Meet an ignorant, illiterate professor!

What would you call a person who makes statements such as "Hinduism is the only religion that has failed to negotiate and engage with reason and science"? He is a retard, if he seriously thinks so! Not only does the "professor" think that, he also thinks that it all happened due to varnashrama dharma! Read on for more nonsense. Then this ignorant chap goes on to say that dalits were the ones who were pioneers and inventors of technologies in many fields from agriculture to surgery! I'm sure this fella doesn't know what Veda, Vedanga, Ayurveda, etc is all about. There's more to say, but its just not worth it. Instead I wrote a comment on Times article webpage and pasted here:--------

I was shocked to see this ridiculous article in today's Times!

I'm yet to see a more ignorant and illiterate "professor"!! What earthy style did he dissect the Hindu social system in? The system he talks of has nothing to do with the Hindu religion. This fella should start reading books instead of writing. Dalits were not inventors of technologies used in agriculture, surgery or whatever. All were brahmins. Agriculture, as well as surgical medicine, is straight off the Vedas & Vedangas! How could a dalit who had no access to the Vedas, no learning whatsoever, be an inventor of its contents? Brahmins taught all of their knowledge free, unlike this professor who teaches and writes book to make money. Even today, the labourers work (as taught and trained) and the management earns the fruit. Don't forget though that without those owners, labourers don't have jobs and without labourers, owners don't have businesses; its a give-and-take win-win relation. And its completely fair.

Next, about inter-caste marriage, there are clear-cut rules as given by Manu, not that it is completely out of place. Moreover, the greats such as Socrates & Plato had come up with a caste system strikingly similar to the varnashrama dharma! They were true scholars & philosophers.

As for religious conversions, there is an ulterior motive encouraged by morons such as these. And this professor should give up his job, go back to school and start re-learning instead of suggesting "re-editing" whatever that means. Nobody has edited our spiritual books in the first place for them to be re-edited. At least then, he will be able to know the difference between religion and spirituality.

No one anywhere has said that its "impure to work with hands". Utter rubbish! Is this prof a retard?

PS: Prof, don't go to barbers for surgery of your ulcers and boils please! :)

The wake up call

Many Vedantic stories depict how a Guru saves the shishya from the ruins, from the clutches of the world. While a shishya thinks he is doing sAdhana, he forgets that he is doing nothing, but Guru gets it done. These are expressed in comparison of mArjAra nyAya and markaTa nyAya.

Simply put, it is said that while a monkey holds on hugging to its mother and is likely to lose its hold and fall, the cat holds her kitten by her teeth not letting it fall. Similarly, even if the shishya tries to hold on to his Guru, his ego lets him fall so easily that he is lost in the world. Its depths may suck him into a weather he cannot return from. However, meanwhile, Guru has a plan to hold on to the shishya, when the shishya lets go of his own egoistic grip. When this happens, Guru takes care of the rest.

Today, I glimpsed a little of the above. As is also visible from my blog entries, tweets and facebook stats, I've kept myself away from all that is shreyas and involving into laukika totally these days. But today brought a happy change. I woke up with thoughts of Guru and Hanumanta. Why this happened was to unfold later. I switched on my cell to receive wishes of Hanuman Jayanti. I looked up the calender and found Datta Jayanti instead! This also means my Guru Sridhara Jayanti! Unfortunately, I'd missed the brAhmi muhurata and woken up late. I postponed my rituals to the evening. The entire day I found some satsanga online in one way or the other. This, I believe, is an alarm going off, a wake up call to sAdhana. And I just hope it continues, be it in little steps, but without any break whatsoever...

om tat sat

नमः शान्ताय दिव्याय सत्यधर्म स्वरूपिणे |
स्वानन्दामृत तृप्ताय श्रीधराय नमो नमः ||

Job, business, nothing, anything!

I used to write a lot on spirituality. Since I moved back to Mumbai, there isn't much of an ambience here for spiritual studies. Till I get an opportunity to get back to my solitude I think I'm happily wasting my time. Okay, I know this hasn't anything to do with the title per se, but I'll get to that in a moment, influenced by my old habits to blabber. :)

Well then, if I'm anyway about to waste time, why not dig into other worldly things such as money. To make money, you either need a job or a business. I'm not actively looking for the former, knowing fully well that I've been on a sabbatical a little too long to get back to the industry in a jiffy in this economy.

I do have some business ideas that I've been discussing with my friends, but I'm more likely to graduate into a silent lazy partner that wakes up for ideas and in dire straits but not during other times. So, I'd be one that doesn't really work hands-on! :P And I don't think there'd be many takers there.

So what else do I have left now? I've covered job, business, nothing... did I cover nothing? Yes, I started with that. So all that is left is 'anything' in the anythingwise spirit. That will come up in my next post. ;)

Krishna calling

Every once in a while, I feel a strong bliss about things happening around me, all at once. I see a pattern, not something that I forcibly read, but something that is very difficult to miss. Something that keeps on happening till I read well into them. I think now is the moment that I read quite clearly.

I'll just mention things as they happened. Of course, atheists can ignore the same, they will see plain simple coincidences, at most! :)

i) On Monday, I left B.Gita 2.14 shloka as part of my comment on Sai's Facebook wall and used the same as my status msg.

ii) That night, I was searching a blog where a friend had left a comment with a Bhagavadgita quotation some years back and I'd told him that I'd get back to him on that. I couldn't remember when it was or which shloka was it! I did an overview and couldn't find it. The next day, I stepped through each of my 500+ blogs to check the comments. I got nothing, maybe it was on email and impossible to find.

iii) Tue evening, I read a newspaper article about a chap who gave up the worldly pursuit after an MS in quantum physics. His name Dasa told me that maybe they were talking of an Iskcon person. Later on, it turned out it was the Iskcon chief of Bangalore.'

iv) On Wed, I was searching for a chap on LinkedIn whom I'd met some 5-6 yrs back. The search landed me to another fella whose name was Dasa. This fella too turned out to be an Iskcon devotee.

v) Later that night, a friend mailed me about someone who was asking him why Krishna led a war if He is God. (I needn't mention the kind of people and the intention of people who ask this very Q everywhere :) ) We went on with some mail exchange on this.

vi) Today, I was chatting with a good satsanga brother of mine, Syam, who's in New Zealand now. We were discussing how he manages food and he said that there's a Hare Krishna restaurant near his place! I know for sure that thats an Iskcon run chain. Till now, I was only thinking 'what a coincidence', but when I talk to Syam, almost always I become blissful. :) All of the above came rushing into my memories as if flowing in my bloodstream and this blog happened!

I'm all flabbergasted. I told Raghava about my bliss as 'Krishna calling' to which he asked, "which Krishna"? I don't know what struck me, but I laughed out and wrote "Krishna, the Bhagavan of Bhagavan uvAca fame". :)


The Snowball Effect

It took till this morning due to my sleepy head unable to finish the last 10-20 pages yesterday! I'm talking of The Snowball: Warren Buffet and the Business of Life; wonderful written biography about a wonderful person that Buffett is. Warren begins his story with the proverbial "... behind every great fortune lies a crime" but goes on to add "Thats not true at Berkshire". As the book unfolds Warren's entire life, you find it more and more difficult to compare with other success stories, due to the high moral values that he held on to even in the worst of times. His trust in his friends and the other way round too has very less parallels too. Not only does The Snowball feel like a biography of Warren Buffett, but of a lot of his relatives and friends too, albeit shorter.

Alice Schroeder, though writing her first book, tends to describe emotional issues in such a depth so as to make sure that the reader cries! 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, but a major detail of how Warren gave into publicly listing Berkshire is something I totally missed. It was really needed to get into that biography, being such a big moment, especially because Warren was totally against getting others putting a value tag to his co.

By the way, for those who do not know, Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, listed as BRK on NYSE, is trading upwards of $100,000 and the 52 week high for it was $140,000. Even so, Buffett's view of life, in the end, is hardly a business, rather it's philanthropy.

Next: The Creation of Wealth (The Tatas from the 19th to 21st century)

Thoughts 107

107. I am my own, and only, duHsanga.

The Pixar Touch

I feel so happy after reading The Pixar Touch by David A. Price! I particularly like corporate biographies, being choosy as usual. With my biases toward Sony and Apple, my all-time favorites have been Made in Japan and Infinite Loop, among others such as Iacocca.

I didn't like Price's narration through and through, as I did with Malone's story of Apple. It certainly was good except for some parts in the middle though. It may also have been because I left the book midway, reading only a few pages spread across two months, only to continue two days back, actively yesterday, till I finished some time back. I'm not so much a fan of cartoon movies, being choosy there too. I like Bugsbunny, Chip & Dale, Tom & Jerry, while in print, I've been a fan of Calvin & Hobbes, Tintin, Asterix, or locally, any of R.K. Laxman's creations, but not much of Simpsons or Dilbert. I've taken a liking to Dilbert strips in Economic Times these days just for the theme, but I really loathe the sketches themselves! The characters have to be appealing to me, else I can't stand them and even if the storyline is good, I can't keep to it.

Coming back to Pixar, I haven't seen any of their movies yet (er, I've seen Wall-E), but intend to watch them over the coming days. Given my leanings, I'm more likely to find taste in Cars, The Incredibles or Toy Story than for The Bug's Life or say, Monster Inc. I'm more than impressed by commitments of the artistic teams led by Lassetter and Catmull that made Pixar what it is today, even having shed a tear or two during reading it. Although I had artistic leanings myself once, the only reason I went into The Pixar Touch is due to the Steve Jobs' effect. Never have I afforded myself a Mac, iPod or iPhone, but I remain a fan to this day.

Next book: The Snowball: Warren Buffet and the Business of Life :)

So, what do you do?

In the past three years of restless run to be at one place, I've been asked by many 'So, what do you do?' This has been a tricky question to answer and I answer variously based on the context, circumstances, all being equally true. Some people are inquisitive and are not happy with the first answer and I have to switch to another till they are satisfied or one of us gives up! :) Few of the answers I've given are:
--'I'm getting into agriculture', 
--'I'm in between jobs', 
--'I'm in a middle of a land mess that I'm trying to come out of', 
--'These days, I just watch movies' 
--'I'm looking at a solitary place to settle down', 
--'nothing much', 
--blah, blah, and
... some more blah!

At one instance, I replied 'I do nothing' and was shot back a shocking question 'you do nothing???!!!' to which I had to say 'I read/ study philosophy' and the embarrassing situation ended. I wonder if anyone can ever get used to 'doing nothing' since Krishna himself said that none can remain without doing karma.

I've switched my online status -- which is also my offline status, of course -- from 'hibernation', through 'on a sabbatical', to 'a recovering vyAvahAric', all equally true again. However, none so completely explains the fact than 'I wait'. The entire truth is that I wait a little, a little more and then some more... always! A curious intruder or a concerned friend may well ask then, 'So, what do you wait for?' thereby moving the focus from '*what* I do' to '*why don't* I do'! :)

Om shAntiH shAntiH shAntiH

Most of the Vedic chanting is ended with either a shAnti mantra or just plain simple Om shAntiH shAntiH shAntiH. The reason to pray thrice for peace is because there are three kinds of afflictions that we mortals face; viz. AdhyAtmika, Adhibhautika and Adhidaivika.

AdhyAtimika problems are ones related to one's own self. These are physical and mental issues that one has to deal within one's own battle of life. Adhibhautika afflictions are imposed on one due to circumstances involving surrounding people and things that come as part of one's prArabdha. Adhidaivika issues are those beyond our control even as a society, things which we call rightly as "Acts of God" such as earthquake, volcanoes, and such calamities.

So when we pray, we ask God as a sarvadhI sAkshin to bring us peace, as a sahasramUrti or a virATapurusha to bring us peace, and also as Ishvara ruling over anything and everything to bring us peace.

iti trivAra satyaM

om shAntiH shAntiH shAntiH

Talk the walk

Ever since I left Mumbai in 2000, I've been staying alone up until a few months back when I crawled my way back home to Mumbai. During those years, after work or weekends were all times of silence. I didn't talk, I didn't have anyone to talk to around me, which is how I preferred things to be. A side-effect of mum solitude was being very verbose while in company. This chalked out quite a digital living for me: either of deafening silence or a loud chatterbox. Of course, since no one saw my silent times, they saw me as a talkative nut. Not that I wasn't, I sure was, but I guess when you averaged out the talk over a week, I'd turn out to be normal, if not below it.

I've had my reasons to talk; more often than not, the main reason was humour. To laugh and to make laugh is perhaps in my blood. I've been tagged a cartoon by many due to this undying habit of mine. It so happens that I can't stay serious for long, it takes the fun out of life for me. Also, sitting along with a company of people at work or otherwise is painfully boring if they just stare at you or at empty spaces! Instead of torturing myself in such company, I'd make them utter something or the other or try and make them laugh. I remember interviewing a chap for a leadership position who just wouldn't laugh. He'd stick to his questions, answer them and sit back as if to wait for the next one. That seriousness would have killed my team spirit. My sole goal then became to make this chap smile, if not laugh, at least once during the interview! To my immense pleasure, I achieved this twice and told it to my senior in the interview report. He came back in the 2nd round and my senior made him smile once. I think I had a trickle effect there. :)

A year at Sagara last year was mostly of silence since I stayed alone, hardly spoke to neighbours if at all, and visited very few people. The only regular talk was with vegetable vendors or at a restaurant once in a while, unless I found satsanga. Since my return to Mumbai, my talk has increased a bit because I trouble my parents with pranks every now and then. But due to mostly being indoors, I still rarely talk much and hardly longer than needed. However, the past week or so has been different. I have talked so much on phone and with a visitor that I've an aching voice box now! My preferred mode of communication is again becoming email, chat, blog or facebook, more than phone or face-to-face.

So I realize this now: if I walk my talk, I'll have to travel the world's length, but if I talk the walk, I'll have nothing to say! I prefer the latter. ;)

PS: In other words, from a brAhmaNa bahUjana priya, I'm becoming brAhmaNa bhojana priya :)

Many Biharis understand democracy

Many Biharis know their rights very well in democratic India. They know that rights are of the Biharis, by the Biharis and for the Biharis. Simple. If you need to travel, travel. No preparation, money or tickets are needed. You just need to decide the mode and day of travel and you're done. Tickets are meant for losers, who do not know what democracy is. There are also other set of losers who do not allow Biharis to use their rights, thereby inviting a ridicule at best, an attack at other times.

Recently, some officials tried to act smart and asked these fellow citizens for tickets in a reserved compartment! We don't know what exactly transpired between them, but since these Biharis knew their right-to-travel, they weren't pleased to being objected to traveling without tickets. What we do know is that they exercised their other right: right-to-burn and soon the bogies found themselves burning as they deserved to be.

Vande Mataram! Jai Hind!

The Freedom Dip

It all started during our first Himalayan trip in 2005, when we drove and trekked to Yamnotri and the itinerary got sync'd up so as to get our Ganga or Yamuna dip on Independence day. The next year, we chalked out a plan to trek Gangotri-Gaumukh-Tapovan and got our Ganges dip around 15th Aug again. Somehow, since then, its almost become a ritualistic routine to take a symbolic independence day Ganges dip in the Himalayas-- mostly Rishikesh-- every year! Since Sriram was out of India for a while, I took those dips on behalf of both of us the past two years, if not on 15th, centred around it less than a month here or there. I've termed this as "The Freedom Dip" now.

Unfortunately, this year, a lot of things have gone wrong though the freedom dip was initially planned. There was Gujjar community issue, followed by foggy airports, issues with rain-- flooding at first on railway tracks and then to country getting into drought now, a swine flu scare around us restricting travel, and finally, 15th Aug intelligence report warnings of terrorist attacks! All these have had an impact on working out a feasible travel plan up north for the celebrated dip. It deeply saddens me that the call to Rishikesh hasn't come through this year, but I do hope that I can postpone the same and take it sometime soon. And while I'm hoping, on "a great day for freedom", I'd rather hope that Sriram and I get to take this dip together instead of me alone!

Then again, like other things, all in good time...

Thoughts 105

105. Whenever I get frustrated, I run past the phase hastily; beyond that lies a beautiful phase of pure humour.

H1N1 and the like

Every few years, newspapers get lucky with some tragic news which has a national impact, if not international. Be it due to an earthquake, tsunami, act of terrorism or some new disease. Such things give news papers and channels something to fill their otherwise useless spaces and time slots with. It is also a time for idiots to spread rumours.

I remember some 12 odd years back, there was a big scare of plague due to rats. This time around its swine flu. The news ran about with usual guesstimates of people affected, deaths among them, undetected ones, the risk of spreading. One title ran two days back that read "33% Indians to be affected by swine flu in 2 years". Interesting, isn't it? What kind of a research is that? Are we saying we can't control it and hence it will reach that level? Or are we saying that we will control it to that level? Either way, its quite a stupid thing to say, especially when they themselves ran news such as "so many dead", "schools and theatres closed", "does blah blah have facilities to test for H1N1?", etc. They are practically hoping for some kind of a panic situation.

The other set of people benefited from these are companies that make medication or preventive medication/ consumables. Ah, the disposable mask! People don't seem to understand the meaning of disposable there. It means a mask that can be worn for 4 hrs only. Another thing not widely known about masks is that masks are more of a device to protect others from you, not the reverse way! Thats the reason surgeons wear it anyway, in order to not contaminate the insides of the patient! In any case, masks being useless for H1N1 is a fact that was announced at the very outset of this pandemic. Its also clear now that more than these masks helping, they pose a disposal issue and hence are a reason that the flu will multiply and spread instead! Still, these masks are selling in black. I've read reports of these stupid penny masks selling at Rs.400! Who's benefited?

Lets deviate a bit and look at seasonal flu as well. When it started off, it was considered scary too... almost this much. Then it went on and on and now, we have a pop-a-crocin kind of situation. And well, what does Crocin do? It helps you sleep a bit, reduces pain a bit, that way, and the flu passes off on its own, more or less. I haven't known a flu that has gone by without my being in bed for 3 days overall, with or without medication. Same goes for this swine flu, as I got to read yesterday. Its like a longer flu of 7-8 days and even with Tamiflu, its still going to last at 5-6 days. But such news is in no one's interest. Tamiflu or equivalents need to be made for cos. to make a huge sum off this. It almost reminds me everyday of the scene from V for Vendetta and the reason for an epidemic starting in the first place! Anyways...

I'm also disgusted the way totally unrelated companies are having a ball now! These sickos such as Reliance Communications are sending out messages and offers to be kept informed of Swine flu. Two such messages today have ruined it for me so much that I'm going to throw their so-called services away with their sim card soon. One of these offers read Rs.30 per month and the other Rs.3 per sms! To hell with Reliance.

As for number of deaths, its quite low in comparison to malaria, HIV and such. I'm also reminded now of when HIV/ AIDS became a threat so much that a lot of us used to carry a blade at the barbers! It was a precautionary measure and I'm thankful that the razor rates didn't go up due to it. Now all barbers know what safety means. Funnily enough, that safety thing may not be true about the main reason that HIV spreads! :)

To sum up in the end: lets stick to sanity, ignore the rumourmongers, not add to panic, have healthy food, increase immunity, grow and eat tulsi, grow neem if possible, use our clean hankies and scarves instead of masks, contain prices of necessities and... live on.

The story 3 years later...

On August 10th, three years earlier, I walked out of a five and three quarter years of affair with Tek. Its the longest I've had with any company and for that reason too, Tek will always remain a sweetheart to me! Of course, given my short memory, this date was overwritten by Aug 31st, another short relation I walked out of that I'd with Cnxt back in 2007. This relation was a kind of a live-in, because it provided me with a 16-18 hour workdays, many a time. :)

My internet was down since yesterday until a couple hours back and I received an sms this morning that gave me some suggestions on do's and don'ts today without any specific context; I get irritated and tortured when people go on talking without telling you the context! Even that faded away by a'noon, until now. So I thought of searching through mails and stuff for today's date, found an archived chat with a mention of this date, then searched my blog and bingo! To reconfirm, I also searched my emails for "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" which has been the subject line of my last day at work since Tek. :)

I left Tek for pursuing something thats close to heart, so much so that people wouldn't believe it if I told them that those were my childhood dreams! But what people do not understand that this path is a long one, its one that begins at a certain unknown moment till another certain unknown moment. At that first certain moment, whenever that is, all that you have planned, in the time that you've planned, the way you have planned, etc, all are meaningless. The time itself is meaningless then. Its just a journey of a pursuit for something that you think is hidden from you and you search for it in any way you can. Its not a path where you can measure success, because success is getting something you already have and you won't know till you know it. And till then, the world sees it as a failure. Beyond that too, the world still sees you as a failure because they don't know what you know! Still, its all very interesting. :)

Lets see in worldly eyes, what have I lost these 3 years: a brand, a job, a salary, a huge sum of monies, a chance to find another job in this recession, an opportunity to build/ buy a house in a "happening" city at 3 yr old rates, work experience, contacts, etc. I'd one chap, who's also on the path and connected with me on one of the networking sites, message me asking me to join back the industry where all the "experience" is. And mind you, he meant experience in the sense that teaches us to live by the force, meaning not work-experience but spiritual. I almost burst into laughter, but then fell physically ill with more exchange of messages with him! The reason I'd laughed it out earlier is because someone who doesn't know what I've gained or lost the past three years, who himself has not been out on a sabbatical, had managed to spiritually advice me to come back from something he hasn't done! Thats got to be a joke, be it unintentional. :)

So what have I done in these three years? Let me recall some things: I went and learnt discipline at my 2 months at YVFA, Rishikesh. I made some satsanga friends there. I found some great guides and teachers I can go back to when I'm stuck with anything on the spiritual front. God has been kind. I found some invites to stay forever in some ashrams and have managed to stay clear of them due to my commitment to the middle path. I searched a lot for a peaceful place for my sAdhana and bought out a land with the blind trust that I put in people. I got some people to follow up on it and get titles on my name, in vain. I planned to build on those 5 acres of land back then. I'd done away with all my money in that village land and went into dire straits not getting land, losing money and not having a place to stay. In that moment, I got a job as grace, went out to grab it, hang in there for 3m and 20d, till my village land went into legal hassles. I went back to that village, rented a place for a year, fought the legal battle and won back the land. Meanwhile, I read some books, saw tons of movies, fought lure successfully at times, failing at others, built tremendous patience, and did whatever possible sAdhana I could in the mess I was in. I sold away the land back to the person who put a case against me anyways, not wanting to break his ancestral property, losing a lot of money, time and opportunity cost! I sold some investments to survive, bought an old car to drive around in the hills a bit before I gave up villages and returned back to Mumbai. Now I'm sitting here, catching up with lost contacts, waiting for time to put up a favourable moment to take my next step, whatever that is. :)

Lets see in my eyes, what I've gained or lost now, shall we? I learned a lot of things about how people see you when you're off work. This was something unimaginable to me, not that I care, but a learning experience nonetheless. I learnt patience... an immense value quality on the path. I learnt that walking the path is an experience of bliss that you get not by talking it alone; you can't swim in theory! I know what to do to succeed and what not to do to become lethargic or worldly again. I know how to get back into the world when needed and come out of it without getting involved. I know how risky it is to go out there and try to settle alone when the world preys on you! True story! :) I learnt that the middle path is more difficult since the worldly hurdles are so much more that spirituality crawls in it. I know what I have to do next in order to get to my sole goal and I've learnt to ignore everything that I need to do to get there or waste doing but still return to get there. I also learnt an important lesson of how to do things first and talk about it later, if need be, than the other way round and lose it totally! :D I learnt to live in the moment... losing track of time... as you can see from the length of this blog too! ;)

Thoughts 104

104. Going with the flow, as I define, is not to add more value to events beyond the *moment*.

To live or to lead?

Some years ago, a wise gentleman told me thus: "Many people think that living a life is sufficient, but its really leading a life" or something to that effect. It made sense alright, but I was so blunt that I didn't think that that rule applied to me. I had come down from neck-deep of spiritual following to only knee-deep. Still, I'd hopes. And hopes are what have brought me this far through nowhere land!

Success is a difficult thing in spirituality, more than it is in the world out there. People, unfortunately, have a common worldly yardstick to measure even your success on the spiritual side, not knowing that the units are totally different and cannot be even converted by your regular math! Now then, how are we to prove our spiritual worth to the world that stands as a witness, whether or not you want it there at your doorstep? We needn't! The day we feel the need for others to tell us about how well we are doing on the path, thats the day we can throw our beliefs aside and pump up the ego, slip down, fall and rethink our priorities.

Coming back to the original question then, I agree up to an extent. We do lead our lives, and that comes naturally to us since birth, the way we are taught. However, that is the precise reason we are in this karmic debt of needs and wants. We are repaying for our wanting to lead not only our life but others' lives as well. Plain vanilla living, first letting go of our wants and then slowly moving toward letting go of what we consider as needs too, is easier said than done. Its a moment of truth when we give into the belief that I'm alive not due to my leading the life, but despite it; some higher force-- that prANa-- takes care of me, without my involvement, whatsoever. All my involvement just increases this span of surviving across lives, dragging me further away from the truth than I stand today.

So, instead of leading my own life into eternal set of lives, I'd rather go with the flow and say so: The same force that made me give up my job might make me take up another, and that is okay... I'll be ready when I'm ready.

om tat sat

Let the sun shine

On this occasion of the longest solar eclipse of the century, I woke up to my sAdhana and had a blog coming to my mind. This one is about that series of thoughts that occurred to me in my morning oblations to the sun. A solar eclipse is supposed to be an auspicious time for religious and spiritual pursuits since it brings more fruits than other regular times. Its a time when people take a holy dip in the rivers around India and take to mantra japa or such.

Be as it may, grahaNa or eclipse has a different meaning for me. The sun being hidden by the moon to make it disappear from the earth's vision is of a deep philosophical significance. It has a hidden spiritual import; the prayers do too. Its a time for us to pray and ask the Sun to shine and bring us out of the darkness that moon has caused us to be in. The moon has not affected the sun, but only us earthlings. One is blinded by the darkness of ego and cannot see the Self. In other words, jIva is blinded by an ashuddha antahkaraNa that cannot shine the reflection of the Atman just as the moon doesn't shine anymore during the eclipse as we can see only the dark side of it.

As the chitta cleanses itself of all the dark habits, the Atman shines again as a reflection, at first in the antahkaraNa and then as the reflection itself burns the dust off the chitta, the Atman shines brightly, swallowing all the darkness there ever was. The sun alone remains when seen at directly, even with closed eyes. Wherever you look then, the sun will appear in bright spots on the vision elsewhere. That Atman once looked at directly (that is,by shravaNa, manana and nidhidhyAsana) too will appear in all our vision.

The prayers during the eclipse are really prayers for us to see that Sun which shines even during the nights, even in our deepest of sleeps; that Sun is the Self. The eclipse to get over is a wait for moksha. The moon covering up the sun is a natural occurrence, just as day-to-day things cause darkness in our lives. And this, my friends, doesn't happen to just you and me. Since its a karmabhoomi, - this Earth is - it occurs to anyone born here in any form. It happened to Bhagavan Rama as well!

As the legend goes, Rama was upset about his failing triumph over Ravana. Thats when Rama prayed to Agastya Rishi and took the upadesha on prayers to the sun, which came to be known as Aditya hRdayaM. Since time immemorial, stories in India are made in such a way that the meaning is applicable to daily life as it appears on the face of it, as well as containing a hidden teaching that will open up and become sAdhaka's tool during manana! Surely, this hymn helped Rama know the Truth and win over Ravana in the battle that followed thence.

The last two stanzas of Aditya hRdayaM go thus:

esha supteshu jAgarti bhUteshu parinishThitaHesha evAgnihotraM ca phalaM caivAgnihotriNAm (A.H. 23)
Salutations to the Lord who abides in the heart of all beings keeping awake even when they are asleep. He is both the sacrificial fire and the fruit enjoyed by the worshippers thereof.

vedASca kratavaScaiva kratUnAM phalameva cayAni kRtyAni lokeSu sarva esha raviH prabhuH (A.H. 24)
The sun is indeed the Lord of all action in this universe. He is verily the Vedas, the sacrifices ordained therein and the fruits thereof.

bhAskarAya namonamaH

Hats off to BSNL jokers!

I returned home after a gap of almost a month, which means my internet was untested all this while. I've voiced earlier of the painfully incompetent services of BSNL broadband and thirdrate Chinese modems of theirs.

This time around, I was not getting many ADSL failures like earlier, but DNS failures. I'd set the DNS to opendns and tried. Then DDNS. Then static DNS IPs. And of course, auto discovered ones too. Well, I tried everything that there was to try with DNS, including putting my own DNS cache on the laptop. I still get DNS failures. Forget technicality, lets get to discussing the unique BSNL support...

Three days back, I called my local BSNL JTO who, on complaining, went on so:

JTO: Do you use Windows Vista?
me: No Sir, I use Ubuntu Linux now.
JTO: Saheb, we know nothing about Linux.
me: (pissed off) Why does that matter? I can log onto your modem and test it and see failures. ADSL passes, ATM OAM segments pass. DNS fails.
JTO: DNS will pass only if you can connect and login. So it can't be DNS problem.
me: Thats what I'm saying; everything passes, DNS doesn't. This thing's happening since the past 3 months and the BSNL DNS servers are almost always down.
JTO: Oh, I'll give you a no. call there, we can't do anything about DNS issues.

I take the no. and try endlessly to get through and finally I do after half or one hour. They listen to everything and I hear in the background someone saying "Ask him to complain in writing". The fella says that his Saheb will call back! Of course, no one does. Their own phones are out of order when I try again!

I'm back to my local JTO now some time back and this is how that went:

me: Saheb, namaskar. I called up three days back regarding a DNS problem and your people said they'd call back. They didn't.
JTO: I gave you that no. because we can't do anything abt DNS stuff. If its username issue, ADSL not "glowing", we can look into.
me: Sir, I think its the issue with the modem now. I've tried everything and now I do suspect the modem.
JTO: It can't be the modem. It just communicates. Thats all.
me: (huh!) The modem may have some cache/ memory issues and overflow errors because it conks off every 15 mins and works on reset again and DNS workaround settings for another 15 mins.

The JTO gets into warranty talk and all that. Then this happens:
JTO: Do you have a laptop?
me: Yes.
JTO: I don't have a computer here. If you're free, get your laptop here. You don't need to bring the modem, I've plenty. What I'll do is hook you up to your line here, you can login and test here. You'll know if its a modem problem. I'm here in office today.
me: (what the heck!) Yes, yes, I'll call up and come over. Thanks a bunch, Sir.
JTO: Thank you, saheb.

I'm banging my head now. I got an unpaid job offer from BSNL to check and troubleshoot my BSNL broadband for which I pay and they get salaries! BSNL has awesome and one-of-a-kind support, won't you agree? BSNL zindabad. Since then, I've tried calling and surfing for an option to BSNL broadband and of course, failed, thanks to godforsaken place called Vasai. :)

Thoughts 102-103

102. Life is a happening.

103. Death is a temporary painkiller.

Yet another tribute to Shani

Shani troubles every sentient being in many ways, either as a part of his being in the daSA-bhukti or as his sAde sAti cycle that goes on for 7.5 yrs. This is just another story of his achievements.

Shani was set to trouble Shiva in his regular way. In negotiations, Shani had asked for a short period of time, when he has to affect Shiva and Shiva refused. Shiva being Ishvara himself felt that he shouldn't be affected by Shani and so he wouldn't be affected by Shani! This came out as a challenge between the two, one trying to trouble the other and the other thinking that he wouldn't be affected at all, being all-powerful. Shiva had a plan, he decided to hide during the time Shani was to influence him, meaning Shani will have to find him first. That seemed to work. Now, one version of the story says that Shiva hid under a pond and another that he hid inside a horse becoming tiny, but the fact remains that he did hide during the time. Obviously, Shani couldn't find him, at least thats what Shiva knew, because the time period of challenge had passed without Shiva confronting Shani's laid out troubles.

At the end, Shiva came out of his hiding and claimed to have won the challenge saying that Shani couldn't find him at all. To this, Shani responded that the troubles can come in any way and may not even be obvious, but they are troubles nonetheless. Why else would the ruler of the three worlds, Ishvara himself, give up his ruling for the time he was affected by Shani and hide instead?! And so did Shiva agree that Shani had, indeed, influenced him. :)

nilAnjana samAbhAsaM raviputraM yamAgrajaM
chhAyAmartanda sambhutaM taM namAmi shanaischaraM

The lost horizon of the emperors (by R. Vaidyanathan)

A must read article for everyone is here as published by Indian Express on 21st June 2009. The copyright is as mentioned in the link.

At every seminar on financial matters these days, there’s one question that lingers — even during the coffee breaks: will the economy recover, and when? And, it isn’t about the Indian economy but that of the US. I reiterate it will take at least 40 quarters — that’s a decade — for America to recover. I tell this, and am shunned — like a swine flu patient.I still maintain the US is going the banana republic way what with a national debt of more than $10 trillion, which is more than 80 per cent of its national income. Not only that the budget deficit is skyrocketing; it’s expected to reach more than 10 per cent soon. Last year, the US financial regulatory agencies came up with plans of financial support worth $6.8 trillion — comprising temporary loans and liability and asset guarantees. And by the third end of the first quarter of 2009, the financial support programmes reached $13.9 trillion.The federal deficit as percentage of GDP is now expected to reach more than 10 per cent. There will be furious printing of more treasury bills and notes. The expected inflation is going to rip apart the society and the largest selling item in the last quarter was handguns and rifles. Already intriguing reports have come about attempt to smuggle more than $134 billion in treasury bonds by two Japanese citizens through the Italian border into Switzerland. It could be a ploy by CIA or really a daredevil act by some foreign government to destabilise the global financial system. I am waiting for the creditrating agencies like S&P to downgrade the US economy like other developing countries and prove their independence from the sole superpower. High hopes. Angus Maddison in his pioneering work for OECD on the global GDP share for the last 2,000 years has brought out an interesting fact pertaining to India and China. As early as the 1820s, China (33%) along with India (16%) and other Asian countries had a share of more than 55 per cent in the global GDP. By the late 20th century, it has declined to 29 per cent. The China percentage slid to 12, India’s to 5.In the next 20 years, India should plan to have a share of at least 30 per cent of the global GDP. These imply that India should be racing ahead. If India grows at 8 to 9 per cent in the coming decade, then it can become the world’s third or fourth superpower.But it also implies that, parallely, the West should decline in terms of their importance in the share of global GDP and world affairs.Since the total is 100 per cent, any increased share for India and China would automatically reduce that of the other two.Unlike the Great Depression of the 1920s, the current crisis for the West is not just an economic crisis. It has a dimension of demography and conflict (ongoing war with radical Islam) to it. Demographic, because Europe is slowly fading away from the global map. It used to have more than 20 per cent of the global population during the First World War, and now has less than 11 per cent. What’s more, it’s expected to shrink to three per cent in as many decades.The reproductive rate in many European countries is less than 1.5, whereas the stable one is 2.1. In the case of US, the crisis is more severe due to its declining savings rate and a long-term tendency to nationalise families and privatise government.Social security and Medicare system in US is classic case of nationalising families.Such a declining Empire is dangerous to deal with. To start with, it does not want to accept the fact that it is a declining Empire.Plus, it wants to retain its sole power status when it realises that its writ does not any more hold good. It tries to bully India.Whenever a US official visits India, the beards in J&K become more active. Remember Robin Raphael of the nineties vintage who propped up the Hurriyat Conference? India recalls with anger the role Robin Raphael played during the Presidency of Bill Clinton in encouraging the formation of Hurriyat Conference, the umbrella organisation of moderate terrorists and terrorised moderates. Her only name to fame was she studied together with Clinton. When Hillary comes to India, the level of violence in J&K will increase. I wish someone in foreign office in India plots the correlation between visits of US officials and mob frenzy in the downtown Srinagar.The declining empire realises that its elbowroom is becoming lesser and lesser with the Pakistan army that owns and controls a country. Islamabad always has a peculiar way of coming to discussion on any issue.They keep a gun on their own head and argue with others. That is, they always threaten others with catastrophe if money is not given to them. This is the most sophisticated begging anywhere you can see in international relations. Bribing them won’t stop the plotters against the “US Satan”.The next thing the declining empire does is to cringe and appease. The speech by Obama in Cairo is of that variety. He ascribed every human scientific endeavor to Islamic civilisation. Forget the Hindus who invented zero, forget Ptolemy and forget Copernicus. Just rewrite history. The third thing a declining power does is to pressure others to sacrifice on its behalf to buy peace with bullies. It cannot deal with radical Islam and if the ISI (that is what is critical — not the ten per cent Zardari) needs to be appeased with a piece of J&K, then the US will try to arm-twist India.Herein comes our ability to understand declining powers.We must internalise that US is a declining power and our bureaucrats must chant it hundred eight times on a daily basis. We should also remember that USA is very uncomfortable in dealing with democracies.It’s natural ally is always a dictatorship since they can be “use and throw” friendships.Dealing with democracies is messy since they talk about a domestic constituency and behave similar to USA. A mirror image of itself is unacceptable to “sole super power”. As India continues to grow at more than 8 per cent — and simply due to the power of compounding emerges as a major power — the desperation of the declining power will be more since our terrorist neighbour who has a the largest begging bowl and highest per-capita AK-47s will blackmail the declining power to appease him to keep peace.What is in Indian interest is the continuation of civil war in Pakistan for, say, another ten to twenty years — ambient conflict — sort of auto-cannibalism which will be a dynamic disequilibria — situation.Other option is to have at least three or so states created out of that entity. The concept of stable Pakistan is passé and a mirage and that should be unequivocally communicated to the declining empire.Remember the last century. The declining British Empire — now it is the sick child of Europe but still with a grand illusion of influencing Indian sub-continent — created havoc by partitioning the land. The current declining empire may be tempted to do something rash to protect itself. And therein lays the challenge for our political leadership and mandarins. Dealing with a declining empire is more difficult than dealing with a stable empire.

Brainfall tests

I took three pastime tests today:

Which Seinfeld Character Are You?

You are Jerry. You prefer to sit back and watch the world rather than to participate. You can seem aloof and uncaring, but beneath your distance is a unique take on the world that that consistently draws friends to you--and your apartment.

Find Your Character @

Which Friends Character Are You?

You are Chandler. You're funny and that's why people like to have you around. You're also a great friend, and when someone you care about is in trouble, they know to come to you for some level-headed advice followed by some sharp sarcasm.

Find Your Character @

How well do you know Friends?

You are Chandler. Can your Friends IQ be any higher? Not by much! You are Chandler. You are so close to knowing everything that it's crazy. You need to pay just a little more attention to your friends and then you'll be obsessing with Monica!

Find Your Character @

Tata Sierra, a temptation

Last June, I was in Bangalore around this time. I'd been planning to buy an old car for some experimentation in a village and I used to like Sierra as a child. So giving into temptations, I just walked into a used car dealer's and asked him if he had any Sierra Turbo. He had two and I asked him to get me the latest: 2001 model. Somehow, I was in a hurry to leave Bangalore and waited for hours for him to get the vehicle. By then it was pretty dark and I couldn't see the vehicle well. I liked the drive off it and trusting the fella, closed the deal. Next day, I picked up the car, but saw that it had many issues! Still, I paid heavy for the car, spent a lot over it on electricals, some A/C work and interiors, new speakers, insurance and drove from Bangalore to KA villages.

Unfortunately, I had to leave KA and end up in Vasai in MH, before any experimentation or major drives began. I drove fully packed to Mumbai and since five months, Sierra is lying mostly unused, sucking dust, with children having a gala summer vacation, scribbling over it with whatever they find, even stones or sharp objects. By such hurting, I decided to sell the car, got new art leather seats, JK Brute 4x4 tyres, A/C cooling coil, receiver-drier, expansion valve... well, the works, . I spent around 2.75L over all thus far. The offers I got are ridiculously low to even discuss. Best ones among them were with one chap agreeing up at 2L and another at 2.2L, if I get it to him. I planned to leave tomorrow, until few minutes back, when I went for some minor issues and fell in love with Sierra once again! I'm tempted to keep it now for a while and think over more, because I'll never find a 2001 Tata Sierra again.

I suppose human desires never end and I'm falling for it once more, but then again because I bought the vehicle for some use last year that didn't work out yet, I don't need to do away with it at such a loss.


In the days when nonsensical additions to English dictionary are taking place with words such as Jai Ho, I'm working on something similar myself. Due to economy crisis, people are struggling to make any money anywhere in any way. For example, out in the US, people known to be generally nice earlier have suddenly turned cheats. They are dumping their cars in far away deserted areas or burning them and claiming insurance, instead of wasting effort to sell those when there are obviously no buyers! For some reason, they don't seem to know that insurance cos. themselves, among other financial institutions, are in trouble.

In India, OTOH, the stock markets are celebrating the strong growth prediction by a seemingly strong govt, post elections. They are attracting lot of foreign investments too, possibly to take away the profits once a certain stage in markets is reached, causing the Indian stock market to crash. Despite knowing this for a fact, some small players like me are trading in extremely risky and volatile conditions. That, my friends, is what I'd like to call as Traddiction and is defined as follows:

  • (n) traddiction: being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on stocks/ stock markets that is psychologically or physically habit-forming (especially even when losing money).
  • (n) traddiction: an abnormally strong craving to trade in stocks regardless of profit or loss.
  • (adj) traddictive: causing or characterized by traddiction "traddictive stocks"; "traddictive behavior"; "traddictive markets"
  • (n) traddict: someone who is so ardently devoted to stock trading that it resembles a traddiction) "an F&O traddict"; "a day-traddict"; "a short traddict"
  • (n) traddict: someone who is psychologically dependent on stock markets; abrupt deprivation of the shares trading access produces withdrawal symptoms
  • (v) traddict: to cause (someone or oneself) to become dependent on share/ stock trading, especially a risky one.

Afpak, Indopak... er, Ameglobe?

Birds of a feather flock together, don't they? US funding Pak billions of dollars for the "anti-terror" effort, went with a last minute withdrawal of a rider that the same can't be used to buy weapons against India. Not that I'd any doubt that US doesn't really want peace in Asia or elsewhere, but for those who thought otherwise, it raises serious doubts now! Why else would Pak showcase their new acquisitions of arsenal by firing across the LOC without any incident or accident? This happened today yet again, twice overall in a month and more than 30 times till last year since an Indo-Pak ceasefire was signed in Nov 2003.

I reckon another reason for the last minute rider-removal to be need for more accounting too; the very place that US failed its economy. While Musharraf blew off billions of dollars on buying anti-aircraft missiles to shoot down non-existent Taliban planes, US really didn't know what was happening sitting there. They did ask Musharraf on where did those huge sums of monies go. Here's how the talk went:

Bush: Hey dude, whatever happened to those $10B we gave ya to fight those with turbans... er, whatchamacallit...

Mush: Taliban? Yeah, we almost got them.. that money really helped some, but we need more.
Bush: You spent it all?!!!
Mush: Of course! What good is keeping money lying around in Pak, someone might steal it, you know?
Bush: Hmm... I guess. But then what all did you get?
Mush: We got those arsenals, er, machine guns, bombs, anti-aircraft guns... all that stuff.
Bush: Do Taliban have planes though for you to buy anti-aircraft guns?

Mush: Have you forgotten 9/11?
Bush: Hmm, yea, yea, I get it.

Bush: May I see the bills?
Mush: What bills?
Bush: The things you spent billions on?
Mush: Er, no one told me I got to keep bills... do you know how difficult it is for us to account for billions of dollars? I mean we don't even deal in dollars here. The conversion rate keeps changing every day. Then, there's problem with rats eating into our files. And most of what we get is not really original unless you guys send it yourselves. Moreover, there's some taxation issue that I don't fully understand...
Bush: Stop! Please stop! I came here because I don't know what this economy screwup back in US is; and my credit card bills... Oh! God, its endless... please don't start with the accounting again.

Mush: ... er, did I say we need more money?
Bush: Yea, I'll arrange that right away, before I get thrown out in elections.

Post elections, Bush was replaced by Obama and the world cheered... well, meanwhile Mush too was replaced by Zardari and the world cheered again. Some sanity was finally hoped to prevail.

One of the first things that Obama realized on signing into White House was that US economy was in crisis and the only way US comes off a recession is by wars. "But then, before beginning a new war, lets fund some existing ones and get a headway" is what he thought. It dawned on him that very moment that Pak needs more money to fight terror... lets start there. So he called on Zardari for a chat that went so:

Obama: Hey dude, whats with Afpak these days? Have you enough money?
Zardari: Enough money? What are you kidding me? I thought that you'd be smarter than that miser Bush...
Obama: Yea, yea... I get it. Lets get down to some accounting this time, eh?
Zardari: Accounting? Do you want us to fight your war here or keep accounts?
Obama: Hmm, thats a tough one. If I could afford to pay you to keep accounts, I'd rather call you here for US accounts... but then its war against terror thats going to solve all accounting problems. Lets forget those books for a while, but promise me that you won't use our money to fight India.
Zardari: A gentleman's promise, it is.
Obama: Okay, that will do for now, but you have got to sign it too.
Zardari: Sign it? You mean an agreement and all?
Obama: Yea. We're going to put in a clause that will say that you can't use the anti-terror funding against India.
Zardari: What if we say Osama is hiding in India?
Obama: Good one... lets not do that for now, we'll cross the bridge when we arrive there. It might even cost me my next election bro!
Zardari: Okay, but I'm not going to sign anything. I thought you were smarter than Bush.
Obama: Stop insulting me and come to the point.
Zardari: Well, your country is as it is in recession. Why do you want to mess up further? If we sign that nonsense and break the clause, you are going to have to sue us or stop funding. The latter goes against your war-based economy. The former means having to spend lots on lawyers. Moreover, since we don't have any money to fight you in court, you'll have to fund us for lawyers too, which means further crash in your economy...
Obama: Yea, yea, I get it... screw the clause, but just hold on to your guns for a while, okay?

So, really, is the funding for Afpak, Indopak or Ameglobe?

Conversion is perversion

So said Swami Vivekananda himself. There's nothing wrong in thinking that your God is the mightiest of all; there are a lot of sects within Hinduism itself that have mythological stories praising one God over the other. However, trying to put other Gods down and attacking the followers is not done. People who do that not only do they not understand the other faith, but also lack understanding in their own. The only reason one particular deity is shown as superior over others is for the followers to get single-minded, wholehearted devotion towards their faith. And this should bring one closer to one's own path. Trying to attack other faiths, trying to convert them to yours, or doing any such or worse damage, one is endlessly taken away from one's own salvation.

A person is born in a particular faith only due to his past lives and it is best suited for that individual's spiritual evolution. Trying to do something that someone else does is definitely going to lengthen your own path, in terms of religion, that is. Philosophically, you're free to follow beliefs of the other and intellectually analyze it and compare it with your own. If you're going to blindly follow someone else's path, without knowing what it is, or even without knowing what you're born in, why not blindly follow your own instead? Its a custom-made fast-track path for you to evolve spiritually. There are many people who do not understand this at all. Kindly do revisit your own faith, follow it and try to analyze better. There are no separate Gods, one better than the other, there is only one. He has manifested himself for you in a particular way for you to love him and in another way for someone else to love him. In trying to prove that one is better than the other, you'll have lost one and not found the other!

HH Swami Chandrashekara Bharati of Sringeri was once approached by a foreigner to ask of some way to be initiated into Hinduism. The jivanamukta asked the person to continue in his own religion explaining him that there is a reason why he was born a Christian and not a Hindu. What faith he was born with would help him evolve better than if he converted to Hinduism. Only if all leaders and sages were as clear as our Swamiji, we'd be living in a much better place of Hindus trying to be better Hindus, Christians trying to be better Christians and Muslims trying to be better Muslims, without trying to convert each other to no avail.

hari om tat sat

Grim hope

Life of grim hope
Hanging on a thin rope
Any change has no scope
So let it be and cope

Life full of shame
Wild passion to tame
Any change seems lame
So everyone gets the blame

Life hidden in the dark
Without a bit of spark
Any change leaves a mark
So go on with your lark

Life guided only by fate
No matter if you walk straight
Any change is third rate
So continue your only trait

Life dances around death
Even with best of health
Any change affects stealth
So we live on illusive wealth

So whats in a name?

Apart from children teasing you or even when you're grown up, friends making fun of you, numerologists taking shots at whats wrong with your name, there are other things to it too. While I can't remember people's names and "whats in a name?" is a good phrase for me to throw around when I err, I'm sure there are many who remember names by effort and take decisions based on the ones they associate with even before meeting up. In a traditional system of earlier generations, what name to keep for a child was a matter of great research. For some, its so even today.

In many orthodox families, the first born male in a family gets his grandfather's name, or at least something closer. Although my parents followed that, as popular names, they chose another as well. So my elder brother got his name as Prashant, apart from Krishna inherited from our grandfather. I got my maternal grandfather's name Padmanabha, which was never used and was called as Praveen instead. My father had a story behind this naming concept, but not one that interests me much, except to tell it around, since I care less for values formed on emotions when they contradict the tradition; all the more so in recent years. Be as it may...

... today, all of this struck me when Raghav said that his niece was named as Mythri. My parents broke the tradition of running names such as Ramakrishna, Krishna, Ramchandra, by naming my brother and me differently. Most of the Hindus name their kids with Godly names by choice; even if they don't, in one way or the other it turns out to be a Godly name, with so many names for God. But we are those rare cases I suppose. :)

I personally feel that the name leaves an impact on the person both within and without. While my brother may have had *silent nature* earlier and may need to hold on to it and even prove it, I have to pick up *expertise* in all that I do, else give it up totally, in order not to do it badly! Funnily enough, if I look back, thats how my life has progressed these 33 years, unknowingly! Finally, for the same reason, I may end up dying with a huge bloated ego! :)

krishNArpaNamastu, padmanAbhArpaNamastu :D

Yoga, yogasana, YVFA...

The other day while chatting with a good friend, Rajiv, I recollected my own experiments with yoga and yogasana and how endlessly I've been postponing writing up on Patanjali Yoga Sutra (PYS). Over the past many years, not only has yoga become a style statement, but has grown into a billion dollar industry and beyond in the US alone; an obvious follow-on action is patenting anything that is yoga or yoga-related. We've seen enough of that nonsense and I'll avoid it. Also yogasana has been confused for yoga by more than 90% of the people who told me they are doing yoga and I've corrected them in all my bluntness! However, to clarify, Rajiv isn't one of them; I don't want him to throw his kungfu kicks at me... well, thats another thing he has been practising. :)

My experiments with yoga began in theory with studying many versions of PYS commentaries, before I joined YVFA at Rishikesh; I have some more versions to study. Around those years, I also experimented some with Kundalini yoga, AOL's yoga in practise but stuck with Sivananda's yogasanas and pranayamas from Practice of Brahmacharya. While at YVFA, I'd an interesting experience. When I hit YVFA, I argued with one Swamiji a lot about Yoga being rejected by Shankaracharya and so it not interesting me any more. Of course, I was neck deep in Vedanta then and my pure love for Vedanta was doing all the talking, heedless to the result of it! Obviously since the course was about Yoga and Vedanta, I got blasted. I was put questions and told that I do not know. Well, I smiled. The reason I smiled is not an egoistic thing, but I knew well enough to say that Shankaracharya rejected it, I knew where he did that and I knew why he did that. I argued some more and Swamiji did say in the end that the Bhagavatpada did reject it for the reason I was arguing about: what the end of PYS is! However, he said that I'll have to be attentive in class and over the next two months, I'll learn PYS, something I didn't know anything about, as concluded. My expressing having studied lot of commentaries didn't help anyway.

Back to the classes, since I was in the front row, I got a lot of love from Swamiji, each time with a smiling question thrown at me "Did you know this?" I smiled back and people wondered what was going on. I only knew well that there was no point arguing and I told my friends so... somehow, I felt that in the end its all going to be well, he will end up saying things about PYS that I said too.

Later during the daily asana-pranayama and karmayoga classes, I got so stressed out with my limited health back then, that I just couldn't take any more of active involvement in anything other than Vedanta, the very reason I'd parted ways with worklife! I announced this to the authorities, midway through the course, expressing my unwillingness to continue asana-pranayama and karmayoga classes with a partial commitment, while my love for Vedanta remained unmet and leaving me no time to study on my own. I said ta ta and readied my bags to leave, taking the onus for joining the course and wasting a seat thereby. Fortunately, they all liked my honesty and genuinely trying the asanas and karmayoga to the best of my abilities. Instead, they offered me exemptions in those subjects and gave me an option for each. Since my haemorhoids and lower back pain had set in totally, they wanted me to take long walks in the hills (just what I needed and craved for, regardless of the health); as for karmayoga, I myself took all the data entry work. Thankfully, all that worked out well, due to the immense love of Sivanandaji Maharaj's presence felt at the ashram and all those who follow his principles.

What came as a lesson to me when the course ended is from the marks. In trying to make a point about PYS, ego may have taken over without my knowledge, in some other disturbance over the course days in various forms. I wasn't doing much sadhana there either, health had taken a toll due to changing weather, irregular sleeping from mingling much with batch mates apart from the course focus and many heavy festival food servings. Then there were some deep satsanga arguments with other students, just trying to understand things better. Of course, I wasn't intending to top the exam or anything, so I didn't study at all. We actually spent lot of time roaming locally, meeting people, friends and their friends, etc too. Back to the exams, I did quite well overall, but what was shocking was the marks in Upanishads and PYS.

Just before the exam results, my roommate Datta and I had returned from Haridwar. We'd gone there to have a look at the Anandamayi Ma's ashram, after feeling a call from her. For some reason, walking by a bookstall at Rishikesh earlier, I suddenly turned around, looked at a photo of hers on a book, went in to look into the book and felt blissful! Strangely, at her ashram, the same thing happened; I was buying her books and photos, when suddenly, I looked at my left, my hand stretched itself out without knowing what book it was pulling off the shelf (no exaggeration here) and putting it on the counter in disbelief for billing! This book was one that I'd searched for years, even going over to MLBD at Delhi once and asking them to republish it, but all in vain... the book was Shankaracharya's TikA on Vyasa's commentary on Yoga Sutra!!!

As I recall, the marklists were being placed on the notice board when we returned to Rishikesh from Haridwar. The Swamiji I'd argued PYS with arrived late in the evening when marklists were already out and I was standing just next to the notice board when he came in. He looked at me and asked who had topped his subject, I kept mum, smiling. With his short memory, he tried recalling who Bhat is... "well", I said, "its is me, Swamiji". He went on "so, you're not a bad boy, after all" and then laughed and said "I'm just joking... you're a good boy". I just thanked him and it comforted my ego that he too thought that I knew PYS.

In the later many hours, I kept thinking "there's just no excuse to get less marks in Upanishads in comparison to PYS", the ego still speaking. Then it all came back to me, what had happened; I'd topped PYS and there was a reason for all this: to shatter my ego, understand what PYS is in practice, why the Bhagavatpada rejected it, and what is its place in traditional advaita vedanta following! I said this very thing (other than some things negative about karmayoga) when I was asked to speak of my experiences at YVFA among a couple more students at the valedictory function.

As a goodbye to YVFA, I met my Upanishads teacher and told him how I was upset having got less marks in Upanishads. While the beloved Swamiji thought the marks were good, I said they weren't, only because I got more marks in PYS! I'd taken Datta along and we all had a good laugh. :)

Hari Om tat sat! Jai Sivananda!

सेतू बांधा रे सागरी...

Geet Ramayan is always a pleasure to listen to or go back to when in dire straits. Tonight, ETV Marathi had a singing competition with Geet Ramayan theme. and it surely came as a blessing. One of them sang Setu bandhaare saagari towards the end. This is a song that is sung by the monkeys while building a bridge over the ocean. While listening to this song, a spiritual note struck me.... it may have passed me earlier too, but I may have not noticed it or voiced it much. The bridge that you build across this ocean of life called bhavasaagara is the one of chitta shuddhi. We need to cleanse our minds of all the bad qualities; in a way the mind itself is a monkey that needs to meditate on building that bridge which otherwise keeps jumping here and there, drowned in the ocean of thoughts. The shuddha chitta then becomes that bridge to walk through the seemingly neverending journey, without wetting ourselves one bit in the troubled waters. The journey might still be long, but we are sure to cross over without being involved and frustrated with the storms.

The only question here is whether the stones that we throw in the ocean in order to build the bridge are a committed set or just another thing to do hypocritically.... so far, I've been doing it the latter way, no doubt. As such, going nowhere!

saashtaanga pranaamas to Ga-di-ma and Sudhir Phadke

A blast from the past

Today, while sorting old things to do away with, in order to make space for new things, I found a bunch of memories! These memories were stored in scribbled papers, entrance exam booklets, fee receipts hiding in books, technical and training manuals, practice journals, webpage printouts, chat scripts, random quotes and notes, product literature, salary slips, resumes, visiting cards, etc... the list is almost endless. And as is the case with memories, some are good, some are bad. This time around, however, I cared not much for the bad ones, I've walked over almost all of them however rotten! Among the good ones, I found some paintings and sketches that I'd drawn as a 13-14 year old kid which I want to scan and then, clutter up my blog with them. :) Just a caveat here, almost all of them were copied from cartoon books such as Tintin, Asterix, newspapers, etc, other than a lot of imitations from R.K. Laxman's sketches.

Here's a wonderful poem that I came across scribbled on a piece of paper... I don't recall where I copied it from, possibly a newspaper of a website when there weren't many printers around:

Shattered dreams --by Lisa Richardson
The waters of life
Cascade like shattered dreams
Into rivers of crystal
My emotions take flight
As my soul soars towards the heavens
Carrying pain and regret
Far from their mortal existence
Hopes and dreams
No longer like a beacon before me
They scatter to the winds
Blowing furiously around me
I look towards the future
As I leave behind the past
Only to discover
A mirror image of
Shattered dreams

Musical touch

My life keeps getting a musical touch every once in a while and I'm not talking songs. I had a childhood dream of learning tabla, violin... the works! Of course, I learned nothing of that. I went through a month of guitar, having bought one some ten years back. Some friends learned on it more than I did. Its catching dust lying in the village, still looking new.

I still keep thinking of learning guitar and tabla. A few months back, however, a new instrument took over me: the bansuri. It seemed to be a supremely soothing getaway from the blues. I did some run around with a friend who wanted to fetch a flute and we had a kid in the neighborhood who played pretty good. We even went to a local concert... hmm, now to think of it, I went to a Diwali concert of Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia too some years back nearby there! The local concert was short, but it was almost as good as Panditji. Anyway, I'm bring this note into the blog, only to say that I might embed some music, video and more of such into this going-everywhere-yet-nowhere blog of mine! :)

Karunanidhi's hungry strike

Poor Karunanidhi goes on hunger (hungry?) strike with only two coolers and a fan, starting post breakfast and ending pre-lunch. Well, on other days, does he eat throughout the day then?

Thoughts 100

100. I brought home medication to improve memory, but I don't remember to take it!

Mumbai Mirror's bloggers park

There is a newspaper called Mumbai Mirror that runs free with our Times of India subscription. Mostly it carries B and C grade content, except for some changing topics in their bloggers park. Usually they link up three to four blogs with a small extract from each. Well, thats what I thought until today. They linked up my blog in today's edition. The online version reads here.

It seems that the illiterate journalists out there think that all content on web is free, especially blogs; for them its public content. My blog, however, is licensed under Creative Commons. I particularly don't believe in copyrights, being an opensource believer, but I hate it when someone *edits* my content and quotes me so. I may not even mind if someone takes my content as is and doesn't attribute it to me, as much as when they do that editing with my name! This is what Mumbai Mirror did. They changed my content, but worse still, added lines to it! The last line on their extract isn't mine at all! My original content was meant to be a satire and their addition to it screws up the content entirely.

So I have a message for these journos: If you lack the decency of keeping originality or are too dumb to even do copy pasting, then don't be a journalist please! No one put a gun to your head to print my content. You did it yourself, without my approval in the first place... nakal ko bhi akal lagta hai. :)

Kasab sahaab

In response to Rajiv's first point about UPA's five year term...

Come on, don't be so harsh on Kasab/ Qasab please. He's a kid, claiming to be 17 yrs old, pressurized to give those earlier statements about being trained in Pak. Sometimes he understands English completely, sometimes he doesn't; how can you blame him then?

In fact, you can understand how serious Congress/ UPA is in providing security, they want to try it out on him first before they extend the trial package to Indians too. Around Kasab's jail, roads are being closed and remade elsewhere for his security. Remember this, Indians around there are just Mumbaites who lost their lives in terrorist attacks many times, so they won't be inconvenienced by mere roads being closed... they still have their lives, right? What does the judge know who heard a petition filed by locals there and asked the police to go to jungle for Kasab's case if they can't provide security!

Kasab has clearly said that newspapers, perfume, walks, etc, are basic necessities for keeping him from going insane. His sanity needs to be intact to do ultra-intelligent work like shooting innocents in Mumbai/ India, as and when need be. In fact, the hearing should be postponed, indefinitely, not only until the new lawyer reads 11000 pages of the chargesheet with a 3 month vacation. Anyway, Pak has given a deadline of May 5th to close all investigations about 26/11 to their various departments. Why even waste everybody's time, let poor Kasab go back to wherever he wants to, even give him money that is being spent by India for security of Kasab, lawyers, witnesses and infrastructure changes.... better now, than after 20 yrs of the case running, when anyway he will be free.

Another day

Either side of the bed you get up from
Its another day, and another fray

Trying to separate right from wrong?
Sometimes there are shades of grey

Things don't always go as planned
It doesn't matter how much you pray

However grave the issue you see
As days pass, you'll wither away

Another day, another fray
Life goes on so till death parts away

Office Space styled blog deletion

(Inspired by IMDB's thread, thanks to Fenix; you won't appreciate this unless you've seen the movie)

This post was deleted because my jump-to-conclusions mat said "Delete Post".

This post was deleted because it was a million dollar idea... I'd such an idea once.

This post was deleted because thats what I would do if I'd a million bucks.

This post was deleted because "posting was the worst idea ever", "yes.. this idea... its horrible".

This post was deleted because "Na na na not gonna post here anymore".

This post got deleted because this is America! This isn't Riyadh! They're not gonna saw my hands off!

This post was deleted because its *beep*in' A.

Before I tell you why I deleted this post we have to swear to God, Allah, whoever that nobody knows about this, all right? No family members, no girlfriends, nobody!

I deleted this post because I'm gonna invest half of it in Mutual Funds and give the rest of it to my friend, Saheib, who works in Securities...

I deleted this post, because I always mess up some mundane detail.

I deleted some posts because, uh, they said I could delete posts at a reasonable volume from nine to eleven while I'm collating...

I deleted this post because it had "Straight to Upper Management" written all over it.

ISP nonsense

My internet blues are never ending, be it whoever the service provider. I've tried Airtel's GPRS dialups with speeds upto 40kbps through my cellphone hitting technical snags and billing issues. A weekly plan would work only 3 or 4 days, a daily plan would work at one time and not work half a day, if at all, at other times. Sometimes the daily plan would stop working at 1000 hrs the next day, and at other times anywhere between 0700-0800 hrs. But all or one of these would happen only on your activating internet for a day with an SMS message. On roaming, such a free SMS cost me Rs.18 a couple of times, which is almost same as the daily internet charge. Later, the daily plan would work for maybe more than a day at times. However, without any notice, one fine day they had changed their system to internet being active without activation! My internet usage cost me at disconnection of whatever the prepaid balance was! Or the other way round, it disconnected when they cleared my prepaid balance on a per 10KB download billing. Utter nonsense! I gave up and lost the battle.

Meanwhile, I'd moved on to Reliance USB modem with speeds upto 144kbps that cost Rs.2800 or so. That was prepaid too, but they sold me a mega-expensive unlimited plan that didn't work the first month at all. I'd lost my 1500 bucks, because they said "it should have worked, all is well at our end". When it worked the next month, with no changes on my side, it gave me speeds of 20kbps that moved to upto 80-90kbps after complaints. All the while, they had several billing issues, billing me per hour of usage, after charging Rs.1500 for unlimited usage in advance! Their technical, billing and management personnel all had varying answers such as "we do not have an unlimited plan for prepaid" after having sold it with printed pamphlets at Reliance Web World, "we have unlimited prepaid plan but its new; not everyone knows", "you're billed for data download" (on an unlimited plan, yes!), "we'll look into it", "call back in 96 hours", "there were billing problems, but we have resolved it, recharge again and check", "we can't give you refund, there's no policy like that", etc. I was spending additional money for calling them from my cell phone... over many many complaints spread over 2 months, they refunded all that I lost in duplicate deductions (except the first month's Rs.1500!!!), but deducted it all the next day. Another complaint, another 96 hrs, another response, another escalation, more calls from cell, more money lost. Again many complaints later, I told them I'll go to consumer court. They refunded the amount, accepting everything verbally a day before the month end, deducted all of it again 2 days later. Why again? Simple.. they said my refund was valid for that month only. Yes, for 2 days, the amount was valid to be used for data downloads, but that data download was already paid for that month with Rs.1500 unlimited package. So its money, available for 2days, that you can't use. I lost the battle there too, because they moved to a great policy of responding to each email and phone complaint with "billed for data charges" and never replied to what the unlimited Rs. 1500 that reduced to Rs. 999 later was for. Their definition of unlimited data downloads was a non-english set of terms that meant bill-per-hour-anyway. I couldn't win with stupidity... I gave up.

I shifted geography where we have BSNL, who are very simple, straightforward people. They give you what you ask for... well, when they want. We got our Dataone BSNL DSL connection at Vasai after around 1.5 yrs after applying for it. DoT (Dept of Telecom) had called it the year of broadband in India... I do not know what their definition of India was or definition of year was. Perhaps, they meant they would take at least a year in giving broadband to anyone in India! Well, that was before I moved here. After moving, I upgraded the account to unlimited usage, something that BSNL knows and understands better than Reliance. Well, I thought so! They moved my account from 250 bucks pm to 750 pm, added 750 for additional deposit and billed me whatever telephone calls and taxes cost last month. All settled neatly now. Again, I thought so! For some reason, the line's gone noisy and due to that its irritating to make and receive calls; the internet disconnects every five minutes for anywhere between 30 secs to 3 mins! Complaints haven't helped since 4 weeks, because they call me up asking "has the phone started working?" even if I clarify each time that the phone's working, but i) there's static on the line and ii) DSL fails every 5mins! "Okay", they say "we'll look into it". Then we're back to square one. To top that, this month, they billed me 750 for "unlimited internet usage" plus 16k (yes, Rs.16000!) for "internet usage". Interesting, very interesting. I'm sure they have an explanation for this. They all do. Its just that I will never understand. I can never win, but this time, I've some other perspective. I'll get to this soon, but before that lets take a detour to movies... yes, Office Space... I'll tie it in, believe me. Here's the dialog exchange between leads:

PETER: I, uh, I don't like my job. I don't think I'm gonna go anymore.
JOANNA: You're just not gonna go?
PETER: Yeah.
JOANNA: Won't you get fired?
PETER: I don't know. But I really don't like it so I'm not gonna go.
JOANNA: (LAUGHS) So you're gonna quit?
PETER: No, no, not really. I'm just gonna stop going.

Do you see how this ties up now? Where Office Space helps is Reliance and BSNL have one difference in their billing me nonsense: Reliance was prepaid, they had my money; BSNL is postpaid, they want my money. Here's my Office Space knowledge applied to BSNL:

me: I, uh, I don't like my ISP. I don't think I'm gonna pay anymore.
them: You're just not gonna pay?
me: Yeah.
them: Won't BSNL disconnect?
me: I don't know. But I really don't like this huge overbilling nonsense so I'm not gonna pay.
them: (LAUGH) So you're gonna disconnect?
me: No, no, not really. I'm just gonna stop paying.

Here I recall Seinfeld (The Chinese Restaurant):

Jerry: (A couple of days ago I used a public phone), go over time on the call, hang up the phone, walk away. You've had this happen? Phone rings. It's the phone company... they want more money. Don't you love this? And you got them right where you want them for the first time in your life. You're on the street, there's nothing they can do. I like to let it ring a few times, you know, let her sweat a little over there, then I just pick it up, "Yeah, operator... oh, I got the money... I got the money right here... D'you hear that? (taps on microphone) That's a quarter. Yeah, you want that don't you?"