because they are so young …

dharmapada

There is a saying in Sanskrit:

“yuktiyuktam bacham grahayam baladapi shukadapi,

yuktihinam bacham tyajjyam balaldapi shukadapi”

It means – reasonable words or words of wisdom must be accepted even if those words come from a child or a parrot, Unreasonable talks or words devoid of wisdom must be shunned even if those words come from a child or a great sage like Shuka.

This is a great piece of wisdom. Usually we attach authenticity to authority. We take as gospel truth and accept the words spoken by an authority figure without any verification. An extreme example of this is what happened in the case of Hitler. During his time even the great intellectuals of Germany accepted his propaganda messages without verification and worked for him to further his evil designs.

On the other hand timely and helpful advice coming from a person without authority is ignored. This is quite common in organisational set ups. Sane and effective suggestions from junior employees are quite often sidelined. The seniors even go to the extent of deriding the hapless junior. They may say, “What are you in front of us? You are just a kid in the organsiation. Are you here to teach us who are like the headmaster of the school where you studied?”

Experience has its own advantages. But with experience comes the possibility of experience bias that clouds our ability to see things from a fresh and unbiased perspective.

I love to learn from young people. Children are quick learners and are not afraid to experiment. In understanding the working of a gazette or the latest technological upgrade, children can teach us better.

In certain areas they have distinct advantages. In matters of spoken English my children do correct me and I welcome that. My school and college teachers, though masters of written English, did not have exposure to proper spoken English.

Our history and mythology also have many instances of children coming to the rescue of adults. One such legend is associated with the construction of the sun temple at Konark.

Twelve years after the construction started, when the sun temple was nearing completion, the architects were faced with a crisis.  They were not able to figure out how to fix the kalasha at the top and mark the completion of the temple. The king became impatient with the inordinate delay at the final stage and gave an ultimatum to the architects that if they did not fix it before the next sunrise all their heads would be cut off.

Coincidentally, Dharamapada the twelve year old son of the Chief Architect Bishnu Maharana had come to meet his father. He came to know of the problem and went to examine it. He detected detect a minor fault in the construction. He corrected it and fixed the kalasha.

The legends goes on to state that subsequently he jumped to the sea to his death so as to remain anonymous in order to save the architects from beign disgraced for not being able to fix the problem themselves.

The acts of Abhimanyu of Mahabharat are also humbling. There is no way to underestimate the power of innocence.

(In response to Indispire #223)

(‘teach me to dream’ – my anthology of poems – will be available for free download from 01.06.2018 to 03.06.2018.)

behind the grease paint

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Life and death are conjoined twins. Nothing makes us ruminate more on life than the news of death.

During those demonetization days if everyone became an economist, on the demise of  Sridevi everyone seems to have become a philosopher. This was evident from the first tweet and the first whatsapp message that I came across.

The conscience keepers of the nation too had their grudges vented. Some lamented that while the nation and her pressmen were obsessed with a matinee idol, the death of soldiers in the boarders got only passing mention.

Some moralists even cried foul to see her body wrapped in the tri-colour. Actually, these moralists should protest when an artist is given any national honour  like the Padma Awards. If we don’t have any objection to someone being given a national honour while living, why should we protest when, out of protocol,  the same person is given a national honour when dead.

Ironically, these so called gatekeepers of Indian morality must have, at some point of life, indulged themselves in one of her movies to escape from the mundane affairs of everyday life.

Ram Gopal Verma, in a blog post, has shed light on some of the harsh realities of Sridevi’s life. He says that the only moments when Sridevi seemed comfortable with life were those when she was in front of the camera. If cinema has been an escape for the Indian public from the harsh realities of life, so was the case with her, from a different angle though.

During those days when she was gaining her foothold in the movies, high payments to filmi people were in black money to avoid tax. Her father entrusted the money to different relatives. When he died the relatives refused to give back the money.

Subsequently, her mother took charge to manages her financial and other professional affairs. She made a lot of bad investment decisions. By the time Sridevi and Boney Kapoor met both were in deep financial trouble.

I am not much of a Sridevi fan, though she came to rule Bollywood with a spate of super-hits with Jitendra when I was a late teenager. For casual fights and arguments, in our college hostel, we had two major Bollywood groups: one was the Jeetu-Sridevi group, another was Amitabh Bachchan group. I belonged to the later. My one-to-one combat  used to be with Subrat Satpathy, who also had been my high school classmate. When I came in contact with him after a long gap (thanks to facebook) the first thing we relished was about our fights over Jitendra-Sridevi and Bachchan.

Nevertheless, we can definitely draw inspiration from the struggle and the achievements of persons like Sridevi. An artist’s contribution to the society as well can never be undermined in spite of the foul cry of the moralists.

We know that it is only a minuscule percentage of prospective artists who make it to the top of the celebrity charts and stay there for some time. The road to stardom is paved with thorns of sacrifice and struggle.

Still then, we fail to see the struggle, the pain, and the tears behind the grease paint applied to give us the picture perfect.

 

one life is not enough – the paradox

One life is not enough, yet for now, this moment is full in itself.

One life is not enough, yet for now this moment is enough unto itself. The statement may  seem to be a paradox, self contradictory, and outright goobledygook. However, it is not when you see different parts of the statement from different perspectives.

When you are playing the role of an experiencer, when you are drowned in sense pleasures, you crave to experience the pleasures again and again. The lustful man wants to have sex with all the women in the world, the greedy wants to own all the wealth of the world. Same way one can be greedy for experiences and achievements. Alexander wanted to leave no corner of the earth unconquered.

But, you can switch your role from being an experiencer to being the observer, or  a witness. Then you have a glimpse of the depth of the moment.

Baffled by the myriads of the creations, I have often made the petition to the maker  that one life is not enough to experience His limitless creations. At the same time, to experience the depth of His creation, one must learn to dive into the depths of the present. One who is bothered too much by the past or concerned too much about the future, loses the opportunity to utilize the fare of the creation on offer right now. Same way, being grateful gives out a message to the universe that you deserve to be an active part of His creation for ages to come.

Time is fleeting. It is a continuum. The moment one tries to catch hold of it, it is already gone. So where is this moment and how to catch hold of it? One can experience the relative dimensions of time depending upon one’s state of mind. In deep meditation one can experience time stop and a stage comes when is established in the witness consciousness. In doing 100%, one is not bothered by past or future.

It may not be possible to play the role of the observer or be in a state of samadhi through out your life. Same way it is tiring to hanker, non stop, experience after experience. Deep real rest and an attitude of letting go helps a lot in recharging one self from time to time.

Life in its myriads of colours, shades, flavours and tastes

There are six basic tastes, according to Ayurveda. Depending upon the person, some tastes are pleasant some are unpleasant and some may be outright atrocious. However, to have a balanced diet and thus a balanced body and mind, one should include a bit of all the tastes.

Same way according to Bharata’s Natya Sastra, the artistic expressions involve nava rasas or nine falvours- some positive some negative. Contrasting flavours makes any story interesting.

So also in life. There are positive as well as negative feelings and  emotions.

If one has experienced only the height of joy and not the depths of depression and sorrow, if one’s journey of life has been a smooth road without any ups and downs, any twists and turns, one has missed to live life in its totality.

Life is such an enigma

This is my translation of a favourite Hindi film song from Anand – a  popular movie of yesteryears.

 

Life is such an enigma

Sometimes it makes you laugh

sometimes it makes you cry.

The mind never wakes up.

It continues chasing after dreams

Sometimes it so happens

The traveler on the path of the dream

leaves behind the dreams

and goes away somewhere

never to be found again.

Those who came together

to set up the ‘mela’ of life

together struggle and are

partners in happiness and sorrow.

Suddenly one of them chooses silence,

and goes away somewhere

never to be found again.

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.

 

do self help books help?

self-help

Today the book market is flooded with self help books. It is another issue that that the majority of the self help books do not help as was found out in a survey done some time back.

Before picking up a self help book one should do this simple probing. Did this author succeed in any thing other than in the field of writing self help literature. Recently, a book titled Success Mantra became a best seller in India. At least it was claimed to be so. The writer of the book is Mr. Subrat Roy and he wrote this book while he was in jail for his fraudulent practices. No doubt he has been successful. But what kind of success are we talking of?

Those who never worked in an office writer books about how to succeed in the workplace. Sometimes, people who failed in every field they tried their hands on, write books about how to achieve success and suddenly the book becomes a best seller.

Similarly,  I come across a number of motivational speakers whose only claim to fame is being a successful motivational speaker. Many of them chose this field because they could not stick to and persevere in their earlier chosen fields. Some of them might have been kicked out of their earlier jobs. Yet, they are hired by companies by paying hefty sums to motivate their employees to work hard and be more productive.

It is not that I have been a strict adherent of the wisdom I am dispensing here. I have also read a number of best seller self help books. One thing I have noticed is that if you pick any book, not only does it say why this book is the best book,  it also tries to convince you that all the other books are totally out of time and useless. Now examine another scenario. Suppose there are 100 self help bestsellers. Every books proclaims that other ninety nine books would not work. So by the authors’ own collective admissions 99% of self help books do not help.

But all self help books are not totally useless. Occasionally, you may comes across a book that dispenses wisdom and insights to uplift you.

I have come across friends and colleagues who are addicted to self help books. They do not read anything else. If you are one of them, remember: there had been successful people since the time of Adam, long before the Americans started flooding the market with self-help books.

Of course, you may take solace in this positive possibility. If you read enough number of books on how to become a motivated productive employee, one day you my end up becoming one of those motivational authors or speakers.

Well, what has been your experience? Please leave your opinions.

The Monk who is yet to get his Ferrari

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

In addition to sharing bits and pieces of information about my life on many of the posts here, I have written specific posts covering my personal life. All these have been categorised under 'memoirs' . 

May be this is an opportunity to sum up the journey so far. Maybe, I could be revealing some aspects for the first time in a public forum.

I was born in a remote village in Odisha about half a century ago and spent my early childhood there..

Did all schooling and colleging in government schools and colleges at government expenses (was recipient of generous Government scholarships from class IV till Post-Graduation)

In our days, campus placement was unheard of, but I got a campus selection.
(The head of our High School Campus selected me to marry his daughter.)

 After remaining an academic topper in all the exams till matriculation, decided to dip the academic graph so that I was able to join Indian Air Force, another childhood fascination. (Maybe to pay back part of the Govt. generosity bestowed on me during student days).

Now that our son has crossed fourteen, he is at par with both the parents and his elder sister  to have all the rights in our democratic family where no one imposes anything on another, even though consultations and opinions are actively sought.

While in high school, wanted to become a monk, so ran away from home for a brief period (safely during summer vacation) and stayed in a stranger’s house in Puri near Jagannath Temple.

Spiritual depth came in life after coming in touch with my master Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his Art of Living in 2001.

After living a vagabond life due to a frequently transferable service, came back to the city of my first love, Bengaluru,  in 2011.

In 1996, was bereaved of my mother who was unique, like every one’s mother and in 2008, lost my father – a simple man who never imposed anything on me even in my childhood.

I am a monk who is yet to get his Ferrari – having fun living the contradictions of life – being a mystic and a man of the world at the same time; trying to  delve into the depths of spirituality without getting biased or dogmatic towards anything.
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Street is where the action is

The street is a place of never ending ‘reality shows’ and ‘soap operas’, of fascination, beauty and ugliness. For this photo challenge, not only did I take some new photos, but also dug up a  few interesting ones from my archives. Here are a selected few, along with some thoughts they evoked.

I

street3

Don’t  we have such streets in every part of India, where the road is perpetually under repair? A street where tangled wires carrying charges and messages hang menacingly. A street of heat and dust and partially open gutters. And, the ubiquitous holy animal.

II

Of course, let not the previous picture  be taken as a representative image of India. I am not vying for any Oscar. Hence, I have no inclination to show only the ‘nasty’ part of India.

Street is where the action is. Sometimes some inaction. Many streets could be so beautiful and cosy, you would not mind having a sound sleep on its pavements on broad day light, as can be seen in the  picture below.

street-1

Oblivious of the surrounding sounds, his chappals serving as his pillow, this old man takes a sound  afternoon siesta on the hard pavement  of a busy Bengaluru street.

Obviously, when it comes to quality of sleep, the quality of bed is immaterial.

III

street5

While  some step lightly into the day, hoping it to be a jolly good one ………

IV

On the same street (in the same frame) there is some one getting prepared to shoulder the burden of the future.

street4
“If only I could exchange my two small bags for a big bite of those two ‘happiness’ pieces.”

 

V

street2
Things do change. The street of picture I, after two years.