sixteen parenting sutras

parenting sutrasI am not a great believer in tips, tricks, shortcuts, and patchworks (or what they fashionably call ‘hacks’ these days) when it comes fundamental issues of life and relationships. In fact such superficial measures cannot have any meaningful impact when it comes to deeper issues of life. I believe that if one’s basic attitude or philosophy is based on sound understanding of the issues, these will be in the right direction and a few mistakes on the way will not have much  impact in the long run. After all no one is perfect. But one can have the right attitude and adopt a philosophy that is based on the reality of the times.

Each of the sixteen ‘sutras’ or principles that I have phrased and enunciated in this book has an underlying philosophy. Each is an attitude to adopt. These are not tips and tricks to be used in response to  particular situations.

These principles have taken a long time to come to sixteen. In 2008 I was invited to give a talk to the parents of a gated community. For the talk, I developed a write up that I called five parenting points. That time I was regularly conducting Art of Living classes for adults and children. I was also doing my meditation regularly. This write up was a product of my receiving divine revelations from up above.

Just joking. Actually this write up was a product of my interest in eastern philosophy, my own experience as a parent for fifteen years by then (What is so unique about it?), and my interaction with a large number of children and parents by virtue of my workshops where in both the parties voiced many of their concerns.

The write up about five parenting points was published in ‘Lighthouse’ where I have been a co-editor.  Subsequently, a magazine about Positive Life took an interest in the article. The editor was so positive about the interest this article would generate among the readers that she wanted me to expand the article so as to be serialised over a number of issues. I expanded the principles to ten. Subsequently, I don’t know why her enthusiasm turned negative. Was it because I had cited a Samskrit sloka that did not go down well with her? Well, I would never know.

The manuscript gathered dust till last October when I wanted to revive it. Meanwhile, I have also become a little wiser so as to make the total number of principles to sixteen.

So, if you are looking for shortcuts or any quick fixes, this book is not for you. But, if you would like to explore beneath the surface and ponder over the common fallacies that many parents fall prey to, read the book and chew on. It is a small book. But the impact may not be so.

 

 ‘Teach Me To Dream’ – Book Review

My illustrator friend Sailaja Anand ( who is also an eternal optimist) has put up her perceptions of my poems on her blog.

‘Teach Me To Dream’ has been written by Mr. Durga Prasad Dash whose work I always have admired. It is an anthology of poems that celebrate life in its myriads of aspects: love, longing, pain, illusion,beauty and ugliness, freedom, bondage, war, politics, enlightenment.There is no sphere of life that is left un touched by the author. Each emotion is conveyed beautifully and every reality is expressed with conviction. Each stanza is a beautiful piece in itself, touching the deep core.

In part I, the way the author has connected seasons and emotions with his web of words is so heartening.
”there is a rhythm in the sun,
melody in air, and
dance in water”
Through words the author is indeed celebrating the nature with beautiful expression.
In poem ‘your sweet absense’
In the following lines
“In my lack of discretion
hoping to rise with you
I fall again and again”

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Teach Me To Dream by D P Dash

Deeply honoured by this review.

One Grain Amongst the Storm

teachme to dream book coverJust as I thought I was done with the ash-berries tossed at me by the departing year, suturing up my tattered ego with a ghazal in the reigning obscurity, Mr D. P. Dash ruffled the quiet of my languid existence. Dash is a blogger who writes at ‘One Life is Not Enough’, but he didn’t stop at that and went ahead to self-publish his oeuvres, the latest being a book of verses so refreshing the droplets are still sticking to my mind.

Teach me to dream’ is a collection of jaunty poems written in a workaday diction that is blithely lucid. Unlike many practitioners of poetry, Dash doesn’t adorn the stream of his thoughts with symbols and motifs often. His is a candid style, crisp and direct, but it has none of the jarring monotony plaguing a host of present day poets. The movement of his…

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the cart of clay and Rumi in a traffic jam

I will write about Rumi towards the end of this blog post and try to connect it to my recently released book. After all I have a book to promote. Gone are the days when the Hero’s or heroine’s role ended with acting in the movie (and collecting the pay check). Now he/she must take part in an extensive film marketing. So is the case with the authors these days, whether you follow the self publishing route or the traditional route.

Now, talking about books, today is the birth anniversary of Mirza Ghalib.  I come to know of this from the Google Doodle. Many of my readers must have the experience of coming across his shers and shayiris. He is like the old mischievous gentleman of the next street who you bump into every now and then during your random walks. But this year I read one of the books outlining his life and his wisdom. It was after I was gifted with a Kindle by my daughter on the occasion of my birthday. Many of his couplets have stuck and refuse to go out of memory.

Haathon ki lakeeron pay mat ja ae ghalib, 
Naseeb unke bhi hote hain jinkey haath nahi hote 

Hum ko mallum hai jannat ki haqiqat lekin 
Dil khush rakhne ko ghalib ye khayal achha hai

I go into periodic lunacy of binge reading. Those are also the periods when I end up reading a lot of bullshit stuff. During such a period of lunacy this year I read Paulo Coelho and Eckhart Tolle. I came across Coelho for the first time from a newspaper column and was under the impression that he was a self help Guru of some sort. But he and his bio in a number of internet sites claim he is a novelist! I was also amazed at the way these two guys (worldwide bestselling authors in their own right) clothe ancient wisdom in new words and metaphors and never give any credit to their source, thus giving the impression that they are the inventors of such life changing wisdom.

Some of the interesting books I have read are associated with their own stories about how I came across the book or, in what circumstances I read the book. While helping my father-in-law arranging his home library some months back I came across an Odiya version of Mritchhakatika. Does the word sound a little complicated?

This is a Sanskrit  word combining two words (sandhi) –  mrit (soil/mud) and sakatika (cart). Do you remember the movie utsav starring Sekhar Suman and Rekha? The movie was based on this ancient Sanskrit drama- The Cart of Clay. Some English translator use the title – The Little Clay Cart.

During school days, one of our teachers – Sri Surendra Das- used to teach us both Odiya and Sanskrit. His way of teaching was to tell stories. We used to wait eagerly for his classes. Over a month he told us the entire story of Mritchchakatika in episodic manner during his classes. Those were the days when TV soap opera had not colonialised our country.

I had read the book once during the college days and watched the movie during its year of release in 1984. But reading it again this year was like relieving those moments of my school days in the 1980s.

A book I have recently picked up for reading is -Never Let me Go – written by the latest Nobel Prize winner for literature, Kazuo Ishiguro. I had read a review of the movie adaptation long time back and I liked it so much that I wanted to see the movie or read the book immediately. Those were the days before Amazon and I could not lay my hands on the DVD or the book in our local stores.

Another book worth mentioning is Ulysses by James Joyce. It took me three months of frequently interrupted reading to finish it. In between I had to read a lot of reviews and notes about the book to understand all the layers of the theme. But it was worth it.

Ulysses is one of the all time great novels in the history of fiction, consistently being voted as one of the top ten novels in polls after polls. However, our dear best selling novelist Paulo Coehlo could hardly find anything remarkable in this masterpiece. Coelho faced a lot of flack for his criticism of Ulysses. Of course, we can hardly blame Paulo for all this. Loved by the masses from Iran to India, after all he is a novelist of a special class.

Now I remember of the time when I was rescued by Rumi when I was on may way to the airport and was stuck in a traffic jam. Thankfully, I was not going to catch a flight but to receive someone. Thankfully again, I had borrowed a book of Rumi’s poetry from a library in the morning and it was with me. As it rained outside, sitting in the car backseat, perhaps at that time I was one of those few commuters who did not curse the rain or the traffic Jam. Of course, by the time I finished the book, I was yet to reach the airport. Thankfully yet again, I was able to compose a poem – of traffic jam, rain and Rumi, which has been included in my recently released anthology of poems: teach me to dream. There are a couple of poems – one dedicated to rain and another to typical everyday traffic jam – that find place in the anthology.

cloud of gentle rain, pour down 
come, let us friends get truly drunk 
and you, the king of tricksters 
befuddled with drink we all greet you (Rumi)

By the way, when I started to write this post I noticed that teach me to dream has jumped to No.2 position on Amazon ranking of New Releases and No.10 in Poetry category. As Amazon ranks fluctuate by the hour, I don’t know what will be the ranking by the time you read this. Anyway, I hope it continues to be one of the top twenty books in poetry category.

With a little help from you, of course, my dear reader. 😀

amazon rank1

 

 

 

teach me to dream – an anthology of my poems

Well, finally I was able to nail my poetic muse. It is such a great sense of relief. Whether my book reaches its destination of readers or not it is a great sense of relief. It is like delivering the baby after a prolonged pregnancy.

This was supposed to be my first book, as I have mentioned while writing the blog post announcing the release of Idle Hours. But my poetic muse has been so elusive that neither did it help me complete a few half written poems, nor did it assist me in clothing a few concepts wandering in my mind with lyrics, sometimes escaping some time arriving unannounced to be gone in a moment.

After Amazon took care of the post delivery issues of teach me to dream, it is now live and kicking, waiting to be picked up and hugged  by loving readers.

 

Meanwhile, I thank Sri Uma Shankar Pandey, Sri M Gopalakrishnan, Sri SK Pathak, Sri Srikant Jha for putting your thoughts about Idle Hours on various forums.

Also worth special mention in connection with the anthology of poems are the following:

  • Sri Sailendra Narayana Tripathy, my first mentor of poetry and my professor of English Literature during my graduation at Khallikote College Berhampur. Coincidentally, these days he is a regular guest speaker on numerous Odiya TV channels. Famous Actress Leslie Tripathy is his daughter who carries on the legacy to revive the international poetry magazine Poesy where my first poem was published way back in 1987.
  • Ms. Sailaja Anand – Blogger and Art of Living Teacher – for providing the illustrations.  I am not able to do full justice to her efforts as I am not able to utilise all her illustrations in this e-book version. Maybe, when I go for the print version I use all her illustrations at appropriate places.

At present the book is also part of Kindle Unlimited.

I request all my readers ( including my blogger friends many of whom are great poets themselves) to share your thoughts on Amazon/Goodreads/your blog.

teach me to dream cover

 

my book will be available for free download

My book IDLE HOURS will be available for free download between 1st and 3rd December 2017. I have made minor revisions recently and those who have already got it may download it again to get the latest version.

Meanwhile here are a few reviews / feedbacks:

Enjoyed reading the book. At places the humour is hilarious and some places it is very subtle. Most of the articles are for leisurely read, but not all. Some, like the one on the nature of reality and another on Transcendental Mathematics require deeper introspection. The articles are a combination of serious and trivia. Overall, the book is worth one’s time. I could relate with the memoirs too, myself hailing from a remote place of India.

—Srikant Jha on Goodreads

“Idle Hours” which is a collection of articles, thought provoking essays on subjects that are liked by everyone and memoirs of some incidents that took place in Sri Durga Prasad Dashji’s life. As an ardent fan I had read almost all the articles, essays and travelogues written by him through E-magazine as well as his blogs.

I had always been awestruck by the plainness, simplicity and uncomplicatedness with which he writes. All his writings are thought provoking, filled with wit and humour and depict some resemblance to what we see in our daily life.

Dashji has the potential to encapsulate the readers with his deep knowledge on the subject that he writes and more over he uses apt words which naturally makes the readers feel comfortable in understanding it. More than everything he is capable of conveying any message in a lighter vein without hurting anyone.

This compilation has come out as an E-book. Dashji has been a great supporter of paperless communication and he has appropriately come out with this E-book. I read the book and enjoyed reading all the 39 articles some of my favourites are given below.

“MISUNDERSTOOD?”
“OF T-SHIRTS AND SOCIAL ACTIVISM”
“RIP: TELEGRAM- MEMORIES FROM MILITARY LIFE”
“WHEN THE WRAPPER IS CONSIDERED SUPERIOR TO THE GIFT INSIDE”
“COME ON INDIA, DO NOT LOSE YOUR SENSE OF HUMOUR”
I would highly recommend this book to everyone irrespective of age and gender. Kindly buy your copy today.

 – Mani Gopalkrishnan on Amazon

Please email your your feedback to: dpdash@gmail.com

I would also love to read your reviews on  your blog /Amazon/ Goodreads.

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Thus, here is my first published book

My first published book was supposed to be a book of poetry to celebrate the labours of love of an unsung poet who has been writing poetry off and on for the last three decades. Being a professional procrastinator I had also set a deadline for the completion and the publication of the book.

My first task was to trace out all the poems that I remembered to have written. Beginning from my blog to a number of long forgotten anthologies and magazines. Some poems really surprised me and I gave myself a pat in the back wondering at the same time as to whether I was really the one who wrote those poems, while for some others I wondered why I wrote those poems at all. In majority of the cases the poet and critic in me ‘now’ did not agree with the poet in me ‘then’. Finally the number of poems that passed my quality test fell far short of the numbers required.

There was another consideration though.   When I confided my plan to publish a book of poems to a few trusted ones, their reaction was:  it is OK. But, now a days who buys and reads a book of poetry. There may be a tingling of truth in what they said. Every time I visit famous book stores in the city I struggle to locate the poetry section. After I locate it The few books in the section are either translation of Hindi film songs or anthology of well Known poems that are available in free domain. The works of poets (other than the filmy variety) who are alive and kicking somehow never make it to the standard book stores.

Then I remembered once I had sent a manuscript to a couple of publishing houses. One reputed publishing company had shown interest in the book. Even they wanted me to make certain changes in the manuscript. I carried out those changes and resent the manuscript. They did not reply for a long time. After being reminded their reply as I interpret was something like this:

“Your book is Ok. But as you are a first time author and not widely well known we are a bit worried about its commercial potential.”

It also means that in India, if you are an already well known person or some kind of a celebrity whatever trash you may write will be take up for publication. Hence, in spite of finding some merit in my writing the publishers were worried about its sell potential.

Another alternate was to again approach some new traditional publishers. But, as I have already said in the first paragraph I had set myself a deadline for publication of my first book. Hence, I decided to publish it as an e-book on kindle using the Kindle Direct Publishing Platform.

The book is a work of non-fiction and meant for leisurely read to provide entertainment as well as insight into many personal and social issues. It also includes a few articles (after a lot of re-work) that appeared first on this blog, while some are written exclusively for this book. While some articles are thoroughly humorous, others too have a shade or two. Even though meant for leisurely read, the discerning reader will find glimpses into the nature of reality.

The book is available on Amazon.   Kindle unlimited subscribers can download for free. Please provide your valuable feedback on Amazon and Goodreads.

The Silence of the Lambs

 

School reopened after the summer vacation. Now I was in standard VII and a large number of of books had been added to the school library. Prominent among them were translated versions of abridged editions of all time western classics like Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, The Three Musketeers, Time Machine, Animal Farm, Treasure Island and many more.  Each book was a page turner. There being no provision for a librarian, our class teacher doubled up as the librarian.  Sometime, he became irritated and sometimes happy that every day I finished one book and asked for another.

However, among all those un-put-down-able books,  what stood out were the series on Sherlockc Holmes.

In fact when it comes to un-put-down-able, what comes to my mind first are the genre of thriller or detective books.

But, other than Sherlock Holmes, I hardly read any book of suspense or detective genre. Written by  Arthur Connan Doyle, the stories of Sherlock Holmes have been an evergreen fascination. I have read the stories, seen the movies and TV serials over and over again.

However, the book that I have found the most griping is  ‘Silence of the Lambs’ by Thomas Harris.

silence-of-the-lambsI came across the book in our office library way back in 199o. After reading the first chapter, there was no way I was going to stop there. Standing there in front of of the  book rack I  must have finished five or six chapters till the librarian called to say that  it was closing time.

I borrowed the book. As far as I remember other than essential breaks for bodily needs I did not sleep till I finished the book.

I do not wish to divulge anything about the contents of the book so as to spare the prospective reader of any preconceived idea. That is how one enjoys a thriller the best. Like I did. Had I read any review, any gist or any thing about the book , or even the fact that it has  been a best seller, it would have definite affected  my reading experience. (Once you read a book knowing that it is a best seller your expectations would be high)

However I would like to say this much that even though the story and its characters are interesting, what makes the  book unputdowanable is perhaps the way  the author has  arranged the contents and divided the chapters whereby one is naturally drawn to the next chapter just to find out what happens next. I am yet to find such a gripping thriller.

Subsequently, when in 1991 the novel was made into a movie, it bagged a number of Oscars and became a huge commercial success like the book. I watched the movie and enjoyed it. But, the thrilling and gripping experience that I got when I first read the book has remained unmatchable so far.

(In response to Indispire#157 at Indiblogger)

Indian Bloggers

The Idea of India

 

Even to this day the accepted idea of India in the west has followed the concept propounded by Sir John Strachey (1823-1907), a British Civil Servant posted in India. He said, “ ….. India is a name which we give to a great region including a multitude of different countries. There is no general Indian term that corresponds to it….. There are no countries in civilized Europe in which people differ so much as the Bengali differs from the Sikh …. That there is not, and never was an India, or even any country of India, possessing according to European ideas any sort of unity, physical, political, social and religious: no Indian nation, no ‘people of India’ of which we hear so much. We have never destroyed in India a national government, no national sentiment has been wounded, no national pride has been humiliated and this not through any design or merit of our own, but because no Indian nationalities have existed.

You are wrong Sir Strachey, as wrong as you can be. You have not only missed the sacred geography of India but also its impression of inexplicable  ‘oneness’ that was deeply felt by a western educated Nehru, who was one of the greatest votaries of secularism post independence. He wrote in his Discovery  of India, “ It was not her wide space that eluded me, or even her diversity, but some depth of soul which I could not fathom, though I had occasional and tantalizing glimpses of it. Though outwardly there was diversity and infinite variety among our people, everywhere there was that tremendous impress of oneness, which had held all of us together for ages past, whatever political fate or misfortune that had befallen us. The unity of India was no longer merely an intellectual concept for me: it was an emotional experience that overpowered me.”

The word India is a Greek word that referred to the land beyond the river Sindhu. The Greek historians wrote works they called Indika to consolidate knowledge received from this land. Of course the people did not call their own land India. The indigenous term was Bharata, derived from the famous son of King Dushyanta. It was also called Bharatavarsha, the land of Bharata. The Indian sub continent was known as Jambudwipa (Rose Apple Island) or Kumaridwipa (the island of the Virgin Goddess).

The names Bharatavarsha and Jambudwipa are not only ancient, but also very much in vogue.   Every Hindu Sankalpa, to make explicit one’s position in the cosmos, starts with,  “In Jambudwipa, in Bharatkhanda, in so and so city …….”.  This tradition has been followed since time immemorial.

What is so special about India’s landscape is that in addition to being diverse and dramatic, all its landmarks like rivers, mountains and seashores etc.  are alive with myths and stories, ranging from being local to pan Indian, being little known to being part of famous legends known throughout the length and the  breath of the country with links to the great epics like Ramayana or Mahabharata.

india-a-sacred-geographyWhatever I have written so far in this post have been excerpted, deduced or distilled from the book, India-a Sacred Geography. Diana L. Eck- the author of the  book is a professor of comparative religion and Indian Studies at Havard University. She has won numerous accolades and awards for her sensitive portrayal of religious history in Indian as well as American contexts. The book attempts to explore the myths and realities surrounding the idea of India giving us the historical perspective beginning from the vedic age.  At the core, it tries to establish that: (as excerpted from the book blurb)

“ ……….  ultimately Eck shows us that from these network of pilgrimage places, India’s very  sense of region and nation has emerged. This is the astonishing and fascinating picture of a land linked for centuries not by the power of kings and governments, but by the footsteps of pilgrims.”

The book also explores the impact of muslim invaders and colonialism on this sacred landscape and how even the replicas of this interlinked sacred places have been created by Muslims and Christians in India. However, the book primarily focuses on the sacred geography of the land from the point of view of Hinduism and there are detailed explorations of the places of pilgrimages and how they are linked to each other across India and some times find there local replicas.

Contrary to the belief that all the desecrations of temples that took place during Muslim rule were due to religious bigotry of the rulers, the author is of the view that it was more to do with stripping the conquered from their association with the source of power. For many rulers the patronizing of a particular place of worship was closely linked to his extent of power. Of course, many of the places of pilgrimage that they destroyed or tried to destroy – like the Somnath Temple, the Jagannat Temple at Puri, – have bounced back to their former glory.

My own view is that you may try to destroy the idea of India by destroying its sacred landscape, but how do you destroy the myths which are harbored in the minds of its people? At  a deeper level, perhaps, the idea of India lives in the collective consciousness of its people through the myths that have been handed down since time immemorial, construction of temples and associating the geography with the myths being a part of that process.

Prodding  through volumes of ancient Indian texts, the author has brought out many interesting facts, narrations and insights of the ancient seers. Here is one that I found interesting: India’s imaginative world map, as envisaged by the ancient seers, did not make India the centre of the world as did Anaximander who made Greece the centre of his world map. In fact the Indian seers were not only aware of the existence of the other parts of the world beyond Indian sub-continent, but also  idealized other parts of the world some of which they named as Ketumala, Uttarakuru, Bhadrashva etc. According to them in many other countries people led far better lives and had more material resources to enjoy life.

Then of course they had this final warning: However, it was only in India that the ultimate freedom or moksha was possible as it was the karmabhumi (lands of spiritual action) while other countries were bhogabhumi (lands of worldly enjoyment).

Therefore this Bharata is the most excellent land in the Rose-Apple island, O Sage. For the others may be lands of enjoyment, but this is the land of action” (Mahabharata)

Is not the above statement true even today? In fact it is so true that sometimes I doubt it was written thousands of years ago.

Isn’t it India where the serious spiritual seeker lands up, ultimately? (In spite of all her shortcomings)


Indian Bloggers

Celebrating 30 years of Malgudi Days


Indian Bloggers

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.

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?

This is in sharp contrast with the adaption of RK Narayana’s Guide for the eponymous movie. The movie was a hit. But it was so different from the theme of the book that even RK himself got disappointed with the movie.

malgudidays.jpgimage credit: thebetterindia.com