Freedom of choices

badshahkhanIn the context of all relationships, the best ones are the ones where we understand each other, despite having differences.

Unfortunately, being judgemental about others,  even in the food choices we make seems to be the name of the game today. This often results in more divisions and unity as it only creates more barriers between ourselves.

In this context, I remember reading somewhere about the time when Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as Badshah Khan came to visit Mahatma Gandhi in his ashram along with a young child.  We know that Gandhi was a staunch naturopath.  Still, he did know the food in his ashram would not be suitable for his guests. He immediately ensured that a suitable non-vegetarian diet was served to them.

He could of course have enforced his own diet on them. Surely, they would have accepted it but this gesture of Gandhi in going beyond his own beliefs endeared him to them as nothing else could have.

This also does show us the true hospitality and humaneness of Gandhi who at other times, chose to live in a Dalit home, during times when they were considered sub-human, cooking and doing all the work that they did and bonding with all.  Mahatma Gandhi called them “Harijans” or people of God. People may criticise the term but to Gandhi, everyone was a child of God, be it Dalits, people of other faiths, or even other nations. Equality to Gandhi was equality in all domains, which is what he considered real freedom.

Freedom to be who are, freedom to fight your battles, freedom to pronounce all your choices is what true independence is to every individual and by extension, to societies and nations.  This to Gandhi and other stalwarts of that era was what true freedom and independence was all about.

 

Advertisements

Basaveshwara, the exemplary social reformer

basaveshwaraAs of now, there is a lot of mayhem in my home state, Karnataka, where people are getting divided on the basis of caste, religion, and all kinds of labels.

India as a land has always been spiritual, a land of seekers who have always recognised that all answers shall come from a divine power above. Even social reform has always been guided spiritually, be it in the case of Buddha, Mahavira or Karnataka’s Basaveswara in earlier times and Mahatma Gandhi in recent times.

 

Basaveshwara was born in Bagevadi ( of undivided Bijapur district in Karnataka) during 1131 AD. He   belonged to Brahmin community. As a religious tradition, he was initiated with the holy thread ‘janivara’ in Upanayana, (thread ceremony) at the early age of eight years. Basavanna revolted against this tradition, cut threw his janivara,  left  home and went to Kudalasangama from where he was educated in all respects.

In the later stage, he went to Kalyana, where the Kalchuri king Bijjala (1157-1167, AD) was ruling. Because of his highly intellectual personality, he was appointed  as a karanika (Accountant) in the initial stage, in the court of king Bijjala and later he became the Prime minister of Bijjala  after proving his administrative ability.

At this stage, Basaveshwara looked around the socio-economic status of the then society, where most of the static, superstitious and anti-social elements were ruling. There was much gap between haves and have- nots and rich people were harassing the poor.  Untouchability was rampant and sex discrimination made the lives of women very pathetic. Basavanna revolted against all these evils and he himself started practicing the socialistic norms to bring about drastic change in the society. Hence, he became the guiding path to others in bringing the change. He scripted his practical experiences in a novel form of literature called –Vachana (poetry).  This innovative literary form is the main contribution of “Sharanas”  through which they expressed their revolutionary and reformist ideology in a very simple Kannada language.

First of all Basavanna  tried to change the concept of Temple which was the main centre of various types of harassments.   Priests   and rich people were exploiting the common folk in the name of God and temple. Thus he tried to convince the society about the real god and temple, which are within and with us only. In one of his vachana he says-

Rich build temples for shiva

What can I a poor man do?

My legs are the  pillars

My body is temple

My head makes the golden cupola

Oh, Lord  kudala sangama

The standing will perish

The moving will stay on.

By saying so, Basaveshwara gave two important and innovative concepts called “Sthavara ’’and  “Jangama’’, the meaning of which is “Static’’ and ‘’Dynamic’’- respectively. Both of these concepts are the main foundation stones of the revolutionary ideology of Basavanna.  By ridiculing the physical structure of temple and God; which are perishable, Basavanna  gave a new dimension to the human body and soul (inner spirit), by which the  self respect of all human beings was boosted.

Perhaps the most revealing test of the sincerity of any drive for reform lies in how welcoming it is of the voices of women. When Basava sparked the 12th century movement that we now recognize as Lingayatism, many were those of dazzling intellect who joined him. Tired of social shackles and determined to chart an alternative course, they found in Basava’s anti-caste, egalitarian crusade a resonance that has survived the ages, down, indeed, to our times. Indeed, of the 210 saints associated with Basava, as many as 35 were female, 14 of them unmarried. These were women of uncommon brilliance who, in addition to their battles against caste and inequality, also challenged patriarchy’s grip over their bodies and thought.

Being a born progressive activist, Basaveshwara revolted against all the social evils of the traditionalistic society and brought a drastic change in various facets.  We often talk about the human rights in this twenty-first century, but these human rights were being enjoyed by sharanas (Citizens of welfare society) during 12th century itself, because of the socialistic and democratic  approach of Basavanna .

While making our choices in all areas,  let us try to see what the leaders/ parties stand for to make the right choices to take our nation move forward progressively.

Say bye to disabilities and limitations

wellness“Amma, you are perfectly fine. There is really no need to get a certificate saying you had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis..” said my daughter when a friend told me I should get a certificate that might give me some benefits like cheaper travel and so on.

Now, I really do not wish to trivialise what the government seeks to provide through what is termed a  “disability certificate”. This is necessary to access benefits afforded under the Persons with Disabilities Act (1995) in India. For, disability can be painful and burdensome for individuals and may present special challenges for individuals and their families.

Despite the advantages it affords, the act also presents a challenge for the disabled in another area of their health and rights – namely, the protection of their privacy. These privacy concerns arise because of the way the Act is implemented and what individuals must do in order to qualify for benefits under its provisions. Specifically, individuals seeking benefits must obtain a disability certificate from a specified government healthcare provider. The certificate itself needs to display a photograph (certified by due authority), as well as the name and address of the individual, which can increase the risk of confidentiality breach should the certificate be misplaced or stolen, or merely viewed by unauthorised persons. Further, the certificate details not only the diagnosis, but also the duration of illness and degree of disability.

Apart from the process, I feel there is a major impact on the psyche of the person himself/herself and their families. It would be better if all energies will diverted instead to combat the challenge of the illness or disability so that one forgets that there is a challenge. The more one forgets, the more the universe responds will options for complete wellness. In my case, I am complete fine now due to exploring what are called complementary therapies.

Complete wellness is of course doing all that one can without comparing oneself with others in all areas. That of course, requires a complete change of mindset which is of course a life long commitment that we all need to make to ourselves all the time.

Raising of consciousness in horrific times

asifaIn all horrific situations like the current situation of the gang rape and murder of little Asifa, we need to reflect on what a person like Gautama the Buddha, Christ, Socrates or Gandhi, all famous figures of history, universally respected for the excellence of their character and model way of life would have done. Would he have e would behaved as our present-day leaders do and been an active participant or a passive onlooker of the suicidal race for more and more destructive nuclear engines run day and night before our eyes?

The answer is an emphatic ‘no’. Such a personality would never be a party to or an idle spectator of the horrid game. On the contrary, he would raise heaven and earth to rid mankind of this hideous nightmare and even stake his life to achieve this aim.

This may sound unrealistic but the fact is we all are indeed connected and to raise the consciousness of humanity, we have to not just protect and yes, punish the criminals but work on raising the conditions we find ourselves in.

What I am saying is not entirely new. For humanity to change, we need to focus and raise our own way of being so that slowly but steadily, there is true empathy towards all which is the only thing that can create a better world, again slowly but steadily.

It does not matter what the child’s religion, so called status or state was. What matters is that she was a child. This is what must call out to each of us. Again, not for politics or for playing blame games but for seeking to treat each child as one of us. In other words, let us seek to remove all labels from the people we come across and treat them as one of us.  The day this begins to happen, the world would indeed change and little Asifa’s death would not be in vain.

Seven principles of surrender

surrender“God give me the serenity  to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference,”  said Reinhold Niebuhr ages ago. This slogan was then used by the Alcoholics Anoynomous as a slogan to help people recover from this malaise and has travelled all over the world as the ultimate mantra to combat stress.

In my case, I have been highly inspired by the above prayer and have framed seven principles of my own to make surrender a part of my life.

  1. We cannot control everything.

We really do not have complete power over everything and must recognise this key principle of life. Wishing to see the whole world as we would like it to be only makes us tense and stressed. All we can do is is understand people and the situation for what it currently is. For, even if we are powerless to change a situation,  we always have the power to change our own attitude.

  1. We need to become comfortable with uncertainty.

The fact is the only certainty in life is uncertainty.  We need to always remember to ensure that we go with the flow of life and never be fixated about anything, whether it is a trip or a promotion.  If we remain inflexible, we shall of course be susceptible to anger, distress, and depression. Instead, if we learn to surrender, even when an unplanned event takes place, we could  happier, more lighthearted, and resilient.

  1. We must remember to exhale during stress.

We have two choices when things pile up at work or we’re surrounded by people who require a lot of energy to deal with. . We can get frantic, hyperventilate, shut down, and become reactive. Needless to say, these responses just make us more stressed. We need to pause, take a deep breath, and observe. Sustaining silence and circumspection are two behaviors that lead to better, healthier outcomes.

  1. We are powerful without trying to dominate

The most influential people in the room are not the ones who are bullies. True power comes from being respectful and listening. People who surrender know themselves and are empathetic toward others. They don’t measure themselves by how much they are liked, nor do they compete for attention. Even when they sit quietly in a room, others always seem to come to them.

  1. We are successful wherever we are

The drive to acquire money and power is a behavior that drains people of their passion and emotional connection to others.Whatever our designation or worldly status may be,  we must learn to enjoy life, relish our personal development, and value our friends.

  1. We can admit when we are wrong.

People who hold on to grudges, insist on being right, and try to change other’s minds have a difficult time maintaining healthy, happy relationships.  We must understand that most people do make mistakes and must learn to forgive others and our own selves.

  1. We are passionate and can express our emotions in a healthy way.

People who feel the need to push and control tend to keep their feelings bottled up. As a result, they get shut down or remote, and their feelings come out in twisted, unhealthy ways. They become irritable, passive-aggressive, or volatile. People who have learnt to surrender are spontaneous and playful. They love to feel and express their emotions in a positive, loving way. As a result, they look vibrant, healthy, and energetic.

Surrender is a daily practice. Sometimes it means just getting down on your knees and praying to be willing to receive guidance from a higher power. Sometimes, it means surrendering fear and surrendering to the power of love.

Ultimately, it is a process through which we feel more joy, compassion and a lightness of being in our own lives.

Healing completely from Cancer.

By Sanjay Pal (as shared with me, Jamuna Rangachari)

sanjaypal

Sanjay Pal with his extremely supportive wife, Urvashi

I was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of Malignant brain cancer called Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) in June-13 after experiencing seizures while preparing for a marathon run.

I underwent brain surgery, radiotherapy and two rounds of chemotherapy over 18 months and still my Cancer continued progressing.

In Sept 14 my doctors in London did not have many more options left to offer and were suggesting 3rd line chemotherapy to try and prolong my life.

Average survival rates for GBM post detection is 12-14 months. There was no known cure of my brain Cancer (GBM) and I was being offered palliative treatment in UK which meant that my remaining limited life span should be comfortable and without much stress/pain.

This was the end of the line from a conventional treatment perspective.

Then my colleague recommended Dr Pankaj Bhatnagar in New Delhi and insisted that I went to Delhi personally to get his treatment.

He had successfully treated her father from a secondary brain tumour which had spread from other parts of his body and his doctors had given him a just a few more weeks to live. After taking the treatment over 3 years ago, he continued to be free of cancer.

With time and options running out quickly, my wife and I travelled to New Delhi in Oct-14 and met Dr Bhatnagar. We started his treatment immediately and my condition has been improving ever since.

This write up was updated in March 2018, I am now approaching 5 years since diagnosis (remember expected life expectancy for a GBM patient is 12 – 14 months). Dr Bhatnagar’s medication has helped me to achieve this. I am continuing my physical rehabilitation and hope to run a marathon again.

My intention in this write-up is to try and get this message across to as many Cancer carers/patients as possible. Dr Bhatnagar has helped many lives with his treatment and there are many more who can benefit from his help and recover from cancers of all types/stages. It is important that this information reaches out to as many patients as possible.

I can be reached on personalcancerreference@gmail.com

Please give your whatsapp number & I will create a whatsapp group for all of us.

The consultation process is given below.

Address

Dr Pankaj Bhatnagar

C-2/15,

Krishna Nagar,

Delhi – 110 051

Reception:

+91-11-430-62-406

# 1) Dr Bhatnagar requires a minimum gap of 90 days post any western therapy (eg radiotherapy or chemotherapy) before he can start his treatment

# The reason is that his homeopathy medicines are already extremely diluted & we further dilute them by adding 75 drops of the medicines in half a glass of lukewarm water.

# It is important to keep detailed notes of dates & side effects or any symptoms experienced throughout any type of therapy or treatment. This log can be then shared with the assistants of dr Bhatnagar & they can communicate relevant information to him.

# Additionally, video or audio records should be maintained for any symptoms or benefits experienced throughout the treatment history.

# The additional benefit experienced by most patients is that these medicines can help reduce the painful side effects of chemo or radiotherapy.

# You have to reach the clinic in between 7.30 a.m. to 8 a.m. to get an early appointment.

# The counter window opens around 8:30 am & on the basis of list, tokens are issued by the reception.

# Please specify that you want an appt with Dr Pankaj as they have separate token series for his son (Dr Pranshu) & daughter-in-law (Dr Nikita)

# Once 200 tokens are handed out for the 3 doctors, the counter shuts down.

# The doctors arrive around 09:00 am. There is a waiting room where everyone assembles & electronic counters flash out serial numbers. Once your number is flashed, you get escorted to a team of assistant doctors who will request your details & prepare a briefing note for the doctor

# Dr Bhatnagar consults 3/4 patients together. His assistant will provide the briefing to him & if he has any further queries his assistant will get all required details & pass them back to the doctor.

# If further tests or scans are required, the details of the same & the location where these can be done will be provided.

# In my case we had to go away to a different clinic & get a fresh MRI scan conducted.

# The clinic staff prepares the scan report while we waited & provides the scan films in a short time & you need to go back directly to the clinic to share them with Dr Bhatnagar.

# Dr Bhatnagar punches his prescription into his tablet which is immediately accessed by the dispensary in the same floor & they prepare the medicines & a printed instructions for how these need to be consumed.

# A follow-up appointment date is agreed & a new scan has to be conducted at the same scanning clinic, before the appointment.

# The report is prepared in such a way that the comparison between the earlier scan is clearly stated. This helps the clinic maintain complete track record of each patient

# If convenient & agreeable, video records are made to show the progress of the patient at regular intervals. These are then used for providing references to other patients.

# In this way, the treatment is progressively monitored & each patient track record gets registered with the clinic.

Please contact Anil/ Animesh whose numbers are given below to find out the dates when the clinic be operating & you can plan your consultation with his guidance.

Once you get registered with the clinic, your patient number will be your unique identity number till the end of the treatment.

Key Contacts

Anil Semwal 09871071892

Animesh Vadhera 0991-015-0709

Sanjay Pal: +44-739-230-6724 (Mobile & Whatsapp)

————————————————————————————

Additional note from Jamuna

Sanjay Pal and his wife Urvashi are extremely helpful people who guide everyone in their healing journey and I firmly believe this is one of the factors for him remaining well as their focus is on helping others and not thinking only about themselves.

Dr Bhatnagar is someone I have proud to have met. He is an amazing doctor and human being who keeps track of all his patients and guides them meticulously. He treats many ailments but is mainly known as a cancer specialist as so many have healed with his medicine from this dreaded ailment. I wish him and his team the very best in eradicating illness from this planet.

Forgiveness, the mantra of being and flowing in life

I have attended many workshops and read many books in the zone of self help and motivation. What I have seen is that the one principle that makes us feel must better and by extension, the world around us better is forgiving others for what they have done.

“Lord forgive them as they know not what they have done,” said Jesus and founded an entire religion based on this key principle.

The religion was born but have we imbibed its principles and those that teach us the same thing in their own way ? I truly do not know if we have as we are looking out for whom to blame almost all the time.

How then can we learn to forgive? This is possible only when we understand them. This understanding can come only if step into their shoes and look at the world from their perspective.

This is beneficial for them and most importantly for us too. For, in the journey of life, not forgiving others impacts our mind so intensely that the body too rebels.

When someone errs inadvertently or knowingly, if we bless them with equanimity, there are definitely more chances that change could take place in the whole scenario. Even if the situation does not change as we would like it to, we can be at peace only if we learn to forgive.

There are many techniques people use to forgive.  Writing their names and throwing water, so on and so forth. What makes most sense to me, however, is to forgive people as we and they are dynamic beings who change all the time. I would like to end with a favourite story of mine in this context.

The Buddha was sitting under a tree talking to his disciples when a man came and spat in his face. He wiped it off, and he asked the man, “What next? What do you want to say next?” The man was a little puzzled because he himself never expected that when you spit on somebody’s face, he will ask, “What next?” He had no such experience in his past. He had insulted people and they had become angry and they had reacted. Or if they were cowards and weaklings, they had smiled, trying to bribe the man. But Buddha was like neither, he was not angry nor in any way offended, nor in any way cowardly. But just matter-of-factly he said, “What next?” There was no reaction on his part.

Puzzled, confused, the man returned home. He could not sleep the whole night. When you see a Buddha, it is difficult, impossible to sleep anymore the way you used to sleep before. Again and again he was haunted by the experience. He could not explain it to himself, what had happened. He was trembling all over, sweating and soaking the sheets. He had never come across such a man; the Buddha had shattered his whole mind and his whole pattern, his whole past.

The next morning he went back. He threw himself at Buddha’s feet. Buddha asked him again, “What next? This, too, is a way of saying something that cannot be said in language. When you come and touch my feet, you are saying something that cannot be said ordinarily, for which all words are too narrow; it cannot be contained in them.”

The man looked at Buddha and said, “Forgive me for what I did yesterday.”

Buddha said, “Forgive? But I am not the same man to whom you did it. The Ganges goes on flowing, it is never the same Ganges again. Every man is a river. The man you spit upon is no longer here. I look just like him, but I am not the same, much has happened in these twenty-four hours! The river has flowed so much. So I cannot forgive you because I have no grudge against you.

“And you also are new. I can see you are not the same man who came yesterday because that man was angry and he spit, whereas you are bowing at my feet, touching my feet. How can you be the same man? You are not the same man, so let us forget about it. Those two people, the man who spit and the man on whom he spit, both are no more. Come closer. Let us talk of something else.”

Remaining human, humane and Indian

jayshreeshukla

Jayshree Shukla is born and bred in Delhi, a street photographer, a flaneur, a lover of history and a heritage buff.

Whether it is India or any other nation, the fact is we need to understand a nation is created by the ethos and ethics of the citizens. After all, it is citizens create a nation that then becomes an identity.

We in India were brought up to believe that all paths to the divine lead to the same destination and most importantly, everyone is free to make their own choice. Now, in the confusion about food and food choices, we have begun adding one more label to the identity of humanity that is actually the only true identity we all have. Food is becoming more political and judgemental than it ever was in the history of India along with a million other labels.

Personally, I happen to be a vegetarian but posts like the one below by Jayshree Shukla always make me feel the identity of humanity and the India I believe in is still alive.

Jayshree says, “Raju (my husband) returned home last night after a longish spell and decided to take me out to Karim (a nearby restaurant) tonight. We were sharing the table with two sweet boys.

“Chicken tikka, chicken curry aur chicken biryani lao” asked the lads of the waiter. Raju started chatting with the boys. We are from Kanpur they said and have just reached Delhi from Vaishno Devi. I was delighted to see that piety had not got the better of our dear lads. From VaishnoDevi they had landed straight into the arms of Karim and Jama Masjid (a famous mosque).

This is my India”

Like Jayshree, I hope and pray that the identity of Indianness remains inclusive whatever one may call it. After all, don’t we all wish to leave a better world for our children by teaching them to connect and bond instead of focussing on whom to hate and avoid and why? For this, should we not set examples ourselves by remaining human and humane ? Is this not our primary identity whatever else we may be?

 

Why not me? says a true heroine

janineThere are some who show us what strength of the spirit truly is.

One of them is Janine Shepherd from Australia.  She was a super athlete who had trained since she was a child and had won medals galore since the age of 10.

When in her twenties, she was cycling through some mountains as part of her training routine. She was hit by a vehicle, suffering massive injuries. She suffered a broken neck and back, lost five litres of blood, suffered severe lacerations to her abdominal area. Her right leg was ripped open, her collarbone and five ribs were fractured, and she suffered serious internal injuries. Doctors at first thought she would not live, but she pulled through. She was then told that she would be bound to a wheelchair for the rest of her life, and would never bear children.

She was naturally very depressed but kept thinking on what do no next. The turning point came in my life when I asked “Why not me”? instead of “Why me?” she says.

She decided to overcome her difficulty through the strength of her spirit and did all that she could slowly but steadily.

Over the next few years, she began to go through the slow rehabilitation process. She was determined to defy the predictions set by her doctors, and succeeded in doing so. While still remaining a partial paraplegic, she was ultimately able to walk again, and has three children. She gained her pilots license within a year of the accident, and went on to gain a Commercial pilot’s licence, an instructor’s license, eventually becoming a trained aerobatics flying instructor.

Now, she is an ambassador for Spinal Cure Australia and has been awarded her country’s highest civilian honour “Order of Australia” in 2001, for her service to the community, her inspiration and her work in raising awareness of spinal cord research.

She has published many books, is a motivational speaker and shows us there is nothing that the human spirit cannot overcome.

Playing our role in the drama of life

dramaoflifeWe often get along with a group of people who we find similar to us but often stay away from those who seem different. This is actually a very limited way of being. To expand our consciousness and way of being, we need to perceive others in a different way.

We could become the people and situations that can help you become clearly and strongly aware of our way of thinking. Usually we carefully protect ourselves from people we “just can’t stand”, we run the other way when life gives us a relationship that worries us.

This is actually a lesson that we need to learn and if we try and run away from it, we may see the lesson repeating in our lives again and again in a myriad ways. After all, life is indeed the greatest school of all and we need to work in this school diligently to learn and apply these lessons in all areas of life. In my case, I remember the time I used to run away from people who talked about ritualism, thinking is was at the lowest rung of spirituality. Now, this again is a judgement that no one has the right to make. When people get together be it for a ritual, for  a chant or for discussions of any kind, if they find it empowering, they are surely free to do so. Why should we judge the way anyone wishes to explore life?

Life is after all all always beautiful if we look at it with the perception of wishing to understand and not judge. It is only with seeking to understand that we shall see the different perceptions that everyone has. By understanding everyone’s perceptions, we shall indeed realise we all are players in the drama of the world. None of us is superior or inferior. We just are playing our role in the situation we are placed in. In that sense, we all are actors being directed by a supreme being who is pulling the threads. How we train our consciousness to play the role well, if of course entirely upto us.

%d bloggers like this: