The Concept of Non-possessiveness

Sharing a beautiful article by Pujyashri Rakeshbhai Jhaveri, fondly called Bapa, on The Principle of Aparigraha. The article can be also be referred on the link:

The Principle of Aparigraha

Modern day materialism defines a successful and happy person as one with the many possessions, great wealth and high status. Through an understanding of the Jain principle of aparigraha, Pujyashri Gurudev enlightens us on what brings true contentment in life.

A great deal has been spoken and written about aparigraha or non-possessiveness; however, we are incognisant of its true depth. No doubt, we talk of non-possessiveness with great respect and even worship the one who is non-possessive; yet, we remain unaware of its essence.

Understanding Possessiveness

How can we acquaint ourselves with the true significance of non-possessiveness? To understand what non-possessiveness is, one must first comprehend the meaning of possessiveness. Commonly, possessiveness is understood as the possession of objects. But the Enlightened Ones say that possessiveness is delusion. It does not mean having a collection of things; it is the feeling of being the owner of those things. The ‘number of things’ therefore does not determine an individual’s possessiveness; it is the attitude he harbours towards those things, the way he relates to them that determines his possessiveness. 

Our sense of ownership is not restricted to things alone, we display feelings of ownership even towards people. A husband tries to own his wife; a father his son; a teacher his student etc. This possessiveness is just another dimension of violence. Ownership implies possessiveness and where there is possessiveness, the relationship becomes violent. This is true because no one can own another without exercising violence by taking away his independence, by making the other a slave of his desires. 

One may question, ‘Why do humans want to control others? Why are they so interested in possessing others?’ In response to this, the Wise say that because man has no authority over himself, he tries to make up for that ‘lack of command’, by ruling others. We wish to become independent by making others dependent on us. But we do not realise that dependence is on both sides; both parties get tied. Reigning over others cannot make us their owners; rather, it breeds sorrow. It is like attempting to quench one’s thirst with fire!

Possessiveness Leads to Slavery

We become slaves to the ones we try to possess; we get bound to them. The seeds of slavery are hidden in the very desire to be the owner. And the reason for this is that our sense of ownership is dependent on them. If the ones we claim to own leave us, with them goes our ownership too. If our ownership is dependent on others, then how can we be called their owners? Deep reflection reveals how we get bound by them, how they become our owners. 

Once a mendicant entered a village. He saw a cow, tied by a rope, being led away by his owner. Seeing this, he asked the villagers, “Is this man tied to the cow or is the cow tied to this man?” The villagers replied in unison, “It is the cow that is tied to the man. The man is the owner; he is independent. The cow is owned, dependent and hence, a slave.” The mendicant asked again, “If the cow runs away, will this man run after the cow?” The people replied, “Naturally, the man will run after the cow.” He further asked, “If the man runs away, will this cow run after the man?” The ascetic clarified the underlying meaning of his question, “Consider carefully, who is really dependent on whom. The cow is tied to the man with a rope but the man is imperceptibly bound to the cow. He is the one who cannot let go of the cow. It is only with this subtle insight that it becomes evident that the man is bound to the cow and not vice-versa.” The only difference between the owner and the owned is that the slavery of the one who is owned is visible and that of the owner is not. What is most amusing is that the one who is tied may even try to escape, but the other is under the delusion that he is independent. The secrets of possessiveness are very profound. It is essential that we understand its subtle facets. 

We collect things so that they can serve us but instead, we end up serving them. Does the treasure chest look after us or do we look after it? Objects are not to be blamed. We become their slaves of our own accord. It is our perception, our thoughts and beliefs that bring about this slavery. How can things make anyone their slave? They are not even aware that humans believe they own them. If one is filled with the desire for things, he experiences bondage, and bereft of desire, he is free.

Who is a Real Owner?

In reality, one whose ownership is dependent on others, who tries to rule over others and make them his slaves is only possessive but not a true owner. One who has no longing to make anyone a slave and does not wish to own anything or anyone, he alone is a real owner in this world. He alone whose ownership is not dependent on others, is truly non-possessive. He alone is truly happy, peaceful, settled and secure. 

Possessiveness implies forgetfulness of the truth that one is not the real owner of things, but deep within the knowledge that, ‘I am not the owner’ remains. Even Alexander and Hitler knew this. Strangely, the more one knows this reality, the more he tries to spread and strengthen his sovereignty on the outside. It is possible that he may forget for a short while but time and again he remembers, “I am not the owner, I am not independent, I am not at peace, I am not happy.”

This creates an inner void. One may try to fill this emptiness with wealth, name, fame, status and furniture but that vacuum, that hole, that inner poverty remains as it is. External things, outer associations cannot fill this abyss because they all remain outside, they cannot enter the realm of the Self. One is amassing ‘things’ but what is actually to be attained is the ‘Self.’ ‘Things’ can never become the ‘Self.’

What is Non-Possessiveness?

If outer things cannot fill the inner vacuum, then is it possible to do so by giving up those things? One feels that he has tried to bring the external associations closer and attempted to collect things, but these did not satisfy the inner wants; so he should try renouncing them and thus fill the emptiness. 

The Enlightened Ones question, ‘If the inner deficiency could not be filled by the presence of external objects, then how can giving them up fill the space within?’ But man is fundamentally mistaken in his thinking. First, he wishes to fill the inner chasm by collecting external things and having attained them, when he realises that they are incapable of filling the inner space, he tries to do so by relinquishing them. He is unable to understand that what cannot be filled with the addition of things will not be filled by subtracting them either. 

Non-possessiveness does not mean giving up outer things. Non-possessiveness means attaining inner completeness by realising the Self, by abiding in the Self. When inner fulfilment is attained, the emptiness within is filled and scurrying around to collect outer objects ceases. Having experienced inner absoluteness, the interest neither to hoard things nor to give them up remains. The outer associations drop on their own.

When the Self is realised, inner wealth is attained. Then alone, does one understand how vain the effort of collecting or renouncing outer things is. Once inner completeness is attained, the hold over external things is automatically given up. One experiences that in reality one can never hold on to anything. Such a one, being in the midst of all, becomes non-possessive.

The meaning of non-possessiveness is not to have the sense of ownership. Non-possessiveness is transformation in one’s relationship with others. When the sense of ownership weans, it results in non-possessiveness. With clarity about possessiveness comes the manifestation of non-possessiveness. 

May all attain the sublime state of being truly non-possessive.

Let’s not be so pessimistic about pessimism

Image courtesy: Corbis

Image courtesy: Corbis

We have all imagined or daydreamed of ourselves in ‘joyous’, ‘successful’ situations but rarely has it occurred to us to see ourselves in situations otherwise. A recent study by neuroscientist Tali Sharot and her team tells us that we are just wired to think positively or think unrealistically. While I don’t get enough clarity in everything she brings across through her research, I quite agree that we have programmed ourselves to picture everything concerning us through rose-tinted glasses. We all suffer from “It cannot happen to me” syndrome.

Personally, I believe both optimism and pessimism are necessary to give us that required push / kick in different situations. We may be automated to think positively in situations but humans do possess the ability (if they wish to use that ability) to foresee unwanted, untoward events that they may want to avoid. While optimism gives us the confidence to move ahead, pessimism keeps us mentally prepared for the worse. Studies have in fact shown that pessimism can often bring in pleasant surprises and motivation to excel further. If according to Tali Sharot, optimism is denying facts of life, then I believe pessimism sometimes helps in accepting facts of life and hence, urges us to take corrective action. You can’t be overly optimistic and still be happy by thinking “Nothing will happen to me” – if you rely on heavy doses of nicotine or take up gambling as a profession after winning a few rounds or expect to lose 10kgs in a week if you are overweight. Being a little pessimistic helps in bursting false notions and working towards something that seems difficult to achieve. Being less optimistic can often bring us closer to reality. After all, as the saying goes – A pessimist is just a well-informed optimist.

Happy New Year

No resolutions

No expectations

Nothing to hold onto and nothing to let go

With a New Year in tow, I’m just gonna go with the flow


Mr Grumpy will be welcomed to join in for a walk

And then share some time with Smiley to get few troubles dropped

The clouds can rain a storm or the sun may shine bright

With a New Year in tow, I’m just gonna go with the flow


Cheer’s not to seek, it’s something that I share

But I’ll keep my blues to me ‘coz from them I’ll learn to dare

The path can be easy or a tricky one to stride

With a New Year in tow, I’m just gonna go with the flow


No dreams to fulfill or success to pine for

Living each day to its fullest without regrets, grunts or spite

There’s not going to be a journey or a final point to reach

I’m gonna live a new life everyday that I breathe

Yes, with a New Year in tow, I’m just gonna go with the flow

When bad is considered good…

Was sitting surfing TV channels on a lazy afternoon while nothing interesting seemed to control my obsession with the remote control… News channels were busy predicting AB baby’s arrival, National Geographic was showing a repeat telecast of a show I had already watched, Movie channels were airing movies that can match the current pathetic film releases and GEC’s were busy with their usual afternoon-slot shows. My finger on the remote was like a non-stop punching machine when one show held my attention for a reasonably longer time than the others. The irony is that it wasn’t any intelligent, useful or revolutionary content but instead a host of tantrums, useless fights, meaningless gossip and silly tasks that were projected with the help of some attention-craving individuals who claimed to have innumerable fans out there who would happily vote for them for every nonsensical, silly act of theirs. Ahem, the truth is they actually did receive a considerable amount of votes and the show that’s currently running its fifth season has been a hit for last four years. Well, the recipe for success of Bigg Boss has always been controversial gossips or ugly bitching or couples pairing up and even getting married on the show. And the more nonsensical (or should I say, unnecessarily cheap) it got, the more popularity it gained. It simply paid to be sick… to be bad.

Image source: cartoonstock

It isn’t an unknown fact that people often get more interested in other people’s lives than their own. Perhaps, it is an inherent human nature to have an opinion about others and suggest what they should ‘ideally’ do, especially when others lives don’t directly affect their own. This probably happens since, it’s easier to focus on the events or situations that we have no emotional attachment to, instead of focusing on the aspects we don’t like in our own lives. Many shows, advertisements and even wannabe celebs today are trying to use this human nature to their advantage and attracting attention towards them through negative publicity. What the audience gets is a new topic to gossip and entertain themselves and what producers, companies or celebs get is some undivided attention and popularity.

Now, even though initially the popularity achieved may be in bad taste, often the task of getting the required attention is accomplished, …after all attention is the most valuable commodity today. Moreover, with time, the bad image is likely to be nothing more than a figment in people’s short-term memory or has the potential to be reversed even by a mere apology for the unacceptable act. Consider Tiger Woods – not saying he deliberately got the accident done or cheated on his wife to attract attention via negative publicity but even after big controversies tarnishing his image completely in view of public eye, an apology and noticeable behaviour change has slowly got him back on track on being one of America’s favourite golfers. At the same time, Rakhi Sawant is happily basking under the sun of fame and popularity, all owing to the number of outrageous behaviour displays and scandals that she has been involved in.

Negative publicity before the release of movies has also worked wonders to generate curiosity in the crowds to watch the film. As opposed to conventional promotional activities, buzz created due to affairs between lead actors or promoting controversial content from the film has often resulted in big ticket sales with a profitable outcome. Mallika Sherawat, for instance, would have remained unnoticed if her 17 lip-locks in Khwahish wouldn’t have been publicised on almost every media channel. Kurbaan attracted a lot of attention after posters with a bare-backed Kareena Kapoor were removed by Shiv Sena supporters. Kites release was hyped and awaited with bated breath after a highly publicised affair between Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori. Love, Sex Aur Dhoka got packed cinema houses after one of its sex scene photograph was featured in a tabloid. Deshdrohi’s Kamaal Khan got 5 seconds of fame because of the Marathi-Bihari issue in his film. Night Shyamalan, on the other hand, tried to play it smartly by releasing a hoax documentary on the Sci-Fi channel to promote his film The Village. This particular mockumentary – “The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan, shot on the set of The Village” was full of ridiculous facts and resulted in a huge audience for the actual film, because of its negative publicity campaign. Film controversies have also played up as “breaking news” before release and well, the list here is endless.

Advertisers aren’t far behind in featuring controversial content. What comes to your mind when you recollect the recent Fasttrack commercials or the Amul Macho (yeh toh bada toing hai) campaign or the old Tuff footwear ad featuring super-models Milind Soman and Madhu Sapre posing nude with a python? Nothing positive enough to be discussed comfortably with both tots and old, right? But still these ad campaigns are some which haven’t got lost in the clutter of plenty of other good commercials that have come and gone unnoticed.

There is yet another genre that really makes use of negative publicity to its advantage and that’s the book publishing industry. Bill Clinton’s autobiography My Life became a bestseller, not because people were keen to know about his journey to becoming the President of United States but because they were curious to know the person described by Monica Lewinsky. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, had become more of a ‘style statement’ to be carried in hand by almost every other person I saw on the street after controversy surrounding it made it supremely famous. Jaswant Singh’s book Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence that contained some controversial remarks against Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was received fairly well even after it got banned in Gujarat and Jaswant Singh got expelled from BJP.

As said by Brendan Behan, “There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary”, the focus has today shifted to merely publicise – whether good or bad. The idea is to not ever get forgotten or go unnoticed. Personally, I am not with it as bad publicity, in my opinion, hurts more than going unnoticed. Nevertheless, it does work and those who wish to use it to their advantage will continue to attract attention and get us interested in them by playing with our inherent nature.

Book review of “The Forty Rules of Love”

I love to read but am more of an occasional reader, not a voracious one and so I don’t usually repeat reading what I already have.  But this particular book is different as for me, it turned out to be beyond mere fiction. It’s not really the story that’ll attract me again to the book but what it conveys at the spiritual level. No, it doesn’t preach and it doesn’t advise but trying to understand what the book conveys certainly quenches the thirst that longs to create peace with self and others, …that longs to be attached yet detached, …that longs to relate to mainly one emotion which is love – for everyone and everything.

The Turkish author Elif Shafak had first written this book in English and then got it translated to Turkish by a translator. She later took this translation and rewrote it. When the Turkish version was ripe and ready, she went back to the English version and rewrote it with a new spirit. Wow, some dedication and passion for perfection, I should say. The Turkish version is called “Aşk” meaning love and  English version is called “The Forty Rules of Love”

Elif Shafak and her book in Turkish and English versions

I came across a talk by Elif Shafak called ‘The Politics of Fiction” on which pushed me to read a little about her to get acquainted with her work and life. I later wanted to know more about the stories she had to share and get introduced to her writing style. That’s how I chose to pick up this book in my reading list.

‘The Forty Rules of Love” isn’t some usual romantic fiction that one can easily come across among a plethora of options that are available. Love in this book is rather at a spiritual level and in its purest form possible. Love here is explained as a feeling and an experience in your thoughts, your way of life and your behaviour towards self and others. The book ideally speaks of love inspired by Sufism but I believe that different people from different spheres can relate the same from their own religious or spiritual beliefs and at the same time experience the spiritual beauty of Sufism.

The book consists of two stories narrated parallelly. One of Ella and Aziz set in 21st century largely in Northampton, Massachusetts and the other of Rumi and Shams of Tabriz set in 13th century largely in Konya. Ella Rubeinstein is a 40 year old doting home-maker living with her husband, three kids and a dog in an ideal home. On the face of it, she leads a usual life that is often ‘stereotyped’ for housewives across the globe but she seems content with it. However, inside she feels empty but is clueless as to how she can fill the vacuum she suffers. Apparently, she takes up a job of a part-time reader for a literary agent on insistence of her husband and gets to reading the book “Sweet Blasphemy” written by a first-time author Aziz Zahara as her first assignment.

“Sweet Blasphemy” reveals the story of a wandering Sufi dervish, Shams of Tabriz, in search of a true companion that he finds in Rumi, an Islamic Scholar (Mawlana) who transforms into a poet after meeting Shams. As Ella keeps turning pages of “Sweet Blasphemy” she realises an attraction towards its author, Aziz and begins exchanging an interaction via e-mails with him. With time, she becomes aware that the emptiness she feels is because she lacks love in her life and she finds true love in Aziz. So, at a time the book unfolds the story of Shams introducing the beauty of love and friendship to Rumi along with Aziz and his book revealing the abundance of love and joy in this world to Ella and training her to let love enter her life. The book infact has enough potential to transform and entwine its readers into the world of love and friendship too.

One of the things that I loved about the book is its unique writing style. Each chapter of the book begins with the name of the character that talks in first person, except for Ella’s part which is written in third person. The language is beautiful and poetic yet easy. Though the book shares two different stories, not once does it get its readers confused and rather brings in a beautiful balance that makes reading all the more interesting. Another thing to notice in the book is that each chapter begins with the letter ‘B’, which I guess is a deliberate attempt as it is believed in Islam that by saying Bismillah in front of everything, you attach it to the Eternal. Personally, I was moved by this gesture as to me it depicts the author’s honest intentions to spread the message of love and spirituality by her piece of work that keeps the essence of the faith she believes in.

The characters Shams of Tabriz and Rumi are inspired from real life people – Shams-i-Tabrīzī or Shams al-Din Mohammad and Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī. Even quite a few events between Shams and Rumi are inspired from their lives but the forty rules of love laid down by Shams were shaped by Elif Shafak as she was writing the book. It is ideally these forty rules of love that I would treasure for a lifetime.

I have deliberately tried to not reveal too much from the book as I would wish the readers to experience every page, every character and every emotion of the book themselves.

My rating: 5/5

Alternative Therapies for treatment of cancer

Medical reports confirming ‘cancer’ can dawn a vision of a nearing end to life but I have seen and spoken to a number of people who don’t lose hope and instead take a stance to fight the disease. But ‘cancer’ is not an easy enemy to fight since, the treatment not only happens to be painful at times but is also slow and dependent on progress reports / condition of the patient. Moreover, medical treatments like chemotherapy and radiation target not only the cancer cells but also the overall immune system, making the patient all the more weaker to keep up the hope of surviving this dreadful disease. Having witnessed a cancer case in my extended family, I can understand the pain that the patient and his/her near and dear ones go through. I have also realised that the patient needs much more than the usual, painful chemotherapy / radiation rounds as it is highly essential that we restore their destroyed immunity. Given that, this post specially is for providing information on some Alternative Therapies for cancer that the patient can try and continue with the one that results to be the most effective for him/her.


  1. The therapies mentioned below are usually used as support therapies and not in lieu of conventional treatments like chemotherapy / radiation / surgery, etc.
  2. Every individual may respond differently to different treatments hence, there is a possibility that what works for one may not successfully work for another.
  3. No alternative therapy, by itself, can be tagged as ‘the best treatment’ for a certain type or stage of cancer. One has to only try it to understand if it works for him/her.
  4. It is possible/okay to try more than one alternative therapy at a time, however, in case of ayurvedic or homeopathic treatments it is important to consult the concerned doctor before doing so.

Alternative Therapy 1: Ozone Therapy

Cancer cells are anaerobic, i.e. they die when exposed to oxygen. Cancer cells derive their energy by fermenting sugar without using oxygen, are deficient in antioxidant enzyme system like other lower life forms and are unable to fight the Ozone onslaught. On the other hand normal, healthy cells can protect themselves from Ozone by their rich Anti-Oxidant Defense System. Based on this theory, oxygen is supplied to the body by means of ozone in order to kill cancer cells and strengthen normal, healthy cells. Ozone (O3) itself is a form of oxygen and Ozone Therapy treatment is different from the common medical uses of oxygen, which involve increasing the amount of oxygen gas in inhaled air. It is also different from hyperbaric oxygen, which involves the use of pressurized oxygen gas.

Oxygen/ozone therapy describes a number of different practices in which oxygen, ozone, or hydrogen peroxide are administered via gas or water to kill disease microorganisms, improve cellular function, and promote the healing of damaged tissues. The rationale behind bio-oxidative therapies, as they are sometimes known, is the notion that as long as the body’s needs for antioxidants are met, the use of certain oxidative substances will stimulate the movement of oxygen atoms from the bloodstream to the cells. With higher levels of oxygen in the tissues, bacteria and viruses are killed along with defective tissue cells. The healthy cells survive and multiply more rapidly. The result is a stronger immune system.
Though ozone is ideally more popular as a toxic gas that creates free radicals, the opposite of what antioxidant vitamins do, it is good for oxidation of harmful foreign organisms that have invaded the body as ozone inactivates many disease bacteria and viruses.
How is Ozone Therapy useful?
  • It reduces the side effects associated with chemotherapy and radiation to a very large extent. Reduces pain in cancer.
  • It gives feeling of well being and rejuvenation. The zest for life is returned.
  • It helps in reducing tumor size.
  • It helps in controlling troublesome symptoms in certain inoperable cancers. E.g., fits in meningioma
Ozone therapy may be administered in a variety of ways, depending on the condition of the patient:

Medication in gaseous forms is somewhat unusual, therefore special application techniques have to be developed for the safe use of ozone.

NOTE: In any form of ozone therapy, the breathing in of ozone gas is forbidden. 

External/Local Application:

Ozone water – e.g. in dental treatments optimally applied as a spray or compress
Ozone sauna / Ozone bath
Ozonated oil – for applying on the skin for skin eruptions such as eczemas and conditions involving molds, funguses and lichens etc.
Bagging the affected part/limb – a closed system using O3 gas fed into special plastic “boots” (for the legs and feet) or bags, foils etc fitting various parts of the body. These are of course made of ozone-resistant materials. The parts of the body treated have previously been moistened with water, as ozone cannot act on dry areas. This method is highly effective in treating ulcers, sores, open wounds, postoperative lesions, shingles (herpes) and infected areas etc.

Internal/Systemic Application (Usually opted for treating cancer patients):

Non invasive application (the treatment is usually not painful at all)

  • Rectal insufflation – The sensitive intestinal membranes directly absorb Ozone gas. The specially designed disposable tube is lubricated through which Ozone is introduced inside the rectum. A patient can apply it himself/herself. This method is primarily indicated for inflammatory conditions of the intestinal tract, but is finding increasing use for general revitalization processes.
  • Vaginal insufflation
  • Ear insufflation
  • Dental application
  • Invasive application
  • Intra-articular
  • Intradiscal
  • Subcutaneous
  • Intramuscular

Intravenous infusion of Ozonated Saline

  • Major AutoHemoTherapy
  • Minor AutoHemoTherapy
  • Recirculatory Hemoperfusion
I have personally known a colon-cancer patient who has been benefited wonderfully by ozone therapy and swears by it. However, since, the response in this case is a subjective matter, can’t confirm if this may work for all. I haven’t come across any cases that may have suffered any side-effects so will not be able to comment much on this matter, other than mentioning that it usually doesn’t result in side-effects if administered correctly.
In Mumbai (India), I know of Ozone Forum of India and Bombay Hospital who carry out Ozone Therapy.
Alternative Therapy 2: Tibetan Medicine

I don’t know much details about this medicine but have heard a lot of good things about it from different people. They have literary described this as a miraculous medicine that has helped treat cancer in their relatives/friends. I believe it works in the same manner for all types of cancers but have heard good reviews about it especially for treating breast cancer. If I’m not wrong, it is known by the name Men-Tsee-Khang or Tibetan Medical and Astrology Institute and has many branches across India and Nepal. The people who told me about it had sourced their medicines from the Malad branch.

Since, my knowledge about this alternative treatment is highly limited, I recommend you to do some research by yourself on this based on little information that I have provided.

Will update this space if I come across more substantial information on Tibetan Medicine and also welcome your inputs, in case you know anything about it.

Alternative Therapy 3: Iscador/Mistletoe

Iscador is the trade name of a group of anti-cancer treatments, all prepared from different types of mistletoe extracts. Treatment with Iscador aims at intensifying the body’s own forces against the cancer cell’s tendency towards autonomy. Iscador is a complementary rather than an alternative medicine. It is largely used by doctors in Europe and US for treatment of cancer but not permitted for use to all doctors in India as one needs to be trained to administer the dose. In India, following training in anthroposophic medicine, homoeopaths have begun to use Iscador for cancer cases. I have heard of Dr Farokh J. Master using it but to my knowledge the patient has to source out the injection himself/herself as it is either not available/allowed in India. The present scenario may have changed and Dr Farokh may be providing the injections himself.  Iscador is available in the US under the brand name Iscar. It is manufactured mainly in Switzerland and Germany and is then exported.

Alternative Therapy 4: Homeopathy

Doctors treating patients by homeopathic treatment is not uncommon in India but cancer is a challenging case so one needs to be careful if they decide to opt for homeopathy as the only mode of treatment for cancer. I have heard of many well-known doctors like Dr Prafull Vijayakar and Dr Farokh Master who take up cancer cases but haven’t met any patient who has benefited from homeopathic treatment. I clarify that just because I haven’t come across any patient who has benefited from homeopathy does not mean that homeopathy treatment may not prove helpful for a cancer case. Therefore, if you are someone who completely believes in homeopathy and trusts a particular homeopathic doctor, there doesn’t seem much harm in trying.

Alternative Therapy 5: Ayurveda

Again, like homeopathy, they are plenty of ayurvedic options available in India that claim to help in treating cancer. Infact, some claim to completely cure cancer. I have come across quite a few with such claims but unfortunately all of them failed to work in our case. However, there are a few people for whom Ayurveda has worked to treat cancer. Of many Ayurvedic options that we tried, one that I share with you is D. S. Research Centre (

It didn’t work in our case but has worked for many others so one can try sourcing ayurvedic medicines from them if he/she wishes to. After having been through the patient’s history, they normally sell 1 month medicine course worth around Rs 4600/- (including courier charges, I believe) directly from their branches. They have 5 branches with head-office in Varanasi in India.

Alternative Therapy 6: Soursop fruit

Lakshman Phal or Graviola or Soursop fruit (Annona muricata) has been discussed as a cancer-killing fruit by many people and that’s how I came to know about this fruit. Soursop belongs to the Annona family which is the same family that Sitaphal belongs to and hence once cut, it more or less appears like Sitaphal too. It is quite difficult to source and hence have never got a chance to try it. It can be consumed both by the patient and otherwise healthy individuals but the entire fruit is supposed to be used completely (not stored) once cut or else it loses it’s medicinal properties.

Soursop fruit

People in African and South American countries have used Soursop to treat infections with viruses or parasites, rheumatism, arthritis, depression and sickness.  There are some Soursop extracts that can help to treat these conditions.

In laboratory studies, Soursop extracts can kill some types of liver and breast cancer cells that are resistant to particular chemotherapy drugs.  But there haven’t been any large scale studies in humans.  So, there is no scientific proof yet that confirms whether  it can work as a cancer treatment or not.  Overall, there is no evidence to show that Soursop works as a cure for cancer but since the treatment for cancer is supported with hope, there are many who have Soursop as a medicinal fruit to treat cancer.

Note: Soursop may cause side-effects to certain people as it can cause nerve changes, causing symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease. Though, this is rare.

Though Soursop is an all-season fruit, in India it is available only is certain seasons (usually around January) in Crawford Market (Mumbai) or Godrej – Nature’s Basket and can also be procured from Kerala. In Kerala the fruit is called “Aathakka pazham” or “aatha chakka” and over there I suppose the fruit is available throughout the year.

Alternative Therapy 7: Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy definitely cannot cure or treat cancer but it can help in soothing out cancer-related symptoms or side-effects resulting from conventional treatments for cancer like nausea, headache, stress, anxiety, depression, etc. In short, it is mainly used for uplifting the spirit or mood of the person.

Aromatherapy is a practice in which scented oils are inhaled through the nose or rubbed on the body/body part during a massage. There are a lot of different essential oils that can be used via a diffuser in order to spread their fragrance in a room. Alternatively, it can also be used in the following ways:

  • Sprinkle 5-10 drops of oil in your bath.
  • Sprinkle 2-4 drops of oil on a tissue or a handkerchief, and hold it up to your nose. Keeping your eyes closed to avoid irritation, take 2-3 deep breaths through the nose.
  • Place 10-15 drops of oil in a 100ml spray-bottle of water. Shake the bottle and then spray fragrance around a room.

Example to demonstrate Candle and Reed diffusers

Commonly used oils can have the following benefits:
  • Headache relief: Peppermint
  • Immune system stimulation: Eucalyptus, rosemary, tea tree
  • Muscle tension relief: Chamomile, clary sage, eucalyptus, peppermint, ylang ylang
  • Indigestion relief: Peppermint
  • Relaxation: Ylang ylang, geranium, lavender, lemon, clary sage, and chamomile
  • Respiratory problem relief: Eucalyptus
  • Vomiting: Neroli and peppermint
  • Nausea: Ginger, lemon and peppermint
  • Fear: Rose, Neroli, Spikenard and Vetiver
  • Insomnia: Lavender, Neroli, Marjoram and Valerian
Hope you happen to find this post useful as I have experienced that often we regret missing out on trying certain treatments only because we didn’t know about them. If you have any queries or wish to be helped with contact information that I may know of, you may share your email id via the ‘comments’ link of this post and I shall surely respond with all the help that I may be able to provide.

Sometimes things work just because ‘You’ want them to!

Ever wondered why sometimes you no longer feel that sick once you’ve met the doctor… or remember those younger days when you fell down and got hurt and mom said, “Don’t worry baby, this pain will go away in just 2 mins” and what the hell – that pain actually did run away into nowhere…. and well, precisely in 2 mins.

Now think further… did you end up liking a song that you didn’t like initially ‘coz all your friends insisted it’s a great song?… or has plain, normal coffee tasted richer and smelled more aromatic just ‘coz the ambiance was great and the coffee mug was really cool?

I’m sure you have experienced at least one of these instances if not all… we all have… ‘coz we all have trained our minds to experience what we expect or want to expect.

It’s called the ‘placebo effect’ – an effective practice of years and basic requirement for homeopathic medicine to work… an option often tried out in clinical trials…  and an effective tool for marketers and advertisers to convince us.

The human brain, however remarkable, can be easily fooled. We are driven by emotions and so can be easily pushed towards making us want something, whether or not we really want it.

But well, it’s not a bad thing after all (though, there have been quite a lot of controversies surrounding placebos). Infact I feel it’s really good to be fooled sometimes if fooling our brain’s gonna do some good in return. Let’s look at where all, in my opinion, a “placebo effect” can be/has been created and helped:

Prescribed Placebos

Well, well… seems like a familiar zone? If not, it will – if you know that most of your homeopathy medicines have been nothing but sugar pills. Moreover, the trick is that you have convinced yourself that homeopathy takes time to work but it’s effective and will have no side-effects.

Hmm, knock, knock – Obviously, sugar pills aren’t going to have side-effects unless you are allergic to them. Secondly your own body’s working for you so it is going to take a while longer to heal. But all this healing was taking place while you were happily believing that those interesting sweet pills are busy curing you.

Well, that’s it – you believed. And that’s exactly what your doctor may have wanted you to do – Believe that you’re going to be okay with those teeny-weeny sugar pills.  End result: In most cases,  you did get okay.

Treating cold and cough, I guess works in a similar fashion – you are prescribed antibiotics which are supposed to attack bacterial infections not a viral infection like cold or cough. But voilà – the credit always goes to the antibiotics.

Hmm, now we know why doctors are rich

Well, who said Placebos are safe?

This works great, according to me, unless of course people aren’t duped for long in case of serious medical cases that needs attention from actual medicines.

Placebo Therapies

Reiki, magnet therapy, aroma therapy and like – don’t these work hard towards one main principle?… that’s – Making you feel good.

You are told, you’ll be cured… the kind touch or wonderful smells or objects that you don’t much understand creates an aura that pushes you to believe that you’re in for good… you believe the therapy will help and just because you believe in it, it does help. Well, with the amount of money you end up spending for these therapies, they better help.

Placebos building path to divinity

Ever realised that all those incense sticks, bells ringing, soothing candles, melodious chanting, swaying with music, holding hands and even pin-drops silence could actually be a way to get you more involved in the (religious) activity and strengthen your belief in prayers or your faith. If you haven’t realised, then think about it next time when you are in that environment.

Prayers can work wonders

But there’s nothing bad about it at all unless it turns you into a fanatic who opposes other faiths. We pray but believing in our prayers builds in positive energy and can actually push us to work towards making things happen. The best part is it often dissuades us to give up.

Drive in a placebo effect and make selling easier

It’s not news for Indians to know that hair oil acts as a good conditioner for hair. But say, with Mr Amitabh Bachchan and Mr Shahrukh Khan telling us that jadibutiyon wala ‘Himani Navratna Oil’ helps ease out tension and stress and makes us thanda thanda cool cool, we may end up believing that this particular brand of oil has more benefits. The strong smell of the oil on application may aid our belief further and we feel it really works. Though ultimately what may happen to relax us is actually a head massage irrespective of the oil used.

Advertising hair oils with added benefits is just one mere example but creating a placebo effect via advertising has been an age-old practice and the trend’s never gonna go.

Now, unless we aren’t going to be fooled into buying something super-drastic, I guess we can live with this selling game.

So, if you wish to share one of your experiences where you believed in something and it worked for you, do share.

Brushing up my culinary skills with Dhansak

Some of the best years of my life were spent studying and inculcating the best behaviour, lifestyle and virtues at my Parsi school, J B Vachha High School. We vachhaites fondly call it JBV. My alma mater is an only girls school so involving all the so-called girly learnings in the extra-curricular activities was a give-in. However, ‘cooking’, which was one of those activities, somehow never-ever managed to capture my interest. Well, I wouldn’t say I’m a bad cook but I simply don’t like cooking – and this repulsion towards cooking invites a regular weekend ranting from my mum that’s ignored quite shamelessly 😛

Now, for a change I gave in and decided to treat her and the family by cooking Dhansak for Sunday lunch as it would help in treating us to a meal different than other regular cuisines cooked at my place and also relive my days at JBV. For those who aren’t familiar with this popular Parsi dish – Dhansak is ideally a non-vegetarian wholesome meal which is a combination of Persian and Gujarati cuisines. It is usually accompanied with brown rice and salad but since my dad’s advised to avoid rice, I replaced rice with some delicious parathas that I had learnt from an office colleague, Seetha. Now, despite the fact that cooking isn’t really my mode of enjoyment, being the chef for a day (ahem, a meal) was a completely pleasurable experience. No point in not sharing some good vibes … so below is a basic, easy recipe for Veg Dhansak and Seetha’s Paratha’s for those who sail in the same boat as mine and for those who unlike me just love cooking…

Veg Dhansak

Ingredients – to cook for 4 people

2 tablepoons of oil

1/2 cup of toor dal (split pigeon peas)

1/2 cup of masoor dal (red lentils)

1/2 cup yellow or green moong dal (split golden / green gram)

Note: One’s free to use more variety of dals, if one wishes to

2 cups full of nicely chopped vegetables that includes brinjal, carrots, pumpkin, potatoes and green capsicum

Note: Again, one’s free to use more / different varieties of veggies here but brinjal and pumpkin’s a must

1/2 – 1 cup of chopped methi leaves (fenugreek leaves)

1 big finely diced onion

1 or 2 finely diced tomatoes

1 teaspoonful of ginger-garlic paste

Masalas (quantity is flexible to suit your taste):

Red chilli powder (approx. 1-2 teaspoons)

Turmeric powder (approx. 1/2 teaspoon)

Dhana-Jeera powder / Cumin-Coriander powder (approx. 2-3 teaspoons)

Garam Masala powder (approx. 2 teaspoons)

Sambhar Masala powder (approx. 1 teaspoon)

Salt (approx. 1 teaspoonful)

Directions for cooking Veg Dhansak

Step 1: Mix all the dals (lentils) together and wash them thoroughly till the water seems clear. Leave them soaked in water for around 10-15 mins.

Step 2: In a pressure cooker, add the dals, diced vegetables and fenugreek leaves together with around 4 cups of water and cook for 3-4 whistles or till the dals completely get cooked.

Step 3: Heat oil in a pan. Add diced onions and sauté till pink. Then, add ginger-garlic paste and allow it to be fried for a few seconds. Follow this by adding diced tomatoes and keep sautéing till they start breaking a little. Add all the masalas and salt and mix them well with the onions and tomatoes that are being cooked. Finally, add the mixture of cooked dals, vegetables and fenugreek leaves to this. Cook the dish by stirring it for a few minutes and voilà your Dhansak is ready.

Step 4: Garnish the Dhansak with some finely chopped coriander leaves.

Dhansak curry should ideally have a thick consitency. Non-vegetarians often add mutton or chicken to this preparation. I made an extra quantity of Dhansak without onions, garlic and potatoes as my mum tries to follow a jain diet. In a strict jain preparation, one can choose to add raw bananas in the veggies and perhaps some broccoli too. The best thing about Dhansak is that you can customise it according to your taste / choice of dals and vegetables.

Seetha’s parathas


1 teaspoon of oil

Wheat flour, Nachni flour (red millet flour) and Bajra flour (pearl millet flour) in 2:1:1 proportion

A fistful of finely chopped fenugreek leaves

1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder

1 teaspoon of red chilli powder

2 tablespoons of curds

Salt to taste

Directions for making Seetha’s parathas

Step 1: Mix all the ingredients (except curds) well with 1 teaspoon of oil, add curds and then knead it with water to make the dough. The dough should not be very soft or very hard but just right to be able to roll parathas well.

Step 2: Make ping-pong ball size of lumps of this dough and roll them in round parathas

Step 3: First put these rolled parathas onto a pre-heated tawa and allow it to turn slightly brown. Flip the paratha to its other side and yet again allow it to go slightly brown. Now, add some oil and press and flip both sides of the paratha to cook it completely. The hot Seetha’s parathas are now ready.

My report card:

Papa: “It’s very nice…”

after a while: “It was really very nice… I really liked it”

still after a while: “Oh, it was yum, beta. I really enjoyed it”

Aww, I love you popsy 🙂

Mamma: “Hmm, it’s turned out pretty well”

Yeah mamma, I do have the potential to match your cooking skills at times and yes, I ain’t absolutely lazy 😉

Brother: “I like the parathas but this Dhansak is okayyy”

Well, considering my brother never liked Dhansak, I would like to believe okayyy = good 😀

Do try the recipes yourselves if you like to and hope you enjoy eating them.

This is what I served

If I break what I resolve, blame it on my brain

We have entered the year 2011… some of us in a l’il tipsy state after an overdose of alcohol on New Year’s Eve, some with an air of drowsiness after a late night of talks and babbles with friends and some with a fresh start coupled with best efforts to begin their New Year on a good note. No matter how each one of us decide to embrace the first day of the year but often the first thought of the year consciously or sub-consciously that occurs to all of us is – “I resolve to achieve XYZ in this Year” … a list of New Year resolutions soon occupy our mental space or get jotted on a blank page. Some vow to quit smoking, while some commit to lose weight and some decide to finally kick out their laziness… (Well, I’m barring a few who resolve to stay exactly the way they are 😉 )

Alas, just a few days pass by and we find it hard to keep all that we resolved for the New Year. The cigarette seems more tempting than ever before, the cake wins over the salad and lethargy sets in, like forever. As time passes by, the New Year’s resolutions become no more than a distant memory and by the end of the year, we end up cursing ourselves for not sticking to what we resolved.

But here’s the thing – more than ourselves, it’s our brain that’s to be blamed. It makes us lose both the will and the power in all our attempts at willpower and makes temptation win.

Now to explain – We are creatures of habit, good or bad. We have been wired to get attracted to immediate rewards even if they are smaller than the rewards that we can achieve after a waiting period. Saying ‘no’ to immediate rewards is a test for our willpower, which most of us often fail.

As per the scientific study that investigated the mechanisms of addiction, the brain area – prefrontal cortex (located just behind the forehead) is largely responsible for willpower. While this bit of tissue has greatly expanded during human evolution, it probably hasn’t expanded enough. That’s because the prefrontal cortex has many other things to worry about besides New Year’s resolutions like keeping us focused, handling short-term memory and solving abstract problems. Now in addition to that, asking it to lose weight or quit smoking, etc. is often asking it to do one thing too many.

Often most of us end up doing something even if it’s not the right thing for us, say gobbling up a cake when we have promised to be on a strict diet. The 3-minute sinful indulgence feels more rewarding than a slimmer figure which seems too far-fetched in that particular moment. Now, even when we promise ourselves, yet again to stick to our diet, the indulgence has all possibilities to recur in the future. That’s because a pleasure-sensing chemical named dopamine conditions the brain to want that reward again and again – reinforcing the connection each time – especially when it gets the right cue from our environment.The diagram below explains it further:

Now, it hasn’t been a new discovery for us that more often temptation wins over willpower, except of course most of us weren’t aware of the scientific mechanism behind it. But what makes this study useful is how we can apply it for our betterment. The trick is to train our minds for acquiring rewards after a waiting period. The task is definitely not an easy one and yes, even scientists who recognize the scientific mechanism can fall prey but such a habit can at most be successfully inculcated in our kids. They can be trained to resist an impulse or build their willpower against superfluous immediate rewards. This conditioning can help them ingrain a better lifestyle and make them better achievers in future. A long-known Marshmallow study by Walter Mischel helps us understand that. In the study, a group of four-year olds were made to sit in an isolated room and given a marshmallow. They were told that they could either eat the marshmallow right away or wait for 20 minutes after which they would get two marshmallows. Most kids ate the marshmallow soon after they were left alone with it while few others waited for 20 mins to get one more. The kids who ate the marshmallow immediately were considered to be oriented towards the present while the other few were considered to be oriented towards the future. When these children were interviewed again when they were 18 years old, there was amazing difference between children who could delay gratification and those who couldn’t resist the immediate temptation. The former scored better in their SAT scores, coped better under pressure and were self-reliant and confident while the latter over-reacted to frustration, were indecisive and prone to jealousy. This experiment has then been practiced by a number of scientists, researchers and psychologists and am sharing below the one carried out by Dr David Walsh to give you a glimpse of how it was conducted:

As all experimental studies cannot promise the same verifiable results all times in different situations, so can’t this one in particular. However, it doesn’t harm in being aware and conscious that the two marshmallows promised after a little waiting period are more rewarding than the immediate one. It’s about trusting our own power that we will get two marshmallows, if we follow a certain path. So, whenever temptation tries to tease you, do think for a moment – ‘What’s my second marshmallow: more money?,… better health?,… better relationship?,… a house?’ If you choose to resist the first marshmallow, you are sure to get any of these second marshmallows. So, follow your chosen path and wish you all a very Happy New Year that wins you lots of marshmallows 🙂