Sunday, October 25, 2009

Antardrishti, the magic formula!

Some years back,I read a story in a telugu magazine. Though a little on the lighter side,it has a message. The story goes like this. God once visited this earth taking on himself human form to have a look at the way that his creation is. Some how word went around that God is at a particular place in a particular form of a human being. Sooner people started flocking around him. Quickly there collected a sea of humanity. Each person has a wish or two to be asked from him. A torrent of wishes!
God felt bamboozled and helpless!
He starts running away from the crowd. The humans start chasing God carrying their wish lists along. Afterall it is their home ground!
A worried (?) God in the front and a sea of humanity following him in a chase!
Just then,an old woman with a hay stack on her head came walking towards them. She looks askance at the man in the front and enquires as to who he is and why he is running away from the crowd. The conversation goes like this.
Old woman: "Who are you?"
The person:"I am God."
Old woman:"Who are running behind you?"
The person:"They are my creation."
Old woman:"Why at all are you running away from them?"
The person:"I have no time to talk to you. Kindly suggest a place where I can
hide from them."
Old woman:"If you are God, you better hide in their hearts because that is the only
place where they do not search for you!"
There is lesson in what the old woman hinted at.
We do not feel lonely and forlorn if we look inwards.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Phir bhi Dil hai Hindustani!!

Our Grandson Shreyas is American!!
Me and my wife are strongly native and Indian inside out. This Indianness made us overly conscious of the way children are brought up in America. The care starts in the hospital itself. Children are treated with utmost caution. Whenever a child is being wheeled past the hospital elevator, there comes an alarm and the doors do not open!
It is however intersting to know that while the Indian and chinese cultures actually dictate that new moms do not leave the house for about a month after child birth, the americans opine that this may develop a case of cabin fever! The fear of swine flu is however keeping infants from being taken out.
I know that in certain Asian and African cultures babies are not put in disposable diapers. Whenever a baby awakens, or the parent notices certain cues, the parent places the baby at a designated area to pee or poop. Social norms in America forbid it. Diapers, diaper changing stations, diaper disposal genies and the associated literature etc. constitute an industry which is perhaps worth billions of dollars.
Such variations- to name a few- in infant management practices surely worried us a bit initially. However we have adopted the practices prevalent here and have started understanding the convinience therein.
Moreover the appreciative way in which Shreyas reacts to chants like 'Narayana kavacham','RamaRaksha stotram' or 'Balamukunda ashtakam' is very heartening.
He seems to be telling us that 'I am an american by birth, phir bhi dil hai hindustani'!!
Shreyas thus has the best of both the worlds...

Whenever a child is born,so are grand parents!!

It was a great event in our lives. It happened on the 7th of october -my birth day.
Shreyas was born in South Seminole Hospital,Orlando,Florida. After a tough labour,my daughter Gayatri gave birth to Shreyas. The attending doctor was Dr.Bishop supported very efficiently and tirelessly by nurse Ramona.
My wife Durga was by our daughter Gayatri's side chanting prayers. It was very gallant of Durga to be there comforting Gayatri and fighting back tears welling up in her eyes while watching her daughter undergoing painful labour.Only a mother can do that. It is very rightly said that as God can not be everywhere,He created mothers- mothers like Durga!
Presence of Dr Shailaja Nadkarni (fondly called as 'Amma' ) all through provided a great emotional support system besides the professional reassurance that she as a doctor gave to Durga, Gayatri and Kishore-the expecting Dad.
At 6:22PM EST, Shreyas was born into this world. After the first bath, Shailaji took Shreyas to the window to give him the first glimpse of the Sun god- our 'prathyaksha daivam'.
Whenever a child is born so are grand parents!!
Durga became 'Ammamma'! and myself 'Tata'!!
My son Harish is thrilled to have become a 'mama'.
As parents ourselves with two beautiful children between us, we still felt thrilled at the arrival of this little one who as vishwakavi Rabindranath Tagore said brought the divine message that God continues to have faith in human beings!
It was around 4AM in India, by which time a photograph of Shreyas was emailed to his mama Harish, who inturn transmitted it to all our near and dear immediately. My elder brother 'Subrahmanyam annayya', complimented us and said that we have all become grandparents yet again.
How grand is grandparenthood!! Thank you Shreyas...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A WINDOW TO THE INFINITE

Some years ago, during a chat, my daughter Gayatri asked me from USA (at that time I was working in India) as to how she should start a narration of the story of Hanuman to a class of tiny tots of the Baalavihar at the Chinmaya mission, Orlando. The children belonged to the age group between 4 and 6 years she said. I suggested to her that in order to ensure ready participation, she should start the narration with a poser to the class like "who is the strongest man they can name?".Being ignorant myself of the quality of children in the Balavihar, I thought that the replies to this question would be something like 'superman','spiderman', ‘He Man’ and so on. My daughter, I suggested, should then tell the children that there is a 'Man' more powerful than all the earlier named and that is 'Hanuman'. My daughter somehow agreed to my naive suggestion and started the said class with the suggested question. When she had put the question to the class, then to her utter surprise and delight the class replied in chorus 'HANUMAN'!

When she told this to me during my next chat I was very glad.

Some decades ago, I had the great privilege of listening to the 'Gurudev' live on two occassions. I was amazed at his learning, scholarship and his energy levels. One of the batons passed on by 'Him' is being faithfully carried on by the wise elders in Orlando-I thought.

On another occasion my daughter narrated another amusing anecdote about a child in her class who one day came up to her and told thus. 'Ms.Gayatri, I am now able to understand Sanskrit'. My daughter then enquires as to what is the latest that she has understood. The child replies that 'Bhagawan uvacha' means 'Bhagawan is watching us'. Meanings apart, it was an interesting view point of a child who is initiated in to right thinking!

I had started becoming inquisitive!

I started attending the Balavihar classes of my daughter through distant learning mode! in my late 50's!!

I was getting eager to meet the great persons behind the mission work at Orlando and also my tiny little co-alumni!!

In 2008, a chance came my way to visit USA on business. While on this trip, I took a short leave from my work and rushed to Orlando to meet my co-students at the Orlando mission. Balavihar I realized is being run in conformity with Gurudev's view that 'children are not vessels to be filled but lamps to be lit'.

This visit was a great eye opener for me. Meeting with a person like Shailaji taught me humility.

A visit to the mission boosted my energy levels. All the persons that I met in the mission are 'achievers’, ‘successful in their respective fields of activity' and 'normal'. The ambience in the mission reminded me of the words of Stendhal "the normal most regularly approaches the sublime". Living such soulful life in the midst of modern pressures requires one to walk in the footsteps of a 'Master'. Blessed are all those at the mission who get this chance in abundance.

My first visit to the mission was brief. I had to get back to business in Chile. However the urge to get back to the mission became strong.

How lucky I am!

This time I am on a longer visit to Orlando along with my wife!

We have already attended a few study group sessions at the mission.

These gatherings of well accomplished and well educated men and women sitting together trying to understand the ultimate truth are greatly inspirational. Each may be looking through his or her window of experience but the view they seem to be getting is the same-the INFINITE.

Our latest visit to the mission was on the saptami day of Navaratri. After the day's puja, while taking the prasadam from Shailaamma I murmured to myself "Jnana Vairagya siddhyardham Bhiksham dehicha Paarvati"- an involuntary act