Beautiful post by a friend of mine on the nine different actions of Devotion to the Divine that has been described through out the Hindu Mythology. For each type, there are hundreds of stories and characters that have touched many people’s heart. In her post, she has chosen a story for each of them which stands out and uses them to kindle your heart. Enjoy!
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You will just see the body out there.
Once you come out of the body, you will see your whole life flashing like a movie in a few minutes, and you will only know how much love you gave and how much knowledge you received.
These will be the only two questions that will stand.
1. How much love you gave! Not how much love you received, and
2. How much knowledge you gained.
This question will come and you will say, ‘I will do better in the next’, and that is it. Then there is peace. It is like, sometimes at night before sleeping you review what all work you have to do the next day. You say, ‘This all has to be done tomorrow. Okay, I will do it’, and then you go to bed, isn’t it!
Same thing happens after death. Then that intention of what you will do next life will bring the next body and the next birth to us. Then we choose our parents, the place, and everything else and then we come to this world.
So nothing to be worried about death!
A question was asked to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar about what happens after death and he replies on what are the two questions we are asked. Beautiful answer!
I love reading stories. I think stories are the best form of parting knowledge and wisdom to anyone. One of the ideas I had for this blog was to tell the untold stories from the hindu mythology and its interpretations. I was asking a friend of mine to start a blog to tell stories of with her take on it when I realized that I dont have any stories in my blog. So here is a beautiful unknown story from my favorite epic – The Mahabharata; favorite subject – Karma; favorite character – Karna or Radheya.
His story is a unique one with topcis like friendship, dharma, compassion and charity moulded together. he was known for his charity through out the Mahabharata. He kind of sacrificed his life even before the war just for his friendship towards Duryodhana by giving away his “born with” armor and earrings. Though he knew that his side would loose the war, he still fought for his friend on the wrong side. I read somewhere that he had a blessing that anyone who read about true story would have a special liking for him. He was a HERO, the most powerful one, the bravest and yet the most tragic warrior of the Mahabharata. He was the son of the Sun god, Surya. Not many know about the real story of Karna- who he was in the previous life, how did he get the armor and why did he have go through so much of pain. It is a fascinating tale which is very closely tied to the birth of Lord Krishna and Arjuna. Read it below and enjoy!
Long long ago(my favorite line in any story!), even before the Mahabharata, there lived an asura(demon) named Dambhodbhava. He wanted to become immortal and so prayed to the Sun god, Surya. Pleased with his penance, Surya appeared before him. Dambhodbhava asked Surya to make him immortal. But Surya couldnt grant this boon since anything, anyone who was born on this planet will have to die. Surya offered him to ask for something else instead of immortality. Dambhodbhava thought of a different way to gain immortality and came up with this request.
‘My Lord! I want to be protected by a thousand armors! The thousand armors can be broken only by someone who performs penance for a thousand years! Whoever breaks my armor should die immediately!’
Surya was horribly worried. He knew that Dambhodbhava had performed a very powerful penance and that he could get the entire boon he had asked for. And Surya had a feeling that Dambhodbhava was not going to use his powers for good. However having no choice in the matter, Surya granted Dambhodbhava the boon. But deep down Surya still admired Dambhodbhava for the devotion with which he prayed to him.
Immediately after getting the boon from Surya, Dambhodbhava started wrecking havoc on people. People were scared of fighting with him. There was no way of defeating him. Anybody who stood in his way was crushed by him. People started calling him Sahasrakavacha [meaning one who has a thousand armours]. It was around this time that King Daksha [the father of Sati, the first wife of Shiva] got one of his daughters Murti married to Dharma – one of the ‘Mind’ sons of Lord Brahma, the God of Creation [It is said that Lord Brahma created his mind sons or Manas putras from his thoughts].
Murti had also heard of Sahasrakavacha and wanted to put an end to his menace. So she prayed to Lord Vishnu to come and help the people. Lord Vishnu pleased with her appeared before her and said
‘I am pleased with your devotion! I will come and slay Sahasrakavacha! Because you have prayed to me, you would be the reason for slaying Sahasrakavacha!’.
Murti gave birth to not one child, but twins- Narayana and Nara. Narayana and Nara grew up in the ashrama surrounded by the forests. They enjoyed praying to Lord Shiva. The two brothers learnt the art of warfare.The two brothers were inseparable. What one thought the other was always able to finish. Both of them trusted each other implicitly and never questioned the other.
As time went on, Sahasrakavacha started attacking the forest ares surrounding Badrinath, where both Narayana and Nara were staying. As Narayana was meditating, Nara went and challenged Sahasrakavacha for a fight. Sahasrakavacha looked at the calm eyes of Nara and for the first time since he got his boon, felt fear building inside him. He said nervously, ‘I can be killed only by performing penance for a thousand years. You cannot….’ Nara looked at Sahasrakavacha and spoke with you. ‘I have not done any penance….My brother Narayana is doing it for me! And instead of him, I come to fight with you!’
Sahasrakavacha faced the attack of Nara and was astounded. He found that Nara was powerful and had indeed got a lot of power from the penance of his brother. As the fight went on, Sahasrakavacha realized that the penance of Narayana was giving Nara strength. As Sahasrakavacha’s first armour broke he realized that Nara and Narayana were for all purposes one. They were just two persons having the same soul. But Sahasrakavacha was not too worried. He had lost one of his armours. He watched in glee as Nara dropped dead, the minute one of his armours broke!
As Nara fell down dead, Narayana came running towards him. By his years of penance and pleasing Lord Shiva, he had gained the Maha Mritunjaya mantra – a mantra which brought back dead to life. Now Narayana took the fighting with Sahasrakavacha while Nara meditated! After thousand years, Narayana broke another armor and dropped dead while nara came back and revived him. This went on until 999 armors were down. Sahasrakavacha realized that he could never beat the two brothers and ran away seeking refuge with Surya. When Nara and Narayana approached Surya to give him up, Surya did not since he was protecting his devotee. Nara cursed Surya to be born as a human for this act and Surya accepted the curse for this devotee.
All this happened at the end of Treta yuga. [In Hindu mythology there are four yugas – the Satya Yuga, the Dwapara Yuga, Treta Yuga and the Kali Yuga. Each Yuga steadily results in the deterioration of human values with the worst in the Kali Yuga. At the end of each yuga, nature starts afresh.] Immediately after Surya refused to part with Sahasrakavacha, the Treta Yuga ended and the third Yuga started. To fulfil the promise to destroying Sahasrakavacha, Narayana and Nara were reborn – this time as Krishna and Arjuna.
Due to the curse, Dambhodbhava and Surya together were born as Karna, the eldest son of Kunti! Karna was born with one of armours as a natural protection, the last one left of Sahasrakavacha. As Arjuna would have died if Karna had had the armour, Indra [Arjuna’s father] went in disguise and got the last armor of Karna, much before the war began. As Karna was actually the monster Dambodbhava in his previous life, he led a very difficult life to pay for all the sins committed by him in his past life. But Karna also had Surya, the Sun God inside him, so Karna was a hero as well! It was Karna’s karma from his previous life that he had to be with Duryodhana and take part of the all the evil things he did. But the Surya in him made him brave, strong, fearless and charitable. It brought him long lasting fame.
THere are many many stories about Karna in the Mahabharata which are heart rendering, touching but also sometimes evil and wrong. This was because of the conflict of the qualities of a deva, Surya and asura, Sahasrakavacha in him. This reminds me of the conflict in all of us. Sometimes we do good but sometimes we take to the other side. Everyone has got these both qualities inside them – the godly qualities and the animalistic ones. How we tame the animalistic qualities and let our good ones spread determine how “good” we are. The other thingI got from the story is no matter what the situation is there is always a way out – sometimes it takes just one to get there and sometimes two- like Nara and Narayana.
The one question that was unanswered for me was -how did Sahasrakavacha die in the first place to be reborn? He still had one more armor to go and was protected by Surya! Well, I couldnt find this answer anywhere.
I hope you enjoyed reading this long story of Karna!
This thanksgiving weekend, I was on a road trip with other friends to the Grand Canyon, Arizona. This is my first time to the Canyons and it was an amazing sight to see the splendor of nature. The vast land sculptured by the flow of the almost extinct majestic rivers of the lore! The perfect ridges along the edges on the giant piece of land were like the scars of an age old warrior who lived to tell his survival story against the mighty waters. We watched a beautiful sunset along the south rim of the canyons. The colors of the rock was just amazing. The shadows of the giant rocks falling on each other as though . Pure bliss! Here is a picture of international Art of Living teacher, Dushyant Savadia, standing at int eh grand canyon at the time of sunset. It was taken by my iPhone5 in the panoramic mode.
Dushyant Savadia in the Grand Canyons’s south rim at the time of sunset!
Let me just stop there because this post is not to describe the beauty of the canyons :(. I noticed something when I was there seeing my friends walk to the edge of the cliffs in the south rim. I had a fear of heights! This was stopping me from getting to edge of cliffs whereas few of my friends were sitting at the edge with their legs handing down to more than thousand feet drop! I just couldn’t imagine getting there, leave alone sitting and looking down.
Have you witnessed this before – one person walking confidently towards the edge of a cliff or the edge of a tall building whereas some people just stand back at a safe point and shouting instructions and warnings to them? Well, I was one of those shouting instructions, at least to start with. My mind would start imagining different ways I could slip and fall down the cliff. Here are some of the funny ones – strong wind would just hit me alone and I would fall face down; My right shoe would slip on me and I would be falling from the edge like in the movies, etc.
If you watch someone with a fear of heights walking along the edge, you can see them suffering from one of these – freezing sensation of being stuck –
STUCK – cant move back or forward,
Heart beats getting harder and louder
A sudden feeling that you are going to fall down right now
Mind not ready to assimilate any instructions – You will look down when you are told to not look down!
I saw these either in me or in another friend of mine. These were stopping me to get to the edge. This is when my breathing techniques and teaching came in handy. I had to calm my mind to take in any instructions. Otherwise it is caught up in the whirlwind caused by fear. I consciously closed my eyes and started to slow down my breathing to calm myself down. I started to do until my mind started to listen to my intellect to calm itself. Once the breathing came back to normal, I started to notice the sensations in my heart region. This the region where emotions like love, fear, hate arise. I calmed my heart beat with deep breath in and out. This stopped the shivering inside me. Then I told myself that I would go to the edge – one step at a time. I imagined myself at the edge and how I would enjoy it. Then I opened my eyes and started walking towards it. Went as far I can and joined my friends there. It was a wonderful experience to be there.
Our breath has got so much power over our body and mind. If only we know how to harness it, it can help us in any situations we face. If you have the fear of heights, try using your breath to calm you down and then start telling your mind that you can do it and take it step by step.
Just for your eyes only – I still had the jitters when I recollected the height of the grand canyon and me walking towards it while writing this post!
Here is a beautiful story that I read today! A story on how nature helps one to grow and pull oneself from any pit!
One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.
He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him to bury the donkey. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement he quieted down.
A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest pits just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up. The more you get up – the faster the dirt will come but the dirt is only help you come out of the pit faster! If you can remember this, nothing will stop you from growing!
I had written a post about how the outer environment affects our inner world in the previous post and promised to speak more about how our breath can help us. Well, here is how it can help us! You can read the previous post here.
Recently, I was involved in a altercation with someone and it turned into a heated argument. We both were going head on head with each other about our opinions and what had happened until I noticed something. I was feeling so hot! My head, face, palms and chest were so hot and it was suffocating! The moment I noticed it, I started to let go of the argument and started taking my awareness inside me to observe all these sensations in the body. This helped me cool down a bit.
Have you been in a situation like this before? What has helped you to come out of it? What helped me to control my emotion at that time was my BREATH.
Angry : breath becomes Fast and Shallow
Sad : breath becomes long and deep
Every emotion in the body – anger, sadness, joy, etc. has a corresponding rhythm in the body. If we notice our breath when we are angry it is shallow, fast and hot. Yes, our breath can be of various temperature! When we are sad, we sigh – which is long, deep and our exhalation is longer than our inhalation. When in joy or happy – it is long, deep and inhalation is longer than exhalation. Like smelling something really nice or delicious! These emotions trigger these different patterns of breathing in our body. This is done automatically by the body with out any intervention from us.Now here is the best part – We can use the breath to control the emotions too! When I heard this for the first time, I was like – “REALLY? I am not sure about that!”. But this was until I experienced it myself. Breathing in a particular pattern can induce a corresponding emotion. So instead of being overwhelmed by our emotions, we can transform those using specific breathing techniques. You can listen to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar explaining in the video.
This is the not the first time we have heard this. We have been doing this for a long time. Have you heard people asking you to take deep breath in and out when you were excited or angry? This is to come out of anger by using your own breath. When you take long deep breaths, the breath induces a sense of calmness or happiness which acts against your anger and helps you snap out it! This the secret behind the technique.
Now we need the skill to know which breath to use when and how. This is where the Art of Living course has helped me. These techniques are taught in such a superb way in this course that anyone can learn and practice it. You learn something called the Sudarshan Kriya in the course which helps you de – stress and release the built up emotions that are hidden deep in your body. You also learn pranayamas – techniques to control your breath, in the course. They teach you the link between the body, breath, mind and emotions that will help you manage your emotions next time. You do a lot of yoga and meditation in the 20 hour course spanning across 4 days which helps you to release the tensions in the body and mind. This is what Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says about Sudarshan Kriya –
The Sudarshan Kriya incorporates specific natural rhythms of breath which harmonize the rhythms of the body and emotions and bring them in tune with the rhythms of nature. The breath connects the body and mind. Just as emotions affect our patterns of breathing, we can bring about changes in our mental and behavioral patterns by altering the rhythms of our breath. It flushes our anger, anxiety and worry; leaving the mind completely relaxed and energized.
It is natural for the mind to get caught up in emotions. The duet of the breath and emotions has been there since we came into this world. But we dont have to be stuck in emotions the whole time and lead a life dictated by emotions. When we learn these techniques, it helps us to dance better to this duet. More importantly, it helps us to control the duet! So the next time you are caught up in any emotion, take a deep breath, SMILE and remember – YOU ARE IN CONTROL!
Today is Diwali. A festival of lights celebrated in India and many other countries. This is one of the most important festivals celebrated in the year. A festival that marks the occasion of throwing away all evil and letting the light of wisdom dawn in us. You can read a lot more about Diwali here –
Below is the greeting message from His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Happy Diwali to all of you. Diwali is a festival of lights. Here the light signifies wisdom. We need to globalize wisdom today. People from various culture, religion, nationality and gender will have to come together and realize – we are all part of one human family. Let us on this auspicious occasion of Diwali resolve to spread peace, to unite people in love and celebration, to bring prosperity. This is the occasion to let go of past bickering and misunderstanding and once again come together in spirit of celebration. All the best to everyone of you. Happy Diwali to every one of you!
There was a kingdom which had a king and he was aided by a wise prime minister. The king ruled the kingdom with the help of a government which took care of all the administration. Most of the time the country was governed by the administrative body. Whenever something unusual needs to be decided, the king is advised by the prime minister and then makes a decision. But unfortunately, the king is always confused by the amount of information brought to him by the administration. His another problem was his attachement to and his identification to the kingdom. As a result, the king often does not properly listen to the wise prime minister and kingdom ends up in trouble due to the king’s bad decision. The kingdom had a GOD which kept on witnessing these events but did nothing!
The above story is not so different from what happens in everyone’s life every day. Do you find the inner meaning in this story? The kingdom is our BODY while EGO is the king. Our INTELLECT is the wise prime minister. The intellect is wise because it has access to memory and it knows which events in the past have been good or bad for the body. The governing administrative entity is our own MIND. The mind takes care of all the activities this body does. But when something unusual needs to be done, the Ego steps in and consults with the intellect on how to act. Though the ego gets the right answer, it is flooded with inputs from the mind through the five senses.
The ego can work in two ways from here – either agree with the intellect or surrender to the emotions stirred by the mind. Lets take a small deviation and see what are the inputs from the mind to the intellect. When we breath we take in Prana or Life force and this prana when in contact with the state of mind, emotions or Rasas(in Sanskrit) are experienced in the mind. Emotions like Anger, Sadness, Joy, Wonder, etc. At this point the ego has to decide whether to accept this Rasa that is being experienced by the body. If the ego, after consulting with the body, does not support the Rasa, then it will be changed by the act of will power. If the ego supports the Rasa, then the intellect can not do anything and is forced by the ego to accept the Rasa. At this time the ego thinks that it is enjoying the Rasa and then we exclaim “I am feeling great“! So far example, when you are eating an ice cream, the tongue send the signal to the mind that it likes it. So an emotion is triggered in the mind. The ego consults its intellect whether to accept it or not. Though the intellect keeps telling “The last time you had ice cream you had a cold. Do not eat it!”, the ego is flooded with a joyful feeling from the mind. Then the ego decides to overcome the intellect and starts to enjoy the ice cream thinking – “I really love eating ice cream!”.
The GOD who kept watching this entire event but did nothing is the SELF. It just witnesses.
This is the general flow of energy from the outside world into our inner world and how we think we are enjoying the world! Fascinating isn’t it? I will discuss about how to control this whole flow of energy and emotions from the outer to the inner by just using our own Breath in a next post. Keep watching!