Category: <span>Newsletters</span>

Musings on the Population Problem

Newsletter No.9

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Dear LWP Readers,

This month’s World Population Day (11 July) was a reminder of the population problems the world and especially India, faces. World population, currently at 7.5 billion people, is expected, by the United Nations, to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. This does not bode well for the state of the world’s natural resources which we already appear to be over-using – the Global Footprint Network estimates that we are using the equivalent of 1.5 planets for our resources and to absorb our waste.

Ironically however, it is not the most populated countries that consume most of the world’s natural resources. Studies have found that with lesser population, levels of education and affluence rise, and concomitantly, so does the use of natural resources per person.

So the future resource-sufficiency of the world depends not only on population control by developing countries, but also lifestyle changes in developed countries. The latter need to embrace less resource intensive lifestyles including lowering meat consumption given how adversely that affects the environment.

For India, which is estimated by the UN to have a larger population than China by 2024, the population problem is complex and worrying.

India’s problem

One of the first things that strikes most foreigners about India when they step off the plane, is the sheer number of people everywhere. With a staggering 1.25 billion strong population, the quality of life for citizens is severely impacted in everything from transportation to education.

The 2 main reasons for this overpopulation have been 1) Economic and 2) Social

While most of these factors are slowly losing their grip as the government under PM Modi is working towards the economic development of the under-privileged and changing social attitudes among them regarding the desirability of a male child, there is one factor that still holds strong – marriage as a necessary rite of passage.

India culture still prizes an assembly line kind of unfolding of an individual life: study hard, get a good degree, get a good job, get married, have children, live some more, die. Any deviation from this model is not viewed favourably.

This social rigidity, while having its benefits in giving us relatively strong and stable family structures, has the downside of stifling creativity, risk-taking and trail-blazing, not to mention, leading to an exploding population. Because let’s face it, when most people have children, their potential out-of-the-box business ideas get shelved straight away. Suddenly it’s all about school fees and funding family vacations. The millions of youth that could be working on business ideas, are cajoled into “settling down” with spouse and kids. The result – higher population and fewer potential Steve Jobs. Just take the example of our PM Narendra Modi – had he not shunned the traditional family man mould, we would not have the dynamic and transformational leader we have for the country.

If we want to be a more creative society with better standards of living, this is something we need to think about.

Population as reflection of mind

In India we have known since Vedic times that the external world is a reflection of the internal world. Everything is within us which is to say that whatever is within is what we perceive as manifesting externally. The fact that there are too many people in the world in that sense is then a reflection of there being too much ‘person’ within us. That is to say that there is too much identity, ego, doer – the ‘person feeling’ – within us which has its outer reflection in the unprecedented number of human beings on the planet.

That is the real ‘weight on the planet’ so to speak. Too much person within us. Not necessarily too many bodies around us.

Thus the population problem needs to be dealt not only on social and economic fronts, but also spiritual.  As we know, as people turn within, they naturally give up compulsive consumption as the need to satisfy the ‘me’ entity diminishes.

One thing is for sure – population and strain on the planet’s resources requires everyone to look hard at their lives and implement changes. Ultimately if we can at least be more conscious about our choices and not blindly follow tradition – whether it is eating meat or getting married – then we have a chance of dealing with the world’s problems effectively.

What are your thoughts on these issues? Do write in or leave your comments on LWP.

Weekly Digest

Here’s some other highlights from the past week on LWP:

– A Himalayan yogi’s message to the world is to watch your karma. Ishaputra Kaulantaknath explains how karma is of three kinds and that we need to perform a-karma.

– A spiritual travelogue on the Isha Yoga Centre through the eyes of an outsider – Rahul Sharma shared his experience

– In ‘Indian Yogi Vs. New Age Spirituality’, I looked at how Indian yogis (like Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, quoted in the article) consider new-age messages like “love yourself”, “be compassionate”, etc to be nothing but games we play with ourselves. Such psychological tricks may appeal to conscience but do not really elevate consciousness which requires transcending tendencies – whether bad or good.

– LWP shared information about the Rally for Rivers campaign to save India’s depleting rivers. Find out what the issues are and how you can help.

– A brand new recipe was sent your way – a delicious and wholesome chickpea, pumpkin and coconut curry, South Indian style!

– Last Sunday’s newsletter was about Soldier-Saints, in reference to the 3 part exclusive interview with Maj Gen GD Bakshi where we explored themes of spirituality against the backdrop of war and conflict.

As always, I look forward to your comments, feedback, suggestions and article contributions. Do share this with those you think may be interested so that they can also and join the wiser-living movement!

Wishing you a lovely Sunday wherever in the world you may be!

Warm regards,
Shruti Bakshi
Editor, the LivingWise Project


Newsletter No.8

Dear LWP Readers,

It’s wonderful to see the LWP community growing week by week, sustained by the interest of you, the Readers as well as our gifted contributors – gifted not only in writing talent, but also in inspiration and vision and their ability to communicate the same.

As LWP is very much about you dear Readers, I would love to hear your feedback from time to time. Do share any comments to help us know how we’re doing and to help us know and serve you better.

As usual, the weekly digest is included further below in the newsletter.

(FYI, if you’ve been forwarded this email, you can sign up to receive these newsletters directly)


This week, we concluded the three part series of an interview with Major General GD Bakshi on Soldiers & Spirituality.  You can watch Parts 1, 2 and 3 on LWP or on our YouTube channel.

The interview explored areas that have not been discussed much in modern media, namely the role of spirituality in the lives of soldiers. This is despite the fact that soldiers have one of the closest relationships with death, which would understandably serve as a strong natural impetus to enquire into the nature of life and one’s own mortality, the basis of spirituality.

The interview started with GD Bakshi telling us about his Guru Swami Parvananda Saraswati and his meditation experiences under the Swami’s guidance. Following a near death experience, GD Bakshi came to the realisation that an ascetic’s life was not for him and that he should return to his worldly life to fulfil his karma.

In Part 3 of the interview, GD Bakshi discussed the soldier-saint (sant-sipahi) tradition in India where the one who meditated, picked up the sword. He discussed the relevance of the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata in modern times and the importance of the teachings of the Gita as well as yoga and meditation, to hep soldiers maintain their balance and calm on the battlefield and overcome their fears on the frontline.

A soldier’s spiritual life is not much examined as spirituality is usually associated with peace. But that would be taking a very stunted view of spirituality which cannot really exclude any aspect of life. In intense situations like conflict and war, in fact, it should only become more immediately relevant and meaningful. We were lucky to have had the chance to speak to a soldier who is also well acquainted with spiritual traditions to be able to unearth some wonderful insights on the theme.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this interview so far – do continue to write in with your comments.

Weekly Digest

Here’s some other highlights from the past week on LWP (scroll down for more):

– LWP shared some insights on the significance of idol worship, an important part of Hinduism. Images, symbols and idols feature as an important part of the human psyche and emotional landscape and their dismissal in the realm of devotion is wholly misplaced.

– Dr Vineet Aggarwal discussed the place of ‘faith’ in modern times and it’s significance in the context of a belief in humanity rather than a belief in the superiority of one or the other religion.

– Beloo Mehra shared her reflections on the harmony of spaces. What is it that makes us linger in some places and not others? What gives harmony and space to spaces – physical and mental?

– Ranjan Bakshi shared his review of the book, Ten Sutras for a Great Life by RA Krishna

– Last Sunday, I gave a talk on Facebook Live, hosted by the Indic Book Club, on my book From Dior to Dharma as well as on the purpose and vision of LWP. You can check it out here.

As always, I look forward to your comments, feedback, suggestions and article contributions. Do share this with those you think may be interested so that they can also and join the wiser-living movement!

Wishing you a lovely Sunday wherever in the world you may be!

Warm regards,
Shruti Bakshi
Editor, the LivingWise Project

Soldiers & Spirituality – Part 2

Newsletter No.7

Dear LWP Readers,

This newsletter contains news about the much awaited Part 2 of the exclusive LWP interview with Maj Gen GD Bakshi.  As usual, the weekly digest is included further below.

(FYI, you can sign up to receive these newsletters via email every Sunday)

Important Updates

Here’s Part 2 of the exclusive 3 part interview with Maj Gen GD Bakshi on the theme, Soldiers & Spirituality

General Bakshi is well-known in India for his views on military and defence matters but in this interview, he reveals a very different aspect of his life – the mystic and spiritual. It’s GD Bakshi like you’ve never seen him before!

In case you missed Part 1 of the conversation, you can find it here. In Part 1, GD Bakshi spoke about his guru.

In this Part 2, General Bakshi discusses his experiences in meditation as a sadhak, which included experiences of ecstasy as well as a near death experience that had a profound impact on his life.

He also talks about his two questions to his guru for which the circumstances shaped themselves into answer. The first question General Bakshi asked was whether he should dedicate his life to meditation and spirituality or continue his career in the army. The second question was, what is the meaning of Adhidaiva, Adhibhuta and Adhiyajna, that are mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita where Lord Krishna says:

“O Supreme among the Embodied (Arjuna)! Adhibhuta is the basis of physical existence; Adhidaiva is the basis of astral existence; and I (the Spirit manifested ideationally, both macro- and micro-cosmically) am Adhiyagya.”

—The Bhagavad Gita 8:4, from The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita by Swami Kriyananda

Hope you enjoy this Part 2 of the interview and don’t forget to leave your feedback and comments on Facebook and YouTube!

Also, look out for the final Part 3 next weekend in which General Bakshi speaks more generally about the role of spirituality in the lives of soldiers and how the scriptures like the Gita and Ramayana are still relevant today.

See Part 3 of the interview.


From Dior to Dharma

I’m happy to announce that my book, From Dior to Dharma was reviewed in Creative India magazine this week. It’s always very interesting for an author to see the book through the readers’ eyes and this review was particularly perceptive. You can read it here.

Update: Check out my Facebook Live Indic Chat (with Indic Book Club) about my book.

You can buy the book on Amazon (also Flipkart in India). I’d love for you to read it and share your thoughts on it with me!

Weekly Digest

Here’s what else happened on LWP this week:

– This past Monday marked the start of the month of Shravan (or Sawan), the auspicious month dedicated to Lord Shiva. LWP shared some quick facts about the month. This year’s Shravan is considered to be especially important because the month starts and ends on a Monday, the day traditionally observed as Lord Shiva’s day.

– Joe Nazar, a yoga and Ayurveda practitioner gave us a brief introduction to the two sister sciences and provided some tips on how we can use yoga and Ayurveda in daily life.

Subhash Kak shared his poem Pura Tirtha Empul, the great Vishnu pilgrimage temple in Bali, Indonesia which illuminates through a confluence of the five elements.

– LWP shared 5 tips for happiness such as being aware of the present moment and letting things be! Check them out.

Last Sunday’s newsletter was a Guru Purnima special about how the guru helps us go ‘from darkness to light’ (tamaso ma jyotirgamaya). The words of Sri Ramana Maharishi were also invoked to inspire us on Guru Purnima day.

– As mentioned above, you can also now read the first chapter of From Dior to Dharma on LWP.


As always, I look forward to your comments, feedback, suggestions and article contributions. Do share this with those you think may be interested so that they can also and join the wiser-living movement!

Wishing you a lovely Sunday wherever in the world you may be and don’t forget to share your comments on the GD Bakshi interview!

Warm regards,
Shruti Bakshi
Editor, the LivingWise Project

From Darkness to Light – Guru Purnima Blessings

Newsletter No.6

Dear LWP Readers,

This newsletter contains news about the much awaited exclusive LWP interview with Maj Gen GD Bakshi as well as Guru Purnima blessings for one and all.  As usual, the weekly digest is included further below.

From Darkness to Light – Guru Purnima Blessings

The full moon following the summer solstice is of great significance to spiritual seekers, being the day of Guru Purnima. In ancient India, Guru Purnima was one of the most important days of the year.

The word “Guru” comes from the Sanskrit roots “gu” which means darkness and “ru” which means dispeller. The Guru is the light that dispels the darkness of ignorance. That moves one from untruth to truth. As the ancient verse from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad goes:

Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya |
Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya |
Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

Lead me from unreality to reality. From darkness to light. From death to immortality. Let there be peace. Om.

In Indian culture, the first Guru, Adi Guru, is considered to be Shiva, who first gave the tools of yoga to the seven rishis (saptrishis) who then passed them down to humanity. Since that time, many gurus have walked the land of India and still do, showing the way of liberation to humanity.

And yet, the Guru is not in the essence, a person with a teaching. A guru is not someone who preaches morality, a man of principle. The Guru is the principle – the Guru Tattva – inside the heart of all sentient beings. The Guru is the universal Self. The Guru is the silence that quietens the mind.

“Guru is the Self. Sometimes in his life a man becomes dissatisfied and, not content with what he has, he seeks the satisfaction of his desires through prayer to God. His mind is gradually purified until he longs to know God, more to obtain his grace than to satisfy his worldly desires. Then, God’s grace begins to manifest. God takes the form of a Guru and appears to the devotee, teaches him the truth and, moreover, purifies his mind by association. The devotee’s mind gains strength and is then able to turn inward. By meditation it is further purified and it remains still without the least ripple. The calm expanse is the Self. The Guru is both external and internal. From the exterior he gives a push to the mind to turn it inwards. From the interior he pulls the mind towards the Self and helps in the quieting of the mind. That is the Guru’s grace. There is no difference between God, Guru and the Self.”

– Sri Ramana Maharshi (Be as you are, The teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, p. 91)

We don’t need to strategize about ways to dispel the different forms of darkness  – we just have to let the light of Grace shine. Guru Purnima is the time when it is easiest for humans to experience Grace. It is therefore believed to be a day that we must try to spend in contemplation, meditation and fortifying our spiritual aspirations.

How much Grace we allow into our lives is completely up to us because Grace itself is always ‘on’, always flowing.

May everyone experience the Grace of the Guru this full moon day – Guru Purnima Blessings!




My conversation with GD Bakshi on ‘Soldiers & Spirituality’ was personally very interesting and enlightening. The first part of this video interview was released on LWP yesterday. In this part, GD Bakshi spoke about his guru, a fitting topic for this Guru Purnima! Many viewers of the video expressed their surprise at this heretofore hidden side to GD Bakshi who is more popular for talking about all things war and defence!

I think you will find the upcoming parts of this conversation even more interesting – revolving around GD Bakshi’s peronal meditation experiences and a broader discussion about the role of spirituality in the lives of soldiers (an apparently obvious connection given that soldiers constantly face death, but yet not a much discussed/explored one). Look out for these videos on the LWP website and YouTube channel.

Below is the Part 1 video incase you missed it.

Weekly Digest

Here’s some other important highlights from the past week on LWP:

– Glimpses of the Rath Jatra 2017 in pictures. This annual festival of Lord Jagannath (Lord of the Universe) is enigmatic, colourful and a true display of universality in which people from all walks of life (including tribals and Muslims) participate.

– Beloo Mehra shared with us a touching piece in memory of her late mother. Sometimes a person’s cooking feeds not only the stomach but also the soul as this beautiful piece shows.

– If you’re thinking of visiting Korea, know that it is a meat obsessed society but there’s ways of getting by on a healthy vegetarian diet. Danielle Oakes shared some survival tips for going ‘Meatless in Korea’.

– LWP shared Dr David Frawley’s piece on Guru Purnima – the Full Moon of the Universal Guru – an enlightening piece on the significance of this day tracing back to ancient times.

Last Sunday’s newsletter included Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s video on the #RallyforRivers initiative being led by the Isha Foundation to save and rejuvenate the badly depleted Indian rivers. Do watch and share the video and pledge your support for the cause (a missed call to the number: 80009 80009  registers as a support to the petition for saving the rivers which will be placed before the Indian government in October 2017). LWP supports this cause and will be sharing much more information, knowledge and support in the coming weeks.


As always, I look forward to your comments, feedback, suggestions and article contributions. Do share this with those you think may be interested so that they can also and join the wiser-living movement!

Wishing you a lovely Sunday wherever in the world you are and may you have a truly blessed Guru Purnima!

Warm regards,
Shruti Bakshi
Editor, the LivingWise Project

Coming Soon: Maj Gen GD Bakshi Interview & #RALLYFORRIVERS

Newsletter No.5

Dear LWP Readers,

There’s 2 exciting announcements to make this weekend so let’s get right to it! As usual, the weekly digest is included further down.

(FYI, you can sign up to receive these newsletters via email every Sunday)

Important Updates

Exclusive Interview with Major General GD Bakshi

I recently caught up with Major General GD Bakshi who, as those of you from India would know, is a very prominent and popular figure in current affairs relating to defence. LWP will be releasing my video interview with him which showcases General Bakshi as you’ve never seen him before! It will be a surprise for people to learn about his spiritual side and see him in the role of a seeker.

The video will be aired in 2 parts. In the first part, General Bakshi talks about his personal spiritual journey and his own guru whom he met when he was a young army officer trying to figure out questions about career and marriage but most importantly, life. This Part-1 will be released next weekend which happens to be marked by Guru Purnima (on 9 July), the day dedicated to gurus – being the day that the yogic sciences were first transmitted by the first guru, Adi Guru, Shiva, to humanity. The occasion therefore appears to be amply fitting to hear General Bakshi recount how he found his way onto the spiritual path and his learnings from and experiences with his guru.

Here is the first exclusive look at the interview promo which contains a sneak preview of Part-1!

In the second part, General Bakshi talks about soldiers and saints and the spiritual dimension of a soldier’s life. Relating the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata to modern times, General Bakshi discusses the topics of courage on the battlefield (of war and life), global terrorism and what is needed in the world today.

Do look out for these videos on the LWP website and YouTube channel. To make sure you don’t miss any updates from LWP, I recommend you sign-up for our email notifications and newsletters and subscribe on YouTube!

This Exclusive Interview is now on LWP

LWP joins the Rally for Rivers

The second important announcement is that LWP has pledged its support for the Rally for Rivers initiative being led by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev of the Isha Foundation. Do watch and share the video below where Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev brings to light the desperate situation of our rivers in India (LWP gets no monetary benefit from the video views or any other part of this project).

You can support the initiative by spreading awareness about the cause (share the above and related videos, articles, etc.). Do also register a missed call at the following number; your call will count as a signature on a petition to save the rivers, to be laid before the government of India in October 2017.

Give a missed call to: 80009 80009

LWP will be sharing much more information and enthusiasm about the initiative in the coming weeks on our website and on Facebook. Also, we have previously published special articles featuring some of our rivers like Ganga and Narmada and will be doing more of this too. If you would like to contribute articles on this topic, do write in.

Weekly Digest

This past week, LWP featured some interesting articles:

– The Amarnath Yatra commenced  a few days ago, and will go on until 7 August. Given how little most people even in India know about this significant pilgrimage, we published a post summarising what it’s all about.

– LWP featured an exclusive interview with Swami Chidanand Saraswati of the Parmarth Niketan ashram in Rishikesh which many of you would know is an institution doing stellar social work in addition to holding one of the most beautiful evening Ganga aartis in the country. Swami Chidanand Saraswati talked about yoga being beyond religion and about PM Modi being a man of vision, mission and wisdom.

– Yogibanker Scott Robinson shared his experiences of being both a yogi and a banker which to some would seem a contradiction in terms. But as Scott says, it’s all about balance!

– An interesting insight into the tech and start-up world’s fascination for spirituality was also featured. From Steve Jobs’ deep appreciation for the book Autobiography of a Yogi and the popularity of the Kainchi Dham temple (Nainital) among tech titans, to some new-age start-ups encouraging team members to fast, Burning Man and ayahuasca, the tech world seems to love hacking spirituality!

– LWP shared a wonderful short and simple video by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev that explains the 4 paths of yoga. While the 4 paths of karma, bhakti, jnana and kriya appear to be opposed on the surface, a true yogi is only produced when these 4 dimensions of body, emotion, mind and energy find alignment. It’s amazing how Sadhguru JV manages to convey such timeless wisdom in a ~3 min animated video!

– Last Sunday’s newsletter, in case you missed it, discussed whether all the hullabaloo about shrinking attention spans is really valid. My take is that the attention span concerns are somewhat exaggerated and that the real reason why people can’t commit to content is not because their attention spans are impaired, but because of the democratisation of content which means that there is just too much out there and not all of decent quality! I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this topic.


As always, I look forward to your comments, feedback, suggestions and article contributions. Do share this with those you think may be interested so that they can also and join the wiser-living movement!

Wishing you a lovely Sunday wherever in the world you may be and don’t forget to support our rivers!

Warm regards,
Shruti Bakshi
Editor, the LivingWise Project