Bye Bye 2008, Welcome 2009!

This is my last post of 2008. The first one was on 19 April 2008. It was a Sunday morning, I woke up from the bed and straight on to the computer to write the blog. I was inspired by Bawa's blog and I am happy to be the inspiration for a few other bloggers. Blogging has definitely helped me improve in my thought process and even in expressing them.

For me the year started on the Art of Living advanced course in Bangalore Ashram. I was in silence and Guru Pooja was going on right at 00:00 of 1st Jan 2008. Previously, I used to jump, dance, make noise, hug friends but this year, I was in complete silence, even the hug was quiet; no halla-gulla, no dance, no singing, and still blissful from inside.

That was my first advanced course, so I was very much curious about it. Being in the silence for so long was a different experience. I could not believe that I too can be in silence. I still remember the night when I came to know that I will be coming out of silence the next afternoon and how disappointed I was. I thought, why so early? Can I not extend my silence little more? Well, He heard my prayer and blessed me with two more advanced courses this year. People who know me still laugh at the thought that I can be in silence but the fact is, silence gives me that chance to be with myself, at least for 2-3 days where I am not a student, not a son, not a brother, not a friend. Basically, I am nothing. During the first advanced course, I also started my journey to the question, Who am I and Why am I here for?

I also listened to the Aashtavakra Geeta. The commentary by Guruji on Aashtavakra Geeta, which continued for 34 days, one VCD per day. That answered many questions about life and lot of the ideas and pre-concepts about life got some direction. As I was listening for the first time, I could not sip in all the knowledge but hope to digest more in the future.

Apart from spirituality, the year went quite happily. I got promoted in the family and now no more the youngest person in the family. Chutki is now the center of our family. Academically the year was so-so. The standard question of "Ph D कब ख़तम कर रहा है?" was answered simply by दुबारा मत पूछाना ! (Don't ask me again!).

The Mumbai terror attack was a big blow for the entire nation. I was glued to the TV for the entire duration. I just stopped working those days. I could not even move away from the TV. I seriously started thinking on how can we contribute for the nation. We need good people over there in the government. Some gmail chat status said, "We need to worry for people who came by BOAT but we need to worry more about people who came by VOTE". Just changing the CM/Dy-CM, Home Minister is not going to work. We need to strengthen our base so that any building that is build over it is strong enough to sustain any attack. One of the TV channel reporter said "Even the rich were not spared this time!" and I had no option but to wonder how people/reporters think in INDIA. Although the blood is RED, it is still labeled as poor, middle class, and rich. Probably it was the rich class that was shaken more this time as they realized that they too are no more safe here. Previously, when the attacks were in the local train, bus stops, markets, the rich people used to say that they are far away from all these places. They are safe, but that was proved wrong this time. And hence they were also seen on the road, voicing their concerns. And being rich, their voice was definitely louder and is good for INDIA.

In all, I could see myself getting matured. The rise was steep as compared to previous 2-3 years. I could see more confidence in what ever I was saying and I was able to make stronger comments, when ever needed. It is said, the most satisfying thing in life is knowing that you are improving day by day and I could experience it.

Some 2008 moments best expressed via photos:

My Rangoli @Diwali: I was really disturbed by the Marathi and Non-Marathi movement in Maharashtra and particularly in Mumbai. I have always been surrounded by friends from all over INDIA, from my collage days. So its difficult for me to differentiation people like that. So, the rangoli was my expression of the same.

A prayer for all in 2009: This is the message I wrote in front on Trident. Let all people be happy and let peace prevail all over.

Face painting competition in Hostel 12. Painter: Ayush. We won the first prize :).

This photo finds a place here because there are very few occasions when I will be looking so smart. Tend to be with chalta hai attitude in terms of my dressing sense.

This is real me, Ghochu! (30th Dec. 2008)

Bye Bye 2008 and WELCOME 2009. Happy New Year !

Jai Guru Dev!
Sandeep (Pitamah)

Marry Chirstmas

This was my gmail chat status message on the Christmas day. I used to have this confusion of marry vs merry but got it clarified long back. My naughty nature came alive on the Christmas morning again and I started wishing people with "Marry X'mas" message.

As I kept my gmail chat status as "Marry X'mas", I was pinged by many friends asking about the status. Well, it served my purpose, because the whole intension was to attract that extra attention from my friends, who see me online but some how think that they will chat with me some time later, may be tomorrow when they will have time, or I will not be busy, or some thing like that. I also think that way many time. So, gave an opportunity to break that ice. And, I succeeded in my intension. Got to talk with many friends. I am naughty sometimes and I continue to be, to keep myself happy.

Other than that, it was a wonderful Christmas day for me. The Santa was walking with me through out the evening. I had few small-small desires and I could see every desire getting fulfilled. In the afternoon I had expressed my desire to attend a Satang and dance and in the evening, there I was, in a Satsang, singing and dancing in full swing, that too on my favorite devotional song. Also had egg-less plum cake, which I got after searching a lot. At one point of time I had given up the chance that I will egg-less plum cake as it was not available in the shops I checked. Later in the night, I had a desire to have the sweet in the mess, but some how got late and hence it was finished at the counter. I thought for a moment and decided to let it go. I was already happy to see that most of my wishes had come true and hence I can forgot sweet that day. Later, my friend gave me his sweet as he had reduced sweet consumption. What more can I ask for? On the dinner table I even got comments on why I was smiling so much. Well, thats all the Art of Living effect. Can't help smiling, what ever may happen and with Santa with you, the smile blossoms.

In our day to day life also, Santa is always walking with us. But we just are not aware of it. The moment we learn to appreciate every good thing happening in our life, miracles start happening. But what we mostly remember are the things which did not worked well for us. So, a reversal in the filtering process, of what to remember and what not to, can bring an massive change in our lives.

So, with Santa walking with us, why do we need to wait for that Christmas day? Every day is Christmas, and can bring celebrations in our lives.

Santa is within us. Just start experiencing it.

What would you say to a terrorist?

A spiritual response to terrorist attacks by THICH NHAT HANH
Published in Times of India, 21 Dec 2008. Original article

First, I would listen. Why had he acted in that cruel way? I would try to understand all of the suffering that had led him to violence. It might not be easy to listen in that way, so I would have to remain calm and lucid. I would need several friends with me, who are strong in the practice of deep listening, listening without reacting, without judging and blaming. In this way, an atmosphere of support would be created for this person and those connected so that they could share completely, trust that they are really being heard.

After listening for some time, we might need to take a break to allow what has been said to enter into our consciousness. Only when we felt calm and lucid would we respond in such a way to help them discover their own misunderstandings so that they will stop violent acts of their own will...

When we react out of fear and hatred, we do not yet have a deep understanding of the situation. Our action will only be a very quick and superficial way of responding to the situation and not much true benefit and healing will occur. Yet if we wait and follow the process of calming our anger, looking deeply into the situation, and listening with great will to understand the roots of suffering that are the cause of the violent actions, only then will we have sufficient insight to respond in such a way that healing and reconciliation can be realised for everyone involved.

In South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has made attempts to realise this. All the parties involved in violence and injustice agreed to listen to each other in a calm and supportive environment, to look together deeply at the roots of violent acts and to find agreeable arrangements to respond to the situations. The presence of strong spiritual leaders is very helpful to support and maintain such an environment.

What is the "right action" to take with regard to responding to terrorist attacks?

All violence is injustice. The fire of hatred and violence cannot be extinguished by adding more hatred and violence to the fire. The only antidote to violence is compassion. Compassion is made of understanding. To understand, we must find paths of communication so that we can listen to those who desperately are calling out for our underst...

There are people who want one thing only: revenge. The Buddha said that by using hatred to answer hatred, there will only be an escalation of hatred. But if we use compassion to embrace those who have harmed us, it will greatly diffuse the bomb in our hearts and in theirs...

We have to find a way to stop violence, of course. If need be, we have to put the men responsible in prison. But the important thing is to look deeply and ask, "Why did that happen? What responsibility do we have in that happening? "Maybe they misunderstood us. But what has made them misunderstand us so much to make them hate so much?

The method of the Buddha is to look deeply to see the source of suffering; the source of violence. If we have violence within ourselves, any action can make that violence explode. This energy of hatred and violence can be very great and when we see that in the other person then we feel sorry for them. When we feel sorry for them, the drop of compassion is born in our hearts and we feel so much happier and so much more at peace within ourselves. That (empathy) produces the nectar of compassion within ourselves...

Fight with equanimity, channelise energy

Excerpt from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's address to Mumbaikars during a prayer meeting for 26/11 terror victims.

When there is an attack on society and we lose our loved ones, it causes a lot of sorrow and fear. If we keep reeling in sorrow, fear and anger, We need to come together then life moves on the path of destruction.

But if we want to channelise this energy and prepare to face this war bravely, we need to first calm the mind and come to a state of equanimity.

We need to become sam-darshi or one whose vision is equanimous. Today, we are all angry with the politicians or with our system. Our police lack the necessary tools... The whole of Mumbai seems angry. In a way, we have woken up. We are no longer ready to take the 'chalta hai' attitude. For so many years India has seen terrorist attacks in different places, for the first time, the entire community, especially the youth, have woken up...
How to make our system stronger?

Firstly, we need to come together... We need social leaders who are satya-darshi or truthful, sam-darshi or equanimous, and door-darshi or far-sighted. So let's also resolve to first examine the qualifications of those whom we elect. We need to protect our country from those who manipulate issues for their personal gains and lead by playing vote-bank politics.

Secondly, we must resolve not to act out of anger, but instead channelise our dynamic energy for the common good; to expose all those who are supporting violence, no matter what religion they belong to; to get rid of the mentality which asks us to protect people from our own religion, or community, even if they are doing wrong. This is very important.

Three things need to be done today: Stringent laws should be in place and the hands of the police have to be strengthened. Second, intelligence agencies and the police should be well-equipped and third, politicians should allow them to take necessary steps independently.

We consider the entire world ours... We might have different religions, communities, languages and cultures, but underneath all this diversity, every Indian is One. We are proponents of peace, but we are also from the land of Guru Gobind Singh. Today, we need Sant-sipahis or soldier-saints. Every one of us needs to be a peace soldier...

Peace does not mean inaction. We want a revolution, but a peaceful one. Mahatma Gandhi advocated peace, but he did not just sit back and allow injustice. Being in peace, he took action. The essence of the Bhagavad Gita is this ^ to fight with equanimity. Today, we are again seeing a dharma yuddha a battle for righteousness...

Whenever i visited Israel, i have been told by Jewish leaders that India is the only nation in the world where a Jew has never been attacked. India is known for its tolerance and peace... We shall not let the terror attacks in Mumbai sag our spirits. We shall overcome. And in doing so we will not let go of our culture and nature of peace and non-violence.

I would like to say to all the families who have lost their dear ones that the soul never dies. Know that once you drop the body, there is no more suffering to the soul. Those who have departed have merged with the divine, and their souls are still with you, with us, with the entire nation... Everyone will die, including us. But they have sacrificed their lives to wake us up and make us realise that others should not suffer, that this should not happen again. They are asking us to be Arjuna.

Naming ceremony of Chutki; चुटकीचे बारसे

Yesterday it was naming ceremony (बारसे) of Chutki, my niece. Chutki was the temporary name given to her by me till some official name is given and it has served its purpose and has already made her popular.

Swini is the new name for Chutki. Swini means one who always shines brighter. The other names are Manali, Gia (her birth name), Chutki - my favorite, and Amla, the brand ambassodor of her Dad's Amla products.

Swini Khara is a cute child actress who has acted in "Chini Kum" and is recently seen in many ads.

Anger is energy

... says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar urging Mumbaiites to channelise this energy after 26/11

MARK MANUEL Times News Network (
Times of India, Bombay Times, 08 Dec 2008, page 1.)

This time, the smile of welcome didn’t quite reach Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s dark and mischievous eyes. The face was troubled, the mind still burdened by the pain of the hundred thousand people he had addressed the previous evening at Priyadarshini Park. Some survivors of 26/11, others bereaved family members of victims, everyone a Mumbaiite let down by the state — all looking for a shoulder to cry on, a spiritual hand to apply the healing touch. That Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had already done. “I told Mumbai, if you stay with anger too long it will take a toll on your health, your mind, your thinking,” the Art of Living guru explained to me at the bungalow of Yash and Avanti Birla yesterday morning. “We need to channelise our energy,” he added. Energy or anger, I asked. “Anger is energy in a more proactive way,” he corrected, “and how to channelise it, is in itself a skill. There’s no point doing the extreme thing in anger and then regretting it. Or being passive and not doing anything at all. Find the inbetween path.”
He’s gone beyond the Art of Living and is into trauma relief around the
world now. Like a healing wind with the spiritual touch, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has gone from Ivory Coast to Iraq and Kosovo to Kashmir, reawakening human values in people, making them violence-free, teaching them Gandhian principles, yoga, meditation. His lessons in spirituality are not just for victims of terrorist attacks, but also for survivors of earthquakes, floods, tsunamis. But in Mumbai on Saturday, he was addressing terrorism. “Terrorists are ill-educated people with distorted, poisoned mindsets,” he said derisively. “It’s not true that the uneducated become tools of terrorism, or the poorest of the poor, but ill-educated people with hateful motivation. And they have to be addressed with words. Not guns. You just cannot quell violence with violence. But through dialogue, and spiritual education, I’ve seen this in Iraq.” And what were politicians, I asked. “Politicians are narrow-minded people who, for the smallest gains of position and money, do things which later harm themselves and also the people,” he said in ill-concealed disgust and some anger.
What would he have done in Mumbai last week, I asked. Would he have been able to make the difference during the siege by engaging the terrorists in dialogue, by negotiating with them for the lives of the hostages, or convincing them to lay down the gun? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar regretfully shook his head.
“You cannot learn archery on the battlefield,” he replied. “At that moment, the terrorist is not in the mood to talk, he is only in the mood to destroy.” I asked what was the difference between spiritual education and religious, because the terrorists are Islamic jehaadis, boys indoctrined to become men with mindsets that believe the Quran okays mindless killings of innocents. “Spiritual education is different,” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said, “it makes you a soft, gentle, caring person, it teaches you the principles of ahimsa... of nonviolence. We must teach these principles, the Indian ethos of peaceful coexistence, of inclusiveness, to our neightbours and the rest of the world.”
At this point of time when Mumbai was at the crossroads of change, when emotions were still ragged and the wounds of 26/11 yet festering, did we need spiritual education or an aggressive movement against violence? “Not just Mumbai, the whole of India needs an overhauling,” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar answered. “In Mumbai’s case, just changing the Chief Minister will not help, the new man will take six, eight months to settle in and then make change. But, immediately, there must be a change in values — of the police, especially; a change in vision — of the people responsible for the city; a change in self — people must be true to the country and themselves; a change in sensitivity — people have woken up, but the spate of violence doesn’t touch all, we feel the heat only when the shoe pinches; and, a change in direction — let go of the past and go forward. Move on. Yes — the heart is heavy, but the healing touch will be complete only when hands unite and reconcile with the past.” When I left him, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was smiling in welcome at his next visitors — Bollywood stars Kunal Kapoor, Dino Morea and the lovely Lara Dutta, but the smile still didn’t reach his eyes.

Terrorist love too, but for the wrong reasons

Article is published in Hindustan Times, 08 Dec. 2008, page 4.

Please click on the image below view full size.

Trident to Taj to CST

On Tuesday, 2nd Dec, 08, A call to ALL PROUD INDIANS was made to assemble at the Air India building to write messages for the brave cops and soldiers of our country. Some of us from IIT reached there at the Air India building around 6.30pm. There were lot of people including some of the celebrities who had come to express their gratitude toward the martyr cops.

Most of the people over there were youth, from all the communities. The nariman point and the strip close to the sea was crowded, although not as it used to be. I remembered how I was sitting at the same spot a month back. Fearless, enjoying the sea and chit-chatting with my friends and today, I was serious, not even in a mood to smile.

We went close to the Trident building. There was heavy security and policemen all around. I could see few broken windows of the Trident building and the repairing work going on. I am really amazed by the Trident people that they are planning to restart the complete operations in next two weeks and I could see that happening.

Next we moved to Taj. The taxiwala dropped us near the back side of Taj heritage. Again no entry near the hotel, heavily protected by the police. We went to the front side of Taj and were actually seeing the Taj Heritage building for the first time after 26/11. The area is still protected/covered and hence could not see it closely. Even the Gateway of India is also closed. There were interviews of general public going on by some channel and slowly the outrage of the people was seen blaming all the politicians, moving on to media, to RGV, to name a few. This continued for good 10-15 mins and not many could make out what exactly was the point put up. One of my friend was trying to understand the issue but of no use.

We got the taxi for CST. It was around 8.40pm. It was not usual Mumbai. Hardly any traffic. After the taxi dropped us near Azad maidan, we went via the subway and it was very less crowded. We had some chaat and juices. Then one of my friend went to a shop to check out jeans. I followed him. Others also joined after they finished their food. While my friend was bargaining, others were discussing the situation on the 26th night. Shopkeepers were saying that the terrorist had come close to the subway and all the shopkeepers there were having terrible time. Fortunately for them, the terrorists didn't came down the subway and hence all of them were saved. Things have changed a lot after that. No crowd in the subway and hence not even in the shops. Previously the shopkeepers were forced to close the shop at midnight. Now, there is hardly any customer to keep the shop open. As we were talking, I realized that we were the only customers there. The scene was similar in other shops also. The corridor was so less crowded that I could stand in the center and click the photos. I could wait till I get a good click with no one in front of the camera. Normally, I don't think it would have been possible for me to even stand in the center.

At the entrance, we were welcomed by the metal detectors. I felt the tension seeing the metal detectors. What if it beeps when I pass through? Will I be checked by the armed police? And when I passed through it, yes, it beeped but there was no one to check me or even to listen to the beep. I was saved. But whats the use of these metal detectors installed at the entrance? They are hardly of any use. When ever you cross them, there is invariably a beep. There is no one to check the person who causes the beep. So, whats the use of these metal detectors? Only to show people that there is something like metal detectors which are installed for the safety of the common people.

In general there were lot of security people. Policemen checking the bags and other belongings and in general tension on very face moving around. I too could feel the tension while roaming around in the station. It was not as usual.

We moved on to buy the tickets and the scene was similar. Hardly any rush on the ticket counter. The ticket counter at 9.00pm used to have a long queue. Today only 5-6 people in the queue.

During the time when we were close to these spots, the thought of what if some thing happens NOW was coming again and again to my mind. I saw a small cute girl enjoying chocolate in the subway and this thought caught me again. I was horrified to think what if there is a terror attack NOW. I hope we all come out of this type of thoughts as soon as possible and start enjoying the beauty of Mumbai.

Trauma Relief for Mumbai Citizens

Please pass on this message to your near and dear ones in Mumbai:

Art of Living is conducting FREE trauma relief sessions for all those affected by the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

There are 2 locations in South Mumbai (Bombay) where they are being held and the details are as under:

1) Peddar Road - Starts today - Wednesday, Dec 3 2008; Address: 502 Prabhukunj (this is 3 buildings after Cadbury House, going towards Jaslok) - Contact person - Nanda Botadkar - her cell is 98203 42276. Each class for an hour; Session timings: Morning - 9am, 10 am, 11 am, 12 pm and Evening - 4pm, 5pm, 6pm and 7pm

2) Badhwar Park (Colaba) - from 4th to 6th Dec - 3 day course of 1 hour each day; 2 batches per day, 6.30 am and 7.30 am..One could join any one batch - Contact person - Anand Beria - Cell - 9819089071

Please spread message around to anyone you know may be in need. It may change somebody's life or put somebody's back on track ASAP.


The Art of Living Foundation is conducting trauma care and counseling sessions,
following the recent terror attacks in Mumbai.
For Helpline numbers: +91-9821620948, +91-9967477004, +91-9820612152

H. H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will conduct a special prayer, pranayama and meditation session for all
Mumbaikars at Priyadarshini Park & Sports Complex, Nepean Sea Road on Dec. 6 at
6:30 pm.

Join us in our quest to create a peaceful, stress-free society.

For more details visit

Terrorism: The Cause and the Remedy

By H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Cross posting from :

The act which is only destructive and inflicts suffering both on oneself and others is terrorism. In such an act, human values are lost in the process of achieving a goal.

Some of the factors that lead to terrorism are:

- Frustration and desperation to achieve a goal
- Confused emotion
- Shortsightedness and Impulsive action
- Belief in a non-verifiable concept of heaven and merit; a childish concept of God favoring some and angry at others, thereby undermining the omniscience and omnipotence of the Divine.

Terrorism induces fear psychosis in all, increases poverty, suffering and loss of life with no apparent gains. Instead of solutions the terrorist looks for destruction as an answer. If you simply criticize without giving a solution, know that this criticism comes from the same seed as terrorism!

Although there are certain qualities you can appreciate in a terrorist such as:

* Fearlessness
* Commitment to a goal
* Sacrifice

You will have to learn from them things that you should never do:

* Valuing some ideas and concepts more than life.
* Having a narrow perspective of life and dishonoring its diversity.

The Remedy for terrorism is:

* Inculcate a broader perspective of life — value life more than race, religion and nationality.
* Educate people in human values – friendliness, compassion, cooperation and upliftment.
* Teach methods to release stress and tension.
* Cultivate confidence in achieving noble aims by peaceful and nonviolent means.
* Create spiritual upliftment which can weed out destructive tendencies.