Book Review: The Upanishads

The Upanishads

The Upanishads by Eknath Easwaran
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Upanishads are one of the oldest Vedic scriptures of Hinduism / Sanatana dharma. The Upanishads are also known as Vedanta as they are taught in the end while imparting Vedic knowledge. Originally these are written in Sanskrit and are very difficult to grasp or understand as it requires high proficiency of Sanskrit. This book comes with simple translation of the shlokas in English which is easy to comprehend and understand.

The book covers 10 + 1 principle Upanishads rekindled by Shankara and also has briefs on 4 of the more recent Upanishads. The format is as follows: Each Upanishad is introduced in some detail by the author highlighting some of the key aspects and shlokas of the Upanishad as well as some elaboration on it. In the second part, the shlokas are presented, translated in English. This give the reader an opportunity to think and interpret the shlokas from their own perspective. Some Upanishads are short and succinct whereas others are comparatively longer and more descriptive. Some are conversational (Katha, Prashana) while others seem more poetic (Chandogya, Shvetashvatara, Aitareya).

Content wise, it is a treasure! The Upanishads are very crisp with respect to the message they want to convey to the reader. The word Upanishad means “to sit down near a teacher”. Thus, mostly its content is in the form of a dialog between a seeker and a Guru. The seeker / student asks some of the pressing questions which are answered in detail by the Guru. This type of dialog format makes it interesting and easy to grasp the message. Also the questions asked are some of the questions we might sometimes think of, for example, What happens to a person when he dies?, What is our true Self?, How can the Self be realized?, Can one be immortal?, What is the cause of the universe?, What is the true power of our body? etc. Thus, the Upanishads are the perfect scriptures for the curious, the learners, the explorers and the seekers!

Each Upanishad has a key message to convey. Collectively the Upanishads’ main idea is the importance of Self-Realisation and how it can be achieved. This core message is conveyed across all the conversations in the Upanishads. Also I like the way in which it’s so scientific and logical and inspires the seeker to try out the techniques in order to obtain the expected results. It gives the autonomy to the seeker to choose their path and also foretells that they will get the results accordingly. It is not a scripture which says “thou should do this!”

Some of the shlokas are truly polished gems:

“You are what your deep, driving desire is.
As your desire is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny.”
[ Brihadaranyaka IV.4.5 ]

“What is here is also there; what is there,
Also here. Who sees multiplicity
But not the one indivisible Self
Must wander on and on from death to death.”
[ Katha II.2.10 ]

“As a tethered bird flies this way and that,
and comes to rest at last on its own perch,
so the mind, tired of wandering about…
settles down in the Self”
[ Chandogya VI.8.2 ]

“Knowledge is two-fold, higher and lower.
The study of the Vedas, linguistics,
rituals, astronomy, and all the arts,
Can be called lower knowledge.
The higher is that which leads to Self-realization.”
[ Mundaka I.1.4 ]

“Meditation, control of the senses
And passions, and selfless service of all
Are the body, the scriptures are the limbs,
And truth is the heart of this wisdom.”
[ Kena IV.4.8 ]

This book is definitely to be read multiple times. It will give new meaning and insight, every time it is read. It has also inspired me to read some of the advanced commentaries on the Upanishads to understand it in more depth. More importantly, it shows how useless our actions and efforts are in achieving happiness and joy using the sense organs to interact with the external world, when true, everlasting peace and joy lies within our own Self!

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My Keyboard

IMG_4763

Black and white keys together,
Can create a melody unheard,
Pressing the right keys at the right moment,
Can generate a melodious tune,
It can play any instrument whether guitar, sitar or flute,
It has numerous options to choose an accompanying tune.
It uplifts my mood when i feel low,
And makes me euphoric when i am happy,
It is like a time machine,
Which can transcend me in a new different world,
Which is filled with melodies and tunes.
Like a good friend, it is always there,
Waiting for me to switch it on,
And to play a new song …
Sometimes i may not play it for days,
However even on everyday objects,
Sometimes my fingers glide as tough on a keyboard.
Just a glace of it gives me immense joy,
A new tune on it energizes my mind.
I keep practicing and improving this skill,
A little bit more, a new step ahead each day,
I need to learn playing keyboard by my left hand,
The neurons of my brain to learn this trick.
Sometimes it takes a lot of time to catch a new tune,
However, i always keep trying till its perfect,
All it needs a little patience and practice,
And then the results are fantastic !
My keyboard is an instrument spreading melody and joy,
Its keys are the steps leading to a dreamland.

Here is a song titled “Raabta” played by me on my keyboard. Enjoy !
http://yourlisten.com/jayati/raabta

Happiness is …

I was watching this video, in which children sing what happiness means to them. Thus i got the idea of this blog post. Here i would like to share  what happiness means to me. Most of these i have experienced, while some i am yet to experience. I will keep adding more …

Happiness is clicking perfect pictures,
Swinging on swing,
Watching a floating leaf.

Happiness is lush greenery,
Blooming flowers,
Gazing starry sky.

Happiness is watching a sunrise,
Bird soaring high,
Pleasant cool breeze.

Happiness is soothing music,
Chirping birds,
Peaceful silence.

Happiness is midnight sandwich party,
Lots of chocolates,
Home Mom made food.

Happiness is old photos,
Surprise visit home,
Meeting old friends.

Happiness is shopping spree,
Long drives,
Reading new books.

Happiness is publishing new blog post,
Blast of new post ideas (at 3 AM )
Getting Freshly Pressed.

Happiness is motivating teachers,
Parents like friends,
Few close friends.

Happiness is knowing something new,
Learning to do it too,
Gaining expertise.

Happiness is being engrossed in yourself,
Spending quality time alone,
Introspecting.

Happiness in being yourself,
Listening to others,
Doing what you thing is right.

Happiness is taking a stand,
Lending a helping hand,
Spreading fun and joy.

Happiness is listening to people,
Getting new ideas,
Making new friends.

Happiness is sheer pure bliss,
Feeling of immense joy,
Bringing big smiles on faces 🙂

Happiness is joy of small things,
Journey of life,
Wisdom from experiences.

What “Happiness is …” for you ??? Please share …

My Library – My Den

Do you know the best place which i loved the most at my college ??? “My Library” 🙂 Believe me its like a heaven for a book lover like me. My Library was My Den. The place where i could go and find happiness and joy 🙂 Here i am using past tense because my college is over now and i am missing “My Den” a lot 😦 I would like to share a few things about my library here.

Library & Learning Center

Here i would point that the Library and Learning Center is the best in Gujarat and i am sure one of the best in India. It has an enormous collection of books. Almost all magazines about which i have heard and many even unheard are subscribed. There are around 30-35 computers in the learning center where one can surf the internet. Also you can get a headphone from the help desk and listen to lectures, and study at your own pace.

There are soooo many CDs and DVDs which can be borrowed for a day. I found some interesting stuff here. There are both educational as well as recreational CDs.

Lets come to my most favorite place in library. The General Reading Books Section. There is a big bookshelf full of general books. A dreamland for me 🙂 Any time i went there i always found an interesting book to read! Yes Always 🙂 I have read sooo many books like – I Dare, Chicken Soup for the Soul, You can Win, Angels and Demons, The fountainhead, Around the world in 60 Days and many more. Actually the list is endless. How can i even recall all the books that i have read in four years 🙂 But i can say that I read almost all the books in the general section.

The General Books’ Shelf

The magazine section attracted me by my favorite Readers’ Digest, Inside Outside (dreamt about my future home :)), Life Positive, Digit, Gadget and many more. In the reference section there was always a copy of a book available as it was “Not for Issue”. So one could get even the ‘in demand’ books here.

Magazines

The projects section contained the project reports of our seniors and now ours as well 🙂 This was the most in demand place in the last semester, to refer others projects 🙂

Project Reports

Are you a chess lover ??? Then you won’t believe that you can officially play chess in our library. Just ask for chess set at the help desk and play it ‘silently’ with your partner. Amazing right 🙂 What more can you ask for in a Library ?

Almost all the festivals and days are celebrated here. From Diwali to Holi, from Teachers’ Day to World Environment Day. We even celebrated Friendship Day in the most unique way. Since books are known to be a man’s best friend so we had new collection of books as a gift and we had to write about our favorite book on colored bits of paper and pin it on a big board. These were some of the best moments at library.

The new arrivals used to be kept on a separate table for everyone to see. It was my happiest sight in library and then i would spend hours with the new books and deciding which book i should get issued first.

New Arrivals

All this has been possible due to the hard work and persistent efforts put in by our Librarian Sheetal Mam and the complete library team. They work together like a big family. Sheetal Mam is one of the best person i have ever met. She was always available and has supported and helped us in her own unique ways. A person whom you can look up to in both happy as well as sad times. Miss you a lot Mam! Specially those long discussions and talks. You have the special ability to make someone’s day 🙂

I miss my den a lot. Those sunlit tables, those cool wooden floors, interesting new books, those chess games, those happy reading times, its hardly a month since i left and i am already missing it all ! Library was “My Zone” in college. It will always be there in my heart.

My First Flight Experience

I got an opportunity to visit from Ahmedabad to Bangalore by flight on May 02nd, 2012. This was my first flight experience. My Dad and me reached the airport at 8:30 PM. We got our tickets and then had the security check. Our Spicejet flight SG 345 was scheduled to leave at 9:30 PM. So we had our dinner at the airport itself. The flight was on time and luckily i got the window seat (the child in me was so happy :)).  It was a hopping flight with a 30 min break at Pune. So i had double benefit in my first experience 😀

We were ready and waiting for the take off. Firstly the plane went on the run way till the opposite end and all the while i was feeling as if i am sitting in a bus :D. But finally it took an about-turn and the speed increased exponentially. Within a few seconds we were high, up in the sky. The view was breath-taking. The roads seemed like bright lighted lines, the houses and cars seemed like toys. The actual city looked like a toy model of a city. My ears were humming initially when the plane increased the height, but later on everything was fine.

Time just flew and very soon we landed at Pune. After a 30 min break, the plane again took off. Almost everyone was asleep, but i was so happy and excited that i could not even think of sleeping 🙂 Again there was similar view from the top. Our pilot Mr. Shashidharan was an expert. We reached Bangalore before time at 12:30 AM.

The Bangalore airport is awesome (maybe because the domestic and international airport is common). A bus dropped us till the airport. So may planes were lined up there. Our plane was at 72 numbered stop so you can imagine the view. There was so much rush at the airport that it seemed like a railway station 😀 I must admit that i am in love with Bangalore at first sight. Even at night the city looked so beautiful and well maintained. It is like heaven for a nature lover like me 🙂 It was so cool and pleasant that unknowingly i fell asleep in the taxi 😦 and missed the night view.

I would also like to add my second flight experience 😀 since it was a morning flight back from Bangalore to Ahmedabad the next day. I am sure you won’t believe me when i tell you this, “There were soooo many sparrows chirping merrily inside the Bangalore Airport”. Firstly i was shocked and then i was surprised. I am sure that the nearby people must have thought that i had seen the sparrows for the first time 😀 But i didn’t care :D.

The view while returning back was also very beautiful. Almost all the while (2 hrs.) i was happily looking out of the window (yes! again i got a window seat :)). The rivers and roads seemed like snakes. The green patches were beautiful. Very soon we were at 33000 feet. Even the clouds were below us. I thoroughly enjoyed myself all the while 🙂

Some of the points i thought up above in the sky were –

  • After seeing this view i have an urge to look at the Earth from the space 🙂 I hope i get a chance one day !
  • The feeling of “ME” vanishes and the “EGO” dissolves. From 33000 feet we are not even equivalent to a speck of dust. So even at this great height i was grounded to the Earth 🙂
  • It felt flying like a bird in the sky. I want to try sky-diving now !
  • Importance of time. A 30 hour-long tiring journey by train substituted by a mere 2 hour flight. I saved a lot of time and energy (for my forthcoming exams)
  • Nothing is impossible. If we take up some task and give our best we can get what others say is ‘impossible’. For eg. man can fly like a bird and swim like a fish. An interesting quote related to this – When you do anything new, at first people laugh at you, then they challenge you, then they watch you succeed and then they wish they were like you 😉

It was one of the most memorable experience of my life ! Thanks a lot Dad 🙂 In 24 hours i traveled by a car, bus, plane, jeep and auto that day 🙂 Later on the complete journey felt like a dream. I hope i have such dreams recurrently 😀

It feels Good

It feels good
To give/get a hug
It feels good
To drink coffee from a (big) mug

It feels good
To gaze a starry night
It feels good
To fight for right

It feels good
To get a deserving prize
It feels good
To hear a newborn’s cries

It feels good
To listen to one’s heart
It feels good
To make a new start

It feels good
To make new friends
It feels good
To set new trends

It feels good
When someone misses you
It feels good
When you miss the same one too

It feels good
To fulfill a desire
It feels good
To help one whose life’s dire

It feels good
To lend a helping hand
It feels good
To support someone’s stand

It feels good
When things happen as they should
It feels good
When someone feels good

PS – Image Credits – thefeelgoodlifestyle.com

Sheer Bliss :)

Sheer bliss !!! Yes that’s how i feel when i complete my targets and deadlines. Sometimes the targets may be small just like to finish some particular task in some time duration and sometimes the target may be somewhat big like to complete some major portion of the project. But believe me the pleasure, happiness and sheer bliss is always almost the same :).

Happiness is one of the best achievements of the life sometimes even more precious than name, fame or money. If you have everything but no happiness then that ‘everything’ is of no use at all.

Such moments make me feel so good. I forget my surroundings and also the past setbacks are no more remembered. Sometimes this sheer bliss persists for weeks together ! I love such happening times of my life when i go over the top. I hope the frequency of these days keeps increasing exponentially :).

The main cause of this happiness and bliss is a sense of achievement and fulfillment. When you put in hours or days or weeks of efforts into something and when its finally completes successfully it is bound to give happiness. Its a great feeling when efforts finally bear fruits.

So i would suggest, next time when you get the opportunity to perform, take it as a challenge. Give your best. Give all your time. If it’s not good enough then try again. Don’t give it up in between. Because quitting or giving up is one of the worst feeling in life. Trying and losing is always better that not trying ! Finally when the time, energy, efforts, hard work and perseverance result in a big success ENJOY !!!