Who Controls the Human Mind?

May 21, 2021

I recently gave up using the synthetic bathing soap in preference to ‘ubtan’, a powdered combination of cow dung, mud and natural minerals. Friends had been prodding me for a long time to make the conversion. However I’d been reluctant because I wondered if my body would stink. For the last thirty five years I’ve used soaps, perfumes and shampoos.

How could I give them up? Wouldn’t the body smell bad? Although I was intellectually convinced that cow dung soap is far more hygienic, lingering doubts and the uneasiness in changing my lifestyle prevented me from making the shift. Finally one morning, I took the plunge, and over the last two months, I am using natural products to clean my body and brush my teeth. Since then my life has changed for the better and my heart filled with realizations.

The initial feeling was of suspicion. What does this powder contain? Am I being brainwashed by some backward cow worshippers? Will the tooth powder protect my teeth from decay? I persisted using the products anyway, and slowly it dawned on me that I had never asked these questions all these years while using a variety of synthetic soaps and tooth pastes. I had been brainwashed by the advertisements and believed any claim made by any company, and the convictions grew stronger, especially if the claim was made by a sensuous looking woman or a smiling macho man. The visual media thus kept me spell bound for decades.

There are many aspects of our daily lives governed by the media and we never question them. These inputs into our consciousness become foundational and form our value systems and beliefs. Later, when we hear contrary information or about better alternatives, the mind protests and demands scientific evidence. It’s interesting how when advertisements encourage us to enjoy or promise gratification to the mind and senses, we are not compelled to question the authenticity. However, when the scriptures offer more prudent way of living that is eco friendly and also more satisfying to the soul, we protest. The mind rebels against any change. If a lady smilingly offers a non sticky cooking ware and household appliances, we too want it. But little do we mind the appliance being rich in Teflon, a hazardous chemical. Since the lady smilingly prods us to have one, we too desire it. She giggles in the advert, “I use this, and what about you?” Any beautiful model or super star could be purchased for a few million rupees and told to promote a product.

And if the commercial titillates our mind and senses, we feel the claim is reasonable. Where has our reasoning gone?

We may also defiantly claim that we aren’t influenced and we are indeed reasonable. If we are indeed prone to make decisions out of choice and not compelled to act, then why do companies spend millions of rupees on promotional ads? Are they fools to spend a million rupees for a ten second ad during the break of any popular serial. Repeated exposure to commercials bombards our fragile consciousness and convinces us to buy the product. And all the while we are convinced that we are not being influenced by anyone. We fool ourselves that we are independently thoughtful, while the reality is we are tiny puppets in the hands of the giant companies. For example, I may be constantly bombarded by an ad that says, ‘Enjoy Coca cola’ I see it at every stoplight and apparently ignore it. It doesn’t mean a fig to me as I drive, talk to my friends and carry on with my daily business.

My education and exposure to knowledge of this world convinces me to be independent, while I allow my mind to be bombarded by hordes of images and promises. Later as I sit in a restaurant, I inadvertently ask for a Coca Cola. I feel I have a right to choose and have thus made my decision, uninfluenced by anyone. However the reality is I have been tricked to act.

When can we claim to be not influenced? A spiritual practise is empowering because it helps us tap our inherent ability of self-awareness. Self-awareness is a unique human endowment. Animals can’t think beyond the four basic needs of eating, sleeping sex life and defending. Humans can be conscious of their consciousness. We can catch our thoughts and question our feelings. With superior intelligence that gets sharpened through regular meditation and balanced lifestyle, we can examine our deep inner most influences and paradigms that have been formed without our conscious endeavour. We also develop the ability to change our choices and think rationally.

A changeover to environment friendly products is the need of the hour, and I personally felt more of sattva (the mode of goodness) influencing me with these positive lifestyle changes. You too can try leading a less passionate and more sattvic regimen and share your realizations with us.

Media’s Obsession with Falsehood

February 21, 2021

A man doesn’t eat or drink for more than 60 years. Yes you have read correctly, it’s not 60 minutes but 60 long years! The nation’s best doctors and scientists closely examine the facts and observe and monitor his movements on camera for three weeks. Yes, it’s true. He’s a miracle, declare the members from the Defence Institute of Physiology and Applied sciences (DIPAS). Isn’t this a sensational news, deserving of first page headlines in all newspapers and the main feature of all TV news programmes. Surprisingly all newspapers and TV channels are observing a mauna vrata (a vow of silence).

Initially the news was covered with excitement, in hope of discovering yet another false claim and a scandal; to whip the already beaten Hindu culture and hurl abuses and mockery galore. However to the shock of the media, the investigations not only proved the sadhu’s claim true, it even challenged the modern society’s conceptions of reality. The sadhu explained that as a teenager, mother Durga (one of the most popular Hindu goddess) had given him darshan (audience) and blessed him with supernatural powers.

Now the media is caught in a flux. How do they explain him to the world based on their reasoning and logic? They can’t explain this supernatural feat without attributing his prowess to divine intervention and acceptance of spiritual facts, the knowledge of which the media lacks. Hence they prefer the safer way out- ignore the news. Just imagine if the studies had proved he’s a fraud, what would have happened to the National media. They would have been hysterical in denouncing the saffron brigade. Now the silence in face of a sensational discovery of truth exposes the media’s double standards. On the one hand the media claims to search for truth but on the other seeks only scandals and controversies, especially opportunities to ridicule Hindu culture.

82-year-old Prahlad jani’s stunning the world by not eating or drinking since the age of fifteen (for the last 67 years) deserves honour and kudos but the media prefers to go gaga over IPL and the sex lives of Bollywood gods.

A few years ago Ramadev Baba was needlessly dragged into a controversy by the media which accused him of mixing animal bones in his medicines. The National media lashed at him, and Hindus apologized for being Hindus and for having a fraud as their messiah. Ramadev had revolutionized yoga and offered simple breathing exercises (pranayama) to help the billions in India lead a healthy life. As money poured in and his coffers increased, it also invoked the lower human tendency of envy amongst the politicians and the media.

Mrs. Brinda Karat launched a campaign against Swami Ramdev. Besides other allegations, she charged that the medicines produced in his pharmacy contained animal bones. There was a great hue and cry. The NDTV channel which is reported to be related to Mr. Prannoy Roy gave great coverage to her. It even organized many discussions live. In the end when the Health Minister of the then Congress government of Uttarakhand held a Press conference to declare that they had conducted laboratory tests and found no bone contents in ayurvedic medicines of Baba’s pharmacy, the NDTV which had led the anti-Baba campaign blacked out this news from its viewers.

Many people wrote to Mr. Prannoy Roy in March 2006 through e-mail and by post also highlighting this act of infringement of the journalistic morality. But no response. In the meantime, INDIA TODAY included Mr. Roy and his wife among the top 50 personalities of the country describing them as the “credible face” of journalism. We can clearly see that NDTV had blacked out this news deliberately to avoid its own embarrassment. It only proved that the channel had launched a deliberate tirade against the yoga guru without ascertaining facts. So can you say that NDTV was free, fair and objective, at least, as far as this episode was concerned? Months later many other investigations declared him to be innocent and the allegations by the media were proved baseless. This time once again the media turned a Nelson’s eye, and didn’t cover the acquittal.

Indian culture and Hindu saints have been time and again misrepresented in the Media and the billion plus Indians sit nonplussed as hedonistic values are championed by the media. Men and women are encouraged to abandon reverence to saints and the holy wisdom contained in Hindu culture. It’s time the intelligent Indians challenge the credibility of the media rather than blindly accept the news. The media for sure is not serving the best interests of the Nation nor are they interested in protecting the National values and culture. In fact most of them are working against the interest of the Indians. After Pakistan, we have another in-house enemy to confront- the national print and electronic media. In fact these are more deadly for they pose as friends and plant the seed of destruction within the country. Indians beware of this hydra headed demon- the media.