Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A pure form of greeting

During my stay at Dakshineswar in Kolkata, I used to spend most of my evenings listening to the bajans. People from the neighborhood gather carrying their own muscial instruments to sing and dance in praise of Kali, Shiva, Radha, Krishna and Ramakrishna. On one such evenings, there was no singing, no dance and only silence prevailed is spite of the large gathering. I was told that, a women sanyaasini, who is from the order of Sarada Math is going to deliver a discourse and I noticed that she was sitting among the people. She had a radiant smiling face with a glow in her eyes; her shaved head covered with a shawl and her crystal clear compassionate words were captivating the gathering. My memory fails to remember her name.

One gentle man asked, “Why do we pray to god with the hands clasped and also greet a fellow human being in the same way.”

She said, “The five fingers represent the five sheaths or the shells that envelope the real self of a person. In Sanskrit, the five sheaths are called as

  • Annamayakosha – The Physical sheath – It is the gross physical body that is sustained by food
  • Pranamayakosha – The Energy sheath – It is the subtle body that is sustained by pranic force.
  • Manomayakoshsa – The sheath of mind – This is the perceptual body, a covering which is the result of the mind where all the impression and knowledge obtained from the external factors reside.
  • Vigyanamayakosha – The sheath of consciousness – This is the covering which is finer than the mind, where intelligence, instinct and intuition are dominant
  • Anandhamayakosha – The sheath of bliss – This is the transcendental body which is beyond reason and logic. This is where the subtle ego resides, on breaking which the self is realized.

Through the five fingers that represent the five sheaths, we reach the palm which represents the Self. When we clasp both the hands and greet, we say that I greet your real self from with my real self. Beyond these sheaths all of us are Gods and hence, we greet our fellow beings just as we greet our Gods.”

This purest for of greeting had however lost its significance with all these politicians blindly greeting the rising their clasped hands at the vote banks. This traditional way of greeting only exists during the marriages and at other domestic functions. The mere understanding will help us appreciate the divinity of our being, the profoundness and virtue of these practices and save them as treasures for the generations to come.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dream for a better world

Recently, there was a question posted in Yahoo Answers and the answers were supposed to be shared with Paulo Coelho. It is a question that all of us ask ourselves time and again.

Here is the question –

How would the world be different if people began to follow their own dreams?

Can following your dreams make the world a better place?

My answer to it was “Depends on what we dream of. Dream is the reflection of the impressions and inhibitions of an individual. The ultimate goal of life is to shed these impressions, so that the soul is purified. Then the individual will know his/her Self is just a microcosm of the whole existence and the whole existence is the macrocosm of the self. At this state, if the individual dreams, it is as if he/she is dreaming for the world and if it materializes, then would make this world a better place. In the relative plane of existence, we as individuals cannot have a shared vision and a common goal. But, in the real plane, which is beyond all the sheaths covering us, we are all one and the same pure existence and the dream would be an orchestration towards materializing a symphony that would make this world a better place.” When I read it now, it looks like a weird answer!

What would be yours?

Click the below link to download a best collection of parables and short stories from around the world. These were selected and compiled by Paulo Coelho so that it can be circulated to everyone as a gift. So, here is a gift for you from Paulo – Click Here

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Eleven Minutes

I developed instant liking for the works of Paulo Coelho when I read “The Alchemist”. It is a fairy tale about listening to our hearts and following our dreams. His books haunted me for the next few months one following the other. “The Pilgrimage” - an outcome of Paulo’s 500-mile journey on the Road to Santiago, an ancient Spanish pilgrimage; “The Zahir” - journey of a man obsessed with finding his wife who left him without an explanation; “Warrior of the Light: A Manual”- an inspirational manual with short passages to help being a warrior to become what one wants to be; By the river Piedra I sat down and wept - , love and passion transcending to eternity.

With no intention to work and to go around to see people and places, this weekend, I decided to finish his next book in my list, “Eleven Minutes”. What does it take just eleven minutes to accomplish, but still is the very source of life. Yeah, you got it! Love making, act of sex, intercourse, copulation, mating, whatever you call, it all means the same. There is a book by Irving Wallace that runs around the censorship of a book called “Seven Minutes” that deals with sex. Though Wallace was very conservative in estimating the time involved, Paulo has allocated a reasonable lapse of time. I cannot certify the authenticity of the lapse time, as I have never tried it with a stop watch! With the partial and fragmentary knowledge acquired when I was a teen, I can state that, it is relative based on various factors love, passion, reverence, involvement, compatibility, breath,.. Let me stop here and discuss the book.

The book starts like “Once upon a time there was a prostitute called Maria. Wait a minute. “Once upon a time” is how all the children’s story begin and “prostitute” is a word for the adults. How can I start a book with this apparent contradiction? But since, every moment of our lives, we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss, let’s keep the same beginning. Once upon a time there was a prostitute called Maria. Like all prostitutes, she was born innocent and as a virgin………..” Is it tempting you to start the book right away? Here are some excerpts I loved in this book.

“The roller coaster is my life; life is a fast, dizzying game; life is a parachute jump; it’s taking chances, falling over and getting up again; it is mountaineering; wanting to get to the very top of yourself and to feel angry and dissatisfied when you don’t manage it.”

“Honor, Dignity, Self-respect. Although, when I think about it, I’ve never had any of those things. I didn’t ask to be born, I’ve never found anyone to love me, I’ve always made wrong decisions – now I’m letting my life decide for me”

Further, the book narrates the bitter and adventurous experiences of Maria. The way she plays the role of either an Innocent Girl or Femme Fatale or Understanding Mother based on the customer’s mind set; her love with Ralf Hart, the artist who discovers the light in her; her conversations with Heidi, the librarian who had led a hypocritical life; transcending pain, suffering and pleasure, the sacred prostitution and more. At the end of every chapter, there is an excerpt from her diary, which is sure to impregnate reader's mind. The book is based on the real life and experiences of people. If you like reading books, don't miss Eleven Minutes.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Happy Republic Day

Republic day and Independence are the two days that would curb us of our freedom and independence during our school days, at least from a month in advance, preparing and rehearsing for the parade. The resting afternoons were spent in the strenuous physical activity in the hot sun of Amaravathi, rehearsing the march, salutes, shouting commands, punishments, sometimes carrying a rifle over the head. The dreamy nights were spent in ironing the uniform, polishing and shinning the shoes, belt buckles, shoulder badges, beret emblem, so that the officer would be able see his face on our shoes or the metal badges ab buckles. All this was always accompanied with a joy of being able to play pranks at the officers who wouldn’t know Tamil, being part of a house and the house-spirit that made the cadets of each house excel to prove they are worth the Cock (a trophy).

All these, coupled by the pride of being an Amaravian and an Indian gives me a reason to cherish and celebrate this day, that too when a greatness like Abdul Kalam is the President. Happy Republic Day!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Work from home

A great benefit that technology has offered us as a boon is the option to work from home. Such an arrangement would have been unacceptable 5 years before and that too in India, even now it is not a common practice. This may be because of various reasons like immaturity of the employer and the employee, failing to establish a shared goal and a common vision, unwillingness to take responsibility and commitment, lack of mutual trust, etc. In the western world, flexi-hour work, freedom from the cubical, fun at work and all such factors that would turn work into gratification for the employee and enhanced productivity for the employee has become a commonality. This mutual benefit comes from freedom that the employee experiences which makes him more creative, innovative and be focused on what had been assigned to them. Now, I understand why I get so excited when it snows too much forcing me to work from home. Let the vitual offices at home grow and the children get all the warmth that the very presence of their parents would give them.

What do you think?

Here is an interesting column that inspired me post on work from home.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The city of Brahman

Upanishads are the greatest source of knowledge and the essence through which the supremacy of humanity is revealed. Essentially, the upanishads form the knowledge part of the Vedas. Hence, without Upanishads, Vedas are just manuals of doctrinces, dogmas, details and the unessentials. There are 108 Upanishads in total and some like Chandogya Upanishad, Isa Upanishad, Mundakha Upanishad, Kena Upanishad are considered to be the key ones. Chandogya and Mundakha Updanishads are my favourite ones, for they help feel the supremacy and the profoundness of the self. The following leaflet formed a part of my marriage invitation and most thought I'm weird. My be I'm. My intention was to share this piece, so that they can appreciate themselves for being the Brahman. Are we not Brahmans? Why do we seek the Brahman everywhere, when we ourselves are one?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Triple Play

The dramatic increase of broadband Internet access in the domestic consumer sector, the communication and multimedia entertainment options, changing communication and entertainment preferences, explosion of new multifunctional consumer electronic devices, shift of use in case of current consumer electronic devices, competent availability of offerings from the operators, service providers and content providers, promising wireless access technologies like WiMax turning the hot spots into hot zones, healthy per capita income and affordability, fast emerging digital homes .. all this and more pave a strong foundation for Triple Play – the voice, video, data services.

Triple Play essentially empowers the people at home to play an interactive fun-filled online game through the Desktop that is wired (Ethernet) , working from home and attending a web conference through a wirelessly connected laptop (WiFi or WiMax) , watching the favorite live TV program (Set-top Box) or demanding a past episode of a favorite program (IPTV) , calling their friends and family on the other side of the globe for nothing (WiFi or WiMax Phone) , calling the grocery store for a carton of milk (Analog Phone), receiving a call or an SMS or MMS in the cell phone, listening to the favorite music (Media Center), all this through a single connection (Residential Gateway), paying a single bill, dealing with a single service provider, through a single cable.

With so many services being packaged into a single offering are sometimes refered to as Multiplay. But, I still like it to be called Triple Play for its rhythm for it sounds good when pronounced. Give it a try. Say it loud!

Triple Play also demands a tightly knit interoperability of various players in the communication and IT industry. The telecom operators, services providers, network vendors and enablers, system integrators, content providers and all other players would end up establishing a common platform creating and end-to-end Triple Play service delivery Architecture to serve the consumers competently, there by, positioning themselves to maximum capitalize the latent potentials of Triple Play minimizing their CAPEX / OPEX and maximizing their ARPU.

Though major players like Microsoft, 2-Wire, Motorola, Alcatel-Lucent , Verizon, Comcast, Siemens, MTNL, Reliance Infocomm, Bharti Televentures having already launched Triple Play and are chasing each other to reach the market, the race is still on. Hope 2007 will bridge the digital divide and turn the Triple Play dream a reality.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mind - the multi-channel TV

I remember Sri Sri Ravishankar in one of his satsangs quoting that, most of us let our minds become a 100 channel television. I was able to relate his quote to my mind and it has become more synonymous with the recent advancements in television technology like Plasma TV, HDTV, IPTV and more. The mind surfs so fast that, sometimes we see only the advertisements being broadcasted in all the channels. Interesting ads targeted at acquiring this, possessing that, fulfilling dreams, satisfying expectations, saving big bucks, improving credit history, consolidating debts, relishing the delicious caviar, owning the whole world and more, all without shouldering any responsibility and making an effort.

Then it stops at a technology channel to grasp a few things that might help blabber in today’s meeting. Jumps in to a sport channel manifesting itself into a Sachin or Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan for it appears to be the only way to shelve the frustrations of not being able to be a part of the school team or the college team. The Discovery Channel or the Animal Planet is the next jump, hoping to gain knowledge on mother earth, swearing to become an active member of Green Peace or Blue Cross, and then jumps back to the technology channel. Happy home coming turns out to be the SUN TV mega serial only with the exception of Pogo TV or M TV that is visited in between. With all this in a day, Adult channels are not spared. Finally, settles in spiritual channel that lets the rest of the channels to pour into it, so that the TV can be shut down in the night.

Sometimes, the channels run day and night. Many a times, multiple channels run simultaneously. A thriller movie, an action movie, a music channel, a sports channel, a financial channel, an adult movie and a spirituality movie, all running at the same time, is when is confusion. Migrating to IPTV, I believe, would o ffer video-on-demand, enabling me to opt the right channel at the right time, like the good old poem -

A time to be born and a time to die;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;

A time to mourn and a time to dance;

A time to embrace, and a time to refrain;

A time to loose, and a time to win;

A time to rend, and a time to sew;

A time of war, and a time of peace.

Life moves fast. It rushes us from heaven to hell in a matter of seconds, turning our minds into a multicasting television. Opting to be an IPTV is wise in a life where pain being inevitable and suffering being optional with video-on-demand.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A trip to Bloomington

Though I was not able to snatch some time to visit my friend during my last visit, I made it this time on this long weekend, Monday being Martin Luther King’s Birthday. I saw people wonder having a civil rights leader’s birthday as holiday while there is no holiday for George Washington’s Birthday or Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday. Anyway, this is for the politicians and the vote banks to worry about.

I had to dodge many bullets and had to leave the office early on Friday for the fear of being caught in project meetings or activities that might surprisingly pop-up. I joined Satish on the 3 hour drive from Palatine to Bloomington. Sita, Satish’s friend had feast of aromatic tomato rasam and hot chilly shrimp fry ready for us when we arrived at 8:30 PM. Then my friend picked me up an hour later.

Saturday morning was mostly spent on playing with Peggy, who is 7 years old and Sahana, 3 years old. They became friends instantly and were teaching me various games line UNO Cards, Trade, Hide and Seek etc.

The only technique to become a natural friend of kids is to be natural.

- Pay attention
- Make sure they know you are paying attention
- Become a kid and respond as if you are of their age – bridge the gap.
- Learn and do what they teach
- Play the game their way, even if it's wrong. All that they are interested in is “My Turn to throw the dice” “Your turn to throw the dice” “I have won” “You have won” etc
- Play aggressively and genuinely
- Don’t excel, but make them excel in the game
- Acknowledge their victory and greet them

Afternoon we went to a house for a class on Vedic chanting. The class started with the chanting in praise of Lord Ganesh followed by the prayers for Dakshinamoorthi, Shiva, Vishnu, Rama, Krishna, Hanuman, Saraswathi, Lakshmi, Durga and Muruga. There were 5 kids attending the class and the master was dumbfounded by the flurry of questions shot at him.

Some interesting questions were

- Why Ganesh has an elephant face?
- If his real face was replaced by an elephant’s head, what happened to the elephant? Did they kill the elephant?
- What does each of the God offer?
- If Lakshmi can give wealth, will she give me lots of gold?

Though the purpose of the class was to make them pronounce complex Sanskrit words and to reap the benefits of the pranic breathing through the chanting of words, their incessant questions prolonged the class and questioned the patience of the master and the parents.

Evening we went around Bloomington shopping, picked some movies and slept after watching 2 movies.

Sunday was again spent on more games and TV. I was fascinated to watch Walt Disney’s Cindrella Part 3 and Ice Age Part 2. Peggy and Sahana were told that, I will be leaving the next day morning. I was looking through the photographs of the various stages of their newly built house and the house warming ceremony in the upstairs. It was fascinating to see how quickly the house was built. The foundation and the flooring were the only aspects in which concrete had been used. Everything was in readily available boards of wood and the structural design has given the strength to withstand any stress. My friend has given enough thoughts to make it more Indian than the usual bland American interior design.

Peggy quietly sneaked into the room and handed me a piece of paper with a sketch of Olive leaves he has drawn, followed by Sahana handing me a piece of paper with a crayon sketch and told me that it’s their gift. I was elated and blissful for they have taken me to my childhood days.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Movies turn interesting when Manirathnam is back in action. With his Guru releaing worldwide today, it's hard keep the senses indulging in movies and music. A stunning performance by Abhishek, Aishwarya Rai, Madhavan and Mithun, the enthralling music of A.R. Rehman, the breathtaking panoramic, yet down to earth cinematography of Rajeev Menon, tantalizing choreography of Saroj Khan and Brindha - what else to expect from a movie? A.R.Rehman's solo "Jaage hain der tak hamein" kindles the soul, mesmerizing the mind to chant it as if it is a mantra.

Catch the glimpses at the official website of Guru

Happy New Year

Though belated,
Let this bright new year let you all
To live each day with zest
To daily grow and try to be
Your highest and your best!

New Year is an opportunity for everyone to be reborn and hence is the Birthday of everyone. With Pranav and Shri Naagu's ( Smiling in a big way) just born twin brothers just entering the world, New Year was a real celebration.