A Final Lesson

Its 10.30pm. I’m leaving Vrindavana in an hour, going by taxi to Delhi airport. Gathering my thoughts and making my last prayers. There’s a frantic knock on the door. As I open it, a humble but emphatic request shoots through: “please let me feed you!” It’s the middle-aged South Indian devotee who stays across the…

Hall of Fame

Vrindavana is like a hall of fame. Everywhere you turn there are stories, landmarks and temples commemorating the saintly people who lived here. Ironically, they never wanted any fame. In fact, they actively avoided it – unassumingly absorbed in their daily devotion, quietly dedicating every moment of their time to forging a deep spiritual connection….

Discovering Discomfort

Whether it’s the coldest pre-dawn hours of winter, or the staggering heat of May and June, the external conditions here are far from perfect. Along with the climatic attacks, there is noise, pollution, decrepit infrastructure… whatever you do and however you try, Vrindavana inevitably ushers you into some level of austerity. When hardships come, however,…

Open Doors Open Hearts

Vrindavana has an open door policy. Just take a stroll around the village lanes and someone will invite you in for a meal somewhere. It’s happened to me three days in a row so far. In bygone ages, householders would loudly call for any hungry person in the vicinity before taking their own lunch. Such…

Nowhere to Hide

Back in Vrindavana by some good fortune. It’s a relief, an inspiration, but simultaneously a daunting challenge as well. Here there’s no other business, save and except cultivating a deeper spiritual connection. All the space and time in the world and not an excuse in sight. Back in London I can hide behind day-to-day responsibilities,…

The Naked Truth

BBC News | Paris | 2nd September 2017 A public park near the French capital Paris has designated an area for nudists. The site, as large as a football pitch, will be open until 15th October as part of a temporary experiment. There are measures to avoid misuse, but the overall idea is to have…

Blogging Out

After 10 years of happy blogging it seems a natural time to take a break. Thanks for encouraging me, offering feedback and correction, and supplying ideas and inspiration. It’s a grave responsibility to re-present the teachings of celebrated saints, a task which calls for genuine purity and freedom from worldly ambition. Forgive my weaknesses. I…

Casual Causes Casualty

It’s been three weeks since a raging fire tore through Grenfell Tower and destroyed the 120 flats inside. With the official death toll currently at 80, the tragic inferno has sparked widespread anger and a resounding call for justice. Though fingers are being pointed, the investigation continues as to why this fire was so fatal….

Destructive Enlightenment

When a budding sculptor approached his master for guidance, he received some cryptic advice. After quizzing him on his purpose, the young craftsman replied: “More than anything else, I would like to sculpt a beautiful elephant.” Without the blink of an eyelid, the master set a block of stone and some tools in front of…

As Sure As

Life is like a game of chess – whether you’re the king, queen or pawn, at the end of the game everyone ends up in the box. Unless, of course, you get cremated. Morbid? Depressing? Dark? Though discussions on death are not usually number one on our conversation list, I was invited to the Southbank…

The Best Policy

According to the cosmic cycle described in the Vedas, we are living in the most corrupted epoch. Four fundamental principles underpin any functional society, organization, family or group; self-control, cleanliness, compassion, and truthfulness. When individuals wholeheartedly embrace these virtues, success is guaranteed on every level – physically, emotionally, socially, and most importantly, spiritually. The analysis…

Sensitively Strong

The Sages of the East describe the paradoxical demeanor of perfected spiritualists: harder than a thunderbolt, and simultaneously softer than a rose. To accommodate such strength and sensitivity side-by-side, and perfectly administer the necessary doses at the appropriate time, is indeed a tough balance to strike! When do we emotionally invest, and when do we…