Frozen Kingdom

Frozen Kingdom
Frozen Kingdom
Welcome!! Swagat, Dumela, Valkommen, Jee Aayan Noo, Tashreef, Bula, Swasdee, Bienvenido, Tashi Delek. Thanks for joining me.....

Sunday, January 17, 2016

नव वर्श की शुभ कामनायेन !! Nav Varsh Ki Shubkamnayein: Best Wishes for the New Year!!

As the last year has been,  its been busy.  That is the simplest way I could say anything about the last year.  So, I did want to write a short message for the new year.  I always look for messages from ancient Indian sources.  The following is a shloka (a couplet) I read in 10th grade.  I have never forgotten it.  But the best about it is it was written down thousands of years ago, when supposedly there was no religion, thousands of years before Jesus came or Prophet Mohammed heard anything.  This is Hinduism.  Simple, basic philosophy.  And so we grew up with it.  Education, a code of conduct, kindness and caring, this is what defined character, not believing in God, or going to temples.  Education, asked for discipline, waking up at odd hours to learn.  Code of conduct gave those around us a security, and also taught us that we cannot always follow personal desires, but a higher ideal is important to follow, and kindness, was a very important sign of sanity and balance of ego and surrender of that ego.

Here are the exact words...

And the following are two translations.  The pictures are from our Xmas dinner in 2013. Something I always look forward to.  The university organises several events to bring us together.  I am grateful for those, since it allows for staff bonding.  Now, here are the translations....

There is not wealth equal to that of charity, no enemy greater than lust, no ornament as precious as good character, and no treasure greater than happiness.  

Another alternative translation goes like this

A person who despite having taken human birth does not engage in study, education, learning of the arts an other worthy topics, does not do penance (has not learnt discipline.  The word tapas is translated here as penance, but actually there is no equivalent in English.  A penance is done to atone, as an act of repentance.  Tapas is taken on voluntarily to achieve a goal.  A student wanting to learn and master a musical instrument will give us sleep, regular childhood, or much socialising to learn.  Nothing comes for free.  Our lives show us in the end what we have spent the most time on) nor does charity, does not imbibe maximum knowledge does not adhere to the code of conduct, does not imbibe virtues like courage, patience, kindness, mercy, these people are like animals on earth-burdening the earth with its weight.  

I hope that readers will be surrounded by wise, and caring people throughout the year. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Drop of Golden Sun!

This year because I have been sick and restricted mostly to my home, I noticed trees change color. It was a beautiful fall. I went for some walks.  I noticed my breath, heard birds chirp, watched them eat the bread crumbs that I leave them every morning.  And then sometimes, when I came out to leave some food for birds and ants, I would notice Sun's concentrated- attention on one tree --and it would take my breath away. 

It was as if that one area or the tree had been bathing in love and warmth. Something, I think I could use.  But every time I saw a scene like this I would feel a oneness with the trees.  As is taught to us in India, we are not separate from any thing from the universe.  Grains of sand, trees, leaves, ants, elephants ---life courses through us, making us animate or inanimate...but life nevertheless....the way we differentiate it is --Jad aur chetan...unconscious vs. conscious (sentient--brain dead humans are not sentient), not alive or dead.  Just like body without atman (there is a difference between atman and soul.  Atman reincarnates, and takes on different bodies, at different times. A soul does not reincarnate)--is lifeless, and its life is an indication of atman, similarly this sansaar (the moral world) is infused by Paramatman (the highest atman)--and so every form of life is an indication of that Paramatman.  An ant is just as worthy of being saved as a human being (read some about Jainism if you are interested. They walk bare feet so as not to hurt even ants.  They cover their mouths, so as not to ingest any insect accidentally.  That is the level to which peace, ahimsa (non-violence) is to be practiced.  Any indication of chetna--consciousness is an indication of that Highest Atman.  And therefore our greeting is to bow. Bow when we meet. Nameste ----now used after yoga classes--means, I bow to the divinity in you.  When you and I are in that place, we are one.

It is that experience of oneness that I feel with trees, no matter what season it is...even when covered with snow, nature makes me feel an expansion.  Tagore, affectionately called Gurudev--the teacher, had commented how no matter how much praise was written in western literature, it was hardly considered one with humanity.  Or humanity was hardly considered the arm or extension of Prakriti (the sanskrit word for nature and also used in the same sense as 'a person's nature').  Nature according to western tradition and religions was only meant to be used by human beings, just like animals.  'Thou shall have dominion of all the animals'.  A oneness with animals? trees? rivers? Well, I grew up with it.  Whitman (Leaves of Grass), Thoreau, Schopenhauer, Hegel, T.S Eliot and other transcendentalists were influenced by Hinduism.  T.S. Eliott even said, 'Vedic (hindu) philosophy makes european philosophers seem like school boys). 

Today, I heard a colleague at lunch reading, read from a book where scientists are talking about 'plants are thinking beings'.  Well, as always the west thinks its finding something new.  We said it thousands of years ago. Native americans, who were killed with a Bible in  one hand, and guns in the others, knew it when they said...'Man did not weave the web of life. He is merely a strand in it.  Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.  What is man without the beasts?  If all beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man' (Chief Seattle).

The above picture is special to me because you can see how limited the circumference is of Sun's warmth on cold Swedish day--and yet it gives glow that warms us just by looking at it. It is restricted to the trees beyond the trees in the foreground.   Notice, those are not orange leaves, for all the leaves are gone.  It is just the glow of the Sun.

In the silence that comes on us during exhaustion, there is still this oneness---that I always feel when on a cold cold day, I experience a drop of Golden Sun!!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Pushp Ki Abhilasha!! A Flower’s Wish

There is a reason that school curriculum is supposed to be designed by those who love and know the culture of that country.  The following poem was part of our fourth grade Hindi textbook.  It must have an impact---for me to remember it even today.

Pushp Ki Abhilasha!! A Flower’s Wish 
By Makhanlal Chaturvedi

I do not wish to be part of the ornament of daughter of Gods,
I do not wish to lure sweet love by being a part of lover’s Garland for her,
I do not wish O God, to be offered to the bodies of the great Kings,
I do not wish to take pride by adorning the foreheads of Gods
Will you, O gardener !!—pluck me and throw me on the path
Where the bravemen of my nation tread to offer their heads to the motherland!!

NOTE:  Please click here to listen to a melodic rendition of the poem!!