Archive for July 30th, 2012

It has been ages since I posted… Summer is keeping us very busy and not to mention engaging the ever energetic kids – one at home enjoying her summer holidays… It is highly impossible to keep her entertained all day! We are checking out library books in dozens every few days in a week and still she completes them all and is ready for more! 🙂 So you can imagine how depleted my available time would become to keep her from cribbing about spending her summer with me at home. I thought I was doing her a favor by having her at home apparently not according to her! 🙂

My dear friend R sent over the much-talked about Immortals of Meluga book to me and another friend here, had the next book with her so it was a jackpot for me to read the first two books of Shiva Trilogy one after the other… Amish Patel has done a great job giving an all new perception to the Hindu mythology (?!) surrounding Lord Shiva. I liked the way he had tied the Sun and Moon Dynasties and also had explanation for the Gods that had a different look with animal heads or multiple hands. Very few fiction writers can produce this kind of complex drama based on mythology, rarer still is that this is a debut novel. So Kudos to Amish!

I have always felt Gods belonged to a race superior to mankind, kind of like super humans who preceded us and during the transition stage is when the super humans were documented as Gods for the religions to flourish. To me this appeals more to my common sense and that doesnt mean I am an atheist. Certain thoughts are best compartmentalized in yourself and to me religion is one such topic. The brain in me looks for logical explanations like Gods as super humans who designed the wonders of the world.  The heart and the soul in me still fasts every Thursday as a reminder to my body to meditate over God in the form that appeals to me the most. I still play Suprabhatham and Vishnu Sahasranaman in the mornings and truly believe Sanskrit to be a superior language that doesn’t just convey meaningful thoughts but also triggers positive vibrations and cleanses the place where Sanskrit is spoken. I believe Sanskrit was devised as a language so it will be easier to propagate. That is why, the fights in our epics where just utterance of a Sanskrit Manthra before releasing the arrow, released such energy to affect the intended victim. 🙂

Growing  up I was quite impressionable when it came to Religion and Spirituality and was always intrigued by anything to do with it. I started my schooling in a Christian school and by the time I was in my seventh grade, my grandmother was worried that I would soon become a Christian, in fact at that stage, I was a Hindu in just my name! I did not use bindis, bangles or earrings and would take candles to the School chapel on the day of my exams and take the melted wax from the candle to the exam hall!! I think I  kind of overdid myself when I started comparing Old and the New testaments and reporting them to my dad. At that point, my parents decided they have had enough and shifted me to an Hindu school!  The new school environment was a 360 degree turn from my old school and it took me a while to get acclimatized. And pretty soon, I started visiting Sri Ramakrishna Mutt in Mylapore very regularly and much to my parent’s amazement, there were Vivekananda posters in our bedroom and all the books I won as prizes from the school were either Gospels or teachings of the  trio I still respect and admire – Sri Ramakrishnar/Sri Sarada Devi/Swami Vivekananda.

Apart from the mandated school visits, I started visiting the Ashram on my own with my friends and I also enrolled in VYASS – Vivekananda Youth Association for Service and Spirituality. Every Sunday afternoon, I used to spend at the Ashram debating the multi-facets of Vedanta satisfying the Spirituality part of the Group purpose  and visiting orphanages and Government hospitals and taking part in voluntary services at those sites, for the Service part! I really loved reading books on Vedanta in the Library and though I did not know what I was learning, I was becoming more and more inquisitive of Adhvaitha philosophy which helped later in my life. I will get to that in a while.  I remember spending 5 days of a beautiful summer at a Youth camp held in Kodaikanal and how I got my father’s permission for that. I wrote a very touchy note requesting his permission and kept it in his lunch box, so he would discover that at his work and will have time to think about it without categorically saying No. And it worked!! I never imagined my parents would send me off to a Youth camp on my own with other VYASS members at the age of 15! May be I was a trust-worthy kid!

I remember how confused I felt when on the bus to Kodaikanal from Chennai, while the Swamijis who were chaperoning us were dozing in the front seats, the Vivekananda college students were singing cine songs in an Anthakshari game. Those were the Annas and Akkas I thought were so spiritually inclined! It was quite a learning curve for me, that it is is normal to behave normal too! Anyway it was an amazing camp, meeting teens from all over India and having very healthy debates and discussions. I was particularly psyched when a quote from me was selected to be published in the “Vedanta Weekly” in the Ramakrishna Mutt.  I hope I retained a copy of it. It would have been my first published material! Later there were many All India Youth camp right in Chennai that I attended too. Every time I used to be back from such camps, my parents would love me, as I would be in the BEST behavior till all that I learnt wear off slowly! Then I would pick up the books to refresh again! 🙂 Anyway after one such camps, I came home all excited and told my mom that I found my destiny and that it was to join Sri Sarada mutt, she was absolutely aghast! She was like what did I pull my daughter from and where is she going!!

My parents sat with me and told me to complete my schooling and then college and even at that stage if I still feel the same way about joining the Mutt, they would consider. I still look back and appreciate the non-panic mode they were in, and how they let me come out of it on my own.. After schooling I joined Ethiraj College and my visits to the Mutt kind of dwindled and I decided I was wrong about my earlier vocation. 🙂 In the later years, when I asked my dad how he was able to handle my eccentricities, his simple answer was he felt better off with my spiritual inclinations than the other kind of infatuations that he had expected of me at that age!! 🙂 Anyway till I met my hubby I had little time to read more on the Spiritual literature. And you would think how Spirituality is connected to meeting the love of your life! It would, if you end up getting married to a person from a  ‘different’ sect. When I knew I was getting married to an Iyengar guy, and how difficult it was for elders to digest even that, I ended up finding out how different we were. I found that the basic difference is not in the Gods but in the philosophy you were expected to follow. I truly believe I can be born to an Iyer family – followers of Advaitha philosophy and still be convinced with Vishishtadhvaitha philosophy and follow that. So that would make me an Iyengar technically! The same is true for an Iyengar who believes more in Advaitha philosophy. I also learnt, Shiva and Vishnu were just favorite Gods of the protagonists who propagated the respective philosophies and nothing suggests that followers of Advaitha philosophy should be devotees of Shiva and Vishishtadhvaitha, Vishnu. I do not speak of these lightly but with conviction because I did read a lot from both the philosophies.

Anyway I do not want to dwell too much in this , just that religion to me is nothing but love but most loveless acts originate from the so called religions these days, making one question even the validity of such religions. If you hurt someone physically or mentally in the name of religion that makes you an outcast and not a follower according to me. Who are we mortals to compare one God to another and think you are superior just because you follow one God versus another person who follows another God. Is it not true that all paths lead to the same destination? While you are on the path, how would you know you are on the right or even the faster path till you reach the destination, so how can you feel empowered enough to point out other person’s way as wrong! It never stops to stun me, these eccentricities in the humankind!!!

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