Tag Archives: Hinduism

individual dharma

Hey all! I wanted to share something we did in class as an exercise with you guys, because I think it is pretty powerful!

So, we’ve been talking a lot about dharma and individual dharma these past couple weeks. Rightfully so, since dharma is a huge part of Vedic culture/tradition/theory/whatever. Growing up, I’ve heard a lot of different translations of dharma, “religion”, “duty”, “purpose”. But, one of my teachers put it so eloquently, that I had to share with y’all. She said that dharma is (talking about individual dharma, your personal dharma) is the path to knowing who you truly are. And of course, with that comes all of those other things like purpose and religion and duty and stuff. But, I just really loved this. The path to knowing who you truly are. Being in accordance with your true nature, whatever that may be. Then she continued to say that your career and profession doesn’t have to be your individual dharma. What a thought! It’s all about alignment with your true nature, your true self. I just love that. Because to me, that is what life is all about. Finding out who you really are, and when you do, letting that idea, thought, whatever take hold of every aspect of your life and seep in to every facet of your being. This is so awesome!

I think that once we figure this out, even to some extent, we can stop compartmentalizing different areas of our life. I no longer have to separate Nishita the student from Nishita the daughter, to wife, to sister, to whatever. I don’t have to draw lines between my relationships, family, spiritual practice, study, etc. Every facet and everything that makes you, you is governed by this idea of your individual dharma.

So, our teacher made us do this assignment where we figure out why we think we were put on this planet. What purpose do we serve during this lifetime? When she handed the sheet out, I had no idea what to put. Sure, many times before this I’ve said my purpose is this or that, but I never really put much thought or effort into what my purpose really truly is–what my individual dharma is. Once we figure that out, we have to create life goals that surround our individual dharma for different areas of our life: career/profession, spiritual practice, relationships/community, recreation/play, rest, finances, and study. How does my individual dharma relate to that?

I sat down yesterday and filled it out, and it was amazing that once I started thinking about my individual dharma, the rest just poured out of my heart and somehow filled in the categories. It’s incredible to see something that is such a vague and abstract idea become concrete on a piece of paper. Seeing it written creates some kind of new will power that you want to achieve this no matter what it takes.

But more importantly, I think it was so cool to see how one idea, one life goal, purpose, whatever can be intertwined amongst everything you want to achieve in different “categories”, and you realize that those categories aren’t even necessary, because every part of your life is revolving around one idea, one purpose, one path, one dharma!

WOAH. okay. this is a lot of realization for one post. But, in all seriousness, take some time out to think about why you were put on this planet, and see how that one idea can be the driving force for all those other boxes in your life.

back for a day

So, we got back from our mini trip really late Friday night. All I can say, is what an excellent time I had. I don’t really know where to start to describe everything, or even if what I say in words on this post will 1. make sense, or 2. give my trip justice.

Like I said, we went to Somnath to visit a few temples in the area that are important in the Hindu religion. It was actually pretty neat. For those of you who don’t know, in Hinduism, we believe that God takes human form when society is in need of being put back on a path of good. When he takes a human “birth”, it’s called an avatar. There have been many avatars to come, but one of them, Krishna, is one most people have heard of. Anyways, 2 of the temples we visited were locations where Krishna spent his last few moments in His human body. It was pretty neat to see where He took his last steps.

We also went to Diu, a city that’s very island-like (actually, I think it is an island. If not, it’s definitely a beach). It was founded by the Portuguese, and is seriously one of the prettiest places I’ve seen in this area (granted, it was like an 8 hour drive, but whatever). There, we hung out on the beach for a few, and went to another temple, and just chilled. There’s an old Portuguese fort that we checked out as well.

On the way back, we stopped by another palace in Gondal (all these names sound very Lord of the Rings-esque. haha). Finally today, me, my parents, and my aunt and uncle took a day trip to this huge step-well (essentially, a well, but you can take steps down to the bottom) and a Surya Mandir (Sun Temple) about 2 hours away from Ahmedebad. Again, both places were so immaculate and beautiful (see pictures below).

All I have to say is from the past several days, is wow. If there was one thing I saw this past weekend, it was a whole lot of happiness. We stayed with a family who had 18 people living in their house. Their livelihood consisted of fishing. They lived a very simple life, but if there was one thing I saw, it was how freaking happy they were. They just felt as though they were so blessed by God, that not having things that I feel like I need (my iPhone, laptop, my 50+ pairs of shoes, etc) wasn’t even important to them. Talk about living a simple and humble life. Something that I’m over here trying to do, but am no where close to.

There is just so much history and culture in this world that I am so incredibly unaware of. I really feel as though life is too short to just sit in your house all day and not experience what’s out there. A lot of people know I am an avid traveler, and will take any opportunity that is presented to me to visit new places. I love long distance travelling. But, what I learned from this past weekend, is that you don’t have to travel far to literally experience a slice of history. The Surya Mandir is 1,000 years old, and it was just a short trip away. No one ever said that travelling consists of going to places every single person in the world has heard of. There are so many treasures in not-so-well-known places, like, Veraval (the small fishing community where we stayed this past weekend).

The new year is starting soon, and the first thing I’m doing when I get back to Memphis is planning out the next few months of places I can go and visit, even if it is just visiting a few friends somewhere, or going to some retreat. I’ve always found that my money spent on experiences rather than things gives me a better understanding of who I am, and I leave with a ton of awesome memories that I can put down in my life book. So save up a few bucks here and there, and go, get out and see something new!

Tomorrow, we leave for Udaipur and Shreenathji for a 2-day trip. I can’t wait, despite the early 5am leaving time. Another city to conquer and learn about, another opportunity to find out something about myself I didn’t know.

all the fishing boats at the harbor at the end of the day

all the fishing boats at the harbor at the end of the day

all the boats in Veraval

all the boats in Veraval

beach at Diu

beach at Diu

such a beautiful beach

such a beautiful beach

palace at Gondal

palace at Gondal

Adalaj Step Well

Adalaj Step Well

a small view looking up

a small view looking up

oh! hey mom and dad!

oh! hey mom and dad!

Surya Mandir

Surya Mandir

really intricate carving throughout the entire mandir

really intricate carvings throughout the entire mandir

just chillin at Surya Mandir

just chillin at Surya Mandir

If you’re not sure where to start your traveling journeys, check out NatGeo’s Best Trips 2013, including MEMPHIS. But, seriously. Great list of places!

blessed.

as i sit here thinking back to the past 5 days of diwali, i can’t help being drawn to the realization that i am so incredibly blessed. there is so much i have to be thankful for, and the question that looms in the back of my mind is, how can i show my gratefulness?

this was my very first diwali celebration in india, and it was such an incredible experience in itself, and the more i think about it, it included a lot of “firsts” for me. it was my first time doing rangoli (see picture), it was my first time doing fireworks by myself (i have a fear that they’ll blow up in my face before i can run away), it was my first time celebrating with family members besides my parents, it was the first time i felt a sense of community during such an auspicious time of year, and it was the first time where diwali wasn’t something i just came home to after a long day of school and classes.

the food was amazing, the decorations were spectacular, the clothes were beautiful. but more than anything, the time spent with my family and neighbors, the excited atmosphere, the smiles on everyone’s faces- that is what made these past 5 days worth it.

sometimes it’s really hard to look past the dazzle of this season. i’m guilty of it every year. this time of year is by far my favorite. i love christmas shopping and cookie baking, but i get so involved that i forget why i enjoy it so much. it’s not just to get presents for my loved ones, but the horrible traffic and long lines are worth it when you see that smile, that genuine expression on their faces that show how much they appreciate what you just did for them.

it’s about being the light in the darkness. there is more to just lighting a divo or stringing christmas lights outside your house. one small flame can brighten an entire room. one small act can change another person’s entire perspective/attitude. there is a mantra in the vedas “tamaso ma jyotir gamaya” which translates to “Lead me from darkness to light.” lead me from ignorance to knowledge. i want to seek the Truth, but when i can’t see clearly, when i’m lost in the dark, how is that journey possible? this path has been lit for me. how will i show my appreciation?

so, i think there is more to gratefulness than just a prayer of thanks. i can wake up every morning and tell God how thankful i am for every blessing i have in my life-family, friends, education, health, etc. but, sometimes just a genuine hug or smile is more than enough. i can be that light. after all, i am just an instrument of God, and my actions speak louder than my words.

first day divas on our balcony

me and my cousin working on our rangoli. safe to say my neck hurt a lot after it was done

final product of rangoli. so much time spent on this for real. not to mention my hands being 7 different colors because of the ink of the sand

decorations outside of our door in the hallway. each night we would light the divas with our neighbors

so many fireworks!

one that i set off. so proud!

fireworks

“Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya”