Tag Archives: ignorance

Agni – Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya

Agni is the light that pulls us out of the abyss of ignorance, from darkness into light. It illuminates the path for the journey within. For the ancient sages the soul was the sacred fire. No philosophy was necessary to explain its self-evident luminosity. They lit its flames on their altars and in their hearts as the Divine consciousness coming forth from the material world.

Through it, they achieved a state of consciousness far beyond our current idea of intelligence as defined by the scientific mind and its interpretation of reality. Through it they touched the cosmic mind of which our human mind is but a spark.

Agni: The Flaming Godhead derives its name from a root whose quality of significance is a pre eminent force or intensity whether in state, action, sensation or movement. The sacred fire is the third eye of lord Shiva.  Agni melts, moulds and creates, never destroys but transforms. The fire was our first guru in the infancy of our species from which we learned the secrets of light and consciousness. The sacred fire, we could say, is the spiritual ancestor of all people of all races and continents. The religion of fire remains our natural religion—the very basis of our aspiration as a species to find the light.

Agni: Fire in the belly is the will to excel, to compete and emerge victorious. It propels the individual to acquire qualities needed for any transformation. He is the sheer will in the universe relentless in its pursuit. Whatever he does in his passion and power is guided by the light of the silent Truth within him. But then Agni is also merciless for it destroys those who don’t respond to its call. It propels us to destroy the ego we nurse so lovingly and transcend to a deeper consciousness. The sacred fire is the harbinger of the soul thereby delivering the “Aatma” to the “Paramatma”.

The other Gods awake with the dawn but Agni rises even in the night; he keeps his divine vision even in the darkness where there is no moon or star; the flame of divine will and knowledge is present in the densest obscurity. Even for the man sitting far off in the night enveloped by darkness of ignorance, this flame is the light which when perfectly kindled stirs the universe inside us and works its magic of growth and change. Time becomes a process of transformation, nourishing our inner light and ripening our souls.  In Dante’s “Purgatory”, fire signifies that every soul must wake through. Purgatory is the fire that purifies the process that forklifts the impurities out to leave the ‘Core Alloy” luminous.

Agni: The mysticism of the flames signify a stated condition of effective sacrifice, The sacrificial fire used in Hindu rituals is seen as an incarnation of Agni, so he serves as a conduit that “carries” the sacrifice of a worshiper to the gods or goddesses that are being worshiped. Transformations in a society, organization, family or an individual take place when the self sacrifices the ego; that is when the soul reincarnates. “Moksha” that we constantly seek is not of the other world, it exists in ours attained by our actions and thought.

Agni here being action and thought Vayu (Air). The divine force of Agni works through the vital energy of Vayu. Hand in hand they set the world on fire. All my life I’ve heard elders caution “ Don’t Play With Fire!!!”; but my life so far has been an ode to Agni which screams -”Lets Play”…!!!

…. AND YOURS???

Agni forms the first of a five-part series by Aanchal Sethi on the basic elements and how they manifest in our lives. The articles are an attempt to inspire the reader to introspect, recognize and draw strength from one’s inherent traits which seem to embody the characteristics of each of the five basic elements.  

By Aanchal Sethi

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Jal

Aum Jalbimbaye Vvidmahe

Nila Purushaye Dhimahi
Tanno Varunah Prachodayat

The Translation:

Om, let us meditate on the reflection of water
O person of ocean blue, give me higher intellect
And let the God of water illuminate my mind

Jal is the nectar of life. Water is the original creator.  Sprinkle just a few drops of cool water on the parched earth and see how life germinates there without any external help. “Jal” symbolizes boundless energy of an original idea, which can be ruthless amidst the winds of chaos.

Jal constitutes the phenomenal energy contained by the clouds, swaying to the rhythmic vayu. The clouds personifying the dark soldiers straddling horizons, obscuring the mighty sun and then showering life all over “Prithvi” (the Earth).

Such is the power of that one thought or “winning idea” that circumvents thousands of hurdles and prevails.

Saraswati, the great river, awakens us to knowledge by the perception and shines in all our thoughts. Saraswti, the inspiration is full of her luminous plenitudes, rich in substance of thought. She upholds the sacrifice, the offering of the mortal being’s activities to the divine by awakening his consciousness so that the right states of emotion occur.

The Jal in the river has the patience of eons, of “Kalpas” because it inherently represents the truth of an honest idea which has the unfathomable patience and energy to defeat all falsehoods obstructing its way.

Jal is also the eternal calm ocean. Deep, silent and cool on the surface, hiding, like the mind of a meditative sage, thousands of storms within. The ocean is the human consciousness and is often compared to the mind, the thoughts and emotions being the waves.

The Churning of the Ocean is allegorical, symbolising the great fight in the human bosom between Virtue and Vice. The forces of Virtue, the celestials, the devas fight the forces of Vice, the demons, the asuras. In this fight Immortality is the end result and Immortality is nothing but Self Actualisation !

By Aanchal Sethi

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Profit through the Prophets

What the corporate world teaches you versus what spiritual wisdom says…

The Age of Extreme Greed

The wisdom of teachers, thinkers, prophets and great men has abounded for thousands of years. Despite this great body of wisdom, when we look around us today, we realize that we struggle to conduct ourselves in a manner becoming of intelligent, aware human life.

Why is this so? A lot of us read. The question is what do we read? What books do we choose to pick up, read and follow?

The answer to that too is contained in a book whose name at least we are all familiar with, the Bhagwad Gita. The Gita has Krishn telling Arjun that the cause of our behaviour is lust or desire.

If we operate from a place of desire, we will be led to pursuing those activities, not those that will help us banish ignorance or those that will lead us to enlightenment or goodness.

Yet all around us we see manifestations of lust, desire and greed. In public life, in corporate life, from common men to leaders, they all seem driven by lust. In the pursuit of the material, they have lost touch with themselves and have no time to acquire wisdom, either ancient or modern, and banish their ignorance.

The result of this is for everyone to see. Our age is not called kalyug for nothing. All around us there is injustice, poverty, inequality, inhumanity, war, hunger, corruption. All borne out from lust.

The Words of the Wise

Let’s take what we can influence for starters. Largely, we inhabit and operate in the corporate world. Let us consider the dichotomy in what we learn and practise there. We are taught to be tough with our people. We are taught that leadership is about command. We are taught that we cannot allow anyone to take advantage of us. At the same time we are taught that we must maximize our advantage from all of our interactions, whether it is dealing with individuals, organizations or our poor customers.

However, outside of the corporate world, in Life, everywhere from the Bible to the Quran to the Gita, there is repeated focus on speaking with kindness to people, on a culture of consulting each other, on dealing fairly with people, to working without greed.

Consider that the Old Testament warns against “skimping the measure, boosting the price and dishonest scales”. Unfortunately we are only too happy when prices of our products or services or real estate get boosted, and we never spare a thought for fair pricing.

Consider that the Quran has lessons in interpersonal skills, teamwork and democratic decision making when it says “And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter”.

Modern management thought coupled with the increased accent on training has ensured that most managers are equipped with the relevant skill; however let us see what pains us most about feedback or appraisal sessions.

Often we have worked with people where we have felt criticized and walked away from a “feedback” session with second hand negativity. What causes the behaviour of otherwise affable people to undergo such a change in feedback situations?

Have we ever felt during an appraisal that our efforts count for naught because the result wasn’t achieved? How often have we been told that the effort doesn’t matter, only the result does. And how often we found ourselves wondering at how starkly that has conflicted with what Baron Pierre de Coubertin had to say?

Take for instance Krishna’s advice to Arjun in the Gita:

Therefore, O Arjun, surrendering all your works unto Me, with full knowledge of Me, without desires for profit, with no claims to proprietorship, and free from lethargy, fight.

Krishna clearly advises Arjun to focus on the job at hand without a view on the outcome or gain.

Take also for instance an instance related about Muhhamed. He is known never to have criticized even a simple thing like food, which many of us feel is our right to do. Once he asked his family for a condiment and they said, “We only have vinegar.”

He asked for it and began to eat, saying, “Vinegar is an excellent condiment.

Vinegar is an excellent condiment.

How many of us think about how the doer of a job (whether cook or employee) feels when criticism or a harsh word is uttered about his effort. How often do we pay attention to Jesus’ advice to us: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you“?

Ethical Earnings

 Is there a need for a spiritual education in our times today? Do we hardened, cynical citizens need a course in spirituality? I think so. Some of us are there already. We’ve moved from training our people on soft skills to stress management, from managing others to self-management, from productivity to work-life balance. Speakers like Robin Sharma, Deepak Chopra and Swami Parthasarthy are the rage in America, one country that is the foremost generator and consumer of modern management thought.

CEO’s and corporates are lapping up the work that academics such as Sumantra Ghosal, CK Prahlad, Ram Charan and Rakesh Khurana are doing in the field of values, stakeholder and reciprocity based selfless leadership.

The people that moved to Vedic City, Iowa, in order to be closer to the Maharishi University of Management, a university that is founded on principles of Vedic “consciousness-based” education, have found that their businesses have bloomed.

Also in America, there are CEO’s like Pat Flood who have based their running of the company almost entirely around the values espoused by the Bible. And his company was on FORTUNE’s 2007 list of Top 100 Companies to work for.

Since the late 20th century there has been an emergence of banks based on Islamic principles that prohibit either payment or acceptance of interest fees for loans of money, as well as prohibiting investments in businesses that provide goods or services considered contrary to its principles.

And these institutions are bigger in size than businesses selling either tobacco or alcohol. For example the third largest Islamic bank in the World, the Bank Saderat Iran, has assets more than three times the market cap of the third largest alcohol company in the World, the UB Group in India. Their asset size also happens to be greater than the market cap of Indian tobacco giant ITC.

Truly a victory for all those who believe that values based businesses will make money, probably even more money than dissimilar businesses.

References:

  1. BusinessWeek.com,
  2. indusbusinessjournal.com,
  3. money.cnn.com,
  4. bnet.com

By Aman Zaidi

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