The Fairy “I” can’t fathom – She, the Big M

“It is an oft-quoted saying that philosophy begins in wonder. The mystery of the world with all its changes strikes the reflective temper. The Vedic philosophy grew out of a demand for the explanation of actual experience. Philosophy bade men seek beneath all change, which is the law of life, unity and persistency. All things are passing; what remains? Anything or nothing? The Vedic age raised the problem of philosophy and offered a solution. It was then that attempts to reflect upon the world of experience were made for the first time. When we reflect upon the world of experience, the word illusion (“Maya”) comes to the foreground.

The doctrine of Maya is consideredby many thinkers,to be an integral part of the Vedanta philosophy. The Vedanta system is supposed to be an acosmic pantheism, holding that the Absolute called Brahman alone is real and the finite manifestations are illusory. There is one absolute undifferentiated reality, the nature of which is constitutedby knowledge. The entire empirical world, with its distinction of finite minds and the objects of their thought,is an illusion. Subjects and objects are like the fleeting images which encompass the dreaming soul and melt away into nothingness at the momentof waking.

The term Maya signifies the illusory character of the finite world.” ( Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Eminent Indian Philosopher)

Wait a minute; does this statement strike a chord in us – in today’s COVID-19 environment?

It looks like it happened “just recently”. A year and a quarter has passed since the virus silently spread across the world. Millions of lives lost. Inter and intra relationships & transactions among and within individuals and society have been completely turned around leaving one to wonder whether it is all a dream and whether we all are waking up to a new state after a deep sleep. Yes, all the three basic states of our Consciousness (awake, dream and deep sleep) have come to play in this crucial time in each one of us thanks to Maya (She, The Big M,I call it).

Well, to me it appears like that; so I woke up after my second vaccination, with a new found determination to explore Maya and her origin, the Vedanta. True to its nature, the Big M treated me like a kid (which I am) and presented me with an exclusive giant Mall with infinite toy stores. No wonder I am lost. Not to disappoint me, the Big M presented me with three books titled Tattva Bodha, Isavasya Upanishad and Dakshinamurthy Stothram.

The last 2 weeks have been fairly severe in terms of the weather; temperatures dropping to single digits (deg F) and snow storms lashing cities forcing kids like me to seek the comfort of our cozy home – that means the Big M has given me an opportunity to deep dive into the books that I got from Her. Each Sloka (Verse) and each word in the three books, is sending me into “space walks” in search of the Self . Holding each Sloka as my life line, I venture into the space of contemplation. Whenever I return back to my home base, I stare through the window at the vast white carpet of snow all around and tried to relate my space walk with the “ground reality”.

In one such “stare” in the early morning after I went on my 18th space walk (corresponding to the 18th Sloka of the Isavasya Upanishad) , the day after the snow storm I did have a direct response from the principal character of that Sloka. Here is that Sloka, its meaning in English and Tamil and the response of the character .

A word of caution here – Millions of pages have been written over centuries by “Subject” – “Matter” – Specialists to provide commentaries for the Slokas in these books. Summing them up into few lines is absolutely immature and childish; yet as a child I have started by scribblings on Vedanta. Pardon me for that.

But Children have the right to enquire and ask questions. The child I am, I am asking questions to myself with the fond hope that someday I will find answers.

The Sloka

अग्ने नय सुपथा राये अस्मान्विश्वानि देव वयुनानि विद्वान् ।

युयोध्यस्मज्जुहुराणमेनो भूयिष्ठां ते नम उक्तिं विधेम ॥ १८ ॥

English Transliteration

agne naya supathā rāye asmānviśvāni deva vayunāni vidvān |

yuyodhyasmajjuhurāṇameno bhūyiṣṭhāṃ te nama uktiṃ vidhema || 18 ||

Meaning in Tamil

அழல் தெய்வமே ! புரிவினை யாவுமறிந்திட்டுயாம்

நல்வினைப் பயனை துய்த்திட நல்வழியே நடத்திடு

உள் உறை தீவினை வஞ்சம்தனை விடுத்திடு

அளித்திட்டேன் பக்தியுடன் எம் வணங்குதலை

Meaning in English

O god of fire, lead us by the good path

To eternal joy. You know all our deeds.

Deliver us from evil, we who bow

And pray again and again.

(From The Upanishads by Eknath Easwaran)

The response

Music Courtesy: Jagruthi an awakening by Music India. (No commercial interests for me).

The day after vaccination

The dark days of COVID-19 combined with the cold winter could force anyone to be tugged under the comforter and lie down on the bed even when awake particularly on a Sunday. Well, I have a different story to tell.

Sunday 24th January 2021 – It was the day after I got “moderna-ized”. Wondering about the new English word coined here ! Yes, the previous day I got the first doze of the much anticipated COVID vaccine from Moderna, making me feel that sometimes getting old is helpful (Got the appointment because I was more than 65 years old – physically).

As typical of an old timer, I got up at 0600 hrs on a cold and frigid Sunday morning with temperature smoothly gliding down to 12 deg F (Remember that I am guy who spent all his life at around 32 deg C. !). I had a choice to make – a choice about how I feel.

In my life, whenever I had to make choices, I had the luck of having someone close to me to lean my shoulders on and pause before making the choice. This Sunday is no exception. As my “close someone” unfolded himself to me, I made my choice.

THERE IS HOPE; THERE IS A BRIGHTER SIDE TO LIFE. LOOK AT THAT AND START THE DAY.

I did. Here is what I looked at from my windows.

Winter Message 2

From around 8 pm on Christmas Eve, till 5 pm on Christmas Day, the thunderstorm that swept through left us at Southampton, Long Islands without Internet. When the storm left, there was a brief period of 10 mts when the sky opened up. I rushed outside to catch a glimpse. Here are some unedited shots from my iPhone. Message is clear – you can be without power or you can be unconnected with others socially; but you cannot disconnect yourselves from Nature.

Powder “Non Metallurgy “

I was amazed and wondering at the skill and passion for iPhone photography (in Facebook) of one gentleman Viorel who posted a photo of a snow flake using his iPhone 11 + macro lens ❄️

Snow Flake

Recently we had huge amount of snow shower with gutsy winds. After the snow, I was wondering how such a tiny flake in a Star form can take shapes that one can only see and enjoy. I was reminded of the term “Powder metallurgy”, describing the wide range of ways in which components are made from metal powders. Well, Mother Nature knows this technology very well even for non metallic applications. Here are some shapes that the snow powder “star flake” takes.

Nature is simply beyond and yet within anyone’s understanding like God is. The problem for us is “You only have to see it”.

Christmas Tree

Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. In India, from time immemorial, people hung green mango, neem leaves over their doors and windows on every occasion with the faith and belief that such an act will bring in auspiciousness, good vibes and keep away ill feelings and hatred. This became a part of their way of living and practiced even today.

Now let us refresh our memory on the tradition of setting up Christmas tree. Here is an extract from https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees

“Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles. Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier……”

With the advent of technology, in modern days we see see plastics, glasses, electrical gadgets taking over the decorating roles.

The fact remains that setting up the tree and decorating it (lighting up as per today’s norm) is a joyous occasion for the family. Here are some pictures of the Christmas Tree at our home.

Here is wishing everyone Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Autumn Message 5

“Astronomically I am supposed to be your Fall companion between September 22, 9:30 am to December 21, 5:02 am in Pennsylvania. Guys, why have you allowed him so early? Two is ok – you and me; three is crowd. Isn’t it?” says the Autumn on arrival of the first snow shower.

First Snow Shower of the Season

Golu – The festive display of Dolls

Golu is the festive display of dolls. It is organised in houses in South India during the autumn festive season of Navarathri /Dusssehra/Dasara.. Typically the dolls are made out of clay. Dolls are arranged in specific sequences on odd number of steps in a staircase style arrangement to depict the process and interplay of the three types of energies (Iccha Shakti – the energy of will or desire, Jnana Shakti – the energy of knowledge, Kriya Shakti – the energy of action) that are continually cycling within us. The steps progressively take us through the stages of our evolution in our spiritual progress as a human being. At the base step, dolls depicting routine mundane activities can be seen. Progressively as we climb the stairs, we can see the dolls conveying our graduation in our consciousness level. The dolls focus on various gods, their actions, themes representing the historical events around the gods and the meaning they convey for leading our lives. The apex level step will have the ultimate integration of our consciousness (Shiva) with the energy (shakti) at the top most (apex) step.

Here is the Golu at our home in the eastern part of the USA.

If you are interested to know details of Navarathri celebrations, please refer https://prabhusponder.com/2020/10/16/navarathri-a-nine-night-integration-process/