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.
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.
I have been a vegetarian all my life. It started off for religious reasons (I am a Tamil Brahmin), but while there were no strict checks made on our diet by our parents (in fact, we were encouraged to eat omelettes when we dined out, and take the cod liver oil capsules daily to improve our health), being a staunch vegetarian was somehow an implicit and unwritten (and unmentioned) code of conduct in our family.
As I grew up, and I had the freedom to experiment with alternate diets, I really did not do so. I am not sure if I can attribute it to my religion or my conventional upbringing; it was more a deep conviction that it was wrong. If you had asked me then, I would not probably been able to spell out why it was wrong. In my mind, I associated being vegetarian as one of the basic tenets and rules by which I want to live my life; religion was just an easy way of explaining it away!
In my earlier blog, I explored popular reasons to become a vegetarian. Today, after four plus decades of practicing vegetarianism in spite of countless opportunities to be otherwise, hours of online research and talking to people, I know exactly why one should be a vegetarian. So here goes.
Here are three popular reasons why we adopt a vegetarian diet. Go through them…and then I will tell you the only reason why you should become a vegetarian!
REASON 1: Being a vegetarian is healthier for your body
Even as a junkie I stayed true [to vegetarianism] – ‘I shall have heroin, but I shan’t have a hamburger.’ What a sexy little paradox. ― Russell Brand
Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie. ― Jim Davis
This is probably the number one reason most people take to a vegetarian diet – to lose weight, to become healthier, to reduce cholesterol and so on. They equate a vegetarian diet as healthier than the non-vegetarian one.
HERE COMES THE VEGETARIAN DIET CAVEAT:
He watched as the bedroom curtains parted and she looked out, inhaling the fresh scent of the new day. She wrinkled her nose a bit (the garbage man did leave his imprint!) and he saw annoyance creep on her delicate face. Poor darling. He hated her to feel anything less than perfection.
He watched as she left the window. Even if he did not see her, he knew exactly what she was doing. Brush her teeth, check on her kids, walk down to the kitchen, boil milk, light the lamp……he knew. He inched forward, hoping to hear her sing her bhajans. Lovely voice! Anything his beloved sang was lovely indeed.