Tag Archives: Self

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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GangA Nhadhi DheerEy ~ Step 0

19 Jul

GangA Nhadhi DheerEy ~ Step 0

In the mountain abode of the Lord of Gods!

At 4.44 pm on 8th July 2017, the tower of the temple came into Swamy’s view. It was exactly as seen in the countless photos that pop up from a Google search for that exalted place. The 16 km uphill trek that took a little over 7 hours was about to conclude. But unlike in KailAsh, the floodgates held strong. Until an hour or so! 

When Swamy inched his way to the ancient temple that millions dream of going to, but only a few thousands actually manage to do every year, most only once in a lifetime, and had darshan of the Lord, the floodgates blasted open… washing away the wrongs – known & unknown – committed over several births, including this one. They weren’t tears of toil or torment, but those of pure joy. 

Through teary eyes, Swamy drank to his heart’s content, the magnificently decorated Swayambhu form of Lord KEdArnAth, the Lord of the Gods, MahAdEvA, glittering in beautiful alankAram, that’s more like his brother-in-law’s. It reminded Swamy about Lord AruNAchalA at ThiruvaNNAmalai, literally in the other corner of this culturally rich, complex nation called BhArat.

The wavering mind that usually wanders all around, simply seemed to stand still. The legs that were begging for rest, after the slow & steady uphill trek for over 7 hours, weren’t complaining anymore. Every acquired thing that was considered something in this lifetime, suddenly appeared insignificant. The mantrA that was being chanted inward almost non-stop till then too has chosen to remain silent. Nothing else seemed to matter anymore – other than just being in the presence of Lord KEdhAr, encompassed by his absolute stillness… immersed in his boundless Grace… 

The darshans of Adi Guru will continue to happen, all through the next day, Guru PUrNimA, a very significant day of the year for spiritual seekers. Some of the darshans were so intimate that Swamy, along with the fellow yAtris, would perform abhishEkam and arpaNam to the Lord inside the sanctum sanctorum, which is unimaginable in his state, where the Lord & DEvi can only be worshipped from a significant distance, especially in popular temples. One has to pay a hefty fee to get a closer darshan of the divine. Getting inside the Garbhagriham is entirely out of question. But in KEdhAr, the most benevolent Lord would let anyone – irrespective of caste, creed, status, wealth, fame, et al – to not only see him up close, but also to touch his Swayambhu form and offer worship directly. 

Two incredible happenings, within the short duration of a couple of days, would change Swamy’s perception of ancient consecrated spaces, forever. Experientially, of course, not philosophically. His inner experience at KEdArnAth, one of the holiest spaces of worship for the followers, believers & devotees of Lord ShivA, would incredulously repeat at BhadhrinAth, one of the holiest spaces of worship for followers, believers & devotees of Lord VishNu, in exactly the same way. 

The experience would quite literally show Swamy that 

அரியும் அரனும் ஒண்ணு, அதை

அறியாதவர் வாயில மண்ணு!”

“Hari (Lord VishNu) & HarA (Lord ShivA) are one & the same. 

Those who don’t realise that (Truth) will simply persish (to be born again)!” 

… next in GangA Nhadhi DheerEy … 

“Step 1 ~ DEvi delays Swamy’s yAtrA!”

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy 

🙏👣😌🙌🌻

GangA Nhadhi DheerEy” is a step-by-step retelling (well, almost) of Swamy’s absolutely enchanting ChAr DhAm yAtrA experience, which happened with his Upa Guru SOhamAnandAji’s able guidance, in July 2017, along with a small group of fellow seekers.

What’s the Point!

13 May
No NhAladiyAr or Avvai KuRaL interpretations… 
No SwamyQuotes… 
… 
No New – in the past 4 days…
Not No More… Certainly not yet..!
Heh.. Heh.. Heh… 
… 

Anyway, despite no new – agmark original – content from Swamy,

the sky didn’t fall… 
  • the sun still promptly came up on east, shining at dawn… 
  • the birds still chirped merrily and flew around merrily… 
  • the strays keep finding many a hiding place in the concrete & steel jungle of compassionless humans to beat the boiling summer heat… 
  • the juicy news loving Indians somehow don’t seem to be bothered about the second coming of the loudest news anchor of them all, with his own channel now… 
  • the rain still doesn’t seem to be convinced that NammaChennai makkaL are worthy of at least a drizzle (when a downpour is the dire need)… 
  • the Americans – more than half of them, at least – still can’t believe their most unpopular President of all time (who they elected democratically only a few months ago) is running the nation like an arrogant game show host, making the unofficial, self-declared big brother of the world aka US of A, the butt of jokes, day after day… 
  • the other crazy despot ruling the rogue nation bordering the other big brother of the world hasn’t yet pressed that dreaded button, to ignite judgement day
  • the sad state of Tamilnadu that has lost its leader a few months ago and somehow trundles along miraculously as a headless body, is yet to wake up to the reality that there is practically no one around to fill her haloed position…

… wait a minute… this post itself is kinda like one of Swamy’s Nano blogs.. So, is he already back to what he does well – Write! That too, after a hiatus of just four days! Ha.. Ha..

1474812545607.jpgSo, since the post has anyway started flowing, why not explore this thought stream a little bit more and expand this to a Micro blog (don’t worry, this won’t be a Macro blong).

The reason why Swamy started writing this post is a truly humbling one. Despite having thousands of followers – all Social Media platforms combined, that is (he isn’t a celebrity after all – & he’ll never choose to be one, knowing how much he abhors BAUHumbug Template Living by the human herd), not one of them – yep, not even a single follower – seems to be perturbed about the absence of any posts from Swamy, in the past four days. Whoa! 
While a complete lack of response or reaction of any kind should be expected in this superfast paced world with a gazillion distractions, it had a telling effect on the person who continues to craft his ideas, thoughts, perspectives in the form of social media posts.
By asking himself “What’s the Point!” and contemplating the many possible intellectual explanations (ah, that bloody busy free mind is in action again) – in silence, if course – Swamy was had an awakening – that “he doesn’t matter!
img_0719.jpgWhile Swamy’s hymns, blogs, quotes, photos, comments, reflections, reviews, reminiscences, quips, jokes, clarifications, pointed answers & pertinent questions may resonate with a few fellow humans and may even matter to a few more, they might as well be from anyone else. Some random X, Y or Z, on social media!
Humans need information as much as they need oxygen.
Just as air – polluted or not – is everywhere, providing the necessary oxygen for people to breathe, content too is everywhere, providing the information – necessary or not – for people to consume.
Without information – useful or not – the mind can’t be active, since it needs information to keep churning thoughts.
If the mind isn’t active, there’s no individual identity.
Without the “i”dentity, there’s no existence. For anyone! 
As long as a creator (crafter) offers content (output),  in any form that a human being is familiar with (books, speech, art, music, etc), s/he will have fans / followers who will – passively, in all likelihood – await the next output from her/im. But,
In a world where quantity overwhelmingly outmaneuvers quality in pretty much everything, it really doesn’t matter who offers the content.
There’ll always be someone else. In fact, a lot more than one – for any type of content. 

That awakening really jolted Swamy out of his “I craft original content” stupor!

Because, it doesn’t really matter. At least not in the present reality – however much unreal it is. To anyone – friend, follower, fan or some nondescript human who stumbled across the original content, because big G (oh no, not the Creator G, but the Searcher G) led him/er to it. As soon as he stops crafting content, his fans / followers will always find some other source – who may or may not even craft any original content at all.
So, “What’s the Point?,” in creating anything, if it doesn’t matter at all!
Fact is – as hard it is to swallow, as any hard fact – only Content rules. And will continue to. Content creators just come and go. 
Lord KrishNA came & went. BhagawadgitA lives on. 
Gautama, the Buddha, came & went. DhammA, his path to nirvAnA, lives on.
ThiruValluvar came & went. ThirukkuraL lives on. 
Poets of the three Thamizh Sangam era came & went. The Sangam poetry collections like PadhiNenkeezhkaNakku live on. 
NhAyanmArs & AzhvArs came & went. Thirumurais & Dhivya Prabhandham live on. 
VAlmiki & Kambar came & went. Their RAmAyaN(am) live on. 
Adi ShankarA came & went. His bhAshyams, slOkAs, Stotrams & six paths of worship live on, as are the mutts, JyOthirlingA & Shakthi peetams he has created. 
AruNagirinhAdhar came & went. Thiruppugazh, VEl & Mayil viruttham live on. 
MahAkavi BhArathi came & went. His poetry & prose live on. 
ArutprakAsa RAmalinga VaLLaLAr came and went. Thousands of ThiruvAsagam hymns live on.
PAmban SwAmigaL came & went. His KumArasthavam & many other mantrA like hymns live on. 
img_1379.jpgParamahamsa YOgAnandA came & went. His “Autobiography of a YOgi” and the KriyA yOgA path he taught live on. 
Swami SivAnandA came & went. Hundreds of his books, offering amazing insights into the magnificent spiritual culture of BhArat live on. 
Bhagavan RamaNa Maharishi came & went. His “Who am I” self-enquiry and “AksharamaNamalai” and “ULLadhu nhARpadhu” live on.
KAnchi ParamAchAryA came & went. His “Deivaththin Kural” & many unrecorded, deeply insightful discourses live on.
Swami RAmA came and went. His path-breaking teachings, demonstrations and books – including the phenomenal “Living With The Himalayan Masters,” – that opened up the mystical world of Indian spirituality to the materialistic western world live on.
Osho came & went. Hundreds of his enchanting books – including “The Book of Secrets,” which expounds Lord ShivA’s teaching to DEvi Shakthi on the 112 ways to self-realization, and the myriad techniques he taught for self-realization live on.
Agastya muni, Pathanjali, AvvaiyAr, Aristotle, Plato, Rumi, KALidAsA, Kabir, Nietzsche, Whitman, Vivekananda, Tagore, ThyAgarAjA, KannadAsan, ChinmayAnandA, Watts… countless siddhars, saints, poets, realisd beings and masters came and went. The content they left behind, lives on.
img_0660.jpgThe list of great content creators – of past & present (including Swamy’s Master Sadhguru) – is pretty long, varied & impressive. And only their content – spoken, written, sung, performed, taught, transmitted – will live on. May be, forever. This has happened without fail, from time immemorial and will undoubtedly continue to happen, until there’s no time left (oh yeah, we’re a truly stupid species, endowed with one extra sense than other beings, that are very capable of crafting the total destruction of the only planet we inhabit in this incredibly vast, still expanding, universe). 
Humbled by this rude but real awakening, Swamy assured himself that he will continue to craft – and share – agmark original content. Of different kinds. As long as he can. Knowing full well that it’s his content that will live on. Not Swamy himself, who – the person(ality) known as @PrakashSwamy – will be consigned to the flames at some funeral place, when he must ease out of the mortal form, in which he remains trapped, in this lifetime. And that’s the only point of creating anything. For any creator. Perhaps, including “The Creator” of all creation that was, is & will be there!
adiyogi41s.jpgThank you Lord, for letting me realise that “I” don’t matter. Thanks to the awakening I had, the brand Swamy rests lightly on my shoulders now, with a lot lighter head than before! And with your boundless Grace guiding me for the rest of my existence, may valuable content continue to flow through me, if I’m worthy of being your instrument. PraNAm _/\_ 

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.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy 

B’I’nary ‘i’nsight!

31 Dec

The single letter word I pretty much summarises why humans are such a screwed up species.

Always written in capitals, anywhere in a sentence, it symbolises the every rising ego, by standing tall, like a sore thumb.

That’s why, it’s so hard to contemplate the simplest – and needless to say very elegant and exceptionally eloquent – essential question thay may lead one to eternal wisdom, offered by the Sage of AruNAchalA BhagavAn RamaNa Maharishi, “Who am I?”

It’s so hard to get past one’s simple name, when one asks the question him/erself isn’t it!

Equally intriguing is it’s nondescript non-capital form “i”, which can come to the rescue of the increasingly frustrated ones who struggle to get over its towering capital big brother. Since the much humbler “i” is probably the solution to all the misery caused by the ignorant arrogance of it’s irritable big brother, let’s look at it in a bit more detail.

Unlike the adamant tall “I”, the humbler “i” is actually made of two parts, which may even be considered as the two states of binary “1” & “0”, which has been interpreted in a million different ways in different cultures such as “Shakthi” & “ShivA”, “Yang” & “Yin”, “On” & “Off”, “Ecstasy” & “Stillness”, “PrAkrithi” & “PurushA”, “Individual Self” & “Supreme Self”, “Pashu” & “Pathi”, “Everything” & “Nothing”, “AgnAna” & “GnAna”, “Thing” & “No-Thing”, “PingalA” & “IdA”, “Thought” & “Silence”, “AvidhyA” & “VidhyA”, “Intellect” & “Intelligence”, “MAyA” & “Reality”, “Manifest” & “Unmanifest”, “Oneness” & “Allness”, “Exclusion” & “Inclusion”, “Incomplete” & “Complete”, “Partial” & “Whole”, “Knowledge” & “Knowing”, “Darkness” & “Light”, and so on and on and on.

Going from the never ending quest of being the “1” in everything one does for mere survival, to the state of acceptance that all that one does is utterly pointless unless one realises the true purpose of Life, i.e. becoming the “0”, is the journey called Life. Since realising this Truth is the purpose – not a Goal, which is what hilarious humans are driven to, in anything & everything – the emphasis in Spirituality is always on the journey and not the destination, because there isn’t any.

And the possibility for that realisation opens up only when the head full if “I”, i.e. the “0” on top of the “1” is chopped off and rolls away, so that this “1” being realises that it isn’t an individual being at all – despite all the name, fame, religion, caste, social status, wealth, power, etc.  but just another being in the vast myriad creation, all of which is a part of the whole of “0”.

Time to pick up the gnAna axe and swing your way up above the mighty looking ignorant “I” mountain, with the newly gained Binary “i”nsight as your climbing guide, and proceed towards the self-realisation summit, eh! 

~@PrakashSwamy

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

Swamystery 2.0!

18 Apr

It’s been a while since Swamy published a blog post (don’t worry, he won’t be surprised at all if you haven’t read even one of his hundreds of posts – to err is human, after all :O). The triggers to start writing one were many, as ever…

  • the sparrow that fell into the paint bucket but survived & accepted living in the SwamyHome balcony floor, while relentlessly trying to free its wings to fly away again
  • the crossing of 1st year milestone of freedom from 9-x BAUHumbug survival that went without a hiccup, despite a hiccup stricken stock market
  • the incomprehensible human reaction of ‘why are you doing this?’ when you finally manage to do exactly what they wished for (but never expressed openly)
  • yet another magnificent celebration of Adiyogi that turned out to be totally different (& intensely memorable) from the previous years, due to the little Sadhana twist given by Sadhguru
  • the utterly pointless exercise of trying to make a non-corporate entity process-centric (whoa, some learning that)
  • the first-hand (possibly first-time as well) experience of the physical form getting acutely impacted by an energy manifestation, the prolonged recovery process that followed & the realisation of ‘pain is real but suffering is optional’
  • the intriguing insight on why ThinkOpposite & ThinkDifferent are always interesting to discuss / learn but seldom easy to implement / practice
  • rediscovering the ‘Joy of driving’ with 2 long drives in his new Ciaz (yep, that’s Swamy’s first Maruti, simply because it’s very unMaruti :P)
  • the mind-bending chain of activities called ‘renovating a home while living in it’ that shreds all project management principles (which Swamy has pretty much always laughed at, anyway – no offense to fellow humans who make a living diligently managing projects)  and taunts one to throw up hands in despair every other day, while knowing fully well pausing or stopping is impossible
  • the election comedy that just kicked off in multiple states across MeraBharatMahan

… and so on and on and on.

But Swamy consciously chose not to transform any of those triggers into a blog post. That too for several weeks.

160417082334Since most humans are still driven (mad! ha.. ha..) by numbers (you may be an exception though, which is perfectly fine ;), let’s start with some delectable blog stats (feel free to click on all the links, please ;)…

Been there, Seen that ~ 100 (yep, that’s a ton, thank you – the one to browse if things like daily grind, sports, humour, career, education, et al are your kind of things)

Swamyverse ~ 22 (primarily the 2KYOT series – a modern interpretation of millennia old wisdom treasure Thirukkural for Millennials – so this one can cross a 1000 posts some day, possibly)

Swamyem ~ 34 (poems – in English & தமிழ், when thoughts just flow & expression can’t wait to be verbose)

Swamystery ~ 63 (considered a healthy neuron workout by even the most loyal readers, this one’s pretty much the opposite pole of BTST – highly recommended if you love to ponder whatever you read; Swamy’s spiritual journey with the boundless grace-filled guidance of his Master Sadhguru can also be followed, if you follow this one)

SwamyView ~ 4 (specifically for reviews, obviously not doing as many as he possibly could)

SwamyRay ~ 113 (Quotes – original Rays of kLight from Swamy’s active, rational, non-conformist, think opposite, constantly connecting-the-abstract-dots & marveling at myriad forms & hue of Life mind)

Swamygraphy ~ 3 (Photography, a subdued passion that’s slowly springing its head again, supposedly to capture the beauty of the moments instead of boring technicalities – need a much faster shutter speed, obviously)

That’s 329 posts. In 5 years. On extremely diverse topics.

Not written to achieve anything – including accolades from readers like you, but because there’s a medium to express one’s original thoughts, ideas & povs, for Free! And in this marvelous nation that has excelled in tolerance from time immemorial, one doesn’t get prosecuted or persecuted for expressing one’s views in the public domain (take that pseudo secular intellectual elite award wapsi intolerant brigade members)

FB_IMG_1459682231154Swamy took a pause in 2016, despite having a perennial spring of ideas to write about and no pestering boss to worry about (read about that earned freedom in 21 changes to ponder 21 days later) and pondered a while the following… 

Who am Swamy writing for!

It’s way too obvious that the current readership – and the response, if any – is almost negligible for the effort that goes into each post. Curious about the intense effort that’s the linguistic equivalent of a woman delivering a baby to be promoted to the worshipful position of Mother? Click I Write, Therefore I am!

FB_IMG_1459696662107What’s the big idea Swamy is writing about!

The topics are so broad in scope that it’ll be well nigh impossible to put a finger on the big idea – he certainly has that constantly firing on one of those neurons though. Check this list for a taste of the variety on offer…

Why does Swamy write!

FB_IMG_1459696652251That’s an easy one – because he loves sharing ideas, thoughts, points if view, frameworks, et al and can handle the communication craft with ease. But the billion rupee question is ‘can he wield the pen (aah, proverbs…) more mightily’? Indeed & obviously he should.

What other idea spaces can Swamy explore!

It’s time for that bloody first book, isn’t it. That, once out, for the wor(d)shippers to relish, ponder & marvel, will probably answer all the above questions. Maybe not. Either way, it’s gotta be out of his head, into others’ heads. And the sooner the better.

Cutting the long tale short (that’s another significant change – to keep the posts as short as a chapter of a book), Swamy applied his fav MAP model (enjoy learning it from Daniel Pink’s awesome tome ‘Drive’ or hire Swamy for an experiential learning program to MAP anything) to decide the way forward for his wordsmithing.

Mastery – check. If in doubt, go check the links above or any of the 329 posts out there – all in the public domain, accessible by anyone curious.

Autonomy – check. A fervently independent soul even while trapped in the corporate golden cage, it’s been an year since his well-earned freedom from 9-x programmed paid-servant survival, making him free to pursue the Life pursuits that are truly worth pursuing. Like consciously trying to ‘Just Be!’

Purpose -…….. Well.. Ummm..

FB_IMG_1459696657299Aha, so that’s where the challenge is! He thought he had very clearly thought thru what he intended to do post his 9-x freedom. And did take a few steps to pursue that path. Then the stark BAUHumbug realization struck him – in more ways than one. It was hilarious and Swamy is known to be able to laugh at himself, for the silly song & dance routines one is expected to do, to humour & please various denizens of this world, who grossly overrate themselves and brazenly underrate anyone else. And Swamy is surely & certainly done with the sucking business. For good.

Hmm.. So, the Purpose needs to be chiseled again. And that’s exactly is what Swamy will address in Swamystery 2.0, aka the way forward for his being, in this (& final – the boundless grace of his Master & conscious avoidance of karma pile-up by Swamy ensuring this one) lifetime. And 2.0 will expand his horizon beyond writing (which remains an existential part of the Purpose still, so followers rejoice :D), including but not limited to the to-be launched Swamystery YouTube channel!

It’s not like he doesn’t care about his current readership (that certainly includes you, dear reader – thank you), but he aims for your treasured loyalty to be a part of the much broader base of seekers who are open to exploring far wider spaces of living, going deeper into the BAUHumbug existence that we ass-u-me to be Life. And not just read, watch & ponder, but also learn, practice & experience the Joy of Living (that’s a substantial hint, ain’t it) – from none other than Swamy himself!

Swamystery1fThere’ll certainly be blogs, but maybe not that many as in the past.

There’s gonna be the Swamystery YouTube channel, which won’t be mere mouthing of his own writing. It’ll be interesting, intriguing, insightful & inevitable. And you too can be a part of it!

You will also soon be able to browse & buy his published words (again, including but not limited to)…

  1. The Gardener
  2. P.L.A.Y. ~ The Gardener’s Way (tssk.. they’re both connected & there’ll be a series, you know)
  3. BAUHumbug ~ Why living sucks & what can be done about it!
  4. CowDung Manifesto ~ how to be incorrect – socially & politically and still survive the madness
  5. Answers Sans Questions!
  6. WTF ~ the definitive guide to a shining corporate career
  7. Swamyems ~ Garland 1
  8. REV ~ accelerating Life on the Joyway
  9. Lifescape ~ crafting joy spaces anywhere you want
  10. 3rd Side of the Coin ~ the ThinkOpposite way to success
  11. HR – dead & cremated ~ what to do with people now!
  12. 2000 Years Old Tweets – bite sized Life lessons from the Mylai Monk
  13. Life Matrix
  14. Allness ~ the natural way to nurture a fulfilling Life
  15. No You Can ~ how to say No to survival & Yes to living
  16. SKANDA ~ the 6-in-1 prodigal son of the first Guru
  17. Accidental Seeker ~ the inward journey of an intrepid soul

or something even more interesting in Amazon or Flipkart or Hudsons or StarMark or Sarvodhaya Ilakkiyap Pannai (he’s equally fluent in his mother tongue as well, in case you’re scratching your head) or anywhere wo/man’s best friend – no, not the tailwagger but the pageturner in print, digital or analog – is available!

CoachSwamyDo remember to cherish, like, wow, comment, mention, recommend, +, * & share, whenever & however you access Swamy. Each and every time. It’s perfectly fine if you happen to post a pic with Swamy or mention you’re a SwamyPal (that may even get you a discount ;).

While you wait for the launch (not for long, hopefully), there’s ample time to check the 330 posts (& do your social thing).

So there it is… the way forward for the Gardener aka @PrakashSwamy.

Calling it Swamystery 2.0 isn’t far fetched!

Stay tuned (& interested)…

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer!

@PrakashSwamy

P.S. You can connect with Swamy to explore his offerings for individuals, teams, organizations that include speech, thinking sessions, experiential learning programs & individual explorations focused on Human Potential DISCovery + NURTURE, for joyful living!

Mentor or Coach – 8 valuable insights for making the most useful choice!

18 Feb CoachSwamy

Mentor or Coach – 8 valuable insights for making the most useful choice!

CoachSwamyPeople who approach Swamy seeking guidance, help, counsel, direction, advice, et al, are not clear if they need him to be a Coach or Mentor (or Gardener – but let’s park that enchanting role for the time being). Having spent over two decades of his life span in the corporate corridors (the much coveted corner room wasn’t on his radar, ever), playing both roles for helping many, he’s both amused and amazed at this lack of clarity, especially in this digital space overflowing with digital natives.

While the lack of clarity about these two roles may be caused by multiple factors that still plague most of the systems – including but not limited to education and work, the primary one is not doing one’s own research to make an informed choice, despite the biG (for the uninitiated, that would be big G, aka Google – your active & pious mind is forgiven for interpreting that as the other big G, aka God) waiting eagerly on a plethora of devices to help with tons of information on the subject.

So, Swamy decided to make it easier for you to choose, irrespective of whether you choose him as your Coach or Mentor (or Gardener :)). Here are the 8 valuable insights for making the useful choice!

Both Coaching & Mentoring are about caring, but only Mentoring is about sharing.

Seven-movie-image-3Mentoring is about leveraging one’s own ‘been there, done that‘ survival past. A Mentor usually is a subject matter expert with on field experience, who lets you learn by sharing personal experiences, way of thinking and decisions taken, which you can reuse.

Coaching is about the other person’s ‘how to get there & do that’ living future. A Coach need not be a domain expert, doesn’t share how s/he will approach a situation and enables thinking & decision making happen in you, which you learn to use!

Coaching is a fast paced action movie. Mentoring is a soap that moves along at a leisurely pace for long.

Po-and-Shifu-po-and-master-shifu-25978929-970-823Action movies race from start to finish driven by a hero(ine) who doesn’t even know how to race like a maniac on traffic heavy city roads. If you want short term results, prefer following a framework and need precise direction, then pick a Coach who will steer you towards a specific time bound goals.

Soaps move along at a leisurely pace for a long time, have many colourful characters and are filled with a plethora of wow & whoa moments in each episode. If you need long term outcomes, ready to disentangle yourself from firm beliefs & willing to tread a path shown by someone, choose a Mentor who will walk you along a growth bound career.

Mentor is a teacher, helping you learn. Coach is a trainer, letting you know.

KarateKid4Mentoring is teaching someone what one already knows. If you prefer learning from others – from their experience and knowledge – choose a Mentor, who will help you learn how to navigate externally.

Coaching is letting someone learn what even one may not know. If you want to know yourself better, and discover what you’re capable of – choose a Coach, who will let you know how to navigate internally.

Primary communication skill of a Coach is listening. For a Mentor it’s speaking.

The_Oracle_and_Neo_on_BenchA Mentor speaks a lot to share knowledge & experience so Mentee can learn by listening & questioning. If you love listening to discourses and have annoyed your parents by questioning everything, you’ll benefit from a Mentor who loves to speak and share.

A Coach listens and questions a lot so Coachee can learn from speaking & thinking. If you don’t mind opening up about yourself and willing to discover your true self – warts and all – then you’ll benefit from a Coach who lets the cat see itself on the mirror in all its furry glory and lets it discover how to become the lion with a majestic mane and menacing roar, from deep within.

Coaching is a craft. Mentoring is an art.

silence-of-the-lambsAnyone can learn a craft, because the building blocks of any craft are tools & skills. Natural aptitude helps but isn’t essential. Coaching isn’t a model to solve this tiny planet’s huge problems, though it can be used for that purpose too. It’s a methodical way used by a Coach to enable humans think and act on solutions.

Not everyone can be an artist, otherwise the world will be full of artists and not art lovers & admirers. Mentoring is like starting with a blank canvas, cans of paint, variety of brushes and learning how to use all of them. A Mentor shows how to paint and helps you paint your own masterpiece.

Mentor need not be a stakeholder in your success. Coach has to be.

Dumbledore_HarryPotter1From the moment you were born, many have helped you learn the what’s, why’s & how’s of Life. All parents, most teachers, many friends, few relatives, an odd boss, would’ve shared their own experiences & knowledge gained over time to help you learn from their successes and failures. The one who taught you how to ride a bicycle didn’t do it to make you a world champion rider. Their purpose is simply to share what they knew. They are Mentors who need not be a stakeholder in your success.

When you wanted to achieve specific goals or results, the people you approached or the expertise you sought after were different. The superfit neighbourhood marathoner who helped you reduce weight just in time for the gala wedding; the yoga practitioner brother who guided you to remain stress-free despite having to survive a nagging boss; the lab assistant who helped you nail arc welding; the lithe banker who opened your nostrils wide to the abundance of nutrition in traditional vegetarian diet & tickled your taste buds …these are Coaches – not known experts in those areas – who enabled you discover things even you didn’t know about yourself and helped you achieve specific results you desired.

Coaching is an essential Leadership skill. Mentoring need not be.

Gandalf1A Mentor needs experience & knowledge gained over a span of time to help others by sharing dos & don’ts, but doesn’t necessarily require the ability to personally lead change and achieve results.

A Coach needs an open mind, patience, perspective, humility, presence & persistence – all essential leadership skills, but unknown to many who love to call themselves leaders – to guide others to achieve desired results within specific time.

Mentor lets you know how s/he has done it. Coach lets you discover what you must do and how.

Thor_The_Dark_World_Thor_and_OdinMentoring is reliving material experience by fetching pails of incidences from the memory well and offering it to all thirsty ones. A Mentor who has mastered the art of seamlessly drawing necessary quantity of memory anytime is like a friendly kiranawala (neighbourhood shopkeeper) who offers exactly what & how much you need, when you need it.

Coaching happens when you set your know-it-all self aside and listen to someone as if hearing it for the first time in Life! It’s the closest spiritual experience one can have in this overwhelmingly material world by letting go of oneself while helping someone else. A Coach who has mastered the art of setting one’s own self aside while letting you discover yourself is akin to a Guru who has no self left anytime!

men-in-black

In the enchanting epic of Mahabharat, Krishna is omnipresent, playing different roles at different times. A cowherd who is neither king nor peasant, neither hero nor villain, neither the seen nor the told in reality, the sheer presence of this contemporary Yogi (of that time) ensures there is no tale without him.

Lord-Krishna-In-a-Forest-With-Cow-Natural-ImageIf you’re just happy listening to enchanting tales of Krishna stealing butter with brother Balarama & friends, mesmerizing mother Yashoda by showing the vast universe in his tiny mouth, playfully destroying demons like Bhutana, skillfully playing the flute and dancing with Gopikas, elevating love to an altogether different devotional level with Radhe, benevolently helping childhood friend Kusela… then all you need is a Mentor like Ved Vyas who authored the epic or Thirumuruga Kripananda Vaariar (திருமுருக கிருபானந்த வாரியார்) who can make you go whoa and wow thru his discourses of the epic. Eventually, you may even end up using some of his tricks for plying your trade!

VishwaroopaDarshanOn the other hand, if you’re enticed by the master strategist Krishna, who was always present with the Pandavas but didn’t actually lead them to victory over the Kauravas; enabled Draupati to save her modesty in Dhuryodhana’s court without really teaching her how to; certainly guided them to make the precise moves that led to the decisive victory in the war at Kurukshetra, without actually sharing with them how he destroyed Kamsa, overpowered Kaalinga or lifted the Govardhan mountain with his little finger to save the yadavas from the fury of the mighty Indra… then you must seek a Coach like Krishna. But then, you must also be willing to discover the master archer Arjuna within you, who didn’t have the courage to wage war against his own kin and elders, while at the battlefield, despite all of them being on the wrong side of Dharma. It took a magnificent Vishwaroop slap from Krishna to shake him up and eventually do what he must do – let go of himself to realize what he’s really capable of!

May grace be with you to choose a Mentor or Coach, using Swamy’s 8 valuable insights for making the most useful choice!

P.S. Swamy, Gardener of the human kind, has both the experience and credential to play either Mentor or Coach (or a proportionate mix of both), for anyone keen 😀

@PrakashSwamy

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4 Types of Slavery and How To MOTIvate Yourself To Gain Freedom From Them!

27 Dec

4 Types of Slavery and How To MOTIvate Yourself To Gain Freedom From Them!

During the entire lifetime on this tiny planet in this vast boundaryless universe (or multiverse, if you’re as much in awe of that enchanting idea as this writer), humans continue to feel they’re slaves, one way or another. Having Been there & Seen that for 4-1/2 decades now, almost half of that as a paid-servant of corporates (a socially accepted form of slavery), Swamy not only has pondered about this for a long time but also figured out there’s not just one or two types of slavery for humans, but four in all. He has already managed to wriggle out of 2 and in pursuit of freeing himself from the remaining two as well.

Vaikunda Ekadasi 01012015-0012As a Gardener – of the human kind – it’s natural for Swamy to seed the ideas from his thought fruit, so fellow humans can first know what the 4 Types of Slavery are, and then MOTIvate themselves from gaining freedom, eventually, in this lifetime or the many others to follow (not much of a choice there, even if you’ve gone thru the Swarga vaasal (சொர்க்க வாசல் i.e. heaven’s entrance) unfailingly at the dawn of every single Vaikunda Ekadasi (வைகுண்ட ஏகாதசி) from your birth and prayed to the Lord of the Milkyway (பாற்கடல்) for a no-visa-required direct teleportation to his domain, despite all the nonsense you’ve been doing here & now, harming many knowingly or inadvertently)!

4. Money

This is where it all starts. And sadly for many, ends too.

Maskmovie4You start earning to fulfill material needs, which are no doubt essential for your livelihood. Then you get entangled with material needs of yourself, near & dear and earn some more. And then you get enamoured by the possibilities of elevating your status in the eyes of society and then earn even more.

Intriguingly, that’s exactly what your parents did and probably their parents as well – at least one of them, because even a few decades ago, any sensible person would’ve balked at the mention of a working mother, because there was no such person. But things do change.. quite rapidly.

In a nutshell, the work-earn-workmore-earnmore-worksomemore-earnsomemore-workevenmore-earnevenmore-workalot-earnalot chase down the rabbit hole keeps going like a never ending one-way trip and you inevitably end up a Slave of Money.

3. Ownership

You were born bare without owning anything (doesn’t matter even if your dad is the richest dude on the planet) and that’s exactly the way you’ll be when Life decides it had enough trapped in your frail body (doesn’t matter again, even if you happen to be the richest dude on the same tiny planet).

Baahubali_babyimageYet, between the two helpless stages of Life, you strive to own anything and everything, including many things that you don’t even need for a living. Like an acre wide mansion with 18 bathrooms, when all you need is a bed and a bathroom to do your daily thing. 

Then the list of things starts to include people. And the dividing line between things fade fast, making it so confusing that people around you wonder why they’re being treated like things (when you routinely break them or try to fix them) and things around you are perplexed why you were lusting them (like that truck sized SUV with a gazillion features you hardly use during the daily commute on a narrow lane).

And to amplify the misery, you fail to realize the magnificent Life throbbing not only within you but all around, because your focus is on ownership of things and not the owner of those things.

Gadgets, Cars, Houses, Yachts & Planes are for starters as the list of things you desire to own is as long as the noisy Indian parliament sessions that fail to result in anything useful for anyone, exactly as the endless list of things & beings that make you a Slave of Ownership.

Time

From the moment you’re packed off to a school to study (forget learning – if that happens anytime during your brief lifetime, you’re deemed lucky) or – with most working parents – even before you’re ready to go to school, your Life journey is driven firmly forward by the two handles ticking tirelessly on a clock. Any clock.

Clock2Many clocks, actually. At school, home, workplace, public places, malls, concert halls, shops, service centers, ATMs, online… And they keep ticking relentlessly.

As the clocks keep ticking, you keep doing something or other, exasperating yourself as you’re always scurrying around to meet some deadline – important or not. And the ticking clock never lets you to even do what you really love to do (like spending time with your adorable German Spitz, who has already figured out that stern looking security guard is a better bet than you for petting her).

The moment you submit to a way of Life governed by the clock (or a watch – smart or otherwise), willingly or not (is there a choice, you may shudder), you become a Slave of Time.

Identity

You were named, probably before you were born. You were called that name (not that utterly stupid but adorably cute nick name you’re called on a daily basis, but something sounding like your great grandfather), immediately after you were born. And then, forever.

FacelessYou studied (pointlessly for a long time, completely letting go of the charm of being a nonchalant child filled with wonder to know everything around, each of which appeared marvelous); got a job (or started your own thing); fell in love (many times over, or may be not even once); got married (and almost instantly rued it); started a family (and hated it, may be not openly); raised kids (not too different from how you were raised as a kid); earned a lot (becoming a Slave of Money); repeatedly bough stuff (becoming a Slave of Ownership); kept chugging along (becoming Slave of Time)…

…until that stroke (or accident or firing or loss) left you devastated; semi-retired (sulking all along); became obsolete (even to still-near & once-dear); died and got a tombstone carrying that name along with production & expiry dates (and may be a tacky tagline, if you had been accidentally nice to someone during the short time you called Life).

From that first wail of yours (with a little slap by a nondescript but caring nurse) to the final wail of others (they loved the money for sure, but you… may not be that much) – neither of which you hear anyway – you remain a Slave of Identity.

That sums up the 4 Types of Slavery, viz

Slave of Money

Slave of Ownership

Slave of Time

Slave of Identity

Monkay1Hmmm… Whatever you’ve (tried to) become in this lifetime – popular or notorious or nondescript – it doesn’t sound like it was worth it at all, isn’t it! Remaining a slave, four times over, after all these supposedly slavery free years!

So you ponder (yep, that unique ability called “thinking” was endowed upon your species exactly for this very purpose) and wonder (that too is probably unique to your species) if there’s any bloody way out of the
4 Types of Slavery. Glad you’ve asked!

The pondering & wondering started swirling in Swamy’s mind too a few years ago, especially when his career path seemed utterly pointless (despite the money & recognition) and the longing to know the purpose of Life – not the one we know & live but Life the way it is – deepened.

Thinking2Aided not only by an active thinking mind (which keeps churning out these blog posts & hopefully a bunch of books too, sooner than later) that dared to question any and all BAUHumbug, but also by an entirely different type of Life pursuit (not new at all but one that’s been around a long long time in this vibrant liberated culture) that started a few years ago to comprehend the nature of that mind itself (needless to say, silently but steadily guided by the boundless Grace of his Guru), Swamy realized the 5 Levels of Freedom that helped him gain freedom from 2 of the 4 types slavery already and confidently nudging him ahead to gain freedom from the remaining 2 as well soon, so that he can focus on the pursuit of the ultimate 5th Level of Freedom!

But you, dear reader, still enslaved by the MOTI (without even realizing it, probably) just have to wait for a day or two to learn about the “5 Levels of Freedom!” to know 4 Types of Slavery and How To MOTIvate Yourself To Gain Freedom From Them, which may well be Swamy’s New Year blog for 2016! Until then, keep pondering & wondering…

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

@PrakashSwamy

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NATYA – a simple formula for success

25 Oct

On Vijayadasami day (Oct 22, 2015), considered auspicious for Vidhyarambham (initiation of learning, of all kinds, including performing arts) in Bharat, Swamy was invited to be one of the chief guests for a classical dance event. While Swamy doesn’t have any claim to be associated with dance in any way (he at least actively listens to many kinds of music, including the classical, and even sings & plays percussion instruments, though not formally trained in either), he chose to accept the invite as a mark of respect for the tremendous amount of effort that goes into learning an art or craft (or even sport for that matter, which Swamy has witnessed up-close-and-personal as he’s been part of the quest to raise Jr as a sports – Chess – champion) by all beings involved – the learner (usually an eager child), the learned (the teacher, trainer, coach or Guru, who trains many eager children), the learning enablers (usually parents and a few near & dear) and the learning itself, which is an excruciating, arduous & invariably long process that inevitably consumes a significant part of the childhood. But on any day, Swamy would gladly vote for children spending time learning a performing art, craft or sport, instead of wasting long hours pointlessly in rote learning.

wpid-20151022_181121.jpgThe event Swamy was invited to was a Salangai Puja, to mark the elevation of learners of classical dance from beginner to intermediate level, by letting them wear the salangai on their legs (around the ankle) for the first time, after a few years of learning the basics of classical dance – Bharatanatyam, in this case. The learners will continue to learn for a few more years under the Guru before they can do the Arangetram, i.e., first (typically public) solo performance, announcing to the world that s/he is ready to perform the dance independently anywhere.

SP31Four children – Adhira, Shailaja, Shivadarshini & Srujana – from Siva Natyalaya (the popular dance school of Mrs. Bhuvanadevi Karthikeyan located at Madambakkam, near the famed ancient Shiva temple) were elevated by their Guru to the next level on Vijayadasami & Swamy was one of the chief guests (the other two – Mrs. M.R.Lakshmi & Mrs. Krishnakumari Karthikeyan – were eminent persons from music & dance arenas respectively). This blog post is an excerpt of Swamy’s speech at the salangai puja (not his first public speech but certainly the first at a performing arts or cultural event).

NATYA – a simple formula for success

SP4Swamy’s speech at Siva Natyalaya’s Bharatanatyam Salangai Puja (சலங்கை பூஜை) event in Chennai on 22-Oct-2015 (the speech was in Tamizh தமிழ், which Swamy is quite conversant with, as it happens to be his mother tongue தாய்மொழி)

Namaskaram. After seeing my profession on the invitation (in chaste தமிழ், no less), you must’ve been wondering about what I really do for a living and what relationship do I’ve, if any, with dance!

பிரகாஷ் ராமஸ்வாமி – முழுமை வழிகாட்டி, மனித உள் ஆற்றல் கண்டறிதல் மற்றும் பேணி வளர்த்தல் வல்லுநர் 

SP14I too have wondered the same way about the dance part, as unlike the other two chief guests here – one from the classical music world (learning from none other than the great Semmangudi himself) & the other from the classical dance world (whose grandfather learned from the legendary Balasaraswathi), I’ve nothing to do with dance. Music has been a part of my Life but dance not so much. But as I also write (blogs now, books soon), it’s natural for me to ponder about things and wonder about connections between seemingly unrelated things. When I thought about me & dance, it dawned upon me that there indeed is a powerful connect. And that is Adiyogi (Swamy pointed to the bronze Nataraja statue on the stage that was decked up with flowers for the auspicious occasion).

SP2As someone on the spiritual path for the about 6 years now through Isha yoga, we’re deeply reverential to Adiyogi. Shiva is considered the first yogi in the yogic culture. Incidentally, he also happens to be the Lord of Dance, i.e. Nataraja. His famed dance is the Tandava – in Ananda & Rudra forms – and he’s also known as Thandavakkon in Tamizh because of this. So, now you know the connection between Swamy and dance (the audience chuckle). 

SP9Once that became clear, I’ve thought about what to say in this forum, where eminent persons from music & dance arena are there and children are performing the traditional Bharatanatyam dance beautifully with able guidance from their Guru & the accompanying musicians. Since children are familiar with formulas in many subjects they learn at school such as maths, physics & chemistry, it would be appropriate to give them a simple formula for achieving success in their quest to become eminent classical dancers. And that simple formula is NATYA. Very easy to remember (as the term itself means dance) and hopefully to follow & practice as well.

SP10N is Nada. Nada means sound. The universe that we’re part of is said to have originated from sound –  the primordial sound AUM. Recently, NASA scientists have managed to make the sound of Sun audible and it incredibly sounds as AUM (which isn’t surprising for our ancient culture as the many sages & enlightened beings have figured it out many centuries ago). All Creation is said to be just sound and the creator is also known as Nada Brahma. For dance too, the basis is sound. We’ve seen how beautifully the word Pankajam in a song was depicted as blossoming of lotus by the children. When we hear the word (sound) and see the depiction through gestures or mudras (movement or expression), we can connect with it easily and can comprehend better. 

What’s critical in this relationship is the alignment – between sound and movement in the case of dance. It could be something else for other types of Life pursuits. Alignment with a source, principle, goal or purpose. If your action is in alignment with a purpose, the result will be beautiful and the expreince will be joyful.

SP12A is Agnostic. In these turbulent times of religious intolerance, agnostic is a very sensitive world. But agnostic doesn’t just mean non-believer. It also means someone who is not biased – towards good or bad, like or dislike, progressive or regressive and so on. Shiva is also known as Aghori, someone for whom nothing is ghori or horrible. He accepts everything as it is. The people surrounding him are always depicted as demented beings, but he loves them the same way he would love any other being. He’s as comfortable being in the graveyard smeared in ash, wearing skeletons as he’s in his magnificent Somasundareswara form (worshipped in the famous Madurai Meenakshi temple, in Swamy’s home town). That’s why he symbolises Life the way it is. 

As a learner of dance (or anything for that matter), you shouldn’t be biased towards one or the other. I like this adavu or I don’t like that jathi. This song is more beatiful to perform than that song. I prefer that accompanying person to this one. Your focus should remain just the dance itself (performance or action). And you’ll just accept everything else around it as it is. Nothing is good or bad, no likes or dislikes. Everything just the way it is. That’s being agnostic.

SP21T is Transendence. Loosly translated (as Swamy was speaking in Tamizh – a far deeper, more delightful & meaningful classical language), it is elevating oneself from the present state to a state that’s many levels above or beyond. In the yogic path, it is achieving the state of Samadhi – an eternal state of bliss, which enlightened beings are said to be in, all the time. 

In dance (or any performance or action), Transendence is not just for the dancer (to go from a learner to a spectacular performer) but for the spectators too (going from hmmm to wow). You should reach a level of performance where there’s no stage, no accompanying artists, no spectators, not even the dancer but just the dance. That kind of a dance would bring tears flooding from the eyes of anyone blessed to be present. Tandava certainly would’ve done that to the sages and celestial beings who may’ve witnessed it, as Tandava is the dance of transendence. Both at cosmic and atomic level as creation is also known as the dance of Shiva.

SP28Y is Yearning. Not earning, which unfortunately is the focus of many star performers in any performing art today. Without yearning for something, it’s not possible to achieve the state of transendence. The sages who’ve become enlightened have performed yoga or tapas for many years. The saptarishis have spent not one or two but 84 years in preparing themselves to receive the grace of Adiyogi, who after observing their diligent preparation has become the benevolent Adi Guru (first Guru or Master) as the benevolent Dakshinamurthi to transmit his yogic knowledge to them, several thousands of years ago.

SP23As a dancer (or anyone performing a purposeful action), you must have immense interest and expend tremendous effort to be someone that people line up to see, not because you follow the principles of dance to the T but because being part of your performance lets them transcend to a different level. That’s how you’ll be known as a Balasaraswathi, Rukmini Devi, Padma Subramaniam or Alarmelvalli. In classical music, Bho Shambho belongs to Maharajapuram Santhanam. One can’t think beyond Madurai Mani Iyer when it comes to rendering Ka Vaa Vaa. Suprabatham is synonymous with MS. The same holds true for Kanda Sashti Kavacham and Sulamangalam sisters. Such astonishing levels of achievement is possible for you too, if you truly yearn for it.

SP17A is Absolute. Adiyogi is depicted as either an ascetic in a blissed out state of meditation or ecstatic state of tandava. He’s not partially in either state but absolute in both states. Whenever you perform dance (or any other purposeful action), your intent, focus and intensity has to be absolute. Such a state is not possible if you are performing for others. The performance or action will naturally flow from within and encompass all those who are touched by the performance or action in some way, only when it is absolute. If every moment of our Life is absolute, there’s no other choice for us but to be joyful.

So, that’s the simple formula of NATYA
Nada – action in alignment with a purpose.
Agnostic – accepting Life the way it is, without any kind of bias.
Transendence – elevating oneself & others from the mundane routine to an eternal state of bliss.
Yearning – immense interest and effort to achieve peak performance.
Absolute – intent, focus & intensity to achive transendence.

SP35Nataraja’s (Shiva in the form of Lord of Dance) dance Tandava is said to depict or embody the 5 thatvasSrishti (ஆக்கல் அல்லது படைத்தல்), Sthiti (காத்தல் அல்லது பொறுத்தல்), Samhara (அழித்தல் அல்லது மாற்றல்), Tirobhava (மறைத்தல் அல்லது மாயை விளையாடல்) & Anugraha (அருளல் அல்லது விடுவித்தல்).

It’s easy to see the NATYA formula is directly associated with the 5 Tandava thatvas (தாண்டவ தத்துவம்). But if I start explaining that now, the organisers may open their Netrikkan (third eye), as we’re running out of time. So, let me conclude by requesting you to use the NATYA formula for success in your pursuit of Dance. May Nataraja’s Grace be with you for a purposeful Life of dance overflowing with Joy.

The following is an extension to the speech (not shared at the event due to paucity of time), connecting the dots between NATYA & Tandava.

SP29Nada = Srishti (creation or Shiva as the source of creation) – Life of creation (humans inclusive) in alignment with the creator.
Agnostic = Sthiti (existence or Shiva as the preserver of creation) – Accepting Life the way it is, without any personal bias.
Transendence = Samhara (transformation or Shiva as the transformer of creation) – Elevating oneself (& others in one’s presence) from the mundane routine to an eternal state of bliss
Yearning = Tirobhava (maya or Shiva as the master who plays with the ignorance of his creation) – Having immense interest and willing to expend any amount of effort to know the Truth or purpose of Life.
Absolute = Anugraha (enlightenment or Shiva as the Guru who benevolently enables one to achieve and remain in the state of eternal bliss) – Having absolute clarity of intent/purpose, total focus and burning intensity to achive self-realization.

SP34As there is Nada Yoga (yoga of sound), there is also Natya Yoga (yoga of dance or movement). Dance, when performed as an offering to the ultimate (Shiva as Nataraja) and not as a mere performance, has the potential to let the performer transcend to the state of bliss. Just the way being in the mere presence of a realized being (like Sadhguru) can elevate a seeker to a different state of Life experience (beyond the known physical, limited to the five senses), being present during the perormance of a dancer whose dance is an offering to the Lord of Dance can and will let the participants transcend to a different level of experience – akin to being present during Nataraja’s Tandava itself.

NATYA(Oct-15)May Adiyogi’s grace be with you to immerse yourself in and experience the joyful dance of Life!

@PrakashSwamy

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

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Mystic Nation 1 – The God Conundrum!

18 Sep

ArtistSwamy6Swamy is fully aware of the pitfall of choosing a topic that’s pretty much guaranteed to raise passionate (and possibly violent – going by the recent murders of learned rationalists) reactions from fellow sheep, umm… humans, for the first post in the new seriesMystic Nation” (#MysticNation on social media) on demystifying the great #Bharat culture and encouraging + enabling it’s much needed revival. But having been born and brought up in this colourful milieu that survived not just one or two but many attempts at annihilation, century after century, it’s but natural for Swamy to pick a topic that exemplifies the truly liberal nature of this ancient culture.

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Bharat, aka India isn’t just a country of Gods (and Goddesses, of course – it’s important to be genetically correct in these neo-liberal days when fashionistas, feminists and femme fatales are quite vocal about gender equality – especially on primetime media, while remaining nonchalantly ignorant about daily reports on rape and other dire statistics that imperil their ilk), but a nation where you’ve the liberty to pick and choose a God. Any God, for that matter.

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KamadhenuStarting from the benevolent cow, worshipped as Gomata – mother cow, a benign being that’s quite shaken lately by finding itself suddenly on top of the TRP & trending lists, instead of its humble abode of Goshala – cowshed, because the argumentative Indian who worships the Holy Cow and drinks its milk by the litre everyday also wants to assert his right to butcher and eat her! What can one say, other than Mera Bharat Mahan!

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ArtistSwamy10Where were we… Oh, starting with the holy cow, you’re free to worship any plant (Tulsi – Basil), tree (Vembu – Neem), animal (Hanuman – Lord Monkey, Nandi – Bull), snake (many from Adisesha & Vasuki, and its abode, Putru that’s custom built by, umm… Ants), bird (Garuda – eagle), mountain (Kailash), stone (Saligram or Saalagram), geometric form (Linga – an ellipsoid), hybrid of human & animal (Ganapathy / Ganesha / Vinayaka /Vigneswara… – human form with an elephant head, Narasimhahuman form with a lion head, Hayagreeva – human form with a horse head), eerie looking beings (Kaaval deivam or deities of protection), king (Rama – Lord Ram), cowherd (Lord Krishna), female in a variety of moods wielding dreadful weapons or delightful instruments (Durga, Kali, Saraswathy, Lakshmi & a thousand other Devis – Ammans), beings with non-human features & superhuman abilities (Muruga / Karthikeya / Skandha with 6 heads & 12 arms who, as the General of Devas, extinguished Asuras like Surapadman), part male & female (Ardhanareeswara – talk about gender equality) and last but not the least, an alien being who wouldn’t fit into any kind of definition yet seem to encompass everything, even those beyond human beings’ feeble imagination, surrounded by dreadful looking demented beings (Ganas) and equally at ease in absolute silence or ecstatic dance or absolute annihilation or total bliss (Adiyogi Shiva)… The long list of Gods & Goddesses you can choose to follow and worship in Bharat is limited only by your imagination!

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ArtistSwamy9This idea of anything or anyone as God is certainly incomprehensible for those who grew up in any western civilisation, who from their childhood are brought up on a strict single God diet, eerily similar to some of those they despise and continue to wage war at – the other omnipotent God believers in the middle east, who would erase you from the face of earth without batting an eyelid, if you even dare to talk about their God. And of course, there are those who proclaim with pride their non-belief in a or any God – the atheists. And then there are also the antitheists who will beat any believer up black & blue with their vehement argument because according to them there’s not only no God, but there cannot be any!

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ArtistSwamy1But Bharat being what it was, is & will be, in typical chaotic fashion, one-ups all those binary (only mine, 1 or none, i.e. 0) believers with even more options. First, despite having a plethora of God/desses to choose from, you’re free to remain a non believer too (take that a/ntitheists), with Charvaka being a noteworthy example of this tribe. Second – and this one really takes the cake (modhak or pooran poli is more appropriate, considering today is Vinayaka Chathurti) – you can also learn how to create a God/dess! :O

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ArtistSwamy11Yep, you read that right! This is possibly the only culture with not only an in-depth science of Spirituality but also a practical technology called Consecration (no, not the Mantra-based one done every 12 or 14 years at popular temples with great publicity these days, but the Praana Pratistha process founded by Agastya muni who is considered to be one of the 7 disciples of Adiyogi Shiva, known as the Saptharishis) to create God/desses. That turns the whole Creator (supposedly somewhere way high up) creating the Creation, including us obviously, at will and basically hands over the power of creating the Creator to the Creation itself!

Know more about the science of creation from Sadhguru, a present day yogi, mystic & practitioner, in the references section below.

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… You may take a pause here, long enough to pick your fallen jaw from that Italian marble floor.
ArtistSwamy16As this is only the beginning of a – hopefully & sincerely – blog series (might become a book/s as well, who knows), instead of diving deeper into each and every God/dess mentioned here & then some, let’s look at the idea of God instead. An auspicious starting point would be none other than Ganesha or Vinayaka, Adiyogi Shiva & mother goddess Parvathi’s elder son (there are those who say Ganesha is younger to the younger son Muruga or Karthikeya, considered to be an accomplished Yogi as his illustrious mystic father), who is celebrated & worshipped across this Mystic Nation today – the auspicious day of Vinayaka Chaturthi.
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There are many interpretations of Lord Ganesha, aka Vigneswara, Vinayaka, Ganapathy, Modhakapriya, et al. Devdutt Pattanaik‘s ‘Decoding Ganeshais a good one to start with and can be found in the references section below. In a nutshell, Ganapathy (Lord of Ganas – dreadful looking celestial beings who are always found in the company Adiyogi Shiva) prepares you for the following, if you’re open enough:
ArtistSwamy31. Acceptance – By being depicted as someone who would typically be despised or laughed at in physical form (rotund human form with a pot belly & big elephant head), Ganesha symbolizes acceptance that goes beyond form, shape, hue, et al. Obviously, a valuable example in these troubled times of racial angst and outbursts the world over.
ArtistSwamy182. Equality – The little mouse that’s at Ganesha’s feet depicts even the meek or not-so-equals are accepted as company and taken care of. A useful insight for all supervisors, managers and, ahem, bosses.
3. Physicality – Vinayaka’s form & associated ornaments – snake being one of them, gadgets (axe & ankusa) & delicious food (modhak & pooran poli) depict the material aspects of Life that hold us back from pursuit of Truth, i.e., Who am I? Something worth remembering before you sign the EMI forms for the 2nd house or 4th car.
ArtistSwamy144. Possibility The little mouse (Devdutt enchantingly calls it a ferocious bandicoot) is even depicted as Ganesha’s vehicle – just imagine that! Well, that too is a depiction in typical Bharat style, indicating one must learn to look beyond the obvious. The mouse’s depiction as vehicle of the rotund God possibly depicts size doesn’t matter and nothing is impossible. In fact, Ganesha’s creation (first by Parvathi and then by Adiyogi Shiva – both accomplished Yogis with absolute mastery over all realms & forms) itself is a depiction of the possibilities of creation. An energising thought to ponder before you go back to the BAUHumbug routine job.
ArtistSwamy45. Truth – By nature, humans are tuned to sense the physical form, with their 5 senses (seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting & feeling by touching) and hardly use the 6th sense (thinking) to go beyond the physical realm. Considering Vigneswara is the eradicator of all hurdles, if one learns to see past Ganesha’s form (which itself is many layered and enchanting to know – depicting our desire to know & be with fellow humans, who too are many layered), he depicts none other than the Truth itself, i.e., Aham Brahmasmi or I am Brahman (the source of creation). It won’t be far from truth to say this is the precedent to the long-winding talks about ‘Beyond the obvious’ & ‘Thinking out of the box’ by many modern management & leadership gurus! 
ArtistSwamy7Now that dear reader – the freedom to seek & experience the Truth, going beyond the myriad forms of God/desses (one or many), is the sacred thread that still holds this ancient culture intact, even after many mighty warriors tried to plunder, destroy, rule and annihilate Bharat, over many centuries. In this Mystic Nation, God was never a conundrum, but a potent idea. Not just an enchanting idea about esoteric superhuman beings who looked like humans (because we sketched / crafted them from our limited imagination), but about beings who depict a higher possibility for humans to attain. To transcend the physical limitation and be free… be one with the eternal source of creation.
ArtistSwamy2Not only this Mystic Nation has many God/desses, it also had/s possibly the most number of enlightened beings (the yogis & mystics who have experienced the Truth & attained a state of eternal bliss, transcending the physical) that graced this planet, have devised mechanisms & paths for any and every human being to seek liberation, which was considered the ultimate goal of human existence, not reaching esoteric places like heaven or hell, after death!
ArtistSwamy5aSuch benevolent beings – starting from Adiyogi Shiva himself (celebrated and worshipped as one of the Trimurti, i.e. triumvirate of Gods, along with Vishnu & Brahma), who as Adi Guru Dakshinamurthy transmitted his knowing to Devi first (expounded as the 112 ways to liberation in Vigyan Bhairav Tantra) and then seven disciples known as the Saptharishis on the auspicious Guru Purnima, the pantheon of enlightened beings is long, including but not limited to Lord Muruga (who is said to have left his physical form in a rare standing posture at the Kumaraparvata mountain), Lord Krishna (considered one of the greatest yogis ever to tread this land), Gautama the Buddha (founder of Buddhism who at a point in time is said to have had thousands of enlightened beings as disciples), Rishabha (presumed to be the founder of Jainism), Goraknath, Akkamadevi, Sadasiva Brahmendra, Sri Palani Swami, Sadhguru Sri BrahmaLahiri MahasayaSri Yukteswar Giri, Paramahamsa Yogananda, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Sivananda, Ramana Maharishi, Osho, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta MaharajRamalinga Vallalar and many more.
Sadhguru_Quote3Such beings are still among us – a few well known and many unknown. One such is Swamy’s Master Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of Isha Foundation. And with deep reverence, Swamy submits this first post of his new “Mystic Nation” (#MysticNation) series at the lotus feet of his enlightened Master, whose boundless grace will shine the light on this new path Swamy has chosen to tread, with limited experience but unlimited enthusiasm. Shambho _/\_
… enchantment will flow…
@PrakashSwamy
Note: All sketches & paintings (except Kamadhenu) are Swamy’s own creations – out of imagination or inspired by other skilled artists – drawn during his youth.
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edited_1442284271572References:
Decoding Ganesha – Devdutt Pattanaik
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