Many people believe they need a strong ego to live a successful life and to progress in their spiritual pursuits. This is not true. We cannot be successful in either the external or internal world while we are tossed about by a powerful ego. What success in both realms does require is a strong will.

The difference between ego and will is that the ego is blind but the will has vision. Will has its source in the pure Self. Ego springs from avidya, a false sense of identification with the external world, and is usually concerned with preserving self-image and self-identity. Ego is characterised by stubbornness, selfishness and unwillingness to compromise.

The ego is like a little pool. An egotistical person is like a frog crouching in that pool – his world is small, his borders insecure. He has only a vague awareness of the trees around the pool, and he cannot begin to imagine the frog-filled marshes just beyond. From his perspective, only his own feelings and his own voice are meaningful.

The power of will, by contrast, is like a spring whose source is the Pure Being. It infuses the mind and body with enthusiasm, courage, curiosity and the energy to act. This intrinsic power of the soul is called iccha shakti,and it is from this force that all the various aspects of our personality, including the ego, derive energy to carry out their activities.

Becoming successful in the world requires a strong will, and that strong will needs to be properly guided so we develop a strong
personality rather than a trivial, egotistical one. A strong personality exhibits tolerance and endurance. It has the power to ‘vanquish’ an opponent, but chooses to forgive and forget instead. When egotistical, on the other hand, we demonstrate our weakness by answering a pebble with a cannon. We lose composure the moment our feelings are even slightly bruised. We have a hard time forgetting injuries we have received from others, but an even harder time remembering how much we have injured others.

A strong ego is as much of an obstacle in spiritual practice as it is in worldly matters. The stronger the ego, the bigger the hurdle it will create. However, the solution is not to kill or weaken the ego but to do our best to purify, transform and guide it properly. We can do this by employing both our intelligence and our power of discrimination. In other words, when we meditate, practise contemplation, pray, study the scriptures, serve others and seek the company of the wise we make our ego purer and less confined, and this in turn inspires us to move one step forward. As we do, the purified ego, accompanied by a sharpened intellect, gets a glimpse of the next level of awareness, and naturally aspires to reach it. Thus the ego becomes the tool for purifying and expanding itself, and in this way the petty ego is gradually transformed into an expanded, more purified ego.

Along the way it becomes increasingly apparent that this transformation must end with the ego dissolving and becoming one with the pure Self and experiencing its union with Universal Consciousness. As the ego of a dedicated seeker merges with the Infinite, all confusion disappears, the veil of duality lifts, and the purified ego sees the whole universe in itself and itself in the whole universe.

Pandit Rajmani Tigunait

Interesting article appeared in Times Of India, Speaking Tree.
Between July and December of 2010, I've had a rollercoaster ride with friends. Earlier last year, I fell out with a friend. I dont want to talk about it because there is nothing left to talk.

But here's the interesting part.

Sometime in August I got a call from "M" a school friend of mine. I was shocked. We spoke to after 16 years. He was in Bangalore for a few days and we decided to catch up. We met up in a coffee shop and I reached a little early. But from far, I saw him walking towards me, and nothing had changed! NOTHING! We shook hands and settled down for a nice converstation. We started from where we left. We last saw each other when we passed out our 10th Std exams. I heard him out, he heard me out. Twists, turns, highs, lows, we shared it all. No judgements about who we had become, status, money, fame, knowledge, mattered!!!

In October, during my visit to Nagpur, I got a call from someone. The voice sounded familiar but I couldn't place him. And then he laughed and I laughed and we kept laughing, because that was my friend "G". Oh God! I thought I'd never see him. I left all the work in hand to meet him as we were meeting after 8 long years. And when I saw him, nothing had changed! NOTHING! We spoke, we ate, we laughed, we cried a bit, but we were so happy to see each other. "G" had done very well for himself, but not once did he make me realize that. He was the same old friend, who didn't even have a bicycle in school and we both used to walk back home to give each other company!!!

In December, an old collegue from Amex "R" replied back to the several emails I had written to her earlier. I was so happy. She accused me of having absconded and I accused her the same. We spoke to each other after 6 years. And we picked up the converstation from where we had left and nothing had changed! NOTHING! Something very nice she said which shall always remain with me.."You are one person who I think is definitely worth keeping in touch". That moment, I felt, I had made a difference in her life for her to say something like that. I felt good after a very long time!!!

In late December, "M" passed on my number to "RRD" and she happened to call me while I was at work. In the midst of a very important email I was typing, the lady on the other end said, "Guess, Guess". The voice sounded so familiar and finally I figured
out it was "RRD". A cute little thing that she always was..full of life, enthusiam, positivity, 16 years later, nothing had changed! NOTHING! She spoke about her life, marraige, motherhood and it didnt seem like we were not in touch for 16 years!!!

Friends are such an integral part of our lives. We spend so much time and the attachement is so strong. I thought I had a strong memory, but all these friends remember much more than I do. They all told me of instances where I made a difference to them, which I had forgotten. Point here is, I was important to them and hence, they remember everything about me, the same way that I remember everything about them...

We have all grownup to be different individuals and have acheived at lot in whatever we have done. Yet, in our own way, we have never forgotten what we have done for each other.

Relationships are based on solid foundations of trust, compassion, and humanity. And when these integral bricks are missing, they definetly break down. The broken friendship taught me a lot. I wont blame it on destiny but certainly say there was a divine intervention to tell me that even if one didn't care enough for me, I have many who genuinely do!!!
Tea drinking is an elaborate affair today.

I am ardent coffee drinker and am in love with anything coffee. An ex-colleague suggested we meet up at Cha Bar to catch up on some business initiatives we were trying to put in place. I walked into Leela Galleria and looked for the Cha Bar. Parked in the basement of Leela Galleria, it is seamlessly attached to the Oxford Bookstore hosting itself in a quiet corner. The book store houses a great variety of books and stationery.

The ambience of Cha Bar is contemporary with shades of white, black and silver. The mood is intantly set to pick up your favourite book and settle down in one corner with your favourite tea and something to bite along. They have an elaborate ten page menu (I think, maybe more) of different teas that you can choose from, one page for coffee and a section called Other drinks.

Funnily, I didn't look at the coffee section. I was so amazed at the varities of tea and decided to order Earl Grey Tea.

Something caught my attention
in the adjoining table. The tea ordered by the lady in that table was served quite elaborately. Milk was served in a cow shaped vessel, along with a miniature strainer and a small bowl to keep the strainer!!! Talk about making that perfect cup of tea for yourself!!! Having said that, there are teas that you don't need to prepare yourself, they come in glasses that have a "monkey" as the handle!

The short eats are nice but pricey. However, the tea is far cheaper than Infinitea on Cunningham Road.

If you love to experiment with your tea.. do give Cha Bar a shot!!!

Name: Cha Bar

Location: L1, Leela Galleria, The Leela Palace Kempinski, 23 Airport Road, Bangalore (08025211234)

Speciality: Exotic teas

Cost: >Rs 200 per person.

Verdict: The variety of short eats were limited, service was slow, however, one must definitely try out their wide range of teas. Cha Bar is a host to many book launch sessions and panel discussions which can be quite a pain since the entire cafe is occupied and they don't serve anything that day.
A beautifully written article on how to live life without feeling apologetic about anything and everything that you do or have done in the past. We always end up being too critical about ourselves and keep on monitoring our way of living and behaviour. We try to please people just to earn those extra brownie points with them. We keep looking for approval from others all the it ok if I call you at so and so time??? Is this dress looking good on me?? Why would you want to check if you could call at a particular time? If making that call was important, you would call anyways, won't you??

We are constantly fighting a battle within "what if I'm not accepted by others". We are always trying to fit ourselves into the society and we are ready to make compromises to improve our self worth and self image in front of others. Our check points of whether we are good or bad seems to be lying in how people perceive us.

I believe awareness is the first step to change. You can read the entire article here.
I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They're really saying I love you.

I hear babies cry, I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.

Beautiful words by Louis Armstrong...
An old school friend and I were catching up and as usual our entrepreneurial instincts were at its peak. He suggested taking up a franchisee of a Bengali sit-down luncheon...6 Ballygunge Place. We were planning this in Nagpur, our hometown. After we got off the phone, I did a little research and found that they were already there in Bangalore. Without wasting much time, I booked a table for the next day!

Having been brought up in Kolkatta, Bengali cuisine is my all time favourite. Food is the soul of Bengali's and they are known for their culinary skills!

Tucked in the first floor, adjoining a Cafe Coffee Day, 6 Ballygunge Place is a very simple down-to-earth place. The tables were full and I could see a LOT of Bengali's under one roof.

Getting down to business, we ordered Mangsher Chop (Mutton Fritters) for starters. For the main course we went for Bhapa Elish (Steamed Hilsa in Mustard Gravy), Begoon Bhaja (Shallow Fried Brinjal), Kosha Mangsho (Semi Dry Mutton) and hot Loochis. Other things available and must try were Morrollla Maacher Bhaja (Batter Fried Fish), Moong Dal with Aam Adaa (Dal with Mango & Ginger). You choose from an array of sweet water fishes, Daab Chingri (Prawns baked inside a tender coconut). Choices of Pathuri (a mustard and coconut flavoured wrapped in banana leaf and grilled). Mocha (Banana Florettes), Elish (Hilsa) Crab and Prawns will be relished by you.

For desserts we went for Mishti Doi... and it was Yummmm!!!

So, if you relish Bengali cuisine or want to try out something different, you know where to head out to!

Name: 6 Ballygunge Place

Location: First Floor, 612, 12th Main, Indiranagar, Bangalore (919342140520/41521390)

Speciality: Bengali food

Cost: >450 Rs

Verdict: The service was extremely slow, which was definitely a put off. But the place is definitely worth trying out!!! for the entrepreneurial stint..well that's under discussion right now!!!
As the year comes to a close, the tradition of making your New Year's Resolutions stares you in the face. It's a time for all of us to look back at who we are and what we have done. It's a time for us to look forward at who we want to be and what we want to do and accomplish in our lives.

A New Year's Resolution is a commitment made by someone trying to change a habit or part of their lifestyle. Usually it is something that is meant to change life for the better or what is perceived as better. With the coming of a new year, it is a symbol of rebirth and a great time to make a positive change to one's life.

The concept of a New Year's Resolution has been around for hundreds of years.

And for hundreds of years many of the annual self-improvement plans are broken. Some resolutions are never really started while others make it a few weeks or months before being dropped to the wayside. Quite often it is the difficulty of change and the comfort and ease of just keeping things the same that causes us to fail at the resolutions we make each year.

Change no matter how good it might be is a hard thing to do. Many of us live with bad habits and bad situations but because it is easier to just keep going we never make the effort for real change.

The New Year and the chance for resolutions and change give us all hope but most of us don't do what is required to make the change.

Achieving your goals and making resolutions that are attainable is not an impossible job. Just follow a few simple rules and you too can be having success making positive change. And don't forget, it doesn't have to be January 1st in order to make a change. Be open to possibilities and let change happen.

Don't dwell on the past or the future, as the wise Kung Fu master once said, "The past is history, the future is a mystery but today is a gift that is why they call it the present!"

One day at a time, one step at a time we can all succeed.

Happy New You...err Year!!!