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Dr K K Aggarwal

In every traditional gurukul, no studies start without chanting the following

Saraswati namasthubhyamVarade kaama roopiniVidyaarambham karishyaamiSidhirbhavatu me sadaa

“O Goddess Saraswati, the giver of Boons and fulfiller of wishes, I prostrate to You before starting my studies. May you always fulfill me.”

Indian Vedas consider knowledge about self as the supreme knowledge and all tools for the same are considered sacred and divine and must be given respect. The traditional custom is not to step on any sacred educational tool.

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

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1) What is counseling?A: The mental process involves generation of a thought or idea, which is analyzed and then acted upon. Thought, analysis and action therefore are the primary three processes of human mind. Counseling involves action at all three levels.

2) What are different types of counseling?A: Counseling involves basically two principles: Cognitive counseling and behavioral counseling. Behavioral, when the concentration is only on the actions and cognitive, when the concentration is on the changes in either the thought process or in the interpretation of the thought process.

3) What is cognitive behavior therapy?A: As against a pure behavior therapy where a person is counseled to do pre–defined things on regular intervals, cognitive behavior therapy involves changing the actions by changing observations of the interpretation of a particular situation.

4) What is the origin of counseling in India?A: The origin of counseling goes back to Vedic era. Upanishads were basically text books on counseling based on the original knowledge of Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samveda and Atharvaveda.

5) Is there a relationship of Bhagavad Gita with Counseling?A: Bhagavad Gita is counseling done by Krishna to resolve the conflict in Arjuna’s mind whether to fight or not. At that time there were no doctors and hence counseling was done by the elders in the family.

6) Are the principles of Bhagavad Gita followed today?

A: All the principles of cognitive behavior therapy today are basically principles that have originated from Bhagavad Gita.

7) What is the first principle?A: The first principle is that “counseling cannot be done in 1 or 2 sessions.” It requires up to 18 sessions which is what Krishna did in Bhagavad Gita. Bhagavad Gita contains 702 dialogues in the form of Shlokas therefore a proper counseling involves in–depth conversation between the counselor and the patient.

8) What is the second principle of counseling?A: The second principle of counseling is to listen to the patient in the first session in great detail and this is what Krishna did in Bhagavad Gita. In Chapter 1, only Arjuna speaks and Krishna does not utter a word. A patient listening is half the healing done.

9) What is the third principle?A: As per the third principle, the second (first interactive) session between counselor and the patient should be the longest one. Chapter 2 of Bhagavad Gita is the gist of Krishna’s counseling.

10) What is the fourth principle?A: The fourth principle is that after giving a detailed counseling in the second session, it is expected that the patient will be confused. This is what happens in start of Chapter 3 where Arjuna says to Krishna “I am confused. Sometimes you are talking about one path and other time you are talking about another path. Guide me again.” The third counseling session therefore, is the most important where one has to counsel slowly and in great detail.

11) What is the fifth principle?A: The next principle is to give reasoning to the counseling. One should not take the patient for granted. Krishna discusses each and every aspect of life with Arjuna in great detail giving scientific reasoning at every stage.

12) What is the sixth principle?A: Reassure the patient again and again. During counseling Krishna assures Arjuna on multiple occasions that you did your job and do not worry. I am with you.

13) What is the seventh principle?A: The seventh principle involves creating some fear in the patient’s mind. This is what Krishna does while showing his virat swaroop. This especially works in patients of addiction. Some degree of fear with re–assurance from the counselor always works.

14) What is the eight principle?A: The summing up counseling session should be as long as the second session. The Chapter 18 of Bhagavad Gita is as big as Chapter 2 where the whole Bhagavad Gita is summarized again.

15 What are the ingredients of counseling?A: Counseling basically involves in-depth knowledge of dharma, artha, kama and moksha. They are greatly described in Dharmashastra, Arthashastra, Kamasutra and Upanishads through various Vedas.

16) What is stress?A: Stress is the reaction of the body or the mind to the interpretation of any situation.

17) How can stress be managed?A: Stress can be managed by either changing the response of the body through yogic living, or changing the interpretation by understanding the principles of counseling or change the reaction by willful actions.

18) Are different nitis of our scriptures based on counseling?A: Yes. Vidur Niti was the counseling given by Vidur to Dhritarashtra and Chanakya Niti was based on how to rule a country. Yoga Vashishtha was the counseling given by Vashishtha to Rama to acquire higher levels of spiritual knowledge

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Darkness is absence of light and similarly negative thoughts are absence of positive thoughts. The answer to negative thoughts is to bring back positive thoughts. An ideal mind is a devil’s workshop and will always think negative.Here are some ways by which you can remove negative thoughts.

  • Think differently as taught by Adi Shankaracharya. Once Menaka approached Arjuna with lust and said that she wanted to have a son like him with him. Arjuna said that why wait for 25 years consider me as you son from today.
  • Think opposite as taught by Patanjali. For example if you are having a thought to steal, silently start thinking of charity.
  • Think positive as taught by Buddha. Make a list of positive actions to be done today as the first thing in the morning and concentrate on that list. Divert your mind to the pending works. It’s a type of behavioral therapy.
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Understanding Indriyas

By Dr K K Aggarwal
Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals | Tagged With: , , | | Comments Off

As per ancient Indian literature, we have 10 Indriyas – 5 motor and 5 sensory. The motor Indriyas are called Karmendriyas and the sensory indriyas are called Gnanendriyas. The motor indriyas involve the functions of elimination (anus), procreation (genitals), movement (legs), grasping (hands) and speaking (speech). The five sensory indriyas in sequence are smell, taste, seeing, touching and hearing. The first motor indriya is linked to the first sensory indriya. Therefore, elimination is linked to smelling, procreation to tasting, movement to seeing, grasping to touching and speaking to hearing.Controlling the senses is the fundamental principle in acquiring spiritual health. Senses in Indian mythology are depicted by horses, which are chanchal and are likely to go out of control. The control over 10 senses is required to become a yogi. The Ashwamedha Yagna of ancient era of kings basically meant performing a sacrifice so as to be able to control one’s senses. In internal Ramayana, Raja Dashrath represents a person who has control over his 10 senses. Here ‘Dash’ means ten and ‘Rath’ means horse. During meditation also, one is taught to sequentially control one’s senses. For example, to be able to meditate, one must first pass urine and stool as in the presence of these urges, one will not be able to meditate. The second is to control one’s sexual desires. It is well known that sexuality and spirituality cannot go hand in hand. In any Shiv Mandir, Nandi, the bull, is always worshipped outside the temple and not inside the temple.

The next step in meditation is control on movements and that is practicing stillness followed by relaxing each every muscle representing control over grasping and then going to an inner journey of inner silence of controlling over the 5th motor indriya i.e. speech. Only after one has learnt to control the mortal indriyas, can one be able to control the 5 sensory indriyas in succession as mentioned above.

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

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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).

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5 tips to reduce salt in your diet

By Dr K K Aggarwal
Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals | Tagged With: , , , | | Comments Off

  1. Make reading food labels a habit. Sodium content is always listed on food labels. Sodium content can vary from brand to brand, so compare and choose the lowest sodium product. Certain foods don’t taste particularly salty but are actually high in sodium, such as cottage cheese, so it’s critical to check labels.
  2. Stick to fresh meats, fruits and vegetables rather than their packaged counterparts, which tend to be higher in sodium.
  3. Avoid spices and seasonings that contain added sodium, for example garlic salt. Choose garlic powder instead.
  4. Many restaurants list the sodium content of their products on their websites, so do your homework before dining out. Also, you can request that your food be prepared without any added salt.
  5. Try to spread your sodium intake out throughout the day; it’s easier on your kidneys than eating lots of salt all at once.
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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 last 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.

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Five Types of People – from Nastik to Astik

By Dr K K Aggarwal
Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals | Tagged With: , , | | Comments Off

Following are the five types of people:

  1. Nastik: Those who do not believe in God.
  2. Astik: For whom God exists.
  3. Those who believe that God also exists in them (I and the God are the same)
  4. Those who believe in Tat TvamAsi (God not only exists in me but also in you)
  5. Those who believe that God is in everybody

People who believe that God exists are fearful people and they always fear God. People who see God in themselves, live a disciplined Satvik life and do not indulge in activities that are not God-friendly.

People who believe that God is not only in them but also in you, treat every person the same way as they treat themselves. People for whom God is everywhere always work for the welfare of the society.

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

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