Of Perceptions and Responses


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com/

Many of us respond to a situation as we perceive it. Our perceptions are usually based on the situation, venue and our state of mind. We could be right most of the times, yet there are instances when we can go wrong horribly very simply because we have no clue about the other person’s circumstances.

The Mahabharata lays out one such instance which proves to be fatal to Parikshit the king of Hastinapura. Once, the Kuru king went on a hunting spree. He was lost and exhausted after an energetic chase. Soon he reached a clearing. There he found a sage immersed in a serene state of meditation. The royal scion bowed to Rishi with great reverence and offered the customary respects. Then he asked the Rishi if he could have some water. The Sage did not respond. The king’s repeated queries and request for some water seemed to fall on deaf ears. Parikshit was frustrated. The disgusted king looked around. He found a dead snake lying in the whereabouts. He picked up the carrion with one of his arrows and tossed it around the neck of the sage, mouthed some inanities and insults at the still silent sage.

When Parikshit self righteously turned to go away from the scene, another sage entered the scenario. He happened to be Shringi the son of sage Shamik. The virtuos son was infuriated to see his father insulted with a  dead serpent round his neck. He did not care that the perpetrator of this great sin was the king of the land. He pronounced a terrible curse on the ruler saying that the emperor would die of snake bite in a week’s time. Parikshit became jittery. He was aware of the potency of the curse. He hastened back to Hastinapura and got a royal quarters built on a tall column and moved in, in the hope of averting death. That he was overcome by death is another story.

This episode shows that each man did what he perceived to be right based on his experience and the given situation. It is easy to see that both of them did not act justifiably.

Most of us behave in more or less the same manner and end up wondering about what went wrong when matters turn sour.

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.

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


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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!

 

Talk and Workshop Topics


Keynotes

T hough this information has already been published in the keynotes section, I am uploading this again in the blog section following quite a few enquiries.

The following topics can be elucidated and discussed at various levels for specific age groups, genders, professions and purposes as per requirement.   Examples from mythology, history and literature will be used to put across the idea effectively. Strategies, solutions and options to deal with problems will be the mainstay of each talk. Games, role play and activities will be included when conducting the sessions as workshops.

note: I am game to exploreother ideas and topics if given enough time.

WOMEN

 

  1. WOMEN IN MAHABHARATA: About women who made a statement domestically, socially, politically et al. The talk covers a few or all the women in the epic and will highlight their strength of character and its relevance in today’s world. The talk can be exhaustive and spread over two or three sessions.
  2. WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE DESTINY OF HASTINAPURA: Satyavathi, kunti and Draupadi
  3. WOMEN IN RAMAYANA: About women who made a statement domestically, socially, politically et al
  4. WOMEN IN KALIDASA: About women who made a statement domestically, socially, politically et al
  5. KRISHNA: Champion of women dignity, security and empowerment.
  6. VALMIKI: Champion of women dignity, security and empowerment.
  7. MEERA AND ANDAL Unrequited love., exposition of Andal’s Vaaranam Aaayiram, and Meera Bhajans Can be treated as individuals or comparative study
  8. ROMANCE IN INDIAN MYTHOLOGY: Brave enterprising women who were ready to claim high stakes.
  9. WOMEN IN UPANISHADS: About women who made a statement domestically, socially, politically et al
  10. PANCHA MAHA KANYA: Modern ills faced by women like honour killing, rape, molestation, HIV aids leading to questioning the character of a women in contrast to Ahalya, Draupadi, Sita, Tara and Mandodari
  11. MOTHERS AT HEART: Yeshoda, Radha, Kunti who nurtured children who were not their own biologically
  12. GANGA: Divinity, purity, motherhood, folk belief, epic belief, pollution et al.
  13. SINGLE MOTHERS: The challenges from time immemorial. Sita, Kunti, Jaabali, Jijabai
  14. ALANKARA AND SHRINGARA: Make up, jewelry and cosmetics derived from indigenous herbal Indian sources for the enhancement of facial, physical and mental beauty.
  15. NAVARATHRI: Women Empowerment Ichchca Shakthi, Jnana Shakthi ,Kriya Shakthi
  16. VENI SAMHARAM OF BHATTA NARAYANA: An analysis of self respect, love and revenge.
  17. BHISHMA: The man who wronged women as he was trapped in the web of his own principles.
  18. SUYODHANA OR DURYODHANA: Dual personality who knew what was right but preferred to do wrong.
  19. KARNA: The fallen hero who was admired and dreaded by women.

 

MANAGEMENT 

  1. THANK YOU AND SORRY: These words are the most misunderstood and misused in the name of etiquette. A re-look at these words for building bridges amongst people and our souls.
  2. PRAISEWORTHY PERSONALITY: The Purpose, Path, and Pursuit of the Philosophy of life taking into other P factors.
  3. DEMYSTIFYING THE THREE Ps TO PROGRESS: Positive Thinking, passion and Sense of proportion by themselves have no power unless backed up by dedication and perseverance.
  4. NARADA TANTRAM: Sometimes the hornet’s nest has to be stirred to restore order.
  5. ICHCHA SHAKTHI, JNANA SHAKTHI KRIYA SHAKTHI: Thoughts become actions which can lead to success. In other words we are the architects of our destiny.
  1. COMMUNICATION SKILLS: The example of Hanuman in the Sundara Kanda is used to elucidate the dome thing in communication in the global scene.
  2. COMMUNICATION SKILLS: The essence of conversation is based on truth and compassion. Importance of body language, tone and intention which can far surpass use of language.
  3. ART OF MANAGEMENT: Delegation is only one part of the show. Self reliance, detachment and confidence is the way forward.
  4. KARMA THEORY : It is scientific, therapeutic and cathartic can change the world if each one becomes conscious of what his actions can lead to.
  5. KARMA THEORY :The serpent stories of Mahabharata
  6. LEADERSHIP: Flexibility and firmness, decision making, delegation, team work
  7. TEAM WORK Vs INDIVIDUAL ENTERPRISE: A conflicting ideal between material and spiritual progress.
  8. WORK ETHICS: How to cope with personal beliefs and professional demands without compromising on values.
  9. CRISIS MANAGEMENT: Many of them are under the impression that crisis management can be learnt at a crash course but developing presence of mind and using common sense are lessons of a lifetime.
  10. SUBHASHITAS, DOHAS AND KURALGAL: similarities in the world of wisdom.
  11. SATYAM SHIVAM SUNDARAM: Beauty is threefold, physical, mental and spiritual.
  12. SWOT ANALYSIS: with examples from mythology to suit the nature of different problems.
  13. TIME MANAGEMENT: Multi tasking, priorities, planning, procrastination et al.
  14. SHADOW LEADERSHIP QUALITIES: Bhishma, Krishna, Shakuni

 

INDIACENTRIC

  1. INDIAN WAY OF LIVING AND ENVIRONMENT: Makes an attempt in exploring certain age old traditions and separates the wheat from the chaff that is tradition from superstition.
  2. GLOBALISATION THE INDIAN WAY: Concept of Vasudhava Kutumbakam-the world as one family.
  3. GURUS IN MAHABHARATA: Ideas, ideals and inspirations that can be drawn from the epic teachers. It is also a session on the essential human flaws that interfere in the functioning of a complete teacher.
  4. STORY TELLING: Most effective teaching methodology since Panchatantra
  5. RANGOLI: The esoteric and educational value of the Vedic tradition in today’s world.
  6. THE MIDAS TOUCH OF INDIANISATION : Much against the popular belief that we are westernised, we actually Indianise whatever comes in our way.
  7. FOOD AND FESTIVALS OF INDIA: Food is more about region while festivals construe to religion, it is the spirit of celebration which is important.
  8. PAGAN INDIA: Worship of the forces of nature, which automatically makes us eco friendly
  9. UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY LIFE IN THE TRADITIONAL INDIAN CONTEXT
  10. HIMALAYAS THE SPIRITUAL UNIFYING FACTOR OF INDIA: A take on what keeps India together despite diversity.
  11. UNITY IN DIVERSITY: Universal unity of mankind in terms of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and Ekam Sat.
  12. THE NEED TO CONSERVE INDIAN LANGUAGES: promote use of mother tongue to salvage tradition and culture.
  13. SANSKRIT THE MOTHER OF LANGUAGES: Underlying unity in eastern and western languages.
  14. THE GREAT INDIAN MIDDLE CLASS ECONOMICS AND ENVIRONMENT: Old wine in new bottle, Swachch Bharath.
  15. SAVE WATER: Water does not disappear, it gets evaporated/polluted or displaced.
  16. SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT: recycle, reuse, recharge
  17. COLOUR OF CORPORATE IS GREEN: Corporate social responsibility.
  18. MEDICAL KIT IN A MASALA DABBA: Discuss spices and their benefits
  19. YOGA: Physical, mental and spiritual benefits
  20. GREEN BUSINESS IDEAS: Based on Indian resources catering to Indian way of life.
  21. TOURISM AND GLOBALISATION: Being aware of the History and geography of a place can go a long way in making the world a global village.
  22. MUSIC MATHEMATICS AND SANSKRIT: The interrelated aspects of the three subjects.
  23. CHARACTERS IN OUR EPICS AND MYTHOLOGY: metaphorical representations of the myriad shades of human thought, behaviour and actions.

ART

  1. WORLD OF ART: Different art forms can help man imbibe both discipline and creativity. Work both left and right brains.
  2. LEISURE ARTS FOR NORMAL BLOOD PRESSURE: The impact of embroidery, crochet, knitting, rangoli weaving et al
  3. ART OUT OF WASTE: (PPT aided)
  4. MUSIC AND MATHEMATICS: Similarities in the two subjects with respect to discipline and creativity.
  5. SKYLARK AND NADABRAHMA: Western and eastern exploration of music as a quest for eternity based on the contemporary works — Shelley’s poem and some Thyagaraja Kritis
  6. HARIDASA TRADITION: A take on Bhakthi tradition in Karnataka. Social and spiritual dimensions.

Workshops on the following topics can be conducted over two sessions of ninety minutes each followed by half an hour of interaction or open house discussion as per requirement.The sessions will be a combination of talk and activities.)

  1. Individual life long development. (Physically, mentally and spiritually).
  2. IT and English language teaching. ( Developing games to hone grammar and usage)
  3. Creative writing. ( Touches on fantasy, imagination and story writing.)
  4. ( Practical and economic aspects of Greek and Indian Drama aimed at helping oneself to available resources).
  5. Developing a green thumb. ( Creating green space around living and working spaces with available resources.)
  6. Green practices. (Practical and economic aspects of avoiding pollution and conserving resources).
  7. Teachers Training. (Practical and economic aspects of teaching using games and puzzles to introduce topics or revise them.)
  8. Women Empowerment. (Physically, mentally and spiritually)

10.Team building and leadership. (SWOT analysis of colleagues and employees and learning to build a healthy competitive atmosphere.)

TEACHING

  1. GOLDEN TRIANGLE: The inter relationship among, expectations from and disillusionments in the triangle of parents students and teachers
  2. THE GURUS OF MAHABHARATA: Guidelines on about how to be and how not to be a good teacher by analyzing the student teacher relationships in the epic.
  3. CLASS ROOM CONTROL: The discretion to take stand on when to be firm and flexible and concentrate on content.
  4. VOCABULARY : Using games based on vocabulary to sensitize the use of spellings, syntax, phonetics and grammar.{ Note: Vocabulary can be used a tool to develop teamwork qualities, understand common fallacies and even philosophize depending on the age, ability and interest of the participant}
  5. HANDLING DIFFICULT STUDENTS: The session will progress from generic to specific discussing the expectations, psychology and the environment of the student.
  6. PREPARING FOR BOARD EXAMINATIONS: The dos and don’ts of examination rules, preparation and performance {Note: this session will be conducted differently at the head and the tail end of the academic year}
  7. PREPARING FOR ENTRANCE EXAMINATIONS: Overcoming the challenge to excel and make a mark when comoeting with dark horses of varied calibers.
  8. EXAMINATION AND EVALUATION: A session for teaching staff on the validity of the necessary evil. Will be mostly conducted on the lines of a debate.
  9. THE GOAL OF LEARNING: Knowledge, exposure and reflection as against rote learning.
  • LEARNING BASICS: Importance of getting the concepts right , the need for bridge courses
  • USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN CLASSROOMS: The pros and cons of using technology will be discussed on lines of a debate.
  • THEATRE AND CINEMA: Role play, playing clips of relevant videos to put across a point. Examples using prescribed textbooks will follow.
  • USE OF MUSIC: Rote learning of multiplication tables formulae, poetry, periodic table etc
  • MUSIC MATHEMATICS AND SANSKRIT: The interrelated aspects of the three subjects.
  • POETRY AND POETICS: helping students to enjoy and experience the essence of poetry.
  • TESTING TECHNIQUES: Suggestion of various methods of immediate and periodic testing of what has been learned to make learning more effective.

 

Beauty is Only Skin Deep


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com/

People often get distracted. They start paying attention to the flimsy and the mundane aspects of life which are fleeting by nature. This can prove to be a great impediment in achieving one’s target.

A story from the Shiva Purana highlights the importance of staying focused and also reiterating the fact that intrinsic beauty is a combination of truth and humility.

Once when the self-declared celibate Rishi Narada was wandering through the universe, he was smitten by the extraordinary beauty and grace of princess Shrimathi. He was seized by a sudden desire to marry her. Hence he decided to attend her Swayamvara. The sage realised that he could marry Shrimathi only if she chose him as her groom.

Since he had always led an austere life, he wondered whether the princess would choose him over the royal, youthful, good-looking kings and princes who had come to seek their luck. All the same, Narada felt that he could not pass up the opportunity. He appealed to Maha Vishnu to bestow him with Harimukha.

When he was granted the boon he went to the Swayamvara happily. Narada seated himself confidently because he knew that the princess could not reject him as he was endowed with the handsome face of Hari. The Swayamvara began.

When the princess entered with the garland, Narada stood up eagerly. The court laughed in unison. Narada was annoyed and disappointed when the princess walked ahead and garlanded a striking suitor.

When he expressed his displeasure, he was asked to look into the mirror. When he did so, he was aghast to see that he was monkey-faced. When he confronted Maha Vishnu furiously, he was told that he was bestowed with Harimukha as desired. Then the Lord clarified that Hari also meant monkey.

Besides, the Lord had to play a seemingly cruel joke on his most ardent devotee to awaken him from his disillusionment. Though Narada was hurt and angry, he understood that he was beleaguered by distractions that would serve him no purpose in the long run.

Tactlessness Can Be Hurtful


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com/

Sometimes, we end up saying or doing tactless things with the best of intentions in mind. Our idea boomerangs and shows us in bad light. A little introspection will reveal that lack of right approach and choice of wrong words land us in such unpleasant situations.

The plight of sage Jaabali is one such as recorded in the Ramayana. When prince Bharata knew that his mother Kaikeyi was the architect of the twin catastrophe that struck Ayodhya, he decided to go to the forest and impress upon Rama to return from exile.

An entourage of family, well-wishers and ministers followed him. Repeated requests by Bharata pleading Rama to return were turned down by the Ikshavaku prince.

At that point of time, Jaabaali, an advisor in the court of Ayodhya, took it upon himself to convince Rama. He pointed out that it would amount to folly if the prince turned down the kingdom, especially in the new scenario when Kaikeyi and Bharata wanted him to assume throne. When Rama refused to breach his promise, Jaabaali he discounted the value of the promise of Rama in the altered circumstances.

Jaabaali felt emboldened by the calm attitude of the exiled prince and started elucidating his point with a very insensitive example. He said that people perform Shraaddha for their forefathers and feed Brahmins in the belief of satiating their dead. If such a practice had any genuine value attached to it, one could also perform Shraaddha to people going away on a long journey and then there would be no need for them to eat on their way.

When Jaabaali tried to ply his point using such tactless examples, he ended up enraging Rama. Raghava who was unperturbed when his crowning ceremony was cancelled and sent on exile, was enraged by the insinuations of Jaabaali. Rama, who was determined to redeem his promise to his father, actually faulted his sire for having entertained an atheist and foolhardy advisor like Jabaali in his court.

Jaabaali confessed that he had resorted to nihilistic ways in the hope of changing Raghava’s mind following which he sought the latter’s forgiveness.