Saturday, November 17, 2012

Yoga for Cancer Patients

I conducted a few sessions of Yoga for Cancer patients and their relatives last year in a temple hall in Vivek Vihar Delhi.

Thank you Dr Pawan Gupta for the organising effort!

Cittavritti Nirodhah.....Patanjali's Yoga

This is one writing which changed my view of the opening Sutra of Patanjali, yogah chittavritti nirodhah.

Nirodhah has a few meanings but no one has explained it better than Shri K M Gupta. Thank you sir!

And thank you TOI as a medium.

Letter to a friend regarding Hinduism


I have had many conversations with myself, my teachers and friends on this subject.

As you may be aware, Dileep Thatte has been lecturing on the theme of "Seven Stars of Hinduism" to the NRI boys and girls to tell them what is essential Hinduism. He is at a higher level of understanding in these matters, more evolved as if.
My basic postulate is that a human being is no different than a tree. Giving the proper conditions, a child is born and lives according to the laws of nature that govern the trees the stars and the men! In due course it withers away and falls to the ground. Dust thou art and to dust returnth. Man has a mind. And that makes all the difference. Seat of all creativity and all the pranks and all the garbage (look at a nice write up enclosed).

As per my belief system, Buddha and  Guru Nanak (Dhai akshar prem ka padhe so pandit hoi), and Mahavir Swami  are all Hindus. So Hinduism encompasses all their belief systems as well in addition to the later day Gurus like Sai Baba, Meher Baba, and various other Gurus of various traditions. I recently read a nice book on Saints and Psycopaths (William L Hamilton). The last chapter is really good on "Etiquette of Enlightenment".

We must differentiate between God and 'gods'. God is which is beyond description and which gives brightness to the stars, (यस्य भासा सर्वं इदं विभाति ). By knowing whom you know everything else. I treat it as the first Shloka of Ishopanishada states,"Eesha vasyam idam sarvam" . This whole thing is Eesh, the laws that govern.
God is always mentioned like this as not this, not that, not even this etc.

Other gods are various, and praises are heaped upon them in all literature, out of fear and respect.

So my own belief is that we must tend the body, being in the body. That means physical exercises. Essential because body requires food and exercise. So Asanas and Pranayama. By performing these we tell the body that you are important to me and you are my part and parcel, and I take care of you. Otherwise body systems start misbehaving. Auto immune systems go haywire and cancers erupt.
Mind requires to be shown similar affection. Mind requires training. I think Vipassana of Buddha is a good way to do this, though Osho Rajanish says any of the 200 odd systems are all great to quieten the mind and cool it sufficiently for better efficiency. Awareness and Equanimity are the backbones of training the mind. Rick Hanson has a nice slide set on the net on this theme. Google for Rick Hanson and you have it.
I also believe that no system will work unless you believe in "Survey bhavantu sukhinah", and  "Aum sahanavavtu, sah nau bhunaktu.............Ma vidvishavahai" The last part Ma vidvishavahai is the operative part. No effort will be successful if one does not treat this as an axiom.
The final frontier is efficiency, Yogah karmasu Kaushalam, as Gita defines it and is achieved through Abhyasa and Vairagya, as defined by Patanjali and Gita both.
As I told you earlier, I am no judge of the huge amount of writing in Hinduism, one more abstract than the other. I have started on a certain path because I believe in the two teachers, Dr H R Nagendra who teaches at his Vivekanand  Yoga Academy in Bangalore (, and S N Goenka, the Vipassana teacher at Igatpuri ( I think the mysteries of the Universe will unfold as I continue on the path.
One does not have to believe in all at once. Like in Buddha Philosophy (if I remember rightly!), there are four stages1. in the stream guys, 2. Once returners 3. Once returners to higher worlds and 4. non returners.
I don't know and don't want to know whether this is true, there is no way to know also.
The important part is that I am a Hindu and have a belief system which may be singular, unique to me. Hinduism allows that.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Why Yoga

In my 2009 blog, I left a blank. Why Yoga? Frankly I did not understand it clearly myself.

What are we trying to achieve through Yoga. How soon am I going to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The halos around my head :-). Better health, more happiness. I have now "done" yoga for last 10 years, how much longer to get there.


Various explanations have been given of benefits in this world and the next. Not too convincing for a person of the 21st century. We want the here and now sort of benefit. We want a short term and a long term horizon of defined benefits. I want results. We hear it all the time. Measurable tangible results. Also we want to quantify our y-o-y targets. This is what the guys who treat yoga as their "property" don't like.

No no no, in Yoga there are no goals, the path is the goal. No expectations. No achievement will take place if you look forward to some achievement. I have just loosely quoted a famous French yogi "Mouni Sadhu", disciple of Raman Mahrishi. I am not saying they were wrong. Their kheer...payasam was bad. No, quite the contrary.

A child has to like the food first, for the food to nourish him. So to today's generation we have to show measurable quantifiable achievement levels at least for the initial path, till he learns the ultimate truth that "WALKING THE PATH IS THE GOAL".

I will require another post to say what is it that one gets "doing yoga".

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Patient and the Caretaker

The above is from Mundaka Upanishad. And means this

"Two birds living together, each the friend of the other, perch upon the same tree. Of these two, one eats (tastes is more appropriate) the sweet fruit of the tree, but the other simply looks on without eating."

The classical explanation points to the individual who acts and his inner conscience which observes.

I find it so relevant in the context of a Cancer Patient and the care giver. The sufferer tastes the suffering, and the caregiver observes. She can not fathom the suffering. The patient has a license to behave erratically, get angry, show displeasure.

The caregiver has to remain stoic not be perturbed. She can not show her tears, not allowed.

Why I single out Cancer is because Cancer is a long term affair, at some point  both the parties involved are worn out, broken and lose patience. Slowly the sufferer and the caregiver merge into one, the dualities disappear. The suffering and the sufferer meld into one!

The care giver is probably a bigger sufferer in the long run, specially if she lost the battle.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Delhi, New Delhi Railway Station NZM and BDTS

A foreigner has written thus on his blog:

"At 6 AM on a Saturday morning, I clambered into an autorickshaw for a freezing, exhaust-laden journey across pre-dawn Delhi, landing at New Delhi station half an hour before my train. Touts attached themselves to me like magnets before I even reached the building, but I stomped on: an electronic display clearly showed that Shatabdi (check) number 2018 (check) to Dehradun (check) was leaving from platform 2, so there I went, and indeed the train to Dehradun was waiting.

Here was the sign for coach C7... but under it was wagon S16, containing 2nd-class sleepers, not AC chair cars. I walked the insanely long train (there must've been a good 30 cars) from end to end twice, not finding a single matching wagon, and asking a guy in uniform only produced an embarrassed handwave of "in that direction".

Announcements blared non-stop, but they seemed to say something about the Dehradun Shatabdi leaving from platform 11... which, I realized with a sickening feeling, was half a kilometer and a huge scrum of people away. I barged my way through, opting for the unlabeled platform between "8/9" and "12", but the train there wasn't mine.

Only 5 minutes remained until departure and I crossed the platform: "Shatabdi", said the sign, but to where? How do you spell "Dehradun" in Devanagari? I speedwalked onward -- A/C chair car! Number 6! DEHRADUN! -- and clambered aboard to claim my seat. I just about had time to catch my breath before it lurched off."

Comic yes, till you are the passenger!

I got the same feeling at Gare du Nord trying to take a train to Dijon from Paris. How do you find the platform number on the ticket or info boards and how to reach platform 29 even if you are 20 minutes into the station. How do you read info boards in French or ask the info counter, where all conversation is in French.

How do we make the prime station called 'New Delhi' user friendly. NZM (Nizamuddin) and BDTS (Bandra in Mumbai) are prime examples of user unfriendly places. Important trains run between these two stations.

Imporatant(!) people never have a difficulty, because chauffer driven vehicles insulate them into an island unto themselves.

When shall we become comparable to Shanghai?
Where do two divergent lines meet, never.

Friday, February 19, 2010

More Orange hues

Let us look at these ones.

There was this orange bowl I had with beetroot soup and I drained the soup, and an interesting pattern emerged on the walls.

Here was a photo opportunity waiting. right in the kitchen.