Jun 16, 2024

Intellectual poverty

 Over the last few weeks, I have been following the political news more closely, thanks to the Lok Sabha election results. One of the tweets I came across on X said something on these lines -

 "Politicians and political parties deliberately want people to remain poor so that they are dependent on freebies and vote promises."

As I thought about this statement, I realized this strategy is equally relevant to the self-proclaimed gurus who have mushroomed on social media on various topics. They would want their followers to blindly follow what they convey through their posts/workshops/courses and remain poor in their intellectual abilities.

As long as their followers remain intellectually poor, these false gurus can keep offering one course after another, minting money, and generating multiple revenue streams.

How do they ensure their followers fall for the tricks in their playbook? Here are a few observations:

  • Groupthink - Ensure more praises are sung by certain "loyal" followers in a larger community - Whatsapp/telegram, etc

  • Scarcity principle and leverage FOMO - "This course is only available for 100 people", "I do this course only once a year" etc

  • Create an "aura" embellished by extreme ideologies that makes people curious and inquisitive about the "guru"
  • Share as many testimonials as possible to convince people that their courses are life-altering experiences. Are these real or fake testimonials - no one bothers to ask.

  • Keep the course outlines vague. Use statements like "May bring clarity" to avoid commitments or confrontations.

  • Discourage people from asking questions. Make them feel stupid for even having a question in the first place.

  • Pass on referrals on related topics to their close circle of other "gurus" so that the followers are made to be collectively dependent on this elite group

  • Call all other sources of knowledge "inferior" - books, family elders, and traditions/rituals so that people would always depend on them (or their close-knit circle) for life advice.

  • Project a holier-than-thou image through carefully curated reels on the topic they call themselves an "expert"

  • Never allow people to have an alternate point of view that contradicts what the "coach" says. And more importantly, do not allow such different voices to get heard in the community

These are some of the tactics by which the common people, especially women who are on social media are deliberately kept intellectually poor by these so-called experts and coaches. 

Jun 10, 2024

Goodbye to Instagram

A long pending one and I finally decided to bid goodbye to Instagram, a platform where I've been actively creating content for the past 10 years. Here's the post I shared with the reasons that influenced this decision:


 This decision to quit Instagram has been running on my mind for the past few years, ever since the platform turned into a reel-based model.  The algorithm prioritizes content based on entertainment, gossip, fashion, lifestyle, and other topics, intending to increase materialistic desires in content consumers. 

This platform is no longer relevant for someone like me who loves the written word and likes to express herself through words. Book reviews, perspectives on life, habits, routines, and other articles/links/references shared as Stories no longer reach the audience in the first place.

Every article I write is first published on my blog, which then gets converted/customized to Instagram - creating the carousel posts, trimming the content to stay within the character limit, etc. This is additional work and given my other commitments, I started to question if this effort is worth my time, if it is NOT reaching the audience of 15K followers. 

For most posts, the reach is <1000. 

For most Stories, the reach is <500.

As I thought about my path ahead, I plan to immerse myself in Bharatiya Shastras and traditional texts - Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Itihasas and Puranas, works of Shankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, Swami Vivekananda, along with going deeper into Yoga sadhana, while fulfilling my responsibilities as a grhasta (householder). 

A platform that deprioritizes Bharat and Hindu civilization (and prioritizes the so-called liberal views) is no longer a right fit and doesn't align with my goals. 

It has been a good journey in the last 10 years, sharing food pictures, recipes, book reviews, packaged food reviews, memes, and calling out money-minting influencers and self-proclaimed gurus!  

The platform provided me with an opportunity to connect with so many like-minded people. Thank you for your love, support, appreciation, and valuable time reading and commenting on my posts. I loved all our interactions and conversations.

I shall continue to publish on my blog when there is a sudden spark of inspiration or when I'd like to share certain perspectives, book reviews, and snippets from my learning.  

I also plan to create a WhatsApp community and will continue to share other resources/links/podcasts etc. If my content has resonated with you on this platform, do take a peek at my blog (once a week) for new posts. I'll share the Whatsapp community link on Stories for those who would like to join. 

Content-wise, nothing much changes going forward, except the medium to read the same:

Posts/articles => Blog

Links/references => WhatsApp community

Will keep the account open for the next few days to say goodbyes and to connect with you!

I also need to note down some of the old recipes that I had documented long back!!

Grateful to the platform and to the lovely readers who have been around all these years...It has been a memorable journey of content creation here. It's time to move on!

It no longer makes sense to me to be actively creating content on a platform that decides where "all our eyes should be"!

Prayers to all those pilgrims who lost their lives and to those who are injured in Reasi terror attack yesterday.


Jun 6, 2024

Conveniences and consequences

 What are you getting used to now that could be detrimental in the long run?

A few years back, whenever I made idlis, I would look at the clock and remember the time to switch off after steaming for 10 min. The mind will have that active thought running, "Idlis on the stove, need to switch off at 7:25". 

Then Google Home arrived (it was a gift). In the initial days, it felt so funny and uncomfortable to give commands, but over time, I got used to it. As soon as idli plates were placed in the steamer, I would yell from the kitchen - "OK google, timer for 10 minutes", and I'd forget about it. After the timer rings, I'd go and switch off the stove.

This is just a tiny behavioral change. And there is nothing wrong with relying on technology to ease our mental load. But what we lost in the bargain - being aware, time-conscious, and mindful.

A similar change happened with remembering phone numbers. In the 2000s, I would have remembered at least 10 phone numbers of family members and friends. But nowadays, except for 2-3 numbers, I hardly know anyone else's. One could argue - "Our memory could be put to better use. Why waste it on such mundane stuff?" Think about it - Was our memory better when we used to remember such small, seemingly insignificant things or when we google every little fact or peek into our phones every few minutes? In my experience, my memory power (which used to be very good) has declined over the years.

These experiences and realizations are the effects of our actions in the past 10-15 years. Our present actions will have repercussions in the next 15 years. 

What are those habitual changes we are "getting used" to today? What are those conveniences we have adopted without much thought or contemplation? 

A few examples from an urban context include instant delivery of groceries, food, medicine, etc. We used to walk a few steps earlier to buy groceries or to grab a quick bite from a nearby eatery. We have outsourced seemingly mundane tasks like grating coconut, making idli batter at home, shelling green peas, making spice powders, etc. In the bargain, we have got extra time on hand. How are we making use of that time?

My intention is not to judge these conveniences and classify them as "good/bad" but rather reflect on what we expect to gain from them and adopt them mindfully, along with the awareness of what we might lose. 

An example from the Yoga world - Regular poses and movements that were part of our lifestyle have now become challenging to perform - asanas like Malasana, Chakki Chalanasana, duck walk, etc.

Jun 5, 2024

Gita Learning Process

 For any learning to happen effectively, there needs to be a strong purpose and a process. 

Purpose inspires you to get started and continue the journey. 

Process gives you guidance and direction.

Both work hand-in-hand to help us reach our goal.

Learning Bhagavad Gita is one of my wishes for this year and Krishna is graciously guiding me in that direction. March 4th is when I started my first class with Gita Parivar. The last 3 months have been such a beautiful journey of connecting with Krishna and diving into his teachings that is so relevant in today's times.

I use this spreadsheet to track my learning progress. The plan and process just evolved during this journey. The priority is to learn the correct pronunciation and understand the meaning of each chapter taught in the class. Contemplating and imbibing the learnings happens and will continue to do so without much deliberate effort, as the seeds get planted in the subconscious. This is a life-long study, as we reflect upon the meanings using the commentaries by different experts.

May 30, 2024

Shanti Mantras and their effects

 As part of MSc Yoga programme, I'm learning some of the Shanti Mantras from the Upanishads. When I went to the University for in-person classes early this January, I struggled during the Vedic chanting class and found it hard to chant the Mantras in the right meter and pronunciation. For the first 2 classes, our faculty asked us to listen and repeat after him (without any visual aid), similar to how learning was imparted in the Gurukul way of education (karna parampara). This was even more challenging for me, as I'm attuned to the visual way of learning. 

Once we received our books, it felt a little more manageable to look at the words and chant, but I wasn't confident. After multiple rounds of practice at home, I'm finally able to memorize and chant them. It is in no way close to a perfect recitation. But the reason why I wanted to share it here is the effect these Shanti Mantras have on our body and mind.

Shanti Mantras, as the name implies, are peace chants where we call upon different deities for the well-being and peace of everyone. The prevalent Shanti Mantras, typically chanted during Yoga classes are "Sahana Vavatu", "Asatoma Sadgamaya" and "Sarve Bhavantu".

Whenever I chant these Shanti Mantras, I feel a sense of calm and serenity. The brain feels relaxed, the mind is devoid of thoughts and the breathing rate slows down. Knowing the meaning of these Mantras makes it easier to chant with Bhava (emotion). For eg, through this mantra "Bhadram Karnebhi", we pray that we hear only good and auspicious through our ears and that we only see adorable and auspicious through our eyes.

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