Saturday, April 25, 2009


The Times of India (TOI) - Pune edition carried a front page article on April 24th (the day after Pune voted for the Lok Sabha elections) with the following title :

At 40.6%, poorest show in Pune.

..........The Pune Lok Sabha constituency witnessed a paltry turnout of 40.6% on Thursday - the lowest ever in the history of the 15 LS Polls held in the city since 1952. More than 10 lakh out of the 18 lakh electorate in the constituency did not exercise their constitutional right to vote.

My heart sank. Pune has been known as the "Oxford Of the East". Home to the famous Pune University and educational institutions like Symbiosis that attract students from all over India, Pune has always prided itself on its educated middle classes. It is also the cultural capital of Maharashtra. Its citizens are known for being socially active and taking up cudgels and protesting vociferously when things go wrong in the city.

What happened then ? Why this terrible apathy when the country really needs its citizens to go out and make a noise and tell the politicians that enough is enough. After 26/11, it seemed for a while that India had awoken.

Going in to vote in the morning it was obvious something like this was bound to happen. I had to wait 1 minute to cast my vote. A relative who went in later in the afternoon reported the same wait time. There was no flood - only a trickle.

Think for a moment all the excuses one can give for not having voted that day : a holiday to relax, IPL on television, the sweltering heat, messed up voter lists, new voting booths with not many people knowing about it, an "I could not care less" attitude etc. etc. Ironically our domestic help (maid-servant) who came in to work after having worked for 4 hours in various homes and was going to return home walking in the sweltering 40 degrees C heat, said to me enthusiastically that she was going to vote after going home !!!!

The next day , TOI carried another article on Page 2 titled "Urban apathy cause of low turnout". The article went on to say "It was an issueless election".

Issueless ? Issueless ? Surely not everything is hunky-dory in India right now.

Isn't massive corruption an issue ? Isn't rampant religious conversion in the North East an issue ? Isn't terrorism - that has resulted in so many attacks on Indian soil in the last 4 years - an issue ? Isn't massive poverty an issue any more ? Isn't pseudo-secularism that slams anything and anybody who uses the word "Hindu" as being communal an issue ?

Or perhaps the public wasn't made aware. Maybe they've heard political parties talk about stuff so often only to forget it right after the elections that the whole exercise has become a sham. Maybe thats why we were - as AOL volunteers - asked to go out and campaign hard to get people to vote. Many of us did - as did other NGO's and student bodies. Obviously it wasn't enough for Pune to wake up.

Hope folks in places where Phase III and Phase IV polling is yet to be done are doing all they can to inspire a large voter turnout.

The Bhagavad Gita asks us to do our duty and not focus on the result. It also asks us not to be attached to inaction. Thats tells me we should not be discouraged by the above result and continue to work hard on multiple fronts.

One - to bring the message of peace and spirituality to people. Only an aware and awake mind will know what is happening and decide to take action. And this awareness can only come from spiritual practices. Two - to keep telling people to come out and use that most precious gift that democracy gives us - OUR VOTE .

As Guruji said in Mumbai after 26/11 - there is a need for becoming a Sant-Sipahi for the sake of our nation.

Please read Bawa's article on why voting is critical. A picture of Guruji casting his vote.

The journey has only just begun.

Jai Guru Dev.

A Humble Request

It is an honor to have you visit this blog. Whether you comment or not, it inspires me when I see that you found it worthwhile to spend your valuable time reading what I write. Recently however a few of my writings have showed up on yahoogroups - that I am a part of :) - or other blogs without any link back to the original blog post and worse - the blog owner flat out denies having used the material on this blog. This is a little disappointing ! Whenever I use any material from another blog, I always add a link to the original writings. This is how I give respect to the person who thought up the stuff in the first place.

I know this does not apply to most of you, so please don't mistake me.

Sometimes however these acts of "plagiarism" happen inadvertently. I have too in the past - without malice - committed such mistakes. Here are a few guidelines that helped me.

1. If you like a post and feel like forwarding it to someone, please copy and paste the URL link to the entire post to that person. Don't just copy the text and send it off by email. If you do this, the material begins to take on a life of its own. People make contextual modifications and keep forwarding it and the original author is nowhere in the picture.

2. Another reason to copy the URL from the browser bar and email that link is that it is simpler and also saves precious bandwidth since the text is only read when the recipient clicks on the URL.

3. Use the "Email Post" Link at the bottom of the post and it gives you a nice form that contains your name etc. that identifies you to the recipient - while still preserving the integrity of the original post.

4. If you want to include the contents of the original post in your own blog post there are 2 ways : a) As above, please only include a link. b) Copy and paste the text into your blog BUT ALSO please add a link to the original to give credits to the original author.

By following the above simple guidelines you are giving credit and honoring and encouraging the original author to write more.

Your views as always are welcome . I hope I have not hurt anyone's feelings. It feels almost stupid, but I've added a non-commercial license (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5) to the blog to prevent plagiarism of the writings here.

Jai Guru Dev,

Monday, April 20, 2009

Satsang with Swami Pragyapada

The vast grounds of New English School in Pune was witness to a beautiful satsang in the presence of Swami Pragyapad (formerly Prashant Rajore). It was my first satsang in many months and I was in sheer bliss. I don't know who was singing but dudes - you totally rock !!! I mean it. I was in meditation in 2 seconds flat. They started with this beautiful bhajan : Hey Shivanandana

Hey Shivanandana Lambodara Hey Vishwavinayaka Namonamaha
Namonamaha Namonamaha Vishwavinayaka Namonamaha || 2

Siddhivinayaka Mangala Daata || 2
Parvati Nandana Gajanana || 2

Namonamaha Namonamaha Vishwavinayaka Namonamaha || 2


This other bhajan "Ek Tara Bole..." went straight deep in somewhere.

Swamiji then started in his trademark funny style. He told us a joke and asked those who had already heard it to laugh again (phirse has lena) :-) LOL....

His first "joke" was about a person who slips on a banan peel. The next day he sights another banana peel and thinks " Man I gotta fall again today". :-) He then went on to explain how we get stuck in similar patterns everyday. A thought or memory of someone (the peel) we dislike or have a problem with is enough for us to "slip" (i.e. get angry , mad, furious). This had me totally in splits as I have had this problem with a relative for years. Even though I was thousands of miles away, just the memory of this person would have me fuming.

He then suggested the remedy - the next time you encounter the peel - say to yourself silently - Dear peel, I am not gonna slip today :) Man was I impressed or what.

A few jokes later a Q&A started and he dwelt forth on issues such as terrorism and dharma and why it was so important for us to VOTE - FOR CHANGE in the coming elections. I had to leave then but came away totally blissed out and grateful for the 2 hours of pure happiness that the Divine had given me in the midst of turmoil.

Jai Guru Dev,

Sunday, April 12, 2009

TOP 10 Reasons Why I'll VOTE

A few reasons that inspired me to register to VOTE this year.

10) Cos something within me says strongly I should.

9) I stood in line on the last day of the voter registration in Pune and braved a suffocating room, edgy impatient crowds, a yelling policeman, people breaking the line, being nudged by several sweaty arms etc. to register. I am not gonna let all that go waste now - am I :)

8) The ability to vote in a democracy is a right. Right means power. Power implies responsibility. So its my responsibility to vote.

7) I am eager to practice what the Civics books preached back in high school. All that stuff about democracy and why voting is **essential** to its success - nay survival - needs to now be practiced.

6) I firmly believe MY Vote has the power to change India. In the Art Of Living, we believe that the power of good intention combined with responsible action DOES result in manifestation.

5) I am a member of the vast educated middle classes that have given up on voting and consequently democracy and consequently this country. Such cynicism has become the bane of the democratic process in India. Now the politician does not even CARE as he/she knows that all he/she needs is about 20% of the vote which can be bought with liquor, sarees, lungis, shawls, 100 rupee notes, coercion, bogus voting, just belonging to a particular caste etc. I want this to change.

4) The Bhagavad Gita says that one must not be attached to inaction. Inaction is also action. If I don't vote thinking that nobody deserves my vote, someone else casts my vote for the wrong guy and by not acting, I have actually acted in the wrong fashion. So this time the least of the evils gets my vote.

3) Being the Change ! If I don't vote, I have no right to complain when I get a paunchy, raunchy, rude, pan chewing, insolent, selfish, creepy pseudo-secular politician as my representative for the next 5 years. Even if I vote, this individual may show up, but at least I did my bit.

2) I refuse to be taken for granted. I believe in secularism provided it is defined right. Democracy has been defined as the rule of the majority combined with rights of the minority. In India it has of late become "Rule of the Minority and the Majority be damned" As a member of the majority community in this country, I believe I deserve respect and equality. Not more than anyone else in this country - but certainly NOT less.

1) Guruji said so.


Jai Guru Dev,

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Jaago Re India

As you all know Guruji has asked everyone to come out and vote this year and inspire at least 10 others to vote. The Pune satsangs have been organizing a "Parivartan Padayatra". As part of this campaign, many AOL volunteers have been standing at traffic intersections, malls, under flyovers holding banners that say the Hindi/Marathi/English equivalent of "Wake Up and VOTE".

Picture of one of our volunteers standing under the University Flyover.

Yesterday was my first time. I started out with trepidation in my heart. Stand in public in front of hundreds that would drive past and smirk and smile derisively ? What if someone I know or knows my family sees me ? Blah Blah......

Turns out I was dead wrong. Little did I know I was in for an evening of fun and adulation. As I stood under the university flyover with a banner that read "Utho Jaago - Vote Karo", heart in a flutter, arms aching, eyes trying to avoid the direct gaze of commuters that whizzed by in bikes, auto rickshaws and cars, I became a witness to the mood of a microcosm of India today.

People - young and old alike - whizzed by with thumbs raised and a broad smile on their faces. One guy even whooped as he whizzed by :) An MBA student from Pune University stopped by to talk about who we were and what we were doing and why. When I said we were AOL volunteers, he was even more impressed.

Then it happened - my 2 minutes of fame :)

A group of youngsters in a car actually STOPPED in the middle of the traffic junction (youngistan - you have guts I'll say) , yelled out at me and - took a picture of me with the banner. Then yelling out "We will vote", they whizzed away ! LOL !

Ah - My Dear Aching Arms - This was so worth it :) :)

This is such an easy and fun seva. If in India, you should do it too. Its so important for us to take responsibility. Many drops make a mighty ocean.

And seriously - as Mahatma Gandhi said : Be The Change You Wish To See In This World ! As someone remarked in satsang yesterday, unless the educated middle classes make the politicians realize that their vote matters too, there is no way they will take their job seriously. And this change will only happen when India's vast middle classes go out and VOTE in large numbers. Until then votes will be bought by money/liquor/coercion/bogus voting.

So whether you are a member of Youngistan, Middle-Ageistan or Senioristan, come Your Voting Date, PLEASE COME OUT AND VOTE !!! And between now and then, please inspire others to do so too .

Guruji's article in the Times Of India Speaking Tree

Sri Sri Urges People To Vote

Guruji talks about the upcoming elections in this video .

Jai Guru Dev