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You have been interacting with entrepreneurs and business professionals across the world for more than two decades. How do you think their perception of India has changed over time?
'Find Your Inner Strength, Listen To Your Inner Guidance And Have Faith'
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Sangeeta Maheshwari is based in London and has managed a dual career as homemaker and successful entrepreneur in London since 2000. She runs a philanthropic organisation MaheshwariA2ZFoundation with her husband Sudhir. The non profit works for the empowerment of underprivileged children in India.
In this era of rushed deadlines, ego clashes and estrangement, what specific role can spirituality play to bring about positive change?
In this era the pressure of achieving on a shoestring budget of time often outweighs the passion of performing. As a result there is disharmony between our inner belief and ethos with the outer expectation, thus leading to frustration and clashes.
The pursuit 'to make it big overnight', is digressing people from fulfilment in life. We lean towards quick fixes and tangible success. We gravitate towards running outwards and our inner guidance takes a lower priority, which creates the imbalance in us. If we invest in intangible resources like understanding of our inner self and the balance to create the harmony to an individual leads to the nation resulting in much more stability and prosperity.
Spirituality means being connected to your own spirit- 'Being fully present'.
If we connect and become more mindful and present within ourselves and around us, we can achieve and sustain for the larger benefit. It is important to focus on the philosophy and ethos. Owning responsibility of self is more important than the power that comes with the role.
As the world has become smaller because of globalisation, inter religious conflicts and differences seem to have increased rather than coming down. Why do you think so?
The world has become smaller and so has become our tolerance and love for self. If we learn to accept ourselves and find that peace within us, we will build empathy and acceptance for others as well. The conflict first starts within ourself. It then extends to our family, leading to our place of work with then extending to the nation and the world.
The root cause is lack of true love. When we are deprived of self love how can we offer it to anybody. It is important to find our real truth.
We need to work from our heart and use our mind to support the heart rather than working through the egoic mind and using the heart to support the ego with unnecessary emotions, dramas and conflicts.
Many agnostics think that “faith”- the kind you had and have in Maa-could also be dangerous. Your comments.
I humbly bow with reverence to Maa or anyone who has unconditional love for all. It is the lack of love which is most dangerous to humanity.
Maa believed in living with high values and performing to one's best ability without controlling the outcome.
The trouble we are facing today is we are focussed on the outcome and not so much on the process and the journey. We find it difficult to accept ourselves, others and a different outcome to what we desire.
We are losing trust and faith in ourselves and others.
My faith in Maa was for her simplicity, integrity, unconditional love, taking ownership of her life and it's challenges with her inner strength, humility and love with a graceful acceptance of highs and lows in life.
I salute to people with faith and true love for life and humanity. Blind faith on others can be dangerous.
Maa pointed to the self and the God within each person who came in contact with her. She channelled Khatu Shyam baba, for people to get relief and solutions in their life.
However, we have to do our efforts. We cannot do God's work and God will not do what humans have to do.
You have been a globe trotter in the true sense of the term. What do you think about the spirituality and faith of overseas Indians?
We do tend to hold on to our roots much more as we move away geographically from our origin. I have been fortunate to have lived in many countries and continents. It does broaden our horizon and opens our mind to greater possibilities. We do see others perspectives and integrate what resonates with us. Generally any overseas or global citizen is exposed to a more holistic life and has a broader outlook. Having said that a lot depends on us and how much do we desire the change, adapt and integrate.
For decades, there has been talk of the potential of India “exporting” its spiritual heritage as a soft power. The recognition of International Yoga Day is one move in this direction. What more can India do?
Yoga balances our energy and dissolves blockages at different levels through breathing techniques and exercises.
Ayurveda is a holistic and balanced way to nourish our body. When we eat according to our body type and needs we live better and perform to our potential. An inclusive way of life that India and Indians are known for. While it is important to have our space to think connect and introspect. it is equally important to be able to coexist and share. In India we have grown in a joint family and community way of living. We celebrate with larger extended families and friends. It does build resilience and helps to express. Although now it is diminishing in bigger cities but children did grow up more secured and better equipped with life lessons in close knit and social families.
India is a progressive, enterprising, young and dynamic country. We are a large country with so much diversity that it does create some challenges. However, other countries look at India with a lot of interest, admiration and excitement for the opportunities that are presented by India today. India is well known and highly regarded for it's vast talent and resources.
Many spiritual leaders in recent times have been accused of building business empires like industrialists. Your comments?
I am not qualified to comment on any spiritual leader. My only take is connect to your own spirit, find your inner strength and listen to your inner guidance and have faith that all will be fine. If you feel connection with someone who gives you inner joy and peace then listen to that voice. Anything that works on fear is opposite to love. Love resides in the heart and fear in the ego and mind. Deep inside we all know what is right for us.
The private sector is playing an increasing role in the Indian economy. But too many stakeholders-from CEOs to workers-lead very stressful lives. What specifically can spirituality do to help?
It is very important to spend time on oneself. Everyday a little time towards exercise, meditation, reading inspiring biographies and other books or scriptures like the Bhagwat Gita, the Quran or the Bible is well worth to incorporate in the daily schedules. We must also recognise what helps us in destressing, and take time out regularly to pursue that activity. Then it is very important to have family time. If the employee is happy within himself and in his family, only then can he add and contribute to the company optimally. Companies need to give more weightage to employees' work-life balance.
The divorce rate in big cities of India is rising at an alarming rate. Your advice to young couples.
Investing in relationships, first with self and then with others. It is the one most important investment and core need for growth, love and harmony. If we do not know who we are and what we want how are we going to understand the other person and their dreams and aspirations. There will be highs and lows but balance it with faith in each other and unconditional love for each other. Communicate and spend time with each other. Forgive and accept and most important let go of resentment. They lead to discontentment, anger and bitter break ups.
You can only give what you have. So love yourself and others. We often expect others to give us that acknowledgement and love, and deprive ourselves due to social conditioning. Each one of us must have a hobby or passion that zones us out of worldly issues and fills us with inner joy.
How do you visualise the future of India and Indians?
Our thoughts make our destiny. I meet so many people excited to make the positive changes and grow. I do visualise India to enjoy the progress it is making and hope we integrate the empathetic values for each other and reinstate the strength of simplicity that brings out our inner strength even more. With more practice and reliance on the age old philosophies that we have been blessed with as a nation, I can see India becoming a major economic and spiritual powerhouse and a nation enjoying a holistic lifestyle.