Episode # 70 – “Friendship” vs. “Opportunism” – How do we differentiate? An important discussion!!!

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In the previous episode we had witnessed the commencement of yet another important discussion pertaining to “friendship”. As established yesterday, friendship is extremely important for our day-to-day life and life becomes miserable without friends! We’ve witnessed Vidura’s explanation that true friendship is a priceless gift. He illustrates it with a simple mathematical formula of a beam balance – Even if three important things such as a “Opportunity to obtain a Boon”, “Opportunity to be a parent” and an “Opportunity to be a great king” are placed on one side of the balance, these three cannot equalize the aspect of “True Friendship” that is in the other side of the balance. From this we can understand how important is friendship in our every day lives.

So how important is friendship in today’s scenario? How do we differentiate true friendship from opportunism? Let us try and answer these two important questions in today’s episode. We can see innumerable instances in the Ramayana and Mahaabhaarata wherein friendship is specially highlighted. In the Ramayana, we’ve seen the tales of Guha, Sugriva, Hanuman, Angadha, Jaambhavaan, etc. who were extremely devoted to Lord Rama and Mother Sita at all times. Due to their exceptional and selfless service, Lord Rama even went to the extent of accepting all of them as his own brothers apart from Lakshmana, Bharata and Shathrughna. In the Mahaabhaarata, all of us would know the tales of Karna and Duryodhana. Although Karna knew that Duryodhana was into the path of destruction, Karna decided to sacrifice his life too, just for the sake of his friendship with Duryodhana. Such is the importance given to friendship in our “Sanaathana Dharma”.

Now having said that, we would immediately ask the question, “How applicable is true friendship in this present day?” “In this world of opportunism and competition, can we still believe that true friendship exists?” Of course we cannot give a definitive answer for these questions but let us try to analyze the modern day scenario a little bit with some practical insights. As all of us might know and agree that today’s world is extremely competitive in the professional setup. Hectic competition is literally driving people crazy! For instance, if there are 10 job vacancies in an organization, there are minimum thousand people who are competing for the ten posts. Such is the level of competition we are talking about today! Given this scenario, we obviously would tend to see the rise in opportunism wherein people try to use others, cheat and ditch them in some way or the other so as to succeed. We might call this “selfishness” as a blanket terminology, but what else can be done to beat such heavy competition? Here is where the threat comes! Nowadays we hear people say, “Oh! In today’s world we find it extremely difficult to trust someone for something!” Unfortunately, this is the fact too! For instance, why do we see innumerable and stringent security measures for anything and everything? Even if it is an online banking or a simple money withdrawal from an ATM, etc. we see frauds happening! There are innumerable instances wherein people lose so much of money to bank frauds and cheating! Apart from these, there are people who hoard enormous amounts of unaccounted money by cheating the tax laws of the country!

Why are all these incidences happening? The main reason is that, nowadays we people have developed a sense of “insecurity” amongst ourselves. We tend to forecast our life for the future and if we get a gloomy picture, we tend to resort to “short-cuts” to earn money! In that way, we tend to go to any extent such as cheating, dumping people, using people in an unethical way so as to achieve our “monetary target”. This is the reason why our elders always advise us on choosing the right people to be in our close circles. When we meet people for the first time especially in our workplace, we need to be double careful to check their character, credibility, etc. and only then allow them get closer to us. Of course I’m not saying that we should refrain from talking to anybody at office. Of course we need to interact with our colleagues at work. All what I’m saying here is that, we need to make an understanding within ourselves if the other person is credible or not, before moving them into our close circles. This is extremely important because, if we end up blindly trusting people, we would have to sometimes feel sorry later on when things go out of hand! Thus in a nutshell, “trust” is important between people, but at the same time, “blind trust” should be avoided! We can see innumerable instances wherein people might just get together for purposes unwarranted and get away when there is a potential problem.

Thus from today’s discussion the message for all of us is that, friendship is extremely important in our everyday lives, but we need the right companions for a fruitful and a sustainable friendship. For that, we need to analyze the other person, judge them and then take a step forward. We shall ponder on this important point for today and wait for the next episode for the next important discussion! Stay tuned! 🙂

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Episode # 69 – “A friend in need is a friend indeed” – Vidura’s “Mathematical” explanation of “Friendship”!!!

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In the previous episode we had witnessed an extremely important activity that we should definitely avoid in our day-to-day life – Going behind “extra-marital” relationships. We had a lengthy discussion during yesterday’s episode as to what are these extra-marital relationships, how do they blossom, why do people in the present day get into such relationships, bad consequences of such relationships and finally how to overcome such things by focusing our mind on the “Dharma” and practicality and engaging our minds into constructive and useful activities like service to the needy, satsangs, etc. Moreover, spending quality time with our spouse is extremely important, despite having a busy work schedule. There should never be a compromise on this factor. Thus from the previous sloka we should realize that going behind one’s property, money, wife, etc. are heinous sins and crimes. Just like how poison enters into our body when a snake bites us, a similar poison called “Sin” enters inside us when we commit such crimes. Ultimately just like the snake poison kills us eventually, the poison called “Sin” also kills us once and for all.

However, there is one more interesting argument here – Even though we emphasize on these kinds of advice repeatedly again and again, ironically our minds would tend to go into those traps! This is because at that point in time we fail to realize that the poison is entering into our body. If a snake bites us, we immediately feel the immense pain because of the poison that enters in to the physical body straightaway. But, sins like these never make us feel the pain because our physical body doesn’t experience it. It is only our “Aatman” or “Soul” that becomes heavily injured and only over a period of time we would realize it. But by that time, things become too late and slip out of our hands.

In Sanskrit there is a beautiful explanation to this concept using two important terms – “Drishtam” and “Adrishtam”. “Drishtam” is what we see and experience every day – the pain that our physical body experiences directly and in most cases immediately as well. Thus in short, “Drishtam” is nothing but our physical body. We are able to see our human body every day. “Adrishtam” is nothing but our “Aathman” or “Soul”. Here, something happens internally and invisibly, yet has tremendous affect on us. Here we should realize that we couldn’t spend our entire life only via the “Drishtam”. Only if we develop the knowledge of the “Adrishtam” will we be able to make significant spiritual progress in our life. Thus as we mature spiritually, we should learn to eliminate the desires pertaining to the physical body and “Drishtam” and instead develop the desire to learn and experience the unknown and the unseen “Adrishtam” or the “Aathman”.

Lord Krishna explains in a similar manner in the Bhagawad Gita, three doorsteps that would push us into the extremely harmful “Naraka” or “Hell”. What are they?

“Trividam naraksyedham dvaaram naashanam aathmanaha!

Kaamaha krodhaha tathaa lobhaha tasmaath etathrayam tyajeth!!”

Here Bhagawan explains that “Kaama” (Desire), “Krodha” (Anger) and “Lobha” (Greed) are those three doorsteps that we should never dare to keep our feet on as these three are the doorsteps to hell!

Now moving on further, Vidura explains a beautiful mathematical formula – In a beam balance, if we keep three items in one side and try to balance them with one item on the other, what would be that one item that would be able to balance those three that are in the other side?

“Varahpradhaanam raajyancha puthra janmatha bhaaratha!”

Looks like Vidura is an excellent Mathematician!! 🙂 If he had written a Mathematics exam perhaps he would have scored full marks in it!! Now which are those three items that he’s talking about? The first one is “Obtaining a boon or a wish”. The second one is being “Blessed with a son or daughter” and the third one is “Opportunity to be the ruler of a kingdom”. If we keep all these three things in a balance on one side, what is that one thing that can balance them out from the other side? It is nothing but that one person who is striving to protect his friends or family from the clutches of an enemy.

Thus Vidura talks about “Friendship” in this sloka. We have a proverb in the modern day – “A friend in need is a friend indeed!” Now who is a real and a true friend? A true friend is that person who not only shares lighter moments, jokes and happy things with us, but also a person who tries meticulously to pull us out of danger at a critical juncture in our life. Such a person is considered to be a true friend. This is exactly what Vidura is saying here – A true friend is a priceless gift that we can get in our lives!

So for today let us understand and appreciate the importance of “Friendship” and acknowledge and recognize our friends’ valuable contributions for the betterment of our lives. There are a few important aspects that need to be discussed with respect to friendship in the current day scenario. We shall take this discussion forward in tomorrow’s episode! Stay tuned! 🙂

Episode # 68 – Why are “Extra-Marital” relationships dangerous for one’s life? Vidura explains!!!

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In the previous episode we had commenced an important discussion on the three important activities that would cause irreparable damage to one’s reputation and also pave the way for a steep downfall in life. The three activities are nothing but, going behind another person’s wealth, getting attracted to another person’s wife and deserting those people who are our well-wishers. Vidura had beautifully explained it in a nutshell, however we are trying to describe it in detail for the better understanding of all of us. Yesterday we had discussed two out of the three activities, wherein we concluded that going behind another person’s wealth and deserting our parents are two most heinous crimes as per our “Sanaathana Dharma”. We should strive in our lives not to fall into these two traps at any point of time.

Today we can take the discussion forward to describe the third important activity that we should never be part of. Before the discussion, we can have a look at the sloka once again for better clarity in explanation:

“Haranam cha parasvaanaam para dhaaraabhi marshanam!

Suhrudascha parithyaagaha thrio doshaaha kshyaavahaaha!!”

Now we shall straightaway go into the third evil activity that Vidura explains in this sloka – Going behind another person’s wife is one of the most heinous crimes in the society! How detrimental is this activity? We’ve seen during our Ramayana project – What was the reason of the mighty Ravana’s downfall? The main reason was his attraction towards another person’s wife. It was only because of Ravana’s attraction towards Lord Rama’s wife Mother Sita, he had to meet a ghastly end to his luxurious life! Even in the “Mahaabhaarata” story we can see the main reason for Duryodhana’s downfall is because he was instrumental in the public insulting of Draupathi, the wife of Pandavas. Thus from these instances that we come across in our great epics, we can understand that going behind another person’s wife and getting attracted to her is like committing a suicide!

How applicable is this narrative in today’s world? Every day we come across something called “Extra-marital relationships” that happen. What is this “Extra-Marital relationship” and how does it occur? An “Extra-Marital” relationship occurs between a man and a woman with a third person outside their marriage. In the modern day, life has become extremely stressful with innumerable challenges that we face day after day – Both at home as well as at work. Also in today’s scenario, women are on equal par with men in terms of professional responsibilities at the work place. Thus, the stress levels run extremely high many a times. Also today, we talk about “Work-life balance” in Management studies wherein it has become common in today’s life that a husband and a wife never even see each other during the workdays due to their busy work schedules! Hence over a period of time, because of the lack of communication and the time that is mutually spent with each other, the relationship tends to disintegrate slowly. The understanding between couples starts to diminish. Ultimately both of them start feeling lonely and wanting for love and support, both physically and emotionally. It is at this time when they come across a third person who seems to be “supportive” and “understanding” of their problems and situation, a relationship starts blossoming slowly with that third person outside marriage. Over a period of time, this relationship blossoms and blooms up and thus enters into physical and emotional relationships as well. This is of course an illicit relationship and since this relationship is outside of the marriage between the couple, we call it as “Extra-Marital” relationship.

Now the question comes, how is this “Extra-marital” relationship detrimental to one’s life? All of us know that extra-marital relationships are unwarranted and secretive in nature and if this relationship is busted, the trust between the married couple declines sharply! For instance, if the husband involves himself with an extra-marital relationship with another woman at office and if his wife comes to know about it, what would be her mindset? How pained would she feel? Will the amount of trust and understanding between the husband and the wife be the same as before? This is exactly what happens today and these extra-marital relationships lead to misunderstandings, quarrels, physical and verbal abuses, etc. and ultimately leads to a separation or divorce. Thus because of all these consequences, life becomes extremely miserable and coupled with that, one’s reputation in the society goes for a toss as well! This is what Vidura explains here as well – If one starts getting attracted towards a woman outside of his marriage, it is the beginning of his downfall!

Now how do we overcome this societal problem? How do we ensure that we do not go into such things? The best way is to allocate specific time frames to spend with our wife and children, apart from our work schedules. This time can be devoted for talking with each other openly, share problems, issues with each other and try to mutually find solutions. We had spoken at length about “transparency” between the husband and wife in one of our previous episodes. How will the transparency develop? It would develop only when the communication between the two people are intact and clear without any bluffing. Moreover, to get over all such unwanted attractions, engaging ourselves with constructive activities like “Satsangs”, going to a temple, listening to a pleasing music concert, rendering service to temples, Mutts, etc. developing associations with great people are all some possible solutions. Once our mind is occupied with good thoughts, automatically our activities would be streamlined and eventually we would be able to eliminate all the negative thoughts from us! Moreover, all these good activities are to be undertaken by the husband and the wife together and it is only then the relationship would blossom. Here, we should also realize that relationship between a husband and a wife should not only be towards satisfying physical pleasures and needs. If this is the only motive, then the relationship would not sustain. However, only if the relationship opens up into new dimensions like the above mentioned, will it have an ever-lasting positive impact in our lives!

So for today let us ponder about this important point and reflect within ourselves. Let us realize the bad consequences that would potentially arise because of this unwanted activity and let us make a conscious effort to prevent such detrimental activities in our lives! We shall wait till the next episode to witness the next explanation of Vidura. Stay tuned! 🙂

Episode # 67 – Taking care of our parents during old age – How important is this today???

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In the previous episode we had witnessed yet another important aspect explained by Vidura wherein he says that wealth would not belong with three categories of people in unison – A wife, a servant and a child. Even if the wealth outwardly seems to belong to any of these people, it would automatically be considered to be owned by the wife’s husband or the boss of the servant or the father of the child. Adding more to this discussion, we saw the significance that our “Sanaathana Dharma” gives for women and how they are special in the structure of a family too. Also we discussed yet another important point on the transparency between the husband and wife at home, especially with regards to money matters. Each of them should know how much money is spent for what purpose and such decisions are to be taken collectively and not individually.

Now moving on to the next discussion, Vidura explains the next “trio” wherein he says that the following three aspects in life are extremely harmful activities and that would pull us down in our lives miserably! What are those three activities?

“Haranam cha parasvaanaam para dhaaraabhi marshanam!

Suhrudascha parithyaagaha thrio doshaaha kshyaavahaaha!!”

Here Vidura explains that if we happen to involve ourselves in the following three activities, our lives would definitely be ruined! Those activities are, grabbing the wealth or property of others, going behind another person’s wife and leaving behind those people who are our well wishers. This same advice is also given by Bhishmachaarya in a different place in the Mahaabhaarata wherein he says that if we happen to come across money or any kind of wealth of others, it should remind that this is nothing but a fateful poison and should be scared and run away from it. Similarly if we see another person’s wife in front of us, we should immediately think “Oh! Why is this “Dharma-Devata” trying to examine our resistance in this way?” Thinking thus, we should develop a fear within us and run away from that spot. Similarly if we have well-wishers with us who are working for our welfare round the clock, we should make sure that we should never leave them helplessly at any point in time.

How applicable is this “trio” to our everyday lives? Of course for the first point, almost all of us would agree – Desiring for others’ property (including money, land, house, etc.) itself is a sin! Yet, how many of us keep desiring it every passing day? For instance if there are three brothers in a family and their aged parents are trying to divide their property amongst the three children, how many times have we seen brothers fighting with each other over “equal share” of property? Because of such fights, how many families and relationships get broken once and for all? The worst case is that, because of the conflict, children are even going to the extent of deserting their aged parents! Why is all this happening today? It’s only because of the ego between brothers and sisters that the properties of their parents are not split equally and legitimately!

This also explains the third point that we should never leave behind our well-wishers at any circumstance! Now who can be a better well wisher than our own parents who have brought us to this world, grew us up, nourished us with the best of the best food that is available, educated us, supported us to achieve the level that we’ve achieved today? Hence all of us should realize that we should never desert our parents at any instance because of any issue pertaining to them. Nowadays people talk about sending their aged parents to “old-age homes” because they have become a burden to them to handle! At this point I’m too pained to also share one such instance that I recently came across in a newspaper – A son deserting his 89-year-old father near a famous temple in Chennai just like that! He comes in a car, drops his father in front of the temple and assures him that he would park the car and join him! However, he leaves the place just like that, by deserting this poor father, who still waits with hope that his son would come to him! How pathetic is this! Where are we heading towards as a society? Is it the way we treat our parents who have strived all their lives to bring us up? Shouldn’t we step up as a society to curb this menace?

Of course, few of us would have a concern here – Money is important for our survival and as a consequence, it is hard to balance between our job and taking care of parents. Yes, I agree. Our job and money are extremely important for our day-to-day survival. But again, my question here is that, is money more important than our parents? Of course I’m not saying that we should sacrifice our jobs to come and look after our parents. All I’m saying is that, we need to find a balance between both, especially at a stage when parents are aged and become physically immobile. It is at this time that we should show our gratitude towards them by taking care of them like our own children. What better service can we do to our parents apart from this?

Hence the message from today’s episode is that, we need to develop that attitude of balancing between money and relationships – Especially when it comes to our parents, we need to keep in mind that it is our bound duty as sons and daughters to take care of them specially when they are old and immobile. So for today, let us ponder this important point and realize the significance of our parents’ contributions to our well-being today! Let us pay our tributes to our parents by serving them in the best possible way. We still have one important aspect that we need to discuss with respect to this sloka itself – Going behind others’ wives! How dangerous is this aspect in our lives? How can this be detrimental to us? Let us wait till the next episode to find out! Stay tuned! 🙂

Episode # 66 – Why is “transparency” important between a husband and wife? Vidura explains!!!

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In the previous episode we had witnessed a very important discussion on three categories of people in this world, as explained by Vidura to King Dhirdiraashtra – “Adhama-Purusha”, “Madhyama-Purusha” and “Utthama-Purusha”. People falling under the category of “Adhama-Purusha” are considered to be selfish and only focus on fulfilling their desires and needs even at the expense of inconvenience caused to others! Those falling under the category of “Madhyama-Purusha” are people who try to live and also let others live. In other words, these people try to satisfy their own needs and desires, but also try and help others to satisfy theirs as well. Now when we talk of the third and the most important category of “Utthama-Purusha” these are the people who care only for the welfare of others and in the process, they even go to the extent of sacrificing their own personal needs, wants and desires. Such people are highly regarded by the world with lot of respect and reverence. Thus the message from the previous episode for all of us was that, we should make a conscious effort to transcend from the category of “Adhama-Purusha” to “Madhyama-Purusha” to “Utthama-Purusha”. This would give us peace of mind along with respect in our society.

Now moving on further, Vidura is going to explain the next three important attributes in the coming sloka. It is to be remembered by the readers that Vidura is now trying to pack three attributes in each sloka. Here the explanation is about the three categories of people who would not be able to possess any wealth.

“Thriyayeva adhanaa raajan bhaaryaa daasastathaa suthaha!”

Now what are those three categories of people not possessing any wealth (“Adhana”)??? “Bhaarya” (Wife), “Daasaha” (Servant) and “Suthaha” (Son). Thus, these three categories of people do not possess any wealth. What if in case they have some wealth in their hands?

“Yath the samadhi gacchanthi tasya te tasya tath dhanam!!

Thus Vidura continues to say that even if these three categories of people possess any sort of wealth with them, ultimately it would reach the husband (if it’s the case of wife), the boss (if it’s the case of the servant) or the father (if it’s the case of the son).

For a moment when we look at this sloka, we would think that this is not applicable to today’s scenario. However even today, if we look into the laws of Taxation, while calculating the income tax of a family, all the income related to the wife and son/daughter would be linked with that of the husband’s. Thus we can see here too that even if the wife or children have some property or income against their names, it would ultimately be calculated under that of the father or husband. Thus if we look into this particular context, whatever Vidura has explained seems quite true. This is because, the crux of what Vidura has said was that, wealth would not be part and parcel of a wife, servant or children and even if that is the case, it would automatically go into the kitty of the father or husband. This is exactly what our Income Tax rules say today as well!

Thus we need to understand the fact that once a marriage happens between the husband and the wife, the property that is with both of them individually is considered to be common for both. There should be no differentiation between the property of the husband and that of the wife. Our “Sanaathana Dharma” also emphasizes this fact in a beautiful way. We can see how much of importance is given to women in our “Dharma”. Even if we’ve to do some auspicious offerings to Bhagawan on account of some functions like “Tharpana”, “Shraadha”, etc. there are some special privileges given to the women during these processes. When the husband sits in front of the “Agni” (Lord of Fire) to submit the offerings, the wife should hold a pack of “Dharba” (Grass) by touching it on the husband’s shoulder. This means to say that the husband is doing all the offerings only with the permission of his wife. Even when there are some “Dhaana” (Donation) to be given by the husband as part of the ritual, the wife should sprinkle some water with the “Dharba” grass on the items that are to be donated, and only then the “Dhaana” has to be done by the husband. This also means that the husband offers “Dhaana” only with the permission and the consent of his wife. Such is the importance given to the unity between the husband and wife in our “Dharma-Shaastra” or “Sanaathana-Dharma”.

Thus the message from today’s episode is that, property between a husband and a wife is common to both of them, the property belonging to the wife and children would jointly be accounted under the husband’s name only and most importantly, whatever expenses that need to be done as a family should be done only with the consent of the wife.

Why are we emphasizing this point with lot of stress? It is because in the modern day, we see innumerable instances wherein the husband makes some expenses here and there without the knowledge of his wife. Similarly the wife also makes some expenses without the knowledge of the husband. Ultimately what happens at the end of the day is that, there is no transparency between the husband and wife as to who is spending what! Thus ultimately leads to quarrels, fights and unwanted verbal arguments with ego clashes between the two of them! In the present day, we see innumerable such instances in many homes that ultimately lead to divorces and separation! This is what I’m repeatedly stressing – Once a marriage is done, there is no question of separation of any sorts! Whatever may be the situation, we need to face and handle it amicably. How does that happen? The main requirement is “transparency” between both of them. Thus the relationship between the husband and wife should be like an “open book” wherein all kinds of information – both good and bad are transparently shared between both of them at any point of time. This would give immense happiness and peace of mind and eventually the mutual trust between the two people would grow and prosper.

Thus for today let us introspect the transparency aspect between the husband and wife at home and let us check if we fall into the right track. If not, let us take a step forward to improve the transparency with our spouse and make life a happy journey! We shall wait till the next episode to find out the next set of three attributes that Vidura explains. Stay tuned! 🙂

Episode # 65 – Who is an “Utthama-Purusha”??? Vidura’s beautiful explanation!!!

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In the previous episode we had witnessed yet another important explanation of Vidura wherein he says that those people who are involved with the military and armed forces and sacrifice their lives for the sake of the country are hailed extremely high in the society. Similarly, self-realized “Spiritual Gurus” or “Mahatmas” are also highly respected in the world due to the expert guidance they offer for people like us to attain “Moksha” or Salvation. These two categories of people are even capable of transcending beyond the “Soorya Mandala” due to their extreme selfless nature.

Now moving on, from now onwards, Vidura is going to explain three things together in each of the following slokas. Till now we’ve seen slokas explaining one and two important attribute in each of them. Now this is going to be interesting to see how has Vidura coined and crafted his speech so carefully and beautifully.

“Triyoo nyaayaa manushyaanaam shrooyante bharata rishabha!

Kaneeyaam madhyamasreshtaha ithi vedavito vithuhu!!”

In the first sloka of this “tri-series”, Vidura is explaining the first three important points – He describes three categories of people who are being talked about a lot and who we see every day in our lives too! Who are they? Vidura categorizes them as “Adhama”, “Madhyama” and Utthama. Who are these people? “Adhama” means those people who are downtrodden, “Madhyama” means those people who fall into the middle category and “Utthama” means those people who form the highest level.

We might immediately ask a question here – On what basis do we form these three categories of people? Is it based on caste or creed or race, etc.? The answer is neither of the above! This classification of Vidura is entirely based on the methodologies people undertake to solve a problem or to handle an issue in hand. If I’ve to complete a task in hand, I might employ three types of approaches to finish it – A cheap approach, a middle-of-the-road approach and the highest category of approach.

Now with this initial explanation we shall have a closer look at the three categories of people. Now who is an “Adhama”? An “Adhama” is that person who is extremely selfish in nature – To fulfill his expectations and tasks, he can go to any extent of destroying others completely! He can even go to an extent of killing others to fulfil his needs and complete his mission. We might even put these people under the category of “anti-social elements” who are a menace to our society. Various businessmen, politicians, directors of major companies, etc. whose only agenda is to cheat others and make money would fall under this category in today’s world!

Now who is a “Madhayama”? As explained before, a person falling under this category would take a “middle-of-the-road” approach. He lives and lets others live as well! In this “Kali Yuga” this is one of the best ways to lead our lives – We shall live and we shall also let others live their lives to the fullest. Thus Vidura is again giving a punch to King Dhirdiraashtra to indicate the mistake that he is doing here – He is currently an “Adhama-Purusha” wherein, he is intending to snatch away everything from the Paandavas and give all the wealth to his sons. Thus he is intending to destroy the livelihood of the Paandavas completely. Thus by explaining who is a “Madhyama-Purusha”, Vidura advises King Dhirdiraashtra to consider equal distribution of wealth and kingdom to both the camps so that both his sons and the Paandavas can live in peace.

There is now the third category of people Vidura talks about next – Those who are “Utthama-Purushas”. Now who is this “Utthama-Purusha”? A person falling under this category cares only on the welfare of others and cares a damn for him or herself! This is the highest level of “Selflessness” and these people form the highest category of “Utthama-Purusha”. Thus Vidura explains the important message here to King Dhirdiraashtra that he should slowly transcend himself from the state of being an “Adhama-Purusha” to “Madhyama-Purusha” to that of the “Utthama’Purusha and it is only then he would attain the peace of mind to get a good and a sound sleep. It is to be remembered by all our readers that the entire “Vidura Neeti” commenced with the note that King Dhirdiraashtra was suffering from insomnia or lack of proper sleep. Vidura is advising him by explaining the important aspects of “Dharma” so that he could mend his ways and thereby attain good sleep.

It is not important for us to see if King Dhirdiraashtra followed Vidura’s important advice, however we can follow them and can lead a peaceful life isn’t it? Let us think about these three categories of people today and introspect as to which of these categories do we fall into! If we’re falling under the “Utthama-Purusha” category, then all is well! 🙂 Whereas if we happen to fall into the other two categories, let us make a conscious effort from today to strive and transcend our levels upwards slowly! We shall wait till the next episode to find out more! 🙂

Episode 64 – Why are army personnel & realised “Spiritual Gurus” highly respected? Vidura’s important explanation!!!

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In the previous episode we had witnessed yet another important aspect as explained by Vidura – A wealthy person meets his downfall if he is a miser and is not ready to spend even a single penny for constructive purposes in life and a poor and a downtrodden person meets his downfall if he is unable to tolerate his current situation and desires for more! We witnessed an interesting discussion yesterday as to how this is applicable to the modern day scenario as well. We keep seeing practical instances too every passing day as to how successful people fall down the ladder so quickly because of their excessive and unwanted greed and desire over something.

Now moving on further, Vidura explains the next set of people who are extremely respected by the world. Who are they?

“Dvaavimao purushavyaagra soorya mandala bhedhinau!

Parivraat yoga youktashya rane cha abhimukho hataha!!”

Here, just like the two categories of people explained in the previous episode, Vidura explains two more categories of people who would be even more highly regarded and at the end of their worldly life, reach the “Surya Mandala” (Path of the Sun God). Who are those two people?

Parivraat yoga youktashya” – A Sanyasin who is an expert in the practice of intense “Yoga” and “Vairaagya” (Persistence to follow immense spiritual practices) and “Dhyaana” (Complete focus on Meditation). Rane cha abhimukho hataha”A person who is a “Kshatriya”, fights and gives his life in the process of defending his country or kingdom. These two people, Vidura says, command extremely high respect in the world and can easily transcend even way beyond the “Soorya-Mandala”.

This can be witnessed even in the modern day – Everywhere in the world, army men who go to fight the enemy and who lose their lives in the process are highly revered and respected! In India we can see many instances wherein those army personnel who fight and lay down their lives are not considered to be “dead”. There is a special term for addressing such kind of an unforeseen death – We say that the army men are “martyred”! This term is given only for those people who selflessly fight for the cause of the country and it’s people and lay their lives for the same! For instance, during the infamous terrorist attacks that was carried out in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008 (Commonly referred to as the “26/11” incident), there was a senior police officer by name Major “Unnikrishnan” who had been martyred by the terrorists. He had instantly and single-handedly taken it upon himself to fight and gun down those terrorists who were slated to attack Mumbai, but unfortunately we had to lose him during the process.

Even today, we have memorials constructed in remembrance of such great people who have sacrificed their lives for the country. This shows how much the nation respects these people and their selfless services. Apart from those people who are martyred, the ones who selflessly safeguard and protect our national territorial borders round the clock, deserve special respect! They sacrifice their family life, social life, personal desires, etc. for our country and it is our bound duty to respect such great people, without whom, our nation would become vulnerable for any kind of invasion from any side! Hence from this episode, one of the important messages is that, we should respect our army personnel and regard them highly for the amount of sacrifice they do for our country’s well being and prosperity.

The other category of people who are highly revered and respected are saints who meticulously practice “Yoga”, “Dhyaana” by having extremely high “Vairaagya” or perseverance. Especially in this “Kali Yuga”, given innumerable challenges from different dimensions, it is extremely difficult for anybody to have such a “Vairaagya” to be a full-fledged saint. However there are few exceptional people in the likes of Kanchi Mahaa Swaamigal (Shri Chandrasekhara Swaamigal), Shirdi Sai Baba, Puttaparthi Sai Baba, Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (AMMA), Bhagawan Shri Ramana Maharishi, etc. who are revered and respected Spiritual Gurus from India in the modern days. We can see every passing day, millions of devotees thronging to have a glimpse of these spiritual masters. It is indeed a blessing that we are having an opportunity to live in the presence of these Spiritual Gurus and in their vicinity. There is going to be an special episode soon wherein I’m going to discuss an important aspect as to why all these Spiritual Gurus are born only in India and not anywhere else in this world. At that time, I shall give a much more detailed explanation about the significance of these Spiritual Gurus and why is it important for all of us to follow the words of a Guru meticulously in our day-to-day lives.

Hence for today, we shall ponder about these two important categories of people – An army personnel and a revered Spiritual Guru who has devoted his/her life for “Tapas” and penance. We shall wait till the next episode to witness the next explanation of Vidura. Stay tuned! 🙂

Episode # 63 – “Excessive greed leads to downfall!” – Vidura’s beautiful & thought-provoking explanation!!!

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In the previous episode we had witnessed yet another important menace that India faces – Undeserving people getting into jobs and academic institutions at the cost of deserving candidates! We looked at this in a bit of detail while linking this with what Vidura had explained. If this situation continues, it would lead to a big disaster! Now moving on to the next context, Vidura explains the following:

“Dvaavam basi niveshtavyau gale bhadvaa dhridaam shilaam!

Dhanavantham adhaathaaram dharidrancha atapasvinam!!” 

Here, Vidura explains two important attitudes that are responsible for the deterioration of a person in his/her life! In other words, these following two attitudes are extremely dangerous and eventually they would be responsible for his/her downfall. What are they? Vidura says “Dhanavantham adhaathaaram”, which means that a wealthy person meets his downfall if he is a miser and is not ready to spend even a single penny for constructive purposes in life. He continues further, “Dharidrancha atapasvinam”, which means that a poor and a downtrodden person meets his downfall if he is unable to tolerate his current situation and desires for more!

How relevant are these in today’s context! We shall see case by case. The first case is pretty straightforward and we’ve spoken about it couple of times previously as well – A wealthy person should be ready to spend his wealth on a constructive purpose that would benefit people around him and the society, rather than being a miser! Here we should understand that there are two ways in which wealth can be spent – One is for satisfying our own personal desires and the other is for satisfying the needs of others! Unfortunately in today’s world, we are more interested in spending our money for the first purpose – To satisfy our own personal desires! Of course I’m not saying we shouldn’t do that! Satisfying our desires and needs are primary. But what is the limit for it? Our desires would always be boundary-less! If we’re going to satisfy only our own desires, what is in store for others? When are we going to turn our heads and look at others who are suffering? Many a times, for this purpose, we turn into extreme misers and we are so reluctant to spend our wealth for those who are in dire need! Thus the important message that Vidura is trying to convey through this sloka is that, we should be ready to extend our help to the society by coming forward to donate money for some social service-related activities! These activities can be of any kind – For instance, donating money for educating poor children, nourishing poor children with food, maintaining our ancient temples that are in dire need of money, etc. Hence as ardent followers of “Sanaathana Dharma” we need to make it a point that we allocate a certain portion of our earnings for these kinds of societal activities that would benefit many people in many ways!

Now moving on to the next attitude – if a person is poor, he/she needs to accept this fact and move on, rather than constantly desiring and dreaming to earn money out of the box through some short-cut means! I’ve already spoken about this in one of our previous episodes that there can never be a short cut for sustainable growth! If we’re poor and devoid of big wealth in our lives, we should have the tolerance to accept the suffering. Rather, if people aren’t able to accept the fact that they are none other than dumb heads and unfit to earn big money, they resort to earning big money through ways that are not warranted by the society – Like stealing others’ money, pickpocketing, getting money through bribes, cheating others, etc. The list goes on! Of course this is well-known to all of us, but the point to be emphasized here is that, at that particular moment of getting into unethical means of earning money it would be exciting and happy! This excitement would lure us into more of stealing and bribing! However, if somebody catches us in the act red-handed, that would be the end of our life! We need to be answerable to the police, courts, etc. and our respect in the society goes for a complete toss! This is not only applicable for the poor people, but also for others as well – How many rich people who adorn huge corporate roles getting into trouble because of their greed towards money? There can be innumerable examples and we would need atleast 10 episodes if I need to explain each one of them! Hence, the point here is that, we should develop the attitude of “satisfaction” with what we have, rather than going behind money with greed!

So for today, let us ponder upon this important point and reflect upon ourselves to make sure that we are on the right track! This is a big realty check here for all of us! Greed can take over us at any instance of time! We need to be extremely careful not to get carried away by the greed! This is exactly what Vidura is trying to stress repeatedly sloka after sloka and we should understand the significance of it. We shall wait for the next episode to look into Vidura’s next important explanation! Stay tuned! 🙂

Episode # 62 – Why do intelligent people flee away from India today? An important discussion!!!

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In the previous episode we had witnessed the importance of respecting food (“Annam”). It is a primary virtue that all of us need to develop with regards to food that we should never insult or waste it at any cost. If such a situation arises, we should immediately think of those thousands of poor people across the world suffering without getting even one meal per day! Compared to them, Bhagawan has given us a wonderful birth in a wonderful place where there is no paucity of food! Indeed we need to thank Bhagawan daily in our prayers for this one reason!

Now moving on further, Vidura explains the next important point. Here he is going to explain two important characteristics of “Arrogance”. What are they?

“Nyaayagathasya dravyasya bhoddhavyo dvaavathikkramau!

Apaathre prathipatthischa paathrecha apprathipaadhanam!!”

 Here Vidura explains two important things. “Apaathre prathipatthischa” means, if a person hands over something to another person who is completely ignorant about it or not worth it, is a sign of arrogance. The second thing is the contrary point to the first one – “Paathrecha apprathipaadhanam” means, if a person does not give something to another person who is really worth of getting it, is also a sign of arrogance. This might be a little tough to understand in the first go, however I shall explain it in detail with its application in the modern day context.

If for instance we consider an organizational setup, as an important role of the “Human Resources” manager, we say that he/she should ensure that the right person is given the right job! That is, if a job or a position in an organization is to be handed over to a person, we have customized “Recruitment” and “Selection” procedures for it like aptitude tests, group discussions, personal interviews, etc. Sometimes we might see that there might be multiple rounds of interviews for selecting a person for a job that involves greater responsibility. Why do we conduct all this before selecting a person for a job? The simple reason is that, we should always ensure that the job should be handed over to that person who is well qualified for doing that role and taking up that responsibility. This applies even to students – Only those who are able to crack the entrance exams for various engineering and medical courses should be given the admission.

But unfortunately what is happening in today’s world? Does the deserved person get the job or a seat in a higher educational institution in the modern day? Many a times we see something unethical happening in this regard. In India, we have something called “Quota” system – Wherein, some people, irrespective of whether they are qualified for the job or not, scrapes through into the academic institution or an organization, just because they are from this “caste” or “Quota”. Is this the right approach towards sustainable growth? Apart from this, many a times we see during the admission seasons that there would be some people who had scored extremely less marks and still get into a medical college because of whatsoever reasons understood by everybody! If this is the case, what about those hard working students, who have given their blood and sweat to prepare for the exams, scoring high marks, yet lose out on getting into a reputed educational institution? Isn’t it a gross injustice for those who had dedicated their lives, sacrificed their personal enjoyments and who have worked meticulously? This is where our society is pegged into and year on year we struggle to get over this! This is exactly what Vidura is explaining here too – It is sheer arrogance to hand over a responsibility to a person who is a completely undeserving candidate, and at the same time, it is again sheer arrogance to deny a person a responsibility for which he is a well deserving candidate!

To extend this point a bit more to the Indian context, why do we think there is a sizeable student and a working population of Indians moving to developed countries like the United States of America (USA), Canada, United Kingdom (UK), Germany, France, Australia, Singapore, etc.? It is because of this very reason – The sheer arrogance of one section of the Indian population, unable to accept the fact that they are nothing but dumb heads, trying to dominate over others and deny opportunities to deserving candidates. Over a period of time, these deserving candidates get frustrated and thus flee away from India to other countries, which welcome them with a red carpet, by respecting their talent! Thus, it is sad to say that the best brains of the country have gone on exodus because of the sheer arrogance of few dumb heads in India.

As a result, those people adorning high positions today in various government/non-government institutions in India are unfortunately those who don’t even deserve all that! If this is the case, how can we talk of development? Won’t a company go to shambles if such people run the show? For example, if undeserving candidates join a medical college as budding doctors, imagine the quality of medical practitioners we would be generating as a country! Would we be able to go to a hospital in India with trust on a doctor anymore, given the fact that those who have no basic knowledge on medicine and surgery are warming the chairs of doctors? This is the main reason why we lack quality doctors in India today and many are forced to go abroad for complex medical treatments! This same philosophy applies to each and every walk of professional life in India today! Hence, it is time for us to think about it collectively as a society. Here, the readers should be very clear that I’m not targeting any particular segment of people to emphasize this point. I’m talking on behalf of an entire “equal” society.

Thus the point here is very simple – As a country, we should ensure that the deserving candidates get their deserving jobs/seats in companies and academic institutions, irrespective of who and what they are! Only if this comes true in India, will we see real development taking place. For today, let us ponder about this important point and we shall wait till the next episode to find out more! Stay tuned! 🙂

Episode # 61 – NEVER insult and waste Food (“Annam”) – An “emotional” request to the world!!!

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In the previous episode we had witnessed Vidura’s explanation on two important categories of people whom the world appreciates and regards very high – A person who is extremely rich and wealthy, yet is patient and down-to-earth and a person who is extremely poor yet, focuses on donating even that small amount of wealth he has to the needy! This second characteristic is of prime importance in today’s world. In Sanskrit we call this characteristic as “Aathithyam” and in Tamil it is called “Virundombal”. What does this mean? Let us have a deeper insight of this noble characteristic before we move further to the next sloka.

If we’ve to talk a little more on “Aathithyam”, in olden day culture, people used to donate the leftover of the consumed food to people who wander on the streets. We might easily call and brand them as “beggars”, but in those days there were saints who make their livelihood only by wandering on the road and going house after house by asking “Bhiksha”. In fact, according to the “Sanaathana Dharma”, asking for “Bhiksha” is considered to be extremely respectful and sacred. However in the modern day, things have changed and we’ve started to wrongly project this term called “Bhiksha” because of various reasons – In today’s scenario we live in multi-storied skyscrapers in cities. In that case we don’t even realize who is going on the road and who is coming in need of food, etc. Hence there is no chance that we would be able to give “Bhiksha” to those who wander on the road in search of food. Of course, there are also not many people today in cities who knock our doors seeking “Bhiksha”. Even if someone comes, we’re not even aware of his or her arrivals! Hence at this point I’m not going to go deep into this because there is going to be a dedicated episode on this important topic called “Bhiksha” very soon.

Now the point of discussion is different here – We’re talking about the significance of “Aathithyam” or “Virundombal”. Atleast, if someone comes to our place with some need, we should be ready to help him or her with whatever best we can. Especially, if the need of that person is “food”, we should never deny it! This world should never be devoid of food (“Annam”). The Upanishads explain this in a beautiful way:

“Annam bahu kurveetha!! annanna nindyaath!! annanna parichaksheetha!!”

Here, the Upanishad explains that “Annam” (Food) should never be insulted! We should ensure that “Annam” should be made available to every living being in this world. We should never ever claim that the food served to us is bad! In the modern day, we find lot of people wasting food so casually! Whenever I go to restaurants or big star hotels, it really gives immense pain when so-called rich people waste the entire plate of food just because they did not like the taste of it. My question to them is that, if you do not like the taste of that food, why can’t you make sure that this food is donated to someone who is in dire need of this food? How many people in this world are struggling to get even one meal a day? Are we thinking about all this? Just because we get food in abundance, it doesn’t mean that we insult food and waste it!

If we happen to visit any of the African countries that are poor, we would see innumerable children whom are just “skin and bones” struggling to get even one glass of milk a day! We see such scenes often in the television channels and in the Internet many a times. Upon seeing such scenes, our hearts should melt with tears from our eyes and we should take a vow as to not waste even a single grain of food! Every hotel and restaurant should take a pledge that they would not dump the leftover food to the dustbin. Rather, this food can be donated to those who are poor and badly in need of quality food to eat.

Also many of us have a notion that we would give lot of milk, curd, etc. for the “Abhisheka” (Divine bathing) of Bhagawan in any temple. However, we can also think of donating a majority of this milk and curd to those poor children who are struggling with hunger! Bhagawan never asks us to bathe him with enormous amount of milk or curd every time. If we have the heart to donate this to the needy, His heart would melt instantaneously.

So for today, let us think about this extremely important attribute of “respecting food” and let us take a pledge together today that we would join hands in not insulting and wasting food in future. Vidura explains here that such people are highly respected by all the people in the world. I’m sure all of us would agree to this. We shall wait till the next episode to explore Vidura’s explanation of the next attribute. Stay tuned! 🙂