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Dr K K Aggarwal

Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee

Is it necessary to take a dip in Ganga to remove your sins?

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Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, the sangam of the three rivers in Allahabad, is believed to be the holiest place in the country where, if one takes a dip, one washes away his or her past sins.

After death, ashes are also submerged in the Ganga with an assumption that the past sins will be removed.

In Vedic era, what was the intention of the rishis and munis while making this ritual?

In mythology, moon represents cool mind and Ganga represents the positive flow of thoughts. And sea turmoil indicates the disturbed state of mind.Hanuman’s samudrayatra indicates the meditative journey through the flow of thoughts. Samudramanthan represents the journey of the mind during meditation.

Taking a dip can be equated to shifting your mind towards your consciousness. This may occur when you introspect in a relaxed state of mind or when you practice meditation. Meditation is defined as a journey from sympathetic and parasympathetic state of mind or a journey from disturbed state of consciousness to undisturbed state of consciousness.

Every time you meditate, you dip into your consciousness and clean your guilt and negative thoughts. It is something like reformatting your hard disk and removing the bad sectors and viruses in your software.

It is, therefore, possible for you to do Ganga snan (bath) at your house in the morning while meditating or during pooja by drifting away from disturbed state of mind to non-disturbed relaxed state of mind, clearing your guilt and negative thoughts.

Don’t ignore women’s health

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Women are not diagnosed or treated as aggressively as men. Even though more women die of heart disease each year compared to men, they receive just 33% of all angioplasties, stents and bypass surgeries; 28% of implantable defibrillators and 36% of open-heart surgeries, reported the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. Although the traditional risk factors for coronary artery disease, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity, have a detrimental impact in men and women, certain factors may play a bigger role in the development of heart disease in women.

  • Metabolic syndrome — a combination of increased blood pressure, high blood glucose and triglycerides — has a greater impact on women than men.
  • Mental stress and depression affect women’s hearts more than they affect men’s.
  • Smoking is much worse for women as compared to men.
  • Low estrogen level before menopause is a significant risk factor for developing microvascular disease.
  • Though women will often have some chest pain or discomfort, it may not be the most prominent symptom. Diffuse plaque formation and diseased smaller arteries are two reasons why symptoms can be different in women.
  • In addition to chest pain, pressure or discomfort, signs and symptoms of heart attack in women include: Neck, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort; shortness of breath; nausea or vomiting; sweating; light-headedness or dizziness and unusual fatigue.
  • Endothelial dysfunction is more common in women. The lining of the artery does not expand (dilate) properly to boost blood flow during activity, thus increasing the risk of coronary artery spasm and sudden death.
  • WISE study results suggest that the commonly used treatments for coronary artery disease — angioplasty and stenting — are not the best options for women with more diffuse plaques.
  • Typical tests for coronary artery disease — angiogram, treadmill testing and others — are not reliable in women.
  • The WISE study showed that in some women, plaques accumulate as an evenly spread layer along artery walls, which may not be identified using traditional testing methods.

Sattchittaananda: The soul characteristics

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Satt means ‘truth or knowingness’

Chitta means ‘consciousness-based’

Ananda means ‘bliss or inner happiness’

The soul in Vedic description is described as Sattchittaananda. People in touch with their soul speak the truth, take consciousness-based decisions and experience inner happiness.

The great rishis of India have described a formula of how to be in touch with your soul and get inner happiness. The formula is based on three questions, which you should ask yourself before performing any action.

  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Is it consciousness-based?
  3. Will it give happiness?

If the answer to all three is ‘yes’, go ahead. In other words, if the answer to any of the three is ‘no’, do not perform that action.

Later on, many dharma groups modified this formula for their own use.

1. Buddha’s Law of Action summarizes these questions as:

  • Is it the truth?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Will it bring happiness to me?
  • Will it bring happiness to others?

If the answer to any of the question is ‘no’, then do not do that action.

2. Buddha’s Law of Speech summarizes the questions as:

  • Is it the truth?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Is it kind?

If the answer to any of the question is ‘no’, do not speak.

3. The Rotary four-way test comprises of:

  • Is it the truth?
  • Is it fair to all concerned?
  • Will it build goodwill and better friendship?
  • Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

If the answer to any of the question is ‘no’, do not perform that deed.

4. Formula of three H: Head, Heart and Hand

Before performing any action, ask your head for the choices. Then listen to the heart to give you the best consciousness-based advice and finally order the hand to do the action.

5. The formula Satyam Shivam Sundaram is based again on three questions: Is it the truth; is it God (consciousness-based); and is it going to build my inner beauty (happiness).

6. ‘May I help you?’ is another formula given in Srimad Bhagwad where once you agree to help, you end up with truth, tapa of hard work, purity of mind and daan or charity.

A slight move is all that matters

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Middle-aged women who tend to move around more in their daily life have lower levels of intra-abdominal fat, which is a known risk factor for heart disease. A slight modification in daily routine – reducing the time watching TV or increasing the walk time to work – can make a difference in the long-term health.

Visceral fat is a hot topic because of metabolic syndrome, which predisposes people to diseases.

Intra-abdominal fat, or the fat that is present around the organs in the abdomen and chest, usually accumulates around midlife and can play a role in developing diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. The fat around the organs is known to be related to heart disease and diabetes. A woman does not necessarily need to appear outwardly heavy to have troublesome extra fat around her organs.

Exercise for long has been known to reduce the amount of intra-abdominal fat.

Vedic Fasting

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Fasting and starvation are two different terms commonly confused with each other.

Starvation means not eating or drinking altogether, while fasting means control and restrain of five sensory and five motor senses.

During fasting, one may continue eating or drinking but under discipline. Vedic fasting or spiritual fasting is mentioned in Karam Kanda in Yajurveda. Every fast in our mythology has a scientific basis and rituals are added so that the common man can follow it.

Impact of exercise on the knee

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Different exercises produce different impacts on the knee joints. The best and safest exercises causing minimum impact on the knee for patients post knee replacement or knee arthritis are walking, biking, riding an exercise bike, and walking on the treadmill. In sports, one can play doubles tennis and not singles.

The maximum stress-producing exercises are jogging and golf swings.


  • Biking produces the minimum force.It yields an impact of about 1.3 times the body weight.
  • Walking on a treadmill produces forces of 2.05 times the body weight.
  • Walking on level ground yields forces of 2.6 times the body weight.
  • Playing tennis generates forces of 3.1 to 3.8 times the body weight. Serving produces the highest impact.
  • Jogging produces forces of 4.3 times body weight.
  • Golf swings produce forces of 4.5 times body weight on the forward knee and 3.2 times the body weight on the other.

Why do people suffer?

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As per Garud Puran and Hindu mythology, one of the reasons for suffering is the debts of the past birth. Everyone’s purpose of life is to face sufferings to pay these debts. The second reason is one’s present deeds till today starting from birth. If the sum total of one’s bad deeds is more than good deeds, they get added to the previous birth’s debts.

The third reason for suffering is the form of struggle, which you entertain to attain future success. Some people do not call it as suffering.

The last reason for suffering is that some people acquire yogic powers to take on the sufferings of others. The classical examples are Shirdi Sai Baba and Jesus Christ who were known to cure others by adding their suffering to their own account. Most Gods or holy people had suffered in their last time, be it Jesus Christ, Krishna, Buddha or Sai Baba. Only Rishi Munis can remain alive and die at will even after they have paid for all their debts.

Facts about exercise

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  • Exercise for 80 minutes a day and brisk exercise 80 minutes a week.
  • The speed of walking should be at least 80 steps per minute.
  • Do resistance or weight-bearing exercises twice a week.
  • Avoid doing strenuous exercises for the first time in life after the age of 40 years.
  • Ayurveda says that one should exercise according to his or her body type.
  • Diabetics who exercise should not exercise if blood sugar is lower than 90.
  • In conditions of smog, avoid walking early in the morning till sunlight appears.

Wahans (Vehicles) In Mythology

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In mythology, the negative tendency of an individual is symbolized with animal nature. Gods in Indian mythology have been symbolized as living a positive behavior. Every God has a vehicle or Wahan. Both God and the Wahan symbolize how to live a positive life and how to control the animal tendencies.

A few examples:

  • Lord Ganesha’s vehicle is a Mouse. Mouse in mythology symbolizes greed and Ganesha is the one who removes obstacles. The spiritual meaning behind the two is “one should learn to control greed to tackle obstacles in life”.
  • Lord Shiva rides Nandi, the Bull. Bull symbolizes uncontrolled sexual desires. The duo signifies that to learn meditation, one needs to control sexual desires first.
  • Saraswati is the Goddesses of knowledge. She is depicted sitting on Swan, which symbolizes that to acquire knowledge, one must learn to control the power of discrimination or Vivek. A swan can drink milk and leave water from a mixture of milk and water.
  • Indra has complete control over the intellect. He is shown riding the elephant Airavat. This symbolizes that intellect (Indra) can be developed by controlling Masti and madness (elephant).
  • Durga symbolizes the perfect woman. Ma Durga rides a lion. This symbolizes that to become a perfect woman, one must learn to control agitation or aggression (lion).
  • Lakshmi symbolizes wealth. Lakshmi riding an owl symbolizes that to earn righteously, one must learn to control the owl-like properties within us, which is not to get befooled.
  • Lord Vishnu (the doer) rides eagle or Garuda. Eagles are opportunistic predators. They eat almost anything they can find. This means controlling desires to eat unbalanced meals.
  • Krishna riding five horses means one needs to control the five senses.
  • Kartikeya rides on Peacock. This symbolizes that one should learn to control one’s pride (vanity) or ego.
  • Goddess Kali rides a black goat, Agni rides Mesha(a ram), Kubera, the God of wealth, also rides a ram. A ram is an uncastrated adult male sheep. Goat also signifies uncontrolled sexual desires but lesser than the bull.
  • Yamraja rides a buffalo, which is known for its rampant destruction. Lord Yama or Yamraja is referred to as the God of death, lord of justice, Dharma Raja. One can do justice only if one knows how to control anger and aggressive behavior.

Top 10 ways to keep the kidneys healthy

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  1. Monitor blood pressure and cholesterol.
  2. Control weiht.
  3. Don’t overuse over-the-counter painkillers.
  4. Monitor blood glucose.
  5. Get an annual physical exam.
  6. Know if chronic kidney disease (CKD), diabetes or heart disease runs in your family. If so, you may be at risk.
  7. Don’t smoke.
  8. Exercise regularly.
  9. Follow a healthy diet.
  10. Get tested for chronic kidney disease if you are at risk.

Think positive and think different

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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 died 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).

Tips to relieve heartburn

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  • Avoid foods that trigger your symptoms.
  • Eat small portions and don’t overeat; chew food slowly and completely.
  • Avoid smoking, eating quickly, chewing gum, and drinking carbonated beverages as they lead to swallowing excess air.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Get enough rest.
  • Avoid lying down within 2 hours of eating.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.

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 that of 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 represent the ones who have teach 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 refers to the desires of our ancestors that could not be fulfilled while they were alive. The responsibility to fulfil them falls onto the eldest son and they need to be carried out. If not, it is a sign of guilt disorder in the family and may end up in loss of wealth, loss of direction and courage and health. The resultant problems are termed‘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 them on their death anniversary.

Dakshinayana refers toa period of negative state of mind, when nights are longer than days. It starts from 14th July and ends on 13th January. The period of Chaturmas, i.e., the first four months during Dakshinayana, is associated with 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, it is tied to non-fulfilment of desires and uncontrolled ego and in the month of Ashwin, it is linked to guilt due to non-fulfilment of desires of others (ancestors), particularly during Amavasya.

Tarpan of Jal (water) is offered to ancestors. Jal, in mythology, signifies flow of thoughts and offering Jal is equivalent to confession and getting connected. Tarpan is done to purify the mind and wash off guilt.

Tarpan is done after the desires of our ancestors have been fulfilled by the person performing the Shradh. 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 possible in a Satwik state of mind. This requires eating Satwik food for a few days. Offering Satwik food to Brahmins during Shradh means preparing only Satwik food on that day so that everyone in the family eats Satwik food.

Pind Daan signifies medicinal ways of detaching oneself from guilt. The 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 removal of Rajas and Tamas.

If the guilt is not removed by repeated Shradhs, one has to go for a spiritual vacation during Shradhsin order to move away from the worldly desires for a few days before the Shradh.This is the significance of going to Gaya. This spiritual journey acts like an incubation period for the disturbed mind in order to get rid of the disturbed mind and enables 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 15 days and others perform it from the first day till the day of their ancestors’ Shradh.

Once you successfully perform a Shradh or Gaya Shradh, there is no need to perform Shradh thereafter. Once the guilt is over, further detoxification of the mind is not needed. The only ritual that needs to be performed after that is remembrance, which is performed on the death anniversary, usually by doing some charity in 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.

Elderly beware of commonly prescribed group of drugs – Anticholinergics

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Anticholinergics have been shown to cause elderly people to slow down in their daily physical activities.

Two reports from Wake Forest University School of Medicine suggest that anticholinergic drugs, commonly used to treat acid reflux, Parkinson’s disease and urinary incontinence, may make older people lose their thinking skills quicker than those who do not take the medicines.

Anticholinergic drugs inhibit acetylcholine, a chemical that enhances communication between nerve cells in the brain, from binding to its receptors in nerve cells.

Older adults given anticholinergics had higher odds of walking more slowly and requiring help in other daily activities. The results were valid even in older adults with normal memory and thinking abilities.

Among older adults taking a moderately anticholinergic medication, or two or more mildly anticholinergic medications, the function appeared similar to that of someone three to four years older.

Common anticholinergic medicines include nifedipine (antihypertensive), ranitidine (reduces stomach acid) and tolterodine (medication for incontinence).

Cholinesterase inhibitors are drugs used to treat dementia by increasing levels of acetylcholine. These include donepezil, galantamine, rivastigmine and tacrine.

Five Types of People – from Nastik to Astik

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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 Tvam Asi (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. 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 the other person, treat others 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).