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Dr K K Aggarwal

Ego in Mythology

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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For spirituality, one needs to control two things, firstly, lust and lastly, the ego. In Kaama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha and Ahankara, ego and lust both are slow poisons and do not allow one to be spiritual healthy. There are many examples of how to control ego in mythology. Fundamentally, it is said that one should learn to kill ego of oneself and never hurt the ego of others.

Ego in Ramayana is equated to Ravana and in Krishna’s era to Kans. One should learn to kills the ego. In Ramayana, Kumbhkarana is Tamas killed by the self i.e. Rama, Meghnath is Rajas and is killed by the mind i.e. Lakshman and ego, the Ravana, is killed again by self i.e. Rama. In Krishna’s Yuga Kans is killed by consciousness or Lord Krishna.

Mythology also teaches us to keep our ego under control.

  1. The door of any temple is always low in height so that nobody can enter without bending. Bending is sign of humility. Most temples have caves which have the same significance. Older the temple longer will be the cave and smaller will be the entry gate.
  2. Ego in mythology is depicted by Sheshnaaga or Cobra snake with its hood directed inwards indicating keeping your ego under control. The Sheshnaaga over Vishnu when he is resting indicates the same. In Krishna’s birth also, the snake represents controlled ego and protects Krishna when Vasu dev takes him out in the rain.
  3. Lord Shiva is also shown wearing a snake in his neck with hood directed inwards. Shiva is also said to have a blue neck or Neelkanth indicating that to control anger one should neutralize the anger continuously (matted hairs) with cool mind ( Moon) using positive flow of thoughts(ganga) with ego controlled ( naag)
  4. In Hanuman ki Lanka Yatra, Sursa snake is handled by Hanuman with humility. Sursa, the ego, went on increasing in size when Hanuman increases his size.
  5. No Hindu marriage is complete without Varmala, which again indicates the need to bow in front of each other.

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

How to Be Happy and Healthy

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Somebody once asked Lord Buddha, “After meditating for years, I have not been able to gain anything.” Then Lord Buddha asked, “Did you lose anything?” The disciple said, “Yes, I lost my anger, desires, expectations and ego.” Buddha smiled and said, “That is what your gain is by meditating.”

To be happy, one must learn to let go the following:

• One should let go of the desires. In Amarnath Yatra, Lord Shiva firstly let go of the Bull, which represents the sexual desires. In Hanuman’s Lanka yatra, desires are represented by Samhiki, a creature who used to catch birds by their shadow. Hanuman killed the desires. So, it is possible to kill your desires. Again in Ramayana, desires are linked to Rajsik mind and in mythology, Meghnath represents the Rajsik mind. Meghnath was killed by Lakshman, the determined mind. Therefore, one should let go of the desires by killing them by focused concentration of the mind on the desires.

• Let go of your expectations. In Amarnath Yatra, the second thing which Lord Shiva discarded was the moon, which in mythology symbolizes letting go of expectations.

• Let go of your ego. In mythology, ego represents Kansa in Krishna era and Ravana in Rama era. Both were killed by Krishna and Rama respectively, who symbolize the consciousness. Ego can never be killed by the mind and can only be killed by the consciousness (conscious-based decisions).

• Ego is also represented by Sheshnag and Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu both are depicted with a Sheshnag with mouth downwards indicating the importance of controlling one’s ego.

• One should let go of his or her ego but also remember never to hurt somebody’s ego. Hurting somebody’s ego in terms of allegations of sexual misconduct, financial corruption or abusing one’s caste is never forgotten and carries serious implications.

• In Hanuman’s Lanka Yatra, ego is represented by Sursa; Hanuman managed her by humility and not by counter ego. On Naag Panchami, we worship Naag, the ego, by folded hands and by offering milk.

• Let go of your inaction. One should learn to live in the present. In Hanuman’s Lanka Yatra, Hanuman first meets Menak Mountain, which indicates destination to rest. One should never do that and willfully divert his or her mind towards action.

• Let go of your attachments. Let go of your attachments to your close relatives and the worldly desires. In Amarnath Yatra, Lord Shiva first leaves Bull (desires), moon (expectations), sheshnag (ego) and then he gives up Ganesha and worldly desires (five elements). In mythology, this is practiced as detached attachment and has been equated to Lotus in the Bhagavad Gita. In Islam, detached attachment is practiced in the form of Bakra Eid.

• Let go of your habit of criticizing, complaining and condemning people. One should always practice non-violent communication and speak which is truth, necessary and kind. One should not criticize, condemn or complain about people, situation and events. Wayne Dyer said, “The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you do not know anything about.”

• Most of us often condemn people without knowing their capabilities and label them as unmatchable to us. One should also let go habit of gossiping as it is a form of violent communication.

• Let go of your habit of blaming others: One should learn to take the responsibilities and people believe in team work. Good leader is the one who learns to be responsible in life.

• Let go of your need to be always right: It is a form of ego. Remember, in arguments either you can win arguments or relationships. Always try to win relationship and not arguments.

• Let go of your need to control situations, events and people: Learn to accept people as they are. The world is won by those who let this habit go.

• Let go of your habit and the need to impress others: This is also a type of ego where we always seek appreciation.

• Give up your belief that you cannot do it: Remember ‘IMPOSSIBLE’ is ‘I M POSSIBLE’. A belief is not an idea held by the mind but it is an idea that holds the mind. (Elli Roselle).

• Give up your resistance to change: Remember change is the only constant which will happen and always welcome it. Joseph Campbell once said “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”

• Let go of your fear and all negative thoughts. Remember, the mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. It becomes very destructive if used badly. (Eckhart Tolle).

• Let go of your habit of giving excuses.

• Let go of always staying in the past.

Direct all your energy towards the ‘should’ and not ‘ego’

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The epic Mahabharata can also be understood as a science of inner Mahabharata occurring in everybody’s mind. Lord Krishna symbolizes consciousness and the five Pandavas, the five positive qualities of a person namely, righteousness (Yudhishthir), being in focus (Arjuna), power to fight injustice (Bheem), helping others (Sahdev) and learning to be neutral in difficult situations (Nakul). Panchali indicates 5 senses, which can only be controlled when these five forces are together.

Dhritrashtra symbolizes ignorance, Duhshasan – negative ruling quality (dusht while ruling) and Duryodhana (dusht in yudh) as one who is not balanced in war.

To kill the negativity in the mind, one has to take conscious-based decisions. Every action, if directed towards the consciousness or the soul, is the right action. To kill the 100 Kauravas (the 100 negative tendencies a person can have) controlled by Duryodhan and Duhshasan along with Shakuni (the negative power of cunningness), one has to redirect one’s positive qualities towards the consciousness and take right decisions. The five Pandavas (positive qualities) made soul (Lord Krishna) as their point of reference (Sarthi) and won over the evils (Kauravas). Bhishma Pitamah, Karana and Dronacharya, all had winning powers individually but they all supported negative thoughts and made Duryodhana as their point of reference and ultimately had to die.

The message is very clear – if one directs his or her positive powers towards ego as the reference point in long run, they will be of no use and, in fact, will be responsible for one’s destruction. In Ramayana, Ravana was a great scholar but he directed all his energies and powers towards his ego and ended up in misery. One should cultivate, therefore, positive mental attitude, positive thoughts instead of directing them towards desire, attachment or ego and should direct them to soul/consciousness for a positive outcome.

Pollution and diabetes

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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India may soon become the Diabetes capital of the world. The number of diabetics diagnosed every year is increasing.
If we go back to the era of Ramayana and Mahabharata, we find that none of the Devtas or Asurs suffered from diabetes. Though diabetes does get a mention in Ayurveda, its incidence and prevalence in Indian society was very low.

Today diabetes is considered to be a lifestyle disease and is linked to potbelly obesity. Lord Ganesha and Kuber both had potbelly obesity yet did not suffer from diabetes. Lord Ganesha had an uncontrolled appetite to eat sweets and yet he had no diabetes and same comes from one of his prayers, which talks about why people in that era did not suffer from diabetes. Following is a gist of one of my write–ups on the same: “Gajananam Bhoota Ganadi Sevitam; Kapittha Jambu phalasara bhakshitam; Umasutam Shoka Vinasha karanam; Namami Vighneswara pada pankajam”. The Mantra means

  • “Oh Elephant–faced, worshiped by the existing beings, of all living beings, tasting the elephant apple (kaith) and jambolana (jamun), the Son of Uma, destroyer of grief, I bow to the lotus feet of Ganesha who is lord of all” or
  • Gajananam (the big tummy one worshipped by all) Bhoota (Durva grass and Bilva patra used for worshipping Ganesha) Ganadi (in equal quantity) Sevitam (if consumed); Kapittha (Kaith) Jambu (Jamun) phalasara (fruits) bhakshitam (to be consumed); Umasutam (son of Uma) Shoka (diseases) Vinasha karanam (get rid of); Namami (I bow to) Vighneswara (destroyer of grief) pada pankajam (feet of lord)”

The mantra talks about four medicinal herbs: Durva grass and Bilva patra (Bel leaves) used for Ganesha worship; fruit of elephant apple (Kaith) and fruit of Jambolona (Jamun). All four have antidiabetic properties and can be mixed in equal quantities and prepared as a medicinal juice.

Medically, Durva grass (Cynodon dactylon) has been shown to possess antidiabetic, cholesterol–lowering, immunomodulatory, DNA protective, aphrodisiac, male fertility, anti cancer and anti inflammatory activities. Similarly, Bilva Patra has both antidiabetic and fertility-promoting properties.

Elephant apple (Limonia acidissima), also named as Wood Apple, Elephant Apple, Monkey Fruit, Curd Fruit, Koth Bel, Kaitha and Kath Bel, has been shown to possess strong anti diabetic properties.

Jamun (Syzygium cumini) also has DNA protective, antioxidant and antidiabetic properties and is an essential ingredient of most antidiabetic Ayurveda preparations.

Apart from the above, two things have also happened in the current Kalyug era, which deviate from the Vedic era. Firstly, environmental pollution and secondly people have chosen to eat carbohydrates on a daily basis and there is also a shift of complex carbohydrates to refined carbohydrates.

Environmental pollution, especially with high particulate matter PM 2.5 exposure, is linked with diabetes. Any particulate matter that is less than 2.5 µg/m3 in size can be absorbed from respiratory system, enter into the blood and release pro–inflammatory products leading to endothelial dysfunction and resultant diabetes and heart disease.

As per WHO, the air content of PM2.5 should be less than 10 µg/m3. In India, the levels are always more than 60 µg/m3as 60 µg/m3 concentration has been accepted as normal in India. This means that an Indian is already six times more exposed to PM 2.5 particulate.

In India, we can see values as high as 300–400 µg/m3 in selected areas on a daily basis. Constant exposure to PM 2.5 particulate matter leads to endothelial dysfunction, one of the major factors that increase the prevalence of diabetes.

As per Chandok Upanishad, food is Brahman. Food contains the same consciousness as that of human body. Fruits remain alive for up to 40 minutes after they are plucked from the tree unless they are refrigerated or frozen at the same time.

A fruit without consciousness is dead food and does not have protective nutritional value. PM2.5 particulates can also gets absorbed in the fruits, reducing its nutritional value.

If the same food is also devoid of consciousness, it will not be able to prevent and protect human being from various diseases.

To prevent oneself from diabetes, therefore, one should avoid eating refined carbohydrates, omit carbohydrates 80 days in a year from diet and avoid exposure to high PM2.5 pollution matter, exercise more and try to eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables, which are locally grown and seasonal.

Why do we worship Kush Grass?

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‘Dharmasaya Dharata’ which means religion is what we practice. Hence, whatever the wise thought was good for health and hygiene has been enforced in the garb of religion. Several religious practices are in reality linked with health and the use of kush grass is no exception.

No traditional Hindu Indian pooja ritual is complete without the use of Durva (Doob) and Kush grasses.

Durva grass is used for Ganesh pooja and signifies the removal of obstacles from life. The peculiarity of Durva grass is that if you plant it in one area it will proliferate by itself and spread out in a wide area. This implies that a human family should be like the Durva grass, having spontaneous, effortless and obstacle-less growth.

The second herb, which is used in pooja, is the kush grass which is known for its purity. In Ramayana, Valmiki named Sita’s two sons Luv andKush. At the time of birth, Valmiki took a blade of kush grass and broke it into two and he named Sita’s first sonKush and other Luv.Kush is a benevolent grass, a symbol of progress and alertness. It is a satvik plant and that stands for intelligence. The term ‘kushal buddhi’ originates from the word kush meaning alert, pure and bright mind.

In Bhagwad Gita (shloka 6.10), Lord Krishna says that for meditation one should sit on his or her own firm seat that is neither too high nor too low; covered with sacred Kush grass; deer skin and a cloth, one over the other, in a clean area.Kushgrass is used to make asanas (a mat for sitting) for worshipping and during yagnas. It is also used in the making of vedi during marriages.

The Garuda Purana has described rituals for a Panchak death. It says when the death of a close relative takes place during the period of Panchak, within one year, five family members may die if proper post-death rituals are not observed. These involve the placement of four small ‘dolls’ made ofKush grass (described as the hair of Lord Vishnu) on shoulders and knees of the dead body before cremation. This is accompanied by the chanting of mantras.

Garuda Purana also talks about the cremation of a person whose body has not been found as in natural calamities, bomb blasts, drowning, etc. It prescribes that  under such circumstances,  an effigy of Kush grass should be made to represent the physical body of the deceased and the usual rituals of cremation should be followed. Medically too, this representative cremation is therapeutic as it helps to alleviate sorrow and reduce post traumatic stress disorders in the concerned family members.

Sankalp, a firm intent to do something, is a routine ritual in one’s life. When one takes a sankalp to do something, it becomes obligatory for him or her to do it. It is like taking a vow.Kushgrass is often held in the hands before taking a sankalp.

In Ayurveda, theKushgrass is called desmostactya bipinnata. It is a clean, pure and brittle grass that grows in abundance in the plains and hills ofIndia. It is  acrid, cooling, oleaginous, aphrodisiac, and diuretic and  has been known for its use in the treatment of blood disorders, asthma, thirst, jaundice, stone in the urinary bladder, disease of skin, uterus, etc.

Traditional Chattisgarh, known for herbal medicines, uses the medicinal properties ofKushgrass in many herbal ingredients. Kush sharbat, made from Kush roots, is a routine drink in that area. The traditional healers of Chattisgarh use this preparation  for women patients for gynecological disorders.

A mala or garland made from the roots of Kushgrass is also used for  sacred and virtuous activities. Most Hindu believes that Lord Vishnu resides in stone (Shaligram), tulsi plant, peepal tree and kush grass.

Every ritual has a significance for health. Whatever is offered to God can be taken in the body for the well-being of the soul. Kushgrass root / leaf juice should be consumed by everybody as a health drink. At least it should be offered in the form of a charnamrut whenever a ritual is being performed. TheKushgrass  has medicinal effects and helps to increase the alertness in the body and in detoxification of the body.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in his teachings said “Pragyapradh or ‘mistake of the intellect’ occurs when the intellect, drawn towards and influenced by material consciousness, loses connection with the wholeness of consciousness. And this happens when we stop being centered within ourselves.”

Dr Deepak Chopra in Perfect Health wrote: “Aging is ‘a mistake of the intellect’. This mistake consists of identifying oneself solely with the physical body.”

Dr Ram Kant Mishra wrote: “The Ayurveda texts define the source of all disease and suffering as Pragyapradh. This occurs when individuals (or even single cells) ‘forget’ their connection with the wholeness of life and believe themselves to be isolated entities. Creating, and then eating, genetically engineered foods expose us to Pragyapradh”.

 In Ayurveda, the origin of all disease is traced to “Pragyapradh”, a term which means “mistake of the intellect”. This term comprises of two words i.e. “Pragya” meaning intellect and “parade” meaning crime, thus giving the complete meaning as ‘doing wrong things in spite of knowing about their negative side effects or consequences that will lead to a disease’.

In Ayurveda, it is said that Pragyapradh is the main cause of a disease, especially janpadodhwans (epidemic diseases).

 The various mistakes performed by the intellect can be classified into three groups:

  • Dhi (intellectual) or ‘due to lack of intellect or ignorance’. It refers to diseases occurring due to ignorance. For example a person not knowing the bad effects of alcohol indulges in it.
  • Dhriti (awareness) or ‘when one does wrong things in spite of the awareness’. For example, when a person knows that smoking is bad for health but is still addicted to it and is unable to leave it due to his craving or weak will power.
  • Smriti (memory) or ‘smrutivibhrast, which refers to the onset of ailment due to loss of memory. For example, a person who is aware of the bad effects of refined carbohydrates decides not to eat them in future but eats them forgetting his resolution not to eat.

 In all these situations, the body is controlled by the intellect and the ego and not by the soul and one is not taking decisions from the level of consciousness.

Mistake of the intellect involves disobeying the laws of nature. There are three common mistakes listed in the Vedantic literature, namely attachment (or addiction), desires (weak will power) and show off (ego).

The basic description of above comes from the Epic Ramayana where attachment is represented by Kaikeyi, desires or greed by the golden deer Marich, and the ego by Ravana. If any one of them would have been absent, Ramayana could not have taken place.

Today we know that addictions to refined carbohydrates, tobacco, drugs and alcohol are responsible for most lifestyle disorders. Desires and greed are responsible for our nibbling habit at functions. And showing-off in parties and marriage gatherings makes us choose costlier fruits and vegetables which are non-seasonal and not grown locally and, hence, unnatural.