This supremely peaceful pond in Juhu is hardly known to Mumbaikars

Mumbai is such a vast city that even those who have been staying here for decades aren’t aware about some of its delightful spots. One such place is a pond in Juhu called Brahma Kund. For some reason, this place is unknown to almost everyone I know. It’s strange how hardly anyone from my circles has ever noticed it.

Brahma Kund is situated in the lane opposite to the Iskcon or Hare Rama Hare Krishna temple. It appears suddenly on the left side of the lane. Its appearance is like a miniature Banganga, which is situated long way away from here in Walkeshwar (see pictures HERE). It is five feet deep and 12 X 12 feet in dimension.

Juhu-pond
Click to enlarge

There are footsteps to descend into the pond where the water is still. It has a number of tortoises and fishes. Smart spots are inscribed to place diyas. There are a couple of temples situated inside its vicinity. One looks like a Shivalinga and the other is not known.

This is because, unfortunately, one is not allowed to go inside the premises. This has been the case ever since I spotted the pond for the first time in 2012. Not sure till what period were people allowed inside. This is the sad part. I guess there might be some logical reason behind this.

But one can experience extreme peace even by peeping into the pond from the outside. Thankfully, my work involves visiting this place often. So, I recharge myself by stopping by this pond each time. There are times when I reach few minutes early just to make sure I spend some time here.

It is difficult for me to explain what is so special about Brahma Kund. All I can say is that I experience extreme peace and serenity, something so rare in the fast moving city aka concrete jungle. It’s an example of nature going hand-in-hand with spirituality.

I would love to know the history behind this pond. There is no info available on the internet except that it’s ancient. Any more enlightenment would be highly appreciated.

P.S:– This place feels more delightful during rains/ monsoons.

By: Keyur Seta

Brahma-Kund-Juhu
Brahma Kund during monsoon

Book Review: When Life Turns Turtle

By: Keyur Seta

When Life Turns Turtle is a spiritual fiction novel by author Raj Supe. It tells the story of a 38-year-old Bollywood filmmaker Indraneel. He has had a successful journey from theatre to movies. His latest film, Strugglers, made with newcomers, has become a box-office hit. However, Indraneel’s personal life is going nowhere.

After going through a bitter divorce with Chitra, he gets involved with a struggling actress Avni. Unfortunately, life continues to betray Indraneel. It is at this point that his best friend Arunodaya advises him to visit Rishikesh and try treading on the spiritual path. Indraneel hesitantly agrees. But will this have any long-term positive effect on Indraneel’s life? Will he ever find peace?

when-life-turns-turtleWhen Life Turns Turtle basically falls in the self-discovery zone. But it actually goes much further and deeper than most of the stories on this theme. It provides a wake-up call that fills you with delight. Its impact is hard but at the same time gentle. Normally, books of this genre are only meant for those who are into spirituality. But this one goes beyond the target audience simply because any grown-up adult, especially from urban cities, would relate to it.

The initial portion is interesting. But the book gets fully into the mode once the story shifts to Rishikesh. From here on, it just keeps enlightening in a delightful way without being preachy. As Indraneel goes about his life in Rishikesh meeting and interacting with different people, you feel as if you too are present in the Himalayan town witnessing the discussions. But what gives you a terrific high is the climax and the events leading up to it.

Supe achieves such favorable results by keeping simplicity quotient in mind, even while explaining concepts that are mostly considered complicated. Be it in the overall plot, narration and the definition of characters and their distinctive psyche. The author provides a lot of information to the readers through interesting conversations, without making it sound non-fictitious.

The only weak point here is the length of the book. The story could have been told in much less than 468 pages.

Overall: When Life Turns Turtle is a delightful spiritual journey that forces you to introspect the life you are living. The book also has the capacity to appeal those who are not much into spirituality, provided they are okay with the length.

Cover: Peaceful scenario with light, pleasant colors. Perfectly goes with the theme.

Rating: 4.5/5

Author: Raj Supe

Publishers: Leadstart Corp

Pages: 468

Price: Rs 399/-

How have we made enjoyment a complicated process?

By: Keyur Seta

Taking a break from your daily routine every once in a while is important for working professionals, especially in today’s stressful era of urban life. But I have been observing that people have devised some complicated methods of unwinding. This ends up making them more tired (mentally and physically), which defeats the very purpose of unwinding.

I would like to explain myself through the following observation:

dancing
Picture: Meetup.com

Recently, I and my friends had gone for a short trip to Lonavala as the hill station appears more beautiful during monsoons or rainy season. Except me and maybe 1-2 others, all got highly drunk at night and danced like anything. Obviously, they woke up with a hangover and the road ride back home didn’t help them either. Hence, they required that day and the following day to unwind from the unwinding process.

Just four days later I was required to visit the same place again to cover a film festival. It was a packed five day schedule. I had to visit the venue before lunch every day and return to my hotel in the evening. Then I had to work till night. The next morning I used to complete my pending work before heading to the venue again.

lonavala-mountainsThis would appear to you as a trip full of work and stress. You might also feel as if I would have got terribly tired by the time the trip ended and would have needed 1-2 days to recover. But what if I tell you that despite the hectic work schedule, I not only enjoyed but also felt energetic throughout the five days? This was possible through a simple process of surrendering to nature.

Daily before breakfast, I went for long walks, little bit of jogging and exercises. My hotel was far away from the highway and the venue was way inside the main road. But this proved to be a blessing in disguise. It meant that I got more time to spend with nature while walking to my hotel and the venue. Plus, every now and then I paused to have a look at the scenic beauty of mountains surrounded by clouds and fog.

The result was that I never felt tired even an ounce despite working rigorously and walking for miles daily (the monsoon adding icing on the cake). And more importantly, I didn’t require any unwinding from the trip and was able to join office without taking a single break.

lonavala

lonavala-railway-station

lonavala-monsoon

6 reasons why Krishna was the ideal Common Man

Lord Krishna is one of the most worshiped Gods in the world. His followers or devotees broadly associate him with values like, righteousness, wisdom, valor, innocent pranks, fearlessness, adherence to truth, etc.

But his simple way of life is hardly mentioned among his greatness. This comes as a huge surprise because his simplicity and humility were very much on display throughout his long life.

Here are some points indicating that Krishna was the ideal Common Man:

Krishna-Sudama
Krishna & Sudama (Picture: Hariharji.blogspot.com)

1) As a child, Krishna possessed miraculous powers through which he could easily kill demons or evil-doers. But not even once did he consider himself superior to others. He never had the attitude of ‘I am above the rest’ and considered people from all walks of life as his own. This is clearly seen from how he used to play or mingle with just any common citizen.

2) The name ‘Krishna’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Krishi’. It means ‘farmer’. Staying true to his name, Krishna happily carried out farming, despite the fact that he was a special being.

3) The story of Krishna and his friend Sudama also highlights his down-to-earth nature. Krishna greeted and welcomed his friend Sudama in the same manner as he used to do during their childhood despite achieving such Godly prominence.

4) When a war-like situation was developing between Pandavas and Kauravas, Krishna personally went to meet Duryodhana to convince him against fighting a war. He had no qualms in playing the role of a messenger.

5) In the great war of Mahabharata at Kurukshetra, Krishna decided to become the charioteer to Arjuna. In fact, he himself volunteered for it. He also followed Arjuna’s directions like an obedient charioteer when the latter asked him to take the chariot in between two warring camps.

Krishna and Arjun
Picture: vishalgosai.blogspot.in/

6) Among its various messages, the Bhagavad Gita, which was delivered by Krishna, preaches us to be non-materialistic or non-possessive. This is the biggest indication that Krishna not only himself believed in being a Common Man, but also wanted us to be one.

Through these points, Krishna teaches us that one should stay humble even if he happens to be the God of the universe. So, if the God himself didn’t practice high-handedness, who are we to think high about ourselves?

But a lot of his devotees I come across practice just the opposite. They keep chanting the holy name of Krishna, but are forever concerned about material possessions. Not just that, they even love to flaunt their ‘Social Status’ by spending abnormally. Naturally, these class-conscious people hate mingling with people from the so-called lowly professions.

By: Keyur Seta

Short Story: What is the true meaning of worshiping God?

By: Keyur Seta

People worship various Gods in various ways. There are innumerable theories and beliefs as to how to worship God and what pleases him/her the most. Some go through various austerities while others believe in saying a silent prayer for few seconds. But what exactly is the meaning of true worship? What pleases God the most?

Have a look at the following two scenarios and decide for yourself:-

1)

Mr X is a super-rich industrialist, living in the plush Cuffe Parade locality of south Mumbai. His family, which consists of his wife, two kids and mother, has access to all the luxuries one could imagine. His kids go to the most expensive school in the city. Buying new clothes, gadgets, accessories and what not is a continuous process for them. His family just needs a reason to throw parties that cost lakhs of rupees.

Mr X’s family is also very religious. They have a chamber in their apartment where they perform religious activities twice daily, without fail. His family religiously follows and celebrates all holy days and festivals as per the religious calendar. They are also seen embarking to holy places at least 4-5 times each year. Needless to say, they spend a bomb in religious activities too.

2)

Swami-VivekanandaLiving in the Girgaum area of south Mumbai, Mr Y hails from a simple middle-class family. He is a bank executive in a bank while his wife works with an insurance company. Naturally, their income falls in the average category. Their only child goes to a normal private school. Although Mr and Mrs Y believe in God, they aren’t ritualistic. They hardly visit places of worship and never go for holy trips.

Despite the fact that they don’t earn handsomely, the couple has been saving money since a year to contribute to the needy farmers of the Marathwada district, who are committing suicide due to drought and debt. They also involve themselves in various social issues selflessly whenever they get a chance.

So, the question arises as to who exactly is worshiping God here? Family X or family Y?

You decide.

Actors Nana Patekar and Makarand Anaspure have been selflessly working towards the cause of farmers of Maharashtra. They have been contributing from their own pocketss despite not being rich. They have started an NGO called NAM Foundation.

You can contribute any amount that suits you by following the following method:-

Send in your amount to “NAM Foundation”

SBI Current account no. 35226127148

IFSC Code no. SBIN0006319

SWIFT Code no. SBININBB238

 

“If a stray dog of my country remains without food, my religion will be to feed and take care of him. All else is either non-religion of false religion.”

“He who sees Shiva in the poor, in the weak, and in the diseased, really worships Shiva. And if he sees Shiva only in the image, his worship is but preliminary.”

– Swami Vivekananda

5 reasons why Dhoni is an epitome of Spirituality

By: Keyur Seta

Yesterday’s India v/s Bangladesh match in the ongoing World T20 would be remembered for many reasons. India’s not-so-impressive batting exhibition, Bangladesh’s fearlesslessness, India’s shocking drop catches, the visitors’ throwing away of wickets, Hardik Pandya’s courageous last over and, lastly, Bangladesh batsmen’s suicide in the fourth and fifth ball of the final over.

But one man who stood between Bangladesh and victory was India’s captain cool, Mahendra Singh Dhoni for his captaincy and wicket-keeping. In fact, if there was Man of the Match Award in any of the two categories, there would be very few candidates ahead of Dhoni. His mind-blowing stumping and the runout of the last ball will remain as historic moments of the game for time immemorial.

But apart from being a great finisher, one of the finest keepers and a super intelligent captain, Dhoni has always showed signs of him being a truly spiritual self. And this was visible the most in yesterday’s match in reasons more than one.

Here they are:-

Dhoni
Picture: Espncricinfo.com

Calm under calamity: Under Dhoni’s captaincy, India has been through matches that can give severe anxiety attacks to any player. Examples – 2007 T20 World Cup Final against Pakistan and yesterday’s match. But even in the most nail-biting moments, Dhoni remains as calm as a cucumber. One can’t find a trace of anxiety, tension or stress bothering him. This is a very, very rare quality indeed and the ones possessing it are no ordinary humans. They are truly spiritual.

Fearless: Expectations from team India are always sky high. When more than 120 million people can’t bear defeat and are ready to pounce on you if you lose, such pressure can produce a great fear of the consequences of defeat. But Dhoni doesn’t fall anywhere near to this category of people. He seems to believe in the saying in the Gita, “Karam kar, phal ki chinta na kar.”

Self-sacrifice: More than a decade ago when Dhoni made his debut, he either used to open the innings or bat at number 3. He scored some big hundreds batting at the top, with his highest score being a mammoth 183 not out v/s Sri Lanka. But a couple of years later as he became the captain, he dropped himself at number 7, just to get the team balance right. His total number of runs and centuries would have been way higher if he batted at the top but he didn’t for the sake of the team. One of the biggest self-sacrifices ever seen in the game!

Humble: Despite being one of the most successful captains and a legendary cricketer, Dhoni continues to be humble, as is seen from his numerous interviews. His manner of interacting is the same as it was when he made his debut. His humility is seen more when, after lifting a trophy, he just gives it away to his team members to enjoy. As Swami Vivekananda said, “A person who is strong but humble is loved by people and revered in true sense.”

Controlled happiness: Now, this is one of the biggest examples of a spiritual mind, which is unfazed even by huge amounts of joy. The line in the Gita, “Consider pain and pleasure equal,” simply means that one should be unaffected by loss as well as victory. It signifies a strong and peaceful mind, just like Dhoni’s. Even after winning the 2011 World Cup for India by hitting a six, Dhoni was calm and just smiled while Yuvraj Singh was screaming with happiness at the other end.

 

I don’t know which philosophy Mahi follows. Would love to know though.

 

Dhoni stumping Bangladesh

Dhoni runout Bangladesh

7 differences between Being Religious & Being Spiritual

By: Keyur Seta

I have a strong feeling that in olden or ancient times, being religious simply meant being a good person and doing good deeds. Swami Vivekananda also once said, “To be good and to do good, that is the whole of religion.” But over the decades or centuries, the meaning of leading a religious life has undergone a drastic change.

Today, the criteria for being religious is to carry out some ritual or the other, holding on to one particular faith, and having certain beliefs. In other words, they constantly need to do something or the other in the name of religion and worship only one or few particular Gods to call themselves religious.

Spiritual-images
Picture: Spiritlifectr.org

But at the same time, there are people, especially in today’s modern era, who surely believe in the existence of God. However, they prefer to be called spiritual but not religious.

So, what exactly is the meaning of being Religious and Spiritual and what is the difference between the two? I have tried explaining it by jotting down the characteristics of people from both categories. Please bear in mind that these characteristics are based on people’s beliefs and behavior in today’s era. It doesn’t necessarily reflect the original or ancient meaning of being Religious or Spiritual.

 

Characteristics of Religious people

 

Characteristics of Spiritual people

 

They label themselves with the names of any one religion. For example, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Jain, Jew, etc.

 

They have no labels stuck on them belonging to any particular religion.
They look at other people too through these labels, although they need no necessarily consider themselves superior to people from ‘other’ religions. They look at fellow human beings as fellow human beings, instead of their ‘religious’ identities. It can also be said that their religion is Humanity.

 

Some of them believe in the sub-sects within their religion like caste. As they don’t believe in religion, believing in things like caste is out of question.

 

They strictly abide by the ideologies and theories mentioned in the religious book/s of their own religion. They believe in the existence of one Universal God. They might believe in a book belonging to some religion, but they aren’t rigid about it being the only universal truth.

 

Carrying out various rituals and reciting certain verses are their important methods of worshiping or pleasing ‘their’ God/s. Although some of them might carry out certain prayers or rituals related to one particular religion, they don’t consider them to be related to that religion. They are open to believing ceremonies other faiths too.

 

They believe in fasting in the name of ‘their’ God. Most of them don’t believe in rituals like fasting. Even if they do, it will be aimed at self-control or for health reasons, rather than pleasing any God in order to get some returns.
They visit places of worship regularly. It is not necessary for them to visit places of worship. For them, God is everywhere and helping fellow human beings is equal to worshiping God. They also consider Nature as God.