Archive for the ‘Story’ Category

A point to ponder: Getting the priorities right!

April 22, 2011

Basics of life are obvious but hardly noticed till it is too late. A little care, a little attention towards self can go along way in making life truly better


The famous speech of Swami Vivekananda

January 17, 2011

Jatilo mundee lunchhitakesah, Kaashaayaambara Bahukritaveshah
Pasyannapi cha na pasyati moodho-Hyudaranimittam Bahukritaveshah

Just as cautioned by Sankaraacharya in Bhaja Govindam, plenty are those who adopt an ascetic form with matted locks, shaven head, dressed in saffron clothes, etc purely for a livelihood. They may appear to know the absolute but they truly don’t. These turn out to be disguises and deceptions for getting their own desires. (It is not so much the external appearances but rather the internal state that matters)

It reminds me a zen story which I heard long back which goes:

One day there was an earthquake, so hard that even many of the monks were terrified. Master took all monks to a safe place, the strongest part of the temple. After a while, the earthquake stopped and peace was back. Then, the master explained how he as a master has demonstrated how to avoid panic and stay cool even in the face of adversity. Yet, he admitted that situation was so grim he had to drink a large glass of water before he himself could regain poise. One of the monks smiled, and said: “That wasn’t water, Sir,  but a large glass of soya sauce.”

Quite relevant is words of Lord Krishna in Bhagavat Gita which goes as below:

Karmendriyaani Samyamya Yah-Aasthe Manasaa Smaran

Indriyaarthan Vimoodhaatma Middhyaachara Sah Uchyate

The one who claims/attempts to control his senses without control on the mind (which drive these senses), he is a fool who confuses himself and is only a pretender

In such context, it is hard to find a true leader, a true master, a true Guru

I came to know of Swami Vivekananda as I read out stories about him to my grandfather in childhood. He inspired me then, and he inspires me still. I read about his speech from The World’s Parliament of Religions 1893 and I am hearing it now.

I am glad that technology preserved it for us to hear it even after a century has gone by

Salute to a true Guru!

Naranathu Branthan, and Karma Yoga

December 7, 2010

I had heard the story of Naranath Branthan, a legend from folklores of Kerala, during my childhood days.

Naranath Branthan was known to be a strange man who works hard entire day, everyday, pushing a big rock to the top of a hill. The rock was so hard, and the hill was too steep that even as he pushes the rock up, it slips down a few steps. Yet when he reaches the top eventually, he rolls it down laughing, he himself coming down with it at times

This story is somewhat similar to that of Sisyphus of Roman mythology. Key difference here is that action was not imposed as punishment as in the case of Sisyphus but rather an act of his own will.

This act looked ridiculous to onlookers, and they called him mad (Branthan), unaware of the message behind this apparently meaningless act. Popular interpretation of this strange behavior is that he is making fun of mundane human life wherein we work hard day long in the hope of a bright future, without being conscious of death which is ever too close. Though I have heard this interpretation quite many times, I could never reconcile to it. I consider it as a defeatist argument.

I believe in human spirit and human effort. I believe in compassion without which philosophy, and even life itself, is meaningless. I think the conventional interpretation misses a fundamental point. A point that life is vibrant spirit. A spirit of awareness. A spirit of pure consciousness. A consciousness full of benevolence and compassion.

Notice that, what Naranath Branthan has done is not to idle his time away or preach but rather act. He has taken up a goal which is hard to achieve, evertday, and work hard to achieve the goal no matter how formidable it looks. Once it is achieved, it is history and, therefore, leave it behind and move to the next goal.

The real problem in life is that we are dragged down by memories from the past and bogged down by fears about the future. What we need to renounce are these baggages, not actions, and live everyday with new life of its own. Live everyday setting new goals and working diligently towards it. A simple recipte for success in everyday life just as modern self-development books and programs suggest, right?

Death is an ever present reality; so what? What we see as truth is not, so what? Goals that we work for every day is transcient, so what? I think the whole point is not to unduly worry about, or be concerned about these, and to live the moment NOW in its full glory.

Live the moment with self-belief and conviction in what we stand for. All great achievers be it Sankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda, Gandhiji, Thomas Alva Edison, Albert Einstein, etc have done just that

Essence of Ashtavakra Gita – Chapter XI

November 19, 2010

World around, and everything in it, as we see would change (hard to accept sometime but that is a fact; change is the only constant!) because change is its very nature. (What is perceived as) fortune and misfortunate, pleasure and pain, birth and death happens. (There is nothing, seriously, anyone can do about these. It may be hard to accept , and many have tried to sugarcoat it. Yet the fact is world around does not go by your dictates or wishes).

(When you hold on to anything, there is subjective perception and it hurts sooner or later). Do not hold on to anything. Realize that neither you are the body nor you have a body. Then, for you, everything becomes a simple experience of a pure consciousness, pure awareness.

Cosmic beauty reveals itself as a realization. Realization of God, and that God created the world and everything in it. Everything that we perceive, including God, is only a perception. The only reality is self.

There is nothing to gain or lose. There is nothing to be happy or sad, There nothing to do or not to do. (It does not mean inaction. It is, in fact, the most powerful form of action)

These reminds me of a zen story that I heard sometime back which goes as follows:
Once upon a time, a someone approached Zen master and asked him to write something for his family to keep for years to come.

Master wrote: “Father dies, son dies, grandson dies.”

The man became very angry asked the master: “I wanted you to write something good for my family. Why have written something so bad?”

Master replied: “If your son die before you die, it would be very sad experience for your family. Again, if your grandson die before your son, that would also be very sad. Everyone has to die one day or other. If everyone in your family die in the order that I described, for generations after generations, then that is a natural order of life. That, in itself, is a reason for being happy. If it does not, it is unfortunate”

Words of wisdom: Great men are rare (and hence precious), like genuine gems

October 22, 2010

How one leads one own life is, very much, a matter of individual’s choice. There may be some who would argue that  life is is a mere existence; something that one needs to enjoy and/or endure?

I wonder, what is the difference between a man’s life and that of a beast. Rather, I consider the life of a beast better than that of such a life

I am reminded of a famous quote from Karl Marx which goes as: …a bee puts to shame many an architect in the construction of her cells. But what distinguishes the worst of architects from the best of bees is this, that the architect raises his structure in imagination before he erects it in reality

That translates to me in the context as : man’s life and his works are not mere existence but rather a conscious experience and intentional creation.

Aahaaranidraabhayamaithunam Cha


Dharmohi Teshhaamadhiko Visheshho

Dharmena Hiinaah Pashubhih Samaanaah

Eating, sleeping, sex etc are all common to both animals and humans; what is special about men is their consciousness (of what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is not). A man devoid of such a consciousness is comparable to a beast.

Successful life has both an element of responsibility as well as fun; a responsibility to self and the world around.

People who are able to combine both, and get true life experience, effectively are rare. No wonder, it is said:

Saile Saile Na Maanikyam Mauktikam Na Gaje Gaje

Saadhavo Na Hi Sarvatra Chandanam Na Vane Vane

Precious stones are not in every mountain, Diamond is not on every elephant, Good people are not everywhere and Sandalwood is not in every forest

But, fortunately for us, they are lost in the archives of time. They are very much amongst us, if only we care to look around. They serve as our role models and guiding light.  Here is one such example from the thick of action:

Determined effort can work wonders!

October 19, 2010

Unexpected, unfortunate turn of events happen in every one’s life, some time or other.  How you act or react, when chips are down, shows your true character.

I am reminded of a zen story that I heard some time back. It goes somewhat like this:

An arrogant man came to meet a zen master.

Visitor was too proud of himself. He requested zen master to comment on his true nature, expecting the zen master to acknowledge his piety. To his surprise, zen master kept mum.

Silence made him feel slighted and, angry at the insult, he drew out the sword threatening the zen master. The zen master smiled now, and said ‘this shows your true nature

Faced with adversities, some withdraws into inaction, or worse depression (I am not OK, you are OK types).

Some reacts violently, putting blame on others (I am OK, you are not OK types). This antagonizes people  and end up making them your enemies. Putting blame on others, in any case,  is not going to get you out of the mess. Often, inaction or impulsive reaction inflicts more damage than the actual disaster  itself.

Only a few (I am OK, you are OK types) shows the strength of character to do the right thing. That is, set a goal and work towards diligently, and only that can get you out of the mess; no matter whether mess was your own creation or pushed onto you. Determined effort can actually work wonders!

Remember, self-defence is a duty to yourself. But, do watch out against your actions getting vengeful,  colored by emotion

Idam Na Mama

September 29, 2010

I heard a story about Ramana Maharishi which goes like this: One of his disciples came to him one day and exclaimed that he saw God. Ramana Maharishi asked this disciple who was there before the God became visible, who was there after….It appears to me that the suggestion is to seek the observer within

Despite all invocations against the great illusions of life, I prefer the living in the thick of it all. Despite all cautions against susceptibility of human mind, I love its pleasures and pangs

Oru Thaarakaye Kaanumbol Athu Raavu Marakkum
Puthumazha Kaanke Varalcha Marakkum
Paalchiri Kandathu Mrithiye Marannu , Sukhiche Pokum

Words roughly translating to mean:
Forgets darkness of night in the beauty of even a lone star
Forgets droughts in the glory of rain
Forgets death on innocent smile of a child

Courtsey: Poet Sugathakumari

Mind defines, and defines subjectively. Mind presents the world through veil of definitions. Mind colors the observation of reality .

Beyond the veil, within me, is Sat-vic observer observing Rajas-vic do-er:

Lessons from history

September 7, 2010

This is in response to a discussion in Google Buzz on ‘what in life will keep you happy and satisfied forever as an individual?‘.

Can any thing achievable make any one happy and satisfied for ever? I doubt. happiness and satisfaction as states of mind based on some possessions can be but momentary, given the fickle nature of mind. Anything achievable implies that it is not with you now and hence external to you. What is external to you must be lost either from possession or in value, or both, just as it is achieved. Therefore, any feeling attributed achievement of anything external to you cannot stay with you for ever.

I am reminded of the famous anecdote about Alexander the Great.. Story goes like: Alexander had set out to conquer the work; towards end of his life, it is said that he instructed his people to put my hands outside his coffin; that is, he is leaving behind all his acquisitions.

Let me clarify lest I get misinterpreted. I am not vouching on authenticity of the story but seems plausible. I am not denouncing worldly materialistic achievements either. I respect every human effort behind every accomplishments in the world. I respect the human spirit that make things happen. I salute the indomitable spirit of Alexander, the great Macedonian King. I believe, what he achieved (what is that? may be, I shall write on my perspective on that at some other time) was far greater than what he sought to.

My reading of history tells me that he hardly ruled over the vast area that he conquered, in a true sense. Whatever he has done, was it right or wrong? Was he successful or not? I am not venturing into all that because I do not think it is right. I believe, every individual must choose their life and no one else has any right to comment on it.

I do not subscribe to the theory that every thing is Maya (a great illusion) and one should strive to get out of it. Yes, I accept the illusion and I prefer to live it, enjoy it, rather than running away from it.

What I am trying to practice, and advocate, is a holistic perspective. When what you do, what you work for, what you achieve is in sync with the person that you are, life is a great experience. Follow the role models of Maryadapurushotham Ram, Playful Krishna, benevolent Christ, …. but seek within to know yourself, choose a life in accordance with that, work for betterment of self, those around you and the world at large; let your actions be guided, and powered, by the force within.

Happiness and satisfaction if you find within self, and in the moment NOW (not attributed to anything external), shall stay with you.

Bandhura Kaanchana Koottilaanenkilum Bandhanam Bandhanam Thanne Paaril (Cage is a cage even if cage is made of gold)

Selflessness vs selfishness

August 5, 2010

I had heard a story from my philosopher-mentor Dr. Amiya Baran Saha long ago. It is a simple story but it jolted me out of one of social conditioning that was restraining me. Story goes like this:

There was child returning home after having completed his education. On reaching home, he was eager to share his knowledge with his father. His father was going out, and asked the child to wait till he returns.

Child waited and waited; waited without taking food as pride and excitement of his learning was overwhelming. But, days later when father returned, the child was so weak that he could not narrate anything to his father.

Advice from father, in this context, was ‘taking care of oneself is the primary duty and responsibility’.

Brought up in a world, selflessness is hailed as a virtue and selfishness is denounced as a evil, this story jolted me out into a new realization.

Taking care of oneself is a basic instinct for any living being. No one need to teach a new born baby that it needs to take care of its own interest. It cries when it is hungry, it cries when it is hurt, …. well, that is all it can do at that stage. Wherewithal to take care of its interest is beyond the child but demanding is within its control. It does what it can.

Man is a living being which adapts itself to the environment around it, and society forms the major part of the environment. It amounts to accepting there are many others like us and we need to balance our interest with that of others to live in harmony. All social institutions are build on this balancing act.

When the self interest is continuously suppressed, it becomes a case of hypocrisy, putting up a happy face burning deep within. Promoting self interest to the exclusion of everything else leads to creating more problems than one can manage, and thereby self defeating. It is a case of dynamic balancing of personal and political space , rather than accepting one to the exclusion of the other.

It’s elementary, my dear Watson

Layers of intricate details in life, and Mahabharata

July 25, 2010

I am fascinated by Mahabharata, ever since my childhood, and fascination is only increasing as times goes by.

I have seen the best of ideology, philosophy, story, movie, etc that I came across taking a perspective on life; the closer to life, the more appealing. But, typically, it amounts to projecting multidimensional life to one dimension.

I have not yet come across anything even closer to Mahabharata in capturing layers of intricate details in life. Therefore, time and again, as I seek to understand life better, I get back to Mahabharata