PERIYAVA SHOWED PATH TO GREATNESS AND INDIA’S RISE AS A MODERN NATION - The Daily Guardian
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PERIYAVA SHOWED PATH TO GREATNESS AND INDIA’S RISE AS A MODERN NATION

Swami Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, the 68th Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, championed change with continuity. He worked for a society that is firmly rooted in the past while working with confidence for a secure and prosperous future.

G.V. Anshuman Rao

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Few legends are able to physically guide people for nearly nine decades touching all aspects of all their lives. Fewer still can do this during the challenging phase of the freedom movement and the post-Independence transformation of a country. Swami Chandrasekharendra Saraswati did all this and more in India’s rise as a modern nation as he strove for spiritual awakening, social cohesion, national integration, cultural revival while also encouraging excellence in various fields including science, music, and architecture. As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, it is vital to recall the contribution of a spiritual master who left a lasting impact on India’s journey in perhaps the most critical, tumultuous, and crucial periods of its history.

Swami Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, the 68th Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, championed change with continuity. He worked for a society that is firmly rooted in the past while working with confidence for a secure and prosperous future. He wanted people to draw strength and inspiration from India’s enormous past achievements in all domains of human endeavour to attain solid achievements in the future. If humanity was to follow his advice and teachings, problems like climate change would not have taken the dangerous turn they have taken now. He worked for tackling the raging problems of society. 

Yearning for freedom from British rule, Periyava did not directly take part in politics as the spiritual head of a revered religious seat but kept abreast of the developments. A significant meeting took place between Periyava and Mahatma Gandhi in 1927 in a cowshed at Nellichery in Palakkad in present-day Kerala. 

Periyava did away with the practice in the mutt of wearing silk clothes and shifted to Khadi robes. He had also requested his devotees to do away with foreign clothes. He composed Maithreem Bajathag, a benediction which was rendered by MS Subbulakshmi in October 1966 at the United Nations. The benediction is an anthem for universal friendship and world peace and ends with the words “Srey o bhooyat sakala jananam”–Let grace and happiness abound for all mankind.

Born on 20 May 1894, Swami Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi was Shankaracharya of Kanchi Mutt from 1907 to 1994. He physically guided people for 40 years before Independence and 47 years after it as he helped shape the country’s progress with his deep knowledge, well-meaning advice to political leaders who met him and his ability to connect with people and events.   

His message on the day India attained Independence on 15 August 1947, is soul-stirring, visionary and all-encompassing as it enunciates the significance of the national flag, dharma chakra, role of individual and significance of our spiritual legacy. 

“On this happy occasion when our country Bharat has attained Independence, the people of this ancient country must pray wholeheartedly and with one mind to Sri Bhagavan. Let us all pray to God to vouchsafe to us the strength of mind and energy to engage ourselves more and more in attaining spiritual knowledge. It is only by the grace of Almighty that we can safeguard the freedom that we have achieved and also help all the living beings on earth to lead a happy life,” Periyava said. He said, “chakra of Bhagavan, who is the embodiment of Dharma, has its place in the centre of our National Flag”.

Periyava’s words of attaining aram (dharma or righteousness), porul (wealth), inbam

(happiness) and Veedu (moksha or deliverance) spell out the vision and goals for an individual.

“This chakra reminds us of the moral values enjoined by Emperor Ashoka, who is historically famous as Devanampriyaha. Further, the chakra makes us contemplate the spiritual discipline imparted by Bhagavan Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. That Dharma which shines in the form of a Chakra is clear from Lord Krishna’s reference to the Chakra as “Evam pravartitam chakram” in Verse 16 of the III chapter of the Bhagavad Gita.”

Periyava explained the significance of three stripes–dark green, white and orange–in the national flag and talked of attaining military strength. “These colours seem to indicate to us, that military strength for protection from enemies and evil, wealth for welfare and prosperity, and knowledge for the sake of proper administration are essential for the nation. It may be remembered that dark green is the colour of Durga–the Parasakti who is the mother protector, Mahalakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity is of orange colour(golden hue) and Saraswathi the source divine of all knowledge is white in colour. It is a happy coincidence that the colour of the three Shaktis (Goddesses of Power) are seen in the three stripes of the National Flag,” he said.

Periyava noted that freedom has been attained by the grace of God, by the blessings of great men, and by the unique sacrifice of the people. “Let us all pray to the Omnipresent God to shower his grace so that with the hard-won freedom, our country becomes prosperous, is rid of famine, and there are no social skirmishes and the entire nation lives in an atmosphere of amity and kindness.”

The seer also talked about the individual responsibility of people, their spiritual connection with the past and the need to attain complete freedom. “Now that freedom has been attained by the nation, all of us must also try to develop Independence. If we understand ourselves fully, we may consider ourselves independent. We are not capable of controlling the senses. We are unable to suppress desire and control anger, which always troubles us. Whichever thing in whatever measure we obtain does not lead us to contentment. Worldly sufferings cause worry to us. The mind gets confused on noticing these sufferings. What is the way out of all these? 

We must try to control, albeit gradually the mind which has been functioning vigorously for such a long time. Once the mind is set at rest, we will not need anything. That state of mind which ensures complete freedom is what we must attempt to achieve,” he said. “Only those who attain true spiritual knowledge can truly be independent citizens,” he added. He talked of the path which rooted out social evils. Periyava ended his Independence Day message with the golden words ‘Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitaha.’

Kanchi Paramacharya’s meeting with Mahatma Gandhi on 15 October 1927 was also very significant. It is quite a coincidence that the two masters met in a shed for cows, an animal revered in Hinduism and adored by the two leaders. The meeting came about at a time when several ills within the Hindu religion as well as the exploitative foreign rule had made the society more orthodox, rigid, and hierarchical. The atmosphere during the meeting of two great souls was surcharged with spiritual silence. Mahatma Gandhi offered his obeisance and sat near the Paramacharya. He noted that he was not used to speaking in Sanskrit and would use Hindi if permitted.

Mahatma Gandhi also said that he could understand what was spoken in Sanskrit. Periyava spoke in Sanskrit and Mahatma Gandhi in Hindi and the conversation lasted almost for an hour.

There were no interpreters and only one or two attendants of the Mutt were present. As the meeting ended, Gandhiji gave an expression that he had derived immense benefit from this unique meeting. At around 5.30 pm, C. Rajagopalachari who had accompanied Gandhiji and was waiting outside, went inside the cattle shed and reminded the Father of the Nation about his evening meal. Mahatma Gandhi would not take any food after 6 pm and made a significant observation to Rajagopalachari. “The conversation I am having now with the Acharya is itself my evening meal for the day,” he said. Later in the evening, Mahatma Gandhi addressed a public meeting in Coimbatore. With people in the audience eager to know about the meeting, he said they discussed points of mutual interest and also noted that it was a private meeting.

A request was made to Periyava in November 1968 for a message of the seminar on the relevance of Mahatma Gandhi to the world of thought held at the University of Madras.

He sent a message in which he recalled the 1927 meeting with Mahatma Gandhi. “We wish to place before this seminar one of the many things which Gandhi and I discussed when we met at Palghat, Kerala in the last Prashava year.” 

Before Gandhiji arrived at Palghat there came the news of the assassination of Sraddhananda of the Arya Samaj. Referring to this incident Gandhiji remarked as follows: ‘I have an apprehension in my mind that assassination of this kind would occur more often than now (in the coming years). Let not there arise in me hatred even in a small measure against the present assassin. There arises a desire in me that I should be able to embrace with love even so cruel a man who commits a heinous crime, as this one, an atatayin. But it is extremely difficult to cultivate such heartfelt affection. Yet I shall make an honest attempt in this direction.’

“All that we wish to point out that in this world it is very rare even to hear about such a feeling expressed,” Periyava said. Late scholar S. Sambamurthi Sastrigal has in his biography of the Kanchi Paramacharya in Tamil, titled, Sri Jagathguru Divya Sarithram written about the meeting and said that Periyava was very appreciative of Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘satyagraha’. Periyava combined knowledge with humility and prowess with forbearance. He was born at a crucial phase in India’s history and played a role in strengthening a society that was bedevilled with problems related to caste, religion, social and economic backwardness caused by foreign rule. There was also a lack of education and constricted thinking. The Paramacharya showed India the path to its future greatness and its role as a harbinger of peace. To people, he showed the path to living a content and fulfilling life. 

Anshuman Rao is a political analyst, former chairman, Andhra Pradesh Electronics Development Corporation, and close follower of Periyava.

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Spiritually Speaking

STOP STRESS FROM DAMAGING YOUR IMMUNITY

Dr Judith Kocken

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In most countries of the world, the majority of diseases are chronic instead of acute. Chronic diseases are called psychosomatic. A part of the cause is psychological – this means that the cause is generated by thoughts and emotions, and is therefore very difficult to examine. The other part is physical, visible and can be measured.

The brain absorbs the energy of thoughts and emotions. The energy is transported to the hormone system and lymph system. Together they form the immune system, which protects the body. A child develops an immune system that starts in the womb of the mother. The physical, mental, and emotional health of the parents have an impact on the immune system of an unborn child. When a child grows up, it then encounters antigens in the form of viruses, bacteria and other micro-organisms. In a healthy situation, the body makes antibodies so that the child does not become sick. The immune system develops through physical contact with other people, food, environment, and micro-organisms. A person deprived of this contact, say in situations of social isolation and/or excessive cleaning or no cleaning at all for a long period of time, may develop an unhealthy immune system. Thoughts and emotions have an impact on the functioning of the immune system. How to make thoughts and emotions so positive and strong so that they strengthen the immune system?

Stress is a physical reaction to something that is experienced as truth. A stress reaction can be acute or chronic. Most people experience one or more stressful events in their lives. There are several forms of stress:

1. Universal: absence of information or fake news. Every chronic or repetitive experience of not feeling in control, or helpless, gives stress.

2. Physical: chronic disease, injury, operation.

3. Chemical: food, viruses, bacteria, pesticides, Wi-Fi, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, soft drinks

4. Emotional: family circumstances, secrets, debt, divorce, disease, death, trauma, abuse, manipulation, neglect, work problems.

Chronic stress suppresses the immune system. Scientific research shows that three in four people with heart problems, high blood pressure, Diabetes Type 2, gastric ulcers, rheumatic disease, skin problems, autoimmune diseases and cancer have a weakened immune system. Chronic stress symptoms, including extreme fatigue, anxiety, sleep disorders, chronic abdominal pain or palpitations may require a visit to a doctor in the first instance.

The immune system can be strengthened. The first step is to recognise and accept that you are in fact experiencing stress and it is uncomfortable. The next step is to acknowledge that you are not alone in this. Everyone feels stressed at one time or another. Then it is a matter of discovering what would be most helpful and being very kind to the self; wish peace for the self and be prepared for this state of peace to take a little time, and not search for a quick fix. Slow down, walk slower, speak less, do less instead of more—all this helps to reduce the feelings of stress in the immediate short term.

Before sleep each evening, there are some positive things you can reflect on or do to strengthen the immune system and write them down in a journal. Take a shower, listen to some music, listen to a guided meditation before you settle down to the reflections.

1. This is what I liked about today

2. This is what I did not like about today

3. This is what made me laugh out loud today

4. I feel grateful for …

5. I was kind to myself in this situation today

6. I practised taking a pause before reacting in this situation today

A human being has more than 70,000 thoughts a day, 90% of which we are not aware of. Meditation is a method to learn about who you are and what is going on in your mind. During meditation, we can create positive thoughts and create new neural pathways in the mind so that faith and trust in the self can become part of your life. Stress will diminish and the immune system will be strengthened.

Dr Judith M. Kocken MD, PhD, is a paediatrician and a paediatric gastroenterologist. A pioneer in holistic healthcare, she studies and practises Rajyoga with the Brahma Kumaris in The Netherlands.

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CLIMATE CHANGE FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Sylvia Ismail

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As we approach the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), 31 October to 12 November 2021, the eyes of the world are on Glasgow, a former industrial and shipbuilding city in Scotland. The talk is of mitigation, adaptation and climate finance, of limiting the rise in global temperatures and harmful emissions.

It is easy to feel confused, even lost, amid the jargon and the torrent of facts and figures. Climate anxiety is growing, especially among younger age groups: Notably, in a recent interview, Britain’s Prince William highlighted his concern for his young family.

And yet there is so much we can do, individually and collectively, to raise our thinking to a place of hope and to believe in action as a force for good.

The first step is to recognise that every single one of us can access an inner world that is far richer than any material possessions the external world has to offer. Once we recognise this, our acquisitiveness—the desire to possess material wealth and objects, the urge to achieve status in the world— diminishes.

Instead of measuring ourselves against others in a spirit of competition, straining to outdo their success, we choose to connect with our inner self and draw strength from the Supreme. The way to do this is through meditation, the quiet focusing of all our energy on the deeper consciousness that lies like a tranquil lake at the very core of our being.

With time and practice, our striving evaporates and we achieve a balance—calm, fulfilled, and genuinely, deeply happy. A little further down the road, we begin to stabilise in this state, so that, no matter what happens, we are able to maintain the balance.

The qualities we are rediscovering translate into a different way of living, and a new way of interacting with the world. No longer either needy or greedy, we are content with a simple lifestyle and grateful for what we have. Our inner transformation creates an outer balance between ourselves and others—and, indeed, all of nature.

With the generosity of spirit, we are ready to put our abundant energy to positive use, doing whatever we can to care for the environment and for those around us. There is nothing forced or insincere about this: It comes naturally and surprisingly easily. As we repeat these actions, they become part of our own nature, ingrained habits of kindness and care for others.

Imagine what the world would be like if we joined together to apply these qualities at the community, national, or even international, level! Multilateral talks would go smoothly, agreements would follow quickly, and action would be taken unhesitatingly.

Sylvia Ismail is a writer and editor with a background in public affairs, radio broadcasting, and journalism.

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FAITH AND WISDOM

Dadi Janki

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Devotional feelings are pure ones consisting of sweetness and innocence. They are feelings of faith in God, but they can be shaken.

Faith, without some wisdom to back it up, may fail you in a moment of need. Both are needed for long-term spiritual attainment; like feeling close to God and close to others, too in an unshakeable way. Or having true feelings, no matter what, becoming spiritually accomplished.

If either faith or wisdom is lacking, your life cannot function right. It is like understanding your doctor’s prescription but somehow not trusting it anyway. It leaves you feeling unsure. So have a dialogue between your feelings and your understanding. They need to know each other and work together well!

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How to stop yourself from overthinking

Charlie Hogg

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Our world is no longer the same as it was. It has been turned upside down. The events took almost everyone by surprise and everyone’s thinking went into overdrive. The media bombarded us every day with information and a variety of experts gave their opinions on what might happen, and everywhere there has been uncertainty and anxiety. Where does all that information ultimately land?—in the mind!

Overthinking is one of the most damaging thought patterns of all. An overactive mind instigates rash and rushed actions, and we spend time with fast-moving technology, sound bites, video bites, and seem to move from phones to computers to TVs. The reason why many spend so much time doing this is that in a way it serves a purpose. It stops us from looking inside to contemplate what the purpose of life might really be. From time to time, we become aware of what we are doing, and we try to chill out, take time out, and if we manage some moments of peace, the feeling is so sweet. But sometimes we find emptiness inside, like a big deep sadness, a sense of meaninglessness to everything, and that is a very uncomfortable feeling, so we change gear into overdrive again and become busier and busier so that we do not have to think too deeply.

There are roughly about 70,000 thoughts created in a waking day of 16 hours. We can think at about 500 words a minute but only speak at about 125 words a minute, and our mind can be aware on seven different levels at any given moment. That is a lot of activity! Our lives are played out in our minds. Thoughts, reactions, feelings, memories all take place in our minds. The way we interpret anything depends on the quality of thinking we have been able to achieve and the wisdom we have been able to accumulate. The most important thing I can do at the present time is to learn more about who I am and what is the greatest influence on my thinking, and with love and wisdom take back the internal authority I have lost.

I have to take responsibility for my thoughts. Each thought is my creation. People may be difficult and situations will come and ultimately, I have the choice—I can overthink or not. If I do just this one thing, take responsibility for each thought in my mind, it will change my life. If I am complaining, criticising, blaming everyone around me for my feelings, then I completely disempower myself. Spirituality is empowering myself to choose the quality of thought that helps me remain peaceful and keeps me happy.

I can begin by reprogramming my understanding of who I really am. If I am a body, then either ego or a sense of superiority emerges or a lack of self-respect and a feeling of unworthiness or inferiority emerge. All actions are then based on that awareness. The 7.9 billion human beings are working on that premise and with the subsequent ego or lack of self-respect. It is time to look within at the real self, the soul. Then, with the awareness of the eternal qualities of the soul, of peace, love and joy, let those feelings calm and nourish the mind, slow down the thought patterns and be the foundation of my words and actions. Taking time each day to replenish this awareness in meditation and a connection with the Supreme Soul empowers the soul to regain internal authority and reclaim the mastery of the mind.

Charlie Hogg, based in Sydney, is the National Coordinator, Brahma Kumaris, Australia.

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DOES HUMANITY NEED A NEW RELIGION?

Arun Malhotra

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Humanity has been wrought many times over during the course of history. Humanity has been refashioned, reshaped, embellished and course-corrected. From being animals to being humans, humanity has achieved the ultimate attainment Sahastrar—the thousand-petalled lotus. That is what humanity ought to be. 

What is humanity? How humanity is different from animality? It is not an abstractism denoting crowds of humans. In fact, when someone thinks beyond one’s nature. To be able to do something beyond one’s own personal nature is empathy. It is said that one becomes human when one learns empathy and empathy becomes one’s nature. Empathy enters into the wounds of others and heals them. Buddha calls it compassion. Empathy and compassion are to be human, that is, the humble beginning of humanity. Humanity is a flowering of consciousness. Humanity carries the seed within. The seed of awakening.

When someone is awakened. Awakening brings course correction to humanity. History is replete of those who attained Godhood who showed the path to humanity. When humanity starts stinking, existence corrects the course and someone who is on the verge of awakening awakens. New love is born a new religion is born a new culture is born. When humanity is replete with Gods, religions, cultures, doctrines, rituals to cloud one’s vision leading to dogmatism, the need for a new contemporary religion arises. Humanity coins Gods for all purposes all seasons to make religion a burdensome dead affair. When Gods emanate out of the sermons of priests, religion becomes dead. Some 2500 years ago, a young prince Siddhartha left his young wife Yasodhara and his newly born son Rahula and declared that there was no God. Not in the sense that Siddhartha felt that there was no God. But Siddhartha felt that if there was a God, surely it was unlike the one which he has gotten by observing ritual practices spelt out by priests. Surely the God cannot be that mundane and unexciting routine affair. 

The young prince became an ascetic. He fell to the feet of all Masters who were available then who had been practising religion and Godhood. All proved a sham. To be one with That-Which-Is Siddhartha abandoned all dependences that he had then, the religion, the society, the culture, the God, the Master, the Dharma, the body, the spirit. Siddhartha Gautama became Gautama the Buddha—which means Gautama the Awakened. The flowering of awakening flowered in Siddhartha Gautama who has become the Buddha. The fragrance of Buddhahood circulated in all directions. Buddha said there is Dukkha and there is a way to go out of Dukkha and told humanity the path to go out of Dukkha. 

Religion is a personal flowering. It happens to humans. Religion does not happen to humanity. When the fragrance of religious flowering is sensed by those who are searching That-Which-Is it becomes milestones for them. But otherwise, it becomes mere words, rituals, ideas, thoughts, society, culture and dogmas. Humanity becomes conditioned by such rituals, words, thoughts, societal dogmas and follows robot-like existence. Religion is the experience of the experiencer who has experienced but those following robotic rituals, religion never becomes an experience to them. The true religion that is Dharma flowers in the experience. Dharma is something that we are born with. We are born Sat-Chitt-Anand (Truth-Consciousness-Bliss). Sat-Chitt-Anand(Truth-Consciousness-Bliss) is our Dharma. 

In dogma in culture, there is security. In robot-like existence there is security. Going to the temple to perform what the priest asks you to perform has the psychological security of being religious. It may not make you religious. It may make you irreligious. You may become a member of the organised religion which is not a religion but an organization of religion. Because religion is personal. It is a very personal affair. It has nothing to do with the crowds performing rituals. Crowds performing rituals have a society in them because humanity breeds a society, that is, dependence. But individual lives in individuality. A truly religious man says no to a dogmatic religious organisation that becomes his religion.

When Siddhartha Gautama left his kingdom he kept looking for dependences. In the end, he realised that what he is looking for in security is in fact dependence. Because society is conditioned by the past. You have to let go of society. It so happened that after a decade of awakening, Buddha went to his father’s house and met Yashodhara his estranged wife. Yashodhara asked him, ‘I don’t know what you got but whatever that you had gotten, whether you could not have attained that by being here being with us in this house. Buddha replied in the affirmation that ‘yes’ it could have been attained without leaving his wife and son also.

Dogma is status quo. Dogma and rituals are like you are getting God at the cost of enslaving your soul. Asking God look we are doing something. Priests go on preaching ancient languages as if God understood just those languages and not the ones in modern use. 

Buddha is a revolution. Buddha is a revolution against the dead religion. Buddha is moving beyond dogmas. Buddha is one man on earth who said that there was no God and finally attained Godhood. That was the ultimate that one can get. Like a scientist who doubts everything and begins his thesis assuming an anti-thesis to bring home the point that is exactly the opposite of what he perceived in the beginning.

The flowering of Buddha in the presence of Buddha is a contagion. It infects you. It infects all those infected by dogmas rituals scriptures. Dogmas and rituals are to make you copies of what man has been doing primitively. 

But you live today. You need a new religion of your own. Buddha births the new religion. He does not birth the new religion for others. But he births the new religion for himself so that dogmatic religions melt in the sheen of what Buddha births. 

It happened to Jesus when he overthrew the tables of moneychangers and few rebels saw in him the rebellion. Thus Jesus was crucified by the organised religion. But the presence of Jesus was infectious. Jesus was a contagion. Even long after Jesus had gone, Jesus lives. His presence lives among us. Buddha is as much alive today as he was 2500 years ago. It is a matter of understanding and be contagious. But those mired in dogmas of Buddhism or Christianity will never be able to know the Buddha or the Christ.

Whenever humanity is deep under slumber someone is awakened and the awakened one tends to awaken humanity. Those who are on the verge of awakening awaken. Those who are moving towards awakening get their feet reinforced. When someone awakens the seed sprouts without any reason. That which is lying in us as the seed of awakening sprouts. 

It happened to Nanak. When Nanak found Godhood, Nanak said Ek Omkar Sat Nam (There is One God and Thy name is the Truth). In those times belligerence between Islam and Hinduism was growing. Nanak would trash dogmas of both Hinduism and Islam to tell the world that dogmas are not religion. Don’t live in the status quo. Live in the real religion. Thy Name is the Truth. The real religion that was contemporary then is not contemporary now. The Truth that needs to be redefined. Awakened ones discard what that was once the truth to re-establish the truth to renew the truth. All religions are thus manifestations of renewal of the truth. New religion brings new consciousness. New flowers of consciousness flower and the man of religion are born who value the truth and freedom.

The author is a spiritual teacher.

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Healthiest foods for each season

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Autumn ends with the Diwali festival. Pitta gets calmer, less excited. People have cleansed their bodies by celebrating Diwali in the month of Ashvin in traditional ways. The earth is as if full of joy by the production of nutritious and tasty cereals and pulses and green vegetables. The season known as Hemant  begins after Diwali.

Hemant brings in cold. This cold excites the kapha (cough) in the body, which in unison with the outside cold contracts the limbs and makes the skin dry; and in the absence of proper nutrition, even the flesh and the glands dry up and deplete. The nutrition and heat, which a person needs for the sustenance of his or her physical strength, are to be obtained and stored up in Hemant. This has to be put to use in the ensuing three seasons, that is, six months. Our elders say that winter is the best season for acquiring and storing the energy needed to sustain the body. In the winter cold, the skin contracts. The pores get closed, preventing the necessary heat required for nourishment from being wasted. With the internal heat being preserved, the digestion process gets quicker and more intense. The body demands more food and nutrition. New Year day is the first day of Hemant. Our scriptures have ordered that this auspicious day should be begun by a body massage with oil.

In the winter, a sweet diet is crucial for replenishing deficiency and providing nourishment. A sweet diet produces kapha  which  nourishes the seven body constituents and increases strength. Kapha also calms down the Pitta excited during the Sharad as also the Vata disturbance created in the cold season. We know that the rich, as well as the poor, eat as many sweets as they can afford, Hemant being the season of accumulation of energy.

The Doorva grass is especially worshipped in Hemant as there are many nutritious elements in it, which give strength. It purifies the blood and nourishes the foetus. Women who often miscarry are advised to take the juice of this grass.

The use of gourd is recommended in this season. From the point of view of Ayurveda, gourd destroys Vata and normalises Pitta. It also quickens the digestive process and removes intestinal congestion. It strengthens the nervous tissues of the brain and cures mental disease. Its use cures hysteria, insanity, and nervous diseases dominated by Vata. Gourd has been included in our diet to curb diseases engendered by the excitement of Vayu.

Great importance has been given to tulsi in worship and religious rites. Just as, in the month of Ashvin, dry sticks of the Pipla tree are used as fuel in yajnas for creating and maintaining a healthy atmosphere. Tulsi is recommended in Karthik. Tulsi removes Kapha and Vayu and being hot (like chillies) and bitter (like quinine) gives energy. The seeds of tulsi are also used to a considerable extent as nutritive. The use of tulsi is suitable in winter promoting digestion. Tulsi destroys worms and germs. If in this season there has been an overdose of sweet dishes, these foods are likely to remain undigested and decayed providing a ground for worms. Tulsi is recommended in balancing these bad effects.

When we are discussing nutrition and health, we can’t forget fruits and vegetables available in winter: Jujubes, amlas, sugarcanes, tomatoes, carrots etc. Nature provides iron in all these in large proportions as the body is in need of new blood and maximum nourishment. These are rich in iron, Vitamins B and C, and help purify blood and strengthen bowels. Just as sour things are given a dominant place in the monsoon and salt in autumn, so also sweet is dominant in winter. If there is an excessive intake of sweets in Hemant, instead of quieting  pitta and getting heat and nourishment, it causes more harm. To be saved from this trouble, sour and salty diets are recommended as subsidiary flavours. Sourness helps in the digestion of sweets and salt prevents kapha from being produced and accumulated by the intake of sweets. Thus, sweet followed by sour and sour followed by salt in this season maintains good health.

CARROT HALWA

Ingredients: Carrots 500 g, Rock Sugar 200 g, Cardamom powder 1/2 tsp, Milk cream 11/2 tbsp, Raisins 5-6 pieces, Almonds 2-3 pieces, and Cow ghee 1 tsp

Procedure: Wash and peel carrots, grate them. Mix rock sugar powder and stem it for 8-10 minutes. Heat a pan add 1 tsp ghee and steamed carrot. Add milk cream, cardamom powder, and mix well cook it for 2 minutes.Garnish it with almonds and raisins and serve it.

SALAD

Ingredients: Tomatoes 4, Carrot 1, Tulsi leaves 1 1/2 tbsp, Crushed Black pepper 1/2 tsp, Black Salt 1 tsp, and Rock Salt 1/2 tsp

Procedure: Wash tomatoes and chop them into small pieces. Wash and peel carrot, grate it. Finely chop tulsi leaves. Mix tomatoes, carrot, tulsi leaves, black pepper, black salt and rock salt. Stir it well and serve it. One can add 1/2 tsp lemon juice if required.

AMLA SUBJI

Ingredients: Amla (Indian Gooseberry) 250 g, Ginger 5 g, Coriander seeds 1/4 tsp, Onion seeds (Kalounji) 1 tsp, Fennel seeds(Saunf) 1/2 tsp, Rock salt 1/2 tsp or as per taste, and Oil 1 tsp

Procedure: Cut into pieces, mix salt and steam it, grate ginger into thin slices. Heat oil add coriander seeds, onion seeds, fennel seeds and ginger. Add steamed amla stir it well turn off the gas and serve it.

With inputs from Art of Living’s Sri Sri Tattva Panchakarma experts.

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