7.1

The Ganga, the holy river is considered the river or life - fresh and ever changing. Starting from the heights of Himalayas , crushing the rocks and the hills , she finds her way through the great fertile plains of northern land before meeting the vast Indian ocean at the foot of city of Calcutta - among the most densely populated cities worldwide. Ganga finds a unique place in the psyche of Indus civilization and Hindu Scripture. Back in early nineties, I started my work life at Calcutta and happened to visit the place where Ganga finally lands into the ocean. As wide as the sea itself it sports all sorts of tropical flora and fauna at Sunderban delta. Even at Calcutta, where it is only around 100 miles short of its final merger, it flows at a depth and speed I had never seen before. I happened to ferry across the great river between the modern marvels of Hawrah bridge on one side and the Second Hugli bridge on the other. A spectacle beyond 360 degree view of any smartphone. Crossing the river in a ferry was always my first choice even though I had options to take much faster cab or bus though nothing moves more than 10 miles an hour in Calcutta.

Crossing Ganga always reminded me of life. Not in the sense of self purification as is common in the Hindu Scripture or mammoth body of gushing water that underpins the very essence of Calcutta, it posed a simple question - what if I need to cross this massive water on my own. The depth , the flow and ever changing unknown. Can I swim across ? I was in prime of my youth and starting my first job in a new city. The idea of swimming across Ganga (which I never tried) finally morphed into another challenge in my young blood. A challenge to take on the flow of this life. I used to marvel at the massive bridges across this mighty river as a testament of what humans could do. Mixed with them my dreams and vigor. It was an inspiration beyond words and one that stays with me even today after almost thirty years.

The question that comes to me now is, "Was I ready to take on the challenge?" Life happened - good or bad. I played by the ears. Making good of my opportunities - winning some and losing others. Now, as I look back to make a sense of all that happened - I see Ganga as a metaphor for the flow in our life. We jump in the river, ill equipped to handle even our breath. No , I am not suggesting breathing techniques - Pranayama. All I am reflecting on is what it takes to cross this flow of life we all have - the moments rushing in, the days and the nights , and the months and the years passing by - and to what purpose ? It makes me sad when someone says life has no purpose. The idea that the inspirations I had were misplaced or unreal makes me cringe.

We are not here to "somehow" pass through. In fact, we can't even do that!

We are here to achieve and accomplish. Create a bridge , make the boats , play with the flow , swim across and take in the blessings of life that Ganga brings to our door. This life will be quite worthless if we spent it just for our own sake - breathing has no purpose if it was not for doing something bigger. The clock starts when you decide to take in the challenge of life - before that dead or living are quite meaningless.

Sanklapa

The clock starts with the vow to make something of off the opportunity we have. We wander endlessly , not just one life , consuming for survival, till the inspiration is strong enough to make us commit all we have. Every breath needs to be committed. Yajna can't even start without such dedication. This is called Sanklpa - the beginning of a Kalpa - Eon. Sankalpa is not a new year resolution. It is a resolve to let go everything else till the goal is manifested. All the notable things in this universe are result of someone committing all the chips of just one thing. Three things are fundamental necessities for such resolve - inspiration, realization and blessing. In a way Sankapla is a wow to end the duality henceforth. It is as much a resolve to fight with in as it is to arrange, organize or strive for required actions or resources externally. In a way Sankalpa is a vow to let go your current Id and strive for something new. Sankalpa is NOT chasing a random desire. It is the end of all desires but one - realize the potential of who you are. Metaphorically you are going to burn all desires in the holy fire of Yajna.

Body

The key thing to understand is that only tool you have is your body. All other tools are contingent on how your body and thus your mind operate. Thus keeping your body and mind fit for the purpose is essential. In modern times, we end up compromising our fitness for fast buck, fast food and fast entertainment. It works for sometime till you have the currency of youth - even then you find yourself craving for unnecessary things. As you grow old, and trust me, every one does, body and mind doesn't work the way you want them to. America spends more dollars on meds even though we have some of the best tools at our disposal - in healthcare and otherwise. If I told you Yoga is the best way to heal your mind and body, I had be lying. You need to find your own tools , own foods and own routine to figure out what works. One thing I can guarantee - Karm Yoga doesn't work for the sick. It can sure help to calm the nerves but that is not the only goal. Unless you feel good inside, it is almost impossible to do good outside. Gita has recommendations but those are to be taken subjectively. Eating vegan , waking up early , spending time with animals , doing your own chores , living in solitude are some of them but you need to adjust them to modern way of life. Personally I found great deal of calm in simply giving up the smart phone. My night was mostly consumption - media, gossip or food; just by shifting my routine by four hours towards morning helped me explore the writing tools and got me much better text. It also opened a window to run daily with my dogs.

The potters wheel

Think of Atma - the protected knowledge as the clay and your Chakras (svabhava and vrittis) as the wheel. Your intelligence guiding the wheel can make anything you want. Possibilities are end less but you can make only one thing at a time. Once committed to something - be it a job , relationship , an artifact or an app , you must try your best to complete the manifestation. Acting as a ritual without desires is the best shot you have. The process of manifestation itself is the revelation of knowledge.

What follows is a cycle of four phases.

Yuga

Every manifestation - big or small ; as big as this entire universe or as small as writing a book, goes through the same four phases. We call them Yugas.

Sato-yuga

Marks the inspiration and willingness to commit to a cause. A cause bigger than consumption or survival.