Saturday, April 22, 2006

Animal Farm

With the elections round the corner and as I see the desperate election manifestos and the barking of the politicians, I am reminded of the satirical allegory Animal Farm by George Orwell. The book examines totalitarianism and a utopia that turns dystopian. One night, all the animals on Mr. Jones’ Manor Farm gather in a barn to hear the highly regarded old Major, a pig, describe a dream about a world where all animals live free from the tyranny by their human masters. Soon after the meeting the Major dies, but the animals – inspired by his philosophy of Animalism plot a rebellion against Jones. Two pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, emerge as important figures and when Jones forgets to feed the animals, Jones and his men are chased off the farm, Manor Farm is renamed the Animal Farm, and the seven commandments of Animalism are engraved on the barn wall.

The pigs, because of their intelligence, become supervisors. Napoleon, however, proves to be power-hungry stacks away the cow’s milk and the apples to feed himself and the other pigs. Squealer the pig, his ardent supporter convinces the other animals that the pigs are always moral and correct in their decisions.

Later, Jones and his men attack the Animal Farm in an attempt to recapture it. Thanks to the heroics of Snowball, the animals defeat Jones in the Battle of Cowshed. Snowball plans for a windmill, which will provide electricity and thereby giving the animals more leisure and time; but Napoleon strongly opposes the plan. When the animals decide to vote on this issue, Napoleon chases Snowball out of the Farm forever, with the help of the ferocious dogs that were sheltered by him. Napoleon announces that there will be no more debates and also orders the windmill to be built, lying that it was his own idea. In the rest of the novel, Napoleon uses Snowball as a scapegoat whom he blames as a scapegoat.

Napoleon becomes a heartless dictator, forcing “confessions” from innocent animals, and the dogs kill them in front of the entire farm. He and the pigs shift into Jones’ house and begin sleeping in beds. The other animals get less and less food while the pigs grow fatter and fatter. As one by one, the seven commandments is revised; for example, after the pigs become drunk, the Commandment, “ No animal shall drink alcohol” is changed to “ No animal shall drink alcohol in excess.”

Boxer, the hyper energetic horse who was a key contributor in building the Windmill was mercilessly sold to a butcher, while Squealer tells the other animals that Boxer was taken to a Vet and there he died a peaceful death – a tale that the animals believed.

Years pass and the Animal Farm expands after Napoleon buys out two fields from the neighboring farmer. Life for the animals (except the pigs) is harsh. Eventually, the pigs begin walking in two legs and imbibe several qualities of their former masters, the human beings. The Seven Commandments are reduces to a single law: “All the animals are equal but some are more equal than others.”

The novel ends with a farmer sharing drinks with the pigs in the Jones’ house and Napoleon changes the name of the farm back to Manor Farm. As the other animals watch the scene through the window, they cannot differentiate the pigs from the humans.

The novel illustrates the essential horror of the human condition – there have been, are, and always will be pigs in every society, and they will always lust for power. Though it is a universal political scenario, there is a strikingly significant allegorical resemblance to the political scenes of Tamilnadu election 2006. It is upto you to relate the characters to our aspiring leaders!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The direction within

In the recent months significant amount of negative force has been building around me and I had to push myself too much to even keep my routine. Repeated resolutions taken on many occasions and festivals had only left depression and insomnia as company. Being occupied with writing and reviewing the Requirements and Design for some applications that would never make sense to my life, I have failed to review myself. I realized that, a self appraisal – not on my profession, but on every cell of my being is required at this juncture. To be engrossed in introspection without getting lost in dreams and hallucination requires direction from within, which I have always found while meditating or traveling or to be precise on pilgrimages which is a combination of both. Hence, I resolved to celebrate the Tamil New Year at Thiru Annamalai. In this sacred place, I have always the felt the vibration that helped me find the direction. Moreover, it has been nearly 2 years since I walked a kilometer at a stretch and the Girivalam (walk on the 14 KMs circumambulation path) definitely motivate me to resume my daily jogging and walking.

Thiru Annamalai, an abode of Shiva in the form of Arunachaleswarar, supposed to bless the devotees with salvation by mere remembrance of the place (Ninaithale Mukthi Tharum Thiruthalam). Thiru Annamalai has the honour of sheltering saints such as Thirugnana Sambandar, Thirunavukkarasar, Sundarar, Manickavasagar, Arunagirinathar and Ramana Maharishi.

According to the puranic legend, the Annamalai Hill was Agni (fire) during Krithayugam, was Manikkam (Emerald) during Threthayugam, was Pon (Gold) during Dwaprayugam and rock during Kaliyugam. On the request of Thirumal and Bramha by their devout prayer, Shiva who was in the form of a fire column took the form of a Shivalingam (Phallus) at the foot of the where the Arunachaleshwarar Temple is located.

The Sanctum of Annamalaiyar in the temple is believed to be more than 2000 years old, while, there are recorded evidence of development works dating from 870 AD, carried out by Chola, Pandya and Vijay Nagara kings. The Raja Gopuram (Main Tower) is 217 feet in height with 11 storeys and is the second tallest temple tower in South India.

I started my journey along with Shiva my cousin, at 12:30 PM on Thursday and reached Thiru Annamalai at 4:00 AM. After a wash and change, we commenced our walk at 5:30 AM and somehow, I was successful in initiating and pulling him into a topic on some metaphysical debates like, Whether Buddha is God or Not? Is there any fact in Metaphysical Concepts? Or something related to Spirituality, to mute him from humming the romantic Tamil film songs and to blind my eyes to the clinging sound of the anklets. On successfully completing the 14 KMs at 8:00 AM, we had our breakfast and slept till 4:00 PM only to be woken by a relative, Veeramani, who is supposed to take us into the sanctum.
After a bath, we went to the temple accompanied by Veeramani, who took us directly into the sanctum of Kalyanasundareshwarar as well as the Unnamulaiyaar temples and were allowed to sit while the Pooja was being performed. The “Om Namashivaya” chanting filled the air and soon I unconsciously joined the chanting and soon was lost into it and was filled by the light of divine grace. We spent almost 3 - 4 Hours in the temple and then headed to the Ramana Ashram, where we spent an Hour in meditation as it was the day on which Ramana Maharishi attained Samadhi. Started at 11:00 PM from Thiru Annamalai and reached Chennai at 2:30 AM.

Now, I feel that my nerves seem to be rejuvenated and the spondylitis that was diagnosed last week seem to be cured by the Acupuncture therapy and the Muscle relaxation treatment rendered by the 14 KM bare-foot walk. The prayer (an expression of gratitude) and meditation (state of being no-mind) has helped me regain my hopes of resuming the daily walk and meditation and freed my mind off the clutter. OM Namashivaya!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Naming my Son

PNow, the question of naming my son is resolved. What is a Name? I don’t think that a name is a unique identifier of an individual, as there are more individuals than the names under the sun. RFID Tags would be most appropriate to identify the uniqueness than the names. I think, Name is a bridge to relate a person with another and hence is a form of Ego. A name is for others to call us by, where as the ego is for us to call ourselves. Name is the first sheath that is imposed on a human being born into this world and we start relating the self with the name, its meaning, its numerology, its celebrity holders, and finally inculcate the qualities of these factor and imitate them.

The Kids are named with the assumption that, they would like the way they are called by and hence, if it is not meeting their expectations, they should be allowed to change their names at will. With this preconception, I have named my son as Pranav Teja.
"Dear Pranav,
I give you this name as a message.
You will have to unfold it, live it.
Right now it will be only a name,
but if you work on it, it will become your reality.
It will not be anymore a name,
just a name.

"When I named you,
in that moment I had a certain feeling about you.
But, if you go on changing ...
And, if you are no longer in that space ...
Then you will be in a different space.

"When you are unable to relate to your name,
You give yourself another name.
Your whole aura will be different
In the way you want it to be!"


Though my previous post on the haiku cherishes the dream of being in a state of No Contradiction, I know the impossibility of it. The state of being in Contradictions is the reality and is the only way to realize freedom - although it is a form of slavery accepted with pleasure and a smile. Contradictions offer options to choose from, puts me into a good fight, helps me introspect and to know myself. The more I contradict, the more I evolve!