Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wisdom - Is That Real?

Let me first of all steer clear of a possible misconception that may occur after reading this article. I am not a scholar of Hindu scriptures. I have not even learnt Sanskrit. But I did read a lot of spiritual teachings. Passing references to certain Upanishadic verses fascinate me. At the same time I do get a little sad to see, even stalwarts like Swami Chinmayananda having misconceptions about certain Upanishadic verses. For example he quotes a verse from, well, I think Mundakopanishad मूंदक उपनिषद्. It goes like this - "न तत्र सूर्यो भाति न चन्द्र तारकं I नेमा विद्युतो भाति, कुतोयम अग्निः I तमेव भान्तमनुभाति सर्वं I तस्य भासा सर्वमिदं विभाति I - meaning, - there the sun does not emit light; neither moon nor the stars do. Even lightning has no light, where is fire? You are the only light and from that everything else reflects; and that is how the illusion that all these have light. Chinmaya says this mantra is the main chant of worship in the temples while casting the mangalaarati (मंगलारती) to the reigning idol, which clearly means that the verse is in praise of God. This comes as a reference while explaining what is Brahman (ब्रह्मा). So, it means that the whole of universe is visible through the only light that You, the God Almighty emits. Whereas, Chinmaya, while giving an explanation to the meaning of 'Upanishad' says - उप is near; नि is below or lower level and शाद is listening. So Upanishads means listening to the master sitting near on the ground below. That clearly refers 'You'  तम (तम + एव = तमेव) in the श्लोक - verse - to the listener, शिष्य or चेला ie., student, pupil, not God. So, you are the only light, certainly refers to the listener, the learner, not God!

God is my personal creation, because my God is what I want Him to be, right? Well you may not agree, but then you sure, will agree with learned spiritual luminaries and Swami Vivekananda, I hope is one such luminary. In his prayer, he says "May I be born again and again to suffer the thousands of miseries................ above all, my God the poor, my God the miserable, my God the wicked, is the sole motto of my prayer". Can the Swami's God different from mine? If not, for sure, my God is my creation, my sacred illusion!

So, the only light that exists, emanates from me, and from that light I create this universe around me.

In the same breath, Swami Chinmayananda opines that God is Brahman ब्रह्मा. But look at this, - a German research fellow, one Wilhelm Halbfass, a scientist, in his research paper, an attempt to establish the meaning of Akasha आकाशा which the later Upanishads bring in as the fifth element of matter - पंचभूत. In Chhandogya छान्दोग्य and earlier Upanishads there were only four elements - Earth, Light, Air and Fire. In his attempt to elaborate the meaning of this fifth element 'aakaasha' आकाश, he quotes quite a few verses from various Upanishads, one of which means, - 'So far as this अयं आकाश outer space (space is not an exact word for आकाश in English, there is no equivalent word) extends, thus far extends my inner space - अंतर्ह्रादयाकाश. There is everything, - that which I have, that which I do not and that I wish to have.' Halbfass further establishes, with the help of Upanishadic verses that aakasha आकाश is Brahman ब्रह्मा - universe.

If you agree with me in my inference then what I complained about Chinmayananda is right, that the only light that exists emanates from me, not my God. But I agree, this universe is not a separate entity from God. And that according to Shankaracharya, is true Vedic wisdom, when he declares अहम् ब्रहमास्मी - I am Universe or God! It is up to you to accept or reject this wisdom as real or illusory. For me, the very word 'wisdom' is creation of the mind just as every other word, to which I give meanings! Any takers?

Sunday, December 26, 2010


What is cheating?

The answer seems to be very simple at the outset, - you promise something and do something else; offer something and give something else; and there are so many ways of cheating from that poor fellow shouting from the top of his voice at the street corner and the corporate spending even 40% and over of their total turn over on advertisements to sell a brand, - is that not? But the more you go deeper into this social malaise, the more amazing ways of cheating you discover .

We have a lot of god men and gurus around us promising eternal peace. You listen to one single lecture of this spiritual preacher, almost instantly you become a devotee of this man (or woman - there are many ammas) offering you eternal peace of mind. Most of them have abundant knowledge of scriptures, added with excellent oratory skills, sometimes with superb hold on the language/s. That makes you, especially the educated ones, an ideal prey of this person. I am yet to see a god man/guru without a spin of huge wealth, all the time preaching the worthlessness of wealth. I call them cheats, because it is absolutely impossible for any human being, however high on the spiritual levels, however learned of the scriptures, to give you peace of mind or bliss, enlightenment or whatever you wish to call it. Because the very thing you call it - peace, bliss etc., - is a creation of the mind, non existent, an illusion for which you do not need anybody to give you. If not, you are the one and only person who can give it to yourself!

Less said about spiritual cheating, the better. So coming to the intricacies of social cheating - there is gold mine of research in the field of politics to discover unimaginable forms of cheating - I take up the matter of psychiatry that offers abundant opportunities to the really competent psychiatrists not only to cheat unsuspecting public, and become super rich, but also earn a great name and fame in the society, - immediate, extended and even international societies. I have known one such person.

U.G. Krishnamurti, who recently passed away in his nineties, in a very competent and alert, witty and forthright state of mind as ever, once said in an interview to a reputed psychiatrist that ".... there is not much of a difference between you as a practicing psychiatrist and me as a patient. We both have similar irrational thoughts. The difference that puts you outside a mental asylum and me inside it is that, you suppress your thoughts, I don't!...". I am a taker of this comment.

There are problems, some on trivial matters which you blow out of proportion, and some real serious, sometimes even life threatening mental problems. But the basic thing in approaching a psychiatrist in the hope of getting a solution to the problem is your trust in the abilities of the trained counselor on the basis of his fame and name and to some extent the propaganda that gets spread in the society with or without intentions. Depending on his competence, the psychiatrist comes to know of the level of trust the patient or his attenders have in him, in the very first meeting. Please try to follow me; the moment I come to know of the exact position I have in your mind, the level of trust you have in me, I am easily lured into safely cheating you. As a psychiatrist, I also come to know of your paying capabilities within no time at all. Above all, I also know that it is more of the trust that solves your mental problem than the drugs I prescribe, many a time. Of course, in chronic cases of dual and multiple personalities and schizophrenia, drugs play almost the entire part of treatment. But whether chronic mental cases can be cured is debatable.

Long back, to my question, one psychiatrist told me -" Yes, almost all the depression cases are fully curable just through proper counseling, without or minimal use of drugs. But that is a time consuming process. In advanced countries like America, patients pay exorbitantly for the time of a counselor so that he may take only one or two patients at a time; but here in India, people neither have the time nor they pay that kind of money for the time they take of the counselor. And that makes usage of drugs a primary need in the treatment". Does that suggest earning is primary in psychological treatment, or for that matter the entire medical profession? Why should the time of a professional medical man cost exorbitantly? Why then should there be that Hippocratic oath a medical student is forced to take right in the beginning of his learning? Is that not a farce? And is it not possible to evaluate the time of a professional judiciously?

Now consider this. Most, if not all of psychotic drugs are habit forming with varying degrees and period of intake. Of course, they say that the modern drugs are not habit forming. There is also authentic report that research in psychiatry has seen a sea change in recent times. But I consider even this as a matter of trust, for, there were similar promises, nay, research reports in the past too, about habit forming properties of psychotic drugs. For example when Alprazolam first came into the market as a non-habit forming tranquiliser, prescriptions switched over to it from earlier forms of drugs that were known to be habit forming. This was over 20 years back, and I know people who started taking an alprazolam brand with humble 0.25 Mg strength with good effect, over 20 years back, do not get proper sleep even with 1.5 Mg - 6 times of the initial strength, today, and 20 years of continuous use with increased strength is certainly an addiction, not just habit, is that not? And alprazolam brands are practically sold across the counter (ATC) without a prescription in this country. Think about other more potent drugs.

Coming back to trust and cheating, having been a medical distributor for over ten years, I have known the ratio between an end user's cost (MRP) and a distributor's costs, let alone manufacturer's. It is anywhere from 25% to 75%, a major portion of the margin going to the prescribing medical practitioner in the form of kind and cash incentives. Most of the psychotic drugs fall under higher margin bracket, even over 75%. Most of the psychotic drugs are habit forming, necessitating life time intake. Trust makes the killing in this process of money spinning. Trust cures, if at all. Trust also makes prescribing a necessary part of cure even if they are not needed in many cases. And all this makes a competent psychiatrist an ideal, legal and scrupulous cheat! And the person sticking to true ethical norms is thrown out of business, out of the very system mercilessly within no time, irrespective of the part he plays in the system. Antipropaganda is the most handy and the most effective weapon the unscrupulous elements in the field successfully use against him. Again, in this antithesis too, rumours or trust makes the killing.

The system that generates several lakh crores revenue in this poor country, is more to blame than individual. With full knowledge of this fact I have written this blog. Yet, I refuse to refrain from calling a cheat a cheat!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire

The other day I had been to the Austin Public Library. While scanning through the Philosophy section, this title drew my attention, not only because what it says - 'Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire', but also because of Deepak Chopra, quite some of whose books I have read. That was some three years back. I was gazing at the title for a few long minutes. Is it really possible to fulfill a desire?

This question was making its way through the depths of my mind. Soon it pushed me into a deeply paradoxical situation. If I can really fulfill a desire, - say a promotion in my job or find a suitable woman to marry - does it really stop there? When I get the desire of promotion is fulfilled, my eyes immediately get trained to the next promotion! And if I really get a 'suitable'(There is no such thing as suitable; it is a temporary state of mind driven by prevailing situation or circumstances) woman and marry her, soon the desire of marrying a suitable woman gets replaced by expecting 'good' children. Does desire stop at any stage in life? At this age of 67, I still have desires. It doesn't matter what desires I have, at this age, good or bad, virtuous or dirty, etc., but it does matter to me to understand the impact of desires on my life.

Desire is a basic component of the mind. Desire is rooted in the very process of this mind splitting itself into 'me' and 'my mind(not me?). Hence, so far as this mind prevails, thus far stretches desire.

I am not preaching to stay away or suppress desire. I am not in the belief of "Burn all your desires" culture. I am not preaching celibacy either, another form of suppression. For me desire is a natural instinct of survival. It is the desire that makes me work for food when I am hungry. To get rid of desire is to wish death! Does that mean indulgence? To hoard more than necessary is not desire; it is greed. Indulgence is the result of greed; Over eating, for example. Greed is the root of all violence. It is in understanding my desire, separate from greed, without the influence of any social, cultural or traditional values, virtuous impositions, at a deeper level, at the very origin of my desire, that my life thrives. It is these given values that turn simple living desires into greed. Because at this level, where there is no influences and biases, you will be able to differentiate between desire and greed and the vital part played by fear between these two states of mind.

But is it possible to think without any influence - social, cultural, racial or hereditary values?...without a sense of sinning?...without a sense of pride and virtue? It is! Because all values are given to the mind; there are no internally created values, virtues and sins. In the process of discovering the truth of this statement there is the possibility to rid this mind at least for a moment from all its given values. And in this precise moment lies the meaning of life with all its desires and fulfillment; not in burning your desires.

All said and done, I did not take the book from the library, perhaps being well versed with Deepak Chopra style of teachings the desire to read one more of Deepak Chopra got burnt by itself; perhaps there was spontaneous fulfillment of the desire!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Date With Death - From The Memory Lane - 2

Having lived a checkered life with frequent change of profession, at this age of 67, perhaps I have many
interesting experiences to share with the world.

A very senior cousin of my wife's had burnt his fingers in attempting rather a large scale venture of tobacco farming in late sixties. When the company wound up within a short period incurring heavy losses, being the main promoter this old gentleman had to shoulder the burden of making good of a major portion of debts. In return he got some dry lands, which fell barren for a long period of over 15 years. It was not one single piece but small and big pieces scattered along a string of small villages by the side of dense forests. Having incurred losses, this gentleman had a wish to develop at least one piece of the lands he owned, not to make up his losses but for the pleasure of seeing at least a green garden out of the losses. Being still active in a couple of big businesses (upper middle class) along with a lot of social and community services, this fellow could not materialise his dreams himself. His age - then 60+, now nearly 90 -his search for the right man to take up the job failed. I came to know of it late in 1985. I took up the challenge in 1986 living almost alone on the lands since my children in different stages of school and college had to live in city and were taken care of by their maternal grand mother, a widow having no male children. As it necessitated, my wife was alternating between the farm and the house in the city like a visiting guest to both her husband and children.

I was reasonably successful in raising a horticulture farm. The first thing I did after constructing a small farm house was digging an open well at the lowest corner of the land. In fact, a piece of less than a quarter of an acre was bought at exorbitant cost for this very purpose of digging a well as striking water at the spot was almost certain as it was situated near a natural tank. The total acreage of the lands was 36, all dry sandy loam. There was no irrigation and agriculture was solely dependent on rain fall which was medium and erratic. So horticulture was the best option as also the land was on the slope of a hill having little or no retention of rain water. Water was struck at a depth of 30 feet and I dug the well with a diameter of 50 feet. (A swimming pool?!). In the dead of summer the water recuperation was 40,000 litres in 24 hours. With proper water management this kind of supply should be sufficient to develop the entire 36 acres into a horticulture farm, which I did in stages. At the time when the circumstances forced me to leave the farm after a ten year toil, the garden had 500 coconut plants some of which just had started yielding, 350 mango plants of four best varieties of the region, which were already in the third year of yielding, 500 pomegranates of a very successful hybrid variety of those days, seedlings of which I personally procured from Sangli, Maharashtra and there were a few dozens of other fruits such as jack fruit, sapota (chickoo) cashew etc. It was at this juncture of vacating the farm I survived a murder and decoity attempt. My wife was with me at the farm.

It so happened that rumours got spread in the surrounding villages that after leaving the farm I would start a money lending business in Shimoga city. Three of the servants who worked for me for over 3 years each, thought I had abundant cash (you see, I was going to start lending business as per the info they collected) and had kept it at the farm house! The leader of this gang of three was a very trusted servant and had free access even to my bed room where I kept my double barrel gun hanging on the wall, always loaded. In fact this gun helped all human and wild animal threats in the beginning. People of the surrounding villages thought I was a retired army man and I did not try to clear the misconception, because in rural India people generally think that army personnel have licence to kill! This misconception helped me greatly.

That evening after fixing a bigger rented house in the city, I returned to the farm in my motorcycle by nightfall with my wife. No sooner we parked the bike, a small boy came from nowhere and delivered a slip and told me that some unknown people had come to see me and delivered the slip asking him to pass it on to me on my return. I opened the door, emptied the motorcycle boxes of the goods which I had to fetch from city from time to time, went to the bath room and lighted the gober gas stove below the boiler. I used to take bath in the evening after the works were over. There was no power, a usual thing to which we were accustomed. Lighted a candle and while changing the dress I took out the slip from the pocket. It was written in a very childish language. But the text could be clearly understood. I quickly looked at the wall where the the gun was hanging. It was not there! Raised my head towards the ceiling at the corner; the open door to the attic was staring at me; a few stars in the dark sky were visible through the gap of a couple of removed tiles. Panic started to set in. The very thing that had given me enormous courage, my gun was absent and the note said if I did not send my wife with all cash and valuables at 11 o'clock to a lonely place on the top of the hillock behind the house, both of us would be shot dead. The note also warned me not to use the phone, as the decoits were hiding in the bushes very near to the house and would come to know if I talked over phone.

Even though the phone connection was given to me on priority considering my situation living alone away from any human settlement at least by 2 kilometers, the line used to remain dead most of the time. There were 27 pylons erected to lay the line to connect from the main road which was three kilometers away from the house. I had to go personally to the rural exchange at a small town 7 Kms away to complain every time when the line went off. Those days there was no cell phone and BSNL, then DoT, was monopolistic service provider for telecommunication. I don't think I need to explain the quality of DoT service in those days, but the lineman at Sowlanga, where the rural exchange stood was a nice and compassionate man.would attend my complaint at the earliest. But his availability was always a problem as he was in charge of over half a dozen villages spread over some 15 Kms area. My phone was out of order for the previous 5 days and I could not contact Puttanna, the lineman. Only that morning while going to Shimoga, I had gone to his house and told his wife to tell Puttanna to set right my telephone line. He had already gone to some other village to make a new connection.

With much fears, not because the decoits would listen but because if the line was not working at all, I lifted the receiver and to my good luck there was dial tone and the trunk call, - yes, it was STD, not a direct call to Shimoga, but got immediately connected. That much was pure, a great luck as proved later. I kept myself very calm once the line got connected and my contact in Shimoga came on line. I briefly told him that I am in extreme danger and to fetch as many people as possible as fast as he could. The next two hours were felt like a millennium! The decoits did not come to know of my calling Shimoga and were waiting for 11 o'clock, hiding in the bushes very next behind the house and they simply fled as soon as they heard the sound of the Jeep and saw the head lights directed towards the farm from a distance. This we came to know only the next day when one of the three was caught by the police.

The Jeep arrived by 10:30 with six men prepared and ready to face any situation. That kind of the contact I had in Shimoga. Four of them remained with us and two went to the police station which was at the taluk headquarters 18 Kms away. Police came at around 12 midnight, but in the pitch darkness could not make a search even though they had come equipped with arms. Next morning one fellow was caught hiding in the forests. The whereabouts of the other two were not known. The gun was recovered, cartridges intact inside the barrel, thrown in a bush on the hillock while fleeing from the scene. The one caught by the police explained later during interrogation that they, - all three were my trusted servants, - planned to murder both of us even if we had surrendered and run away to Bombay the same night with the (imagined) booty!

Preciuos power did not arrive throughout!

Without a second thought we vacated the farm and moved to Shimoga the very next day without waiting for the preplanned date; we were given the keys to the new house the previous day. I am happy to have survived to write this account today.

It took full two years for me to get back my weapon through court. I have still retained it and as always it is loaded and lying in my bedroom!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

How Civilised Is This Civil Society We Live In?

Sometimes I seriously think of stopping my subscription to daily newspaper simply because each morning there is very disturbing news on the front page without fail. Why spoil the mood right in the morning, haahn? Just look at some of the front page headlines in today's Deccan Herald. "Hindu groups big threat: Rahul"; "Girl child sacrificed in Mangalore" (with a picture of a room containing tantra - black magic - materials); "Maoists massacre 7 Forward Bloc members (with picture of a few scattered dead bodies). And there are many news items inside the paper, which are so disturbing that the very meaning of civilisation becomes questionable.

The first thing I do everyday after scanning the front page headlines is solving the day's SU-DO-KU. The mental exercise prepares me to read the news columns with a sane and stable mind. After solving SU-DO-KU, I straight away go through the letters to the editor section. That makes me feel that we still have truly concerned intellectuals around us.

State Governor fights with incumbent government like a stooge of the opposition party, editorial column fearlessly calls ex-CJI a liar in the context of the retired CJI denying the allegations made by the Madras high court chief justice with documentary proof regarding the latest and biggest 2G scam, a renowned columnist promoting Dalit cause laments not because 2G scam happened but because the king pin in the scam is a dalit!

There are intellectuals like Arundhati Roy declaring her support to Marxists while they were killing security guards at will right in the middle of busy public streets and daring the government to arrest her, soon declaring that Kashmir is a free land and the government doing nothing. And there are secularists and human rights activists supporting freedom of expression when M.F.Hussain painted Hindu gods in the nude, abundantly displaying his cowardice by not painting similarly the revered icons of other religions.

The supreme court says in a passing remark on record that Bombay high court has something rotten, to which the Bombay high court not only expresses its displeasure but also legally appeals to the supreme court to expunge the remark from records and the supreme court outright rejects the plea making me liken the spat with some 5th grade pupils.

One Julian Assange succeeds in breaking all Internet security codes and reveals to the world documentary proof of the most disgusting things that happen between world governments in secrecy.

God men and religious gurus living in most irreligious materialistic ways are brought to the notice of unsuspecting devotees with documentary proof such as video clips which the gurus deny as concocted or doctored. One of the most popular guru having the widest following aspires to become the prime minister of the nation to bring back the black money stashed away in Swiss banks, which is said to be so huge that India needs no tax collection to run the administration for the next 30 years.

No! I am not depressed. I am only wondering if at all we are a civil society. I wonder if so called intellect is one more illusory creation of the stupid greedy mind!

Only very little is said in this article; lot more remains unsaid. After all, me, an old junk forgetful and unfit to live in this civilised society!

Friday, December 17, 2010

From The Memory Lane - 1

A lot of things pop up from the memory store during normal daily events. Of late, I have been thinking of putting at least some of them in words. So, this could be first of a series I hope to blog. Read on.

I am regular on the walking track of the residential park here since long, for both my morning and evening walks. Mornings I walk more and simply return home after the walk but in the evening I walk less and then take a seat for awhile. It has been during this period many people - old and young - made friends with me. Almost all of their first question has been - "Excuse me sir, are you a retired army personnel?" A six-footer with straight and erect body, disciplined style of walking with firm steps is natural to me and this perhaps makes people think I am retired army man and ask that question. I tell them the truth that I am retired small time businessman, having never been in military service. They could not hide their surprise.

This is how I have made quite some friends, some casual, some indulging in serious talks and some others feeling safe to reveal their innermost secrets to me! Otherwise, I am usually a shy loner almost never making the first move with strangers.

That military thing brings back an old memory to the fore. During my second year B.Sc. at St. Aloysius College of Mangalore I was a junior NCC cadet earning accolades from my seniors and the coach from Indian  Army. A conditional Short Service Commission offer came from the Indian Army for outstanding NCC cadets. The condition was that not only the degree should be completed at first attempt but also a senior grade certificate exam of the NCC should be passed. These two things were not much of a bother to me. But a third condition that my parent or guardian as the case maybe, should consent my joining the army in writing, because I was still a student irrespective of my age - minor or a major, legally. My big brother, my guardian in the absence of my late father refused to sign the statement in my commission application. There ended the matter. Let alone me the youngest, nobody in the family dared to talk against the wishes of my big brother.

People still thinking that I am a retired army man makes me look back at this incident and rue over my bad luck! For a brief moment I get depressed, - if my brother allowed me to join  the army I could have climbed up the ladder, I could have got many medals for valour, why, I could even have become regular on service without retiring after a short period. I could have made a successful army career. I feel sad for having missed the opportunity.

I think every person, irrespective of his/her level of knowledge, spirituality, social or administrative position however high, still rues over missed opportunity. I am sure the so called Godmen are not exception to this natural behavior of the mind. If you say you do not have any regrets for the past, I dare to say you are cheating yourself; none else!

The funny thing I notice every time when I indulge in this nonsense - I have lot many missed opportunities in life to rue, don't you? - I rue over only the good things I missed along with the opportunity. In the case in focus, what if I return home maimed for life? If dead by an enemy bullet, or bomb on the war front nothing is left to rue. Also what if I or my health failed to adjust with weather of the place of my posting? Above all, would I compromise with my most cherished principles if I am placed in a position of easy inflow of bribe?

Mind creates only good or happy things about past and rues, why? Desire and satisfaction are ever elusive, aren't they? Mind never stops desiring nor can it be satisfied. So how do I manage myself in such a reality of life? To me, acquiring the ability to see one's own thoughts without judgements, without criticism, as if the thought is of somebody else, totally unconcerned to me gives me much more clarity in seeing life; takes me much more closer to the reality. So, I never condemn myself for having such thoughts of missed opportunities. I clearly see that it is only a passing state of mind with an ability to bounce back to the present and that is why I always call this mind petty, little, shallow, and stupid! Any takers?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Return In The Same Coin You Are Paid

Maybe in 1990 or so, my nephew suddenly appears at my doors of my farm house early in the morning. He came from Bangalore and was working as a sales engineer for Wipro. A workaholic, a hereditary trait running in his blood, did not want to bunk work. It was a Sunday. It was an 8 hours journey by night bus to Shimoga in those days.

If I remember correctly, IT industry was just in its budding stage in late eighties through early nineties before it suddenly galloped at an unbelievable pace. Infosys(software) was in nascent stage and Wipro, a big name in consumer products, had just entered computer hardware business. The trend of campus interview was yet to arrive on the stage. But my nephew was just lucky to get a job in Wipro (Computer Hardware) before he had got his engineering degree.

After putting in seven years service very successfully in Wipro in their Customer Support cell, he was offered a lucrative job in a multinational based in Malaysia, for which he did not apply. America was a far cry. Before blindly grabbing the job he made inquiries with his friends and college colleagues about the working environment in Malaysia. He was given to understand that even though the remuneration was very good, far higher than any Indian company in IT field, there was no respect for employees whatever be his position. They used very bad mouth irrespective of who you are. Bastard, son of a bitch and other choicest abusive words were very common. Ganesh was in a dilemma whether to accept the job and go to Malaysia or continue to work for Wipro. That day, he came to me seeking a kind of counseling, or advice. I counseled him, not to accept or reject the offer but guided him to a lead, a thread in his personality, from which he can make the right decision himself. He rejected the offer.

A few days back I came across a news article in the dailies. I remembered the above incident, while reading the article with awe. The reporting starts as 'The Indian IT Industry usually quietly accepts as a professional hazard the abusive and racist reactions by Americans who accuse it of stealing their jobs'. The article is all about one Sridhar Vembu, an IITian successfully carrying on his software company, Zoho. What is unique about this company is that, Vembu demonstrated his belief that intellect and college education has no connection at all. He selected his first batch of about ten people from High School drop outs with a poor social background, hailing from rural India! He trained them in software according to their intellectual abilities. Today Zoho has grown into a 1200 employee strong IT product company and 10% or 120 of these employees were picked from Govt. Schools with poor back ground. There, of course, are engineering graduates too. Vembu, the CEO of the company wishes to recruit 40 to 50% from Govt. schools in the near future. This fast growing company is only six years old.

So, what is special about this Sridhar Vembu of Chennai? and what is the connection between the incident I mentioned in the opening paragraphs? The newspaper story states " centre agents who are met with abusive customer are instructed to disconnect the call without even returning the fire...." But Vembu after his address to the gathering at the NESCOM Product Conclave in Bangalore recently replied to a question " ...if you don't like to deal with me because of the color of my skin, then fuck you!..." That was in full glare of public!

The news article goes on to discuss the significant change taking place in the IT industry - the departure from the rule book and its impact on the industry. I am not going to discuss that issue here, but as Vembu subsequently says, what it would be to ourselves in place of America, which is in a state of deep economic recession, with the trend of Vietnamese and Bangladeshis are 'stealing' our jobs and the process is on the increase?

Today, Ganesh my nephew is in Mphasis headquartered in Chicago and in charge of entire Europe operations, plying between the continents at least three to four times a month. He never believed in the use of abusive language! He is in his forties and I do don't think he should change his attitude, which brought him enormous professional success. Am I right Ganesh?

Sunday, November 14, 2010


As such I am not a believer in soothsayers and fortune tellers. In fact it was in early eighties when I acquired a copy of a book titled "Living With The Himalayan Masters" on the suggestion of a friend then, actually made me rethink about my beliefs and re-evaluate my values. One thing led to another. A radical shift from light reading to serious thoughtful writings took place, without even my noticing it. From then on the questioning and searching for truth of life is going on and on, without stop till date. I am now in such a state that, I tend to question even Jiddu Krishnamurti, most of whose teachings I have accepted, but not without making my own inquiry. Bertrand Russell is another thinker I like most. In such a sound and rational frame of mind, it is really hard to stop myself from ridiculing these soothsayers and fortune tellers.

I came across a numerologist on the Internet. There was a brief friendship. Just to see the fun of it I gave her my date of birth. Lo! pat came the long reply in return post, of course, with a suggestion to buy an entire guide on my personal 'future'. There ended the matter and friendship!

But what she mentioned in her brief reporting resulting from my birth date numbers really stunned me. I give below a few lines from the report on my birth date numerological reading.

"You were born on a Wednesday under the astrological sign Libra. Your Life path number is 11.

Life Path Compatibility:
You are most compatible with those with the Life Path numbers 2, 4, 8, 11 & 22
You should get along well with those with the Life Path numbers 3 & 6.
You may or may not get along well with those with the Life Path number 9.
You are least compatible with those with the Life Path numbers 1, 5 & 7."
Stunned because I compared the the 'life path number' of the members of my close family with that of mine. The compatibility factor according to numerology resembled very closely with real facts!
Life path number is simply adding up the numbers, stage by stage of your date of birth, wherein month is given the chronological order in the English calender, to finally arrive at single digit. For example if you are born on 12th April, 1987, your life path number is calculated as follows:
Date of birth - 12/04/1987 -> 1+2 = 3
                                                   0+4 = 4
                  1+9+8+7 = 25 -> 2+5 = 7
            Add up total is   14 -> 1+4 = 5
5 is your life path number.
The number 2, according to the numerologist has unique features and it is mentioned as 11/2 or 20/2. Mine is 11/2, on which she gave me the brief profile. Whereas most of the character analysis matched reality, (I do not think the details are relevant here) the part that really stunned me is her account on birth number compatibility factor. As for character analysis, well, she explains positive side and negative side of number 2 (11/2 or 20/2). I think this part of a soothsayer is very important, because every personality has a positive side and a negative side. The way a soothsayer presents it makes all the difference.
As I said earlier, I like the teachings of J.Krishnamurti and the forceful language with powerful satire of Bertrand Russell in questioning all and sundry traditional, cultural and religious values of society. JK says we constantly modify the past to create future, a process that never allows you to live in the present. Neither past is relevant to the present nor the future, if only you are able to isolate yourself in the present where there is nothing known, nothing remembered and nothing foreseen - everything new. And that is supreme fact of life. Where comes foretelling? It is simply an art of psychological manipulation. A well trained psychiatrist can also give you a reasonably probable future after deeply studying your personality traits. And he is actually better placed to analyse compatibility factor. After all, mind is not a rational entity; it is a huge store house of memories - given, experienced, acquired and genetically recorded, all leading to speculate a future, and so irrational. In sum, mind is more of beliefs incapable of facing or seeing the constant change in the present, the only reality. That makes the mind keen to know the future. A state of mind, capable of change, that I call rational. But basically mind dwells on beliefs. And there is no rational belief, all belief is irrational. It is in understanding this very fact of life that makes much sense, because it is impossible to completely change your beliefs. One can only be temporarily rational for a brief period in his thoughts. If at all this happens to you, next time, notice how blissful you are in that rational state of mind, however brief.

And finally this could very much be my belief, yet, in that belief if you please, I am better off.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Magic Of Santoor And Its Maestro

I used to get tremendously attracted to the sound of a string instrument in the 60s but blissfully ignorant and thought it was Sitar! Hindi films used this instrument widely. Every situation, scene and sequences are depicted well by the back ground music in Hindi cinema and this instrument was very prominent whenever there was a romantic scene. In contrast, Sarangi, another string instrument, with suitable tunes to enhance the sadness of a situation, was used in the back ground. Sarangi, well known for its hue of sadness, today is sadly on the verge of extinction simply because there are no master players of this instrument today.

I came to know of the fact that the instrument which attracted me so much was not Sitar but actually quite a different kind of instrument and was called Santoor, rather lately in the 70s when the golden period of Hindi cinema music was in full bloom.

Santoor today, over a period of half a century has become synonymous with the maestro, Pundit Shivkumar Sharma. An ancient instrument of the folk music called the Sufiyana Mousiqui of Kashmir valley, Shivji, as the maestro is fondly called, picked this folk instrument, which was in a crude form, developed it, mastered it and made the Hindustani Classical world richer by recognising it at par with other age old, well established instruments of the genre.

Shivji came into classical Hindustani music at a tender age of five. Born to a Kashmiri pundit in Jammu, his father was a well known vocalist with national recognition. Young Shivkumar, though was interested in Tabla, was initiated into vocals by Pundit Umadutt Sharma, his father. And when the boy was growing, the father suggested him to pick the ancient Shatatantari from folklore, which the boy accepted. Thus the long journey of the instrument into recognition in the world of music started. During the transformation the instrument got its new name - Santoor.

The journey was not easy. In his own words in a recent Interview at Bangalore, Shivji says "When I started playing in a national concert in 1955, it was after a long journey during which I had brought in a lot of character to the instrument and had incorporated a lot of modifications in the playing technique". Not only playing technique,young Shivkumar had struggled a lot with restructuring the instrument too, to enable it to suit the demands of classical form of music; he has even added a few extra strings to produce the required musical notes. The smooth vibrations of the strings produced by striking with a special kind of twig, are highly pleasing to the ears. And the instrument gels easily in the depiction of romantic emotion in human mind, hence the preference in Hindi cinema...perhaps.

Before taking Santoor seriously as a career, the musician was in a dilemma, since by then, he had already mastered tabla and had given public performances. In the same interview he says, "I was learning both vocals and tabla but tabla really fascinated me. In the 50s I played tabla with a lot of artists like Pundit Ravishankar (that legendary sitar player) and Begum Akhtar (known as the Ghazal Queen of her time). At one point of time, I played with both tabla and santoor. But later I had to choose one of them and, I took to santoor"

Santoor is not the only instrument that was promoted to Hindustani Classical grade from folk music. Shehanai is another instrument which has come to that higher level from folklore. Just like Pundit Shivkumar Sharma is synonymous with santoor, late Ustad Bismillah Khan is with shehanai. He too, belonging to a temple musicians' family of Varanasi (Banares), who rendered music at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, developed the crude form of the trumpet to suit Hindustani Classical.

The pity is, there are no santoor or shehanai player to match these two maestros, at least to my knowledge, making them everlasting synonyms! It is more pitiable that an instrument like sarangi, a most preferred accompaniment by vocalists at one time is on the verge of extinction! Sarangi too, once dominated Hindi cinema music. Maybe because the very sound of the string of sarangi evokes sad notes from the depth of the mind, the instrument itself is pushed for a sad death!

Whereas, santoor evokes romantic mood, the maestro still looks young with his captivating smile! Curly white hair with slight grey hue in full freedom...ah, if you see him, you find it hard to believe that he rendered santoor melody during 50s on national platform and to Hindi cinema during 60s! Long live the magic of santoor and the maestro!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Scam India Galore

I had written about my obsession with Khushwant Singh writings sometime back. The 95 years old columnist never stops amazing me with his kind of sharp wits and divine sarcasm. Now, of a very few political observers, of late I have started following the writings of M.J.Akbar, who contributes weekly columns to Deccan Herald, which publishes his articles in their editorial page. Apart from his observations, I very much appreciate the kind of language he uses in condemning political chicanery and corruption at high levels. About the latest scam that occupied a lot of space in all national dailies, The Adarsh Housing society scam of Mumbai a few days back, see what language Akbar uses to condemn the higher ups: "Greed is the new religion and all are welcome to feed the trough. Nothing else is sacrosanct; not the highest offices in public service: chief minister, army chief, navy admiral, or top bureaucrat through whom the file must pass. If there is a flat to be stolen in a housing society sanctioned for the welfare of war widows, then every single one of these crooks are ready to cheat the blood of Kargil martyrs......"  Later in the article he writes "....The stink of hypocrisy now permeates through all levels of authority and institutions - like our defence forces - which cannot co-exist with corruption. They will be (either) corrupt or a force; they cannot be both".  How true!

Every one of the top officials in the scam have denied the charge of corruption, - drinking the blood of martyrs who laid their lives in protecting the nation's borders - and the Present chief minister of Maharashtra is going to be the sacrificial lamb just as the Congress did with Suresh Kalmadi not so long back, about the CommonWealth Games. If your memory can go a little further back, they could not find any goat to sacrifice in the 2G spectrum scam simply because they had no ways other than to surrender to Karunanidhi's blackmailing tactics!

India is projected to become the super most power in the world not in far future. India is looked upon as the most successful democracy in the world. What a joke! A petty thief if caught while snatching a woman's gold chain is beaten to death by the angry public in Mumbai. What are they going to do with Ashok Chavan and his party brethren? Let alone beating to death, can they touch them?

Akbar exclaims, "There is no shame left. It is tempting to ask if there is an India left when its ruling class has abandoned every principle". The shame is not only with our ruling class; what about top defence personnel? General (retd) N.C.Vij and General (retd) Deepak Kapoor, Admiral (retd) Madhavendra Singh all have now surrendered the flats telling that at no point of time they had any idea that the flats were meant for the widows of Kargil war martyrs! Who are they fooling? Remember sometime back the Govt. land grab issue of Ex-Chief Justice of Karnataka, Dinakaran? How shamelessly the higher judicial authorites tried to rescue the tainted judicial officer, finally yielding to public anger resulting in his transfer! Is there any shame left? Really?

Quite often I read with disgust the news of stoning women to death publicly as the prescribed punishment of their religious criminal code for the proven crime of adultery in some Islamic countries. I now sincerely feel we, at least in this country are not more civil than these countries practicing barbaric laws in the name of religion. I feel the necessity to have similar penal code for these wretched, shameless cheats and thieves in higher places! These people make us feel ashamed to be an Indian! Are you, Indian, proud to be an Indian?

And the most disturbing fact is, to my knowledge,  not a single politician or bureaucrat has been handed down exemplary punishment in the entire history of independent India! Every scam coming in the open on regular basis is not only bigger than the earlier one but also the involvement of judiciary and defence forces, very disturbing indeed!

भारत माताकी जय!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Happy Deepavali

Let me first of all wish those who visit this page and those who know of my blogs but do not visit often, - A VERY HAPPY DEEPAVALI FULL OF JOY AND LIGHT OF SANITY, WHICH ALONE BRINGS A LOT OF JOY IN LIFE!

Right from this morning I have been receiving Deepavali greetings in my cell phone and there are quite some in my mail box. I reply with a wish to bring joy, peace and satisfaction in life. Yes, I have never wished health, wealth, and prosperity, because, in my opinion, health is there for ever, for everybody and can only be complicated or destroyed through our ways of thinking, our beliefs about life. Wealth beyond certain level - a level that can easily be compared with your people, the society around you - separates you from realities of life, pushing you more and more into loneliness. Prosperity is, well, purely a state of mind created by comparisons. 'He has prospered well' you say about a person. If that person is of about the age of your son, your statement is in comparison with your son. And if it is about a person of your own age, it comes from your own present status, well, the statement could come from either envy or self pity! So I always wish joy and satisfaction.

You may ask if joy and satisfaction also are not a state of mind. Sure, they too are states of mind. And every state of mind is a creation of the mind. Then why wish joy and satisfaction if they are created states of mind? Why not wish wealth, health and prosperity?, if they too are states of mind!

Answer to this question may not not be as simple as I wish it to be. But I can try.

What do you mean by creation? You study something, observe its appeal or effect on human life and then make some tinkering so as to suit that same thing to the changing circumstances. That process of tinkering you call creation! People around you accept it as a great creation of yours. They either have not at all seen the original or have seen casually, without observing.  The original discovery has lost its value; your creation has replaced it. That is what is going on around the world. How many know that Daimler of England who discovered the principle of Four Stroke Internal Combustion Engine before Karl Benz of Germany, died in abject poverty? The latest Audi, BMW or Mercedes models, - creations -are cars all based on this original discovery of four Stroke Internal Combustion Engine.

I still call the original as discovery, not a creation, because the thing was there already in nature; you only identified it. Creation is not possible by human mind simply because mind is a store house of memories - given and experienced - memories and experiences, the basis of the process of learning, acquisition of higher knowledge. A creation cannot be based on memories and experiences, however higher it might be. Creation is absolute, without the least form of influence of anything known.

So, what is the difference between joy and satisfaction in preference to health, wealth and prosperity, when all are created states of mind? In the first place they are actually not creations; they are modifications of existing memories. And it is easier to modify the states of mind regarding health wealth and  prosperity than joy and satisfaction. Joy is already there and it is a matter of cleansing it from our acquired ideas about joy. That cleansing job is very difficult! Satisfaction is not at all a feature of mind; it requires a lot of hard work to realise that when mind becomes capable of shunning acquired values, satisfaction of living surfaces.

I could be wrong, or maybe hard to understand, but I only wish all of you pure, uncontaminated joy of life, which itself is total satisfaction of living on this occasion of DEEPAVALI.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Picturesque Picture of a Moving Picture

Whatever be the dictionary meaning of picturesque, for me the word means a curious, pleasant explanation of a thing, a phenomenon or an experience. Picture is what you know, it also means a state of affairs for me. And that moving picture, which later got cut short to movie,- oh god! how people used to throng to the cinema halls, theatres and tents in cities and the rural India in those early days to see the magic of light and shade!!

I don't remember at what age I saw my first movie in a cinema tent made of bamboo and coconut palms in my little town in South Kanara, coastal Karnataka, but I do remember the thrill of walking a couple of kilometers to see the magic on the big screen. In my town and at the neighboring little bigger town, there were two such 'Tent Cinema'. Both were situated at midway between these two places making people of both towns to walk or cycle the distance. For us, little children in those days, cinema, film, movies, talkies and picture made practically no difference; they all were a magic of light and shade in pitch darkness on a white screen - black & white were the only colors. And I was a little unfortunate not to have the experience of seeing dumb movies, because I was born a bit late when Einstein had already invented the Photo Electric Cell, the basis of sound in a moving picture. But I am lucky to experience the thrill of colour coming to movies in stages. First it was only scenes of dance, war and song sequences were coloured, then, later on the entire film. I am not sure, but I think the first colouring of a film was done manually, laboriously, which could be the reason it was only selected scenes in the movies that were coloured.

Why, even colour photography came to India only in the mid 1970's! All the photographs of my marriage in 1970 were in black & white! Soon a process of coloring black & white photographs (hard copies, then called the positives and the actual films, the negatives!) became a new trend. I had learnt this process of colouring photographs as an amateur hobby and had coloured quite a few photos! A small book containing color strips was used for this. These are called transparent colors. A piece of a color strip was dipped in water to get the level of required concentration and then the coloured water was lightly brushed on the surface of the photo. It was quite a skillful art requiring wasting and distorting photos before perfecting the art. Contrast this with today's Photoshop tools!

Then came colour films in the market costing several times more than black & white. Processing service of colour films was available only at cities like Bangalore. Amateur photographers like me would deliver the roll-film to the local studio, which in turn send the film to Bangalore for processing making me eagerly wait for more than a fortnight to get the developed copies along with the 'negative'. There were no courier services in those days and one had to depend on Indian P & T parcel services, who took their own sweet time to deliver! Since the hobby was very costly in those days, I did not dare to order hard copies for all the shots. I would wait to see the developed film and then decide which and how many copies to order, which again took a fortnight's time. Compare this with today's digital technology! Still the fun and pleasure of the costly hobby is incomparable.

An amateur camera then cost more than a reasonably good digital camera with optical zoom today if one takes into consideration of the declined money value! (The value of a rupee then was equivalent to almost a kilogram of good quality rice!). First it was all German brands, mainly Agfa and Kodak. Then cheaper Japanese brands, mainly Yashica swept the amateur market and later slowly but firmly breaking the hold of German professional cameras. Yashica introduced competent professional brands at nearly half the prices of German brands. I started my hobby with a Kodak Box camera (now donated to an antic collector), upgraded to an Agfa Isolette and finally ended up with the magical Yashica 124 (SLR) model for which I paid a whopping Rs.4,500/-! (Remember, that kind of money could buy at least 30 quintals of rice, if not more, then!). Rolliflex, costing upwards of Rs.10,000/-, I think from Kodak gallery was the ultimate pride of a professional photographer. All are now an antic collector's items!

In movies, first came the 'Technicolor' technology. Then there was Gevacolor and Eastman color. Finally Eastman became more in vogue. I do not exactly know of the coloring technology of those days. The last movie I saw in a theatre was "Mr. India", with my wife and children, then in different grades of school and college; perhaps in 1990 or so!

In a tent cinema, there were three categories - matted or loose sand laid floor in the front near the screen, Bench (backless long wooden seats my dear!) and then the majestic chairs laid at the farthest from the screen. Ticket was four and half annas (0.27 rupee) for 'floor', bench cost 6 annas (0.38 rupee) and chairs a whopping 14 annas (0.87 rupee). In regular cinema halls at Mangalore, the nearest city for us, there were two categories below the balcony seats - front 6 annas and rear 10 annas. Balcony seats were at a premium, one rupee four annas or Rs. 1.25. All seats were chairs - plain wooden below and cushioned in the balcony. In bigger theatres balcony had two categories - front rows for Rs. 1.25 and rear rows (usually only a couple of rows) for Rs. 1.75. A few special seats were available for dignitaries and they were called 'cabin' seats; a few separate cabins each containing 6 to 8 seats to accommodate a family, on two sides of the projector room. One had to take a full cabin and a seat would work out to anywhere from Rs. 3 to 4. Most of the times these cabins were reserved for political and other dignitaries; common man however rich except a relative of the theatre owner would not get cabins!

During my college days (1961 to 65) at Mangalore we used to pay Rs. 1.25 on average for a movie show. Soon after my graduation, when I joined my first job in Delhi in 1966, it was the shock of my life - a mind boggling Rs. 4.50 for a movie show! (Mind you, I was drawing a princely Rs. 195/- per month as salary)

First it was only Tamil movies with occasional Hindi films during my school days at town, because a good number of common movie goers were speaking a unique language called the 'Beary' language. This language was nearer to Dravidian languages. So Tamil was most preferred, also could be it was far cheaper than Hindi for the operators. And Kannada, the state language films were not well developed and in rural areas in South Kanara, where the predominant languages were Tulu and Konkani, and Kannada was only the third spoken language even though the name of the district was Dakshina Kannada (South Kanara) and the state language is Kannada. So to say, South Kanara is home for a variety of spoken languages. There are at least three variations or dialects of Kannada and two to Konkani. Tulu, a Dravidian language, of course is widely spoken. And that could be the reason for Tamil preference for films in my town. In fact in those days, I used to speak fluent, chaste Tamil learnt only through cinema! Later, during college days American Quickies became my favourite though I saw more of Hindi films.

I think the seventies decade and the earlier part of eighties was golden period of Indian cinema. That scintillating Hindi film music evoking a lot of emotions with unforgettable tunes can never happen again! Even the newest generation people, even whose parents were not born when the songs were composed are having a collection of those old Hindi songs. The evergreen voices of the play back singers, the composition based on classical music to suit the actual moods and emotion of a particular sequence in the story line of the cinema..... oh! that is simply a long lost dream now! Even other language films of that period were memorable. Kannada and Tamil songs of the seventies are still wringing in my ears evoking nostalgia. Clint Eastwood movies of that period are very enjoyable even today. Audrey Hepburn is another great memory tickler. There were hundreds of great actors both in the west and east, whom the present day players hardly match the skills of their acting, when technology was at the lowest ebb.

The story of moving picture moves on and on, endlessly; let me stop for now.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Intellectual Lunacy

This Arundhati Roy is really making me crazy! Last time I wrote about her arrogant ways to dare the incumbent Government to arrest her saying she supports the cause of the hard core Marxist group when they wrecked havoc on CRPF forces, killing scores of them at will, in full public view, caring little or no concern for life of innocent people along with the Security forces. Now her latest invention is that Kashmir is not an integral part of India! This time the Central Government seems to have woken up from its slumber to announce that it is examining legal and political aspects to consider putting Roy behind the bars. And really, this time the woman also seems to be a bit scared since she tried to give a softer meaning to her statement on Kashmir other than what she actually meant. The Government also seems to be scared of Maoist backlash if Roy is arrested!

Any organization with whatever ideological name it calls itself, is a terrorist outfit, nothing else, so far as they kill innocent people en-masse with impunity. They should be eliminated from among civil society very urgently. There cannot be any backlash so far as the elimination is total, without fear or favour. But I don't think any Government of any type can do or has the guts to do, anywhere in the world, now or in the next one thousand years!

Well, I read with awe the other day on newspapers of an interview with a 77 years old lady who had just won the battle with her elder brother in Supreme Court. This woman is the protagonist of a well famed legal battle - "The Mary Roy Case". Briefly the story goes like this. After her divorce in 1963 in Assam where she was living with her husband, one Ranjit Roy, Mary Roy came to live in an ancestral cottage in Ooty given to her by her mother. But her elder brother, George Isaac took possession of their father's property practically throwing her out of the house with her children in 1965. It was then Mary fought for equal rights for women children in a Christian family property and won the case in Supreme court in 1977 after a 12 year battle. This historic verdict of the Supreme Court virtually forced the Syrian Christian Succession Law to be amended. But Mary had to wait another 38 long years to get the court decree executed to get possession of her share of ancestral property, last week, whereas the whole of her Syrian Christian sisters and daughters, enjoyed the benefits of the Supreme Court judgement right from 1977! Syrian Christian is a major Christian sect in Kerala.

Mary Roy is Arundhati Roy's mother and Prannoy Roy of NDTV is Ranjit Roy's nephew.

Mary Roy relentlessly fought for equal rights at par with their brothers for women in sharing ancestral property and won, whereas her daughter, a writer, who does not seem to have written anything after winning her Booker Prize in 1992, seem to be publicity crazy. Otherwise, what is the necessity for a person of Booker winning calibre in writing to neglect her natural field of strength, - writing - and make irresponsible statements if not stupid, so that the news media, simply because she earned a celebrity status after winning Booker, give a big publicity and brand her a woman activist? In my opinion she is a publicity maniac or a megalomaniac fit to be in a mental asylum if not in jail. Her latest statements on Kashmir are viewed by sane and high calibre journalists and newspaper editors in line with those of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, as hatred and contempt of Indian Union Government.

Kashmir had become an integral part of India by accession by the then ruling king of the state after independence in 1947, just as so many other big and small states ruled by kings prior to the arrival of British in India. Mysore was one such state. Whereas, even Hyderabad and Goa were taken over by force by independent India, are now integral to India, where arises the question of an independent Kashmir when it was not even taken over by force? Arundhati being a good writer should hone her skills to see the truth before uttering nonsensical words; better write fiction my dear! Or, stage a real battle to free women from male chauvinistic laws of a religion or sect just as your illustrious mother did and won, instead of inciting hate between man and man. Even in so called ideological outfits like the marxists or Naxalites, women members are raped by men and threatened of killing if they opened their mouth; how mwny know this fact? Come out of your intellectual lunacy Arundhati!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

'Keep' - Concubine

I read with amusement in today's paper about a woman lawyer getting infuriated in the Supreme Court over the use of the word 'keep' by one of the two judges on the bench in a case of 'maintenance' for a separated woman from a live - in relationship. The woman lawyer argued that the word 'keep' is equivalent to 'Rakhail' in Indian language and so demeaning of a woman. The other judge on the bench was quick to ask the woman lawyer,  who wanted  to expunge the word from records, what other word could be used, .. would concubine fit in?

I wonder if a relationship between a woman and a man involving sex without accepted norms of cultural, social and religious sanction in the form of a ritual, be it a marriage, nikah, wedding or any other form of a life-time binding contract through oath to protect the interest of one another, and is purely on personal considerations is not a form of promiscuity, a form of whoring in accepted social norms, to put it bluntly? The norms of any society this kind of human relationship, a live - in relationship they say, stands basically on personal greed. If not, how can a separated woman in such kind of a relationship put claim on alimony or maintenance costs? Was there such a legal, if not socially accepted norm before she entered into such a relationship? On what grounds a woman claims alimony, compensation or maintenance  from a person with whom she lived without following any social, cultural or religious sanction?

I am not against live-in relationships; in fact, I encourage it in support of personal freedom, needing no permission of any kind except one's own conscience to walk out of the relationship at any point of time. A live-in relationship is for more mature, rational thinking freer thinking people; not the ones who has much more dependent trait than normal in their psychological make up. In the name of love, which is purely immature illusion of young adults, at the same time having larger than life self assessment, make them enter into such kind of relationships, a sure shot recipe for miserable failure later. Both the parties in a live-in relationship require to have better understanding of each other than common people. And it is not of any sacrifice, give and take or an ego promoting act. A woman or a man of any age entering into a live-in relationship without these credentials is into pure whoring for personal satisfaction. I cannot agree with any other term for this kind of immature, illusory and blissfully stupid relationship other than whoring.

In my opinion, so, in the case quoted in the beginning, the second judge rightly asked the woman lawyer if not to use the word 'keep' and expunge it from the record, if the word 'concubine' would fit in. To go a step further as a simple common man, I would ask the lawyer if it is right to replace the word 'keep' with prostitute!

I am not a woman hater. Every person has a place in my life and I have due respect to every woman in her place.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Power Of Motivation - From The Memory Lane.

I consider myself as very lucky to be a guest of an elderly woman, who used to prepare excellent sea food in perfect ethnic cuisine, despite being a strict vegetarian all her life. That was when I was studying in St. Aloysius College, Mangalore, way back in the earlier part of 1960's and I used to visit the house quite often whenever I wanted to relish fish, as I was living in a vegetarian boys' hostel and this loving, affectionate lady happened to be a close relative though marriage of my elder sister.

There is an interesting story behind this old woman, who passed away back in the latter part of 60's.

Being the wife of of a highly motivated Freedom Struggle, this woman was imprisoned some 3 or 4 times during India's fight for freedom, along with her girl child of just 3 years while her husband was imprisoned many times.

Late Dr. Ganesh Pai was a personal physician of Mahatma Gandhi, and naturally became freedom fighter himself. After the split between the Mahatma and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose with Jaya Prakash Narayan, on the principles to be followed in freedom struggle, Dr. Pai along with many leaders moved over to JP-Bose faction. Dr. Pai being a highly principled man, his influence on general public and the then British police was immense.

On one dark night the head of the local police knocked the doors of Dr. Pai. Since he was in JP-Bose camp, he was involved in a number of disruptive activities such as cutting telephone lines and railway tracks and hence was under constant vigil by the British Government. That night, to Dr. Pai's utter surprise, the police officer informed the doctor that there was an arrest warrant against him and if he did not go underground, he was going to arrest him the first thing in the morning! The officer had come along with two trucks to transport the Doctor's household goods and to shift him along with his family in the night itself to Hubli, where the doctor's cousin lived. The doctor was a resident of Siddapur. Can you see the calibre and depth of goodwill and clout the freedom fighter had created in the locality? A police officer wantonly helping him to jump arrest risking his own job and perhaps arrest too? The motivation to fight for freedom was such and the influence of leaders like Jaya Prakash Narayan and Subhash Chandra Bose was so great.

The unfortunate doctor did not live to enjoy freedom. His motivation to fight for freedom was so powerful that he totally neglected threats to his life both by the British and nature. As a result of street demonstration, picketing and underground movements in relentless monsoon rains despite knowing it too well as a practicing doctor, of the consequences of continuously getting drenched, his motivation to fight the British, made him fall victim to Pneumonia, a dreaded disease for which medicine (Penicillin, the first antibiotic) was not yet discovered then. Pneumonia was practically a death sentence in those days. The woman I mentioned earlier, was the widow of this freedom fighter, left to mend herself in free India with young children, eldest daughter just married, son ten years of age and another daughter seven years.

This woman started life afresh in free India after the death of her husband followed by Independence to the country. Unskilled and uneducated, but well principled like her late husband, this woman fought life valiantly in a very dignified way without stretching her palms for help. But the late doctor's goodwill was so great, now with the veneer of martyrdom, added with her own nature of selfless love and affection, members of family and friends thronged to help her. Except her son in law and a nephew, she smoothly rejected help from all others with a smiling face. All she wanted and craved for was educating her son and daughter. Dr. T. M.A. Pai, an elite social man and a Gandhian came forward to bear all educational expenses of the son offering a medical seat in the institute he was heading. But no!, this gritty woman flatly rejected free monetary help. The son did graduation, joined job and did a couple of Indian and German Metallurgical Engineering courses, part time, along with his job. He, now retired, went on to become an authority on Iron Furnace.

One fine day the woman received a Govt. order granting her 10 acres of land for free in recognition of the martyrdom of her husband in freedom struggle. The land located on riverside, was virgin and fertile, not far away from Puttur town. A close relative of the woman approached her and told her that the timber alone in the lands would fetch a few lakhs. Just imagine the value of that kind of money in those early days of 1950's! But this great woman simply told everybody who advised and urged her to accept the Government grant, that her husband did not fight for freedom in anticipation of a reward! Nobody could convince the lady to take the land and live happily. She said it, to accept the reward was to blatantly insult the ideals of her husband. Each and every relative and well wisher tried vainly to convince the lady to accept the Govt. offer. Can you imagine the ethical standards of this lady? The high emotional levels of our freedom fighters?

Now, contrast this great soul with the incumbent president of the ruling party today - a party of Mahatma Gandhi, enjoying all the credit of bringing independence to India . She is sitting in the chair of a party which once occupied by great motivators of freedom struggle like Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Moulana Abul Kalam 'Azad' and Dr. Annie Besant. A woman of Italian origin, after marrying the Indian political heir prince and staying with him here in this country not even caring to become a citizen of this country for long fourteen years, becoming the president by default after the assassination of her husband, through sheer sycophancy and the sycophants likening her to that great lady Annie Besant, who despite being a British woman motivated Indians to fight for freedom. This woman became the President of the Congress Party for a third tenure continuously against all conventions and the sycophants in reply to public criticism are shouting hoarse that she will be elected president of the party a thousand times!

There is an abject need for a powerful motivation like the ones our freedom fighters had, to re-establish the values and root out sycophancy and corruption in this country and bring back the illustrious glory of the past. Perhaps we need a second Mahatma Gandhi or a lady of the stature of Annie Besant, or a steel man like Subhash Chandra Bose or Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, he who knows how hard it is to invoke and motivate the sleeping Indian conscience. Will this stupid dream of mine come true in my lifetime?

"Being my mother, she never told me to do this or not to do that. That is the greatest tribute I can give to the lady..." - Jiddu Krishnamurti on Dr. Annie Besant, who picked him from wilderness and groomed him to become world (spiritual) leader. See her sense of freedom.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Home Wine

It was in the year 1993, in September, a month before my 50th birthday I finally gave up drinking. I managed to keep myself in total sobriety for over two years, when, on a fine Sunday I came across a critical article about a book on Goan Home wines in Sunday Herald. I wrote to the publisher immediately and promptly got my copy of the recipe book by post.

The recipes in the book made a fascinating reading. My very first trial was a grand success. Buoyed by the success, I continued to make wines. There were more than 50 recipes, practically for every fruit and berry on earth! ...and a few vegetables too. There is even a recipe to make milk wine and honey wine(Mead). I successfully tried a few common fruits and beet root from vegetables. Apples and pineapples make excellent wines. Banana gives a little problem to get clarify properly for which I emply beaten albumen (Egg whites) method. Pineapples are natural ferments. Smooth and excellent bouquet. Bangalore or Bijapur black grapes get blood red body with lively taste making your fried prawns the best one in the universe!

Being a home wine maker, I don't give much to the intricacies. For example, they say varieties of grape streins such as Chardonnay, Souvignon, Zinfandel etc. make difference. Also basically white wines are made from red or black grape pulps. If you do not add the colored skin of the grape, it becomes white wine. And if you crush the whole grapes with skin, preferably without pips, that makes red or rose wine depending on the color of the skin. These two varieties - red and white from the same fruit gives different taste and effect to the wine. But I make my red wines from black grapes and whites from white grapes.

Wine making is not an easy job. One should have sort of divotional interest in making home wines, requiring to maintain top higenic environment thoough out the process of a minimum of four months - a month for making and minimum of three months for maturing during which time there is at least a couple of racking (decantation) to make the wine crystal clear. But once the interest develops, the hobby gives tremendous pleasure, especially when people - relatives and friends - heartily appreciate it.

For about one whole year I did not have enough confidence to offer my wine to guests. Then during the marriage of my eldest daughter, that evening after sending the bride with the groom, I took out a well matured bottle of blood red wine having only traces of sweetness and sourness. Very few close relatives and my other daughters' friends remained with us that day. Lo!, it was an instant hit!! Next morning, I made gift bottles and cans of two and five litres and gave to my young nephews and nieces when they returned to their respective homes, most from Mangalore and Bangalore.

I have quite some friends on internet. And I tell them about my wine. Some of them requested for the recipe. By the by I have evolved my own recipe for red and pineapple wines by trial and error over the years. I sent them my recipe and there was no mention about their making it. And when I ask them if they really tried my recipe, .... well you know what could be the answer.  Recently a friend, a new one asked me to send the recipe. By now, I knew it was only curiosity they all ask for the recipe and once they see the laborious process their wine making abruptly stops there. So for this new querry I said,  "Now look my good friend, it is not a simple thing. Wine contains divine spirit. Do you know from where this spirit comes and make a comfortable living in my wines? I invoke them by chanting a mantra from the Atharva Veda, after taking a cold bath and sitting hands folded and eyes closed in front of the grapes. The divine spirit may kick you hard if you go wrong by a hair while invoking! Are you ready to get my recipe? ..."  The lady is wise, she simply asked me to send a bottle to her!!

Wines are not taken by courier, no liquid items for that matter. So I have invited this grand old lady to visit Shimoga to taste my wine, nay, hospitality. And I dare to extend my invitation to all of you who read this! Ready?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Glimpse on Our Rotting Political System

Finally we needed the Supreme court of this country to shout at the top of its voice that the Common Wealth Games (CWC-Corrupt Working Group as the press freely refers) arrangements(?) is reeking of corruption involving a whopping sum of Rs 70,000 crores! We, ie., you and me living in this country, are so stupid and lazy idiots that we read all these corruption stories(!) with top entertainment values almost on daily basis. If by chance there is no corruption story, big or small in the dailies, we straight away turn to our favorite page - sports, fun & games or filmy glitter. Personally, if I do not see any brain picking news in the front page - the latest trend in print media is a half page advertisement on the front page! - I turn to Editorial page and before reading any editorial article, usually smacked of biases, I first read "Letter to the Editor". The highest value for money I pay for newspapers  is here in these letters. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with joy from these letters because of the sense I get renewed that this wretched country still has highly concerned people about the fast deteriorating values in public life. But they also are equally stupid idiots like me, because, except barking in excellent language what else can they do? Who reads these letters except the likes of me?

The other day I laughed heartily. Our respected prime minister dared to show its place to the judiciary by telling the supreme court that courts have no mandate to interfere with legislation. That was when the food and agriculture minister said the supreme court suggested the ministry to distribute the rotting food grains callously stored in open fields covered by tarpaulins in this monsoon rains, to the starving poor, and the supreme court was quick to respond that it was not a suggestion but was an order! Well, technically, or better constitutionally our prime minister could well be right in putting the judiciary in place. But on the other hand what does it suggest? Is the prime minister happy with the callousness of Food and Agriculture Ministry and the bureaucrats who stored 50,000 metric tonnes of food grains in open fields covered with just tarpaulins and plastic sheets, left to rot in the torrential monsoon rains? Or, is he insensitive to the hunger of the poor by telling the Supreme Court to mind its own business when it showed its anger towards the callousness of the people in power?

Today, the Allahabad High Court's verdict on the Ram Janma Bhumi - Babri Masjid litigation came out. People were waiting for the verdict on a sixty year old litigation with bated breath. Many had expected widespread violence as soon as the verdict - either way - was made public. But no! Our courts have once again shown impeccable sanity in studying the facts in micro details. I am yet to see the full text of the judgement in newspapers tomorrow. But I can clearly see that the courts have shown to the concerned parties that there really was a very simple solution to the issue which could well have been arrived at long ago, without the help from the county's legal authority, if only not for political interference. Many fundamental elements on both sides must have been thoroughly disappointed with the verdict and I am sure, these intelligent religious people will go on appealing the Supreme Court trying to prove that what has been said by the High Court is not just!

By writing so about Supreme Court and our judiciary, I am certainly not of the opinion that our judicial system is fine. Sure, the rot is deep in our judiciary too. Just look at the valour of Shanti Bhushan, ex Union Law Minister and retired Supreme court lawyer. When his son, a Supreme Court lawyer too, was pulled away by the Supreme Court slapping Contempt of Court charges against him for having said that half of the previous Chief Justices were corrupt, the old man simply signed an affidavit in court not only declaring 8 out of the 16 previous Chief Justices of India were corrupt but also has named the corrupt ones, virtually inviting the Supreme Court to initiate Contempt  of Court charges or any other legal proceedings against him. So far, as my knowledge goes the Judiciary is keeping mum on this issue!

Be proud of Mother India that is Mera Bharat Mahaan!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Motivation - A New Discovery

It has been over a month now since I posted my last article. There is no specific reason though, when a senior member of my family following my blogs shot me a mail asking why I had stopped, if at all I had stopped writing blogs on this site, I told him even though there is no dearth of ideas, I lack motivation and asked if he does not know of my moody nature. Being a senior man, having immense regard to whatever little writing skills I have, he pleaded, nay, advised me to resume writing, else I may totally lose interest, in which case he would be highly disappointed. That made me think deeply into that so called mental process of motivation.

We invariably use this term 'lack of motivation'. That woman has very good skills in cookery, quite capable of preparing very tasty dishes, but she is happy preparing the same simple saambaar day in and day out. Ask her why she is not interested in making those mouth watering dishes anymore. "I am fed up, there is no motivation as it used to be during those early days in my kitchen. Ask that middle aged man next door why he is not coming to the badminton court these days, despite being such an enthusiastic and good player of the ball, yet at that age. Or, ask that young man why he is not attending the kite festival, in which he used to regularly participate in competitions every year and winning prizes for both the kite presentation and his abilities to fly it to invisible heights. Lack of motivation!; not interested anymore! This standard reply you get.

What exactly is motivation? Why do you need it to do a thing which you can easily do? You are lazy, to put it very simply and bluntly, isn't it? You do something with some inherent skills and people appreciate it. You get motivated and do the thing again and again, every time giving it a new twist, a new color, a new garb or totally a new soul. You get more and more appreciation; you do more. Soon the quality of appreciation slowly diminishes and finally stops altogether. You still do the thing, but without the original verve. It becomes lack-lustre and finally you stop doing it. You put the blame on lack of motivation.

That brings me down to think that motivation, in fact, is the process of strengthening your ego. Because you long for appreciation, praise. It makes you to do things which are of your natural skills to you, to such an extent that you don't do the thing without appreciation! It is not merely about special skills like various art forms, sports, and successfully managing adverse situations, but even ordinary things like your profession to earn your living; you need motivation, otherwise it is a routine bore!.

Motivation is imaginary, a sound hide out for the lazy!

So instead of simply telling I have been blissfully lazy and so did not write articles, to my good elderly relative, well wisher and friend, I shamelessly lied - lack of Motivation! I do have the courage to say I am lazy when I am, lazy! I need no motivation to do that!!

(In this article I have tried to expose just one facet of Motivation; in my next I will try to show one more powerful facet of Motivation)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Boredom And Me

It is said that growing up is the realization that there is no one out there for you. You are alone right from the beginning for ever. Everything that begins is with you only to end with you.  Luckily, this truth dawns on most of us in bits and pieces. But if it happens through one big tragedy, life will be a trauma.

I have friends, quite many of them, both in real time and on Internet. I correspond with them. Quite a few of them quickly shift on a platform of exchanging personal matters, sometimes most guarded secrets of life. And in this matter of discussing personal matters, at least some of us, do it without hesitation with remote Internet friends than the real time ones. Strange though, it is truth. Why do we do this? Each of us is in eternal loneliness and we illusion that by sharing our innermost feelings with someone we ward off our loneliness. And when it has failed with known friends, we try with unknown and remote ones. Is it not so? But that loneliness promptly returns like homing birds and the nights, as usual, are long.

There are many people for whom a day is not complete if they do not chat on messenger with somebody. For them life is a bore without a message a day. For some, it is gossip and for some other it is a TV serial. We have invented millions of ways not to be bored; if it is business for you, it is on-line share trading for me. If it is keen interest in tennis and such other sports and games for you, it is spiritual, intellectual or science magazine reading for me. The funny thing is, the very method you adopt to get away from your boredom, could well be boring for me! While tennis is just a boring toss of a ball for me, you could be sacrificing your good nights sleep watching American Open on the TV.

If I do not solve at least one SU DO KU puzzle every day, I feel something amiss. A friend of mine goes to the nearby park where half a dozen senior people gather in the evenings to play chess. While two of them play, others take sides to make back room suggestions for the moves. For them the day does not pass without a game of chess.

We indulge in a lot of circus to get away from boredom, don't we?

What is boredom? Is that not a form of being alone? Is there a permanent solution to this problem of boredom? We have invented many things to counter our boredom, but boredom returns with vengeance. In fact, indulging in these so called solutions to our problem of boredom, many a time it turns out to be an addiction posing a new problem; is it not so?

So what is the real solution to our boredom? I think it is in realizing the eternal fact that we are all alone within. By turning inward and seeing deep inside us, gives the real solution to not only our problem of boredom but all our problems. That, in my opinion, is everlasting bliss; nothing outside me can give me this bliss.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hinduism - Is It A Religion?

It made an amusing reading yesterday, the news of Julia Roberts announcing 'I am a practicing Hindu'. The news read - "Julia Roberts has converted to Hinduism in the hope of having a peaceful life in her next incarnation and the Hollywood superstar regularly visits temples with her family to 'chant, pray and celebrate'..."

The basic question one should ask is - What is Hinduism? Is it a way of life, a sect a race or a religion? And if it is not a religion, is not converting to Hinduism an absurdity? Religions, of course, are framed in  rigid sets of codes of conduct. The very basis of a religion is disciplining a society in the hope of establishing an everlasting peaceful co-existence. Hence each religion is defined by its particular set of code, its beliefs and an assurance of good life in the next incarnation or a place in heaven, for the devout followers. Does Hinduism dictate any code of conduct to its followers? Does Hinduism demand following in the first place? Is Hinduism an expansionist organization? Is it a race?

Many learned thinkers have opined that Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life which has to change in accordance with changing times and circumstances. That is why they vigorously argue that Hinduism is the most vibrant way of living. Many say that Hinduism gives total freedom to question all and sundry teachings including the Upanishads, which incidentally is universally agreed upon by top level spiritual thinkers as the core essence of Hinduism. Hinduism does not promote blind following, does not dictate terms for living.  They argue, it is the influence of various religions that make people blindly follow certain Hindu beliefs without questioning their veracity, making Hinduism yet another religion. In fact, true Hinduism has a place for atheism too. Hinduism offers an atheist to argue his case with the very rationalism he believes in. The Upanishads say, - do not accept God just because your teacher says so; discover God yourself.

When such is the case with Hinduism, where comes the question of conversion? When true Hinduism suggests discovering without blind following, every born human being is a Hindu. The beliefs come later as dictated by the prevailing society. Hinduism begins in nothingness, giving every opportunity in every split moment to realise life. Perhaps that is why the scriptural sayings like "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (The whole world is one family)" and "Dharmam chara; satyam vada (Dharma the way of living - Hinduism , is moving, vibrant; truth is stationary, permanent)"

Coming back to Julia Roberts, an accomplished actor highly capable of doing any movie role with great ability to depict the character very successfully, adapting to a given role is just like changing frocks to her. And it is so very natural for her to think that "practicing" religions is also a matter of adaptability. But Hinduism is not practice; does not offer you any rewards for your devout following or practicing and above all Hinduism is the only way of living in this world allows one the courage to question the belief of reincarnation and Karma.

At the end of the news column, one Trupti Patel of Hindu Forum of Britain aptly said "If Julia Roberts wants to call herself a Hindu, we welcome her into our Dharma and hope that she can be helpful in various charitable causes for the education and betterment of  Hindus around the world....." The HFB also hopes that it not just a cheap publicity stunt. (Julia's upcoming film Eat Pray Love is recently shot in India) Quite possible in today's world briskly selling "Yoga" and "Kundalini" in the lucrative spiritual market.

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