CONDONE COMPARISONS


PUBLISHED IN DECCAN HERALD 16TH NOVEMBER 2020

Parents want the very best in the world for their children. They do mind working very hard and trying beyond their means to pave a wonderful future for their children. They try to motivate their children in many ways. Sometimes they draw comparisons with a successful child hoping to urge their child to perform similarly or even better. It is during these times they inadvertently sow a lot of negative qualities in the psyches of the young minds. Instead of driving the child to do better they end up teasing their wards to rise their ugly heads. There are other times when they manage to kill interest or develop aversion towards the set goal.

The problem seems to be as old as mankind itself. A tale from the Ramayana deals with a similar case. Kubera and Ravana sons of sage Vishravas were half brothers. When Ravana was a young boy, Kubera the king of Lanka flew in his Pushpaka Vimana to meet his father. Ravana’s mother Kaikasi eyed the grandeur and style of her stepson and brought it to her son’s notice.

In addition to it she earmarked the prosperity and position of Kubera as a benchmark to be achieved by Ravana. Young Ravana made it his life’s ambition to acquire the same. Ravana was accomplished in every way to achieve all that and more with some effort. Instead of trying to work hard and attain a similar summit, Ravana coveted Kubera’s place and possessions. He fought tooth and nail to usurp everything that belonged to Kubera.

Story of Kubera, Ravana and Kaikesi - Rakshasa swabhavam

The lord of wealth appealed to his father for intervention. Vishravas felt it exceedingly difficult to make Ravana see good sense. Hence he suggested to Kubera to explore new grounds far far away from Lanka and start afresh from scratch. Since the Yaksha  was intelligent, talented and capable, he decided to follow his father’s advice. He built Alanka famously known as Alakapuri, recreated prosperity and steered clear of Ravana.

Ravana for his part ruled over Lanka, the ill-gotten asset. Kaikasi had goaded her son to tread the unethical path by sowing seeds of jealousy in his psyche.

Like Kaikasi parents seldom take into account the side effects of their erroneous notions of motivation. Though parents think that they are not guilty of partiality, prejudice, unrealistic expectation or comparison most often they are responsible for these very drawbacks.

Complacency Can Lead to Complications


Sometimes we become smug and complacent in life. This feeling descends on us when we have achieved our aim or when we are happy and contented in life. At such times, we tend to become arrogant and irascible. We turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the people around us and gradually lose sight of the power of mutual respect and interdependence. We preen our feathers and strut around till we stumble and tumble over.

The sum and substance of this process is depicted in one of the anecdotes that appear in the Upanishads. Indra established his supremacy over the three worlds. He became conceited. He forgot his basic manners. He disregarded his Guru Brihaspathi. The slighted Guru abandoned Amaravathi. The Devas weakened because, their Guru had stopped channelizing Havis or the strength of the oblations offered in the sacrificial fires to them. The Asuras, the natural enemy of the Devas recognized the chink in Indra’s armour. They harassed him. Only then, Indra recognized his need for his Guru. Indra hurried to pacify the preceptor in vain. He approached Lord Brahma for a plausible solution. The lord suggested that the Devas should have a stop gap arrangement. Vishwaroopa, the son of Thwastha was substituted in Brihaspathi’s position as an interim arrangement. Respite was restored. All the same Indra smelt something amiss. A little investigation revealed that Vishwaroopa was passing on the effect of the Havis partially to the Asuras. Indra was infuriated. He beheaded Vishwaroopa. Thwastha became distraught. He resolved to destroy Indra. He used his Yogic power to beget an invincible son who would be the nemesis of Indra. Vrithrasura was born. Indra was destabilized by Vrithrasura. He approached MahaVishnu. The lord told him that Vrithrasura was immune to all kinds of conventional weapons. Only a weapon made from the bones of sage Dadheechi could kill Vrithrasura. That was a tall order. There was no other alternative. Indra approached the sage and cited the case. Almost immediately, Dadheechi went into a state of Samadhi and gave up his life. Indra used the sage’s bones to construct the infallible Vajrayudha. Vrithrasura was duly killed. Indra  appeased his Guru apologized to Brihaspathi and peace was restored.

 Indra learned the lesson of gratitude, generosity, humility, empathy and co-operation the hard way. If we imbibe these  values  from Indra’s experience we can enjoy uninterrupted, flawless success.

Being Cruel to be Kind


https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/panorama/being-cruel-to-be-kind-864433.html

 

 

Being cruel to be kind

This day, last year, we lived in a different world. And nobody gave it a second thought.

We lived in times when we were en masse very smug about our progress in the fields of science, medicine and technology. People who could afford invested in interstellar properties or oil wells, the less fortunate lot invested on what they thought was valuable while the unfortunate eked out a living and went on dole. None of us had any qualms about polluting our earth in every possible manner, ripping it off its abundant resources till it became scant or endangering lives of other species till they are rendered extinct. It was most important for us to be winners, never mind the definition of success. We did not hesitate to enter the mindless rat race to gain the winners post in areas like materialism, terrorism, bureaucracy, nepotism among other things.

Exhibitionism had/has become the order of the day. Virtual reality gained the most prominent place in our lives. Never mind if we have not eaten the food that has been photographed or had never visited the place which forms our virtual background. Even our age, looks, relationship status, friends are subjected to filters to lend them a fairy tale aura.

Mother Nature was and has been patiently watching us hoping that we might realize our lapses and correct ourselves. We remained incorrigible. She nudged us gently with a few natural calamities. We refused to take the hint. We merrily wronged her. Eventually she decided to shake us out of our complacence. Just like a mother bird pushes her young ones off the nest in order to help them fly and fend for themselves, we have been riddled by an invisible yet potent microbe that has been let loose amidst us.

Gradually people are realizing the futility of superficiality and superciliousness. Cleanliness, self-reliance, mutual respect and intrinsic goodness are slowly but surely making resurgence.  The best of experts are applying their minds to find a vaccine to make life safe for everybody on earth irrespective of borders. All these changers are pointers to the fact that Mother Nature is being cruel to us in order to be kind to us so that we work together to make the world a better place.

 

A Bird’s Eyeview on Mahabharata


Dear friends on Word Press

I was invited by Dignity foundation, Bangalore and Mumbai to give a talk on Zoom

as against my regular talks which I give from time to time on their premises.

I thought that I might as well archive the same.

I have uploaded a recording of the same here. It may  sound stuttered and staggered for the first two minutes. If you are able to plod through those one hundred seconds then the sound bytes get clearer.

Since the talk runs to an hour, some of you who may not have that kind of time can

Listen to it in bits. However the choice is yours.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1t-wbuzwb36Q_01k79sbp8ZyWy1L8bISj/view?usp=sharing

 

Radhaprathi-spiritual-talk (1)

CONTEMPT IS NOT COMEDY


                                                      

http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com/

Laughter is the best medicine. A good laugh can help us view life in a new perspective. However we must make sure that we enjoy healthy humour. Teasing or deriding someone certainly can by no means constitute merriment. On the other hand it is an expression of one’s arrogance. When we try to lighten our minds by making conceited and supercilious remarks, little do we realize that we are inviting bad Karma.

Ravana the anti hero of the Ramayana was erudite, talented, brave and powerful. But, he was also extremely arrogant. He was supremely confident about himself and never really bothered to be careful about what he said or did. Once, he was flying towards Kailash to meet lord Shiva. Nandi, the doorkeeper of Kailash, stopped Ravana’s entry as his master was busy. Ravana puffed up with self importance and blew his own trumpet. Nandi scoffed at the mighty monarch and refused to change his stance.

Ravana was amused to see Nandi who appeared like a midget, refuse him entry. He simply barged forward. He was surprised to see Nandi hold a trident in his path. Dashanana felt he was watching a comedy. He burst into peals of laughter. His boisterous mirth reverberated among the mountains. To add insult to injury, Ravana compared Nandi to a monkey. Nandi’s patience was tested sorely. In a fit of anger Nandi cursed Ravana thus, “So, you think that I am a monkey, is it? I could decimate you right now. But, I will not do so. Let the course of life make you commit more and more such sins. Mark my words; you will meet your maker because of the very monkeys you have ridiculed.”

Ravana did not attach any importance to the curse then. Ravana failed to correct himself. His haughtiness had made him hot headed and incorrigible. He continued being a megalomaniac with boundless ego. Therefore he paid a price for his misdeed.

 Nonetheless, those of us who know the Ramayana know that Hanuman set fire to Lanka and the great army of Ravana was defeated by the simian forces of Rama. Eventually, Ravana paid a price for his misdeed.

All of us are entitled to have some fun in life. All the same we must steer clear of mockery and contempt lest we become the laughing stock at a later date. The world of humour must definitely undergo a spring cleaning.

Containment with Contentment


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com/

We are living in strange times. The pace at which the world is functioning appears like a reminder of a train chugging into the railway station ever so slowly before coming to a grinding halt. A microscopic virus is monitoring all that is happening and not happening on this planet. All channels of knowledge are being tapped into for finding possible panacea from this baffling situation.

When one looks for a possible interpretation of the crisis in our mythology, the Dasha Mahavidyaha offers one. The text extols one of the forms and worship of Adi Para Shakthi as Goddess Bagalamukhi. The etymological interpretation of the name suggests that it is synonymous with that of a horse’s bridle, which means that she reins in her strength to arrest the movement of the universe.

At, the first instance, one is likely to wonder, what kind of a super power could be worshipped for creating obstacles in one’s path. However, a little reflection will reveal that each one of us lead an unleashed life, running a rat race with blinders on as if there is no tomorrow. As a result we have strayed from our home grounds, values, connect with nature and eventually even forgotten to keep in touch with ourselves.

The Shakthi cult says that it is at such times Baghalamukhi, manifests herself as an obstacle to rein in the erring souls. Mythology describes her as the crane (representative of wisdom) faced deity tearing at the tongue of the Asura at her feet. The tongue, the seat of the six taste buds, symbolizes the origin of Arishadvargam. Interestingly, the six sins namely, lust, anger, greed, infatuation, arrogance and jealousy which cause our downfall, originate from the tongue.

Right now, various aspects of human life and living are being led into a hitherto unknown phase, where all action has been arrested by an invisible virus. The only way out of this phase is to accept containment and use it for reflection, introspection and speculation on the essence of existence. When mankind identifies its flaws, unlearns them and relearns universal values like truth and compassion, he will automatically become wiser and responsible. A dose of diligence and discipline will usher in self restraint and contentment.  This in turn will reflect in his actions which will repair the damages made by him and heal the world holistically.

 

Five-fold Formula For Success


https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/oasis/defining-indian-management-788726.html

Which of us would not like to succeed and enjoy our name, fame, money and the status that comes along with it? The desire is but only natural and perfectly legitimate as long as we do not swerve from the path of truth and take to undesirable methods to achieve our goals. True, it is a tough proposition and sometimes it becomes very tempting for us to take up shortcuts to success. If we are under the impression that the said syndrome is the weakness of the human race alone, we must stand corrected.

The Markandeya Purana records a discord among the trinities on this count. Once it so happened that MahaVishnu and Brahma got into an unexpected argument. Each of them felt he was superior to the other. Shiva who was a witness to this altercation offered to find a solution to this issue. Accordingly, he metamorphosed into a linear flame and instructed the two discontented gods to find his beginning and the end. Brahma turned himself into a swan and flew upwards. Maha Vishnu bored into the bowels of the earth in the form of a tusked boar. Though both of them began zealously in right earnest, they were unable to reach their destination. After a considerable amount of effort and time, the two of them returned. Brahma said he had seen the tip of the Shiva Linga and handed over a Ketaki flower to lord Shiva saying that he found it on top of the Linga. MahaVishnu gracefully conceded that he could not fulfill his task.

Even as Brahma braced himself to be accolade for his achievement, lord Shiva pronounced a curse on the creator saying that he will not be included for idol worship on earth. He also vowed that he would not accept the Ketaki flower in his worship.

This tale holds a fivefold message that can be guiding forces to help us lead a successful life. We must steer clear of the one-upmanship game. Honesty is the best policy. There is no shame in accepting our shortcomings or failure. Faked success can burst like a bubble at any time and damage our self esteem and our image forever. The expanse of any subject is infinite like the supreme soul Shiva; we can explore it to the best of our ability but never gain complete access over it.

Ethics of Earning


Published in Deccan Herald dated 9th April 2019

Money is important in life. Our ancient philosophy, which subscribes to attaining the meaning of our lives through Purushartha consists of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Hence it has been established since times immemorial that one cannot discount the economic factor in life. However, the moment we allow the financial quotient to take over our lives it amounts to unconditional servility to the monster called materialism. Greed will consume us till we lose touch with ourselves and cannibalize on our identity.

An episode from the Ramayana teaches us subtly to handle this tricky issue in its narrative of sage Agastya’s tryst with wealth.

Once, a highly accomplished princess Lopamudra was struck by sage Agastya’s knowledge, wisdom and keen presence of mind. The sage was also impressed by the lovely lady and entered into a matrimonial alliance with the royal lass. Though the sage had access to all the riches he could ask for by way of dowry, he chose to live a life of austerity with his bride. Several years passed smoothly. Then the couple decided to start a family. They realised that they needed at least the minimum materialistic facilities to give a comfortable life to their wards. Since the couple had led a Spartan life, thus far, Agastya, decided to seek the necessary wealth from one of his contemporary rulers as per the customs of those days. However he followed a certain principle while doing so. He decided that he would take charity only from the excesses of the treasury’s exchequer. Accordingly, he approached the kings one by one. He called for the ledger and examined the income and expenditure of the kingdom at large. He found out that just about every king’s balance sheets tallied. He did not have the heart to accept the generous offers of the just kings because it meant taxing the people of the state. Then he moved away and found his own way to acquire some means to run his family.

The amount of concern, caution and discretion used by Agastya while endeavoring to fulfill his needs speaks in volumes about the code of ethics to be followed while procuring income. If we allow our conscience to screen the money that enters our purses we could squarely obliterate a whole lot of associated crimes by simply following the ethics of earning.

To Wax Or Wane is the Question


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com/

All of us know that the waxing and waning of the moon is a visual occurrence as the result of the satellite revolving around our planet.

It is interesting to note that the Skanda Purana has an interesting take on the subject which aims at educating its readers to show due respect to the modesty and independence of women. The handsome and accomplished moon personified as Somadeva had married the beautiful twenty seven stellar sisters of the cosmos.

He lived a happy and contented life till he coveted and abducted Tara, his guru Brishaspathi’s wife. The gods waged a war to redeem their preceptor’s spouse. Somadeva trounced them in a trice. The Devas approached Lord Shiva for help.

Brahma the creator who was witnessing this pantomime foresaw a great disaster. Hence, he advised Somadeva to surrender to Lord Shiva and apologise to Brihaspathi and send the pregnant Tara back to her husband. (The question mark over the patriarchy that dangled over the unborn child is another story.)

The war-weary Somadeva who was stricken with leprosy saw better sense now and did as he was bidden. The once haughty lunar deity became penitent and took up rigorous penance and appeased Lord Shiva. As a result he was cured of his deadly disease but was cursed for life to wax and wane every fortnight.

The Lord in his superior wisdom hoped to alert mankind that one can never get away from karma no matter what the status or penance quotient. Apparently the story is meant to be a subtle warning to all those people who lust for other people’s spouses, wealth and belongings, that they have to pay a price for it.

Apart from the punishment factor that awaits the wrongdoer, the tale also underlines the act that women are not commercial commodity who can be taken, used and rejected at the whims and fancies of the mindless and the powerful.

The Skanda Purana points out that our personalities will wane like the moon when we indulge in unethical debauchery and cause unwarranted pain to others. All the same, if we are suitably chastened and repent for our misdeeds, we can reinforce our intrinsic values. This, in turn, will help our personalities wax like the moon.

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!