The more he did…


boy doing worshipAusterity means putting aside our selfish ambitions for a higher purpose

– Radhanath Swami

A little boy was sitting and eating a mango. He loved mangoes and so was enjoying the sweet taste of the luscious fruit. Just then his mom came and reminded him that it was his turn of deity worship the next day. In their house it was rule, everyone had to do deity worship by turns and tomorrow was his turn.

“Oh no!” he thought to himself. He did not like to do deity worship. Sometimes he would try to get out of it. Sometimes he would just do the deity worship really quickly so it would be over as soon as possible.

That day he thought, “Oh well, it is my turn, then I have to do it.” The next morning when he started doing the worship, it did not seem so bad. “May be”, he thought to himself, “this could be fun”. But he soon forgot about it as there were so many other things to do.

The next time when it was his turn for worship, he did not mind. In fact he almost found himself looking forward to it. To his surprise he was enjoying it. Soon he started doing deity worship even when it was not his turn.

The more he liked, the more he wanted to do. And the more he did, the more he liked it. The more and more he did deity worship, the more and more he liked doing it. Until one day the liking became loving!

Let’s learn a lesson from this story: Marital relationships go deep when we treat our spouse as a sacred child of God who’s put under our care. To live with such a conception may be an austerity in the beginning, but if we try sincerely, soon we will like it, and our love will grow deep and real, beyond the superficial.

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Death, the ultimate teacher!

Death the ultimate teacherThe dictionary meaning of death is ‘the permanent end of anything.’ So when we feel we are going to die, it is such a fearful state and many a times we feel that all others may die except me. Or, most of the times we just shy away from the very thought. People fear death because they do not know what will be after death. Fear is due to ignorance. We feel, but we cannot understand; we fear but we do not know. In darkness there is great fear; in light everything is clear. Krishna explains in the Gita that this knowledge is like the light that reveals everything in truth. Krishna is dispelling all fear of death which is the ultimate fear of this whole creation and if we hear it (Bhagavad Gita from Krishna) submissively we can overcome the principle of death. Krishna is revealing that transcendental wisdom, which brings us beyond death. He awakens us to that eternally blissful, joyful state of eternal consciousness. He explains that the soul, who is the real person, who lives within the temporary residence of this material body is a part of Him and it is the soul, the conscious person that is the enjoyer and the sufferer. The body is just a place, a field where we either enjoy or suffer.

Radhanath swami has beautifully explained in his teachings- “Each moment of life is infinitely precious, if we utilize it for the purpose that lord Krishna has given. “ayur harati vai pumsam” Srimad Bhagavatam describes the nature of time in this way. That with every rise and every setting of the sun, we are one day closer to death. Time is such an inconceivable energy of god. You cannot see, touch, taste, or hear it. It is so subtle and invisible but yet at every moment it is destroying everything. The highest of the highest of the Himalayan Mountain, time will make it into  little piles of dust. It will burnout the sun, will evaporate every ocean and will devastate the physical lives of every living being right from Brahma down to the little insects.”

Radhanath Swami in his book ‘The Journey Home’ explains how he once saw a hawk taking a large fish to the abode of death. In his own words he says,“The unsuspecting fish, who knew nothing but a life in the river, went about its routine like any other day, but in an instant was ripped out of its reality to meet with death. Like that fish, we routinely live our lives hardly aware that, at the least expected moment, the yellow-eyed hawk of fate in the form of crises, tragedy or even death, may wrench us out of our comfortable environment. We regularly hear of it in the news or see it around us but rarely take seriously that it could happen to us. Perhaps the lesson here is to guard against complacency and give a higher priority to our spiritual needs. If the fish swam deeper, the hawk would not be able to reach it. Similarly, if we go deeper into our connection to God, we will find an inner reality so deep and satisfying that it lifts the consciousness to a place where we could deal with the effects of unforeseeable fate with a stable, detached mind.”

Spiritualists know that the ultimate aim of their spiritual practice is to meet such fateful death gracefully and in spiritual consciousness. Such spiritual consciousness cannot be gained until we use our lifetime in practice. The most merciful lord grants us unlimited practice opportunities and awaits our win. One such real practice opportunity is our relationship with others, especially our spouse, children, parents, in-laws, relatives, friends, etc. As we deepen our spiritual practice, we realize that we cannot make spiritual progress without deepening our affection and love for others and ultimately can see the Lord in every living entity. It means our constant endeavor has to be a sure win over our hatred, anger, envy, lust, pride and madness. Until perfection is reached, we can train our minds in such a manner to ward off all negative feelings brought about by our restless mind.

One way to train the mind when it presents us with a negative thought which we want to unmindfully & immediately embrace is to develop a watchful attitude and seek if the thought helps you in your spiritual progress or is detrimental to it. All we have to do in the beginning of our training is to simply be able to recognize that a thought is detrimental to our progress. Then, slowly over time we can train our mind to reject the negative thought. Our mind wants some thought to latch onto, it does not care if it is a positive thought or a negative one. So, when we reject a negative thought, mind hatches a plot to bring that thought right back in. In this situation, we can feed our restless mind with a positive thought. This exercise might seem extremely difficult and painful in the beginning but with constant practice, it becomes a possibility and when you eventually start relishing the nectarean taste of positive thoughts, it becomes your second nature. Then, you have a well trained mind.

The same is applicable in every relationship aspect as well. Every time there is some friction or argument or judging propensity or hurt ego condition, please remember that it is a practice opportunity for us presented by the most merciful Lord and when we come in contact with such negative situations, we have the possibility of not getting swayed by it. Simply recognize the state of mind as detrimental to our spiritual progress and take heed to start seeking positive qualities of the other person. It is possible to count the positive aspects of the other person(who has hurt you or has engaged you in an argument etc) even in the middle of a heated situation but for this to happen, we have to have a single minded focus on our ultimate goal in life and not endeavor to find a comfort zone for our hurt false ego. When we have our eyes firmly set on the goal, only then can we reach the goal. With constant training, it becomes very easy for one who has a trained mind to get over such frivolities and refocus on the essence. If we don’t prioritize in training our minds from this moment on, other differing priorities will take over and in the end, when we are face to face with death and have not enough time to go back and do it all over again in the right manner, all we are left with is a deep regret or unmanageable bewildering thoughts!

Death can come anytime my friends, let us gear ourselves to welcome it with grace.

– Mrs. Preethi Dhiman

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The Recruit

The RecruitOne young academically excellent person went to apply for a managerial position in a big company.

He passed all the interviews and the final interview was with the director who would then make the decision for the young man’s recruitment.

The director discovered from the CV that the youth’s academic achievements were excellent all the way, from the secondary school until the postgraduate research, never had a year when he did not score.

The director asked, “Did you obtain any scholarships in school?” the youth answered “none.”

The director asked, ” Was it your father who paid for your school fees?” The youth answered, “My father passed away when I was one year old, it was my mother who paid for my school fees.

The director asked, ” Where did your mother work?” The youth answered, “My mother worked as clothes cleaner. The director requested the youth to show his hands. The youth showed a pair of hands that were smooth and perfect.

The director asked, ” Have you ever helped your mother wash the clothes before?” The youth answered, “Never, my mother always wanted me to study and read more books. Furthermore, my mother can wash clothes faster than me.

The director said, “I have a request. When you go back today, go and clean your mother’s hands, and then see me tomorrow morning”.

The youth felt that his chance of landing the job was high. When he went back, he happily requested his mother to let him clean her hands. His mother felt strange, happy but with mixed feelings, she showed her hands to her son.

The youth cleaned his mother’s hands slowly. His tear fell as he did that. It was the first time he noticed that his mother’s hands were so wrinkled, and there were so many bruises in her hands. Some bruises were so painful that his mother shivered when they were cleaned with water.

This was the first time the youth realized that it was this pair of hands that washed the clothes everyday to enable him to pay the school fee. The bruises in the mother’s hands were the price that the mother had to pay for his graduation, academic excellence and his future.

After finishing the cleaning of his mother hands, the youth quietly washed all the remaining clothes for his mother.

That night, mother and son talked for a very long time. Next morning, the youth went to the director’s office.

The Director noticed the tears in the youth’s eyes, asked: ” Can you tell me what have you done and learned yesterday in your house?”

The youth humbly answered, ” I cleaned my mother’s hand, and finished cleaning all the remaining clothes’

The Director asked, “please tell me what you learnt.”

The youth admitted that after cleaning his mother’s hands and helping her, he realized what a tough and selfless life she has led for his sake and thanked the director for having given him an opportunity to appreciate his mother’s sacrifices and the value of family relationships.

The director seemed satisfied. He said,” You are hired.”

Radhanath Swami concludes ‘Where there is necessity, there is deeper appreciation.’ Especially in family relationships, there is a tendency to take the other members of the family for granted and not appreciate their care, love or sacrifices. We must learn to stop by and seek to understand their love and sacrifices for us and learn to appreciate them genuinely and thereby help in building a caring & nurturing atmosphere at home.

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Hands are for loving!!

Hands are for lovingIn India, one in five women faces domestic violence from their husbands. (as `published by Jagori, an institution for protection of women against domestic violence). The abused woman suffer at a gross physical level where she is attacked with weapons, beaten, kicked, slapped or might be subjected to sexual abuse and at a more subtle level, the woman suffers emotional injury from threats, attempts to invalidate her, belittle her, humiliate her either in public or in private. Sometimes there is economic abuse too where she is forced to ask for more money from parents/relatives or taking her money away forcibly and creating thereby financial dependence. These are published statistics; the unpublished statistics probably have a more shocking story to narrate. Mostly this suffering is in silence, inside the four walls and hardly a third person is aware of the level of emotional turbulence a woman undergoes.

Why does a man have to resort to abuse? Abuse of his beloved wife and sometimes children and other family members? Researchers have found that men who abuse often:

  • Use violence and emotional abuse to control their wife.
  • Believe that they have the right to behave in whatever way they choose while in their own home.
  • A man who thinks that he is entitled to dominate family members, and that it is okay to solve problems with violence, may not believe that he needs help.
  • Think that a ‘real’ man should be tough, powerful and the head of the household. They may believe that they should make most of the decisions.
  • The causes of domestic violence include deeply held beliefs about masculinity. For eg: the idea of what it means to be a man, for many men, includes silence and strength. A man may avoid seeking help because he doesn’t want to look ‘weak’ or feminine. Therefore, there is continued abuse.
  • Believe that men are entitled to sex from their partners.
  • Don’t take responsibility for their behavior and prefer to blame the victim for ‘provoking’ his behavior.
  • Make excuses for their violence: for example, they will blame alcohol or stress.
  • Report ‘losing control’ when angry around their wife, but can control their anger around other people. They don’t tend to use violence in other situations: for example, around friends, bosses, work colleagues or the police.
  • Try to minimize, blame others for, justify or deny their use of violence, or the impact of their violence towards women.
  • He may be charming and pleasant between his acts of violence. Outsiders may view him as a nice guy.


Abuse of the wife is largely an issue of power and control. The abuser begins using violence as an effective method for gaining and keeping his control over someone else. He continues the abuse and battering for the same reasons. It is sad to say but the abuser usually does not suffer any adverse consequences because of his misbehavior. However, it causes a huge dent in the self-confidence and thereby reciprocative love of your wife might diminish replacing it with fear and terror of the husband. A responsible husband can take steps of correction before much damage is caused and take steps to restore harmony and peace in his family life.

Let’s try to dispel some of the myths around man’s thinking-

  • Myth #1: Within your family, it’s OK to “let it all hang out” – to be as emotional as you want, and say things you’d never say to a friend or a boss.
  • •Whether you’re abusive or not, (or even upset), you’re still responsible for and accountable for everything you say and do. Moreover, the hurtful, mean and outrageous things you say will be remembered by your spouse or the other family members who hear them and it affects them in more deeper ways than you can imagine. Remember, words hurled at someone cannot be retrieved just like an arrow once it is released from the bow.


• Myth #2: An outbreak of temper just happens, you can’t control it.

You always have a choice about your behavior and how you express yourself. Masculinity is about having total self-control by overcoming your lower senses & thereby commanding respect and not demanding respect by trying to control your wife by means of abusing her. If you’ve developed an abusive habit, or never learned to control your temper, you may need to work on yourself and learn to behave differently.


• Myth #3: My wife makes me do it. She provokes me by her unintelligent behavior.

No one else is responsible for your behavior. You are 100% accountable for every word that you speak. Nor are you responsible for anyone else’s words or actions. You can always choose to speak calmly or resolve the matter through discussion in a more mature and acceptable way.


• Myth #4: Any time we get angry, it’s natural to argue and yell.

Arguing, and shouting is not the only way to express your anger. It’s just the most dramatic way. As a matter of fact, it’s the least effective way to reach a solution for whatever is making you angry.


• Myth #5: It’s a family trait – everyone in my family yells.

Yelling, temper tantrums and arguing may be common in your original family, but it’s not genetic, inherited, or inevitable. It’s still a learned behavior, and it’s a dysfunctional family trait. It’s a habit, and you can overcome it for the benefit of your spouse and children and peace in the family.


• Myth #6: It’s OK to yell, shout, curse, throw things and hit walls as long as I don’t hit a person.

These raging behaviors are classified as emotional abuse, which is just as damaging to family’s peace as physical abuse. Emotional abuse over a long period of time causes a lasting and permanent damage not only in your relationship and family peace but will cause irreparable damage in the psycho-emotional health of your spouse.

The vedic scriptures entitle a man to be the head of the family but with such a position comes huge responsibility too. It is a selfish man who wants the position but not the responsibility. Grihasta ashram or family life is about responsibility otherwise it is grihamedhi ashram  (non-compliant with the vedic principles i,e a sense gratificator).

Recognizing the true responsibility as a husband is the first step in resolving the matter.   It definitely needs great strength and inner conviction on part of the man to accept the problem. Viewing the reality from a spiritual perspective (tattva-vichara) also will help tremendously. The man is encouraged to examine his motivations for the violence and make deep deliberations as to the real cause. Practical strategies include:

  • Learning that violence and abuse is not caused by anger, but the desire to hurt or dominate others
  • Learning how violent behavior damages his relationship with his partner and children, and how he can behave in more respectful ways
  • Self-talk – the man is taught how to recognize individual signs of anger, and how to use strategies like self-talk. A man can use self-talk messages, such as ‘Anger will not solve this problem’ to remind himself to remain calm. A trained counsellor can help a man find his own effective self-talk messages.
  • Time out means walking away from the situation until the man feels calmer. Time out must be discussed with the man’s partner so that both parties understand how and why to use it. However, time out is not an avoidance technique and the man must try and work out the problem at a later opportunity.


Radhanath Swami says it is the husband’s duty to protect the wife through all different trials and tribulations, protecting her body by providing the basic needs even if it is in a simple way, protecting her emotional condition by providing her encouragement and affection, and by protecting her soul, especially by guiding her on the spiritual path by words and example. Radhanath Swami goes on to say, “If you are a spiritual seeker and if you unnecessarily mistreat your wife, it is an aparadh or an offense which will create a great problem in your spiritual life. The wife does not belong to you, she belongs to God. The Spiritual Master and the Lord are entrusting your wife under your care and how you treat your wife is how your treat the Lord. You primary duty in Grihasta life is to show great respect for your wife.”

There are similar responsibilities that he speaks of for a wife, but we can discuss them in a separate article.

– Mrs. Preethi Dhiman

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The cookie thief

The cookie theifA woman was waiting at an airport one night, with several long hours before her flight. She hunted for a book in the airport shops, bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.

She was engrossed in her book but happened to see, that the man sitting beside her, as bold as could be. . .grabbed a cookie or two from the bag in between, which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene.

So she munched the cookies and watched the clock, as the gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock. She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by, thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice, I would blacken his eye.”

With each cookie she took, he took one too, when only one was left, she wondered what he would do. With a smile on his face, and a nervous laugh, he took the last cookie and broke it in half.

He offered her half, as he ate the other, she snatched it from him and thought… oooh, brother. This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude, why he didn’t even show any gratitude!

She had never known when she had been so galled, and sighed with relief when her flight was called. She gathered her belongings and headed to the gate, refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate.

She boarded the plane, and sank in her seat, then she sought her book, which was almost complete. As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise, there was her bag of cookies, in front of her eyes.

If mine are here, she moaned in despair, the others were his, and he tried to share. Too late to apologize, she realized with grief, that she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.

We are often too quick to misjudge people. Especially when we nurture the feeling that we are right, most often than not, we are the wrong one! Whenever we feel we’re right and the other person is wrong, if we give the other person the benefit of doubt, we gain the ability to see through things with more clarity as sooner or later, providence will reveal to us the reality of things around us.

By learning to appreciate people around us and being thankful to circumstances that come upon us, we slowly open the dimension of seeing things as they are! As Radhanath Swami says “Gratitude is to honour, recognize and appreciate everyone and everything for a higher purpose.”


Paid in Full

Paid in FullAfter 21 years of marriage, my wife wanted me to take another woman out to dinner and a movie. She said, “I love you, but I know this other woman loves you and would love to spend some time with you.”

The other woman that my wife wanted me to visit was my MOTHER, who has been a widow for 19 years, but the demands of my work and my three children had made it possible to visit her only occasionally. That night I called to invite her to go out for dinner and a movie. “What’s wrong, are you well?” she asked. “I thought that it would be pleasant to spend some time with you,” I responded. “Just the two of us.” She thought about it for a moment, and then said, “I would like that very much.”

That Friday after work, as I drove over to pick her up I was a bit nervous. She waited in the door with her coat on. She had curled her hair and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding anniversary. She smiled from a face that was as radiant as an angel’s. “I told my friends that I was going to go out with my son, and they were impressed, “she said, as she got into the car. “They can’t wait to hear about our meeting.”

We went to a restaurant that, although not elegant, was very nice and cozy. My mother took my arm as if she were the First Lady. After we sat down, I had to read the menu. Her eyes could only read large print. Half way through the entries, I lifted my eyes and saw Mom sitting there staring at me. A nostalgic smile was on her lips. “It was I who used to have to read the menu when you were small,” she said. “Then it’s time that you relax and let me return the favor,” I responded. During the dinner, we had an agreeable conversation – nothing extraordinary but catching up on recent events of each other’s life. We talked so much that we missed the movie. As we arrived at her house later, she said, “I’ll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you.” I agreed.

“How was your dinner date?” asked my wife when I got home. “Very nice. Much more so than I could have imagined,” I answered.

A few days later, my mother died of a massive heart attack. It happened so suddenly that I didn’t have a chance to do anything for her. Some time later, I received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from the same place mother and I had dined. An attached note said: “I paid this bill in advance. I wasn’t sure that I could be there; but nevertheless, I paid for two – one for you and the other for your wife. You will never know what that night meant for me. I love you, son.”

At that moment, I understood the importance of saying in time: “I LOVE YOU” and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve. Nothing in life is more important than your family. Give them the time they deserve, because these things cannot be put off till “some other time.”

Radhanath Swami concludes that, “Things can give pleasure to the mind and senses, but only love can give pleasure to the heart. And ultimately, that is what we are looking for.” Make room to express your love to your family, friends and people around you when they are around!

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The greatest enemy of all

The greatest enemy of allThe recent incident where the modesty of a Delhi girl was brutally outraged has drawn lot of public attention not only in the nation but also globally. Many are crying hoarse that the judicial system metes out severe punishment to the rapists. It has become yet another issue which ‘somebody out there’ is responsible for and ‘some others’ will fight to resolve while we will sit in the cozy comforts of our house and become spectators of the ongoing volley of words and at best exchange sympathetic comments.

Do we want to be mere spectators or is there some learning that we can draw from this shocking incident and apply in our own lives and thereby change the world a little bit, for the better? We can probably use this opportunity to introspect and clean our own houses!

When a woman who had committed adultery was being stoned, Jesus Christ said ‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast the first stone at her’ and one by one everyone dropped their stones. Likewise, the very fact that we live in this material world shows that all of us are sinners to some degree or the other. Such lustful propensities lie deep within us. The Bhagavad Gita claims that this ‘Lust’ is the greatest enemy of the living entity and it covers the living entity by different degrees. It is said that this lust is never satisfied and the more you feed it, the more it burns like fire.

Vedic scriptures call this material world as maithunya-āgāra or the shackles of sex life. While one enjoys sense gratification, it may be that there is some feeling of happiness, but actually that so-called feeling of happiness is the ultimate enemy of the sense enjoyer as it keeps him tied down to this miserable material existence birth after birth.

Radhanath Swami answers the question as to what the truth is? He reiterates that our true identity is that we’re eternal souls. We’re stranded like strangers in a foreign land. For the eternal souls to try to be happy with the cheap thrills with the temporary pleasures of this material existence is really an embarrassment, he says. But sometimes when a person is so intoxicated and consumed, he puts himself to do things that are so humiliating and embarrassing that he does not even know that he’s doing it. That’s the deluding potency of the material energy or maya. So, how do we get out of the shackles of this material energy? Radhanath Swami gives a simple answer. He says, all we have to do to get out of it is to choose to ‘get out of it.’

When a living entity comes in contact with the material creation, his eternal love for the Lord is transformed into lust. Service attitude is transformed into the propensity for sense enjoyment. Designations and attachments are due to our lust and desire, our wanting to lord it over the material nature. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna tells us that the senses, the mind and the intelligence are the sitting places of this lust. Through them lust covers the real knowledge of the living entity and bewilders him. Cure is also given by Lord Krishna in the Gita, He says, ‘In the very beginning curb this great symbol of sin [lust] by regulating the senses, and slay this destroyer of knowledge and self-realization.’

To bring about clarity of understanding, Radhanath Swami narrates a parallel from our scriptures how the Supreme Lord showed how this all devouring sinful enemy can be conquered through the example of lust personified Ravana.

Goddess of Fortune, Sita devi is the wife of Lord Rama and she is eternally in loving service of Lord Rama but Ravana wanted to take Sita for himself. This is called kama or lust. In Caitanya Caritamrita, a holy scripture of the Lord in which the author Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami describes love as the natural inclination of the soul wanting to give pleasure to God. But when that natural affection for God is misplaced, we are trying to enjoy the property of God for our own selfish desire, then that love is transformed into lust. Prema or love is when our energies are placed towards God. When it is placed anywhere else, it is called Kama or lust.

So, Ravana disguised himself and stole Sita. He was so powerful that no one could defeat him, demigods were living in utter fear of Ravana and he was unconquerable. Lord Rama shows us how powerful lust really is. Everytime He cut off the heads of Ravana, another one grew. Doesn’t that sound like our own material desires? Everytime you perform some yajna or sacrifice to give up one material sinful desire, immediately another one shoots up. Those on the spiritual path know that as soon as you cut down one lusty desire, 10 more grow. It is seemingly an endless battle. Finally, Lord Rama shot His arrow into Ravana’s heart. When the arrow pierced the heart, Ravana fell to the ground.

The Lord is the only one who has this arrow. The arrow cannot be obtained by any mortal, living entity. It is the exclusive power of the Lord. That is why Lord Krishna says in the Gita, that this material energy of mine is very very difficult to overcome. But one who surrenders unto Me, I fight their battles with My own hands, I will conquer lust. I will conquer Ravana within your heart. So, when we surrender our sinful desires and
propensities to the Lord, the merciful Lord appears within our heart. Through the process of Bhakti i,e by remembering the Lord, by worshipping Him and chanting His holy names, by offering loving service unto Him, we make place for the Lord to appear within our heart and with His mighty arrows, he can shoot right into the heart of Ravana and make our sinful desires disappear forever from our hearts. That is the recommended process in the vedic scriptures.

So, let us all take this opportunity to introspect and bring out the Ravana hidden deep within each of us. Let us make a prayerful attempt to the Lord to help us by conquering this greatest enemy of all!

– Mrs. Preethi Dhiman

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