The Metaphysics of John Donne


John Donne

I have given the link to my talk please do listen in as and when you can!

http://www.iiwcindia.org/lecture/MetaphysicsOfPoetJohnDonne-24-7-2019.mp3?fbclid=IwAR21bFf7TGdWvPC-JYHZPpE4SjmCbNFLpGsRuDmTlgexIlRFyFIXv3y2ZFU

Make Every Day Yoga Day


Published on Tuesday, 18th June 2019 in the student Edition of Deccan Herald

21st of June 2019 is world Yoga day. Most of you will  roll out your yoga mats sometime during the day to practice a little of the ancient art on this special day. Even as you are reading this some of you must be raising your eyebrows at the use of the word art! For those of you who are still wondering, here is a quick definition of the word “Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to intellect, sense or emotion. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression.” Dancing, singing, cooking, archery etc can be considered to be examples of art.

An in depth understanding of Yoga will also reveal it is a process that helps us to align our physical, mental and spiritual identities and help us to establish our personality as a balanced human being. So, in that sense Yoga can be classified as an art!

Quite a few of you who must be reading this piece must be recollecting some of your family members, friends, neighbours and very possibly yourself going to Yoga classes to reduce body weight, to normalize blood sugar or pressure. Perhaps some of us are trying to cure their back aches, neck aches, knee aches and other such ailments through Yoga. Such being the case you have enough reasons to believe that Yoga is probably a science and very possibly medical science.

The definition of science says that, “It is nothing but a systematic project that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of verifiable explanations and calculations about the universe.” Therefore you can surmise that you are not wrong because Yoga is a systematic way in which the human body and mind are trained to become and remain healthy.

That is not all; practitioners of Yoga know that regulating our breathing through Pranayama and meditation consciously can do wonders to our mind and body too. It will help us get healthier, to concentrate better, develop patience and improved understanding about ourselves and others.

Hence it will not be wrong if we infer Yoga as a combination of science and art that can elevate the one who learns it properly and practices it sincerely.

Usually Yoga classes begin or end by paying a little tribute to Patanjali Maharishi who consolidated yoga practice in a sequential way. This great man who lived thousands of years ago must have conducted experiments on various Yogic poses by observing nature around him. He must have been in silent communion with birds, animals, trees and even mountains to arrive at certain body postures. He must have worked with a team of likeminded Rishis who must have brainstormed about the various Yoga poses. They must have practiced them diligently made observations about its effects on the practitioner under different conditions and noted down the results. The result of methodical scientific experimentation must have resulted in the composition of the “Yoga Sutra” a book which is touted as the Bible on the subject.

Scientists, doctors, physiotherapists and psychologists who have conducted interdisciplinary research on the effects of Yoga on the human mind and body have been quite impressed by findings which are quite in tune with what is mentioned in the Yoga Sutra.

Though Yoga is ancient and does not need certification of its validity and importance from time to time, sometimes it is good to be reminded of its preeminence.

Our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi did the needful by appealing to the United Nations General Assembly to declare June 21st the longest day of the year to be known as International Yoga Day to remind the world about the power of Yoga. Let us look upon this occasion as a special day which ushers in a year where everyday becomes yoga day so that we can  become better than ourselves!

 

Coffee-Just Brew It


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com/

It is hard to believe that the comforting aroma of coffee which rejuvenates nearly half the population of our globe was not even known to our country half a millennium ago. When Baba Budan brought a handful of coffee seeds to India on his way back from Mecca in 1670 AD, little did he realise that he would be altering the lifestyle of Indians, the southerners, in particular, in more ways than one. The aromatic beans that were first grown in the hills of Chikkamagaluru district grew ever so well as if it were their native land.

The Arabica and Robusta beans were roasted and enterprising connoisseurs of this exotic aromatic seeds experimented enthusiastically with the ratio of the beans with or without the catalyst chicory, temperature of water, various varieties of filter etc, to arrive at the perfect cuppa. Huge companies and multinational franchisees of coffee houses stand testimony to the wonderfully adaptable form of this wonder drink. Drinking coffee in the perfect ambience has taken unbelievable dimensions quite on the lines of Japanese tea ceremonies. This global drink can be consumed in a plethora of forms with or without milk in increasing and decreasing quotients of the strength of the brew.

The discerning taste buds can be suitably satiated in more areas if the aroma, flavour and the natural rich brown colour is put to good use. Coffee can be best used in the decoction form while using it to flavour. The secret of getting the perfect decoction not only lies in the ratio of coffee powder and the temperature of the boiling water but also the temperature of the coffee filter. If you are in a hurry, you cannot go wrong if you add a couple of spoonfuls of instant coffee powder to piping hot water. The decoction thus prepared can be used to flavour cakes, ice creams, chocolates, burfis, cold coffee shakes, etc.

Musings on a Maidless Morning


https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/right-middle/musings-maidless-morning-721538.html

Every time our maid takes off without compunction or notice for valid and invalid reasons, I promise myself to buy myself an Alladin’s lamp. The genie would solve all my problems. However that has remained in the domains of wishful thinking till date. I have often wondered if the brainy Jeeves could materialize and shimmer in to do my chores with the same élan with which he helps his young master to sail out of troubles. Yet the mere memory of his subtly sly ways to achieve his agenda at any cost makes me think twice about my choice.

I remember what Letitia  Baldridge once said, “ When in doubt look what everyone else is doing.” Since I know that practically everyone in my radar is bearing crosses of different densities on maid miseries, I practically have nowhere to look.  So, I decided to travel down the aisles of history and literature and tried to figure out what has gone wrong collectively with our generation of employers of domestic help? Why is it that we are not able to awaken a spirit of loyalty amongst our helpers like our ancestors did?

We certainly do not expect the likes of the nursemaid like Panna Dhai who quietly replaced her own bundle of joy in the place of the baby prince in waiting of Mewar only to be killed mercilessly. Nor do we expect a reliable slave like Jamal ud din Yaqut who stood by Razia Sultana through thick and thin.  I am sure that none of us expect the cruel alacrity displayed by Malik Kafur in the movie Padmavat when he killed two royals in response to a question that was mouthed in half jest by his brand new master.

Following feudal system or enslaving individuals or practising bonded labour is completely unthinkable, for the law of the land forbids it. Movies, soap operas and novels which showcase “old faithfuls” do not seem to have inspired the blue collared lot, nor has all the entertainment been  able to educate employers on the secret of retaining employees successfully. Common sense quotients like regular increments, generous gifts, timely loans and advance payments do not seem to change their ideas of accountability.

House helps have become a tribe who can be loved or hated but can never be ignored. It will certainly do us a world of good when we accept that they are also people like us and they do need to take off. Never mind if they disappear way too often. So the long and short of it is to just figure out a way to function well in their absence. Then, watch out for Zen like calmness that will ensconce your person once you get into the Swalpa Adjust Madkoli mode!

 

Walk Your Talk


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com/

Five centuries ago, a warrior from the Nayaka clan, a scion of the Kaginele town in Karnataka observed the society around him and did not quite like what he saw. He did not approve of the inequalities created by the caste system in our society. He was Kanakadasa, the devotee of Lord Krishna who made the lord turn towards him. It is said that he was forbidden from entering the temple premises in Udupi as he was born of a lower caste so he sadly made his way to the backyard of the temple and stood against the central section of the back wall where he deemed the lord to be standing. Then he sang soulfully in praise of the lord. Apparently, the Lord was pleased for he turned around in his idol form. Not only that, but the Lord also generated a hole in the wall to enable his favourite devotee to have a look at him from the back of the temple. The people in power and the temple authorities realised the purity of his devotion and have ever since maintained the ‘Kindi’ or the window in the temple. The idol remains that way till date.

Kanakadasa was a unique teacher who did not run a school nor prescribe books to be read because he understood that many people around him were illiterates or were very busy with their daily business. Therefore, he chose to compose simple lyrics bearing social and spiritual messages in the local language Kannada and sing it tunefully to attract the attention of the people around him. The homilies presented in the vernacular tongue helped people to reflect and ruminate on the vagaries of life. The lyrics enabled people to evaluate themselves morally and socially. They were able to see the connection between Indian mythology and its relevance to daily life.

The warrior-turned-saint poet walked his talk both literally and metaphorically. He put his heart and soul into what he thought was universally appropriate. The fact that we look up to him through his verses to resolve our problems in this digital age speaks in volumes about the multidimensional social reformer who made a difference to the world, just by walking his talk!

 

Golu 2018


These are some of the pictures from our Golu 2018 captured by some of my dear friends and well wishers. The theme was FLORA. Natural plants, arts and crafts of a varied range have been worked on and have been used to depict the world of flowers and explore its overwhelming global presence in mythology, history , literature and architecture.