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What Bhakti means: Amazing story! This Italian Catholic Girl from Argentina left home to live in Prashanti Nilayam

I have just finished reading Elissa Bressnan's book, 'Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, My Best Friend: SNEHA - The Eight Step in the Path of Devotion.' Written with a real command over the events that began her spiritual journey and weaving it with her personal family details, Elissa's writing is lively, full of innocence and she is at her best when she is talking about her Italian roots and what faith means to many Italians. Elissa is an Italian girl, growing up in Argentina and her family worships Madonna (not the pop star!) and Saint Catherine and Saint Nicola among others. Throughout her early years, her interest in spirituality is evident and she explains it with small examples.



Some events happen in her life and Elissa finds herself in Prashanti Nilayam, where she begins to have faith in Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in every little thing that she does, be it a thought, word or action. 

From then, Elissa's life becomes a joyful celebration of embracing 'Sneha&#…
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Ravi Shankar Etteth's novel 'The Brahmin' unravels secrets and mysteries of Mauryan Empire under Emperor Asoka

Set with thrilling historical details and unforgettable characters, Ravi Shankar Etteth's novel 'The Brahmin' kept me glued from start to finish.  The story of 'The Brahmin' revolves around a skillful and ruthless spymaster of Emperor Asoka's court, whose intelligence and cunning helps him to unravel a dangerous mystery of the 'Blood Flower' unfolding across the corridors of power.  


What is it about 'The Brahmin' that allows him to be treated almost an equal by Emperor Asoka?  He even commands the respect of Queen Asandhimitra, who comes to his advice as a friend. Her emotional dependence on 'the Brahmin' is clear as crystal, further strengthened in the narrative through scenes where it seems that she secretly adores the man who can safeguard her husband's powerful empire as well as command the loyalty of Greek soldiers like Antochlius.
More interestingly, the portrayal of powerful and fearless women warriors like Hao and beautiful en…

Weekend trip to Kochi: The simple joys of my home town

April 2018 has been an amazing month for me. I just got back after a fun-filled weekend trip to my home town in Kochi and for the first time, I did a lot of things that I don't usually do. Enjoying the yummy Vishu sadhya that was totally made at home by my mother-in-law and being pampered with the most delicious seafood! Some of you already know that Kochi is my favourite city. The beautiful place called 'Queen of Arabian sea' just warms my heart, with its sun-kissed, sparkling blue waters and more. This is the city where my dreams bloomed and I experienced the simple joys of a simple life. [Read: My Jodhpur Trip]

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Throughout the years I grew up in Africa, a part of me always longed for my ancestral home in Kochi. The simplicity of life lured me like nothing else. 
Walking in the rain, watching different shades of green come to life around me as I bit into crispy, golden pazhamporis made by my mother, while I sat back and enjoyed the magic of mons…

The Amazing Tale of Peddabottu: How she battled all odds, took leadership roles and defied conventional norms in a unique way

When we first come into the world, we mark our entry with a big cry.  The wise ones say that we loathe to leave the safety of the mother's womb. As we grow up, we learn to seek happiness in the things we do. We find different ways to be happy. The wise ones says, ''Pain makes you strong.'' [READ: Feeling depressed and low?]

The truth about happiness is that it teaches us nothing, whereas pain nudges out of our complacent comfort zones.  It teaches us to reflect, look within and find the answers from a zone that we are not usually familiar dealing with.





Pain and sorrow manifest in our lives differently and across different phases but how we react to it defines our the direction of our life. A newborn child undergoes pain when vaccinated but will a mother stop her child from being vaccinated simply because she doesn't want her child to undergo pain?
[Must Read: A Dad's Advice to the Daughter He loves]

So, there is pain that both protects and gives strength though…

Why Om is powerful and important

Summers are here and I love to bask in the sunshine. We all do, don't we, especially after a brief spell of gloomy, dark winters? The last three months have been challenging for me on the path of Sadhana - many slip ups that I am not proud of. These are gentle reminders to maintain steadfast self-discipline. 

You may wonder, ''Why should one be disciplined on the spiritual path?"



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Can you study any subject and master it without exercising discipline? Whether you are a doctor, a lawyer, a stock exchange broker or a blogger, can you accomplish important milestones without sticking to a certain level of discipline in the way you work? The most successful people across all spheres of life are known to be highly disciplined.

As Swami often points out, even sports, which is meant for enjoyment, cannot have champions unless they are highly disciplined. If you are a blogger, don't you ensure a certain degree of discipline in your approach to findi…

Parenting skills: Why time management is important for you

2018 has been a startling eye-opener for me. The most important learning for me has been precious: ''Family time is sacred.'' [Read: Time Management Tips]

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Now that summers are officially here, as parents, we should come up with fun-filled ways to manage 'family time.'  I love to bask in the sun with my kid and feel the sand in my toes and I don't like to stress out when summer vacations are just around the corner. If you seem to be struggling with just getting your daily time management schedule in place, here are some practical tips.
Plan and prioritise your daily work schedule 
This is important. Earlier, I found myself making the BIG mistake of prioritizing other people's routines into my family time. Helping others is a choice you make but try to always stick to your family schedule and focus on the tasks that are important to you. 
Do something special for your family every day
I have a 12 year old kid who loves 'surpris…

Book Review: When the Chief fell in Love by Tuhin A Sinha portrays second chances and forbidden love in Kashmir

Tuhin A Sinha's novel, When the Chief Fell in Love plays upon second chances to bring two of the most unlikely individuals to come into each other lives, with a big 'political' bang! In life and in love, second chances are rare, more so when two individuals who are married to others, fall in love with each other. The consequences are unlikely to be happy but this love story demolishes conventional myths in the typical love story narratives we often read. 




Seen through the eyes of lovers, there can be no greater paradise than Kashmir, which is why India's youngest Defence Minister Vihaan finally comes back to solve problems of a troubled state that is rife with political disturbances.

Given the violent times we live in, imagine the perils of a love story that involves the country's Defence Minister and the daughter of a separatist leader.  It sounds inconceivable. And that is exactly the myth the young Defence Minister Vihaan strives to demolish in his journeys to Kas…

Actress Trisha's favourite actor in Malayalam cinema is.....? Her answer and the reason will leave you inspired!

If you enjoy watching movies, you are sure to have a favorite star, right? However, isn't it funny that most actors and actresses choose not to reveal their favorite stars? I find this particularly so in Malayalam cinema. Recently, I found an interesting exception to this and as a movie buff, I was delighted by the candid admission. 

When asked who her favourite Malayalam actor is besides her co-star Nivin Pauly who plays the lead role as Jude, actress Trisha's reply was immediate, 'Mohanlal sir. He's brilliant.'  In the interview hosted by Surya' TV channel, the Telugu -Tamil super star Trisha shared lighthearted moments about her role as 'Crystal' in acclaimed director Shyamaprasad's latest film, 'Hey Jude!' She didn't hesitate to say a few words in Malayalam and didn't look red-faced when she got some words mixed up - that's the spirit of a confident, vivacious personality and I really like that about Trisha.  [MUST READ: Nivin …

What is dark night of the soul, how long does it last and why it happens? Three great Masters share powerful tips!

Just as writers go through a phase known as 'writer's block', spiritual seekers pass through a much dreaded phase called 'Dark night of the soul.' Know what the 'Perfect Masters' say.  [READ: Feeling depressed and low? Guy at Costa Coffee shares amazing lesson]

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Speaking to Ruzbeh N. Bharucha on this, Dada Vaswani, ''Everyone has to go through it. It is like being stripped naked. There were Spanish mystics such as St. John of the Cross, St Teresa of Avila, Raymond and others who described it as 'dark night of the soul' and even in Christian literature, there is a chapter titled 'The Cloud of Unknowing'.'' This phase is known to visit even the best and most perfect 'Masters' before they achieve a state of ''illumination.''

So, what exactly does a seeker feel and experience during this scary sounding phase called 'Dark night of the Soul'?

[READ: Who is Meher Baba? The Ira…