Happy Independence Day Trinidad and Tobago! Today we celebrate 59 years! “Together we aspire, Together we achieve” with “Discipline, Production and Tolerance”.
Have you taken the time to celebrate the Independence of our country? Don’t worry, it’s not too late!
We are a country that is culturally diverse! We are a country that is a melting pot! We are talented and we are gifted! We are people known for our warmth and a truly rich blend of food. Do you need some proof or a gentle reminder? Then click on this link:
This is a message from His Holiness Param Pujya Dr Sri Sri Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji! Episode 513 Srimadbhagavatam SGSPosts:
“Bhagīratha mounted his chariot and drove swiftly at the speed of wind. River Ganga rapidly flowed behind him purifying different lands as she flowed through them.”
Swamiji explains: What a meritorious deed Bhagīratha performed! He brought purity to all lands by bringing Ganga to Earth. Because of the existence of Ganga, all smaller tributaries and distributaries flow everywhere. You may wonder- do other rivers not have any speciality in them? Of course they have! Each river has its own speciality. But River Ganga surpasses all other rivers with its purity!
How should the auspicious river bath be taken in sacred rivers? It is incorrect to directly go and bathe in the river and cleanse oneself using soap. Prior to proceeding for a river bath, the person should bathe and cleanse himself. He should complete all his daily obligatory duties. He should then, with feelings of total purity and reverence, proceed to the river.
Washing clothes or utensils, bathing with soap, polluting the river with chemicals and factory wastes or dirtying the river by any other method are forbidden. Fetch the river water in a bucket and then use that water for your needs. It is incorrect to pollute the entire river in order to complete your tasks. A river is considered sacred and akin to nectar. A river flows through many mountains and herbs imbibing their medicinal properties. As it flows through varied types of rocks and gems, it absorbs their energies as well. It is natural mineral water. Drinking such water cures diseases. Crops grown with this water are nutritious.
Is it right to pollute such rivers? The Government’s efforts to clean the river are not yielding complete results due to lack of co-operation from citizens. They continue to pollute the river despite Government’s efforts. If at all polluted water needs to be let into the river, the water should be treated and then released. Sewage treatment plants should be set up for this purpose. When treated water is released into the river, the aquatic animals do not perish. By releasing polluted water, the plants perish, the animals are destroyed and the water is no longer fit for consumption. We are poisoning the water. We pollute the water and then blame the Government for not taking adequate steps. Government has been doing its best in this aspect.
When drainage waters are collected and left to dry, then Sun’s rays suck up the dirt and impurities. Germs are destroyed. When treated water is used for watering plants, the water enters into the earth. It gets purified there. Water table improves. We get purified drinking water again from earth.
We are careless in disposing garbage. We worry only about the cleanliness of our house when dirtying the streets and then shift the blame on to the Government. Shamelessly we use plastic covers and indiscriminately dispose them. Cows and buffaloes eat plastic and fall sick. Are we not sinning? When there are alternatives to plastic, why are we insistent on using plastic? Plastic rice and plastic noodles have flooded the markets. Let us now get back to the story.
When we go for a sacred river bath, we should at first bathe and cleanse ourselves at home. With devotion and reverence we should go to the river and dip thrice. That’s all. Applying soap and bathing in river increases the sins instead of destroying them. Sins of those who bathed earlier in those waters transfer to the person who dirties it.
“River Ganga flowed over the ashes of the sixty thousand sons of Sagara. With the touch of Ganga, these sons were purified and they reached heaven. From here originates the custom of taking the ashes of the deceased and offering them in River Ganga. She swallows up the sins”.
Today a nation cries. Today a country is brought to its knees. Today hearts were broken into pieces throughout the island. Today tears were shed by many and pain, anguish and anger were evident everywhere.
February 4, 2021- the day the body of Andrea Amy Bharatt was found in the Heights of Aripo, her body thrown over a precipice. This is a day many would not forget. Prayers were being said for the young law clerk to return home safely since she went missing on the evening of Friday 29 January, 2021. Hundreds turned out for a vigil only the evening before while several hunters and trackers had joined the police in the days she went missing- many hoping they would find her alive.
The life of a family was turned upside down as this young woman who had done everything she was told to do was subjected to a horrific end. She travelled with a friend in daylight shortly after finishing work in what appeared to be a registered taxi. However she was lured into a trap many others would not have expected as the licence plate was fake. God only knows how her father is coping. To think that she left home and could not return as she left, to think that they could not say goodbye or hug each as they would is the unfortunate reality that her murder has brought.
To think of her last moments is painful and heartbreaking. To think of the scant disregard and respect for her body as she was assaulted and her body thrown over a precipice is beyond disturbing.
Described as an ‘angel’, Andrea was also described as a soft-spoken, pleasant and very hard working young lady who worked towards her dreams and she greeted everyone she met with a smile. She was one who left many with great memories and there has been an outpouring of love and concern since the day she went missing.
To have raised her alone for the last eight years following the passing of his wife, for her to grow up to be the young woman she was it means Andrea’s father did an incredible job. It also means the bond they shared would have been a very close one. To have her snatched from him like this and to lose her like this is unconsolable. More so it means more hearts are continuing to break as many think of the irreparable damage done to him and the constant pain and anguish he is facing.
Andrea’s story is one of the many that has brought pain to many in our twin island Republic. This is not the ‘sweet T&T’ Natasha Wilson described years ago. The stories of the tragic end Andrea Bharatt, Ashanti Riley, Krysta Lackpatsingh, Joanna Díaz Sánchez, Rachel Logan, Cindy Joseph, Hope Arismandez, Emily Annamunthodo, Sean Luke, Jezelle Phillip, Ellena Dial and so many others faced have showed the harsh reality of the times we are living in. We pray for each of their souls. We pray for each of their families.
Ashanti as many would remember left home to attend her grandmother’s birthday party. She was on her way to meet her boyfriend and other family members and together they would go to her grandmother’s home but Ashanti never arrived. Like Andrea she was a beautiful young woman with a beautiful soul. She too was described as a loving young lady who was hard working she too had a horrific end. She brought joy and laughter to many.
Ashanti had spent her Sunday morning at home with her Mom and when she left little did anyone think that she would never return. Ashanti disappeared on the 29th of November and her corpse was found on Dec 4th while Andrea disappeared on January 29th while her corpse was found on February 4th. Her murder sparked outrage and the ordeal she faced in her final hours was surely inflicted by persons with no compassion, no mercy and no respect.
When Krysta Lackpatsingh’s life was taken in 2004 it was on a day when she had returned home early to type up a report on the family’s computer because a computer had not yet been installed at work. Krysta, a Probation Officer attached to the Point Fortin Magistrates Court was found by her parents, Jade and Steve Lackpatsingh in a pool of blood. She had been stabbed at least 18 times. Always pleasant, she loved helping others and she loved life. She was beautiful inside and out. Her laughter could fill a room and she had a special ability to soothe those around her.
What wrong did Krysta do? She came home early to complete her work because it could not be done at her place of work and instead had her life taken in a most tragic way, heartlessly and brutally. Krysta’s death shocked the entire Cedros community.
The torture Andrea, Ashanti. Krysta and each of the other victims endured is unthinkable. So too is the torture their families have endured and continue to endure. When several of these victims did the right thing how can we say they did wrong? Their lives were ended by heartless, cold, unfeeling monsters that are roaming our land. Who are they to take lives they did not give life? Yes, once there is birth, death is inevitable but when that time comes is not to be determined by man.
We need to wake up and look out for each other. We need to be vigilant and careful. We need to take measures for good protection and we need to keep praying. We need to be thankful for our loved ones and for our time with them.
Yes, many of us did not know any of these victims, but it has not stopped us from caring and praying. Do not let their stories be stories which will be forgotten. Do not let their lives be a distant memory in time to come. Do not forget their families. Do what you can to offer them comfort and prayer. In essence, keep applying the golden rule- Treat others the way you want to be treated.
The lives of each of these victims matter! Let us remember what they taught us, how they have inspired many and what they have showed us. The lives of their families matter too! This is not about you or me but it is about every single one of us!
We celebrate each of these Angels! Together they have shown us how inner beauty radiates outward! Together they have shown us how rising in the midst of adversity is imperative! Together they have shown us that the purity of their hearts is something they were blessed with! They were gone too soon but they will never be forgotten!
There are times when you think you know but then you realize that you don’t. You think you need it but then you realize you really want it.
This being said in this post I am celebrating the journey! Where are you on yours? Have you taken the time to celebrate it? Have you stopped to think about it? If not, please know it’s time to!
This is in every sense the myriad of life! This is something we all go through at one point or another. However through it all it is imperative that we understand this is what life is- experience, highs, lows, ups, downs, and so many other forms of contrast other than what has been mentioned before.
Think about it- you are where you are because of where you have come from! You are where you are because you made a decision to start somewhere! You are where you are because you saw something and you put one foot in front the other and started a walk that led you to where you are today!
So it’s not the road you wanted- not the straight path you envisioned. It’s not the road you imagined it would be. Instead there are bumps (unexpected surprises that are not so good), maybe some potholes (disappointments that cause you pain) and winding bends (things that show you the need for added caution).
Stop and think or at least try to think! What is the last thing that made you smile? When was the last time you laughed? Where were you? What were you doing? What prompted it? Who was there? What made you so happy?
Hopefully this begins to get you thinking but don’t just think- feel and experience! Replace pain and sadness with something that is the opposite. Don’t ignore it and don’t forget it but don’t let it get the better of you.
Find some positives that can replace the negatives! Remind yourself of why you started and remind yourself of why you need to finish! Think of what you are sure about and focus on that to help you clear the path of uncertainty.
It may sound tough to do but once you get started it will become easier. Remember too that procrastination may just be a hindrance. It always helps to be your best friend rather than your worst enemy. Similarly it always pays to be true to yourself!
This is your journey and it needs to be celebrated. If you don’t celebrate it then it is highly unlikely that anyone will do it for you! Don’t wait until tomorrow because tomorrow we can agree is promised to no one!
It’s yours for the taking. The moment is yours for the making. Make the most of it! Live with no regrets because simply put, they are not worth it! Regrets are like weights that hold you back and weigh you down! What’s important is to live without regrets! Learn from mistakes. Try to right the wrongs! Treat people as you would like to be treated! Live each day like if it is your last.
In this post I am Celebrating Truths! The question many may ask is why? The response is that there are things we may avoid saying or listening to but at times we need to in order to prevent others from having to deal with such harsh truths and realities!
Being private does not mean being ‘social’ or ‘rude’ or being ‘stush’ or ‘unsociable’. It is called keeping your personal matters to minimal people which can occur for several reasons:
1. You cannot deal with a lot of people.
2. You don’t want to have to answer unnecessary questions.
3. You don’t have too much time or energy.
4. You don’t have time for the ‘faker-shaker deal’- a term I use for those who pretend, act pretentiously and generally use a façade because they feel they need to for the sake of appearances.
Many may choose to question why people keep to themselves and these are some of the many reasons that they may not understand. Instead they may choose to judge and condemn you. Leave them to deal with the karma they create and remember the important practice in life is treating people the way you want to be treated. Once you do that you will be at peace and you will have peace of mind. Just be sure that you do not let anyone take advantage of you or your kindness.
It is also important to note that with all things given respect goes a long way. Putting up appearances does the most harm to the person putting up the appearances.
Imagine my horror when weeks ago I placed a post and it I got a Ha-Ha-Ha comment to a photo I used which read, “When I look at my students I see unlimited possibilities.” It wasn’t so much that it was Ha-Ha-Ha as it was from someone who has a child of her own. It was nothing short of distasteful but it was valuable insight of the mindset of many who choose to give up on our students and how they can positively contribute to their lives.
The thought that came to mind was, ‘Imagine how horrific it would have been if this is how I viewed my students or my role as a teacher.’ Thankfully it never was and my students could all attest to this. Their progress and achievements is also proof of their determination and their beliefs.
‘Faker-shaker’ may sound neat and maybe even poetic but it is a harsh reality. Being true to oneself is what counts! Life is filled with opposites but those opposites help to create the balance and equilibrium that are so desperately needed. Those opposites help us to find ourselves and help us to appreciate this journey we call life.
Don’t be the person who paints an image on social media of caring but otherwise turns a blind eye and a deaf ear. Don’t be the person who is dismissive who cannot comprehend the negative messages their actions are creating.
Lots of food for thought right? Maybe! All in all it is a reminder to keep your focus, it is a reminder to be true to oneself and it is a reminder that you need to be as real as possible so that the world doesn’t get to you!
Yes, you have read the title correctly! This post is dedicated to announcing the Kindle publication of ‘Lotuses at His Holy Feet’. For those who are familiar with this book, it is a book of poetry that tells a story and it was written by Sheetal K Prasad, a Trinidadian by birth, who is an ardent devotee of His Holiness Param Pujya Dr Sri Sri Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji. In this book Uncle Sheetal refers to His Holiness as, “my MASTER, my Lord, my sole reason for being.”
Lotuses at His Holy Feet is non-fiction and it is a testimony of Uncle Sheetal’s experiences as well as his love for His Holiness, his love for JayaLakshmi Maa and his love for Sri Datta Vijayananda Teertha Swamiji who we affectionately call Sri Bala Swamiji. More so it is a testimony and celebration of the greatness of the divinity each represents meaning a celebration of the greatness of our Sadguru who is the epitome of Truth, Knowledge and Bliss, as Lord Dattatreya, as Nada Brahma, as our Saviour, as the Crowning Glory of the Universe as I often times refer to His Holiness, and it is a celebration of His Mother-the Divine Mother-, His Guru as well as a celebration of Sri Bala Swamiji- Junior Pontiff at Avadhoota Datta Peetham who exudes humility, compassion and divinity.
Those who know Uncle Sheetal would know of his sincerity, his humility and his immense talent as a singer and musician. His life and messages provide us with a lot to learn. He is well-known and well-loved!
When you click on the link please take the time to read the book’s description aptly reads:
As William Wordsworth once said, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.”
The book description goes on to say, “The verses penned here are from Sheetal K Prasad, who is widely known for his love of music, more so his love of the bhajans of His Holiness Param Pujya Dr Sri Sri Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda. It is a compilation of poetry and represents an emotional outburst that shows the great joy experienced by the author. Here he acknowledges the omnipresence of his Master, His Holiness Param Pujya Dr Sri Sri Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji.
This is an invitation to join the poet on this journey he narrates and immerse yourself in the peace, tranquility and rush of emotions he experiences.”
This is an invitation I extend to you with more good news! Uncle Sheetal’s book is available in Kindle Edition on all Amazon Marketplaces and these are the links below:
Even better, the awesome news doesn’t end here! You don’t need to have a Kindle to purchase the book! As I have mentioned time and time again you don’t need a Kindle device but you can click on the link that says, “Read with our Free App” that allows you to download the Free App and it can be read on your phone, laptop, tablet or desktop!
The beauty of having the book online is that all things considered having the book in Kindle format presents you with several benefits. Three (3) of the main reasons are as follows:
It is easily available by clicking on the link and making an online purchase, it doesn’t require physical storage space and considering the current situation we are faced with (the Covid-19 pandemic) having books in Kindle Edition means not having to travel physical distances to access books like this which will offer us peace of mind, tranquility and insight into the greatness of His Holiness, Jayalakshmi Maa and Sri BalaSwamiji.
As always I remind you that this is yours for the taking! Welcome the experience and enjoy the Kindle journey! Sri Guru Datta!
Today I celebrate our India Pilgrimage 2019! A little over a year ago we were blessed to be in Mysore! One year ago we were blessed to be in Varanasi! One year ago we were blessed to take bath in the Ganges! As I have said time and time again our pilgrimage to India was the blessing of a lifetime.
Had anyone told us what 2020 would be like except our Sadguru we would have questioned it because a first visit to Mysore Ashrama is a visit that will be followed by other such visits!
No one I believe would have thought that Covid-19 would bring the world to its feet. No one would have thought the travel industry would be brought to a standstill. No one would have thought life as we knew it would be replaced by the ‘new normal’.
Our visit to India was a trip that will never be forgotten! We left Trinidad on September 23 and arrived in India on September 25. We arrived at the Ashrama in the evening after a 3 hour drive. It was scenic and provided a first hand view of India as it really is- a mixture of hustle, bustle, honking horns of taxis and rickshaws, well maintained roads and businesses of all types lining the highway.
The next morning we were invited to join our Datta family from Trinidad (they had arrived a few days before) on a trip to Mekadatu where His Holiness was born. Along the way we saw so many beautiful sights- fields of flowers in full bloom, rice paddies well cultivated and maintained by hard working farmers, a buzz of activity in the marketplace, school children going to school and people in general going about their daily activities with pride and a sense of duty.
Our arrival at the temple where Jayalakshmi Maa stayed was peaceful and tranquil. The humility and the love of the people there is something which will always be with us. One thing that stood out was the peacefulness of the monkey who freely moved from tree to tree.
Had anyone told us that we would be crossing the river in a basket we might have doubted. With the water higher than it usually was, it was certainly an experience and an experience that was guided by SadGuru. There was no time to think of being afraid of anything and the peace and serenity that was with us was incomparable. The sound of the water as it moved, the monkey that moved freely, the small Hanuman temple where we were able to pay our respects and receive Darshan- all memories we will cherish!
We were fortunate to spend the night in Jayalakshmi Puram which is very sacred grounds and has a lot of spiritual significance for all Datta devotees. This journey allowed us to get a valuable understanding of the life of His Holiness and His parents, Sri Jayalakshmi Maa and Sri Narahari Teerthan Swamiji. The next morning we got the opportunity to walk through the village where His Holiness lived in His childhood days and in the afternoon we were able to visit Sri Jayalakshmi Nilayam. Our last stop before returning to Ashrama was Sogala- very sacred grounds surrounded by lush green grass and beautiful well maintained surroundings.
Our return to Ashrama occurred with us finding the Ashrama with a buzz of activity with Navatri preparations well underway. Experiencing Navatri in the Ashrama is beyond description.
It meant seeing the ladies busy sweeping from early morning, doing beautiful rangolis, looking at the ladies who led the procession each day dressed in the colour for the day with the kalasas on their heads, the dancers and singers moving in unison and then those strategically positioned at the front of the chariot carrying His Holiness and Sri BalaSwamiji. It was in every sense truly festive, celebratory and filled with energy.
It also meant seeing His Holiness beautifully dressed every morning on the chariot to Nada Mantapa where the devis would be aartied and gifted, Puja would be conducted and discourse would be given. It also meant bhajans from visiting groups who would have the privilege of performing while His Holiness conducted Puja.
Following the morning programme it meant being able to go upstairs to take the Darshan of the Divine Mother. Each day was a blessing! Following Navratri we were able to visit different parts of the Ashrama and nearby places like the Market, the temples at Chamundi Hills and the shopping area just to name a few. Added to this Divali was a memorable occasion that will always be with us.
Our journey from Mysore took us to Bangalore where the peacefulness, the divinity and the overall atmosphere reminded us of the Ashrama we had earlier left in Mysore. Undoubtedly the divinity, the positivity, the energy- everything provided insight on the spirituality and divinity of these spiritual grounds.
The next day we travelled to Varanasi, a city steeped in history and religion. Different yes, but the walk to the Shivala Ghat the next morning where we took bath in the Ganges was an experience we would never forget. The beauty of the sun over the Ganges is something we also will never forget. The steps that made it easier to step into the water were quite helpful too. It was not just about being in Varanasi but it was about being in Varanasi with His Holiness our Sadguru and with His Holiness Sri Bala Swamiji for the consecration of the Varanasi temple and for the Maha Ati Rudra Yagna. With guidance from both we were able to see holy sites and maximize the extent of our travels! Every day brought something new that was reflected in various ways! Every day provided something to treasure! The experience will always stay with us! It meant time in the presence of divinity, visiting the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, the Vishalakshi Devi temple, visiting the Kedarnath temple and several other sacred places throughout the nearby areas.
If you would like to read more about our 2019 India Pilgrimage please click on the links below. Please also click on the links to the videos above and do also take the time to view the photos that have been included.
In this post I am Celebrating Life’s Lessons! Regardless of how many times your brain may feel saturated, at some point something happens that shows you it isn’t but you have time to take in more.
Every day is a new one and every day brings a new dawn. Let that be your hope that you are not alone! Your Master, whatever name He is called by, is always with you, guiding and protecting you.
Every now and again it may happen and you might be flooded with something unexpected! Every now and again someone may show you something you lost sight of or something to snap you out of the illusion you have been living in. Many may think they have the right to judge but in truth and in fact they don’t. That is a fact that remains whether people want to hear it or not.
Friendship and love should never be mixed with envy. Friendship and love should never be synonymous with being selfish. Friendship and love should never be negative. Friendship and love should never be toxic.
Always give yourself the best chance possible! Always learn not to expect anything from anyone but always focus on being you and focus on being the best you that there is! I made a decision a long time ago that giving up or quitting is not an option at least not for me. Those who know me would know why! Those who don’t can question it but they may never understand why.
Like you I have had my fair share of experiences and I continue to have them day after day. Don’t let life break you and don’t let it trick you into living an illusion or getting entangled in one! Don’t let circumstances get the better of you!
Being in pain doesn’t mean you are justified in causing someone else pain. Nothing justifies being jealous of someone so don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for what you have or what you deserve.
Think of every cold shoulder you got, every harsh word you have received, every tear you shed and every ounce of pain you experienced! Thank God you did not let it define you! Thank God you are where you are and Thank God you are existing!
After you do this I urge you to take the time to do the following: 1. Celebrate every challenge you have overcome!
2. Celebrate every time you have turned a frown upside down.
3. Celebrate every negative you have walked away from.
4. Celebrate every negative you have turned into a positive.
5. Celebrate every toxic situation you have walked away from.
6. Celebrate the fact that you have removed every toxic person who is no longer in your life or you are in the process of doing exactly that.
7. Celebrate every opportunity you have grabbed and made the most out of.
8. Celebrate every genuine person who has become a part of your life.
9. Celebrate every time you have done something for you.
10. Celebrate your growth.
11. Celebrate your strength!
12. As you focus on your healing celebrate how far you have come on your journey.
13. Celebrate the success and happiness of others.
14. Celebrate every day you survived.
15. Celebrate every today and every tomorrow you are yet to see.
Life presents us with so much and it can be a mix of so much- overwhelming, heart wrenching, confusing and complicated. But it can also bring reason and clarity!
Clarity can be as bright as daylight! Clarity can be as harsh as the coldness that hits your face in winter! Clarity can hit you like a ton of bricks! Clarity can knock you off your feet but you it is important that you stay grounded!
Sometimes you need to have a good laugh and sometimes you just need to get rid of the bottled up pain. Whichever it is do what is necessary!
Like many people I have had my fair share of experiences and I have learnt many valuable lessons:
People will always think what they want. They may even call you names because they don’t know you or like you.
You cannot force anyone to do anything. You can try to help others but only people who want your help will accept it.
Be careful who you talk to! Talk to God knowing He always hears and He always answers.
Never let yourself be disappointed! People will always do as they wish.
Always focus on what you are sure about. Those are the things that will keep guiding you.
Reality presents us with so many harsh truths that sometimes they may feel hard to swallow but here are some useful things which should be of help:
Always keep your focus. It’s easy to get distracted but keep your goal in sight and always work towards it.
Never resort to treating people the way they treat you! Nothing good can come from that! Focus on being you and always being a better you! Let people deal with the karma they create.
When you get clarity embrace it! Celebrate the things that didn’t work out and celebrate the toxic people that get removed from your life!
Never give up on prayer. Let God be your comfort and your solace!
Always look to each new day as a new dawn! Remember every moment matters!
Always accept reality for what it is! Some circumstances cannot be changed and people need to want to change in order to effect change.
Don’t allow yourself to be a pawn in anyone’s game. Let them keep playing their games and reap the rewards of their actions.
If you ever feel alone don’t. Close your eyes and allow yourself to feel all that is good and also allow yourself space to remember that you are beautifully made and designed by the Master.
Be clear! Be firm! Be resolute! Be you and love yourself! Repeat!