Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Insights into my spiritual path

A few asked me how to best become spiritual, so thought I'll share with wider audience what I told them. Here’s what I found to be most useful in my spiritual path:
  • Vipassana meditation camp for 10 days. You need to sit in the same pose on the floor for 1 hour at a stretch. Should go to the camp only after practicing this. I sit in vajrasana at home and office (yes! on the office chair) when I work on my laptop, usually in stretches of 45 mins – 1 hour. I do the meditation I practiced there, or on the mantra I was initiated into, by a different guru, whenever possible.
  • Chanting mantras, exercising as much lung capacity as possible. I feel the vibrations in my lungs and chest. The shortest mantra, “OM” chanted consciously, experiencing the vibrations of A-U-M in the Abdomen, Upper-trunk, and Mind has the most impact, so I do it 3-5 times every day. I by-hearted and chant pancha suktas including Rudram and Vishnu Sahasranama whenever possible, usually multi-tasking with household chores and previously, cooking. Here's the playlist containing my rendering of these timeless chants: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vp2tk4Emj14&list=PLrbG5zg_L7VJ0v0ixryfF09a3SkloUez2 and https://soundcloud.com/vishnupendyala
  • Reciting stotras silently in mind. Over the years, I by hearted a lot of them. I recite them in my mind when I drive or bike to work, when doing yoga, or when jogging or exercising on fitness machines.
  • Various Yoga asanas for 45 mins, when I don’t get sleep or 3 asanas for 10 mins every day. It takes me 2-3 minutes to recite Hanuman chalisa in mind and I do it in a handstand posture (Adho Mukha Vrksasana), using the support of the wall. Handstand asana should never be done alone, so I precede it with my version of the Uttanasana Asana and follow it with Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or my version of Halasan. I do the former reciting “OM” aloud and the latter, reciting silently in mind, Aditya Hrudayam along with a few other Sri Rama slokas.
  • Simple life style. Visiting places of worship, donating time and money to good causes, eating mostly unprocessed food, frugality, and spending a lot of time learning. When there are no parties or outside food, my diet in a day mostly comprises of a banana, an apple, half-cup nuts, and a small processed snack. For the last several years, I sleep on a sleeping bag on the floor and don’t remember buying shirts or pants or anything expensive for myself. I’ve been an enrolled student for 35 years. I go to office at least one day in a week on a $100 bicycle I bought in 2004 in Toys-R-Us. I visited almost all the major temples in the cities I visited and a lot of cathedrals in USA.
  • Scriptures. When I was preparing for my PhD prelims, a professor told us that reading any 100 pages from a 1300+ page big fat book is good enough to pass the exam on this subject. I think that applies to religion as well. Read any 100 or 200 pages from any scripture. It will transform you enough, if you start applying it in your life. For me, in spite of reading a lot of religious books and scriptures, the simple story of Lord Rama has been the most useful scripture. I seek solutions to every problem in that story and try to align with Sri Rama’s decisions. Of course, I’m in no way bestowed with the abilities of Sri Rama, so I take the readings from the story only as guidelines.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Intellect is a responsibility

Intellectuals must always remember that they are intellectuals and live up to the responsibility it confers. Suicide is wrong and not in the realm of scholarly outlook. Here's my published view on the research scholar's suicide in Hyderabad recently.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — This refers to the leading news in India regarding the Hyderabad Central University research scholar’s suicide. It is indeed sad that the depth of knowledge and thought that is expected of a research scholar could not prevent the shallow thought of ending a life, that too, that of the scholar himself, from taking force.

If one believed that the state ending a terrorist's life is shameful, how shameful is it to end his own life? It’s unfortunate that the right kind of thought process did not prevail. It is even more unfortunate that no one who has been making news out of this mishap is able to realize or project this fundamental truth.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Back to the Future

Faith is Beyond All Reason and Logic. There is an increasing trend to reject what is not comprehensible through reason and of course to exploit what people can believe without reasoning. The former is often a counter-action against the latter. Both are unfortunate trends. History shows that many mistakes have happened because of these trends. There is a lot that cannot be readily comprehended using current logic and reasoning. Many years ago, people could not comprehend by reason that the earth is round or that man could travel beyond the earth. Similarly, some of the vision incorporated in the ancient scriptures is beyond our current reasoning abilities. Though technologically we are advancing towards that vision, we seem to be socially regressing from the same. That combination portends disaster because an immoral use of the all powerful technology can spell doom for humanity. Extending the theme of the movie, Interstellar, and assuming that the time is circular, the ancient scriptures like the Vedas are the legacy that our forefathers back in time left for us and the vision that our future progeny is constantly warning us about. Let's be conscious of the same. Happy New Year!

Monday, January 20, 2014

VEDA Calendar – A Priceless Service in the Honor of Time

Here's my preface on page 8 to the calendar at:


Year after year, for the last 7 years, the temple’s unique calendar has been emerging as an integral part of devotees’ dinacharya. Albert Einstein proved to the world that the three dimensions of space and the 4th dimension of time are inseparable. The physical existence of the three dimensions of our body and mind are incomplete without the context of time. Time has some most powerful, divine properties, realizing which will have a great impact on the three dimensions of our physical existence. These properties are not too difficult to comprehend, but we still fail to see them because of the abstract nature of time. Instead, we get obsessed with the more perceptible three dimensions of our physical body.

Fortunately, religion helps here. Hinduism is full of deep knowledge that reveals itself only to the analyzing mind that’s in constant quest for truth. Truth is a matter of time. No lie can hide from time. As said in Bhagavad Gita, time is God Himself, who is the absolute truth. Truth is pure, which is beautiful (Satyam, Sivam, Sundaram). There is no death to Siva even when he drinks poison. Even Siva’s own power in Bhasmasura’s hands could not destroy Siva. That's the power of truth, purity, and inner beauty: Satyam, Sivam, Sundaram. The purity that loves even Bhasmasura; the truth that is accepted even when it is poison; the inner beauty that is conspicuous even when covered with ashes. The three never die. Take all yuga purushas (the person of the times) – Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, and Lord Buddha. We see these three qualities in abundance in them. Time imbibes all the three qualities into one who is in quest of these qualities.

The VEDA calendar, which incorporates the panchanga and various unique features, can be used as one of the tools for such a quest. It helps understand and practice the impact of time on life. This new year, let us resolve to bring about a paradigm shift – from our obsession with the destructible, physical self to a deep indulgence into the 4th dimension of us – the time. When we so indulge, we automatically do what the time likes and preserves – the good. We will also then perceive the energy or the life in us, which is indestructible like the time. Just like the principle of conservation of energy, I believe there is this principle of conservation of life. The energy in us, called the life, never dies, even when the body it takes on dies. It is this timeless, indestructible life in us that we need to get obsessed with – not the transient physical forms that it takes on. I earnestly believe and hope that the VEDA calendar is a great help to us in this lofty New Year resolution. Happy New Year and Happiness Always!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Happiness really depends on how we define it

Browsing through the weekend news stories, I feel like commenting on these two of huge significance:

Live-in relationship neither a crime nor a sin: Supreme Court

"Live-in relationship neither a crime nor a sin": Can the Hon'ble judges say the same thing to their daughters and reward them for that behavior? How about to their sisters? When they don't like to say that to their family members, why impose it on others' family? We care so much for material values - see how aggressively governments try to keep up the GDP, growth rate and other economic measures. Why then are we degrading moral values, which are much more important to survival? Marriage is a noble institution. Why is the law increasingly encouraging behaviors contradicting this institution?

Justice Ganguly named by law intern in sexual harassment case

If the allegations are true, at a minimum, ALL judgments passed by the benches which comprised the Hon'ble Lord, particularly those concerning women must be thoroughly reviewed by a special bench. In that case, the country should also revisit how much supreme, unquestionable, and ultimate authority these fallible Lordships should be accorded.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

People and the Public Poilicy

Having read some of the gotchas of the new Obamacare Health-law, one would wonder: If this is the fate of the American President's signature health-law, what would be the assessment for several other laws and their implementation? I think it is a reflection on the huge disconnect between the people reality and the public policy, the world over. That's why i tend to conclude that no amount of law or other social artifacts can substitute for the trust and living up to that trust to ensure universal well-being and fairness. We should improve the micro level, one-on-one interactions first than depending on law to reform the world. If Sociology progressed at the same pace as technology, we'd probably be having heaven on earth by now. - Vishnu Pendyala :)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Justice Miscarried

When people don't act in good faith the burden falls on proof, which is expensive and is often elusive. Justice gets miscarried like in the following case. A few years ago, San Jose Mercury News carried a series of articles on similar wronged convictions. This is the reason i said earlier on social media that: The paradox of law is that its spirit lies in good faith that is beyond proof, while its practice is deep rooted in proof. Vishnu Pendyala

Wrongly convicted man released after 34 years