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!
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!
“Karya” means wish or act. “Siddhi” means realizing. Therefore Karya Siddhi Hanuman is one who fulfills your wishes”.
Sri Karya Siddhi Hanuman stands majestically tall at the Sri Dattatreya Yoga Centre in Carapichaima. His is the 85 ft Murti which is known by people the world over and it is the largest in the Western Hemisphere. He represents strength and He represents victory. He gives Protection, Courage and He is synonymous with friendship, loyalty, compassion, bravery, purity of mind, thought and action! On a day like today thousands would make their way to the Ashrama to make offerings, give thanks, do puja, chant and glorify His name. Today however is quite different.
Today would be a day steeped in history as Hanuman devotees cannot do so! Why? We, like so much more of the global human population, are forced to stay at home to protect ourselves, our families, our communities and others because of Covid-19, the global pandemic that continues to wreak havoc on humanity by its spread and increasing number of deaths. Added to that Tuesday being Lord Hanuman’s Day was celebrated as Lord Hanuman’s Day by most of the Western world.
As I am typing this I have stopped for a view minutes to take in the Facebook Live from His Holiness Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji! I am blessed to witness Poornaphala, I am blessed to witness Homa and I have been able to see many devotees from Trinidad and around the world being blessed to experience the very same! I have also been blessed to see Lord Hanuman as He stands majestically tall from a beautiful vantage point at Sri Datta Venkateswara Temple. Priceless!
Today, in Celebrating Hanuman Jayanti, I also take this time to celebrate His Holiness Param Pujya Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji – our dear Sadgurudeva, Appaji, Nada Brahma- and Sri Datta Vijayananda Teertha Swamiji- our dear Bala Swamiji! Both always take care of us. They always guide, They always share, They are always selfless and both show us sincerity, humility and all that is good and kind. They have made it possible for us to keep our focus in this very trying time of Covid-19 when so many are confined to their homes. If I may say, They have provided the oxygen to keep us going!
Day after day we are given the opportunity to look at various lives from Mysore Ashrama. Appaji has given devotees an opportunity to guess the Bhajan that will be sung, day after day we are invited to participate in Puja, there is daily Kriya Yoga and this is in addition to all the other daily messages and activities to participate in.
Photo Credit: Avadhoota Datta Peetham
How can we make this a true celebration?
Keep being good and doing good by being true to yourself and being your brother’s keeper
Chant Sri Hanuman Chalisa. Record your count and submit it on Avadhoota Datta Peetham. Do not just do this today but do it every day!
Chant Sri Hanumanji’s Mantras
Be thankful for life and for this lifeline we have been given
Make today count and let every day after bring added value!
Click on the links for each of the videos shared here and sing with Appaji
Use the Bhajan Mala App to learn the words for the Bhajans
Keep your focus
Keep praying and keep giving thanks
As we thank Lord Hanuman for all His blessings, let us also pray for the health of our dear Appaji- our Sadgurudeva- and our dear Sri Bala Swamiji. Appaji and Sri Bala Swamiji, thank You for all that You continue to do for us. Please accept our Humble Pranams and Prostations at both of Your Lotus Feet!
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/habitats/plastic-pollution/ A simple click on the above link would help to paint the picture of the reality that mankind faces as a result of plastic pollution. One very important fact we can all attest to is that the Earth is in trouble because of our use of plastics. This is primarily due to how humans pollute the Earth because of the way plastics are used and more so because of the way plastics are disposed of.
On October 17, 2019 His Holiness Param Pujya Dr Sri Sri Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda issued a call for all ashramites to stop using plastic. To each His Holiness provided an eco toothbrush. Those who are devotees and followers of His Holiness Param Pujya Dr Sri Sri Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda would surely understand that His Holiness does nothing that is against nature and He also does nothing that is against mankind. Instead it is the very opposite and His love knows no bounds. His actions are always filled with thought, love, sincerity and compassion and this is always directed at all of Creation.
His visit to Antarctica https://www.dattapeetham.org/events/2013/sri-swamiji-in-antarctica-29-dec-2013-to-07-jan-2014 is an example of this. The care given to animals wherever His Holiness goes is another indication of this. Shuka Vana which is home to over 475 species of birds, the koi pond, the Bonsai Garden which has a plant for each of the 365 days of the year, the Gau Shala and His visit to various places around the world is proof of this. One particular memory which stands out in my mind is seeing squirrels and monkeys up and down trees and running around the Ashrama. The way that they are comfortable and the way that they are at peace is evident. No questions need to be asked. The truth is they may not be able to live as peacefully as this in any other part of the country.
As humans we owe it to Mother Earth (Dharti Maa) to take care of Her because she has blessed us with the food which sustains and nourishes us and the land where we make our homes. However we should not take care of the Earth because we feel obligated to but it should be because we care and we genuinely want to. One very real way of doing that is by reducing our use of plastics. It is doable and it is very possible. All it requires is firm conviction (your thought and belief process) and action (actually efforts and measures to reduce your use of plastics).
Here as some ways to help the environment: 1. Recycle- ( glass bottles, plastic bottles, paper, unused books) You can do this by checking locally in your country of residence for this. Those who live in Trinidad and Tobago can refer to this previous post (https://rachaelathomasj.com/2018/01/23/celebrating-nature-recyling) 2. Reduce wastage meaning use just what is needed. Do not use what is not needed. Do not be complacent and mismanage. Such actions will not help anyone. 3. Support animal relief efforts. Provide help at animal shelters or render assistance by helping however you can – feeding, care and the upkeep of the homes of animals. Share information on protecting endangered species and lead by example. Whether it is leather back turtles, birds, fishes or snakes, help animals that you can help. 4. Switch to eco friendly products. His Holiness set a precedent at the Mysore Ashrama. No use of plastics now means eco friendly toothbrushes, compostable garbage bags and no plastic bottles. In essence it means an opportunity to now use eco friendly water bottles that are BPA free and greater use of copper water bottles. These are products you can adopt in your everyday lives. These products are available online and many businesses in Trinidad have eco friendly bags for when you purchase goods or they allow you to bring your eco-friendly bags.
This being said it is advisable to do some research and find out what is available where you live. Go through the internet, go through social media and see what is available for you! Here are some other things you can also look into using: 1. Bamboo cutlery 2. Compostable plates 3. Bamboo fiber cleaning towels 4. Recyclable storage bags 5. Dissolvable due free detergent 6. Reusable bottles 7. Reusable coffee cups 8. Metal straws 9. Paper wrapping Every step counts! Every action matters! Do what you can and make a difference! Save a life, help protect our Earth!
Can anyone walk in your shoes or feel your pain? Truth be told and in all honesty, they cannot! Life is full of experiences and you can agree, that more often than not, we walk forward, not the other way around. It may be baby steps but it is still a step forward. Look at a flame- which direction does it go in? Upward, right?
Being real and being practical is always important! Do not let anyone make you think otherwise.
Do not expect that what we want is what we will get. We get what we deserve and sometimes what we do not. Every time someone says something harsh to you, they are ignorant of the pain you feel or the hurt it causes. Clearly they know nothing about treating others as they want to be treated and it is not your loss. Instead it’s theirs!
I am not lecturing but always be proud of your achievements and your sacrifice. Be proud of the time you put in and the obstacles you overcame. Be proud of the fact that you had the courage to face it!
Photo Credit: Pinterest
If you need help please use what I call the scissors of life. According to this method it means cut out negative people and cut out negatives in all form and fashions.
Say for example people throw negatives your way- it does not mean you return it. It means keep your faith and don’t give up. Trust that God is always with you and will help you through every situation.
Remember it is not tit for tat. That doesn’t work. Hold firm to your beliefs and be unwavering in your stance.
No matter how small your success may be to you, celebrate it. Tomorrow is promised to no one. Celebrate all the effort and energy you put in to accomplish what you have and know it will in essence make you stronger and it will make you a better person.
As I always urge, it is yours for the taking! Be your best friend and do not be your worst enemy. Do what is right though it may not always be easy! Make today count and celebrate every moment!
Celebrate today! Why should you do this everyday? For starters you should celebrate it today because you are alive and you are reading this! Consider too it is a new week, new month and look to each new day with hope and faith that it brings you one step closer to your goal.
Photo Credit: SGS Posts- Simple Good Sayings 29 Aug. 2019
For those who may think that there is nothing to celebrate, let us focus on what there is to celebrate- life, the ability to make decisions for ourselves, the ability to chart our individual journey, the ability to see things for what they are.
As we celebrate today let us focus primarily on now and let us focus primarily on you. What should you be happy about? Let’s see:
• You just opted to make some time for yourself.
• You didn’t get to start worrying about tomorrow
Photo Credit: SGS Posts- Simple Good Sayings 30 Aug. 2019
The truth is both are important. Firstly you should always make time for yourself as it is a key component of loving yourself. Neglecting yourself means losing out on an opportunity to have the things you need to grow and to be a better you. For example it is what you need for your peace of mind. Have you ever observed what happens to something when you neglect it? Now ask yourself this: What will happen if you neglect yourself? Let the answers you come up with be enough to encourage you to make time for you! Do the things you love, do the things you want to do but even more so, do the things you need to do.
Secondly, why worry about tomorrow when tomorrow is promised to no one? For those who can recall these are three things I always urge you to do:
Always focus on what you are sure about and that will help you deal with each situation. It will in essence help all the pieces fall into place. In short, it will help you to get clarity and figure out how to move forward.
Always give your best. When you give your best there is no room for self doubt. It will help you deal with past actions and it will also help you move forward.
Keep your faith and your belief. Accept that you are unique and you are specially made. If you have no control over situations worrying can only serve to do negatives- you overthink, you increase your blood pressure, you make rash decisions, you may lose your ability to analyze and assess. If you believe in God and in His greatness how can you not trust Him to set your situation right? Once this is done, breathe and celebrate.
What is there to celebrate? There is a lot. Your life, your family, your friends, your experiences, your successes, your challenges, your disappointments, the people who don’t like you, the money in your pocket (no matter how little it is), the hardships you faced, the struggles you have overcome.
With some asking why you should celebrate negatives like challenges, disappointments and some of the other things I have mentioned, I will gladly explain. Challenges and disappointments make you stronger and they help to develop your drive and your determination. It fuels you to persevere and helps you assess whether it is really worth it. By that time you realize how much you want it.
Photo Credit: SGS Posts- Simple Good Sayings 28 Aug. 2019
Celebrating people who don’t like you is not something you should invest a lot of time in. What it means is that you should realize that people who don’t like you either inspire you to work harder or they are not meant to be in your life. That’s where the ‘scissors of life’ concept comes in. Cut out the unnecessary baggage and the unnecessary people.
Agreeably too we can agree that not everything can be celebrated and I maintain that no one can tell you how to feel unless they are in your shoes. Some circumstances are very different and change us forever. I would never ask you to celebrate death but I would ask you to celebrate life and celebrate each moment you share and have shared with your loved ones. Let that be your comfort and let it help you smile.
Don’t give up!
Don’t ever think you are alone because you are not!
Never limit yourself but challenge yourself!
Make every moment count!
Live without regrets!
Use these pointers everyday! Let it help you be a better you and let it help you manage the challenges each day brings.