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India Festival Chairman Nandkishor Shah
Story provided by India Festival committee

It continues to grow by leaps and bounds. The 21st annual India Festival on Saturday, Nov. 8, organized by the Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay, is expected to attract more than 12,000 people, 85 vendor booths and nearly 15 restaurants selling food.

"Due to the growing attendance, the committee has added more and more areas of the USF Sun Dome to accommodate more shopping and food stalls," said India Festival Chairman Nandkishor Shah. "It is truly a shopper's parade. Booths will offer jewelry, boutiques, audio-video, home decor, photo studio, mehndi, etc. Visitors will enjoy a wide variety of catered cuisine. Exotic Indian food items and juices are a special treat to the palate."

Garba, raas, bhangra, folk and classical dances create a colorful variety show. This year, a separate 'College Category' has been carved out from the 'Senior Category.' It will allow high school teams to have a fair chance of winning, as they will not be competing against the college students.

India Festival Chairman Nandkishor Shah
In addition to trophies, cash prizes also will awarded in some cases, to first-prize winners. The performances and appearance by Bollywood and TV celebrities are a special attraction. The 'Voice of Florida' singing competition, organized with the support of the legendary Pandit Jasraj School of Music, is on the agenda too.

A new feature added this year is a "Health Forum," which will provide free health screening on diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, osteoporosis, etc. "Besides free gifts at the booths, our community will benefit from well-displayed information and handouts on basic common health issues," said Shah.

For information on competition entry, call Malti Pandya at (813) 931-1980; for booths/vendor information, call Nikunj Patel at (813) 968-6038 or P.D. Patel at (813) 949-0715; or visit

Anoushka Shankar/ Photo copyright: Julian Colston

Anoushka Shankar and her father, the legendary Ravi Shankar, will perform Saturday, Oct. 11 in West Palm Beach and Tuesday, Oct. 14 in Gainesville.

The 8 p.m. concert on Oct. 11 will be held at Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach.

The 7:30 p.m. performance on Oct. 14 will be at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (315 Hull Road, Gainesville) at the University of Florida.

Anoushka Shankar is the only artist in the world to be trained completely by her father. She began studying with him at age 9, and at age 13 made her performing debut in New Delhi. That same year, she performed on her father's recording, "In Celebration" and shortly thereafter signed an exclusive contract with Angel/EMI. Her first solo album, "Anoushka," was released in 1998 to critical acclaim. Besides performing with her father, Anoushka spends much of her year touring, giving concert performances in Europe, America and Asia.

Tickets for the Anoushka-Ravi Shankar performance in West Palm Beach are $15, $25, $35, $45, $55 and $90. For more information, call the Kravis Center at 1-800-572-8471 or visit

The Oct. 14 Gainesville event is sponsored by Shands HealthCare. Tickets can be purchased for $25 to $50 by calling the Phillips Center Box Office at (352) 392-ARTS (2787) or 1-800-905-ARTS (toll-free within Florida) or call Ticketmaster at 800-277-1700 (toll-free). Tickets also may be purchased in person at the Phillips Center Box Office, the University Box Office at the Reitz Student Union, from any Ticketmaster outlet, or online at

Submitted by Husain Nagamia, M.D.

Eid Mubarak is now a worldwide accepted greeting. On Eid day, you may hear the word being exchanged not only between Muslims but even among many of their friends who may be non-Muslim and practicing any other religion, be it Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism, or Judaism or any other faith for that matter.

Even in the United States - a multicultural melting pot of all cultures and religions - Eid has been recognized as a day of celebration by printing of a now familiar "Eid Greetings" postage stamp, one of which I am sure you all have already seen. Thus, most United States citizens are already are familiar with the Muslim celebration of Eid but many of them do not know why Muslims celebrate Eid.

Eid is an auspicious day for a Muslim. It is the culmination of a period of spirituality, austerity, repentance and atonement, which is called the month of Ramadhan. During the days of Ramadhan, a Muslim not only fasts from dawn to dusk but he or she seeks forgiveness of his Creator, for the transgressions that he or she might have committed during the entire year. It also is the month during which a Muslim has to do many other good deeds such as feed the poor and needy, give zakat (the compulsory charity), look at the needs of the neighbor, the community and the country, and fulfill them to best of his/her capacity.

Why is Ramadhan so holy? It is holy, because it was during this month that the Muslim holy book, the Holy Quran, was revealed to the Prophet of Islam: Mohammed (May peace be unto him.). The Quran contains the edicts by which a Muslim has to live by for his entire earthly life so that he can be rewarded by goodness in the hereafter. The virtues of a deed multiply if it is done during the month of Ramadhan!

What do Muslims do on Eid Day? There is a brief obligatory prayer in the morning at the local mosque, to which all the area Muslims will congregate and which lasts about an hour. After that, they typically hug each other and their relatives, friends and neighbors and greet them with "Eid Mubarak!" The children receive their presents and are encouraged to share with one another. Then, they go visiting family and friends and are treated with traditional dishes of "sheerkhurma" (milk, vermicelli and nuts), "samosa" (meat-filled triangular pastry) and "biryaani" (rice and meat dish). And, yes it is a fun day! Many non-Muslims friends and neighbors are invited to Muslim homes to join in on the feasting and celebration.

The day ends with one wishing, "Oh when is the next Eid going to be?" Dr. Husain Nagamia of Tampa can be reached at

Pandit Vishnu Sharma

Deepavali is celebrated in honor of three things. The first being the passing of the old and heralding the New Year based on lunar time measurements preceding the Vikram era. This day is identified as Amavasya (the 15th dark night of the month of Kaartick. The second reason is in honor for bountiful crops at the beginning of the fall harvest. The third reason is the anticipatory longing for Hari-Prabodhini (i.e., end of chatur-maas).

Firstly, the New Year is a time when we reflect on the past. We analyze our accomplishments and learn from those experiences. We wish for betterment and more success in the coming year. Secondly, the bountiful crops are a representation of our blessings and prosperity. It symbolizes all of our wealth. It provides for our nourishment and good health, from which we get Shakti (energy) to perform our duties and uphold responsibilities. These two situations are synonymous with all things that are happy, pleasant and prosperous. It is also a joyous time in which we gave charity, thanks to God in prayer and strengthen family bonds.

On this occasion, we personify and appreciate God in the form of the Goddess Laksmi. Why? Because She is the embodiment of beauty, wealth, good health and prosperity. She is called Shobha (spiritual wealth) and Sampati (material wealth). She is the source of Nau-Nidhi or the nine accomplishments of life. Narad Muni once described this as the night of Kowmdi (light of the moon) and Suk-Sukta (people sleep with happiness).

This is a special night for the Goddess. On this night, all the Devatas, led by Lord Bramha, pray to Her to come out of the Kamal (the 56-petal lotus flower) giving Her praise and recognition as Deep-Jyoti and Pati-Vrata. She had taken shelter in the Kamal while Her husband, Lord Vishnu, was in mahasamadhi for the preceding four months, known as Chatur-Maas.

As Deep-Jyoti, she would give light and happiness to the world. As Pati-Vrata (loyal wife), she would make preparation in anticipation of Lord Vishnu's awakening from His mahasamadhi on Ekadasi (11 days later). In a dialogue between Narad Muni and Shounak Rishi, we learned that when she came out of the Kamal, She went on a journey to seek the home of any devotee(s) for the next 11 days. Narad said that She found the home of Satyasharma because it had the only lighted diya in the totally darkened city of Mathura. This was a blessing that Satyasharma received from Lord Shiva.

After this visit to the home of Satyasharma, everyone now became cognizant to the fact, that they must light up their homes and surroundings on this night, in anticipation of being visited by Mata Laksmi. In their belief to make sure that they get the attention of the Mother on this night, the people would place many many lit diyas around their homes. Hence, the word deep-avali, which means rows and rows of lighted earthen lamps.

There are four other celebrations, two preceding and two following the actual night of Deepavali. On triodashi krishnapaksh (the 13th dark night), prayers are given to the Yam-Devata in an act called Yam-Deep-Danam.This is done in honor of our departed ancestry. Also, on this night, prayers are done unto Maharaj Kubera (custodian of the treasury) by recitation of the Svasti-Vachan.

This day also is known as Dhan-Teras. On chaturdashi krishnapaksh (the 14th dark night), we celebrate the victory of good over evil by praying to Lord Krishna for his destruction of Narak. This day also is called Narakasur. On Amavasya (the 15th dark night), we celebrate the occasion of Deepavali by praying to Mata Laksmi. On pratipada suklapaksh (the first bright night), five sets of activities are performed. They are (1) Gokriyan - worshipping the cow; (2) Margapahli Bandhan - a tug of war game between the royals and the locals; (3) Vaman Puja - Lord Vishnu's vistory over King Bali; (4) Goverdhan Puja - Lord Krishna's victory over the egotistic behavior of Lord Indra; (5) Ann-Koot - Bountiful preparation of prasaad and food for the Goverdhan puja. On dvitiya suklapaksh (the second bright night), we celebrate the occasion of Bhratri Dwitiya or Bhaiya-Dwij. This is more commonly known as Raksha Bandhan, which represents an exemplary exhibition of a sister's love for her brother.

Deepavali is celebrated with much pomp and pageantry. With the Swastika sign (for good luck) and Rangoli (attractive designs of decoration), every home is decorated with rows and rows of some form of lighted configurations. Businessmen pray to Laksmi for financial gains. Youngsters indulge in dazzling pyrotechnics and we all exchange the "nutan-varsah-bhi-nandan" (happy new-year) greeting. Among all the religious celebrations, Deepavali is the only one that is universally celebrated by all Hindus. It has broken the barriers of caste, linguistic differences, geographic cultures and ritualistic dogmas.

Contrary to some popular opinions, Deepavali is not a celebration of Lord Rama's return from his 14-year absence from Ayodhya. Common to both occasions were the lighting of many many diyas. Other than that, there is no relationship or correlation of one with the other. For further clarity, Lord Rama's return was on Saptami Tithi, Vaishaka Krishnapaksh. Deepavali is on Amavasya Tithi, Kaartick Krishnapaksh. The difference between these two dates is six months and eight days.

Pandit Vishnu Sharma is a priest at Vishnu Mandir, 5303 Lynn Road, Tampa, and can be reached at (813) 654-2551.

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Indian authors Aravind Adiga and Amitav Ghosh have been nominated for this year's Man Booker Prize for Fiction. The two are six of the novelists short listed for the nearly $92,000 prize, which will be announced Oct. 14. The other novelists are Sebastian Barry for "The Secret Scripture," Linda Grant for "the Clothes on their Backs," Philip Hensher for "The Northern Clemency" and Steve Toltz for "A Fraction of the Whole."

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Coming soon to a theater near you, Oct. 31 to be precise, is Ashok Amritraj's new film "The Other End of the Line." Written by Tracey Jackson and directed by James Dodson, the romantic comedy stars Jesse Metcalfe of "Desperate Housewives" and Shriya who starred opposite Rajnikanth in "Sivaji: The Boss."

Disguising herself as American, Shriya plays an Indian credit card phone operator who travels to San Francisco for a romantic liaison with a man she met through her work.

Upon her arrival, however, she decides to keep her true identity a secret, which threatens to dampen the sparks between her and her potential beau. The film also stars Sara Foster, Anupam Kher and comedian Larry Miller.

Gurudev Yogi Amrit Desai
Story provided by M. P. Ravindra Nathan

Tampa Bay area residents witnessed the best yoga seminar and retreat to date Sept. 19-21 at the Community Hall of the Hindu Temple.

The seminar leader was the internationally famous Gurudev Shree Amritj (Yogi Amrit Desai of the Amrit Yoga Institute of Ocala). More than 200 ardent yoga enthusiasts - a sellout crowd, some coming all the way from New York and Canada - packed the auditorium to listen to Gurudev and receive his instructions in Yoga. The atmosphere reverberated with tranquility, spirituality and divinity.

The three days were packed with programs, which included spiritual discourses, Hatha Yoga training, meditation, pranayama and Yoga Nidra practice - the integrative state that awakens your true inner self.

Gurudev imparted a lot of wisdom during the seminar. Stress is a major cause of ill health and the natural instinct of humans is to react with a "fight or flight" response. "This doesn't solve any problems," he said. "There is a third alternative. Use the power within you to change the response." He quoted Sage Patanjali, the originator of 'Yoga Sutras': Yogaschithavritthi nirodha (Yoga is the control of thought waves in the mind). Gurudev's own method, 'Amrit Yoga,' incorporates the body-centric approach (Hatha Yoga) with mind control, meditative awareness and spirituality - called 'Meditation in Motion.' This helps to awaken your prana or the life-giving inner energy.

Ravindra Nathan, cardiologist, gave a short presentation on the "Health Benefits of Yoga." Sherry Preston, Nainan Desai, Gaurangi Patel, Renuka Ramappa, Suman Lingappa and Ravindra Nathan coordinated the program, sponsored by the Hindu Temple of Florida.

Story provided by Kavita Marballi, Program Chair, Pehchaan

PEHCHAAN (Providing Educational, Humanistic and Cultural Hope for the South Asian American Network) held its final workshop of the year at the New Tampa Library Sept. 14. A small quality group attended the workshop with enthusiasm and willingness to learn "The Parent Adolescent Conflict." The speaker was Indirah Persaud-Roll, a guidance counselor.

Persaud-Roll began her presentation by explaining how life is a puzzle. Handouts helped the audience understand the life puzzle piece by piece.

Persaud-Roll felt privileged to be the keynote speaker. She believed it was a great group of people representing a spectrum of ages from teenagers to parents. Persaud-Roll thought that "the insightful questions and discussions" that followed her presentation "peaked the senses and I was able to share and listen to personal experiences that helped me as a parent."

Story provided by Krish Seetharaman

The Hindu Society of North East Florida in Jacksonville celebrated the annual Saint Annamacharya Day on Sept. 6.

Saint-composer Annamacharya was born in the year 1408 in Tallapaka, a village in Cuddapah district of Andhra Pradesh. He is said to have composed 32,000-plus sankeertanas dedicated to Lord Venkateswara. He is the first Vaggeyakara (a person who can write lyrics, compose music and sing the songs) of Telugu literature. He sang only for the pleasure of the Almighty and to convey the message for the upliftment of mankind, unmindful of materialistic gains.

This year, the event was celebrated as Saint Annamacharya and Dasa Bhakti Day. It started with local singers traditionally singing seven songs in praise of Saint Annamacharya. That was followed by various groups singing kirtanas of various saints or Daasas, including Kannada - Purandara Dasa; Punjabi - Guru Gobind; Tamil - Bharatiyaar; Bengali, Marathi - Tukaram and Gujarati, etc.


Dr. Rao Musunuru, a cardiologist practicing at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Hudson, will speak at the American Heart Association's 2008 Annual Scientific Sessions in New Orleans in November. More than 25,000 physicians, scientists and nurses are expected to attend.

He is invited to participate in the "Early Career Development Program" on Nov. 8, specifically designed for "cardiology fellows in training" from all over the country. He will be discussing the topic "The Balancing Act: Professional and Personal Life."

Dr. Musunuru is selected to be part of an outstanding faculty, as he can "lead by example." After finishing his own cardiology fellowship in New York City in 1981, he chose to practice clinical cardiology at a rural 50-bed Hospital in Hudson and he was instrumental in developing it into a nationally recognized world class heart institute (US News and World Report).

In spite of his busy cardiology private practice, he has dedicated his life to community service in the form of education, advocacy and charity at local, state and national levels.


Amol Nirgudkar

We are certainly in the midst of one of the most interesting and fiercely contested presidential elections in many decades. Senators' Obama and McCain offer two visions for our country. Both promise fundamental change in Washington. Both candidates aim to change the tax code as part of their agenda to bring prosperity and economic justice to all Americans.

The new president and the Congress will have substantial economic challenges ahead of them. While it is impossible to predict who will occupy the White House, it is certainly worth our while to compare the current tax platforms of the two candidates. It is safe to assume that these proposed changes are not anticipated to become reality in their current form. Creation of tax laws in our country is a complex process of offers and compromises and often times the original proposals get amended substantially to accommodate for political and economic realities of the time.

Let us examine the key proposals that McCain and Obama have proposed in the area of individual and business taxes:

Individual Tax

McCain: Supports keeping top individual tax rate at 35 percent and maintain the 15 percent rate on capital gains and qualified dividends.

Obama: Supports reinstating two top individual income tax rates to pre-2001 levels -39.6 and 36 percent and increases capital gains tax rate to 20 percent for taxpayers for top two brackets. He also supports eliminating taxes on senior citizens making less than $50,000 and creating a new credit for individuals earning less than $75,000 a year.

It is important to note that Obama also supports reinstating personal exemption and itemized deduction phase outs, which would effectively increase the top income tax rate by almost 5 percent.

Estate Tax

McCain: Supports 15 percent estate tax on estates valued at more than $5 million ($10 million for married filing joint)

Obama: Supports tax rates ranging from 18-45 percent on estates above $3.5 million ($7 million for married filing joint)

Alternative Minimum Tax

McCain and Obama: Both support temporary measures to fix AMT each year but offer no permanent fix.

Social Security Tax

McCain: Maintains the status quo and does not propose any further increases.

Obama: Supports additional payroll taxes (between 2 and 4 percent) on incomes above $250,000. The additional taxes would be equally split between employers and employees.

Corporate Income Tax

McCain: Supports reducing the maximum corporate rate from 35 percent to 25 percent gradually over the next seven years.

Obama: Has not proposed a specific agenda, although rate cuts for domestic job creations are contemplated. Closing corporate tax loopholes for certain industries is also on the agenda.

No matter who is elected into office in 2009, we do not anticipate any major tax legislation to be in effect until late 2010 or early 2011. The political and economic winds in Washington, Wall Street and elsewhere will certainly shape the ultimate laws that will come into existence. CPAs must conduct scenario analyses with clients who might be affected by the various changes and counsel clients accordingly.

Amol Nirgudkar, CPA, is the managing partner of Reliance Consulting LLC, and can be reached at (813) 931-7258 or e-mail at


Redesigned for 2009, the seventh-generation Nissan Maxima gets a boost of 35 horsepower over the 2008 model. Though the wheelbase sees a decrease of 1.9 inches, the width is up by 1.5 inches in the front-wheel-drive sports sedan.

Available in two trims (S and SV), the Maxima is equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that cranks out 290 horsepower at 6400 rpm and 261 pounds-feet of torque at 4400 rpm. The revised Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) with manual-shift capabilities is flawless. Front suspension duties fall upon a subframe-mounted strut with coil springs. The multilink independent rear suspension also is subframe-mounted with a stabilizer bar.

Need to slow down or stop in an emergency maneuver? The 12.6-inch vented front and 12.13-inch rear disc brakes are at the helm to take care of you. Eighteen-inch wheels, sitting on the unibody structure of the Maxima, are sized just right to handle the rigors of the daily grind.

Contributing to the car's aggressive stance is a wide grille with the Nissan emblem, large bumper opening, bulging hood and chrome on the dual exhaust tips, door handles and a horizontal strip on the trunk door. The decorative alloy surrounds the analog gauges, vent rings and knobs, and audio switches. For 2009, Nissan designers moved the shifter lever closer to the driver for easy reach while the cup holders are to the right of the shifter instead of behind it. The three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel offers an unyielding grip. Other standard amenities are moon roof, 60/40-rear seat, eight-way power driver and four-way passenger's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, digital clock and metallic-tone trim on the dash and center console.

The Maxima isn't just any sedan. It's a sports sedan that makes for a thrilling ride, thanks to tremendous power and bold styling in and out. And with the redesign, Nissan has a winner on its hands to leave the competition in the dust.

Looking for a mechanic to maintain or repair your ride? Or buy or sell a car? Maybe some test-drive reviews of 2008 and upcoming 2009 vehicles? Then check out Also, available on the Web site is recent automotive news, listing of car clubs and shows/cruise-ins, tips on maintaining your car, etc.
Motoring Tampa Bay Web Site



Opening a new store or restaurant? Expanding or relocating? Has your business won an award or a mention in your local newspaper? We want to hear from you to meet the rising needs of businesses and our readers. Call Nitish S. Rele at (813) 758-1786 or e-mail us at

COMMUNITY NEWSPAPERS HIGHLIGHT TAMPA BUSINESSES Vegetarian restaurant/stores, NS Food and Gifts and Ganesh Market and Chaat Café, both were featured separately but prominently in recent community publications of The Tampa Tribune.

A veteran cook who has catered for Indian families for about 15 years, Sushma Patel took over NS Food and Gifts last year. "Seven days a week, from 11:30 a.m. to about 3:30 p.m., large stockpots simmer on tables, emitting the spicy scent of soups and sauces," writes correspondent Elaine Markowitz in the Carrollwood News & Tribune. . "From the tiny kitchen comes the aroma of frying dosas and idlis, potato and onion rings, and other Indian delicacies."

NS Food at 5522 Hanley Road is open from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily with lunch buffet from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. For information, call (813) 243-1522.

Achyut and Sonal Mashruwala have owned Ganesh Market & Chaat Café on Armenia Avenue since 1996. An all-vegetarian buffet is served seven days a week. Jose Patino Girona writes in the South Tampa/Central Tampa News & Tribune: "Recently, the buffet menu included: cauliflower subji with green peas, green bell pepper, cilantro, cumin and cashew; dum aloo made with baby potatoes and curry; mung bean soup with garlic, green onions, cilantro and cumin; basmati white rice with peas and carrots; stuffed eggplant with bell pepper, tomatoes and sweet onions; and buttermilk served with yogurt, ice, salt and cumin."

Ganesh Market & Chaat Café at 6204 N. Armenia Ave. is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; and 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. A vegetarian buffet is served from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. weekends. For more information, call (813) 873-8708. And during this wedding season if you have a need for pooja supplies, Indian tapestry, jewelry (wholesale only) and clothing, murtis, dance outfits, religious DVDs and CDs, incense and religious books, check out House of Ganesh at 11612 Nebraska Ave., Suite D, in Tampa. For information, call (813) 579-8205.


Scott Joseph of the Orlando Sentinel recently reviewed Singh's Roti Shop in that city.

"There are several different types of rotis," writes Scott Joseph. "The one I had at Singh's was made with flour and rolled to a thin round shape and cooked on a flat skillet. The roti can be eaten plain or, more often, with stuff inside. I had the channa roti, which was a simple filling of dried, crumbled chickpeas. A bit of ghee, or butter, added some moisture as well as flavor … The folks there were real friendly, too. Singh's is a good place for adventurous diners."

Singh's Roti Shop is at 5244 Old Winter Garden Road. For information, call (407) 447-3447.


Thank you, Linda Bladholm, Fork on the Road columnist for Miami Herald, for that recent informative piece on downtown Asian restaurants, which cater heavily to cruise workers who dock at the Port of Miami.

The author of "The Indian Grocery Store Demystified" takes a look at four Indian eateries:

* Taste of Bombay, 111 N.E. Third Ave.; (305) 244-5080.

* Raja's, 33 N.E. Second Ave.; (305) 539-9551.

* Chithra's, 48 E. Flagler St., (305) 789-2842.

* Indian Prem, 255 E. Flagler St., (305) 371-7736.



Q: What is the difference between joy and bliss? Are they both same?

A: No, they are different. In Sanskrit, there are two words, Santosha and Ananda. Santosha means that when something from outside touches us, we become happy. This happiness is dependent on the outer object. If the object is not there, then there is no joy. Ananda means one that has no end. This is the bliss we are interested in, which is causeless. That is why if you see the lives of great Masters, they did not have any processions but they were in unshakable bliss. No one can snatch their bliss away from them.

Q: What is the influence of food on meditation?

A: Food has little influence on meditation. Serious mediators have always been following Satvik food, which excludes non-vegetarian, alcohol, onion, garlic and green chilies. Onion, garlic and green chilies cause too many thoughts that cause more stress.

Q: Why is that I am not able to forget some of the past incidents? They bring misery again and again.

A: Because we hold on to these past memories. Imagine when you were a child you did a mistake in the school. You were called in the school assembly and your headmaster said that you are a fool. The whole school laughed at you. This creates a deep injury in your being. This gets stored in your unconscious. You keep recollecting this incident and the associated emotion too and go through the same pain. This way, the engraved memory gets its strength and reinforcement.

After so many years, you still carry the memory, emotion and over a period of time, develop vengeance against the headmaster. You don't want to let go of this and keep on holding on to this. After so many years, whenever you come across any other headmaster, the old memory and the emotion kicks in and you see this new headmaster, whom you are meeting for the first time, with a prejudice. You are not seeing things as they are, rather you are seeing things as you want them to be. Engraved memories make your life miserable and meditation cleanses our unconscious by removing the engraved memories.

Q: What is Prana? A: Prana is the subtle energy that is helping us to live. This energy is in three layers.

1. Basic Prana, which we get by food. That is why if we do not eat food in time, we feel weak.

2. The second layer is the emergency layer. For example, if a dog is chasing you, all of a sudden you get some additional energy to run. This energy is available in limited quantity.

3. The third layer is the cosmic energy which we can harness by meditation. When our mind rests, we access cosmic energy, which is in abundance. That is why, whenever you come out of meditation, you feel so energetic.

Q: What is the difference between mind and thoughts?

A: There is no difference. Mind is nothing but a set of our thoughts.

Q: Do we need a Master to learn meditation?

A: It always helps to be connected with a living Master. Your progress will be phenomenal when one is connected with the Master. Guru Krupa is important in spiritual growth.

Q: I have tried to meditate before, why it is so difficult to meditate?

A: Lot of people face this problem. Human body has a subtle energy, which is called Prana. When the flow of the energy happens without any blocks, then meditation happens smoothly. Because of the intense Samskaras, engraved memories, it's difficult to do meditation especially if it is a silent technique. Little bit of cleansing needs to happen so that silence will happen on its own. That is why cleansing and energizing of Chakras, energy centers, is important before you actually start meditating.

Q: What is the main thing that is needed for someone who wants to take meditation seriously?

A: There are few things that are needed for meditation. Make meditation a daily activity and practice meditation with enthusiasm and joy; not as a daily routine. When we sit for meditation, imagine as if you are going to do the meditation for the first time. Have one specific place in your house for meditation. It is advisable that this place is not meant for anything else except meditation. Preferably sit in the same place and meditate daily as the place where you are going to sit gets energized.

Q: How do I know a particular technique is suitable for me?

A: Try few techniques and practice them with an open mind. When you encounter the right technique, your heart will tell you that you have found the technique that you have been looking for. Every time you come out of your technique, you will be energized and blissful. When you practice a technique that is not suitable for you, you feel drained of energy and lack enthusiasm.

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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