Posted in festivals, mythoughts, personality

Reverence for Nature – Vrikshamandir Din, Madhavvrund Din…

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Wish you all, my readers, a very Happy Vruskshmandir Din, Madhav Vrund Din and Yuva Din.

All 3 festivals celebrated by the Swadhyay Pariwaar, across the globe, on the same day, ie today, 12th of July.
These 3 days also coincide with the birthday of the current head or the Elder Sister of Swadhyay Pariwaar, Revered Dhanashree Athavale – Talwalkar. She happens to be my mentor and guide too. Will write about the parivaar and its founder Revered Pandurang Shashtriji Athavale (Dadaji – elder brother in Marathi) in another blog some day.

Today wanna talk about the outlook that they both have inculcated into thousands of lives in India and abroad.

The Vedic philosophy believes in the 4 basic principles
Reverence for self, -Reverence for others,
Reverence for Nature; and
Reverence for the Creator.

The Creator himself resides within me as He, Himself said so in Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta.
“सर्वस्यचाहं हृदि सन्निविष्टो ।”
sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto श्री मद्भग्वदगीता – अध्याय 15 श्लोक 15 (I reside in every heart)
So am divine.
In the same way, He resides in every heart. So there is no question of looking down upon others too.

And goes a step forward to say,
“अश्वत्थ: सर्ववृक्षाणाम् ।”
Ashwathaha sarva vrukshaanaam
श्री मद्भग्वदगीता – अध्याय 10 श्लोक 26
(Am the Peepal (Ficus religiosa) among the trees)
So if the Creator Himself says so, the Nature is divine too. Then how can I even think of harming it!

But Human mind based on reasoning and scientific attitude talks about the need of tree or a cow once it loses it sheen as an object of utility. And slowly loses the feeling of reverence for everything, that has been inculcated in his or her childhood. I need to clarify that am not against the usage of things and objects in our lives, but at the same time it is distressing to see Humans become so emotionless towards fellow human beings, fellow living creatures and nature.

At such a time of distress, comes a Great Man (Human history is full of such great people) who takes us back to our roots and makes us understand to water them, and not bereave them from water. They come out of Law of Universal Necessity, and not out of Law of Attraction and Repulsion or Law of Karma. They teach the Universe about the morals and ethics of life and show the right path to tread on.

Param Pujaniya Pandurang Shashtriji Athavale, Dadaji, is one such person. He explains that people, that is we, look towards nature with a sense of Utility or a sense of Objectivity (being beautiful). But He further explains that we Humans who can think and reason and feel, should move a step ahead and try to find and see the divinity within everything. It is based on this thought that He has given an experiment called Vrukhsmandir (A temple of forests).

Swadhyayees from 20 villages around plant trees in a barren land. Take care of them as family members and grow them. As it is a community work, no one is the owner of the produce. It’s rightful owner is God, Himself. It may sound like some social experiment, but my readers I should draw your attention to the fact that it is purely divine. Everyone who participates here is learning to see God, even in the trees. Through this, I feel, that Shashtriji has revived the feeling of Reverence towards Nature. There are 27 such Vrukshmandirs in the state of Gujarat and Maharashtra.

And for this novel experiment of Vrikshmandirs, Shashtriji has been awarded the Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshmitra Award too.

It is an experiment which does have social impact, but Shashtriji explains and propounds that, we do plant trees and take care of them, but we are not environmentalist, we are ‘Bhakts’ (devotees). There are so many instances where lives of people going to Vruskhmandirs have changed and this is the basic idea of what Shashtriji wants to do. He further explains, that if we see changes in the mindset of the society or a positive attitude develops towards nature, for society as a whole, then it is the ‘side effect’ of this experiment. The Vrukshmandir is basically for a human to look into himself and change. This is Swadhyay.

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Similarly, the people living in metro cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru or Kolkatta and Delhi and in town and cities have been encouraged to plant a small shrub at home to develop a healthy and a divine attitude towards Nature. Everyday morning, the family members get together and water the plant and utter the ‘Narayanopanishad’ while watering. Two small changes can happen. One is that the family comes closer and their bonding collectively with nature too increases. Singing the Narayanopanishad helps develop the understanding of seeing Narayan, ie God in the tree or sapling planted at home.

This understanding based on the thoughts of Bhakti has transformed lives of people and families. Created a sense of unity amongst society. And yes, indirectly helped in environment conservation too.

This year too the Swadhyayees have contacted their friends and family who do not know about Swadhyay and talked to them about the concept of Madhavvrund and have gifted them a flowering plant and requested them to nurture them in their respective houses.

Shastriji has also asked upon Swadhyayees to conserve water at home, in fields and in lakes around their villages. Swadhyay parivaar has built thousands of lakes and check dams across many states in India. They call them ‘Nirmal Neer’. Also many Swadhyayees have taken upto rain water harvesting in their individual houses and many villagers have started helping in recharging the ground water levels through an experiment of “Shosh Khadda” (a pit that helps absorb kitchen water into the ground).

My readers might have a question that even after doing all this, we have never heard about it. Because both, Shashtriji and His daughter are of the firm belief that we have to go and share such ideas with people personally. First develop a relationship and then share. It is not a system but their conviction that changes are desirable in the minds of the people. The moment they realise and develop a bond with their God within, then a small Human can do big things. It is this firm belief that has kept the Parivaar together. And so they keep away from Media. There has been no such media propaganda of the ground work that they have done.

Today, also happens to be the birthday of Dhanashree Didi (Didi – elder sister). She has been nurturing the Parivaar with lots of love, warmth and affection. The way She connects with people through Her talks and action is just unbelievable. For people who dont know Her, they would feel that am just exaggerating. Then I would say that Seeing is believing. I have seen it and I believe it.

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She has taken a lot of efforts to gather all the different pearls (people of different states, linguistic preferences, castes, creed, nationaities) into a single thread. The youth, in particular, will remain indebted to Her for generations to come. According to the wishes of Dadaji, She has organised the youth and given them dynamic activities through which the generation of today understand the morals, ethics and more importantly, the nearness of God. So the youth on Her birthday, celebrate Yuva Din (Youth Day). It is a way of expressing their Gratitude to both these ‘ Mahamaanavs.’

At the end, I pray to God that

May He, help us to develop strong bondings amongst Humans that these binds transcend faith and uplift Humanity.

May He, help us develop the understanding of oneness with Nature and the Universe as a whole.

May He, take us closer to Himself and bless us with understanding of oneness with God.

Posted in personality

Human Dignity Day – 2

“God wishes that I start my work from this place, through this sign, Nirmala. We will start our Vidyapeeth here,” said Pandurang Shastriji Atahvale.

Pandurang Shastriji Athavale, Dadaji, had just come back from Japan. He had attended the World Religious Conference and propounded the theory talked about in Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta. But when asked whether he had something concrete to show, he had returned back to India, to experimentally prove the teachings of Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta.

His thoughts during the flight back home, were just about the recent offer by Dr.Crompton, he had declined politely and the challenge he had taken up to prove the thoughts he had put forth in his speeches at the Conference. Impressed by his clarity of thoughts, Dr.Crompton, a Nobel laureate, had offered Dadaji, to come to USA and propagate his thoughts about Geeta and Vedic culture. He was astonished when the young Pandurang declined it with utmost modesty. Dadaji in the flight was thinking that what he did was right. As the people in USA are not aware about Bhagwaan Krishna and so maybe will not have faith in him. So he will have to begin from scratch. Whereas in India, the people know Bhagwaan Krishna and had utmost faith in him. So it would be easier to talk to them and make them understand the thoughts. It is simple logic that a person follows who he trusts or has faith in. So now the first thing on reaching India would be to start looking for a place in and near Mumbai from where he can not only propagate His thoughts, but the place would also initiate experiments based on the thoughts.

On reaching Mumbai, the quest for finding the place began. He along with his consort, Nirmalatai, started visiting places for starting an institution for the above said activity. One day, while visiting a place near Kapurbawdi area of Thane, a district close to Mumbai, Nirmalatai’s chappals (footwear) got stuck in the mud. So taking this as a sign from the Divine, Dadaji laid the foundation stone for the institution on 22nd October 1954, Ashwin Sud Saptami, incidentally his birthday too according to Indian calendar.

Thus began the work on one of the only institutions that teaches how to lead a good life and how to become a good human! I have not heard of any such institution till date whose education is not going to fetch one nothing but knowledge. Yes I reiterate NO job, NO bread, NO fame.

As th work on the building proceeded, Dadaji went through a phase when he did not have any money left to continue with the building work. But God worried for his son and sent the money through people always wishing well for Dadaji. To save on every paise, Dadaji got the bricks made in the place itself. He himself was instrumental in making the bricks. Even today when we visit the place we get to see TVP (Tatvadnan Vidyapeeth) engraved on those bricks there.

The day of formal opening arrived in the year 1958, when the then Vice President, Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, an acknowledged philosopher himself, arrived at Tatvadnan Vidyapeeth. It was a sombre occasion with a feeling and a touch of a family and not about protocols at all. After lunch, both Dadaji and Radhakrishnanji started talking about the future of the Vidyapeeth when the issue of economic dependency came up. Radhakrishnanji, being elder and more experienced, asked Dadaji about how he intends to run the Vidyapeeth without asking for funds. He even went further to cite his own experience when he and Madan Mohan Malviyaji asked for funds, for running the Benares Hindu University, from the society. To which Dadaji replied humbly, “Sir, we differ in fundamentals. For you, the society is absolute, whereas for me it is God. This is His institution and l would leave it upto Him to let it run. The day it doesnt, I have kept the lock ready. Will lock it up and go home.” Radhakrishnanji, a senior, was taken aback but admired the love of this young Shastri for his principles, especially faith in God. It is well evident that even in his last days on Mother Earth, Radhakrishnanji was happy to know that the institution he had inaugurated was still working.

Such is the Tatvadnan Vidyapeeth, whose birthday is today.

And such is Pandurang Shastriji Athavale, whose centenary birthday, we celebrate today.

Posted in #haiku, festivals, mythoughts, personality

Human Dignity Day

O My Creator,

My God, I bow down to you,

Salute You again…// 11 – 39 //

The shlok uttered by Arjun, the disciple of God, talks about Him being the Creator of everything that you and me can see, hear, feel or touch with our senses, again created by Him and he offers a 1000 salutations to Him again and again.

The shlok for your reference :

वायुर्यमोऽग्निर्वरुण: शशाङ्क:
प्रजापतिस्त्वं प्रपितामहश्च 
नमो नमस्तेऽस्तु सहस्रकृत्व:
पुनश्च भूयोऽपि नमो नमस्ते ।।

You are Vāyu (the god of wind), Yamraj (the god of death), Agni (the god of fire), Varuṇ (the god of water), and Chandra (the moon-God). You are the creator Brahma, and the great-grandfather of all beings. I offer my salutations unto you a thousand times, again and yet again!

Have purposely taken this shlok today to celebrate the coming of my elder brother, my teacher, the creator of Swadhyay Parivaar, the recipient of Ramon Magasaysay Award for Community Leadership of 1996, the John Templeton prize for Progress in Religion of 1997 and the Padma Vibhusan, the second highest civilian honour in India of 1998, Param Poojaniya Pandurang Shahtriji Athavale ( Dadaji, as he is widely known to Swadhyayees). We celeberate His birthday as Manushya Gaurav Din, “Human Dignity Day“.

It is His 100th birthday and today we sit at His feet, trying to understand His thoughts and His work and His experiments on humanity. The work of human upliftment. Instilling a sense of gratitude towards God, society and self, He has guided millions of people, mainly Indians, across the world.

In the early 1920’s, a feast in the temple in a village of Roha, situated in the Konkan region of Maharashtra. The rituals have just finished and people rush towards the area designated for lunch. The Gods have been offered a “bhog” which will be distributed as “Prasad” amongst the devotees. Some people wait at the steps of the temple for the Prasad. A few moments later, the head priest of the temple emerges from temple onto the steps with a few leaf – plates in hand and some morsels of food in it. He throws them onto the group of people waiting there who just grab it and eat out from them. It is an intriguing sight. A boy, very small, is watching this from not so long a distance and feels that something is wrong. He questions, “Why are these people being treated in this inhumanely manner? How come they do not feel bad being treated in this manner?”

The same boy after a few days, asks his grandfather the reason for taking a bath after returning from the so called downtrodden slum after teaching them the Dnyaneshwari. Laxmanraoji, a Brahmin scholar by himself, used to go regularly to the slums and teach the Dnyaneshwari to the people living there. A time when even the shadow of these people falling on oneself was considered inauspicious, he on his own went there and sat amongst them and taught them Dnyaneshwari, which in itself was very revolutionary. But keeping the sentiments of his community in mind, after returning would take a bath and then enter the house. On being explained this, the boy asked a pointed question to his grandfather, “If it is God who has made us all, how can they be down trodden? If God resides in us all, then how can they be considered inauspicious?”

After a few years, the boy is now in his youth, and has come to Mumbai to live with his parents. He has taken up reading at the Asiatic library. One monsoon evening after the library closed, he went and sat at the shores of Gateway of India. The waters of the Arabian Sea have swelled up due to the strong winds. A fisherman in his small boat is trying to balance his boat by resisting those winds and waves and trying hard to sail and save himself. The youth thinks to himself “What a brave man! Just look at the amount of energy he has. And people blame him and his society and look down upon them for all the vices. But if someone sits near this person and makes him realise his strengths and that God resides within him, then he can do anything which people feel is impossible for him to do.”

This youth today has transformed many lives and societies and has given them a self identity. He is none other than Pandurang Shashtriji Athavale, fondly called Dadaji, whose 100th birthday, is being celebrated by the Swadhyay Parivaar today.

An activist philosopher, who has not only propounded , but lived the philosophy of Indwelling God and Universal Brotherhood under the Fatherhood of God. These are not mere concepts, but today have become a way of living for many, who call themselves, Swadhyayees. These thoughts have changed the lives of many a people and society as a whole.

To imbibe and practise these two concepts Dadaji has given a small experiment, amongst his many experiments, a prayer, called Trikaal Sandhya, meaning to remember God, 3 times a day. He calls it an Atom Bomb. A householder might find it difficult to remember God at every instant, but he can do so at atleast 3 important junctures of his everyday life. First, in the morning, when he awakes. God gives us back our memory which we had forgotten when we slept. “SMRUTIDAAN“. Second during lunch/dinner time, when we eat our food and that converts to energy. God is there to oversee this process. “SHAKTIDAAN“. And at night, when God takes away all the thoughts from our mind, so we can sleep well. “SHANTIDAAN“. Being grateful to God slowly helps in experiencing the nearness of God and oneness with God. At the same time it develops an understanding, that what He does to me, He does unto others. So the other is not other. The other may not be related to me by blood, but we are related by the same maker of blood, God. So other is my divine brother. It’s a chain reaction which spread slowly Trikaal Sandhya being the neutron bombarded on the Human, the uranium atom.

This prayer, for you my readers, might sound like another ritual. But it is not so. If done with an understanding, it creates wonders. There are umpteen examples of what started as a ritual, but on understanding brought in transformation. A tobacco addicted man used to say it everyday. One fine morning, he thought that when I say “करमध्ये तू गोविंद ” meaning God resides in my palm, it means that when I rub tobacco on my palm, I rub it into Him. Now this thought changed his whole understanding and he left tobacco that moment itself. Yes, you may ask that this must be taking time. It does. It is slow and gradual, but permanent. And what if he never realises his folly? Then too it’s fine. He may change in his next life.

Let’s also talk about the transformation in the lives of the fisherman folk whom I mentioned about at the beginning of my blog. Dadaji went to them, into their houses and sat with them. He told them to identify themselves and live a dignified life. He told them “You are from the lineage of Vyas and Valmiki. Then why do belittle yourselves? You are following your father’s profession. ( आ पाप नो नहीं, तारा बाप नो धंधो छे।)” Instilling this self identity in them, the fisherman folk today see their lives change and transform. Dadaji calls them “सागरपुत्र”, the sons of the ocean. The relations that Dadaji built with them and their families is unparalled in the recent history. Similar is the case with the other castes and classes. In this modern world, where caste systems are still predominant amongst the society, people from the upper caste go to the houses of the outcastes ( called untouchables). Not only go to their houses, but live with them and share food with them. All this has been possible by a mind boggling thought of Indwelling God i.e. God resides in everyone.

Dadaji has stressed upon building relations. He says when you go to meet a person, first listen to what the person has to say. This is the stepping stone of any relation. Hear them out. You first relate with them. We do not go to them to change them, or give any advice to them or interfere in their ways of living. But we go to them as they too are sons of the same God who takes care of us. We are divine brothers. And It is believed that Dadaji himself has cultivated such relations with more than a lac families personally, transcending caste, class and creed. It’s mind blowing to see a philosopher so down to earth and ready to mingle with the common man.

His experiments of Yogeshwar Krushi, Matsyagandha, Vrikshmandir, Shreedarshanam, Loknath Amrutalayam to name a few amongst the many have brought about transformation in village and society as a whole. It is an alternative society in the already prevailing one. A society with no vices but just pure love and warmth for each other. A society of selfless relationships. It all sounds like an utopia, but one needs to see it to believe it.

But the crux of all this is the transformation of Humanity with God at it’s centre. The change in the individual. The change not through beheading but through the changing of the thoughts in ones minds and brain. This is true revolution. And so Dadaji’s birthday is celebrated as Human Dignity Day. His human centric life is always like a lighhouse in the vast ocean.

Even today his thoughts and methodology are the same which were at the onset of His Godly effort. The family spread across 6 continents and many countries works in the same way everywhere. This universal approach has been a guiding spirit to Swadhyayees through Dadaji’s daughter, Pujaniya Jayshree Athavale – Talwalkar (Didiji). She works with the same understanding as that of Dadaji’s and guides every Swadhyayee to work with the same spirit. As every year, even this year Swadhyayees are meeting their family, friends and relatives with this thought of God to build God centric selfless relations.

So, today Swadhyayees aptly celebrate Dadaji’s birthday as Human Dignity Day – Manushya Gaurav Din.

Wishing you all and your families a very Happy Human Dignity Day.

आप सभी को मनुष्य गौरव दिन की खूब खूब शुभकामनाएँ।

Posted in festivals

Raksha Bandhan

रक्षासूत्र मंत्र :-

येन बद्धो बलि राजा, दानवेन्द्रो महाबल।
तेन त्वाम् प्रतिबद्ध्नामि रक्षे मा चल मा चल ॥

(O Brother! I tie you (towards your responsibilities) in the same way the King Bali was tied to, by his sister, Goddess Lakshmi. And pray that you may not waver from your path of responsibilities).

Am in two minds from many days whether to write or not on this caring and a beautiful relation. The great poet Valmiki too has refrained from describing Ram’s relation with his sister, Shanta. (Many of my readers may not that Ram too had a sister.) And Vyas too has not written any details about relations shared by Krishna – Balram – Subhadra or 105 Kuru Princes – Dushyala. If these great poets refrain to describe this relation, then I am just a student of this great culture and civilisation. At the same time, it is a relation which I want to write on and let the new generation also know and understand the real meaning behind this relation.

फूलों का तारों का, सबका कहना है
एक हज़ारों में मेरी बहना है
सारी, उमर, हमें संग रहना

I love these lines as they convey my feelings, or rather every brothers feelings towards his sister/s. Sister is the one and only relation where we can have fun and share what we like and don’t. She takes care of her brother as a protective Mother. She is a guiding force to her brothers. And so She is unique amongst the thousands of women on this Mother Earth.

This relationship is truly unique as there is a Day celebrated for it in our culture. We have Matrudin and Rakshabandhan. Both these festivals celebrate the most important and valued relations in our lives. It is considered a matter of pride to be a brother to a sister. It’s a truly selfless relation which needs to be taken care of and enjoyed.

Then why tie a Raksha (thread) around Brothers wrist? The understanding today is that the sister asks for her brothers protective covering. The brother would help and protect his sister in times of need. I feel this thought become the line of thinking during the last 1000 years of foreign rule. Our women needed to be protected from the foreigners and so who, but her brother. Question that arises to my mind is that in case of married man, what will he do for his wife? And a larger picture today is that woman today is herself quite qualified to take care of herself. And keeping this fact in mind, this festival will loose it’s sheen slowly and fade into memories in the coming years, if this would be our understanding. Or it will become just a ritual or a formality.

This festival is basically not for protection of women, but to develop an understanding amongst men on how to look towards women. Rather what should be a man’s attitude towards a woman. ‘Every other women, other than my mother and wife is like a sister to me,’ is what the festival wants to convey. The sister applying tilak on brothers forehead is giving him this understanding. It’s a third eye (tilak) for the brother through whose lens he learns to see every other woman as his sister. The thread around his hand conveys that the brother promises the same and promises not to deviate from this outlook or path (मा चल मा चल). It’s a Bandhan (commitment) that he is accepting. Hope, my readers atleast will understand this and try to inculcate this understanding in their lives.

I know am talking to a generation which asks “Can a boy and girl just not be friends?”, “My sister is my best friend.” I truly sometimes wonder whether todays generation thinks beyond friends and about the relations they have got. I personally have no such problems with their questions but do they think before they ask is what I ponder over later. My dear readers, let us all learn to enjoy every relation that we have got. Try to understand them and live in that way. And my question is if you both can be friends, then what’s the problem in accepting the girl as your sister or the boy as your brother. I leave this thought for you to think, discuss and debate.

God! Let my bond with my Sister be strengthened more in this coming year and let things get done from me, which will make Her happy.

May You grant Her good health and wealth.

May She always shower Her blessings on me.

Posted in festivals

The month of Shraavan

Mangala Gaur

Yes, I wrote the month of Shraavan and not the holy month of Shraavan as in our tradition all the months are holy. Who can decide which God of the trinity is superior? Shiv, Vishnu or Brahma? None as they all have their work decided for the and they just follow. So if someone says a particular God is more important and not another, then it’s the impression of the medieval thought that has become prevalent after the rise of Christianity and Islam.

I do not want to belittle even those schools of thought, but what I want to convey is that superiority was never a question which the Vedics had to answer or even tried to answer, as they knew very well that every work / thought has its importance. They believe in

“आ नो भद्राः क्रतवो यन्तु विश्वतः।”

– Let all the good thoughts from all over the world come to me

And so Bharat never had a problem with welcoming Zorastrians, Arabs or the English. Nor did it have a problem with the rise of Jainism or Buddhism in Bharat itself. Rather it opened up its arms and accepted them with warmth and an open mind.

Let’s come back to our topic of Shraavan. Actually the farmer is now done with his sowing work and now he needs to take care of his growing crops and nurture them. His family is very busy with all this work. And lest they forget the indwelling God or the omnipresence of God in their work, our Rishis must have given these festivals to celebrate so that Work centered life returns / comes back to God centered.

Through these festivals, the Rishis want to inculcate a feeling of Reverence for the Creation and through them, Reverence for the Creator. At the same time, the utilitarian attitude or selfish attitude of humans should also be God centered. So a slow bit gradual change is expected in Humans while celebrating these festivals.

Yesterday I wrote about Deep Amaavasya. The new moon day is considered unlucky by many but the Rishis have given 4 festivals on all 4 amaavasyas of the Chaturmaas. Yesterday was Deep Amaavasya, next would be Matrudin, later Sarva Pitra Amaavasya and last one is Diwali. All 4 festivals have their own importance and also have tried to explain the importance of the festival culturally and emotionally. They do have a spiritual connect but I still have to develop that outlook, understanding and depth.

So next few days will keep sharing about the festivals during these months.

Today is a Tuesday. Shravan Tuesdays hold a different connotation for the newly married women of Maharashtra, especially amongst the women of Konkan. It is the day of “Mangala Gaur Pujan”. It is also known as “Sharavan Mangala Gaur Pujan”. The newly wed girl comes back to stay with her parents for the month of Asadh. Then on one of the Shravan Tuesdays, this puja is performed. The puja is for her well being.

It’s a time for the women of the family to come together and celebrate. Women play the whole night after the puja. The games are itself delightful yet completely physical as it would be evident from the pitcures see above. The women folk are fit and fine and play these games with festivities, laughter and a sense of competition. It’s a time to forget everything and just engross oneself in the game.

After this puja, the girl can now return to her in-laws. This puja is done for 5 years. The next 4 puja’s are performed at the in-laws place itself. At the end of the 5th year, the girl gifts her mother a pot full of cereals. A way to celebrate for the newly wed at her own place till she adjusts herself at her in-laws. Also a time to be oneself cause the bride would still be formal at her in laws but not at home. Just a way to help her adjust slowly to the new environment.

So as we can see that our Rishis have taken a lot of pain to understand the psyche of the people and given us these festivals. We will try to understand this outlook through my blogs in the coming days.

Posted in festivals

Deep Amaavasyaa

Today is the last day of Asadh as celebrated here in Western India. It is the last day of the month. But for the Northern India it is the 15th day of the 2nd month of Chaturmaas ie Shraāvan. (Why so? is another topic of research and study). In Western India, a month begins after Amaāvasya whereas in Northern India, Amaāvasya is in the middle of the month. So it is Amaāvasya (No / New Moon Day) today all around India.

Today is Deep Amaāvasya. The day to clean all the Diyas (earthern lamps) made of copper, steel, silver and gold. (Or any other metal) All the used and the unused Diyas are thoroughly cleaned today. And then in the evening time, they all are lit with rangolis (geometrical design with different colours) drawn around it. The Diyas are then worshipped and offered flowers. And the family members then share sweets with each other.

The worship has its own significance. It is spreading light in our lives and the lives of others too. Light is considered auspicious. It removes the darkness from the outer world and at the same time enlightens the inner self. We, Indians, light a Diya everyday and say the following shlokas invoking the blessings of the Gods :

शुभं करोति कल्याणं आरोग्यं धनसंपदः ।
शत्रुबुद्धिविनाशाय दीपज्योतिनमोऽस्तु ते ॥

दीपज्योतिः परब्रह्म दीपज्योति जनार्दनः ।
दीपो हरतु मे पापं दीपज्योतिनमोऽस्तु ते ॥

(I bow to the Light, which brings abundance and prosperity of Health, and wealth and which destroys the intelligent enemy [darkness]…

It is you O Light! That is the creator and the operator and you will lead me to light away from sins, so I bow down unto you…)

The Mother Goddess (Shakti) is also symbolised by a burning flame of a diya. Fire helps the mother cook the food. At the same time, they both symbolise energy. And so one of the names of the mother is “Shakti”. Will deal upon it in some later blog.

Lastly am reminded of a short story (or maybe it’s a poem). The Sun is ready to set. The Sun asks everyone in the Universe that who will take his place and give light to the world in his absence? No one answers. A small earthen lamp moves upto him and humbly says, that it might not be as large as the Sun and may not have enough energy to lighten up the world but it will try to lighten up the area around, in which it is kept. This makes the Sun very happy. It signifies the importance of small things in life. However small may one be, with determination one can do the work done by the great ones.

Also I understand the Sun as God and the earthern lamp as Humanity. The Human being promises to be His representation in this Universe and it is his/her responsibility to lighten up the world. So let us all try to be small and humble Diya’s and try to enlighten our lives and the lives of the people around us.

Wish you all a Shubh Deep Amaavasyaa.

Tommorrow onwards is the month of Shraāvan. A month of Devotion and Festivals. Naag Panchami, Shitla Saptami, Janmashtami and many others.

Have decided to write a series during these months of monsoon on the different festivals we celebrate. Will write about the known ones and the lesser known ones too as I have done today. Will try to keep them as short as possible.

Posted in festivals, Uncategorized

Reverence for Nature (Reblog with Changes)

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Wish you all, my readers, a very Happy Vruskshmandir Din, Madhav Vrund Din and Yuva Din.

All 3 festivals celebrated by the Swadhyay Pariwaar, across the globe, on the same day, ie today, 12th of July.
These 3 days also coincide with the birthday of the current head or the Elder Sister of Swadhyay Pariwaar, Revered Dhanashree Athavale – Talwalkar. She happens to be my mentor and guide too. Will write about the parivaar and its founder Revered Pandurang Shashtriji Athavale (Dadaji – elder brother in Marathi) in another blog some day.

Today wanna talk about the outlook that they both have inculcated into thousands of lives in India and abroad.

The Vedic philosophy believes in the 4 basic principles
Reverence for self,
-Reverence for others,
Reverence for Nature; and
Reverence for the Creator.

The Creator himself resides within me as He, Himself said so in Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta.
“सर्वस्यचाहं हृदि सन्निविष्टो ।”
sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto श्री मद्भग्वदगीता – अध्याय 15 श्लोक 15 (I reside in every heart)
So am divine.
In the same way, He resides in every heart. So there is no question of looking down upon others too.

And goes a step forward to say,
“अश्वत्थ: सर्ववृक्षाणाम् ।”
Ashwathaha sarva vrukshaanaam
श्री मद्भग्वदगीता – अध्याय 10 श्लोक 26
(Am the Peepal (Ficus religiosa) among the trees)
So if the Creator Himself says so, the Nature is divine too. Then how can I even think of harming it!

But Human mind based on reasoning and scientific attitude talks about the need of tree or a cow once it loses it sheen as an object of utility. And slowly loses the feeling of reverence for everything, that has been inculcated in his or her childhood. I need to clarify that am not against the usage of things and objects in our lives, but at the same time it is distressing to see Humans become so emotionless towards fellow human beings, fellow living creatures and nature.

At such a time of distress, comes a Great Man (Human history is full of such great people) who takes us back to our roots and makes us understand to water them, and not bereave them from water. They come out of Law of Universal Necessity, and not out of Law of Attraction and Repulsion or Law of Karma. They teach the Universe about the morals and ethics of life and show the right path to tread on.

Param Pujaniya Pandurang Shashtriji Athavale, Dadaji, is one such person. He explains that people, that is we, look towards nature with a sense of Utility or a sense of Objectivity (being beautiful). But He further explains that we Humans who can think and reason and feel, should move a step ahead and try to find and see the divinity within everything. It is based on this thought that He has given an experiment called Vrukhsmandir (A temple of forests).

Swadhyayees from 20 villages around plant trees in a barren land. Take care of them as family members and grow them. As it is a community work, no one is the owner of the produce. It’s rightful owner is God, Himself. It may sound like some social experiment, but my readers I should draw your attention to the fact that it is purely divine. Everyone who participates here is learning to see God, even in the trees. Through this, I feel, that Shashtriji has revived the feeling of Reverence towards Nature. There are 27 such Vrukshmandirs in the state of Gujarat and Maharashtra.

And for this novel experiment of Vrikshmandirs, Shashtriji has been awarded the Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshmitra Award too.

It is an experiment which does have social impact, but Shashtriji explains and propounds that, we do plant trees and take care of them, but we are not environmentalist, we are ‘Bhakts’ (devotees). There are so many instances where lives of people going to Vruskhmandirs have changed and this is the basic idea of what Shashtriji wants to do. He further explains, that if we see changes in the mindset of the society or a positive attitude develops towards nature, for society as a whole, then it is the ‘side effect’ of this experiment. The Vrukshmandir is basically for a human to look into himself and change. This is Swadhyay.

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Similarly, the people living in metro cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru or Kolkatta and Delhi and in town and cities have been encouraged to plant a small shrub at home to develop a healthy and a divine attitude towards Nature. Everyday morning, the family members get together and water the plant and utter the ‘Narayanopanishad’ while watering. Two small changes can happen. One is that the family comes closer and their bonding collectively with nature too increases. Singing the Narayanopanishad helps develop the understanding of seeing Narayan, ie God in the tree or sapling planted at home.

This understanding based on the thoughts of Bhakti has transformed lives of people and families. Created a sense of unity amongst society. And yes, indirectly helped in environment conservation too.

Shastriji has also asked upon Swadhyayees to conserve water at home, in fields and in lakes around their villages. Swadhyay parivaar has built thousands of lakes and check dams across many states in India. They call them ‘Nirmal Neer’. Also many Swadhyayees have taken upto rain water harvesting in their individual houses and many villagers have started helping in recharging the ground water levels through an experiment of “Shosh Khadda” (a pit that helps absorb kitchen water into the ground).

My readers might have a question that even after doing all this, we have never heard about it. Because both, Shashtriji and His daughter are of the firm belief that we have to go and share such ideas with people personally. First develop a relationship and then share. It is not a system but their conviction that changes are desirable in the minds of the people. The moment they realise and develop a bond with their God within, then a small Human can do big things. It is this firm belief that has kept the Parivaar together. And so they keep away from Media. There has been no such media propaganda of the ground work that they have done.

Today, also happens to be the birthday of Dhanashree Didi (Didi – elder sister). She has been nurturing the Parivaar with lots of love, warmth and affection. The way She connects with people through Her talks and action is just unbelievable. For people who dont know Her, they would feel that am just exaggerating. So even I would say that Seeing is believing. I have seen it and I believe it.

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She has taken a lot of efforts to gather all the different pearls (people of different states, linguistic preferences, castes, creed, nationaities) into a single thread. The youth, in particular, will remain indebted to Her for generations to come. According to the wishes of Dadaji, She has organised the youth and given them dynamic activities through which the generation of today understand the morals, ethics and more importantly, the nearness of God. So the youth on Her birthday, celebrate Yuva Din (Youth Day). It is a way of expressing their Gratitude to both these ‘ Mahamaanavs.’

At the end, I pray to God that

May He, help us to develop strong bondings amongst Humans that these binds transcend faith and uplift Humanity.

May He, help us develop the understanding of oneness with Nature and the Universe as a whole.

May He, take us closer to Himself and bless us with understanding of oneness with God.

Posted in #poem, Uncategorized

Poem #22

WORDS

I am distressed, that your words have dried up,

Am I so undeserving that you have given up?

I will change is what you always believe in,

Give me one more chance, to keep up your chin.

I would be happy to write what you have to say,

And take it to the last person, bogged down and stray.

So please speak! as your words soothe me within,

I will comply to each word, so that you will win…

Posted in Uncategorized

Poem #21

Your Prayer!

The times are bad, but your words are very dear,

They give us hope to live in these ages of fear,

A day before you gave you words, a form of prayer,

I felt as if the God has taken a form, in their flair

I create” is what You trust and believe in the most,

And “I will come again” when the world is way lost,

The above two phrases are not just words alone,

But the drive to do HIS work, as it is my own

A very spontaneous flow of words which just flowed through the mind, and I have just written it the way the words shaped up. No editing, no correcting, so it might sound raw, but I dont want to change a word, as it has come from within.

My dear friends, the world is passing through a very bad phase, when we are fighting against our own selves, as these viruses are also allegedly man made. Don’t know where this fight will lead us to, as it is too early to take a call.

One thing is for sure, it can be fought only with Prayer.

PRAYERPositive Reassuring Action Yielding Eternal Results.

I read this on the net and I have started thinking about it. I shared it with you all so that even, you, my readers, can think in your own way.

Till then, see you all…

Posted in Uncategorized

Poem #20

Your Words…

I wait for your word divine

Angelical and sweet as wine,

Intoxicate me out of your care

I dont wish that I should share

But people do not understand

They find them like a magical wand,

And use them to fulfill their needs

But forget the love for their seeds

For me I repeat they are my life,

Just like water to a thirsty life,

And they make live another day

To sit on their swing and sway

Please keep in touch in these times

Your words sweet, the ringing chimes,

A day, a week, a fortnight, some time

Your words worthy more than a dime…

PS. : I have written this just now out of gratefulness to my Elder sister (Didiji), of whose Parivaar (family), She considers me a part of it. And I too consider it a blessing. Her love, Her attention, Her care, Her teachings, Her words are always an inspiration for me personally. Today I tell you all that the inspiration for me to write is only Her.