Sustaining Volunteering-Dispassionate Attachment

Once again this is a collection of my tweets in a fairly verbose manner since this doesn’t have limtations of number of characters like on Twitter

सक्ता: कर्मण्यविद्वांसो यथा कुर्वन्ति भारत |
कुर्याद्विद्वांस्तथासक्तश्चिकीर्षुर्लोकसंग्रहम् ||

saktāḥ karmaṇyavidvānso yathā kurvanti bhārata
kuryād vidvāns tathāsaktaśh chikīrṣhur loka-saṅgraham
Bhagavad Gita 3:25

As ignorant people perform their duties with attachment to the results, O scion of Bharat, so should the wise act without attachment, for the sake of leading people on the right path
Source of translation : https://www.holy-bhagavad-gita.org/

In context of Volunteering for the Fight against Covid19 Pandemic, what was initially thought as a short term battle, got extended wave after wave and as I write this we are already at the end of Year 2 and battling the 3rd wave (thankfully not so harsh like the 2nd wave). Original mobilisation was for just 2 months and it never seem to get over.

In an online talk to a collection of Civil Society, where I suggested a free-flowing Q&A model instead of a Lecture and then follow up questions. The first question I received was a interesting one. The participant wanted me to describe in a phrase (don’t know why this limit)- what can prevent Volunteering Fatigue, that would be natural due to unexpected extension of time devoted to a passionate cause, as against paid volunteering – My answer phrase was “Disapassionate Attachment” which is the essence of that particular verse from Srimad Bhagavad Gita. Everything else is subordinated to the Cause.

More often than not, especially in the current round of Volunteering, Young, energetic and passionate volunteers never needed any motivation as they are already inspired and self-fired. But those get fatigued are those who want to deliver perfection and fail.

न बुद्धिभेदं जनयेदज्ञानां कर्मसङ्गिनाम् |
जोषयेत्सर्वकर्माणि विद्वान्युक्त: समाचरन्

na buddhi-bhedaṁ janayed ajñānāṁ karma-saṅginām
joṣhayet sarva-karmāṇi vidvān yuktaḥ samācharan
Bhagavad Gita 3:25

The wise should not create discord in the intellects of ignorant people, who are attached to fruitive actions, by inducing them to stop work. Rather, by performing their duties in an enlightened manner, they should inspire the ignorant also to do their prescribed duties.

Whenever these inspirational gems talk to me about how to avoid failure in the task – I only request them not to aim for delivering perfect service, but aim to deliver acceptable service. Because what the beneficiary needs simply is unpredictable (COVID19 context)

Not all our stories ended up like in a fairy tale – but consolation is that it was not due to lack of effort. Not to let one setback paralyse because we then are letting down so many others waiting. Agreed we are not machines, but there is no choice but to move on.

Working in various verticals of my current efforts, establishing the basic framework and hand it over to the successor who can definitely do a better job than us to innovate and grow the vertical better to serve more people. Here, a mistake most leaders commit has to be discussed. Their inability to let go and trust the successor to do it better (there could be other reasons, but keeping it positive). Since it was conceptualised and executed first time by me, I always feel no one else can do that task as well as me (leave alone better). More often than not, a good capable leader is lost in the process because he/she is not available for any other task and occupied in something so mundane or routine by now, that anyone else could have done. As Chandan, one of the volunteers said, Once you weather the storm, leave it to someone to manage in calm waters. I have found some of them get fatigued in this situation. They assume they are in control of everything and get mentally tormented that in reality they are not in control of that situation. Fight against COVID19 was a cascading situation of this nature, even today. Letting go is an important achievement when you are in dispassionate attachment and helps avoid volunteering fatigue

I draw from my personal experience when I adopted this practice. Withdraw from the vertical once the assigned role of establishing framework is over (Dispassionate Attachment). In almost each Veriticals, my successor grew it in unimaginable scale (to be honest, I could not have done it at all)

The last round of volunteering was totally different model and found it was more enchanting. Zero Budget operation, Amorphous bunch of citizens coming together for a single cause – BeatTheVirus & slogan being WeWillWin, it came with horde of challenges. Navigating through unfriendly official system to deliver using the same system. Being amorphous itself brought some amount of unpredictability, with no formal organisation structure, one that emerged on its own during the course of operation (Swayambhu in action) and various pushes and pulls in different directions. But in the end DELIVERED

During the horrendous 2nd wave, it may not have ended well for some families but visible gratitude of people whom we touched, only reinforced the feeling that they did not give up on the world. When they say, Thanks for being besides us & making us realise not everything in this world is bad. It was personally very different this time. Losses were kind of certain – lost many of them known to me very well too, we were able to help some who emerged successfully from the havoc to come back and work with us.

With self fired young and enthusiastic Volunteers, only facilitative leadership works and best form in my opinion is Servant leadership. Transactional leadership is sure prescription for disenchantment. Show-how works better than know-how. Officialdom and bureacracy would well take note of the popular saying in QMS context, “Never end up having a system for documentation instead of a documented system”. One big mistake we do in the process of chasing a system it to create so much of documentation, most of them totally avoidable, that instead of working we had a team spending most of the time creating presentations and records. It is not about discipline or credit-chasing (young ones are smart they see it right away), look for method in madness especially in Unpredictable situation.

To add an important thing here- to avoid Volunteering Fatigue, consider Volunteering as a privilege not a favor we do to others. Reason why I had serious apprehensions about using the words like CoronaSainika or CoronaWarriors etc (though I plead guilty of using it many time myself)

In the context, Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar ji in 5 words said – “We Are Not The Doers“. What a lovely way to remain detached while remaining committed to the cause. Designations, hierarchy, results, even the organisation – nothing would matter once in this mode.

Thoughts of a fellow volunteer on org: I think this is the general phase of how it happens. Be it economy or any other thing, there is a phase of really good unselfish work, followed by growth, then peaks and due to vices and ego taking over, the downfall.

Signing off saying, Letting Go is not Giving Up, it is smart way to remain objectively detached (accepting that we are not the Doers) from outcomes, but ensuring there is no lack of effort.

Happy Volunteering

Ratha Saptami – Light & Enlightenment

ॐ आदित्याय विदमहे दिवाकराय धीमहि तन्नो सूर्यः प्रचोदयत।
Om Adityaya Vidmahe
Diwakaraya Dheemahi
Tanno Surya Prachodayat

In a culture that reveres, celebrates and worship every aspect of creation, Ratha Saptami is an important day. It is observed on the Saptami Tithi (Seventh Day) of Shukla Paksha (Waxing phase of the moon) in the month of Magha (11th month of the Hindu Calendar). It is also called Magha Saptami, Surya Jayanti, Achala Saptami, Arogya Saptami and so on and is dedicated to worship of the Sun – it is believed that Chariot of the Sun is closest to the earth on this day.

Bhagwan Surya is considered the Pratyaksha Devata – Visible God. He is Apauresheya (which means not of Human) and was born to Rishi Kashyapa and Aditi on this day and hence the day also is often called Surya Jayanti.

Bhagawan Surya on His Rath, Charioteered by Half-Brother Aruna

It is on this day that Bhagwan Surya changes direction His Chariot to North-easterly direction and provides life giving and sustaining energy to all creations. He also nourishes and ensures good health. His charioteer is half Brother Aruna and there are interesting aspects to the Chariot itself. It is drawn by 7 horses. According to various beliefs Seven Horses represents Seven Adharmic acts (loosely translated as Sins) or Seven Colors of Rainbow (or components of white Light as modern science discovers much later) or Seven Days of the Week (Vasaras) The Chariot has 12 Wheels to represent Twelve signs of Zodiac or 12 months. Worship of Bhagwan Surya thus ensures mastery or control over all these aspects and help us lead a happy, contented or in other words, Dharmic life. It is on this day that there is a symbolic transition of season (currently 7th day of Shishira) towards Vasanta Ritu which starts on the day of Ugadi.

Navagrahas with Bhagwan Surya in the Centre

Being central to all the Life forces required for creation He is depicted as the central figure among the Navagrahas which also goes on to prove that our ancient Rishis were well aware that all planets revolve around the Sun and also that the number of planets are Nine (though in Hindu belief system, two of them, Rahu and Ketu are Shadow planets )

How is the day Observed

Devotees wake up before sunrise and finish their ablutions and have a ritualistic bath with Arka Leaves (see picture) placed on 7 parts of our body along with Akshate (Rice and Turmeric). 1 leaf on the head, 2 on the shoulders, 2 on the knees and 2 on the feet. In some families, the practice is for Men to bathe without Turmeric (only Arka leaves and Rice). It is also significant to know that Arka also means Sun Rays.

Arka Leaves (Calotropis porcera)

After ritualistic bath, it is time for Arghya pradhana to Sun. Offering water from the Kalasha facing the Sun chanting the following mantra

Namah Suryaya Shantaya Sarvaroga Nivaarine 
Ayu rarogya maisvairyam dehi devah jagatpate

I bow to you Bhagwan Surya, the ruler of the Universe, the one whose energy that is curative, Bless us with long life, good health and prosperity

After offering Arghya, light a lamp and agarbati (incense sticks), offer flowers (red colored one), and perform Karpoor (Camphor) Arathi.

Other Gayatris and mantras for Surya

Om Bhaskaray Vidmahe
Mahadutyathikaraya Dheemahi
Tanno Surya Prachodayat

Om Bhagwan Surya I meditate upon you, The one who showers the Universe with light and remove darkness and Seek your eternal blessings

Om Sapt Turagay Vidhmahe
Sahasra Kirnay Dheemahi
Tanno Ravi Prachodyat

I meditate upon you, The one who rides a Seven Horsed Chariot, the one who blesses the earth with thousands of rays and seek your eternal blessings

After the above prayers, we perform Sun Salutations or now popular Surya Namaskar. It is interesting to note that Surya Namaskar is also 12 postured asanas performed in smooth transition and performed under early morning rays of the sun, which is proven to have great benefits to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being of humans.

The ritual ends with Chanting Shri Suryashtakam (This is from Samba Puranam and recited by Samba, son of Lord Sri Krishna and Jambavati and as name indicates, it consists of 8 paragraphs of texts). Sharing link to a You Tube link available at the time of writing this with Kannada Lyrics

MAY BHAGWAN SURYA DESTROY ALL PLANETARY DOSHAS, MAY THE CHILDLESS BE BLESSED WITH HEALTHY PROGENY AND POOR BE BLESSED WITH ABUNDANT WEALTH
RATHA SAPTAMI GREETINGS TO ALL

Koodal Manikyam – Where Two Rubies Merged

Koodal Manikyam Temple – Main Entrance Tower
Koodal Manikyam – Temple

Located in Irinjalakuda (Thrissur Distrcit) of #Kerala, an ancient temple dedicated to Shri Bharatha, brother of Bhagwan Shri Rama. Though I have visited this Devalaya many times before, it was different this time, with specific focus on learning about the Sthala Purana and also to fulfill a personal vow.

Etymology of name – Koodalmanikyam or Sanghameshwara
According the legend briefed by Melshanti and a representative of the Tantri family (Shri Kaimal) the name of the place Koodalmanikyam is derived from two words, Koodal (meaning merging) and manikyam (ruby) – merging of two rubies. Hence the Deity here is also known as Shri Sangameshwara

Legend has it that one morning, Bhaktas noticed that there was a very birth red light radiating from the Agnya Chakra (forehead) of the Moorthi surprising everyone there. Precious stones during those days were only in the possession of the royals and Bhaktas approached then King of Kayamkulam to request him to bring his Ruby for comparison of this bright light. During this process, the ruby from King’s hand slipped and fell down and merged with the gem stone present on the moorthi and hence the name Koodalmanikyam or Sanghameshwaran. The lore also has it that it again happened during early 1900s. It is also believed that Irinjalakuda got its name as it was confluence or Sangamam of two rivers Chalakudi and Kurumali and hence the Deity is called Sanghameshwaran.

The Pushkarini – Kulipini Theertham

Lord Vishnu is present here eternally in accordance with the boon granted to severe penance carried out by Maharshi Kulpini. The present Kulpini theertham was the homa kundam where the yagnas were performed by the Maharshi and believed to have Holy Ganga, Yamuna and SaraswaTi

There are certain distinctive features about the Koodalmanikyam temple. It is the only ancient temple (dates back to 9 century) dedicated to Bharata (Rama’s younger brother) in the whole of India. Even today, it is believed that Hanuman lives in the temple kitchen. Brinjal naivedyam is another important offering made to Bharata. It is considered to be a prime medicine to cure stomach ailments.

Devotees pray here to prevent raining on any special celebration day in the family like marriages or other such functions. We visited here to fulfill our vow having prayed for a rainless day on our daughter’s wedding (during peak rainy season in Bengaluru)

Only three flowers are offered to the Deity here – Lotus, Tulsi and Chethi (Ixora) Unlike other temples of Kerala, only 3 poojas are performed (as against 5) and 3 Seevelis (ceremonial procession of the Moorthi on caprisoned elephants)