Skip to content

Category: selflessness

Dusty feet

Lord Krishna once got a headache (yes apparently God’s can get them too!).

The cure? To simply sprinkle some dust from under the feet of any of his devotees.

He asked sage Narada to go looking for any devotee that would give him the dust from under their feet. Narada thought it would be easy-peasy.

But to his surprise and dismay, not a single devotee agreed. Everyone was worried, that if the dust from their feet would fall on the Lord’s head, then they would be sent to hell!

Finally sage Narada reached the gopis (cowherds) of Vrindavan. The gopis immediately collected some dust from under their feet and asked Narada to take it back to Krishna at the earliest. Narada was perplexed, and asked the gopis, “Aren’t you worried about going to hell like all the other devotees were?”

“Who cares about hell?”, they said. “All we care about is that Krishna should be healthy and happy again. Kindly go and give the dust to him as soon as you can please.”

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

The art of war

Was reading about a war situation. One family of 6, two parents and 4 of their children, were stuck in their home as war broke out. They thought they were safe, until an enemy missile exploded barely 500 meters away from their home.

They dashed into their car and decided to make a run for the border. Only 5 of them though. Because the eldest, at 18 years of age, decided to stay back and fight for his country.

The other 5 somehow managed to reach the border, staying in all sorts of temporary encampments enroute. With great difficulty, they crossed over into the neighbouring country.

The husband ensured his family was safe, and the next morning began the drive back home, to join his son in the fight. Whether the wife and 3 kids would ever see their husband/father/brother/son again, was a question no one had the answer to…

Meanwhile, what silly tiny immaterial problem in my life was I complaining about again today morning?

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Assisted greatness

Just saw a very nice ad for a shaving razor by Gillette.

What’s the big deal now?

Oh so much build up for just another shaving razor. 🤦

How many blades have they got these days – Mach 3 or Mach 5? Or is it Mach 10?

I have lost count.

But the ad I just saw was different. Because it wasn’t about self-shaving, but rather ‘assisted shaving’.

First time I’m hearing about this concept. And apparently the Gillette Treo is the first and only product of its kind too.

Assisted shaving is to shave someone else – like someone paralyzed, or an elder in the family that is weak or sick and can’t tend to themselves.

Doing something for yourself is good, but assisting someone else? That’s just great.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Holy Cow – part 5 of 5

A follow up question or thought could be, “There are so many cows in the world. I cannot help them all. Would my seva even matter?”

It is true that we cannot save all the 300 million cows in the world. But any seva we do to even one single cow, will surely make a world of a difference to that one gentle individual! Such could be the power and impact of our gauseva.

We are taught in the rat race that if we work hard, and get success, then we will be happy. But spirituality teaches us the reverse. Be happy first and then work hard, and this will automatically bring worldly success.

A similar sequence can be extended to cows. The reasoning is not that cows provide milk, which is useful, and hence cows should be worshipped as holy. Rather, because the cow is holy, everything that it produces is also perceived to be so.

If we get the chance to serve this most lovable of creatures, we should certainly grab the chance. It will provide peace of mind and other tangible and intangible benefits that can only be experienced first-hand.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Holy Cow – part 4 of 5

Yet today, there is so much of cow torture and abuse, largely for commercial purposes.

Many cows are disposed of once they stop giving milk.

Do you know how many cows are slaughtered each year around the world?

300 million. Isn’t that shocking?

How insensitive is it, to chop off the hand that feeds us?

On the contrary, imagine the blessings one would get if provided with the chance to tend to this beautiful, peaceful and loving creature.

That chance is available, with the ability to participate (online in many cases, thanks to technology) in the seva of cows. Where gauseva is 100% seva, and 0% commercial. All cow products are either utilized within the premises or given away for free. And all cows are loved and cared for, no matter whether they continue to give milk or not.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Holy Cow – part 3 of 5

Of all the animals and their products, it is milk from cows that we each have grown up on.

After the first few months of mother’s milk, all babies are switched to cow’s milk. And thereafter, cheese, khoa, butter, buttermilk, curd and others we continue to enjoy even to today.

Would it then not be fair to regard the cow as our second mother?

There is so much selflessness, that the cow shares her milk with us, despite having her own calves to feed.

Not just milk, but even cow dung is useful as fertilizer.

Many drink cow urine for its medicinal properties as recommended in Ayurveda. Not everything may be scientifically proven, but there have been miraculous cases of recoveries that medical science cannot explain.

And the cow’s sharing with us is totally unconditional – no care about our caste, or religion or gender or what background we come from.

What did we do to deserve this blessing?

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Holy Cow – part 2 of 5

Our scriptures prescribe 5 types of maha yagnas. These are

  1. Deva Yajna (for the dieties like sun, moon etc),
  2. Pitri Yajna (for our ancestors),
  3. Manushya Yajna (for our fellow humans, via charity),
  4. Bhoota Yajna (for other living creatures – feeding animals, providing shelter) and
  5. Brahma Yajna (for the soul inside us).

    Each of these are very important. But Bhoota Yagna is unique because it is service to creatures that have emotions (like us), but cannot speak or express themselves (unlike us).

There are many ways to do seva and Bhoota Yajna, but one of the best ways is gauseva, or seva of cows. As we know, the cow was very special to Lord Krishna, the Divine Cowherd. Most photos have Him playing His flute, relishing the company of cows and cowherds. So gauseva is not just a physical activity, but when done with humility, it can become one of the highest expressions of bhakti.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Holy Cow – part 1 of 5

Remember the cow race from last year?

We all know the cows on our Indian roads – sometimes in the middle of a highway, and other times in the middle of smaller roads – but always unbelievably oblivious to the traffic around them. Irrespective of the commotion, they just do not let the outside world bother them, peacefully chewing away on their grassy meal.

And because of their gentle disposition as well as their generous nature (sharing their milk for one and all), they are considered not just bovine, but divine as well.

How to participate in this cow race?

By first realizing that it is not a race at all. Rather, it is a road to grace.

Our normal day to day world and work may be hard to change.

But we can use the bovine, to spark our inner-divine, and that itself can be life-changing.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Laptop delivery

Here’s an incident which happened a while ago, but quickly taught me the importance of being humble.

In a previous avatar, I was once called by someone from the tech support team. This person told me that my superboss had asked for me to bring his laptop to him, from his desk, to a meeting room where he was sitting then.

Surely this was not my job – delivering laptops!

But (luckily) I didn’t think twice about it, walked across the room, picked up his laptop, and took it to the meeting room where he was. When I knocked and went in, my superboss was surprised too, and said, “Hey, you’re here? I’m so sorry, I didn’t ask you to bring my laptop over, I think the tech support guy misunderstood me. I told him to have someone get my laptop to me, and then have it sent to you for the specific task we discussed today morning.”

I quickly replied, “Not at all a problem sir…”, and then he cut me off and motioned towards another gentleman seated in the meeting room, “Please meet Mr. ABC, who is the owner of a large chain of jewellery stores.” And he invited me to sit down. Turned out that we both spoke the same mother tongue, which led to an interesting conversation. My superboss invited me back to the room a while later as his guest wanted to convey something only in the mother tongue, which he was unable to translate otherwise.

If I’d just thought “What the heck, why should I be the laptop courier?”, surely such an interesting experience wouldn’t have transpired!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Tree wood

Know the saying “Don’t miss the forest for the trees”? You have surely come across it.

Here’s some forest-for-the-trees questions we get regularly in the satsang.

  1. Did Ravana really have 10 heads?
  2. Is there really a heaven and a hell?
  3. Are there really 7 worlds above and below?
  4. Did Krishna really explain the Gita to Arjuna on the battlefield? What were the others doing then?
  5. Did Rama really cross over to Lanka by walking on floating rocks put together by monkeys?
  6. Did Ravana actually fly to India?
  7. Is it possible that the Vishwaroopa darshanam actually happened?
  8. How did Creation happen?

All of these are amazing questions. However, even the most amazing answers to these questions will not help us transform ourselves and progress on the spiritual path.

When the real transformation begins (work selflessly as worship, i.e. karma yoga), the questions will automatically fall away.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Call centric

We’ve all had to call customer care at some point. Something breaks, something is not working, something needs to be returned, some parcel needs to be tracked, some refund needs to be appropriated – the reasons are many.

But do you really like speaking to customer care?

Most of us hate it, don’t we?

But those folks are so polite no?

They say “please”, they say “thank you for calling, have a nice day”, they also say “sorry to keep you waiting for such a long time”

So very polite. But we still don’t like most customer care experiences. Why?

Because these are mostly empty words. The commanding language or flowery vocabulary really doesn’t matter.

The only thing that does matter, is the deep desire to help the other person. If that is there, then nothing else is necessary.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Rugged

“Your network determines your networth.” This is a quote many of us would have heard. And it’s true, at least anecdotally. We know people with ‘connections‘ tend to have their way – whether jobs, promotions, access to events or to information.

So the ability to network could be called a superpower. However, most people hate it. Even the ones who are good at it. Going to conferences, and putting up a facade of being someone cool with drink-in-hand… nope, not easy.

So what is the gap here? First, a story, that I heard on an Adam Grant’s WorkLife podcast. An Iranian refugee in America with next to no money in hand, ended up being a successful VC investor. How? Simply because he focused on improving his own carpet making skills. This in turn led to him being sought out by people. How’s that possible? Here’s how. Back in his home country, he sold rugs. And given these were often collected as pieces of art, it attracted a lot of rich buyers. Said refugee’s knowledge of the rugs led to many interesting conversations that lasted hours, and let to unexpected door openings, one of which led to him becoming an advisor at a VC firm.

The takeaway is not really to become an expert on rugs, but rather to realize that networking is all about what we can offer to the other person. It’s a give, not a take.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Nimittas – part 1 of 3

There’s a branch of astrology called Nimmita astrology. Nimmita really means ‘instrument’. Astrologers that work on this principle look for cues from the world around us.

For instance, if someone were to come to the astrologer with a question, “Do you think my child will be a boy or a girl?”, and at that very moment there appears a young girl at the door, or the sound of a girl playing or laughing outside, the astrologer considers this ‘an expression of the Lord’ and the ‘girl’ in the scene as a nimmitta, i.e. an instrument, and makes his prediction.

Regardless of whether this approach works or not, Lord Krishna in the Gita asks Arjuna to be a nimmita of the Lord, i.e. to be an instrument of His. Are there any benefits to this? Absolutely, and life changingly so:

  1. No more stress, no more anxiety. Why? Because I am not doing the work. The Lord is working through me, and I am only the instrument. Then why would I be anxious?
  2. My 100% focus shifts from the result, to the quality of effort. Why? Because I am not doing some ordinary work (no matter what the actual work is), but rather the Lord’s own work!

A simple change in mindset and perception can make such a big difference! Putting this into practise isn’t easy. But the more we believe that we are indeed nimmitas only, the more this will make sense and the more life will become easier.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Magi-cal

Here’s a lovely story I came across called the Gift of the Magi, and I paraphrase: There’s a couple that can barely make ends meet. But it’s Christmas soon, and so the wife wants to get her man a gift, specifically – a gold chain for his most favourite possession – his shiny watch. But she has no money. What can she do?

She cuts off her lovely long blond tresses, sells them to a wig maker, and uses the money to buy the gold chain. She cooks food, prepares the table, and awaits her man, bald head and all. Her husband enters, and is shell shocked seeing his bald wife. “Do I not look beautiful to you?”, she asks him.

“It’s not that darling. You are more beautiful than ever.” And then he hands her her gift wrapped present. She opens it, to find a beautiful designer comb that she had always had her eyes on. “But…how could you afford this?”, she asked him. And he pointed to his wrist. There was no watch. He’d sold it off to buy his wife her favourite comb. She too gave him her present – a watch chain, for a watch that no longer existed.

What fools both were, weren’t they? Buying things that they couldn’t even afford, and that too which wasn’t even needed anymore? What would she do with a designer comb when she didn’t even have hair? And what would he do with a watch chain, if he didn’t have a watch?!

Quite the contrary. Both of them were able to demonstrate in action, that they were each able to give up what was dearest to them, simply to spark happiness in their loved one. Isn’t that the ultimate sacrifice?

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

People’s choice

There used to be a bunch of highly prestigious awards called the Padma Awards in India. These were given to exceptional achievers in society. But the awards also often only went to the rich and elite.

That has changed, with the new people’s Padma Awards. Now it goes to anyone making waves, with a focus on grassroots India, and nominated by the people. This is an outstanding initiative.

Most of the awardees are uneducated and illiterate. Some were married off early, and some ostracized by society. Many have toiled laboriously and continue to do so. It is not wealth or income of these awardees that decides their inclusion to the list, but rather their quality of impact.

A few examples: A 77-year old retired principal has been changing the lives of destitute children by teaching them to read and write, at a mind boggling cost of 2 rupees (2.7 cents) a year. A 68-year orange vendor who grew up in abject poverty and never had access to education, used all his earnings to setup a school for the kids in his village. A 77-year old woman who had no education is dubbed the ‘Encyclopaedia of the Forest’ having planted over thirty thousand trees and knows everything about the flora of the forest. A 102-year old class 7 dropout (no money to continue further) has been teaching kids and adults basic math and alphabets for many decades, and all for free.

Nothing can be more inspirational than these people who started with nothing but have yet achieved so much. Their secret? Selflessness. Imagine what each one of us could achieve, given the head start we have in life, and if we worked so selflessly!

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Across the road

Why did the chicken cross the road? Because it wanted to get to the other side!

And why did the kitten cross the road? Because someone taped the kitty to the chicken of course!

Okay okay, my apologies, worst joke in the world. But I actually did see the video of a kitty trying to cross the road. Not because it wanted to, but because it just unknowingly scampered into the centre of a 6 lane highway.

So many vehicles, all zooming past at breakneck speed. The kitten obviously had little clue of its bearings. It was afraid, and probably did the worst thing. Instead of trying to run to either side of the road, it just lay down still.

Car after truck after bus after car is seen swerving in last ditch attempts to save the helpless creature. Some drivers expertly manoeuvre their cars to ensure they pass cleanly over the baby.

Until one fellow puts on his hazard lights, stops his car a few feet away from the kitty, steps out, picks the baby up, cuddles it in his arms, takes it with him into his car, and drives away.

Such empathy. And one lucky kitty.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Measuring excellence

Jim Collins is an author who needs no introduction. In one of his defining studies, he has distilled down the excellence factors for any company, to 3 core elements. These are:

  1. Superior results (the company can be amazing on paper, but it needs to win in the real world)
  2. Distinctive impact (if the company disappeared, would it matter?)
  3. Lasting endurance (not just a one-hit wonder)

While these are amazing insights for companies, I also couldn’t help but realize these are amazing ideals for anyone striving for excellence to try living up to.

  1. Superior results – irrespective of the profession, can our clients feel they always get the best only with us?
  2. Distinctive impact – of course no one is indispensable and all that; but even so, if we disappeared from the earth tomorrow, how many people would miss us? Would we have left behind a legacy? Not for the money we provide others, but the compassion, listening ear, love and warmth?
  3. Lasting endurance – it’s easy to be good to people once or twice, but to do that lifelong? That would be most beneficial, not just to those being helped, but to the doer. A non-stop selfless attitude is no different from the pinnacle of spirituality.
Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Creator Groomer

Most of us are working our day jobs, doing mundane stuff, often not liking it much.

And many companies too do not expect their employees to grow beyond a point either.

Seniors want to ensure their own seats are secure, and often happy slave-driving their juniors – and to make sure they do not leave the firm for whatever reason. Everyone is just thinking about themselves all the time.

But I came across a startup recently. The founder wrote an open letter, which to me was quite a lovely way to think about work.

His point, was that there are so many problems to be solved in the world. And folks working with him were encouraged to take risks, to disrupt, to be fearless, and to build and scale products with impatient optimism.

He also said, that if any of his employees would leave to found another startup, then he would go out of his way to invest in that new business.

Not just that, he would also enable the new startup to access his own set of VC/PE investors. How awesome is that?!

Not just giving jobs, but funding a potential job creator. Not just being a leader, but being a leader groomer! The magic truly happens when one thinks selflessly about others.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Live in the moment (really?)

Here’s something we hear often. And it is linked to spirituality too. “Live in the present”, “Live in this moment alone”, “Don’t live in the past or in the future”, “the present is a gift” and so on and so forth. There are many variations of these. And they all sound amazing. Liberating too. Marry these words with some spectacular visuals on Instagram or Facebook and that is enough to make even a corpse feel all charged up and alive.

Feeling charged up and alive is indeed a good thing. But ‘living in the present’ needs to be understood well. It is ultimately dependent on the internal qualities or gunas of a person.

If people are sattvik by nature, they are likely to work for others and for a greater cause. Therefore their focus while working – in the true sense – will not be focused on the results of their actions.

For tamasik people however, this is not so obvious. They too may appear to not care about the result. But this apparent lack of caring comes from a deep rooted centre of laziness, inertia and selfishness which precludes them from calling a spade a spade. Their very success comes from denying the truth, and from seeking to avoid the consequences of their actions.

In that sense, the rajasik folks may be better off – as they at least know there is a gap which they need to bridge.

And thus, it is important to understand well what it takes to live in the moment. If we are thinking only about ourselves, jumping from one desire to the next, we may already be many moments ahead, and certainly not in the present.

If one has transcended the ego however, and is working solely for the benefit of the greater good, then living in the moment will come automatically. It is a state of ‘flow’. Nothing needs to be done to achieve it.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment

Jumping high

In the Tokyo Olympics high-jump event, the competition was down to two finalists. Both of them jumped exactly the same height of 2.37 metres. And so it was a tie.

The officials had each of them jump again – three more times in fact. But neither Olympian was able to better the 2.37 number.

In the last and final attempt, one of the two contestants had to withdraw because of a leg injury. The other bloke now had a clear path to gold.

But in what would go down in history books as an outstanding example of parasparam bhavayantah (Gita chapter 3, verse 11, nourish one another), the healthy contestant before his final attempt, first checked if he could … wait for it … share the gold with his opponent!

The officials quickly checked and confirmed that it would be indeed be possible. He decided to forgo his final attempt, and in the video, both players are ecstatically seen hugging each other. How amazing is that? We are brought up with the notion that if we win, someone else needs to lose. But life is not a zero-sum-game. If everyone wins, that is the highest jump of them all.

Like it? Please share it!
Leave a Comment