Nov 29, 2023

Book Review: Value of Values by Swami Dayananda Saraswati



 In the course "Foundations of Sanatana Dharma", Prof.Mahadevan mentioned this book title while explaining the principle of Dharma.

K had bought this book many years back and I immediately picked it up from our home library. It has been a thought-provoking read over the last couple of weeks.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati sets the context on how the expression of our life is just the expression of our well-assimilated value structure.

He beautifully explains how we apply values more consistently and more absolutely to others than to ourselves. For eg, we may expect others to be 100% truthful with us, but we may not be 100% truthful to everyone. He calls this a "half-value" where there is a disconnection between what we expect of others (personal value) and what we do (obligatory value).

Whenever we perform an action that is against our values, we create a seed of guilt, that leads to fear and conflict. This also creates a "knower-doer" split. Such a conflicted mind will not be in a state to absorb the knowledge of the self.

In Chapter 13 of the Bhagavad Gita (verses 7 to 11), Bhagavan Krishna lists down 20 qualities that prepare the mind for the knowledge of the self.

Swami explains these 20 qualities, along with their importance and relevance in today's context. Some of them are quite an eye-opener.

Amanitvam indicates the absence of exaggerated self-importance. The demand for recognition and respect from others comes from an inner sense of emptiness or a lack of readiness to accept ourselves for who we are.

Asaktih represents the absence of a sense of ownership, even for our own body. This line struck a chord - "He has the right to maintain it but not to destroy it, a possessive right only to make use of it".

Vivikta-desa-sevitvam is a value that highlights the importance of establishing oneself in solitude. "To be contemplative means to be able to face yourself happily....{if not}, the mind will always require an escape".

Depending upon your life journey, you might observe that you are progressing in certain qualities, while you need to work on certain other qualities. This book provides such clarity and interpretation for us to assess our values in just 150 pages.


Nov 28, 2023

Is Spirituality a retirement hobby?



 Someone told me this recently - "What you are doing now - practicing Yoga and meditation, learning and teaching shlokas, reading spirituality and philosophy books - these activities are best taken up after you cross 60 years. The 40s and 50s are the time to continue working and earning money".

Though I respect their perspective, I have slightly different points of view.

Spirituality isn't reserved for retirement life or senior citizens.

ANYONE (irrespective of their age, gender, financial, cultural, or social background) who would like to know more about themselves, their lives, and the world around them can start their journey towards spirituality.

What you learn through spirituality can help you lead your external lives with ample strength and resilience.

What you do in your 40s and 50s will influence the quality of your life in your 60s.

If you are indoors throughout your 20s to 50s, it is unlikely you will suddenly become an outdoorsy person in your 60s. I have come across people who were completely out of touch with nature and the outdoors during their working lives. In their 60s, though they live close to parks and beaches, they hardly step out of their comfortable homes.

Similarly, if you are completely engaged with the outside world in your 20s to 50s with no time for self-introspection and self-awareness, it is unlikely you will suddenly turn inward in your 60s (unless life circumstances force you to do so).

If one can find balance -

where one can comfortably shift between the outside and inside worlds every day,

where one can adequately spend time outdoors and indoors every day

then the activities that help you go within can be pursued alongside our career demands.

Unfortunately, in today's times, if you bring up the word "work-life balance" or "work-life harmony", it is frowned upon.

Remote work and work-from-home options are being discouraged. 

"I don't mind if you waste 2-3 hours in traffic. I need you to be in the office in front of my eyes for 10 hours. Only then I consider you productive" - is the mindset.

If one expects a 9-5 job, he/she is considered unambitious or lazy. BTW, what is this new trend called "lazy girl" jobs? Men also need balance in their lives. And such an expectation doesn't make him/her lazy.

The other aspect that we tend to ignore is that when an idea inspires us, it will wait for a certain time for us to give due attention. If we ignore it, the idea moves on.

If spirituality and philosophy inspire someone in their 40s,

Why wait till the 60s to pursue that path?

What's the guarantee one will live up to 60 years in the first place?

Even if one lives, what is the guarantee that one would have the physical and mental energies to pursue their interests?

What if one's health deteriorates due to leading hurried lifestyles that the current jobs demand?

We might have compromised our values and our interests in our 20s and 30s to pursue material goals and meet society's expectations.

40s is the time we reevaluate our priorities.

40s is the time we pursue our soul's desires.

40s is the time we reinvent ourselves.


Nov 27, 2023

Suggestions to my 27-year-old self

 I received this question as a DM - "What advice would you give to girls in their mid-20s, working for MNCs as you have gone through that phase of life?"

My mid-20s are different in many aspects:

No social media (just getting started with FB), no smart phone. So there is no constant pressure to prove myself to the outside world.


Of course, there was pressure to do well in my career - mostly self-imposed - to go up the ranks. And the dreaded question - "When is the good news? When are you starting a family?" status updates from near and dear ones, causing more stress.


From a work perspective, I believe that in the decade of 2000s, employers(especially MNCs in India) were a lot more reasonable in terms of work expectations and timelines. But this has shifted quite a bit in the past 7-8 years due to various factors - growth pressures from investors, competition, uncertain economic situations, all leading to unrealistic project timelines.


Instead of advising girls in their mid-20s, I feel it would be more appropriate if I could travel back in time, meet my 27-year-old self, and share a few suggestions.


  • Do not ignore the delays in your monthly cycles. It is not something to be taken lightly. It is not something to feel relieved about when you are getting the monthly cycle only once every 3-4 months

  • The PMS symptoms you are facing are not normal. Take the help of an expert to understand the root cause of extreme mood swings and painful cramps

  • Motherhood will happen at the right time. Don't get stressed due to peer pressure or random comments from family/relatives/neighbors. Focus on getting your body and mind ready to experience this beautiful (and challenging) phase in your life.

  • Have NO expectations that family members will support you during the phase of motherhood and help you balance your home and career. It is completely up to you and K to plan and decide how you would get back to a job if that's what you want.

  • There will come a time when you will hear a wake-up call to understand your priorities and interests to pursue in your 30s. When you hear it, don't ignore it. I understand it isn't easy to make critical decisions at this juncture, but at the same time, don't keep hanging onto that indecisive state for too long.

  • Management career path may not be the right choice IF you need to plan for time freedom and flexibility in your 30s. IC (Individual contributor) role might give you flexibility and more options to work independently. Evaluate your decision to shift to management based on these criteria as well.

  • Having said that, just go with your gut instinct and the flow. Keep your curiosity alive and try multiple initiatives. 30s is the time when you get opportunities to discover yourself. Do not resist the experiences that come your way.

  • And for God's sake, please put that packet of Lays chips down and go for an evening walk!

Nov 23, 2023

Expression of Bhakti through chanting

 When the outer world feels uncertain, the inner world starts to reflect the same if we aren't aware.

As I reflected, I realized that Bhakti (Devotion to the Supreme) is what has helped me since my childhood to process various uncertainties in my outer world - the sudden loss of my mother, financial struggles in the family, exam pressures during the 10th and 12th board exams to name a few.

To express that Bhakti, chanting had been my go-to way. I didn't know the meanings of the chants but I always enjoyed chanting and listening to them.

The various shlokas/stotras that my Paati (paternal) taught me,

The shlokas that my mom, aunt, and Paati (maternal) used to chant during Navaratri,

The summer classes where I learned a little bit of Vishnu Sahasranamam,

The neighbor aunty who taught me simple devotional songs,

The Sai Bhajans unconsciously learned when participating in Baba Pooja on Thursdays in a neighbor's home,

The Tamil devotional songs that I heard from nearby temples, especially during festive occasions, Aadi month, Ayyappa pandal in Nov/Dec, Margazhi mornings, etc

These were the inputs that went in, consciously or unconsciously during childhood. They have helped me stay positive and have given me mental strength. Paati had a book where there were prayers to be chanted for different occasions.

Before starting an exam, the book recommends chanting "buddhir balam yasho dhairyam" (Hanuman Shloka). To date, whenever I'm writing any exam, I chant this shloka and thanks to Hanuman ji, I have done well in most of the exams!πŸ™‚

Before swallowing a tablet/medicine, the shloka recommended was "abhaamarjadhu govindo". I hate swallowing tablets but this shloka helps me big time, especially during pregnancy when calcium and iron supplements (evlo periya maathirai !!! 😳) need to be taken daily.

In Oct, I was reading "Power of One Thought" and Sister BK Shivani mentioned how the current outer world has become so uncertain. I read that single page multiple times as it was an eye-opener. Around the same time, during Navaratri, I visited a neighbor's golu. After I sang a bhajan, one of my neighbors expressed her concern that the kids of today have little exposure to chants and shlokas. The same thought was running on my mind and as I heard the same from her, I decided to do something. So on a whim, I announced a chanting class for kids in my apartment.

4 kids have joined so far (in the age group of 5-9 years). Along with my daughter, I started the weekly class to share whatever I have learned so far. Short shlokas with repetition, meaning, and stories form the outline of each class. The kids have been super enthusiastic with their questions and active participation.

Paulo Coelho's quote - "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it" - proved true yet again! As I began the chanting class for kids, I came across "Nitya Prarthana", a 12-day chanting workshop conducted by Nirvana Academy. What a happy coincidence! I immediately signed up for it. 

It's been 6 days so far and I'm learning many new shlokas along with their right pronunciation and meaning. Most importantly, I finally understood some of the Sanskrit chanting rules related to anusvara and visarga.

Vijaya ji has been amazing with her clear instructions and beautiful explanations of each shloka. The knowledge sessions are interesting and valuable. She patiently answers all the questions of the participants.

I highly recommend this chanting workshop by the Nirvana Academy. If you or your children are interested, do keep an eye out for the next batch and sign up.


Nov 22, 2023

Foundations of Sanatana Dharma course

 When the controversy around a politician passing remarks on Sanatana Dharma happened a few weeks back, I came across multiple videos from news channels and discussions on YouTube about this incident. Instead of passively consuming content and doing nothing about it, I decided to learn about Sanatana Dharma in depth. I should have done this many years back, but better late than never.

I stumbled upon this online course "Foundations of Sanatana Dharma" on Vyoma Sanskrit Paatashala and this course was conducted by none other than Prof.Mahadevan from IIMB. I attended his Operations Management course 15 years ago and I loved his approach to teaching - simple, crystal clear, and extremely logical. The later batches had the opportunity to attend his other course on Management paradigms through Bhagavat Gita. I so wish I get a chance to do this course sometime!

I was completely immersed in the last few weeks, listening to his 12-week lectures on Sanatana Dharma. When I completed the course yesterday, my eyes welled up. Such powerful wisdom on the principles of life are so beautifully laid out in our scriptures but most of us have not learned them during our childhood.

Professor, with his depth of knowledge and clear explanation, has presented the basic foundational pillars of Sanatana Dharma. His logical breakdown of concepts along with relevant references from numerous scriptures made this course super engaging and interesting.

He presented his arguments convincingly on why multiple births and re-births are the only logical explanation to understand differences in each individual's life - family born into, culture, and background. His brief overview of the available knowledge repository (Vedas, Vedangas, Puranas, Itihasas, etc) showed the vastness of available scriptures that would guide us to realize and know the absolute truth.

The topics on our life's journey, Karma theory, Varna-Ashrama dharma, and Purusharthas were so eye-opening that I was binge-watching the lectures one after another. It is shocking how these fundamental principles have been misinterpreted/misquoted by people who didn't take any steps to understand them in the first place.

I loved the explanation of why Dharma->Artha->Kama needs to be approached in that order and how in today's times, we have reversed the order, with too much focus on our desires first (Kama) and then seeking wealth (Artha) by hook or crook to meet those desires.

Thank you, Professor and Vyoma for this valuable and relevant course. It is much needed for all of us to understand the principles behind Sanatana Dharma in their true intention.

Those who are interested in this course, please check out the course page. It is a free course. All videos are also available on YouTube.

Nov 20, 2023

Link between feminine energy and reproductive health issues

 I came across a reel on reproductive health issues and feminine energy shared by gree_yogabhyasi. I was nodding when she spoke about how feminine energy gets impacted by the pressures women face in trying to balance, achieve, and be perfect in everything that they do. I should have stopped at that, but I scrolled through the comments section. It is appalling to see many women's aggressive comments and the misconceived notion that feminine energy equals cooking 4 meals a day for the family. It is such a narrow, biased view that our society has brainwashed women with, in the past 2-3 decades.

The corporate workplace requires a certain aggressive mindset to push yourself (and others if you are leading a team). It also needs a competitive mindset to thrive, "belong", contribute and be visible in the male-dominated culture. This mindset would imply being proactive in taking up new initiatives, getting your voice heard in meetings when strategic decisions are made, and putting in long hours. Women also tend to take on a lot of mundane operational work that others are hesitant to take up - sending meeting notes, coordinating between teams, and project planning, though these may not be part of her KRAs.

If someone is content with having a job that pays without much ambition to rise the ladder, there may not be much of a pressure.

But for women who are ambitious by nature, there is a lot of self-inflicted pressure, expectations from others, and multiple responsibilities that will help them rise in their careers.

The feminine qualities of empathy, care, active listening, collaboration, balance, and creativity aren't valued much, especially if you are in the male-dominated IT sector. This in turn forces women to adopt masculine traits such as aggression, competitiveness, and power-seeking behaviors to be on par with men.

The responsibilities at home continue to be predominantly on her shoulders (though she might get "help" from her spouse if she is lucky). When child care and elderly care categories get added to her list of responsibilities, it is natural that her inner energies will get into a state of conflict, which then manifests into reproductive health issues.

Having gone through hormonal imbalances/PCOD and reversed the same, I strongly believe in the role of feminine energy that needs to be protected and nurtured for the sake of her well-being. Yoga plays a pivotal role in realigning and balancing our energies, along with changes to overall lifestyle and embracing feminine traits without any guilt.

Feminine energy is not about cooking and taking care of the family. Let's get away from such a narrow mindset.

Our role is way beyond that. We have the power to shape the society through our inherent qualities.


Nov 16, 2023

Cricket memories



 It was Mar 1996. The men's cricket world cup had just started. My younger bro started watching a few matches. On one boring evening, I sat with him and watched an innings. It was Ind vs WI and Sachin scored a 70. That was my initiation into becoming a cricket fan! I was in 10th grade back then and it was time for final revision exams. While we were writing the exam, our Headmaster would announce match scores through a mic and we would cheer together in the exam hallπŸ™‚

From 1996 until mid-2002, I watched almost all cricket matches played by India - test matches and ODIs. I became a crazy Sachin fan. I remember jotting down his scores with a lot of detail (runs scored, balls, 4s, 6s) in a notebook after every match. Cricket was one of the many things that my bro and I bonded over (add Formula-1 and WWF to that list πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚). We also spent a memorable day watching a test match in Chepauk stadium when Sachin hit a century (Ind vs Aus 2001).

I moved to Bangalore in 2002 for my first job. Though my interest was still intact, I couldn't follow cricket as much. Office Cafeteria TV and weekend gatherings at friends' homes were the other avenues. There used to be multiple occasions when I would seriously argue with friends and office colleagues about why Sachin was the best batsman of that time.

The 2011 World Cup was quite special, as I had the time and good company to enjoy all the matches. It was such a happy moment when India won the World Cup and the team lifted Sachin around the stadium. I cried so much during the last test match of Sachin, especially hearing his farewell speech.

Slowly, my interest waned off and I just didn't follow cricket for many years. I have no clue what happened in 2015 or 2019 World Cups. I wasn't following IPL / other T20 matches either. Frankly, I prefer ODIs over T20s.

This year, somehow the interest in cricket got revived thanks to the 2023 World Cup that is in progress. I've been following all India matches and it has been super special. K and I look forward to every match. We watch with so much screaming/shouting/cheering/clapping that D gives us an earful for making noise! 😁

As I watched the infamous runout clip of the Aus vs SA 1999 semi-final today, it just brought back all my memories. So many linked to cricket!

Pic: With my bro who introduced me to cricket. When we visited Dubai in 2017, this pic in front of Sharjah Cricket Stadium happened!


Nov 15, 2023

Embrace Simplicity

"For most families in the past, life was simple but not easy. Today, for a nuclear family, life is easy but not simple" - I came across this statement in the book "Wisdom Bridge". It made such an impact on me. Why is life not so simple these days? Are we creating the complications deliberately or without our awareness?

Is our nature to gravitate towards extremities causing this complexity?

Sharing a few thoughts from the perspective of health.

We overindulge and then we go for extreme diets.

For eg, there wasn't any detox after festivities during our parents'/grandparents' times. They happily indulged in sweets and savories during Diwali and then got back to eating simple, regular home-cooked foods.

In the past few years, every health influencer has announced a detox program post-Diwali. If we say "detox", it implies that there are toxins that we have consumed which need to be eliminated. We are programming our minds that sweets/deep-fried foods are toxic, which makes us feel subconsciously guilty while eating them.

I remember savories like murukku and mixture used to be prepared at home ONLY twice a year - Janmashtami and Diwali. Thanks to the numerous outlets, these savories (and sweets) are available all year round.

There are simple practices that can be followed to maintain health and well-being:

  • Eat fresh, home-cooked food.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Stay physically active throughout the day.
  • Practice simple yogasanas, do nadi shodhan pranayama everyday.
  • Meditate for a few minutes, closing your eyes and observing your breath.
  • Sleep on time. Follow circadian rhythm

But NO, these simple practices are boring.

We HAVE to eat quinoa/chia seeds/protein shakes/smoothies. Or else our macro counts will go haywire.

We HAVE to lift 50 kg weights three times a day and spend 2 hours in the gym. Only then we will lose weight.

We HAVE to run 10 km every day. Only then our metabolic rate will be high.

Beliefs like these are being propagated through social media and we succumb to them because they challenge us. Simple practices aren't appealing and don't seem challenging enough.

The more we embrace simplicity, the higher the probability our mental health will be in good shape. As we complicate our lives, mental health takes a beating. No wonder, many spiritual gurus are warning that a mental health pandemic is coming soon.


Nov 13, 2023

Book Review: The Power of One Thought by BK Shivani



 Earlier this year, I discovered the talks of Sister BK Shivani. I resonate so much with her thoughts and just love her calming voice. I read her book "Happiness Unlimited" which made a profound impact.

Her latest book " The Power of One Thought" elaborates on the idea of how our thoughts shape our destiny. She emphasizes the power of a soul and its inherent qualities of love, happiness, peace, and power. The topic of emotional dependence on external situations was an eye-opener, specifically how the uncertainty in the outer world has increased so much in the past few years.

She then explains the function of thought and classifies them into 4 types. In the third chapter, she puts out an interesting framework of how thoughts cascade into our feelings, attitudes, actions, and habits (which she refers to as sanskars). Sanskars are the automated patterns of emotions that we easily gravitate towards - blaming, complaining, anger, and hurting others to name a few. Until we examine and correct our thoughts, these sanskars take deeper roots.

The chapter that talks about the three doorways to our thoughts - beliefs we carry, the content we consume, and our past experiences - is well explained and much-needed. The fact that the author has dedicated one chapter to anger shows how much this emotion of anger impacts our energy.

The formula that she often repeats, Stress = Pressure / Resilience, has so much truth in it. She beautifully explains how certain habits are reducing our resilience these days. Her perspectives on ego consciousness and its various manifestations are a must-read. The five types of sanskars we carry give us more clarity on our habitual responses.

She wraps up the book with 7 habits for daily self-care.

Simple, concise writing with relatable examples and without any complex jargon makes it a very engaging read. She has also provided many meditation exercises and affirmations that we could incorporate into our spiritual practice.

There are too many valuable takeaways in this book and it certainly requires a re-read. 

Nov 10, 2023

Prana in food - a short summary

 In my earlier post, I spoke about how having an open, scientific mind is essential before we pass random comments or mock traditional ideas and principles.

In this post, let me share my perspectives on the topic of Prana in food. 


"Prana" is a Sanskrit term, that refers to life force or life energy. In Yogic philosophy, this life force is considered to be present in every aspect of creation.


In the context of food, the idea of Prana has different interpretations in naturopathy/nature cure, Ayurveda and Yoga philosophy. These streams have overlapping principles, but they are quite different. On social media, we see that these principles from all these streams get mixed up, leading to confusion.


From a Naturopathy point of view, foods are classified into three - positive pranic, negative pranic, and neutral pranic foods.


This classification is based on the inherent Prana (life force) that the food contains (PROPERTY BASED).

Positive Pranic foods - raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, cooked whole grains and whole lentils

Negative Pranic foods - garlic, onion, asafoetida, chilli, brinjal, tea, coffee, alcohol, meat, packaged foods, fried foods, foods made with sugar/oil/processed grains

Neutral Pranic foods - potato, tomato


According to Yogic philosophy, foods are classified into three - Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic foods.


This classification is based on the changes in Prana within our body due to the consumption of certain foods (OUTCOME BASED).

Sattvic foods - creates a state of balance, lightness, and clarity of mind - Fruits, nuts, steamed vegetables, cooked grains, beans, lentils, milk and milk products

Rajasic foods - creates restlessness, impatience, hyperactivity, and overstimulation of senses - Foods cooked with high amounts of spices and oil, meat, fish, garlic

Tamasic foods - creates lethargy, inaction, and inertia - Old, stale foods, highly processed foods


Prana can also be enhanced through our thoughts, words, and actions.

The reason why a simple homecooked meal tastes delicious and satisfying is because of the way it is cooked with love and care. Mass-cooked meals don't have that inherent taste, which leads to the addition of artificial flavors and taste enhancers.


These factors impact the quality of Prana in food:

  • The mindset in which the food is prepared
  • Hygiene during food preparation
  • Time difference between when food was prepared and when it is eaten
  • Mindset while eating
  • The group with whom you are eating and the conversations before or during eating
  • Whether food was offered to the Divine before eating


There is a marked difference in taste and flavor

  • between home-cooked food vs food mass-produced in a restaurant/cloud kitchen
  • between freshly cooked food vs stale food
  • between food that is cooked with love and care vs food made with a lot of resentment and anger


Prana may not be seen or measured through the limited capability of our 5 senses. But it can be experienced through abilities beyond sensory perception. As Wayne Dyer beautifully put it, 

"You'll see it when you believe it"


Please note, Ayurveda doesn't classify food based on Prana. Foods are recommended solely based on the individual constitution type and the season.


These are my interpretations based on personal experience and reading and researching books and articles related to Yoga, Ayurveda, and Naturopathy.

Experts in these areas, If there are any mistakes in my understanding, please let me know.


Nov 4, 2023

Having an open mind

 Imagine that you are in a dark room and facing a corner. You somehow stumble and locate the switch of a tiny light bulb. When you switch it on, the small corner of the room gets illuminated, while the rest of the room remains dark.

Does this mean that the other corners don't exist?

Does this mean that the other corners don't have anything?

No.

You can only perceive the objects in the corner illuminated by the light bulb through your senses.

You are not able to perceive other corners yet.

Does it then make sense to dismiss that there are no other corners in the room?

If one has a true, scientific mind (which is inquisitive and experimental), then one wouldn't reject or mock ideas that he/she hasn't fully explored yet.

As people portraying that we have a modern view of the world, I'd highly suggest that we keep an open mind and explore ideas/principles that aren't visible to our perception or understanding yet. Dismissing them blatantly as superstitions/blind beliefs limits our ability to search for solutions beyond the obvious.

Let's take an example. I have seen a few food influencers mocking the idea of Pranic value in foods. They question the validity of Prana since it cannot be seen/measured.

The word "Prana" had been used in common parlance during our grandparents' times, referring to life energy.

I remember my grandfather saying "praanana vaangaadhe"😁 ("Don't take my Prana") when kids do any mischief or throw a tantrum.

If you have watched Tamil movies from the 1950s, you might have heard the heroine telling the hero, "prana naatha"☺️ ("You are my life force").

Taittiriya Upanishad refers to the five sheaths of a human personality (Panchakosha), wherein the second sheath is Pranamaya Kosha (Energy layer).

The science of Pranayama is aimed at expanding/controlling the flow of Prana in our body.

Prana, the life force is manifested through the air we breathe, the food we eat, the content we consume, and the thoughts we have.

Instead of waiting for modern science to research and invent a metric to measure Prana, we can experiment its presence ourselves.

Yoga asana practices (among various other benefits) enable Prana to flow freely through the body. The focus on breath control, posture, and improving spine flexibility are all ways by which Prana can flow without any blockages.

One of the goals of Yoga is to increase our breadth of awareness and depth of perception. To be able to perceive something as subtle as Prana is possible through Yogic practices.

Will write a detailed post on the topic of Prana in foods.


Nov 3, 2023

Understand before mocking at traditional practices

 It's becoming a trend to mock traditional practices and food philosophy by a few "Instagram-only" medical doctors and so-called food science experts.

Instead of rejecting them completely, assuming that they don't suit today's modern world, I'd advocate that we choose to take the middle path and identify those principles that work for our body and mind.

Recently I stumbled upon a video of someone criticising the idea of not storing idli/dosa batter for 10 days. Let's leave the science of refrigeration and slowing down of fermentation aside. Let's test this with our own experience.

I have observed this with myself and my husband. Whenever we consume idli/dosa/oothappam made with old batter (>5 days), we feel an increase in acidity levels, leading to indigestion and heartburn. This happens more so with millet-based idli batters than with regular rice idli batters. Based on this experience, I don't grind batter quantity that would exceed 4-5 days. At the same time, I don't go to the other extreme of ditching my fridge altogether.

I use the fridge to store the batter but I ensure the batter is used up within 4-5 days.

As always, striking the right balance according to our body's signals and our digestive abilities is a better choice, than swinging to either extreme.

As a follower of Ayurveda principles, I observed that eating cooked foods suits my body (and mind) whereas raw foods don't agree with me (in terms of taste, preference, and health). This is in direct alignment with my Vata-dominant nature as per Ayurveda. At the same time, I don't follow ALL principles of Ayurveda diligently.

Instead of asking whether a philosophy/practice/science is relevant in today's times, it is best to identify those aspects that work for you depending on your personal experience and situation. Dismissing or rejecting a system completely just because modern science is yet to catch up with it is akin to throwing the baby along with the bath water, in my opinion.

The science of Mudras is very much real and it is disappointing to see people mocking it without having any understanding.


Nov 1, 2023

Be observant of your energy fluctuations

 This happened a few weeks back. It was around 6 PM and the rains started to pour all of a sudden. All through the afternoon, I had feelings of restlessness and agitation, manifesting as shallow breaths and faster heartbeats. I couldn't put a finger on why I was feeling this way. I couldn't pacify these minor energy turbulences through my routine evening prayers that day. Coincidentally, one of our cats Georgina started to howl on the balcony as the downpour became heavier. We let her inside our living room, along with her sister Octi. They both started to play fight and chase each other. As their restlessness increased, so did mine. K was busy attending a work call in his room and I didn't know how to manage these two hyper-active kitties.

Intuition pushed me to open the Spotify app and start playing a rendition of the 108 OM mantra. I sat down on the sofa and closed my eyes, meditating on the sound, voice, and the musical instrument. As the chanting progressed, our cats started to become calmer. Georgina sat very close to me, while Octi sat on a nearby chair. Within a few minutes, Georgina slept off as I continued to meditate. The chanting got over after 30 minutes and as I opened my eyes, it was so surreal to see the two kitties having calmed down and relaxed. And so was I. By then, the rains had stopped as well.

When K came out of his room, he was surprised to see me sitting with eyes closed and the two cats relaxed, along with OM chants playing in the background.

Having been closely living with cats, I have observed how they are very sensitive to energy vibrations. If there is something off or unusual, they can sense it very easily. The same sensitivity is available to us, humans as well. We are not able to interpret the energy within because we are so engrossed in the outer world and detached from our inner feelings and sensations.

Being conscious of our energy fluctuations is the first step before we can even attempt to identify and address the root causes. These fluctuations signal us to slow down, observe, and reconnect with our inner selves. External influences can be a huge contributing factor and through awareness, we can identify and protect our energies from disturbing sources.


Oct 30, 2023

Visit to Apollo Book Store, Mahabalipuram



 During our recent trip to Chennai, we visited the historical town of Mahabalipuram. While googling for the places to visit, I stumbled upon "Apollo bookstore". It was around 11 AM when I walked down the road that has many cafes, gift shops, and boutique stores. An elderly man was cleaning the front side of the bookstore with the shutters closed. I asked him, "When will the shop open?". He requested me to wait for a couple of minutes as he opened and cleared a few items for me to enter. He also placed a small bench for me to sit and browse the pile of books stacked up on the floor.

I spent the next 30 minutes, browsing through his collection of various books. While billing, I had a short conversation with him in Tamil. Here's how it went:

Apollo Store Owner Mr Kumaresan (AK): "Sorry madam. there's so much dust. I haven't cleaned the shop in the last few days. I didn't even arrange the second-hand books neatly. I just stashed them in heaps"

Me: "That's okay. People who love books don't mind digging around to find gems"

AK: "Many tourists used to visit earlier. Now, look at this street. Totally empty. Many have shut shop"

Me: "Why? Isn't this tourist season?"

AK: "Many backpackers used to visit this town earlier. I did very good business. But due to Covid and the current geopolitical situation, there are hardly any backpacker tourists."

Me: "What about the local tourists? I noticed quite a lot of crowd near Shore temple"

AK: "Except for a few people like you, no local tourists would visit a bookstore, madam. They come to see these monuments and return. But backpackers always carry a book with them and sit in a cafe or by the beach and read. I have books in 18 different languages. There were times when I was one of the leading sellers of coffee table books in India. Now the business has reduced so drastically. If it was just a business with money-making intentions, I would have moved on to something else. But this bookstore is my passion. I don't want to let it go. "Aasai aasaiya seyara business ipdi dullaa poiduchenu nenaichu nenaichu odambukku vandhirichu (All the stress has resulted in physical ailments). I have also taken up a part-time job. I feel so bad to let these books gather dust."

Me: "I'll try to spread the word. Please don't lose hope"

Offline bookstores run by small business owners can survive only if we support them. Large chains like Crosswords will diversify or move onto some other lucrative business.

If you are visiting Mahabalipuram, do take the time to visit this cozy, little book store - Apollo Books, Othavadai Street.

Oct 18, 2023

Protecting an ideology/belief/faith

 I was hesitant to bring up this topic, but I decided to go ahead with it, given the observations in the past few weeks.

At home, we play a Board game named Pandemic. As the name suggests, it is a collaborative game where players take the roles of specialized professionals to cure the world of 4 different viruses and eradicate them.


The cure for a virus is found through certain rules, but the eradication happens only when there are no more cities infected with the virus.

The rulebook states, "If no cubes of this color (*color indicates the specific virus*) are on the board, this disease is now eradicated".


If we want to protect an ideology/belief/faith and do not want it to be "eradicated", we can achieve the same ONLY through our individual actions.


There is no point in raising outrage over the comments raised by politicians (who play the religion card as always to win votes), watching YouTube/FB videos and news channels that indulge in hate-spewing discussions, and sharing and commenting on such videos, adding more fuel to the fire. These only affect our mental and emotional health, and increase our blood pressure and cortisol levels.


Let's ask ourselves

  • Are we taking the time to understand our scriptures deeply?
  • Are we making the effort to learn the language used in these scriptures?
  • Are we practicing the rituals as prescribed?
  • Are we learning the meaning and purpose behind various traditions and customs?
  • Are we ready to seek a balance between material pursuits (money, title, fame, power, status) and spiritual pursuits (peace, stable mind, strength, resilience)?
  • Are we ready to slowly detach from worldly pleasures as we age? (as explained in the Ashrama system)

Most importantly,

  • Are we spending time with our children/grandchildren to pass on the wisdom - teaching stories and values and giving them experiential knowledge through rituals and practices during festivals and special occasions?

A belief/faith will only get eradicated if no more followers are passing down the teachings to subsequent generations. Let's leave the politics aside and proceed down the path of conscious habits and discipline toward learning, practicing, and teaching the principles.


These questions are for everyone, including myself.


Small steps I have taken in the past few years in this direction are:

  • daily evening prayers by lighting the lamp and chanting a few shlokas and chants
  • all festivals celebrated traditionally, with voluntary effort
  • visiting a temple every weekend (Hanuman ji temple on Saturdays mostly)
  • practicing spiritual sadhana based on Yoga philosophy
  • connecting with the divine and surrendering my efforts in whatever I do
  • started to learn the scriptures and roots of Indian philosophy
  • sharing the principles learned using stories (thanks to Amar Chitra Katha) with my daughter


I have a long way to go, but I'd rather focus my efforts on my actions than watch umpteen videos on Whatsapp/FB/YouTube and feel rage/anger, which serves no purpose in upholding Sanatana Dharma.


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