The book has the author’s own experiences along with the wisdom and knowledge contributed to her life by innumerable luminaries and learned scholars. It describes sixty-four qualities, which make an individual successful and happy combination that is very difficult to achieve in the modern frenetic world of materialism.
The number sixty-four is sacred to Indian culture. According to it, there are sixty-four arts, which we should try to master so as to live a rich life. The sixty-four hints on success and happiness offered in this book try to capture the essence of Indian culture and to reach the core of spiritual India’s worldview.
VIMLA PATIL is one of the senior-most multi-media persons and activists in India. As editor of Femina, India’s number one women’s journal, for over twenty-five years, she was responsible for turning Femina into a sweeping movement for Indian women’s empowerment and progress for over three decades. She helped promote Indian textiles -- specially handlooms and hand-done embroidery - through thousands of fashion shows in India and more than twenty-five countries of the world. After her career with Femina, Vimla Patil wrote for innumerable journals and newspapers in India and several websites worldwide. She has scripted and directed sound and light shows, television shows, documentary films and written more than fifteen books, including the memoirs of her career as the editor of Femina. She continues to work ceaselessly for women’s empowerment through workshops and she is an established writer of travel, culture and heritage-based features for many top magazines of India.
Most journeys of discovery that we make in life have a quaint beginning. My adventure of writing this book – which lay dormant in my heart for long—is no exception. How I came to write this book is a story in itself. It all began one night when a dear friend of mind—who is a great devotee of Shri Ramakrishna Paramhans and Swami Vivekananda—phoned me with a mind-numbing proposal. She was a regular visitor to the ashram of the Ramakrishna Mission in Suburban Mumbai and attended the Bhagvad Geeta lectures every Sunday evening.
During this particular p0hone call, she informed me that the Swamiji who delivered the lectures regularly, had been taken ill and was hospitalized and that the head Swamiji of the ashram was looking for a replacement. She further told me that on a sudden impulse, she had suggested my name to him. I was flabberagested to say the least. I have heard many orators and religious scholars lecturing on the eighteen chapters of the Bhagvad Geeta. I have enjoyed the wonderful myself worthy of being in the lecturer’s position was preposterous and unimaginable to say the least. I had never studied the Geeta as a scholar or as a student of Sanskrit. I was merely a layperson interested in improving my own knowledge and personality—in short, I was a determined seeker but certainly not a master qualified to teach others.
Naturally, I was astounded at the suggestion that I should stand in for the Swamiji for tow Sundays! I dismissed my friend’s suggestion with one sweep of my determined hand and told her that I could not even dream of making a fool of myself before such an august gathering of people who had heard great masters elucidate the secrets of the divine Geeta.
But my friend was persistent. Like a little child, she said she had given her word to the ashram chief; that it was Taker’s (Shri Ramakrishna Paramhans) wish that I should take the lectures for two Sundays. She said that she would face great embarrassment if I backed out and refused to keep the promise she had made on my behalf. I had no option but to give in to her emotional-blackmailing tactics. Once I had accepted the responsibility, I had several sleepless nights of self— admonishing. Horrific specters of failure danced before me through the night, telling me how stupid I had been to take on an assignment I knew little or nothing about. I then remembered a rare insight of wisdom that I had heard from my parents in my youth and decided to test the truth of it in this instance.
This insight said, “If you face a problem, concentrate on it till your single-pointed devotion to it reaches the level of meditation. Continue thus till a sudden burst of light comes on in your mind. In this light, you will perceive a solution to the problem. Follow the arrow shown by this light and you will most certainly reach the solution of whatever stumps you”. I concentrated on whatever little knowledge of the Geeta I possessed. Night and day, I pondered how I could encapsulate what I myself had learnt from this great sea of wisdom. Then, I meditated on the problem till my mind was empty of all thoughts except the relentless search for a solution. And sure enough, just like the wise statement promised, I experienced a beam of light in my mind and a new idea took shape in its fertile soil. I wondered whether I could create two lectures that concerned the Geeta, but did not touch the actual content of the holy book. I meditated again and literally stumbled upon the exact subject I would discuss in the two lectures.
I decided I would present before the learned listeners several illocutions that had engaged my own attention for a long while. These 1twstions were: Why did Krishna decide to give the secrets of the Geeta W Arjun alone and no one else though all the Pandavas were his friends? Why did he not consider Draupadi, his sakhi and confidante, fit enough I receive divine knowledge? What qualities did Arjun have which midst him the fortunate recipient of this treasure of self—realization? Low did he acquire those qualities? What were the qualities Krishna spelt out in the Bhagvad Geeta for success and happiness? How could we acquire these qualities and be fit to receive wisdom from various sources and make our lives successful and happy? I went back to the thinks, which precede the Bhagwad Geeta and pinpointed one, which pod’s rayed my questions in a wonderfully visual manner. The shioka silys:
Sarvoupanishado Gavo, Dogdha Gopalanandanah Partho Vatso Sudhirbhokta, Geetamru tam Duhe Roughly translated, these lines mean: Imagine all the Upanishads I be cows and Gopalanandan (Krishna) himself to be the milkman. Pa art ha (Arjun) is then the innocent calf — who is super intelligent yet has a childlike innocence. He is the fortunate recipient of the nectar (of self red location) from the Geeta!
The search for the answers to these questions set me on an exiling path of research and fulfillment. I am pleased to say that the Two lectures I gave after doing this research —but even then with great I trepidation — were successful and widely appreciated by the large incense. I had cleverly talked about the Geeta, but not about its actual content. My lectures had nothing to do with religious concepts; they were entirely practical and spiritually elevating because of their location to the everyday life of every person.
At the end of the second lecture, one of the listeners came up to me and asked why I did not put them together for publication in newspapers for a larger readership all over India. I did this in brief and the feature was published in several newspapers in many languages in India. This article was noticed by my publisher with whom I have published several books and he encouraged me to expand the feature into a book on ancient Indian wisdom for success and happiness.
Much time has passed since we both decided to do this book. Though I feel apologetic for my preoccupation with other assignments which caused this delay, surprisingly, the time thus gained has been profitable for me. For, during the long hibernation period, the chrysalis of the idea in my mind took wings and grew into a many-slandered butterfly of radiant hues. I concentrated again and again on the concept and collected a huge amount of material that could go into this book. I meditated on my search for ideas and they crowded in my excited mind with the result that I had to cull out many to keep the book to a manageable size.
I also researched the Dnyaneshwari, the highest ornament of the Marathi language, written by the founder of the Bhakti cult in Maharashtra, Sant Dnyaneshwar (AD 1275-1296). The Dnyaneshwari, which is his incomparable commentary in Marathi on the Bhagvad Geeta, gives many beautiful similes to illustrate why Krishna chose Arjun as the recipient of the highest spiritual knowledge. Here are some examples:
1. Just as we put a little water into a mud pot to check it for any leakage before we fill it with water, Krishna checked out Arjun’s personality for weaknesses of understanding and perception before pouring the nectar of spiritual knowledge into him.
2. Just as we test a new treasurer for his honesty and then give him the responsibility of guarding a treasury, Krishna tested the integrity no Arjun in guarding the treasure .of the ultimate spiritual knowledge Just as fertile land gives a higher yield and the farmer enjoys his success in reaping a rich harvest, Krishna plants the seeds of the distilled knowledge of divinity in Arjun and enjoys the evolution of his friend from stage to stage.
‘I. Just as gold achieves higher purity when burnished in fire again and again, Krishna repeats the spiritual principles of the Geeta again and again to make sure that Arjun’s mind becomes glorious by its touch.
5. Just as a mother puts priceless ornaments on her child and enjoys the beautiful vision — though the child does not even understand the value of the ornaments — similarly Krishna puts the ornaments of knowledge and decorates Arjun with great love and motherly affection and gazes at him with pride and joy.
6. Krishna finally declares that Arjun has passed all the tests and proved to be a richly deserving recipient of the distilled knowledge of the universe! He therefore says, “Pay careful attention to what I say, 0 Arjun, for I am not giving you mere words. I am giving you the divine secrets of the universe through these words.” (Dnyaneshwari:
Chapter 10, stanzas 50 to 60)
Here at last, then, is the book that has been hiding in my heart for long. It is primarily a hands-on book, full of stories, which have changed my own life and those of my friends. The knowledge contained in this book has made me a reasonably successful, joyful, contented person. It is a book that talks of success with happiness and not success of the frenetic, stressful kind which leads to illness, depression and loneliness in the end, Of course, the book entirely accepts the need for material success, which results in an excellent lifestyle. It is contemporary in the sense that it does not propose a life of sacrifice or a denial of pleasures to achieve happiness. But it offers us an option:
Do we want to live rich or die rich? Should money bring us unbearable stress or should it make us happy? Do we wish to be moneyed or rich? For I think to be moneyed is far easier than to be truly rich. The former drives us to augment money to acquire the luxuries it can buy for excessive indulgence. The latter prompts us to use the augmented money for the right experiences that make our lives like resplendent fabrics woven with a thousand shining threads of joy and happiness. Certainly, success is meaningful only when it comes on the wings of happiness.
This is the kind of success and happiness that Krishna offered to his closest friend Arjun — a relentless seeker!
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