Thursday, March 31, 2016

THE NEW BLUE DRESS



MY EIGHT STANDARD  ENGLISH LESSON AND ONE OF MY FAVORITE STORY

When spring came to the city of Cleveland in 1909, it did not change 
Gates Avenue. People who lived on the pretty streets near Gates 
Avenue were making gardens and painting their houses. 
But Gates Avenue continued to look dirty and ugly.

Gates Avenue was a short street, but it seemed longer because 
it was so ugly. Most of the families who lived there had very little 
money. They never expected to have any more. Their houses 
had not been painted in many years, and they did not even 
have running water. The street itself was ugly too. There was 
no pavement, there was no streetlight; and the railroad at the 
end of Gates Avenue added noise and dirt.

The other girls in the school near Gates Avenue wore new 
and pretty clothes that spring. But the little girl from Gates 
Avenue still wore the dirty dress that she had worn all winter. 
Probably that was the only dress she owned.

Her teacher was very unhappy. The little girl was so nice! 
She always worked hard in school; she was always friendly and polite. 
Her face was dirty and her hair was untidy, but anyone could see that 
she was pretty under the dirt.

One day the teacher said, “Won’t you wash your face before 
you come to school tomorrow morning? Please do that, just for me.”

The next morning the child’s pretty face was clean, and her hair tidy. 
Before the little girl went home that afternoon, the teacher said, 
“Now, dear, please ask your mother to wash your dress.”


But the girl continued to wear the same dirty dress, “Her mother is 
probably not interested in her’’ the teacher thought. So she bought
 a bright blue dress and gave it to the little girl. The child took the gift 
eagerly and rushed home.

The next morning she came to school in the new blue dress, and she 
was very clean and tidy. She told her teacher, “My mother couldn’t 
believe her eyes when she saw me this morning in my new dress. 
My father wasn’t at home, but he’ll see me at supper tonight.”

She was full of excitement. When her father saw her in her new 
blue dress, he was amazed to find that he had a very pretty little girl. 
When the family ate supper, he was even more amazed to see a cloth 
on the kitchen table, The family had never used a table cloth before. 
“We’re going to begin to be tidier here,” his wife said. “I’m ashamed
 to be dirty when our daughter is so clean.”

After supper, the mother began to wash the kitchen floor. 
Her husband watched silently for several moments. Then he went 
outside and began to repair the fence. The next evening, with 
the family’s help, he began to make a garden.

During the following week, the man in the next house 
watched what his neighbor was doing. And by the end of the week, 
the man began to paint his house — for the first time in ten years. 
A few days later, the young minister of a church near Gates 
Avenue passed these two houses and saw two men working. 
For the first time he noticed that there was no  pavement on Gates 
Avenue, and no streetlight, and no running water. “People who are 
trying so hard to make decent homes here deserve help,” 
the minister thought. He asked some important citizens in the 
city to help them.

A few months later, because of the young minister, there 
was a pavement on Gates Avenue. There was a streetlight 
on the corner, and the houses had running water. Six months after 
the little girl got her new blue dress, Gates Avenue had become 
a tidy street where respectable citizens lived.

When people in other places heard the story of Gates Avenue, 
they began to organize their own ‘clean up’ campaigns. Since 1913, 
more than seven thousand towns and cities have organised 
campaigns for painting and repairing homes and making better 
lives for the people who live in them.

Who knows what will happen when a teacher gives a little girl a 
new blue dress?



A TOUCHING TRUE STORY


Welcome cup of Tea... a touching true story...

A group of 15 soldiers led by a Major were on their way to the post in Himalayas where they would be deployed for the next 3 months. 

The batch who would be relieved waited anxiously.

It was cold winter & intermittent snowfall made the treacherous climb more difficult.

If someone could offer a cup of tea. . 
the Major thought, knowing it was a futile wish..

They continued for an hour before they came across a dilapidated structure, which looked like a tea shop but locked. It was late in the night. 

"No tea boys, bad luck", said the Major. But he suggested all take some rest there as they have been walking for 3 hours.

"Sir, this is a tea shop and we can make tea... We will have to break the lock", suggested one soldier.

The officer was in great dilemma to the unethical suggestion but the thought of a steaming cup of tea for the tired solders made him to give the permission.

They were in luck, the place had everything needed to make tea and also packets of biscuits.

The solders had tea & biscuits and were ready for the remaining journey.

The major thought, they had broken open lock and had tea & biscuits without the permission of the owner. They're not a band of thieves but disciplined soldiers. 

He took out a Rs1000/- note from his wallet, placed it on the counter, pressed under sugar container, so that the owner can see.


The officer was now relieved of his guilt. 

He ordered to put the shutter down and proceed.

Three months passed, they continued to do gallantly in their works and were lucky not to loose anyone from the group in the intense insurgency situation.

It was time for another team to replace them.

 Soon they were on their way back and stopped at the same tea shop which was open and owner was present in the shop.

The owner an old man with meager resources was very happy to greet 15 customers. 

All of them had tea and biscuits. 

They talked to the old man about his life and experience specially selling tea at such a remote place.

The old man had many stories to tell, replete with his faith in God. 

"Oh, Baba, if God is there, why should He keep you in such poverty ?", commented one of them.

"Do not say like that Sahib ! God actually is there, I got a proof.

3 months ago."
"I was going through very tough times because my only son had been severely beaten by terrorist who wanted some information from him which he did not have.

 I had closed my shop to take my son to hospital. Some medicines were to be purchased and I had no money. 

No one would give 
me loan for fear of the terrorists. 

There was no hope, Sahib".

"And that day Sahib, I prayed to God for help. And Sahib, God walked into my shop that day."
"When I returned to my shop, I found lock broken, 

I felt I was finished, 

I lost whatever little I had.
 But 
then I saw that God had left Rs 1000/= under the sugar pot. 

I can't tell you Sahib what that money was worth that day. 

God exists Sahib. He does."

The faith in his eyes were unflinching.

Fifteen pairs of eyes met the eyes of the officer and read the order in his eyes clear and unambiguous, "Keep quiet".

The officer got up and paid the bill. 

He hugged the old man and said, "Yes Baba, I know God does exist.

 And yes, 

the tea was wonderful."

The 15 pairs of eyes did not miss to notice the moisture building up in the eyes of their officer, a rare sight.

The truth is 

"YOU" can be God to anyone.

(shared by a soldier ...a true story in Kupwara Sector)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

GOOD FRIDAY AND EASTER MESSAGE

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The name Jesus Christ brings to mind the sacrifice by the Messiah for the redemption of humankind. This is why the Passion or suffering of Christ has such a deep meaning even for those who do not practice Christianity.

Along with the divine role of Christ, we ought to admire him for his deep individuality. As a person, he did what his compassionate heart told him was right. If he believed in God as his father, he preached His message. Even though ostracized and ultimately crucified, Christ never withdrew from his stand. This is an example of how strong positive individualism can be. How many of us, in this age of freedom of choice and belief, would dare die for what we hold precious? That is the lesson of Christ for the common person: respect yourself and have faith in God.

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Christ the Messiah is also the Son of Man; so as members of the human race we can all learn the message of this great spiritual leader and develop the courage to stand up for what deep within us we know to be true or right. 

Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. On this day, Christ rose from the dead and talked to some of his followers.

At a non-denominational spiritual level, the resurrection can be said to be a symbol of undying hope and faith. God in His grace, sees to it that no undue pain goes unrewarded. Each one of us has to deal with pain and betrayal. Let God give us the faith in our hearts that He will lift us up from the pain into deep joy and peace.

From terror to peace, from pain to joy, from death to eternal life, may the Almighty God walk with us. Amen.

COURTESY: SOULTALK

Monday, March 21, 2016

LAKSHMI DEVI BIRTHDAY ON MARCH 23RD 2016(PHALGUNI POURNAMI)

Image result for lakshmi devi images

Lakshmi Jayanthi , Birthday of Goddess Lakshmi devi is observed in Phaluguni Purnima, the full moon day of Phalguni month.In 2016 the date is March 23.This festival is also celebrated as holi.On this day devotees worship goddess lakshmi devi, goddess of wealth with utmost devotion.In some areas it is celebrated in Uttaram Naksthram of Meena Masam.

Lakshmi is commonly known as Goddess of wealth. Money is also sacred in our culture because it is a symbol of Goddess Lakshmi and so we never deliberately step on a currency note. Goddess Lakshmi in the Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses is personified as the goddess of fortune and also as the embodiment of loveliness, grace and charm. Being the power and consort of VishNu, the preserver, she is represented as the power of multiplicity also. She is as inseparable from VishNu as speech from meaning or good deeds from righteousness. He represents all that is masculine and she all that is feminine. Wealth is not only the money. Tradition and values of life is also wealth.  Our family and progress is also wealth.  Our belongings such as land, properties, animals, grains, etc as well as virtues like patience, persistence, purity etc in the form of a character are nothing but our wealth and so also glory or victory. 

 

Birth of Goddess Lakshmi:-

Goddess Lakshmi's origins are found in the great Sri Sukta ("Hymn to Sri") that was added to the Rig-Veda sometime between 1000 and 500 B.C.

Sage Bhrigu was married to Khyaati who had two two sons Dhata and Vidhaata and a daughter Lakshmi. Lakshmi then married Lord Vishnu. This was the first appearance of goddess lakshmi. In her second appearance she appeared as the daughter of ocean. Samudra Manthan tells the another birth of goddess Mahalakshmi.When lord Indra, the king of gods, was riding on elephant, sage Dhurvasa Maharshi presented him a special garland.But Lord Indra put that special flower garland on the trunk of his elephant.The elephant was irritated by the smell and crushed the garland with its foot.This enraged dhurvasa muni and he cursed the k ing of gods Indra, and all gods that they will loss entire strength energy and fortune.

After that demons attacked on the heaven and gained control over the universe.Then lord sri Maha vishnu planned to deal with asuras in a diplomatic manner.Devas proposed asuras to helpthem in churning of the milky ocean and after obtaining Amrith(Nectar) that will be shared.During the churning of the milky ocean along with nectar Goddess lakshmi also emered whom sri maha vishnu accepted as his consort.


Mother Lakshmi is the source and provider of the following enumerated well-known sixteen types of wealth and many more.  
1. Soundarya Lakshmi- Beauty
2. Soubhagya Lakshmi –All Blessings in life.
3. Keerthi Lakshmi-Fame
4. Veera Lakshmi- Courage and Strength
5. Vijaya Lakshmi-–Victory/Success
6. Santhana Lakshmi - Good Progeny
7. Medha Lakshmi - Brilliance
8. Vidya Lakshmi - Education
9. Thushti Lakshmi- Contentment
10. Pushti Lakshmi- Good Health
11. Jnana Lakshmi-Self Knowledge
12. Shakthi Lakshmi- Power
13. Shanthi Lakshmi- Peace of mind
14. Samrajya Lakshmi-Success in p rofession & career
15. Arogya Lakshmi – Good Health
16. Adi Lakshmi – Main core of all other Lakshmi’s.

The eight representations emphasize different forms of wealth. Wealth has many forms other than the obvious one of money. You need different types of wealth and resources to be rich in a real sense. Physical, financial, spiritual and material wealth are all needed to complete life's various needs.Let us glance upon the glory of mother Ashta Lakshmi’s individual nature and forms.
1. Aadi-Lakshmi (The Primeval Goddess) or Maha Lakshmi (The Great
   Goddess)
2. Dhana-Lakshmi or Aishwarya Lakshmi (The Goddess of Prosperity and
   Wealth)
3. Dhaanya-Lakshmi (Goddess of Food grains)
4. Gaja-Lakshmi (The Elephant Goddess)
5. Santana-Lakshmi (The Goddess of Progeny)
6. Veera-Lakshmi or Dhairya Lakshmi (The Goddess of Valor and
   Courage)
7. Vidya-Lakshmi (The Goddess of Knowledge)
8. Vijaya-Lakshmi or Jaya Lakshmi (The Goddess of Victory)
 


Significance of form of Lakshmi:- 
Mother Lakshmi is worshipped in various aspects as the goddesses of peace, plenty and bliss. Mother Lakshmi bestows on her devotees inexhaustible divine spiritual wealth, health, success, fame and fortune. Fulfillment is more important than wealth itself. In order to receive this divine blessing one has to rid ones self of the negative qualities like greed, anger, lust etc. The four hands of Goddess Lakshmi indicate that she has the power to bestow on humanity the four ends of human life. In one hand she holds a lotus flower - reminding us of ever-lasting life and the immortality of the soul. The other hand that holds another lotus symbolizes to us to detach ourselves from too much of the worldly power, position, considerations, etc. Another hand holds what symbolizes material wealth, prosperity which is to be used as a means / tools for the achievements or goal in life; while the other hand, the fourth one is shown open and pointing downward, showering wealth and reinforcing the message of sharing.Her four hands signify her power to grant the four human goals ( dharma – righteousness, artha, - wealth, kama – desires, and moksha – liberation).She is shown to have pink complexion which shows her compassion for creatures since she is the mother of all.


The owl is shown as her mount in some sculptural depictions. It may look odd and strange that an ugly bird owl should be shown as the carrier of the goddess of beauty and fortune ! Let us analyse the meaning to appreciate this reason better. In Sanskrit, owl is known as uluka which is one of the names of Indra, the king of gods. He personifies all the wealth, power and glory that a living being can aspire for. So, the goddess of multiplicity could not have chosen a better person to ride on ! An Owl is a bird that signifies wisdom and that sleeps through the day and prowls through the night. This is because it can only see in the dark, and goes blind in the day. This partial blindness in the creature is actually indicative of a seeker tendency of going toward the pursuit of secular instead of spiritual wealth.


Lotus represents long life, honor, and good fortune and it teaches us to go beyond the surface of worldly contamination and proceed deep into life, to learn precious spiritual truths from it. The lotus also embodies purity, fertility and the growth of organic life. It is also regarded as a symbol of triumph as it can survive to regerminate for thousands of years. The lotus also grows from out of Vishnu's navel.Untouched by the impurity despite growing in mud, the flower is also meant to symbolize the purity of heart and mind.

Last but least We think Lakshmi represents only material wealth. Real wealth is self-discipline and the values of love, kindness, respect and sincerity. By practicing these values, our mind becomes purified. Only they help us preserve our material wealth. Our wealth of virtues is our true Lakshmi. The six forms of wealth are calmness of mind, self-control, self-withdrawal, forbearance, faith and single pointed ness. Our goal is victory over the mind which comes only when the mind is prepared and this mental preparation is the symbolism of the Lakshmi Puja. By invoking her grace we are not only blessed with virtuous qualities but also by Daivi Sampatti ( Spirtual wealth)and by gaining victory or self control over the mind.

Kanakadhara stotram is composed by Sri Adishankara and a famous shloka for Lakshmi.I wish to conclude with the first stanza of the same.

Angam hare pulaka bhooshanamasrayanthi,
Bhringanga neva mukulabharanam thamalam,
Angikrithakhila vibhuthi rapanga leela,
Mangalyadasthu mama mangala devathaya.

COURTESY:VARIOUS SPIRTUAL BOOKS
THANKS TO MY AMMA REDHI BHASKARAN.
DEDICATING THIS POST TO MY FRIEND’S MOTHER B.SAROJINI DEVI.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

LALITHA THE GODDESS OF SRIVIDYA TRADITION


Lalitha Thripurasundari is the most widely worshipped aspect of Devi in South India. Her emblem is Srichakra. Worship of the same and chanting the Lalitha Sahasranama are very popular. The Panchadasakshari is Her very powerful mantra and many desire to get initiated into the same. 

The Sri Vidya is a branch of Saktha Tantrism which considers Lalitha as the supreme form of the Mahadevi. It is prominent in South India in many variants, but none claim to be different than the others.

Just like Durga and Kali represent the power of Devi, Lalitha represents the aspect of beauty. So she is depicted  very beautiful and her worship is also very refined.

Lalithopakhyana is a part of Brahmanda Purana. It is said there that Lalitha Devi manifested herself in the midst of a disc of extreme brilliance, that arose from the “havan” when Indra was performing a sacrifice in honour of her.

The architect of the gods, Viswakarma, built a grand city called Sripuram on the Merumountain, specially for her sake. She resides there with her spouse Siva Kameswara.

Lalitha is usually depicted slightly red in colour (like dawn) and extraordinarily beautiful. In her four hands, she holds a bow of sugarcane, arrows, the ankusa and the pasa (noose). One of her feet, usually the left, is shown resting on a pedestal, made of diamond.
The sugarcane bow represents the mind. This shows we experience all joy through our mind. The bow is an instrument which discharges the arrows. The same way, the mind is the instrument which shoots the sense organs towards the sense-objects. 
The arrows are the pancha tanmatras, the five subtle elements of akasa(ether), vayu (air), agni (fire), apas (water) and prithvi (earth).
She is the power that enegises and controls our mind and sense organs. This is the idea.
The pasa (noose) is the binding attachment (raga).
The ankusa is the anger (krodha) or aversion which hurts.
It is her power which animates our attachments and aversions.
If we forget her, she can bind us with (raga)pasa and pierce us with (krodha) ankusa.
If we take refuge in her, she can withdraw them into her hands and free us from their torment.

The form and pattern of the deity Lalita is called Srichakra – this is a yantra, a two-dimensional pattern which can be drawn. This is a complicated geometrical figure of fortythree triangles. They are formed by the intersection of nine triangles,five with apexes downward and four with apexes upward. This is surrounded by concentric circles with eight and sixteen lotus petals. The entire figure is skirted by a square of three lines with openings in the middle of ech side. There is a dot, called Bindu, in the center of the diagram.

The bindu represents the combination of Shiva and Shati, as also the first throb, which gradually gathers momentum and gets concentrated into a polarization of Shiva and Shakti, but continuing to keep the original Shiva-Shakti combination also. The process repeats continuously resulting in various levels of creation, which are depicted by the different triangles and the lotus petals.

The three dimensional form of Srichakra is called Meru.
Regular worship of srichakra is considered very auspicious and is said to yield any result the devotee (rightfully) desires.

COURTESY:CHITRA VISWANATHAN.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

30TH JANUARY DEATH ANNIVERSARY OF GANDHIJI



For some people Gandhi is still relevant today whereas some think that India (& the world at large) has changed so drastically that there is no role of Gandhi in it. I have heard a few perceive that Gandhi is not a great iconic character to be remembered.No matter what exactly the truth is, the biggest truth of all is that if you go to any corner of earth and ask any stranger to name few Indians he has heard of in his lifetime; the answer in all likelihood will be Mahatma Gandhi.
The unveiling of Gandhiji’s statue in London is a moment of great pleasure and pride for all Indians.One cannot help but contrast this with the debate in our country on the step to build a temple for his assassin, Nathuraam Godse.We must give deep thought to a foreign country’s gesture in giving pride of place to an Indian who spearheaded the move to free India from its clutches.
It’s a tall Gandhi and a diminutive churchill.It was Winston Churchill who disparagingly referred to Mohandas Gandhi as the half- naked Fakir even though Gandhiji regarded the expression as a compliment.It is churchill who will now have to eat his words in his grave after the installation of Gandhiji’s Statue almost next to his.One must also remember another Gandhi quote where he told the British that they can have his life but not his obedience.