Off and away

Nanda Chandran Nanda.Chandran at NBC.COM
Wed Jun 10 13:04:04 CDT 1998

I'm off on a long vacation to India. I aim to do a bit of travelling -
Varanasi, Haridwar, Bodh Gaya, Saranath etc

Hope to meet some saints and philosophers from whom I can learn.

When I come back, wherever I'm, I'll rejoin.


        Because e-mail can be altered electronically,
        the integrity of this communication cannot be guaranteed.

>From  Wed Jun 10 15:26:49 1998
Message-Id: <WED.10.JUN.1998.152649.0400.>
Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 15:26:49 -0400
Reply-To: chandran at
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
        <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
From: Ram Chandran <chandran at ECON.AG.GOV>
Subject: Re: Dharma
Comments: To: Advaita List <advaita-l at>
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Dharma; Additional Comments

Invisible changes have been happening to Dharmic Values continuously
since long time. The changes that happened  several hundred years back
were relatively small and negligible in comparison to  more recent
times.  Individual families should be held responsible for the
deterioration of Dharmic Life and Dharmic Values.  The morality of the
society solely depended on the morality of the individuals who
constitute the society.  During Vedic time,  religion and life were
fully synchronized and everyone obeyed their responsibilities without an
objection. Sacrifice and service were the integral parts of the Vedic
society.   In today's modern society, selfishness and greed became more
important and service was based on returns.  The role of religion became
less important in conducting daily activities of life.

Dharmic values are necessarily seeded during early childhood so that
they can take firm ground during the adulthood.  The germination and
growth of  seeds depend on the care and protection undertaken by the
adult family members.   Let me give my personal experience about the
role of my grandmother in establishing the Dharmic values to me.  When I
was a child, I have watched my grandmother's daily activities
regularly.  She used to get up from bed at five  A.M. and went to bed
around ten P.M.  She was very dedicated and devoted to all family
members and was very happy to conduct all household activities without
complaining.  She was a mother,  a teacher, a doctor, a nurse, a cook, a
cleaner, and a servant to everyone in the family and for the neighbors.
Every day at ten o's' clock, she used to conduct her daily Pooja for an
hour.  At eleven o's' clock, she served food for everyone and she ate
whatever left at the end as her meal. Once, I have asked her questions
including why did she do the Pooja? What is the significance of the
Pooja?  She always used to say that the rituals helped her to gain
enormous physical and mental strength and provided her the discipline
and purified mind to conduct her daily duties.  Believing her was very
easy for me because I could witness the  answers through her dedicated,
devoted and truthful services.  Her actions and words were fully
synchronized with no place for any doubts.

My grandmother who was a great devotee of Lord Narayana had a strong
influence in my religious beliefs. Her morning Slokas and night stories
will remain in my heart as long as I live and will guide my life.  I
still remember the day of her liberation from this worldly life. She was
seventy nine years old and I was eleven years old.  According to her
daily routine, she woke up at 5:00 A.M., took her morning bath,
completed all household duties (cleaning, washing, cooking and taking
care of everyone's needs) and conducted an hour long daily Poona between
nine and 10.  She served food to everyone between 10 and 11:00 A.M.  At
11:00 A.M., she said that she had chest pain and was liberated from this
world before Noon without eating her last meal!  According to my memory,
she had shown her unconditional love, service and devotion to all family
members, neighbors and Lord Narayana.  Though she was a great devotee of
Lord Krishna, she had never expressed any hatred toward other Gods and
religions.  The Sanskrit Slokas and the religious and moral convictions
that she taught me at my young age are still in my memory and will never
disappear.  All Children watch the daily activities of the elders in the
house and they learn and adopt what they observe.  When the rituals and
Poojas are conducted without convictions, they create more doubts to the
minds of the children.   How I can expect my children to understand
spirituality if I conduct my daily activities with materialistic goals?

The following episode, reported in Mahatma Gandhi's life is an eye
opener.  One day a lady requested Gandhi that he should inform her son
to stop using sugar in milk.  She told Gandhi that her son respects him
and will obey his order.  Gandhi has asked her to bring her son after
two weeks.  When she brought her boy, Gandhi advised him not to use
sugar in milk.  The boy immediately accepted Gandhi's advice and his
mother was very pleased.  When she visited  Gandhi again, she thanked
Gandhi and asked him why did he delay his advice for two weeks?  Gandhi
smiled and replied that he couldn't advise her son until he stopped
using sugar in his milk!  What rights do we have to ask the youngsters
to confirm to Hindu ideals and values if we don't practice those ideals?
Youngsters' questions on Hindu rituals and practices arise mostly
because they do not trust the elders.

What is the solution to the problems of living in this modern society?
Though we may love to go back to the Vedic life and values, it is not
possible.  Should we feel guilty that we are not practicing the Brahmana
Dharma? I would say no! This does not mean that we do nothing.  We can
do concretely to uplift and revitalize moral values by diverting our
attention to the children. The temples and religious institutions should
divert their full attention in educating the children about the Vedic
civilization.  The children of today will be the citizens of tomorrow
and we the adults have the responsibility to change our life style so
that children can observe and learn.  Those who are knowledgeable should
come forward to serve as volunteers in temples and other institutions.
Volunteers should come forward to organize classes for children of all
ages and help the children to learn these values at the young age.   Let
me repeat what Shri Giridhar has said in the previous posting: "So,
everything can be done if there is a will to do so."

Ram V. Chandran

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