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Dr K K Aggarwal

Why do we apply holy ash?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Bhasma is the holy ash produced from the Homa, the sacrificial fire, wherein special wood along with ghee and other herbs are offered as a part of pooja. By the time a Bhasma is formed, no trace of original matter remains in the ash. Ash obtained from any burnt object is not bhasma. The ritual involves worshipping the deity by pouring ash as abhishek and then distributing it as Bhasma, which is then applied on the forehead (usually), upper arms, chest, or rubbed all over the body. Some consume a pinch of Bhasma when they receive it. The word Bhasma is derived from “bha” or “bhartsanam” (“to destroy”) and “sma” or “smaranam” (“to remember”). It denotes “that by which our sins are destroyed and the Lord is remembered”. Bhasma is also called vibhuti, which means glory. Bhasma is associated with Lord Shiva who applies it all over His body.

Spiritually, the Homa is the offering of oblations into the fire with sacred chants and signifies offering or surrender of the ego and egocentric desires into the fire of knowledge. The resultant ash signifies the purity of the mind. The fire of knowledge burns the oblation and wood signifying ignorance and inertia respectively. The application of ash implies that one should burn false identification with the body.

Bhasma has medicinal values in Ayurveda. It is supposed to be the strongest of all Ayurveda preparations. According to Ayurveda, a Bhasma is formed when the matter is converted into non matter by the process of homa. The non matter is the spirit or the energy of the matter being processed with strong healing powers. It has the same significance as any ‘potentised’ medicine in homoeopathy. It absorbs excess moisture from the body and prevents colds and headaches.

When applied with a red spot at the centre, the mark symbolizes Shiva–Shakti (the unity of energy and matter that creates the entire seen and unseen universe). The Upanishads say that the famous Mrityunjaya Mantra should be chanted whilst applying ash on the forehead.

Why do we do Pradakshina?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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We cannot draw a circle without a center point. The Lord is the centre, source and essence of our lives. We go about doing our daily chores, recognizing Him as the focal point in our lives. This is the significance of pradakshina, which is a Sanskrit word meaning circumambulation or walking in a circle around the deity. Pradakshina is done only in a clockwise manner. The right side symbolizes auspiciousness. During pradakshina, we remind ourselves to lead an auspicious life of righteousness, with the Lord on our right side. Also every point on the circumference of a circle is equidistant from the center. This means that wherever or whoever we may be, we are equally close to the Lord. His grace flows towards us without partiality.

Indian scriptures enjoin us – “Matru devo Bhava, Pitru devo Bhava, Acharya devo Bhava” – May you consider your parents and teachers as you would the Lord. With this in mind we also do pradakshina around our parents and divine personages.

After the completion of the traditional worship (pooja), we customarily do pradakshina around ourselves. In this way we recognize and remember the supreme divinity within us, which alone is idolized in the form of the Lord that we worship outside.

Why do we Offer Food to God in Every Pooja?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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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 andtamoguna, the food items are categorized as satwik, rajsik or tamsik.

Satwik food provides calmness, purity and promotes longevity, intelligence, strength, health, happiness and delight. The examples of satwik food items are 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 items possess attributes of negativity, passion and restlessness. Hot, spicy and salty food items with pungent, sour and salt taste promote rajasqualities.

Tamsik food has attributes of inducing sleep, ignorance, dullness and inertia. The examples of tamsik food are meat, onions, garlic, left-over food, etc.

Only satwik food is offered to God. Rajsik and tamsik food is never offered as Bhog. The only persons who were offered tamsik and rajsik food in Ramayana are Ahi Ravana and Kumbhkaran. Both of them were of an evil nature. Kumbhkaran signified 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 panchamrut and is a routine offering to the 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 like leaves, flower and fruits are 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, therefore, of offering food to God before eating forces us to 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.

Why Spirituality is wellbeing–friendly

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. What you believe in can have a big impact on health and longevity. People with high levels of religious beliefs or spirituality have lower cortisol responses. Cortisol is a hormone the body releases in response to stress.
  2. Positive thinking produces nearly a 30 percent drop in perception of pain.
  3. Spirituality and the practice of religion are associated with a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Those who regularly attend organized religious activities may live longer than those who don’t. Regular participation lowers mortality rate by about 12 percent a year.
  5. People who undergo cardiac rehabilitation feel more confident and perceive greater improvements in their physical abilities if they have a strong faith.
  6. Increased levels of spirituality and religious faith may help substance abusers kick their habit.
  7. Spirituality stimulates the relaxation response. When the body is relaxed, your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate all go down, which decreases the body’s stress response.
  8. Spirituality can affect immune–system function. Spirituality, faith, church attendance improves immune function in ways that can be measured, like an increase in white blood cells.
  9. Prayer heals the heart. Positive talking and thinking in the ICU produces better results.
  10. Spirituality is what brings you peace and safety. It can be achieved through God or Goddess, nature, a beautiful sunset, a meditation, Pranayama, religious meeting, chanting, mind body relaxation, etc. Spirituality is something that can help all the way from promoting wellness to helping with recovery.

Why are Doctors called God?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Modern medicine is only couple of hundred years old. Prior to that traditional medicine was used based on the local needs of the country; the oldest of them being the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine originating from the Atharveda. Unani, Chinese, and Tibetan medicine probably are all offshoots of Ayurveda.

Doctors in India since Vedic times have been equated to God. This has continued today even after modern medicine has taken over. No other profession whether it is priest, lawyers, judges, politicians, commands the same status as that of the medical doctors. Medical profession is the noblest profession.

The role of a doctor is to remove the miseries and save the life of a person and that is one reason most of us think that a medical doctor has been given designation equivalent to that of God. But it has many other perspectives also.

A common man’s perspective of God is a force which can do and undo anything, for whom nothing is impossible, who is the final decision maker, whose decision cannot be challenged, who can give an instantaneous relief, who can punish and reward and he who overcomes miseries. He can also answer the unknown as he is supposed to know everything. In Bhagwad Gita and other Vedic texts, GOD is equated to consciousness, a network of energized information, a force which cannot be burnt by fire, wet by water, dried by air or cut by weapon; a force which is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient and still ever-pervading.

A trained qualified medical doctor who has his understanding based on the mind, body and soul has nearly the same characteristics. He overcomes miseries, mystifies his presence as soon as he touches the patient, gives immediate relief, which begins right from the time he gives a healing touch to the patient, his decision often is considered final and his decisions are almost predictable to 100%.

God is the person on whom one has blind belief and faith. At the time when a person is sick or in acute emergency the same belief and faith is seen in doctors.

Deepak Chopra in his book ‘How to Know God’ has explained God of different levels. According to him, God is a person from amongst the society with one step higher level of consciousness. He describes, as per the Vedic text, seven different levels of consciousness a person can posses and they are at the level of fight & flight, reactive consciousness, restful alertness consciousness, intuitive consciousness, creative consciousness, sacred consciousness and unified consciousness. If we take this as the classification then even a ruler of the society may be considered God by many people. But if you take universal criteria then a person who has achieved sainthood, who sees the same consciousness in everybody, treats individuals without caste, creed and religion, who overcomes miseries of people irrespective of their age, status or paying capacity is GOD. A doctor fits into these criteria.

For him every patient is same and his job is to remove his or her miseries at that particular moment. Probably, this is another reason why doctors have been regarded as God at every level of perception and from every segment of the society.

Most people have fear of death, fear of unknown, fear of loss and fear of disability. Whenever there is an unknown fear they think of God. A medical doctor is also remembered whenever there is a health crisis.

Ayurvedic text clearly describes chapters & chapters on the subject ‘how to predict death’. It describes symptoms, which, if present, with certainty one can say that this person is going to die in how many hours, days, months or years. That level of prediction gives public a feeling that doctors are God because they have seen doctors for thousands of years giving verdict that this person is not going to survive after a particular period and that used to happen.

According to Bible every work God does he does through his messenger. Medical doctors are the only certified universal messenger of God in the society. Rest all become God for a particular period, for a particular instance or a particular person.

Health is not mere absence of disease but a state of physical, mental, social, spiritual, environmental and financial well being. This definition fully was used by the Eastern philosophy and Eastern pathies. Modern doctors, however, practice more often an instant practice with emphasis on quick treatment, handling acute emergencies and lifestyle illnesses. They hardly take mental and spiritual health into consideration. That may be one reason why slowly people are withdrawing the status of God from the doctors. They have started equating a medical doctor with any other marketing profession.

Out of four purposes of life: dharma, artha, kama & moksha, dharma is the most important. The literal meaning of dharma is to hold. God is the force with 100% dharma in his life. Dharma of a doctor is to treat and save the life of a person at any cost. One recalls the movie Achanak where the doctor saved the life of a person who has been sentenced to death and the day he saves him the police officer takes him for hanging. The movie ends with a message that a doctor has to do his dharma and police officer has to do his.

At the time of miseries, a doctor is treated as a healer. Nobody bothers whether the doctor came from which religion, caste, race or whether the doctor is male, female or from third gender. People do not bother about the ill habits or out of profession activities of the doctor; they are only concerned about the fact that doctor is a universal healer and overcomes the miseries of everybody who approaches him. A doctor provides free treatment to those who cannot afford or comes to an emergency ward without any money.

Putting doctors under Consumer Protection Act is the biggest blunder done by the government. How can one make God accountable? Can a child born blind at birth abuse or curse God for making him blind.

I think all of us should introspect and remember that doctor is the messenger of God born to remove miseries of the sick individuals.

Why is Ganesha worshipped in every pooja?

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 pooja 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.

Overexpression through words results in 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 one’s own self, 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 the 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.

Why do We Burn Camphor In Any Pooja?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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No Aarti is performed without camphor. Camphor when lit burns itself out completely without leaving a trace of it.

Camphor represents our inherent tendencies or vasanas. When lit by the fire of knowledge about the self the vasanas burn themselves out completely, not leaving a trace of ego.

Ego is responsible for a sense of individuality that keeps us separate from the Lord or consciousness.

In addition, camphor when burns, emits a pleasant perfume. This signifies that as we burn our ego we can only spread love and nothing else.