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Several communities in the Sunshine State are gearing up to observe India's Republic Day. Here are a few of the scheduled events:

TAMPA: The Federation of Indian Associations of Tampa Bay (FIA of Tampa Bay) will hold Republic Day celebrations from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 25, at the "village" in Bayanihan Arts & Events Center, 14301 Nine Eagles Drive.

The outdoor festival will feature cultural exhibit booths to showcase India, with themes such as religion, music and dance, dresses of India, festivals, foods, languages, tourism, cinema, etc. Vendors will set up stalls for Indian jewelry, arts and crafts, food, clothing boutique, among others.

In the open-air auditorium, entertainment will feature music and dance from different parts of the country along with fancy dress competition and a Fashion Parade. There will be fun filled events for the kids.

For more information, call FIA President Ram Reddy at (813) 926-6617, e-mail or visit

GAINESVILLE: The India Cultural & Education Center in Gainesville will hold Republic Day on Saturday, Jan. 31 at the center, 1115 S.W. 13th St. ICEC Youth Group is planning the event. For details, call (352) 379-2911 or visit

SOUTH FLORIDA: The Indian Religious & Cultural Center (IRCC) will hold Taste of India to celebrate Republic Day on Sunday, Jan. 25. The 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. event at Sportsplex, 2575 Sportsplex Drive, Coral Springs will feature vendors selling Indian arts and crafts, jewelry, food, etc. Admission is $5 per person and children 3 years of age and younger are free. The festival is supported by AIA, BAPS, South Florida Hindu Temple, Greater Punjab Association, South Florida Tamil Sangam, Indian Muslim Council and Sahara.

To sponsor the event and/or to sell products or services, visit and click on the "Taste of India" link. Then, contact any of the 2009 board members to check on sponsorship and booth availability.

TALLAHASSEE: The India Association of Tallahassee will be holding the Indian Republic Day Celebration along with the Annual General Body Meeting (AGM) on Sunday, Jan. 25. The Republic Day Celebration is open to public and will feature patriotic themes and programs. The AGM is open only to members. Everyone is encouraged to come and participate in the events. The venue and time will be announced shortly. For details, visit

Aishu Venkataraman
Story provided by CFCC

Fifteen-year-old musical prodigy Aishu Venkataraman will perform a concert Thursday, Jan. 15 at Central Florida Community College in Ocala.

Venkataraman is a violist trained in the classical South Indian and the American jazz tradition. She will be accompanied by her father, Vinod Venkataraman, a percussionist and an accomplished educator.

On Jan. 15, at 7:30 p.m., the pair will perform in the Fine Arts Auditorium at the Ocala Campus, 3001 S.W. College Road. Admission is free but tickets are required as seating is limited. For tickets, call the CFCC Box Office after Jan. 7 at (352) 873-5810.

Earlier in the day at noon, the Venkataramans will present a lecture and demonstration exploring the music of southern India. The presentation will include photographs taken by CFCC Professor Pat Fleming during his travels as a Fulbright Scholar to India in 2004 and 2007. The event will be held in the Fine Arts Auditorium and tickets are not required.

"Aishu is considered one of the country's most successful musical prodigies," said Dr. Jennifer Fryns, instructional manager of Visual and Performing Arts. "Her musical training began when she was just a toddler and she recorded her first album, 'Divine Strings,' when she was just 9. She has performed throughout the United States and India."

To learn more about Aishu Venkataraman, visit To learn more about CFCC, visit


Makar Sankrant (kite-flying festival) will be held throughout our beautiful state. Here are some of the cities that are observing the event:

TAMPA: The Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay will commemorate Makar Sankrant from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 18 at Rowlett Park (shelters #202 and #204), 2501 River Hills Drive. That's near Busch Gardens,

For more information, visit

The annual program also will be celebrated in Tampa by the Maayboli Melava Tampa Bay (MMTB), a Maharashtrian association, from 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 17, at Carrollwood Cultural Center, Annex Hall, 13345 Casey Road.

For details, e-mail or call Atul Taiwade at (813) 767-4264 or Pallavi Pitale at (813) 210-3045.

ORLANDO: The Gujarati Society of Central Florida will celebrate Uttarayan from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, at Chisholm Park, 4700 Chisholm Park Trail, St. Cloud. For details, visit Also, in Orlando, the Hindu Society of Central Florida (HSCF) will observe Makar Sankrant at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 14.

The temple is at 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry. For details, call (407) 699-5621 or visit

SOUTH FLORIDA: At the Indian Religious & Cultural Center's Taste of India (to celebrate Republic Day) event on Sunday, Jan. 25, at Sportsplex, 2575 Sportsplex Drive, Coral Springs, there also will be kite flying on a mass scale by attendees. Organizers are encouraging folks to bring their own kite or buy one at the event. For details, visit

MELBOURNE (SPACE COAST AREA): The date has not been fixed at the time of going to the press but the Indian Association of the Space Coast (IASC) will celebrate the kite-flying festival at Sandpoint Park in Titusville. For details, visit


The Maitland Art Center (MAC) and the Asian Cultural Association (ACA) will offer a joint sculpture/folk art exhibition, "The Art of Ganesh," from Jan. 10 through Feb. 22.

A preview and reception will be held Friday, Jan. 9 at the Maitland Art Center for $5 per person. The exhibition will open to the public with a ceremonial dance procession at noon the next day in the gallery. Guest Co-Curators include Jigisha Doshi and Shilpa Soneji-Davda, who will offer an in-depth look into cultural, geographical (regional), fine art, folk and contemporary significance of this popular Indian deity.

Gallery hours for the Maitland Art Center are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission to the galleries is free for MAC members, $2 for seniors 65 years and older and $3 for not-yet-MAC members. For more information, call (407) 539-2181 or visit

Story provided by AACSA

Meeting in the backdrop of the current financial crisis, which has affected their business by at least 20 percent, Asian American convenience store owners met Nov. 22 in Tampa for a brainstorming session to evolve a joint strategy on their most pressing problem of the day.

Convenience store owners from all over the country attended the day-long fourth annual convention of the Asian American Convenience Stores Association (AACSA). Founded in the year 2005, AACSA is the apex body of the Asian American convenience stores in the United States.

Terming it as a historic meeting, Satya Shaw, AACSA founder and president, said that this is the first time that leaders of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) and AACSA have joined hands and come together on one platform.

"We will jointly fight for our cause," said Shaw, adding that topping their list is the issue of racial profiling which members of all the three organizations are facing. "Racial profiling is one of the issues, which is common to all three of us," said Dr. Rajender Gupta, chair, Board of Trustees, AAPI.

AAHOA treasurer Hemant Patel said time has come for the community to work together on the political empowerment of the community. The three organizations would work together on this issue, he said. "Nothing could be achieved without any political power," Patel said. AAHOA owns 52 percent of the economy lodging in the country.

Addressing the fourth annual AACSA convention, Shaw said: "Many of us do not realize the strength we have in a big community and the impact of our community."

He said: "There is no hospital in America without an Indian doctor, There is no highway in America without Indian motel owners and there is no town in America without an Indian store,"

The current financial crisis dominated the proceedings of the convention. Store owners discussed and shared among themselves the problem they have been facing in view of the drop in their business by about 20 percent. Michael Davis, vice president of National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), praised the resilience capacity of the Indian American convenience store owners, who according to him knows the best how to survive under such adverse circumstances.

NACS is the apex national body of convenience stores in the United States. Davis said there are more than 146,000 convenience stores in the United States with combined turnover of $570 billion. AACSA estimate that there are about 50,000 convenience stores run and operated by Indian Americans.

CAPI President-founder Aravind Pillai receives a plaque.
Story provided by CAPI

The recent Central Florida Association of Physicians annual convention and CME conference saw record turnout, well-attended educational seminars and attracted several members of the American Association of Physicians from India (AAPI). As a reminder, AAPI will hold its next national convention in June at the Dolphin Hotel in Orlando.

More than 250 physicians dropped in at The Sheraton Hotel in downtown Orlando for the event. Seminars covered a spectrum of health issues ranging from domestic violence to the latest techniques in robotic surgery. CME accreditation was handled by Orlando Health System and moderated by Mehul Dixit and Buchi Reddy.

During dinner, CAPI President-founder Aravind Pillai welcomed the guests of honor. He urged the members to register for AAPI 2009 convention. AAPI President-Elect Vinod K. Shah spoke about AAPI 2010 vision - "importance of enrolling more members" as strength lies in numbers.

Story provided by SHOBANA DANIELL

On Nov. 30, Indian Americans in Central Florida gathered at the Hindu Society of Central Florida's temple in Casselberry to hold a prayer service for the victims of the Mumbai terrorist attacks. For the thousands of Central Floridians who trace their roots to India, the horrific events hit close to heart.

The speakers at the HSCF prayer service reflected the diversity of the victims, religious leaders from different faiths met to pray for the victims. Among the speakers were a Jewish rabbi, guruji from ISKCON, Jasbir Bhatia from the Sikh Gurudwara, Brahm Agarwal of Park Square Homes and the newly elected Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.

"The 60 hours of terror that killed 178 people, wounded the heart of this great cosmopolitan, dynamic and a true melting pot of a city but it did not damage its spirit. Mumbaikers grieved the way Americans did on 9/11" said Gupta, chairman of the board of trustees of the HSCF temple.

The Jewish rabbi noted, "Innocent lives were lost and fires ravaged landmark buildings, the Chabad House and its residents were tortured and killed, all in the name of religion and supposedly political grievances. A notable point is that the victims spanned the full range of socio-economic, nationalities and religions."



Human mind is like a Kalpavriksha or a wishing tree. Whatever you ask for becomes a reality. And developing the mind like a Kalpavriksha is in your hands.

The fundamental aspect of creating our lives the way we want is to direct our thoughts and feelings toward that which we want our lives to shape and blossom into. The essential part here is to use the power of the mind to make it happen.

Manifesting and creating what we want in our lives is fundamentally and essentially dependent on how our mind and emotions are focused. Accordingly, they flower and blossom. This power of the mind needs to be developed so that everything in you is naturally driven toward it because the way you think is the way you feel, the way you feel is the way you act, and the way you act is in which direction your life will naturally go. So, the power of the mind, which is the basis of almost everything that human beings have created on this planet, has to be harnessed.

Inner and outer peace

Almost everything that is humanly made on this planet was first created in human mind. So, how we organize and focus our minds within ourselves will be the basis of how and what direction our life flows. If one looks at this carefully, for most human beings 90 percent of their thought process happens haphazardly, without any particular purpose or focus. When the mind is happening in such a haphazard and unfocused way, naturally life will also happen in the same way, because what you see as life, what you see as the world around you is just a magnified impact of human mind. The human societies are just magnified manifestation of what's happening in the human mind. We talk about big issues such as peaceful world and beautiful world when there is no peaceful mind and beautiful mind. Unless we make this happen within ourselves, manifesting this on the outside will not happen.

Using the power of the mind or manifesting the power of the mind is traditionally called chit shakthi. Today, modern science is proving that the whole existence is just a reverberation of energy. What you call a thought also is a reverberation. If you create or generate a powerful thought and let it out, it always comes true. The problem right now is there are so many contradictory thoughts, which are killing each other or fighting with each other within one's own mind that manifesting what you want seem to be so difficult.

Control of chit shakthi

The reason why for one person success comes so easy and naturally, while for another it's a struggle - that one person thinks the way he wants to and another thinks against himself. So by using the chit shakthi or the power of mind, one can manifest and create what he wants in his life. There is a beautiful story in the yogic lore. A man went for a walk and accidentally walked into paradise. After the long walk, he felt a little tired. He thought, "I wish I could rest somewhere." He saw a nice beautiful tree beneath which there was wonderful soft grass.

So, he went and slept on the grass for a few hours. He woke up well rested. Then he thought, "Oh! I'm hungry. I wish I had something to eat." He thought of all the nice things he ever wanted to eat and all of them just appeared in front of him. After the sumptuous food, he thought, "Oh! I'm thirsty; I wish I had something to drink."

He thought of all the drinks that he ever wanted to drink and all of them appeared in front of him. After he drank some alcohol, he went back to his original nature. Do you remember Charles Darwin? He said that all human beings are actually monkeys; our tails fell off and we became humans. Though the tails fell off long time ago, the monkey-nature comes back with the slightest provocation.

Markata or the monkey

In yoga, human mind is referred to as markata or the monkey. We are referring the mind as a monkey because of its wandering nature. The word monkey also has become synonymous with imitation. If you say you are monkeying somebody, it means imitating someone. It's a full-time job of your mind.

So an unestablished mind is referred to as a monkey. When this monkey became active in the person who went to paradise, he thought, "What is happening here? I asked for food, food came. I asked for drink, drink came.

Maybe, there are ghosts around." He looked and there were ghosts. The moment he saw them he got terrified, he said, "Oh there are ghosts around here, maybe they will torture me." And the ghost started torturing him, and he started screaming and yelling in pain. He said, "Oh these ghosts are torturing me, they're going to kill me." And he died. The problem was he was sitting under a wishing tree or a Kalpavriksha. Whatever he asked for became a reality.

You are constantly sitting under a Kalpavriksha. A well-established human mind is referred to as a Kalpavriksha or a wishing tree. In this mind, whatever you ask for becomes a reality. You need to develop the mind to a point where it becomes a Kalpavriksha, not a source of madness.

Sadhguru, founder of Isha Foundation and one of the foremost authorities on the ancient science of yoga, has expounded inner well-being through the yogic technique of Inner Engineering to millions of people across the world. For more information, click on

"Inner Engineering," a seven-day program led by an Isha Yoga teacher, will be held Jan. 14-20 at Tampa Women's Club, 2901 Bayshore Blvd., Tampa. It will be from 7 to 10 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (813) 413-1661, e-mail or visit

Story provided by Shraddha Belsare

Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh will present the annual Suryanamaskar Marathon on Saturday, Jan. 17.

Yoga enthusiasts are especially encouraged to participate. This year, the 16-hour sun salutation marathon will be held at Sanatan Mandir, 322 E. Palm Ave. in downtown Tampa. It will begin at 5 a.m. and end at 9 p.m.

All participants are encouraged to sign up for their maximum time contribution, beginning at 15 minutes. To register for a time slot, call Kunal Jain at (727) 460-0419 or Sunil Pendyal at (813) 814-0091.

The goal is to one million Suryanamaskars and 10,000 participants nationally.


Amol Nirgudkar

Americans today are experiencing the worst economic crisis of our generation. Our financial markets are suffering historic losses, banks are going under, the real estate market is crumbling, the unemployment rate is climbing, and almost $1 trillion of our taxpayer dollars have been allocated to bailout Wall Street. The word "crisis" has literally become the new "mantra" of news reporting. Turn on any news channel, and at the top of each hour, there is breaking news of yet another economic debacle.

The crisis on "Wall Street" has ended up affecting all of us on "Main Street" even though most of us had nothing to do with the greed and irresponsibility that created this problem in the first place.

Seventy-eight percent of Americans disapprove of the job that Congress is doing, and only 17 percent of Americans believe that our country is headed in the right direction. It comes as no surprise that the recent election results have given a clear mandate for "change" and the new president certainly has his work cut out for him.

In facing uncertain financial times, it is more important than ever to protect the assets you have already worked so hard to accumulate. Your home, savings, children's education fund and future earnings could be at jeopardy unless affirmative steps are taken to safeguard them from creditors' claims. Fortunately, there is much that can be done to build a fortress around your valuables; however, the key is to get your plan in place before financial problems arise.

Once your business fails, you lose your job, or your investment property is foreclosed on, your asset protection options shrink considerably. Like life insurance, you need to have a sound asset protection plan in place before you have a disaster staring you in the face.

So, what is asset protection planning? In short, asset protection planning is a process of using legal methods to organize your assets, affairs and business structures to shield your assets from potential creditors and reduce the likelihood of being the target of a lawsuit.

While we cannot provide exact details on how to protect your assets in this short forum, and given that every situation is different, protection techniques generally fall into three categories: (i) state and federal exemption laws, (ii) domestic entities such as trusts and limited liability companies, and (iii) offshore planning. With respect to the first category, we Floridians have numerous laws that we can use to protect our homes, retirement accounts and even our wages.

It is important, however, to understand not only the rule, but also the exceptions to these rules. For example, if your primary residence is located within city limits, it is not fully protected under Florida's Constitution unless it is one-half acre or less. Additionally, trusts, which come in numerous types, do not automatically guarantee protection to the beneficiaries. Likewise, limited liability companies that are not properly structured may do little or nothing to shield your assets.

As previously mentioned, there is no "one size fits all" solution to protecting your assets. That is the reason it is important to engage a competent attorney who specializes in this area and who can explain both the positives and negatives of any technique they recommend. We recommend that you sit down with your CPA, make a comprehensive list of your assets, and jointly meet with an expert attorney to put things in place.

The time to act is NOW!

Amol Nirgudkar, CPA, is the managing partner of Reliance Consulting LLC. Adam O. Kirwan, J.D., LL.M. is the founder of the Kirwan Law Firm and the author of the book, "The Florida Asset Protection Guide." Both and have worked together in helping their clients with asset protection. Nirgudkar can be reached at and Kirwan at


Here are a few of the new/redesigned rides for 2009. Happy and safe motoring.

Acura TL

The fourth-generation midsize luxury sedan has been totally redesigned.

This translates into a 6-inch increase in length, 1.8-inch overall width, 0.5-inch overall height, 1.4-inch longer wheelbase, 1.1- and 1.8-inch wider track in front and rear, respectively.

Power trains are a 3.5-liter V-6 cylinder (280 horsepower) and a 3.7-liter V-6 cylinder (305 hp) engine. The car gets its first-ever SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel drive) system. A 5-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters on the robust steering wheel is standard.

We can bet the all-new TL will give the competition a run for the money. Base price: $34,955. Web site:

Honda Pilot

Like the TL, which is owned by the luxury division of Honda, the Japanese carmaker also has redesigned its second-generation Pilot.

Its wheelbase has been boosted by 2.9 inches, horsepower by 6, torque by 13, total interior volume by 4.1 cubic feet, overall length by 2.9 inches, and width and height by 1 inch each.

Available as an all-wheel-drive or front-wheel-drive system, the midsize SUV offers a carlike ride, which is quieter than its predecessor.

The 3.5-liter i-VTEC V-6 engine packs 250 horsepower at 5700 rpm. The eight-passenger ride is equipped with a Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system, which operates in three or four cylinder modes to save fuel.

A 5-speed automatic transmission is standard. Base price: $27,595. Web site:

Nissan GTR

Motor Trend and Automobile magazines have picked this all-new ride as their Car of the year. Sold in Japan as the Skyline GT-R, this fifth generation of the legendary N supercar is equipped with a 3.8-liter V-6 twin-turbo engine (480 horsepower).

A 6-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive and 20-inch wheels are standard. The beast accomplishes 0 to 60 mph in a mere 3.5 seconds.

Automobile magazine editor-in-chief Jean Jennings sums it up beautifully: "What we love about the GT-R is that it refuses to compromise. It is not comfortable. It is not trying to make friends and it is not trying to influence people. It exists for one reason only 'to go fast' and it does."

Base price: $76,840. Web site:

Ford Flex

Sometimes, it pays to be daring. Like the midsize SUV from Ford. Call it boxy, sure, but the ride has certain flair to it.

Available as a front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, the all-new Flex is one of the most passenger-friendly SUVs on the market. A sole 3.5-liter engine cranks out 262 horsepower at 6250 rpm. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard.

The two-tone exterior tone is an eye-catcher. Ford has the right SUV to try to bring a turnaround in its sales figures. Now, if only the struggling carmaker had a few more vehicles like the Ford in its stable.

Base price: $28,295. Web site:

Lincoln MKS

The all-new MKS is the new flagship for Lincoln. And rightly so. Available as a front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, the full-size luxury sedan is equipped with a sole 3.7-liter V-6 engine. The responsive power train develops 275 horsepower at 6250 rpm.

Standard is a 6-speed automatic transmission. Apart from the captivating double-wing grille with a centered Lincoln star on the exterior are numerous comfort and high-end tech features packed into the well-appointed cabin.

Base price: $37,665. Web site:
Motoring Tampa Bay Web Site



Have you opened a new store or restaurant in the last six months? Expanding or relocating? Has your business won an award or a mention in your local newspaper? We want to hear from you. Call Nitish S. Rele at (813) 758-1786 or e-mail us at


Spice of India in Holiday recently completed its one-year anniversary. In fact, it's been open for 15 months. The 3,000-square-foot grocery store touts, "quality, service, a vast selection of Indian beers and fish." Fresh vegetables arrive every Friday.

The store is at 3315 U.S. 19 in Holiday. It is open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (727) 815-0831 or visit


The relatively new Tabla Bar & Grill in Orlando has received rave reviews from the media. Scott Joseph, who reviewed restaurants in Central Florida for Orlando Sentinel, lavishes praise on Tabla & Grill on his web site:

"The food and the service are first-rate," he writes. "The cuisine is authentic and the staff is welcoming and friendly and they go out of their way to do a little extra." Joseph forewarns that lack of a sign outside the eatery hinting it's an Indian restaurant shouldn't sway anyone. "Tabla is a good Indian restaurant …," he says.

Tabla Bar & Grill is at 5827 Caravan Court in Orlando. For information, call (407) 248-9400 or visit


Another restaurant catching everyone's attention is Tandoor inside Lake Square Mall in Leesburg. Rosalind Jennings recently wrote about the eatery's soft opening in The Orlando Sentinel.

It offers "a variety of vegetable specialty dishes, chicken, lamb, seafood, appetizers and Indian breads," she writes.

The restaurant will feature a full bar and menu, furniture imported from India and other décor, she notes, when it has its grand opening this month.

For details, call (352) 323-0078.


Bengal Modern Indian Cuisine in Miami is now open. It offers a contemporary Indian menu with a few Bengali touches, writes Linda Bladholm in The Miami Herald. "Meats, all halal, include lamb chops, goat curry and yogurt-marinated, grilled steak." Bladholm found home-style cooking she was craving for in the vegetable options such as the veg thali, mattar paneer, shobji, aloo gobi and spiced mashed eggplant.

Bengal Modern Indian Cuisine is at 2010 Biscayne Blvd. in Miami. It is open daily for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for dinner from 5 to 10:30 p.m. For information, call (305) 403-1976.



Q: As I am meditating, I am feeling as if I am getting detached from my family. Please help me.

A. Please understand that with meditation you experience unconditional love with which you not only love your own family but also everyone else. Until then, your love is not true love. You love only those people that you like. If there is any difference of opinion with the other person your love toward that person also disappears. Once you start meditating, unconditional love starts flowering in you. With this, you start loving everyone truly. This unconditional love has no barriers. If you see the life of enlightened Masters, they love everyone equally. That is the consciousness of God. That is why all enlightened Masters are called God.

Meditation or spirituality never makes anyone detached either from the family or the world. We should not blame spirituality for some other reasons.

Q: What makes one spiritual? Why only some people are able to understand spirituality and not others?

A: The reason why people are not able to experience enlightenment is that ego is standing between us and the ultimate experience of enlightenment. Ego means that 'I am in control of everything.' When people think that they are able to control everything, they will never be convinced by spirituality. This is exactly what ego means. Ego makes one separate from the existence. As long as one is stuck with ego, one cannot appreciate spirituality.

Spirituality means having a deep understanding that there is a super consciousness or cosmic energy, which is omnipresent. This cosmic energy is the supreme consciousness that creates, sustains and rejuvenates. This very understanding makes one to surrender. That is why if you see in our life, we think about God only when we are in trouble. When people face some misfortune in life, that time they turn spiritual. That is the time they realize that things are not in their control.

In Mahabaratha, Kunthi asks Lord Krishna to give them more difficulties so that they can be close to God. This is exactly what Jesus means when he says, "Blessed are the people those who suffer."

Q: Is meditation easy or difficult to practice?

A: Meditation is neither easy nor difficult. Being in a meditative state is our true nature. Not being in the meditative state is difficult, which causes disease and eventually leads to disease. Asking this question is like asking 'is it easy or difficult for a fish to swim?'

Q: Why it is difficult to experience Ananda, our true nature?

A: If you observe carefully, our life has become goal oriented and society respects only if you are an achiever. One will be looked down if one is not an achiever. People use the same approach to experience Ananda too.

Q: When I go to a temple or a meditation program, my mind relaxes but when I come back to my regular life I am back to normal. Do I need to leave my job to do meditation?

A: No, you do not need to leave your job or family to meditate. One should live in the society and practice meditation. One needs to have best of the outer and the inner world too. You should not relinquish one for the other.

Sri Nithya Medhananda Swami is a direct disciple of Paramahamsa Nithyananda. Medhananda conducts meditation programs all over the world and currently he is the vice-president of International Vedic Hindu University at Orlando. He can be reached at
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Mental Health Column

It is time for the Tampa Bay community to have a forum where voices can be expressed, respected and heard. This column will provide just such a corner. In time, I hope there will be enough interest generated when you, the reader, will begin to request certain topics of discussion.
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