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Dr K K Aggarwal

Understanding the Gunas

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The mental state of a person in Vedic language is described in terms of gunas. The present state of mind of any person is a result of mixing of three gunas of nature called tamas, rajas and satoguna. In terms of states of mind, they are called tamas, rajas and satva and the nature of a person is described as tamsik, rajsik and satwik.

Whether it is Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagawad Gita or the text of Ayurveda, all talk about these gunas. The sankhya philosophy also says that a mixture of the three makes the cosmic mind as well as the human mind. Bhagawad Gita talks in great detail about the nature, yagna as well as diet depending upon these gunas.

A satwik diet enhances satoguna in a person and makes him/her with a predominant satwik nature. The same is true for the other two gunas. According to Ayurvedic texts and in Atharvaveda. Any food that comes from the roots or underground part of the tree, is tamsik in nature. Tamsik foods should not be eaten raw. They should either be slow cooked or soaked in water for hours before consumption.

Foods which are from the top part of the tree like coconut, fruits, leaves and flowers are satwik in nature and can be consumed fresh, as they are. Food which comes from the middle part of the tree is often rajsik in nature.

Fresh, soaked, sprouted, natural food are often satwik, while left over foods are tamsik in nature. Most satwik foods are naturally white.

Ramayana also has characters with different nature. Kumbhakaran represents a person with tamsik nature, Meghnad and Ravana with rajsik nature and Vibhishan with satwik nature. One can see that the diet of Kumbhakaran was left over foods, onions, radish, carrots and non vegetarian food, all are tamas producing.

Shastras also teach us about satwik food. In Vedic knowledge, God is represented by the consciousness and whatever is offered to God is the one, which is offered to consciousness and hence all offerings to God are soul healing and soul nurturing food items. Only satwik foods are offered to God as one can live on satwik food forever. Examples are dry fruits, fruits and milk. One cannot live on rajsik or tamsik food hence, they have to be taken in moderation only.

The offerings to God include honey, milk, curd, fruits and vegetables, etc. Panchamrit, offered in Puja, a mixture of milk, curd, ghee, honey and sugar, is a classic example.

Yogashastra also talks about the role of satwik diet in great detail. It says people who eat less are yogis, people who eat in moderation are bhogis and people who eat a lot are rogis. The synonymous are tamsik for rogis, rajsik for bhogis and satwik for yogis.

In terms of proper diet, one should eat dinner lighter than lunch, eat only natural food in the night and follow the principles of moderation and variety.

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

5 steps to lower Alzheimers risk

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Maintain a healthy weight
  2. Check your waistline
  3. Eat mindfully
  4. Exercise regularly
  5. Keep an eye on important health numbers (cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, blood sugar)

(Source: Harvard Healthbeat)

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 spent 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 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. For ekadashi, 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 as the form of silence is observed by the rishi munis involved for 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).

Tips from HCFI to prevent Nipah infection

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Ensure that the food you eat is not contaminated by bats or their feces. Avoid consuming fruits bitten by bats.
  2. Avoid drinking toddy that is brewed in open containers near palm trees.
  3. Avoid contact with anyone who has contracted the disease. Sanitize and wash your hands thoroughly if you happen to visit someone with NiV.
  4. Clothes, utensils and items typically used in the toilet or bathroom, like buckets and mugs, should be cleaned separately and maintained hygienically.
  5. It is important to cover the face while transporting the dead body of anyone who dies after contracting Nipah fever. Refrain from hugging or kissing the dead person and take precautions while bathing the body before cremation or burial.

Facts about Soul and the Spirit

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Energy is the raw material of the universe.
  2. Information is the organization of energy into reproducible patterns.
  3. Consciousness is living information and energy (living energized information)
  4. Consciousness is, therefore, intelligence.
  5. 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.
  6. Consciousness is live, advanced, software–driven energized information.

Closest 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).

PERC rule for pulmonary embolism

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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PERC is a tool that rules out pulmonary embolism (PE) and is an alternate to sensitive D-dimer testing in patients with a low-probability assessment for PE. It is best used in patients who present to the emergency department (ED) with dyspnea or chest pain, in whom the gestalt estimate pre-test probability for PE is less than 15%. It is not meant for risk stratification.

The PERC rule has 8 criteria:

  1. Age <50 years
  2. Heart rate <100 beats/minute
  3. Oxyhemoglobin saturation ≥95%
  4. No hemoptysis
  5. No estrogen use
  6. No prior DVT or PE
  7. No unilateral leg swelling
  8. No surgery/trauma requiring hospitalization within the prior 4 weeks

In patients with a low probability of PE who fulfill all the above 8 criteria, the likelihood of PE is low and no further testing is required.

Fever in children

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Do not ignore fever in children.
  • Fever with cough and cold means viral sore throat.
  • Fever with chills and rigor may be due to malaria.
  • Fever with severe headache and pain behind the eyes may be dengue.
  • If a child has fever with urinary symptoms, the child needs further investigations.
  • Do not ignore fever with jaundice.
  • Do not give aspirin to children for fever.
  • Immediately lower the temperature if the fever is more than 104°F.
  • If fever is associated with altered behavior, then immediately contact the doctor.
  • Tepid water sponging is better than sponging with cold and ice water.
  • In heat stroke, cold water sponging can lower the temperature if anti-fever medication is not working.
  • Do not ignore if body temperature is low.
  • If body temperature is less than 95°F, immediately warm the child using blankets and other measures.
  • Paracetamol is the safest medicine for children in fever.

Why do we not offer Vanaspati Ghee at the time of cremation or worship?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Vanaspati Ghee is never offered to God at the time of Aarti in the Diya or to the dead body at the time of cremation. Only pure ghee is offered. It is considered a bad omen to offer Vanaspati ghee at the time of the cremation ritual even though the consciousness has left the body. What is not offered to God should not be offered to our consciousness and that was the reason for this ritual in a temple. Vanaspati ghee increases bad cholesterol and reduces level of good cholesterol in the blood. On the other hand, pure ghee only increases bad cholesterol but does not reduce the level of good cholesterol. The medical recommendation is that one should not take more than 15 ml of oil, ghee, butter or maximum ½ kg in one month. It is a spiritual crime to offer vanaspati ghee to God.

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

Spiritual Prescriptions – Controlling the Inner Noise

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Yoga Sutras of Patanjali define yoga as restraint of the mental states (Chapter 1.2). In the state of total restraint, the mind is devoid of any external object and is in its true self or the consciousness. To control the mind many Vedic scholars have given their own formulae.

Being in touch with one’s own consciousness requires restraining of the mind, intellect and ego on one hand and the triad of rajas, tamas and satwa on the other hand. Every action leads to a memory, which in turn leads to a desire and with this a vicious cycle starts.

The mental turmoil of thoughts can be equated to the internal noise and the external desires and objects to an external noise.

The process of withdrawing from the external noise with an aim to start a journey inwards the silent field of awareness bypassing the internal noise is called pratihara by Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It involves living in a satwik atmosphere based on the dos and don’ts learnt over a period of time or as told by the scriptures.

To control the inner noise, we either need to neutralize negative thoughts by cultivating opposite thoughts or kill the origin of negative thoughts.

Not allowing thoughts to occur has been one of the strategies mentioned by the scholars. One of them has been neti–neti by Yagnayakya.

The other method is to pass through these inner thoughts and not get disturbed by it and that is what the process of meditation is. This can be equated to a situation where two people are talking in an atmosphere of loud external noise. For proper communication one will have to concentrate on each other’s voice for long till the external noise ceases to disturb. In meditation, one concentrates on the object of concentration to such an extent that the noisy thoughts cease to bother or exist.

One of the ways mentioned by Adi Shankaracharya in Bhaja Govindam and by Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Chapter 2.35) is that whenever one is surrounded by evil or negative thoughts one should think contrary thoughts. For example, if one is feeling greedy, one can think of donating something to somebody. Deepak Chopra in his book Seven Laws of Spiritual Success talks in detail about the importance of giving and sharing. He says you should never visit friends or relations empty handed. You should always carry some gift of nature, which if nothing is available can be a simple smile, compliment or a flower. By repeatedly indulging in positive behavior and thoughts, you can reduce the internal noise, which simplifies the process of meditation or conscious living.

Washing out negative thoughts is another way mentioned by many Vedic scholars. Three minutes writing is one such exercise which anybody can do. Before going to bed, take three minutes to write down all your emotions and then discard the paper. Another exercise is to reward or punish oneself at bed time for the activities done during the day by either patting or slapping yourself.

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

Some tips from HCFI on maintaining a healthy weight

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. The key to weight loss is reducing how many calories you take in.
  2. The concept of energy density can help you satisfy your hunger with fewer calories.
  3. To make your overall diet healthier, eat more plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole-grain carbohydrates.
  4. Make exercise an important part of your daily routine. Start slow and increase the duration as you go along.

The Buddhist Description of a Disease: Desire, Hatred and Ignorance

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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According to the Buddhism, three negative emotions cause a disease and they are “ignorance, hatred and desire”. According to the Buddhism philosophy, physical sicknesses are classified into three main types.

  1. Disorders of the desire (Ayurvedic equivalent Vata Imbalance): These are due to disharmony of the wind or energy. The seed of these disorders are located in the lower part of the body. It has cold preferences and is affected by mental desires. A person suffers from the disorders of movement functions.
  2. Disorders of the hatred (Ayurveda equivalent 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 hatred. In Ayurveda text, it is equivalent to “Pitta” disorder. The person suffers from metabolic and digestive abnormalities.
  3. Disorders of the ignorance (Ayurveda equivalent Kapha imbalance): It is due to the disharmony of phlegm, which is generally centered in the chest or in the head and is cold in nature. It is caused by the mental emotion ignorance.

Desire, hatred and ignorance are the main negativities mentioned in Buddha philosophy. They are all produced in the mind. Once produced, they behave like a 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 the other scriptures, six afflictions are most troublesome, 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 marriage like patience. Therefore, dedicate your life to the practice of patience.”

Bhagavad Gita mentions the enemies as Kama, Krodha, Lobh, Moh and Ahankar and out of these, Kama Lobh and Ahankar as the three gateways to hell.

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

How to answer and make calls on mobile phones

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Say ‘hello’ and not “yes” when calling or answering calls. It’s hard and rude.
  2. Always put the phone gently if you need to put the telephone down during the conversation. Also hang up gently. Never slam the phone. The person at the other end may still be on the phone and sudden bang can be hurtful as well as rude.
  3. Make sure the number is correct so as not to risk disturbing strangers.
  4. Make your call as brief as possible, especially with busy people.
  5. When calling people who do not recognize your voice, introduce yourself.
  6. Time your calls. Do not interfere with the work schedule of others
  7. Make business calls well before the close of the office hours.
  8. After dialing a wrong number, apologize.
  9. When the number you are calling is not answered quickly, wait long enough for someone to put aside what he or she is doing. It is very annoying to have been disturbed just to pick up the telephone and find the caller has hung up.
  10. Never take a personal mobile call during a business meeting.
  11. Never talk in public places
  12. Dont talk emotionally in public.
  13. Dont use loud and annoying ring tones
  14. Never make calls while shopping, banking or waiting in line.
  15. Keep all talks brief and to the point.
  16. Use an earpiece in high-traffic or noisy locations.
  17. Demand “quiet zones” and “phone-free areas” at work and in public venues.
  18. Never call people at odd hours. If you sleep at 2am does not mean, others also follow the same.
  19. When calling on mobile, always ask if the other person is free to talk.
  20. Learn to text if it is not an emergency.

I want to live after my death

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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In my workshops, whenever I ask 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 do your Sanskars 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 your bad Karmas too can make people remember you 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 positively in your present.

When you start working positively 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. Only with repeated washings can it become stain free. Similarly washing away your bad karmas with good karmas will take time.

It is possible that even when one starts doing good Karmas, one may still suffer as the sum total of past karmas may not have been 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 some duration of time. In other word he may be pardoned from death sentence and given life sentence.

As per Bhagavad Gita, whatever your thoughts are 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.

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

Air pollution can raise blood pressure

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Breathing polluted air for even 2 hours can increase blood pressure, potentially raising the risk of cardiovascular disease in those exposed to smog.

In susceptible patients this small increase may actually be able to trigger a heart attack or stroke. In a study, which appeared in the journal Hypertension, researchers tested 83 people as they breathed levels of air pollution similar to those in an urban city near a roadway. The air pollution caused diastolic pressure (lower number in a blood pressure reading) to rise within 2 hours. Blood vessels were impaired for as long as 24 hours. Tests showed that microscopic particles in the air, rather than ozone gases, caused the rise in blood pressure and impaired blood vessel function. If air pollution levels are forecasted to be high, those with heart disease, diabetes or lung disease should avoid unnecessary outdoor activity.

Blood vessels were impaired for as long as 24 hours. Tests showed that microscopic particles in the air, rather than ozone gases, caused the rise in blood pressure and impaired blood vessel function. If air pollution levels are forecasted to be high, those with heart disease, diabetes or lung disease should avoid unnecessary outdoor activity.

The very purpose of life is to face sufferings

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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According to Hinduism, the very fact we are born means that in our last life, we did not get liberation or Moksha. It also means that some sufferings in our last birth still remained. Therefore, the purpose of this birth is to face those sufferings.

When the purpose of our life is to face sufferings, why suffer from them?

This should be considered as ‘sukh’ and not ‘dukh’. As per Vedic literature, every diversity is an opportunity to learn or to do something different. The four notable principles of Buddhism also talk about the same. The first is that suffering exists, second that there is a reason for every suffering and third that it is possible to neutralize the suffering by understanding the 8 paths of cessation of suffering.

Also remember that in every ‘dukh’ you think of ‘sukh’ and in every ‘sukh’ you think of a ‘dukh’. Next time you have a problem, think differently and learn to enjoy them.

One of my industrialist friends was once ordered to go to Tihar Jail on a Friday night. He tried his level best and wanted to get admitted in the hospital for the weekend so that he could secure bail on Monday morning. I told him that whether he was in jail or in hospital, it would make no difference as far as his status was concerned. In both the situations, he would be listed as being in the jail on paper. So I told him to go to the jail and enjoy those 48 hours as a holiday. When he came back from the jail, he was a different person and learnt the principle of life which he otherwise could not have learnt.

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