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Dr K K Aggarwal

Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee

Desire, Hatred and Ignorance

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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).

Ways to boost your energy

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  1. Pace yourself: Keep going, but don’t overdo it. Instead of burning all your energy in two hours, spread out the work as morning tasks, afternoon tasks, and evening tasks; take rest and meals in between.
  2. A walk or a nap: If you have trouble sleeping at night, taking a nap during the day can worsen insomnia. In such a case, get moving. Walk around the neighborhood, or just move around the house. If you do not have insomnia, you can enjoy a 20- to 30-minute nap.
  3. Skip supplements: There is a lack of evidence that they work.
  • DHEA: There is a lack of convincing evidence that DHEA is actually beneficial.
  • Iron: Iron improves energy only when one is clearly deficient.
  • B vitamins: B vitamins can help the body convert food into the form of energy that cells can burn, but taking more B vitamins has no role in supercharging the cells.

4. Eat wisely: A sugary roll is loaded with calories, but your body metabolizes them faster, and eventually you have decreasing blood sugar and fatigue. A steady energy level can be maintained by eating lean protein and unrefined carbohydrates. You can go for low–fat yogurt with nuts, raisins, and honey. (Harvard)

Why do we light a lamp during pooja?

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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.

Some tips from HCFI

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  • Eat light food as the GI system cannot digest heavy food.
  • Do not eat leafy vegetables without washing or boiling as they may be contaminated with eggs of round worms. Beware of eating snacks at some outside stall.
  • Beware of electrical shock in this season as the coolers without earthing can leak electricity.
  • Do not walk barefoot as most worms can come out and cause infection.
  • Do not keep wet clothes and leather without drying them properly as they may attract fungus.
  • With each shower of rain, the BP may fluctuate so medications must be revisited.
  • Do not play in stagnant water as rat urine mixed with rain water may lead to leptospirosis (fever with jaundice).
  • Do not let water accumulate in the house or surrounding areas to avoid breeding of mosquitoes.
  • Drink only boiled or safe water as there are more chances of diarrhea, jaundice, and typhoid in this season.

Confession

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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).

Poor hygiene habits may lead to typhoid

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Typhoid fever is caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi and is transmitted through the ingestion of food or drink contaminated by the feces or urine of infected people.

Insects feeding on feces might transfer the bacteria to humans owing to poor hygiene habits and public sanitation conditions. Though the cases occur all through the year, the number is higher during the summer and rainy seasons.

Symptoms often develop 1 to 3 weeks following exposure, and may be mild or severe, including high fever, malaise, headache, constipation or diarrhea and enlarged spleen and liver. A healthy carrier state may follow acute illness.

Typhoid fever can be treated with antibiotics. However, resistance to common antibiotics is widespread. Healthy carriers should be excluded from handling food.

Good sanitation and hygiene are critical measures to prevent typhoid.

  • Typhoid does not affect animals and therefore transmission occurs only from human to human.
  • Typhoid can only spread in conditions where human feces or urine can come into contact with food or drinking water.
  • Hygienic food preparation practices and hand washing are the cornerstones of typhoid prevention.
  • In most cases, typhoid fever is not fatal.
  • Prompt treatment with antibiotics limits the case fatality rate to about 1%.
  • If left untreated, typhoid fever may persist for three weeks to a month.
  • Resistance to common antibiotics is widespread.
  • Typhoid resistant to common antibiotics is known as multidrug-resistant typhoid (MDR typhoid).
  • Ciprofloxacin resistance is a common problem, especially in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
  • Azithromycin is a new drug for drug-resistant typhoid.
  • Typhoid vaccine taken every three years is the best preventive approach.

Understanding exact speech

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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).

Bystander CPR better when more people help

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Patients experiencing a cardiac arrest are more likely to receive good quality bystander-initiated cardiopulmonary resuscitation if several people assist.

Among cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, CPR quality has been linked with multiple rescuers initiating bystander CPR, being in a central or urban setting, and receiving bystander-initiated CPR and longer duration of resuscitation, as per researchers in the journal Resuscitation.

Good quality bystander CPR is less commonly performed by a family member, by older bystanders and in home environments.

The survival and positive neurological outcomes for people experiencing an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is based on the initiation of bystander CPR. This should involve chest compressions only, without mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Good quality means: Appropriate hand positions or finger positions in case of infants, compression rate of at least 100 per minute, compression depth of at least 2 inches or at least one-third of the anterior-posterior diameter of the chest.

Time to arrest or recognition of arrest to initiation of CPR is significantly shorter among those who provide good quality CPR (median 3 minutes versus 4 minutes).

What is the importance of silence?

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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).

Poor hygiene habits may lead to typhoid

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Typhoid fever is caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi and is transmitted through the ingestion of food or drink contaminated by the feces or urine of infected people.

Insects feeding on feces might transfer the bacteria to humans owing to poor hygiene habits and public sanitation conditions. Though the cases occur all through the year, the number is higher during the summer and rainy seasons.

Symptoms often develop 1 to 3 weeks following exposure, and may be mild or severe, including high fever, malaise, headache, constipation or diarrhea and enlarged spleen and liver. A healthy carrier state may follow acute illness.

Typhoid fever can be treated with antibiotics. However, resistance to common antibiotics is widespread. Healthy carriers should be excluded from handling food.

Good sanitation and hygiene are critical measures to prevent typhoid.

  • Typhoid does not affect animals and therefore transmission occurs only from human to human.
  • Typhoid can only spread in conditions where human feces or urine can come into contact with food or drinking water.
  • Hygienic food preparation practices and hand washing are the cornerstones of typhoid prevention.
  • In most cases, typhoid fever is not fatal.
  • Prompt treatment with antibiotics limits the case fatality rate to about 1%.
  • If left untreated, typhoid fever may persist for three weeks to a month.
  • Resistance to common antibiotics is widespread.
  • Typhoid resistant to common antibiotics is known as multidrug-resistant typhoid (MDR typhoid).
  • Ciprofloxacin resistance is a common problem, especially in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
  • Azithromycin is a new drug for drug-resistant typhoid.
  • Typhoid vaccine taken every three years is the best preventive approach.

Understanding exact speech

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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).

The Science of Hygiene

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We all know about hygienic living and this subject should be included as a chapter in the curriculum of every school. There are several types of hygiene.

Respiratory hygiene: This is important to prevent cross infection, specifically, from flu and related respiratory illnesses. One should maintain a distance of minimum 3 ft. from a person who is coughing, sneezing or singing. Most respiratory particles are more than 5 microns in size and do not travel a distance of more than 3 ft. This respiratory hygiene; however, will not prevent transmission of the tuberculosis bacteria, which are less than 5 microns and keep circulating in the area.

Hand hygiene: This is the fundamental principle for any disease prevention and the important point here is “before and after”, i.e. one should wash hands before and after eating food, touching any infected material, seeing a patient or after normal evacuation of stool.

Food hygiene: This means maintaining hygiene at home while cutting, serving and eating food. While cutting a vegetable, it involves clean hygienic surface, knife, hands, water, utensils, etc. If this is not possible, follow the formula of ‘boil it, heat it, peel it, cook it or forget it’. This means that any food which has been boiled, heated or peeled is safe for eating. Peeling means removing the skin of a fruit such as banana or oranges.

Water hygiene: This involves drinking safe water, safe drinking glass, proper washing of glass, not washing multiple glasses in the same utensil and picking up glasses properly. People often pick up four glasses of water at the same time with one finger in each glass.

Body hygiene: This involves 16 upchars, as mentioned in mythology. Out of these 16 basic steps, some are related to body hygiene and they involve washing feet first and then hands, followed by mouth and finally the body. Washing of the feet is the most important as they are the ones which carry infections into one’s house.

Cleaning of mouth is cleaning the teeth with one finger, gums with two fingers, tongue with three fingers and palate with thumb.

Abhishekam or the snana of the body involves multiple steps. Ancient steps have been washing the body with milk water (rose water, etc.) followed by rubbing with curd (soap), honey (moisturizers), ghee (oil), sugar (the drying agent) and finally with milk water again. This facilitates natural bathing and is not dependent on soap.

Nail hygiene: This is also a very important hygiene, especially for food handlers, because they are responsible for causation of water and food disease. It is important that they receive typhoid vaccines and de-worming tablets every three months.

Another important hygiene that must be observed at our homes is that of the servants or the house helps. They are often provided soap at the start of the month and they are supposed to use that bar of soap for a month. If by any chance, they lose that soap in 2-3 weeks’ time, they are apprehensive in asking the owners for another soap. As a result, they may wash their hands without soap for the next 2-3 weeks.

Facts about Soul and the Spirit

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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).

Lifestyle counseling can reduce heart disease

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An intensive effort to change the lifestyle among individuals at high risk of heart disease can help them reduce risk factors, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and smoking.

The Euroaction study, published in The Lancet, compared the results of added counseling on lifestyle issues including diet, physical activity and smoking, to usual care. The study included over 3,000 people with coronary heart disease and over 2,000 who were at high risk of developing the disease. Half of the group were counseled by a team of nurses, dietitians, physiotherapists and the treating doctors. The counseling was given to families as well as individuals.

Two groups of patients were studied. One group included patients who already had developed coronary heart disease. The second group included those who were asymptomatic but at high risk on account of a combination of risk factors that increase the chances of developing heart disease over 10 years.

About 55% of those receiving the counseling reduced their intake of saturated fat compared to 40% of those not getting counseling. Consumption of fruits and vegetables increased in 72% of the counseled patients, and 17% of them also increased their consumption of heart-friendly oily fish, compared to 35% and 8% in the group not receiving counseling. Similar results were seen for blood pressure, cholesterol and physical activity; however, it appeared to be difficult to have people seen in general practice quit smoking.

Why do we Offer Food to God in Every Pooja?

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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).