Saturday 20 February 2010

Soup for the sole!

Vishnu Paadam

Our lives have become so conditioned that we spend most of our time without letting our feet come into direct contact with the ground. Most of the people (especially women ) after crossing their 30s suffer from foot pain that demands the usage of footwear even inside their homes. Many live in wall to wall carpeted houses/apartments. Outside our houses we use footwear made of all kinds of material. As a result we miss out on the most vital of energies derived from the magnetic field of Earth. Earth sends out magnetic energy through the soles of our feet, this energy not only enters and infuses our bodies, it also releases stagnated and stale energy. All kinds of material used as footwear not only deprives us of the magnetic energy from Earth, the footwear by itself could be a carrier of negative energy!
Pranic healing states that Earth Prana is one of the most vital pranas (others are, divine prana:_derived from through meditation, air prana:-derived from the atmosphere, solar prana:- derived from sun and earth prana:- derived from the ground beneath our feet). By walking barefoot, the soles of our feet draw the pranic energy from the earth.
Walking barefoot in sand draws the purest of energies closest to the ocean. It also acts as a great reflexology massage. By walking unconstrained without footwear in the sand results in the stimulation of relevant reflexology points in the soles of the feet and their correlated organs throughout the body.
Standing on grassy or muddy ground with feet wide apart and visualising roots growing from the soles into the earth is a form of meditation. The practitioner inhales deeply, taking in all the vital energies through the roots of his/her soles all the way from below the earth. This practice is a tremendous energizer, simultaneously aiding in releasing the body-toxins.
Allowing bare feet to wriggle in lush, green and moist grass is absolutely rejuvenating. One could do that for hours together, feeling increasingly fresher by the minute!
Water is an equally pure and natural agent that aids in energizing the bodily chakras through our feet. We all know the magic of standing by the sea shore. Ocean waves, big and small, gentle and forceful, as they wash our feet magically rejuvenate us. A person in a state of depression or turmoil should try spending a few minutes alongside the sea shore with feet in sea-water. He/she would experience an immediate release from tension and negativity, feelings of hope and sheer positivity following closely on the heels! I remember the time when I dipped my feet in Holy Ganges in Haridwar, it felt as though I had taken a rebirth. It was such an overwhelming experience which I am not likely to forget!
At home it is best to immerse our feet in a basin of warm water. Adding a handful of rock salt and healing oils like eucalyptus energizes, cleanses and soothens tired feet, simultaneously removing all the negative energies which feet tend to absorb from public places. Keeping feet immersed in hot water activates Swadhishtana Chakra.
By walking barefoot in temples, ashrams and jeeva-samadhis of liberated souls, feet absorb great energies from the spiritually charged earth around such places.

Saturday 13 February 2010

Solely soul!

Goddess Radha's feet.

I had always wondered about the importance given to the feet of a person. We touch the feet of our parents, Gurus and elders. We meditate on the feet of God/Goddess. The famous "Paduka Sahasram" by Sri. Vedantha Desikar is all about the footwear ("padukas") of Lord Ranganatha. All the vaishnavite temples have "Vishnu Padam" (Feet of Lord Vishnu).
This subject about feet brings to my mind an incident-In 1993, (just a year before Maha Periyava's Brahmaleenam) I had been to Kanchipuram for the darshan of Maha Periyava. His Holiness was seated in an easy chair, His gaze blankly surveying the overwhelming crowd of devotees thronging the place around Him. Devotees were craning their necks over each other to catch a glimpse of Maha Periyava. The two men flanking His Holiness bent down towards Maha Periyava to whisper something in His ears. Maha Periyava listened to them intently and nodded His head ever so slightly. The two men bent down to lift His legs and placed Them on a stool in front of Him. Placed in that angle, the soles of His Feet were pointed upwards, and the naked soles of His feet were clearly visible to all of us. The devotees standing around me gasped in open wonderment and awe! They started pushing each other for a good view of Maha Periyava's feet, chanting aloud while doing so, "Paada Darshanam, Paapa Vimochanam, "Kamakshi Paadam!" I tried to hold the view of the smooth and glistening soles of His feet with my gaze, intending to store the image in my heart. It was a moment of great significance that left a deep impression in my heart!
That was the beginning of my contemplation on "feet". Due to my habit of interpreting words (lexigram or similar-sounding words), I felt there had to be an authentic theory behind the similar sounds of 'feet' and 'feat' . Feet / 'feat', thought-provoking indeed!
There is always a scientific reasoning behind every religious belief and based on this fact I had studied a little about feet reflexology and acupressure. The subjects are all about applying pressure on minute areas of the feet for healing. This pressure actually stimulates important points on the foot that transfers energy throughout the body to stimulate balance throughout the body.
Reflexology also states that the body is divided into five longitudinal zones on either side of the body totalling to ten. Every part or organ of the body is connected to the feet of the body. Ailments are diagnosed by feeling the feet and to treat the ailment, the corresponding pressure point in the foot is massaged. This also stimulates the flow of energy, blood, nutrients and nerve impulses to the corresponding zone thereby relieving the ailment in that particular zone.
Since feet contain the key points to each and every zone in the human body, the 'sole' of the foot could be described as the 'soul' of the body!
For maintaining the purity of the body temple, it is essential to keep the feet clear from bad energies that are mostly transmitted through footwear. These bad energies are absorbed by our footwear from various places outside our homes. Also the reason why we wash our feet as soon as we enter our homes!
Monks wear wooden 'padukas', probably because wood resists the invasion of negative energies! It is also understandable why we do not wear our footwear inside our homes.
A couple of months back, I fell sick with imaginary fever. The thermometer would read normal temperature, but I would still be feeling feverish. I tried various medication, but nothing worked. A reiki healer and clairvoyant who is a good friend told me that the shoes I used for treadmill were polluted with bad energies which was causing the ailment. As I threw my shoes away I gradually experienced a release from my feverish condition! Shoe is not merely footwear, bad energies are shooed away by shoes!
Our souls are in our soles - the sole reason being that, feet are not just about pedicure!

Sunday 7 February 2010

Decoding Cosmos!




"Enthamaathramuna Evvaru Thalachina Antha Maathramu Nuvvu", the opening lines of the famous Annamacharya Krithi is translated as:- "O Lord, You assume whatever form that is attributed to You by Thy devotee!"
Fantasy plays a big part in our lives. We fantasize about material and emotional fulfillment in our day to day life. Fantasy, is a powerful form of meditation as the mind is focused on the desired object/relationship. Over a period of time many of us attain our desires as a result of the intensity of our thoughts and wishes. Even God is realized through fervent thought-practice and staunch conviction that He is in and around us. As the famous saying goes, "God is in faith"! To fantasize about God, the practitioner needs to have a chosen deity. Since God responds only to emotional appeal, it is mandatory to choose a specific relationship with Him/Her (in case of a Goddess). A clinical approach to God does not work. Love and faith gradually train mind and eye to become vigilant for identifying messages from the cosmos.

I started this practice many years ago, I vividly remember the time when I used to take my daughters for their swimming classes in Savera. I used to sit by the pool and imagine God, Lord Venkateswara, in all His finery streched out as Lord Ranganatha on the other side of the pool. I alternate between Lord Venkateswara and Goddess Durga whenever I spin yarn out of my fanciful thoughts about God's presence in my day to day life.

Then comes observation, this part is absolutely blissful and exciting! It may take a while for the trained eye to figure out messages from God. When curious messages, occurrences and coincidences (hinting at the presence of God )are recognized by the psychic core of our minds (call it premonition or intuition!) we can be convinced that we are finally THERE! The messages could come in the subtlest of forms or manner, it depends upon the ability of the practitioner to interpret the message from God. The understanding manifests itself into Truth or God! For a practitioner who is not convinced by cosmic messages, God remains in His Nowhere Land and would not budge! For the non-believer God remains as inaccessible as ever!
To invoke God, the best thing would be to develop feelings of love and kinship towards Him.
A clinical approach to God is a big no-no! God responds ONLY to emotional appeal! Love and belief gradually train the mind and eye to be vigilant and alert for grasping messages from God.

I couldn't help but notice a few coincidences of late. I found that whenever I checked my mobile for missed calls or messages, the time would read as 12:12, 10:10, 03:03, etc.,always showing even hours and minutes on my mobile. My instinct would nag me that God was making His presence felt ("KAALOSMI"- "I AM TIME" as Lord Krishna stated in Bhagavad Gita)! After convincing myself that it was indeed God Himself who was revealing His divine presence through the even hour/minutes that showed on my mobile, I started treating my mobile reverentially. My observation has further led me to believe that when the time showed as 10:37, 12:48, 09:36, 06:24 etc. (the minutes adding up exactly to the sum of the hour), even that implied God! At times when the time (during my random check for missed calls or messages) showed one or two minutes lesser than 10:10 or 07:34 etc., I would wait for the one or two minutes to pass to feast my eyes on God!
During instances like travel by car, flight or train or while stationed in some place, my gaze would casually encounter messages like "Sri Kamakshi Thunai", "Do not fear, I am here" etc. on lorries, buses or cars. When I look at pictures of fierce looking lions (representing Goddess Durga), elephants (for Lord Vighneswara), monkeys (for Lord Anjaneya) etc., I recognize them as my guardians .
Way back in 1994, I had a terrifying experience while flying from Coimbatore to Chennai (returning from a holiday in Ooty). The air turbulence was so intense that I thought I would not survive the flight! It took me a very long time to get over my phobia for flights. In the midst of my fear of flying, I had to take up a journey to London for a veena concert. I prayed fervently to Lord Ranganatha to make my journey pleasant without air pockets and turbulence. Despite all my prayers, during the flight my knees were shaking and my palms wet and sweaty due to fear. After sometime I heard the captain of the flight announce that we were flying across Madurai (close to Trichy, Srirangam) and I got goosebumps listening to the announcement. I recognized it as God's way of declaring that He was protecting me! I was simply thrilled! As though the assurance was not enough, another miracle took place just then!
Sensing somebody occupying the empty seat next to me. I turned to notice that he was an elderly Indian. It was obvious that he sat next to me to strike a conversation. He asked me curiously, "Are you Veena Gayathri?"
Small talk was the last thing I needed, at the same time I was glad to have company to be able to keep my mind off the flight! I replied with a tired smile, "Yes".
He introduced himself,"I am Rangarajan"! His name made me jerk my head towards him, my eyes growing wide in awe and wonder!
All through the journey, the gentleman discussed music and the temple rituals in Lord Ranganatha's temple in Srirangam (he told me that one of his relatives worked as a priest in the temple!). Time flew and I hardly noticed the flight. In London Heathrow Airport, Mr.Rangarajan refused to leave my side till the organisers came to meet me. Walking along with the organisers I turned to look behind. Mr.Rangarajan was still there, waving goodbye to me with a smile!
On my return to India I knew it would be too much to ask God for a repeat performance, but somehow I couldn't shake off the premonition that He would once again escort me back to India. While I was pondering about the curious ways of the Divine, I heard a voice from behind, "Gayathri! Neeyaa!!". I turned back to find ghatam vidwan, Sri. T.H.Subashchandran looking at me in surprise and delight. I had known Sri.Subash from my childhood as he had accompanied me on mridangam as well as ghatam for many of my concerts.
"Subash Anna! How nice to see you!" Being in the company of any member of Sri. T.H.Vinayakram's family feels like being in a religious discourse about Maha Periyava. The members of the entire family are staunch devotees of Maha Periyava of Kanchi Mutt. I was simply thrilled to know that my premonition had come true and that God would be with me on my way back to India too.
On the way to London if the conversation between Sri.Rangarajan and myself was all about Srirangam temple and Lord Ranganatha, on the way back to India the conversation between me and Subash Anna was all about Maha Periyava and the miracles He performed in the lives of His devotees!

God is within our grasp, it is simply an art of decoding cosmic signals!

Friday 5 February 2010

Sri Venkatachala Mahathyam (wedding chapter 19-28)

19)Na Cha Maathrusamam Mithram Janakeyna Samam Sukham!
Na Bhaaryaasadrusham Bhaagyam!Na Puthreyna Samaagathihi!!

Meaning:
In friendship there is none equal to a mother, no comfort equivalent to a father, prosperity that is equal to the presence of a wife, salvation without a son......

20)Na Hi Bhaathrusamo Bandhuhu Na Vishordevathaa Paraa!
Ithi Sambhaashya Govindo Leelaamaanushavigrahaha!!

Meaning:
No relative equal to a brother and no God equal to Lord Vishnu......"thus lamented Lord Srinivasa.

21)Ruroda Lokareethyaiva Pashyan Brahmaananam Harihi!
Upadharya Hareyr Vaakyam Sa Bhavaha Kanjasambhavaha!!

Meaning:
Fixing His gaze on Lord Brahma's face, Lord Srinivasa cried and lamented about the cruel ways of life. Listening to Lord Srinivasa's woes.........

22) Saanthvayan Vaasudevanthu Bhaaratheemaaha Bhoopathey!
Brahmaa:
Kimardham Mohayasi No Maayaapanjaravaasinaha!!

Meaning:
Consoling Lord Srinivasa, Lord Brahma spoke as follows:-"O Lord ! We are already under the influence of 'Maya' (Illusion). Why art Thou creating further 'Maya' by lamenting in such a manner?"

23)Kopi Naastheethi Yathproktham Thadasathyam Chathurbhujaha!
Puthroham Thava Kalyaana! Pouthraha Saakshaathrilochanaha!!

Meaning:
O Lord with four arms! It is not true that you do not have relatives! I am your son! Lord Rudra is your grandson!!

24)Manmadhonyaha Pumaan Puthraha Pouthraputhraha Shadaananaha!
Jagathpraano Jyeshtaputhraha Snushaa They Bhaarathee Harey!!

Meaning:
Lord Manmatha is your son! Lord Kumaraswami is your great grandson!!Lord Vayu is your elder son and Goddess Saraswathi is your daughter-in-law!...

25)Saraswathyaadhikaa Ssarvaaha Sthriyaha Thvathpaadasevikaaha!
Thvam Pumaan Paramassaakshaath Jagathdhaathree Thavaanganaa!!

Meaning:
Goddess Saraswathi and all the divine women folk are Your attendants, residing at Your feet! You are the Lord of the Universe and the Mother of the Universe is Your Spouse....

26)Kreedaamaathramidam Manye Thvathkrutham Purushottama!
Evam Vibhavamaapanaha Thvam No Mohayasey Vrudhaa!!

Meaning:
Your lamentations to me seem like a form of entertainment or a game!You are the Supreme Lord beyond any doubt, You are unnecessarily subjecting us to "Illusion" (Maya)!

27)Ithdhamukthvaa Chathurvakthro Vaasudevam Ramaasakham!
Ramaam Sankethayaamaasa Saa Ramaa Vaakyamabraveeth!!

Meaning:
Lord Brahma spoke thus to Lord Srinivasa and Goddess Sridevi, Goddess Sridevi spoke thus to Lord Srinivasa..

28)Sri Ramaa:-
Viditham Hrudayam Deva! Thava Venkatavallabha!
Thailaabhyangaadikarmaani Karishye Purushoththama!!

Meaning:
Goddess Sridevi said-"O Lord Venkatachalapathy! I have understood Your feelings! I shall perform all the auspicious deeds starting with applying oil to your hair!!"

Monday 1 February 2010

MLA Pesarattu !!

Asking for MLA Pesarattu in a Chennai Hotel is like asking for the moon!!!! Pesarattu gives me a creative high and almost elevates my thinking! My trips to Tirupathi are incomplete without the pesarattu in Bhimas (near railway station) or Bhimas Residency on the highway. The best pesarattus are the ones made by my mother. She does a double pesarattu with the 'moodu mukkalu' (three pieces of onions, green chillies and ginger) sandwiched in between them. Veena maestro, late Sri. Emani Sankara Shasthri used to come home for dinner during his visits to Chennai (he was in AIR New Delhi those days) just to enjoy my mother's pesarattus! We would wind up by discussing veena and music after dinner, I was in my teens then! I even remember playing my guitar for him!
The other mouth-watering pesarattus I have tasted are in my in-laws' place in Guntur. Even the hotels in Guntur, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Vizag, etc. offer the most delicious and spicy pesarattus! Whenever I am offered a concert in AP, I feel thrilled at the thought of pesarattu!
My experience with pesarattu in a well-known hotel in Chennai almost broke my heart. The weepy looking insipid attu (dosa) was abs. frustrating and I had never felt so let down in my life! I then told myself that it is better to live without something than to feel let down by the same!!!!!!!!!
After successfully giving up the thought and temptation of pesarattu, I got the most pleasant shock of my life yesterday in Sathyam Cinemas. Having booked tickets for "Avatar" (the movie was no great shakes), my husband and I walked into ID (idli-dosa) restuarant which is in the movie complex itself. I eyed the menu card that stated "pesarattu" doubtfully. I was worried about another disastrous experience as am unable to trust Chennai cooks where pesarattu is concerned. I refused to order and preferred watching my husband while he ate. I caught my breath in awe and wonder when the waiter placed not just pesarattu, but MLA pesarattu (pesarattu with upma stuffing along with the three pieces) on the table!!!!!! It smelled good too with its combination of ginger chutney (allappachchadi). I immediately ordered one more for myself. The taste was almost decent, a little too dry like Karnaranjani raaga (this is a raaga I am allergic to- almost gives me a skin rash!), there could have been more oil in the attu (dosa). Maybe they are cooking for weight-watchers! In any case it tasted LIKE a MLA pesarattu and that was all I wanted! The hitch is that unless we watch some dumb movie ( full of brainless prattle or violence, violence and more violence which I watch through my fingers!), we don't get to eat the MLA pesarattu( the restuarant is within the movie complex). With a li'l bit more oil in the pesarattu, the deal may not be so bad!!!!!
MLA Pesarattu recipe:-
Ingredients:-
Whole moong dhal-2 cups
Rice-1 or 1/2 cup (more of rice makes the pesarattu crispier)
Green chillies-5 or6
Ginger-small piece
Salt to tase
Topping
1 chopped onion
1 tsp cumin seeds
Small piece of ginger, finely chopped
Chopped coriander (optional)
1 cup upma
1 tsp roasted cashew nuts

Method of preparation:- Soak moong dhal for 9 to 10 hours. Wash and drain them. In mixie or grinder add moong dhal, rice,cumin seeds, green chillies, ginger and salt.Add little water and grind the contents till it becomes a smooth paste.
For topping heat a frying pan adding 1 tsp oil to it. After the pan is heated add chopped onions, ginger and cumin seeds and finally finely chopped coriander leaves.Fry onions till they become golden brown.
Prepare upma separately and keep it aside.
Place a pan on the stove on a medium flame. Grease the pan with little oil and pour a ladle full of batter on to the pan and spread the batter into a thin, round layer, smooth a little oil around the edges. Put 2 tsps of upma in the middle of the attu (dosa). Add fried onion pieces and fried cashew nuts over the upma. Cover the pesarattu for 3 to 4 minutes and allow it to cook over a medium flame. Then fold the attu (dosa).
Place it on a serving plate along with ginger chutney and any other side dish you may desire.
Yummy MLA pesarattu is ready !!!!!!!!!!!