1. What do you mean by becoming spiritual ?
Spirituality is never understood properly. Spiritual means Atmeeyam. Being in Atma level is what is known as Athmeeyam. Generally all the activities which we do are controlled by manas (mind). But for being Spiritual we need to reach a level where all the activities need to be controlled my Atma instead of Manas. A good cook casually puts the salt and it could be exactly correct, for which he/she doesn’t require to use Manas, whereas a new cook needs to check and use his/her Buddhi to instruct the manas. Athmeeya personality will do most of the activities which we do with Atma, so that Buddhi or Manas is not taxed. He does it casual / natural / accidental / unattached. Thus I mean to say that being spiritual means being in action in that mood. Not crossing legs and sitting in prayers. Spiritual person will be a mediator in action.
Becoming spiritual means all that activity he does is meditative. For some activities we may be meditative and for some we may not be. Becoming spiritual is a level wherein we may not even know that we have reached there or not. So measuring spirituality itself is not practical. At times the so called spiritual man loses his meditative level and become attached / desire-filled individual. So it is not becoming spiritual is important; Being Spiritual is important. By being in spiritual one is in bliss.
2. You have said that many of the institutionalists, spirituality practitioners have marketing people and sales men to support their ideologies. Could you please explain them ?
There are lot of people who are on TV now-a-days; they are all called spiritual masters. There will be one spiritual Master who is rich and they will keep lot of marketing persons who will speak about them and praise them a lot, they will also think that by doing so they will also become spiritual. This is a sort of chain marketing in spirituality. They also get commission. If you see my view on Spirituality; a spiritual master will not be after popularity and spend time and effort for making sponsors for his TV show. A person who understood and accepted or may be really loved the message which the Spiritual Master is speaking. There is a Spiritual Master and there may be hundreds of people who have associated with him, they all loved him so much and they think that this is a great message which has to take it into people, they could do it. Instead of that if you are keeping hundred people and making them to do it; that is not in line with spirituality. Today people keep hoardings at every corner on their visit and count the number of people gather. There are many well known spiritual leaders around who even contract out people to gather mob for their sessions on payment. Number of followers can’t be the measure of their spiritual strength.
3. Spirituality does not come through the packaged programmes or spiritual retreats. How does it come?
Spirituality is an attainment. Spirituality you will attain only through meditation. Meditation is the eight step in asthenia yoga, fourth one being Pranayama. One has to control Indriyas and manas before reaching into meditation. I saw retreats in which massive people are asked to sit-down crossed legs and close your eyes to control your Indriyas and manas. Is it that easy to control? Pranayama do help people to dilute the manas. But that is like the nested bird – says Ramana maharshi. “praana bhandanaath leeyathe mana”. Pranayama is the best method to maintain better health. But wrong practice can be the cause for disease. “pranayamena yukthena sarva roga samaraha; ayukathabhyasa yogena sarva roga samuthbhavaha”. The practice need to be with the direct supervision of a guru and reaching to meditation is a long step and not a pick-and-go road-side packet solution for all the problems as being advertised by the retail solution sellers.
4. The range of subjects you have studied is vast and varied. What motivated you to study different subjects/topics?
Every subject is related and connected; there is nothing in this world which is not connected. In school classes; student learns Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Social Studies, etc. Later in their life they stop learning variety and gets too much into isolated subjects. At times I guess I love connecting and learning. I am able to connect many subjects - “yadha pinde thadha brahmande” if you learn about Brahmandam it will become Cosmology, close to physics into orbital and planetary motions, but if you go to learn about one of the planet - Earth - then it becomes Geography, if you go still zoom further in - you will learn biology, zoology up to cell level. Upton micro-meter level is micro-biology. Further inside takes you to atoms and will become Chemistry. Again one looks inside to reach electrons and electro-magnetic-energy that is physics. Get to nano meter to learn nano-technology which branches into many different areas. At a geographic location observe what happened for long time to learn History. Why not learn all this and see around to connect and learn? What is wrong in liking sambar when one find taste in curd.
5. How is the study of Bhagavad Gita, Yogavasishta, Upanishads etc. help the modern man?
Bhagavad Gita talks about Arjuna’s confusion and tension when he was to fight with his relatives. Whatever he learnt or practiced he was not able to use it due to conflict / stress / confusion / attachement. Krishna as a psychotherapist was trying to make Arjuna to do his job. Yogavasishta is the same concept where Vasishta teaches Rama. Upanishads also contain a lot of questions and answers related to Psychological problems. Whether it is a student who goes for examination, he is not able to write whatever he learns; the same situation is what Arjuna had where he is not able to fight. Whatever psychological problems you see today, could be seen during that time also. Today we see many who are confused of their duty, caste, social impacts, behaviour problems etc. Bhagavad Gita gives a clear answer to many of this.
6. You had trained teachers. What fails our educational system? How can we improve it?
The major problem with the education system is the availability of quality teachers. We have a good system, nice textbooks; syllabus is framed properly, only when it comes to the implementation level, teachers are not really putting their heart and effort. I wish all the teachers get a real zeal in teaching. If they put their heart then our education system could become one of the best. This is one of the reason’s I am putting my effort and time in teaching teachers. Our children are receptive to good teaching. I train teachers to be Effective and Affective. A good teacher is one who is able make his/her students ask questions, visualise things. Giving data can be done by a textbook but ability to analyse / judge / interpret / compare / judge / criticise is what on which a student need to be trained. What might be missing is the motivational factor along with the creating interest in their subject. Every teacher has to be a marketing personal for their subject. Today’s students don’t like teachers, they want to finish the class, escape exams, get attendance; all for the certificate. Teachers can make the class with edutainment and knowledge oriented learning interesting and enjoys exams.
7. What do you mean by human value education?
There is manushyattam in every human being. Manushyattam is the humanness in a person. Being human is human being; similar to - social being is to being social. If one has to be social one need to have good value system. For being social one has to help all beings around. By birth human beings are useless for most of the other animals. Almost all other animals and plants are one or other way useful to other living being. At least as human being one must be useful to other human beings. As a human being what makes us distinct from other animals is learning and teaching. Education has to be that leads to being human and social. Making others happy is the best value system people should have, but happy not temporary, but longer. Teaching all this is is value education.
8. What was the turning point in your life?
Any day – any moment can be a turning point in one’s life. A good question may be a turning point. I have written my philosophy of Life in my book. Fall like a river and grow like a river. Failing in some class, probably throwing out of a school for being bad, getting less marks and not able to get a seat for higher studies, getting zero mark for internal examination during post-graduation; anything can be a turning point. May be meeting different people, getting a higher job, recognitions, large audience to listen etc. could be a turning point. A failure or a success can be a turning point. There are many such occasions / moments in life. Every activity what I do and its memory is a turning point. It has a shorter or longer impact of thoughts and that triggers a new activity at times.
9. You had written that you were impressed by Swami Vivekananda. Please elaborate.
Swami Vivekananda was a very highly spiritual man with a core Nationalistic view. There are nice quotations on Swami Vivekananda but people say on him is the best to know him - “if u wants to know India, learn Swami Vivekananda”. He is a person who is the solidified Bhagavad Gita and other scriptures in India. He has most modern outlook, learned the world by travelling across the globe. He walked around India and understood what India is, understood the real disease which India had in those days and he meditated on that as a doctor and then he started prescribing medicines to make India better. Probably you will not see any Swamiji who started an Ashram in his Guru’s name not in his own-name. Vivekananda loved his Guru so much and made Ramakrishna Ashrams that is unique in strong order of swamijis’ in India today. But I see a failure in Vivekananda as compared to Ramakrishna – that is he could not make another Vivekananda, only Ramakrishna could do that. Therefore, when I say I have lot of respect to Vivekananda, probably that respect goes to Ramakrishna, but when I say I adore Ramakrishna, Vivekananda will not get it. This is a great message from Vivekananda.
10. Kindly tell us your experiences as a spiritual director and life skill trainer.
I don’t know whether I could be called as a Spiritual Director or a Life Skill Trainer, since many people started introducing me so, I accepted it. As Spiritual Director and a Life Skill Trainer, I keep myself be with people and try to tune them to be in bliss. Mostly my students who are youth and aspiring to reach highest in life. May be I am fortunate to meet lot of people and started giving this information to different people. There are many people who got benefited out of it. A Few people think that their life has been put into good path by me. They are much happier, they are out of problems. At times when they come with problems, association with me changes not that problem alone, but along with that the Life directions does changes. So the spiritual direction and the Life Skill directions are one and the same, I don’t see them separate. When I say that there are many people who got benefits through my discussions or associations, I should also not forget that there are at least may be one out of thousand people who also feel that I am misdirecting people. So I am also a failure some time.
11. It is often said that one’s personality and individuality are different. Your comments?
“Persona”, the word itself means mask. Individuality is what you are internally. When you speak to yourself you have get into your basic character. Personality is shown in your behaviour, how you deal with people. One may know the other only by interacting very closely. Personality is one which gives recognition in society. One may not be very good, but may always act as good. That is the reason it is called as a mask. Individuality is what you are. At times one who shows individuality is disliked by many around. Being social is what is expected of social being. Being social is always artificial. Many a times one may have to put an artificial way of reacting at situations. People having different status in the society behave differently. Individuality is what you are and personality is what people think and show what you are.
12. What is your perception of God?
God is within. “hrudhaya guhara madhye kevalam brahma mathram” God is inside heart (inside hrudayam in manas).
13. How do you connect modern scientific concepts with Vedanta?
Veda is knowledge, Vedantam is the ultimate knowledge. Whenever one quest for ultimate knowledge, he will have to do a lot of research. Doing research is with logic and is scientific. Pondering inside the reasons behind it, why is it happening, where is it happening, how is it happening - if you start asking all this; it becomes scientific. Any scientific knowledge leads to Vedanta. But what happens in the modern science is before reaching the ultimate knowledge we are in a hurry to propagate it. Science today is that can be ‘experimentally proved’. Therefore, it may fail at times. Probably that’s the reason people say the end of modern research is the beginning of Vedanta. Vedantha is the basic on which sanathana dharma is defined. Sanathana itself means chira-purathana (oldest) and nithya-noothana (most modern)
14. You are active in social network groups such as Orkut, Yahoo, etc. In what way such groups help in individual growth?
Today’s youth with whom I am associated or trying to converse most of the time; are into Orkut and Facebook. So the best way to take the message to them is through the medium in which they converse. I succeeded in meeting people, talking to people and trying to inculcate the sense of what I want them to be in. One has to give food in the plate which they like, if you start insisting in serving it only in our plate they may not take it. Hence I am trying to serve them in their plates, serving in their location, serving where they can pick it up at their own convenient time, It’s a virtual sathsang. They won’t be having any inhibitions here in opening up and asking questions etc. Or I may throw a thread and this young group are in discussion by themselves. I learn a lot through this exercise. At times when they meet first time; I found them not that active and not open. Once the interaction is active through virtual media, they interact interact freely and can make the sathsang more active and spreading message becomes very easy.
15. How do you view the impact of Indian spiritual wisdom across the globe?
When we look at the Gurus who are the messengers from India like Sai Baba, Mata Amrtanandamayi, Sri Sri Ravishankar et. al., if you call them as spiritual masters or may be we need to start from Vivekananda, Ramana Maharshi et. al.; they were all successful in taking the message. There is an impact of Indian Spirituality globally. We see many people from abroad in India; looking for solutions they started learning our Yoga Practices and many training them in meditation. Deepak Chopra is a medical practitioner who turned into a Vedic healer abroad and is able to spread Indian message. We see lot of healing practices which are practiced abroad; most of them have their origin in India.
16. Swami Vivekananda said each soul is potentially divine. How to bring out the divinity within?
We wanted to make people really intelligent, brain has to work, that means we have to give them lot of exercises. Ask them to read as much as they can, ask questions, be curious, these are the main objectives on which I am working. As an individual they should have a good Hrudayam, so one has to be as best human as one can. Physically they have to be strong, that means you have to give them sufficient food, there should not be people who are starving, health has to be taken care of. As social being one has to move around wherever you want. Must learn how to be with the group and think beyond the group. I am trying to put Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, Social and Spiritual aspect among the youth. This is what is meant by taking the divinity out. When you are a divine individual your personality is divine. Individuality and personality will not be different; that means character and the behaviour will not be different. This is the basic message that Vivekananda wanted the Youth to be into and trained to be into.
17. What is the key to a person’s success?
Success is when what you achieve; achievement comes from desire. A person can become successful by reducing desire, so that whatever achieved will be rated as success. But is this the real success? If one wants to be successful in life, one should never be satisfied. When there is a desire, one struggles and strives for it. This struggle, strive; stress will make all the efforts to make one successful. But once you taste success, you raise your bar and shall change your scale and keep putting more efforts to achieve more success. No satisfaction doesn’t mean not happy. One can be not satisfied but happy. Happy persons perform better and become successful. Thus being happy and being not satisfied is the way to success
18. Did you ever face failure in life? How did you transform you life?
Oh. Failure is part of every new venture. May be I was most careless and lazy one in the childhood. These days when one with whom I am dealing is not able to understand the ideology and things won’t work out the way I think, I feel I am failed. But in true sense are this all real failures? When things don’t move we feel we are a failure. Many times it happened in me. But I was fortunate enough being relatively successful in all that I involved. I keep my ways in different directions and active so that when one door closes the other door is open.
When I was out from Calicut University as Director and have to return back pre-mature to Space Department, I felt that was a real hit on me, as I was really enjoying with lot of lectures around many academic institutions in Kerala. Many well wishers who wanted me to continue in Kerala offered me to move to see that I continue in Kerala. But as soon as I was in Hyderabad back in my office in Space Department, I could move to Cabinet Secretariat in a higher post which was one of the best postings that a person like me can aspire for.
I felt upset and bad when I was in Delhi and had not many public programs in the early days of 2007 end. I remembered reading Vivekanada “When you don’t have public speeches, read and start writing. This is a message that God gives us” I took this and started writing poems. That turned into a creative poetry work from me. Thus the success turned to be a great success.
May be the philosophy that I wrote, the stagnating river will find its flow down the slope at any time. But need to wait with patience. The flow down then will be a fall but will be most beautiful.
19. What is the advice you give to students who are intended to become scientists/teachers?
As far as teaching is concerned, if it is not a productive work no student will enjoy it. Many teachers believe that teaching is a reproductive work. Learning is the process of asking the questions by the Self internally. If a teacher is a learned one his teaching will be a unique self created one. Thus he is a researcher and the teaching is creative. B haratheeya Sankalpa Education is the department given to Saraswathi Goddess. Research (Creativity) is the portfolio of Brahma, Saraswati’s husband. They make the pair – hand – in hand.
20. Why one should follow a vegetarian diet?
Basically human physic is for the vegetarian. We justify by saying that unlike other non-veg, we cook and eat, so no issue etc. Any habit will make it adaptable. So that is not the issue. Non-Vegetarian is the dead-body and doesn’t contain any energy. We eat to be creative. “brahmarpanam brahmahavir brahmagno brahmanaagutham – brahmaiva thena gandhavyam – brahma karma samadhina” Eating is considered as a brahma yajna – to make the self creative. It needs to be satwik and energy giving – and not dead one. Dead body contains lot of blood. Most of the diseases are spread through. The chemistry n the dead-body will cause tension, worry, anxiety, and anger as these are generated in the body while the animal is being killed. No amount of cooking can save / change to escape from this.
21. How do you explain the components of Gunatrayavibhag said in the Bhagavad Gita?
All souls are under the control of the three modes, or qualities, of material nature: goodness, passion and ignorance.
· Goodness: It Illuminates, purifies, conditions one to a sense of happiness and knowledge. All the bodily gates are illuminated by knowledge and one progress towards pure knowledge. If one die while in this mode, one attains the pure higher planets.
· Passion: Give rise to unlimited desires and longings, binds one to furtive actions. Its symptoms are attachment, furtive activity, intense endeavor, desire and hankering. It causes misery, grief and one stays on earth life after life.
· Ignorance: Deludes, results in madness, indolence and sleep. Its symptoms are darkness, inertia, madness and illusion. It may cause journey to hellish planet or birth among lower species.
Lord Krishna explains what these modes are and how they act upon us, and how one transcends them, and the symptoms of one who has attained the transcendental state. The three qualities of nature have bound all living entities. However, by unfailing engagement in complete devotion, one can attain and remain in a transcendental position.
22. Your prescriptions for Managing life beautifully?
Live in present. Take-up large ideas / projects / activity. Keep busy with lot of variety of activity. Involve with society. Disease / worry on many silly things and such troubles will be off and will see the life is beautiful inside and outside. Beauty has to be inside. Looking good to feeling good to being good is the degree of growth. Life is beautiful only when one is good and able to spread goodness. Enjoy. LIFE itself is Live in Full Enjoyment.
23. Nowadays, a lot of professional are suffering due to ‘stress’ How to manage stress?
One who enjoy profession, they don’t undergo stress. Stress is termed as an emotional feeling. One who enjoys drive will not emotionally down, may be physically tired. Stress productive physically one can take stress if the manas (mind) is ready. Let the mind not be under tension. Take stress and improve performance, this is part of development. Any amount of stress is enjoyable. Mount climber enjoy the stress. Look back on the achievement – that will give lot of relief. As one goes on top of the mountain; his visibility increases and that view is the energy for the next steps ahead. Count on the achievements in life to draw energy and work will be a thrilling experience.
24. Managing time is difficult. How to manage time effectively?
We can’t manage time as it is not in our control. For all of us we have only 24 hours. What is to be managed is the activity. Self-discipline, punctuality, defining priority, not being lazy, being systematic, fast and timely response, presence of mind and many such quality will make activity simpler. When we fall out of time think of the busy people like Prime Minister of India / President of America et.al and see where we stand. Life is too long and has enough time for all that we want to do.
25. Is there any science in performing rituals?
Most of the traditional rituals which are followed in Bharatheeya Sankalpa have physical / emotional / intellectual / social / spiritual reasons. Any small chanting to Yaga and the temple rituals are with lot of meanings and beneficial to individual / living being / environmental. Could take one by one and explain it but not venturing for that now. When one doesn’t know the reasoning he may name it as superstitious. Effort has to be made to get into the root to understand it. Anushtana (original ritual) is scientific; but Achara (practices) might have got dialuted and found unacceptable. Achara vary on time and place and social groups but anushtana remains.
26. Your message to our readers?