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Dr K K Aggarwal

As doctors, we are witnesses to human suffering. When we were young in medical college, we were quite disturbed seeing the sufferings of the people. But, in our practice, we have learnt many spiritual prescriptions from our patients. These have not only helped us to heal our patients but also changed our perception to health and sickness.

I recall, Swami Bodhanand, a disciple of Swami Chinmayananda, was once hospitalized under our care. When I asked him to give me a spiritual message, he said only two words “Detached Attachment”. He said, “As a doctor you should behave like a lotus leaf. It is wet as long as there is a drop of water on it, but once the drop is out, the leaf is as dry as if the water was never there.” The message was that “we should be attached to our patients as long as they are with us. The day they die, we should be completely detached from them or else we will not be able to treat other patients”.

I saw another spiritual guru through our Chief Anesthetist. The fee he paid me was a spiritual message “Suno Samjho Jano Karo – Hear Understand Wisdom and Do”. He said that hearing is different from listening, listening is different from wisdom and wisdom is different from doing. Unless you hear, understand what you have heard and implement, the learning has no value. One of my Buddhist patients gave me a spiritual learning, which has helped me a lot in my routine clinical practice. He taught me the basic Buddhist message that there is suffering all over, there is a reason for every suffering and it is possible to maintain sufferings. This message fits into the main message of Hinduism and also the main teaching from Garud Purana.

In Hinduism, we know that the very fact that we are born in this life means that in our last life, we could not get liberation, as Hinduism believes that after liberation you are not reborn. Not getting liberated in the last birth means that some sufferings were left in our life. The basic purpose of this birth, therefore, is to face sufferings. When the basic purpose of our birth is to face sufferings, then why suffer from these sufferings. Every time we suffer, we should thank God that he has reduced one more. The period in between two sufferings is called a happy period (Sukh). In fact that period is nothing but a period of rest given by God to us to prepare the body for next suffering. This, as a concept of counseling, helps my patients in managing most of their mental disturbances.

Not telling a patient that he is suffering from terminal cancer sometimes works. One of my patient’s father aged 83 years was found to have extensive cancer of the prostate. Medically, we all gave him three months to live. My patient did not have the courage to tell his father or the family members that he (the father) had extensive cancer. He took me into confidence and played a game with the family. We gathered all the family members and told them that with surgery, his cancer had been cured. A party was organized in the evening to celebrate the cure. The magic happened; he lived almost a symptom-free life for the next 9 years. I have tried this on many of my patients thereafter and it works. The probable explanation was loss of fear of death, a confidence in his doctor and faith in himself.

The way to live up to the age of hundred is to go on working in life. My great grand-father-in-law was 75 years old, when I got married. That year, he gathered all family members from across the world and said that his purpose of life was over and he would like a collective family photograph and like to quit the world. Nothing happened for a year and he did this again next year. The entire family from across the world gathered but he remained alive for another year. This went on for three years. Then, we played a spiritual trick on him and told everyone to convince him that he is going to live for 100 years as he has many more works of the family to be done. Every year, we gave him law students from within the family to be taught (he was a lawyer himself), or gave him the responsibility of finding a boy for some eligible girl in the family. We made him teach and search for suitable bride/bridegrooms for years together and he actually died at the age of 100 years. This is the beauty of positive attitude in life.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Smile is a sign of joy, while hug is a sign of love. Laughter, on the other hand, is a sign of inner happiness.

None of them are at the level of mind or intellect. All come from within the heart. They are only the gradations of your expressions of your happiness.

It is said that you are incomplete in your dress if you are not wearing a smile on your face.

Hug comes next and laughter the last. Laughter is like an internal jogging and has benefits like that of doing meditation.

But be careful; we must know when not to laugh. The most difficult is to laugh on oneself.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

  • Suno, Samjho, Jaano and Karo is the mantra for education and involves not only hearing but listening and understanding and then converting the understanding into wisdom and practically putting it into practice.
  • One of the components of education is etiquettes or manners, which can be at every level of education. In olden days, Rajkumars were sent to Gurukuls for formal education including that of warriorship. They were also sent to Gharanas/Kothas to learn tehzeeb the Lucknawi way where they were taught how to talk to each other and respect others. Their language in typically Lucknawi style used to be ‘we’ oriented and not ‘I’ oriented. Today’s education is more oriented towards ‘I-ness’ or ego and not towards the soul or respect.
  • As students, we were taught that a senior is a senior and needs to be respected. Even today, when we meet our teachers, we take blessings from them by touching their feet, but today’s students believe in shaking hands or saying ‘hi’. There is more and more commercial touch in the teacher-student relationship of today.
  • Ego makes one rude and arrogant with a mentality full of Rajas and Tamas. Road rage, gang rapes, murders, violence, terrorism are all examples of not learning etiquettes at the right time.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

To stay healthy, we must eat right, engage in exercise, get rest, and get rid bad habits, such as smoking. But now it is said that “what you believe in” can have a huge impact on health and longevity. Studies show that patients with strong spirituality can improve their health from several chronic conditions, such as hypertension, heart disease, recover from surgery.

Evidence suggests that there are substantial health benefits from spirituality:

  1. People with religious beliefs or spirituality have lower cortisol responses, a hormone released in response to stress.
  2. Positive thinking produces nearly a 30% drop in perception of pain.
  3. Spirituality is linked with a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Those who attend religious activities may live longer. Regular participation in such activities tends to reduce the mortality rate by about 12% a year.
  5. People undergoing cardiac rehabilitation are more confident and see greater improvements in their physical abilities if they have faith.
  6. Increased levels of spirituality may help substance abusers get rid of their habit.
  7. Spirituality stimulates the relaxation response. When the body is relaxed, the heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate decrease, thus diminishing the body’s stress response.
  8. Spirituality can affect immune system function.
  9. Prayer heals the heart.
  10. Positive talking and thinking in the ICU yields better results.

Spirituality brings you peace and safety. It can be achieved through God or Goddess, nature, a beautiful sunset, a meditation, Pranayama, religious meeting, chanting, mind body relaxation, etc. Spirituality is something that can promote wellness and help with recovery.

What a person believes in may have an impact on health and longevity. Spirituality and religion appear to have a positive link with well-being and better health outcomes.

Spirituality and the practice of religion have been linked with a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Positive thinking is associated with about a 30% reduction in pain perception. People who regularly attend organized religious activities may live longer compared to those who do not participate in such activities. Regular participation in such activities reduces mortality rate by about 12% a year. Satsang is a way of acquiring spiritual well-being. Scientific evidence suggests that when meditation or chanting is done in groups, it has more benefits than when done alone.

Spirituality affects immune function, which can be measured, such as an increase in white blood cells.

Patients who undergo cardiac rehabilitation feel more confident and perceive greater improvements in their physical abilities if they have a strong faith. Increased levels of spirituality and religious faith may help substance abusers get rid of the habit.

Spirituality stimulates the relaxation response. It moves one from sympathetic to parasympathetic mode, which is the relaxed state. It heals and allows one to make better and correct, consciousness-based choices. People who are very religious or deeply spiritual have lower cortisol responses. Cortisol is released in response to stress. When the body is relaxed, the heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate all come down, which decrease the body’s stress response. This is also why most of our temples are located in distant places. The silence of the spiritual atmosphere reduces the internal noise and helps us in our inner journey.

Mantra to acquire spiritual health – think positive and differently. While it is very difficult to remove negative thoughts, it is easy to cultivate positive thoughts. Persistent negative thoughts create sympathetic over activity and lead to lifestyle disorders.

Spirituality brings you peace and safety. It can be achieved through God/Goddess, nature, a sunset, meditation, Pranayama, religious meeting, chanting, mind body relaxation, etc. Spirituality can help all the way from promoting wellness to helping with recovery.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Collective Consciousness

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Consciousness refers to an energized field of information which has powers to do everything in the universe. Collective consciousness represents the internet of the collective souls of many people in a group.

Collective consciousness is the strongest super power ever available in the universe. As per the Vedic texts, whatever is the intent of collective consciousness will become a reality. Scientifically, collective consciousness is driven by the principle of critical mass. Vedic literature has shown it to be 1% of the population under study.

The origin of the critical mass comes from 100th monkey phenomenon. Long ago, in Japan, a monkey named Emo used to eat dirty apples picked up from the ground every day. One day, an apple accidentally fell down in the nearby river, the dirt got washed off and he ate the washed apple. It tasted delicious. He started washing the apples thereafter every day. His fellow monkeys started following what he did. The process went on and a day came when the 100th monkey washed the apple and ate it. A strange phenomenon occurred. All monkeys in and around that area started washing the apple before eating. The no. 100 was the critical mass.

Once this mass is crossed, the information will spread like a wild fire and the intent becomes a universal reality. Vedic literature suggests that if 1% of the people of an area meditate together, the crime rate of that area declines. It also discusses the role of critical mass in prayers in achieving miracles.

Thus, the principle of critical mass is often used in designing and organizing an event. In a movie hall of 1000 people, if 10 people clap sitting in different areas everybody will clap. The same holds true for hooting at a particular scene. Most politicians make use of this principle while organizing election rallies. For a gathering of 10000 they need 100 and for a gathering of 1000 people they only need 10 supporters who are supposed to sit in different areas and shout or clap on given directions. The Mexican way of hooting or clapping in cricket grounds also follows the same principle. For a ground like Eden Gardens with a capacity of 75,000 people, only 750 people are required to control the mood of the people. Most successful leaders used this technology to lead.

Why do we burn camphor in any pooja?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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No aarti is performed without camphor. Camphor burns itself out completely, when lit, without leaving a trace.

Camphor represents our inherent tendencies or vasanas. When lit by the fire of knowledge about the self, the vasanas burn themselves out completely, not leaving a trace of ego.

Ego is responsible for a sense of individuality that keeps us separate from the Lord or consciousness.

In addition, camphor, on burning, emits a pleasant perfume. This signifies that as we burn our ego, we can only spread love and nothing else.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Desire, Hatred and Ignorance

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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According to Buddhism, the three negative emotions that cause disease are ignorance, hatred and desire,and accordingly, physical sickness is classified into three main types:

  • Disorders of desire (Ayurvedic equivalent of Vata imbalance): These are due to disharmony of the wind or energy. The seed of these disorders is located in the lower part of the body. It has cold preferences and is affected by mental desires. The person suffers from the disorders of movement functions.
  • Disorders of hatred (Ayurveda equivalent of Pitta imbalance): It is due to disharmony of the bile. The seed of these disorders is centered in the middle and upper part of the body and is caused by the mental emotion of hatred. The person suffers from metabolic and digestive abnormalities.
  • Disorders of ignorance (Ayurveda equivalent of Kapha imbalance): It is due to the disharmony of phlegm, which is generally centered in the chest or in the head and the disorder is cold in nature. It is caused by the mental emotion of ignorance. Desire, hatred and ignorance are the main negativities mentioned in Buddha’s philosophy. They are all produced in the mind, and once produced, they act like slow poison. The Udanavarga once said, “From iron appears rust, and rust eats the iron”. Likewise, the careless actions (karma) that we perform lead us to hellish lives.

According to other scriptures, six afflictions are most troublesome, which include ignorance, hatred, desire, miserliness, jealousy and arrogance. Patience is the most potent virtue a person can acquire. According to the Shanti Deva, “There is no evil like hatred, and there is no fortitude like patience. Therefore, dedicate your life to the practice of patience.”

Bhagavad Gita classifiesthe enemies as Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha and Ahankara; and out of these, Kama, Lobha and Ahankara, are the three gateways to hell.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Why do we light a lamp during pooja?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Prayer

|| Deepajyothi parabrahma

Deepa Jyotir Janaardanah

Deepo harati paapaani

Sandhyaa deepa namostute ||

“I prostrate to the dawn/dusk lamp; whose light is the Knowledge Principle (the Supreme Lord), which removes the darkness of ignorance and by which all can be achieved in life.”

Light symbolizes knowledge, and darkness, ignorance. Knowledge removes ignorance just as light removes darkness. The purpose of any ritual is to remove internal darkness and attain knowledge.

Vedic scriptures recommend daily lighting of the lamp as a part of pooja. Some do it once at dawn, others twice a day – at dawn and dusk – and some keep a lamp that is always lit (akhanda deepa). No auspicious function can commence without the lighting of a lamp.

Knowledge is the everlasting inner wealth by which all outer achievement can be accomplished. By lighting the lamp, we bow to knowledge as the greatest of all forms of wealth. Knowledge about the self is the greatest wealth. It goes around achieving inner happiness by burning the negativity of a mind that is full of lust and ego.

The traditional oil lamp defines this spiritual significance. The oil or ghee symbolizes our vaasanas (lust, negative tendencies) and the wick represents the ego. When lit by spiritual knowledge, the vaasanas get slowly exhausted and the ego finally disappears. The flame of a lamp always burns upwards signifying that only that knowledge should be acquired, which takes us towards higher ideals.

Confession

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Confession is one of the many ways of detoxifying the mind. It has its roots in Hindu mythology but today it is mainly practiced in Christianity. Christians usually go to a Church and confesses to the Bishop without disclosing their identity.

In Hindu mythology, confession is a routine spiritual practice. People can confess to their Guru, to their God in the temple or their mentor. One can also confess to a plant (Peepal tree), an animal (dog or a cat) or birds. It is a common saying that taking a dip in Yamuna or Ganga removes all your sins. The dip in water involves a ritual of confessing guilt every time we take a dip.

Giving food to birds is also a form of confession; with each offering, one does a confession. The easiest way to confess is 3 minutes of free writing, which can be done every night. One can tear off the paper afterwards. This involves writing from the heart and not giving time to the mind to think.

People can also confess and de-stress their emotions by writing in a diary or making a folder in the computer and writing.

However, the best confession is to meditate, which is equivalent to reformatting the hard disk and removing viruses and corrupt files from our body computer. Meditating with intent to get rid of guilt washes them over a period of time.

Confession involves the process of forgiving and forgetting. Forgiving is at the level of mind and forgetting is at the level of heart.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Understanding exact speech

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Upanishads, Yogasutras of Patanjali and teachings of Gautam Buddha, all talk about “the right speech”. As per Gautam Buddha, the right speech has three components:

  • It should be based on truthfulness.
  • It should be necessary.
  • It should be kind.

Truthfulness takes the top ranking. For example, when a patient asks a doctor, “Am I going to die in the next few weeks or will I survive longer?” The truth may be that he is serious enough and may not survive but it is not necessary to speak the truth and also it is not kind. Therefore, that truth should not be spoken.

Lord Krishna in Mahabharata explained when not to speak the truth and when to speak a lie. The truth which is going to harm the society may not be spoken and a lie which can save the life of a person without harming others may be spoken.

  • A truth which is necessary and kind may be spoken.
  • A truth which is not necessary but kind may not be spoken.
  • A truth which is necessary but not kind may not be spoken.
  • A truth which is neither necessary and nor kind may not be spoken.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

What is the importance of silence?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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True silence is the silence between the thoughts and represents the true self, consciousness or the soul. It is a web of energized information ready to take all, provided there is a right intent. Meditation is the process of achieving silence. Observing silence is another way of deriving benefits of meditation. Many yogis in the past have recommended and observed silence now and then. Mahatma Gandhi used to spend one day in silence every week. He believed that abstaining from speaking brought him inner peace and happiness. On all such days, he communicated with others only by writing on paper.

Hindu principles also talk about a correlation between mauna (silence) and shanti (harmony). Mauna Ekadashi is a ritual followed traditionally in our country. On this day, the person is not supposed to speak at all and observes complete silence all through the day and night. It gives immense peace to the mind and strength to the body. In Jainism, this ritual has a lot of importance. Nimith was a great saint in Jainism who long ago asked all Jains to observe this vrata. Some people recommend that on every Ekadashi, one should observe silence for a few hours, if not the whole day.

In his book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Deepak Chopra talks in great detail about the importance of observing silence in day-to-day life. He recommends that everyone should observe silence for 20 minutes every day. Silence helps to redirect our imagination towards self. Even Swami Sivananda, in his teachings, recommends observation of mauna daily for 2 hours. Take milk and fruits every day, study one chapter of Bhagwad Gita daily, do regular charity and donate one-tenth of your income in the welfare of the society. Ekadashi is the 11th day of Hindu lunar fortnight. It is the day of celebration, occurring twice a month, meant for meditation and increasing soul consciousness.

Vinoba Bhave was a great sage of our country known for his Bhoodaan movement. He was a great advocator and practical preacher of mauna vrata.

Mauna means silence and vrata means vow; hence, mauna vrata means a vow of silence. Mauna was practiced by saints to end enmity and recoup their enmity. Prolonged silence observed by the rishi munis involved prolonged periods of silence. Silence is a source of all that exists. Silence is where consciousness dwells. There is no religious tradition that does not talk about silence. It breaks the outward communication and forces a dialogue towards inner communication. This is one reason why all prayers, meditation and worship or any other practice whether we attune our mind to the spiritual consciousness within are done in silence.  After the death of a person, it is a practice to observe silence for two minutes. The immediate benefit is that it saves a tremendous amount of energy.

Silence is cessation of both sensory and mental activity. It is like having a still mind and listening to the inner mind. Behind this screen of our internal dialogue is the silence of spirit. Meditation is the combination of observing silence and the art of observation.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Understanding exact speech

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Upanishads, Yogasutras of Patanjali and teachings of Gautam Buddha, all talk about “the right speech”. As per Gautam Buddha, the right speech has three components:

  • It should be based on truthfulness.
  • It should be necessary.
  • It should be kind.

Truthfulness takes the top ranking. For example, when a patient asks a doctor, “Am I going to die in the next few weeks or will I survive longer?” The truth may be that he is serious enough and may not survive but it is not necessary to speak the truth and also it is not kind. Therefore, that truth should not be spoken.

Lord Krishna in Mahabharata explained when not to speak the truth and when to speak a lie. The truth which is going to harm the society may not be spoken and a lie which can save the life of a person without harming others may be spoken.

  • A truth which is necessary and kind may be spoken.
  • A truth which is not necessary but kind may not be spoken.
  • A truth which is necessary but not kind may not be spoken.
  • A truth which is neither necessary and nor kind may not be spoken.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Facts about Soul and the Spirit

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Energy is the raw material of the universe.
  • Information is the organization of energy into reproducible patterns.
  • Consciousness is living information and energy (living energized information)
  • Consciousness is, therefore, intelligence.
  • Intelligence is information and energy that has self-referral or the ability to learn through experiences and the ability to reinterpret and influence one’s own information and energy states.
  • Consciousness is live, advanced, software–driven energized information.

An example: Advanced computer software which can type, correct, interpret, edit and store spoken or read information.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Why do we Offer Food to God in Every Pooja?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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We follow a ritual of offering ‘bhog’ to the deity we worship. The ritual also involves sprinkling water all around the place where we sit down to eat food. Many people have advocated that the sprinkling of water is related to preventing ants and insects from approaching the food. But in spiritual language, there is a deeper meaning of these rituals.

Bhagwad Gita and Yoga Shastras categorize food into three types corresponding to their properties termed as gunas. Depending upon satoguna, rajoguna and tamoguna, the food items are categorized as satwik, rajsik or tamsik. 

Satwik food gives calmness, purity and promotes longevity, health, intelligence, strength, happiness and delight. Satwik food items include fruits, vegetables, leaves, grains, cereals, milk, honey, etc. These items can be consumed as they are. One can also live on satwik food for life.

Rajsik food yields attributes of negativity, passion and restlessness. Hot, spicy and salty food items with pungent, sour and salt taste promote rajas qualities.

Tamsik food has attributes of inducing sleep, ignorance, dullness and inertia. The examples of tamsik food are meat, onions, garlic, leftover food, etc.

Only satwik food can be offered to God. The only persons who were offered tamsik and rajsik food in Ramayana are Ahi Ravana and Kumbhkaran. Both had an evil nature. Kumbhkaran signifies tamas and Ahi Ravana, rajas or aggression. Tamsik and rajsik food can be converted into satwik by slow heating, sprouting or keeping them in water overnight. The examples are sprouted wheat and chana (chickpeas), etc.

A mixture of honey, milk, ghee, curd and sugar is called panchamrit and is a routine offering to God. All the five components have satwik properties and their consumption promotes health.

In Ayurveda, there is a saying that any food item, which grows under the ground, is tamsik in nature and one, which comes from the top of the tree or plant is satwik in nature. Satwik food is usually fresh, seasonal and locally grown.

Human beings are made up of body, mind and soul and soul is equated to consciousness or God. Whatever offered to external God if offered to the internal God or consciousness leads to inner happiness. The ritual of offering food to God before eating makes us either eat only satwik food or to include a substantial portion of satwik food in our meals. It helps a person convert his meal into a pure satwik one or at least adding satwik items.

Sprinkling water around the plate is considered an act of purification.

Many people confuse bhog with chadhava or offerings to the deity. While bhog is shared with God, chadhava is the offering of your illness or negative thoughts to the God and you go back with prasada of inner happiness. Many people counter the above argument by saying that alcohol is offered to Bhairon, viewed as a demon God, which means alcohol, is good for health. I personally feel that alcohol is offered to Bhairon not as a bhog but as an offering which means that people who are addicted to alcohol go to Bhairon and give their share of alcohol to him so they can de-addict themselves.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).