uvAcha Quiz – 9

He was a devotional saint and a cobbler by profession

  1. Tulsidas
  2. Surdas
  3. Raidas
  4. Malukdas

God knows man’s virtues and inquires not his caste, in the next world there is no cast.  This teaching is of

  1. Kabir
  2. Guru Nanak
  3. Chaitanya
  4. Ramananda

Who among the following was an exponent of Virashaiva

  1. Basavaraja
  2. Shankaracharya
  3. Ramanuja
  4. Namadeva

Sriperumbudur, a temple town in South is the birth place of

  1. Adi Shankaracharya
  2. Madhavacharya
  3. Vidyaranya
  4. Ramanuja

Which of the following was a saint of the Bhakti movement in Bengal

  1. Tulsidas
  2. Vivekananda
  3. Chaitanya
  4. Kabir

Answers for uvAcha quiz – 8

(a)    Garba  (b)  Rasleela  (c)  Gujarat   (d)  Kuchipudi  (e)  Bhangra

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Saints of India

India has been the home of numerous saints and sages from Vedic times.  In recent times, we had saints like Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, Sri Ramakrishna, Mother Teresa – to mention a few.

Let’s have a look at some of the famous saints of India

 Adhi Shankara

 adhi shankara

Born in a pious and devout family in a village called Veliyanad near Kalady, this divine child had accomplished the phenomenal task of composing his first book at the mere age of six.  At the age of eight he obtained Sannyas.  Upon completion of his studies, Shankara with the blessings of his Guru, took upon himself the monumental task of writing Bhaasyas (commentaries) on the Vedantic texts such as the Bhagawad Gita, Upanishads and Brahma Sutras.  He composed inspiring works such as Bhaja Govindam, Atma Bodh, Tattva Bodh, Dhakshinamoorthy stotram and Vivekchoodamani, etc.  By the time he was 32 years, he had single-handedly revived the Hindu Culture and brought 75 different schools of thought under his Advaita philosophy.  He was not just a mere personality he was an institution.

 Basaveswara

 basaveswara

He broke the custom of writing religious and ethical texts in Sanskrit and poetry form and began to write them in Kannada and in prose form called Vachana.    He brought a great reformation in the fields of religion, social life, language and literature.  He formed a new spiritual institution called Anubhava Mantapa.  Piety and character alone was required of anyone who came into Anubhava Mantapa and they were given a Linga to show that all were equal in the eyes of God.

 Bharadwaja

 bharadwaja

He was a saint of the Vedic period who attained extraordinary power of meditation.  He acquired extensive knowledge of the vedas and did severe tapas.  He always stood like a fortress protecting good and righteous people at all times.  He had extraordinary knowledge on aero-dynamics science, which is seen in his book Vimana Shastra.  He was a sage who spread the name and fame of Bharata through wisdom and kindness.

 Madhwacharya

 madhawacharya

Madhwa was born in a  small villagenear Udupi.  He was initiated into sanyas at the age of 12.  His whole life was devoted to the propagation of vedic philosophy.  He preached Dwaita philosophy when the caste system was stubbornly practised in the Indian society.  He wrote commentaries on the Prastana Traya – the Bhagawad Gita, 10 Upanishads and Brahma Sutras.  He dedicated his work Gita Bhashya to Veda Vyasa.  He lived the life of a dynamic sanyasi and had a reassuring effect on all who came to him. Acharya Madhwa took leave of his disciples and left for Badri in 1317 AD and none saw him after that.

 Swami Rama Tirtha

 ramthirtha

He was a saint with a scientific outlook who supplemented Swami Vivekananda’s work of emancipating India.  He was a mathematician par excellence.  After becoming a sanyasi, he travelled extensively around the world, bringing to light the plight of the Indian masses and trying to make a way for India’s redemption.  His inspiring messages are recorded in his books such as Songs of Enlightenment and In the woods of God realization.

“Ache Din” for Young India’s Education

“Ache Din” (Good days) for education sector and thus for the country is around.

If the multi-pronged approach for holistic education and skill-building continues as per the policy statements, we will be well on the way to building a stronger India. Let us take a look at some major developments in the past couple of months in this direction.

The NDA manifesto promised focus on education sector and Skilling India. After coming to power with an overwhelming majority the new Government under the dynamic leadership of Shri Narendra Modi has made several policy announcements in this direction.

Appointment of Smriti Irani for the responsibility is the first positive step. The sheer determination and conviction with which she handles her projects is a promise for the development of Human Resources in the country.

The President’s address talks about establishment of National Sports Talent Search System. This measure apart from enhancing the sports ecosystem in the country also helps build professionalism, team-spirit and enhance overall personality development among the youth. National Talent Search systems for science, mathematics, geography, etc., has been in force in the country for decades. Now sports education gets this special impetus and hope this will encourage nurture sports talent as it nurtured other talents.

Physiologically it is proven through clinical studies, that involvement of boys in sports, helps them better channelise their youth vigour in the right direction and evolve as stronger personalities. Integrating sports education with the regular academic stream will further aid the process. Sports education along with Life-SKILL education and yoga (These two are already on focus) is a wonderful combination for holistic evolution of children. Let’s hope the new establishment’s National Education Policy will do much more for furthering these steps.

Prior to the budget presentation, economy survey identified primary education and skill development as the twin challenges for our country. Addressing this challenge the Modi Government has announced SKILL INDIA Program in the budget speech. National multi-skill mission to enhance skilled labour in various sectors of the economy has multiple benefits like – enhanced employability levels of our youth, improve the GDP through efficient utilisation of the labour, enhance the quality and standard of living and propel the country into developed economy status. Effective implementation of this program is the key deciding factor in this direction.

In June, India gained permanent membership in Washington accord which provides our engineering graduates, recognition for their educational qualification in all the signatory countries. This means better employability opportunities for our graduates.

Another Good news is wide spread acceptance of the CCE pattern of assessment and evaluation introduced by CBSE. Not only are more schools opting for CBSE education due to this initiative, more state education boards are also introducing CCE pattern of evaluation. Slowly but steadily we can see all education boards – state and national boards, inching towards a common pattern of education, assessment and evaluation which is holistic and child-centric.

Truly Ache Din Aage Hain… Good Days are Ahead…

Sanskrit Education gets a fillip

While we grow, we should remember the roots. India is now returning to its core strength… its roots.

We have discussed about the importance of Sanskrit education and its future in an earlier blog. Latest step in this direction is CBSE’s initiative in sanskrit education.

Welcome to our earlier blog on Sanskrit education…

Answer to Misery, Material and Spiritual Pursuits

Measuring Spiritual Evolution

As discussed in yesterday’s post, we cannot measure spiritual quotient similar to the way we do with intelligence quotient, emotional quotient, etc.,

This however can be experienced at the personal level, is very subjective and not for comparison with others. We share below some indicators of spiritual evolution… As mentioned they are only indicative for self-awareness and there are no right or wrong answers…

  • You hear some bad news…
    • an environmental disaster or catastrophe in the other end of the planet. None of the people known to you live there. But still… what kind of feeling it leaves in you? Does that move you? Do you stop a moment and pray for them? or think for them
    • about a person whom you love and are closely attached with. How do you respond to that challenge? Do you get emotionally down or become a source of strength to that person?
    • about someone you are not comfortable with. What is your initial response? Do you feel glad that he had to face that? Do you feel he deserved that? Do you feel sorry for that person?
  • You hear some good news…
    • about someone whom you are not comfortable with or some one whom you hate. What are the feeling that arise in you? How do you respond to that situation?
    • about the success of your competitor, in school or workplace… What are your initial thoughts and feelings about the progress of that person/organisation?
    • about a stranger’s success… Do you feel happy for that and congratulate him/her? Do you feel that you or someone close to you could not achieve that success?
  • On your way to the office in the bus or the train or in the lift, you meet a person who is hurt or wounded… Do you stop a moment to enquire about him? Do you feel sorry for that person within but keep quiet? Are you pre-occupied about something and does not have the time to think about that person?

The list is not a comprehensive one and can go on…

Fullness and Oneness

Spiritual Quotient (SQ) is defined as the ability to act in harmony with the world around and be in balance, realising the “Fullness” within and “Oneness” without.

A cell – an independent functional unit in the organism, acts in the interests of the organisms’ wellness. A cancerous cell violates this principle resulting in ultimate destruction of the organism including the cell.

The cell’s identity is because of the organism. A link exists across all the cells making them a unifying force of existence – the organism. This link while also helping the cell to act in cohesion with the organism, gives it the freedom to act independently. This link – the unifying force, gives a sense of fullness to the cell. This fullness exists only as long as the cell respects the link. Thus the cell is at once, both Independent and United with the organism.

Similarly an individual – an independent functional unit in the universe is free to act according to his will (expression of fullness within) and be in a joyous state by being in harmony with the outer world. All living beings, by default act in adherence to the universal laws, because they don’t have the free will. Humans are the only species which has the privilege of freewill and hence by default has the responsibility to act according to the universal laws. Freedom comes with responsibility.

Unlike other quotients of human personality, Spiritual Quotient is more experiential and cannot be measured. Growth and Evolution in the spiritual domain of human personality is experienced as a feeling of expansiveness, happiness, joy and peace; and expressed as love and compassion one has towards the fellow beings – living and non-living in the world around.

The Guru-Sishya Story

Ankur: “Hi Rishi. I understand that you have been looking for me”.

Rishi :  “Hi Ankur. What are you doing on 12th July?”

Ankur :  “I am not doing anything specific.  What is so special about that day?”

Rishi : “We are celebrating Guru Purnima on that day”.  I am honouring all the reputed teachers in the city on that day. I thought you could help me out in making the arrangements.”

Ankur : “I have been wondering about this Rishi.  When the whole country celebrates teachers’ day on September 5th, you are always in a hurry to celebrate this a couple of months earlier. Why hurry? Relax…”

Rishi :  (Laughs loudly) “Why do you think September 5th is celebrated as Teachers’ Day?”

Ankur :  “It is the birthday of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, our former President, who was a great teacher. We celebrate this day as Teachers’ Day in his honour.”

Sarvepalli

Rishi :  “No doubt… Dr Radhakrishnan was a great teacher.  But are you aware that “Teachers’ Day” has been celebrated for thousands of years on full moon day of the lunar month of Ashadh as Guru Purnima; Grand festivities are made on that day and teachers honoured.”

Ankur :  “Wow!  This is interesting.  I never knew that. Why have we been celebrating Teachers’ Day on this particular day?”

Rishi :  “Ankur.  I always appreciate this inquisitiveness in you.  This day is celebrated in honour of Sage Veda Vyasa, our badharayana who is considered as our first Guru.”

veda-vyasa

Ankur : “Is there any specific reason he is considered as the first Guru?”

Rishi : “Actually I need to explain to you two things in answer to this question.  First, our ancient seers had developed immense capabilities beyond their normal senses and were able to come in contact with the universal laws.  For millennia, they passed on these laws to their students orally.  As times passed, capability of humans to grasp the entire knowledge started diminishing.  At this juncture, Sage Veda Vyasa compiled all this knowledge into different sections and simplified them through many stories and historical events so that they are easily available and within the reach of common man.  In this way he made available a huge amount of wisdom to the common man and hence he is considered as the first Guru.”

Ankur : Oh!  This is a very interesting story.  So do you mean to say that he had written a book?  If so, what is the name of the book?  I would like to read that.”

Rishi :  “Sage Vyasa had been a great author.  He wrote lots of books (on palm leaves) in different formats for people with different personality types.  The Four Vedas, several Upanishads, 18 Puranas, Brahmasutras, etc., all together amounts to more than million verses… This is his contribution.”

Ankur :  “Oh!  That is too much.  One would not be able to complete a fraction of that in his life time.  So how is one going to benefit from this?”

Rishi :  “You must remember that he is a master teacher – the prime Guru.  He identified different sets of Gurus and made them each expert in one set of books.  Those teachers in turn passed on the parts of knowledge in which they specialized to their disciples.  In this way the entire wisdom was preserved and handed over across generations for thousands of years.”

gurukul

Ankur :  “To collate and compile all this information requires several TBs of space. Once we put that in cloud anyone can easily access it. This can be an interesting project to compile our wisdom.”

Rishi :  (Laughs again) Now I need to explain to you the other part called the Guru-Sishya parampara or Guru-Sishya tradition.  You may read volumes of information but it will not make sense to you if you don’t understand the inner meaning and its relevance to you.  In Guru-Sishya tradition, the Guru transfers not just the information but also the experience in a way that is appropriate to the student and thus actually it is the experiential knowledge which is transferred from a Guru to his discipline and not bookish knowledge.  It is for this reason that Indian culture and civilization is the longest and the only civilization whose date of origin could not be determined even now.  The computers may go, the papers may go, the palm leaves may vanish, but the wisdom in the form of experiences is there in man and that is transferred to the upcoming generations. As long as man exists this knowledge will remain…”

Ankur :  “Now I understand the greatness of our culture and the importance of Guru-Sishya parampara.  Hey!  Another truth strikes me.  Today there is a lot of buzz happening around experiential learning and activity based learning.  I thought this is a very innovative way for teaching discovered by the west.  But now I realize that is the essence of original Indian educational system.  I love this great country and feel grateful to all the great Gurus for keeping this civilization and culture alive.”

Guru-and-disciple

Rishi : “So what is your plan for next Saturday?”

Ankur : “Of course, I will be with you the whole day.  You are my Guru anyway.  It is my duty to offer my services to you on that day.  Can I invite Ankita also?”

Rishi :  “You are most welcome”

The Journey of a Wave

The first rays of sun are pushing aside the clouds and popping out to say Hello to the ocean.  The birds are chirping around.  There is a gentle breeze from the sea.

Ankur and Rishi are at the beach enjoying the awesome treat to all the senses.

At the Beach

Rishi asks “Ankur, do you want to listen to what the waves are speaking?”

Ankur is excited. “I would love to”

Rishi gently waves his hand over Ankur; Ankur starts hearing the voice of the waves.

A tiny wave which is just born is excited. It shouts “ Hey! It is so exciting.  I am growing bigger and bigger. It is so nice to watch the sea from here. The higher I am growing more wonderful is the scenery and Wow! This tingling sensation of the sun’s rays. I love this experience.”

The wave turns around and looks at the bigger wave in front of it.  It is disappointed.  It wonders, “if only I could grow that tall, that big, it would be fantastic.  The lucky one has grown so tall and majestic. I need to become like that as well.”

Soon the little wave forgets the tingling senses of the sun’s rays and the majestic scenery behind it.  It starts running behind the big wave trying to become taller than that.  It is now anxious and restless to reach the heights of the bigger wave.  The more it rises, the bigger wave in front of it rises higher.  It suddenly starts getting jealous of the bigger wave and wishes that the wave falls down so that it can be the most majestic and tallest of the waves.

waves

Its prayers are answered.  The big wave reaches the shore and Splash! it gets grounded.  The smaller wave is now very happy.  It is the tallest wave and is still growing higher and higher.  There are so many waves behind it which are much smaller.

It now starts enjoying the majestic beauty of the ocean from the greatest heights.  It now started wondering… “if only I had been able to enjoy my entire journey? the sun has also moved higher!?! Oh! The tingling sensation is no more”  With these thoughts in the mind, the tiny wave now the tallest wave in the sea turns around and alas it starts to fall down and in a fraction, Splash! it comes down touching the shore.

As it came down touching the shore, the wave wondered… “how short-lived the height of success is! It would have been good had I enjoyed the journey to the fullest, instead of getting jealous and agitated all along!”

Ankur turns towards Rishi.  “Now I understand why you are always so calm and composed.  Thanks for the wonderful experience Rishi.”

Rishi Smiles. 🙂

Meditate Daily on these thoughts

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