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Dr K K Aggarwal

If nature wanted you to drink coconut water in non-coastal areas she would not have grown coconuts in the coastal areas is a common naturopathic saying. Coconut water is the treatment for most humidity-related illness in costal areas. It is sterile water and has been used in surgical practice as a sterile fluid. It is also used as a replacement for oral rehydration solution. Because of its many uses it is regarded as the ‘Tree of Life.’

Coconut is one of the most common offerings in a temple, weddings, festivals, when one acquires a new vehicle or a grahapravesh or the housing warming ceremony etc. It is offered in all sacrificial fires whilst performing homa (fire rituals). The coconut is usually broken and placed before the Lord and is later distributed as prasadam. The fiber covering of the dried coconut is removed except for a tuft on the top.

The marks on the coconut make it look like the head of a human being. Breaking of a coconut symbolizes breaking of the ego. The outer covering represents the body, the juice within, one’s inner tendencies (vasanas) and the white kernel, the mind. One should be as firm as the outer shell of the coconut but the same time as soft like the inner fruit of the coconut.

Also a coconut – Sriphala (the fruit of God), is the only fruit used to symbolize ‘God’ while worshipping any deity. It is used in the making of a Purna-Kumbha, (‘purna’ = full, ‘kumbha’ = pot or kalash) an independent object of worship. The earthen pot full of water and with fresh mango leaves and a coconut on top is placed as the main deity or by the side of the deity before starting any Pooja. The pot symbolizes Mother Earth; water, the life-giver, the leaves, life (air) and the coconut, divine consciousness (space). All religious rituals start with the worship of the kalash with coconut as symbol of Lord Ganesha. The coconut is also worshipped as symbol of the Godhead – the three eyes symbolic of the eyes of Lord Shiva. (Trayambaka – Rudra). Sage Vishwamitra got the first coconut tree grown on this earth by the power of his tapa. Its hard shell inspires one to have tolerance and do hard work for attaining success.

The coconut also symbolizes selfless service. Every part of the tree -the trunk, leaves, fruit, coir etc. are used to make thatches, mats, tasty dishes, oil, soap etc.

Coconut water is used in the preparation of many ayurvedic drugs. Kernel is used to gain strength and improve eyesight. Its water is nourishing. Coconut oil is used to nourish hair. It has glucose, phosphorous and carbohydrates. Germs cannot penetrate its hard kernel. Ancient Indian healers burnt its outer shell to prepare tooth powder, eyebrow creams and ointments for burns. Coconut milk is made by grating the endocarp and mixing it with (warm) water. This produces a thick, white liquid called coconut milk which is used extensively used in Asian cooking, for example, in curries. Coconut water from the unripe coconut, on the other hand, is drunk fresh as a refreshing drink.

Tender coconut water is used in the rituals of abhisheka, since it is believed to bestow spiritual growth on the seeker.

On the auspicious occasion of Rakhi Purnima (Rakshabandhan) the coconuts are thrown into the sea as offerings to Varuna, God of the Sea. In western India, this festival is called Nariyal Purnima (Coconut Full Moon).

The Chhandogya Upanishad by Swami Krishnananda (78) talks about another spiritual comparison of Coconut: “the coconut that is raw sticks to the shell. That is the condition of the bound soul. Consciousness sticks to the shell of this body. But in the case of the liberated soul, it is inside the body, no doubt, but is not sticking to the body, even as the dry coconut is not touching the shell. It makes a sound inside if we shake it. It is detached from the shell, though it is there tentatively. Even so, consciousness is not confined to the body, even though it is inside.”

In the Chidakasha Gita, by Paramahansa Nityananda, coconut tree is described as a state of meditation: “At another time all feeling comes to a standstill. Sometime the body becomes quite motionless like a coconut tree”.

Ganesha’s favorite food is made up of a sweet core of candied coconut pulp covered with a layer made of white flour. The insipid outer shell is said to represent the gross physical body, the sweet inside stands for the resplendent soul.

When the asuras and devas churned the milky ocean, Lord Dhanwantri appeared bearing the pot of nectar, which blessed one with everlasting life. Thus, the kalasha also symbolizes immortality.

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Carambola, star fruit or Kamarakh is the fruit grown in many parts of India and is eaten by many as it  lowers cholesterol ; ward off winter colds and flu because of its high vitamin C content, reduces obesity as it is high in fiber and cures anemia as it is also high in iron.

But it should not be taken by kidney stone patients as it is in high oxalic acid. Also like the grapefruit, it is a potent inhibitor of seven cytochrome P450 isoforms enzymes which are significant in the first-pass elimination of many drugs. The consumption of carambola or its juice in combination with these drugs can significantly increase their effective dosage within the body. The drugs are statins (lowers cholesterol), diazepam (sleeping drug), cyclosporine or tacrolimus (transplant drugs).

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Any wedding is a beginning of new life with new people and new kind of environment. Wedding games are one way of knowing and getting acquainted with each other in the shortest period of time. Many wedding games are played during and immediately after the marriage. The purpose of such games is to break the ice between the couple and their family, friends and relations.

 

1.    Hiding of shoes: When the couple steps in to the mandap for a holy wedding ritual of pheras, they must take off their shoes. It is customary for the family and the friends of the bride, usually the bride’s younger sister who smartly snatches the groom’s shoes and hides them. After the pheras are over, the shoes are given only after demanding a ransom from the groom. The ritual is to build up a harmonious relationship between the groom and the younger family members of the bride.

2.    Fishing of the ring: In this post vidai period game in the groom’s house, the couple is made to sit facing each other with a bowl of milk in front of them. The ring is dropped in the bowl. Newlyweds are asked to find the ring. Whoever gets the ring first is described as winner. The ceremony can also be performed using a pot of water which is churned vigorously so as to make a whirlpool effect once the water swirls in the pot to the point that the ring is hard to spot. This game is also called Aeki Beki.

3.    In some customs, a vessel is filled with water, which is coloured, by putting sindoor and milk in it. After that, a ring and several coins are put into it. The bride and groom are then asked to find the ring. Whoever finds the ring 4 out of 7 times, wins.

4.    Pillow talk: In this post marriage ritual, the married couple is made to sit back to back. A pillow is held between them. Both bride and groom are asked questions about each other. The answers to these questions are given not by speaking but by nodding the head. The pillow talk checks the compatibility between the couple.

5.    Unknotting the knotted strings: The knotted string is a kind of bracelet tied on the hands of both the bride and the groom. The couple tries to unknot the complex knots of the string using one hand. This game of unknotting the knot is played when the couple is brought to their rooms (decorated) to mark the first night. The couple has to open the knot tied on the wrist called ganth inside it with single hand.

6.    Til play: This post marriage game is played with sesame seeds to tell the importance of sesame in married life. Sesame is rich in calcium and indicates the necessity of the bride to consume calcium in her post married life.

7.    Father-in-law, daughter-in-law money game: In this game, father-in-law puts some money into a bag and keeps it in front of the bride and asks her to take as much money in one go.

8.    You touch my heart game: This game is particularly enjoyable for the women from the bride’s side. In this game, several rounds are made with a sari wide enough for a hand to pass through it. It is then held lengthwise and behind it stands women from the bride’s family including the bride. All the women thrust their hands upto the wrist between the holes. The groom standing on the other side can only see an array of hands. He has to select the correct hand of his bride. He is given three chances. If he fails, he has to pay fine.

9.    Where is my heart game?: In this, the married couples present stand back to back in random order in such a way that they cannot see each other.  Each woman has to find its spouse by calling it different name with an enticement such as “Where is my heart?” without addressing him by his name. The husband has to respond accordingly. There is a lot of laughter involved after the wrong selection. Those who find their spouse, leave the games while those who fail continue calling out till they have found their partner.

10.  Going home: This is a game played at the groom’s house when sisters of the groom lock the entrance door as the bride arrives in her husband’s house. They take her to a covered heap pretending it to be their family deity. They ask her to bow her head before entering the house. The bride ever anxious to oblige dutifully bows her head. The room full of women burst out laughing when the cover is taken off to reveal a pile of shoes arranged in a mound.

 

These wedding games help the bride to settle in the new family and surroundings. Most of these games are applicable in arranged marriages where bride and the groom were not permitted to see each other before their marriage. Wedding being a beginning of new life with new people, these games help in building relationship and adjustment and understanding the responsibilities.

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Smaller plaques in the coronary arteries are more dangerous than larger blockages. It is wrong to assume that larger the blockage, greater the chance of getting a heart attack.

The larger blockages often cause symptoms of angina chest pain as the heart does not get enough blood when the patient exerts but this usually does not end up in a heart attack. Heart attack often occurs in an otherwise perfectly healthy individual suddenly and manifests either as massive heart muscle damage or sudden cardiac death. These patients often deny history of angina pain prior to heart attack. The average blockage that causes heart attack is less than 50% obstruction in the coronary artery. Patients with severely blocked arteries (a blockage of more than 70%) often do not end up with a massive attack.

So, if severe narrowing of an artery is not the cause of heart attack than what is it? The answer lies not on the severity of blockage but on the nature of the blockage. Blockage is formed due to a plaque. Plaques are a mixture of cholesterol, fat, fibrous tissue and white blood cells deposited in the walls of the arteries over a period of time. These deposits can vary in consistency and their proneness to rupture.

If the consistency is hard, the plaque is called as stable and if the consistency is soft and the plaque is prone to rupture, it is called as an unstable plaque. An unstable plaque irrespective of the amount of blockage is the one which is responsible for acute heart attack. A stable plaque no matter what amount of blockages it is causing is often not the cause of acute heart attack.

In a stable plaque the slow rate of growth of the blockage allows time for blood flow to develop into new arteries called collateral vessels. These new vessels bypass the blocked artery and bring the necessary blood and oxygen to the heat muscle. In some patients the arteries may become completely blocked and yet the heart muscle supply may remain normal because the collateral vessels have enough time to grow.

In an unstable plaque, with the rupture of the plaque, an acute clot forms, and as there is not enough time for the collaterals to develop the patient develops acute muscle damage or sudden cardiac death.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, active and passive smoking are few of the factors which makes plaques more vulnerable to rupture. Other causes are negative thoughts, deep frying food etc. All these are responsible for generation of free radicals in the body, which makes the cholesterol stickier and makes the plaque vulnerable to rupture.

These plaques which are often small can rupture suddenly and without warning. Typically such patients may have been feeling themselves perfectly healthy, their treadmill may have been negative, and they may have been walking a mile a day for years together without experiencing any chest pain. Until the moment of rupture of the plaque and causation of heart attack these patients might have been absolutely normal.

Even otherwise healthy individuals can develop acute heart attack. The only answer is two-fold either to recognize the underlying risk factors which can be responsible for causation of heart attack and modify them in time or identifying the warning signals of heart attack well in time so that in case of acute heart attack the clot can be dissolved with clot dissolving therapy with reduction of mortality by 30% provided the clot dissolving therapy is started within 3 hours.

The public must know the warning signals of heart attacks and reach the hospital within 3 hours. These are uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the centre of the chest lasting more than a few minutes; pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or to the arms; and chest discomfort with light headedness fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.

Every individual in the coronary age group most have their risk factor evaluation. Risk factors like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes, excessive negative stress and passive or active smoking if present must be modified well in time. The main stray of treatment now-a-days is towards reduction of levels of cholesterol in the blood. Reduction of cholesterol in the blood also reduces levels of cholesterol in the plaque making them more stable.  They highlighted that 1% reduction in the blood leads to 2% reduction in the risk of getting a heart attack.

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In my workshops, whenever I ask the delegates as to how long they want to live. The answer I get from most of them is 60, 70 or 80 years. While answering they forget that they are only talking about the death of the physical body but what about the mental, social, intellectual and spiritual bodies.

It is well known that the soul never dies and so is your Samskars and good work done. The aim of life should be that one should live even after the death of his or her physical body. It is your good Karmas which keep your memories alive even after your physical death.

It is equally true that even your bad Karmas can make you be remembered after death but that is not the purpose of life. We would like to be remembered as Rama and not like Ravana after death.

In Vedic language your present is decided by your past and your future is decided by your present.  To improve your future you need to work positive in your present.

When you start working positive in your present moment, you will start neutralizing your bad karmas. It is like washing a dirty shirt which will not become stain free in one washing. With repeated washings only it can become stain free. Similarly washing your bad karmas with good karmas will take time.

It is possible that when one start good Karmas one may still suffer as the sum total of past karmas may not have got neutralized by that time.

For example if a dacoit surrenders and wants to live a civilian life he may be pardoned to some extent but may still be jailed for a duration of time. In other word he may be pardoned from death sentence and given life sentence.

As per Bhagavad Gita whatever are your thoughts at the time of death will decide the atmosphere you will get in your rebirth.

It also says that whatever will be your thoughts throughout your life will be your thoughts at the time of your death.

So do not expect that you can acquire positive thoughts at the time of death if you have been thinking negative throughout your life

The gist is to start doing good actions in the present.

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Campaign 100: Just compress it

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Gasping, gurgling, moaning or any other noisy breathing increases the chances for survival when someone is suffering sudden cardiac arrest.

Gasping is a sign that there’s still blood flow to the brain, and the person can be saved even though the heart has stopped.

The first aid involves starting compressing the chest, 100 times a minute.

A Phoenix study of 1,218 cases published in Circulation has shown better survival when abnormal breathing, gasping, was noted.

After gasping one may have 4-5 minutes before the breathing stops and these 4-5 minutes are crucial.

Gasping is present in 40% of the cases of sudden cardiac arrest. After timely CPR, as many as 39 percent of the gaspers will survive as compared to 9.4 percent of the non-gaspers. If no CPR is done, 21.1 percent for gaspers and 6.7 percent of non-gaspers survive.

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Hinduism accepts Fire as the symbol of purity and the Deity is called Agni Devta who is worshipped in all Hindu rituals, like havans, yagnas, ahutis, sankalpa, marriage ceremonies (saptpadi or seven pheras around the fire). Fire destroys impurities without it being affected.

In the Kathopanishad, the second boon asked by Nachiketa to Yama was about Agnividya. In the Holy Bible, the authorized King James Version – Exodus 3:2, The Lord took the form of Agni to deliver the 10 Commandments to Moses: “And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto Moses in a flame of Fire out of the midst of bush… and the bush was not consumed.”

Holi celebration is the victory of the Fire (Agni Dev) who destroyed the evil in the form of Holika. In Ramayan, Sita too had to give the proof of her chastity by going through the flames of fire. The three-faced (3 mukhi) Rudraksha also represents Agni Dev (God of Fire).

Shanti agno mrityate i.e. without Agni the person dies is a common Ayurveda saying. Out of the five elements that we are made up of, Agni whether internal or external is the most important. Its deficiency as well as excess even in small quantity is harmful to the body.

Agni plays the utmost role in the evolutionary process. Every object once burnt is reduced to ash. Agni is the fire burning inside the body and if not managed properly can cause the same thing to the body.

Prana, agni and ojas are the three main pillars of the body described in the Ayurveda text. Prana is the essence of vata; agni of pitta and ojas of the kapha dosha.

To worship fire also means to respect the agni and pitta dosha of the body. Any vow taken in front of the fire is considered equivalent to that taken in front of GOD and therefore are considered to be unbreakable.

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In people with type 2 diabetes, intensive drug therapy can significantly lower bad LDL cholesterol and reduce the thickness of the neck carotid arteries supplying oxygen to the brain.

A study published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology has shown that every effort should be made to bring down the bad LDL cholesterol to less than 80mg/dL.

The Stop Atherosclerosis in Native Diabetics Study (SANDS) trial tested the value of aggressively lowering bad LDL cholesterol to 70 mg/dL or lower, and non HDL cholesterol to 100 mg/dL.

The standard treatment group had standard goals (100 mg/dL for LDL and less than 130 mg/dL for non HDL Cholesterol).

The study involved 427 type 2 diabetic Native Americans who were aged 40 or older and who had no history of heart attack or other heart-related event. There were 204 people in the standard treatment group and 223 in the aggressive treatment group. Ultrasound tests showed that neck artery thickness got worse, or progressed, in the standard treatment group and regressed in the aggressive treatment groups.

The test called intima media thickness of the carotids is the only cost-effective test to know whether or not the heart blockages are shrinking or progressing as the thickening in carotids goes hand in hand with the thickening in the heart arteries.

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