Golden Memories


http://www.teacherplus.org/golden-memories/

Sri Vidya Mandir turned 50 last year and this gave an opportunity for all those associated with the school to share their memories.

Housed in the heart of Malleswaram, the school has separate blocks for the primary section, middle school, and the high school and pre university sections, all located close to each other.

It is hard to believe that what started as a little school with three students, two teachers and a headmistress in a humble home now has more than 3000 students under its wings.

The story of Sri Vidya Mandir is inseparable from the woman who founded it. Leelavathi N, who started her career as a teacher in Madras, fell in love with the profession irreversibly. Marriage brought her to Bangalore and she pursued teaching in a local school. Her keen sense of value education coupled with an inherent love for children made her wonder if she could make a palpable difference in the field of education. The idea of running a school crossed her mind and started to take wings in 1969. Once the spade work was done, she associated with a couple of like-minded parents and formed an Education Society in 1970 and started a school with just three students.

“Making quality education available at affordable costs has been my guiding quotient from day one,” says Leelavathi better known as “Leela miss”. “While I have insisted on discipline, performance and accountability from my students, I have never turned a student away because he/she has not paid the fees,” says the octogenarian.

A couple of years later, owing to the growing numbers of students, Sri Vidya Mandir moved to a makeshift building – a cowshed, opposite the Venugopala Swamy temple in Malleswaram was leased to run the school. While this change gave Leela miss and her students more space, it also brought with it many obstacles and nagging problems. The temple authorities were divided on allowing the school to function in their premises. The dissenting members resorted to unpleasant measures to dislodge the growing institution. An individual with a weaker spirit would have succumbed to the pressure and threats but Leela miss decided to launch a legal battle to retain the space that had been leased out to her formally and legally. It is ironical to note that the lady who had never dreamt of anything except disseminating knowledge was constantly drawn into courtrooms to justify her decision to continue functioning in the new site despite obtaining permission from the concerned authorities. The long-drawn, ugly courtroom battle which went all the way to the Supreme Court, only strengthened Leela miss’ resolve to pursue her original dream of running a model school where she could mould young children into intelligent, responsible and productive citizens.

The school management, her loyal team of teachers and parents who had reposed their faith in her mission stood by her through her toughest moments. Eventually, her decision to fight for the school space proved to be the right one as Leela miss won her battle and became completely free to serve the society by providing quality education.

Once this major obstacle was overcome, there was no looking back. Though the school follows the state syllabus, the teachers ensure that the students have access to different kinds of resources to further their knowledge and are not limited just to the textbook. Chandrika Gowda, headmistress middle school, who has been with Sri Vidya Mandir for four and half decades, has been part of the school’s eventful journey as a well-loved and inspirational teacher. She says, “I do not allow my busy administrative schedule to come in the way of my classes. In fact, I try to conduct as many classes as possible because teaching opens up so many perceptions for both the teacher and the students.”

The school takes pride in creating exclusive workbooks for their kindergarten students every academic year, which lays a sound foundation for the learning years ahead of them. This exercise holds a mirror to the fact that the teaching faculty is willing to unlearn and relearn to upgrade their skills and help the children learn better.

Leela miss, with her able team has surged forth, rejuvenated, to add more feathers to the already established academic hat. Students of Sri Vidya Mandir enjoy equal time to study, play sports and participate in extracurricular activities. Gifted students are encouraged to pursue their talents and are given proper guidance and environment to do so. The students in turn bring their school more laurels individually and collectively.

The year 2000 was particularly special for the school when it presented a cultural program involving hundreds of their students on the occasion of Karnataka Rajyothsava or Karnataka formation day. The students had to practice separately at different venues due to space constraints before performing together on the prestigious occasion. All the pain taken was forgotten when the audience asked for an encore. The students’ performance was such a hit that they performed it on two more occasions on different stages.

This episode is a pointer towards the dedication reflected by the Kempegowda awardee (civilian award given by the Karnataka government) Leela miss and her teachers in whatever they do. The fact that the teaching and non-teaching staff of the school has several decades of service in the institution and have been awarded by both government and non-government bodies speaks for itself.

Sri Vidya Mandir has faced challenges and overcome obstacles to become the school it is today. Despite its success, Leela miss says, “We are happy and grateful to have come thus far but we can achieve more.”

The author is a professor of English and Sanskrit at Jain University, Bangalore. She also freelances for the print media, is a radio artist and writes scripts for television shows. She is also a proud student of Sri Vidya Mandir. She can be reached at prathi2000@rediffmail.com.

How do I Love Thee?


https://storymirror.com/read/story/english/6197erli/how-do-i-love-thee/detail

How do I love Thee? Let me count the ways.       

I have always wondered why a poetess like Elizabeth Browning would begin a romantic sonnet with the lines “How do I love Thee? Let me count the ways.” Now I understand the emotion that underlines her seemingly mundane lines when I am trapped in a similar situation.

Recently I was asked to write about my experiences as a student at my school which will be turning fifty this year. I found myself fumbling for words even as I tried to encapsulate what Sri Vidya Mandir (That is the name of my school) means to me. When I first stepped into a sprawling house which was used as a school in the heart of verdant Malleswaram, in Namma Bengaluru, little did I know that it would become an integral part of my person and persona? I felt completely at home (pun intended) because we were just eight students in our batch and our teachers knew us like the palms of their hands.

There was never a dull moment at school, as we were constantly engaged in academics and extracurricular activities. The five years that I studied in this haloed place had a far reaching impact on my life. I don’t remember evaluating options when it came to deciding my primary career, it had to be teaching. My passion for languages, literature, social sciences, and the arts is nothing but the harvest of the seeds sown by my teachers out there. Perhaps that explains why I am still in touch with the teachers who inspired me. I met my friends for life on this campus. The list can go on.

 Despite being the recipient of such rich bounties that populate my life to this day, I do have a pet peeve. Exactly two years after I left school to pursue high school education elsewhere, my alma mater decided to launch its High School wing. I will always be left wondering about how my life could have been further upgraded if I had spent three more years under its wings.

Today, when the school is stepping into its golden jubilee year, I realise that tens and thousands of students must have emerged as fully-fledged, responsible individuals from this mother ship. The mere thought of it is enough to set me off on new innings of pride, gratitude, humility, and inspiration. Long live SVM!

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.

Gratitude is the Best Attitude


Published in the Oasis column of today’s  Deccan Herald

In the Ramayana Hanuman, was identified to cross the ocean and scout for Sita the abducted wife of Rama.  When he was midway across the ocean Mount Mainaka rose from the depths of the ocean and intercepted him. Hanuman was annoyed by the obstacle and started pounding the great mountain with all his might. Mainaka bore the brunt gracefully and spoke gently to Hanuman requesting the latter to accept the hospitality of the ocean. He sourced fresh fruits and water from his being and humbly requested Hanuman to avail the same and rest awhile before continuing on the journey. Maruthi was highly appreciative of the hospitality made a token of acceptance and continued with his journey.

The meekness of the once powerful Mainaka may seem in order with his altered status as a refugee. A little introspection of this story will reveal that Mainaka was being humble and grateful for what he received. It is said that long long ago all mountains were winged. They flew around with their massive bodies and landed where they pleased. This exercise proved to be a menace to earthlings. Therefore the Rishis requested Lord Indra to help them. Consequently, Indra chopped the wings off the mountains using his Vajrayudha. Mainaka, the son of Himavaan did not want to lose his wings. He sought refuge in the southern seas. Sagara obliged Mainaka and allowed the mountain prince to hide himself in the bosom of the ocean.

When Sagara learnt that Hanuman was crossing the ocean for Rama, the Ikshavaku prince he bid Mainaka to offer respite to the messenger. Sagara extended this support because he was grateful to Bhagheeratha, an Ikshavaku prince who had added sanctity and volume to his being by bringing down the divine Ganga to earth which eventually flowed into the seas.

This well known story has the mighty and the powerful eager to show their gratitude for favours received, and all of us are well aware that gratitude is the best attitude one can ever have to keep us happy.

 

Small Changes Can Slow Down Climate Change


 

Climate change is looming large and is threatening us in many ways .Scheduled and unscheduled power cuts happen to be some of them. People’s lives are thrown out of gear and nothing much can be done about it.

It is high time we realized that we can circumvent our woes if we refrain from wasting electricity recklessly and start conserving this scanty resource.

It is true that some people find it impossible to function in their homes and workplace even in broad daylight without switching their lights on because natural light does not seep into their homes. In most cases it would be literally impossible for people to get on with their morning chores if they did not use the various electrically operated electronic devices. Yet whenever these very people receive their electricity bills the amount does not evade shocking them.

It is a fact that quite a few kilowatts of electricity are regularly wasted by each household mostly due to forgetfulness and carelessness. This oversight not only raises the amount on their bills but also results in inadvertent and unfortunate accidents. Cases of electrocution, fires, and short circuits that have been reported almost with clockwork precision can be traced to domestic carelessness.

While one can understand that nobody is shirking their responsibilities of switching off lights intentionally, it will do good to remind them constantly about the same.

You could follow a few of these tips and herd your family and colleagues to a more electrically conscientious existence. One could put up unique cards which read “Thank U for giving me rest” above each switchboard which could inspire people to switch off unused electrical appliances. You could install zero watt bulbs in the bathroom, garage, motor room or wherever else you have temporarily functioning electrical appliances.  If the bulb is switched on while operating the appliance then it will be a reminder that one or both the appliances are in use and needs to be put off after one is through with its utility.

Here are a few more tips that will help us to tread on the path of saving of electricity.

  • Make sure that all the lights and appliances are switched off after use /before locking up the house/ before going to bed.
  • If you need constant lighting in the house /staircase / corridors or the toilet, resort to using a zero watt bulb constantly in those areas.
  • Using natural lighting saves lots of energy and produces a much nicer environment besides. Fix readymade skylights which are available which let in only the light and not the heat.
  • Use Candle fluorescent lights to the maximum possible extent to conserve electricity.
  • Try to avoid the use of the drier except during wet weather and save up on the current bill. Moreover sun dried clothes turn out crisper and fresher.
  • Use of Air conditioners can also be avoided in pleasant climatic conditions. Try growing a few indoor plants to keep the room fresh and cool.
  • Turn off lights and fans when you’re not using them, even for just a few minutes. The idea that lights use extra electricity to start up is a myth.
  • Do not leave the music system, computer, television and other appliances switched on when you are not using them constantly.
  • Avoid using electrically operated devices to exercise your body; this measure will cut the flab on the electricity bill as well as on your body.
  • Clean stabilizers and electronic appliances constantly to ensure smooth functioning.
  • Clear out the refrigerators and switch them off when you plan to leave your house locked for more than two or three days.
  • Defrost refrigerators from time to time and give them a rest of at least three to six hours every month.
  • Avoid using fancy lighting and serial lighting to the maximum possible extent.
  • Service your electronic devices from time to time and change them if they are too old for use lest they burn a hole in your pocket.
  • Avoid unnecessary electrical charging of batteries, cell phones and generators.
  • Whenever you use the electrical devices to the optimum extent by maximizing their capacity; the consumption of electricity automatically goes up.

Remember you when you imbibe the habit of becoming electrically we can achieve a three-pronged agenda. Not only can we save electricity, we can also cut down on our electric bills and prevent fortuitous accidents and slow down the global warming a wee bit!

 

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

Overcoming Timidity


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com/

Most of us must be familiar with a certain type of people who are timid to the point where they allow the domineering to walk all over them. While we cannot discount the fact that they are the tribe who are responsible for the little peace we enjoy on earth, we must also not forget that we are punishing them with untold trauma for being good natured.

A tale from the repertoire of stories from the Ramakrishna Ashram suggests a panacea for diffident denizens. There once lived a cobra in a little hamlet. He was feared by everyone. One day a saint came to the village. The cobra noticed the contrast in the attitude of the villagers towards himself and the saint. He approached the saint and spelled out his observation. The sage told the cobra to follow austerity. The snake who was determined to garner admiration even gave up hunting and lived on leaves shed by the trees. When he became noticeably meek and amiable, even little children in the village picked up him up by the tail and swirled him around just for fun. The serpent put up with this ordeal, to achieve his goal. Sometime later, the saint visited the settlement again. He heard about the saintly cobra. The good man visited the emaciated serpent and told him, that being nice did not mean accepting rude or violent behaviour. In fact, no one should ever accept an onslaught on their self esteem or accept discourteous behaviour, especially when they have done nothing to merit it. The Samaritan told the cobra to continue to be affable but also draw the line when others tried to take advantage of his goodness. When the reptile wondered as to how he could straddle both the situations, the saint told the cobra to unfurl his hood and hiss to frighten the mischief makers. He need not necessarily harm them, but threatening to do so could keep them at bay and also ensure his sanity and serenity.

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!

 

Power of The Puranas


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com/

Our Puranas are nothing but a compilation of stories which are metaphorical in nature. Listening to them or reading them for merely entertainment value can at best keep us amused. Ruminating over them and interpreting them in terms of situations can help us deal with quandaries of our lives in an informed manner. The necessity to look upon these fables beyond the frills and fancies has been put across very lucidly in the Bhagavata Purana.

Dhundhukari was the wayward foster son of a pious Brahmin Atmadeva. Perhaps he was genetically programmed to become a denigrated delinquent wastrel because of the nature of his birth. His mother Dhundhuli was not interested in bearing children. When she was asked to eat a divine fruit  to help her become a mother she fed it to a cow, pretended to be pregnant and went on to make a deal with her pregnant sister Mriduli. When her sister delivered a baby boy she led her husband to believe that her sister’s baby was theirs. The cow gave birth to a human child and was adopted by Atmadeva. The boys were pampered and sent to the best of teachers. While Gokarna thrived on education, Dhundhukari did not seem to learn much. He was more interested in frivolous activities. He was an antithesis of Gokarna. He lacked ethics and values. He distressed his parents with his debauchery. Atmadeva retired into Vanaprastha. Dhundhuli, who was ensnared in the web of deceit committed suicide. Gokarna also left his foster home in search of greater knowledge. This development only made Dhundhukari more decadent. He would stoop to any level to keep his addiction for wine and women alive. Once, the women, whose company he kept, ganged up  and killed him. His unrequited soul wandered about terrorizing those who crossed his path. Once when Gokarna returned home he learned of the new developments. He advised the ghost of Dhundhukari to take up austerity and listen to the narration of Bhagavata Purana.

Dhundhukari did as instructed. At the end of the session he was personally liberated by the lord. When Gokarna was puzzled by the unexpected development, the lord clarified the matter. True, Dhundhukari had been depraved, but he had also made a genuine attempt to correct himself. He listened to the Purana with rapt attention and reflected on it with devotion which redeemed him from his profligate existence.

 

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.