Navratri – Nine Nights of Self Consciousness

Today is Maha-Navami – the 9th Day of Sharad Navratri. The day of the last battle between Devi and Demons and tomorrow we will be celebrating Vijay (Winning) of Devi over the Demon on their tenth day of battle.

The literal meaning of Navratri is Nine Nights and still, over time we have somehow constricted this festival to daytime celebration only with activities like Garba Dance, Going to Temples, Fasting with specially made fast thalis, etc.

In all these, we have forgotten the true meaning and significance of these sacred and precious nine days which demands a celebration of our inner energy and not outwardly festivities. Whoever named it Navratri and not Navdin must have understood what these 9 days must represent in our life. It’s up to us now to fully understand its true meaning and change our ways to celebrate the divine in its most authentic way.

The night is the time of rest, of relaxation, of letting go, of surrendering, and of disconnecting from this world and connect to our inner self. In the worldly affairs that consume us daily, we forget to connect with the inner, and our higher self. Navratri which falls during summer and winter solstice, a special astronomical placement, is the best time to detach ourselves from our daily mundane tasks and worries, and instead go back to that cosmic energy to rejuvenate our mind and soul.

The best way to do so is to meditate and chant her name through mantras. When I say ‘her’, I mean the divine cosmic energy. It is peculiar that we have attached the significance of Devi Pooja to women empowerment and feminism, but the divine does not have any gender. It is Energy. It is Purusha and Prakriti. To simplify it we may call it male and female energy, but it does not literally translate to males and females as in man and woman. It is just energy without any gender or body shape.  One is a vessel, and another is the action done through that vessel. One is passive another is active. Sun and Moon. Day and Night. Thus, mostly all our festivals are derived from the lunar cycle including Navratri.

Come to think of it, in this harsh world maybe we need more of this feminine energy in all of us. That is why on the final day we break our fast by first offering it to Kanya(s) (small girls). This too we have taken into the literal meaning and go after the small girls who represent virginity and haven’t menstruated yet. We forget that everything in Sanatan Dharam has a deeper meaning than selecting girls to feed based on their age and look. It should be a day where you feed your qualities which are more like a Kanya; surrendering towards mother, innocent, lust-free, observant, student not master, willing to change, and many more. We need to empower and nourish these qualities of us before we go back to this world of Maya. We all need more kindness, more compassion, more empathy, and yet be more creative, more active, and more constructive; don’t forget to be all this while still sitting on a Lion.

These 9 days/nights are to celebrate this energy, the lunar, female, and active part of it. To do that first step is to detach from another side of female energy, the Maya. That is why our rituals tell us to fast, stay away from lies, deceit, and otherworldly poisons, and instead of it, deep dive into nights of meditation. Fasting is done not to please Devi. Just think of it this way, if you consider her your mother; no mother is happy to see her kids starve themselves. She would never ask her kids to stay hungry to please her. Fasting is done to give much-needed rest to our body so that it can rejuvenate too. It saves energy when our body does not need to spend much time digesting food all day. Instead, this energy is spent in connecting with the divine. Those who fast by eating all day and relishing the specially made fasting treats, need to ponder on this.

I do not understand why this notion was built into us that we should always be full, our tummy should not be empty. We never let our stomach be empty or feel hunger. As soon as we felt the first pang of hunger, we try to fill it up with as much food as we can. In true essence, we should only eat what our body needs for survival. In fasting time, we stay away from certain foods and eat only at certain intervals. This helps our digestive system not to spend much needed time and energy on digesting a cocktail of heavy food on a full stomach.

When we eat light, our body feels light and comfortable. Our mind is awake and not dull from food effects. Our senses are sharp too. When we detach from the outside, that is the time to go inside. Time to seek what is inside us. Time to gain by connecting with the cosmic energy which runs this universe. Just think how joyous these 9 nights would be when you are dancing with this cosmic energy filled with her love and abundance. How joyful… there is bliss in this fasting and meditation. Chant her mantra and invoke her inside you. So much energy, so much love within you. A Raas-Leela of Krishna and Radha’s pure love where divine is dancing with the soul as its lover. So much bliss.

Do this dance every night with your higher self and your days would be nonstop celebrations of love. In the daytime, offer her prayers and be grateful for all you have received. Dance as much as you can; be joyous,; share with your family, friends, and neighbors; visit holy places and get submersed in their vibrations. Celebrate Big.

Nine days of self-improvement, nine nights of raising your energy from Muladhara chakra to meeting him at the heights of supreme power,  nine days and nights of fighting this inner battle with your demons and emerge Vijayi (winner) on the tenth day. That is how I see this Navratri for all.

Wish you all a Happy Navratri and Vijayadashami.

Women’s Day and We Women

First of all, Happy Women’s Day.

I was in college when I first heard about a day to celebrate Women. I never knew what to do and how to celebrate that day. Still, not exactly sure of how I should be celebrating it; so, I thought of writing How Men should treat their Woman How a woman should treat other women and herself?

Why I do not want to focus on Men here is because all the strong women that I have seen and admired in my life, they have soared high in their lives did so by fighting against patriarchy system. They are not successful because of a man who is in/out of their life. They are successful because they are strong and confident women who chose to live life on their own terms. Point being the support of a male figure in your life is meaningless if you are not capable enough to stand on your feet.

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So, putting Men aside, I want to celebrate women by talking about women and how can We be the ones to inspire other women. 

The most important thing that every girl/woman should understand is that if there is anything that will be her ‘Jeevan-Saathi’ (Life Partner/Supporter) for all her life; it is going to be her Education and her Skills. Mentioning skills here because I belong to a country where education to girls is considered a privilege, and not everyone is born privileged. 

Point to Note – Never ever, I repeat, Never Ever in your life compromise on your education. The whole world may go against you but there is no noble fight than to fight for the right of your education. I was (still am) termed the most difficult child of my family because I went on hunger strikes many times to complete my post-graduation and I am hella proud of it. 

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Other than Education, the next big thing is – your Career. I have nothing against homemakers and women who worked but left their job to take care of their kids. I did that too, for 5 years, I quit my work and raised my 3 kids. I was happy with my decision but with time I realized how people’s perception will change once you are no longer working (earning money). This is the hardest decision a working woman must make. No one else can raise your kids the way you can, and if you try to manage both kids and your career then your parenting skills will be judged every time you will leave for office. Hell, even your working skills will be questioned every time you leave your office for home. 

Point being – No matter what you do, you will be judged, so ignore the world and just focus on what is best for you. Always keep yourself and your kids on priority. First You. 

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Being a homemaker is harder, as generally, I have seen that nobody takes you seriously. Most of the people think of you as an illiterate girl. As if you know nothing about what is happening around in this world; as if you don’t have any opinion; and, as if your life revolves around kitchen and kids. That’s it. Nothing wrong, even if this is your whole life. What more fulfilling than this?

Point to note here – Invest in some hobby. Have something creative to do in your life. You would definitely need a ‘Me Time‘ in your daily routine. Never compromise on that. If you value yourself and invest in yourself; only then people around you will value you. 

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The Next Big thing is choosing your life partner (Husband this time). No matter if you are going for an arranged marriage or love marriage; do make a point to know the person before you tie the knot. Talk to him, meet him, spend time with him, discuss everything you think is important to know; discuss your values and discuss your future dreams and aspirations. It is rather hard in case of arranged marriages where girls do not get much time and also have to maintain an image of shy Indian bride and thus do not discuss much with their future life partner, but a little shyness today may cost you a lifetime compromise. Another thing that we are told since childhood is that parents know what is best for you. But, do they know the complete you? My parents always thought of me as the quiet and lonely in her world kind of girl; while my friends knew me as the most talkative, outspoken one; my teachers thought of me as a studious and no-nonsense girl; while my colleagues think of me as a prankster. Contrary to everyone else, my husband still thinks of me as ‘kitni seedhi hai’ 😛 

Point to note: Only you know yourself better. You know what qualities your ideal partner should have. Parents, relatives, or friends can help you with your decision, but it should be Your Decision. 

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There will be many such important decisions that you have to make in your life, like when to have kids, how many kids, how to raise them, where to live, what to cook for dinner, etc… make sure that your voice is heard and respected in all these decisions. Whatever impacts you, must have your say in it.

Few more random points: 

  • Do not blame your parents, or your siblings, friends, relatives for your life’s decisions. If you chose a subject in class because your parents asked you to and now you are regretting it; it is your fault that you didn’t have the courage and conviction to fight for what you actually wanted. 

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  • If a woman is in an abusive relationship, never ever judge the actions of that woman. Abuse is abuse. It does not matter what she did to deserve that abuse. Nothing justifies abuse of any kind.
  • On the same note – if a woman is going through a divorce, or fighting a cheating husband; NO, it was not her fault that her husband cheated on her. Also, no it’s not her karma. It was an abusive, cheating man who has to be blamed for this and that’s it. 

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  • Be confident in your own body. You are fat, slim, ugly, pretty, fashionable, or whatever the hell you have labeled yourself – once you are confident about your own body and how you look; these words and labels won’t matter. Most of the time, we are the ones who label ourselves in our mind and then we start looking for reasons to verify these labels whenever we talk to someone. 

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  • If someone insults you, about your looks, clothes or anything; be upfront and talk to them. Most of the time, I have found that another person was either jealous or I just misunderstood them. You should feel prouder of yourself if the reason is their jealousy.
  • Not everyone is out there to get you. If you will ask for help, you will get help. Talk to other women around you. You won’t believe but most of us face the same kind of problems and know how to help another lady. 

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  • Do not stop learning. Do not stop growing. Use every opportunity to become a better version. Do not waste this life just being what you were yesterday. 
  • Be confident. Be Positive. Be Calm and be Strong.
  • Hydrate.
  • Moisturize.
  • Step out and don’t forget to apply sunscreen. 

Shine My Girl!!

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If You Feel Offended

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There was a general prayer that I used to do since I started praying and that was “whatever is good, let me do only that; and whatever I do, let it be only good“.

Now, however, I have understood one thing that no matter what you are doing, it will impact the lives of some in a good way and others in a bad way. You could go ahead and develop a cure for cancer, or eradicate poverty from this world and still, you will be offending someone by these actions.

I do not want to imply that if this is the case, we should not try to be good or do good; instead, be good, be more good than you ever can be and not worry about what people are saying. “Kuch to log kahenge…”

I have observed over the past years that all of us are getting more sensitive. As far as I am concerned, I think this is a beautiful thing. We should be sensitive, kind and compassionate. But, the downside to this is that most of us get easily offended. Small-small things are making the people to react in outrageous ways, especially on social media.

Social Media – a medium where we can be social and civil. Medium to share our thoughts, some part of our lives, our happiness, our sorrows, our achievements. Who could have thought, this medium of sharing will be the biggest cause of people getting offended?

There are some simple rules which I follow and sometimes (forcefully) ask my husband to follow too –

  • If you can’t say anything good, it’s better to say nothing at all. That includes commenting on someone’s post.
  • Never comment on physical appearance if you are going to be a jerk about it.
  • If you can’t think of anything good to write, just write nice or beautiful; that is more than enough.
  • Someone’s Religious thoughts contradict yours. Ask yourself below questions-
      • What are you trying to achieve by commenting on it? If it is anything else other than satisfying your pride/ego then go ahead and comment.
      • Is it a specific attack on your way of religious thinking? Is this person going to understand your views and put them in the right perspective? Are both of you capable to have a civil conversation? If you have said ‘Yes’ to these questions, please go ahead and comment.
  • Commenting on Political Posts – a big NO, if you are going to write against the proposed views. Still, if you can’t help yourself and want to write, ask yourself –
      • Would you be able to say the same things on that person’s face?
      • Why is it necessary to make the other person agree with your views? Why can’t that person have his/her own political views?
      • Can it be said to them in a private message, rather than replying to a public post?
      • Is this person going to understand your views and put them in the right perspective? Are both of you capable to have a civil conversation?
  • What if someone shares nasty comments on your post? In this case, it becomes important to reply but often times I have felt that the other person is going through a tough phase and it is their frustration with their own life and circumstances that come out through their bad writing. Sometimes, it is best to ignore with a thank you and smile. But if you can’t understand the reason behind their behavior it would be appropriate to reply to them. Things to take care of though –
      • Not be harsh in sharing what you think is right.
      • Consider their viewpoint and then share yours.
      • Everyone has their own thinking and you cannot change it in a day, so give them time to understand and be patient.
      • If you can, it is best to talk to them in person or call them, instead of commenting publicly.
  • Name Calling – this is the ugly stuff, and I have seen so many so-called intellectuals mudding their social media by name-calling each other. Strangely, I do not have any suggestions or advice on that issue. I think there is no saving a Titanic here. Oddly enough these kinds of creatures just keep the entertainment going and nothing else.

I do try to follow my own rules but still, if I have offended anyone of you through my actions, I would like to apologize. I am growing continuously and will learn more lessons, but I cannot guarantee that my actions will not offend you in the future. Still, I would request you, to be considerate and talk to me, so that I can improve.

No Offending Stuff 😀

 

Broken Thoughts…

Is it easy to live life easily?

What we all crave for from inside is a simpler and meaningful life but our every desire every action is to grab more than we need. In such a process instead of having a simpler life, we create labyrinth around ourselves, and more we try to move away from the deeper in its web we get lost. 

How hard can it be to take life and all that comes with it, easily?

Why is it so hard, to do easy?

The first brick of this labyrinth’s foundation is laid the moment we are born and given a sense of identity. We start moving to try to grasp each corner, trying to figure out everyone and everything in our life. There are no walls yet, just foundations of these walls. I can still see you; you can still talk to real me. We play, we dance, we fight, we cry, we laugh, we have no walls between us. This was easy. It didn’t look easy then, but now it looked like simpler times. Oh, our gone childhood.

With each step further, we put more and more layers of identity on ourselves. First, it was just my name which you asked, and we became best friends. Then………….

Today, I was cleaning my laptop. Removing unnecessary files and deleting all superfluous selfies of mine, to make some space for, quite possibly, some new selfies; when I discovered this. I am not writing much nowadays, but when I was, I used to write about anything and just anything that would come to my mind and store it in a temporary document until I get the time to finish it and publish it. This above piece, ‘Is it easy to live life easily? ‘of a somewhat probable future article that I wrote a year back, was lying hidden in plain sight on my laptop and today I visited it while accidentally trying to delete it.

It’s not a big deal. We all do such things when we write something down and forget about it later until we see it again. But, the big deal for me was, that even after reading it and re-reading it, I couldn’t recollect that why and when I wrote it. So, there you see, it is just sitting here in front of my eyes as some unfinished story which I forgot how I wanted to complete it. I have no recollection of how I wanted to end it, or what was the idea behind this piece. I had to read it twice just to make sure that these are my own words… memory is a funny thing, indeed.

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I am still perplexed at this thought about living an easy life. Maybe in a day or so, I will be able to remember and get this answer, or maybe its time to find some new answers. Right now, my mind is like too many tabs of a browser opened at the same time. Multitasking and multidirectional. Too chaotic. Too much to process. Too much to complete. So, on second thought, I may let this one slide. Time to close one tab.

True Essence of Yoga

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Yoga

The literal meaning of this word is – Union.

The marketed meaning of this word has become – Breathing and Stretching Exercises.

We celebrated International Yoga Day Yesterday on 21st June 2019. Something which originated in India centuries ago has now widespread on an International level. Its popularity has gained a stronghold, especially in western countries. By declaring 21st June as International Yoga Day, we are now celebrating this rich heritage of India worldwide. The most profound thing here is that Yoga is accepted everywhere by all age groups and ethnicities. Despite the fact that some people confuse it with Hindu Religion and try to deter non-Hindus in accepting this healthy way of living; its positive life-altering experiences has credited in its success and popularity among masses.

But, my question over here is -The Yoga that we are celebrating and promoting, is this the true Yoga in its complete form?

If you google yoga types, you will find Hot Yoga, Yin Yoga, Hybrid Yoga, Power Yoga, etc… I couldn’t comprehend how did we reach here from a simple word which meant – Union.

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Yoga is as simple as the word Union, its literal meaning. 

It is a union of you with your higher self. You may call it God, Universe, Existence, Non -Existence, Nothingness, Everlastingness, or just a union with your true self. Once you will understand the Union aspect of it, then you will also realize that you are never apart. So, why the Union? How can we unite with something from which we were never apart? This union is not physical. This is spiritual and psychological. This is more like a realization through self-discovery.

What we see today everywhere is more of Aasans and Pranaayam; which on a broad level can be categorized as body exercises/postures and breathing techniques to attain a healthy physical body for a healthy mind and in turn, they help you in progressing towards spiritual union(the true Yoga). We certainly need to go step by step and thus this is the most important step to lay the foundation upon which you can climb higher in your spiritual growth. It is as important as a baby’s first step. But, we also need to keep that in mind that purpose of teaching a baby how to walk is not limited to him taking a walk but also teaching him a way of life where he knows what he should be walking towards to.

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There are various paths given to achieve this self-realization from Raaj Yoga to Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Hath Yoga, etc. There are ‘Yama’ and ‘Niyams’ to be followed like Ahimsa, Asteya, Aparigraha, Santosha, etc. The intent is not to just clean your body of toxins but also your mind, your actions, and your thoughts. We need to integrate it into our behavior and our actions if we want to call it Yoga; otherwise what most of us are doing are just aasans and pranaayaam. This should be the role and responsibility of Yoga teachers who when opening up Yoga Studios and Yoga Workshop teach their disciple that Yoga is done by integrating a way of life where not only our physical body but we also take care of our psychological and Spiritual well being.

In Yoga, we talk about harmony. We talk about our connection with each other. We talk about how we are connected to nature. We talk about how we are one with everything around us. How we are one with The One. It is much much much larger than what we have shown to the world so far. I know with time, we will teach our young generation that how they can start with Aasans and Pranayams and progress through Meditation and a Yoga Path to reach to their full potential and live a life which is filled with joy and compassion.

Happy Yoga Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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