In this issue, we bring to you our candid conversation with a great spiritual leader, best-selling author, and Vedic scholar with A Manual for Life – Swami Mukundananda. A mind management guru, Swami ji is an alumnus of the prestigious IIT Delhi and IIM Kolkata. To answer his greater calling, he joined the order of sanyas under the guidance of Jagadguru Shri Kripaluji Maharaj.
Swami Mukundananda will be giving live discourses across many cities in India. This is a golden opportunity to interact with Swamiji personally and also get a signed copy of his latest book, Golden Rules for Living Your Best Life. Know more at www.jkyog.in/events.
The Relevance of Guru in Our Lives
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Highlighting the five vital sections of the bestselling book GOLDEN RULES FOR LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE, Swamiji explains the relevance of a Guru in our lives, “ The path to accomplishment is never easy, and left to us, we could easily succumb to obstacles. Whether it is professional work or academics, or any other worldly pursuit, mentors play an invaluable role to top up our hard work.
Their guidance equips us with reliable knowledge and saves us from countless mistakes and years of fumbling in the dark. Not allowing complacency with our previous achievements, Mentors challenge us to keep raising our bar for ever greater life successes. Their feats are the fodder that inspires us to emulate them and help us see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants and the other is getting it.”– Swami Mukundananda
In the spiritual field, such a mentor is the Guru. The word ‘Guru’ contains two syllables—gu and ru. Gu means ‘darkness’, and ru means ‘one who destroys’. Therefore, the Guru is one who destroys the darkness of our ignorance and brings us to the light of divine knowledge. In school and college, we learn with the help of textbooks and teachers.
Similarly, the Vedic scriptures are like textbooks, while the Guru is the teacher who explains their essence by distilling such vast knowledge and helps us to practically implement the same in our personal journey of life. Even Lord Ram and Lord Krishna received instructions at the feet of Their Guru. God Himself established a precedent for us to emulate by accepting a Guru in the journey to the highest perfection.”
How to Maintain a Healthy Diet and Control Cravings
Discussing the importance of food and sleep for a healthy mind and body. Swamiji emphasized, “Vedic books of wisdom explain that the coarsest part of the food we eat is eliminated via excretion; the subtler part becomes flesh; and the subtlest part becomes the mind. Hence, food not just makes up our physical body but also determines the state of our mind. This food could uplift our energy or diminish it.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Shree Krishna describes the food as being in the mode of goodness (sattvic), mode of passion (rajasic), or mode of ignorance (tamasic), in accordance with the three modes of material nature (Maya). For example, fresh, local, seasonally grown fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and milk are sattvic in nature. These promote thoughts of peace, tranquility, gratefulness, etc.
Consequently, they propel us to behave in harmony with our inner nature and others. Foods that are fried or spicy are rajasic and are known to increase restlessness, anxiety, tension, and passion. Tamasic foods like a Non-vegetarian diet, refined, processed, or overcooked foods, alcohol, etc. stimulate anger, lethargy, laziness, selfishness, pride, ignorance, etc.
So everyday choices of food determine the quality of our life. Hence, we need to be wise in choosing the ‘beneficial’ over the ‘pleasant’. If we can convince ourselves of the harm wrong foods cause us and the pain they inflict upon us, we will be able to break their gravitational pull. Simultaneously, being conscious about the benefits of the right foods empowers us to easily choose them. Repeated contemplation over the consequences of food choices builds the necessary control to rise over cravings.
Importance of cultural Awareness in Children
To raise more culturally aware children in modern times Swami ji emphasized, “ In this age of technology and fast-paced lifestyle, raising a child with good values and character is of utmost importance. This can be enabled by inculcating cultural traditions and spirituality in children by emphasizing the vast wisdom inherent in our Indian culture.
One of the good ways of introducing our culture is to daily read scriptures or divine literature at home together as a family. Limit screen time and expose children at a young age to wisdom stories from the Puranas, Mahabharat, Ramayan, and others. Discuss the moral takeaways with real-life application. Reading books to kids improves bonding, increases their attention span, and instills a habit of lifelong learning.
We all wish to be successful in our endeavors. However, adversity is a reality we cannot escape. In fact, failure is more common than success. Statistics reveal that nine out of ten start-ups fail. So, losses are a part of life.– Swami Mukundananda
Further, celebrate the many festivals that India has around the year. Explain the meaning of rituals to children and encourage them to enjoy the celebrations by bringing God into their hearts, alongside having fun. Take them to meet the Guru. Make regular Satsang part of their lives. Go to places of worship together. Teach them to sing and dance on Vedic themes and bhajans.
These are imbued with divine nectar and wisdom. The profound meaning in the lyrics is uplifting for the mind. Reading and reciting the mantras, shlokas, and bhajans helps instill in children divine tenets, strong ideals, noble thoughts, and skills to make their overall life a success.
Engage children in creative projects of arts and crafts on devotional subjects. Encouraging them to volunteer on philanthropic projects is a powerful way to instill the culture of daanor charity which our Vedas prominently emphasize.
The Emphasis on Cultivating a Hobby & Reducing Stress in Day-to-Day Life
To live a healthy life one should enjoy their life and live stress-free and cultivating a hobby is the most pivotal part of this. Swamiji further explains, “ Over eighty percent of professionals around the world are unhappy with their work. If you find yourselves in the same situation and your passion lies elsewhere, you would have a natural desire to make your life’s passion and hobby a good source of income. However, there is no guarantee that following your passion will bring the bread to the table.
In such a case, the practical and realistic option is not to quit your present work as it meets your physical needs and provides you with financial security. Instead, do it in the spirit of Karm Yog, i.e. do it as an offering to God. This will provide you the strength to tolerate the ugly aspects of your job. To enrich the quality of life and make it purposeful, pursue your passion on the side, in the evenings, or on weekends.
No matter what the external environment, we have the freedom to choose our emotions. Hence, we alone are responsible for our moods and sentiments. We must not blame anyone – neither God, nor destiny, nor even time – for our emotions.#SwamiMukundananda #MentalHealthMatters pic.twitter.com/fxFxtdpns2— Swami Mukundananda (@Sw_Mukundananda) January 6, 2023
Stress is not the result of any situation. It is the consequence of how we perceive the situation. Stressful situations are actually catalysts for progress, that inspire us to develop our abilities. Spirituality builds our self-awareness skills which enable us to discern what are the thought patterns that are stressing us out and empower us to rectify them.
Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, karmany-evadhikaraste ma phaleshukadachana ma karma-phala-heturbhur ma tesango ’stvakarmani
This popular verse elucidates that in any given personal or professional situation, we should do our duty wholeheartedly rather than getting obsessed with results. In material consciousness, we think that we are the proprietor of all that we possess and maximize our enjoyment. Conversely, spiritual consciousness helps us comprehend that God is the owner and enjoyer of this entire world. We are His tiny parts and merely His selfless servant. Since our inherent nature is to serve God through all our actions, we must use all that we have in the service of God.
To Live a Positive Life
While explaining the importance of living a positive life, Swami ji shares, “We all wish to be successful in our endeavors. However, adversity is a reality we cannot escape. In fact, failure is more common than success. Statistics reveal that nine out of ten start-ups fail. So, losses are a part of life.”
Successful people have their share of failures as well. But what distinguishes them from the unsuccessful ones is their capacity to handle the loss and deal with disappointment. Adversity is always accompanied by a silver lining. It forces us to exert our physical and intellectual abilities, thereby bringing out the best in us.
An Avid Reader & Favorite Books
Swamiji is an avid reader and sharing his love for books Swamiji added, “ I have always enjoyed reading. In fact, in grade eight I read a book on how to meditate. It inspired me to take up the practice which continues to benefit me today. I sincerely believe that knowledge is extremely empowering. Even one gem of wisdom, if taken to heart, can transform your life forever.
This faith motivates me to write and share whatever wisdom I have with others. I read countless books until I took sanyas. But now I prefer to study the sacred texts of the great religious traditions of the world. “My personal favorites are the Ramcharitmanas by Goswami Tulsidas, Shreemad Bhagavatam by Ved Vyas, and the Upanishads. The first two are ancient texts that are imbued with nectarine wisdom on how to cultivate devotion to God. The Upanishads give us insights into our soul nature, principles of Vedic philosophy, and the science of God-realization.”
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