Hara Hara Shankara, Jaya Jaya Shankara

Hara Hara Shankara, Jaya Jaya Shankara

Monday, December 16, 2013

Annual Report OF LAHARI, 2013

Annual Report of “LAHARI”, 2013

I would like to give some details about what we at LAHARI are doing towards helping ourselves and the society. I thank the parents for being inspiring and motivating to your children. Your support and enthusiasm have helped these children mould themselves into good and noble kids. I am sure they will come to be balanced and mature children as they grow knowing what is right and what is wrong.  I am also confident that having sown the seeds of Bhakti in them, they will grow to spread it and make a difference wherever they go. I would like to brief you about the various activities that we at LAHARI have been doing. It is all because of your patronage and team work.

Conducted Vishnu Sahasranama Competition in February 2013 Judged by Smt. Shanta Vishwanathan

Participated in group chanting during ganesha chaturthi celebrations by seniors and juniors. They chanted
“Ganesha Pancharatnam, Ganga Stortram, and Vishnu Sahasranama. The big honour was that we were “invited” to chant. I had few kids join the sloka class after this performance This means to say that LAHARI kids are making a difference in the life of others and are also inspiring young minds. Good going.

Participated in the Dussera celebrations of White House n the form of skits like “The Akshaya Patram” and “Saints of India” which was well received and appreciated.

Two of our kids participated and won the Gita chanting competition in the Krishna Janmashtami celebrations in Ganesha Temple, R.T.Nagar.

Children of LAHARI gave a  bhajan performance for Navarathri in front of the White House temple for Navarathri

Children also participated in the bhajan singing for Dussera celebrations in white house

Senior children participated in the Annapoorna stotram competition held in November 2013.

As part of LAHARI charity drive, we have donated more than half the fees collected to organizations which are doing service to preserve and spread our vedic culture. I have given the website of most of them. You may visit the websites. If you wish to donate to these organizations, please do so. Come to think of it, what we donate in life is just a drop to what service people out there are doing. So, please donate liberally to vedic studies and its promotion.  We are all so gifted in life, let us thank GOD by doing a drop of danam. I am sure all of you are doing charity in some way or the other. Just in case, you want to support vedic institutions which are doing an amazing service towards preserving and spreading vedic studies, you may donate to these organizations below, if you please. The following are the organizations which we donated to

1. Kinchit karam Trust – This is started my Shri.U.Ve Velukudi Krishnan who is doing a great job in spreading shri vaishnavism. He has undertaken many programs which spread and inspire vedic learning. http://kinchitkaramtrust.org/kkt/

2. Kacchi moodoor Archakas Trust – This is an organization which was started under the initiative of Maha Periva of Kanchi. The aim is to support archakas in temples of remote areas. It doesn’t just restrict to pay these archakas but sees to it that they are constantly evaluated on their vedic skills and how much they are able to work selflessly. They have regular exams to keep themselves abreast. http://kmawt.org/

3. Sandeepani gurukulam – Stared by Shri. Muralidhara swamigal. This also aims to spread the vedic learning and also “GO (cow)” samrakshanam. They have undertaken the work of old temple renovation and are doing a wonderful job. Apart from these, they have also undertaken social responsibility in many villages.
Please visit: http://madhuramurali.org

4. Vedaparayana Trust: This was formed with the aim of celebrating the birth anniversary of Shri Adi Shankaracharya, the advaitist. Many homams and veda sadas were conducted as part of this celebration. Many Sanskrit scholars were honoured.

5. Saraswati Vidyalaya Patashala , Mattur, Shimoga: This is another school which promots vedic studies. This is a village which has most of the people talking in Sanskrit. I came to know about this trust through an article in “THE HINDU”. They have their own pathashala which teaches children Vedas, Upanishads and other chants making them good Brahmins. For more details and to donate, please visit: http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/history-and-culture/tale-of-two-villages/article4581221.ece .It was heartening to see that Sanskrit has its due respect at least in one village of India.

6. Jagadguru Kanchi Mamunivar Trust: Started by an ardent devotee of Maha Periva, Smt. Rajalakshmi Vittal, she along with her husband who are in their 70s are running this trust. Their aim is again to reach and spread vedic studies as much as possible.  My in-laws have been there and have lauded their selfless work and dedication. http://kanchimamuni.org/ourcharity.htm

7. A separate drive to collect money to the temple committee of our White House temple was done and children donated liberally. Thanks to you all.

Apart from the charity to vedic organizations, we also donated to the following

Ashwini charitable trust: an NGO that provides education to underprivileged children from urban slums in Bangalore. They do a lot of sponsorship to deserving poor children. http://ashwinitrust.org/

Sharanya Trust : A government orphanage which is in our own R.T.Nagar premises which houses only 25-30 girl children. These people also are doing a wonderful job. Do visit this once if you haven’t.

So, parents a big thank you for all your help and support. We are all doing a drop service and when each drop in the form of a child comes together, it forms a lake, river and an ocean. So, let us continue this service come what may. Let us hold to our magnificent Hindu Dharma and spread it wherever possible


Friday, December 13, 2013

Stories less heard and said!!

Who was VIDURA??

Vidura is a very important character in the Mahabharatha. He is the embodiment of Dharma. To speak something unpleasant to our loved ones is something which everyone would like to avoid. But Vidura was a person who would say “black is black and white is white”. He never feared to speak the truth no matter to whom he was speaking even if it be the king. But who actually was Vidura?

He was born to a maid servant of Satyavati, (the queen of Hastinapur) through the grace of sage Vedavyasa. He was the embodiment of the GOD of Dharma. But how did he come to live on the earth. Here goes the story.

There was a sage called Mandavya. He was a great renounced soul who had gone beyond the ambits of body pain or pleasure. Once, the king’s treasury was stolen and the thieves who stole them were passing by the hermit, Mandavya’s ashram. They entered the kutir and found the sage in deep mediation. Not knowing what to do, they hid the jewels in the ashram and ran away. The soldiers who were chasing the thieves entered the ashram and found the sage meditating. Suspecting him to a false sage, they captured him and took him to the king. The king was mad at the sage and decided to put him to death. He ordered a trident to be pierced into the sage and this was done. But to everyone’s surprise, sage Mandavya did not die. His was beyond the space of body and since he was in deep meditation, it did not bother him. When he woke up, the king was surprised and was quick to realize his folly. From that day, the sage came to be known as Ani Mandavya (ani means trident). The kind requested pardon and was immediately forgiven for the kind of "stita pragnya" (realised soul) that the sage was. But he surely wanted to know as to why he was punished given the fact that he had not done any bad actions.  What was his karma that bore him this fate. He went straight to dharma devata and questioned him.

The dharma devata said that when the sage was small, he had killed small creatures like ants and insects and was paying for those acts. This enraged the sage and cursed the god of justice saying, “These acts of killing as a child are done due to ignorance and innocence. They cannot be taken as a sin and must be forgiven. Even the shastras forgive mistakes committed by children till the age of 12 years. What to talk of an infant. Since this punishment is unwarranted for, you will be born in the earth to a sudra woman and live your life like a normal human being”. This is the curse which made the dhrama devata  take birth as Vidura. But, though he was born as a human being, he retained his nature of righteousness and justice. Though not a king, he was a great adviser to the king and to the people around him. He was held in high esteem by Bhishma and Lord Krishna himself.

Yudhistra’s Final Exam

At the end of Dwapara yuga, when Krishna avataram ended, Yudhistra was still ruling Hastinapur. He saw that the world was becoming unruly and unworthy to live. Theft, lies, inhumanity started to slowly show up. With Krishna leaving them, he felt a void within himself and a loss vigor to handle things on his own. Yudhistra decided to give up the world and reach heavenly abode soon. He discussed this with his brothers. 

They all decided to install Parikshit (son of Abhimanyu) as the king and leave the world. Having done this, Yudhishtra along with his brothers and Draupadi, their wife left the palace. As they were walking up the heaven, Draupadi felt hungry , thirsty and fell dead. Though the 4 Pandavas i.e. Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva repented for her death, Yudhishtra was in total control of his emotions. A few miles away, Sahadeva fell down dead. The four of them proceeded upwards and down fell Nakula. Eventually, Bhima and Arjuna also fell dead and it was only Yudhishtra who ascended to heaven. 

There was a dog which followed them earnestly all the way from the earth. When Yudhistra was about to enter heaven, the door keeper stopped him and said ,” I can allow only you inside and not this dog”. Yudhistra was not ready to give up the dog as it had been earnestly following him. When the dog heard this, it addressed Yudhistra and said, “Oh King, you may well go inside. But before you go, do me a favour. I am been bitten by in numerous insects on my body and am in great pain. Please relieve of this pain and proceed. When Yudhishtra was about to clean up the dog’s body the insects on the dog’s body said. “Oh king, if you remove us, we won’t have anything to eat and will die of hunger. Please find a way for us and leave”. The noble Yudhsitra thought for a minute and said, “Oh insects, leave the dog, you can feast on my body”. 

Having heard this verdict, the dog revealed its true form as dharma devata and blessed Yudhishtra. He took Yudhistra through hell first where he saw his brothers and wife suffering in pain and agony. He then passed through heaven where he saw the kauravas enjoying the luxurious heavenly life. This angered Yudhistra and refused to stay in heaven. He questioned dharma devata as to what kind o fjustice was being done where the noble are punished and evil are rewarded. Dharma devata then calmed down Yudhistra and said that the Pandavas had to spend time in hell for the few lies they had supported during Drona’s death. And the Kauravaas were enjoying heaven for the “Veera gati” (dying during a royal fight) kingsly death they had. They would be then transported to their respective hell and heaven for the bad and good they had done. It was then that Yudhistra calmed down and accepted the verdict.

So, Dharma is the same for all. There is no partiality or favoritism. So, let us be good and do good.
I hope these two stories were new and you all enjoyed reading them


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thoughts on Fear


This is about one of my childhood friends – an extremely talented and popular child in her circles. She would make a name wherever she went. She was a very friendly child. However, in spite of being extremely talented, she was dead scared of the stage.  As a child, whenever she used to go up to the podium to deliver a speech or to enact out a play or to render her dialogues, her feet would shiver, her heart would beat as if she had a pounding staff in there. Her hands would go as cold as dead; her face muscles would constrict making her cheeks red and hot. And once she was done, she would feel as light as a feather. It would always end with a big round of applause.

As she aged, she did mature with the thought that these were just feelings that she had to overcome.  She would make up her mind to be more confident and fearless the next time. Why fear when HE is here? Why fear when she had done her homework? These and many more thoughts would make her more introspective and give her an elated feeling that she was more mature than before.

Come teenage and here she was with more talent in her store. A great mimic, a wonderful orator, an excellent actor, a good singer, a bubbling friend and a very creative person. This is how her people knew her.  She was in her engineering course when she competed in a singing competition. The prelims were held in the auditorium and there she was standing, again, as a bunch of nerves.  Where did the introspection go? Where were those elated moments of maturity? All of them vanished on seeing the teeming row of audience. She sang the song “tere mere milan ki yeh raina” from the movie “abhiman”. She held the paper with the lyrics so tight that her palms began to sweat making the paper all wet.  Though she closed her eyes tight while singing, she occasionally opened to see the audience’s reaction and the judges seem to be very pleased by the song. They were whispering something among themselves and she wondered what it could be. The song was done and again a round of big applause for the song. Few people asked her the lyrics and few others patted her for her voice and “bhava”. She was elated and once again started the introspection with its usual conclusions.

Years rolled by. She is now a working professional in an MNC. And wherever she went, music followed her. She gave performances in office occasions and became a known figure . But before every occasion, she would be one bundle of nerves shivering and her heart beating fast.  It was a known beginning and a known outcome. But did she ever learn? Did her introspection give her any direction and maturity?

Life also goes on like this with fear taking the center stage.But why do we fear?  What is it that goes on in our mind before a performance, while performing? Why is it that even though we are well prepared, we still have a pinch of fear in ourselves? I am just taking one example of where fear can arise.

When we get prepared for some goal, we first start by putting our expectations and outcomes.  A plethora of questions and doubts rises in or minds. And it all begins with the negative thought. Our negative vasanas are so much engraved in our karma that we tend to think all the negatives first. A thought of all positives will be considered as being over confident by us and even elders at home. So, it all starts with the negative thoughts – What if I make a mistake? What if it doesn’t go well? What if I forget? What if people don’t like it? What if no one appreciates?  These and many other questions pour into our little mind, confusing and deluding it. And these result in a physical show of shivering, fast heart beat, reddening of the face, sweating of palms etc. So, are we going to allow this state forever? Are we just going to live with fear all our lives? Is there any way out for this?  THERE IS.

All these emotions are due to our EGO. The feeling of “I” within and associating it with the body is the root cause for all emotions. When we do an act, we do it with the thought as “I am doing it”. “I have to get the benefit”. “It is because of “ME” that I succeeded”. It is this possessiveness that gives rise to emotions like fear, anger, greed and jealousy. In other words, EGO is “Edging God Out”. As long as we associate our actions and the result with the “I” in us, this life is going to be miserable.

Our scriptures, be it the Vedas, or the GITA or the Upanishads, or the dharma shastras – all convey a common message and that is “not to dwell in the fruits of our action”. What we ought to do is : do our work and prepare ourselves for whatever be the outcome. Let us not go into the future and get anxious of what will happen. We have to do our best and for this we have prepare well. When we are ready and our preparations are satisfactory to us, then the fear does come down a bit. I am telling this out of personal experience.

I had enrolled myself for a program in my apartment complex. This was my first classical performance in my apartment. I started to practice in an earnest way. One day, I got to hear Shri. Chinmayananda’s commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita- chapter 2, sloka 47. I heard it with great intent. Many a time, we hear these upanyasams and discourses but hold on to the vibrations for a very short period. As time passes, it wiles away and we are back to our old self. This time, I was so impressed by the interpretation, that I decided I had to try and put to practice what he said. So, whenever I practiced for the program, I made sure that I would clear my mind of all thoughts (positive and negative) that would sow the seed of expectations.  Any such thought was “consciously” avoided. Even when I spoke to family members about the program, the result aspect was consciously avoided. Every time my mind drifted towards these thoughts, I consciously brought it back. Oh!!! It was very tough. Hundreds of hooded serpents in the form of thoughts kept hitting my mind and I somehow kept reiterating what Shri. Chinmayananda said, prayed reverently and turned them away. As an outcome, believe me, there was definitely a feeling of calmness and peace within.

I also realized that what a slave we are to our minds. We give to all its whims and fancies with absolutely no control over it. If only we could control the mind, miracles could happen every moment.

On the day of the program, there was a bit of fear which I can say was because of the vasanas; but, surely not because of “not knowing the unknown future”. To my surprise, I found that as I sang on the D-Day, there was no shivering, no sweating, and no redness of my cheeks. The voice came out loud and bold. I received a lot of positive response and appreciation after this program. The feeling was so good – not the feeling of success or appreciation but the feeling of fearlessness, the feeling of “not expecting the unknown”.

Our scriptures are such great storehouses of lessons. They make our life so easy and peaceful. It is we who shun them and make life miserable. If we were to take what is said in a positive way and follow them, I am sure material success will automatically follow along with the spiritual quest.