whose aspirations are limited to settling down comfortably, who don’t dare to go beyond the bar set at the lowest possible height, who routinely (& religiously) follow instructions from others are all MGR #1 devotees. That’s a significant chunk of human species. Bummer. 

MGR #2 – Minimum Gestation Return

A lot of people want more money. And fame. And a lot more. 

Pretty much all of them want all of thay now (living in the present, yaar). 

No 99% perspiration 1% inspiration model for these folks in a tearing hurry.

If they work, they expect a promotion or rise in an year; to be a damager, umm.. manager in 2; to buy a home by year 5 (car was already bought in year 3) & get admitted at Apollo hospital for a surgery (they’ll spoil you with choices) within 10. Well, they don’t wish for the last one, but will get it anyway!

Those who think they can write, want to be a bestselling author with their first ebook. Those who yak endlessly, imagine being sought after like Clinton or Obama for paid speeches. Those who code, want to be Zuckerberg with their first app. Those who invest in the market want to be Buffet or Jhunjhunwala in a month. 

The problem with this type is they aren’t willing to accept the hard fact that anything useful & valuable & respectable takes time. A significantly long time.

Universe took billions of years. Earth became habitable over millions. Humans evolved over several hundred thousands. Animals took a few thousand years to know not to trust humans & stay far away. Kamal, Rajini, Annie, Sly, Statham, Jackie all took a few decades to become near immortal movie stars. Musicians toiled for years to craft their chart busters. 

But no sir/ma’am, MGR #2 types want their rice in the bowl at the flick of a switch, without it getting pressure cooked. And they just won’t accept the fact that isn’t going to happen. Ever. BAUHumbug! 

MGR #3 Mastery Guided Return 

If you want magnificent returns from something.. anything.. that isn’t going to happen with mediocrity, but only with Mastery.

Mediocrity produces crap. Repeatedly. 

Mastery results in outcomes. Steadily. 

Mediocrity doesn’t take effort or time but makes a lot of noise. That’s why honkers (what.. you haven’t read yesterday’s Nano Blog  “Hornestly Honking.. Err.. Speaking” yet!) are mediocre (& needless to say, cowardly). 

Mastery takes time to blossom & needs tremendous amount of effort. And grit. And faith.

F1 drivers don’t honk. They’ve put themselves thru years of driving practice. So are eminent artists, actors, architects, writers, sportspersons, poets, sages, Gurus… 

Malcolm Gladwell (one of those rare humans endowed with Mastery of both Thinking & Communicating, like Seth Godin) says Mastery in anything takes at least 10,000 hours. Yep, that’s 10 * 10 * 10 * 10 hours!

You better get started today, if you seek MGR #3. In fact, that’s probably what the real MGR (& other icons like him) actually did. That’s why there’s only one Bolt or Einstein or Marley or Bharathi or Buddha. Those with absolute Mastery in their chosen space are so few, amidst the billions of humans in existence! 

~@PrakashSwamy

Hornestly honking.. err.. speaking!

9 Sep

Hornestly honking.. err.. speaking!

If you’ve ever been on an Indian road, other than perennially wondering where the lane is (if there’s any), you would’ve also been perplexed by the cacophony of horn noises from a plethora of vehicles (bullocks carts are exempted as they’re pulled by gentle bulls who know better manners). I’m pretty sure there are many other nations who would eagerly to raise their horn.. umm.. hand for sharing the honour, but since I continue to have first hand experience on my motherland’s lanes (roads, highways, whatever), let me stick to it.

I rarely honk not because it’s impolite (you must be a moron to be polite on Indian roads) but because it doesn’t serve any purpose. Once, while traveling with a nice gentlemanly crew member, having observed his penchant to press the horn every 8th second, irrespective of whether there were any vehicles in front of him or not, I’ve gently pushed him (not out of the car – he was driving, after all) to contain his keen interest in playing the piano using the steering wheel until we reached the destination (office, of course). When we got out of the car, I – as gently as possible – reminded him that the car did manage to reach the destination, despite him not honking for 3/4ths of the journey (after the gentle push, obviously), so it must certainly be due to the fuel & not the horn!

Incessant (& irrepressible) honkers are either cowards or sadomasochists. Either they don’t have the courage to navigate the traffic peacefully, which demonstrates their utter lack of self-confidence (lacking in multiple abilities, including driving / riding) or they derive pleasure by willingly hurting others & themselves, by amplifying the already noise polluted environment.

Now shift your perspective a bit & think of those who keep honking.. ahem, yakking, i.e. endlessly (& pointlessly) talking, without even sensing if someone’s listening or not. They’re everywhere – at home, work, street, mall, railway station… Someone’s gotta tell ’em they’re just cowards or sadomasochists!

~Swamy 

Boundary of Benevolence!

18 May

Swamy isn’t much of a spokesperson or a person who speaks to other persons a lot, but he indeed spoke to his kid brother (cousin actually, but brother nevertheless, if you go beyond that mile long Nakshatra & Rasi list read always wrongly in front of the family deity for his blessings 😉 and his mom (Swamy’s aunt, who incidentally went to school along with Swamy – what can one say, ‘active grandparents’ :O), twice – minutes before the results of +2 (aka H.Sc aka 12th grade or standard) were out and a few minutes later. Like any keen student who is burdened by the rote learning education system with no known escape, he wasn’t too happy with the marks he secured, despite scoring a fantastic 96.5%, which is no less than exceptional. Such is the rotten sorry state of education, about which Swamy has ranted a bit in What Say Doting Parent! sometime ago.

LL1Since Swamy has been engaged in the education sector someway, by helping brilliant but economically challenged students in his hometown, thru the NGO Meenakshi Vidhyapeet Trust (started by his 82 year young father-in-law Shri N. Subramaniam, popularly known as NS, over a decade ago & now managed by a board of trustees with him continuing to be actively engaged as a Mentor), he not only shared his pov (cheerful, naturally – his cousin’s an aspiring youngster, after all 🙂 but chose to share a few more inputs with those who care (that obviously includes Swamy’s loyal readers such as you) to ponder.

LL8Swamy’s kid brother has scored fantastic marks (1158 / 1200) in the final year of schooling, especially since he isn’t in the lose-lose engineering / medical race (that most parents pretty much force their wards to prepare for & choose), which require all the marks under the sun – especially for the consciously neglected OC group that we belong to, in a state that brazenly continues with an unconstitutional 69% of quota in all forms of education (and in all probability, employment as well). So, getting a seat in a good city College should be a piece of cake for him. But…

“But what if I don’t get a seat in that top XYZ College with these marks?”

This is a disease that has already consumed the entire school education sector and is already becoming an epidemic in the higher education space as well.

LL4In case you live in a cave in Gupt Kashi, parents in Tamilnadu stand in a serpentine queue, long before the Sun wakes up to wake you and everyone else, to get the admission form for their child’s admission in… wait… take a deep breath… PLAY SCHOOL! And that form doesn’t even guarantee an actual admission, helping the umpteen schools with high brand value rake in the moolah with just form sales. The multi-tier complex fee structure that will confound even Raghuram Rajan comes into play after an entrance exam – right from LKG – and in-person interview of both the child & parents. If you haven’t got that WTF expression on your face yet, you’re certainly one of those parents, with a Whoa expression! :{}

Pause here for a moment and imagine thousands of children who not only don’t get to choose their school (RTE is supposed to help them get educated) and who can’t even continue their education without support from a few benevolent souls – year after year!

LL10Most parents have a plan for their child’s education (which in all probability is something connected with what they failed to accomplish or to ensure continuity of what their current profession is). The ones that plan their child’s education aren’t obviously poor (in the right sense of that oft abused word) and that plan typically will be steered (and most probably funded as well) by close relatives as well. Those who don’t have a direct say in that planned pursuit, will extend their collective goodwill, guidance and – if & only if requested – assistance, as & when required. But…

But there are thousands of children (probably millions – at a national level), brilliant ones, who live in abject poverty and can’t / won’t continue their education, without external assistance, which their parents may not even be aware of – in terms of how, who & where. 

LL2Let’s rekindle your memory (presuming you’re a long-term Swamy reader) with an example. Shri NS (Swamy’s 82 years young, socially active, inspirational father-in-law) has been helping brilliant but economically challenged children continue their education, for over a decade, thru Meenakshi Vidhyapeet Trust in Madurai. These children, all of whom are as eager as your and my child to study, have no means whatsoever to continue their education, on their own. Their fathers typically are daily wage laborers and mothers are servant maids or homemakers. Many of them have more than one child, when they can’t assure a better future – comparatively, of course – to even one. Your heart will bleed and you’ll certainly be moved to tears if you meet & interact with them (you can – during the annual fund giving day – scheduled on June 26th in 2016).

2009_PerformancesKnowing how dire the situation is, Swamy and many other kind souls connected with Shri. NS go out with a virtual begging bowl, requesting their near, dear & acquaintances for donation, to ensure continuity of the education for these children – varying from primary school to professional degree. You’ll be surprised at the magnitude of benevolence shown by people, which is minuscule (compared to what’s required). Generosity always seems to be slumbering, especially when year after year, we practically beg people to help those who really need help. A 500 here or a 1000 there is a nice gesture but also just a notional one. Many don’t even respond. We’ve become immune to such conscious ignorance by now, but never let it deter us from seeking help.

LL7Sevalaya is another example. Located in a nondescript village on the outskirts of Chennai, this school secures 100% pass in both XII and X standard, year after year. They offer free education to poor and orphaned children, only thru benevolence of donors. Of course, it’s far well known than Meenakshi Vidhyapeet Trust and receives a lot of corporate funding too. Sivananda Gurukulam on the other side of Chennai is yet another.

There are numerous NGOs and individuals who are doing their bit to enable a few hundreds or thousands who are in need. But in reality there are millions more who genuinely need help.

Campaign3_2014The stark contrast between well publicized so-called success stories of hard work resulting in sky high marks and state level ranks (and, of course, the ever rising brand value of the popular schools that keep churning such rote champions out, year after year after year) and students who have no assurance of even completing their education is so alarming that one can’t help but wonder Why (and what can be done by each and every one of us)!

Despite his open apathy for his own species’ abject stupidity in whatever they do (reflected in many of his sharp – daily – quotes), Swamy never fails to mull about (& share) whatever little that can be done to change the attitude at least a wee bit and ignite action from at least a small percentage of them. So, here goes his take on the human beings’
Boundary of Benevolence!

LL9All humans are benevolent (well, almost all, one must accept reality) by nature.

But for whatever incomprehensible reason, they’re convinced that they don’t have to express it in any way – beyond their own family, that is. Humans remain convinced “My responsibility is limited to taking care of my family.” True, but Really!

Blog_Campaign_2012_1Ls

Most humans don’t express their benevolence in any way.

These are the “it’s not my problem yaar” or “what can I do yaar” type.
There’s water on the road ~ it’s not my problem yaar!
Politicians suck ~ what can I do yaar!
The dog catcher has taken away the mommy of 5 newborn stray puppies ~ it’s not my problem yaar!
Millions of poor children can’t continue their education ~ what can I do yaar!
You get the drift…

Many humans don’t go beyond tokenism, when it comes to helping others.

These are the “500 here 1000 there” type.
We’re offering Annadhanam for over 3 lakh seekers on Mahashivaratri ~ “here’s my contribution – Rs.500”
We’re conducting annual Car Festival in the local temple ~ “here’s my contribution – Rs.100”
We’re helping 60 poor children continue their education ~ “here’s my contribution – Rs.1000”
They’re obviously better than the first two characters, but there’s a predetermined limit to what they contribute to which. And that limit hardly ever gets a raise!

LL11Few humans step beyond the tokenism and actually offer meaningful help, to the genuinely needy.

These are the “I take care of my driver’s or servant maid’s child’s education” or “I regularly contribute to xyz cause” type.

While obviously commendable – compared to the first 3 types – they are often not too keen on extending their benevolence to causes or organizations that aren’t well known to them personally. Such limited perspective of the varied needs of the world usually limits their benevolence to a bunch of handpicked organizations, some of whom may already be well funded!

Even fewer humans actually get involved in making a difference, in someone’s Life, even if that person or organization isn’t connected to them in anyway.

These are people willing to explore the many options to expand their giving.
Open to listening to what’s the purpose of an individual or organization’s cause.
Keen on extending the range of their benevolence, at times directly related to their own income stream (
for example, a raise in their regular income may actually result in an increase in their charity spend).
The challenge is finding such benevolent humans, since most of them prefer to remain away from the public glare or publicity, which could result in many not-so-genuine entities from pestering them for funds, all year long.

Only a handful of humans actually end up changing the world, at whatever level they can, in whichever area they choose to.

These are the Shri. NS type of people. Not all such humans are celebrities or even well known outside their circle of admirers and supporters.

LL3Shri NS isn’t a rich man. But he had a singular vision, driven by a purpose he totally believed in – to ensure continuity of education for needy students. Here’s a snapshot of his meticulous journey of selfless benevolence, steering Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust, single-handedly for the first few years, for a decade now.

  • He went about finding children who needed financial assistance to continue their education – starting with the poor neighbourhood.
  • He would make their parents fill a detailed form (he was a government servant after all – all his professional life) and promptly cross verify the details provided (talk about accountability – the funds received have to go only to those who truly deserve it).
  • He’ll then go about contacting people known to him and request funds, never forgetting to send them a formal letter of request and invite for the finds giving event. And request them to request funds from more people known to them. For example, Swamy being his son-in-law will be requested by NS, who in turn will request his colleagues, friends & relatives.
  • He’ll ensure all the funds raised are deposited in a bank account created exclusively for this purpose (accountability, once again) and a receipt is issued to each and every donation – however small it is.
  • He’ll plan the funds giving day well ahead and communicate to many, requesting each of them to be present, in person (only a few turn up, unsurprisingly).
  • He’ll meticulously prepare a case register, with each filled form, with his own notes highlighting anything that’s worth notice and hand it over to the panel of dignitaries (many of whom are now part of the board of trustees) invited to hand over the donations.
  • He’ll organize an in-person interview of each student, along with the accompanying parent(s), to not only check their credentials and current status but also to offer a piece of appropriate advice – personalized, as he known almost all of them personally.
  • He’ll ensure at least one more dignitary, unrelated to the NGO, to be present on D-Day, to address the gathering of beneficiaries and offer valuable advice. This is over and above the speeches given by the board of trustees.
  • He’ll organize seating and free food for the event – at his own expense (from his retirement savings).
  • He’ll ensure all the funds collected are disbursed to students on D-Day itself – somehow or other. Next year comes only next year!
  • On conclusion of the event, he’ll ensure the disbursement details are meticulously documented and send a copy of the event summary and funds disbursed by name, category, et al, to each trust member and also some of the highest contributors.
  • Occasionally, but always regularly, he’ll contact the students or their parents to check the continuity of education & progress made
  • He’ll restart and complete the cycle diligently, year after year

LL5About 7 students who have received financial assistance from Meenakshi Vidhyapeet Trust have now graduated and secured jobs in large organizations – including IT behemoths. These are children who didn’t have much hope of even continuing their education. Many of them don’t know who all helped them, but remain indebted to Shri. NS as their saviour (though he himself humbly remains only a conduit – simply connecting the donors with beneficiaries). These achievers (yes, in the true sense of that word) are now being included as active members of the Trust. They’ll be the ambassadors who’ll take the reach of the Trust far and beyond what Shri. NS and the trust members can. They’ll eventually become members of the Trust board itself.  

Our Boundary of Benevolence can be as non-existent as the first category of I-Me-Mine people, or as broad as the last Shri. NS kind of humans, or anywhere amidst these two categories.

As ever, what we can do remains boundless and what we really do is bounded – by faith, belief, relationships, ideals, preconceived notions, etc. But the choice to do something purposeful, in order to be someone valuable, is always ours.

Blog_Campaign_2012_3LsMeenakshi Vidhyapeet Trust will give away the funds raised to deserving students this year too – on 26-June-2016, at Madurai.

You can contribute funds for this year’s event (directly transferred online to the Trust account or via cheque or as cash), irrespective of whichever category you belong (known only to you).

You can explore a bit and take the responsibility of funding one or more children’s education, for one or more year (do ping Swamy or Shri NS, if you’re an explorer for details & guidance).

You can expand a bit and request your near, dear & acquaintances to contribute funds (feel free to use the details shared in this post or ping Swamy for any custom messages).

You can expand a bit more and directly engage with the Trust – as an active member (you obviously have to meet Shri. NS to get started on this enchanting journey, which could turn out to be a rewarding lifelong pursuit).

What you do (or not) will always remain your choice. But whatever you do (or not), keep in mind this (not just for joining hands with Meenakshi Vidhyapeet Trust, naturally 🙂

LL6The Circumference of your Compassion
Is limited only by
The Boundary of your Benevolence!

Be joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~ @PrakashSwamy

Additional Related Reading…

3x3x3 Life Matrix! (Swamy’s address to Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust beneficiaries & parents in 2014)

Yes We Can – Light the Lamp! (published for Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust’s initiative in 2013)
The Purpose of Life! (Swamy’s message to Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust beneficiaries in 2013)
ஒத்த தறிவான் உயிர்வாழ்வான்! (Swamy’s message to Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust beneficiaries in 2013, in Tamizh)
Whoa to Wow! (published for Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust’s initiative in 2012)
Choice = Chance! (published for Meenakshi Vidhyapeeth Trust’s initiative in 2012)
What Say Doting Parent! (Swamy’s rant on the rotten rote-based education system & insights for parents to change the course for their children)
Light the Knowledge Lamp video by Swamy on YouTube
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