Sharpen your Skills


Once upon a time a very strong woodcutter asked for a job with a timber merchant, and he got it. His salary was really good and so were the working conditions. For that reason, the woodcutter was determined to do his best.

His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he was supposed to fell the trees. The first day, the woodcutter brought down 15 trees.

” Congratulations,” the boss said. ” Carry on with your work!”

Highly motivated by the words of his boss, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he only could bring 10 trees down. The third day he tried even harder, but he was only able to bring down 7 trees.

Day after day he was bringing lesser number of trees down.

” I must be losing my strength”, the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on.

” When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” the boss asked.
” Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees…”

That’s right. Most of us NEVER update our skills. We think that whatever we have learned is very much enough. But good is not good when better is expected. Sharpening our skills from time to time is the key to success.

 

 

 

A SAVOURY SOUP TO FIGHT COLDS


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  A SAVOURY SOUP TO FIGHT COLDS

  

A savoury soup to fight colds and help you stay healthy this winter

As the weather gets cold and the snow starts to fall, why not snuggle up with a bowl of comforting soup that will warm and soothe your soul? There’s nothing quite like coming in from the cold outdoors to a warm bowl of soup and hunk of whole grain bread.  This holiday soup will also boost your immune system during a time when we are indoors more often, and at heightened risk for catching a cold or flu.

The unique blend of spices is what really sets this soup apart from the rest. Saffron is high in antioxidants and a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc, and magnesium. Turmeric spice, found in curry powder, is a powerful anti-inflammatory high in manganese, iron, B6, and fibre. Cinnamon is also well-known for its beneficial effect on blood sugar and it’s believed to improve energy, vitality, and circulation.

Combine these powerhouse spices with an array of vegetables like carrots, onion, spinach, and zucchini and you have one healthy soup for the soul…and entire body! Think of it as chicken soup for the soul, only with a healthier, modern twist.

Holiday soup for the soul

Red quinoa, a gluten-free complete protein source, adds a beautiful pop of red to this festive soup. Toss in some chopped zucchini and spinach and you have a red and green holiday soup that will steal the show at your next holiday dinner. This soup tastes even better the next day after the flavours develop.
Yield: 8-10 cups

Ingredients:
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 vegetable bouillon cube + 6 cups boiling water (or use 6 cups vegetable broth)
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red quinoa, uncooked
1.5-2 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed (about one 15oz can)
1 tsp good-quality curry powder
Pinch or two of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
2 cups baby spinach leaves, well rinsed and roughly chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch of saffron threads

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over low-medium heat. Add the chopped sweet onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and zucchini and continue to sauté for about 5-7 minutes.

2. Place your bouillon cube into a medium sized bowl. Boil 6 cups of water and pour over the bouillon cube. Stir well to dissolve. Alternatively you can use 6 cups of vegetable broth.

3. Add bouillon mixture (or broth), tomatoes, red quinoa, black beans, spices, and seasonings. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Add the roughly chopped spinach, stir well, and cover. Simmer on low for about 15-20 minutes. The longer you cook it the more the flavours will develop. Taste test and adjust seasonings if necessary. Garnish with nuts of choice if preferred.


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most coughs does n’t respond to antibiotics


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Study participants were 18 and older and had sought treatment for an acute cough — meaning they’d had the cough for less than a month — which is one of the most common illnesses seen by primary care doctors. There was no reason to suspect that any of them had the lung infection pneumonia, which is treated with antibiotics.

Participants took the antibiotic three times daily for seven days. While they had no better recovery than those taking the dummy pills, they were more likely to report side effects such as nausea, rash and diarrhea, according to the study, published online Dec. 19 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

That said, more people in the placebo group did experience new or worsening symptoms, but this did not occur frequently enough to justify treating everyone with antibiotics. Thirty people would need to be treated with antibiotics to prevent one person from developing new or worsening symptoms, the study found.

The study is the largest to date that shows antibiotics do not help treat lower-respiratory infections, the researchers say.

Indiscriminate use of antibiotics may also pose risks, Schuetz said. “The main risk from antibiotics is related to direct side effects such as severe diarrhea,” he said. “The other risk relates to emergence of multi-resistant bacteria, which on a population level are a threat to society as antibiotics may not work properly.”

Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that many patients beg for antibiotics to nip a cold in the bud. “This is not how it works,” he said. “Viruses such as the common cold do not respond to antibiotics.”

So what does work? “Comfort care, such as more sleep, drinking lots of fluids, and using a humidifier at night,” he said. “If you have a cough or lower respiratory tract infection, go to the doctor and let him examine you.” The doctor can take a culture of any mucus that comes up with the cough to see if there is a bacteria present, he explained.

“Getting antibiotics for a dry cough without taking a culture is doing a disservice,” he said. “There is no benefit and there may be a slight risk.”

SOURCES: Philipp Schuetz, M.D., M.P.H., Kantonsspital Aarau, Tellstrasse, Aarau, Switzerland; Len Horovitz, M.D., pulmonologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Dec. 19, 2012, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, online

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A SAVOURY SOUP TO FIGHT COLDS


 

  A SAVOURY SOUP TO FIGHT COLDS

  

A savoury soup to fight colds and help you stay healthy this winter

Click here to join World Malayali Club or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/worldmalayaliclub/
Photo credit: Angela Liddon

As the weather gets cold and the snow starts to fall, why not snuggle up with a bowl of comforting soup that will warm and soothe your soul? There’s nothing quite like coming in from the cold outdoors to a warm bowl of soup and hunk of whole grain bread.  This holiday soup will also boost your immune system during a time when we are indoors more often, and at heightened risk for catching a cold or flu. 

The unique blend of spices is what really sets this soup apart from the rest. Saffron is high in antioxidants and a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc, and magnesium. Turmeric spice, found in curry powder, is a powerful anti-inflammatory high in manganese, iron, B6, and fibre. Cinnamon is also well-known for its beneficial effect on blood sugar and it’s believed to improve energy, vitality, and circulation. 

Combine these powerhouse spices with an array of vegetables like carrots, onion, spinach, and zucchini and you have one healthy soup for the soul…and entire body! Think of it as chicken soup for the soul, only with a healthier, modern twist.

Holiday soup for the soul

Red quinoa, a gluten-free complete protein source, adds a beautiful pop of red to this festive soup. Toss in some chopped zucchini and spinach and you have a red and green holiday soup that will steal the show at your next holiday dinner. This soup tastes even better the next day after the flavours develop.
Yield: 8-10 cups

Ingredients:
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped 
3 cloves garlic, minced 
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped 
1 medium zucchini, chopped 
1 vegetable bouillon cube + 6 cups boiling water (or use 6 cups vegetable broth)
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes 
1/2 cup red quinoa, uncooked 
1.5-2 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed (about one 15oz can) 
1 tsp good-quality curry powder 
Pinch or two of ground cinnamon 
Pinch of ground nutmeg 
2 cups baby spinach leaves, well rinsed and roughly chopped 
1/2 tsp kosher salt, to taste 
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
Pinch of saffron threads 
 
Directions: 
1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over low-medium heat. Add the chopped sweet onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and zucchini and continue to sauté for about 5-7 minutes.

2. Place your bouillon cube into a medium sized bowl. Boil 6 cups of water and pour over the bouillon cube. Stir well to dissolve. Alternatively you can use 6 cups of vegetable broth. 

3. Add bouillon mixture (or broth), tomatoes, red quinoa, black beans, spices, and seasonings. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Add the roughly chopped spinach, stir well, and cover. Simmer on low for about 15-20 minutes. The longer you cook it the more the flavours will develop. Taste test and adjust seasonings if necessary. Garnish with nuts of choice if preferred.

 


Cough


 
 
 
 
 

 

 
Study participants were 18 and older and had sought treatment for an acute cough — meaning they’d had the cough for less than a month — which is one of the most common illnesses seen by primary care doctors. There was no reason to suspect that any of them had the lung infection pneumonia, which is treated with antibiotics.
 
Participants took the antibiotic three times daily for seven days. While they had no better recovery than those taking the dummy pills, they were more likely to report side effects such as nausea, rash and diarrhea, according to the study, published online Dec. 19 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
 
That said, more people in the placebo group did experience new or worsening symptoms, but this did not occur frequently enough to justify treating everyone with antibiotics. Thirty people would need to be treated with antibiotics to prevent one person from developing new or worsening symptoms, the study found.
 
The study is the largest to date that shows antibiotics do not help treat lower-respiratory infections, the researchers say.
 
Indiscriminate use of antibiotics may also pose risks, Schuetz said. “The main risk from antibiotics is related to direct side effects such as severe diarrhea,” he said. “The other risk relates to emergence of multi-resistant bacteria, which on a population level are a threat to society as antibiotics may not work properly.”
 
Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that many patients beg for antibiotics to nip a cold in the bud. “This is not how it works,” he said. “Viruses such as the common cold do not respond to antibiotics.”
 
So what does work? “Comfort care, such as more sleep, drinking lots of fluids, and using a humidifier at night,” he said. “If you have a cough or lower respiratory tract infection, go to the doctor and let him examine you.” The doctor can take a culture of any mucus that comes up with the cough to see if there is a bacteria present, he explained.
 
“Getting antibiotics for a dry cough without taking a culture is doing a disservice,” he said. “There is no benefit and there may be a slight risk.”
 
SOURCES: Philipp Schuetz, M.D., M.P.H., Kantonsspital Aarau, Tellstrasse, Aarau, Switzerland; Len Horovitz, M.D., pulmonologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Dec. 19, 2012, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, online
 

Rama’s Sister?????


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RAMA’S  SISTER

All versions of Ramayana begin with description of the kingdom of Kosala, its King Dasaratha, his three wives—Kausalya , Sumitra and Kaikeyi. Dasaratha’s kingdom was the richest, with no one having any wants. Yet Dasaratha was sad because he had no children. The Balakandam highlights the Putrakameshti Yaga, performed by Dasaratha for begetting a male progeny and the birth of his four sons- Rama, Lakshmana, Satrughana and Bharata. However, the history of Kosala prior to this event reveals that Dasaratha had a daughter. The Vasishtha Ramayana, also known as Jnana Ramayana, which is one version of the Ramayana written by Valmiki, in its Adi parva, refers to the ancestry of Dasaratha, his birth and how he became a king in the solar dynasty. This reveals an unknown story in the known purana about Dasaratha’s youth, marriage and how he became the father of a female child. Adbhuta Ramayana and Adhyatama Ramayana also refer to this subject. 

Aja was the 38th king in the solar dynasty. He was ruling the kingdom of Kosala on the southern banks of the Sarayu River in the northern part of India. Ayodhya was his capital. Northern Kosala, on the northern bank of the Sarayu, was ruled by another king, who also hailed from another branch of the Solar Dynasty. Aja was a king who spent most of his time on earthly pleasures. His wife was Indumati. She was an apsara  who was born on this earth on account of a curse. Once, while Aja was spending his time pleasantly with his wife in the garden of his palace, sage Narada was traversing the sky. A flower garland adorning his Veena fell on Indumati. It redeemed Indumati from the curse. She regained her form as on apsara and vanished from the earth forever, taking leave of Aja. The grief-stricken King wanted to follow her and he wore the garland. But he could not vanish like her. Unable to bear the separation from his beloved wife, he ran into the palace and committed suicide. Aja’s son was only eight months old when he died. Sumantra was the most intelligent minister in the kingdom and Vasistha was the Rajguru . Vasishtha requested Sumantra to rule the kingdom on behalf of Aja’s son. He then left the child in the care of a great guru, Marudanva, who was adept in all sastras, including archery. The little boy had the privilege of drinking the milk of Nandini, the divine cow. Marudanva brought up the child as a wise man and a strong warrior. 

The child was Dasaratha and became the ruler of southern Kosala when he attained the age of 18. He became a powerful king. He could drive his chariot in ten directions – the eight traditional directions and upwards and downwards and thus came to be known as Dasaratha. The kind of northern Kosala agreed to rule under his patronage. He had a beautiful daughter, Kausalya, whom Dasaratha wanted to marry. The King agreed. But he did not know that he and Dasaratha were closely related, coming from the same gotra. 

Ravana, the demon king of Lanka was a contemporary of Dasaratha. He was a great Shiva Bhakta. Once he went to Kailas and played the Sama Veda on his Veena. Siva was pleased and blessed him with many powers. On his way back from Kailas, Ravana went to Brahmaloka to pay respects to his great grandfather, Brahma. The latter was delighted to see his great grandson and granted him boons and gave him the powerful weapon, the Brahmastra. When Ravana wanted to live for ever, Brahma replied that it was not possible and said his death would be at the hands of a divine son to be born to Dasaratha and Kausalya. Ravana became furious and decided to kill Kausalya even before her marriage. But his wife Mandodari, pleaded with him not to commit the sin of killing a woman. She suggested that Ravana could prevent that marriage by separating Kausalya from Dasaratha. Ravana agreed to this proposal and sent a few asuras  to kidnap Kausalya, put her in a box and float it in  the Sarayu River so that she would not  survive. Thus the sin of killing a woman would not fall on him and he could also prevent the marriage of Dasaratha and Kausalya, he believed. At midnight as Dasaratha was crossing the Sarayu after the conquest he noticed a box being thrown into the river  from a hillock by some people. Dasaratha jumped out from his boat and fought with them. They were Ravana’s asuras who resorted to magical tactics. Hence Dasaratha could not defeat them. Meanwhile, the box was floating away fast. Dasaratha surmised that there must be somebody inside and jumped into the water to save that person. The box continued its journey and when the Sarayu mingled with the Ganga, it began floating in the Ganga. Dasaratha, who was swimming fast, became tired. Jatayu, the King of eagles, who was flying past, saw and rescued him. He tended to Dasaratha’s wounds and made him regain his strength. When Dasaratha narrated the tale of the box, Jatayu took him on his back and flew away, searching for the box. They located it in the midst of water weeds in an island near the estuary of Ganga. When they reached the spot, Narada, who knew about the whole story came there. They opened the box and found Kausalya in an unconscious state. 

Through Narada’s power she regained consciousness. Dasaratha’s joy knew no bounds. Narada said it was the right time for the marriage of Dasaratha and Kausalya. He sought the presence of the Devas at the spot and performed the marriage. Narada, Jatayu and the Devas blessed the marriage. Thereafter, Jatayu took Dasaratha and Kausalya on his back to Ayodhya, where the marriage ceremonies were again performed elaborately with fanfare and the blessings of Vasishtha and Sumantra. Kausalya soon attained motherhood. She gave birth to a female child which unfortunately had a handicap in its leg. The child was named Shantai. The palace doctors tried their best to remove the handicap but failed. Vashishtha consoled Dasaratha and Kausalya. He said that the handicap was due to the marriage between close cousins—Dasaratha and Kausalya belonged to the same gotra and she would become normal if given in adoption to a divine couple. Accordingly, Dasaratha and Kausalya gave the child in adoption to Romapada, the king of Angadesa. With due care and treatment, Shantai’s disability vanished. Romapada performed her marriage with Rishyasringa Maharishi. It was after Shantai was given in adoption that Dasaratha got married to Sumitra and Kaikeyi with the hope of getting healthy children. As he had no issue even after that, he arranged for the Putrakameshti Yaga on the advice of the sages. It was Rishyasringa who performed the Yaga and enabled Dasaratha to beget four sons. 

This unknown story in the Ramayana highlights that Shantai was Sri Rama’s elder sister. It also brings to light that the ancient wisdom on the ill effect of consanguineous marriages.
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Ramayana – Rama’s sister??????


 

RAMA’S  SISTER

All versions of Ramayana begin with description of the kingdom of Kosala, its King Dasaratha, his three wives—Kausalya , Sumitra and Kaikeyi. Dasaratha’s kingdom was the richest, with no one having any wants. Yet Dasaratha was sad because he had no children. The Balakandam highlights the Putrakameshti Yaga, performed by Dasaratha for begetting a male progeny and the birth of his four sons- Rama, Lakshmana, Satrughana and Bharata. However, the history of Kosala prior to this event reveals that Dasaratha had a daughter. The Vasishtha Ramayana, also known as Jnana Ramayana, which is one version of the Ramayana written by Valmiki, in its Adi parva, refers to the ancestry of Dasaratha, his birth and how he became a king in the solar dynasty. This reveals an unknown story in the known purana about Dasaratha’s youth, marriage and how he became the father of a female child. Adbhuta Ramayana and Adhyatama Ramayana also refer to this subject. 
 
Aja was the 38th king in the solar dynasty. He was ruling the kingdom of Kosala on the southern banks of the Sarayu River in the northern part of India. Ayodhya was his capital. Northern Kosala, on the northern bank of the Sarayu, was ruled by another king, who also hailed from another branch of the Solar Dynasty. Aja was a king who spent most of his time on earthly pleasures. His wife was Indumati. She was an apsara  who was born on this earth on account of a curse. Once, while Aja was spending his time pleasantly with his wife in the garden of his palace, sage Narada was traversing the sky. A flower garland adorning his Veena fell on Indumati. It redeemed Indumati from the curse. She regained her form as on apsara and vanished from the earth forever, taking leave of Aja. The grief-stricken King wanted to follow her and he wore the garland. But he could not vanish like her. Unable to bear the separation from his beloved wife, he ran into the palace and committed suicide. Aja’s son was only eight months old when he died. Sumantra was the most intelligent minister in the kingdom and Vasistha was the Rajguru . Vasishtha requested Sumantra to rule the kingdom on behalf of Aja’s son. He then left the child in the care of a great guru, Marudanva, who was adept in all sastras, including archery. The little boy had the privilege of drinking the milk of Nandini, the divine cow. Marudanva brought up the child as a wise man and a strong warrior. 
 
The child was Dasaratha and became the ruler of southern Kosala when he attained the age of 18. He became a powerful king. He could drive his chariot in ten directions – the eight traditional directions and upwards and downwards and thus came to be known as Dasaratha. The kind of northern Kosala agreed to rule under his patronage. He had a beautiful daughter, Kausalya, whom Dasaratha wanted to marry. The King agreed. But he did not know that he and Dasaratha were closely related, coming from the same gotra. 
 
Ravana, the demon king of Lanka was a contemporary of Dasaratha. He was a great Shiva Bhakta. Once he went to Kailas and played the Sama Veda on his Veena. Siva was pleased and blessed him with many powers. On his way back from Kailas, Ravana went to Brahmaloka to pay respects to his great grandfather, Brahma. The latter was delighted to see his great grandson and granted him boons and gave him the powerful weapon, the Brahmastra. When Ravana wanted to live for ever, Brahma replied that it was not possible and said his death would be at the hands of a divine son to be born to Dasaratha and Kausalya. Ravana became furious and decided to kill Kausalya even before her marriage. But his wife Mandodari, pleaded with him not to commit the sin of killing a woman. She suggested that Ravana could prevent that marriage by separating Kausalya from Dasaratha. Ravana agreed to this proposal and sent a few asuras  to kidnap Kausalya, put her in a box and float it in  the Sarayu River so that she would not  survive. Thus the sin of killing a woman would not fall on him and he could also prevent the marriage of Dasaratha and Kausalya, he believed. At midnight as Dasaratha was crossing the Sarayu after the conquest he noticed a box being thrown into the river  from a hillock by some people. Dasaratha jumped out from his boat and fought with them. They were Ravana’s asuras who resorted to magical tactics. Hence Dasaratha could not defeat them. Meanwhile, the box was floating away fast. Dasaratha surmised that there must be somebody inside and jumped into the water to save that person. The box continued its journey and when the Sarayu mingled with the Ganga, it began floating in the Ganga. Dasaratha, who was swimming fast, became tired. Jatayu, the King of eagles, who was flying past, saw and rescued him. He tended to Dasaratha’s wounds and made him regain his strength. When Dasaratha narrated the tale of the box, Jatayu took him on his back and flew away, searching for the box. They located it in the midst of water weeds in an island near the estuary of Ganga. When they reached the spot, Narada, who knew about the whole story came there. They opened the box and found Kausalya in an unconscious state. 
 
Through Narada’s power she regained consciousness. Dasaratha’s joy knew no bounds. Narada said it was the right time for the marriage of Dasaratha and Kausalya. He sought the presence of the Devas at the spot and performed the marriage. Narada, Jatayu and the Devas blessed the marriage. Thereafter, Jatayu took Dasaratha and Kausalya on his back to Ayodhya, where the marriage ceremonies were again performed elaborately with fanfare and the blessings of Vasishtha and Sumantra. Kausalya soon attained motherhood. She gave birth to a female child which unfortunately had a handicap in its leg. The child was named Shantai. The palace doctors tried their best to remove the handicap but failed. Vashishtha consoled Dasaratha and Kausalya. He said that the handicap was due to the marriage between close cousins—Dasaratha and Kausalya belonged to the same gotra and she would become normal if given in adoption to a divine couple. Accordingly, Dasaratha and Kausalya gave the child in adoption to Romapada, the king of Angadesa. With due care and treatment, Shantai’s disability vanished. Romapada performed her marriage with Rishyasringa Maharishi. It was after Shantai was given in adoption that Dasaratha got married to Sumitra and Kaikeyi with the hope of getting healthy children. As he had no issue even after that, he arranged for the Putrakameshti Yaga on the advice of the sages. It was Rishyasringa who performed the Yaga and enabled Dasaratha to beget four sons. 
 
This unknown story in the Ramayana highlights that Shantai was Sri Rama’s elder sister. It also brings to light that the ancient wisdom on the ill effect of consanguine marriages.
 
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