Monday, December 05, 2016

Would it help?

This weekend I watched Steven Spielberg's “Bridge of Spies”. During the Cold War, an American lawyer is recruited to defend an arrested Soviet spy.

Tom Hanks played the main character, James Donovan, who was tasked with the unenviable job of defending a Russian spy by the name of Rudolf Abel, played by the relatively unknown actor Mark Rylance. 

Throughout the movie, Abel faced an uphill battle because he was hated by both American and Russians alike as a spy who got caught on U.S. soil. Throughout his time spent in prison, during his trial and in the hostage negotiations Abel remained stoic and showed little emotion.

Each time it looked like Abel was out of options during one of these ordeals Donovan would ask, “Aren’t you worried?”

And every single time Abel would offer the deadpan response, “Would it help?”

That sentence, the way it was spoken and its deeper meaning went straight to the depth of my heart. An array of day to day situations played through my mind’s screen. In any situation where we have to take a decision, it can come from two sources.

One is your own decision, which will be based on your intelligence and previous experience. When the emotions are running high, it becomes difficult to think straight and take the proper decision.

Secondly, we should realise that before a problem comes into existence, its solution is already in the etheric atmosphere. So the correct decision is already there, to be downloaded into your mind. But a highly strung mind is so clouded that it is impossible for it to happen.

I got an experiential knowledge that emotional upheavals are definitely a disadvantage. We gain absolutely nothing by getting upset or worked up, but  there are a lot to lose!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Bali visit- a tour that turned to a pilgrimage- Part II


Gitgit waterfall, Pura Beji, Pura Ulun Batur and Besakih temple

Gitgit Waterfall, a beautiful tourist destination in north part of Bali is located in the plateau area with the height about 35 meters and it is surrounded by tropical trees.

Pura Beji was our next destination and I had the most profound divine and energy experience there. The energy was deep, sharp and penetrating. It is a temple rarely visited by tourists. It is located in the north of Bali in Sangsit around eight kilometres east of Singaraja. The temple was built of easily carvable soft pink sandstone and its walls are decorated with sculptures of snakes, demons, and devils.

Pura Beji is dedicated to Dewi Sri, goddess of agriculture. Dewi Sri, or Shridevi, the  goddess of rice and fertility, is widely worshipped on the islands of Bali and Java. The goddess is associated with the Hindu goddess Lakshmi as both are attributed to wealth and family prosperity.

Pura Ulun Danu Batur is the second most important temple in Bali, after Pura Besakih. Built in 1926, the temple is dedicated to Dewi Danu, goddess of lakes and rivers. "Ulun Danu" literally translates as "head of the lake".

Originally, Pura Batur and the village of Batur were located down in the caldera at the foot of Mount Batur, an active volcano. A violent eruption in 1926 destroyed both the village and the temple, except for the most important shrine, an 11-tiered meru dedicated to Dewi Danu. The villagers moved to the highest and oldest rim of the caldera, where they rebuilt their village and the temple.

After the temple visit we had an awesome buffet lunch in a hotel with a view of the Batur volcano.

 Next we moved on to the Besakih temple. Pura Besakih is a temple complex in the village of Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung in eastern Bali.

 It is the most important, the largest and holiest temple of Hindu religion in Bali, and one of a series of Balinese temples. Perched nearly 1000 meters up the side of Gunung Agung, it is an extensive complex of 23 separate but related temples with the largest and most important being Pura Penataran Agung. The temple is built on six levels, terraced up the slope.

Luckily a sadhu explained facts about the temple to us and showed us the Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Durga and Lakshmi idols.

Snorkeling - beyond words

A whole morning, evening and the next day morning were spent in snorkeling at the Amed beach, which was a unique experience. Shoals of fish, small and big, in myriads of colors, and the corals all around us, it was really a dream world. The floor was covered with black and white pebbles and we saw a fish with matching colors. Periodically it was changing its position; only from its movement we realized it was a fish.

We met a tourist who told he has traveled half the world and had done snorkeling in famous locations, and he told Amed ranks first!

We stayed at the Dillons hotel.

At night I heard weird sounds, resembling loud croaking of frog or sound of a bird. I felt as if the sound was coming from below my bed, and was a bit scared. My husband got up and examined the room and assured me there was nothing in the room so that I could sleep.

One day we got up at 4.30 am and meditated sitting next to the sea. It was such a calming and divine experience!

Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang

Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang,or Lempuyang Temple is one of Bali’s oldest and most highly regarded temples, on par with Besakih. It is also believed to predate the majority of Hindu temples on the island. Definitely a highlight on any travel itinerary for the fit and adventurous, the main temple lies at 1,175m above sea level, up on the peak of the namesake Mount Lempuyang in East Bali.

The heights are reachable via a steep staircase of over 1,700 steps, with attractions along the way including several other temples. We didn’t climb all the way up, but could see the silhouette of the main temple after climbing a reasonable distance, and I could feel the expansive energy around me.

A visit to Tirta Gangga

Tirta Gangga is a former royal palace in eastern Bali, Indonesia, about 5 kilometres from Karangasem, near Abang. Tirta Gangga literally means water from the Ganges and it is a site of some reverence for the Hindu Balinese.

Strictly, the name refers to the water palace built in 1948 by the Raja of Karangasem, Anak Agung Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem. It is, however, the name widely used to refer to the general area which includes the water palace and the lush rural areas around. Tirta Gangga water palace is a maze of pools and fountains surrounded by a lush garden and stone carvings and statues.

The centerpiece of the palace is an eleven tiered fountain. The area around Tirta Gangga is noted for its rice paddy terraces.

Leaving Padang Bai for Ubud

We moved on to Padang Bai, thinking of halting there. But it was too crowded and the people were not as friendly as we had experienced so far. Padangbai is a small town in eastern Bali, near Candidasa. It serves as a ferry port for travel to Lembar on Lombok, The Gilis and other of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Besides the beach near the ferry terminal there is a beach just to the north known locally as the Blue Lagoon.

The Blue Lagoon Beach, also known as Padang Kurungan, was like a hidden paradise.

The beach is clean and water is quite clear so it’s easy to see what’s underneath. Blue Lagoon is a great beach for snorkeling. The coral reef is right up to the shore and is very pretty.

Instead of staying in Padang Bai, we went to Ubud and after a hectic search, got a beautiful place, ‘Semujan Bungalow’ to stay.

Its owner, Ms. Agung, a great devotee of Shiva, was a very friendly lady. And she invited us to attend the Kunningan ceremony in her house. We reached there in the morning and saw the extensive preparations made for the ceremony.

Being Hindus, we were allowed to pray in their family temple, and we prayed for our ancestors. Every Bali house has a temple, which will be more elaborate in large families. Every day offerings are made thrice a day in the temple. All Bali villages have two temples.

A massage before leaving

While walking through the streets in Ubud we located a massage center, ‘Tirta Wangi Spa’. We went inside, liked the ambiance very much, and fixed appointment for Balinese massage and Boreh scrub on the day before our flight back.

Boreh Bali is a traditional Balinese Body Mask that warms the body, opens the pores and improves circulation, promoting relaxation and the release of toxins while revitalizing the skin cells and exfoliating the skin, cleaning, replenishing and rejuvenating resulting in a fresher, smoother more refined appearance and an increased feeling of energy, clarity, relaxation and well being.  And what an experience it was! I felt cleansed and rejuvenated.

After the massage we were served ginger and lemon tea, along with many sweets and savories. Now we were fully prepared for our journey back!

-Making Bali coffee, that we enjoyed on every day of our stay, just before leaving for the airport.

Bali visit- a tour that turned to a pilgrimage – Part I

I heard about Bali the first time when I was in high school. We had a lesson, ‘Balidweep’ by S K Pottekkat. He had described Bali women dressed in similar clothes as in Kerala, balancing weaved baskets filled with sweets and other offerings on their head, walking to the temples. When I read that many sweets and savories in Bali were similar to Kerala preparations, I was filled with curiosity. He was good in describing the scenic beauty of Bali.

The time is yet to come.

I visited Jakarta a few years back to give a presentation in a Dental conference. Due to some reasons we couldn’t make it to Bali at that time which left a streak of disappointment in my heart.

In 2016 when we planned a trip to Bali, it was to enjoy the beautiful nature and to have some fun. But it turned out to be a great pilgrimage, with lots of cleansing and healing.


We reached Jimbaran after twenty minutes drive from the airport in the late evening. The taxi driver was a very jovial person and gave us much valuable information on Bali. Their important festival Galungan was starting after two days and its ending, Kunningan celebrations would be ten days later. We were so happy that we were in Bali during such an auspicious time.

Galungan celebrates the victory of dharma over adharma. Ancestral spirits visit the Earth during that time. On the last day of the celebration is Kuningan, when they return to their realm.


Galungan marks the beginning of the most important recurring religious ceremonies. The spirits of deceased relatives who have died and been cremated return to visit their former homes, and the current inhabitants have a responsibility to be hospitable through prayers and offerings. The most obvious sign of the celebrations are the penjor - bamboo poles with offerings suspended at the end. These are installed by the side of roads, and it was such a beautiful sight as we were driving around. Some of them were very elaborate art works!

Dream @ Jimbaran

We reached the hotel that we had booked, ‘Dream @ Jimbaran'. The lady at the counter said she had worked in Kalangut beach (Goa) for three years. By now we were hungry and went out to have some food. We located a nearby warung, which is a type of small family owned business — often a casual, usually outdoor restaurant— in Indonesia. We ordered the fried rice, ‘Nazi Goreng’ as they call it, but it was a bit disappointing. Later during our trip we got real delicious nazi goreng though.

Here's the warung and the awesome food that we were served at a later date in Jimbaran:

‘Water Blow’ that blew us off


Next day morning after breakfast we went to the Water Blow in Nusa Dua that lets you witness the awesome power of nature as large waves from the Indian Ocean constantly crash against the jagged limestone edges on the peninsula’s south-eastern cliff. The crashing waves can reach up to several meters high. Time stood still as we were mesmerized by this unique sight.

It was time for lunch and we went to the Jimbaran beach and had vegetable curry (with coconut milk) and steamed rice. Sitting in the warm weather and having that delicious meal was a very soothing experience.

The trip in the evening was to Uluwatu Temple, or Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of six key temples believed to be Bali's spiritual pillars. It is renowned for its magnificent location, perched on top of a steep cliff approximately 70 meters above sea level.

Legian, here we come

On the way to Legian we visited the Ground Zero, which is located on a very busy street in Kuta.

The 2002 Bali bombings occurred on 12 October 2002. Damage to the densely populated residential and commercial district was immense, destroying neighboring buildings and shattering windows several blocks away. The final death toll was 202, mainly comprising of Western tourists and holiday-makers in their 20s and 30s.

A permanent memorial was built on the site of the destroyed Paddy's Pub on Legian Street. The memorial was dedicated on 12 October 2004, the second anniversary of the attack.

We went to the ‘Lumbung Sari Beach Inn’ kept our luggage and walked to the ‘Poser’s pub' and had an awesome vegetarian lunch. The visit to Padma beach and watching the sunset was a unique experience. The changing colors of thee sea and the sky was spectacular.

Next day morning again we visited Padma beach, and it presented an entirely different beauty!

We spotted Lido2 for massage and chose Bali massage, which loosened up the muscles and was a healing experience.

Tanah Lot Temple

Tanah Lot Sunset Tours are the exciting Bali Half Day Tours to visit the temple on the rock with breathtaking view of Indian Ocean and spectacular sunset as a backdrop. Tanah Lot is a Balinese Hindu Temple on the rock and the seawater encircles it during high tide. There is a Holy sweet water spring here, in the middle of the sea! We got blessing from the pujari and drank from the sweet water spring.

We could see the magnificent view of sunset in the late evening.

One can find the holy snakes dwelling the cave in front of Tanah Lot Temple with small donation to see them directly.

Taman Ayun Temple

Taman Ayun is a Hindu temple which is generally regarded as one of the most attractive temples of Bali. It is strategically located beside of major roadway between Denpasar to Singaraja. It is set on the land which is surrounded by a big fish pond. This beautiful temple building has multi storied roof and Balinese Architecture.

We got inside a warung for lunch and to our surprise and delight, got tender jackfruit preparation with rice and then ripened jackfruit also.

 I noticed that the owner lady was watching TV program which was dubbed version of our ‘Naagin’.

We ended the day with a  visit to the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, or Pura Bratan. It is a major Shivaite and water temple on Bali. The temple complex is located on the shores of Lake Bratan in the mountains near Bedugul. Water temples serve the entire region in the outflow area; downstream there are many smaller water temples that are specific to each irrigation association.

Built in 1633, this temple is used for offerings ceremony to the Balinese water, lake and river goddess Dewi Danu, due to the importance of Lake Bratan as a main source of irrigation in central Bali. Lake Bratan is known as the Lake of Holy Mountain due to the fertility of this area. Located 1200 m above sea level, it has a cold tropical climate.

From the sea level, now we were in a hill station, and got a beautiful place to stay- in Panca Sari hotel.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Onam in Bali

During the Onam festival days, we were traveling in Bali. I prayed to Mahabali to take care of our Onam celebrations. A day before the Thiruvonam, the day on which we have elaborate lunch on a plantain leaf, our local contact told us about a Holy water fall. It is a cleansing and purifying waterfall and one is supposed to take bath in the twin water falls and drink the water.

On the Onam day we went to the Holy waterfall and had a very refreshing bath. There are about 300 steps to go down to reach the water fall and a couple of worshipping areas to pay obeisance before going into the water fall.

As one nears the water fall, many carvings on the mountain walls on the side can be seen.

When we reached there, there was a group of local people who were conducting the puja after the bath. By the time we started bathing, the whole place was left to us. We had a nice bath, just like we usually take before the Onam lunch.

We climbed back all the steps without any tiredness and searched for a place to have lunch. After walking a short distance, found a warung. A warung is a type of small family-owned business — often a casual shop, a modest small restaurant or cafĂ© — in Indonesia. A motherly lady was cooking something for three people sitting there. We asked whether we could get vegetarian food, she said yes.

We settled down and ordered for a rice dish. It was nice watching her preparing it with love.

 And you know what? She served us on a plantain leaf kept inside a plate! So, Mahabali made sure that we got a delicious vegetarian lunch served on a plantain leaf. Suddenly I thought of all the goodies that we eat during Onam.

Later we got Balinese massage done and the owner was a motherly lady. After the massage she served us ginger lemon tea and some snacks. There were chips, achappams (rosette cookies), that tasted exactly like what we make in Kerala, dodol, a Balinese sweet that was similar to the Kerala halwa, and another sweet that was like our unniyappam. We asked her where we could buy those and she told us about the local market where they would sell from 4 am to 8 am. The very next day we went to the market at 7 am and bought these:

 My heart was overflowing with gratitude for Mahabali. He made sure we had a proper Onam celebration in Bali!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ganges calling

'Bliss Divine' by Shri Shivananda influenced us to a great extent when we read it in the early 80s. For our visit to Rishikesh in August 2016, we booked our room in the Shivananda ashram. I was looking forward to imbibing all the positive energy from the ashram. We knew that Swami Shivananda had stayed here and Neem Karoli baba used to visit some times.

We reached the Shivananda ashram in an auto with all our luggage, and it started raining. The auto driver told us to get down with all luggage. We were three of us, my husband, daughter and myself. My husband told the driver, 'Just let me find out whether this is the correct place. '

The auto driver was in no mood, 'You just get down and search.' My husband told him sternly that he will just go across the road to the office and find out. He came back after ten minutes and since it was the correct location, we got down  in front of the ashram. There were about fifty steps to climb. He told that he would first go and see the room and then we all could go.

My daughter and I were standing below those fifty steps, there was a small shelter, but the water was flowing down the steps and coming toward the luggage, it was a tough job to not get them too wet. We stood there for about 40 minutes. Many people, some of them in saffron and white clothes passed by, nobody asked us whether we needed any help.

Three men and a boy of about 12 years, and another person in saffron dress came to the area where we were standing, to escape the rain. The saffron clad man started smoking cigarette, standing close to the boy.

Meanwhile my husband came down and told that the bed sheets in the room were not so clean and the geyser was not working.  We decided to search some other place to stay and returned the key of the room.

Again he went out to search and in ten minutes came back with a hotel boy who took our luggage and we walked down to the hotel, 'Ganga blossom'. The staff was helpful and when we came into the room, we forgot all the difficulties encountered so far. The room had a huge window, overlooking the Ganges. Oh! What a refreshing sight! We could just sit on our bed, look at the Ganges and meditate.

The Ganges wanted us close to her, that's why our staying in the Shivananda ashram did not work out. Thank you Ganga Ma!

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Only you can heal yourself

When people come to me for healing, my first attempt is to make them understand clearly that I am not doing the healing. They themselves are bringing about the healing, I am just channelling more energy to them to make it happen.

For the distant healing we fix the time and the number of days and at the stipulated time, they are supposed to sit in a particular way to receive the energy. Many days after a client’s healing period was over, she messaged me, ‘I could sit only for two days to receive the healing. I got too busy afterwards.’ Oh, really? That means the healing was not in her priority list at all. Looks like it is the healers’ responsibility to bring the results. Many are ‘too busy’ to even sit for ten minutes to receive the healing vibrations. Do they really need to be healed?

Roughly 90% of the clients who come to me believe that they are suffering because somebody has done black magic. I am greatly surprised when even Reiki channels believe this. Reiki is pure positive energy that provides full protection and if one is doing daily Reiki self healing, no black magic can affect them. One doesn’t have to look too deeply to understand the actual situation.

Just like the ethical discipline and practice of correct conduct are necessary for Yoga, they are also necessary for Reiki practitioners and spiritual aspirants. This is the basis of yama and niyama, the two moral backbones of yoga.

Yama, the first limb of Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga means ‘taking a vow’ while niyama, the second limb means ‘rule of conduct’. They are interdependent and niyama strengthens and safeguards yama. The five yamas listed by Patanjali in Yogasutra are nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, chastity/marital fidelity and non-possessiveness.

The niyamas also consist of five limbs, shaucha, internal and external purification; santosha, contentment; tapas, austerity, swadhyaya, self-study and Ishwara pranidhana, surrender to divinity.

During conversation with the Reiki channels who are suffering due to the ‘black magic’, it becomes apparent that they fall short in yama niyama aspects. Many of their sufferings can be explained on the aspects that they have not incorporated into their lives.

For example, a Reiki channel fixed appointment for Reiki IIIA class. The teacher was waiting at the appointed time for the lone student, and when there was no sign of the aspirant, a message was sent to find out what happened. Then the reply comes, ‘Sorry, due to unavoidable reason I am not able to attend today’s class’. This person was going to be a master healer!

Every action that we do has a consequence. When we are so careless in our thoughts and actions, the consequences are bound to happen. Then by making a hue and cry of ‘black magic’, nothing is going to improve. What is needed first is a reality check on our character and conduct. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The rustling of coconut leaves

I love coconut trees, and having born and brought up in Kerala, there was no dearth of coconut trees around. The word ‘Kerala’ combines the sound and meaning of two words, kera (coconut palm tree) and alam(land/ location/ abode) to form the word Keralam, which means ‘Coconut land’. During vacations spent in grand parents' place, all of us cousins would roam around in the compound with many types of trees. It was fun making chains with tapioca leaves, flutes with papaya stalks and to watch with great fascination how coconut leaves were converted to sheets for thatching roofs.

I loved to observe ropes being made with the fibers from coconut husks. The smell of fresh coconut oil, oh God, I used to go crazy applying it on my hand and keeping on smelling it. Since our coconut oil supply was from grand parents, we never stopped its use. During those years, (paid) doctors were publishing volumes of research that painted coconut oil as causing health problems and prompted people to buy vanaspathi (Dalda).

Coconut leaves in the moonlight

When we shifted to the house that my parents built, my room was on the first floor and in those days I could sleep with the windows open. What a blissful sight it was to look at the coconut leaves in the moon light, outside the window! They had a special effect on me as I was dreaming of the person I was going to marry. During the eight months between our engagement and marriage, I was preparing my mind to live without coconut trees in future. He was from the north where coconut trees were absent and we planned to set up our dental practice in his home town.

Destiny had other plans

As it so happened, we went with the flow of destiny and instead of setting up practice, got into teaching and finally settled in a place where we could plant coconut trees in our compound. As I lie down on my bed and listen to the rustling of coconut leaves, my heart gets filled with gratitude to that Universal force that made this possible. The sound of rustling coconut leaves is so conducive for sleep!

It doesn’t end here. My husband got interested in plants and he gets cold pressed coconut oil for our use. After my mother’s demise, I thought that then on I will have to buy coconut oil from the market as she used to supply my stock. The whole world is now acknowledging the miraculous health benefits of coconut oil, and oil pulling with virgin coconut oil is so popular!


1.      ‘40 years ago...And now: How Dalda built, and lost, its monopoly’