Friday, December 26, 2008

ब्राह्मी (Gotu Kola) herb

Recently horticulture has occupied my mind and I hope to cultivate some great natural herbs in my garden. One of them that captured my mind is Gotu Kola. In Hindi, it's called Brahmi. I remember from my childhood that we used to buy Brahmi Amla Oil for our hair.

Seen in the picture on the left, Brahmi is a great herb for the brain. It can calm and soothe our nerves. It's scientific name is Centella Asiatica. It has been traditionally used in Ayurved as a medicinal herb to treat mental fatigue, skin diseases and stomach ailments etc. It can be used and taken as powder, tea, paste or in supplements. My grandfather was an expert in herbal medicines and I hope I can bring those experiences alive through my efforts.

More on other herbs later...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Honest advisors

Marichi says to King Ravan in Ramayan:

सुलभः पुरुषः राजन् सततं प्रियवादिनः।
अप्रियस्य तु पथ्यस्य श्रोता वक्ता च दुर्लभः॥

Which means, O' gracious King, you will easily find people who always speak sweetly. But, rare are...the speakers and listeners........of bitter but honest advice that shows the right path.

These words are said many times, such as Maarichi saying it to Ravan and Vidur saying it to Dhritrashtra. Maarichi later transformed into the deceitful golden deer that took Ram away from Panchvati, in Ramayan. Vidur was an advisor to King Dhritrashtra, the father of Kauravas in Mahabharat.

Friday, December 19, 2008

सिय स्वयम्वर

१. स्वयंवर सभा १ तथा स्वयम्वर सभा
२. धनुष भंग
३. परशुराम संवाद १ तथा संवाद २


When everyone seated in Janak sabha, both brother came along with Brahmarishi Vishwamitr...
राजकुंवर तेहि अवसर आए। मनहुं मनोहरता तन छाये॥
गुन सागर नागर बर बीरा। सुंदर स्यामल गौर सरीरा॥
Then, came forth the two princes, the very abodes of beauty as it were.
Oceans of goodness refined in culture gallant heroes of exceeding grace, one charmingly dark-hued, the other brightly fair.

राज समाज बिराजत रूरे। उडगन महुं जनु जुग बिधु पूरे॥
जिन्ह कें रही भावना जैसी। प्रभु मूरति तिन्ह देखी तैसी॥
Resplendent amidst the galaxy of kings, they shone like two full moons amid a circle of stars. The reflection of his own inner disposition, each one there saw in the form of Lord.

After welcoming the Rishi and two brothers, Janak invited Sita to the Swayamvar...
चली संग लै सखीं सयानी। गावत गीत मनोहर बानी॥
सोह नवल तनु सुंदर सारी। जगत जननि अतुलित छवि भारी॥

Sita stepped forth, amid her charming, clever companions. As they sang in lovely melodious voices. A beautiful sari adorned her youthful body, Mother of the world was she incomparable in her beauty.

रंगभूमि जब सिय पगु धारी। देखि रूप मोहे नर नारी॥
When Sita stepped into the arena, all beholders, gazed enraptured, men and women alike.

सिय चकित चित रामहि चाहा। भए मोहबस सब नरनाहा॥
मुनि समीप देखे दोउ भाई। लगे ललकि लोचन निधि पाई॥
While Sita shyly looked for Ram with an anxious heart in that sabha, Gripped in infatuation were all kings gathered there. Soon Sita discovered the brothers beside the Rishi, On them were fastened her lovingly greedy eyes, as on the long-lost treasure.

गुरुजन लाज समाजु बड़ देखि सीय सकुचानि।
लागि बिलोकन सखिन्ह तन रघुबीरहि उर आनि॥
As she saw the sages and the large assembly, A modest Sita retreated, shrinking into herself. She turned her eyes towards her companions, Yet having drawn Ram into her heart.
(Beautiful scene....must see in the video #1)

तब बंदीजन जनक बोलाए। बिरिदावली कहत चलि आए॥
कह नृपु जाइ कहहु पन मोरा। चले भाट हियँ हरषु न थोरा॥
Then King Janak summoned the bards, And they came singing the praises of royalty. King then ordered them to announce his promise to everyone, Even bards were immersed in great happiness.

नृपु भुजबलु बिधु सिवधनु राहू। गरुअ कठोर बिदित सब काहू॥
रावनु बानु महाभट भारे। देखि सरासन गवँहिं सिधारे॥
To the moon your valour this bow is the eclipse, Massive and unyielding it is all know. Even the mighty warriors Ravan and Baanasur slipped quietly away when the bow beheld.

सोइ पुरारि कोदंडु कठोरा। राज समाज आजु जोइ तोरा॥
त्रिभुवन जय समेत बैदेही। बिनहिं बिचार बरइ हठि तेहि॥
This day, whoever in this royal assembly breaks this yonder unbending bow. He who thus becomes the victor of three worlds, Him, the daughter of Janak (Vaidehi) shall marry, Forthwith and knowing no hesitation.

तमकि ताकि तकि सिवधनु धरहीं। उठइ न कोटि भाँति बलु करहीं॥
जिन्ह के कछु बिचारु मन माहीं॥ चाप समीप महीप न जाहीं॥
With angry looks and steady aim, they grasped the bow, The bow refused to be lifted for all their exertions. They that had some sense in them, Refrained from even going near the bow.

तमकि धरहिं धनु मूढ़ नृप उठइ न चलहिं लजाइ।
मनहुँ पाइ भट बाहुबलु अधिकु अधिकु गरुआइ॥
The fools among princes indignantly strained at it, But retreated in shame when the bow stirred not. As if by absorbing the strength of each, it grew heavier and heavier.

डगइ न संभु सरासनु कैसें। कामी बचन सती मनु जैसें॥
Shiva's bow stirred no more than a chaste lady's heart at the allurements of a gallant. (जैसे किसी सती का मन किसी कामी पुरुष के वचनों से कभी चलायमान नहीं होता। Great adjectives from Tulsidas...a rare sight in Kaliyug)
Then, King Janak got upset with all present and insulted their bravery. When Lakshaman heard his words, he got angry too and told Janak that when Raghukul prince Ram is present, Janak shouldn't speak such words. Ram then calms Lakshan down. At that moment,

बिस्वामित्र समय सुभ जानी। बोले अति सनेहमय बानी॥
उठहु राम भंजहु भवचापा। मेटहु तात जनक परितापा॥
Rishi Vishwamitr perceiving that the right moment had arrived, spoke in tones most endearing and soft. Arise, O'Ram and break the mighty bow of Shiva, And relieve father Janak of his deep distress.

सुनि गुरु बचन चरन सिरु नावा। हरषु बिषादु न कछु उर आवा॥
On hearing the Guru's words, Ram bowed in reverence, neither joy nor sorrow was in his tranquil heart.

सहजहिं चले सकल जग स्वामी। मत्त मंजु बर कुंजर गामी॥
He rose in all his natural innate grace, So imperious his carriage, just like an excited elephant.

उदित उदय गिरि मंच पर रघुबर बालपतंग।
बिकसे संत सरोज सब हरषे लोचन भृंग॥
Like the morning sun climbing the eastern peaks, So did Ram rise to ascend the dais. Rejoiced all the saints like so many lotus blooms, Their eyes filled with joy like awakening bees at dawn.

तब रामहि बिलोकि बैदेही। सभय हृदयँ बिनवति जेहि तेही॥
Then Sita daughter of Janak cast a glance towards Ram, Her Heart awash with anxiety Sita implored this god and that.

मनहीं मन मनाव अकुलानी। होहु प्रसन्न महेस भवानी॥
करहु सफल आपनि सेवकाई। करि हितु हरहु चाप गरुआई॥
Distraught, she prayed to them in her heart, "Be gracious to me O'Mahesh and Bhavani". "Reward my devoted service to you", "And favor me by lightening the weight of your bow".

गननायक बर दायक देवा। आजु लगें कीन्हिउँ तुअ सेवा॥
बार बार बिनती सुनि मोरी। करहु चाप गुरुता अति थोरी॥
"O'Ganesh, Chief of Shiva's attendents And bestower of boons, It is for this day that I served you with devotion". "Hear the supplications I make again and yet again and, Reduce the weight of the bow to a mere trifle".

तन मन बचन मोर पनु साचा। रघुपति पद सरोज चितु राचा॥
"If I am true to my vow in thought, word and deed", "And if my heart be true to the lotus feet of Ram".

तौ भगवानु सकल उर बासी। करिहि मोहि रघुबर कै दासी॥
जेहि कें जेहि पर सत्य सनेहू। सो तेहि मिलइ न कछु संदेहू॥
"Then God, who dwells in the hearts of all will make me the handmaiden of Ram. For wherever souls are bound in true affection, their union is sure to follow, with never a doubt."

राम बिलोके लोग सब चित्र लिखे से देखि।
चितई सीय कृपायतन जानी बिकल बिसेषि॥
Then, Ram first looked at the crowd of spectators, And found them motionless like still, painted pictures. As he turned his eyes towards Sita, the most gracious lord perceived that Sita was deeply distressed.

देखी बिपुल बिकल बैदेही। निमिष बिहात कलप सम तेही।
तृषित बारि बिनु जो तनु त्यागा। मुएँ करइ का सुधा तड़ागा॥
Seeing Sita in such distress, every passing moment felt like eternity to Ram. When a thirsty man dies for want of water, Of what avail is a lake of nectar to him once he's dead.

का बरषा सब कृषी सुखानें। समय चुकें पुनि का पछितानें॥
अस जियँ जानि जानकी देखी। प्रभु पुलके लखि प्रीति बिसेषी॥
What use the rain when the whole crop has withered, What gains repentence when opportunity is lost. (This is one of Tulsidas' famous doha).
Reflecting inwardly thus, Ram looked at Sita, And thrilled all over, at her singular steadfast love.

गुरहि प्रनामु मनहिं मन कीन्हा। अति लाघवँ उठाइ धनु लीन्हा॥
Inwardly, he bowed to his wise preceptor, Vishwamitr, And, took up the bow with utmost ease and agility.

लेत चढ़ावत खैंचत गाढ़े। काहुँ न लखा देख सबु ठाढ़ें॥
तेहि छ्न राम मध्य धनु तोरा। भरे भुवन धुनि घोर कठोरा॥
No one could estimate how quickly Ram lifted the bow, stretched the string and put it on the bow. And, then he broke the bow from the middle that filled the universe with its strong sound.

That's how Sita swayamvar ends with the marriage of Sita and Ram.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ramayan's pearls of wisdom

There is no other inspirational source better than Ramayan for the best virtues of human life. Everytime I recite Ramcharitmanas or play the Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan DVD, I can't stop getting overwhelmed by the words and characters of the sacred text. In fact, the words that I never understood became more clear after watching the DVD and rekindling the memories of my childhood. Each and every word of Ramayan is filled with knowledge that should be adopted and kept in mind always. Here are a few instances:

When Ram and Lakshaman accompany guru Vishwamitr to the swayamvar of Sita upon receiving king Janak's invitation, the kings and princes present in Janak's sabha ridiculed both brothers, saying guru has brought two kids to tie the string on the bow. At that time, Tulsidas says, जाकी रही भावना जैसी, प्रभु मूरत देखि तिन तैसी। Fools were busy making fun of Ram when he got up and proceeded towards the bow. Tulsidas says, the bow became heavier and heavier for the kings with their ego and arrogance.

When Ram tied the bow string and then broke the Shiv Dhanush with little power, the strong vibrations from the bow reached lord Parashuram who arrived angrily at the scene. After he got ready to fight a war on Lakshman's arguments, Ram came forward to apologize and accept his punishment. Parashuram even ridiculed Ram and called him a manipulator and trying to protect their faults. But, Ram gave him an answer that hypnotized lord Parashuram and he saw lord Vishnu in Ram. Ram offered himself for the punishment and said... जोऊ लरिका कछु अचगरि करहीं। गुर पितु मात मोद मन भरहीं ॥ Thus he saved Lakshman from Parashuram's anger. Ram called himself a sevak and Parashuram a brahmin (विप्र). Ram said, as a Chhatriya, he only had one quality in his bow but as a brahim, Parashuram had nine qualities (शम, दम, तप, शौच, क्षमा, सरलता, ज्ञान, विज्ञान और आस्तिकता). And, he said, बिप्रबंस कै असि प्रभुताई। अभय होई जो तुम्हहि डराई॥ Meaning that the greatness of his vipravansh was such that invincibles also were frightened by him. श्री रघुनाथ जी के ऐसे कोमल और रहस्यपूर्ण वचन सुनते ही परशुराम जी ने उनमें नारायण भगवान् का रूप देखा और उनकी बुद्धि के पट खुल गए। Then, lord Parashuram asked, hey ramapati (or Lakshmipati), I have a lord Vishnu's bow that you should pull to remove all my doubts. Tulsidas recites it, राम रमापति कर धन लेहू। खैंचहु चाप मिटे संदेहू॥ And, Ram does the same and Parashuram bows to Ram with a heart filled with love and joy.

[To be continued...]

Friday, December 5, 2008

१. समाधि पाद (पतंजलि योग का प्रथम अध्याय)

In the past, I wrote about the 7 parts of Patanjali's Yog that include different states of body and mind. In this edition, you would see the different tendencies of the mind that Rishi Patanjali says you should control. Yog scriptures are very focused on mind (mentioned as Chitt or चित्त). In fact, they start by saying:

"योगः चित्तवृत्ति निरोधः । तदा द्र्ष्टु: स्वरूपे अवस्थानम् ॥ वृत्तिसारूप्यमित्ररत्र॥ "

That means, Yog limits the oscillations or tendencies of the mind. When that happens, the soul gets into its "own" form. At other times or until then, the soul acts under these tendencies and does not realize its own form.

Now, there are unlimited types of such tendencies of the mind, but Yog has classified them in 5 categories and each of these tendencies may have two faces (Good or Bad):

1. प्रमाण (Knowledge) - Yog mentions 3 sources of right knowledge: प्रत्यक्ष (Direct Cognition), अनुमान (Inference) and आगम (Revelation). Either you experience it, infer it or receive it by preachings of saints and texts such as Geeta, this knowledge forms a tendency that controls the mind. प्रत्यक्षानुमानागमा: प्रमाणानि।

Of the two faces, if this knowledge is twisted, the individual gets lost in the materialistic world, desires and comforts. But, if the knowledge is pure and without doubts, the soul can realize the blemishes of worldly substances such as their short-life, misery etc.

2. विपर्यय (Illusion) - False or illusory knowledge can also create beliefs or tendencies in our minds. For example, constantly transforming nature of worldly substances can be mistaken for their short-life and thus, lead a person to renounce them. This would constitute a good face of this tendency. विपर्ययो मिथ्याज्ञानमतद्रूपप्रतिष्ठम।

3. विकल्प (Imagination) - Fantasy or imagination of an object in its absence also captivates the mind. Thus, it affects the mind. A good face of this tendency would be to believe in god without ever having seen or perceived. A bad face would be immersing oneself in the worldly forms away from achievement of Yog. शब्दज्ञानानुपाती वस्तुशून्यो विकल्प:।

4. निद्रा (Sleep) - This is the state of total lack of awareness, ego and desires. Just as you wake up with soundness and purity from this state, it presents the good face of this tendency. The bad face would bring laziness and happiness in wasteful resting. Patanjali says sleep is also a state of conscious mind because we remember this state once we wake up. अभावप्रत्ययालम्बना वृत्तिर्निद्रा।

5. स्मृति (Memory) - The impressions of the subjects or situations that are experienced by above 4 tendencies are awakened under this tendency, known as memory. अनुभूतविषयासम्प्रमोष: स्मृति:।

In the end, Patanjali says that the control over these tendencies can only be obtained through practice and renunciation. अभ्यासवैराग्याभ्याम तन्निरोध:।

Individuals behave according to these tendencies in life, irrespective of the "own" self of the soul. These tendencies are conditioned according to many factors in biological and social environment for that individual. A level of understanding that can make the individual realize such placement of soul can only be acquired through dhyan or meditation, as we awaken the Kundalini powers in ourselves. Such powers are targeted by adopting Yog sutras such as Pranayam.