The paradigm of the Vedic culture presented in the Bhagavad-Gita sheds a lot of new and interesting light on the question of the nature of time and of our history, and this week we explored the extraordinary and compelling cosmology of the universe that the Gita sets forth. We are accustomed to a linear view of our time and our history here, as taught and supposed to us through the Western cultural paradigm, but the cosmology of the Gita offers something different. We discussed the cyclical nature of time, of periods of history known as yugas which constantly repeat over and over again, and we discussed how the science of the Vedas predates and hold true many of the great “discoveries” of our modern times, such as the theory of relativity, the health benefits of yoga and meditation, and the multiple universe theories of quantum physics. Ultimately the Gita calls for us to transcend these material cosmological elements to understand the nature of spiritual reality, but in our discussion we came away with a lot of thought-provoking ideas that showed us that what we know to be time and space and our own history could be much more than what we have been told or taught before.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Congratulations to our early morning, late-in-the semester, meditation warriors! Today was our last morning meditation of the semester. With tens of thousands of thoughts rushing through our mind each day, how often do we take the time to pause, sit still, and observe our own consciousness? If you weren't able to make it today, don't worry. We'll start again next semester.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Category Main course accompaniment
Region Southern India
Served Hot, accompanied with curry or vegetables
Cooking Time 25 minutes
This is a highly aromatic rice preparation with a distinct lemony flavor. Lemon rice is easy to whip up when you are short on time.
1 1/2 cups of rice (the Indian variety, like basmati)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or as per taste)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
A pinch of asafetida
2 dried red chili peppers
1 tablespoon urad dal (split black gram)
1 tablespoon chana dal (split gram)
1/2 teaspoon methi (fenugreek) seeds
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
12 curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon haldi (turmeric) powder
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated coconut (optional)
- Clean and soak the rice for about thirty minutes. Drain the water and boil the rice in salted water (3 pinches of salt) until almost done. Rice gets cooked in its own steam when left covered. So it is best to leave it slightly uncooked. Drain and keep aside.
- Heat some oil in a nonstick pan and throw in the asafetida. Break the red chili peppers into large pieces and toss them in the pan along with the urad dal, chana dal, and methi seeds. Fry for about thirty seconds till the lentils turn light brown.
- Toss in the peanuts and mustard seeds. When you hear the mustard seeds crackle, throw in the curry leaves and stir in the turmeric powder. Stir-fry for another thirty seconds. Now you can add the cooked rice. Toss the rice in the pan so that the spices mix evenly in the rice. Ensure that the rice is evenly yellow. Now add salt and lemon juice and toss the rice again. As a finishing touch, garnish with grated coconut.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Do you believe the above statement? What's your take on the meaning of equality? It's in our constitution, but do we see it applied in the practical situations of our daily social and economic lives? Do we demonstrate in our own lives the principle of equality towards others? Is it a practical way to live, considering all of our obvious differences? On what level are we actually equal? These were a few of the intriguing questions tossed around during our most recent Reflections, as we ventured to find the thread that ties all of us together as living beings.
“The demand for equal rights in every vocation of life is just and fair; but, after all, the most vital right is the right to love and be loved.” -Emma Goldmas
Check out the website below to see and hear about the guest speaker we had at out Tuesday cooking classes. It wasn't about cooking, but it did provide food for the , explaining how by diving deeper into the river of life and discovering our inner essence, we can unearth the happiness, fulfillment, and compassion that is inherent to each of us.
Friday, November 5, 2010
“The fear of death follows from the fear of life.
A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
“... almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”
- Steve Jobs
“Today my soul spoke to my temporary self and said, ‘death removes everything that is false; death reveals to us our true friends; death exposes our true priorities; death brings forth wisdom; death educates us on our fears and weaknesses; but, most importantly, death reminds us that these material bodies and material universes are not our homes….”
-B.T. Swami – “Die Before Dying”
Why miserable? After all we don't want our spiritual path to make us gloomy, but we discussed that we all experience a certain sense of uncertainty in our lives, sometimes feeling even in the midst of our happiest times that something undesirable is lurking around the corner. We all want a happiness and security and a sense of self-knowledge that is enduring, and the Gita explains that this is the natural condition of our soul, beyond our temporary bodily state. While many descriptions of the spiritual reality where we can find this real happiness and life seem quite ethereal, we discussed that the teachings of the bhakti tradition laid out in the Gita for us help to access this spiritual reality through the nature of selfless love and relationships. By giving ourselves to others in a mood of compassion and brotherhood/sisterhood, we can begin to experience within ourselves, the spiritual realm the Gita speaks to us about, and we can find the lasting well-being beyond the flickering waves of this material reality.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
What is depression? What's the difference between being depressed and just having a bad day, or a couple bad days, or a bad year? Some interesting ideas thrown out at our last Relfections discussion was that depression results from a deep feeling of being disconnected from your surroundings, your peers, and ultimately yourself. Having a deep sense of purpose and an active spiritual practice of meditation can help prevent bouts of depression, and maybe even bring positive happiness and fulfillment into your life, beyond just making ends meet and somehow getting by.
Feel free to replace your canned tuna with our veggie meat balls to make an all-time classic sandwich. Here's our recipe below.
A variety of vegetables can be used for this recipe, including
potatoes, zucchinis, or carrots. This particular one calls for cabbage.
1 head green cabbage
3-4 cups gram besan flour
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon asafetida powder
1 ½ teaspoon tumeric powder
1 ½ teaspoon paprika powder
oil for frying
1 bunch fresh cilantro/parsley, chopped (for garnish)
1. Shred the cabbage finely and place in a bowl.
2. Sprinkle the spices in the bowl with the cabbage and begin slowly
adding the besan flour, about ½ cup to a cup at a time. Pour with
one hand while mixing with the other. When you're able to roll the
mixture into sustainable balls that don't collapse, stop adding flour
and roll the mixture into about 30-40 small balls (just a little
smaller than a golf ball)
3. Heat the oil in a pot. When hot, begin adding the kofta balls, one at
a time. Depending on the size of your pot, you can fry different
amounts of kofta at a time. Fry for a couple minutes until the kofta
turns a dark golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon. Garnish with
4. Smother in your favorite tomato sauce and couch the "meat"balls
inside a roll of fresh-baked bread, remember to smile, and
Of course, living in our go-go-gadget world means that this is easier said than done. This past week, we discussed the importance of the wisdom of sense control that the Gita teaches us, and how we can take a step back, through the vision of ourselves as spirit soul, and see the forces that are working upon us. Practices like mantra meditation can help us to steady our mind and deepen our perspective so that we can push back and remain strong against the urges of our tongues, bellies, etc that throw us off and make us feel miserable, despite whatever temporary pleasure might be there.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
“Through meditation and by giving full attention to one thing at a time, we can learn to direct attention where we choose.”
Indeed, to control the restless mind is no easy task, but at 7am, what else do you have going on? (other than sleep)
Ingredients: (makes 4 medium size parathas)
1. 1 cup wheat flour
2. 1/4th cup dry/fresh/fresh frozen methi (washed and patted dry)
3. 1 tablespoon oil (canola/peanut/olive oil)
4. ½ cup yogurt
5. ¼ teaspoon asafetida
6. 1 teaspoon chili powder
7. ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
8. 1 teaspoon coriander powder
9. Salt to taste
10. Water to make the dough
11. Oil for cooking the parathas
• Put the flour, methi leaves, oil, asafetida, chili powder, turmeric, coriander and salt into a large mixing bowl (order does not matter).
• Add yogurt, a little at a time to this mixture, and knead to form a medium-soft, smooth dough. If you run out of yogurt or don’t have enough, you could use water also. Keep aside for 30 minutes (optional).
• Divide the dough into golf ball-sized portions and roll between your hands till they are smooth and without cracks.
• Very lightly flour a rolling board or clean counter surface and roll each ball into a circle of 7-8" diameter (5-6mm thick). For convenience roll out as many parathas as you like, stacking them, ready to cook with a layer of cling film between each paratha.
• Heat a griddle and fry the parathas one at a time like this: Put a paratha on the griddle. Do the first flip when you see tiny bubbles rise on the surface of the paratha. As soon as the first flip is done, drizzle a bit of the remaining oil on the top and spread well over the surface of the paratha. Flip again in 30 seconds and drizzle oil on this surface too. The paratha is done when both sides are crispy and golden brown.
• Serve with your favorite pickle/chutney.
Of course there are many doubts and questions of trust and qualification, but if we are sincere and really seeking the kind of person/people who can give us real, lasting, personal, and intimate guidance to traverse the spiritual road, we will find them, but we must be patient, and we must be willing to serve, and we must be inquisitive as well. These are all facets of the teacher/student relationship Krishna is describing to Arjuna, and which they are showing to us through the dialogue and wisdom of the Gita.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Prep/cook time approx. 40 min.
serves 6-8 persons
2 tbsp olive oil
2 hot green chilies, minced
ź tsp asafoetida powder
˝ cup diced green peppers
˝ cup diced celery
˝ cup cooked corn pieces
3 cups tomatoes, chopped
ž cup tomato paste
3 cups cooked kidney beans
1 cup frozen tofu (frozen, thawed & crumbled)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 ˝ tsp salt
ź tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1) Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat.
2) When the oil is hot, add the minced green chili and sauté for 1 minute.
3) Add the asafoetida powder and sauté momentarily. Add the diced
pepper and celery.
4) Saute, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the vegetables
5) Add the cooked corn and the chopped tomato and cook, stirring
occasionally, for another 10 minutes.
6) Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes,
7) If the chili is too thick, add some reserved bean liquid. Serve hot.
Ultimately, dwelling too much on success and failure creates a selfish mentality, which prevents us from finding the selfless mentality that leads to a real spiritual sense of who we are. Actually, by working towards the spiritual platform, we find real success, and transcend mundane failure, by beginning to work on the deeper, eternal platform.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Serves 3-4/prep & cook time: 30 min.
3 tbsp ghee or oil ½ tsp black mustard seeds ½ tsp cumin seeds
3-4 whole dried red chilies, broken ½ tsp turmeric 3 ½ cups firm ripe tomatoes, chopped
2/3 cups sugar ½ cup raisins ½ tsp salt
1 (5 cm) cinnamon stick
• Heat ghee or oil in medium saucepan over moderate heat
• Saute mustard seeds in the hot ghee until they begin to crackle.
• Add the cumin and cinnamon.
• When the cinnamon darkens, add the chili bits and the turmeric.
• Immediately add the chopped tomatoes and, stirring to mix, cook over moderate heat - 10 min.
• Add sugar, raisins, & the salt.
• For moist chutney cook for another 5 min./For thick jam-like chutney, cook for another 15 min.
• Serve warm or cold.
Monday, October 4, 2010
In the second week of Bhagavad-Gita In Your Life here at Columbia, we dove right into the existential situation of the great warrior Arjuna, as he found himself at a tremendous crossroads in his life, wondering whether to engage in a great battle against many of his most beloved family and friends. We understood that the key to diving into the timeless and priceless wisdom of the Gita is to see ourselves in Arjuna's shoes, so our discussion this week revolved around a careful look at Arjuna's emotions, at the confusion, sadness, and frustration that we also share in the crossroads and dilemmas of our own everyday lives, big and small. The tumult we feel can be a grand opportunity for us to take a step back and ask the questions that need to be asked, and we talked about the example Arjuna is setting for us, seeking guidance from his dear friend Krishna, and how he is not content to just put a band-aid on the problem, but to find a deeper, spiritual solution.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Last week we had a read through Shel Silverstein's classic book the Giving Tree. Some of the topics of discussion were the balance (or often times imbalance) of giving and receiving in relationships, the needs we enter into relationships with, and the importance of spending more time on understanding our own selves a bit better. Who am I and what are my needs, and what am I looking for in my relationships with others? The more in touch we are with ourselves and the stronger spiritual foundation we have in our own lives can help us enter relationships with a stronger sense of stability, maturity, and understanding.
DRYING TIME: 20 minutes YIELD: About 18 calzone
3 teaspoons (15 ml) fresh yeast, 1/2 cup (125 ml) warm water, 1 teaspoon (5 ml) sugar,
4 cups (1-litre) plain flour, 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt, 3 tablespoons (60 ml) olive oil
1 tablespoon (20 ml) olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) yellow asafoetida powder,
2 tablespoons (40 ml) red or green peppers, finely diced, 1/2 cup (125 ml) black olives, chopped
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt, 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) black pepper
2 cups (500 ml) ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese or fresh curd, crumbled)
1/2 cup (125 ml) grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup (85 ml) grated cheddar cheese,
1/2 cup (125 ml) spinach leaves, chopped and lightly-blanched
1/3 cup (85 ml) chopped fresh parsley
extra oil for brushing and the baking tray
1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, add the sugar, mix well, and leave covered in a warm place for 10 minutes or until the mixture froths.
2. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast, oil, and enough lukewarm water to make a smooth dough. Knead well for 5 minutes. Rub oil inside the bowl and over the dough. Place the dough in the bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
3. To prepare the pastry filling: heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over moderate heat. Saute the asafoetida in the hot oil for a few seconds; then add the diced peppers and saute for one minute. Add the chopped black olives, salt, and pepper and stir to mix; then remove from the heat and allow to cool.
4. Combine the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, cooled olives and pepper mixture, spinach, and parsley in a large bowl. Mix well and set aside.
5. After the dough has risen the first time, punch it down with your fist, remove it from the bowl onto a floured bench top, and knead again for one minute. Roll the dough out with your hands into a long tube and cut into 18 portions. Roll each portion into a smooth ball and, with a rolling pin, roll out each ball into a 13 cm (5-inch) disk.
6. Divide the filling into 18 portions. Place a portion in the centre of each disk. Fold over and seal around the edge either with a fork or by pressure from your fingertips to make small semicircular pastries. Place all the pastries on a oiled tray and place in oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or unitl golden brown.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
accomplishment. Taken to extremes, of course, that's true. Most people,
however, find that meditation creates more time than it takes.”
Caught in a world of progress and achievement, we rarely stop to give ourselves the time of day or take personal nourishment for, not only our body, but mind and soul as well. Meditation is gradually being seen in the Western world as a substantial way to relieve stress and focus the mind. Plus, after each meditation, we serve a healthy breakfast. This week it was fresh dosas!
Standing before an assembly of students in Athens, Solon, one of the seven great Greek wise men, held up an apple. It was rotten and decayed. He questioned them, "how can we regenerate and make new this apple?" Unable to provide an answer, the students remained silent. "You can not revive a rotten apple." At that time, Solon cut the apple in half and removed the seeds. Holding the seeds he remarked, "this is how the apple can be regenerated. By proper care and use of it's seeds, a new apple can be made." Who are the seeds of society? They are indeed the youth, and the spiritual values, morals, and ethics that the students of today hold in their lives, qualify them to regenerate society and make a better tomorrow as they move to become the future leaders, managers, and parents of the future. What are the values that you hold dear in your life? What are the values you feel pressured to keep by society? Where do we get are values? These questions and others were discussed in our Wednesday night Reflections.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
* 3 tbsp ghee/oil
* 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
* 2-3 green hot chilies,chopped
* One 2.5cm cinnamon stick
* 10 curry leaves
* ½ tsp asafetida powder
* 1 ½ cups green beans
* 1 ½ cups potatoes (3/4 in. cubes)
* 1 ½ pumpkin (3/4 in. cubes)
* 1 ½ cup Zucchini (3/4 in. cubes)
* 1 ½ cup cauliflower, cut into florets
* 1 ½ cup carrots (3/4 inch)
* 1 tsp turmeric
* 1 tsp coriander powder
* 2 tsp salt
* 1 tsp sugar
* 1 cup coconut milk
* ½ cup water
* ¼ cup coriander leaves
1. Place the ghee/oil in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat.
2. When hot, drop in the ginger and chilies and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
3. Add the cinnamon stick and curry leaves, and sauté for another minute.
4. Sprinkle in yellow asafetida powder.
5. Stir briefly then add all the vegetables, the turmeric,
coriander powder, salt and sugar.
6. Pour in the coconut milk and water. Reduce heat and simmer
slowly, well covered for 30-40 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
7. Additional coconut milk and water can be used for more moist curry.
8. Fold in the chopped fresh coriander leaves and serve hot.
This past Friday we kicked off another year of wisdom for the body, mind, and soul with our Intro session for Bhagavad Gita-In Your Life. We set a template for our discussions this year with the clear idea that not only can the Gita be relevant to our contemporary lives, but it can also take us to a deeper and happier everyday level, where real spiritual wisdom can enter into our thoughts and actions and help us to become the person we want to be.
Curious newcomers and returning friends were welcomed and introduced to the setting of the Gita, and the great personalities, Arjuna and Krishna, at the heart of the discussion. Arjuna is the greatest warrior of his time drawn into an unimaginable situation, having to fight his dearest teachers and family members in a massive civil war. Krishna, as his chariot driver, dear friend, and incarnation of the Divine, has the duty of convincing the naturally reluctant Arjuna to fight.
What does this all mean? Isn't this another example of religious violence gone wrong, gone beyond morals and reason? We explored some of these tricky topics, and asked students to consider that the story of the Gita will reveal something much deeper beyond its challenging surface, setting the stage for next week when we will dive deeper into the crossroads Arjuna finds himself at, and the crossroads we often find ourselves at.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Throughout her teens and well into her 20s, Beard presented an image to the world that was as airbrushed as her photographs in magazines. Her toothy smile and surfer girl insouciance hid deep emotional pain. In a series of interviews over the past year, she revealed for the first time her struggles with anger, depression and self-injury.
“I’d go to swim practice, put my face in the water, and I didn’t have to talk to anybody,” Beard said. “Swimming was like my escape, but it was also like this huge prison because I felt like I had to swim up to people’s standards.”
“I just kind of put a smile on my face and just pretended a lot of the time,” Beard said, adding, “I always felt like I didn’t want to be a role model because if people knew the real me or the things I was doing or going through, there’s no way they’d want their kid to be like me.”
Beard said: “I’d go back to this whole self-hating thing, where I had this record player repeating to me, ‘You’re stupid, you’re ugly, you’re fat, you’re nobody.’ You’re in so much emotional pain, and you don’t know how to express it.” ]
What are we actually looking for in life? Where does that internal peace, fulfillment and satisfaction come from? As we progress materially, we also must progress and cultivate values internally, or spiritually. Otherwise, we may up with everything we always wanted, but nothing we were really looking for.
For the complete article, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/01/sports/01swimmer.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&sq=amanda%20beard&st=cse&adxnnl=1&scp=2&adxnnlx=1284908462-fWUnkoS0FhFeyoKrimPn6w.
Last Tuesday we kicked off our first Bhakti event of the year with our most-beloved Vegetarian Cooking Class. Pandit was at the healm, teaching us his favorite Tomato Spinach Eggplant subji with Chickpeas. Filled with a variety of colors, texture, flavors, protein and served along side spiced rice with carob-peanut-butter halava, this meal went over well with everyone. Check out the recipe below.
Recipe: Spinach, Tomato, Eggplant & Chickpea Stew
½ cups ghee or oil
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 hot green chilies minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp black mustard seeds
10 dried curry leaves
¼ tsp asafoetida pwdr
1 medium eggplant (½ in. cubes)
4 med. tomatoes ½ in. cu
1 pound spinach
1 tsp turmeric
1 ½ tsp salt
2 cups chickpeas canned
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
(serves 6-8 persons/Prep. time 40 minutes)
1) Heat the ghee or oil in a heavy saucepan or large wok over moderate heat.
2) When the ghee is hot, add the ginger, chilies, cumin seeds, and mustard seeds.
3) When the mustard seeds crackle, add the curry leaves, asafoetida powder, & eggplant.
4) Stir fry the eggplant for 8 to 10 minutes or until the eggplant is a little softened.
5) Stir in the tomatoes, spinach, turmeric, & salt.
6) Partially cover and reduce the heat to moderately low. Cook until the eggplant is soft and the spinach is reduced in size, stirring when required.
7) Add the cooked chickpeas and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the sugar and lemon juice now.
8) Remove from heat and serve hot.