Guru Ideal in Indian Tradition

In the Indian tradition, Guru is highly revered. He or she is held higher than one`s mother and father, and even God. Guru, in the spiritual sense, is not a mere teacher and guide but a facilitator for the shift in the disciple`s consciousness from lower to higher level. Guru leads one to God. Guru makes one know one`s real nature, his inherent divinity. The word Guru consists of two Sanskrit phrases-gu and ru. Gu means darkness and ru means removal. Hence Guru means the one who removes darkness and brings the light of knowledge.

In the ordinary sense, the term guru may be used to refer to an instructor, a trainer, a coach, a tutor, a lecturer and so on. Though in Sanskrit terms like acharya, upadhyaya and sikshak are used to denote a teacher, the word guru refers to the highest type of the teacher for he leads one to the Highest. Guru is called the greatest for he helps the disciple to check his passions and leads him beyond all relativity. He knows and teaches the essence of scriptures and therefore held as the embodiment of God himself. Guru is called Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Like Brahma, he creates spiritual hunger in his disciple; like Vishnu, he nurtures him and like Shiva, he liberates the disciple.

It is described in Chapter X of Shri Sai Satcharita that “There are two kinds of Gurus (1) Niyat (appointed or fixed) and (2) Aniyat (unappointed or general).The latter by their advice develop the good qualities in us, purify our hearts and set us on the path of salvation; but contact with the former dispels our sense of dualities (sense of difference) and establishes us in unity by making us realize ‘Thou art that’. There are various Gurus imparting to us various kinds of worldly knowledge; but he, who fixes us in our nature (Self) and carries us beyond the ocean of worldly existence, is the Sadguru. Sai Baba was such a Sadguru”.

Shirdi Sai Baba is my Guru Ideal since I became a Sai Baba devotee on October 14, 2008.

Shri Satchidananda Sadguru Sainath Maharaj Ki Jaya.

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda
Shirdi Sai devotee

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Arise, Awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.

‘Arise, Awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.’This statement is Swami Vivekananda`s most popular phrase.The statement naturally presumes that we are not awake; indeed, we have busied ourselves with the outer world, forgetting our real nature. We may be awake to the external world, but to reality within, we are asleep in regard to our consciousness. We should awaken our consciousness within by spirituality.

‘Arise, Awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.’ We should arise out of the present state of inertia; arise from our state of rest. Life might have given us repeated blows. We blame the world, but it is our slumber that has caused all this suffering. We must awaken to our true identity—become aware of its existence.

‘Arise, Awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.’ This statement is important even in ordinary daily life. Wherever we might be, we should not stop progressing or working. We should continue our struggle. We should never be dejected or depressed when failures torment us. We should go ahead, and stop not till the goal is reached.

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda

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Time, Our Constant Companion

All of us work hard for success in life. And sooner or later we realize that, among other things, it is only through proper time-management we can succeed in doing any work. We keep on trying endlessly but things just do not seem to happen since happening is a function of time. Things will happen only when time is right. Bhagavad Gita advises to live the life in equanimity, unaffected by the ups and downs in life that are functions of time.

There is time for every purpose under the sky, but there is never enough. Time once spent is spent forever and it cannot come back, though health, wealth etc., can be recreated. We all have the same amount of time but it is just a matter of how we utilize it. In order to produce greater results one is required to change one`s strategy with respect to time. Time flies, crawls and races. Time heals all wounds, but it is also the great destroyer. Again, like the tide, time waits for no one, but in dramatic moments it also stands still. In Internet, the time has, in essence, triumphed over space. Temporal boundaries, that separate one place from another, are abolished, making the entire world a global village.

Our senses tell us that time flows. In other words, the past is gone and cannot be changed; the future is undetermined, and we are in reality living in the present. We are influenced by events in the past, so that we act in the present to shape the future events. From past to future through present, that is the chain of events. We think that past is something which has slipped out of existence. It, of course, lives on, by leaving an impression or samskara on our mind. So there is no need to grieve for the future or the past. The past is contained in the present moment. So the only job left to us is to act properly through proper discretion of the present circumstances.

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda

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Cultivating Santosh or Contentment

Santosh or contentment is a very important characteristic of a sound and balanced mind. In the Bhagavad Gita, contentment is mentioned as one of the qualities of a man of steady wisdom, ‘sthitapranja’. In the second chapter of the Gita, Sri Krishna, in reply to Arjun`s inquiry, says; “ O son of Pritha, when all desires of the heart have been abandoned and one remains content with oneself, then one is spoken as a person of steady wisdom.” In the twelfth chapter of the Gita it is said, “One of the characteristics of an ideal devotee is that he is ever content and contemplative (santushtahsatatam yogi).”

Santosh or contentment is included as one of the five niyamas-qualities to be cultivated-by Sage Patanjali in his Yoga sutras. Sage Vyasa, in his commentary on Yoga sutras, defines it as ‘having no desire to acquire anything more than one has already has.’ This means to remain satisfied with what little one has-not to have any desire for more, or to change the situation, or to feel envy.

We should get over the minor desires by a little fulfilment and discrimination. But major desires need to be renounced by discrimination alone without attempting to satisfy them. One can also cultivate the value of contentment by holding in the mind the feeling of fulfilment and satisfaction one gets by satisfaction of a desire.

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda

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When Bhakti enters Life…

When Bhakti enters Food,
Food becomes Prasad.

When Bhakti enters Hunger,
Hunger becomes Fast.

When Bhakti enters Water,
Water becomes Charanamrita.

When Bhakti enters Travel,
Travel becomes Pilgrimage.

When Bhakti enters Music,
Music becomes Kirtan.

When Bhakti enters Action,
Action becomes Seva.

When Bhakti enters Man,
Man becomes Bhakta.

Source: The Vedanta Kesari
Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda

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Theory and Practice of Eco-Yoga

The need of the hour is the practice of Eco-Yoga to save our planet from ecological imbalance. The focus here is on Yama and Niyama which are first two limbs of Patanjali`s Ashtanga Yoga for linking principles of Yoga with Ecosystem.

Yama consists of five self-restraints for living peacefully in society and the environment.

1. Ahimsa ( non-violence )
Just as one does not harm self; one should not harm the rest of creation too. All must co-exist, that no one has a right to kill another, that no one has a right to take away life from any creature.

2. Satya ( truth )
The mind should think thoughts of truth, speak words of truth and the actions should be based upon truth. Ecologic thinking demands that we should lead truthful life in order to facilitate the world to exist, the planet to survive.

3. Asteya ( non-stealing )
Asteya or non-stealing includes not only taking what belongs to another without permission, but also using something for a different purpose to that intended. By this principle we can avoid conspicuous consumption and needless wasting of food & water and learn to use our surplus to improve the living standards of less fortunate and deprived sections of society.

4. Brahmacharya ( celibacy )
Brahmacharya lays stress on continence of the body, speech and mind. The moral aspects of Brahmacharya can be practiced in one`s daily living whether one is a bachelor or married and living the life of a householder. The practitioner conserves the energy and utilizes for loka kalyana (wellbeing of the world).

5. Aparigraha ( non-hoarding )
One should not hoard or collect thing that one does not require or need to possess. This kind of thinking and conscious living will establish harmony between us and nature. Eco-yoga thinking demands that we help replenish our planet`s resources.

Niyama has five rules for one`s inner development.

1. Shaucha ( purity )
Purity of body is essential for well-being; the physical cleansing of the body as well as the cleansing of the mind of its disturbing emotions. The pure mind eliminates pollution in our own life. If we are clean in our thinking, free from all kinds of evil thoughts, it will automatically reflect in our environment.

2. Santosha ( contentment )
It is essential to develop the ability to withstand daily problems without being deeply affected, to be contented no matter what circumstances beset one. Contentment maintains balance between man and nature.

3. Tapas ( contemplation )
Tapa (contemplation) in Eco-Yogic thinking enlightens us. As we contemplate and ponder over existence and meaning of life, it will create consciousness in us to see the beauty of existence and meaningful co-existence with nature.

4. Swadhyaya ( self-study )
Swadhyaya is the education of self by proper study. Proper study of nature is the proper study of man and his environment. Understanding our body-mind complex will enhance our understanding of our own environment.

5. Ishwara pranidhana (surrender to divine )
Ishwara pranidhana means to surrender one`s actions to God, the supreme consciousness or existence Once this happens, respect for all forms of life flows from within, thereby we will stop harming anything or any creature in the creation.

Eco-Yoga is a convergence between traditional yoga, spirituality and social activism focusing on ecological concerns. In this third millennium man is facing an increasing environmental crisis affecting all our lives. What is required at this juncture is to cultivate eco-yogic thinking by practicing and adhering to at least one principle of Yama and one principle of Niyama. We should actively participate in ecological recovery. This can be done only by practicing eco-yogic thinking.

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda

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Adopting Karma Sanyasa in Retired Life

The Yoga Shastras describe Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha and Sannyasa as four stages of life. The first stage of life is brahmacharya during studentship. In this stage as students we learn, understand and develop the knowledge & skill in order to fulfil our aspirations in future life with security and stability. During 1972 when I became M.B.B.S. doctor my brahmacharya life ended and I entered in to grihastha life. We enter into grihastha or family life in broader sense social life after studentship. We make every possible effort to maintain and nurture the family for which we shoulder the responsibility to lead an acceptable social life utilizing the knowledge & skill we have acquired in student life. When after long 36 years I retired from the post of Chief District Medical Officer Bargarh Orissa on February 29, 2008 on attaining the age of superannuation i.e. 60 years, I switched over from grihastha to vanaprastha life on March 1, 2008.

We (I & my wife) relocated to Gurgaon, Haryana (N.C.R. Delhi) on March 30, 2008 to stay with our son working there for better physical, mental and emotional support in our old age after my retirement. On the other hand I had to leave my comfort zone of leading life with friends, relatives and old colleagues in my native place, district and state where I was having a worthy social recognition as a professional doctor amongst the public. Consequent upon my extra-ordinary decision, I had to lead my post retirement life in a completely changed social setup having only company of own family members. The post retirement life became vanaprastha for me from social perspective in my life. I was attracted towards spiritual philosophy of Sadguru Sai Baba in my mental, emotional and intellectual planes; and I became a Shirdi Sai devotee on October 14, 2008 during my stay at Gurgaon. With change to higher job & place by my son after residing in Gurgaon Haryana (N.C.R. Delhi) for about one year, we relocated to Bangalore Karnataka where we are residing at present. During my stay in Bangalore, I resorted to Yoga practices to maintain my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health; and I became a Yoga practitioner since July 28, 2009. Yoga and Spirituality became ways and means of my post retired life. In the changed circumstances, intuitive thoughts came to my mind that the present global world is connected through Internet via World Wide Web and it will be wise on my part to give something back in innovative and creative way to the society of my native place, district and state; and my country India and World as a whole by complementing and supplementing my post retirement activities of Yoga and Spirituality with my scientific knowledge of medical profession. To work out my ambition, I had to acquire the knowledge and skill of information technology after my retirement at the age of 60 years. I created my own blog Yoga and Spirituality in the website of WordPress.com on May 2, 2010 and I have been publishing articles every month on Yoga and Spirituality since May 2010. I registered my name as a user in social networking website Facebook on June 15, 2011 and I have been posting daily average 2-3 posts on health magazine, inspirational quotes, yoga and spirituality, photos related to functions, festivals, tours and travels in Facebook wall page and groups. Most of my old friends and colleagues with whom I had worked during my service, tech-savvy cousins and relatives have become readers of my blog Yoga and Spirituality and friends in Facebook. Moreover I have been able to create a new circle of friends world-wide through social networking in Facebook. Readers of more than 100 countries throughout World are reading my articles posted in my blog Yoga and Spirituality as documents available for public view through Google and other search engines in Internet. To cover the big gap of distance & time I had been visiting in annual trip to Odisha to meet & interact physically with friends, relatives and old colleagues in my native place, district and state.

My post retired life was going very well and I was very proud of all my achievements until something very unfortunate happened to me. I became ill and my illness was diagnosed to be cancer of right upper gum since April 2015 which was operated on May 13, 2015 followed by radiotherapy completed on August 14, 2015. Cancer survivor of such case need to take care of himself and make sure that he can keep himself as comfortable as possible in day to day life especially when advised not to stress and strain mouth parts by talking much over phone with friends and relatives till structure and function of mouth back to almost normal. Moreover due to the weakness of whole body during convalescence and recovery phase one has to restrict his physical movements, even long distance and time consuming city tour. Under such circumstances, I could not take up my annual trip to my native state Odisha to meet and interact physically with my relatives and friends during 2015-16. Thus after 7 years of eventful retired life from 2008-09 to 2014-15, I had to enter the stage of karma sannyasa during 2015-16.

Having sufficiently expanded and developed our own understanding of spirituality, we enter into the fourth stage of life, sannyasa which is meant for dedicating the qualities and virtues we have acquired towards the growth of humankind and inspiring others to attain inner freedom. Sannyasa is not escaping from life; rather it is running into life with greater wisdom, understanding and perception. This I am doing through Internet in World Wide Web through my own blog Yoga and Spirituality and social networking through Facebook.

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda
Bangalore

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