The celebrated sage Markhandeya had prophesied about the happenings in Kaliyuga thus: In Kaliyuga all will be dishonest. Charity and Sacrifices will be only for a name. Brahmans would do the duties of Sudras. Sudras will become prosperous. There will be sinners as kings. People will be short-lived and the stature of the people also will diminish. Beastly type of men will be on the increase. Taste and smell will vanish. Men will sell rice and Brahmans, the Vedas. Women will sell their vaginas and be ‘Mukhebhagas’.The yield of milk from cows will decrease. Flowers and fruits will become less. Crows will be on the increase. Brahmans would become beggars. Sages will be merchants. Brahmans would without any reason grow hairs and nails. None will observe the four ashrams correctly. Students will defile the bed of their preceptors. Rains will be in and out of season. Trees and plants will refuse to grow in many places. There will be murder of people everywhere. Merchants will be cheats and they will use false measures. Righteous persons will decrease and sinners will increase. Girls of seven or eight years will become pregnant and boys will become fathers. Young men at the age of sixteen would be grey-haired. Old men will continue practicing the habits of young men. Wives will lie with their servants. Wives will be prostitutes even while their husbands are alive. People will die in lots of hunger.”
Unlike other major religions in the world, the Hindu’s have many texts that guide and help them to understand life and how to live. Unfortunately majority of the Hindu’s are not aware of the rich storehouse of knowledge that they possess and search in internet and library’s for wisdom and guidance. Here is a short description.
The Sruti and the Smriti are the two authoritative sources of Hinduism. Sruti literally means what is heard, and Smriti means what is remembered. Sruti is revelation and Smriti is tradition. The Srutis are called the Vedas. The Vedas are the eternal truths revealed by God to the great Rishis of India and the foundation of the Hindu religion. The word Veda means knowledge. When it is applied to scripture, it signifies a book of knowledge. The Vedas are the foundational scriptures of the Hindus and the storehouse of Indian wisdom. The Vedas are the oldest books in the library of man and are the ultimate source to which all religious knowledge can be traced. Any other Hindu scripture must agree with the Vedas in order to be considered an authority.
The great compiler of the Veda and Puranas was Vyasa Krishna Dwaipayana who is understood have lived during the period of Sri Krishna around 3000 years ago. The chanting itself has the power to provide material benefit and spiritual apotheosis. Great emphasis, therefore, was laid on correct pronunciation and on memorization. The texts that are used for aiding the memorization and recitation of the Vedas with utmost fidelity, are called ‘Lakshana Granthas’. These texts include Padapathas, Ghanapathas, Kramapatha and other Vikrtis or modifications of the root text, phonetic treatises like Sikshas and Pratisakhyas and so on.
The Veda is divided into four great books: The Rig-Veda, The Yajur-Veda, The Sama-Veda, The Atharva-Veda. Each Veda consists of four parts: The Mantra-Samhitas or hymns, The Brahmanas or explanations of Mantras or rituals, The Aranyakas (philosophical interpretations of the rituals), The Upanishads (The essence or the knowledge portion of the Vedas).
The Mantra-Samhitas are hymns in praise of the Vedic God for attaining material prosperity here and happiness hereafter. The Brahmana portions guide people to perform sacrificial rites. They are prose explanations of the method of using the Mantras in the Yajna or the sacrifice. The Aranyakas give philosophical interpretations of the Rituals. The Upanishads contain the essence or the knowledge portion of the Vedas. They speak of the identity of the individual soul and the Supreme Soul. The subject matter of the whole Veda is divided into Karma-Kanda, Upasana-Kanda and Jnana-Kanda.
The basic teachings of the Upanishads are summed up in six great sayings (Mahavakyas). These are: “I am Brahman” (Aham Brahmasmi). This states the identity of the inmost consciousness of the individual with that of the supreme Divine. “The Self is Brahman” (Ayam Atma Brahma). This also states the identity of the soul with the Absolute but in a more objective and less direct manner. “That thou art” (Tat tvam asi). Whatever we see or think about we are that. “Intelligence is Brahman” (Prajnanam Brahma). Our discernment of truth is the truth itself. “The Universe is Brahman” (Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma). The entire universe is the Divine, which includes our self. “He am I” (So’ham). This shows the identity of the self with the Divine Lord inherent within the natural movement of our breath.
There are four Upa-Vedas or subsidiary Vedas: The Ayurveda (science of life and health), The Dhanurveda (science of war), The Gandharva Veda (science of music), The Arthasastra (science of politics and Economics).
There are six Vedangas to the Vedas: Siksha, Vyakarana, Chhandas, Nirukta, Jyotisha and Kalpas. Siksha deals with pronunciation and accent. Vyakarana is Sanskrit Grammar. Without knowledge of Vyakarana, you cannot understand the Vedas. Chhandas is metre dealing with prosody. (the use of pitch, loudness, tempo in phonetics and rhythm in speech to convey information about the structure and meaning of an utterance). Nirukta is philosophy or etymology. Jyotisha is astronomy and astrology. It deals with the movements of the heavenly bodies, planets, etc., and their influence on human affairs. Kalpa is the method or ritual.
Next in importance to the Sruti are the Smritis or secondary scriptures. The Smriti scriptures are of human origin and were written to explain the Sruti writings and make them understandable and meaningful to the general population. The Smritis have laid down definite rules and laws to guide the individuals and communities in their daily conduct and to regulate their manners and customs. The Smritis have given detailed instructions, according to the conditions of the time, to all classes of men regarding their duties in life. The Smritis are based on the teachings of the Vedas. There are eighteen main Smritis or Dharma Sastras. The most important are those of Manu, Yajnavalkya and Parasara. The other fifteen are those of Vishnu, Daksha, Samvarta, Vyasa, Harita, Satatapa, Vasishtha, Yama, Apastamba, Gautama, Devala, Sankha-Likhita, Usana, Atri and Saunaka. Manu is the greatest law-giver of the race.
The Itihasas (history) – There are four books under this heading: The Valmiki-Ramayana, The Yogavasishtha, The Mahabharata and The Harivamsa. These embody all that is in the Vedas, but only in a simpler manner. These works explain the great universal truths in the form of historical narratives, stories and dialogues. The common man cannot comprehend the high abstract philosophy of the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutras. Hence, the compassionate sages Valmiki and Vyasa wrote the Itihasas for the benefit of common people. These are very interesting volumes and are liked by all, from the inquisitive child to the intellectual scholar. The Bhagavad Gita, more commonly known as the Gita, is part of the Itihasa scripture Mahabharata.
Puranas – The Puranas were written to popularise the religion of the Vedas. They contain the essence of the Vedas. The aim of the Puranas is to impress on the minds of the masses the teachings of the Vedas and to generate in them devotion to God, through concrete examples, myths, stories, legends, lives of saints, kings and great men, allegories and chronicles of great historical events. The sages made use of these things to illustrate the eternal principles of religion. The Puranas were meant, not for the scholars, but for the ordinary people who could not understand high philosophy and who could not study the Vedas. There are eighteen main Puranas and an equal number of subsidiary Puranas or Upa-Puranas.
The Agamas – Another class of popular scriptures are the Agamas. The Agamas are theological treatises and practical manuals of divine worship. The Agamas include the Tantras, Mantras and Yantras. These are treatises explaining the external worship of God, in idols, temples etc. They also give elaborate details about entology and cosmology, liberation, devotion, meditation, philosophy of Mantras, mystic diagrams, charms and spells, temple-building, image-making, domestic observances, social rules, public festivals etc.
Darsanas -These are the intellectual section of the Hindu writings. Darsanas are schools of philosophy based on the Vedas. The Agamas are theological. The Darsana literature is philosophical. The Darsanas are meant for the erudite scholars who are endowed with acute acumen, good understanding, power of reasoning and subtle intellect. The Itihasa, Puranas and Agamas are meant for the masses. There are six Darsanas and the six schools of philosophy are the six instruments of true teaching or the six demonstrations of Truth. Each school has developed, systematized and correlated the various parts of the Veda in its own way. The Shat-Sastras are: The Nyaya founded by Gautama Rishi, The Vaiseshika by Kanada Rishi, The Sankhya by Kapila Muni, The Yoga by Patanjali Maharshi, The Purva Mimamsa by Jaimini, The Uttara Mimamsa or Vedanta by Badarayana or Vyasa.
Hindu Temple Prayers
Many Hindus visit temples, if not every day or regularly, certainly once in a while. According to Gita there are four types of persons who visit temple.
catur-vidha bhajante mam janah sukrtino ‘rjuna
arto jijnasur artharthi jnani ca bharatarsabha
Bhaktas or devotees of God are of four types. Arta, Jijnasu, Artharthi and Jnani. Arta is the distressed devotee who is suffering very much and who craves for the grace of God, in order to get himself relieved from pain and sorrow, Jijnasu is the seeker after knowledge, who feels that he is ignorant, and who wants the grace of God in order to have Wisdom. Artharthi is the seeker of wealth, who longs for earthly possessions, money, land, etc., in order to enjoy a happy life, and who propitiates God to get His grace to amass wealth. Jnani is the wise, the sage who is satisfied with the Self, who is contented in the Self, who has no desires, who is freed from desires, who has fulfilled all desires, whose only desire is the Self; who considers his own Self as the All-inclusive God.
So whenever you go to temple, what you do there? Just offer Pranams to the Lord and return or offer a list of problems for which you need solutions? Whatever you give to the Lord, he gives you ten times in return. If you offer Bhakthi and love, you get it back 10 times from Him. If you offer problems, same thing, ten times more problems in return.
So, the best thing to do when you visit temple is to offer your love and Bhakthi. Given below are few simple slokas that you can recite in each temple depending on the deity residing there.
Vakra-Tunndda Maha-Kaaya Surya-Kotti Samaprabha
Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva-Kaaryessu Sarvadaa
Meaning – O Lord Ganesha, of Curved Trunk, Large Body, and with the Brilliance of a Million Suns, Please Make All my Works Free of Obstacles, Always.
Gajananam Bhutagaanadi Sevitam
Kapittha Jambu Phala Saara Bhakshitam
Uma Sutam Shokavinaasha Kaaranam
Namaami Vigneshvara Paada Pankajam
Meaning – I prostrate myself before the lotus feet of Vigneshvara (Ganesha), the son of Uma, who destroys sorrow, who is served by the host of angels, who has the face of an elephant, who partakes of the essence of kapittha and jambu fruits.
Om Bhuur-Bhuvah Svah Tat-Savitur-Varennyam |
Bhargo Devasya Dhiimahi Dhiyo Yo Nah Pracodayaat ||
Meaning – Om, that (Divine Illumination) which pervades the Bhu Loka (Physical Plane), Bhuvar Loka (Antariksha Loka or the Astral Plane) and Suvar Loka (Swarga Loka or the Celestial Plane), That Savitr (Divine Illumination) which is the Most Adorable, on that Divine Radiance we Meditate, May that Enlighten Our Intellect and awaken our Spiritual Wisdom.
Shaantha kaaram Bhujagashayanam. Padmanaabham suresham,
Vishwaadhaaram gaganasadrusham meghavarnam shubhangam
Lakshmi kaantham kamalanayanam yogibhidhyarnagamyam
Vandhe vishnum bhavabhayahram sarvalokayeeka Naatham.
Meaning – Salutations to Sri Vishnu Who has a Serene Appearance, Who Rests on a Serpent (Adisesha), Who has a Lotus on His Navel and Who is the Lord of the Devas, Who Sustains the Universe, Who is Boundless and Infinite like the Sky, Whose colour is like the Cloud (Bluish) and Who has a Beautiful and Auspicious Body, Who is the Husband of Devi Lakshmi, Whose Eyes are like Lotus and Who is Attainable to the Yogis by Meditation, Salutations to That Vishnu Who Removes the Fear of Worldly Existence and Who is the Lord of All the Lokas.
Vasu deva sutham devam Kamsa Chanura mardhanam,
Devaki pramanandam Krishnam vande jagat gurum,
Meaning – My salutations to Lord Krishna, Who is the teacher of the entire world, Who is the son of Vasu deva, Who killed Kamsa and Chanura, And who is the darling of Devaki
Krishnaaya Vaasudevaaya Devakee Nandanaayacha,
Nandagopa Kumaaraya, Govindaaya Namonamahaa.
Meaning – Salutations to Sri Krishna Who is the Son and the Joy of Father Vasudeva and Mother Devaki, Salutations to Him Who is the Boy of Cowherd Nanda and Who is Himself the Lord Govinda; Salutations, Salutations to Him again and again.
Raamaaya Raamabhadraaya, Raamachandraaya vedasey
Raghunaathaya naathaya Seethaaya Pathayenamahaa
Meaning – Salutations unto Lord Rama who is auspiciousness, who is in the form of the shining light (consciousness present in all beings) who is the creator, who is the Lord of the Raghu clan, the Lord of all beings and the husband of Sita
Shivam shivakaram, shantham shivathmanam, Shivothamam,
Shivamarga pranetharam, pranamai sada shivam.
Meaning – Salutations to the ever peaceful Lord Sada Shiva, Who is the abode of peace, Who makes peace, Who is peaceful, Who is the soul of peace, Who is the acme of peace, And who shows the path of Shiva.
Karpuura Gauram Karunaa Vataaram,
Sansaara Saaram Bhujagendra Haaram.
Sadaa Vasantam Hridayaa Ravinde,
Bhavam Bhavaanii Sahitam Namaami.
Meaning – I salute to that Ishwara (Shankar), Along with Bhavani (Parvati), Who is as white as camphor, Who is an incarnation of compassion, Who is the essence of this world, Who wears a serpent around his neck, And who is ever present in the lotus abode of our hearts.
Yaa Kundendu tushaara haaradhavalaa, Yaa shubhravastraavritha
Yaa veenavara dandamanditakara, Yaa shwetha padmaasanaa,
Yaa brahmaachyutha shankara prabhritibhir Devaisadaa Vanditha (poojitaa)
Saa Maam Paatu Saraswatee Bhagavatee Nihshesha jaadyaapahaa.
Meaning – May that Goddess – Bhagavati – the blessed Saraswathi presiding deity of learning and remover of our lethargy, laziness and ignorance protect us. She is pure and white like the jasmine, the full moon and the garland like formation of dewdrops. She is dressed in a spotless robe. She has in her hand the auspicious instrument veena. She is seated on a white lotus. She is the one who is always respected by Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, Shankara the annihilator and other Gods.
Saraswathi Namasthubyam, Varadey Kaamarupinee!
Vidhyarambham Karishyami, Sidhir bhavathu mey sada !!
Meaning – Oh ! Goddess, Saraswathi, my humble prostrations unto Thee, who are the fulfiller of all my wishes. I start my studies with the request that thou will bestow Thy blessings on me.
Namastestu Mahaa-Maaye Shrii-Piitthe Sura-Puujite
Shangkha-Cakra-Gadaa-Haste Mahaalakssmi Namostute
Meaning: Salutations to Devi Mahalakshmi Salutations to the Mahamaya (the Great Enchantress), Who is Worshipped by the Devas in Sri Pitha (Her Abode) Who has the Conch, Disc and Mace in Her Hands; Salutations to that Mahalakshmi.
Sarva Mangala Maangallyey, Shivey Sarvaartha Saadhikey,
Sharanyey Thriyambakey gauri, Narayanee Namosthuthey.
Meaning – I salute the three-eyed Divine Mother Narayani, who brings auspiciousness and who fulfills all the desires of the devotee (both spiritual and material).
Naana kanchi Vichithra vasthra sahitham, Naana vidhair bhooshitham,
Naana pushpa sukandha malya sahitham, Naana janaa sevitham,
Naana veda purana sasthra vinutham, Naana kalir pradham,
Naana roopa dharmam, mahesa mahishim, Dyayami mookambikam.
Meaning – I meditate on that Mookambika, Who dresses herself in various dresses and silks, Who is adorned in multifarious ways. Who wears garlands made of various flowers, Who is worshipped by different type of people, Who is recognized by different puranas, Vedas and science, Who bestows various blessings, Who takes up various roles , And who is the consort of Mahesha.
Bhootha naatha sada nanda,, Sarva bhoota dayaabara.
Raksha raksha maha baho, Shastrey thubhyam namo namaha.
Swamiye sharanam ayyappa !
Meaning – Salutations and salutations to that Sastha, Who is the lord of all beings, Who is perennially ever happy, Who shows mercy towards all beings, And I pray, Protect me great hero.
Manojavam Maarya tulya vekam Jithendriyem Poorthimatham Varishtam
Vaadaatmajam Vaanarayutha mukham, Shri Rama Dhootham Shirasaatnamaami
Meaning – I take Refuge in Sri Hanuman Who is Swift as Mind and Fast as Wind, Who is the Master of the Senses and Honoured for His Excellent Intelligence, Learning and Wisdom, Who is Son of the Wind God and Chief among the Monkeys, To that Messenger of Sri Rama, I take Refuge
Shadananam kumkuma raktha varnam, Mahaamadhim divya mayura vaahanam.
Rudrasya soonam, sura sainya natham, Guham satha, sharanam aham prabadhyey.
Meaning – I always take refuge in Guha of six faces (Subramanya), who is of deep red color like kumkuma, who possesses great knowledge, who has the divine peacock to ride on, who is the son of Rudra (Siva), and who is the leader of the army of the devas (gods and angels).
MAHA MRITYUNJAYA MANTRA (repeat 3 times)
Om Trayambakam Yajaamahe Sugandhim Pushtivardhanam
Urvaarukamiva Bhandhanan Mrityor Mukshiya Mamritat
Meaning – Om. We worship the three-eyed One (Lord Siva) who is fragrant and who nourishes well all beings; may He liberate us from death for the sake of Immortality even as a cucumber is severed from its bondage to the creeper.
Om Sarvesham Svasti Bhavatu Sarvesham Shantir Bhavatu
Sarvesham Purnam Bhavatu Sarvesham Mangalam Bhavatu
Meaning – Om. May auspiciousness be unto all. May peace be unto all. May fullness be unto all. May prosperity be unto all.
Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah Sarve Santu Niramayaah
Sarve Bhadrani Pasyantu Maa Kaschid-Dukha-Bhag-Bhavet
Meaning – Om. May all be happy. May all be free from disabilities. May all look to the good of others. May none suffer from sorrow.
Asato Maa Sat Gamaya Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya Mrityor Maa Amritam Gamaya
Meaning – Om. Lead me from the unreal to the Real, from darkness to Light, from mortality to Immortality.
Om Purnamadah Purnamidam Purnaat Purnamudachyate
Purnasya Purnamaadaaya Purnamevaa Vashishyate
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
Meaning – Om. That is whole. This is whole. From the whole the whole becomes manifest. From the whole, when the whole–if negated–what remains is again the whole. Om. Peace, peace, peace.
Nature is the biggest benefactor for humanity and the greatest teacher of all. The colour, beauty, light, sound and movements that you see in the nature is amazing! Can a person ever create such wonders? God only can! The lessons one can learn from nature is unlimited, restricted only by the power of your observation, imagination and enthusiasm or lack of it. There is not a single thing in this world that has been created without a purpose, whether it is you or a stone, we only have to enquire and find the purpose to live it! Every scientific invention or discovery that we see today is only an extension of what we see in nature. Whether it is modern construction technology, medicines, engineering designs or aircraft building, you can trace it back to something that you can see in our nature. Nature also gives us great lessons on behaviour and character building, whether you watch ants for their teamwork and industry or the dogs for their love and loyalty. Every creation in nature gives you immense lessons.
Lessons from Trees
- Be flexible – the tree that bends a little to the harmless breeze will later grow to withstand the wild wind. Similarly if you maintain a degree of flexibility in our attitudes and viewpoints, such persons will not be broken in any form of criticism or opposition.
- Leaves – though they are small, are vital to the life of a tree. Similarly in our lives, there are many whom we consider insignificant are indeed important to our sustenance and growth and should be taken good care of. Even a simple word of appreciation or thank you will go a long way in encouraging them and supporting you in your endeavours.
- Do not be intimidated (disappointed) by small beginning in your life. A mighty oak or banyan tree was a small seedling one day. Efforts when enriched with strong motivation and determination will grow and only sky would be the limits.
- Do not be afraid of change. Invigorate your life by letting go off the past and fast forwarding to something new. For the sprout to come out the shell has to be broken. Old leaves have to be shed for new ones to take its place.
- Practice team work – in forests individual trees support each other. By interlocking roots and branches trees in the forest survive powerful cyclones but a giant tree standing alone could easily be uprooted. Collaboration and team work is essential for success and growth.
- It is important to have deep roots to survive and grow – deeper the roots, taller the tree and only such trees can withstand heavy winds or adverse external environmental conditions. Similarly it is critical for us to develop deep roots wherever we are, whether in the place of our birth, place where we live or the company we work. Frequent change of job or living place does not help us develop deeper roots.
- Grow where you are planted – every plant needs certain environmental and physical conditions to survive and grow, a tropical plant cannot grow in the arctic region or vice versa. If you think that people living in western countries are lucky and opportunities are unfavourably stacked in favour of them, think twice before you plan to immigrate to that nation. You may feel discriminated; even worse, you may not get the same opportunities as locals and may not even enjoy the climate and life style.
- Avoid people who would cut you down.
- Shed your leaves during harsh winter – during heavy snow falls, trees can collapse on their own weight if it does not shed the leaves. Similarly lack of sun makes the leaves without much function during the winter. Many companies resort to large scale retrenchment during recession or such severe external economic conditions to survive the difficult times.
10. Trees with fruits bend their heads – trees standing tall are those without fruits. Humility is an essential personality trait for those who are knowledgeable, successful and in high positions.
11. Be prepared for brickbats and criticism – people throw stones at fruit bearing trees only. The higher your position in society or in your organization, the harsher the criticism that you will hear.
12. A fast growing tree is weak and has a short life and a slow growing tree is stronger and has a long life. Manage your growth and be stronger and stay long.
13. Trees that do not provide fruits are grown to be used as firewood and will be cut down when they reach certain age and size. If you do not produce expected results for your company, you will be cut down in due course of time.
14. Work hard – trees and leaves work very hard. Leaves are the primary work force for the tree. During daytime, it takes sun light and prepares nutrition for the entire tree. At night it converts carbon dioxide into oxygen and serves the society. Our work culture and life should reflect that of a leaf, always engaged and working for the benefit of others.
15. Give shelter – a tree provides shelter for birds, butterflies, snakes and many such living organisms. It provides shade and shelter for tired pedestrians from the harsh sun or rain. Our lives should reflect that of a tree; help those in need and difficulty irrespective of caste, creed, religion or region.
16. Tree and an organization – tree reflects an organizational structure with branches and sub branches.
- The roots anchor the plant. It is the head or corporate office. It absorbs the minerals and water from the soil, essential for the survival of the plant and also acts as a site for storage.
- The stems provide the support for the plant. It produces new tissues and provides transportation between leaves and roots. It can also act as a storage place. The regional or branch offices that recruits and trains persons essential to run the organization.
- Leaves are like workers in an organization, either organized singly or in pairs depending upon the requirements of nature. Leaves main function is photosynthesis, a process wherein carbon dioxide and water is combined with the help of sun light to produce the essential food for the plant and to the entire humanity. The waste product is oxygen which is so vital for our survival. Leaves structure is designed to adapt to the nature.
17. This story gives some interesting lessons about our life – There was an old man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn some valuable lessons and who are always too quick to judge things or give up too easily on the first obstacle that confront them. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was at a great distance away. The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer, and the youngest son in the fall. When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen. The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted. The second son said no it was covered with green buds and full of promise. The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen. The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfilment.
The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because
they had each seen but only one season in the tree’s life. He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season, and that the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up. If you give up when it’s winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, fulfilment of your fall. Moral lessons: Don’t let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest. Don’t judge life by one difficult season.
Facts about Trees – General
- Trees keep our air supply fresh by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.
- In one year, an acre of trees can absorb as much carbon as is produced by a car driven up to 8700 miles.
- Trees provide shade and shelter, reducing yearly heating and cooling costs by 2.1 billion dollars.
- Trees lower air temperature by evaporating water in their leaves.
- The average tree in metropolitan area survives only about 8 years!
- A tree does not reach its most productive stage of carbon storage for about 10 years.
- Trees cut down noise pollution by acting as sound barriers.
- Tree roots stabilize the soil and prevent erosion.
- Trees improve water quality by slowing and filtering rain water as well as protecting aquifers and watersheds.
10. Trees provide protection from downward fall of rain, sleet, and hail as well as reduce storm run-off and the possibility of flooding,
11. Trees provide food and shelter for wildlife.
12. Trees located along streets act as a glare and reflection control.
13. The death of one 70-year old tree would return over three tons of carbon to the atmosphere.
- Trees are the longest living organisms on earth.
- Trees and other plants make their food through a process called photosynthesis.
- The inside of a tree is made of cork, phloem, cambium, and xylem.
- The xylem of a tree carries water from the roots to the leaves.
Trees and the Environment
- Trees renew our air supply by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.
- The amount of oxygen produced by an acre of trees per year equals the amount consumed by 18 people annually. One tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year.
- One acre of trees removes up to 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide each year.
- Shade trees can make buildings up to 20 degrees cooler in the summer.
- Trees lower air temperature by evaporating water in their leaves.
- Tree roots stabilize soil and prevent erosion.
- Trees improve water quality by slowing and filtering rain water, as well as protecting aquifers and watersheds.
- The cottonwood tree seed is the seed that stays in flight the longest. The tiny seed is surrounded by ultra-light, white fluff hairs that can carry it on the air for several days.
- One of the tallest soft wood trees is the General Sherman, a giant redwood sequoia of California. General Sherman is about 275 ft or 84 m high with a girth of 25 ft or 8 m.
- The 236 ft or 72 m high Ada Tree of Australia has a 50 ft or 15.4 m girth and a root system that takes up more than an acre.
- The world’s tallest tree is a coast redwood in California, measuring more than 360 ft or 110 m.
- The world’s oldest trees are 4,600 year old Bristlecone pines in the USA.
- Trees and Science
- Dendrochronology is the science of calculating a tree’s age by its rings.
- Tree rings provide precise information about environmental events, including volcanic eruptions.
- A mature birch tree can produce up to 1 million seeds per year.
More Tree Facts
- A single edition of a daily newspaper uses the wood from approximately 5,000 trees to make the paper. One ton of recycled paper saves approximately 15 trees and their habitat.
- The average tree will drink approximately 2,000 litres of water each year.
- Trees receive an estimated 90% of their nutrition from the atmosphere and only 10% from the soil.
- Trees grow from the top, not from the bottom as is commonly believed. A branch’s location on a tree will only move up the trunk a few inches in 1000 years.
- No tree dies of old age. They are generally killed by insects, disease or by people. California Bristlecone Pines and Giant Sequoias are regarded as the oldest trees and have been known to live 4,000 to 5,000 years.
- There are about 20,000 tree species in the world. India has the largest tree treasuries in the world and second is USA.
- The largest area of forest in the tropics remains the Amazon Basin, amounting to 81.5 million acres.
- Some trees can “talk” to each other. When willows are attacked by webworms and caterpillars, they emit a chemical that alerts nearby willow of the danger. The neighboring trees then respond by pumping more tannin into their leaves making it difficult for the insects to digest the leaves.
- Knocking on wood for good luck originated from primitive tree worship when rapping on trees was believed to summon protective spirits in the trees.
10. Trees can induce rainfall by cooling the land and transpiring water into the sky from their leaves. An acre of maple trees can put as much as 20,000 gallons of water into the air each day.
11. Trees prevent erosion by trapping soil that would otherwise become silt. Silt destroys fish eggs and other aquatic wildlife and makes rivers and streams shallower, causing more frequent and more severe flooding. Trees along streams also hold stream banks in place to protect against flooding.
12. Planting 30 trees each year offsets greenhouse gases from your car and home.
13. Trees provide substances with medicinal values such as the active ingredients used in asthma medications and cough remedies. Aspirin is derived from the bark of a willow tree.
Seven – Seven is a sacred number representing the union of divinity (number three) and earth (number 4). The meaning of seven reminds us that there is symmetry, reason, and order within the structure of the Universe.
- There are seven basic swaras [saptaswaras] in Indian Carnatic music.
- The Seven deadly sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride.
- The Seven Virtues: chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, kindness, patience, and humility.
- Celestial group of seven stars are named as “Sapta Rishi” based on the seven great saints. They are Vasistha, Bharadwaja, Jamadagni, Gautama, Atri, Visvamitra, and Agastya.
- According to Hinduism, there are seven worlds in the universe and seven seas in the world.
- There are seven primary chakras are in a human body as explained in Tantric and Yogic traditions. They are Muladhara, Base or Root Chakra, Swadhisthana, Sacral Chakra (last bone in spinal cord, the coccyx), Manipura, Solar Plexus Chakra (navel area), Anahata, Heart Chakra (heart area), Vishuddha, Throat Chakra (throat and neck area), Ajna, Brow or Third Eye Chakra (pineal gland or third eye) and Sahasrara Crown Chakra (top of the head; ‘soft spot’ of a new-born).
- There are seven colours in the rainbow; they are red, yellow, green, blue, violet, orange and indigo.
- Surya, the Sun God, rides on a chariot pulled by seven horses, each corresponding to a particular day of the week.
- In Devi ‘Mahatmyam’, the Goddess takes the form of seven mothers (saptamathas) to kill the asura. They are called Brahmani, Sivani, Kaumari, Varahi, Narasimhi, Vaishnavi and Indrani.
- Each of the four phases of the moon last seven days, 7×4 = 28, number of days in a Lunar month.
- There are seven wonders in the ancient world.
- Seven stages of human life cycle –Infant, childhood, teenager, youth, adulthood, middle age and old age.
- Seven things to do to attain a happier life – do good deeds, donate only to deserving people, control internal sense organs, control external sense organs, be ashamed to commit unethical deeds, be kind to all and lead a clear life.
- There are seven gates through which admission may be gained to heaven. They are asceticism, benevolence, and tranquillity of mind, self-control, modesty, simplicity and kindness to all creatures.
- In ancient kingdoms, these were the seven principle officers of the state – the Governor of the Citadel, the commander in chief, the Chief Judge, the chief priest, the general in interior command and the chief astrologer.
Eight – Represents eternity and infinity. In fact in mathematics the symbol for infinity is the number 8 laid down. Eight is considered a lucky number in Chinese culture because it sounds like the word meaning to generate wealth. So is in Hindu culture as Goddess Lakshmi has eight forms.
- The eight parts of the way which leads to the nirvana, according to the Buddhist doctrines: the faith, the right judgement, the right language, a right and pure action, a right profession, the application of the spirit to all the precepts of the law, the right memory and the right meditation.
- The Yoga counts eight training courses: Yama, the restriction; Niyama, religious observances; Asana, the posture; Pranayama, the control of the breathing; Praty-ahara, the restriction of senses; Dharana, the concentration; Dhyana, the contemplation and Samadhi, the ecstasy.
- There are eight types of marriages described in ancient Hindu texts. They are Rite of Brahmana (Brahma) – where the father of the bride invites a man learned in the Vedas and a good conduct, and gives his daughter in marriage to him after decking her with jewels and costly garments, Rite of the Gods (Daiva) – where the daughter is groomed with ornaments and given to a priest who duly officiates at a sacrifice during the course of its performance of this rite, Rite of the Rishis (Arsha) – when the father gives away his daughter after receiving a cow and a bull from the brightgroom, Rite of the Prajapati – (Prajapatya) where the father gives away his daughter after blessing the couple with the text “May both of you perform together your duties”, Rite of the Asura (Demons) – when the bridegroom receives a maiden after bestowing wealth to the kinsmen and to the bride according to his own will, Rite of the Gandharva – the voluntary union of a maiden and her lover, which arises from desire and sexual intercourse for its purpose, Rite of the Rakshasa – forcible abduction of a maiden from her home after her kinsmen have been slain or wounded and their houses broken open, Rite of the Pisaka – when a man by stealth seduces a girl who is sleeping or intoxicated or is mentally imbalanced or handicapped.
- There are eight types of intelligence. They are Linguistic Intelligence :the gift of words, Linguistically intelligent people best understand the world through the spoken and written word, Visual/Spatial Intelligence :the gift of pictures, visually intelligent people best understand the world through visualization and spatial orientation, Musical :The gift of music, musically intelligent people best understand the world through rhythm and melody, Bodily Kinaesthetic Intelligence :the gift of body, physically intelligent people best understand the world through physicality, Logical/Mathematical :the gift of logic and number, mathematically and Logically intelligent people best understand the world through cause and effect, Interpersonal Intelligence :the gift of people, socially intelligent people best understand the world through the eyes of others, Intrapersonal :the gift of self, Intra-personally intelligent people best understand the world from their unique point of view, Naturalist Intelligence :the gift of nature, environmentally intelligent people best understand the world through their own environment.
- There are eight types of waste as described by lean manufacturing. Waste can be viewed as the single hurdle that can limit a business over time, unless they are identified and systematically eliminated. They are Overproduction: Making more than is required by the next process, Waiting: Any idle time created when waiting, Transportation: Any movement of materials or people around a plant that does not add value to the product or service, Non-Value-Added processing: Any effort that adds no value to the product or service, Inventory: Any supply in excess of a one-piece flow through the manufacturing process, Under Utilizing People: The waste of not using people to the best of their unique abilities, Defects: Inspection and repair of materials in inventory, Motion: Any movement of people or machines that does not add value to the product or service.
- Eight forms of Goddess Lakshmi are Adi Lakshmi, Dhanya Lakshmi, Dhairya Lakshmi, Gaja Lakshmi, Santana Lakshmi, Vijaya Lakshmi, Vidya Lakshmi and Dhana Lakshmi.
- There are Eight Dikpalakas, Lords of Directions and play a very important role in Vastu sastra. They are Indra (east), Varuna (west), Kubera (north), Yama (south), Agni (south east), Niruthi (south west), Isana (north east) and Vayu (North West).
- There are eight methods of worship by offering water, sandal paste, flowers, incense, grain, light, sweets and fruits.
- In computer technology, a byte refers to 8 bits.
- In mathematics, the symbol Infinity is represented by an 8 laid down.
- Ashtagandha is mixture of eight fragrant herbs – Chandan, Kesar, Bhimseni Camphor, Heena, Agar, Tulsi, Bel and Durva.
Nine – Nine is a sacred number; three multiplied by itself to give eternity, completion and fulfilment and it is considered a good number in Chinese culture because it sounds the same as the word “long lasting”.
- The nine planets discovered in our solar system, are in the order starting from Sun: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto.
- There are nine forms of devotion – Sravana (hearing of God’s Lilas and stories), Kirtana (singing of His glories), Smarana (remembrance of His name and presence), Padasevana (service of His feet), Archana (worship of God), Vandana (prostration to Lord), Dasya (cultivating the Bhava of a servant with God), Sakhya (cultivation of the friend-Bhava) and Atmanivedana (complete surrender of the self). A devotee can practice any method of Bhakti which suits him best. Through that he will attain Divine illumination.
- Human body is considered as a city with nine gates – navadware pure dehe. The nine openings are ears (2), eyes (2), nostrils (2), mouth and two excretory openings.
- Goddess Durga is worshipped for nine days during Navrathri festivals.
- There are many common saying such as
- A stitch in time saves nine
- I am in cloud nine
- A cat has nine lives.
- They fell like nine pins.
Numbers represents more than quantity: they have quality and meaning. In many cultures and religions, numbers have many symbolic meaning and it is particularly true in Hinduism. However the meaning is subject to interpretation and misunderstanding based on the faith and knowledge of the readers.
Zero – Zero, it is said, was invented in India and represents a continuous circle. It symbolises ‘nirguna brahman’, or the brahman without a form and qualities. It represents ‘non-being’ and eternity. It is very difficult to say the exact value of zero, as any number that you multiply with zero becomes zero, but used correctly, it can also enhance the value infinitely. Simply put, Zero represents ‘GOD’, without it you are nothing, used properly; you can achieve anything in this world.
One – symbolic representation of ‘saguna brahman’, or brahman with qualities and form. Like GOD, it is the first number and symbolises the state of non-duality that you, the individual atman is same as the param atman. One represents the beginning and the symbol of creation. It represents human being, the only creation on earth to stand up straight on two legs. It represents the leader.
Two – Number 2 is a symbolic representation of the state of duality, which we experience through our mind and senses. It represents separation, division and disunity. It can be seen as opposing dualities or complimentary pairs. Purusha and Prakriti, life and death, day and night, cause and effect, right and wrong, good and evil, yin and yang, etc.
Three – three symbolises Divine perfection and completeness. It is the symbolic representation of the Trinity in many religions. In Hinduism, it is the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. In Christianity it is the trinity of Father, son and the Holy Spirit. No 3 is also a symbol for Siva because he is the third in the trinity, has three eyes (trinetra), carries a weapon called Trisul and has three braids (trijada). The number three also represents AUM, as it represents three states of consciousness.
Other representations of the number three are
- Three goddesses – Saraswati, Lakhsmi, Parvathi
- Three goddesses of knowledge – Gayathri, Savithri, Saraswati (goddess of mind, goddess of deed and goddess of word)
- Triple qualities of mind – Sattva, Rajas, Tamas.
- Three states of consciousness – awake, sleep and dream.
- Triple divisions of time – past, present, future.
- Triple periods of the day – morning, noon and evening.
- Triple worlds of heaven, earth and hell.
- Triple control of thoughts, words and action.
- Three doshas (problems) in Ayurveda – vata, pitta and kapha.
- Three doshas in spirituality – aadhyatmikam, aadhibaudhikam, aadhidaivikam.
- Three attachments in life – attachment to your body, your friends and relatives and your wealth.
- One should not indulge in these three activities before noon – drinking alcohol, sex and gambling.
Four – in Christianity number 4 is symbolically linked to the Cross and employed to signify what is solid and that which could be touched and felt. Four also has many symbolic significance and meaning in Hinduism.
- The aim of life (purusharthas) is four – dharma (righteousness), artha (wealth), Kama (desire), and moksha (salvation).
- Four stages (ashram) in life – brahmacharya (student life), grihastha (householder), vanaprastha (retirement), and sanyasa (renunciation).
- Four varnas as told by Krishna – Brahmin, Kshatriya, vaisya, sudra.
- Brahma has four faces and four hands.
- Four directions – north, east, west and south.
- Four ways of influencing and motivating others – being generous, uttering kind words, giving appropriate teachings and being consistent with words and actions.
- Four sights that affected Siddhartha deeply and made him realise the sufferings of all beings that compelled him to begin the spiritual journey – an old man, a sick man, a dead man and an ascetic.
- Most vehicles have 4 wheels.
- Four basic functions in mathematics – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
- Four seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter.
- Four yuga – satyayuga, dwaparayuga, tredhayuga and Kaliyuga.
- Four vedas – rig, yajur, sama and atharva
- Four types of relationships – spiritual, sensual, sensical and exemplary.
- Four debts we all have and must be repaid – debt to our ancestors, debt to God, debt to Rishis and debt to other living creatures.
- Excess of these four destroys a person – hunting (shopping), drinking, womanising and gambling.
Five – It is a symbol for man. On a figure of man, a line joining head to outstretched arms and legs forms a pentagram. It also represents Earth.
- There are five elements that constitute the entire universe – akasha (ether), air, fire, water and earth.
- Human body has five jnanedriyas(sense organs) and five karmedriyas (functional organs)
- Five sense organs are ear, eye, nose, tongue and skin representing hearing, vision, smelling, tasting and touching.
- Five karmedriyas are Hand, legs, mouth, genital and anus and does the functions of grasping, walking, speaking, procreation and excretion.
- The Hindu calendar is called Panchang because it has five parts. They are Thithi (date), vara (day of the week), nakshatra (star), karana (half a thithi) and yoga(auspicious moments).
- In Kamba Ramayanam (in Tamil), the significance of number five is beautifully narrated as follows: The son of one of the five (son of wind – that is Pavana Thanaya), crossed one of the five (water – the ocean), through one of the five (sky), met daughter of one of the five (daughter of the earth – Sita Devi), burnt down Lanka by one of the five (fire). Here five means the five elements. Therefore, it is considered auspicious to go around His idol 5 times.
- In Hindu temples, the deities are offered food made of five sweet items called ‘panchamruta’.
- Five tantric substances are called ‘panchamakara’. They are matsya(fish), mamsa(meat), madira(wine), maithuna(sexual intercourse) and mudra(parched cereals).
- Five breaths of life are prana, apana, vyana, udhana and samana.
- Five ideal wives as per Hindu scriptures are – Ahalya, Draupadi, Sita, Tara and Mandodhari.
- Five Great sins (Panchamahapataka) as per scriptures are – Brahma hatya (killing of a brahman), Shishu Hatya (killing of an infant), Sura Pana (drinking alcohol), Swarna steya (stealing of Gold) and Guru Talpa Gamana (having sex with Guru’s wife).
- Muslims pray 5 times in a day.
- Five major disasters – war, epidemics, famine, pollution and poverty.
- Five Yamas (code of conduct as per Patanjali) – Ahimsa (non violence), Brahmacharya (abstain from sexual intercourse), Asteya (non – stealing), Satya (truth in words and thoughts) and Aparagraha (absence of avarice).
- Five sacred symbols of Sikh religion as prescribed by Guru Gobind Singh known as Panj Karas or five ‘k’s are – Kesh (uncut hair), Kangha (comb), Kara (steel bracelet), kachha (soldiers shorts) and kirpan (sword).
- Five basic tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savouriness.
- Pancha Mahayagyas (“Five Great Yajnas”). These sacrifices are to be performed daily by all “householders” (married couples) daily to best of one’s ability: Devayagya- worship of the gods (devas) through the twilight prayers (sandhya), aupasana, and agnihotra, Pitryagya- offering libations to ancestors or pitrs, Bhutayagya- offering food (“bali”) to animals, Manushyayagya- charitable offerings of food to fellow humans, Brahmayagya- respecting the Rishis of yore by recitating a section of Veda (“bráhman”).
- Panchopachara – five ways of offering daily prayer to the God – Gandha- The worshipper offers sandal paste to the deity, Pushpa – The worshipper offers flowers to the deity, Dhupa – Lighting of incense sticks and placing them in front of the deity. Deepa – Lighting a lamp and Naivedya – Offering of food to the deity.
Six – the number six is a symbolic representation of human mind, as it is the sixth sense organ. According to bible, God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day.
- Our mind has six faculties – reason, emotion, thought, awareness, knowledge and intelligence.
- Six enemies of mind or impurities of mind are lust, anger, greed, pride, delusion and envy.
- Six virtues one must have to lead a successful and happy life: generosity, self-discipline, patience, effort, concentration and compassion.
- Six attributes a king (manager) must have – cleverness of speech, readiness in providing means, intelligence in dealing with foe, memory and full understanding of the morals and politics.
- Six articles of faith in Muslim religion are – belief in God, belief in angels, belief in books(Quran), belief in messengers sent by Allah(including Mohammad, Jesus, etc), belief in the day of judgement and resurrection and belief in destiny.
In the previous article we discussed about the benefits of taking bath everyday morning. There are few more important points that one must take into consideration while taking bath. Though it can sound superstitious or irrational, I felt it is important to mention it here and you are welcome to accept it or reject it based on your own intelligence and understanding.
- Olden days, people used to take their morning bath either in a pond or in river near their homes. The morning walk that one must do to reach the ponds or rivers is certainly very good for the health, particularly for those who usually do not do any exercise.
- After taking bath, in ponds and rivers, the person use to stand for few minutes giving ‘tharpana’, to the forefathers, facing south. Whatever may be the scientific or spiritual explanation of this ritual; this gives us an opportunity to remember the sacrifices made by our forefathers for bringing us up. It also reminds us on our responsibility to the next generation.
- Even if you are taking bath in your own bathroom, girls are not supposed to take bath completely naked. In olden days it is said that sky travelling ‘Gandharvas’ could get attracted to those beautiful girls and possess them thereby losing their virginity unknowingly. However these days we have different types of Gandharvas who are walking with portable camcorders and other video recording equipment ready to get cheap popularity by publishing them through MMS, internet, etc. Such stories are so many these days and no amount of care and precaution is unreasonable.
- It is better to face east while taking bath in the morning particularly if you are taking bath in the open. One can also recite many mantra while bathing and most popular one is
Gange cha Yamune chaiva Godavari Saraswati,
Narmade Sindhu Kaveri jalesmin sannidhim kuru
In this water, I invoke the presence of holy waters from the rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Saraswati, Narmada, Sindhu and Kaveri. Another mantra that makes us environmentally conscious and friendly and those believe in these rituals must also do whatever is possible to protect our rivers from all kinds of pollution.
- Which part of the body you must wipe first after the bath? Usually we do not think about it and most start with the face and head. But scriptures suggest that one should never wipe the face first, instead wipe the back, squeeze that water out from the towel and then wipe your face and head. There are two ‘Devi’, ‘Sridevi’ and ‘Moodevi’ waiting to reside in your body as soon as it is clean and ‘Moodevi’ always wins. That means if you wipe your face first, ‘Moodevi’ takes position there and your day will be spoiled. If you wipe your face after wiping the back, ‘Moodevi’ sits at the back and ‘Sridevi’ sits on your face guaranteeing a wonderful day for you. This has also a scientific backing. Your back, which is the place above your buttocks to the neck, has the largest area which is exposed and wet now. The water would evaporate and cooling your spinal cord, resulting in many backbone related diseases. By wiping your back first, you are eliminating any potential health problems in future.
Prayer follows bath. After cleaning the body externally, it is time to cleanse the mind through prayers. Chanting Om is the first step towards meditation. All that you need to do is to sit in a peaceful place, on the floor, gently close your eyes, take a deep breath and chant Om. While doing so, completely relax your muscles. Don’t tighten your muscles; otherwise you won’t be able to feel the energizing effect of chanting Om. Meditation on Om will revitalize your energy and rejuvenate you completely. One must chant ‘om’ a minimum of 7 times, but can be 10 or 30 minutes based on the time available and the many benefits that you will receive once you start this practice. You can also recite other mantras based on instructions from your Guru or knowledge.
After Japa, it is time for meditation. Meditation for 10 – 15 minutes is very good for the activation and refreshing of the brain. If you have one, place a mat on the ground and sit upright with your legs crossed and your hands in your lap. If you like, you can hold your thumbs and forefingers together. This posture prepares you for meditation by making a circle of energy from the base of the spine to the top of the head. The beta level of brain is a state when the brain produces electric waves of 13.5 and above cycles per second (cps). Alpha state produces 8.5 – 13 .5 cps waves; it is a shallow state of meditation. The delta state goes further down to a medium state of mediation. Going further down to theta level is very difficult for common man. But in these meditation states, the brain cells and the body get fully activated. Memory, thinking capability and temper affect very positively by morning meditation. Meditation cleanses, purifies and strengthens the mind.
After the Japa and meditation, next step is refreshing and toning the muscles and bones. Most of us are not in the habit of doing exercise in the morning. This generally leads to rigidity in the skeleton joints. A hard and strenuous exercise can lead to over strain to heart muscles and other parts of the body, leading to heart problem and BP. The best and harmonious exercise for the body is said to be Suryanamaskar. This is a combination of seven yoga asanas and known as the king of the exercises. Hence performing Suryanamaskara (depending upon your age, physiological conditions and health the number can vary from four to ten) will give flexibility to muscles, cleaning the muscles, smoothening the skeleton joins and also purification of blood due to increased blood circulation to all the tissue corners of the body. However never start this yoga asana without the guidance of a matured and experienced ‘Guru’.Savasana and Pranayama could be performed after Suryanamaskara. One can also visit temples or other places of worship before sitting down for pure vegetarian breakfast. Alternately one can also perform aerobic exercises like brisk walking or jogging in the morning or evening to maintain a healthy body and happy mind.
Modern life is beset with innumerable problems. Some of the most common issues are
- Physical, mental and emotional stress
- Health problems.
- Disturbed family relations.
- Addiction to alcohol, drugs, etc.
- Violence in the society.
- Corruption, dishonest and immoral behaviour.
- Environmental and ecological problems.
- Lack of basic values in life.
- Lack of self-discipline
- Any many more.
How can we overcome all these difficulties and lead a peaceful, happy and healthy life. The Rishis of yore has studied the human life for ages and have suggested a scientific way of living that will help us achieve all these and more. Those who follow such practices regularly and with discipline and devotion have been found to possess immense health, wealth and prosperity and always lead a happy and successful life.
The suggestions given below are not new to humanity and have been in vogue for hundreds of years; however lack of awareness has pushed this sacred knowledge to the archives. It is time for all of us to practice these and gain immensely.
- “Brahma Muhurtam” is the best time to get up. This is approximately 3 hours before sunrise. During this period, our brain and mind is very peaceful and have maximum positive energy. This is also the best time for meditation and studies particularly for students. However in this modern world, this is the time most people go to bed after the night long party or such other activities. Hence it will be considered impractical and shunned by every one of you. The least one can do is to wake up 30 minutes before the sunrise.
- One should lie down in the bed for another 2 – 3 minutes before getting up. Those who have faith in prayer can utilise this time conveniently for prayer. In Hindu way of life this prayer is adopted while sitting on the bed at the time of waking up in the morning :
karagre vasathey Lakshmi, kara madhye saraswati
karamoole sthithaa gouri prabhate kara darsanam …
The meaning is very simple: knowledge, power and wealth depend on the work with your hand. Hence work hard and achieve whatever you want in life.
- Modern scientific studies have proven that about 23 % of the heart attacks take place in the early morning when people suddenly get up from the bed or chair, after a long duration of rest/lying/sitting position. Hence this prayer has a physiological benefit as far as health point of view is concerned. During sleep in the night, we are lying parallel to the earth (horizontal) for about 4 – 8 hrs. and in this lying position, the heart requires less force to pump the blood to other part of the body. But when we wake up and stand all of a sudden, the heart has to exert more pressure for pumping the blood to the vertical body. This is because; when we stand the blood circulation is in favour and also against the gravitational force of the earth. This naturally increases the work force of the heart as compared to the lying stature on the bed. To avoid the sudden change of the pressure, the lying posture should be changed to vertical posture slowly. Hence it is advised to sit on the bed for two to three minutes. The prayer helps us to achieve the same. Those who do not believe in prayers can make other commitments such as “I will do my duty diligently and faithfully today, I will treat everyone with respect by being courteous and polite and will not harm anyone. I will constantly seek opportunity to serve the society and will do my best today”.
For making us sit for some more time the second part of the prayer is added:
Samudra vasane devi parvatha sthana mandithe
vishnu pathni namasthubhyam paada sparsam kshamaswame.
Oh! Mother earth, where the mountains are part of your body and you are the wife of Lord Mahavishnu. May I perform my pranam to you! While praying these lines, almost 60 seconds duration of leisure is given to the heart to change the state of work from a lower load to a higher level and the heart gets accustomed with this.
This prayer also signifies our care and commitment to mother earth and environment. The sea and the rivers are the dresses worn by our mother and we should not make it dirty by polluting it. The mountains are our mother’s body part, hence let us not cut the trees and destroy the mountains! How noble, how considerate! Much before the environmentalists talked about forest covers and water pollutions, our rishis have prescribed a way of life for us to protect the same!
Once the prayer is recited, we are supposed to touch the floor with our right hand before keeping our feet on the ground, as a mark of respect for our mother earth. This also has a scientific significance. During the long sleep, static electricity may be generated in our body, particularly if the climatic condition is dry and if lying is on the synthetic fibre bed. This electricity is generated because of the rubbing of the body with the bed surface which is better to be released through fingers, instead of feet. This way your body is strengthened and not weakened.
Many have the habit of drinking their first cup of tea/coffee in the bed even before cleaning their mouth. This is absolutely wrong. Brushing your teeth after dinner, before going to bed, every night is very important, there would still be contamination in your mouth, teeth and tough due to bacteria produced while sleeping. If you have not brushed properly then the contamination could be much higher due to residual food left in your mouth. By drinking coffee without cleaning your mouth, these bacteria enter your stomach and can result in many different diseases in your body.
After brushing your teeth properly, the next step is to use the toilets. But always remember to wash your hands with soap and gargle your mouth with water after passing urine or stool. Normally when urine or stool is passed, this is contaminated and waste, gas travel upwards to your mouth and nose which is also contaminated. You remove this toxic gas by gargling and keep your mouth fresh without foul smells.
Taking bath everyday morning is mandatory, for hygiene as well as health reasons and cold water is preferred unless one is sick or old. Indian climate is generally warm and hot at other times and we all sweat a lot. Sweat gets dried and the salt contents block the pores impacting the skin function and lustre. The benefit of cold water bath is increased blood circulation and metabolism in your body. Cold water reduces the body temperature near the skin level and to maintain the normal temperature our blood circulation increases thereby improving your metabolism and wellbeing. Exercise, pranayama, prayers, meditation, etc. are the next steps to be discussed later.
Who is a successful person? Can you define such a person? I would say that a person who is happy, healthy, reasonably prosperous and secure, have friends, have peace of mind, has good family relationship and has hope can be considered as a successful person. This article is about how to lead a healthy, happy and successful life.
A person has to take care of four areas to lead such a life, physical, mental, spiritual and social. We believe that our bodies, organs and systems are totally separate from our thoughts, emotions, energy fields and our spiritual selves. We need to understand how our thoughts can affect our behaviour and ultimately our health. We need to understand how our emotions work and how repressed emotions can create serious illness in our bodies.
Physical – These days our health and life expectancy are threatened from all sides by numerous factors. It is our responsibility to take some basic precautions to safeguard our health and ensure the potential for you to live a long life. Significant factors that impact life expectancy include gender, genetics, access to health care, hygiene, diet and nutrition, exercise and lifestyle. Here are things one must do ensure a healthy body.
- Food – A good diet eaten moderately can prevent or cure many disorders which are considered to be “non-curable” by modern medicine. Eating a vegetarian diet slows down the aging process and increases life expectancy. Avoid junk food and processed food from your diet completely. Eat to live and not live to eat.
- Water – Drinking plenty of water not only makes you feel less hungry, it also regulates your metabolism. It helps to flush out the toxins from your body and keeps many diseases at bay.
- Sleep – A sound sleep relaxes your body and mind and enables the systems to work properly. Sleep deficit can create serious health issues as well as decreasing your intellectual capability. One should have an average of 7 hours of sleep preferably between 10 PM and 5 AM. (Details of the daily routine will be discussed in the forthcoming articles).
- Exercise – Regular exercise can prevent and reverse age-related decreases in muscle mass and strength, improve balance, flexibility, and endurance. Aerobic exercises such as jogging, walking, swimming, cycling, etc. are better and suitable for any age group of persons.
- Yoga and Meditation – Correct breathing is the assurance of good health and longevity of life. An important part of the meditation process of yoga is Pranayama but must be learned under a Guru.
Mind – There is great relationship between mind and body and one need a healthy mind to have a healthy body and vice versa. The power of the mind is beyond our imaginations. Since thought always precedes action we come to the conclusion that if we can change our thinking we can change our behaviour. The foundation of our thoughts is the beliefs and values we have developed over time. These beliefs and values must be identified, reviewed and changed if we want to change our thought patterns and subsequent actions. To strengthen our mind, I recommend the following.
- Read books – reading has many benefits, including improving your knowledge and understanding that helps your profession and social life. An idle mind is devils mind, and with a book as your companion, your mind can never be idle. Ensure to select the right book that meets your intellectual curiosity, professional and spiritual requirements.
- Listen to Intellectuals, Experts and Gurus – These days you do not have to travel long distance or pay astronomical sums to listen to experts or Gurus in any walk of life, they are readily available in your drawing room TV sets as long as you choose the right channel. However too much TV serials where crime, cheating, scheming, suffering, sex and violence is not very good for the physical and mental development of an individual.
- Mental exercises – crosswords, puzzles, brain games, Sudoku, etc. are some of the leisure activities that are useful to develop the mind.
Spiritual Life – many are confused between spirituality and religion more so in these days of religious fundamentalism and intolerance. Though both lead to GOD, Spirituality is solely in the self and based on pure love, whereas religion prescribes certain systems and practices to be followed to realise GOD. One can be spiritual without being religious and attain peace and realization. To be vital and healthy one need to have a spiritual life. We need to have values and beliefs which we live by and strive to achieve and must be integrated into our work, home and social lives. Yoga and meditation, visiting places of worship, etc. helps strengthen our spirituality.
Social Life – Imagine you are in the coffin but by the special grace of GOD, you can listen to what people are thinking and talking. What would you like to hear from your wife/husband, son, daughter, father, mother, brothers, sisters, other relatives, friends, colleagues, neighbours and other visitors? Generally we all like them to be sad about your death and wish you are not dead. You wish them to say how good husband/wife you were or how great a parent you were? What a fantastic boss, colleague, and subordinate you were! But the truth may be different! You may be hearing things exactly the opposite though externally most of them may be expressing their sorrow! Why? Think what you would have done differently to hear better words from all of them? Then start doing it right away! When was the last time you visited your mother, father, brother or sister who are not living with you? Better still when was the last time you talked to them? Telephones calls are very cheap these days and make it a point to call your near and dear ones if not weekly, at least on their birthdays, wedding anniversary days, major festival days etc. Visit them whenever you have an opportunity. As a boss, how many persons you have helped when they are in trouble? Have you held back anything that is useful or rewarding from them because they did not know about it? Have you been fair and impartial in your judgement? Did you do your best to help them? If not start doing it right away!
Many consider a wealthy person as a successful person. Therefore we pursue money, power, recognition and stardom so vigorously that we forget to live. Even if we make enough money (then, how much money is enough?) our health and family relationship deteriorates so much that one cannot have a healthy, peaceful and satisfied life. Therefore the best way to live is by taking care of your body, mind, relationships and being spiritual. You will not only be successful but also health and happy. Enjoy.