Walk Your Talk


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com/

Five centuries ago, a warrior from the Nayaka clan, a scion of the Kaginele town in Karnataka observed the society around him and did not quite like what he saw. He did not approve of the inequalities created by the caste system in our society. He was Kanakadasa, the devotee of Lord Krishna who made the lord turn towards him. It is said that he was forbidden from entering the temple premises in Udupi as he was born of a lower caste so he sadly made his way to the backyard of the temple and stood against the central section of the back wall where he deemed the lord to be standing. Then he sang soulfully in praise of the lord. Apparently, the Lord was pleased for he turned around in his idol form. Not only that, but the Lord also generated a hole in the wall to enable his favourite devotee to have a look at him from the back of the temple. The people in power and the temple authorities realised the purity of his devotion and have ever since maintained the ‘Kindi’ or the window in the temple. The idol remains that way till date.

Kanakadasa was a unique teacher who did not run a school nor prescribe books to be read because he understood that many people around him were illiterates or were very busy with their daily business. Therefore, he chose to compose simple lyrics bearing social and spiritual messages in the local language Kannada and sing it tunefully to attract the attention of the people around him. The homilies presented in the vernacular tongue helped people to reflect and ruminate on the vagaries of life. The lyrics enabled people to evaluate themselves morally and socially. They were able to see the connection between Indian mythology and its relevance to daily life.

The warrior-turned-saint poet walked his talk both literally and metaphorically. He put his heart and soul into what he thought was universally appropriate. The fact that we look up to him through his verses to resolve our problems in this digital age speaks in volumes about the multidimensional social reformer who made a difference to the world, just by walking his talk!

 

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.

 

An Ode to My Music Teacher


https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/right-middle/ode-my-music-teacher-693371.html

S RADHA PRATHI, SEP 18 2018, 23:25PM IST UPDATED: SEP 18 2018, 23:26PM IST

When my music teacher taught me the Sargam when I was a mere child, she had asked me to visualize them as a set of steps, which I had to ascend and descend. Just like the steps, the musical notes would remain static in their designated places and if I needed access over them, I had to reach out to them. She probably said it just once and may have said it to put across the point, but somehow the image has remained with me ever since. I have always imagined that each step represented a Swara.  I would step, skip, linger or bounce over them in accordance to the lessons taught. Thus I practiced Sarali varase, Genti varase, Dhatu varase and Alankaras  mentally when I paced and hopped up and down the stairs without particularly going up or down. All the jumping left me breathless especially when I tried going through them in the second and third speed. Not to mention, that I would be reprimanded for being so very restless. Now I find it amazing that I had not divulged what was going on in my mind or explained all the ascending and descending. Though the exhausting exercise did not impact the quality of my singing then, I learned the basic difference between constants and variables at an impressionable age. I was able to understand the distinct distances between musical notes which helped me hone my skills as the years passed. However what fascinates me to this day is the fact that whenever I catch myself alone on a staircase, I immediately assign them the Sargam in a raga that catches my fancy at that point of time and  hum a pattern of notes in my mind and step accordingly. In other words, I can never go past a set of stairs without thinking of music.

Interestingly, it was my music teacher who had helped me understand Algebra several years before it was introduced to me in school when she explained the concept of octaves in music. She said in passing (again) that the first note of the Sargam determined the placements of the other Swaras. Whenever, I had to find the value of “x”, in an equation, I could not help thinking of it as the “Aadhar Shadja”. Learning sets and drawing Venn diagrams was cake walk to me in school because I had been taught about complete octaves which paved way to mini ragas with  a few notes, the similarities and differences in the notes between ragas which made them distinct . I could not shake off music when I was taught   the concept of 360 degrees around a point which can be segmented. I was well aware of the raga chart akin to a pie chart into the 72 major ragas were segmented. Sums to be solved on Permutations and combinations seemed easier when I converted marbles or balloons into musical notes. I have never been able to overcome the sense of déjà vu in the mathematics classes.

When I reflect over the deep seated influence on thinking that my music teacher had over me besides helping me to learn music I realise that teachers do have the knack of influencing you for eternity!

Kanyaka Parameshwari 2018


I had the privilege to handcraft the jewellery and the accessories of goddess Sree Vasavi Kanyaka Parameshwari using Kundan stones, pearls and mirrors. The idol in the sanctum sanctorum has been adorned with the same on Friday, the 9th of February 2018.KannikaParameshwari 2018

KanyakaParameshwari 2017

10th February 2017, Friday

Today the goddess is wearing a quilled dress.

Paper Quilling has come a long way from the Renaissance period in Italy and France to the craft classes of school children across the globe.

The art which involves rolling strips of paper and pinching them to shape ranges from the simple to the complicated has been employed to adorn the goddess.

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Integrity and Intelligence


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/639821/integrity-intelligence.html

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 Mahabharatha 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 to 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. The lady 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 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 a fruitful life of togetherness. Sukanya had every reason to flounder, but she chose to overcome it.

Music Therapy


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/380744/music-therapy.html

Learning classical music introduces the learner into an amazing world of music.

When the venerable bard said, “If music be the food of soul play on,” he was probably not aware of the fact that Indians had already realised the value of naada bramham and had even designed a meticulous way to celebrate it.

Ancient Indians believed that when the sun shone on the stellar constellation of Sagittarius the ‘Brahma Muhurtham’ set in, ushering in a new day to the very gods. This short phase of early dawn in the life of the Gods stretches out into a month in the life of us who are mere mortals.

The Dhanur Maasa which falls between mid December and mid-January has been celebrated in a very unique manner in South India. When one would ideally like to stay up late in bed, traditionalists get up before the crack of dawn, bathe and cleanse themselves and offer prayers to the Gods. The Dhanur Maasa also doubles up as a month where young girls can showcase their talent by drawing beautiful rangolis outside their homes and also display their ability to sing. In fact the entire month is celebrated as the ‘Musical Month’ in Chennai when venerated classical musicians and instrumentalists fill the air with their cadence.

The unique feature of this festive month lies in the fact that it is celebrated in a very exclusive way. Temples open their doors way before the first ray of the sun appears in the horizon. Earthen lamps are lit not only in the temples but also at the doorsteps of the homes of people to light the way for wayfarers during the misty hours of the morning. Classical music concerts are held for an hour or two in the wee hours of the morning to celebrate the precious moments of the ‘Brahma Muhurtham.’

It has been proved that music has therapeutic values. The electronic world has made the world’s best music available on a platter. Yet not everything seems to be well in the world of music. Gone are the days when the parents and the family of the child spent quality time with their young ones visiting live classical music concerts thereby inducing a love and respect for traditional music. Today music at best means film or album music to the growing youngsters. They relish loud and fast music with insensible and sometimes crass lyrics. Perhaps if parents introduce the child to classical music a lot of aspects of the child can be honed.

Learning any type of classical music be it Karnatic, western or Hindustani will introduce the learner into an amazing world of music. It will be an eye-opener for them to know that there are infinite possibilities to use the seven basic notes of music in various permutations and combinations. They will imbibe a sense of time (tala/beat) and precision in the course of learning. They will understand the science and mathematics behind classical music. Once they grapple the subtle nuances of the basics they will be able to adapt to any other genre of singing like folk, pop, ghazals—the list is endless.

It is high time to introduce the children to the world of music to overcome their personality disorders like lack of focus, indiscipline and occasional delinquency.

The Healing Music of Andal


http://archive.deccanherald.com/content/Jan42008/sesame2008010344648.asp

It is winter. Chilly winds are blowing about making you snuggle deeper into your warm bed, and how you hate to wake up. But are you aware that this season is special for the thirty three crores of Hindu Gods?

The Dhanur Maasa which falls between mid December and mid-January has been celebrated in a very unique manner in the south of India. When one would ideally like to stay up late in bed, traditionalists get up before the crack of dawn, bathe and offer prayers to the Gods.

The Dhanur Maasa also known as “Maargazhi Thingal” in Tamil doubles up as a month where young girls can showcase their talent by drawing beautiful rangolis outside their homes and also display their ability to sing. In fact the entire month is celebrated as the “Musical Month” in Chennai when venerated classical musicians and instrumentalists fill the air with their magic.

Temples open their doors way before the first ray of the sun appears in the horizon. Earthen lamps are lit not only in the temples but also at the doorsteps of the homes of people to light the way for wayfarers during the misty hours of the morning.
Classical music concerts are held for an hour or two in the wee hours of the morning to celebrate the precious moments of the “Brahma Muhurtham”. The thirty stanzas of the “Thiruppavai” composed by the saint poetess Aandal in Tamil are sung during this period of time to invoke the blessings of Lord Vishnu.

For those of you who do not know, there is a lovely legend attached to the celebration of this month. Hundreds of years ago there lived a young girl called Godai also known as Andal.

She was the daughter of the priest of the Ranganatha Swamy temple situated in the present Sri Rangam. The motherless child lived with her father in a small hamlet called Sri Valli Puttur. As a child, she developed a deep affection for the Lord, her father worshipped. Everyday she wove a garland of fresh flowers for her lord and sent it to the temple through her father.

Girls were married at a very early age in those days and the young one took a fancy to marrying lord Ranganatha. Once the idea of marrying the lord sank into her heart, she considered herself to be the bride of God. She still wove garlands for the lord, but made it a point to wear them and look at herself in the mirror before sending the token of her love to the lord.

Her father was totally unaware of these happenings until one day he found a strand of Aandal’s hair interwoven in the garland. He was annoyed and reprimanded his daughter. But he was surprised to see the cool reaction of the little girl. He suspected something was wrong and observed his daughter’s behaviour. He discovered her wearing the garland meant for the lord.  He demanded an explanation from her and was shocked with her answer. He dragged the poor lass to the temple premises and asked her to prove that the lord had indeed accepted her as his bride. Her ardent prayer and true love apparently moved the lord and he gathered her soul by way of marriage.

It was discovered later that the young Aandal had composed lyrics in praise of Lord Vishnu in the company of her friends.  Literature and language experts confirm that they are matchless in terms of content. The seemingly simple verses with a lot of progressive thoughts and spiritual connotations  have enthralled people ever since.

These verses have been set to thirty different ragas and are sung even today, during the early hours of Dhanur maasa. Experts say that they have healing powers.

Indian festivities  have a hidden agenda of practical information for better living.

The cold bath tones up our system and makes us healthier, while the music soothes our nerves and makes us more alert.

If you closely examine the ritual of rising early that is followed during this season you will realise why it is said  “Early to bed early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise.”