Tuesday, December 31, 2013

All breast milk are not same!

Last year it was Nirbhaya that deeply shook me. I spent nights in loud cry and tears, in the Pooja room where no one could spot me. When I let the pressure off, I returned to bed, only to see my little angel sleeping in complete ignorance and innocence on what was happening around her. Then I wept in silence – “how am I going to safe guard myself and her from the cruel world around” was a big unanswered question.

Nirbhaya’s loss rattled the conscience of our nation. Every citizen came forward like never before. Ever hungry media for sensational news made the most of it. Men and women who are used to witnessing the rally or protests from their balcony came down to the roads… Candlelight vigils, slogans, placards and what not! For all the pain that life had gone through, there was some purpose to it, I consoled myself.

Last year, it was a rape victim whose journey was stopped midway. From that single incident, awareness about women safety was born, laws were made stringent. [Is somebody asking me if the crime rate has come down? I would give that question a pass!]. This year, a man who tried to protect a woman from being raped, who tried to chase the rapists out died – now will the rapists not continue to plunder this woman who is nurturing all lives in our land? Why did he go midway? Whom did he trust for the unfinished job! Will someone come to protect that woman? Will Nammaazhvar Ayya’s death shake our conscience?

I know I am not talking sense at all. Why would anyone’s conscience be questioned for a natural death of an old man?!

In short he made me realize, “All breast milk are not same!”

I delivered my daughter in 2007. I had a few elders around me to help and support my child and me. I am very grateful to them for those first moments in my life. Breast milk is the elixir of her life – a single cure for any diseases my child might have contracted from outside.

It is a natural hormonal process. Once the life is out from my belly, lactation happened automatically (nay, I didn’t give credit to creator’s brilliance then). However in this nature’s process, elders tried to interfere saying ‘Don’t eat that. Don’t eat this’ I was confounded at that time. All breast milk would have the same stuff – same nutrients – vitamins, minerals, calcium and life nourishing contents. Whatever I eat, my body could still produce the same milk. So was every mother’s milk I thought. But soon I was disproved. What I eat, my body digests, becomes blood, blood becomes milk. So, what you eat matters.

What you sow, you reap – applies to lactation process!

Do you know, our land, mother Earth (we unabatedly do our lip service) is the producer of elixir of our lives? She continues to lactate so that our lives could be nourished. If she has to produce quality milk, she needs to be given proper food. If you make her smoke plastic, industry waste, garbage, chemicals in the name of pesticides, do you think she can continue to produce same breast milk like earlier? We have made her diseased and still expect her to nourish us, our children and their children!

Older generation got diabetes at age 60, now our generation is taking master health check up as we stylishly call so at age 30. One in 3 adults in India is diagnosed of diabetes. No, please don’t translate that to "We are the sweetest nation!" One can argue “Life style” has changed; but life is still the same. We still breathe in oxygen and let out carbon-di-oxide. Unfortunately no change to that process to suit our current life style. We eat crops, fruits, vegetables from a diseased mother (earth). Hence we are diseased!

Nammaazhvar came as a God in disguise for the raped land. He fought for organic farming. The pesticides and other chemicals which are being used for better crop, faster harvest is killing her slowly. Genetically modified seeds and crops left her molested and impotent that she can’t generate milk anymore for anybody. Vast area of lands were subjected to this pain. Scores and scores of farmers committed suicide because she stopped lactation. She became sterile!

He educated farmers, taught them how to preserve their soil. He exposed them to variety of farming methods for good yield and money, but without raping the land. He restored the lives of several thousand farmers. Many inspired people from IT joined him as a full time / part time volunteers/ business partners. He appeared in social media, continues to impact lives like me.

Will his death make history? Will we celebrate his life (he still lives in the trees he planted, seeds he sowed) by paying tributes to him? If so, what is a fitting tribute?

Please ask for Organic foods. Let’s increase the demand for organic food items. Say no to pesticides, say no to genetically modified crops (they are jus chemicals and no life is present), reduce the use of plastics! Be sensible and gentle to carry a cloth bag when you go out shopping... Let us be the change agent in our society and leave a sustainable mother to our children!

Let there be sense and purpose to the life Nammaazhvar has lived!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Promise and Hope...

Everything has a purpose. So is this write up! This is going to talk about an ever optimistic lady and how she takes on her little bit withered, lost-hope kind of a brother… And finally something that would move your heart!

‘I feel like committing suzu’ [let me explain, his short form of ‘suicide’] ranted my brother. Now the ebullient sister, who has never let him down, supported him, never gave him up with anyone, especially with his parents, tried to make sense which only exasperated him… What went on and what could have gone wrong! Before you start biting your nails, let your eye balls graze the below passages J

‘Now what happened? The world is beautiful. Whether you like it or not, nature has been kind on us. You have a job and you excel in whatever you do. Gone are those dark not-so-hopeful days. You are independent!’ I pulled the curtains up for a sensible, initially heart wrenching, later heartwarming show…

He interrupted, ‘Is this all life about? Given a choice and looking at how this world is operating, how animals suffer in the hands of unscrupulous humans, how underprivileged kids are deprived of basic education, how most rural women endure life with their indifferent, born-to-drink husbands, would you not wish the world to come to an end!?’ I could understand the depth and pain in his words. Does that mean I could let him go off the hook? I have HOPE I could change the world! Now that’s tall, isn’t it?

‘Dear brother, I have hope. You are looking at scores of people who suffer. I am looking at people whose lives are enhanced, whose lives are transformed from hopelessness to hope by people of generous hearts like you and me. We are providing quality education to 5200 kids through Isha Vidhya initiative! Have you seen the twinkle in their eyes? With good meals, quality education much better than city schools, love and gratitude, those kids hope they could bring their families out of the vicious poverty cycle! I want the world to exist for them. India’s next generation is in their hands and am working for it.’

Looking at the audacity and authenticity with which I spoke, he further rebuked ‘Oh Come on! How about other kids who don’t get it? I spoke with a 7th grade government school girl asking her ‘what five fives are (5x5=?)?’ for which she replied ‘anna, appadina?’ (Brother, what is that?). I went on to offer her chips. She replied ‘anna, sips vendamna’. SIPS and not chips?! How is she going to take on this bullying world, you eternal optimist!’ [BTW, believe me, that’s the standard of government schools!]

He poked my heart with that question (I know these days poking means fun!). But this one was too painful. I went on to instill hope in him as always, successfully concealing my anguish and leaving him bewildered at the immensity of my perception and vision… I told him ‘Today they may suffer. But tomorrow, they WILL smile.’

I know I am not done!
I am running for a cause. I am running to educate rural Tamilnadu. I am participating in Chennai marathon, running for Isha Vidhya. I made a commitment, rather a promise that I would reach out to as many people as possible.

Dear friend, I need your support. Of course, I didn’t make this promise without you in my mind. Everyone has the willingness to help. But the means, genuineness of the cause [does my hard-earned money really reach the poor and the needy?] are deterrents. But here you know how your contribution is being spent.

Isha Vidhya need monetary support to construct class rooms, toilets, hire teachers, to provide food, school buses, book, uniforms, needless to say for everything. When this initiative was started in Cuddalore in the Tsunami affected regions, no family was willing to send their children to school. They thought it was a farce that Isha Vidhya would provide education free of cost. The children initially came without basic hygiene. Those committed teachers there even brushed their teeth, combed their hair, provided them snacks out of little money they had, before they went on with ‘A B C Ds’. Now in all 9 IV rural matriculation schools, meals are being provided!

I make this promise – ‘Change is on the way, dear child. Don’t lose hope’

Other ranting, if you think what will I get out of this –
Fulfilling experience

Before I close this article, let me talk about a small boy whose education was sponsored by someone like me in Isha Vidhya, Tuticorn village. A 3rd grade little bud was questioned, ‘What would you want to become in the future?’ for which came a stunning reply ‘I want to become a very rich man, earn lot of money.' Hmm... That's not OK the questioner thought and proceeded to know why, pat came the reply, 'I want to sponsor FOUR kids like me!’ His eyes sparkled as he said this... Should I continue to talk on the impact?!

All I could say is ‘Good deed is contagious’…

Please click on this link to donate or reach out to me @ abirami.raj@gmail.com if you are interested. To know more or to become a part of this, please watch this video

It may leave a small hole in your pocket, but be rest assured it would fill your heart with love and purpose!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

My experience of God and Bhakthi

I started going to temples at a very young age… I could feel nothing there, though I played give and take business with God like everybody else. If I get first rank this time, I would break a coconut. If I get this much marks, I would come to see you, Lord Muruga (Marudhamalai temple). First 15-20 years of my life, I was living in fear of God. At one point, I thought this was very painful, let me think there was no God. Nobody could prove anyway. When I was 22 years, I came in touch with this person, Sadhguru, did Isha yoga program. I started living life after that… I moved on from God-fearing to God-loving! What is this feeling? Read on - My experience of a temple visit…

The plan of visiting Someshwara temple in Kadapa, AP was hatched to me when I was doing back to back ashram trips to Coimbatore and in between hectic schedules. I wanted to go certainly, but was wondering wouldn’t it be too much for my body? But it was irresistible. Why? It was the place where Sadhguru had gone to in his previous birth and in this birth as well. He had visited this temple along with a group of closely associated people with him and offered Naga abarnna to the Linga (Someshwara) there, in 1997. This place certainly has some energy, my Guru’s presence. These days more than His physical presence, I am more devoured by His absence! I could feel Him everywhere…

Though the initial plan was visiting Sangameshwara temple, in Kadapa, (thanks to Swami Gurubiksha) we “corrected” our plan to visit Someshwara as well.

So, needless to say there was so much openness in me and all the like-minded meditators with whom the yatra began. In our group of about 20 meditators, there were people of all ages right from the age of 6 to 70… But it was like all were aged alike. We could feel no differences amongst us! This needs to be felt, definitely. J

After a bit of waiting and eating (:D), we started from Chennai at around 9 am, 26, Oct 2013. An easy 6.5 hours of journey was stretched to nine hours (Thanks to all of us – we stopped at every possible place and I enjoyed every bit of it!). We reached Devuni Kadapa, Someshwara temple at around 6. With a tiring body and mind, I got down, more than the temple entrance, I was looking for ‘Idli podi’ shop(Well, that’s typical of me. I was entrusted with the job of getting Idli podi for dinner). Finally, I delegated the job to the driver anna and prepared to get into the temple. To my slight disappointment, the Linga, Someshwara was so small, but beautifully decorated by the Naga Abharnna. We did archchana in all of our names, prostrated to the Linga there and proceeded to the parikrama. At the back side of the temple, there was a thinnai where some other deities were present. I found a pillar and resting my back there, sat in silence, eyes closed. I was gracefully intimidated by the divine mosquitoes there, I got up (out of no choice) to darshan the other deities and finally did ‘Guru pooja’ in front of Shiva in deity form and came out of the temple.

My mind wasn’t so alert or sharp to comprehend what happened inside the temple. But the moment, I stepped out of the temple, I felt I was a different person. There was no tiredness anymore. Mind and body became fresh as if I jus did my practices or Sannidhi or Bhairavi pooja.

We all boarded our vehicles again. The purpose of our trip was over. Visiting Sangameshwara temple was an addendum, I thought. Little did I realize, the yatra was far from over.

Now everybody was charged up. The chants were on continuously. Guru Paduka Stotram, Nirvana Shatakam, Aum Namashivayah, Brahmaananda Swaroopa, Shambho were chanted in full swing. We reached Sangameshwara temple near the river bed in the midst of mountain range at around 9 PM.

We had arranged for Abhishekam with the Prohitar in advance. All I knew about the temple was it is located at the Sangamam of 3 rivers and the linga was consecrated by Sage Agastya. This temple unlike other famous ones did not have any shops around, no selling of flowers or coconuts, the path way to reach this temple is not so straight forward, kind of hidden I would say! We were given all materials of abhishekam in several plates and asked to circumambulate the main temple. We did three rounds as is customary but with the chant ‘Aum Nama Shivayah’ loud enough that the Sangameshwara himself wanted to come and see who these people were J

The prohitar narrated the history of the temple, the importance of pancha abhishekham in pure telugu (thanks to Raj, he did the rendition in tamil). There were some amazing facts about the temple shared  by the priest there. My logical mind could get a bit, but was not focused so much. Probably, because I heard them as a fascinating story not as true happening.

But the moment I entered the Garbha Griha for doing the seva to the Linga with the chant on, my mind wasn’t in control any more, it was put to rest. Sheer energy presence of the Linga was too much, it engulfed me totally as if my chest and heart would blast right there. I couldn’t close my eyes neither could I keep it open. It was intoxicating. I happened to step out almost towards the end of the abhishekam as the kids were falling asleep and I had to mother them. (Thanks to Sumi akka for having fed them!)

The entire process got over around 1’o clock in the night. We had our dinner and rested for the day at around 2 am. I went to sleep with a piercing headache. I woke up around 8 am the next morning (btw, I was the last to get up J) with the same headache. The pain was nagging and persistent.

There was a flowing river near by. Everybody took a dip, bathed there. I was the last one to go alone. There was an eerie silence, jus the sound of flowing river. I went with bare foot, stepped on some thorns and rocks. I had walked some 7 or 8 steps towards the stream and started to feel the depth. I was standing in water till my waist. I tried to sit on a rock to get a grip and do a ceremonious three dips in the river. Gushing waters inside was pushing me up. I felt strong under water currents. First time, I felt a fear for life. Unyielding part in me didn’t want to recede without taking the dips. Finally, with great grit, completed the dips, went back to the stay area, changed clothes and went inside the temple for a darshan.

Now, this part was truly mind blowing. Sat near the Moola sthana, Sangameshwara was shining after overnight abhishekam and alankaaram. Chants were on by the fellow meditators. Tears overflowed for no reason, loud cry, incessant tears, bursting emotions… Why was I crying, what was my wish – there was nothing. Nothing to ask for, nothing to give to Him… - It was all nothing. From that nothing, I sensed my perception of divine, my perception of God had enhanced. I realized how to simply “be and receive”. I sang ‘Bho Shambho’ song, settled down there. Came out after a few minutes, completely refreshed and recharged. Headache was gone, no pangs of hunger or tiredness. I don’t think I could explain this with enough justice…

This temple has something… it is not a modern complex as we see in our cities. It needs to be experienced! Somehow, the sanctity of this place, the energy is well preserved over several hundred years.

Someshwara and Sangameshwara – They are mind blowing combination for a divine seeker! They would sweep you off your feet only if you are willing…


Saturday, April 20, 2013

30 minutes and its whereabouts!!

30 minutes!

I got to nail this down this time, I thought. In fact I am writing this very lucid so my world doesn't wonder about how every 30 minutes given to me vanishes!

It was a weekend. We have plans for all weekends. Believe me, all weekends! And it is not about running errands... At this point, purpose doesn't matter. What happened to those 30 minutes is what matters.

It was 11 AM. He got up while we were still playing with the kid, charting out day's plan... He warned (yes, with my past history and present geography, he warns!), ‘now the time is 11 AM. I'll take bath, do pooja and be back at 11:30. Be ready by then'. I questioned casually, 'what about the kid?'. 'Yes, both of you, ready by 11:30'

Hmm! OK. Let's start the play!

11:00 to 11:05 AM
I was sincerely planning with no thought in my mind. Jus blank! Standing in front of the mirror. At the end of the 5 precious minutes, I felt my hair, realized it was dry and I needed to oil it.
(Effective use of first 5 minutes!)

11:05 to 11:15 AM
Now this was kind of rough... I stepped out of our room in search of hair oil. In our house, finding anything is always a game of Crystal Maze (you still remember that TV program?). If the compass and map is available (my younger sister), you may be saved. Else, jus forget it! :))

I enquired my sister, "where can the hair oil be, possibly?". Right then, my kiddo started screaming at the top of her voice from our room. While I tried to be at my job of finding hair oil, her scream's decibels and persistence kind of violated my threshold of indifference towards her. She won! I dropped of game of Crystal Maze and ran back. 'Chinnu, what is it?' 'Mom, I want my building blocks. I had it here and I don't know where it is now. I want it NOW' I knew finding them could be next to impossible. So, my usual tactics of distraction was employed. 'Chinnu, Dad is taking us out. What dress do you want to wear?' Little did I realize that it is opening another Pandora's box.

11:15 to 11:30 AM
So, I opened the wardrobe and searched for a dress that she hadn't worn for quite some time. And anyway it was part of the agenda of the 30 minutes given to me by my beloved. See, I was back on track. I pulled out a skirt and a top and asked for her consent. She went for a frock. 'Chinnu, you wear that every time. Let's try 3/4th and a top. You look beautiful and very trendy'. She didn't budge. 'Mommy, I want a long skirt!' 'Alright, how about this one (jeans)? Anu Chithi gifted you last time' (I managed to get only the pants. Matching yellow tops couldn't be found!) Now guess what!? She settled for the one with the missing tops!

I put my hand to the bottom of the shelf, pulled all dresses on to the bed, with no result.

11:32 AM
I glanced the wall clock! Gosh! It was past 11:30! 30 minutes gone! I also realized he was almost done with his activities! I called upon my sister, handed over my daughter to her and sneaked into the bathroom.

11:33 AM
'You guys ready?' came the voice.

'Yes, almost! I will be out in a minute' (I replied while applying paste in my toothbrush!) LOL!!

I leave it to the readers to conclude on what must have happened after that...