Tall Task of Taking Risks


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There are two kinds of people in the world. The ones who like to play it safe and the ones who like to take the road not taken. Both kinds have their own justifications based on their knowledge, experience and circumstances.

The pioneering lot can once again be classified into two groups.

The ones who are willing to explore the unknown for personal benefits and the rest who do not think twice about throwing in their lot if it can add value to another person, people or a commendable cause.

These are the Samaritans who do not mind working behind the curtains or toiling away without an iota of expectation.

The Devas and Asuras yearned become immortal. They were told that imbibing the Amrutha found in the heart of the mighty ocean could help them fulfill their desire.

Therefore, they churned the ocean with the help of Vishnu who manifested himself as a giant tortoise to form the base of the churning pole.

After a strenuous bout of activity, they were appalled to be enveloped by toxic fumes which emerged from the sizzling poison that was garnered from the ocean.

The Devas and Asuras choked over highly poisonous air and did not know how to take things forward. Vishnu prompted them to appeal to Lord Shiva for help. Accordingly, the cousins pleaded.

Lord Shiva manifested himself almost immediately and without further ado swallowed lethal fumes and liquid, much to the shock of his onlookers. That he saved them and helped them gain the treasures from the ocean including the elixir of life forms the rest of the story.

Shiva who came to be known as Neelakanta from then on, because his neck turned blue after the consumption of venom, became the torchbearer of the tribe of people who are willing to go to any extent to help those who seek no matter what the possible consequences could be.

Shiva’s selfless act also comes under the category of “Nishkaama Karma” prescribed by Lord Krishna in the Bhagvad Gita.

Effective Communication


Deccan herald 30th January 2018

These days we find plenty of courses that guide people into communication skills. Aspects like correct usage of language, body language, tone, clarity and confidence are emphasized in these soft skill sessions. At the end of the day people are taught to communicate pleasantly and effectively to forge successful personal and professional relationships. Hence it is no wonder that educational institutions, governmental organisations and corporate bodies do not hesitate to invest a pretty penny on honing these skills of their new recruits at all levels.

A reading of the Ramayana reveals the universal significance and the cornerstone of communication skills has remained the same right from the good old times.

Hanuman was sent as the most hopeful candidate to search for Sita because Rama was impressed by the simian minister’s intelligence, sincerity and communication skills. The emissary of Rama discovered Sita in the Ashoka Vana of Lanka. He realized that he would traumatize the doe like Sita if he appeared in front of her without notice. Therefore he narrated the story of Rama in mellifluous verse to attract her attention. The act of Hanuman construes the importance of using introductory talk as the unshakeable basis of every conversation. The fact that Sita gave him her Choodamani – the hair accessory, which happened to be her only earthly possession and proof of her existence to be given to Rama, speaks in volumes about the success of Hanuman’s ability to communicate effectively.

When Maruthi returned to Rama with the good news, he does not indulge in formalities or flowery language. Instead, he very simply hands over the Choodamani of Sita with a brief phrase that said, “Sita has been found.” The magical phrase sent a surge of joy through the being of Rama and prepared him mentally to take in the details about the disheveled and depressed status of Sita and her resolve to hold on to her life for another month till she was freed from the clutches of Ravana. Hanuman used speech as a tool sometimes eloquently and at other times briefly. He just proved that there are no hard and fast rules about the length of the talk. He had the discernment to understand that content is king in any conversation. When truth, tenor, confidence, clarity, humility and simplicity adorn the content, communication becomes complete.

Tackle Obstacles with Integrity


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Life often scatters obstacles in our path. Some of us sidestep them while others overcome them. Yet, if we are riddled with difficulties from time to time, we tend to give up. A story from the Mahabharata says that if one tackles problems intelligently and with integrity, it will stamp our success with moral satisfaction and happiness.

Princess Sukanya had to marry the old sage Chyavana whom she had blinded inadvertently. Though there was no equivalence of any sort in the marital ties, the young bride did not have any complaints. She was quite cheerful and sincere in carrying out her conjugal duties.

A couple of years later, the handsome celestial twins, the Ashwinikumaras, happened to sight the beautiful Sukanya. They were smitten by her ethereal beauty. They tried to wean her away from her marriage and make her theirs. The principled lady refused to comply with their wishes, politely, yet firmly.

The demigods were struck by her loyalty to her husband despite his shortcomings. They offered to cure him and restore his youth as a reward for her steadfastness.

Sukanya and Chyavana were ready to accept a lease of normal and healthy life. Just when things seemed to fall in place, the divine twosome laid out their condition. The clause said that Sukanya could continue in her marriage if only she could identify her husband in his new Avatar. She accepted the challenge without batting an eyelid.

Accordingly, the sage was taken to a nearby lake by the duo. The trio immersed themselves in the waters.

When they emerged, Sukanya was startled to see that the three of them were identical in every single way. She was stressed, but gathered her wits and observed the threesome walking towards her. She recollected from her vast repertoire of knowledge that Godly entities never came into physical contact with earth. She noticed that only one of the three dazzling men was leaving footprints on the wet banks of the lake. She walked demurely towards her only love in life and stood by him.

The Ashwinikumaras were highly impressed by her integrity and intelligence and blessed the couple a happy and fruitful life of togetherness. Sukanya had every reason to flounder under the circumstances, that she chose to overcome it reflects her diehard spirit.

The Four Pillars Of The Success Mantra


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Everybody wants success. However, success does not come to all and sun-dry. Success follows anyone who has the discipline, hard work, passion and perseverance to achieve his or her goal. A story from the Ramayana highlights the four pillars of the success mantra. King Sagara lost his ceremonial horse while conducting his Ashwamedha Yajna. He sent his sixty thousand sons after the horse, which was eventually found in sage Kapila’s hermitage.

The princes misconstrued the sage to be the thief. The enraged sage reduced them to ashes. Sagara’s grandson Anshuman who went in search of his uncles discovered the truth. Garuda the celestial bird advised Anshuman to liberate the souls of his kin by washing their ashes over with the waters of the celestial Ganga. Anshuman did as he was bid, but was unsu­ccessful, so was his son Dile­e­pa. His grandson Bhageeratha, decided that he should redeem the soul of his ancestors. He studied the reasons for the previous failures and realised that his forefathers were trying to row two boats simultaneously. Therefore he renounced his throne and set out to conduct a severe penance to Lord Brahm­a.

The pleased Lord said that he had no reservations about directing the river of gods to descend on earth. Nevertheless he was doubtful whether the earth had the power to bear her form­idable force. He told Iksha­v­a­ku king to request Lord Shiva to control the waters. Bhageeratha meditated on Shiva and arranged for the descent of Ganga. Little did Bhagee­r­a­tha expect Lord Shiva to lock the audacious waters in his matted locks. He humbly performed another penance and impressed upon Shiva to release Ganga to salvage the souls of his forefathers. Just when he thought that all his troubles were over Ganga managed to annoy sage Jahnu who drank her up in a fit of anger. The poor king pleaded with the sage to let go of Ganga and eventually led her to the nethe­r­world and carried out his mission. Any other person in his place would have given up, but not Bhageeratha. The sense of purpose of the fourth generation scion has been epitomised in the phrase Bhageeratha Prayathna which we will do well to emulate, if we hope to realise our most cherished dreams.

Overcoming Obstacles – Lessons from Hanuman


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By – Radha Prathi

When Hanuman was crossing the great ocean in search of Sita, he was waylaid by obstacles. Three Rakshasis posed problems to his progress. He overcame each one of them in an enterprising manner with presence of mind. The journey of Hanuman towards his mission and the way he dealt with each one of his different troubles can be used as a proven guide to any one of us who are striving hard to achieve our goal.

Hanuman was first confronted by Surasa. She threatened to swallow him. When he spelt out the nature of his undertaking, she softened her stance. She insisted that Hanuman should enter her mouth before taking off. Hanuman nodded and drew himself to his full length. Surasa widened her mouth proportionately. In a trice, the clever messenger shrunk himself to the size of a shrimp and quickly dashed in and out of the Rakshasis oral cavity in a bid to keep his word and hers. Traversing the beaten path or trying out previously tried and tested solutions may not always be useful in sorting out issues. Lateral thinking can save the day. It is mandatory for us to understand that when logical reasoning and physical strength is sidelined as redundant, thinking out of the box can provide a solution.

 
Hanuman’s journey was not really smooth after he outsmarted his way out of his first impediment. Another Rakshasi called Simhika posed as a speed breaker. She caught hold of  Hanuman’s shadow which was reflected in the waters and made it impossible for him to inch forward. The champion had to gather all his strength to literally tear way from his marauder and killing her in the process. The shadow in this case is a euphemism for the thoughts and reservations that hinder us from moving forward. It is imperative for us to let go of our weaknesses, inhibitions and insecurities and face whatever comes our way with grit and determination.

 

When Hanuman touched the Lankan soil, he metamorphosed himself into a little monkey in order to explore the place. There, he was confronted by another Rakshasi Lankini who challenged his entry into the land she guarded. Hanuman struck the spirit of Lanka nonchalantly, subscribing with his contemporary form. His unassuming behaviour unnerved Lankini psychologically because she remembered that Lanka was destined to be destroyed when a monkey struck her. Unknowingly, Hanuman won the day by just construing to his role which ultimately worked in his favour.

All predicaments will have answers. It is up to us to analyse the time, place and situation of the crisis  and work on a key that will see us out of it safely and successfully.

 

 

 

 

Restart If Essential


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Radha Prathi, March 8, 2016:

Planning is definitely a prerequisite to lead a routine normal life or achieve monumental success. Yet there are times when we find that our best laid plans are reduced to shambles. More often than not, we realise that we have digressed from the chosen path because we have succumbed to distractions. We seldom realise that our cautiousness and alertness about impending dangers are teased by unforeseen circumstances or fate.

Logical analysis of the failure may or may not reveal the chink in the armour. When we are in such situations, we must not hesitate to restart our pet project from scratch. Sooner or later, a plausible solution will manifest itself in the form of an opportunity or a person who will lead us out of the dark tunnel.

An episode from the Ramayana puts across this point ever so well. Sugriva the king of Kishkinda divided his army into four parts. He sent them in the four directions of the earth in search of Rama’s spouse Sita. The southern direction was captained by Hanuman, his trusted minister. Angada the crown prince of Kishkinda  who was under his able leadership, set out enthusiastically to fulfill the mission. His youth, energy and penchant for exploring new facets of life, led him and his simian associates into a Shangrila of sorts. He was carried away by the illusory pleasures and comforts that the region had to offer and forgot his goal.

Hanuman his mentor and guide, saw through the ploy of the enchantress Swayamprabha the mistress of the cave and discussed the gravity of the situation with her. The lady considered the application of Maruthi and decided to release the army from her deceitful clutches.

Though Angada was happy to surface back to normalcy, he was depressed because he had swerved from the chosen path. He felt insecure and afraid of facing the wrath of his uncle Sugriva and the exiled prince Rama. He contemplated  suicide till he was counselled otherwise by Hanuman. Angada’s confused mind gained clarity and he launched on the search project all over again with renewed energy and fresh hopes. That his team succeeded this time around lies in the realms of exercising patience and implementing the assignment all over again.

Old Habits Die Hard


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Radha Prathi, Feb 5, 2016

There are two ways to approach a failure. It can be treated as the stepping stone of success or simply avoided because when a person is once bitten, he is twice shy. The response to failure should be based on the goal of the undertaken project.

If one works on an assignment which will make a difference to oneself or the society around, giving the task a second or third try can prove worthwhile. On the other hand, if the activity happens to stem from one’s Achilles’ heel, it can prove to be detrimental.

An incident from the Mahabharata illustrates how a person can tumble into a bottomless pit by failing to use discretion or self control. When Yudhishtira established Indraprastha, his cousins, the Kauravas, could not contain their jealousy. Shakuni devised a bout of gambling that would relieve the Pandavas of all their possessions.

The invitation for a game of dice was extended to Yudhishtira.

The Pandavas smelt something fishy. They wanted to turn down the invitation. Yet, Yudhishtira was reluctant to refuse the invite for two reasons. The protocol of his times demanded him to accept the invitation. If he had genuinely wanted to circumvent the gambling session, he could have done so. All the same Yudhishtira decided to go ahead because he had a weakness for playing dice. He then lost his kingdom, power, brothers and even his wife one after another at the game of dice.

He was subjected to abject humiliation and was tied down by his Dharma to be of any earthly help to his family. Even the attempt to violate Draupadi’s modesty was averted because of the divine intervention of Krishna. The lord made Dhritarashtra realise his blunder. Yudhishtira was restored with all that he lost. Matters seemed to have settled till Shakuni arranged to invite Yudhishtira for a friendly game of dice again in the guise of smoothing matters. Once again Yudhishtira had the option to reject the call.

The recent set of events could have served as reason enough to shy away from gambling. Nevertheless, Yudhishtira succumbed to his weakness in the name of honouring royal etiquette. He placed wagers on the lines of the last round of games. The only difference was the absence of ignominy. Consequently Yudhishtira was stripped of his property and power and was sent on exile. Interestingly, years later, Yudhishtira often played his favourite game with King Virata when in incognito.

His habit almost gave him away once he started bleeding when struck by the king; Draupadi in disguise had to hasten to prevent his dripping blood from touching the ground.

If we fail to wean away from detrimental addictions, they can land us in irreversible situations in life. Indeed, old habits die hard.