Lessons Learned from my Guru

LessonsLearned552 300x162 Lessons Learned from my Guru

Lessons Learned from My Guru

Bhagwan has been around me right from my childhood. I am talking about Bhagwan Shri Sathya Sai Baba, the saint from Puttaparthi whom millions consider God. Many don’t, and for the longest time I was not sure which side of the coin I belonged to. I knew him, thanks to the bhajans that would happen in our neighborhood and the Balvikas classes I attended (more to show off my shloka chanting prowess than out of spiritual interest).

However, it was not until college that I really started ‘knowing’ him. It was during my college days that I attended a few summer courses conducted by the Messengers of Sai, the alumni of Bhagwan’s women’s college in Anantapur, and started reading books containing his teachings. And therein, I found some gems that continue to be the anchor of my life, and the rudder that steers my life in the right direction. Today I share with you, some of the most profound teachings that have affected me most –

Love All, Serve All;

Help Ever, Hurt Never

These are really two different sayings coined by Swami, but look at the meaning they convey. In just eight words, Swami gives us the secret of a successful life. Well, it is easy to say Love all, serve all, but just as difficult to practice. For, to love all and serve all one must first conquer the ego, the ‘I’, that always stops us from loving all. It is the ego that makes us think we are better than our servant-maid, or the laundry-wala. If we are able to love all and serve all, then class, creed, religion, status, rich-poor, nothing matters.

The only thing that matters is love, to be able to serve everyone with equal fervor and humility without showing any kind of bias. Many people make a show of doing just that, but the real meaning of this phrase is realized only when our love and service is borne from the heart, with no reservation of any kind. I know I have to travel far to get there, but whenever ego ravages the heart and mind, a look at Swami and his sayings bring me back to my senses.

There is a beautiful phrase in the Vedas that Swami often quoted – Satyam vada, Priyam vada, Na vada satyam apriyam. Which translates to – Speak the truth, speak it sweetly, do not speak the truth that is not sweet. If you know the truth is going to hurt someone, do not utter it. That is something that I have to really imbibe, for I can be judgmental and use harsh words sometimes. But I have always been amazed at the simplicity of the solution that Swami offers for our lives. Would life not be easy if we simply followed these words?

I am God, but so are you!

As is the case with any saint, Swami’s life was not free of rumormongers or controversies. The mills kept churning all through His lifetime, at the time of His death, and even afterwards. Some people were indignant that He called Himself God, without bothering to read the complete statement. Time and again, Swami has reiterated, God is there in everyone. God is that Universal Consciousness that pervades every being, animate or inanimate. Religions, idols, saints, they are but the physical forms to serve as an initiation to reach the ultimate, the Formless. The real God exists within, not without. Once we realize this, differences cease to exist. The whole word is bound by that one energy that fuels existence – Love.

In fact, all of Swami’s teachings are centered on Love. A simple 4 lettered word, which has the ability to move mountains. It is said that an American scientist who endeavored to gauge Swami’s aura using a Kirlian camera found that the aura was pink – the color of Love – and extended up to 40 feet, the largest ever witnessed.

At various points of time, some people around me have ridiculed me at following a bird-nest haired ‘baba’. They have asked me leading questions about his authenticity, and smirked at me when I paid him obeisance. However, to me Swami has been the guiding beacon who has guided me when I was unsure, held me steady when my mind wavered, and ensured that my life did not get swayed away too much under the throes of the senses. His single point mantra of Love has helped me forgive and forget, and conquer ego on many occasions. And although I am far from perfect, I am confident that I have my guiding light driving ahead of me, whenever I am at the risk of losing my way.

I would like to conclude with an anecdote, or a miracle, like we devotees like to call it. Around 15 years ago, my mother and a group of her friends decided to pay a visit to Parthi once. They hired a chauffeured SUV and started the journey in the evening. Now, in those days, the route to Parthi lay through a naxal ridden area just beyond the TamilNadu-Andhra border. And as luck would have it, they lost their way, and stopped right in the middle of that area, some time after midnight, not knowing which way to go. All ladies, except two gentlemen, including the driver, everyone was naturally terrified, and praying fervently. After some time, out of nowhere, a white Ambassador appeared. A white clad man driving it asked what was the problem, told them to just follow the Ambassador, as he too was going to Puttaparthi. The driver did just as told, following the Ambassador by its taillights. Just as my mom’s party’s car entered the threshold of Parthi, and they all heaved a sigh of relief, they couldn’t locate the beacon anymore. The Ambassador was gone, no one knew where.

And that day, when my mom and her group sat for Darshan, Swami chose to speak to the audience. He implored them, to not travel to Parthi in car, at night, through routes that were not safe, especially all women’s group. Call it miracle, call it coincidence, for us, it was just an affirmation that we have the guiding light ahead of us to take us to our destination, safe and sound.

About Yamini Vijendran

opti 200x300 Lessons Learned from my Guru

Yamini Vijendran 

Yamini Vijendran (@saimini) is the author of ‘Full Circle’, a romance novella published by Indireads. A techie turned freelance writer, Yamini has been churning out content from her home in Pune for the past three years. Her short stories have been published in ‘Love Stories That Touched My Heart’, an Anthology published by Penguin India, New Asian Writing and Six Sentences, and her poems in The Indian Review, Contemporary Literary Review of India and ‘A World Rediscovered’ a poetry Anthology by Cyberwit Publications. Visit her at http://yaminivijendran.wordpress.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/YaminiVijendranAuthor.

Lessons Learned from Motherhood

opti 200x300 Lessons Learned from Motherhood

Yamini Vijendran

To say motherhood is a life changing even for any woman is an understatement. The arrival of a baby turns your life upside down, over and over again, like clothes in a tumble dryer. The sudden expectations, the ungainly physical changes, they all leave you in a mental state that is not very unlike someone’s who’s just out of a hurricane. It takes all your will, your strength and your belief in your sanity to pull through the initial years. And not to mention the most important, that cute smile of your newborn that assuages any pain, or hurt or guilt that may be ravaging you.

As the initial years start to move away from the window, and the train of life starts inching towards the future, clarity begins to set in, much like the bright sunny morning after the previous day’s rain. We begin to see everything using a new type of lenses – mommy lenses. Every single thing that is there to life – love, relationships, career, care, attention, and self-image – they all get viewed from the perspective of a care-giver to the newborn. And in that process, a lot of lessons are learned, about how life was, then and now, about relationships, about priorities, about changes.

When Sid came into my life, I experienced the hurricane described above, and how! And to think I did have help too. Someone to see me through the first year of motherhood. From the first day, till today, the process of learning has been a continuous one, and here I will share some of the lessons I have learned in the last four years.

Choosing You over Me

My mother holds a regular job. She started working right after my birth, and is just a few years away from her retirement. All through my schooling years, there had been numerous instances when I felt bad that she was not there to open the doors for us (my brother and me) when we came back from school, that she could not spend our holidays with us and had to leave us alone at home and go to work. It was this hurt that led me to decide that I will not work after my son arrives. And I did not; still do not, in the traditional sense of the word. I work from home, and though he goes to the day care, I am ready to be at his side as soon as he needs me. I have chosen him over me. And in the past few days, I have realized that my mother did so too.

I chose my son over me by staying at home. She chose me over her by going to work to stabilize our family financially. Today, when Sid cries that he doesn’t want to go to school, or glows with glee when he is brought home early every now and then, I realize how my mother would have felt when she had to leave us alone and go. How her heart must have pounded imagining all the worst-case scenarios that could happen at home with us two kids running rampant all over the place.

Possessiveness

Somewhere in between toiling so hard for our sons and making them grow into gentlemen, we become terribly possessive of them. We do not show this explicitly, but it tears our heart when they fly out of the nest, or when someone else becomes closer to them than us. Being the typical Indian women that we are, all our lives, we spend idolizing our children, and once they are on their own feet, we are unable to shift attention back to us from them. The years of focusing in their direction makes us completely forget that we have a separate identity too. No, I am not there yet, but I see mothers withering and yearning for their children all around me. I only hope, that I don’t do the same thing when my time comes, and am able to let go of Sid, when he is independent.

Love is a Thing After all

However, there’s another side to it. No matter how independent you are, you can never not be your mother’s child. In the deepest confines of your heart, you still crave for her tender words, her hands ruffling your hair, or to rest your head on her bosom. You know you love her, but that’s not enough. Love multiplies when shared, and to add my own twist to it, when expressed. There is no harm in expressing your love to her, by the way of talking to her once in a while, letting her hear your voice, finding joy in hearing hers. There are too many of us today who are so busy with our professions and careers that we simply “forgot to call you Amma.” You can never be too busy for your own mother. All it takes is to pick up a phone and talk.

Physical Changes

No, this one’s nowhere as philosophical as the ones before. This one’s in fact a rude shock – the way a woman’s body changes after childbirth. I never liked parmal (or kovakkai in Tamil) before, but now, I am downright allergic to it! And I have never been allergic to anything all my life! Just one single parmal down my throat and you will find me clutching my stomach for the rest of the day. And the headaches, what to say of them. I never had headaches before marriage (and no hidden meaning intended here). But during my pregnancy and even now, four year after childbirth, headaches put me down like nothing else. They just don’t seem to go away unless I drive them out with a pill and a sleep.

As I said, I am just a 4 years old mother, and there is a lot of motherhood that I am yet to see. So, I am sure, there are going to be more lessons, truck loads of them, that will come flying at me suddenly and catch me unawares. Motherhood, for sure, has nothing comparable to it in the whole world.

About Yamini Vijendran

Yamini Vijendran (@saimini) is the author of ‘Full Circle’, a romance novella published by Indireads. A techie turned freelance writer, Yamini has been churning out content from her home in Pune for the past three years. Her short stories have been published in ‘Love Stories That Touched My Heart’, an Anthology published by Penguin India, New Asian Writing and Six Sentences, and her poems in The Indian Review, Contemporary Literary Review of India and ‘A World Rediscovered’ a poetry Anthology by Cyberwit Publications. Visit her at http://yaminivijendran.wordpress.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/YaminiVijendranAuthor.

Lessons Learned from Being a Freelance Writer

opti 200x300 Lessons Learned from Being a Freelance Writer

Yamini Vijendran

When I am asked, “Are you working?” and I reply, “Yes, I freelance from home”, more often than not I am met with looks of incomprehension, or looks that say, “Oh, so you don’t work.” To be honest, I myself took quite a long time to assert to myself that “Yes, I work. Freelance writing is work. Full time work.” and not respond with “No, I don’t”. Having been in a typical day job in the software industry for the greater part of the past decade, work always conjures up the vision of sitting in a cubicle inside a large office and a lot of people buzzing about at a hectic pace. Not to mention the hefty sum that gets credited to your bank account on the last working day of every month. Freelance work doesn’t always get thought of in the same level as a regular job. However, those who have been freelancing would tell you that it is as demanding, and sometimes even more, than a regular day job.

I have been freelancing on writing projects for about three years now, and I am a lot wiser about working from home than I had ever been. I know three years are not much, and I am just starting out. And yet, there are a few things I have learned in this time, that have altered the way I used to look at work.

Being your own boss

It is a great thing, not having to report to anyone, not having to follow orders. Freelancing from home means you are your own boss. You can take the day off when you feel like it. You can turn down a client if you don’t like him. You can abscond from work without having to inform anyone. However, if you are really looking to make some progress through your freelancing gigs, you have to be as strict to yourselves as your boss in a company would be to you. I used to do all those things I mentioned above for some time. And then I realized. I was not making any money, or any significant improvement through my projects. If I have to substantiate what I am doing, I have to be my own boss, but a very disciplined one at that.

Every Penny has to be earned

I have come to realize, the regular 9-5 jobs, especially in the IT industry, end up making us spoilt brats. We are paid big money, much earlier in our careers, and we start to think that is the norm, not the exception. We do work our asses off for that money, but the time spent at work comprises of a mixture of a lot of things – team building, management, coding and development, taking part in the company’s cultural events, spending time in the canteen, and so on. However, now that I am a freelancer, I see how low clients are willing to pay, and even more pathetic, how low people are willing to work for. In the last three years, I have maintained a rate below which I won’t work. I have told myself it is ok to go without a client for sometime, instead of pulling your hair out for someone who’s paying you lesser than peanuts.

Having said that, even at the rates I work, you really HAVE TO WORK to get paid a decent amount. You really have to sit down and write a given number of words to see your bank account get credited with a directly proportional amount. Never before in life had my effort been so directly linked with the payment – as is the case with anyone working in the software industry. But now, every word matters. Every penny has to be earned.

Risks are meant to be taken

I have always been a very safe kind of person, planning things, foreseeing all possible dangers or pitfalls, the works. Off late though, I have started plunging headlong into different things that I have never done before. It might be a case of motherhood bringing about a kind of bravado to my character, but I have gone ahead and done a lot of things I wouldn’t otherwise have cared about. I have opened my own firm, trained people on soft skills, and am working furiously to get my storytelling endeavor up and running. I have come to realize that this need to constantly reinvent myself has been with me all along, and it is probably what keeps my life interesting. Now I am happy, even eager than ever, to take risks.

Freelancing and entrepreneurship is an exciting journey, one in which you don’t know where the next turn is going to lead you to. So obviously, there are going to be a lot of lessons to be learned, many more than the three listed here. Being a keen learner, I look forward to what lessons the future hands out to me. This is interesting, what I am doing, and I am happy that I am getting to do something like this.

About Yamini Vijendran

Yamini Vijendran (@saimini) is the author of ‘Full Circle’, a romance novella published by Indireads. A techie turned freelance writer, Yamini has been churning out content from her home in Pune for the past three years. Her short stories have been published in ‘Love Stories That Touched My Heart’, an Anthology published by Penguin India, New Asian Writing and Six Sentences, and her poems in The Indian Review, Contemporary Literary Review of India and ‘A World Rediscovered’ a poetry Anthology by Cyberwit Publications. Visit her at http://yaminivijendran.wordpress.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/YaminiVijendranAuthor.