Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Sudama was a close childhood friend of Krishna and also a true devotee of his. They studied together and then went off to follow their life's calling: Krishna became the king of Dwarka and Sudama, a poor brahmin. He was so poor that his family had to sometimes go without food for days. One day, his wife unable to see the pitiable faces of their children requested him to go meet his friend, Krishna, thinking that maybe he'll help Sudama. Sudama initially refused her, he told her that they were brahmins and brahmins never worry about money. To which his wife replied that she wasn't asking him to beg money from Krishna, she simply wanted him to meet Krishna. Finally, Sudama was persuaded to go see Krishna. Since he was going to meet his old friend, he told his wife that he must take some gift for him. Poor that they were, there was nothing in the house that his wife could offer as a gift. So with hesitant toes and faint hope she went to the neighbours to borrow some roasted chickpeas. To her luck, she got some. She packed them in a torn, old cloth and handed them over to her husband. When Sudama reached Krishna's palace, the guard asked him to be seated till he informed Krishna. Krishna, on hearing Sudama's name ran to the palace doors neither caring to put on his slippers or his crown. He was very happy to see his friend and very sad to see his condition. He cared for Sudama with his own hands: washed his feet, offered him food, water and clothing and started reminiscing the good old days. The omniscient God knew everything, he knew why Sudama's wife had sent him and he also knew that his friend would never ask for anything - he only wanted to be Krishna's devotee and desired nothing else. So he eagerly asked Sudama if he'd brought his old friend some gift. Sudama, seeing all the luxuries of the palace, was too embarassed to hand him the parcel of torn cloth; Krishna knew this too. To save his friend from any embarassment, Krishna pulled the parcel from his hands and cherished it as if it was the most precious gift he'd ever recieved. Even though there were only roasted chickpeas in the parcel, he ate them like they were cashews. Sudama stayed with him for a few days and then returned back home. When he reached his home, he saw that instead of the dilapdated hut there was now a mansion and on entering the mansion he met his family. They'd nice clothes, there was ample food and other necessities to keep his family happy. Then Sudama realized that God is so generous that he doesn't even tell his beneficiary what he does for him. As always, Sudama remained dedicated to Krishna and never desired anything other than him.
Conclusion of the story: He who worships God with all his love, faith and devotion, gets all that he wants without asking.

Monday, March 24, 2008


When I was a child my grandma used to tell me all such mythological stories and I was very fond of listening to them from her. She had such an animated style of her own. So whenever I read such stories in Gita, it floods my mind with all those wonderful memories.

After Pandava completed their exile of 12 years, they came to Duryodhan to get back their kingdom. Duryodhan refused to do so. So Krishna went to meet him on behalf of the Pandavas. Duryodhan welcomed him with pomp and show; the kingdom was decorated lavishly. However, when he invited Krishna for lunch, he (Krishna) refused. Taken aback and humiliated, Duryodhan asked him what was his reason for declining the invitation. Then Krishna told him that a person has a meal at somebody's house only because of two reasons:
  1. The host proffers the food with lot of love in which case one can eat anything, or
  2. The guest is dying with hunger in which case he can eat anywhere, anything and anyhow.

Further, he said that the former wasn't true in Duryodhan's case; and Krishna would never die of hunger so he doesn't have to bother about the latter. Thus Krishna could see no reason why he should accept Duryodhan's invitation. He (Krishna), instead went to the house of his true devotee - Vidoor - where he was not even invited. All the senior persons in Duryodhan's kingdom like Bheeshma, Dronacharya, etc. insisted him to come to their respective houses. However, Krishna would listen to none. He happily ate whatever was offered by Vidoor. There's a famous shloka in Mahabharat which is often quoted:

दुर्योधन की मेवा त्यागी, साग विदुर घर खायो

English translation: Krishna gave up the rich food at Duryodhan's to eat a humble meal at Vidoor's.

Conclusion of the story: God doesn't care about how expensive your offerings are, all he cares about is how much love you've put in them.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Offerings to God

The previous posts have been discussing about worshipping God and other things. The beauty of worshipping God, lies in the simplicity that is God. He never demands that one offer valuables to him; so that one and all can worship him. He asks only that which is freely available to all - flowers, leaves and water; the only requirement is that one should do it with all his faith, love and devotion.

The following stories exemplify this:

Worshipping the deities

All the deities are a form of God; however those who don't know it and worship the deities, they go to heaven and are a part of the cycle of life and death. However, those who do know that all deities are a form of God and then worship them without expecting anything in return, get united with God. Thus, one who serves any deity, teacher, ascetic, mother-father, guest, the unfortunate or any other being taking them to be a form of God is serving God.

Some people worship a deity, follow the rules prescribed for a particular ritual for that deity, sing their hymns, etc. As a result of this worship, they gain that which was the purpose of their worship. Some people worship their ancestors (pitra), perform ceremonies in their honor and follow certain rituals for them; after death they go to their ancestors. Neither of the above is bad; if they're done with some expectation then they provide the fruit at the end and nullifies. However, if they're done without any desires then they facilitate one's way to God.

Worshipping of ghosts and dead bodies is however not good, because it's considered the dark world and results in evil, so one must not do it.

Those who worship God, without any desires, submit all their work to him, meditate about him and perform various devotion-related functions, go to the divine world of His. Hence they attain moksha - freedom from this world forever.

Obtaining that which you don't have...

Those that have unswerving faith in God and have Him forever in their mind, for such devotees He makes sure that they get what they need and protects that which they have and need.

A beautiful analogy is given with respect to a mother and her infant. An infant knows only his mother, he doesn't know what he would need or what he needs to take care of; everything is done by his mother. She make sure that he gets what he needs and take cares of those things which are essential for him, as well as ensures that he gets them when he needs them.

Similarly, God provides for the worldly and spiritual needs of his such undying devotees and also shelters those objects which he deems would be required by them.

A mother doesn't depend on the wisdom of her infant, she does what would be good for the development of the infant। Likewise and more, for such devotees God does what is good for them and depending on that gets them what they need and protects them. This reminds of Kabir's doha:

बिन मांगे मोटी मिले, मांगे मिले न भीक।

Literal English translation: One who doesn't ask, gets the pearls; but one who asks, gets nothing.

Hence, one who has submitted himself to God, prays to him with all his love and devotion, thinks of no one and nothing but Him, for such devotees God takes over the burden of their life. Thus the devotee is freed from all troubles of this world and beyond.

The essence of this post is: if you have faith in God and worship him, nothing can go wrong in your life.

Chinese Schezuan Paneer - Knorr Style!

Another post in the tune of recommendations for a product. This is one of those dishes that fall into the segment of Indo-chinese (indian-style chinese). I tried one of the "Make-a-meal" chinese mixes by Knorr, it's called "Chinese schezuan"; and all I've is praises, praises and more praises for it. Often I've this really strong urge for indo-chinese food and preparing it at home requires substantial energy and time. Knorr has made that easy as a breeze without compromising on the taste. In fact the taste is at par with what you would get in a restaurant - at least for this particular recipe. All you've to do is stir-fry chopped onions and capsicum, then add water as well as the mix. After stirring for a few minutes, add paneer. They do recommend coating the paneer with cornflour and then frying it: among all the steps in the recipe, this can be labeled as the most difficult. I, being a conscious cook, try to avoid frying paneer in all paneer dishes. So instead, I coated the paneer in cornflour and simply shallow-fried it in a few tsps of oil. And voila! We'd a tasty schezuan paneer at our table! It is quite chilly, so beware.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Cheese and pepper Focaccia bread

We recently tried this focaccia bread recipe on allrecipes.com. If you're beginner at baking then I'm sure you're about to run away; but let me tell you this is one of the first bread recipes I've ever tried and one of the main reasons for this being the first was its success rate among the reviewers and the short list of ingredients. The recipe is very simple and the result delicious! The most important thing to note in this recipe is that your yeast should be fresh/new. The first time I made this bread, my yeast was very old so then I got new yeast and tried again. Sure enough this time the bread came out perfect. Due to my last debacle, I was quite cautious on my second attempt and reduced the quantity of the ingredients so that in case of a deja vu, I don't waste too much! So here's the recipe with reduced quantity of ingredients, which any beginner would appreciate.

Serves 2-3

1.5 cups all purpose flour
0.5 tsp sugar
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 tbsp yeast
1.5 tsp Italian seasoning (the original recipe called for oregano, thyme and basil but since I'd this seasoning I used it instead)
a pinch of black pepper
0.5 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp olive oil
0.5-0.75 cups water (you'll know as you knead)
0.5 cups Cheese (the original recipe asked for mozarella but since I'd cheddar I used that)
0.5 tsp chopped chillies (optional, any kind is fine we used serrano pepper. I think pickled jalapenos would also be nice)
  1. Mix all the above ingredients except olive oil, water, cheese and chillies.
  2. Knead the flour with water till smooth and elastic. Once the dough has pulled together, add water little by little till the dough becomes soft and smooth.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat it.
  4. Cover it with a damp cloth and keep in a warm place for 20-30 mins. I'd expected the dough to rise after this step, but it didn't or at least not perceptibly. So I kept it for another 15 mins or so in a warmer place (earlier it was in a switched-off oven), close to my burners where I was cooking. Even after that the dough didn't rise so I'm not sure if one should expect it to rise. However, since my bread came out nice and soft I don't think you need to worry whether it rose after this step or not.
  5. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  6. Punch down the dough and place on a greased baking tray. Pat it into a 0.5 inch rectangle.
  7. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle cheese and chillies over it.
  8. Bake for 15 mins. or until golden brown.
Try it and let me know how it came out!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Forces of nature

He is the sun who provides warmth and light to all; who pulls the water from the water bodies and holds them in the clouds; who then bursts these clouds in the form of rain for the benefit and prosperity of the world.
He is the heavenly nectar, amrita. Just like by consuming amrita, man escapes death and becomes immortal; one who gets God, in other words attains moksha, escapes from the cycle of life and death. Hence forever elluding death.
For the smooth functioning of the nature, creation and destruction are two important tasks and both of these are performed by God. He is the one who timely annihilates different worlds. This also proves that one should consider death as destined by God; it happens only when he thinks it's time for somebody to leave this earth and he knows best.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

God is everything...II

He is the father-mother of the world. From him this world has taken birth.
He is the giver of this world. He is responsible for the appropriate disposition of the fruits of labor of this world.
He is the object of knowledge. All the vedas contain knowledge on the essence of Him.
He is sacred. One who is pure and by who's influence others can become pure, is sacred. By worshipping Him, even a man can become sacred. All the devises in this world, be it prayer, meditation or anything else - they're all forms of Him and the power in all these devises to make one sacred is also God's power.
He is "Om".
He is the vedas. The vedas came into being because of God and they contain knowledge about God.
He is the supporter of this world. He is the one who takes care of everybody and nurtures them.
He is the master. He is the lord of all deities, master of all the worlds and the supreme power. All forces like sun, fire, wind, death, etc. are in control because of his fear.
He is the eye-witness. There's nothing which escapes his eyes. He sees the past, the present and the future. He sets the limit for omniscience.
He is the residence. Every being, at all moments, resides in God.
He is the shelter. There is none other who can mitigate the pain of the refugee like him.
He is the friend. He is everybody's well-wisher and loves all without expecting or wanting anything in return.
He is the origin and the annihilation of this world.
He is the repository. When the world annihilates, all beings live in some part of him.
He is the eternal seed. He is the genesis of all beings and their foundation.

Monday, March 3, 2008

God is everything and everywhere

(Teachings from Gita) The whole world emerged from God and He pervades the whole world. Sun, moon, wind, fire, all the other deities and all the living beings are just different forms of Him.
The yagya performed for deities and ancestors is a form of Him. He is in the yagya as: plants, grains and herbs required to create the fire; vedic hymns chanted during the yagya; the ghee used to fuel the fire; the fire and the final invocation which ends the yagya. Hence, the materials, hymns, vessel and the human efforts that go into the performing of the yagya are all forms of God.
Everything is God. To those who don't understand the essence of God they appear to be in different forms, shapes and sizes; but in reality there is nothing but God in everything living or non-living.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Devotee of God

(Teachings from Gita) A true devotee of God is very strong-willed. His decisions, faith, thinking and rules are all firm. Even in the face of hurdles and disasters, they can't be deterred from their means and thoughts. By one way or the other they're eternally worshipping their God.
They worship God by: telling His story, narration of His influence, virtues, greatness, character, etc. in the presence of other devotees, chanting of his names - Ram, Krishna, Govind, Hari, Narayana, Vasudev, Keshav, Madhav, Shiva, etc. - and singing devotional songs, singing his praises in a loud or mellow voice, sitting or standing, with music and dance or without, reciting divine hymns and beautiful odes dedicated to Him or in any other way praising him.

Devotees pay their obeisance to God by bowing to Him with whole-hearted faith and devotion: at the temple, in front of the picture/idol of him at home, through his names, by touching his feet/sandals, in the form of religious scriptures which highlight the essence of God and relate stories that describe his love and influence, by thinking that God resides in every being.

On the other hand, thereis another kind of devotee who believe in the "brahma". They worship their form-less (niraakaar) God by: not neither taking pride in being the doer of any work nor expecting any fruit of the labor, condiering the world is ephimeral, believing that none is greater than the supreme "brahma" and continually practicing to stay in that state through meditation, etc.