The Day I Got Lost and Found a Day So Wonderful


As for the events of the past in general are concerned, particularly events of the childhood days, one may not remember the routine day to day events. However, there are certain events that get etched in memory so much so that these keep on rewinding in your mind time and again. We enjoy relishing those moments as we do watching particular favourite moments of a repeat telecast.

I must have been  6 to 7 years old then. My father was working in the forest department. For sometime he was deployed deep inside the jungle in the tribal district of Koraput, Odisha. Usually whenever he was deployed in remote locations we used to stay back in our native place. But this time he took us – me, my elder sister and my mother – along.

Our dwelling was a huge cottage in the middle of the jungle. Of course, some area  surrounding the cottage were cleared of vegetation to avoid jungle fire catching up. it was a single row cottage with seven to eight rooms. While, we occupied three to four rooms, some rooms were used as stores and in one room a few of my father’s subordinates stayed. The nearest human dwelling was a tribal village, perhaps two to three kilometers away.

One day it so happened that I got upset. I do not remember the reason. I threatened my mother that I would go away inside the jungle never to return. My mother laughed. My sister challenged me and said, “Go. Who bothers”. But, they did not know I meant what I had said.

My father was away on his project site. After some time my mother and sister got busy with their chores. Slowly I sneaked out and ran towards the jungle.

Of course I took the temporary muddy road made for the trucks to ferry jungle products. In my concern not to be tracked I had run so much that I now lost track of where I was. When I realized this, I panicked. But, then I heard a familiar voice following me – “Baba, Baba. Stop”. It was a worker at my father’s project. Frequently he came to meet with father at our cottage. Whenever he came he made jokes at me and tried to be friendly. Suddenly, at the sight of a familiar face, panic feelings gave way and I became adamant again.

“No I would not” I shouted.  “I do not want to go back to that house again”, I said and started running again, this time into the wild growth, leaving  the muddy jungle road.

The worker was a robust tribal man form a nearby village and I do not remember his name.  I could not outrun him. He came near me and caught hold of my hand. I tried to  wriggle out.

“Listen, Baba” he said,  “I will not take you to your house. We will go to my village. Come first see my house. If you do not like it,I will bring you here and leave you”.

I consented and he lifted my on to his shoulders. For the entire journey of two to three kilometers I rode on his shoulders. On the way, he picked of wild fruits and gave me to eat. We reached his village, a small village of about twelve to thirteen houses. His house was a single room hut at the middle of the village. His wife and son welcomed me. His son was almost of my age. His wife offered me a kind of sweet made of millet and jaggery.

What followed afterwards was a full day of fun, much more thrilling than the kind of fun you get in a modern amusement park. First he took me and his son to a nearby water body for angling. We played Tarzan. There were huge swings made out of the roots of the banyan tree. Every hour I was given some special delicious fruit, root or preparation to eat. We also enjoyed water sports. His son tried to teach me swimming.

But then, towards the evening I remembered my mother and started crying. He realized that I was ready to return to my source. Immediately he lifted me on to his shoulders and carried me back home. He was so fast in his walk that we reached our cottage within no time. But my mother gave no reaction. She taunted me, ” Why have you come back?”

It was only later that I came to know, the tribal man was deployed by my mother to take care of any eventuality, i.e  in case I actually ran away.

I thought my mother would not know and I would surprise and shock her by running away. But I was so wrong. Especially about a mother’s safety concerns for her children.

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

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Sunday Musings and Random Notes #4

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Those unknown heroes did not even wait to hear our applause

One day, while I was driving to Bengaluru Airport, I spotted two small IAF planes moving in synchronicity. Instantly I was reminded of an aerobatic display by the Suryakiran team two decades back.

It happened at a  forward base. The local Chief Minister was the chief guest. All were waiting for the first glimpse. The perfect formation of the nine aircraft became visible over the horizon and in an instant they zoomed past the spectators who looked on with awe. There after followed various hair raising stunts and manoeuvres, all in perfect coordination and formation. Every one knew that a split second error could result in a major disaster. Only those at the cockpit knew how much practice, patience, alertness and gut feelings went into producing such an impeccable display.

Of course in some of the later displays that I witnessed at other locations including the displays for the public, there were arrangement for running commentaries where the name of the team leaders were mentioned. But then with all those din and excitement in the surroundings,  the running commentary hardly held your attention. In this particular show there was no such running commentary or public announcement. After the display there was arrangement for refreshments. During that time the Chief Guest was supposed to meet and compliment the pilots. A large part of the spectators was eagerly waiting to see those men behind the machines who gave those miraculous stunts. However, after some time we came to know that the team had to leave urgently. Neither did we know their name then nor did we have any opportunity to let them hear our applause.

This incident is a representative of the larger events involving our soldiers. Forget about the applause, in the theater that the soldier operates there are no spectators to applaud. Sometimes the hero even does not live to narrate or hear his glory. There are case where a soldier is awarded and may occupy a fifth  page mention. But the majority of those heroes go unsung. May be that is why we have so many memorials to the ‘unknown soldiers’.

Enter a caption

 By Sivakumar ThyagarajanSurya kirans !, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link


 Why should the Hero take all the credit

Here of course I am talking about the reel life heroes. There is no need to mention that. Our social conditioning is such that when we talk of heroes, the first ones to come to mind are the filmy ones, even though majority of them could be damn cowards and hypocrites in real life and may be suffering from all kind of fears including fear of not being the best noticed one in a public gathering and not to speak of the fear  of cockroaches. To distinguish a real life hero from the filmi hero, we have to say – so and so was a real life hero; where as,  it should be the other way round.

Now coming to the real (or, reel) issue, the filmi hero is like the body of a car. It is the most visible and highlighted part of the movie. The other fellows (including the heroine) who work equally hard and are equally talented, do not get as much credit as the hero. In the filmi world too there are unsung heroes. The body double who does the real ‘heroic acts’ remains  unsung.


Of Good and Evil

Nothing is good or bad. But thinking makes it so- said Shakespeare.

Long before Shakespeare, a Chines sage had said somethings very profound. (Hope my patriotic countrymen – particularly the whatsapp warriors,  will forgive me for  using things Chines in my blog post). I extract here a few lines of Lao Tzu’s Tao- Te- Ching :

"As soon as beauty is known by the world as beautiful, ugliness is born. 
As soon as virtue is being known as something good, evil is born. 
Therefore being and non-being give birth to each other. 
Difficult and easy accomplish each other.
..............................................  "

So the concept of ugliness was born when man recognized and discriminated something as beautiful. Prior to that things existed as they were without being judged. So was the case with good and evil.

Even the ancient seers who compiled the mythologies  knew this. Hence, Ravana is actually not an enemy of Vishnu. He is just doing a role play as ordained by the divine order of things. He is one of Vishnu’s trusted lieutenants, being the doorkeeper of Baikuntha- the abode of Lord Vishnu, who becomes Rama in his seventh avatar.

According to the Bhagavata Purana, once the four sons of Lord Brahma also known as Sanat Kumaras, went to meet Lord Vishnu in Vaikuntha Dham. The four sanat kumaras are Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanatkumar. It is said that due to regular spiritual practices they looked like children. So the gatekeepers did not take them seriously. However, when they insisted that they be allowed to go inside without delay, Jaya and Vijaya told them that Lord Vishnu was taking rest and they have to wait till He wakes up. However, the kumaras were enraged and told that Lord Vishnu is available all the time for their devotees. Further, the kumaras cursed the gatekeepers for their insolence so as to be born in the mortal world leaving their heavenly abode.

Subsequently, the gatekeepers asked forgiveness of the kumaras and requested Lord Vishnu to waive off the curse. Lord Vishnu told that the curse of divine beings like the kumaras cannot be reverted. However, he wanted to commute the punishment. So He gave the gatekeepers two options – either to be born as His devotees for six births or as His enemies for three births. Jaya and Vijaya chose the latter as they thought the sooner they are re-untied with their master the better,  even though they have to play the role of villains. In their first descent from heaven as mortal beings they were born as Hiranyakha and Hiranyakashyapa. In their second life, they were to be born as Ravana and Kumbhakarna; while in their third life they became Shishupala and Dantavakra.

According to the mythologies the gods and the demons are descendants from the same father. Of course from different mothers. Rishi Kashyapa had two wives – Aditi and Diti. All the devas and other auspicious beings were born to Aditi while the demons in general, and Hiranyakha and Hiranyakashyapa in particular, were born to Diti.(Here again, feminists please forgive the misogynistic bias of the seers who were mostly male.)

There have been interpretations of Ramayana, where Rama’s actions have been portrayed more devilishly than Ravana’s. So the dispute as to who is the hero and who the villain of the same story goes on.

As we see there is a very thin line that divides good from evil or deva (god) from the devil. If I put it in Hindi – hero aur villin mein sirf unneesh beesh ka farak. This theme has been used in many English movies. Remember Spider man III? Spiderman’s scientist friend is his arch enemy this moment, his savior the next.

As there are no absolute heroes or villains, some sages suggested let us kill the demons within.

Now, which are these demons? Anger, Ego, Lust……

Ok.Wait.. wait.

As we know, without ego, many of the great things in world would not have been done.

And without lust, where would we be? Would I be here writing this post. Or, you reading it?

(I know it sounds a little incorrect, politically speaking)

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Sunday Musings and Random Notes #3

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Come on India, do not lose your sense of humour

A good sense of humour is vital for democracy, especially for its citizens. At least, it lets you live through all the broken promises made by your politicians.

It seems India is turning into a country of no dissent and no humour. There are some political and religious leaders who themselves act as jokers. But all hell breaks lose when some one makes a joke at their expense. It is unfortunate that the painter turned  CM of a state that takes pride in its hoary history of great intellectuals and artists cannot take dissent and humour in right democratic spirit. Down south, a Chief Minister who herself was an accomplished actress cannot digest a few songs written to criticize her. Recently, the backlash received by Justice Katju over his humorous Facebook Posts is unprecedented. I was reading one of the counter Facebook posts written by an Odiya politician, who has questioned Justice Katju’s authenticity of birth, education career and what not. As if by writing this one humorous post, Justice Katju lost all his democratic rights to be an honourable citizen of this great country where we have more statues and more cities and streets named after political and religions leaders than those named after writers and artists.

In India, it is somewhat OK to slight your nation. But, God forbid, you give a perceived sense of slighting to someone’s regional, religious or language identity. I wonder how the the great humorist Khushwant Singh would have reacted to the news that some one has filed a petition in Supreme Court to stop Santa Banta Jokes.

In this connection, all politicians have much to learn from the likes of Nehru,  Manmohan, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal. Nehru not only encouraged criticism of his works, it is also rumoured that he himself wrote articles criticizing himself and published the articles anonymously. We have  had unprecedented number of jokes floating online and offline about the other three. Imagine how much less humorous the world would be if these guys suddenly decided to file defamation cases.

Come on India. The drama enacted in your parliaments, ashrams, streets and offices are already full of so much humor. Just recognize, enjoy and have the last laugh. Leave all the serious business to your religious and political leaders.

jat joke.jpg

Celebrating thirty years of Malgudi Days

It is a humongous task for any director to convert a novel into a movie retaining its authenticity. It becomes all the more difficult when the story is humorous. In my young adult days I used to be a  great fan of RK Narayan. I still am. Malgudi Days, directed and produced by Shankar Nag did full justice to the characterization of the denizens of the fictional town Malgudi. Rarely did I miss an episode when it was first telecast on Doordarshan. Sometimes while random channel surfing I come across an episode of Malgudi Days on DD. It is as delightful to watch it today as it was three decades back.

As I have mentioned earlier in this post, in our country, we have more memorials built for religious and political leaders than writers and artists. If you go to a country like England or Canada, a famous writer’s erstwhile residence is marked as a must visit place for tourists to that city. But not here in India. How many of the present generation who visit Mysore would know that RK Narayan was a resident of that city. Of course after much hue and cry, the dilapidated house of RK Narayan was restored a couple of years back and now it functions as a memorial. Still, does it feature in the top ten, or, top twenty five places to see in Mysore?

malgudidays.jpgimage credit:

Sunday Musings and Random Notes #2

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The Multi-purpose Indian Road

An Indian road, in addition to its main role, may mean many things to many people. It can be a toilet, it can be a barn, or it can be a place to build a place of worship – temporary as well as permanent (be it of any religion). The kind of surprises it may throw up are nothing new to the regular driver (hence, no more surprising). A good looking road may have a nasty pothole at the middle, a wide road may suddenly become narrow, and sometimes a road may  vanish just like that. Added to that, our law abiding fellow drivers make it such a  challenging experience. You have to have the awareness of a Buddha to be a master of the Indian Road. I feel the mindfulness meditation of Buddha is more relevant today than it was two thousand years ago.

Two days back, I discovered that the short cut I used to take back home from office (to save ten minutes) at a point, is suddenly closed down, adding 30 minutes more to my usual commuting time, as I had to take a very complicated detour.

In India, quite often, even the google navigation gets so confused that if you do not make a reality check with a localite every now and then, you are in for a harrowing time. The exit from the highway that the google lady directs you to take may not be there. Or, the google lady may take you to the back of the temple premises instead of the entrance and you may find yourself in a place where neither can you go ahead nor come back. (It actually happened when I visited the museum at Tanjavur a couple of years back.)


For the office bound city commuter, the road may be two hours of hell, but not for these ‘holy’ animals. They can enjoy their moments of ‘bliss’ anywhere, including at the middle of a busy city road.

ayudhapooja1Around this time of the year, we do the Ayudh Puja, which is a must, particularly the vahana puja. One needs a lot of divine intervention to survive on an Indian Road. Sometimes, the decoration may cover the entire body blocking the front and the rear view. It  does not matter. Once things are left to divine care, there is nothing to worry about. Just relax.

Hollywood Action Movie Subtitles for Indian (Sanskari) Audience

“Hope you **** already know the **** target.”

“Ye. We have to get that ****  **** **** out of the **** hole.”

“*** those intel *** . Everything completely **** up, man”

“Ye. If I meet those ***** . I will **** the **** out of those *****”

“You. **** come with me with your *****. Do not forget to **** or else we all get ****”

“Now now, do you **** see those *** *** **”

“let me go and **** **** **** right through their **** ****”

“No, you are such an ****. you stay here and *****”

“Oh ***, Oh ***”


(By the way, if it is a Hollywood action movie, our sanskari audience would anyway understand everything without any dialogues, forget about subtitles.)

On a serious note | Celebrities and Social Responsibilities

For the Indian audience, successful filmi and cricket personalities are larger than life characters. Even temples have been dedicated to many filmi heros and heroines, and some cricket stars are held as Gods by their fans. People throng to the places where there is a public appearance of such people. The other day, when I was watching a reality show it was touching to see how they are held in awe by their fans. There are people who have dedicated their whole lives in imitating a particular celebrity. A fan does not follow any reason. For a hardcore fan, whatever the celebrity does, is an act divine, whatever he or she says, is gospel truth.

Of course it is natural that these celebrities will be used in marketing products. What differentiates a normal model and a celebrity model, is that the celebrity to some extent trades the trust placed in her by the fans whereas for an unknown model it is pure advertisement. In such a situation,  don’t the celebrities have a moral responsibility not to mislead their fans, for whose sake he is the hero after all?

I feel when a celebrity endorses a harmful product knowingly, he is betraying the trust of his fans.

Sports and games are usually associated with good health. When a sportsman endorses unhealthy products or when sports bodies allow companies (that sell products injurious to health) to sponsor, is it not like betraying the cause of sports itself?

You may also read: Sunday Musings and Random Notes #1

Looking Back with Gratitude


So here comes my feedback form. My feedback at fifty. If the biblical life span is 70, for a Hindu the ideal life span is 100. So, here I am, at the thresh hold of my half way mark.

I did my education at a number of schools in a number of localities falling in rural , semi urban and urban areas. This provided the opportunity to have a taste of  India in its myriad of colours and flavours. This experience was extended in range and depth when I joined Indian Air Force that provided me the opportunity of close interaction with people and places from all across India. A career in Defense takes away many of the biases associated with religion, language and locality. The stint in Indian Air Force has truly been a blessing.

By the way, as I write this article today, the Indian Air Force is celebrating its eighty fourth anniversaries. My hearty greetings to all Air Warriors (serving and Ex) and their families. I also take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Indian Air Force for not only giving me an opportunity to do my bit for my fellow citizens, but also for enriching my life with beautiful experiences.

There were times when the perceived indifference of parents was painful. But, when I saw how some of the over caring parents are playing with the dreams of their children and hindering their growth by their protectiveness, I realised what a blessing it was to have parents who did not interfere with many of my choices.

It is has been a great wandering, a great journey. There have been moments of fulfillment, moments of disappointment. Kabhi khushi kabhi gam – life has gone on. There have been rewards, there have been brickbats. There have been times when I have been treated like a celebrity and there have been times when I preferred to go into temporary oblivion. Plenty of foolish decisions marked by a few sparks of wise ones.

But no moment has betrayed me. Each moment has given me an intensity and passion. The failures have been as intense and meaningful as the successes. A cluster of failures caused disappointment in those moments. But, ultimately it was so sweet when those failures led to greater success subsequently. Through it all everything has been a learning experience and it continues to do so. Every event has been a launching pad, a rest house by the great road side of this journey called life.

One thing that I lack let me confess, is focus. Nature’s myriads of creations detract me. Sometimes I want to do too many things in one life. I get easily bored. However, I feel my interests in thousands of things do not leave any moment to get bored.

At the end of the day what is there to achieve ?  Of course here I am reminded of the sand artist. Every achievement is like the art work of the sand artist, may be just a little more enduring. Nevertheless, the sand artist does not stop his creative work knowing full well it would be so transitory.

Similarly, I also take up challenges – sometimes for my own personal growth, sometimes to bring some beauty into the world through creativity, sometimes to make this world a little more livable and lovable thorough bits of unreasonable acts of service and criticism. Have I achieved anything substantial? By the way what would be my definition of achievement? Well that is for others to evaluate.

And so far, it has been a great wandering in this wonderful creation; and I would continue to wander and wonder.

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(This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.)

Essays on Hinduism by Karan Singh


essays-on-hinduismThe fact that I have categorised this article under ‘books I have loved’, goes on to show that it is not a book review in its conventional sense. I am not going to write about the pros and cons of the book. I loved the book and will give a summary of the book along with the salient features that stuck me.

I read this book over  a couple of days in a hospital waiting room. Once I started the book or every time I restarted the book, I  got lost in no time and forgot about the surroundings, till someone came and tapped my shoulders.

This book is written by Karan Singh, an Ex-Cabinet Minister in the Congress Government. So the book is not coming from a member of the saffron brigade. Nor is it written by one of those so called foreign scholars. Hence, we may expect a fair degree of neutrality along with the right amount of compassion, unlike the contents in the plethora of books on Hinduism which either exalt it to the point of exaggeration or portray it as nothing more than a religion of snake charmers, idol worshipers or  charlatans  selling solutions for premature ejaculation.


In this collaboration of essays the author discusses the basics of Hinduism. Outlining the message of the Bhagavat Gita and the Upanishads, he argues that Hinduism is not a cult, nor a bunch of dogmas but a religion of the highest order that speaks of an immanent and transcendental god. It also offers a philosophy of life that cuts across ethnic and geographic barriers between men. According to him, the essentials of Hindu religio-philosophic teachings are pervaded by the ideals of universalism and love for humanity.

The author drives home the relevance of Hindu unversalism to an age in which nations are armed for mutual annihilation. He maintains that successful application of the  Hindu seers will help humankind to overcome the worst crisis facing it in the nuclear age, and will lead to restructuring  the world on the all-embracing principle of freedom and equity. the text is followed by the author’s lucid translation and commentary on Mundak Upanishad.


However, what the blurb does not talk about is the recurring theme in the book that Hinduism has five basic tenets . The author returns to these tenets again and again. These five tenets, in brief, are as follows:

  1. The concept of Brahman, the unchanging undying reality that pervades the entire cosmos. The vedic seers saw that everything in the universe changes and they called the creation sansara, that which always moves. But they also perceived that behind this change there was an unchanging substratum from which the changing worlds emanated like sparks from a great fire. This supreme all pervasive entity known as brahman has been beautifully described in various upanishads.
  2. The second great insight of the vedic seers was that,  as the changing universe outside was pervaded by Brahman, the changing world within man himself was based upon the immortal spark known as  Atman. The human entity is born again and again across aeons, gathering a multitudes of experiences and gradually moving towards the possibility of perfection.
  3. Having perceived the existence of Brahman without and the Atman within, the great seers realized through their spiritual insights that Atman and Brahman are essentially one. This  concept of Tat Twam Asi (that thou are) is beautifully expounded and illustrated in Chhandogya Upanishad.
  4. The fourth basic tenet is about the supreme goal of life  which is to realize the deathless Atman within and its unity with the Brahman.
  5. The fifth one is the concept of Karma – a concept that includes Action, Causality and Destiny.

In the chapter, Secularism – a New Approach, the author emphasises  the need for an Indian approach to secularism as opposed to the western approach which is prevalent now. According to the author,  India has never had an organised church , so the European concept of secularism was never relevant to our requirements. The following are the three premises suggested by the author to form the basis of our secularism:

  1. The term Sarva-dharma-sambhava (Not favoring a particular religious denomination over others) is a  far more meaningful formulation than Dharma-nirapekshata and  is much closer to the view of Mahatma Gandhi on secularism.
  2. When the conflicts among various religions and religious sects which create serious law and order problem, it is clear that the myth of religion being a purely personal matter can no longer be sustained and the state has to take cognizance of religion as social force.
  3. The myth that, as education increases and living standards improve religion will steadily lose its hold over the minds of people and become increasingly peripheral, has been debunked by the facts that  more places of worship are found in developed societies than the underdeveloped ones.

The author also touches upon the subject of environmental preservation and other issues faced by the global citizen  and how the solution can be found combining modern findings with vedic wisdom. At the end the author hopes that  the world recognizes ‘Basudhaiva Kutumbakam‘ (The whole world is one family) as propounded  by the ancient seers so as to realize the oneness of the human race and rise over individual and class differences to  end the conflicts among nations and groups.

Thus, major parts of the book explore the insights of the ancient seers as found in the Upanishads and other Hindu scriptures in general and the Bhagavat Gita in particular.  In a way, though the eighteen essays along with the appendix containing commentaries on Mundaka Upanishad, the author presents the soul of Hinduism, as opposed to its body which are the various rituals associated with the religion ans which are also the major focus of many of the western writers and Indian intellectuals.

My recommendation:

If you want to have a feel of the soul of Hinduism and get many of your long held myths  (which you might be unaware till you read this book)  about the religion  get busted, this book is a must read for you.

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