Some more …

  1. It’s amazing how much emotion a little mental concept like ‘my’ can generate. – Eckhart Tolle
  2. Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?
  3. For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. – Audrey Hepburn
  4. Imagination is the highest kite one can fly. — Lauren Bacall
  5. Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticised anyway. – Eleanor Roosevelt
  6. Don’t cut what you can untie …
  7. The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. — Marcus Aurelius
  8. I write to empty my mind and to fill my heart – Paulo Coelho
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Should I or shouldn’t I

That is a big question in front of me. Few months ago, I was looking the websites of few universities in and around New York area for Madhuri, my niece, to pursue her Masters degree in IT or any relevant field. Around that time I have been registered at New York University (NYU) continuing education program – Developing Apps for Iphone and Ipad. So I looked at NYU website too and I found few Masters program at its continuing education website. Of course I found few programs in IT, but the one that draws my particular attention was Masters program in Accounts and Finance and I really gave a serious thought about it.

I wanted to pursue another Masters in a completely unfamiliar domain. My only strength(s) is/are – I am good in Math; good at logic and reasoning and of course very hard-working. Actually I have a passion for Arithmetic and I am very thankful and indebted to my father who had laid a good foundation in my Math skills. Another thought that was creeping all over me was –  Do I really need this at this stage of my life? Actually I am involved extensively with voluntary programs – teaching Math and English to GED and SAT students. I attend to this activity after my working hours (from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. – Monday to Thursday) and two hours on Saturday. So if I get serious about another Masters program, I may not be able to involve in my extra activities which really give me a lot of pleasure – it is a kind of stress buster to me. I really do not want to spend either money or time on myself.

When I was in this dilemma, something caught my attention from Guravayanam book. Following is an excerpt.

Then I had to rethink and thought this was the answer from God and let it go. Few days ago, I have been discussing the same thought with Unnati, my niece, whom I could claim as my own and who is very very close to my heart. I was casually mentioning it to her by saying – “I am not looking for any career opportunities with this one, is it worth to spend so much money on me at this point of my life?”

She immediately said dabbaem chesukuntam aunty – డబ్బులేమి చేసుకుంటాం ఆంటీ. I really loved the way she expressed it. Not that she does not know what we could do with money, but I really admire her way of thinking – what is much better way than to spend money on education. She reminds me of my husband. He never had a second thought whenever I wanted to go for any educational training. I had done many continuing education courses in IT. He never even thought about how much any course costs.

I always wanted to do Ph.D in the IT field. My husband had given me the green signal but only on one condition that I should not take it as a life and death issue. I had a very bad habit of doing that even when I attend a continuing education course – I would not or could not be satisfied with myself if I am not in the top few in the class.

Today suddenly I checked City University of New York website to check for the Ph.D program, AGAIN, YES. My dad loved medical profession and wanted to see me as a doctor. Of course my dad’s dream was fulfilled by five of his eight children. My eldest sister and all my four brothers have become doctors. So I thought may be this way, I could also fulfill his dream.

Anyways, one day by God’s grace if I become a doctor, I would proudly dedicate it to my dad and my husband.

Nagarjuna’s interview on MAA TV in 2006

These are the videos of Nagarjuna’s interview (by Swathi) in 2006 on the eve of his birthday. Of course I liked it very much. It is more about how other people reflect their opinions on Nagarjuna. I had a subscription to TeluguTv.net. Hence I have downloaded this program and recently I have converted them from RealVideo format to MPEG 4(I guess) and also removed the commercials (in the process of conversion) and uploaded them to you tube.

Part 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKxoOuCy2L8
Part 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C8jtnx4SmU
Part 3 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XA0_rni5PU
Part 4 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hdr0HDGK8KQ
Part 5 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USZntLOEpEE
Part 6 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIROL8R9CaA
Part 7 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEhDfMuz9hQ

 

Orange vanilla chocolate milk shake

 

Orange (big) – 1
Soy milk (unsweetened) – less than ½ cup
Tofuti cuties (Chocolate Vanilla sandwich ice cream)  – ½  of one mini sandwich
Ice cubes (crushed) – almost 1 cup
Almonds – 5
Raisins – few
cardamom – few

Peel the orange skin and check for seeds and add soy milk, ice cream sandwich, ice cubes and blend/whip into a smooth drink. Make almonds into small pieces and add it to the drink. Add cardamom powder, raisins and the milk shake is ready.

I intentionally avoid the sugar.

Recipe is same to same as that of Strawberry. I may try a different variation next time.

Venkateswara Swamy came back into my life with a big bang ….

During the Labor Day weekend, I had the fortune to visit Sri Venkateswara Temple, Pittsburgh with Arya, Prashanthi, Chaitanya and Chaitanya’s mom.

Actually on Friday, 2 September, 2011, after I woke up and getting ready for the office, suddenly I felt very down in my spirits. So when I saw Prashanthi’s invitation to join with them to visit Pittsburgh, without a second thought I immediately accepted. And I am very glad I did as Venkateswara Swamy has come into my life again.

We went to the temple on Saturday, 3 September 2011 and Prashanthi and Chaitanya had participated in the Kalyana Utsavam. The priest was explaining that we should experience that ammavaru as our daughter and we were performing our daughter’s kalyanam with the Lord Venkateswara and we should feel the bliss of Kanyadanam. Somehow when I closed my eyes, at least for a few minutes, I was overwhelmingly happy that I and my husband were performing our daughter’s wedding and undoubtedly my whole heart and mind were filled with total happiness and I was in an absolute blissful state.

Then after the Kalyana Utsavam, Chaitanya felt like staying back at the temple for some more poojas. But Radha and Hemchand garu invited us to their place for dinner.  So we decided to come back to temple for Ekantha Seva after dinner which we did. We have decided to come back to temple for Suprabhatham (at 8 a.m.) the following day. In the United States, we allowed God to sleep for more than 10 hours.

So we went to the temple little before 8 a.m. But by that time, many people were already there. We were standing at the very back. Then I decided to move upfront compromising to stand at least to the side but in the front. Chaitanya’s mom and I moved to the front and suddenly the doors for the Garbha Gudi had opened and people were allowed to go inside (which I did not know that we could go in). So we were able to get into the Garbha Gudi. Before the doors were open, someone came to me with a small Suprabhatham booklet and asked whether I was ‘Telugu’ and handed over that to me and brought another one for Chaitanya’s mom. When I looked at mine, it was not Telugu one but was Tamil. No regrets.

In this connection, I had to go to flashback of almost 30 years, when I religiously attended the Suprabhatham every Saturday at Flushing Temple, New York for almost 6 to 7 years. My husband (who worked as the Commissioner of Endowments for several years and came to this country to administer Hindu Temples in the USA) told me that venna (butter) and sugar are being offered as prasadam to Sri Venkateswara Swamy at Suprabhatham time at Tirupathi, I did practice that custom for almost all the years I have attended Suprabhatham.

Since I have attended this event for several years even though a very long time ago, I memorized it more than 90% and I am confident that I could chant with a group without the transcript. To mention another fact – it was set up as an alarm on my Ipod – actually I set up Suprabatham, Vishnu Sahasranamam, few Annamacraya keethanalu, Ramadasu Keerthanalu (almost plays for 4 hours since 5 a.m.) and I am very much ashamed to confide that they serve as background to my sleep. One day for sure I would wake up before that time and do the chanting at home. That has been one of my ongoing determinations.

So we were inside and everyone was sitting so that everyone can see Lord Venkateswara. I was fortunate enough to get to sit in the middle just in front of Him.  I was overwhelmingly rejoiced as I could stare at him throughout the seva and I was glad that I did not get the Telugu transcript of Suprabatham. If I had gotten it, I would have been engaged in reading it from the book and missed the opportunity to see Lord’s face.

Many things thumped back to my memory during those 30 minutes –

1. The time my husband and I attended Friday Abhishekam at Tirupathi (in 1998), that too sitting in front of Lord Venkateswara (that was an awesome surprise from my husband – once in a life time experience; I was completely in another world.  Based on ancient Hindu spiritual customs, this is performed once a week, typically on Fridays. As a Hindu custom, this Seva is for wedded couples (husband and wife) only. As a “don’t-disturb” rule, children under 12 years of age are not admitted – No exceptions. In Tirumala, it assumes a most ethereal, rare significance in that it is the most sought after “seva” (form of worship for the Lord by a devotee). Devotees virtually make a beeline for this Seva because watching the priests bathe the idol is the most emancipating of experiences, given that the belief of the devout that the idol is actually a manifestation of the Supreme Divine being Himself and not just a manually carved idol. I do not know what the current status on allowing the number of les into the Garbha Gudi to sit in front of the Lord, but I remembered that only certain number of couples (I do not remember exactly, but definitely less than 10 couples) was allowed inside. With the grace of God, we got that privilege.

2. My dad used to have three big photographs (Alivelu Manga, Venkateswara Swamy and Gandhi garu) on the wall in front of his bed to see and pray to them once he wakes up in the morning and before he goes to bed.

3. A priest saying at Chilukuru temple not to close the eyes when we get a chance to be in front of Him.

4. The Saturdays we were attending Suprabhatha seva.

5. The greatest blessing Lord has showered on us by choosing my husband to lay down the Sankusthapana for Sri Venkateswara Temple, Pittsburgh in 1976.

6. A scene from Annamayya – When Lord came to Annamayya to detour Annamayya’s life towards a path for the purpose Annamayya was born; Annamayya challenging the Lord that there was no beauty on this whole universe that could be compared to the beauty of his cousins, then when the God insisted that He would show him that beauty, then Annamayya answers that if such a beauty exists (“no, such beauty exists nowhere”), then he would become a slave to that beauty and the whole experience of Annamayya looking at Sri Venkateswara – entha Bhuvana Mohana Roopam antae – Kalaganti Kalaganti – Even now I could feel that experience. I could even get ‘goose bumps’ even now imaging that Lord’s face at that time. I had that kind of experience sitting through the whole Suprabhatham and that continues afterwards.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f9vxmuDjbE – Watch this video from 4.50

After that seva, I came out of Garbha Gudi so that some more people would get a chance of having His Darshan (people who had sponsored Sahasranamarchana could sit inside). But my experience had not stopped with that. I was sitting outside the garbha gudi. People were allowed to sit on the sides only. I sat at end of one side. But a priest had asked me to sit at the center, maybe I was on his way. So I had another VIP seat, sitting in front of Him – unobstructed view of Srinivasudu. It is to the end but at the center when everyone was sitting to the side, I got a center seat My joy knew no bounds – extremely happy for HIS Blessings and made a vow to God that I would visit Him at Pittsburgh once every year.

I have to mention another small incident that happened – when we revisited the Temple for Ekanatha Seva on Saturday night, we went to the hall downstairs to take some pictures of my husband performing the Sankusthapana picture which the Temple authorities were kind enough to preserve it, Chaitanya asked me if know anyone at the Temple and I said ‘no’. Then he said that it was not fair and that I should get some special treatment (not exactly the same way he has expressed, but that was his feeling). I told myself it was ok, I am not waiting to be recognized by any human beings but the God Himself has to do something.

And that’s what happened the following day – an euphoric experience.- Enthamatramuna evvaru talichina antha matramae neevu  – An emotional journey and I could feel the presence of my husband and Lord Venkateswara with me throughout those two days.

Entamatramuna Evvaru Talachina

It is a beautiful Annamacharya Keerthana which teaches us that the grace of Lord Venkateswara depends on how well a devotee thinks of him, irrespective of the various ways of worship.

Lyrics 

Entamatramuna Evvaru Talachina Anta Matrame Neevu

Antarantamu Lenchi Chooda Pindante Nippati Yannatlu ||

Charanam 1

Koluturu Mimu Vaishnavulu Koorimito Vishnudani

Palukuduru Mimu Vedantulu Para Brahmambanuchu

Talaturu Mimu Saivulu Tagina Bhaktulanu Sivudanuchu

Alari Pogaduduru Kapaliku Ladi Bhairavudanuchu ||

Charanam 2

Sari Nennuduru Sakteyulu Sakti Roopu Neevanuchu

Darisanamulu Mimu Nana Vibhulanu Talapula Koladulu Bhajinturu

Sirula Mimu Ne Alpabuddhi Talachina Variki Alpambouduvu

Garimala Mimu Ne Ghanamani Dalachina Ghana Buddhlaku Ghanudavu ||

Charanam 3

Nee Valana Korate Ledu Mari Neeru Koladi Tameravu

Avala bhAgiradhi dari bAvula A jalamE oorinayaTlu

Sree Venkatapati Neevaite Mamu Chekoni Vunna Daivamani

Eevalane Nee Sarananedanu Idiye Paratatvamu Naku ||

Meaning

Oh Venkatapati, your presence and grace depend upon how well a person thinks about you. When I observe sincerely, it is just like the size and quality of a pan-cake depending on the batter.

The Vaishnavas worship you with reverence as Vishnu. The Vedic philosophers tell that you are the Supreme Conscience. The Saivas believe that you are Siva and the Kapalikas praise you as Adibhairava.

The Sakteyas consider you as the manifestation of the supreme power Shakti. People chant your praise in a number of ways. Ignorant people assume that you are insignificant. The wise recognise your infinite greatness.

You are like the vast water pool to spread the lotus flowers. It is only the water of Bhagiradhi river that seeps into the wells by her side. Oh Sri Venkatapati, you are our protector. I surrender at your feet. It is transcendental bliss for me.

Listen to Nithya Santhoshini Enta Maatramuna

Courtsey: The Hindu Devotional Blog

Strawberry milk shake

My very own recipe – Strawberry Milk Shake – yummy yummy !!!

Strawberries – 3
Soy milk (unsweetened) – ½ to ¾ cup
Vanilla ice cream – 2 tablespoons
Ice cubes (crushed) – almost 1 cup
Almonds – 10
Raisins – few
cardamom – 5 to 6

I use Bella Cucina rocket blender – lightning fast and mess free, the chrome-finished Rocket Blender whips up delicious drinks and gourmet dishes in a flash. It blends, chops, grinds, mixes and whips right in its set of three blending jars, one that doubles as a cup for amazing on-the-go creations.

Add the strawberries, soy milk, ice cream, ice cubes and blend/whip into a smooth drink. Make almonds into small pieces and add it to the drink. Add cardamom powder, raisins and voila the Strawberry milk shake is ready. Two to three teaspoons sugar could be added. It tastes too good and I intentionally avoid the sugar.

I got so addicted to this and I must drink it everyday. I am trying to go more with fruit diet – details about that in another blog article.