Monday, December 23, 2013

Your loving hands


Your Loving Hands

Krishna give me the strength,
to follow Your plans.
I want to be a useful puppet
in Your loving hands.


Krishna give me patience,
to peacefully stand,
as You write my life story
with Your loving hands. 


Krishna give me tolerance,
to deal with and understand
the people you put around me
with your loving hands.


Krishna give me determination,
to keep walking as planned
on the way that You point me,
with Your loving hands.


Krishna give me contentment,
so I make no demands,
and enjoy just what You give me,
with Your loving hands.


Krishna just stay beside me,
keep holding my hands.
as I fight my inner demons
I need Your loving hands.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Worshipping God through music


In the Gaudiya Vaishnav tradition of Lord Chaitanya, we primarily worship God through music. Sankirtan, where devotees dance joyfully while singing the holy names of Lord Krishna, is the primary component of all our programmes. The strong philosophy and deity worship in the temple are there to support the connection to the Lord through His Holy names. Ultimately, Krishna Consciousness is about reviving our relationship with Lord Krishna through the chanting of His names.

Before I moved to Australia, my participation in keertans was generally passive. I simply followed the singer and occasionally clapped along. I loved the dancing in keertans of course, but I never contributed to the creating of the songs. Anybody who knows me will tell you that I am one of the most musically 'challenged' people there could be. I am tone deaf and 'beat' deaf as well. I can sing along only the simplest tunes and playing musical instruments is not my cup of tea.

Ironically, I ended up marrying a musician - my spouse is an expert mridanga (keertan drum) player, knows and sings countless tunes and listens to music all day long. He plays the mridanga in every program we attend - it is his service. In one such program, the cymbals were put into my hands! (I am not sure why but I think the assumption was that since he plays the drum so well - surely I could play the cymbals which are much simpler. Also everybody else attending was pretty new and no one could play them.)

Oh Lord - how I struggled in the beginning! While I could manage the slow tunes, I just couldn't get the beat or pace for the faster ones. I must have spoilt numerous keertans by playing out of sync while my husband glared at me from across the room. There were occasions when I had to stop playing completely and mostly I just compromised by banging the cymbals in a fast, continuous beat like clapping.

In spite of all this no one seemed interested in taking the service away from me. I still seemed to be doing better than anyone else in that program. My husband started practice sessions at home, he played the mridanga and sang the fast tunes while I struggled to catch up.

Over the year though, I eventually started getting it. From not getting it - to somehow playing the instrument but unable to sing along - to singing and playing together quite smoothly - I eventually got there. The peak of my cymbal playing was when I played continuously for a 3 hour keertan in a friend's house. As I played and sang, I felt closer to the names than ever before. The absorption was intense - mostly because I was now an active participant, not a passive listener.

Keertan can be compared to deity dressing. The instrument players decorate the holy names of the Lord, just as the priest decorates the deity form of the Lord. While viewing the decorated forms of the Lord can be absorbing, actually dressing the deity brings us closer to the Lord in a wholly different way.

Similarly,  my cymbal playing brought an all new dimension to the keertan for me. Perhaps, I should start learning the mridanga now :)           

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Vegetarian Pasta

I am writing after a long time on cooking. I guess, mainly because this is not a cooking blog and I am not that great a cook to be qualified to write one. For eg. check out blogs like Manjula's kitchen - my go to place for different recipes. I dont really have the patience to take pictures of my food, nor do I know the exact measure of the spices that I use.

However, food and cooking are my passion and in the 1 year post marriage I must have tried out 100+ different recipes on my hubby with very little complaining from him :) So I felt it was high time I uploaded a new recipe here.

I am fairly good at spicing up western dishes - so that they appeal to Indian tastebuds. Here is my easy recipe of pasta.

Vegetarian Pasta

The image is not of the recipe given
 
A delicious vegetarian pasta recipe with lots of  vegetables, cheese and soy

Cooking time : 30 minutes
Serves: 2 people

Ingredients:

250 gm penne pasta (Any kind of pasta will do actually - shell, spiral, penne or macroni)
1 carrot diced
1 capsicum diced
1 large tomato - pureed or 3 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
1/2 cup princess soya(soaked and chopped)/soaked and fried soya chunks(optional)
1/4 cup corn kernels/peas
1 cup grated/shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp cracked chilli or 1 tsp red chilli powder
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Steps:

1. Cook the pasta according to the instructions given on the packet.
2. Heat the olive oil in a deep wok/frying pan on medium flame.
3. Add the chilli, basil and oregano.
4. Add the tomato puree and stir till all spices are mixed. Add in a little water if you are using concentrated tomato puree.
5. Add all the vegetables and the soya. Cover the pan and cook on medium flame, stirring occasionally till all veggies are cooked. A good test is to the check the carrots - if they are cooked then everything will be cooked.
6.Add the salt and pepper. This is the pasta sauce. I like to keep the veggies moist, so in case they have become too dry you can add in a little water at this stage.
7. Mix in the pasta with the veggies. Line a baking tray with baking paper, spread the pasta+veggies in the tray, put the cheese on top and bake in a pre-heated oven until the cheese turns golden.

Note: 

1. If you dont have much time you can add the cheese directly into the veggies after step 6 and cook it for a bit and mix in the pasta. It will taste just as delicious.
2. If you dont have Italian spices - just put in 1 tsp grated ginger and a pinch of asafoetida (hing).

Enjoy your yummy and quick pasta meal! 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

What compels us to keep a promise?

Lord Ramachandra, is often described as maryada purushottam - the ideal man - because of the way He led his life. He is best known for keeping the vow of 14 years exile - a promise He made to his father. On the day when He was to be crowned Emperor of the world, the young prince left the luxuries of palace life and entered the forest accompanied by His beautiful wife Sita and His brother Laxman. He carried with Himself, no worldly possessions except His bow and began to live an austere life with mendicants and rishis.

What possible reason did Dashrath, Lord Rama's father, have to send his beloved son to the forest? Dashrath and all the citizens of Ayodhya had wanted Ramachandra to be the next Emperor. Dashrath had been actively participating in all the ceremonies leading up to the crowning day. In fact, Lord Rama was Dashrath's life and soul and after banishing Him, Dashrath died, overwhelmed with grief.

Why then did Dashrath force his son to take this vow? Dashrath, himself was keeping a promise - a promise he had made to his wife Kaikeyi, years ago. Once,during a fierce battle, Dashrath's chariot wheel came lose. Kaikeyi, who was accompanying her husband, noticed this and stopped the wheel from coming off by putting her finger in the hub. The grateful Dashrath, granted her 2 boons or promises - "Ask anything of me and I shall give it to you."

When it was time for Rama to be crowned king, Kaikeyi began to feel insecure of her son, Bharat's and thus her own position in the kingdom. She invoked  the 2 promises and asked that Lord Rama be banished from the kingdom and Bharat be crowned Emperor.

Dashrath kept his promise and Lord Rama kept His promise and this eventually led to the unfolding of the great epic Ramayana.

Meditating upon this story, one can't help but wonder, what motivated them to keep their promise? And of course in our own day-to-day dealings, do we keep any promises?

As a child, my own world was full of promises. Mother - die promise and God promise were the highest grade of promises one could make. They were usual taken to absolve oneself of any accusations. "Mother-die promise I did not take your crayons!" - The accuser would then immediately start looking elsewhere. After all, if I had taken the crayons, my mother would die! They were also taken to guarantee something in the future. "God promise I will share my crayons with you tomorrow if you gave me your eraser today." The eraser was then given with blind trust, after all God was witness to the deal!

But what is the situation in the adult world? Often law is used to enforce any kind of promises or deals. All major promises are spelled out in carefully worded legal contracts - with heavy penalties imposed on the party that breaks the deal. Now- a-days, even marriage, where two individuals come together willingly, out of love, to share a life together, are preceded by pre-nuptial agreements. They may say to each other - "I promise to be with you in sickness and in health", but their lawyers have already worked out legal contracts which assure that they wont have to part with their individual wealth in case they are unable to keep that promise.

But are all promises made under fear of law? Dont we all make and keep promises in our life? What compels us to keep a promise?