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By Nithin Sridhar
Swami Mukundananda is a prominent Hindu teacher of yoga, dhyana, and other spiritual practices who has a background in engineering and management. He is a senior disciple of Jagatguru Kripaluji Maharaj and has traveled to various countries for spreading spiritual knowledge among the common people.
He is currently in Dallas on a 30-city tour in USA and is expected to conduct a 7-day lecture series in Chicago titled “The Art of Mind Management” from 22 August till 28 August. In an exclusive interview with NewsGram, he spoke about his background, his life, and his work.
Talking about his background, Swami Mukundananda shared that he is basically from Uttar Pradesh, but stayed at various places across India as his father was a government servant. He used to practice meditation from his high school days, but he developed great interest in spiritual quest only after enrolling for MBA. He searched for answers to the questions like “Who am I?” “What is the purpose of life?” and found them in Vedic scriptures. He then started practicing Sadhana (spiritual practices) along with this management studies. Sadhana helped him to become deeply attached to God.
He finished his MBA, worked for 3 months, and then at the age of 23, he renounced the world and became a Sannyasi as he realized that he would better serve God rather than serving some corporate house. When asked about how the transition was, from working in corporate house to living a life of Sannyasi, Swamiji shared that there was a natural transition as he was doing intense Sadhana for almost two years before taking Sannyasa and his mind had already immersed in devotion. Therefore, the necessary inner transformation had already taken place before his formal acceptance as a Sannyasa.
When asked about the essential features of Sannyasa, Swamiji said: “Sannyasa basically means renunciation. Somebody who has renounced worldly duties, worldly pleasures, and worldly possessions and is dedicated completely to spirituality, that person is a Sannyasi. There are two kinds of Sannyasa: Eka-Dandi (One Stick) and Tri-Dandi (Three Stick). In the path of Jnana, one takes Eka-Dandi Sannyasa, when one establishes oneself in Advaita (Non-Dual state). In Vaishnava tradition, one takes Tri-Dandi Sannyasa, where one takes a vow to use our mind, body and speech in the service of God.”
Speaking about his Guru Kripaluji Maharaj, Swamiji said that he had the good fortune of meeting such an elevated saint and learning under him. He described his Guru as a perfected master who had deep knowledge of various scriptures and also practical realization of them. At the same time, he was full of love for everybody. Swamiji further shared that Kripaluji Maharaj was very strict when it came to teaching, he expected proper discipline and surrender from his disciples but was always teaching others through love and encouragement.
Swamiji further stated that: “Guru is via-media to God. Initially we do not need God. God only needs those who are pure and the Guru is the one who saves the fallen souls and brings them to the level where they become eligible to meet God. So, for the disciple the position of the Guru is very important and one must always remain indebted to Guru for taking one towards God.”
About Guru-Poornima, Swamiji said that the festival is celebrated on the day of appearance of Veda Vyasa on earth. Vyasa was an avatara (incarnation) of God who appeared for the purpose of writing various scriptures. And hence, his appearance day is celebrated to worship and show respect to the Guru.
Swamiji then shared regarding his lecture series “The Art of Mind Management” that will be held in August in Chicago. He said that most people are aware about the glory of Vedic knowledge and how full of life and wisdom it is, but they are not aware about its practical relevance. So the objective of this 7-day lecture is to show the practical utility of Vedic knowledge and philosophy in managing our emotions, in managing the mind so as to bring it to an optimal condition so that we can perform our worldly duties better than before and live harmoniously.
He further stated that spirituality is not something that is removed from everyday life; instead it is about leading the life successfully and effectively so as to nourish oneself and the world.
Further, the scriptures speak about the importance of the mind. Swamiji quoted Gita and said the uncontrolled mind is the worst enemy and the controlled mind is the best friend. Therefore to practically implement these Vedic ideas and philosophy, they have designed the “The Art of Mind Management” workshop.
He said that the message of his workshop is that people are trying to become successful on the outside with bigger and bigger achievements but without nourishing the inside. The secret to truly successful life is to enrich oneself from within and contemplation, visualization, cleansing of the mind, etc. are powerful tools in achieving it.
The workshop aims to teach all these tools and how to use them. He further said that he teaches a system that includes Yogasana (yoga postures), Pranayama (breathing), meditation, relaxation, and healthy diet and this system is called the JKYog or Yoga for body, mind and soul which has been designed especially with regard to the needs of the western world.
Speaking about Radhey-Krishna-Yogasan that is taught by him, Swamiji said that though Patanjali Yoga is eight-limbed and aims to link with God, only the physical postures are practiced worldwide and the physical asana itself is being called as Yoga.
In order to link physical aspects with spirituality, he teaches Yogasana that is accompanied by the remembrance of God and this is called as Radhey-Krishna-Yogasana and similarly Pranayama accompanied by remembrance of God is called as Radhey-Krishna-Pranayam.
Regarding the Bal-Mukund project that Swamiji is involved in, he said that children are the future of the world and it is everyone’s duty to pass on good values, the values that could make a big difference, to the children. If we can inculcate proper values and wisdom in them, then they would grow up to lead a successful and fulfilling life. Parents teach their children material knowledge alone which helps them to become an engineer or a doctor or an accountant. But, it does not tell one how to be a good human being. Therefore, to correct this and impart spiritual education to children the “Bal-Mukund Character Building Program for Children” has been started. He said that the program has been running from 5 years and has about 10 centers in different parts of USA and a few centers in India, Singapore, and Dubai.
When asked if his engineering and management background has helped him in spreading spiritual message, Swamiji said, his training in engineering, etc. opened his mind and broadened his perspective. Further, he teaches mostly in the west, where most of the Indian diaspora is highly educated engineers, doctors, and MBAs who need rational explanations before they could accept spiritual knowledge. Due to his background in engineering and management, he can speak to them and explain to them using terminologies they understand.
At the end of the interview, when NewsGram asked Swamiji to share about his life mission, he said that his mission in life is to teach spiritual knowledge to people.
He quoted Bhagavad Gita and said that there is nothing as pure in this world as Spiritual Knowledge. He further said that people who are suffering and are miserable, can be helped at the bodily level, but that is temporary. But if we impart divine knowledge, then that divine knowledge will transform their life. So I want to take this knowledge out to as many people as possible and help them to implement this knowledge in their life.
Details of the Chicago Event: Swami Mukundananda will be giving a seven-day lecture from Aug 22-28, at Clarion Inn, Elmhurst, Illinois. The program titled “The Art of Mind Management” will run from 6 pm to 8 pm on Saturday (22 August) and Sunday (23 August) and 7pm to 9pm on Monday till Friday (24 August to 28 August). The series is free and open to the public, but registration is required. For further details: 630-561-4807, www.jkyog.org.
The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.
The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.
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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.
"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.
The immune system has to be educated not to attack one's own tissues and organs to prevent autoimmune disease. But pregnancy presents a unique challenge since the fetus expresses proteins found in the placenta as well as proteins whose genetics are distinct from the mother.
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"It was a conceptual leap to link Aire-expressing cells, which are critical for preventing autoimmune disease, to pregnancy," said Tippi Mackenzie, Professor of Surgery at UCSF's Center for Maternal Foetal Precision Medicine.
In the thymus, Aire-expressing cells begin interacting with other immune cells very early in life to teach them what not to attack. The thymus begins to shrink and is nearly gone by adulthood, by which time most immune cells have been educated. But as the thymus shrinks, the population of eTACs in lymph nodes and the spleen expands, the researchers explained.
The study suggests a healthy pregnancy may depend on having these cells around, they added. (IANS/KB)
The tiny emojis being shared on billions of devices worldwide can play a major role in digital communication, with most people saying that emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others, according to an Adobe report.
Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.
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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.
"Many of the emoji are focused on positive emotions, so it's easy to insert them into our conversations and lighten the mood," the Adobe study said.
It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.
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This applies to less intense situations too. Dating, for example, can be tricky — especially when it's online or via digital apps, as it often is now.
The study also found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
In celebration of World Emoji Day on Saturday, Adobe's '2021 Global Emoji Trend Report' surveyed 7,000 people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. (IANS/KB)
Following the grand Richard Branson show where he carried Andhra Pradesh-born Sirisha Bandla and fellow space travelers on his shoulders after successfully flying to the edge of space, it is time for Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos to applaud Sanjal Gavande, one of the key engineers who designed the New Shephard rocket set to take Bezos and the crew to space on July 20.
Billionaire Bezos is set to fly to the edge of space aboard what is touted as the world's first unpiloted suborbital flight. Born in Kalyan, Maharashtra, Gavande is a systems engineer at Blue Origin who always dreamt of designing aerospace rockets.
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After completing Bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Mumbai, she flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University. She also applied for an engineering job at the US space agency NASA but finally landed her dream job at Blue Origin
Sirisha flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University.IANS
Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Mary Wallace 'Wally' Funk, and other passengers are set to liftoff from west Texas and travel just beyond the edge of space on July 20. Blue Origin announced this week that Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old high school graduate from the Netherlands, would join the crew.
Oliver is the son of millionaire Joe Daemen, Founder, and CEO of the Dutch investment company Somerset Capital Partners. Blue Origin, however, did not reveal how much Daemen paid for his son's trip to space. Bezos chose July 20 as the launch date to honor the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
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The launch site for Blue Origin's first human flight will be in a remote location north of Van Horn, Texas, from where the firm had launched New Shepard for previous flights. Blue Origin has received final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry humans on the New Shepard rocket into space.
On July 12, Bandla touched the edge of space with three others, including Virgin Galactic's billionaire CEO Richard Branson. Bandla vaulted into space onboard VSS Unity 22. After the successful spaceflight, Branson carried the Indian-American on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space, at Spaceport America in New Mexico. (IANS/KB)