The real reason you need to practice yoga

Yoga from BG

Yoga is not a work-out, it is a work-in – Anonymous

A mind free from all disturbances is yoga – Patanjali

A yogi is greater than the ascetic, greater than the empiricist (JNANI) and greater than the fruitive worker (KARMI). Therefore, O Arjuna, in all circumstances, be a yogi – Shloka 46, Chapter 6, Bhagavad Gita

Yes, everyone does it including our Prime Minister. In fact, yoga is the new black. Everybody talks about it, buys the latest accessories for it, and loudly proclaim that it does wonders for them. And the benefits? They rave over their new-found flexibility, the decrease in back pain, the increased energy, the insights into the workings of their bodies….the list is endless.

Immersed in all these loud claims and endorsements, I think we are forgetting the real reason  why we should practice yoga. To become a yogi.

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Three reasons why you should read the Srimad Bhagavatham

Krishna quote from ISKCON Desire Tree

If you are reading this blog, then you already know what the Srimad Bhagavatham is. Maybe you have read it already, or planning to read based on what you have heard about it. If Srimad Bhagavatham (SB) is on your bucket list of books to read, then this blog is for you.

Five years ago, all I knew about SB was that it contained a treasure trove of stories about Krishna. I purchased ISKCON’s SB, with A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s commentaries – 18 volumes in all. It stayed on my book shelf in my bedroom, and gathered dust as days went by. On January 15, 2016, I removed the clingwrap on the first Canto, sat down with a book and pen, and my life has not been the same since.

12 months later, I finished the last shloka in Canto 10 (saved the best for the last, as Canto 10 relates exclusively the stories of Lord Krishna!) It is simply impossible for me to explain in words the subtle transformation that happened as I read SB. But before I try and explain why you should read it, here is a quick summary based on my research notes.

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My 25 Gurus for Life

Searching-for-God[1]

As I struggle through life I realize

That I need teachers varied and wise

To teach me how to live my life

Without too much mental strife

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When the hunter shot You, were You sad, my Krishna, or were You glad?

From January 14th through the 19th, our family went on a pilgrimage to three divine places – Dwaraka, Somnath and Porbhander. The following image is that of Sree Krishna in Balka Mandir. Behind Him is the tree (still preserved, they say) under which He was sitting when Jara the hunter mistook His toe for the beak of a bird and shot Him. This incident was supposed to have happened on 18th February, 3012 BCE.

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Witness your thoughts. Say what?

Mukund and I spent 5 blissful days at the Sivananda Ashram at Neyyar Dam during our Christmas vacation. The days passed in a blur of back-bending (literally!) yoga classes and mind-blowing (again, literally!) meditation and Bhagavad Gita classes. Every day, we spent 4 hours in yoga classes, 3 hours in meditation and singing bhajans, 1 hour at the Gita class, and 1 hour doing karma yoga – helping to clean the ashram. We even attended a workshop on Bharatnatyam and tried out a few steps!

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The rape of our Gods in our temples

As the  word “rape” becomes de facto in our daily news and life, I would like to draw your attention  to a real problem that lakhs of devotees face everyday when visiting temples – the rape and abuse of our Gods.

Bear with me for a few minutes as I explain what I mean. This is based totally on my personal experience, and that of a few close friends who shared their experiences once I related mine. My intention is not to hurt any religious sentiments, but as true devotees we need to be fearless in voicing our anger when the system is wrong.

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The Feet that rules the world

I was in Pandhripur, Maharashtra last weekend. It has been my dearest wish to see Lord Vithala, and that wish came true on August 23, 2013. Mere words cannot describe the emotions and the happiness I felt when I saw the Lord’s form, but I sure am about to try!

The Feet that rules the world. And our hearts.

Can you think of a lord who waits to see His devotee

With patience, charm and with arms akimbo?

Can you describe a lord who runs to His devotee

With a smile on His lips and so willingly?

Can you imagine a lord who listens to His devotee’s whim

And comes speedily to where they sing of Him?

Can you conjure a lord who serves His devotee

Cooks, cleans, washes and even sweeps?

Can you believe a lord who has given His Feet

So that every devotee can touch and feel?

Can you divine a lord who has given His blessings

To all irrespective of caste, creed and belief?

If you can do so, then it is only my Vittala Lord

Only Vittala, only Vittala, Vittala, Vittala

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Do I want you as my son, Kanhaiya?

Do I want you as my son, Kanhaiya?

You steal, you tease, you run, you take

You dance, you lie, you play, you break.

Do I want you as my brother, Kanha?

You twist, you scheme, you chide, you shame

And use me as a pawn in your game.

Do I want you as my husband, Kishan?

You elope, you flirt, you philander, you chase

With 16,108 wives, I do rest my case

Do I want you as my friend, Keshav?

You advice, you confuse, you talk, you pontificate

You charm, you smile, and then refuse to elucidate

No, no, no.

Do I want you as my God, Krishna?

You fight, you kill, you disembowel, you destroy

Every problem I face

You give, you fulfill, you offer, you shower

Every dream I chase

You protect, you bless, you love, you cherish

My every night and day

You watch, you adore, you love more and more

With every breath I take.

Yes, yes, yes.

I want you as my God, Krishna.

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