Showing posts from May, 2011

Lessons of love and life: An Education

The English film "An Education" is based on a true life memoir which documents one girl's attempt to make it to the university and the long tangle she finds herself in with an older man, in her final year of school.

The film follows the story of Jenny Mellor (Carey Mulligan), who is safely middle class and lives in Twickenham, a suburb in London. Her parents, much like Indian parents, have grand dreams of her making it to Oxford.

At sixteen and wide-eyed, top of her class, Jenny falls in love easily--with books, music, ideas and new experiences. She falls equally easily in love with the rakish and much older David (Peter Sarsgaard), whom she first meets on a rainy evening.

That encounter lays the ground for a months long affair of fine-dining, adult conversations and expensive trips. The world that David lays out is infinitely more dazzling to the impressionable Jenny than her current one. David's arrival also presents her family with a choice: Life at university or th…

Connecting With God

Swami Tejomayananda The Asian Age

In my last article, I dealt with the existence of God. Once we know and accept that He exists, the next question is how do we "realize" Him? Each one of us is endowed with three powers--the power of knowing, the power of desire and the power of acting. It is only when we become aware of our potential powers that desires arise and we want to possess, create or become something. Knowledge creates the desire and this in turn becomes the motivating power behind all actions. The source for all this is the infinite potential within us. Our scriptures refer to this potential as "God".

Once we understand that God is the support and substratum, the Self and the infinite potential in all beings, how can we deny His existence? People are happy when God is far away because His proximity poses a problem. Whether we know, we believe or we understand it or not, God is the power that exists in us. So there is no question of not realizing God; we just…

The Existence of God

Swami Tejomayananda
The Asian Age

The existence of God is a very popular and fascinating question and has been asked from time immemorial. Various people over the ages have conclusively tried to answer this timeless question but it still keeps coming up. To answer this question conclusively, we will have to examine this question from various angles.

In the present day and age of the Internet, with the advancement of science and technology and an information explosion, it may interest one to know that there is even more information on one topic--God. Even God would be surprised and amused at this!! God reigns supreme, whether or not we believe in His existence. The atheists endorse it by not believing and the believers by surrendering to God. The former do it by disproving His existence and the latter by trying to establish it.

The question that therefore arises is, "Does God really exist?" Believers take the knowledge in the Vedas or the scriptures of other religions, as their …

Get A Life:

Swami Tejomayananda
The Asian Age

Man has always craved happiness. All material sciences and fields of activity are geared towards achieving this one goal. Whatever we do, or even what we renounce, is meant only for happiness. But despite the goal being one, happiness still seems to elude us. It is not that we lack comforts in life, we do have moments of happiness; all is not misery and sorrow. Despite experiencing and knowing moments of happiness, there is no contentment, peace or fulfilment in life. We say that we have pleasures and comforts, but something is missing and not knowing very clearly what we want, we go through nameless sorrows.

If we want to be happy in life, the first prerequisite is good health. If we are unhealthy, weak or suffering from some pain or disease, any joy of life means nothing. Then there are our addictions, whether smoking or drinking. People drink to someone's health and destroy their own! Can we say that such people really love their bodies or care fo…

Happiness: A Serious Matter

Swami Tejomayananda
The Asian Age

At an informal gathering, someone asked me: "How do we have fun in life?" "By being serious," I said rather seriously, because the pursuit of happiness is such a serious matter. A superficial approach to anything leads one to trouble. So, the philosophy of "eat, drink and be merry" is a very shallow view of life. Only deeper enquiry will take us to the truth.

Life is constituted of perception and response. We cannot help responding to people, situations and events. A response depends on individual perceptions. Everybody sees the same object but how each one sees it makes all the difference. Perceptions, therefore, can be called as the vision of life and response as an action or reaction that depends on this vision. We consider what we experience with our sense organs as real. No wonder, we find the world enchanting with its infinite variety and matchless beauty. But when we try to understand the same world a little deeply, i…

Why Good People Suffer?

Swami Tejomayananda
The Asian Age

"Why do good people suffer or why do bad things end up happening to good people?" This question seems to be very common these days. It seems as though the good people end up bearing the brunt of all sufferings while the evil doers seem to enjoy life. But if we observe closely, we see that everyone undergoes suffering in some form or the other. Keeping this in mind, our question becomes meaningless. Just because a person is good does not mean that there would be no suffering in his/her life.

But how exactly do we define "good"? In Sanskrit, "sadhu" is the word used to define a good person. The Sanskrit word Sadhu is derived from the root word, "saadh" which means "to accomplish". If we work for ourselves and achieve great things, there is nothing laudable about it but if we help others to achieve their goals then it becomes an accomplishment. It is courtesy to return good for good. But if someone harms you…

Rationalizing Greed

The Economic Times

Kubera, the Lord of wealth and the king of Yakshas, is the treasurer of the Gods. One day, he paid a visit to Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva, the hermit-God, where he met Lord Shiva's elephant headed son, the corpulent Ganesha. He thought to himself, "Ganesha clearly loves food and Shiva can clearly not afford to him to his heart's content." So as a favour to Lord Shiva, Kubera offered to feed Lord Ganesha one meal. When Ganesha accepted the invitation and entered Kubera's kitchen, the Yaksha king said, "Eat to your heart's content."

Kubera regretted these words. Ganesha's appetite was insatiable. He ate everything that was available in the kitchen and still asked for more. Food had to be bought from the larder and then from the market. But Ganesha was still hungry. "More please," he said raising his trunk. Kubera had to spend all the money in his treasury and buy all the food in the world to feed Ga…

Crossed Wires: The Conversation

The 1974 English film "The Conversation" directed by Francis Ford Coppola is an atmospheric gem of a movie, which for some strange reason is not as well-known or widely seen as it should be. Between directing the cult classic The Godfather-I and The Godfather-II, filmmaker Francis Coppola filmed this movie. Although the film was released shortly after Woodward and Bernstein broke their legendary Watergate story, it wasn't inspired by that scandal involving wire-tapping. The filmmaker had written the script well before the story that brought President Nixon down hit The Washington Post's front page.

The film tells the tale story of an experienced and skilled private detective, Harry Caul, who bugs rooms, taps, phones and eavesdrops to earn his daily bread. Played persuasively by Gene Hackman, he is a taciturn loner obsessed, ironically, about his own privacy, perhaps because he knows how easily it can be breached.

While on a seemingly routine assignment to tape the conv…

The "Sathya" among us

Some people took notice when Sachin Tendulkar, who remains, admirably reined in on the cricket turf, got visibly overwhelmed at Sri Sathya Sai Baba's Samadhi in Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh. Some woke up to eminent writers and columnists running amok with their pens and their social responsibilities. But, millions, in India and abroad, Indians and Indians-at-heart have been praying, hoping and grieving for almost a month now.

To them--this is a huge loss. A mortal blow. Mortality--in this case Sathya Sai Baba's mortality--has made a tribe of detractors (like me) some of them, plainly vituperative, negate and ridicule his spiritual stature. The question though, is not whether he was an incarnation of God or just Godly. Surely, one can argue that being Godly-in-deed is actually being an incarnation of God. Universally, in fact, creeds extol the existence of God in man. Established religious systems, as well as those derived from them.

Likewise, a large majority of religions endorse…