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Dr K K Aggarwal

Yanmule sarvatirhaani, Yannagre sarvadevataa, 

Yanmadhye sarvavedaascha,Tulasi taam namaamyaham

“I bow to the Tulsi, At whose base are all the holy places, At whose top reside all the deities and In whose middle are all the Vedas.”

The Tulsi or Sacred Basil is one of the most sacred plants. There is a Sanskrit: “Tulanaa naasti athaiva tulsi” that which is incomparable in its qualities is the tulsi. It is the only pooja samagri which can be washed and reused.

Satyabhama once weighed Lord Krishna against all her legendary wealth. The scales did not balance until a last single tulsi leaf was placed along with the wealth on the scale by Rukmini with devotion. Thus, tulsi played the vital role of demonstrating that even a small object offered with devotion is of greater value than all the wealth in the world.

The Tulsi leaf has great medicinal value and is used to cure various ailments, including the common cold. Tulsi seeds are good for male infertility and increase the viscosity of semen and sperm counts. It has detoxifying properties and is used in fasts including the Satynarayana Katha where a thousand tulsi leaves are added to the water for pooja, and which is consumed later by everybody.

Tulsi also symbolizes Goddess Lakshmi. Those who wish to be righteous and have a happy family life worship the tulsi. Tulsi is ‘married’ to Lord Vishnu with pomp and show like any other wedding. This ‘marriage’ is solemnised because according to a legend, the Lord blessed her to be His consort.  Tulsi is worshipped in the months of Magh and Kartik. Tulsi vivah is observed in the month of Kartik and is the symbolic marriage of Lord Vishnu in the form of a shaligram (sacred stone) and Tulsi. It indicates the importance of  Tulsi for fertility. Tulsi pooja is an important component of any marriage.

(Suggestion: give the English equivalent months for magh and kartik)

Cholesterol tips released

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Blood lipid levels may exhibit mild seasonal variation with a drop in the summer and total cholesterol level peaking in the winter. The variation can be up to 5 mg/dL, said Padma Shri & Dr. BC Roy National Awardee, Dr. KK Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India & National Vice President Elect IMA.

Serum total and HDL-cholesterol can be measured in fasting or non-fasting individuals. There are only small clinically insignificant differences in these values when measured in the fasting or non-fasting state.

The total cholesterol can vary by 4 to 11 percent within an individual due to multiple factors including stress, minor illness and posture. Values may also vary between different laboratories, with data suggesting that a single measurement of serum cholesterol can vary as much as 14 percent. Therefore in an individual with “true” serum cholesterol concentration of 200 mg/dL the range of expected values is 172 to 228 mg/dL.

More than one measurement of total cholesterol should therefore be obtained when treatment considerations demand a precise determination. Measurement of serum HDL-C and triglycerides may demonstrate even greater variability.

A standard serum lipid profile consists of total cholesterol, triglycerides, and HDL-cholesterol. Lipid profile should be performed after 12 to 14 hours of fasting to minimize the influence of postprandial hyperlipidemia. One can use either plasma or serum specimen. The serum cholesterol is approximately 3 percent lower than the plasma value.

Why do We Ring the Bell in a Temple?

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The vibrations of the ringing bell also produce the auspicious primordial sound ‘Om’, thus creating a connection between the deity and the mind. As we start the daily ritualistic worship (pooja), we ring the bell, chanting:

Aagamaarthamtu devaanaam

gamanaarthamtu rakshasaam

Kurve ghantaaravam tatra

devataahvaahna lakshanam

“I ring this bell indicating the invocation of divinity, So that virtuous and noble forces enter (my home and heart); And the demonic and evil forces From within and without, depart.”

Reduce liquids to reduce weight

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When it comes to losing weight, cut down on liquid calories rather than food,.

“Weight loss from liquid calories is greater than loss of calorie intake from solid food, as per Dr. Liwei Chen, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Schoolof Public Healthat the LSU Health Science Center in New Orleans, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Body is able to self-regulate its intake of solid food. If you eat too much solid food at lunch, you’ll tend to eat less at dinner. But the same self-regulation is not in place for what you drink. The body does not adjust to liquid calories, so over time, you gain more weight.

Cutting back on calories from sugary drinks – by only one serving per day – can account for nearly two-and-a-half pounds of lost weight over 18 months.

Beverages are categorized into eight categories

1. Sugar-sweetened beverages (including soft drinks, fruit drinks, fruit punch, or high-calorie beverages sweetened with sugar)

2. Diet drinks such as diet soda and other diet drinks that were artificially sweetened

3.       Milk (including whole milk, 2 percent milk, and 1 percent skim)

4.       100 percent fruit and vegetable juice

5.       Coffee and tea with sugar

6.       Coffee and tea without sugar

7.       Alcoholic beverages

8.       Water with no calories

The best drinks are water, plain soda and tea/coffee with no sugar.

What is the significance of Satvik food?

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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. The sprinkling of water prevents ants and insects from approaching the food, says one school of thought. But in spiritual terms, there is a deeper meaning .

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

Satvik food provides calmness, purity and promotes longevity, intelligence, strength, health, happiness and delight. The examples of satvik food items are fruits, vegetables, leaves, grains, cereals, milk, honey, etc. These items can be consumed as they are. One can live on satvik food for life.

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

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

Only satvik food is offered to God. Rajsik or tamsik food is never offered as Bhog. The only persons who were offered tamsik and rajsik food in Ramayana are Ahi Ravana and Kumbhkaran. Both of them were of an evil nature. Kumbhkaran signified tamas and Ahi Ravana, rajas or aggression. Tamsik and rajsik food can be converted into satvik 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 panchamrut and is a routine offering to God. All the five components have satvik 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 like leaves, flower and fruits are satvik in nature. Satvik 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. If whatever is offered to the external God is also offered to the internal God or consciousness it leads to inner happiness. The ritual, therefore, of offering food to God before eating forces us to either eat only satvik food or to include a substantial portion of satvik food in our meals. It helps a person convert his meal into a pure satvik one or at least adding satvik 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 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.

Physical illness can trigger depression

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If you have depression, a thorough physical exam and careful medical history should be undertaken to pinpoint a physical source of the problem for an appropriate treatment.

In depression, not only look for what’s going on in the mind and brain but also check what’s going on in the body. Many medical problems are linked to mood disturbances.

More than 50% of heart attack survivors and those with cancer report feeling depressed. Depression is also linked to diabetes, Parkinson’s and other chronic conditions.

Depression too can affect the course of a physical disease. Depression is linked with slower recovery from a heart attack and an increased risk for future heart trouble.

Thyroid disorders also affect mood. Overactive thyroid can cause mania and under active thyroid can cause depression. Other medical conditions associated with mood disorders include certain neurological conditions (multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s), other hormonal imbalances, and lack of vitamin B12.

A high-salt diet may increase the risk of developing gastric and duodenal ulcers. High concentrations of salt in the stomach can induce gene activity in the ulcer-causing Helicobacter pylori bacterium that causes it to become more virulent.  Bacterial cells exposed to increased salt exhibit striking morphological changes. Cells become elongated and form long chains. Salt restriction also reduces the diastolic blood pressure by 2-8 mmHg.

A WHO report said that reducing salt intake would be a cost-effective way to reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure directly and reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke indirectly. The report recommends people to reduce consumption of sodium to less than 2 gm per day for each person. Common salt is chemically called Sodium Chloride (NaCl). About 2.5 gm of table salt contains one gm of Sodium. This would mean that about 5 gm of table salt is the current recommended level of consumption per day.

According to a report published from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in the year 2000, the average intake of salt inIndiais 10 gm per day for each person. This would amount to about 4 gm of sodium. The current recommendations suggest reducing this consumption by half.

A recent research study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School and published in the British Medical Journal, found that reducing salt intake by 25% reduced the risk of developing heart disease by 25% and reduced the chance of death from heart disease by 20%.

In 2002, the WHO estimated that globally about 62% of strokes and about 50% of heart attacks were attributable to high blood pressure.

Adding a pinch of salt to milk to keep it fresh longer is a common Internet tip for the population but traditional Ayurveda teaching goes against it. As per Charaka Samhita, too much of  pipalli, alkali and salt are bad for the health. Ayurveda totally prohibits taking salt with the milk.

What is the significance of the Swastika (Sathiyo)?

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During a marriage ceremony, the swastika is painted on the wall or entrance of the house to wish for the well-being and happiness of the newly weds. The word swastika means auspicious in the Sanskrit language. It is regarded as a divine sign by Hindus and is usually found in temples, symbolizing the four directions, thus making it a universal symbol. It sends out pure vibrations for universal peace and prosperity.

The lines turning inwards tell us that each individual being a part of the Universe has to turn inwards in order to attain salvation. Each person has to strive for his or her self-realization by turning inwards.

Never tell a patient that you are suspecting a diagnosis of cancer

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Informed consent and a premature communication can be dangerous. Communicate the diagnosis only after it is confirmed that too if it is necessary, said Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal President Heart Care Foundation ofIndia and National President-Elect IMA.

Suspicions of a cancer or any serious illness should not be communicated unless it is confirmed as it can cause more harm and the harms can persist for years, added Dr S Arulrhaj Past President Commonwealth Medical Association.

A prospective cohort study reveals that negative psychological consequences of false-positive findings on screening mammography may persist for at least 3 years after the initial diagnosis. Women with false-positive findings had similar psychosocial outcomes to those diagnosed with breast cancer at 6 months in the study. At 6 months, psychological testing showed that women who received false-positive results remained as upset as women who had breast cancer.

Three years after the false mammography results, women still exhibited greater psychosocial consequences compared with women who had normal mammograms Dr John Brodersen and Dr Volkert Dirk Siersma, PhD, of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark wrote in an article published in Annals of Family Medicine.

The reported frequency of false-positive mammography results ranges from 20% to 60% in the U.S.and Europe, said Dr Anita Kant Senior Gynecologist at Faridabad.

Lathmar Holi

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Lathmar Holi is celebrated in Barsana, the birth place of Radha. This year it was celebrated on March 24, 2013.

As the name suggests, in this Holi the girls hit the boys with sticks. As per mythology, Lord Krishna visited his beloved Radha’s village on this day and playfully teased her and her friends. Taking offence at this, the women of Barsana chased him away. Since then, men from Krishna’s village, Nandgaon, visit Barsana to play Holi in the town which has the distinction of having the only temple dedicated to Radha in India. The Holi is unique as women chase men away with the sticks. The men also sing provocative songs in a bid to invite attention of the women and women then go offensive with Lathies to beat men who protect themselves with shields.

Only mythological answer I can think of Lathmar Holi is that this holi represents cleaning of the mind towards physical attraction to the women and lust. The five vices are Kaama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha and Ahankar. Moh or attachment and lust need to be removed before Holi is celebrated. The burning of Holika means burning of sum total of all the five vices. During this festival, one tries to get rid of sexual lust. Other dedicated festivals where one tries to get rid of sexual lust are:

1. Worship of Nandi which means you cannot enter a temple with sexual desires and you keep your Nandi or bull nature outside the temple before you enter. Nandi is always worshiped outside the Shiva Temple.
2. During meditation, you need to take away your sexual desires first. In journey to Amarnath, Nandi was left first by Lord Shiva and Parvati.
3. Raksha Bandhan, Bhaiya Dooj and Krishna Balram Subhadra Yatra during Jagannath Puri Yatra are all festivals where sexual lust towards women are neutralized.

If the law is clear that under Section 25 (1 A) of the arms act that after the possession of arms without license, there is a minimum punishment of five year imprisonment, then why a long trial. As I understand the role of a judge is to look for the mitigating circumstances at the time of crime.

The Supreme Court judges did use their discretion while giving the verdict by reducing the sentence of Sanjay Dutt from 6 to 5 years. Making this less than five years was not under the powers of Supreme Court of India.

“Section 25 (1 A) of the Arms Act states that if a person has in his possession a prohibited weapon without a licence, he shall be awarded punishment of not less than 5 years imprisonment and not more than 10 years”.

This mean the judges were convinced that the circumstances were not that he could be labeled as a criminal mentally, or a terrorist or had a link with them. In that case they could have given a sentence of not less than ten years. The very face the court reduced the sentence from 6 to 5 years means the court took a positive and lenient stand in his favor.

Only the President of India or the Governor can grant a pardon.

Article 161 in the constitution ofIndia1949 defines the power of Governor to grant pardons, etc, and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases.  The Governor of a State shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends.

Public is also supreme. The Public elects the government and government elects governors and the President of India. Both the governor and the President of India normally respect the sentiments of the people.

It is easy to say that the law should be equal and everybody should be punished but there are always grounds for a mercy. All of us make mistakes and seek pardon.

Even Bill Clinton was pardoned by the American society. Hanumana was also pardoned by Ravana when he went to Lanka as an envoy of Lord Rama.  He was not killed.

Nanavati was pardoned by the government when he was facing murder charges. Harbhajan Singh was pardoned by the society when he spoke in an abusive manner about Symonds, which was mistaken by the Australian as racial remark and under the cover of racial discrimination remark; his abuse to Symonds was totally forgotten by the community. The society forgave Phoolan Devi and elected her to the Parliament. In our day to day life, we always pardon our children when they use filthy abusive language, tease girls or other such actions.

I personally feel that everybody who wants to change and can show that he has changed should be given a special consideration and under the Constitution, if the case can be filed convincingly before the President of India or the Governor of the State, he or she should be pardoned.

Sanjay Dutt has already been in the jail for over 18 months and now considering that he has totally reformed, one should take it positively. He may be given a suspended sentence under which he may be allowed to live a free life, provided he does not break the Law of the Land for next 3 ½ years for which he is being sentenced. In case he breaks any Law during this period he may be liable to go to prison for the law that he breaks + 3 ½ years.

There are two types of suspended sentences. A judge may unconditionally discharge the defendant of all obligations and restraints. An unconditionally suspended sentence ends the court system’s involvement in the matter, and the defendant has no penalty.

 A Munich court recently handed an 18-month suspended sentence and a 200,000 Euro fine to former ForceIndiadriver Adrian Sutil after he was found guilty of injuring the chief executive of the then Renault Formula One team at a night club inChinalast year.

The purpose of giving punishment is to reform a person and as we all know Sanjay Dutt is already a reformed person so the very purpose of the punishment is defeated if he not pardoned.

This is my personal opinion and Vedic philosophy clearly talks that every personal opinion needs to be respected. Only if my opinion is agreed by 51% of my friends it will be called as a public opinion and 49% may still differ.

Physical illness can trigger depression

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If you have depression a thorough physical exam and careful medical history should be evaluated to pinpoint a physical source of the problem for an appropriate treatment.

In depression not only look for what’s going on in the mind and brain but also check what’s going on in the body. Many medical problems are linked to mood disturbances.

Over fifty percent of heart attack survivors and those with cancer report feeling depressed. Depression is also linked to diabetes, Parkinson’s and other chronic conditions.

Depression too can affect the course of a physical disease. Depression is linked with slower recovery from a heart attack and an increased risk for future heart trouble.

Thyroid disorders also affect mood.  Overactive thyroid can cause mania and under active thyroid can cause depression. Other medical conditions associated with mood disorders include certain neurological conditions (multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s), other hormonal imbalances, and lack of vitamin B12.

Holi beyond Colors

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The story behind the festival, Holi, starts with Holika, the sister of Hirnakashyap the father of Prahalad.

Hirnakashyap had declared himself as GOD and wanted his son Prahalad to worship him and not Vishnu. When Prahalad refused to do the same, he was made to sit with Holika in an open fire. Holika had a boon that she could not be burned even if she was on live fire. When she was made to sit with Prahalad on the live fire, the opposite happened. She lost her life and got burned but Prahalad came out alive from the fire.

The above story has a deep spiritual meaning. Hirnakashyap here represents “EGO” which when takes control; one forgets about his own consciousness and thinks that he is the supreme power. The same symbolic representation is seen with Ravana in Ramayana and Kansa in Mahabharata.

Prahalad here represents a person with self realization or the son of God or one’s consciousness or one’s true self. The consciousness cannot be burned, cut, dried or made wet by anything. It is imperishable and everlasting.

All those people who have acquired self realization utilizing any of the pathway (Bhakti, Karma and Gnana ) are in a state of GOD acquaintance and nothing can destroy them.

The obstacles to the pathway of self realization are mentioned as “attachment, anger, desire, greed and ego”. When all these negative factors overpower any individual, it leads one away from self realization or away from God. Holika here represents the sum total of the negative forces in the body which can kill you if not controlled in time.

Getting attached to any of the 5 senses can end in a vicious cycle and one can get burnt in this ‘chakarvyuha’ of attachments. If you are truthful, and have attained a state of one-point contemplation on a known truth, all the negative forces will stay away. All such negative forces if repressed within the body can burn you out over a period of time and that is one of the reasons why all negative emotions should never be suppressed or repressed.

The practice of burning Holi a day before the festival symbolizes burning all your negative thoughts or emotions embedded in the mind and neutralize all the poison arising due to the negative feelings. As soon as the negativity is removed from the mind there is opening of the spiritual vision or the knowledge of the consciousness. Once this is done, only the positive thoughts remain, which is celebrated as sharing and loving each other, the next day.

Sharing love is the biggest thing one can do in removing all the above mentioned

5 obstacles to self-realization. Spreading love reduces anger as well as desires, detaches one from various attachments, reduces greed, and brings humility in a person. By burning ones ego and other negative qualities, one also burns the ill feeling amongst each other and makes everybody a friend.

During Holi, the practice therefore, is to visit and meet not only your friends but also those people to whom you are not friendly. The festival therefore, is an opportunity to spread brotherhood and happiness in the society.

WHO defines health as not mere absence of disease but a state of physical, mental, spiritual, social and environmental wellbeing. Holi, therefore, is a classical example or a custom to create “social healthiness” amongst the general society.

The habit of throwing water on each other also has a deep spiritual meaning. It basically means removing dirt from each other. Dirt here does not means bodily dirt but mental dirt which once removed leads to spiritual cleanliness.

The whole meaning is not to play Holi superficially or meet each other at a superficial level but to get rid of the negativity at the level of the mind as well. There is no point in celebrating Holi and meeting people unless you remove your negative thoughts about them from the mind.

When you lovingly smear ‘gulal’ (coloured powder) on others, they reciprocate with doubled love and affection. Similarly, always think of good things about people. Express your positive thoughts about these friends loudly – not only in front of them but also in their absence. Don’t you think your heart will throb with pleasure when they reciprocate?

Play safe this Holi: Balloons may be Harmful

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Water balloons used by children during Holi can be dangerous and can cause blunt eye injury or even head injury. There can be bleeding in the eyes, lens subluxation, macular edema or retinal detachment. These can lead to loss of vision or even loss of the eye.

Most synthetic colours are harmful to the eyes or skin.  Home-made colours from flowers are always better. Chemical colours may contain heavy metals like lead, which is harmful to the eyes and skin. Other health hazards due to the exposure to heavy metals include skin allergies, dermatitis, drying and chapping of the skin, skin cancer, rhinitis, asthma and pneumonia.

Make your own colours

  • Mix ‘Haldi’ (turmeric) with besan (gram flour) to get yellow colour
  • Soak Tesu flowers overnight or boil them to get saffron or bright orange colour.
  • Soak ‘Beetroot’ pieces in water for magenta colour.

Chemicals that enter the eye may cause mild allergy or even severe chemical burn in the eye. A patient may present with allergic conjunctivitis, chemical burn, corneal abrasion or blunt eye injury. Most colours used during Holi usually cause mild redness and irritation lasting for up to 48 hours. If clarity of vision is affected, it’s an emergency. The particles in colour powders (shining mica particles in ‘gulal’) can cause damage to the cornea. Corneal abrasion is an emergency and one should immediately consult the eye doctor or ophthalmologist.

First aid: Splash your eyes with a lot of tap water, if colour enters the eye. If there is loss of vision or corneal abrasions, rush to the eye doctor.

Science behind complacency

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One should never be complacent as it may end up in a disaster or a failure. It is a common occurrence in the Indian cricket team who after winning a few matches becomes complacent and then starts behaving miserably.

Complacency leads to euphoria with resultant sympathetic over activity which can impair performance and also can cause performance anxiety. The classical tale of rabbit and tortoise explains this phenomenon where a non-complacent tortoise wins the race from the rabbit. Apart from Cricket this is also seen commonly in Indian politics. A team after winning election becomes complacent and instead of working for the welfare of the society, it starts taking public for granted and ends up in disaster later.