Thursday, July 29, 2010

Our Priorities

"Treat the mind; body will follow" - The first tenet of Ayurveda, the Indian science of  life (Medicine)

During my school days my teachers used to say 'Spend half the time in understanding  the question before you attempt an answer'. Over the years I have found this principle of approaching problems is very true in real life too. Looking back at my failures, I now see it very clearly that they were simply due to lack of proper understanding of the problem rather than my ability, or lack of it, to tackle them. Most of the times I jumped into conclusions or fell victim to my prejudices and preconceived beliefs.

The case in point I would like to present in this context is the recent utterances of Congress leader Mani Shanker Aiyer, which took everybody by surprise . Congress top brass including the prime minister was rather angry at the utterances. And the media, both print and visual, made a big hue and cry of it. What did Mani say? "Personally, I will be unhappy if the Commonwealth Games are successful," said Aiyar, a nominated Rajya Sabha member. He continued, "I am very happy with the rains, firstly because it will ensure a good agriculture for the country and secondly because it will ensure that the Commonwealth Games are spoilt, if the Commonwealth Games are successful, they will further organise Asian Games and other events... I will be happy if the Games are spoilt," he said.

What nonsense is this maverick speaking? So much pains are being taken by every concerned Govt. and non- Govt. body to make the event a grand success; the works of infrastructure is going on a war footing. Is Aiyer mad or what? I am sure the general line of thinking of great many of us, "proud" Indians is going in this way. Congress Party has not only reprimanded him but also ordered him to shut up and not to talk a word about the Commonwealth Games any more. But that is not the point I am interested in. Aiyer or whoever so, the statement deserves a deeper thought before any kind of reaction.

Is it not a fact that more than 50% of the population of this great nation is struggling to get two square meals a day? A few thousand crores of rupees of tax payer's money is being spent on this event. For whose sake? For what good purpose regarding the upliftment of the society? We do not have proper health services in place leaving the rural poor simply to die or suffer. There are no sufficient primary schools to educate the rural poor. And there are no enough job opportunities for the educated middle and lower class. There are many, a long list, of problems that cry for priority attention than a sports event.

Mani Shankar Aiyer, a former sports minister further said that the huge amount being spent on the event could well be utilised to develop sports in this country.  He could be right in a way because, with over a billion population, we have not produced a single high calibre sports person comparable to world champions except cricket. And you know the sorry, rather dirty state of affairs of our national game, Hockey! Countries smaller than 10% of India,  in population and land size have consistently produced world champions in one or other sports discipline. I am not going to give a list of such small countries; there are many like Japan and Korea. 

But for me, sports after all is a pass time, a matter of entertainment. Should that get priority over the quality of living of a great majority of population? I am sure, over 99% of 'sane' and intelligent people do not take this question seriously. Some of them may even dare to call me an old fool! But that is the source where we may find solution to each and every problem of this great nation.

Treat the top (the ruling class which decides what our priorities are), the masses will get cured. Any takers?

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Friday, July 16, 2010

The Caste Pride

I met an old man at the park a few days back. I go to the park every morning and evening for my daily quota of walking. This gentleman, I had been seeing for quite some time. A short statured, fair skinned, bespectacled this man looked a reserved type to me. I too do not usually talk to strangers, but I do initiate a conversation when I see somebody regularly and if I feel the air inviting. I have quite a few such new friends, both men and women, who come to the park. But this man had never evoked any interest in me.

After taking a certain number of rounds, I sit on a stone bench to take rest for a while before beating retreat. Sometimes when all the seats are occupied, I search for a bench on which only one person is sitting. It so happened that day, I could not find a vacant bench and this gentleman was sitting alone on a bench. I went near him and asked if I may sit. He gestured to sit. A couple of moments later I asked him if he is a retired man. It was then he started to tell about himself, slow but non stop. He was a retired bank officer. His wife recently passed away. He has no  own children of his own and the only adopted son, now married, having his own family to maintain has settled in Bangalore. And then he asked me what I was doing. I too told him briefly about me. The very common and most usual questions parried among old and retired people are - are you having BP? Are you a sugar patient? Have you any arthritic problems? - and about such other age related common health complaints. After all the usual queries were over, this old gentleman suddenly asked me about my caste!

I consider, since very long back, asking about one's caste is not civil. So whenever I encounter such question I used to get a bit irritated, but these days I try to humorise the situation . So I quipped - I am a non vegetarian brahmin. What caste is that he asked. I said I was born into a family which is brahmanical in all respects. He again asked, how can it be non vegetarian in that case? Very simple I said, - I, my wife and children eat non-vegetarian food! The dirty nose of the man seemed to be a bit longer and poked deeper. He asked, is that only you and your family or all of them, your type of brahmins use non vegetarian food.  Well, I could feel my tolerance limit being stretched too much, and hence I ignored the question and asked him, which I never ever do, what was his caste! The man proudly said - I am a Lingayat, a Jangama!

It never stops me wondering about people still priding in their caste in this age of most advanced technology, which is still growing at such unbelievable pace. The pride of being a member of certain caste still making people indulge into heinous crimes such as murders without even a feeble streak of guilt for the sake of their sense of maintaining the honour of their cast, which they think gets diluted by inter-caste marriages. Such honor killings of young lovers by their own elders, boils my blood and shrinks my mind at such most stupid and barbaric acts in a country which prides in itself as the biggest democracy in the world! I see reports of honour killings almost once every alternate day with blood curdling stories, regularly.

Coming back to this man, Hemraju (name changed), a 65 years old childless widower living alone, cooking his own food, in all probabilities to avoid pollution of his 'most superior caste' by eating food prepared by other caste people; does he know if his family was not contaminated some ten heads back in his ancestry? Can he sure if one of his distant forefathers was childless and secretly got a male child (in these catagories female children are not taken into consideration!)from a lower caste woman? I did not ask these questions to the poor old pride, not because I am afraid but because I am far more civil capable of thinking much more beyond. Are you?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Depression - A Temporary State Of Mind

I was truly shocked to read a news column today. An actor couple committed suicide!

The couple,  husband 40 and wife 38 were both Kannada actors, having acted in movies and TV serials as well. They were into production too. Recently the wife returned from America having quite a few promises from her NRI friends to enter into production. There was a photo of the couple alongside the news. They look fairly beautiful, sort of made for each other. The couple was childless; both have living parents. Husband hails from Davangere and wife from Hassan. The sad part in fact is, according to the news both husband and wife were qualified Engineers doing well in software firms and opted for acting career rejecting the IT jobs for which practically a great majority of present day youth crave for. Yes, as the paper reports, both of them had indulged in too many things at a time and were in a sort of financial problems. Well, a senior actress says, they could have opted to to go back to IT field instead of taking the extreme step.

The point I want to discuss here is about the temporary state of mind that leads to commit suicide.

I have come across quite some cases of suicide, both successful and attempted. I know of at least two cases of repeated attempts. I have known people hanging themselves for reasons which look flimsy to you and me. A middle class person commits suicide because his daughter's rich father- in - law insults him in front of the gathering during the marriage. A bank manager hangs himself for having reprimanded by his superiors for not being able to recover the loan he had sanctioned to a customer of his branch though it was in 10970's. And the instances of suicide by failed lovers are ample from time immemorial.

I said it is a temporary state of mind. Well, all states of mind are temporary. Recollect all the happinesses you had in the past. All of them are temporary, because the very next moment when that moment of happiness passes, the happiness you had instantly turns into a piece of memory; you can never be in that state of happiness again. So is the mind about everything it undergoes and undertakes - a huge storehouse of me. Also no sad moment repeats itself except as memory. And the funny thing about this mind is, why do you feel sad again just by recollecting the memory of sadness?  I am sure this is not the experience limited to me only that no recollection of memory of happiness ever brings back happiness! Why?  Ego! Ego is 'me'. Ego is pride. Ego is hurt. Ego is insult. Ego is success. Ego is virtue. You see? All these values make for your ego which is akin to sorrow, not happiness. And this Ego is mind itself; not a separate entity. A created entity, that mind calls 'me', which is ego. Every sense, every value, every moment of life is ego-centric. Without ego there is no happiness, no sorrow, because the sense of these states creates ego, me. Therefore, the hurt also is directly proportionate to your sense of value. As I had said earlier in this write up, many a time the reason for suicide looks flimsy from outside the person who commits suicide. The value of money, sense of shame, degradation of pride, sense of achievement and all those attributes of the mind differ from person to person. So the gravity of the situation formed by the calibre of these attributes of the mind often pushes a person to commit suicide. If the mind survives the brief moment of peak acuteness of the urge to die, the same mind later regrets or even laughs at itself for having thought of dying a moment earlier!

I don't think there is anybody in this world who has not thought of committing suicide at least once in lifetime. Even a trained counselor is not free from this temporary state of mind. Life is, but in understanding this nature of the mind which never stays in one state, one place, one bit of value for long. A person arguing vigorously for the benefits of nonvegetarianism may suddenly turn into vegetarianism. Prince Siddhartha became The Buddha due to a momentary state of mind seeing the created pleasures of wealth. He too was not free from other states such as rivalry. Mahavir Jain was his rival! (Read Osho) Mahavir was very old and was having acute old age sufferings and  Buddha was a young sensation of divinity. Even then, today it is Buddha's teachings that rule the roost of most modern spiritual thinking. Aristotle was firm in his belief that women have less number of teeth! UG once said, "The difference between me and the psychiatrist is that I give expression to my thoughts; he doesn't! ... "

If one realises this fact about the mind being temporary every moment it thinks, no thought of suicide succeeds. Sure, the thought comes, maybe again and again and in some people yet again, but the awareness of this fact of the mind being temporary,- yes I said mind, not thought, - because it is the thought that creates mind! So the mind itself is an illusion!!! Why should one allow it to rule life?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Etiquette, Courtesy, Custom and Hypocrisy

It has become a habit now since over a year. After returning from my evening walk, I straight away go to the fridge, take out a lime (I see to it that it is always there!), prepare sherbet (nimbu pani) pour in two glasses, give one to my old girl, take a big gulp from mine, top up and go to take a shower. The habit gave much relief in peak summer. And to stand under cold shower was bliss!

The monsoon was in time this year. For over a week it poured heavyly. Akin to this part of the land, the temperature comes down rapidly after a good spell of monsoon showers, demanding warm blankets at night. But my habit of guzzling sherbet continued.

Today there was this neighbor woman at home discussing something with my old companion, who signaled me to make more sherbet. I did and offered a glass to the young woman. After sipping, this woman complimented me that my sherbet was good, having all the ingredients in right proportion. I thanked her and jokingly asked her to come everyday at the same time and have a glass! Her compliment was genuine.

From the way people compliment you for anything you do for them, you will come to know if that comes from the heart or just routine etiquette. There are people who possess all the skills to make you oblige but they simply vanish without a word of gratitude the moment they got their job done. You feel bad. Contrast this with those who thank you just as a civil custom without giving a damn to feel it. You feel worse. There are some other people yet, who take your good nature to help others in their need as your weakness and laugh behind your back despite having regular help from you. They simply take you for granted. Their facade is so wonderful, you don't ever feel you are being taken for a long ride. I pity you!

For those of you, young and energetic at the threshold of your life in a new job, raring to impress your boss, enthusiastic to build a career, lasting as well as satisfactory, learn to see the fine line between a hearty compliment and hypocrisy. This line is seldom visible and I am not telling you to look for this line when people compliment you but when you compliment people. If you are not able to feel gratitude at the bottom of your heart, I am afraid you have to depend on other devious methods for your success which will not take you far. Simply don't feel obliged if you cannot bring it out from the bottom; just smile. Also, there is peril in overdoing it - your complimenting, your way of showing your gratitude. It is like a tight rope walk which you certainly can do if you are keen to observe yourself.

Many management Gurus teach you to be thankful to others and also how to thank, perhaps profusely. They say it is an art, a very good art, which pays you back in truck loads. See?..  it is an art! It is not. It is virtue. Understand the difference.  And virtue cannot be taught, learnt and cultivated. You cannot buy a virtue. You cannot practice a virtue. Yes, thanking somebody for the little or big help they gave you, is virtue. The question of civil attitude, culture, courtesy or custom comes next. It is a virtue first and exists in every born human being. The only way to bring it out is to observe yourself. Without this observation of your own mind - how it feels when being helped by others - thanking becomes either mechanical at best or hypocrisy at worst.

Learn to feel the vibrant bottom of your heart. Success follows.

(please have a look at my other articles at

Monday, July 12, 2010

Argument - A Death Knell To Friendship

I met a friend this morning. After the usual hello-ing, he mentioned about his reading my articles in Ezine.  ( However, he took up the matter of antioxidants, a myth I busted in one of my articles. He said he not only promoted of one of the organic brands very successfully but also he was personally using it and having good results. I usually do not argue, but yes, I try to convince if only the other listens and weighs my logic and rationality in my reasoning positively.

Now I would like to use this incident to explain how entering an argument effects one's relationships. And for those who are fresh and ready to enter real life career, this may help very much in self improvement.

What is an argument and why do you argue? Arguments basically prop up from difference of opinion and every opinion is formed on one's learning and beliefs. What does that mean? An argument is essentially a process of promoting one's ego. - "I am right, you are wrong; or I know, you don't!" Please do not get mixed up with learning process, which constitutes several debates, which are not arguments. Debates are part of learning process in which there is no dominant ego. In a true process of learning there is neither 'me' nor 'you'; there exists only a learning process.

So, how do you win an argument whenever you are spiked up for one? Arguments are always to win, aren't they? Do not argue! That is the only and best way to win an argument. Because, if you win the argument, you have lost a friend, a relationship or a moment of love. And if you lost, well you have lost the argument but not a friend, not a relationship. Your ego may get a temporary beating. So avoid arguing. But it is very difficult to avoid arguments because invariably you come to know of it when you have already entered it. That makes, it is very important to observe your words with alertness whenever you are in a conversation. And when you make it a habit to be alert, soon you will be able to see the invitation for an argument with good clarity. Just smile away and change the topic. Ah! you see? It now flashes why some of your friends constantly change the topic in a conversation, some of them with astonishing smoothness.

There are people who insist upon certain rubbish .... hydro-electricity is a process of converting water molecules into electrons; or some tricky beliefs such as 'tiger belongs to dog family'. Just smile, you may need them in some other way, in a field in which they are experts and you may need their help. And there are situations when people simply believe they know certain thing which in fact they don't. That was what happened with my good friend today. This friend of mine told me that the one brand he is marketing is truly organic and 100 % result oriented. I simply asked him if he has read my article. He said no, 'but I scanned it; it was good ...' ! I could smell, the situation was calling for an argument. I could also guess, he wanted to promote his new organic product to me. If you are in sales field you know it. I just told him to again read my article completely but need not tell me how he felt after reading it, if at all he read!

I have not lost my friend, have not hurt his feelings, he deals in quite some quality consumer products apart from genuine computer peripherals. I do need him whenever my computer hoodwinks me!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

We Create Future

"Samatatvam yoga ucchate" - a Vedic saying which means, having total attention to whatever you do, in itself is Yoga.

You have seen and enjoyed, perhaps many times, a trapeze artist performing to perfection in any circus show.  Or, a magician doing card tricks so fast that you can hardly follow what he is doing. Perfection does not come easily, it needs rigorous practice, thousands of times over a period of time, sometimes even years together to make a public show of your perfection. Practice is basic and most important part of any form of art, be it music, painting or even your profession. Perhaps that is why doctors are called 'medical practitioners', maybe because the process of perfecting never stops in this profession. Practice makes an art perfect. Practice is yogic in nature. Unperturbed, total concentration of the mind is yoga.

The more I go deep into this phenomenon of practice - yoga -, the more clearly I see the process of creating future. Surprised?

You may not remember the way you learnt to take your first steps independent of support at the age of perhaps, 10 months to 18 months. But your parents and other elders do. You had fallen any number of times during that process of learning to walk on two legs and only then, finally after a number of falls it became perfect.

Have you observed a Hindu priest chanting 'Mantra' during a worship ritual?(pooja) Most of them having learnt it for a living without bothering to perfect their pronunciation of the ' Sanskrit' words, chant them so fast that if at a point their attention gets distracted, they have to start that particular 'shloka' from the beginning, being not able to proceed from that exact point where it got stopped. Practice without meaning was such in their past learning. It is only from a pre-registered point of reference in the mind that you can start and continue.

What all this suggest? In concentration of the mind lies the future. To concentrate and practice to perfection is to create a future. In the mind, in deep thoughts, depending on the past experiences and memories you decide certain things for tomorrow and you follow according to your plans and succeed in materialising your thoughts depending on your creating them to perfection by eliminating the failing strings of the past in your memory. If you walk today in the way and style you do, it is because you have perfected it to that style and way during the learning period, of course, balancing on the string provided by your genes. And that learning was based on acute need for a 'tomorrow'.

I believe a similar process takes place in the mind about your health. If your belief based on your past experiences and ensued judgements over time about the functioning of an organ, had perfected to a point of no change, and today it has to be functioning so; that functioning style of that organ cannot change. Is this not a process of creating future? You are living today in perfect accordance to your created beliefs and values of the past. And you will continue to live the same way tomorrow because today, in your mind, that perfected belief creates your tomorrow.

Only a RADICAL CHANGE in the basic thought process of the mind allows you to see WHAT IS WHAT AS IS WHAT , not the change just to change the pattern of thinking, a modification. It requires enormous energies to remove the whole gamut of thought process, which is possible by stretching the mind to its utmost capacity to UNDO THE DONE. Mind alone can do it; it is capable.

If you have read and understood what you have read so far in this blog, not with the meaning of the words but through the process of your thoughts, which actually is the fixed mould of your living, you are already in that state - SAMATATVAM YOGA UCHCHATE. You do not need any yoga teacher. You do not create future.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Medical Practice - A Noble Profession

Doctors Day was celebrated yesterday. I too conveyed my good wishes to my doctor friends yesterday. As so many Days come and go, one more Day has passed in the name of doctors. I think it is high time that sane thinking people should make an introspection regarding this noble profession of medical practice.

It is beyond doubt that there are many committed doctors who work in the field with sole purpose of alleviating human suffering through their chosen profession. Quite many of them have simply spurned lucrative jobs to fulfil their ambition to serve in rural India. But at the same time I deeply get depressed seeing the present scenario in the medical field in general. Greed has unquestioningly taken over moral and ethical standards in the noble profession.The entire movement has become a well oiled and inter-related big business conglomerate .

Let me try to put out a couple of diseases which have already taken deep roots in this profession consisting mainly of medical practice and drug manufacturing and distribution. If big names having multinational presence and matching turnover are luring practicing doctors by offering free participation in conferences Continuing Medical Education (CME) programs at exotic tourist places with free stay in luxury hotels, lesser companies with limited resources are offering high percentage margins to their local distributors to make promotions in their own convenient ways. There are many ways of gifting a doctor apart from offering 'cuts' pathological laboratories and medical distributors.

In the second week of April (this year) an out fit called Udaan Diabetes Care Foundation organized 'Regional Insulin Summit Meet - North' at Fortune Grace Hotel, Mussorie, where over 50 rooms were reserved. The room tariff of this luxurious hotel is Rs 5,500/- per night. Bangalore based Novo Nordisk, which sells insulin, picked the tab.....There are other examples. Piramal Healthcare allegedly took some 200 Diabetologists to Turkey in late January followed by a batch of Oncologists in mid - March to the same destination...... Lupin held an all expense paid promotional event at Indore in late February and reserved rooms in in three luxurious hotels for obliging doctors, mainly from Madhya Pradesh...

These are some newspaper reports, verbatim. Today nobody can escape from this seamy side of corrupt medical practice, which is taken up under Hippocratic Oath. Patients are made to undergo tests and surgeries they do not need; scans are being recommended when they are not needed; women are mercilessly made to undergo Caesarean  Section when normal delivery is possible; healthy uteruses are removed by operation; and hips and knees are being replaced to provide business to orthopaedic device makers. These are but a few examples I am giving to show to what level the moral and ethical standards have fallen.

MCI (Medical Council of India - remember the recent revelation of its head taking bribe to the tune of several crores to grant recognition to new medical colleges?) has woken up to contain this menace. It thinks that the low salaries paid to medical doctors and teachers in private institutions is the reason for doctors starting private practice. Great! Does that mean that the Govt. medical institutions pay more? How ridiculous! The rot is more stinking there than anywhere else.

In all fairness and sincerity, I personally feel that we have reached a point of no return. The only possible thing seems to live with the rot. But heartily appreciate and encourage those who have remained true to their Hippocratic Oath and wish their tribe may grow.