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By Nithin Sridhar
“If there has ever been a word of truth, a word of spirituality that I have spoken anywhere in the world, I owe it to my Master; only the mistakes are mine.”
– Swami Vivekananda
One twenty nine years ago, India had lost one of its greatest spiritual sons. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa- the sage, devotee, yogi who was considered by many as the very incarnation of God, left his body on 16-August-1886.
Ramakrishna and his teachings had profound influence on not only his disciples like Swami Vivekananda who lived with him, but also on many generations of people around the world who have come after him.
Even today, his influence and teachings are visible everywhere around us.
On this 129th death anniversary of a great master, we should ponder over his life and his teachings. There is no better source to know about Ramakrishna than through the words of his most renowned disciple, Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda delivered two lectures in New York and England in 1901 about his Master. These lectures were later published in the form of a book “My Master”.
While describing about conditions of the household in which Ramakrishna was born, Swami Vivekananda described how a typical Brahmin household full of austerity and asceticism practiced charity in spite of extreme poverty.
About Ramakrishna’s parents, Vivekananda says: “Very poor they were and yet many a time, the mother would starve herself a whole day to help a poor man.”
Vivekananda further calls his master as being “a peculiar child from very babyhood,” and adds that the master remembered everything about his past and was aware of his life’s purpose from childhood itself.
Ramakrishna’s father died when he was quite young and then Ramakrishna was sent to school. But, says Vivekananda, within a short time of starting his studies, Ramakrishna was “convinced that the aim of all secular learning was mere material advancement, and he resolved to give up study and devote himself to the pursuit of spiritual knowledge.”
He further adds that Ramakrishna was later forced to become a priest at a temple in Calcutta due to extreme poverty.
When Ramakrishna stood in front of the image of “Blissful Mother” Kali, his mind was filled with questions about her.
Swami Vivekananda says: “Day after day he would weep and say: ‘Mother, is it true that Thou exists or is it all poetry? Is the Blissful Mother an imagination of the poets and misguided people, or is there such a reality?’….. This thought which was uppermost in his mind gained in strength every day until he could think of nothing else.”
The idea, the desire to find the truth about the Mother, became so intense that Ramakrishna could no longer concentrate on his worship. He was forced to go into a nearby forest, where he lost all thoughts about his own self or about his bodily needs like food. As days passed, he would weep that one more day had passed and the Mother did not reveal herself to him.
As days, weeks and months passed, Ramakrishna began to see visions and slowly he was able to unlock various mysteries of nature. During this time, says Vivekananda, a woman saint (actually Bhairavi Brahmani) came to see Ramakrishna and addressed him thus: “My son, blessed is the son upon whom such madness comes. The whole universe is mad…. Blessed is the man who is mad after God. Such men are very few.”
She then stayed with Ramakrishna for many years and taught him various aspects of Yoga and other practices. Later another Sanyasin (renunciant) (Totapuri), taught Vedanta to Ramakrishna and initiated him into the order of Sannyassins.
Regarding the spiritual practices of various religions that Ramakrishna undertook, Swami Vivekananda says: “He went to the various sects existing in our country that were available to him, and whatever he took up he went into it with his whole heart…..Thus from actual experience, he came to know that the goal of every religion is the same, that each is trying to teach the same thing, the difference being largely in method, and still more in language. At the core, all sects and all religions have the same aim.”
Speaking about how Ramakrishna overcame the distinction of gender, Vivekananda says: “He began to think that he was a woman, he dressed like a woman, spoke like a woman, gave up occupations of men….until year after year of this discipline, his mind changed, and he entirely forgot the idea of sex; all thought vanished and the whole view of life underwent a transformation>”
Ramakrishna viewed every woman as the very embodiment of Divine Mother. Swami Vivekananda narrated how he had seen Ramakrishna prostrating at the feet of those women whom society would not touch, and weep at her feet saying: “Mother, in one form Thou art in the street, and in another form Thou art the universe, I salute Thee, Mother, I salute Thee.”
Such was the equanimity and mental purity of Ramakrishna. Treating all women as mother was not just something to be read and preached. It was not just a metaphor for him. He realized the reality and lived it.
Speaking about the compassion and equal-sightedness that Ramakrishna had towards everyone, Swami Vivekananda said: “For years I lived with that man, but never did I hear those lips utter one word of condemnation for any sect. He had same sympathy for all of them; he had found the harmony between them…..He condemned no one, but saw the good in all.”
Swami Vivekananda considered Ramakrishna as a “triumphant example, a living realization of the complete conquest of lust and desire for money.” Vivekananda then says that the first part of his master’s life was spent in acquiring spirituality and the last part, in distributing them.
He adds: “His (Ramakrishna’s) intense love for mankind could not refuse help to the humblest of the thousands who sought his aid.”
Though, Ramakrishna developed a “vital throat disorder”, he did not stop speaking to and giving guidance to those who came to see him. Finally, one day (i.e. on 16-August-1886), he decided to cast away his body, and “repeating the most sacred word of the Vedas, he entered into Samadhi and passed away.”
Regarding the teachings and message of Ramakrishna to mankind, Swami Vivekananda says: “Do not care for doctrines, do not care for dogmas, or sects, or churches or temples; they count for little compared with the essence of existence in each man which is spirituality, and the more that this is developed in a man, the more powerful is he for good. Earn that first, acquire that, and criticize no one, for all doctrines and creeds have some good in them.
Show by your lives that religion does not mean words, nor names, nor sects, but that it means spiritual realization. Only those can understand who have felt. Only those who have attained to spirituality can communicate it to others, can be great teachers of mankind. They alone are the powers of light.”
This message of Ramakrishna, if understood and practiced, has the power to end all strife that the world is witnessing and elevate humanity to spiritual emancipation. Let us all ponder on the death anniversary of Ramakrishna.
Probiotics may significantly improve the symptoms of pregnancy-related nausea, vomiting and constipation, finds a new study.
The study, published in the journal Nutrients, showed that nausea hours (the number of hours participants felt nauseous) were reduced by 16 per cent, and the number of times they vomited was reduced by 33 per cent.
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Probiotic intake also significantly improved symptoms related to the quality of life, such as fatigue, poor appetite and difficulty maintaining normal social activities, as scored by questionnaires.
"The cause of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is unknown to this date. Various theories have been proposed, but none of them is conclusive," said lead author Albert T. Liu from the University of California, Davis.
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"Nausea, vomiting and constipation during pregnancy can significantly diminish the quality of patients' lives. Once nausea and vomiting during pregnancy progress, they can become difficult to control, and sometimes the patient even needs to be hospitalized," Liu added.
For the study, the team involved a small yet significant number of participants who took a probiotic capsule twice a day for six days and then took two days off. They then repeated the cycle.
The team found that probiotics were also found to reduce constipation significantly.Unsplash
The probiotics were available over-the-counter and mainly contained Lactobacillus., a type of good bacteria. Each capsule contained approximately 10 billion live cultures at the time of manufacture.
Participants kept 17 daily observations of their symptoms during the duration of the study, for a total of 535 observations for the researchers to statistically assess.
The team found that probiotics were also found to reduce constipation significantly.
Another finding was that vitamin E levels increased after taking probiotics. Higher levels of vitamin E were associated with low vomiting scores. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : probiotics, pregnancy, nausea, vomiting, nutrients, symptoms, fatigue, appetite, constipation, vitamin.)
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By Olivia Sarkar
If the year 2020 appeared bleak for the world, the year 2021 served as a frightening reminder that it wasn't so much about the year as it was about the times we've come to live in. Every domain and industry has experienced seismic shifts, both for the better and for the bad. However, just a few fields have seen such a huge paradigm shift as online dating throughout the course of 2021.
It becomes critical to document and analyse the important observations in the year 2021's dating trends in order to determine where online dating stands and where it is headed. This is where a poll conducted by one of India's popular dating apps, QuackQuack, comes in handy. "The pandemic has undoubtedly thrown a few curveballs towards folks wanting to date," remarked Mr. Ravi Mittal, Founder and CEO of QuackQuack, in response to the survey report. Males and females, in my opinion, are fast coming to terms with a new universe of online dating every day, adopting more self-paced and healthier forms of dating, a growing process that will soon become the standard."
The key takeaways from the survey can be best summarized as below:
- Vaccination is a must: An overwhelming 8 out of 10 persons in the survey's sample size expressed support for mandatory vaccination as a prerequisite to a date. A considerable 65 per cent and 75 per cent of people in the 18-20 and 21-30 age categories, respectively, agreed on the same thing. The need of a double jab was consistently emphasized across the country's top cities and tier 2 cities, with 75 per cent and 70 per cent of the sample size in each believing that the first step toward a safe date would have to be complete immunization of the other.
An overwhelming 8 out of 10 persons in the survey's sample size expressed support for mandatory vaccination as a prerequisite to a date. | Photo by CDC on Unsplash
- Dating with a purpose: The poll revealed that, because of the Covid procedures in place, people have had little motivation to walk outside, leading them to think on the nature of the dates they've discovered on the dating app rather than searching for matches in a desperate manner. The survey found that 47 per cent of women and 35 per cent of men agreed with this behavioral change, and that the act of reflection and introspection allowed them to have healthier relationships than before.
The difference in deliberate dating trends between people who live in cities and those who live in rural or semi-urban settings was quite similar. While roughly 37 per cent of urban teenagers believed their dating experience had taken an intentional turn, 39 per cent of rural or semi-urban teenagers felt the same way.
The difference in deliberate dating trends between people who live in cities and those who live in rural or semi-urban settings was quite similar. | Photo by René Ranisch on Unsplash
- Location is pivotal: According to the survey, a whopping 58 per cent and 56 per cent of people between the ages of 18 and 20 and 21 and 30 preferred hooking up with someone from a different place to broaden their search for a potential spouse. This trend proved to be more prevalent among women, as 58 per cent of them were comfortable dating partners from foreign countries, compared to only 50 per cent of men. Further study into a demographic analysis of the sampled data found that 46 per cent of those living in major metro cities preferred dating outside of their home location, while 57 per cent of those living in smaller cities and towns favored the same.
According to the survey, a whopping 58 per cent and 56 per cent of people between the ages of 18 and 20 and 21 and 30 preferred hooking up with someone from a different place to broaden their search for a potential spouse. | Pixabay
- Video calling versus meeting in person: Due to the ongoing Covid problem across the country, a large majority of 56 per cent of 18 to 20-year-olds preferred having their first date on a virtual medium and were risk-averse, according to the survey. On the other hand, 43 per cent of persons aged 30 and up, who adhere to a more traditional approach, decided to meet in person while taking all essential safety steps.
43 per cent of persons aged 30 and up, who adhere to a more traditional approach, decided to meet in person while taking all essential safety steps. | Photo by Matt W Newman on Unsplash
According to the survey, a vast majority of 56 per cent of 18 to 20-year-olds preferred having their first date on a virtual medium and were risk-averse due to the ongoing Covid crisis across the country. In contrast, 43 per cent of people aged 30 and up who prefer a more traditional approach preferred to meet in person while following all necessary safety precautions according to the survey. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: meeting, Video calling, Location, Vaccination, dating trends, 2021, Online Dating)
Today marks the birth anniversary of Josh Malihabadi, who popularly known as ‘Shayar-e-Inquilab’ or ‘Poet of the Revolution’.
An Indian-born poet
Josh Malihabadi, born as Shabbir Hasan Khan, was born in Malihabad, a town in Lucknow district of Uttar Pradesh, British India. At first, he received his education in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and English at his home only, and later on Malihabadi studied at St. Peter's College in Agra and passed his Senior Cambridge examination in the year 1914. Thereafter, he studied Arabic and Persian languages, and in the year 1918, Malihabadi spent six months at Tagore’s University in Shantiniketan, West Bengal.
Josh Malihabadi (centre) along with Pablo Neruda (left) and Young Ali Sardar Jafri (right). Photo by Flickr
Family of poets
Interestingly, Malihabadi’s family produced many poets; be it his great-grandfather, Nawab Faqeer Muhammad Khan ‘Goya', grandfather Nawab Muhammad Ahmad Khan, paternal uncle Ameer Ahmad Khan, and even his father Basheer Ahmad Khan. Each one of them had numerous works including poetry collections, translations, and essays published in their name. Perhaps, this was the reason why Josh Malihabadi is considered as one of the finest poets of the British India era.
Outset of writing career
Malihabadi's career in the field of writing and poetry began when in 1925, he started to supervise translation work at Osmania University in the princely state of Hyderabad. After sometime, he founded the magazine ‘Kaleem’ (meaning, "speaker" in Urdu), in which he wrote articles in favor of independence from the British rule in India. In fact, his poem ‘Hussain aur Inquilab’ won him the title of ‘Shayar-e-Inquilab’ (Poet of the Revolution). Moreover, over the passage of time, Malihabadi became more involved in the freedom struggle and even became close to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Over the passage of time, Malihabadi became more involved in the freedom struggle and even became close to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.Photo by Flickr
Migration to Pakistan
After the British rule ended in India, in the year 1956, Malihabadi migrated to Pakistan because of his concern regarding the future of himself as a poet and Urdu language. This decision of Malihabadi moving to Pakistan was highly opposed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. After moving to Pakistan, Malihabadi was consistently involved in the process of writing poetry and holding literary conferences. In fact, a noted scholar and literary critic, Pervez Hoodbhoy, quoted once about Malihabadi’s writing. He said, "Poetry flowed from Josh's pen like water from a bubbling spring."
Today, on the 123rd birth anniversary of Josh Malihabadi, let us remember his contribution in the freedom struggle of India and in the field of poetry!
(Keywords: India, Pakistan, Josh Malihabadi, Birth Anniversary, Jawaharlal Nehru, Literature, Writing, Poetry)