Feast for Thought

Not pontificating. Only trying to bat on the side of the environment. And ethics. And simple living. And slowing down. (And trying to learn and practise before preaching or teaching...)

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Power of Vishnu Sahasranamam- Vani's rebirth

A real 'story' as told by a close friend:
"Vani was in her early thirties when I first met her in a Mumbai local sometime in the late ‘70’s. She never talked much but her helping tendency was obvious. She boarded the train at the starting point and always found a seat. Instead of sitting through the hour-long journey, she would offer her seat – a luxury - to another lady.

My acquaintance too began this way – a few pleasantries exchanged over the train’s din. After a couple of months, she was not at her usual seat. Everyone presumed that she was on leave. In the busy buzz of the Mumbai life, no one thought twice about her till she came back after nearly 4 months. None of us could recognize her. She had lost weight, her cheeks were sunken, eyes lifeless, and to top it all, she had an almost bald head.
Out came the rude shock that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo radiation therapy. She hoped that she had won over the disease, but even before she regained her lost strength, it was found that the cancer had spread to the other breast, and the therapy was repeated. Left with no choice, she gave up her job. Her children were 8 and 10 years old.
We all wished her well and I did not see her after that. I had moved out of Mumbai after my marriage; slowly, memories also faded away.

Sometime in 2001, while at the lobby of Panchajanyam - a guest house run by Guruvayur Devaswom Board - a lady by my side enquired if I was from Mumbai. When I said yes, she introduced herself as - Vani. I just could not believe my eyes. She then narrated her story of survival.

After resigning her job, she went through the usual process of radiation and chemotherapy. More than the treatment, the side-effects were unbearable. The family bore suffering for a year; then her husband decided that they would move back home in Kottayam, Kerala. There she underwent Ayurvedic therapy, but to no avail.

Slowly her whole body was engulfed by cancer and she was almost bed-ridden. Her one wish was to visit Guruvayur. If she didn’t make it, her son’s wedding was to be conducted there. Slowly she lapsed into a coma.
No-one knows how the topic came about, but her mother and mother-in-law sat on either side of her and continued to chant Vishnu Sahasranamam (1000 names of Lord Vishnu). They continued with faith and fervour for 7 days and nights. When they needed a break, someone else would take over. Vani slowly regained her consciousness and became aware of sights and sounds, and the intensity of their prayer. She also joined in, and continuously for a year their house reverberated with the chanting.

Today I believe, she is somewhere in Dubai with her daughter, spreading the message of her recovery and helping others as usual."

28 Aug 2012 update.

Vishnu Sahasranamam download

29 Jan 2013 update.

Here is a VSN Blog whose goal is to inform how by reading Vishnu Sahasranamam one can really benefit. VSN Blogspot

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Amidst CSR efforts, let us practise ISR


Some of the current commercials appear to be efforts at quieting (not stifling thankfully) company conscience (if I sound cynical, I apologise). A tea brand's wake up call is certainly quite refreshing. Another brand's message 'This greeting card has been made using pulp from sustainably managed forests' is also heartening. Nearly all notebooks that my son buys from the local stationer carry a short passage about how the book has been made from 'bagasse, not trees'.

But back to the tea commercial. [For those who have not seen it - a youth 'interviews' a vote-seeking neta: Are you educated, qualified and experienced for this job - the job of running the country? The neta is discomfited; the commercial's message is for the citizen to not only arise every morn, but also be(come) aware.]


There it is: Being aware is half the battle won, and you'll soon be a practitioner of Individual social responsibilty.

In the context of environmental issues, we could categorize the kind of citizens we are:
1. The Downright Indifferent: "Have car, will drive, so what?" - Most celebrities and upper / middle calss 'haves' count in this category, even possibly those who lend their name and time to a good cause.

2. The Aware-but-we-are-helpless kind: "what is the use if I refuse a carrybag, and the grocer willingly supplies an extra bag to a customer who asks for it?" - The vast majority of us are official members of this club.

3. The Aware & Angry kind: "How dare he throw waste out of the coach window?" - Busybees who have time for everything but social issues populate this group.

4. The Green Individual / Groups who strive come what may: Valmik Thapar, Greenpeace, Siruthuli, Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra
Let companies continue sincere CSR or conscience-placating efforts, may this last tribe increase.

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Green Whiff...

I used to despair that not enough of us educated literati of urban India are concerned about the environment and effects of our local actions that, put together have a global effect.
But recent messages in personal and group mail show that more people have woken up, and are gently tapping others awake.
In one group, members encouraged happy Diwali celebrations sans crackers.
In another, nearly all the members are vociferously protesting tree-felling in their beloved alma-mater.
Of course all this is like a drop in the ocean - one green whiff among millions of tonnes of CO2 emmissions and equivalents.
The neighbourhood grocer continues to tell me ' Madam you are the only person to refuse a carrybag - I will lose business if I don't stock them. I know that I can save a couple of 1000 rupees a month and pass the savings to my clients if everyone brought their own bags."
In my campus I see quite a few shops that say 'No carry bags'. I step into the shop to find rows and columns of merchandise in perfectly transparent polythene...
What we need now is ISR - Individual Social Responsibility efforts: What I, as an individual should do to bring some cheer to the outlook on climate change among other socio-economic issues?
I had long been thinking about ISR, I mean, like economy, charity and so much else, SR should begin at home, with each individual. I found a wealth of write-up on ISR, one of them is an educators resourse to foster SR in students, and portrays Gandhiji as the example for these skills of individual responsibility and civil involvement.

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