Selfless Service – Best Antidepressant

Why do we have the mood swings – against which was the very reason why we took up such practice in the first place. This question was posed  by an ardent devotee to the Master, His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar – (you can follow HIM on twitter here @SriSri or through the official Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/HHSriSriRaviShankar)  Many of us get into suspicion mode as to why despite so much of sadhana (spiritual practices like yoga, classical music etc) we are not elevated.

HE went about explaining the phenomenon saying, sadhana raises energy levels to such high levels that unless it is channelised productively, there could be some restlessness and uneasiness. The most productive channel is to be of service to others (Seva). Seva thus  is the panacea for these kinds of ills. But then to sustain Seva levels regular Sadhana is a must – therefore both of them go hand in hand. While on the subject, here is a nice story on selfless seva and its benefits to the sevak later on. (The original story is in German and here is the best translation that I could manage – all Credits to the original author for this wonderful story)

The Clouds

One hot summer morning a little Cloud rose out of the sea and floated lightly and happily across the blue sky. Far below lay the earth, brown, dry, and desolate, from drouth. The little Cloud could see the poor people of the earth working and suffering in the hot fields, while she herself floated on the morning breeze, hither and thither, without a care.

“Oh, if I could only help the poor people down there!” she thought. “If I could but make their work easier, or give the hungry ones food, or the thirsty a drink!”

And as the day passed, and the Cloud became larger, this wish to do something for the people of earth was ever greater in her heart.

On earth it grew hotter and hotter; the sun burned down so fiercely that the people were fainting in its rays; it seemed as if they must die of heat, and yet they were obliged to go on with their work, for they were very poor. Sometimes they stood and looked up at the Cloud, as if they were praying, and saying, “Ah, if you could help us!”

“I will help you; I will!” said the Cloud. And she began to sink softly down toward the earth.

But suddenly, as she floated down, she remembered something which had been told her when she was a tiny Cloud-child, in the lap of Mother Ocean: it had been whispered that if the Clouds go too near the earth they die. When she remembered this she held herself from sinking, and swayed here and there on the breeze, thinking,–thinking. But at last she stood quite still, and spoke boldly and proudly. She said, “Men of earth, I will help you, come what may!”

The thought made her suddenly marvelously big and strong and powerful. Never had she dreamed that she could be so big. Like a mighty angel of blessing she stood above the earth, and lifted her head and spread her wings far over the fields and woods. She was so great, so majestic, that men and animals were awe-struck at the sight; the trees and the grasses bowed before her; yet all the earth-creatures felt that she meant them well.

“Yes, I will help you,” cried the Cloud once more. “Take me to yourselves; I will give my life for you!”

As she said the words a wonderful light glowed from her heart, the sound of thunder rolled through the sky, and a love greater than words can tell filled the Cloud; down, down, close to the earth she swept, and gave up her life in a blessed, healing shower of rain.

That rain was the Cloud’s great deed; it was her death, too; but it was also her glory. Over the whole country-side, as far as the rain fell, a lovely rainbow sprang its arch, and all the brightest rays of heaven made its colors; it was the last greeting of a love so great that it sacrificed itself.

Soon that, too, was gone, but long, long afterward the men and animals who were saved by the Cloud kept her blessing in their hearts.

As seen, the fruits of seva continued to linger in form of blessing of the people and animal long after our existence – in case of the clouds the blessings ensured continuing supply of clouds to the mankind. How many songs or verses are written everyday in praise of Clouds to this day.

While we involve and indulge in seva and sadhana, it definitely raises our spirits (the extent of seva should be so high that we should’t have time to worry about our silly problems). We also find that our problems which were insurmountable (in our minds, of course) compares pitiably to the problems many other face much more bravely than us.

Seva is not a duty – it is an Opportunity! I am blessed with loads of opportunity that keeps coming my way, almost every moment. It has indeed enriched and enlivened my life. I am sure it does that to everyone.

To summarize, It pays to serve…It pays to do sadhana

PS: The photograph clicked from a flight in Chennai Skies on return flight from Colombo

In the Eyes of a Potter (Bhakta Kumbara)

 

A bit philosophical this evening. Was watching the video of Commentaries on the Bhakti Sutras of Narada by my beloved Master, HH Sri Sri Ravishankar. No, I am not going to redo the commentary here (nothing beats the style in which it is delivered – suggest everyone should watch this set of 14 VCDs – it is a good pastime, the commentaries delivered in His Characteristic Humour at the same time Rich with knowledge). However this blog entry is related to something that I did a couple of weeks ago (I wrote down 2 blogs subsequent to this incident though). Excuse me if my diary looks haphazard with utter disregard to Chronology.

On another of my favourite blogsite, a fellow blogger wanted lyrics of an All-time Hit Song, sung by Sri PB Srinivas for a movie called Bhaktha Kumbara (The Devoted Potter). PBS has special place in my hearts, for one he is a regular furniture in the Drive-in Woodlands Restuarant, Chennai sipping his endless supply of favourite Filter Coffee with his trademark Hat and a black coat. With reams of old newspaper on the table, he is busy penning new verses (these days he is a good lyricist) apart from exhausting the cup of coffee. Coming back to the song, it goes with the Title, “manava dehavu mULe mAmsada taDike

While I was contemplating on nothing in particular, suddenly hummed this song the lyrics of which I recently posted to the fellow blogger (it was quite fresh in my minds). This was a song which was thoughtlessly sung by me since when I was a kid, but today when I hummed it I was touched by the profound purport of each and every word in that song.

The stanza below means that the body is just a lump of flesh and bones and as long as you breathe, why be with the attitude of Me, Mine, and the moment the breathing stops, it is crematorial rites. Then why be so self seeking materialism (feverish desire) for the sake of this decaying body that would be consigned to the earth.

“usiraaDuva thanaka naanu nannadhemba mamakara
nintha maru galigeye masaNadhe samskaara,
maNNali berethu, mellage koLethu, mugiyuva dehake vyamohaveke?”

The gist of the song is – unlike any other so called lowly living beings, human body has some value only as long as Prana (breath) is present. The moment human body stops breathing , it becomes useless (while part of many other animals find lot of uses even after they die, ivory of the elephant, wood from the trees, hide of animals like buffaloes and cows that goes into making leather etc). Human body is disposed at the earliest (traditionally before sunset). It is only when the light of life glows in the body that it has any charm, after that even the closest of the relative (wife, children) refer to it only as a Body. What a depth these words carry, isnt it? Are we acting so petty or mean to maintain this piece of flesh? Degrading everything around us that made us in the first place.

The song goes on to say, we came into the world nude, we will go from the world nude and from the time or arrival to the time of departure (between life and death) it is darkness. So brighten you life by immersing yourself devoted to the Lord.

baruvaaga beththale hoguvaaga bethethale
bandu hOguva naduve bari kaththale
bhaktiya belaku baaLige beku
mukthige vittalana kondadad beku

The couple of stanzas excerpted here touched me to the core. The purport can’t come out in toto in my translation (the reason why I reproduced it in Kannada for those who know the language) Food for thought. The inimitable rendition of the song by Sri. PBS made it even more profound (just heard it online once again). Upon specific request from HH Sri Sri Ravishankar, Sri PBS rendered this song, in the whole world’s view (25 million converged in Bangalore during the 3 days and millions more watched it live on TV or Webcast), during the final day of the Silver Jubiless Celebrations of the Art of Living in Bangalore.

It now has changed my perspective and outlook to life in general  (atleast in this present moment). Put down this thought to reflect sometime later even if things settle down and it probabily becomes a memory tomorrow and out of my active thoughts! But the Truth expressed by the poet in this Verse is real and eternal too.

You can watch the video and hear it in Sri PBS Voice

Emptiness

Got back to my karma bhoomi, Chennai this morning. The best part of the drive is naturally beautiful landscapes and thanks to the Ex-PM Vajpayee, this road is a part of Golden Quadrilateral and worth the toll (4 in total) that we pay. I more than make this up in terms of time saved and fuel burnt too (4 1/2 hours drive with a loo break of about 10 minutes added in). Wondering why is it that I tire easier while returing from than while driving to Bangalore. Hey! no one need to explain the reasons. But a big emptiness is a result each time I return back. Especially the visits which includes lot of visits to Ashram.

It was amazing Christmas and New Year Eve – very different from my usual ones. Spent 2 days with who else but the guide and the Master in HIS presence. Cant help posting my report for both the days here –

25th December 2006

It was Christmas Party(an excuse for us to celebrate a birthday – Thanks Jesus!) very unlike the previous one of very many years. Gurudev was scheduled to be in The Ashram to celebrate Christmas with all of us and the festive mood set in early 25th Morning from the special breakfast which was indicative of things to come during the day. Yummm….delicious breakfast and then eagerly awaited Arrival of our beloved Guruji. The whole place was packed and it was a riot of colors predominantly red (Santa Caps, Red Jackets etc) and of course what is Christmas without that fat, jolly good Santa Claus. Art-Excel, YES, YES2 and YES+ course participants boys and girls brought in the required gaiety and mood which was nothing but JOLLY all the way. As an icing to this festive cake, lot of International Courses’ participants started landing in Ashram giving this Christmas in Ashram a truly International Flavour. The moment everyone eagerly awaited for weeks arrived and HE arrived! The air in Ashram resounded with the Jai Gurudev!!! and it was a treat to the ears. With his characteristic swaying and waving, he got down from the car and walked through – for everyone there it was the best Christmas Gift – proximity and presence of the Master. Gurudev then urged everyone to leave and have their lunch which was a great treat again. The Christmas tree in front of Kashyapa was tastefully decorated with lights, festoons, bells, stars and gifts 😉 Amphitheatre decorated even better (in fact acknowledged by Guruji during the Satsang with a congratulatory message to the volunteer team who decorated the amphitheatre).
The amphitheatre was getting filled up by the moment and by the time the Satsang got underway, the place was packed. The evening began with a nice rendition of Gowri Nandana, followed by Guru Narayana by Sahil. Next came Har Har Bole Shankara and in the middle of the song, in walked Guruji to the electrifying applause of the whole crowd. It was a sight to behold, an unforgettable Christmas for anyone present there in Ashram. He joined rendering Jai Jai Jai Devi Jagadamba. Subsequently on popular demand, Guruji rendered Madhava Madhusudhana, Yadava Yadunandana. It is amazing, indescribable feeling whenever HE sings this song. This was followed by a percussion performance by students of our Ayurveda college. This number that they performed had earlier won them a 2nd prize in the University cultural fete. It was a lovely performance which deserved the prize (maybe the first). It was wisdom time and in response to a question, Guruji says, Celebration happens when the mind stops chattering and stops working. Nothing is there to understand about Celebration. Life should be like a Christmas tree, full of lights and gifts for everybody and green for ever.

HOW I wished this evening never ended. The saving grace was that we have a New Year Eve Celebrations with Guruji to look forward to.

Wishing everyone a great Christmas!

31st December 2006

It was a another evening – as usual with all the gaiety and merriment that comes to be associated with any New Year Eve Celebrations. Spirits of non-liquid type flowed all over the place, reverberating with melodious strains of Bhajans. The fading lights never dimished the brightness surrounding the amphitheatre for the dais was filled with a galaxy of stars – led by Guruji along with stars from the Kannada Cine Industry, erstwhile Spin great, Cricketer BS Chandrashekar, HAL’s MD Mr. Saxena, AGM of SBM, Mr. Rao of Wipro who also bought the first ticket for Pranayam Dhyan Shibhir and Thiru Swamy from the ISKCON, Bangalore. It was also a curtain raiser event for the Pranayam Dhyan Shibir scheduled to be held in Bengalooru starting from Feb 5th 2007. The curtain raiser event began with lighting of lamp (incidentally the lamp moved from the edge of the dais right to the place where dignitaries were seated upon HIS request). All the speakers emphasized the importance of Pranayam and Dhyan and the great work being done by Art of Living and Guruji.

Some notable excerpts of the talk from the speakers:

Vishnuvardan, the star of Kannada cinema mentioned, “Guri muttuvudhakke, Guru Hinde Irabeku (If you have to reach your aim, you need to have a Guru behind you), But we are lucky because here is a Guru, Sri Sri who walks with us and helps us reach our aim.”

Thiruswamy of ISKCON, said, “Like how the lamp came to Guruji just as HE wished, the whole world today has come to HIM seeking HIS guidance. He commended relentless travel and efforts that Guruji puts in to spread the message of love and it was so visible in the Ashram” HE also recollected the characteristic composure of Guruji during SJC totally undaunted by the magnitude of the task. He also exhorted everyone to ensure that Bangalore PDS should be attended by not less than 1 Lakh people since it is not money nor title but the inner calm that brings happiness and this is possible only through the traditional spiritual pratices.

Then came the event of the evening – Guruji’s talk! He guided us through a meditation – linking it to the setting sun 3 Aum chants to bid a fond farewell to the the last sunset of the year and to welcome the Sun for the New Year. The next 10 minutes or so was pure bliss in meditation! and HE told all of us to retire and get ready to welcome the New Year at sunrise (making sure that sunrise time is not 8:00 AM 🙂 🙂 He stressed that as per Indian traditions, the day starts at sunrise and we dont have to wait till midnight to usher in the New Year.

His message for the New Year to all of us –

Accept both good and difficult times – learn from both good and difficult times that we went through during the previous year. Pray that we derive the Strength to face difficulties instead of wishing that there should not be any difficulties since we can learn a lot from difficulties too. We usually hold on to the difficult times in our minds instead of letting it pass after learning the lessons, just like the sugar cane which is sent to crushing unit – the juice (Knowledge) which needs to be held on to and the bagasse (difficulties) need to be dropped behind. He then asked us to question ourselves as to what we can do to the country, the world and to others, take a sankalpa for the New Year.

A Bharatnatyam performance followed and it was felicitaion time thereafter. The evening ended with delicious prasad and it was time to bid Bon Voyage to our beloved Gurudev who is leaving to Bad Antogast, Germany late in the night before which HE had an appointment to keep in the city. While it was retiring time for us, for HIM the day just began!

Wishing everyone a great New Year 2007 filled with joy and smiles.

PS:

  1. Did someone say that Divya (my daughter) was so lucky – first it was Art Excel and Now YES course in Ashram (though she was a few months underaged). Yes! Lucky Her! We never had these courses or God knows where I would have ended up
  2. Check the photo and carefully observe the circled face. Yes! it is Vishnu (my son) in the bottom circle and his cousin Abhay on the upper one, eagerly waiting for a handshake from HIM! on the New Year Eve – a photograph from the Indian Express.