A Tribute to My Grandmas…

I bow humbly to my paternal and maternal grandmas who were and still are two of the most influential women in my life.  I am what I am today because of what I have learnt from their life journey and would like to share small snippets of the same here.  This is my tribute to the two most beautiful women who conquered life’s formidable challenges in their own sweet ways and left a lasting impression on me.

Mamma – My Dad’s Mum


“Are you a boy or a girl?” my eight year old curiosity blurted out. I was sitting at the bottom of the verandah step looking up at the face. Tightly curled, half black and half white chin hairs were quivering in the slight afternoon breeze and a dark shadow of a moustache curving the loop of her upper lip. That is the first time I am noticing my dad’s mum – Mamma, so closely.

“Don’t talk like that!” scolded my mum even before I finished my question.

“That’s alright.  She is young.” adjusting the rough edges of her off-white plain khadi cotton sari covering her bald head, Mamma looked at mum who was sitting at the door to our bedroom. My Aunty was sitting on the step opposite at the door to their bedroom.

“She doesn’t understand – yet.”

It was 3.30 PM, I just arrived from school, and the maid was doing the dishes under the tap outside. A crow was on the edge of the stair case wall of our neighbor’s and was looking down with its head turned to one side so it can grab the food scraps thrown.  Late afternoon sun was casting long shadows of the crow and the maid on the broken tile and cement yard under the verandah steps.

We were a joint family, 13 of us in that two large bedrooms, two kitchens, another smaller bedroom, a verandah, one bathroom and one toilet house of ours – six in my family and six in my uncle’s plus Mamma on the cot in the open bedroom of hers – a tiny corridor that separated the two bedrooms.  The bedrooms were also the lounge rooms during day time.  Her faded green iron trunk with two saris and a little tin with few coins and two rupee notes under her bed and a stool next to it with a jug of water and a stainless steel tumbler completed the furniture in her room – the corridor.

Her small frame was beginning to bend from the top of her back just below shoulders.  She brushed the hair off my face with a shaky pointy finger twisted and knobby, bent in the middle. Circling the outline of my face down my cheeks, she said “I am a woman, darling.”

I have seen her struggle and wince many a times trying to straighten those bent and locked left middle and ring fingers with her shaking right hand. I didn’t know what it was but she shook continuously from head to toe, the only time she stopped was when she was asleep. I used to try hard not to laugh when her shaking hand missed her mouth and water from the tumbler spilled down her flat chest and drenched her. But I always ran to hold her hand to steady it from shaking.  Mum and aunty used to take turns to spoon feed her meals, mostly rice and buttermilk as she couldn’t hold anything down.

“But, but, but…..” my voice trailed as I looked at her and then at my mum and aunty and back at Mamma.

Mum and aunty never covered their heads and often had jasmine flowers in their neat buns held by a black net.  I never saw if Mamma had long hair or if she wore it in a bun or plaited it. Grey hairs normally peeked from under her sari that always covered her head. Today that grey hair is not showing from under Mamma’s sari either, only a shiny oily forehead receding back into where the hairline was. Mamma’s hollow eyes and sunken cheeks made her straight nose look even straighter without the eye getting distracted by the grey at the top.  I bumped into a guy this morning as I was running out the front door.  He had a small grey box in his hand.  I often saw him sit under the tamarind tree around the corner on the street, shaving men’s beards and arm pits.  I was late to school so I didn’t stop to question what the barber was doing walking into our yard. There is a whole wide world outside of my school, homework and music.

“That’s enough, go change and I will get you something to eat” mum’s command made me get up.  I walked into our bedroom looking backwards at Mamma.

“She doesn’t know what to ask and what not…yet.” mum said to Mamma, her voice low and eyes downcast.  What is that tone?

I didn’t then, but I know now that there is no simple word or a phrase in our language for saying ‘Sorry’ or for saying ‘I Love You’.  These words and phrases are embedded in a very formal language structure and my mum only went up to grade three in primary school.

I still remember thinking why Mamma was like that if she was a woman, why wouldn’t she wear colorful saris like my mum or aunty, and have long hair plaited or up in a bun with flowers in them? Is she bald under that sari over her head?

Only years later did I realize that the man walking into our yard, the barber, was there to shave Mamma’s growing hair – as a widow from an orthodox Brahmin family she was not allowed to keep her hair, nor was she allowed to wear colored clothes, nor the red dot on the forehead, nor the kohl in the eyes, nor the flowers in her hair – lest she looks attractive for the lustful eyes of another man.  My teenage brain struggled to comprehend the injustice and my increasing whys were only answered by ‘that’s the custom.’  That answer never satisfied me.

As a grown up I now understand that a woman’s life in India revolved around a man. Her beauty is the one unapologetic reason for a man to become an animal in quenching the thirst of his carnal desires. Before 1930’s, customs were such that when a woman’s husband died, regardless of her age, she was required to undergo the practice of ‘Sati’ where she was forced to sit on the open burning pyre of her husband’s body so what belongs to a man perishes with the man and doesn’t become an object of desire to other men. Sati practice was abolished by the late 1930’s and they couldn’t kill a widow legally since then. Instead, her hair was shaved off; she was not allowed to wear the vermillion dot between her eyebrows, the kohl in her eyes, no jewelry whatsoever and definitely not allowed to use turmeric and cream to beautify her skin.  She was only allowed to wear plain white cotton khadi sari and was abandoned to the back of the house to grieve for the rest of her life, often for a man that she barely knew or loved and yet bore his children.  She was not allowed to join in on family functions as it was considered to be a bad omen if a widow crossed one’s path and she was banned from eating spicy gourmet food, especially for dinner. Apparently food fuels one’s natural passions and a passionate woman was and still is a mortal danger to the society – a patriarchal rule. Second marriage was completely out of question and she will have to literally hide for the rest of her life even from her own children’s celebrations of milestones like birthdays and marriages. A living widow is as good as dead.

My grandma was widowed when she was barely 35 and ended up on her brother’s door step with nine kids, youngest a couple of months old and eldest, a daughter, 16 years old.  My dad was 14, second eldest of the six girls and three boys. Mamma’s brother, a pharmacist and a well off farmer in a small rural town in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India, had only one son and took his sister and her brood in.

Mamma could do mental math faster than us who were attending school.  She used to come up with answers before we finished saying the question out loud.  She never attended school.

There was an incident narrated often to me and this apparently happened before I was born. I cherish that as it shows her strength.  The wife of our neighbor, a prominent wealthy High Court Judge, apparently needed help in preparing green mango pickle that is made in large quantities to last the whole year. This was an annual ritual.  So she sent word to my grandmother to come around with her daughters and daughter-in-law to cut the mangoes.

“Bring your kitchen knives with you” – was the message, an order than a request.

“Tell your madam to bring her knife and her mangoes and herself here to my place and we will gladly help.” Mamma’s reply back through their maid –Lack of riches had never put holes in the fence of dignity and self-respect she erected around herself and her family.  My grandma was fearless.

I have never witnessed so much as raised voices between Mamma, my mum and aunty, neither was there any brotherly rivalry between my dad and my uncle. 13 people shared one bathroom and toilet with no alarm clocks, no open discussions each night about the morning timetables, nor were there any whiteboards or corkboards with announcements and notices, and yet there were no clashes. If the bathroom was occupied we waited and the next day we adjusted our own schedules.  ‘First Understanding, Then Adjustment’ a saying of Sai Baba’s was role modeled by the adults in my life. When a sapling is protected, nurtured and nourished, it grows into a big strong tree gaining strength from its roots. Mamma is one of the most influential women in my life

Ammamma – My Mum’s Mum 

Ammama and family

Short, stocky lady with a permanent pout, she is the most beautiful lady I know.  She is the lady in the middle with the sari draped over her head.  Ammamma had five daughters, my mum the eldest, sitting on to the left of Ammamma in the picture. She also gave birth to a boy who didn’t see life beyond two years.

Ammamma’s schooling story always brought a chuckle for me and I used to ask her to repeat it several times.  It goes like this.

She was enrolled in the local government school in the tiny village of Narendrapuram in rural Andhra Pradesh.  Chubby little Sundaramma at 5 held a big fat white chalk for the first time in between her fingers. Beaming from ear to ear, bent over her shiny new black slate, all eyes on the contours of the lines, she traced over the alphabet that her teacher wrote on that slate. In her mind she was writing the scriptures that her dad read every day. When the afternoon bell rang, carrying her slate and chalk in one hand and a little stick she picked up on the ground, Sundaramma skipped on the path amongst lush green paddy fields leading home for lunch.  She hurried past a huge Neem tree and suddenly stopped, ran back, her 5 year old eyes wide, mouth slightly open in an ’O’, eyebrows raised, at the sight of buzzing bees busily building a hive.  She went closer to the hive with her hand extended, fingers holding the pointy end of the stick, almost touching the little diagonal sticky looking pockets held together by buzzing and humming life, and pulled back. Went a bit closer than before, lingered a little longer and pulled back again. She checked the tip of the stick to see if any honey was on it.  Her hand extended again towards the mass and before she knew lunged forward and the stick poked into one of the pockets.  She pulled it out, examined the little sticky tip, and brought it to her lips, closed her eyes and slurped the dripping sweet honey.  The distant humming became a sudden roar. She opened her eyes and raised her head. One furry winged little brown thing landed on her forehead, she raised her hand from her mouth to shoe it off even as she felt a little prick. Two more landed on her raised arm.  As the pain started to register, she dropped her slate to use the left hand to get rid of the sticky creatures first on forehead, next on the right arm, but by this time there were more of them swarming around, circling her buzzing, finding random spots on her face and hands without discriminating.  Little Sundaramma started running screaming, her slate left at the bottom of that big tree, ‘A’ in Telugu, the first letter of the alphabet staring back in disbelief, stretched in agony like her mouth. She ran through the front door, her eyes swollen shut, lips, nose and cheeks all blended into each other, hard to tell what began where.  Her father looked up at her from the afternoon ritual of chanting the sacred scriptures before lunch, his mouth stuck open in between the lines, eyes widened as he took in his daughter’s face.  He lunged up from his seat, pulled her towards him, questioning what happened whilst examining her face closely.  Between sobs Sundaramma narrated what happened.  Even before she finished her sentence, he pushed her away from him, ordered her to go and wash her face and stay home – no need to go back to school – Ever!

Sundaramma didn’t know what hurt most – the bee stings or loss of school.  Her schooling finished before it began.

Ammamma was married at 14 and had my mum by the time she turned 16.  She became a widow at 35 when my grandfather died in an accident in 1946.  My mum at that time would have been 18, already had my eldest brother who was two years old.  My mum’s youngest sister was a year or two older than my brother.

Ammamma had a habit of bending down instead of sitting to cook as the stove was on the floor.  Here is a story that I made her tell me every second day as not only was it funny but also showed her strength to stand up to male domination.  Apparently, one morning she was busy cooking lunch to pack for her husband and suddenly felt something thumping her backside.  She slowly turned around and saw that Grandpa was standing behind her, fully dressed in his crisp white pants and shirt, ready to go to work.  He was running late.  Instead of saying something, he started hitting her with his umbrella because packed lunch was not ready.

There was a bucket of water next to her.  Shouting “Why are you hitting me, you bastard?” she lifted the bucket and threw the water on him. Fully drenched and a stunned Grandpa apparently left for work without saying a word.

He never hit her again after that.

Life never thwarted Ammamma’s desire to learn to read and write.  In her mid-50’s she demanded her youngest daughter teach her how to write her name, just her name, so she can sign the pension papers with a pen, not an ink pad.  Luckily for Ammamma, Grandpa was an accountant in Auditor General’s office, so she was eligible for a pension on his death. She used that ink pad for over 15 years and hated the black mark leaving a stain on her right thumb month after month for days on end.

She signed the official papers for the first time with a pen and showed us her signature. Big, crooked and wavy letters complete with a missing alphabet in her name – she signed Sundamma.  We laughed, but she beamed, eyes shining bright.

She defeated the male dominance – finally.

She may not have been formally educated but her thirst for knowledge was unquenchable.  She would bring the newspaper daily to one of us and insist we read it to her.  The most important news she wanted to hear was if there was a rise in pension for the widows of employees of Accountant General’s office. We kids would refuse her that little pleasure and make fun of her curiosity and pretend to scan the newspaper, knowing that those things cannot be a daily occurrence.  She never took offence. Sundaramma passed away in sleep one night in 1989 and I never had a final glimpse of her.She taught me that innocence & curiosity are priceless possessions that protect one from life’s twists somehow.

Can We Stop The Violence and Create Peace In The World?

Peace & Violence

Mass shootings in Oregon in USA, two people shot dead in front of Paramatta police station in Sydney (one victim and one perpetrator), USA bombing in Afghanistan of a hospital (collateral damage is the claim), refugees fleeing out of their homelands, increasing deaths due to domestic violence (66 deaths in 9 months in Australia alone), human trafficking etc etc etc.,

How did humans become so violent – profiting from, mutilating and killing each other? To what end?

The violence I mentioned above on the global scale also plays on an individual level.  Our minds are “bubbling hot baths of violence” when we

  • Contradict, dislike, judge each other subtly or openly,
  • Constantly compare with each other,
  • Live in the artificial world of ‘us & them’
  • Spew negativity in the name of wanting to understand,
  • Get stronger in our own convictions even if they openly hurt another,
  • encourage cut throat competition in the name of fulfilling ambitions
  • consume excessively  created by extensive wants and desires…

Result is low self-esteem, over confidence, depression, fears, anxiety, scarcity thinking, hoarding, substance dependence to get away from all of that, which creates more problems.

We simply have forgotten how to live simply.

Global wars and crimes are micro played in our  minds first and we become blame shifters – it is the

  • Government’s fault,
  • The law’s fault,
  • Police not doing enough or
  • Religion’s fault.

Our phobias increase rampantly as we desperately isolate groups or individuals to pin blame on.

We are spending more money on weapons instead of educating people.

We spend time and effort and money on finding essential elements for survival in space (water on Mars) while actively contaminating and pilfering the precious resources here now on earth that we call home. Geroge Monbiot said in his recent article – “The richer a country becomes, the less its people care about their impact on the living planet.”

How is finding water on Mars save children who die daily because they don’t have access to clean water?  How is selling guns to countries who can’t feed their population an answer to their problems?

Where are we heading collectively?

I am sure these are questions that everyone ask of themselves, shake their heads helplessly and go back to living in their safe silos and hot heads (me included) – too far away, not my problem.  We have food, clothes, shelter – the basic necessities and we belong to a family, a community that is our safety net. We believe that one day someone somewhere will come up with a magic solution to all the problems…

Bonding, Belonging and Believing – three essential ingredients for human happiness.

Is it enough to have these three at individual level?  Is that even happening at an individual level?

How bonded are we with each other beyond our immediate family and even within our immediate family?

Do we feel safe in belonging in our communities – of course that depends on which community or country we are talking about.

Do we believe that solutions t0 problems are other people’s headaches?

Where do we individuals stand on these global issues – are we not responsible individually and collectively, no matter how immediate or far removed the issues are from us?

The gadgetry distractions we have created for ourselves, the fear induced selfishness which is making us become increasingly indifferent – are these the values that we are passing on to our children?

If we feel responsible, what can we do?

What do we teach our children?

What are we teaching ourselves?

When we know this is not who we are, how do we go about finding who we truly are?

How do we put an end to, may be not possible to put an end to, but at least curb the violence we witness each day?

Here is what I think (for what it is worth)

To curb violence in the world, we need to stop violating ourselves first and foremost.  We need to go back to the fundamental Human Values that are inherent in all of us.  We need to actively teach our children what these values are and how it helps them grow up to be caring human beings.

Bonding and belonging is more important than any thing else. So instead of creating bonds with gadgets for our children because we are busy, can we perhaps make time to give them our time instead of a gadget and create bonds that last. Research shows that IPad usage by two year old children may harm language development which means inability to express which means inability to communicate and we know what that can lead to.

Yes, we don’t have control over global scale violence, but…

We have control over how we can

  • Develop the inner moral compass of our children,
  • Enhance their sensitivity to moral cues,
  • Make them become aware of our interdependence and
  • Teach them to live with personal integrity which helps them to take responsibility for their state of minds and actions.

Here is a free educational program that does just that for 4 to 6 year old children.  Use this program for your own children or gather a group of children from your local community and teach them.  Catch them young and mold their minds.

What else can we do?

We can stop being excessive consumerists and limit our desires

The older generation has so much wisdom that the young needs to learn from beyond the three R’s, in fact more than reading, writing and arithmetic, children today need to learn Resilience, Resonance and Reflection.

Retired people among us can volunteer their time with local High Schools and mentor the kids there especially the ones that are not coping with the demands of high school.  Show them how valuable they are, teach them how to respond and not react, as well as the value of being kind, being healthy, being helpful, forgiving, taking care of themselves and the planet etc.

They need to understand and practice the values of Love, Truth, Peace, Right Conduct and Non-Violence.  For that they need adults in their lives who practice and demonstrate those values in action.

We may not be able to solve the worlds problems, but we certainly can help in our local communities particularly children and young adults and create loving bonds and a sense of belonging that will stop them from straying away, becoming depressive and suicidal or violent like the 15 year old boy in Sydney who ended up dying.

We want a peaceful society, it is up to us to create that.  We are not helpless in doing that. We need to put our own inhibitions aside, limit our desires and the resulting consumption.   We need to  take genuine interest in the welfare of our next generation and use the freed up time and resources for the welfare of the community that we live in.

Let us form little ‘Circles of Safety’ and bring our younger generations into those circles and equip them to become character laden citizens.

We have nothing to lose and everything to gain – do you agree?

Would love to know what you think and how we should go ahead with this…Please drop a line in with your comments and action plans

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

Fear or Love – Can One Sheath Have Two Swords in it?

FearUnity and love

Yesterday I posted a news item on my Facebook page about an Anti-Islamic group planning to move protests to Albury amid mosque renovation plans and shared this news on a community page that I  maintain.  I have called for support to the local Muslim community and not allow outside groups to enter and disturb the peace and harmony in our town, if and when it happens.

This post sparked a debate with one gentleman who took objection to the post and ended up posting you tube videos that show Islam extremist groups fighting local authorities and their capacities, and asking  me not to post anything like this on a community Facebook page.

I also had a private conversation with another person who expressed concerns and ended up quoting the popular saying which echoes many peoples views on Islam and terrorism and that is – “Not All Muslims are terrorists but every terrorist is a Muslim”

This made me think.  This is how it is everywhere isn’t it – from individuals to societies, to countries –  people stuck on what they see as right, not willing to give the other party a chance to explain, wanting to have their word as the last word by all means, distinct ‘us vs them’ mentality, using religion to support arguments, to create arguments, forgetting the basic humanity.

The overriding need for safety of the self drives a person to behave in a way that suits them operating from within their silo.

Is this what humans have become?  What is it in us that is so threatening to each other?

We profess words of peace, but inside we are riddled with doubts, worry,  judgment, fear, persecution – how can our smiles be genuine?

How can love blossom in hearts that are shrinking with fear and crouch in that corners of safety that is illusory?

Love is the answer no doubt and caution needs to be exercised as well when getting into public debate because not everyone comes from the basis of love.  Solution for any of theses issues from micro to macro is in individual understanding and adjustment.

At a time when we are living with all nationalities and religions together in communities, do we isolate one particular community because the larger diaspora of that community on an international scene is not just labelled but marginalized as terrorists because of a few hundred or thousands of peoples’ actions?

Which religion is exclusive of fundamentalism?  There are fundamentalist terrorists in all religions Hinduism included.  In fact, every individual is capable of being a terrorist.  As long as we are operating from fear, the capacity to terrorize in the name of self protection not only is there but is on the ever increase. When enough people with this terror in their hearts join forces, extremist groups are formed. Anti-Islam groups are equally the terrorists.

Yes, I agree when we chose to migrate from our home lands, we have to abide by the law of the host country.  I don’t see any Islamic group in Australia nor any other religious group acting against the law of the land barring a few isolated cases.  So why do we have to bring international fears into our home towns or allow others to pollute our minds?

Is Fear the driver of the 21st Century?

Did we not let fear rule us so far and look where we collectively brought the world to.  I cannot exclude my role in the large collective drama.  Every fear I harbor in the deep dark corners of my heart, no matter how hidden and deep, will contribute to the larger scene.  It first plays on me, then on my family, community and it spreads.

When our children have to sit side by side in schools with Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs etc what are we teaching them – not to help a child in need because he happens to be a Muslim, therefore a terrorist by default?

When that fear is big in our hearts, how can we genuinely demonstrate to our children to become caring individuals?  Can we preach something that we are not prepared to follow?

I am not asking that we should become activists in an effort to solve world problems.  But what is wrong in asking to become activists for ourselves, to weed our own hearts from the damaging fears and prejudices, plant seeds of love to sprout and grow in recognition that –

“Skin deep, we all flow red” and the fistful of muscle that beats in our chest cavity and throbs inside our skulls wants only one thing – LOVE.

What is the worst thing that can happen if we all converted to the Religion of LOVE, just for today, and tomorrow – one day at a time?

Start the day with Love – Send loving thoughts for yourself, your family, your community and the world.

Spend the day with Love – Smile and wave at everyone.  Extend loving help where possible. Don’t be a grouch. Smile does not cost anything

End the day with Love – Say thank you for the day’s events, send loving light into the world and pray that even more loving day will dawn tomorrow.

If we took time to make this an individual practice and also do it collectively, then fear will have no room in our hearts.  We can put aside our minds’ little worries, fears, pressures of various sorts of daily living and grow in love.

Continuously spending a few conscious moments everyday living in love and gratitude, we pave our way to create unity and harmony – recognizing the Fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of  man.

Fear and Love are the two swords that cannot fit into the one sheath. 

What is your choice – Fear or Love?

One binds and the other releases from our own self created shackles.

Let Love be the driver of your thoughts, words and deeds.

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari


Are You Changing

Sacred Geometry

There is no mundane, there is no ordinary;

There is only Sacred Extraordinary.

Sacred Living, Beautiful People;

Sacred Moments, Loving Interactions;

Sacred Breath, Broad Smiles;

Sacred Actions, Pure Heart.


Selfish Careless Actions Raging with Envy and Deceit (SCARED)


Selfless Actions with Compassion, Respect, Empathy and Determination (SACRED)

Rearranging attitudes can be as simple as rearranging the letters and it is possible when we recognise that we may be different outwardly,  but we all are one at the core.

When ‘Life’ is a continuous flow of ‘ Unconditional Love’ for living the ordinary – ‘Scared’ transforms to “SACRED”.

Try to be compassionate

Determine to be empathetic even when justifiable judgments are piling fast at the tip of your tongue.

Respect people for who they are – not for what they do or don’t do


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How To Create a “Culture of Care”

Featured image

We know that the world is in utter chaos and we all crave for a world order to be brought about – by Governments, by Scientists, by others…..

Pope Francis’ Encyclical entitled “Laudato Si – On Care for Our Common Home” that sets out a program for change calls for the need to develop a “Culture of Care” in society and it starts with each individual.

A friend of mine asked “Why do we need to listen to a religious leader talking about climate change when the scientists who are the authority on the subject cannot get heard? My response – Pope’s call is not just for religious followers but for the entire humanity, because Climate Change is not just a scientific issue but it is a moral problem.

In order to fully comprehend Pope’s message, we need to first unpack what is a “Culture of Care” and how it looks like and then perhaps connections can be made how the world’s chaos needs spiritual solutions.

A ‘Culture of Care’ is based in Love.  When Love permeates a human being, he/she will do nothing but care for themselves and the others, wherever they are, which has a domino effect eventually.  When enough people care, societies transform. Caring nature results in beauty in character.

Sai Baba said – ” When there is beauty in character, there is harmony at home; When there is harmony at home, there is order in the nation; when there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world.” 

So a Culture of Care results in world peace.  Sounds far fetched? Let us explore what that Culture of Care actually looks like.  A Culture of Care looks like:

  • Content humans with what they have, which grounds them in the present.
  • A grounded person in the present has a solid identity of who they are.
  • A person who knows who they are is not competitive or an aggressive consumer
  • A non-aggressive consumer does not focus on ‘getting.’
  • When the focus in not on getting, the natural opposite fills in the void – which is ‘Giving.’
  • What can a content and grounded, non-aggressive consumer give?
  • A natural compassion because there is no comparison or competition.

What does natural compassion look like?

A Kind, Satisfied, Happy, Caring, Sharing Person because a naturally compassionate person has

    • Love in their thoughts – therefore Truth prevails
    • Love in their actions – so Right Conduct manifests
    • Love in their feelings – and Peace penetrates
    • Love in their understanding – thus a non-violent world results.

Is this formulaic? I don’t think so. Do you see the connection?

It starts with stopping being an aggressive, competitive, jealous consumer and be content with what we have and live in gratitude. There is always someone who has less than us.

A content and caring individual recognises the interconnectedness as they see the world from within.

If contentment is an answer to create a ‘Culture of Care,’ how can we remain content when the world screams at us that we cannot be happy unless we have more?

Pope’s answer is “Growth marked by moderation” In fact this principle has been given as a “Ceiling on Desires” program four decades ago by Sathya Sai Baba.

Accordingly, Desiring is a natural human phenomenon and cannot be eliminated completely. So, we put a Ceiling on our Desires to consume, whether it is food, money, time or energy.

  • If we learn to stop with one piece of chocolate cake, there is more to share – Ceiling on Desire for food can be connected to relieving world hunger – you do the maths.
  • If we learn to use less energy, there is less burden on natural resources, which means more to share and a safer planet.
  • If we conserve and manage our time, we overcome unhealthy anxiety which means happy families and peaceful societies engaged in meaningful activities.
  • If we desire less, we don’t have to buy more, which means savings. More savings, better lifestyle and happy individuals.

Our consumption of food, money, time and energy are directly linked with our capacity to be content or discontent.  Sounds simplistic? Don’t answers to large problems often have simple solutions?

So, ‘Culture of Care’ starts with an individual and can happen only if we stop excessive consumption and be content. When we are content, we create a ‘Culture of Care.’ Love blossoms as a result and Inner Peace that is directly related to care for ecology and common good results. This is each and every one of our responsibility.

Without a moral and imaginative structure that links our wellbeing to that of others, so that their suffering feels as urgent as ours, or is at least measured on the same scales, we will render our planet uninhabitable.  Not only do we urgently need to understand the human nature but live with the knowledge that Love is the undercurrent of everything and that Love is our true nature.

Ceiling on Desires is a simple ANSWER for today’s complex crisis in the world – from micro to macro.

Shall we start a revolution by creating a ‘Culture of Care?’ Share your thoughts and action plans please….

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari


Love is a big question mark for me with its forever changing colors of expression. Read here a blog post from the past about Love…

Are You Changing

Love is a big question mark.

Is there a certain way that one feels love?

Is there a defined way one shows love?

What is it? How should it feel?

Is it love?

To lose my identity in a newborn’s innocence

And my stability in an adolescent’s justified arrogance;

To melt like fresh snow in the morning sun

And harden like a diamond facing life’s cruel fun;

To lose myself in the moments beauty

And in the future’s endless worry;

To be ravaged with life’s endless hopes and desires

And enjoy momentary pleasures;

To let the struggles rage torrents of gushing emotions

Tugging and tearing at the heart’s suspicions

And to write off everything as karma’s go

At crushing my individual ego;

To feel compassion at the suffering

And to be indifferent to the crying;

To remind myself of my fragile mortality

And revel in the glory of my immense…

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Float with Purpose

Are You Changing

Caught in the currents of the flowing river, I am a burnt log gently bobbing, merrily floating, light in weight, but heavy in purpose.

Gathering debris and weeds and yet unattached, when the rip tries to pull me down, I  happily shake the debris loose and merrily float, light in weight, but heavy in purpose.

Heavy debris sometimes pins me to the shores, but soon the haunting call of my purpose helps me to break loose from the resting and pushes me forwards towards my destination, light in weight, but heavy in purpose.

Unattached physically, hollow mentally once again , gently bobbing, merrily floating, I continue my journey to merge with the Sea –  light in weight, but heavy in purpose.




Aware and







Offering of a


Energy –…

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What is the Boundary Line between ‘Broken’ and ‘Whole’?

Broken and wholeWe live in a world of opposites – thick lines that separate good and bad, beauty and ugly, clean and dirty, kind and cruel, love and hate etc., etc.,  dichotomies that divide us and keep us in our compartments and will not let others come out of their compartments.

It gives us great security in putting someone in their little pigeon hole and always looking at them through the lens that we have created the hole for them.  Often it gives us satisfaction when we determine that someone is more broken than us.

We tend to place our worth entirely on our tangible achievements don’t we not?  Do we consider the efforts that we make in this process? Do we acknowledge the struggles we go through? How whole do we feel in this process or how broken do we think we are?

So, what is the boundary line between ‘broken’ and ‘whole’? Why do we have a need to live in the black and white world of opposites? What stops us from living on the line where black and white start to blend and a grey hue emerges?

In our desires to fix ourselves and/or others, do we constantly blow out our flame of worth? Is it possible for us to live in a world that is free of ‘attack’ and ‘defense’?
I think the images we create for ourselves and others as ‘this’ or the ‘other’ is the source of the problem. It is time we recognized that we are not this ‘OR’ that, but we are this ‘AND’ that.

How difficult is it to live a life of ‘AND’ but not an ‘OR’? When we put aside our fear of disappointments whether with ourselves or with others, we start to see as Poet Mark Nepo says that “The essence of who we are is independent of the web of relationship we need.”  Our essence does not depend on our image of ourselves nor on the image that others create of us.  The essence is not broken or whole, it just is.

How can we live with that realization – with that constant reminder that we are whole no matter what the circumstances and others are trying to tell us, that we are not just a cumulative result of our achievements?

How can we connect to what is eternal in us, a flame that carries us through thick and thin, the essence of who we are?  How can we go beyond the need to prove our worth to ourselves and to others, beyond the dichotomies that gives us false hope and security?

Drawing on Mark Nepo’s words again – “Honest living can shift our quest for worth, from inscribing ourselves in history to releasing what is eternal by living a life of care.”

How can we release what is eternal?  How can we live a life of care?  Mark Nepo says “if we could only give in to gravity just a little, we would cross our inner boundary of fear and discover the endless world of being, buoyant enough to carry us through.”

He offers us to consider Rilke’s poem “The Swan”


This clumsy living that moves lumbering

As if in ropes through what is not done

Reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.

 And to die, which is a letting go

Of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,

Is like the swan when he nervously lets himself down

 Into the water, which receives him gaily

And which flows joyfully under

And after him, wave after wave,

While the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,

Is pleased to be carried, each minute more fully grown,

More like a king, composed, farther and farther on.

Can we die to our voice of inadequacy, the voice of opposites?  Can we die to a life of ‘OR’ and live a life of ‘AND’?

Can we live like a swan floating in the currents of life’s waters? Can we embrace the world of dichotomies instead of living in thick demarcations?  Can we see ‘whole’ instead of ‘broken’?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari


How To Avoid The Emotional Roller Coaster……

I have written this two years ago and looking at the stats of my blog, I regularly get surprised how popular this post is. So for those who haven’t read this piece before, here it is….

Are You Changing

English: Roller coaster in Xetululu, Guatemala English: Roller coaster in Xetululu, Guatemala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you feel angry, upset, sad one minute and excited, happy and joyful the next?

Do you feel bored, hopeless one day and full of inspiration and hope the next?

I do…

We all do…ride on the emotional roller coaster and go round and round on a regular basis if not on a daily basis.  UPpppp we go only to come down and again rise upppppp and come downnnnnnnn.

Over and over, again and again, the thrill that we get of being on that roller coaster is what we call life even though it churns our insides out and almost spills.  Most of the time, we catch the spills before they spill, and yet other times we just let the spills out like a broken water hydrant.

We tell ourselves not to feel THAT way, we beg others NOT to feel THAT way…

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2015 Free Gift Offer…..

Are You Changing

Love Love Love Love Love Love (Photo credit: Gregory Jordan)

This blog post ( a re post from 2011) is to offer a gift to all my readers, who actually grew in number recently.  Thank you for taking time to read and comment.  I really appreciate it.

As we finish the holiday season filled with joy, fun, friendship and love and enter the busy lives of work and chores and routines and tasks, let us take a look at how to bring more of what we cherish.

I have grown to believe that every day is a festival if we want it to be.  The choice is ours.  If we dwell in our story and only look at the story taking wrong turns, then it will be hard to share the love.  

‘ Love’ stands right there at the top of the list along with Truth, Peace, Right-Conduct and Non-Violence.

However what…

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