Monday, November 18, 2013

Identifying and Reaching Goals

I always used to think - 'Only if this major problem in my life was solved, then.. [a list of actions that would be done, that would bring me glory, eternal life or whatever]'

I am 34 now, and will soon be 35 - In all my life I have found the status to be the same. All the big crises for which I waited to be solved have tided by, and I am still short of executing the list that would make me happy. 


That is because, when one problem was solved, another one (or more) took its place. 


The Structure of Mind

Sri Eckhart Tolle is one of the modern Masters who analyzes this issue with clinical precision. If you have to read just one book on spirituality this life, please read A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose 

In Yoga Vaashishta, Lord Rama says that trying to satisfy the mind is like trying to fill a sieve with water. How much ever we try to fill it, water will not stay. 


Sri Tolle says that 'Mind wants to want, more than it wants to have' - i.e., when you give it something that it wants, it just moves on and wants someother thing. It doesn't matter what the mind wants - Money, power, friendship, love WHATEVER! As long as mind gets something, it moves on wants some other thing. 


We need to understand that this is the nature of the mind. So, never attach much meaning to what the mind wants. [A mind might want a Ducati if you have Hyosung, but the mind forgets that the Hyosung was its dream when it was having a 150cc Suzuki]



Waiting for some event in future

I am sure everyone is eagerly waiting for some problem to be solved, something to happen, lady luck to shine, some illness to be cured, waiting for your 15 kg weight-loss etc. The only thing true is the present. 

Waiting to start something good and linking it with some event in future is a sure-shot way of not doing it. Tom Cruise, in Knight and Day delivers a profound dialog - "Someday is a dangerous word. It's really just code for never."


As Master Oogway says in Kungfu Panda - "yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present "


Goals

While there is a chance that what we plan for doesn't happen, the chance of something happening is close to ZERO if we don't plan for it. 

Goals are meaningless if we don't plan for it. A goal without a date, is a goal that is unlikely to happen. 


Goals sometimes need not be things that have be 'externally' acquired. Goals can be internal -  To achieve some sort of behavioral transformation. I have identified a list of transformations, that have been pending since time immemorial since I have not associated timelines with them


What you don't measure, you don't provide

Goals with timelines need to be tracked, on a periodic basis - Want weight loss? Measure your weight every day! Want to run 10K ? Run everyday, and log the distance in your journal. 

Want higher quality code? Measure the defects [compiler warnings, lint's analysis etc]


Time

As I get older, I realize how precious time is! There are too many good ideas to pursue, too many great places to visit, too many skills to acquire. The key to be great is to say no to many of those good stuff. It is rather easy to say no to bad stuff (I struggle even with that). But, it is a test of character and discipline to say no to good stuff. 

For e.g., given my career goals are related to Wireless Networks and Cloud computing (yes, they go together :-) ), I am not going to do great research in Graphics, Hardware related stuff or say, mathematical computing (I love the last subject)


I would love to learn Carnatic music - I used to play the violin, and used to dabble in singing. I realize that I might have NO time for this ever, in my life (To go to a class, study under a master) - I'll continue to listen and sing, but will never make it big in this. This is sad, but at the same time, it is important to give up things without regret. An iota of guilt / regret is enough to drag down performances across multiple other domains.


We all have finite time, and to become great in something (if you want to be so), do not be afraid to say no to even insanely good stuff. Always trust your heart/gut over the brain in these decisions. 


Anger

Anger is a reality distortion field (Actually any strong emotion be positive or negative is a reality distortion field) - The quote 'Love is Blind' is often used. This quote is used to point out that none of the concerned parties are able to see the flaws in other, which the rest of the world can see. 

I wish the term 'Anger is Blind' is used more often. People will remember its implications better. Sri Tolle describes beautifully in his book 'A New Earth'. Anger makes us blind to reason, diminshes / alters powers of perception and is a primal force which can only cause harm - There are uses for Anger, but on the long run, it is indeed bad. If you are angry, walk out of the room, type that email and save it in draft and just postpone reacting till you are out of anger. Like all emotions, anger will subside over time - a few mins to few hours. Then when you recollect, you'll thank yourself for not saying what you were about to say, not sending out that email etc. 

Anger alters the perception of reality like no other emotion. Sri Tolle says that the 'Pain Body' takes over. (Pain body is the collection of all the pains stored in our consciousness over many many births). The worse thing about it is that anger will usually be redirected esp to the loved ones in the closest ring since they are most vulnerable. (The pain body wants to extract maximum pain out of the situation not just others' but yours too!) - The worst part is not yet over - The WORST thing is that the pain body knows the weaknesses or pain points of the closest ones and then will literally devastate the closest ones by using this knowledge most often leaving a very deep scar that takes time to heal, and making you miserable for days / weeks / months together for having done / said something. 

Next time when you get angry, please create a space around yourself, and just escape the situation. When the anger subsides, then take control of the situation. 

PS:- This doesn't mean if there is any injustice on the road, you just walk away. As I said earlier, anger has its uses! 



Giving Up

The word giving up is usually filled with negative connotation. At the same time, it is related to the concept of saying 'No' and 'Time' - I'll start by saying that one should never give up on things / people which matter the most, and would be crucial to meaning of your life. 

To let go, is sometimes the only way to go. Whenever I have to let go of something / someone [physical or logical entity] it usually hurts despite me being one whom I consider as 'stoic'. I usually overcome that by remembering the verse 2 of Arunachala Pancharatnam. 'Oh Arunachala, everything comes into being in You, exists in You and finally dissolves in You' - This doesn't mean that the person has die, or something is lost. If a person moves away from your view of the world, that is a 'logical' death. This verse gives me great peace, relieves the pain of loss, and makes me actually grateful for the experience that thing / person brought to you however transitory it may be. If this doesn't work, I repeat the verse till it works :-P


I compare this to the branches of a Coconut tree that fall off. The tree will not be able to grow and yield fruits if every branch sticks to it. It is extremely important that the branches fall off. However, each branch contributes to the growth of the tree by falling off, and they also leave a permanent mark on the tree. [I have a friend who absolutely hates this simile!] 

And giving up, and moving on is a very important aspect one has to master. I wish I master this sooner than later!  


I am making my list of things that I absolutely have to accomplish this life, things to say no to and I just shared my thoughts that came up while I am doing this activity. Hopefully, it helps some of you! Expect more in these lines this week. (You have been warned!)


PS:-

James Altucher is my hero - Checkout his blog (http://www.jamesaltucher.com)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Meenakshi Me Mudam Dehi! (Part 2)


I decided not to delay this further and finish the remaining part of Anu Pallavi and Charanam - (I am sorry if this is not as detailed as Part 1)

Anupallavi (Continued from Part 1)

Malini
One who wears a Necklace [Not related to this song, but Hema means Gold and Hema Malini means one who wears a Gold Necklace - For people who might want to draw a Bollywood reference, the one and only Hemamalini I like is Goddess Lakshmi who is referred by this name in Sri Suktam] 

Kadamba Vana Vaasini
One who resides in the Forest of Kadamba (a type of tree) - Apparently, Her temple in Madurai was once surrounded by a forest of Kandamba trees

Charanam:

Mathurapuri Nilaye
Goddess Meenakshi in her full splendor can be seen in the Madurai Temple - So, Sri Dikshitar calls her a resident (Nilaye) of Mathurapuri

Mani Valaiye
Mani is the tamil word for precious stones - And, Valai is the tamil word for bangles (bracelets) - In the pallavi, Sri Dikshitar calls Her as One wearing Golden Ornaments (mechakangi) - In Charanam, he calls her as wearing bangles with precious stones embedded

Malayadwaja Pandya Raja Thanaye
When the Greatest One decided to come down to earth, She decided to be born as daughter of Malayadwaja Pandya (King of Madurai), who was very pious. His name actually translates to one who has Hill / Mountain in his flag

Vidhu Vidambana Vadane 
The word Vadanam means face - How glorious is Meenakshi’s face? (Full) Moon (Vidhu) is considered cool, pleasing and lustrous - However, Ambal’s face clearly outshines the moon. [‘One who has a face that outshines the moon’]

Vijaye
One who’s is ALWAYS successful - Whatever her Sankalpam (will) is, that will happen. For all that happens is Her will. Devotees of Ambal will also win in all their endeavors. 

Veena Gaana Dasha Gamakakriye
One who plays music (Gaana) in Veena (stringed musical instrument) and who created (Kriye) the ten (Dasha) different kind of gamaka music 

Madhu-madha moditha 
It is actually impossible to understand what Dikshitar felt while composing - I interpret the verse as: Ambal delights (modhita) the devotee with the bliss likened to the sweetness (madha) of honey (madhu). 

In Tantra, there is a mention of Amrutha nadi in the head which when activated fills the body with Amrita, which is so sweet that every pore of the body oozes out with bliss and sweetness. The devotee then feels One with the Goddess. Ambal is the One who is capable of of delighting Her devotees such.

Hrudaye 
The word Hrudaya simply means ‘Heart’ - However, Indian scriptures often talk of two hearts - The Physical one which is typically situated in the left side of the body, and the spiritual that is located in the right side, according to Bhagawan Sri Ramana. 

Hruth-sthalam, which translates to the location of the heart, in spiritual sense is where the Self sits. In the basic Kundalini literature, the Sahasrara or the thousand petalled lotus chakra situated in the head is considered final. But Ramana goes ahead and says, that the Kundalini that traverses the 7 major chakras unites in Sahasrara and finally abides in Heart. 

The importance of the Heart is dealt in many places in Ramana literature:

[Ramana Gita, verse 1]
Hrudaya Guhara Madhye (In the cave of the heart)
Kevalam Brahma Matram (The Supreme Self alone)
Aham-aham iti (As the feeling of ‘I’ - ‘I’)
Sakshat Atma Rupena Bhati (shines as Atma Itself) 

[What we call as Supreme God (Brahman) is the One that Shines as the feeling of Self (‘I’) in the cave of the Heart (Hrudaya)]

[Arunachala Pancha Ratnam, Verse #2]
[…..] Te Vadanti Hrudayam Nama - Oh Arunachala, your are the Supreme Self. You Reside in the Heart and you are called as the Heart itself! 

Meenakshi is the Supreme Self (Paramatman) shining in the devotee’s Heart. 

Sadaye 
One who is Compassionate. There is none who is more compassionate than Meenakshi. All other Gods only channel Her Grace, since She is Supreme. 

The Supreme Lord Shiva, who is considered the God of Gods (Maha Deva) cannot do anything without the Will of the Goddess. In Saundarya Lahari, Adi Sankara points out that it appears that Shiva is able to do great deeds only because He has Ambal as His Consort. For, without Her, He cannot even move a bit (spandhitumapi - not even a pulsation is possible by Shiva on His own)

Mahadeva Sundaresha Priye
One who is Loved (Priye) by the Greatest God (Mahadeva) and incidentally, the Most Beautiful Lord (Sundaresha)


Madhu Muraripu Sodhari 
Ambal is considered the sister (Sodhari) of Maha Vishnu. In all Meenakshi Kalyanam images, you can see Vishnu giving the hand of Ambal Meenakshi to Shiva as the brother of the bride. Maha Vishnu is the enemy (ripu) of two dangerous demons Madhu and Mura - Since Vishnu vanquished Madhu, He is also referred to as Madhusudhana. 

Hear Sri Dikshitar calls Ambal as the Sister of the One who is the Enemy of the demons Madhu and Mura

Saathodhari
Ambal has a slender waist (Saatha-udari) - Her son is somehow has a BIG waist and a belly (Lamba-udaran - Lambodaran, meaning Ganesha)

Vidhi Guruguha Vashankari
Lord Brahma made the rules (Vidhi) of the Universe and Time and dishes them out - So he is usually called Vidhata - Here, Sri Dikshitar refers to Brahma as Vidhi
Guruguha is the name of Her son, Skanda Subrahmanyan. Also it is the mudra (signature) of Sri Dikshitar in His songs. The word Vashankari means, ‘One who captivates’

Lord Brahma and Lord Skanda and captivated by the Glory of Ambal

Shankari
Sri Dikshitar ends the song with a punch - This word is so potent - Shankari - One who Creates Auspiciousness. 

Ambal, is the ONLY source of all Auspiciousness. She creates Auspiciousness wherever She is (Which is everywhere) - If you can detect something good, you can always trace it back to Ambal.

Sri Adi Sankara took His name as Sankara because He wanted to create auspiciousness throughout the country. This is only possible with the Grace of Sankari! 

The other name for this term is Shiva - Shiva is auspiciousness . How did the Lord get that name or attribute? Because He is the consort of Sri Shivaa (998th name in Lalitha Saharanamam). Sri Dikshitar invoked this name by telling (Shive Pahi - Oh Auspicious One, Protect me) and then breathed His last! What a noble soul! Needless to say, He would be shining in the Lotus feet of Ambal. 


May Ambal, the Supreme One, whom we can see with our eyes as Meenakshi, create Auspiciousness everywhere. 

Om Shri Matre Nama:




      

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Meenakshi Me Mudam Dehi! (Part 1)



Even before you start reading this, I want to put in a disclaimer - Though, the aim of the entry is to explore the meaning of the song 'Meenakshi Me Mudam Dehi', there is indeed an overdose of Philosophy here. There might be better places in the web if you want to quickly get the meaning of this carnatic composition. I dabble in a lot of religion and philosophy. In case that is something you don't enjoy, please skip the parts of this entry which are in italics. 

Meenakshi Me Mudam Dehi is a BRILLIANT composition by Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar, one of the best composers in Carnatic Music, and a radiant member of the Carnatic Trinity.

Sri Dikshitar was an adept worshipper of Goddess and was an expert in a mystic way of worship of the Goddess, called Sri Vidya. Needless to say, the worshipper of the Goddess are indeed blessed with brilliance of vak (speech / expression) [Kalidasa being another famous name that comes to mind]

This song is one of the Crowning Jewels of Sri Dikshitar's creation - This might be the reason why he chose to give up his mortal coils after singing this song. He was indeed a Maha Yogi who knew the time of his death.

His Holiness, Sri Shankaracharya, Sri Vijayendra Sarasawati of Sri Kanchi Mutt in a discourse said that, Lord Vishnu, in His Varaha Avatar had to go in Search of Vedas that were hidden, and reveal it to the world. However, what is that Vedas themselves are in search of? They are in search of the Grace of Sri Meenakshi!

The composition starts with a bold demand from Sri Dikshitar:

PALLAVI

Meenakshi, me mudam dehi!

Oh Meenakshi, give (dehi) me (me) Bliss (mudam)!

"Sukham me'syat" declares the Vedas. Everyone is in search of happiness either consciously or subconsciously. No one wants pain. Everyone wants happiness. Every action of a person is either for happiness or to avoid pain. Absolutely, no one wants pain / suffering.

Is it possible to get only Bliss? Is there a state when one feels no sorrow? Who can bestow that state? The only person who can Grant the state is Meenakshi. Is there a reason why one has to give veiled requests to ones own Mother? So, Dikshitar, directly demands Meenakshi, to give Him the eternal Bliss.


Mechakangi, Raja Matangi

She wears ornaments of Gold (mechakangi) - In Tantrik way of worship of the Goddess, She is worshipped as Ten Major Knowledge Forms (Dasa Maha Vidyas) - Matangi is the ninth form in the Dasa Maha Vidyas. Meenakshi is the Queen Matangi - Raja Matangi! Interestingly, in worship of Goddess, Raja Matangi can be worshipped without any initiation from a Guru (mantras for Matangi, can be recited only under the strict supervision of the Guru)

ANU PALLAVI

Maana Maatru Meye Maye
People who delve in Indian Vedic Philosophy will know of the classic 'Triputi' - The actor, action, object. For e.g, in Nirvana Shatakam [1] Sri Adi Sankara  says  - 'aham bhojanam naiva bhojyam na bhokta' - i.e. I am not object of enjoyment, nor the act of enjoyment nor the one who enjoys.

Similarly, Sri Dikshitar extends this further by saying - Meenakshi is the knower (maana), knowledge (maatr), the object that is known (meye)  and act of knowing (maye)

Marakatha Chaaye
Sri Meenakshi is supposed to have a greenish hue - In fact all pictures of Meenakshi show her in a Green dress and She herself is of Green color.

I want to recollect an incident here - One of my friends is an intense Matangi worshipper. He once got a note on some other Form to perform a particular worship. The first day he began his new worship (upasana) to the other deity, the same night a Lady in Green dress came in his dream and said 'Why do you have to perform other ways of worship while I am there?' - Needless to say, my friend didn't get into other ways of worship! 

Which other Goddess will answer the same night? :-)  [It was obvious it was Matangi because of Her Greenish hue and dress, and for the fact that my friend was a Matangi worshipper!]

Shiva Jaaye
She is the consort of Shiva, in the form of Sundereshwarar in Madurai. The Jaaya means wife / consort. So,she is the Consort of Shiva.

This again brings me another incident to my mind of Sri Kanchi Maha Periyava. Once Maha Periyava was offering flowers to Sri Saraswati along with a Vedic Scholar chanting Her names sitting behind Him. After every name was chanted, Maha Periyava would offer a flower. Once after a name was chanted 'Sri Brahma Jayayai Nama:' Maha Periyava did not offer the flower. He held his flower in His hand in a raised position, but did not  offer to Goddess. The scholar repeated the name again loudly. Sri Maha Periyava did not offer the flower yet. He kept His hand raised. This happened a few times. Sri Maha Periyava did not offer the flower. There was a flurry of activity  in the Kanchi Matam. Then a group of scholars came to this place, and they finally corrected the pronunciation - The original scholar misread it as 'Sri Brahma Jayayai Nama:' which means One who won over Brahma, which is incorrect. Finally, the scholar corrected himself and said, 'Sri Brahma Jaayayai Nama:' - One who is consort of Brahma (Jaa instead of Ja). Sri Kanchi Mahaswami then offered the flower to Goddess! It goes to show how the Mahaswami Sri Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetathipadhi Pujyasri Paramacharya Chandrashekara Saraswati was involved with fullest attention in every action. It was not mechanical - He used to perform His rituals with utmost love and affection.  (I am sorry about the long name - sometimes I can't address Him any less- But rest assured, I usually call Him as 'Maha Periyavaa')

Meena Lochani Paasha Mochani
One Who has beautiful eyes like a fish - In Indian context, it is considered to be beautiful for women to have long eyes like a fish. Actually, the Goddess' name is derived from One who has eyes (Aksha) like fish (Meen) (So, MeenAkshi)

Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar seems to lose Himself in the beauty of the Goddess, just like Sri Sankara's heart melted when He meditated on the Form of the Goddess and Saundarya Lahari poured out. 

The ultimate reality is One. Rig Veda proudly asserts 'Ekam Sat Vipraha Bahuda Vadanti' - Truth is One, but Learned describe it in many ways. Though the Supreme Reality is One, it expresses itself in various forms. Why? The ONLY reason why the Supreme Goddess expresses Herself in various Forms is to thrill Her devotees and plunge them in final ecstasy of union with divine. 

Sri Meenakshi is the Supreme One, exists only to enchant Her devotees. Her devotees finally lose themselves in Her Grace and Beauty and finally cannot think of anything but Her. When this Bond with Goddess is so strong, all other bonds slowly lose their strength, and for the devotee, only Goddess and bond with Her remains. All other bonds with material goods and other relations are cut. 

So, the one with eyes like fish (Meena Lochani) is the One who cuts out all our bonds (Paasha Mochani) - The word Pasasha is bondage and Meenakshi is the one who cuts and relieves us of the bondage (Mochani)

So, when Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar knew His time had come, He called all His disciples, and asked them to sing this song, and finally, he sung this song too. When He reached this line of the song, he repeatedly sang this line a few times with tears pouring out, and then he sat firm and gave up his life after uttering 'Shive Pahi' (Oh Auspicious One (Shive), Protect me! (Pahi))

The word Shivam means the most 'Auspicious' - Indeed Goddess Meenakshi is the Most auspicious One and hence the hallowed soul, Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar merged into Her.

In the first line he starts demanding (not requesting) Meenakshi to give him the Supreme Bliss - Indeed, Goddess gave him that when She took him to Her when he gave up his life. 

Just the pallavi and anupallavi have taken so much space :-) - I'll share my commentary on the Charanam in Part 2. I hope it doesn't come out 2 years  later! 

PS:- Minor edits:
(1) I had wrongly mentioned this as Totakashtakam - Thanks to pointing out by a well-wisher/friend - I have now corrected the reference to Nirvana Shatakam from Totakashtakam 
(2) Corrected some minor pronoun references
(3) Actually, I haven't completed the anu pallavi :-) - Only half of it is complete. Will complete it this week.