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Talk at VIF Bootcamp: Part 1

Uti­liz­ing your Full Poten­tial

Tomor­row (16th June) is our 14th mar­riage anniver­sary and in these years we have learnt to maneu­ver through so many sit­u­a­tions. So learn how to maneu­ver and that is a very impor­tant cog­ni­tive skill, which leads us to diver­si­ty of expe­ri­ences. If we don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly encounter this diver­si­ty that is inher­ent in our cul­ture, you will see that most of those cog­ni­tive skills are not exer­cised. It is like mus­cle. Most of the mus­cles are not exer­cised, because the plat­form, the play­ing ground is not there to exer­cise those mus­cles. You are blessed to be born in this land, which gives us scope for a full-fledged devel­op­ment, which many places do not have.

Beyond Util­i­ty and Beau­ty

My wife had gone to Italy for a year on a research pro­gram. She had gone to a place called L’Aquila, which is a awe­some­ly beau­ti­ful snow-capped ski resort. Beau­ti­ful! Right over the door, you will see snow-capped peaks, breath-tak­ing­ly beau­ti­ful. So now the jour­ney from Rome to L’Aquila, I had a shock, when I observed that there were no big trees. It was all moun­tains, but no big trees. I jour­ney to the Himalayas, awe­some­ly big trees are there. That is what we call a for­est. But no big trees when I was trav­el­ing in Italy. You know why? Any guess? They keep trees only under two cat­e­gories – util­i­ty or beau­ty. I could just not take it – util­i­ty or beau­ty. If they don’t see it, and most­ly they don’t see it, they look at it as tim­ber. They har­vest forests and then replant. Har­vest forests for tim­ber and replant. I found it excep­tion­al­ly vio­lent. That is because of my per­son­al phi­los­o­phy. What is the vio­lence behind it? If you see some­thing only in terms of beau­ty and util­i­ty, it is pure­ly objec­tive – it is use and throw, that is called con­sumerist phi­los­o­phy. Now let us say you are treat­ed only based on your util­i­ty val­ue, would you like it? Nobody would like it. You are not just a human resource, but a human being. All that com­plex­i­ty needs to be rec­og­nized, through appro­pri­ate frame­works. If the frame­work does not rec­og­nize it, it caus­es tremen­dous vio­lence on you, that is what the social sci­ences tell us. And it is very very crit­i­cal to rec­og­nize this. Now this is caus­ing tremen­dous vio­lence because, util­i­ty or beau­ty, and their idea of beau­ty was in terms of chop­ping the trees, not allow­ing them to full growth. And this, in moun­tains and forests! I could not imag­ine it. Here, we have this idea of diver­si­ty. That is very very…this is called the for­est phi­los­o­phy, where we are com­fort­able with so much diver­si­ty. There, let us say, in 1 sq. km area, there would be hard­ly 20 dif­fer­ent species. Now most of us are not exposed to mul­ti­ple species, most­ly only one species (Laugh­ter). In the can­teen, I was observ­ing a four-legged species walk in and every­body was like,”Waim!” So that is our response, most­ly in terms of a pan­ic attack, but actu­al­ly you will see, it is not a prob­lem. If you have suf­fi­cient expo­sure to diver­si­ty, you will just be okay. You will be okay with every­thing. It is just a lack of expo­sure to diver­si­ty. So bio-diver­si­ty in a sq. km area, in let us say Europe, there would be hard­ly 20 species. While India, there would be more than 200, or maybe bor­der­ing on 2000. That rich bio­di­ver­si­ty actu­al­ly we take it for grant­ed. Because that diver­si­ty, not just in terms of bio-diver­si­ty, but the diver­si­ty of view­points, diver­si­ty of cul­tures, all of this becomes very very crit­i­cal.

India: A Land of Diver­si­ty

So many lan­guages, so many cul­tures, even, see for exam­ple, even cook­ing styles, the place I come from, my moth­er’s cook­ing is not the way, the style of cook­ing does not match with my wife’s home style of cook­ing and the places are hard­ly 150 km apart. I am from Thirunelveli, she is from Madu­rai. But it does not match and every few 100 kms, you will see so much diver­si­ty – the cook­ing styles don’t match. But the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples are the same. The fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples, I lat­er under­stood, it is in terms of “Aruchu­vai” or six tastes. Six tastes or rasas, six rasas and the ingre­di­ents that go into bal­anc­ing these rasas that go on to bal­anc­ing your doshas and build­ing up tremen­dous vibrance – vibrant health. You get this log­ic, actu­al­ly you will see, food is med­i­cine. I have not gone to a doc­tor in more than about 20 years. Once I had to go, I hit my head here and it had to be stitched. I went to a doc­tor and there was a pool of blood, and it had to be stitched and he said,”I will need to give you local anes­the­sia.” So I said,”No no. No anes­the­sia. You just let me know when you plan to stitch and that is okay.” So his hands were shak­ing when he was stitch­ing, but it can be man­aged, you know, if you learn the sci­ence behind it. Actu­al­ly all these are dis­cov­er­able. That is the most awe­some part to it.

Now we have the sci­ence of food, or nutri­tion, where we look at the nutri­tion­al com­po­nent, but you see the same nutri­tion­al com­po­nent, one per­son takes it, it has a dif­fer­ent effect, anoth­er per­son takes it, a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent effect. You take an ice-cream, you are okay. Your friend takes it, not okay. Same ice-cream. What went wrong? And hence we need more devel­oped sci­ences to address this, which I found was already there! You just need to fig­ure it out. For exam­ple, my moth­er, when­ev­er we used to get cold or cough or fever, would not rush us to the hos­pi­tal or doc­tor. For exam­ple, if I used to get a mouth ulcer, which is very com­mon for stu­dents, she would reduce the quan­ti­ty of pep­per in the food. What? How are these con­nect­ed? Because pep­per, each com­po­nent plays a very impor­tant role in bal­anc­ing the over­all tastes. Once you get this log­ic, actu­al­ly pep­per increas­es pit­ta and by reduc­ing pep­per, she was bal­anc­ing my pit­ta which made the ulcer go away. Now this is the com­plex sci­ence which is avail­able in all Indi­an house­holds. All our par­ents auto­mat­i­cal­ly fol­low this. They might not be able to rea­son out with respect to “Okay, why do I put this much? Why do I put that much?” They might not be able to rea­son out, but the back­ground sci­ences are there, acces­si­ble to every house­hold. It is best for us to redis­cov­er these and apply it con­scious­ly. So com­ing back to the process of mar­riage and also the very impor­tant idea of beau­ty because mar­riage also means, for many peo­ple, now eval­u­ate with regard to beau­ty – how does one look? How do you eval­u­ate beau­ty? It is not an uncom­fort­able ques­tion. Peo­ple eval­u­ate beau­ty. How do you eval­u­ate beau­ty? See, for exam­ple, do I look beau­ti­ful?


Beau­ty is Skin Deep?

The skin is just peel­ing away, it will be okay. So beau­ty is skin-deep? I used to have a room­mate in col­lege, who used to be very very good look­ing, but dark, black, jet black but good look­ing. But he some­how got this com­plex that “I am not good look­ing”. Very trag­ic. And he used to apply this ‑at that time there was only this Fair and Love­ly (Laugh­ter). Only now they came out with this Fair and Hand­some. He would secret­ly apply it, in the hope that some­how he would be as strong as…look fair. And Hand­some. It was trag­ic. And all of us used to dis­cov­er it, because you can­not miss it. And he used to go through immense trau­ma through the whole process. Again to this there are his­tor­i­cal antecedents. Don’t you think so? It is vis­i­ble. Oth­er­wise what is wrong in skin colour? One should be com­fort­able under one’s skin. What is the big deal? But it is made a big deal, and where did this come from? Again, you need to trace back into his­to­ry. If you look at the Indi­an con­cept of beau­ty, that is where, the con­cepts, the prin­ci­ples become very very impor­tant. The frame­works that we use to eval­u­ate are very crit­i­cal. They can cause us suf­fer­ing or they can lib­er­ate us. The frame­works that we use to under­stand our real­i­ty, rea­son out with our cir­cum­stances, can cause us seri­ous mis­ery, seri­ous suf­fer­ing or can be lib­er­a­tive. And hence the frame­works, the right frame­works become impor­tant. Frame­works like “fair and love­ly” what will it do to me? I should be suf­fer­ing and I should not even appear before you, right now. But what to do? Skin is skin, so I am old enough, I am mar­ried so, now let it be, I don’t need to impress you (Laugh­ter). I can be bald­ing and with all this daa­di (beard) and this jada mudi and I can be per­fect­ly fine with it, because I am under my own skin, but at that age, the con­cept of beau­ty, fair and love­ly, fair and hand­some, can be crip­pling to your sense of con­fi­dence and your self-image. But if you inter­est­ing­ly look at a more evolved frame­work of the idea of beau­ty, you know how beau­ty is eval­u­at­ed in the Indi­an sense?

Lak­shana: The Indi­an Idea of Beau­ty

The idea of beau­ty is looked at in a much more com­pre­hen­sive fash­ion. It is called lak­shana – and there are dif­fer­ent lak­shanas, indi­ca­tors of beau­ty at dif­fer­ent lev­els. So the lak­shana of the skin is to glow, not colour. A glow­ing skin is con­sid­ered beau­ti­ful. That is an indi­ca­tor of health, because, under­neath if you are not in vibrant health, your skin will not glow. You might be under a lay­er of cos­met­ic, if you have observed movie stars in close range, you would see dark cir­cles, the skin would not glow, it would be tired, lag­ging, but they make it up – make up for that glow, inher­ent glow which is an impor­tant lak­shana of beau­ty. A very impor­tant lak­shana of beau­ty is sym­me­try. For exam­ple, this (span of one’s arms) is con­sid­ered one vya­ma, okay? One span, vya­ma. This (tip of the fin­ger to the elbow) is con­sid­ered one mozham. Mozham, in Hin­di, what do you call it? Gatch, okay. In Tamil, we call it mozham. You know you go to a flower ven­dor, you ask “Ren­du mozham poo kudun­ga. Give me 2 mozham, or 1 mozham”. You can­not ask “Give me 98.5 cms of flow­ers” (Laugh­ter). They will be very uncom­fort­able with that idea. And that also actu­al­ly leads us, there are so many inher­ent prin­ci­ples in this, it is very beau­ti­ful. So it is not stan­dard­ized met­ric, but it is a per­son­al met­ric. It is called per­son­al math­e­mat­ics. That is also math­e­mat­ics, but it is in terms of per­son­al­ized met­rics, ratios. So appro­pri­ate ratios, mozham, this is con­sid­ered one pada. If you observe each per­son, you would be 8 by 8. If you mea­sure it. 8 pada by 8 pada – 8 in span and 8 in height. If you are 9 by 9, you are con­sid­ered above human. If you go up, 12 by 12 is very advanced, okay. That relates to cos­mol­o­gy and oth­er lokas and so on, I’ll not touch upon that because some of you might not be com­fort­able with so many ideas togeth­er. But this is a very sim­ple sci­ence, you will find this reflect­ed in many ancient civ­i­liza­tions, now how do you mea­sure, see for exam­ple, let us say, I will just digress a lit­tle bit. There are now these exo­plan­et dis­cov­er­ies, you know. Peo­ple are try­ing to find life in oth­er plan­ets and so on. They are try­ing to fig­ure out life, how do I mea­sure life? Is that an advanced civ­i­liza­tion or should we pro­tect our­selves from that civ­i­liza­tion and so on, peo­ple are try­ing to fig­ure out. Most­ly in Hol­ly­wood movies, you would see, pre­cur­sors to it, aliens always attack New York or Los Ange­les. (Laugh­ter) Which is their uni­verse, it is not wrong. We have start­ed with my uni­verse, so it is okay. Just that we need to have our own uni­verse, okay. How do you eval­u­ate? In the shas­tras it is giv­en, how to eval­u­ate a life form. That is in terms of ratios. With cer­tain ratios, it is a low­er life form. With cer­tain oth­er ratios it is a high­er life form. So if you go to any loka, and encounter some life form, you can eval­u­ate with this met­ric, whether it is a low­er life form that you need to pro­tect your­selves from or a high­er advanced life form that you can relate to. Okay? So much to do with beau­ty and sym­me­try and it is math­e­mat­ics. This I dis­cov­ered as I start­ed rea­son­ing out because my friend was suf­fer­ing with the idea of beau­ty, but the prob­lem wasn’t with him, it was the prob­lem with the met­rics that he was using, the frame­works that he was using to eval­u­ate him­self, whether he was hand­some or not, while if he had more devel­oped frame­works, more well-rea­soned out frame­works like this, there are impor­tant lak­shanas of beau­ty, and beau­ty goes deep­er, not just the skin, the glow of the skin mat­ters, the struc­tur­al com­po­nents mat­ter, the inner health mat­ters, the char­ac­ter traits that you pos­sess, the atti­tudes that you pos­sess mat­ter. And hence all of this is giv­en due con­sid­er­a­tion in the idea of beau­ty. And that is how even mar­riage pro­pos­als are eval­u­at­ed. It goes fur­ther than that, the idea of beau­ty extends to the whole fam­i­ly, whether they pos­sess the nec­es­sary atti­tudes and the char­ac­ter­is­tics that make them a har­mo­nious fam­i­ly. That is how well-devel­oped the idea of beau­ty is.

Viva­ha Dhar­ma

And hence viva­ha dhar­ma, if we look at it, was intel­li­gent­ly eval­u­at­ed. Now many of us don’t under­stand or eval­u­ate it appro­pri­ate­ly. We look at it as fre­quen­cy match. Infat­u­a­tion is pret­ty okay, but it so hap­pened that, when I was a pro­fes­sor at the uni­ver­si­ty, col­lege life is hap­pen­ing and that too, you watch movies and all of us want to fall in love. This is not wrong. They say falling in love, rac­ing in love, what­ev­er you take it, that is okay, it is a real­ly nice feel. Being in love is an awe­some feel. I believe every­one should expe­ri­ence it. There is noth­ing equal to that, okay. So I used to observe this boy and girl. This boy used to walk…I used to go from my office to my home and he used to go to the hos­tel. And over a peri­od of time, I saw this boy and girl becom­ing close to each oth­er. That is a very good thing, just that some­how, I don’t over­hear, but some­how the wind god pro­pelled the audio waves and they fell on my ears, and I start­ed observ­ing their points of dis­cus­sion, they will go like, “You know this per­son..!” “Han yaar, I know, I know” you know, through mutu­al lamen­ta­tion they got togeth­er and it pro­ceed­ed and over a peri­od of time, I used to observe them togeth­er, it was okay. But some months lat­er, I observed this boy hav­ing a very good time with his friends, hang­ing out with his friends and awe­some time, and sud­den­ly he got this call, and his face was like “Ow!” but he answered,”Hi hon­ey!” (Laugh­ter) This is suf­fer­ing (Laugh­ter and applause). When one does not under­stand the prin­ci­ples of rela­tion­ships, one def­i­nite­ly suf­fers and it is seri­ous suf­fer­ing. For most peo­ple, they don’t know how to get over that, because it hurts, it is painful.

Foun­da­tion­al Prin­ci­ples

If you don’t under­stand the under­ly­ing prin­ci­ples, then you might be in for a rude shock, that is where edu­cat­ing our expec­ta­tions appro­pri­ate­ly becomes very impor­tant. Now, we are edu­cat­ed look­ing at movies or this is the idea of love, that is a lit­tle more like pop­ulist way to get edu­cat­ed. I would sug­gest a lit­tle bet­ter, more rig­or­ous edu­ca­tion on love, you know. Not like a text­book thing, but if you look at the Indi­an prin­ci­ples of love, it is very very deep, well-rea­soned out.

For exam­ple, viva­ha dhar­ma. Viva­ha, the con­cept of viva­ha, I will just wrap it up quick­ly, if you see the con­cept of viva­ha, one com­po­nent of it, for exam­ple is show­ing Arund­hati naksha­tra. Arund­hati naksha­tra, in Tamil Nadu they say, “Ammi mithichu Arund­hati paakanum”. Be like Arund­hati naksha­tra – actu­al­ly what does it sig­ni­fy? If you look at it, I have an ani­ma­tion, but it is not work­ing. Arund­hati and Vasish­ta, if you know already, are bina­ry star sys­tems. Bina­ry star sys­tems have this unique thing about them, that they go around each oth­er, go around a com­mon cen­tre of grav­i­ty. Now, our ancients did not fix, based on say Earth and sun which is an unequal rela­tion­ship, because the cen­tre of grav­i­ty falls clos­er to the cen­tre of mass of the sun, not out­side the body of the sun. If you look at Earth and moon, sim­i­lar­ly it is an unequal rela­tion­ship, but if you look at a bina­ry star sys­tem, you will see that the cen­tre of grav­i­ty, is not close to the cen­tre of mass of any of the indi­vid­ual sys­tems, that is very unique about bina­ry star sys­tems, they go around a com­mon cen­tre of grav­i­ty. Each per­son­’s role is dif­fer­ent, it is unique. But they are unit­ed in dhar­ma. So the com­mon cen­tre of grav­i­ty is called dhar­ma, and if you look through, if you close­ly observe the entire cer­e­mo­ny, the log­ic behind it, you would be thrilled, because it teach­es you exact­ly what is, it edu­cates you with respect to your expec­ta­tions. Oth­er­wise most of us expect some­thing, we don’t see in the oth­er per­son. Ini­tial­ly it is good, infat­u­a­tion, but after it wears out, 24 hours you need to live with that per­son and it “Kya muzee­bat hai” You might start look­ing at it com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent­ly. But if the prin­ci­ples are right, and you are edu­cat­ed right, then your expec­ta­tions are appro­pri­ate and hence you would not be dis­ap­point­ed. So the bina­ry star sys­tem, the focus was on the cen­tral dhar­ma. The dhar­ma was the one that unit­ed both in rela­tion­ship.

Purushartha: Dhar­ma Artha Kama Mok­sha

We look at some­thing called purushartha. Purushartha means the mean­ing or pur­pose behind human life – dhar­ma, artha, kama, mok­sha. Peo­ple when they come togeth­er for kama, pure­ly for plea­sure, you will see, one scratch and that is it, that is the end of the sto­ry. It is very tough. There are places, there are rela­tion­ships that are based pure­ly on kama, but it does not sus­tain, because it is skin deep. The skin mat­ters more than any­thing else. Artha based rela­tion­ships, peo­ple come togeth­er for wealth, I used to have an acquain­tance, who came for MS, sim­ply for one rea­son, B.Tech – 1 C, MS – 4 C. Wow! With a B.Tech you get 1 crore in dowry. Dowry, I will not get into it, what­ev­er you think about it, we don’t have the time to deal with it. But 4 crores in dowry for MS was like wow man! I wished at that time that I would have been born in his com­mu­ni­ty. Bad luck! (Laugh­ter) My father-in-law gave me some sil­ver plate and tum­bler, and when I got my mar­riage date wrong, he want­ed it back (Laugh­ter) I am bad with dates and num­bers. So you know the idea of that rela­tion­ship if it is not appro­pri­ate­ly edu­cat­ed, you will see, kama is not wrong, artha, wealth is not wrong, but if it is not yoked togeth­er with some­thing more sus­tain­able, it is prob­lem­at­ic, it is short-lived. And hence for it to be long-lived, we need to have the right expec­ta­tion. Approach it the right way. And this I learnt through this process.

And then, artha also changes, it shifts. Chil­dren are con­sid­ered the most impor­tant wealth. Did you know? Wealth. Because the idea of wealth is much more expan­sive. It is not just mate­r­i­al pos­ses­sions. It is much more than that. Even health is con­sid­ered wealth. Hap­pi­ness is con­sid­ered wealth. But you need to do the right things for earn­ing that wealth, and you need to do the right things to sus­tain that wealth. That is called yoga kshe­ma. Yoga means acquir­ing that wealth and kshe­ma means sus­tain­ing it through. And that requires intel­li­gent appli­ca­tion, with­out which it does not sus­tain.


In col­lege, I used to teach com­put­er sci­ence as well as yoga, dhyana and so many things. We used to have an open door pol­i­cy at col­lege. I was in cam­pus, so morn­ing from 4:30 am up to night 12:30–1:00 am, stu­dents used to be there, each for their own pur­pose. Some used to come for yoga, dhyana. Some would play their gui­tar. Some would hack. I was a Lin­ux hack­er. (Laugh­ter) Hack­ing is not bad. No, not crack­ing, but hack­ing. So, you hack the ker­nel, device dri­vers and all of that, so there would be peo­ple with their lap­tops, there would be musi­cians. There would be some day-dream­ers, just hang­ing out. There would be oth­ers who come for food, we would cook and eat togeth­er. There would be oth­ers play­ing with our chil­dren. What­ev­er they feel is valid for them, we used to accom­mo­date them, it is okay, you know, it is just hang­ing out togeth­er. That was our con­cept of edu­ca­tion. In fact, that is a very sim­ple con­cept. But, which is exact­ly what was called Guru – kula. Kula, you know, it is like a fam­i­ly. You just hang out togeth­er and in the process, tremen­dous edu­ca­tion hap­pens. It is a very very nat­ur­al thing. It is not so, what you can say…it is high­ly intense but not the kind of prob­lems that we face now in the cur­rent sys­tem of edu­ca­tion. This again we fig­ured out is to do with his­to­ry. You would have heard of the his­to­ry, some of that at least. The focus on infra­struc­ture and all of that shift­ed the exist­ing mature par­a­digms of edu­ca­tion that had been going on for thou­sands of years. You would have heard of Tak­shashila, Nalan­da and so on, but not just those. Those were more for­mal­ized. There was so much more, the whole key, if you have heard Sir Ken Robin­son on edu­ca­tion, he talks about the focus on the learn­er and the teacher and the taught and the knowl­edge. The extra stuff, for exam­ple this pow­er­point, this infra­struc­ture and all of this, these are called acces­sories. Now the focus on acces­sories, which is periph­er­al to the whole idea of edu­ca­tion, focus on periph­er­als have become cen­tral, and focus on cen­tral has become periph­er­al. It is like com­plete­ly reverse log­ic. It is like the design of soci­ety, if you look at, we focus, as soci­ety, we respect movie stars more than pri­ma­ry school teach­ers. Does­n’t it sound odd? Actu­al­ly odd. Movie stars get the high­est focus, and high­est pay and the pri­ma­ry school teach­ers get the low­est pay and the low­est focus. Actu­al­ly it should be the reverse, which is what Fin­land and such devel­oped nations are doing, which we already have. Actu­al­ly you would see that sim­ple things like, like there is a pop­u­lar anec­dote. In the pre-inde­pen­dence era a vil­lage boy, a groom was cho­sen for the vil­lage girl. At the last moment the vil­lage elders called it off, say­ing that the boy is unfit because the fam­i­ly does busi­ness on food, sells food. Vil­lage log­ic was, you can­not sell food. Food is giv­en as daana, anna daana. Med­i­cine is giv­en as daana, aro­gya daana. Edu­ca­tion is giv­en as daana, vidya daana. You can­not com­mod­i­fy or com­mer­cial­ize these 3 aspects. It was nev­er allowed. But now, those are the top three busi­ness­es, okay? So the idea has been reversed, it has been com­plete­ly reversed and we are fac­ing the con­se­quences. There is not equi­table access to food. There is not equi­table access to health­care. There is not equi­table access to edu­ca­tion. We are strug­gling with it, because we have got­ten it upside down, reverse log­ic. Unless we fix the log­ic, the prin­ci­ples with which we approach it, it can­not be fixed, it will only be like patch­work, but it is designed to burst at the seeds. So that is where we found so many stu­dents encoun­ter­ing chal­lenges, but instead of work­ing with the sys­tem, we start­ed hang­ing out with them and that nat­u­ral­ly lead us to, for exam­ple, teach­ing yoga for so many issues that stu­dents face. It was a nat­ur­al step, because I have been into the yog­ic prac­tice for more than 25 years. It has been a very very com­fort­able thing. It has been in the fam­i­ly. Now, when I say yoga, it is not just about sit­ting like this, this is called asana.

Adopt­ing a Yog­ic Life

Asana means sthi­ram, sukham, iti asanam, That means you are com­fort­able and at ease. That has become so dif­fi­cult now. We are not at com­fort, not at ease. It is very strange, is it not? Because of the reverse prin­ci­ples. Asana, pranaya­ma, dhyana, it is just to do with being you and accept­ing every­thing. And you are just okay with your­self, okay with the world. These prin­ci­ples we start­ed teach­ing and then we found that, that alone was not suf­fi­cient. There were deci­sion frame­works that are impor­tant.

How we Start­ed off with Mahab­hara­ta Pro­grams

And hence we start­ed look­ing at, not just phi­los­o­phy, for exam­ple, Bha­gavad Gita, but we start­ed look­ing at Mahab­hara­ta, Ramayana. Mahab­hara­ta pro­vides a com­plex frame­work to be able to accom­mo­date all of this, to hone our deci­sion-mak­ing skills. It pro­vides us frame­works, very clear cut frame­works, so we start­ed look­ing at the Mahab­hara­ta and that even­tu­al­ly led us to found­ing Anaa­di Foun­da­tion. Anaa­di means that which is beyond Adi and Anta – beyond birth and death, because birth and death is to do with this sys­tem (body and mind). Through the sens­es we process this infor­ma­tion. You know how thoughts, emo­tions and desires are processed? Any idea? Or do you process them? Thoughts, ideas, desires – are they processed? What is the back­ground for pro­cess­ing them? For exam­ple, through these ears, you process audio sig­nals. Through these eyes you process visu­al sig­nals. How do you process thoughts, emo­tions, desires? That is the frame­work of the chakras. You would have heard of chakras? In fact as a child, par­ents used to keep this ‑what is this called? Vib­huti, we keep chan­danam, kumku­mam, bin­di – all of that. You know why it is kept? There was this great saint called Avva­yar. Avva­yar was called jnana­pazham. There are these great saints who are called jnana­pazham, because they have attained to the high­est fruit of knowl­edge. And they used to be smeared with vib­huti, all over their body, to sig­ni­fy that they have attained to the high­est fruit of knowl­edge, and what is that high­est fruit of knowl­edge? Their vib­huti sig­ni­fies that any­how this is ephemer­al, this (body) becomes ash. Now, you hold it in your con­scious­ness con­stant­ly, what does it do to you? Most of our time is invest­ed in pre­serv­ing this (body), hold­ing this. When you under­stand that, hey, this is tem­po­rary, then you get the per­spec­tive. Then your actions are always appro­pri­ate. It is not over­done. And that is con­sid­ered the high­est fruit of knowl­edge. It hap­pens with peo­ple who are about to encounter death. They know, let us say for exam­ple, can­cer or in a few months they are going to pass away. There was this awe­some Carnegie-Mel­lon pro­fes­sor, who was affect­ed with can­cer and he was about to pass away. The last few months of his life, he was real­ly awe­some. Why awe­some? Because he was entire­ly ded­i­cat­ed to oth­ers’ wel­fare. Com­plete­ly self­less, no self­ish­ness. That is what your under­stand­ing of this being tem­po­rary does to you. That you are not self­ish. You no longer just hold on. You let go. That is con­sid­ered the high­est fruit of knowl­edge. That is why peo­ple are called jnana­pazham. These are called prasa­da, because they are ener­gized in a cer­tain way, and then, you touch it at appro­pri­ate points. If you are in a cer­tain state of sen­si­tiv­i­ty, it will blow you off, you know. These all were tech­nol­o­gy that were avail­able to every­body. Now there is mobile tech­nol­o­gy, you don’t need to under­stand the sci­ence of how it works. It just works for every­body. These and more pro­found things I under­stood from my own expe­ri­ence, which is what the jour­ney I have tried to present. This has been the idea of India that has been dis­cov­ered and still going on, which nat­u­ral­ly led us to found Anaa­di Foun­da­tion.

Start­ing Anaa­di Foun­da­tion

In 2015 we found­ed Anaa­di Foun­da­tion – Anaa­di as I said, beyond birth and death, because each of us is that. In the Indi­an prin­ci­ples, in the Indi­an way of look­ing at it, we are beyond birth and death. This (body) is sub­ject­ed to birth and death. The sub­tler struc­tures are sub­ject­ed to birth and death, but not the core you. And hence, when we live inside out, from that core expe­ri­ence, then our lives are com­plete­ly trans­formed. It is an awe­some life and that is a true bless­ing. And hence, as part of Anaa­di we focus on these core prin­ci­ples. Now we have expo­sure to sci­ence and all these prin­ci­ples, and we have that shrad­dha in sci­ence, because of our con­stant expo­sure to sci­ence. Sim­i­lar shrad­dha is not there for the Rishi Parampara that we have inher­it­ed, the idea of India that we have inher­it­ed. Shrad­dha is not there because of our lack of expo­sure. We think it is too com­plex to com­pre­hend, but it is just a lack of expo­sure. If we under­stand these prin­ci­ples right, then we will see, it is nat­ur­al thing. It gives you pro­found com­plex frame­works to be able to inter­pret real­i­ty in the most appro­pri­ate ways. So many pos­si­bil­i­ties, excit­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties, at least I see it that way. That is the rea­son why we found­ed the Anaa­di Foun­da­tion. Excit­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties to be here, to act out and hence ben­e­fit peo­ple with­in this iden­ti­ty. That is the iden­ti­ty that we are talk­ing of.

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