True Love is Immeasurable


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com/

We promise God money, gifts and sometimes harsh penance as a token of our thanksgiving for fulfilling our wishes. We praise, clothe, feed and entertain God as we see fit.

A lot of us who go out of the way to please God simply forget that God – – our creator does not expect anything from us either in cash or kind. We are only expected to extend sincere affection towards our maker and he will take care of all our needs.

An incident from the Bhagavatha Purana reiterates this viewpoint. Satyabhama, the spouse of Krishna, once lost her husband to Narada in a game of dice. The distressed wife beseeched the celestial sage to let go of her husband.

She offered to give gold that equaled the weight of her dear husband. The sage agreed to alter his condition. Accordingly, Satyabhama sheepishly poured out the details of the awkward bet to the king of Dwaraka.

Then she requested him to sit on one plate of the balance. She placed all her jewellery on the other plate of the scale. The gold did not measure up to the weight on the other side. Then she ordered that the gold from the household and then even the treasury.

To her despair, she found that her best attempts failed. At that point of time Krishna gently told Satyabhama to seek help from his senior wife Rukmini. Satyabhama nurtured envy towards the said co-wife and generally steered clear of her. Yet, in the given circumstances, she approached Rukmini in order to redeem their husband.

Though the senior queen was aghast to hear what had transpired, she rushed to the spot. When she saw the scale in a state of gross imbalance, she quickly plucked a leaf from the Tulsi plant and placed it reverentially on the gold uttering the lord’s name.

Lo and behold! The plate holding the lord rose high immediately. Krishna helped himself out with a knowing smile that said it all. Immediately, Satyabhama felt ashamed but also felt enlightened. She realised that true love is immeasurable in worldly ways.

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!

 

Strength of Strength


Published in Student Edition of Deccan Herald on 12th of February 2019

 Little Banta was watching the children play sitting on his wheel chair with a fractured ankle. He had gotten into a brawl with his younger brother Chintu and hurt himself in the process of pummeling the younger kid. He wished to goodness that he could become well so that he could play again. His mother noticed his helplessness. She felt sorry for him. Yet she knew that Banta had invited trouble for himself. She wanted Banta to stop bullying younger children. She was aware that he was likely to rebel, or submit grudgingly if she were to advise him. So she asked him what strength meant to him. Banta gushed with excitement. To him strength was synonymous with Bheema.
Even as he was uttered the name   Bheemasena his personal hero, Banta was filled with pride. To him Bheema was a symbol of towering strength and gigantic personality, the strongest amongst his brothers, besides he was talented and skilled too. Besides, his role model excelled in wrestling, wielding the mace and had amazing culinary skills too. Banta was never tired of listening to Bheema’s exploits.

So, his mother decided to narrate one of the numerous stories of his favourite hero from the great Indian epic The Mahabharatha.
While the Pandavas were in the forest, a Brahmin household gave them shelter for a short time. During this period, the Pandavas learnt that a demon named Bakasura who dwelt nearby had made a pact with the villagers that everyday a cart load of food would be sent to him for dinner. The demon would gobble the cartload of food and also eat up the driver as a part of his meal.
The villagers were angry with the demon’s cruelty. They hated him. They were terrified of his strength. They wanted to teach him a lesson. But unfortunately they could not bring themselves to confront Bakasura or in any way.

That day it was the turn of the host family to send one member of their family as lunch to Bakasura. The very thought of it made the family sad and depressed. The Pandavas felt very sorry for them. Even as they were wondering as to how to help the family,Bheemasena  volunteered to take the food cart to Bakasura.
The following day, Bheema escorted the cartload of food to the forest. When he reached the demon’s cave he dismounted the cart and spread out the food. He heard the demon snoring. He realised that he had not eaten a sumptuous dinner for a long time now. So he helped himself to the feast. When he was through with all the goodies, he belched loudly.

Bakasura woke from his slumber and came out of his cave. The sight of the empty vessels infuriated the demon. He pounced on Bheemasena with all his might. Soon they started wrestling. After fighting an equal battle for sometime, Bheema overcame the demon and swooped him up in the air. He used all his might to twirl the demon over his head and threw him to his death.
When Banta’s mother finished narrating the story, she gently pointed out that both Bheema and Bakasura were endowed with equal strength, but interestingly enough they both were looked upon differently by the people. While Bakasura used his strength to terrorise and destroy people, Bheema used his strength to protect and empower the weak.
Bheema was not merely strong. He knew how and when to use his strength. Soon Banta realised that he should not have displayed his strength on his younger sibling. He looked at his ankle in plaster and told his little brother to fetch his sketch pens. When Chintu did his bidding meekly, Banta asked Chintu to use his cast as a canvass. Soon the brothers were laughing and enjoying each other’s creativity while their  mother fetched them their favourite smoothies with a smile.

Facing Board Examinations?


Published in the Student Edition of Deccan Herald

Board examinations are round the corner. Each academic year is designed in such a way that each student is expected to gear up for the Annual examination right from his first day of each academic year .The teachers, parents and the students prepare for this mega event collectively throughout the year.

Teachers of the respective subjects take enough number of revision lessons in each subject to ensure the success of students in the final examination. The teacher has the constraint of catering to the entire class which will consist of students of every genre hence cannot pay attention to the trivialities that contribute to perfection. Hence there are variations in student performances. Though every student puts in his or her best they make lapses which affect their percentage. These lapses can be overcome by following a few tips which can surely pave the way for the student to reach the top.

  • Students should frame a tentative time-table for themselves for studying in hours of the early morning which is most conducive for studying.
  • They can first prepare for a subject they are good at so that it gives them a feeling of satisfaction and confidence to proceed with the subjects which are not their hot favourites.
  • They should make it a point to concentrate on one subject at a time so that they get a complete picture of what they are doing.
  • Many students resort to classroom notes and worked out exercises which follow the lesson. This may not be adequate and they should be encouraged to read the lessons from the text book at least once after each revision.
  • Students should avoid memorizing answers for they could be let down badly if their memory fails. On the other hand, if they grapple the concept of the subject they can always put across the answer in their own words.
  • Students can take dictation tests from every subject and perfect their spellings.
  • Poems meant for memorization should be written out a couple of times looking into the text book to grapple the punctuations and spellings.
  • Map work, graph work and diagrams of science should be practised and not glanced through in the last minute for they can easily fetch a student anywhere between five and eight marks when answered accurately.
  • While preparing for mathematics students should be encouraged to work out the prescribed varieties of sums from different text books to help them gain expertise through experience.
  • Group study should be ideally avoided except in the case of mathematics where the students can compete with each other to arrive at the correct answer at the earliest.
  • Students can be encouraged to solve old question papers without omitting any questions by way of choice and get it evaluated by the respective teachers if possible. This exercise will help them revise concepts in different ways.
  • While preparing for the language papers, grammar exercises could be worked out from general grammar books or e-exercises for getting a better insight of the concept.
  • However much a student prepares for an examination certain features of language papers like letter-writing, essay writing, précis writing, paragraph writing, caption writing and comprehension passage are unpredictable. Hence they need to work out sufficiently so that the student does not get put off by the question paper.
  • While preparing at home, it is best that students should use a pencil to write, for it has the twin advantage of not only improving the handwriting but also imbibes a sense of neatness in the student. [The student erases the errors and gets out of the habit of scratching eventually because of getting used to see a scratch free paper].
  • Students should strictly avoid answering avoidable phone calls and entertaining themselves with music or watching television during the study hour for the distraction will adulterate their concentration.

A saying in Sanskrit goes thus, Sukharthinaha Kutho Vidhya, Vidhtarthinaha kutho sukham? when translated means that a pleasure seeking person cannot acquire knowledge and a person seeking education cannot even think about pleasure. The saying may sound very harsh but it is very true even in this day and age where the academic capabilities of students are measured by examinations.

Go ahead and set your score and reach your goal! Best of luck!

Board examinations are round the corner. Each academic year is designed in such a way that each student is expected to gear up for the Annual examination right from his first day of each academic year .The teachers, parents and the students prepare for this mega event collectively throughout the year.

Teachers of the respective subjects take enough number of revision lessons in each subject to ensure the success of students in the final examination. The teacher has the constraint of catering to the entire class which will consist of students of every genre hence cannot pay attention to the trivialities that contribute to perfection. Hence there are variations in student performances. Though every student puts in his or her best they make lapses which affect their percentage. These lapses can be overcome by following a few tips which can surely pave the way for the student to reach the top.

  • Students should frame a tentative time-table for themselves for studying in hours of the early morning which is most conducive for studying.
  • They can first prepare for a subject they are good at so that it gives them a feeling of satisfaction and confidence to proceed with the subjects which are not their hot favourites.
  • They should make it a point to concentrate on one subject at a time so that they get a complete picture of what they are doing.
  • Many students resort to classroom notes and worked out exercises which follow the lesson. This may not be adequate and they should be encouraged to read the lessons from the text book at least once after each revision.
  • Students should avoid memorizing answers for they could be let down badly if their memory fails. On the other hand, if they grapple the concept of the subject they can always put across the answer in their own words.
  • Students can take dictation tests from every subject and perfect their spellings.
  • Poems meant for memorization should be written out a couple of times looking into the text book to grapple the punctuations and spellings.
  • Map work, graph work and diagrams of science should be practised and not glanced through in the last minute for they can easily fetch a student anywhere between five and eight marks when answered accurately.
  • While preparing for mathematics students should be encouraged to work out the prescribed varieties of sums from different text books to help them gain expertise through experience.
  • Group study should be ideally avoided except in the case of mathematics where the students can compete with each other to arrive at the correct answer at the earliest.
  • Students can be encouraged to solve old question papers without omitting any questions by way of choice and get it evaluated by the respective teachers if possible. This exercise will help them revise concepts in different ways.
  • While preparing for the language papers, grammar exercises could be worked out from general grammar books or e-exercises for getting a better insight of the concept.
  • However much a student prepares for an examination certain features of language papers like letter-writing, essay writing, précis writing, paragraph writing, caption writing and comprehension passage are unpredictable. Hence they need to work out sufficiently so that the student does not get put off by the question paper.
  • While preparing at home, it is best that students should use a pencil to write, for it has the twin advantage of not only improving the handwriting but also imbibes a sense of neatness in the student. [The student erases the errors and gets out of the habit of scratching eventually because of getting used to see a scratch free paper].
  • Students should strictly avoid answering avoidable phone calls and entertaining themselves with music or watching television during the study hour for the distraction will adulterate their concentration.

A saying in Sanskrit goes thus, Sukharthinaha Kutho Vidhya, Vidhtarthinaha kutho sukham? when translated means that a pleasure seeking person cannot acquire knowledge and a person seeking education cannot even think about pleasure. The saying may sound very harsh but it is very true even in this day and age where the academic capabilities of students are measured by examinations.

Go ahead and set your score and reach your goal! Best of luck!

Beating Retreat


Published in School Edition of Deccan herald on 29th January 2019

Most of us are very particular about beginnings. We take all the care to begin well because we know that “Well begun is Half Done”. The care and the interest we have at the commencement of a project somehow takes a back seat when we reach the end of the road. If you are still wondering what I am talking about, just have a look at the first pages of your notebooks and the page in which you are writing presently, you can see the setting in of carelessness. On the other hand, if you find that you have improved on yourself, you are on the right track. If you maintain the neatness and enthusiasm till the end, you can be sure that you have all the qualities that are the hall mark of successful people. Yes! Conclusions are as important beginnings.

All of you must have seen or at least heard about the elaborate celebrations of Republic Day in Delhi. The humungous amount of effort that has gone into organising an event of that scale goes without saying. However, how many of you are aware that our nation has the proud heritage of winding up this event with equal elan?

The conclusion of Republic Day festivities known as Beating Retreat  is conducted three days after the big day which falls on  29th of   January every year.  The Indian Army, Navy and Air Force are joined by the Central Armed Police Forces and the Delhi Police and they march in Vijay Chowk which is close to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The Chief Guest of the function is always the President of India. This year when our president Ram Nath Kovind arrives his bodyguards the trumpeters will herald his arrival. The function will commence with the hoisting of our tricoloured and the playing of our  National Anthem. Then a grand march will ensue and the ceremonies will be declared closed officially.

Did you know that the ceremonious conclusion of our Republic Day festivities happens to be a direct rip off of the British tradition? As usual we have given it our unique Indian touch and made it wholly ours.

The ceremony was designed by Major G.A.Roberts a British national in the year 1950. Jawaharlal Nehru the first prime minister of India was keen to impress our colonisers with the grandeur of our land and our prowess. He delegated Major Roberts to come up with a spectacular event for the Queens visit. That is when Beating Retreat came into being. It also became a showcase of our strengths making the leaders of other countries think twice before taking us for granted.  Thereafter it became an official ceremony year after year where our president and a special invitee usually the head of another country inspect the grand march.  Our guest list shows that we have honoured rich and poor, strong and weak, friendly and unfriendly countries alike. According to the records listed in Wikipedia, thus far we have missed out on having invited guests only three times 1952, 1953 and 1966.

Did you know that the average Indian citizen can buy tickets for this event which is priced from Rupees twenty to Rupees five hundred. In fact our government has made arrangements for people to pay and watch the rehearsals also just in case they are busy otherwise on the 29th of January. For those of us who do not live in the national capital we can watch the ceremony from the comfort of our homes either on television or the website.

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.

Of Epiphany and Catharsis


https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/right-middle/epiphany-and-catharsis-710382.html

I have always believed in the power of destiny. We always meet people for a reason if only for a season. Little did I know that my physiotherapist would initiate a process of enlightenment in yours truly when he became instrumental in arranging a lectu…

Read more at: https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/right-middle/epiphany-and-catharsis-710382.html