Friday, April 27, 2012

All nighters

This week might be a week of allnighters. The exams are HERE! The first one starts tomorrow. And I'm probably going to be up all night, finishing everything and ensuring I have all my notes together since it's an open book exam. Should I be grateful for that? Hmm.
Anyway, I know I can do this! I have faith in myself, and more importantly in God.
As dear Swami says, "I shall be with you, wherever you are, guarding you and guiding you. March on, have no fear." :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Vishu Again!

Vishu Kani: The splendour of the Smiling Lord
Image credit: keralaevents.com
Yesterday was Vishu, the beginning of the New Year, according to the Malayalam calender. It is one of the most important festivals celebrated back home, and once again, Vishu, away from home, doesn't feel like it. Gosh, I miss the kani, kaineetam and kanji! To the uninitiated, kani is the first thing one sees early in the morning on Vishu day. Typically, the elders of the household decorate the prayer altar with all symbols of prosperity- A brass uruli filled with water, gold jewellery, money, cucumbers, mangoes, bananas and jackfruit, and of course, konna poo, which is a flower that blossoms around this time of the year. Kaineetam is a token of money that is usually given by the elders of the household to all the children. It symbolises wealth for the years to come. Kanji is a special rice porridge, made with coconut milk, and eaten with lentils and pappadam. This is the typical meal for Vishu, but it has gradually been replaced by the more elaborate sadya, which is a feast consisting of nearly 15 dishes. 

The day is special, and I have fond memories, celebrating Vishu back home. Amma and Appa would wake me early in the morning, and having covered my eyes, lead me to the pooja room, so that the first thing I saw would be the smiling statue of the Lord. Kaineetam would follow, and then a few minutes of prayer, in the sacredness of that space, with the fragrance of the incense sticks floating around the air, in the quiet stillness of dawn...

I learnt something new about Vishu this year. Apparently, it is supposed to be auspicious to read the Ramayana on Vishu, early in the morning. One should open the book, and read a random page, which would supposedly have an impact on the person's life in the coming year. I wonder why we never followed this at home. Anyway, I decided to try it today. Now, except for occasional stories that I've come across, I have never really read the Ramayana. I have heard verses from the epic being chanted, back home in Kerala, especially during the evenings in the month of Karkitakam (a supposedly inauspicious month), but I have not read it myself. So, I turned to good old Google, and got an online version of the Ramayana. It was then that I realized the whole epic had been divided into six major sections (kaandam), according to the timeline of events in the novel. For example, Bala Kaandam is centred around Rama's childhood, Ayodhya Kaandam is about his exile from Ayodhya and so on. Since I was supposed to pick a page randomly, I turned to random.org in order to generate a random number between 1 and 6. I got 4, so turned to the Kishkindha Kaandam. There, again I had 6 major chapters, so random.org chose 2 for me. I scrolled down to the first page of chapter 2, and learnt that Kishkindha Kaandam depicts the story of Rama meeting Hanuman for the first time, and helping Sugriva regain the kingdom of Kishkindha from his evil brother, Vali. By chance, Hanuman, seen as a symbol of courage, jumps into the scene in Chapter 2. And the very first lines of the chapter simply state this, 'Be Fearless'. I took this to be a message for me, a symbol from God, another inexplicable way of the universe. I must learn to conquer my fears. They simply don't exist, and even if they do seem threatening, I must have faith and courage to move on and rise above them. A profound insight for the year and many more to come, indeed.

I believe Vishu is a day that reminds us to count our blessings. By offering whatever we have been blessed with in the past year, we are in a way, offering our gratitude to the Creator. And, there is no better way to happiness than gratitude! Today, I feel blessed to have been able to talk with Amma and Appa, who are so far away, yet so near. I feel blessed to have been able to catch the kani over Skype. I feel blessed, because despite spending nearly the whole day in the library, I have been able to make considerable progress on an important project. I feel blessed because I also have team mates who have become good friends over the course of just a semester. I feel blessed for all the little mercies in life.

Vishu also reminds us to see only the best things in life. In fact, the message of Vishu is to see God in everything and everyone we do. That way, we don't become bitter about petty issues, and see only the bright side of life. As the traditional Vishu hymn goes:

Kani kaanum neram kamala nethrante 
Niramerum manjathukil chaarthi
Kanaka kingini valagal mothiram
Aninijyu kaanenam bhagavane.

I perhaps am not the best person to translate such a beautiful verse to English (I will not do justice to it), but I take the hymn to mean this- May I see the Lotus eyed One, whose face is brightened with sandalwood, who is adorned with a golden crown, bangles and rings and who is bedecked for the kani, in everything and everyone, always!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Book List

A random trip to the university co-op store has triggered this post. I spent nearly 20 minutes in the co-op, forgetting why I went there in the first place, because I came across some really good books. Since I'm oh-so-busy right now, I'll just make a list of the books I'd like to read some day. Some of them are right here on the bookshelf next to my study desk. Some, I'll have to beg and borrow from others or the library. Shall keep updating this. So here goes.

Luka and the Fire of Life Salman Rushdie
House of Blue Mangoes David Davidar
Life of Pi Yann Martel
Temptations of the West Pankaj Mishra
The Memory Keeper's Daughter Kim Edwards
City of Djinns William Dalrymple
The Hundred Secret Senses Amy Tan
The Emerald Route RK Narayan
How Starbucks Saved my Life Michael Gates Gill
Amma and Me Manoharan
The Kitchen God's Wife Amy Tan
The Joy Luck Club Amy Tan
The Shiva Trilogy Series Amish Tripathi. (Please please please I need to find someone willing to lend this book to me! I've searched everywhere, but haven't found it yet!)
Reading Lolita in Tehran Azar Nafisi
Jonathan Livingston Seagull Richard Bach
Sea of Poppies Amitav Ghosh
Murder on the Orient Express Agatha Christie (The problem with her books is that after a while they all seem the same to you. But, I've heard this one is special!)
The Legends of Khasak OV Vijayan
The Fifth Mountain Paulo Coelho
Tuesdays with Morrie Mitch Albom
Norwegian Wood Haruki Murakami


Oh well, I could go on, I suppose. But I cannot remember the rest of the books that I've been wanting to read at some point or the other. Will update this as and when I remember. Now, please excuse me since I need to go wash the dabba in which I packed my dinner, and then study ALL NIGHT LONG. I CAN DO THIS!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Darshan on Good Friday

My previous post was on how often we worry about unknowns, something beyond our control. Little do we realize that our paths have already been defined, and what's meant to happen will happen. Some things are just meant to be. No matter what, if it's destined to happen, it will! We just need to have implicit trust in the Maker. An incident that occurred over the past two days helped me realize this for the umpteenth time. 

Amma, or simply Mother, is known to millions across the world as Amritamayi Ma, the Hugging Saint, a spiritual guide, a humanitarian, a guru. Some consider Her to be Goddess Shakti Herself incarnate. She comes across as a beacon of light for many, spreading hope and the message of peace through Her selfless love. As I started writing this, I realized that there is no definite answer to whom Amma really is, at least to me. Sure, she is my guru, guiding me in my every action. As a child, Amma was God for me. I still remember my childhood days, when my parents would instruct me to pray- mole, ambaati thozhanam! And every time I closed my eyes, Amma's splendid form flashed before me. As the days passed, I still thought of Her as God, but by then my equation with God had changed. There were traces of skepticism, a bout of 'school girl atheism', if you will. Those traces completely vanished in the days just before exams, and every spare moment I got was spent in the pooja room, furiously reading the Sai Satcharita and chanting Amma's 108 names. Then, even this changed. Now in college, I sometimes hardly get time to pray. Sure, I have enough time to go on facebook, blog and spend endless hours just worrying about everything (known and unknown), despite my so called busy schedule, but I find it difficult to spend a few minutes in prayer! But by this time, I have begun to consider God and therefore Amma to be a friend, and whenever worry bogs me down I simply try to pray. And my prayer often consists of conversations with Amma for I do know that She is listening, even if I am not physically present with Her. However, to state that Amma is God or a guru for me would be an understatement. These days, I try to see Her in all that I do, and try to remember Her in every passing moment. Suffice to say, I consider Her to be my All. This Sanskrit prayer describes it best:

Twameva mata cha pita twameva
Twameva bandhu sakha twameva
Twameva vidhya dravinam twameva
Twameva sarvam amriteswari ma!

(You are my mother, my father,
My kith and kin, my friend.
You are my knowledge and my wealth.
You are everything to me, Amriteswari Ma!)

So you can imagine how delighted I was when Amma visited Singapore a couple of days ago. On Wednesday, after my lessons, I ran back to my room, showered, changed into a kurta and jeans, and rushed to the Marina Bay Expo Centre. It was nearly 7 in the evening and there was a serpentine queue to meet Amma for just a few seconds. Darshan is indeed a divine experience and I didn't mind the long wait. I have been fortunate enough to get darshan nearly every year, and as usual, this year was wonderful, and within a blink of an eye, it was over! Each time, I think about how it would be if only I could spend a few more minutes in Amma's physical presence. As I slowly made my way back to my world of excel sheets, projects, exams and deadlines, I met S Uncle from Amma's Singapore centre and he asked me why I hadn't gone for the Sunday prayer sessions for the past few weeks. Uhh, I stammered, uncle, exams, projects, blah blah. Sad excuse, I know. Half of the time, I end up sleeping late, so I wake up late and by the time I start on some real work, it's already noon! If only I could make use of that time to go attend the satsang! Anyway, uncle asked me whether I would be able to volunteer for the next day, which would be the final day of Amma's visit, and hence would have the maximum number of people. I said enthusiastically 'Yes, of course, uncle!' but there were doubts in my mind. Before those dark clouds of doubt could take over, I looked at smiling Amma, whose face shines with the splendour of a thousand suns, and I just asked Her to guide me. And so, I went back to my room at the university.

The next day was busy, and the only thing that inspired me was the thought of a second darshan later. But towards the end of the day, I was upset about a midterm and was feeling particularly grumpy. When Amma called me to ask if I would be going for darshan, I was very rude to her. The fact that she and Appa were enjoying their Easter break in Oman didn't make things any better. Anyway, I put down the phone, and looked at my Amma doll, a little doll, made in the form of the Universal Mother and told Her, 'You are insistent on making things difficult for me, alle? You know what, I'm just not going to come for darshan today. As it is, You are supposed to know everything anyway!'. A few minutes later, I burst into tears, because I was overcome with worry, and decided to go for darshan, especially since I had promised S uncle that I would do some seva (volunteering/service.)

I went to the centre and was unsurprised to find it packed with thousands of people! I had already registered at the volunteer's desk and soon was assigned to help with Amma's magazine subscriptions. I had always thought seva would be an easy task, but my goodness! It was indeed a humbling experience. I did get many blows to my ego, but I tried to let go and surrender to Amma. After nearly four hours, someone at the magazine desk told me that he had put down my name for handing prasad over to Amma. Ever since I had begun going for darshan, I had always thought how lucky those sitting near Her were- they were after all able to touch Her, soak in the divine energy and simply be in Her presence. And now, I was blessed enough to get that chance! Blessed indeed. Those were the most precious three minutes of my life. I just thought back to how I had (nearly) missed going for darshan that day. Mysterious are Her ways indeed!

Some things are simply meant to be. Just like how this post is simply meant to be my 100th. Just like how this 100th should be posted on Easter Sunday. Just like how Amma gave me another chance to learn that day. Amma, for me at least, is the Puppeteer behind the puppet show known as life. She pulls the strings, and makes the puppet do what it is supposed to do at the right time. Make me, Amma, an instrument of Your Will, today and always! 

Post Script
'Mole, ambaati thozhanam!' means 'Daughter, you must pray to God!' and Ambaati is a form of endearment for God.
Darshan literally means 'sight'. In this context, it means meeting Amma, which in turn means a hug from Her :)
Satsang literally means 'good company'. In this context, it refers to prayer sessions and meditation, since these activities are indeed good company for spiritual development.
I have come across a number of situations when I talk about Amma, and people ask me whom I am referring to- my own amma, or Amma, the guru. So here Amma refers to my own mother, while Amma refers to the Universal Mother.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Contact Lens Analogy

A few days ago, my friends and I were working on a project. We spent a lot of time, simply analyzing the question, reading deep into it, trying to find if there was a hidden threat. Suffice to say, over analyzing the question and trying to answer a lot of unknowns was not very productive. If we had just gotten straight to the point, we could have saved a lot of time.As I walked back after the meeting, I realised we spend most of our time worrying about unknown things.

I was reminded of an incident, nearly three years ago, when I first began to use contact lenses. I was in a hurry to go for my lecture, so probably didn't pay much attention when I wore the lenses. After a long day, I came back and tried to remove them. The right lens was fine, but when I reached out for the left lens, it simply wasn't there! I poked my eye in horror, trying to control tears, till it was red and yet, there was no lens! Hours of frustration later, I found a shrivelled up lens, stubbornly stuck at the bottom of the mirror. Don't ask me how I couldn't have realized that I didn't wear the other lens properly. Still beats me! Anyway, this reminded me how often we go about searching for things that are simply not there, wasting a lot of time and effort in the bargain. There are simply too many unknowns in this universe- otherwise it would just be plain and life would have no excitement! Instead of worrying over what tomorrow brings and the uncertainty of things in general, one must learn to take things as they come.

A scene from a Malayalam movie that I'm rather fond of drives home the same point. The movie is a crime thriller, and the protagonist is a CBI officer who investigates into the death of a girl, supposedly killed by an evil spirit. In order to begin his investigation, Sethuraman Iyer, the officer needs to break open the fiercely guarded prayer room in the ancestral mansion, where the death occurred. The family members do not obviously like this, so they call a famous tantrik to test the officer, and hopefully scare him away. The tantrik asks him a number of questions, to which Iyer gives absolutely brilliant answers. For example, the tantrik makes a statement- The sun rises in the east. To which Iyer replies, 'No, wherever the sun rises, that is the east'. Subtle, but indeed, what a difference! At the end, Iyer tells the tantrik that if his intention is to defeat him, it wouldn't be such a difficult thing to do, because 'what we don't know is much more than what we do know'. Needless to say, the tantrik is humbled at the end.

After reminiscing about the contact lens episode, I gazed at the night sky. Another epiphany. Worrying about unknowns is like trying to count the billions of stars against the velvety darkness. Think about the vastness of the universe. I am here today. What will tomorrow bring? I don't know. There are no definite answers because nobody knows. Should learn to trust the One Above, who has everything already planned out!

Post Script
I don't know whether this post made sense, but it's been in my mind for quite some time and I simply had to write it today. I just survived my first ever all nighter, so you'll know what to blame! On a slightly cheerier note, this is my 99th post! YAY :D

Friday, April 27, 2012

All nighters

This week might be a week of allnighters. The exams are HERE! The first one starts tomorrow. And I'm probably going to be up all night, finishing everything and ensuring I have all my notes together since it's an open book exam. Should I be grateful for that? Hmm.
Anyway, I know I can do this! I have faith in myself, and more importantly in God.
As dear Swami says, "I shall be with you, wherever you are, guarding you and guiding you. March on, have no fear." :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Vishu Again!

Vishu Kani: The splendour of the Smiling Lord
Image credit: keralaevents.com
Yesterday was Vishu, the beginning of the New Year, according to the Malayalam calender. It is one of the most important festivals celebrated back home, and once again, Vishu, away from home, doesn't feel like it. Gosh, I miss the kani, kaineetam and kanji! To the uninitiated, kani is the first thing one sees early in the morning on Vishu day. Typically, the elders of the household decorate the prayer altar with all symbols of prosperity- A brass uruli filled with water, gold jewellery, money, cucumbers, mangoes, bananas and jackfruit, and of course, konna poo, which is a flower that blossoms around this time of the year. Kaineetam is a token of money that is usually given by the elders of the household to all the children. It symbolises wealth for the years to come. Kanji is a special rice porridge, made with coconut milk, and eaten with lentils and pappadam. This is the typical meal for Vishu, but it has gradually been replaced by the more elaborate sadya, which is a feast consisting of nearly 15 dishes. 

The day is special, and I have fond memories, celebrating Vishu back home. Amma and Appa would wake me early in the morning, and having covered my eyes, lead me to the pooja room, so that the first thing I saw would be the smiling statue of the Lord. Kaineetam would follow, and then a few minutes of prayer, in the sacredness of that space, with the fragrance of the incense sticks floating around the air, in the quiet stillness of dawn...

I learnt something new about Vishu this year. Apparently, it is supposed to be auspicious to read the Ramayana on Vishu, early in the morning. One should open the book, and read a random page, which would supposedly have an impact on the person's life in the coming year. I wonder why we never followed this at home. Anyway, I decided to try it today. Now, except for occasional stories that I've come across, I have never really read the Ramayana. I have heard verses from the epic being chanted, back home in Kerala, especially during the evenings in the month of Karkitakam (a supposedly inauspicious month), but I have not read it myself. So, I turned to good old Google, and got an online version of the Ramayana. It was then that I realized the whole epic had been divided into six major sections (kaandam), according to the timeline of events in the novel. For example, Bala Kaandam is centred around Rama's childhood, Ayodhya Kaandam is about his exile from Ayodhya and so on. Since I was supposed to pick a page randomly, I turned to random.org in order to generate a random number between 1 and 6. I got 4, so turned to the Kishkindha Kaandam. There, again I had 6 major chapters, so random.org chose 2 for me. I scrolled down to the first page of chapter 2, and learnt that Kishkindha Kaandam depicts the story of Rama meeting Hanuman for the first time, and helping Sugriva regain the kingdom of Kishkindha from his evil brother, Vali. By chance, Hanuman, seen as a symbol of courage, jumps into the scene in Chapter 2. And the very first lines of the chapter simply state this, 'Be Fearless'. I took this to be a message for me, a symbol from God, another inexplicable way of the universe. I must learn to conquer my fears. They simply don't exist, and even if they do seem threatening, I must have faith and courage to move on and rise above them. A profound insight for the year and many more to come, indeed.

I believe Vishu is a day that reminds us to count our blessings. By offering whatever we have been blessed with in the past year, we are in a way, offering our gratitude to the Creator. And, there is no better way to happiness than gratitude! Today, I feel blessed to have been able to talk with Amma and Appa, who are so far away, yet so near. I feel blessed to have been able to catch the kani over Skype. I feel blessed, because despite spending nearly the whole day in the library, I have been able to make considerable progress on an important project. I feel blessed because I also have team mates who have become good friends over the course of just a semester. I feel blessed for all the little mercies in life.

Vishu also reminds us to see only the best things in life. In fact, the message of Vishu is to see God in everything and everyone we do. That way, we don't become bitter about petty issues, and see only the bright side of life. As the traditional Vishu hymn goes:

Kani kaanum neram kamala nethrante 
Niramerum manjathukil chaarthi
Kanaka kingini valagal mothiram
Aninijyu kaanenam bhagavane.

I perhaps am not the best person to translate such a beautiful verse to English (I will not do justice to it), but I take the hymn to mean this- May I see the Lotus eyed One, whose face is brightened with sandalwood, who is adorned with a golden crown, bangles and rings and who is bedecked for the kani, in everything and everyone, always!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Book List

A random trip to the university co-op store has triggered this post. I spent nearly 20 minutes in the co-op, forgetting why I went there in the first place, because I came across some really good books. Since I'm oh-so-busy right now, I'll just make a list of the books I'd like to read some day. Some of them are right here on the bookshelf next to my study desk. Some, I'll have to beg and borrow from others or the library. Shall keep updating this. So here goes.

Luka and the Fire of Life Salman Rushdie
House of Blue Mangoes David Davidar
Life of Pi Yann Martel
Temptations of the West Pankaj Mishra
The Memory Keeper's Daughter Kim Edwards
City of Djinns William Dalrymple
The Hundred Secret Senses Amy Tan
The Emerald Route RK Narayan
How Starbucks Saved my Life Michael Gates Gill
Amma and Me Manoharan
The Kitchen God's Wife Amy Tan
The Joy Luck Club Amy Tan
The Shiva Trilogy Series Amish Tripathi. (Please please please I need to find someone willing to lend this book to me! I've searched everywhere, but haven't found it yet!)
Reading Lolita in Tehran Azar Nafisi
Jonathan Livingston Seagull Richard Bach
Sea of Poppies Amitav Ghosh
Murder on the Orient Express Agatha Christie (The problem with her books is that after a while they all seem the same to you. But, I've heard this one is special!)
The Legends of Khasak OV Vijayan
The Fifth Mountain Paulo Coelho
Tuesdays with Morrie Mitch Albom
Norwegian Wood Haruki Murakami


Oh well, I could go on, I suppose. But I cannot remember the rest of the books that I've been wanting to read at some point or the other. Will update this as and when I remember. Now, please excuse me since I need to go wash the dabba in which I packed my dinner, and then study ALL NIGHT LONG. I CAN DO THIS!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Darshan on Good Friday

My previous post was on how often we worry about unknowns, something beyond our control. Little do we realize that our paths have already been defined, and what's meant to happen will happen. Some things are just meant to be. No matter what, if it's destined to happen, it will! We just need to have implicit trust in the Maker. An incident that occurred over the past two days helped me realize this for the umpteenth time. 

Amma, or simply Mother, is known to millions across the world as Amritamayi Ma, the Hugging Saint, a spiritual guide, a humanitarian, a guru. Some consider Her to be Goddess Shakti Herself incarnate. She comes across as a beacon of light for many, spreading hope and the message of peace through Her selfless love. As I started writing this, I realized that there is no definite answer to whom Amma really is, at least to me. Sure, she is my guru, guiding me in my every action. As a child, Amma was God for me. I still remember my childhood days, when my parents would instruct me to pray- mole, ambaati thozhanam! And every time I closed my eyes, Amma's splendid form flashed before me. As the days passed, I still thought of Her as God, but by then my equation with God had changed. There were traces of skepticism, a bout of 'school girl atheism', if you will. Those traces completely vanished in the days just before exams, and every spare moment I got was spent in the pooja room, furiously reading the Sai Satcharita and chanting Amma's 108 names. Then, even this changed. Now in college, I sometimes hardly get time to pray. Sure, I have enough time to go on facebook, blog and spend endless hours just worrying about everything (known and unknown), despite my so called busy schedule, but I find it difficult to spend a few minutes in prayer! But by this time, I have begun to consider God and therefore Amma to be a friend, and whenever worry bogs me down I simply try to pray. And my prayer often consists of conversations with Amma for I do know that She is listening, even if I am not physically present with Her. However, to state that Amma is God or a guru for me would be an understatement. These days, I try to see Her in all that I do, and try to remember Her in every passing moment. Suffice to say, I consider Her to be my All. This Sanskrit prayer describes it best:

Twameva mata cha pita twameva
Twameva bandhu sakha twameva
Twameva vidhya dravinam twameva
Twameva sarvam amriteswari ma!

(You are my mother, my father,
My kith and kin, my friend.
You are my knowledge and my wealth.
You are everything to me, Amriteswari Ma!)

So you can imagine how delighted I was when Amma visited Singapore a couple of days ago. On Wednesday, after my lessons, I ran back to my room, showered, changed into a kurta and jeans, and rushed to the Marina Bay Expo Centre. It was nearly 7 in the evening and there was a serpentine queue to meet Amma for just a few seconds. Darshan is indeed a divine experience and I didn't mind the long wait. I have been fortunate enough to get darshan nearly every year, and as usual, this year was wonderful, and within a blink of an eye, it was over! Each time, I think about how it would be if only I could spend a few more minutes in Amma's physical presence. As I slowly made my way back to my world of excel sheets, projects, exams and deadlines, I met S Uncle from Amma's Singapore centre and he asked me why I hadn't gone for the Sunday prayer sessions for the past few weeks. Uhh, I stammered, uncle, exams, projects, blah blah. Sad excuse, I know. Half of the time, I end up sleeping late, so I wake up late and by the time I start on some real work, it's already noon! If only I could make use of that time to go attend the satsang! Anyway, uncle asked me whether I would be able to volunteer for the next day, which would be the final day of Amma's visit, and hence would have the maximum number of people. I said enthusiastically 'Yes, of course, uncle!' but there were doubts in my mind. Before those dark clouds of doubt could take over, I looked at smiling Amma, whose face shines with the splendour of a thousand suns, and I just asked Her to guide me. And so, I went back to my room at the university.

The next day was busy, and the only thing that inspired me was the thought of a second darshan later. But towards the end of the day, I was upset about a midterm and was feeling particularly grumpy. When Amma called me to ask if I would be going for darshan, I was very rude to her. The fact that she and Appa were enjoying their Easter break in Oman didn't make things any better. Anyway, I put down the phone, and looked at my Amma doll, a little doll, made in the form of the Universal Mother and told Her, 'You are insistent on making things difficult for me, alle? You know what, I'm just not going to come for darshan today. As it is, You are supposed to know everything anyway!'. A few minutes later, I burst into tears, because I was overcome with worry, and decided to go for darshan, especially since I had promised S uncle that I would do some seva (volunteering/service.)

I went to the centre and was unsurprised to find it packed with thousands of people! I had already registered at the volunteer's desk and soon was assigned to help with Amma's magazine subscriptions. I had always thought seva would be an easy task, but my goodness! It was indeed a humbling experience. I did get many blows to my ego, but I tried to let go and surrender to Amma. After nearly four hours, someone at the magazine desk told me that he had put down my name for handing prasad over to Amma. Ever since I had begun going for darshan, I had always thought how lucky those sitting near Her were- they were after all able to touch Her, soak in the divine energy and simply be in Her presence. And now, I was blessed enough to get that chance! Blessed indeed. Those were the most precious three minutes of my life. I just thought back to how I had (nearly) missed going for darshan that day. Mysterious are Her ways indeed!

Some things are simply meant to be. Just like how this post is simply meant to be my 100th. Just like how this 100th should be posted on Easter Sunday. Just like how Amma gave me another chance to learn that day. Amma, for me at least, is the Puppeteer behind the puppet show known as life. She pulls the strings, and makes the puppet do what it is supposed to do at the right time. Make me, Amma, an instrument of Your Will, today and always! 

Post Script
'Mole, ambaati thozhanam!' means 'Daughter, you must pray to God!' and Ambaati is a form of endearment for God.
Darshan literally means 'sight'. In this context, it means meeting Amma, which in turn means a hug from Her :)
Satsang literally means 'good company'. In this context, it refers to prayer sessions and meditation, since these activities are indeed good company for spiritual development.
I have come across a number of situations when I talk about Amma, and people ask me whom I am referring to- my own amma, or Amma, the guru. So here Amma refers to my own mother, while Amma refers to the Universal Mother.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Contact Lens Analogy

A few days ago, my friends and I were working on a project. We spent a lot of time, simply analyzing the question, reading deep into it, trying to find if there was a hidden threat. Suffice to say, over analyzing the question and trying to answer a lot of unknowns was not very productive. If we had just gotten straight to the point, we could have saved a lot of time.As I walked back after the meeting, I realised we spend most of our time worrying about unknown things.

I was reminded of an incident, nearly three years ago, when I first began to use contact lenses. I was in a hurry to go for my lecture, so probably didn't pay much attention when I wore the lenses. After a long day, I came back and tried to remove them. The right lens was fine, but when I reached out for the left lens, it simply wasn't there! I poked my eye in horror, trying to control tears, till it was red and yet, there was no lens! Hours of frustration later, I found a shrivelled up lens, stubbornly stuck at the bottom of the mirror. Don't ask me how I couldn't have realized that I didn't wear the other lens properly. Still beats me! Anyway, this reminded me how often we go about searching for things that are simply not there, wasting a lot of time and effort in the bargain. There are simply too many unknowns in this universe- otherwise it would just be plain and life would have no excitement! Instead of worrying over what tomorrow brings and the uncertainty of things in general, one must learn to take things as they come.

A scene from a Malayalam movie that I'm rather fond of drives home the same point. The movie is a crime thriller, and the protagonist is a CBI officer who investigates into the death of a girl, supposedly killed by an evil spirit. In order to begin his investigation, Sethuraman Iyer, the officer needs to break open the fiercely guarded prayer room in the ancestral mansion, where the death occurred. The family members do not obviously like this, so they call a famous tantrik to test the officer, and hopefully scare him away. The tantrik asks him a number of questions, to which Iyer gives absolutely brilliant answers. For example, the tantrik makes a statement- The sun rises in the east. To which Iyer replies, 'No, wherever the sun rises, that is the east'. Subtle, but indeed, what a difference! At the end, Iyer tells the tantrik that if his intention is to defeat him, it wouldn't be such a difficult thing to do, because 'what we don't know is much more than what we do know'. Needless to say, the tantrik is humbled at the end.

After reminiscing about the contact lens episode, I gazed at the night sky. Another epiphany. Worrying about unknowns is like trying to count the billions of stars against the velvety darkness. Think about the vastness of the universe. I am here today. What will tomorrow bring? I don't know. There are no definite answers because nobody knows. Should learn to trust the One Above, who has everything already planned out!

Post Script
I don't know whether this post made sense, but it's been in my mind for quite some time and I simply had to write it today. I just survived my first ever all nighter, so you'll know what to blame! On a slightly cheerier note, this is my 99th post! YAY :D