Ode to a little kitten

I remember the day the little kitten walked into our house. As soon as we opened the cage in which she was brought in, she walked out elegantly, tail up and walked around the house as if she owns it. And really she made it her home in no time!

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Her name was also apt! Deliberating on a name for her, the
name Percy came up, just suitable for a Persian cat that she was.

Her nuances are unforgettable. The way she walked towards you when she felt like being pampered, stayed by your feet till you have run your hand over her back for a while and then the way she walked away…I must  say animals do need as much attention as your children!

She was very particular about drinking water. She would never drink water from her bowl which we keep in her room; she always came outside and drank water outside. And if you hesitated about letting her out, she meowed, soft initially as if calling you sweetly and then so hard and loud as if scolding you till you finally obliged.

One time, we had to go out of station for 7 days. Though arrangements were made for taking care of her, her reaction after we came back was exceptional. She meowed, high pitched and looking straight at our daughter (unheard till then), as if complaining about being left alone.

Little things she did, looks she gave, she made her place right in our hearts within a short while. She was a part of our family.

I might even say our elder daughter took more care of Percy than her own sister. And for the little one, she was a play thing. The expression in Percy’s eyes when our little girl was holding her tight or making her up was just adorable. It could only described as that of resignation – I am yours, you may do whatever you wish to…

I am a ‘no-pet’ person, not that I don’t like animals, I just don’t want them roaming around in my home. But Percy brought on a change in me, I can’t specify what exactly, but fact of the matter remains. She roamed freely through the house, sat on the dining table, made a comfy sleeping place in a basket with my dupattas and I just could not feel angry at her.

Unfortunately her time with us was so short and it has been difficult to come to terms with it.

She passed away a few days ago. She had killed a rat and the theory is probably that rat was poisoned. Even in her last hours, she didn’t trouble anyone, she just went quietly.

She will be in our hearts forever, her presence changed us all!

Foot note: No more pets in our home, the space left void when Percy left may never fill!

The beginning of a new journey….

 

Warning: this is the first of a series of blog posts to remind and motivate myself of the importance and need of losing weight. So, you are free to close the page!

                     “Good health is an exterior expression of inner harmony”.

The Mother.

Initially I thought of starting a new blog site, to monitor my progress. But that would be unfair to myself!

To acquaint you all: I am the heaviest I have ever been! Due to yo-yo dieting and yo-yo exercising, I got where I am – sad, achy and predisposed to several medical problems. But, it is not where I want to be!

“The perfection of the body, as great a perfection as we can bring about by the means at our disposal, must be the ultimate aim of physical culture. Perfection is the true aim of all culture, the spiritual and psychic, the mental, the vital and it must be the aim of our physical culture also. If our seeking is for a total perfection of the being, the physical part of it cannot be left aside; for the body is the material basis, the body is the instrument which we have to use. Sariram. khalu dharma- sãdhanam, says the old Sanskrit adage, – the body is the means of fulfilment of dharma, and dharma means every ideal which we can propose to ourselves and the law of its working out and its action. A total perfection is the ultimate aim which we set before us, for our ideal is the Divine Life which we wish to create here, the life of the Spirit fulfilled on earth, life accomplishing its own spiritual transformation even here on earth in the conditions of the material universe. That cannot be unless the body too undergoes a transformation, unless its action and functioning attain to a supreme capacity and the perfection which is possible to it or which can be made possible.”

Sri Aurobindo

Perfection – here I have my aim spelled out for me!

And what is more, I have more motivation, something to look forward to…

My hubby and his class mates are celebrating their 25th year in AIIMS. A get together is planned on 27th December and several families are flying in for the event.  Most of them have never met me or him (after they finished MBBS) and I want them to see me as who I was, with whom their class mate fell in love with and decided to spend his life with, rather than this pathetic self! Not that I care too much about what people think, but hey! It is motivation!

Foot note: any one of you reading this blog is always free to ask, motivate and /or pester me about my progress!

Image courtesy: http://www.stopfryingyourbrain.com

 

When mata calls, she ensures!

Next on our way after Chintpurni and Jwalaji was Brajeshwari mandir, Kangra. It was already dark by the time we reached the temple and kids were really tired after two temple visits and travelling the mountain roads for over five hours. Also they were well aware of what awaited them if they got out of the car, so they decided to stay in the car while we went up to the temple.

Brajeshwari temple is also a shaktipeeth, which is the place where Mata Sati’s breasts fell. It is a very beautiful temple, white in color. This temple has withstood several adversities over centuries. It had been looted twice and was subject to an earthquake but still remains one of the wealthiest shrines in India.2

We could hear the drums from the temple as we got out of the car and walked the narrow path up to the temple. The evening aarti was going on and the main temple door was closed for the public. And as we reached the compound I was not surprised to see the long queue to have the darshan. My hubby and I were in the understanding that if there is a long queue, we will not wait to have the darshan but fold our hands from outside, pray for the mata’s grace and leave.

It would seem mata had some other plans for us!

The ‘ aarti thali’ was being circulated at the time we entered the compound, so we had the blessing. Thankful that we could participate in the evening aarti, bowing to mata in our mind, we walked a bit around the temple. But mata had decided that we would not leave without a darshan! In her infinite grace, she allowed us to step into the sanctum santorum for darshan. It happened quite unexpectedly, as we stood by the small door on the side of the sanctum santorum (which I think is usually the exit) where a police person was on guard but some individuals were going in. Though I didn’t know whether I would be stopped, I ventured in and lo! I was in the sanctum santorum. I stood in front of mata with bowed hands, heart full of gratitude and eyes filled with tears. She, in abundant kindness, allowed me (and my hubby who went in after me) to be there as long as we desired.

Totally unexpected and spiritually elevating experience!

Similar was my experience in Chamunda Devi temple.

The diety is mata Chamunda, slayer of demons chand and mund. More interesting than the story of the mata being the slayer of chand and mund is the story how the temple was established. A king and a priest prayed to the Mother that they be allowed to move a temple to a more accessible place to which She consented. As per Her instructions, the king sent out men to dig out the idol but they were not able to lift it. The Mother again appeared in a dream and explained how the men considered the idol to be just an ordinary stone and hence were not able to lift it. She instructed him to get up in the morning, take bath, go to the place in a respectful manner which when he did, he was able to lift the idol which several men couldn’t do. A story of faith!

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Since we had reached the place in the night, we were at the doors of mata early in the morning. We offered our obeisance to the mata and sat under the tree in the compound, eyes closed, listening to the river gushing by and lost in the adoration of the Divine!

The true feeling of being in a temple!

 

 

 

Jwalaji temple: A sight even for non-believers!

As soon as we came out of Chintpurni temple, my kids declared in unison that they are not getting out of the car to visit another temple! These kids who have never stood in queue for two hours in hot humid weather or had to face an overly rowdy crowd couldn’t bear the thought of going through the same experience twice in a day, where as I had apprised them in the morning only that we are off to visit six powerful temples!

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Entry to the temple

But I again coaxed them to get out of the car, walk up hill for half a kilometer, stand in queue over an hour and bear the humid weather as we had reached the doors of Jwalaji temple in Kangra.

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View of main temple from a distance

Jwalaji /Jwalamukhi temple is also a shaktipeeth, where the tongue of Mata Sati had fallen and Her power is palpable in the flame. The temple is famous for the nine blue flames which have been burning for centuries out of rock. It is been said that the temple was built after a shepherd saw the flame burning out of cracks in the rock. The temple later had a golden dome built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. There is also the famous story of Akbar in relation to the temple. Akbar did not believe the power of the Goddess and tried to test it by cutting the head of the horse of Her devotee Dhyanu Bhagat. Dhyanu reached the temple and invoked the Mata but She did not appear. After several days, Dhyanu cut his own head when the Goddess appeared and reunite both Dhyanu’s as well as the horse’s heads. Akbar was not convinced even after this miracle and tried to douse the flames by pouring metal over them failing which directing a stream over it but the flame burned through the water as well. Akbar became convinced and offered a golden ‘chatri’ to the Goddess. The Goddess was not appeased and the gold changed into a metal still unknown to men. The chatri is kept on display in a hall adjacent to the main temple.

Even my kids later agreed that I was right to persuade them to come out of the car or they would have missed such a miracle! Well, I must also say they were also less pestered by having to wait for their turn because in contrast to the crowd in Chintpurni, the queue was more orderly here and in a while, some one would spontaneously say “sab log bolo” with the chorus of “Jai Mata Di”. Even police personnel were present only within the cave / sanctum santorum urging people to move ahead and not linger around admiring the flames. I cannot blame the police for doing so, otherwise people would keep standing in awe gaping at the power of the Goddess/nature!

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Purna Brahma jyoti Image courtesy: http://www.3marg.info

After the darshan at Chintpurni where I was saddened about not getting even a glimpse of the Deity, I was keen on having the darshan of at least the main jyoti, before offering the Prasad and mesmerized by the jyoti I even moved out of the queue to sneak a view of another one of the flames (leading to the police man talking sternly shooing me out of the sanctum santorum, I must say!)

2I was enthralled by the darshan (even now I can only think fondly of the visit to the temple) despite the long wait and the rush and slight disappointment of being unable to spend more time admiring the power tangible in the place but a child-emergency forced us to pay a quick visit to see ‘Akbar’s Chatri ‘ and hurry out of temple compound.

In addition to the cave where the jyotis are present, there is also Gorak Dibbi, a jal kund where if you light a match, flame appears for a second. The water here keeps bubbling as if it is boiling, but cold to touch. There is an interesting story behind this place as well, which I might have to share in another post. We unfortunately could not visit Gorak Dibbi (due to the above mentioned child-emergency) and left the temple in a hastily.

A much contrary experience to the one in Chintpurni!

Given a chance I would visit Jwalaji again…

Teerth or torture: recount of varied experiences on a trip!

It is not that I have anything against visiting temples, or waiting patiently for my turn to have the darshan. This article is neither a generalization of the experiences or a criticism of people who visit temples. It is just my experience and overwhelming feelings which I would like to express.

We visited six temples / shaktipeeths in Himachal during the past long weekend. This one is about Chintpurni temple in Kangra.

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Somewhere on the way….

The temple is situated at a height of 940 meters and we have to park around 2 km away from the temple. The whole path leading to the temple is very scenic. This temple is one of the 51 shaktipeeths, where the feet of mata Sati fell. According to markandeya purana, this is where the goddess Chandi defeated demons here and satisfied the thirst of two of her emanations by cutting her own head and feeding them blood. The devi is depicted as Chinnamastika here. It is also said that any wish of the devotee of pure heart is granted here.

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Entry to the temple

We were forewarned that since this is the month of Sawan, there will be a queue of at least 4-5 hours for darshan but no forewarning prepared us for what we faced! Well, the queue as expected was more than a kilometer long and we moved inch by inch ahead. There were police personnel everywhere keeping the crowd in order, even a token system  was established and finally we reached the temple compound in an hour and half. As they waited, people were chanting ‘Jai Mata Di’ on one hand and arguing with others who were trying to sneak their way into the queue. With kids constantly cribbing, rain and sun tiring us out, the only motivation that kept us going was the thought of how we would feel later about turning back without the Mata’s darshan after reaching Her ‘dwar’. But then the real torture was yet to begin!

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Side view of the sanctum santorum. Also see the crowd!

As we entered the temple compound, it seemed as if all police personnel vanished and same with queues as well! The whole crowd became unruly, pushing and I am surprised how people with small kids managed! My own little one was on the shoulders of her father (more because she was totally tired but it really saved her from being smothered, I believe). Well, for the ones advocating positive thinking, one only had to stand to reach the mata’s darbar! The crowd was totally out of control as we neared the sanctum santorum ….

Moreover by the time I reached the sanctum santorum, I also had to devote my attention to offering the Prasad and making sure that I receive the packet back from the pandit( it was not at all possible for the pandit to ensure that the right packet goes to the right hand, it had to be our onus!).  And in a matter of seconds, I was pushed out, my time in front of the Devi was over! I didn’t even get a glimpse of the Diety.

To tell the truth, I had something specific to pray and I was thinking about it the whole way, framing the prayer to the mata, but by the time we reached in front of Her, I forgot about it completely! So pestered I was with the crowd, busy with the Prasad and other religious rites, the wish didn’t even come up in my mind.

Was it a darshan in the true sense? Was reaching the temple and infront of the Devi was sufficient? Many more questions propped up in my mind as we got out to the outer compound. I wondered about others as well.

Did anyone in the queue feel any devotion while pushing and shoving?

Are people just visiting because of the stories of miracles happening here and have heard stories about the power of the Devi?

Or have they accepted that this type of behavior is norm and part of visiting a temple?

Frankly,  I was relieved (and my kids more!) once we were out of the temple and sitting in the car again!

Did the darshan serve any purpose – I am not sure. But it has been one of a kind experience, I would say!

Forgiveness is a long road…

Many have wronged me (well, according to me that is, but for them it may not be…!)

The point is, I have been hurt by several people throughout my life.

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Image courtesy: http://www.onegreenplanet.org

Some have cheated me off money, some hurt physically, even worse was betrayal by some I have trusted the most…

Part of life, you may say…forgive and move on…

I have actually!

Forgiven them, even meet and greet cordially.

Question is ‘Have I truly forgiven them? Have I been able to accept them unconditionally?’

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Image courtesy: http://www.shapes.se

An image has ever been stuck in my head, ‘Trust is like a crumpled paper, you may straighten it, but it won’t be the same as it was before.’

Is it the same with forgiveness?

I forgive, but forget not! May be even forget, but it remains in the deep somewhere to just pop up and hurt some day for some while…

How then do I progress?

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Periwinkle. Mother’s significance – progress. Image courtesy: motherandsriaurobindo.in

The Mother says, “When love is, the need for forgiveness does not exist.” (CWMCE 17, pg 387)

Forgiveness is a long obstacle course, taking one step a time asking the Divine’s grace to guide is the only help.

Forgiveness is praised by the Christian and the Vaishnava, but for me, I ask “What do I have to forgive and whom?”  (Sri Aurobindo, aphorism 21)

The Mother tells us when asked about this aphorism when we ask forgiveness from the Divine, what we really hope is to remove the effects of the err we have committed. Instead, what we need to ask is the power to make the necessary progress (CWMCE 10, pg 46)

 

 

Chasing life..

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image courtesy: google images

Do we all need a drastic or life changing event to be conscious of this wonderful gift of life we have?

This is a question that I started thinking about some time ago. There were several incidents which raised this question in my mind, but the TV series  with the same title, finally prompted this write-up. I watched this series ardently, mainly because it revolved around a young woman with leukemia and her journey since diagnosis.

A lively young woman, career oriented journalist, April’s life turns upside down when she is diagnosed with leukemia. After a period of grief and confusion about the disease, keeping it a secret from her loved ones, she tries hard to maintain the routine she had always had. Her career takes a hit when she has to undergo chemotherapy, her sister has to leave private school education to compensate her medical expenses. She meets and falls in love with a guy with brain tumor, marries him, goes through the emotional turmoil of his death. These are some of the experiences of this young woman who would otherwise be thinking of parties and dates!

Not one person is totally independent rather everyone is intertwined with several others in one way or the other. In this story, April’s mother, sister, best friend, ex-boyfriend, uncle and step sister all play important roles. Her disease, treatment, important milestones (as they call it in the series) etc. have a significant impact on them, she plays an equally important role in every event of their lives..

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Overall, the story talks about emotions, fears, love and support from significant others etc. in one’s life. For me, the series was captivating; there was never a dull moment; on the contrary, I would say there were several times when I had tears in my eyes (and I must reinforce that I am not one for the soap operas on TV!).

Anyway, this article is not meant to be a review of the series. There was one episode where April talked about how her perspective towards life has changed since her diagnosis. chasing-life 3 She talked about how simple things of daily life have become important now that she realized that her time is limited and life has become unpredictable, how living in the moment has become a motto for her. This was again emphasized with the story of her husband, a happy reckless millionaire whose life changed completely after his diagnosis. Afterwards, he was able to make a change, bring a smile to his friends as he brought their wishes come true; for some it was their last wish (friends from his support group), for some it was hope and for yet others it was by him just being there!.

A change in perspective, a new way of approaching the day ahead was reiterated time and again in the series. There was a change in attitude towards life, be it appreciation, gratitude or a longing to achieve the most possible of the limited time one has.

Is it how it is? Is it how it should be?

Most of us take our lives for granted! We assume that nothing is going to be wrong with our lives…

Why not appreciate this wonderful life we have been given? Why not spend every moment of every day fruitfully?

Live in the moment!