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Dr K K Aggarwal

What is the significance of a Tilak?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The Tilak is not merely a beauty-enhancing mark, or a sign of religiosity. Hindu cultural traditions have given a significant place to wisdom in life. Life’s journey is guided by wisdom, which leads us through evolution of life towards salvation. If a man loses everything in his life but has his wisdom, he can recreate everything he has lost.

In Gayatri Mantra we chant, “May my Wisdom be enlightened and purified”. The worship that has been revered in the Vedas is symbolized in the Tilak. The seat of wisdom is the head and since the forehead is its front part, we worship wisdom by placing the Tilak on the forehead.

A Tilak is the ‘third eye’ in a manner of speaking. It is a divine eye which when ‘opened’ by divine knowledge shows the way to self-realization. Lord Shiva destroyed Kamadeva with his third eye, so too, we may destroy our desires and evil elements by striving for knowledge.Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are entirely my own

Am I a spiritual seeker?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Every one cannot be a spiritual seeker. In fact, majority is not interested in seeking spiritual knowledge and they keep themselves busy in the worldly desires. To become a good seeker, one needs to acquire many qualities.

In Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna, in a state of disturbed mind, sought guidance from Lord Krishna. In Katha Upanishad, Nachiketa, as a healthy seeker, learned the knowledge of life after death from Yama.

Katha Upanishad described in detail the qualities of a seeker in Nachiketa.

The story goes as under: Vajashrava sage performed a sacrifice in which he was required to give away all his worldly possessions. His son Nachiketa saw that the cows given in the donations were all old. Such charity was not going to give his father any merits. Feeling disturbed by the inappropriateness of his fathers observance of the sacrifice, Nachiketa asked to whom was he given. The sage ignored him twice, but on third asking, the irritated sage said in anger, “Unto Yama, I give thee.” Whereupon Nachiketa went to the abode of Yama, and, finding him absent, waited there for three days and nights. Yama on his return offered to grant him three wishes.

Nachiketa wished the following:

  1. To be allowed to return to his father alive, and that his father not be angry with him
  2. To be instructed about fire sacrifice
  3. To be given knowledge about life after death.

Yama granted the first wish immediately. In answer to Nachiketas second question, Yama named performance of a special fire-sacrifice after Nachiketa. Before answering the third question, Yama tested Nachiketa, offering him all sorts of worldly pleasures instead, but Nachiketa insisted. And then Yama taught him about life after death.

The properties of true seeker therefore are:

  1. Righteousness and truthfulness: Nachiketa did not agree with his father as his (father’s) act was not based on Dharma.
  2. Persistence: He waited for three days to meet Yama.
  3. Compassion and forgiveness: The first boon he asked was to have his father forgiven.
  4. Intellectual understanding: The fire of knowledge means intellectual understanding.
  5. Let go of the desires: He let go all his desires and did not get attracted to the worldly offers given by the Yama.

Only after that he qualified to receive the knowledge of soul and become a true seeker.

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

The science behind observing Shradhs

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Shradhs are observed every year in Dakshinayana during Chaturmas in the Krishna Paksha of Ashwin month. Many rituals are performed to satisfy the unfulfilled desires of three generations of our ancestors.

According to the Vedas, every individual has three debts to be paid off, firstly, the Devtas (Dev Rin), secondly of Guru and teachers (Rishi Rin) and, thirdly, of Ancestors (Pitra Rin). From the scientific point of view, devtas represent people with Daivik qualities; teachers the ones who have taught us and Pitra, three generations of our ancestors. Rin from scientific point of view would mean unfinished desires or tasks.

The rituals scientifically would mean detaching oneself from the guilt of unfinished tasks of our ancestors by detoxifying our mind.

Debt means desires of our ancestors that had not been fulfilled during their lifetime. The responsibility to fulfil them automatically falls onto the eldest son in the family and they need to be carried out. If not, it is a sign of guilt disorder in the family and may present with loss of wealth, loss of direction and courage and health. The resultant problems faced were called Pitra Dosh in mythology.

The ritual of performing Shradhs originated to remove this guilt and the resultant illnesses. Shradh has many components.

  • Tarpan (offering water to the ancestors while reciting Mantras).
  • Arpan (preparing food what the ancestors used to like on the day of Shradh)
  • Brahmin bhoj (offering Satvik food to Brahmins)
  • Pind Daan (offering black sesame, Kusha Grass, Jwar and boiled or baked rice); observed by some.
  • Observing a spiritual holiday or incubation period (taking a break from the routine worldly desires and going to a distant place like Gaya).
  • Remembrance: Once the unfulfilled desires of the ancestors are over, remembering our ancestors every year on the day of their death anniversary.

Scientifically, Dakshinayana is the period of negative state of mind (nights are longer than days) and starts from 14th July and ends on 13th January. Chaturmas period (first four months) during Dakshinayana has the maximum negativity in the mind. Chaturmas includes the months of Sawan, Bhado, Ashwin and Kartik.

The negative state of mind in Sawan is related to anger and disturbed mind; in Bhado to non-fulfilment of desires and uncontrolled ego and in the month of Ashwin to guilt because of non-fulfilment of desires of others (ancestors), especially during Amavasya.

In the rituals, Tarpan of Jal (water) is offered to ancestors. Jal in mythology means flow of thoughts and offering Jal in mythology equates to confession and getting connected. Tarpan is always done with an aim to purify the mind and wash off the guilt.

Tarpan is always done after the desires of our ancestors have been fulfilled by the person performing the Shradh. This ritual is Arpan. Tarpan and Arpan on the day of Shradh mean getting connected to our consciousness and informing that all the unfinished tasks are over so that we can get rid of the long persisting guilt from our mind. Offering and making food which was liked by our ancestors on that day is just to remember and pay respect to them.

Confession is only possible in a Satwik state of mind, which requires eating of Satwik food for a few days. The ritual of offering Satwik food to Brahmins during the Shradh means making only Satwik food on that day so that everyone in the family is forced to eat Satwik food during Shradhs.

Pind Daan denotes medicinal ways of detaching oneself from the guilt. All the four offerings (black sesame, Kusha grass, Jwar and boiled or roasted rice) in Ayurveda have been described to detoxify the mind and making it Satwik by removing Rajas and Tamas.

If the guilt does not go by repeated Shradhs then one is required to go for a spiritual vacation during Shradh period so that he is away from the worldly desires for a few days before the Shradh and this is what going to Gaya means. This spiritual retreat works like an incubation period to the disturbed mind and gets rid of the disturbed mind and allows the undisturbed state of mind to confess and purify.

The Pitra ceremonies are usually performed either on Amavasya every month (period of most negativity in a month) or on the death anniversary or the Hindu Tithi (day) of the death of the ancestors coinciding with the day during Shradh days. If the date of death is not known then the Shradh is observed on Amavasya.

Some people perform Shradh for full 15 days and others perform it from the first day till the day of their ancestors’ Shradh.

It is said that once a Shradh is successfully performed or Gaya Shradh is performed, there is no need to perform Shradh rituals thereafter. Once the guilt is over, there is no need for further detoxification of the mind. After that the only ritual that needs to be performed is remembrance, which is usually performed on the death anniversary of the deceased ancestor usually by doing some charity on their names.

One is not supposed to do auspicious things during Shradh as during this period, the mind is in a process of detoxification.

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

Why is Ganesha worshipped in every puja?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Every Hindu ritual traditionally begins with a prayer to Lord Ganesh. The wedding ceremony too begins with a puja of Lord Ganesha invoking him to bless the couple and to ensure that the ceremony goes off well.

Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati, is the harmonious Aacharan or characteristic disposition of man. Remembered and ritually worshipped before starting a new venture, the entity of Ganesha has in store the facets of a complete man.

Ganesha’s head, that of an elephant, represents wisdom, intelligence and a healthy mind capable of making sound decisions. Think before you speak, implies Ganesha’s head.

The big ears of this elephant deity signify the lending of a patient ear to the echo produced by others’ deeds and speech. It is said that half the dispute is resolved by patiently lending an ear to the words of the other. It also denotes that one must patiently listen to all sides before reaching a decision.

Ganesha’s extremely small mouth characteristically represents the need for a limited dialogue and the vanity of talking too much. Over-expression through words causes unsought-for problems which could have been avoided.

Ganesha’s small eyes highlight the need for a focused outlook in life. Such an outlook not only re-defines and foresees the right goals, but also relieves one from the stress-manifested episodes in life.

The long trunk identifies with the power of discrimination. Ganesha’s long nose has the strength to uproot a tree and the competency of picking up a pin from the ground. Such should be the approach of an individual who should be capable of perceiving the good and bad for himself, and then have the strength to overcome these against all odds.

The tusks and the small teeth of Ganesha tell us to maintain a balance between loss (broken tooth) and gains (whole tooth) in life. Man ought to maintain his mental state so that ups and downs do not deter him from his honest endeavors.

The ample stomach of Ganapati Deva advocates the need for retaining information. Acquiring knowledge, utilizing it and retaining it for years to come, is the crux of ‘big-belly commandment’.

The Char-Bhuja Dhari Ganesha, further represents strength by virtue of his four hands in which the Lord entraps his attachments, desires and greed. Two of the arms of Ganesha, which hold a rope, symbolize control over the attachments. The laddoo or sweet in one shows command over desires and earthly delusions. The mouse sitting near the feet of Ganesha represents greed and gluttony upon which the Almighty rides, exhibiting control over evils.

Ganesha’s physical traits are an assembly of the characteristics most desired in an individual of substance.

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

Definition of Health

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Health is not mere absence of disease; it is a state of physical, mental, social, spiritual, environmental and financial well-being. Allopathy does not define all aspects of health.

During MBBS, medical students are taught more about the physical health. Social and mental health are covered only in few lectures. Community health is a separate subject but never given its due importance. Spiritual health is not defined at all and financial health is hardly covered.

Yet, in day-to-day practice, it is the social, financial, spiritual and community health, which is the most important during patient-doctor communication. It is incorporated in the four basic purposes: dharma, artha, kama and moksha.

Dharma and artha together form the basis of karma which is righteous earning. You are what your deep-rooted desires are. Most of the diseases today can be traced to a particular emotion, positive or negative. Anger and jealously are related with heart attack, fear with blood pressure, greed and possessiveness with heart failure. Unless the mind is healthy, one cannot be free of diseases.

The best description of health comes from Ayurveda. In Sanskrit, health means swasthya, which means establishment in the self. One is established in the self when there is a union of mind, body and soul. Most symbols of health are established around a shaft with two snakes and two wings. The shaft represents the body, two snakes represent the duality of mind and the two wings represent the freedom of soul.

Sushrut Samhita in Chapter 15 shloka 10 defines the ayurvedic person as under:

Samadosha, samagnischa,

Samadhatumalkriyah,

Prasannatmendriyamanah,

Swastha iti abhidhiyate.

From the Ayurvedic point of view, for a person to be healthy, he must have balanced doshas, balanced agni, balanced dhatus, normal functioning of malkriyas and mind, body, spirit and indriyas full of bliss and happiness.

Human body is made up of structures (Kapha) that perform two basic functions: firstly, metabolism (pitta) and movement (vata). Vata, pitta and kapha are called doshas in Ayurveda. Samana dosha means balance of structures, metabolism and movement functions in the body. Agni in Ayurveda is said to be in balance when a person has normal tejas and a good appetite.

Ayurveda describes seven dhatus: rasa, rakta, mamsa, medha, asthi, majja, shukra and they are required to be in balance. They are equivalent to various tissues in the human body.

Ayurveda necessitates proper functioning of natural urges like urination, stool, sweating and breathing and that is what balances in malakriya means.

Ayurveda says for a person to be healthy, he has to be mentally and spiritually healthy which will only happen when his or her indriyas are cheerful, full of bliss and devoid of any negativities. For indriyas to be in balance one has to learn to control over the lust cum desires, greed and ego. This can be done by learning regular pranayama, learning the do’s and don’ts in life, living in a disciplined atmosphere and learn to live in the present.

Regular pranayama shifts one from sympathetic to parasympathetic mode, balances the mind and thoughts and helps in removing negative thoughts from the mind. Living in the present means conscious or meditative living. This involves either learning meditation 20 minutes twice a day or learning subtle mental exercises like mind–body relaxation, yogic shavasana, self–hypnotic exercises, etc.

According to Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a person who eats thrice a day is a rogi, twice a day is a bhogi and once a day is yogi. The take home message is: to live more, eat less.

Swar yoga defines the importance of respiration and longevity. According to this yoga shastra, everybody has a fixed number of breaths to be taken during the life span.

Lesser the number a person takes in a minute, more is the life. It also forms the basis of pranayama which is nothing but longer and deeper breathing with reduced respiratory rate. To be healthy one can remember to follow the principle of moderation and variety in diet and exercise, regular pranayama and meditation and positive thinking.

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

Signs of Spiritual Awakening

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • More experiences of telepathy
  • More experiences of reverse telepathy
  • More spontaneous fulfillment of desires
  • Increased tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen. Work done with the least effort.
  • Change in the nature, more smiling, laughter and thankful nature.
  • Feelings of being connected with others and nature.
  • Frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
  • Tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears based on past experience.
  • Ability to enjoy each moment.
  • Living in the present.
  • Loss of worry.
  • A loss of interest in conflict.
  • A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
  • A loss of interest in judging others and self.
  • Gaining the ability to love without expecting anything in return.
  • Quality of converting an adversity into opportunity.
  • Dislike for drugs, smoke and excess of alcohol.
  • Happiness in doing random acts of kindness.
  • Looking for good in every one.

Positive Attitudes

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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All those out there who feel you are at your wits’ end wondering how things don’t ever work out for you, can now relax and dwell on all those failures that life has taken you through and turn failure into success.

  1. Failure doesn’t mean you are a failure. But it does mean you haven’t succeeded yet.
  2. Failure doesn’t mean you have accomplished nothing. It does mean you have learned something.
  3. Failure doesn’t mean you have been foolish. It does mean you had a lot of faith.
  4. Failure doesn’t mean you’ve been discouraged. It does mean you were willing to try.
  5. Failure doesn’t mean you don’t know what to do. It does mean you have to do it in a different way.
  6. Failure doesn’t mean you are inferior. It does mean you are not perfect.
  7. Failure doesn’t mean you have wasted your life. It does mean you have a reason to start afresh.
  8. Failure doesn’t mean you should give up. It does mean you must try harder.
  9. Failure doesn’t mean you’ll never make it. It does mean it will take a little longer.
  10. Failure doesn’t mean God has abandoned you. It does mean God has a better idea.

The Science Behind Bhabhuti and Ash

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Lord Shiva is known to have Bhabhuti on his skin. Many people believe that Ash or Bhabhuti reminds one that the human body is perishable and will be converted into Ash ultimately after the death of the physical body.

But there is also another meaning behind this mythological ritual of applying Ash onto the body.

Fire in mythology means the fire of knowledge, knowledge about the true self-consciousness. Knowing about true self is obstructed by negative thoughts, animal tendency, egoistic vanities and foolish attachments.

Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha and Ahankara fall into the same category. Burning negative tendency, animal behavior, ego and attachment into the fire of knowledge is what spirituality is. Once you burn your negative tendencies in the fire of knowledge, the resultant Ash or Bhabhuti which is to be ingested as the Prasad is what Rishi Munis gave to their seekers.

Rishis are different from Pandits as Pandits are the ones who have knowledge but may not have spiritual experiences.

Rishi Munis have both the knowledge and the personal experiences. The Rishi Munis are the ones who have learnt to burn their negative tendencies and ego into an Ash and help their followers in turn to burn their negative tendencies.

The Ash given to their seekers is a constant reminder that the seekers need to burn their negative tendencies and convert them into the same Ash.

Understanding exact speech

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Upanishads, Yoga sutras 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.

All three have to be in the same sequence with truthfulness taking 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 nor kind may not be spoken.

Think positive and think different

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The mantra to acquire spiritual health is to think positive and differently. When you think positive, it creates positive hormones and takes you from sympathetic mode to parasympathetic mode. When you think different, it gives you opportunities and from multiple options available, you can ask your heart to choose one of them.

Thinking positive was a message given by Lord Buddha and thinking different by Adi Shankaracharya.

The candle light march for justice in the Jessica Lal murder case has been picked up by most of the protest campaigns because it was positive and different.

I have seen three examples in my life where I used this approach of thinking positively and thinking differently, which prolonged the life of those persons. My grandfather-in-law at the age of 85 thought it is time to go but when we made him work positively and differently, he die at the age of 100 years. He was asked to teach youngsters law, write to the Prime Minister every day on certain issues and find matrimonial matches for the youngest persons in the family.

In other two cases, one was suffering from terminal prostate cancer and the other terminal brain cancer. The first one lived for ten years as did the other person.

Both were told that they had a very early cancer and that was cured by a surgery.

When you think different, it creates creativity and when it is with positive attitude, it is accepted by all.

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

What are three great sentences of importance other than mahavakyas?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Brahma Satyam Jagan Mithya Jivo Brahmaiva Na Aparah – Brahman only exists truly, the world is false, and the individual soul is Brahman only and no other.
  • Ekam evadvitiyam brahma – Brahman is one, without a second (There is one absolute reality, without any secondary parts).
  • Sarvam khalvidam brahma – all of this is brahman.

Negative thoughts are absence of positive thoughts

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Darkness cannot be removed physically; it can only be removed by switching light or going into sunlight or lighting fire. Similarly, negative thoughts are absence of positive thoughts.

In Bhagavad Gita also, it has been said that the period of Uttarayana with longer days, the first half at full moon, in the presence of light or agni, one acquires more positive thoughts as compared in Dakshinayana before Amavasya or no moon or in absence of light.

Bhagavad Gita also says that whatever you think the whole life, you think at the time of death and if at the time of death you have positive thoughts, you are likely to get Moksha. That may be the reason why in Hindu mythology it is said that just before the death, we should light a diya or chant in front of agni (fire) so that dying person’s thoughts become positive.

In computer language, it can be explained as follows: When you open a file repeatedly, it becomes a priority file and comes in search engine on priority as compared to other files.

Spiritual Prescriptions: Satsang

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Satsang is a common household word and is often organized in residential colonies. Traditionally, Satsang means the regular meeting of a group of elderly or women of an area with a common intention of attaining inner happiness or peace through Bhajans or devotional songs for a particular God or Gods. In Satsang, people realize that it is the Self, communing with Self.

The Sanskrit word ‘Satsang’ literally means gathering together for guidance, mutual support or in search of truth. It may involve talking together, eating together, working together, listening together or praying together.

Most scriptures describe Sat and Asat. They discriminate that this world is Maya (Asat) and God is Divine. Furthermore, they state that Maya is not yours; Divine is yours.

Sang means to join, not just coming close, but to join. And how do you join? Only with love, which acts as glue. So Satsang is: Sat—Divine. Sang—loving association. In non-traditional Satsang, people verbally express themselves to others in an uninhibited way. Here, each participant talks free of judgment of others, and self. In this way, each person is able to see many viewpoints, which may serve to diminish the rigidity of their own.

Satsang is one way of acquiring spiritual well-being. Many scientific studies have shown that when mediation or chanting is done in groups, it has more benefits than when done individually. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi once said that if 1% of the population meditates or chants together, it will have a positive influence on the entire society.

Satsang also helps in creating a network of people with different unique talents. Satsangi groups are often considered in a very deep-rooted friendship.

Adi Shankaracharya, in his book Bhaja Govindam, also talks about Satsang in combination with Sewa and Simran and says that together the three enable one to attain spiritual well-being. Nirankaris and Sikhs also give importance to Satsang and in fact every true Sikh is supposed to regularly participate in the Gurudwara.

Chanting of mantras or listening to discourses in a Satsang helps to understand spirituality through Gyan Marga. Group chanting continued on a regular basis is one of the ways of meditation mentioned in the Shastras. It shifts consciousness from sympathetic to the parasympathetic mode.

Satsang also inculcates in us, one of the laws of Ganesha, the law of big ears, which teaches everyone to have the patience to listen to others.

In Satsang, nobody is small or big, everybody has a right to discuss or give his or her views. Over a period of time, most people who regularly attend Satsang, start working from the level of their spirit and not the ego.The medical educational programs of doctors of today can be called Medical Satsangs as whatever is discussed is for the welfare of the society.

Types of smokers

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Light: < 10 cigarettes per day
  • Heavy: > 25 cigarettes a day
  • Chippers: Very light smokers (< 5 cigarettes a day) who regularly use tobacco without developing dependence
  • Light and intermittent smokers: 1-39 cigarettes per week, or an average of 10 cigarettes per day or 1-4 grams of tobacco per day and have never smoked daily.
  • Low-level smokers: < 20 cigarettes per day and < 1 pack per week
  • Low-rate smokers: < 5 cigarettes per day and never more than 10 cigarettes per day
  • Non-daily smokers: smoke < 7 days per week and may smoke < 3 packs per week
  • Occasional smokers: < 5 cigarettes per day and smoke < 3 times per week, usually dependent on circumstances such as partying or drinking or after meals
  • Social smokers: < 5 cigarettes per day and < 7 days per week in last two years and have never exceeded that limit.

Why do we Ring the Bell in a Temple?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The vibrations of the ringing bell 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.”