To the one who made me forget time

As we complete 31 years of journey together, someone just said the traditional gift idea – The Time Piece! I wonder if it is even appropriate gift especially to Aparna, my companion in this blissful journey who made me forget time. 31 years went away in a jiffy and it would be inappropriate to use this gift idea.

Happy Anniversary Aparna

28th March 2022 – In a wedding of our friend’s son. An appropriate occasion to use this photograph

Yes, 31 years of cohabitation or rather living it up together, though ups and downs, in bliss and in challenge, in abundance and scarcity – nothing mattered – it was so easy living it up after having seen both the best and not so good moments. When one of the kids asked me how different it was on this day 31 years ago, has the love diminished, have the dreams remained a dream, given a chance what would you like to change and do things differently? I chose to answer the last question first and that has the answer to all those questions. I would change nothing at all. I will do things exactly like the way it has been done every moment of 31 years and nothing differently. That starry eyed me still remains at the core and left wondering what and where I would have ended up, had this amazing lady not chosen to walk alongside me.

When all our kids decided to get together at home to make this a memorable and special day for us and be with us to usher in midnight of 31st March, it got even more overwhelming. Each one of them make it special for us at every step, in their own ways. Ever grateful to the divine for the presence of each one in our lives. Thank you Kids! You make every moment worth living.

As always here is the song, miraculously found it while uploading some songs onto my channel. And it was Michael Matta’s tribute to his better half on their 31st Anniversary (Coincidental or Law of Attraction?). And every word is just a reflection of what I have to say. Thanks Mike for saying it for me.

Kuttumuck Shri Mahadeva Temple

कैलास राणा शिव चंद्रमौळी | 
शिव स्तुती मराठी | 
तुजवीण शंभो मज कोण तारी

March 12th 2022 – it was conclusion of the Utsava in the legendary and ancient Devalaya Kuttumuck Shri Mahadeva Kshetram in Thrissur. The Utsava that began on 3rd March (Poorvabhadra Nakshatra, called Pooruruttati in Malayalam) of Kumbha Maasa (month) and concluded on the Arudra Nakshatra (Thiruvathira Nakshatram in Malayalam) with the traditional Aaraattu (bathing of the Deity’s Vigraha in the temple pushkarni or river associated with the Devalaya.

Gratitude – first up

This temple holds a special place in my heart as this was the place we came to rest enroute for a a few hours, during my 1st Pilgrimage to Shabarimala as a 8 year old boy. We brothers had severe motion sickness and were totally dehydrated and a dip in Kadampuzha Bhagavathi Temple Pushkarni did a world of good, freshening up and a localite suggested visiting and praying in this temple in Thrissur too enroute. May Bhagawan Shiva bless this noble localite for ushering us towards this amazing temple (which was not as developed as you in the pictures shared in this article. Waiting for his call to pray here again and wish it happens very soon.

The Temple

The current temple structure built in Kerala Architecture style (very different from with other architectural styles in the rest of India) is believed to be more than 300 years old and the Vigraha which is much older, is believed to have been consecrated by Maharshi Khara.

The Vigraha or the Murti (Idol) – The Legend

Mahadeva Shiva is consecated in the fiece and highly powerful Kiratha form (Hunter form) in this Kshetra. After the Khandava Yuddha (battle), Indra offers all his weapons as a gift to Arjuna for defeating him in battle, the only condition being that Bhagawan Shiva is pleased. Arjuna seeks Bhagawan Shri Krishna’s advice, who asks him to go on tapasya (penance) to please Shiva and attain divine weapons. Arjuna left his brothers for a penance, gets a deeksha mantra from Maharshi Vedavyasa and begins his penance.

Duryodhana upon learning this, sends Mukasura, who takes the form of a wild boar to kill Arjuna and for his Vrata Bhanga (breach of the penance and vows). Bhagawan Shiva as He always does appears in the form of a Hunter accompanied by 4 dogs (4 Vedas) to protect Arjuna. Arjuna shoots and arrow and kills the boar – at the same instant the Hunter also shoots the arrow. There arises a dispute between hunter and Arjuna as to whose arrow downed the boar. They end up in a fierce fight which bow/arrow, then with sword, and then wrestling. Each time brave Arjuna despite being severely injured gets upto fight again. Finally, Arjuna realised that the hunter was Lord Shiva Himself and sought his pardon. Bhagawan Shiva and Maa Parvati thereafter appear in their original form and blessed Arjuna with their darshan and grants the Pashupatastra. The battle between Kiratha and Arjuna is described well in the text, Kiraataarjuneeya.

Upon request of Arjuna and other locals, Bhagawan Shiva continues to be here in the Kiratha form and the Shiva Linga in this temple is quite big (told it was more than 4 feet tall)

The legend also has it that Tippu Sultan, the tyrant King of Mysuru attacked the temple to loot all the riches. None of the locals were prepared for this surprise attack and when they were almost at the temple, suddenly a swarm of wasps emerged and attacked the army, making them beat a hasty retreat.

The main offering in this temple is the Sahasra Kalasha Dhaara (1000 Pot water Abhisheka) to the Shiva Linga.

ॐ त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम् |
उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान्मृत्योर्मुक्षीय माऽमृतात् ||

Sharing Videos of the 2022 Utsavam

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