Monday, August 11, 2014

Vaishnava Jana To

This bhajan by Narsinh Mehta was the favourite bhajan by Mahatma Gandhi. It is in Gujarati and describes the qualities of an ideal Vaishnava (Vishnu bhakta).

The translation of the bhajan in Hindi and English is given very well at this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaishnava_Jana_To#Lyrics

The Original Hymn

Vaishnav Jan to taynay kahyeeye,
Jay peerh paraayee janney ray
Par dukkhey upkar karey,
Toyey man abhiman na anney ray.
Sakal lokma sahuney vandey,
Ninda na karey kainee ray
Vaach kaach, man nischal raakhey,
Dhan-dhan jananee tainee ray.
Samdristhi nay trishna tyagee,
Par-stree jaynay mat ray
Jivaah thaki asatya na bolay,
Par-dhan nav jhaley haath ray.
Moh maya vyaapey nahin jeyney,
Drud vairagya jeyna manma ray
Ram-naam-shoon taalee laagee,
Sakal teerth teyna tanma ray.
Vanalobhee ney kapatrahith chey,
Kaam, krodh nivarya ray
Bhane Narsaiyon tainoo darshan kartan,
Kul ekotair taryaa ray

Translation

A godlike man is one,
Who feels another’s pain
Who shares another’s sorrow,
And pride does disdain.
Who regards himself as the lowliest of the low,
Speaks not a word of evil against any one
One who keeps himself steadfast in words, body and mind,
Blessed is the mother who gives birth to such a son.
Who looks upon everyone as his equal and has renounced lust, And who honours women like he honours his mother
Whose tongue knows not the taste of falsehood till his last breath, Nor covets another’s worldly goods.
He does not desire worldly things,
For he treads the path of renunciation
Ever on his lips is Rama’s holy name,
All places of pilgrimage are within him.
One who is not greedy and deceitful,
And has conquered lust and anger
Through such a man Saint Narsaiyon has a godly vision,
Generations to come, of such a man, will attain salvation

And the video (sung by Lata Mangeshkar)  can be found here: 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Review of Book - Talks on The Gita by Acharya Vinoba Bhave

Link for the book (HTML online): http://www.mkgandhi.org/talksongita/talk_gita.htm
E-Book (PDF): http://www.mkgandhi.org/ebks/talks_on_the_gita.pdf

'Talks on The Gita' or 'Gita Pravachane' are a series of talks delivered by Acharya Vinoba Bhave in 1932 in Dhule jail where Vinoba had been incarcerated by the British for his participation in the freedom movement. In the note from the publisher of this book:
Vinoba agreed to give a talk every Sunday and delivered 18 talks on the 18 Chapters. P.S. Sane alias Sane Guruji, a great writer and freedom-fighter, wrote them down in long hand. There was no question of their being taped and their publication was also not thought of. In fact, Vinoba had given talks on the Gita many times in the past, but none of them had been published. However, Sane Guruji preserved the notebooks and the talks were published first in his weekly newspaper, and then in the form of a book in 1940 when Vinoba was in jail even before he could find time to go through them for necessary editing.
It is not an academic treatise on the Gita. These are the talks given before ordinary individuals from different walks of life. It was Vinoba’s firm conviction that the Gita is meant to spiritualize human life; to transform and make it divine. That is exactly what these talks too are meant to bring about. 

As mentioned in the publisher's note, Talks on the Gita is different from other books or discourses available on Bhagavad Gita. In this book, there is no verse to verse translation, neither there is any explanation of every verse in detail. Hence the lectures or talks given by Vinoba Bhave on Gita are very simple and easy to understand for even those who haven't read Bhagavad Gita earlier.

Vinoba Bhave played a very important role in Indian Freedom struggle and was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. In these talks in 1932, he inspired the residents of the jail and his fellowmen to fight for the nation and motherland.


His explanation of Karma and Vikarma in 5th chapter, how to obtain focus of mind in 6th chapter, meaning of Bhakti in chapters 7-12 are easy to follow. He explains these concepts by showing us practical day to day life scenarios. He has also tried to convey his points through stories of Hindu Gods and Godesses. For example, Pundalik was serving his parents and Lord Vitthal came to his home to grant him a boon for his devotion to his parents. When Lord Vitthal knocked on Pundalik's door, Pundalik was busy serving his parents and hence threw a brick at Vitthal to offer him a place to stand. Lord Vitthal was pleased with his devotion and henceforth remained at Pandharpur. This story explained by Vinoba explains the concept of dharma - Pundalik's dharma  was to serve his parents and hence Lord Vitthal (Vishnu) wasn't offended.


Vinoba explains that Lord is everywhere around us in nature, animals, human beings. Chapter 7 and 9 of Bhagavad Gita give his manifestations in the world, but the Lord is not limited to those manifestations and his everywhere and in everything. But the best message that I could get from this book was in the second chapter itself when Vinoba Bhave explains the Sankya system in very simple language. He says -

Three cardinal principles have been enunciated in the Second Chapter—
        (i) The atman (the Self) is deathless and indivisible.
        (ii) The body is insignificant and transient.
        (iii) Swadharma must be followed.
Out of these, Swadharma is in the nature of duty to be performed while the other two principles are those that need to be understood.

 He further explains after this what is Swadharma, how to realize the atman and how we cherish the body even though the body is insignificant and full of dirt.


I would highly recommend this book to everyone, specially if you haven't read Bhagavad Gita till now and are looking for a book that could explain the message of Bhagavad Gita in simple manner.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Booking Indian Railway Tickets For Senior Citizens - Concession and Quota

Concession means that you get a discount in your ticket price. Quota means some seats are allotted for a particular group - like few for ladies, few for defence, few for senior citizens and rest for general public. 

Indian Railways provides some benefits to senior citizens which are mentioned in this document here

Two of the most important things are - 

1. Concession in Ticket price:

40% for men and 50% for women. Please refer (i) in above document. 

How to get this concession: 

Getting concession is fairly simple when booking tickets online for senior citizens through www.irtctc.co.in. You need to simply select the checkbox for senior citizen and carry the age proof when you travel. 

Getting a lower berth for senior citizens is difficult. Many times we book tickets with other family members and find that all lower berths are gone; no lower berths are assigned to old people even after selecting the senior citizen checkbox. But very few people know that railways have assigned 2 lower berths in every coach for senior citizens. Lets check the quota now. 

2. Quota for allotting seats:


a) General Quota: 

Lower berths are allotted automatically from this quota to senior citizen/female over 45 years while booking tickets subject to availability. 

b) Lower Berth Quota: 

2 lower berths are allocated in each coach for senior citizens/female over 45 years/pregnant women.  These 2 seats can be availed by any of them. But there is a catch here - this quota is given to the person only if they are travelling alone. It means that they need to be the only one in the ticket. If you include more than one person in the ticket, then this quota is not applied. Also, if there   2 senior citizens are included on the same ticket, then too the quota is not applied.

If you open the document that is linked above and below too, refer point 3 (iii) in the pdf. Lower berth quota is allotted when travelling alone. Hence to avail the lower berth for senior citizens, try to book the ticket for the old person with only his/her name. Other family members will need to book a separate ticket. If there are 2 old people travelling, then book 2 separate tickets! 

Notes:

  • There are detailed steps to book tickets in senior citizen quota from here: http://www.indiamike.com/india/indian-railways-f10/online-booking-of-senior-citizen-quota-guaranteed-lower-berth-subject-to-availabilit-t168757/
  • Also, www.erail.in has  a good feature of checking this lower berth quota. You can search for trains and select the lower berth quota from the drop down. 

Documents and links related to senior citizens quota:




Thursday, May 29, 2014

The search for answers.

Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature - Michael Faraday

Science is all around us. But very few notice it and wonder the source of nature. Great scientists knew something is out there but they couldn't pin point the source. Their work and study was driven by the urge for finding answers. Why does this happen? What makes it move? Where does it come from?

But science evolved after 16th century rapidly when scientists starting having tools at their disposal for their research. They could experiment and find answers to their questions.

Before that time, in 8th century and in fact even in B. C., there were people who had the same questions that were unanswered till 17th century. Those people were called Philosophers, thinkers, seers, saints,  sages. The had the same questions regarding the laws of nature but not the right tools to find answers. Probably that's why they tried to find the answers within.

Both scientists and philosophers go mad in their search. It drives them crazy to not being able to explain the phenomena out there. But they dedicate their whole life in pursuit of getting answers. Material things would not affect them.

People think that science and philosophy are two extreme studies or pursuits. But the people following these pursuits have the same purpose, same goals, same end. Only the means are different.

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better - Albert Einstein