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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The symbolic meaning of the form of Lord ganesha

The symbolic meaning of the form of Lord ganesha has been very well explained in this article The image of Ganesh and its meaning 
By Kishore Asthana, TNN 
The Economic Times 
September 3, 2008 

View image here: 
An elephant's trunk has the strength to uproot a tree as well as the 
finesse to pick up a needle. Ganesh's trunk symbolises the fact that 
the wise person has both immense strength and fine discrimination. 

Ganesh has large ears. The wise person hears all. He has four hands. 
In one hand he holds a lotus, the symbol of enlightenment . In the 
other hand he holds a hatchet. That is, the old karma-- all your 
sanskaras, the accumulated good and bad of past deeds -- get cut when 
enlightenment comes. 

The third hand holds laddoos, the round sweet-meats. They are the 
rewards of a wise life. Ganesh is never shown eating the laddus. The 
wise man never partakes of the rewards of his deeds. He is not 
attached to them. The fourth hand is shown blessing the people. The 
wise man wishes the best for everyone. 

Ganesh has only one tusk; the other is shown broken. There is an 
interesting story as to how Ganesh happened to get an elephant's head 
and how one tusk got broken. The symbolism of the broken tusk is that 
the wise person is beyond duality. 

We tend to think that we end when our bodies end in the material 
world. We are the first person. All else is different. This duality 
is created by the mind which creates the ego to help us survive in 
this world. This 'me-other' duality is the screen keeping us from 
realising our real Self, which is beyond body and mind. 

Once we transcend this duality, we see the entire Universe as a 
single whole and we become aware of our true Selves. The single tusk 
of Ganesh symbolises this non-duality. Wisdom allows us to see all as 
one and ourselves an integral part of the whole. 

Ganesh is shown sitting with one foot on the ground and the other 
resting on his knee, above the ground. The wise person is of this 
earth, yet not entirely of this earth. 

Ganesh is shown seated on a rat. The reason for saying that Ganesh 
'rides' on the rat is that the rat is among the greediest of all 
animals. It will keep nibbling at whatever is available, eating 
everything it can. 

Scientifically, too, the rat's teeth keep growing and it has to keep 
chewing on something to keep these within limits. The rat is a symbol 
of our senses, which are never satisfied. They crave new experiences, 
new tastes. Left uncontrolled, they keep growing forever. The wise 
person rides on his senses. He keeps them under control. 

Ganesh is often shown seated in front of a tray of sweets. In these 
images the rat is shown sitting in front of Ganesh, perhaps a bit to 
one side, looking up at him. The senses of the wise person are under 
his control and the rat dare not eat the sweets without the 
permission of Ganesh. 

Ganesh is the son of Shiv and Parvati, the God governing the life- 
force and the earthmother. This symbolises the spirit and body of the 
wise person. Finally, the wise person has the dignity of an elephant. 

When we say "Aum Ganeshaye Namah" before starting anything what we 
are saying is that "In what we are about to do, let wisdom be our 
guide". In a sense, Ganesh is our most powerful god, and he is 
usually remembered before starting any rituals for other deities. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Plastic for pickles

Plastic for pickles may not be okay. Please avoid if you can. There is no research to substantiate any claim yet. However, pickles are highly acidic, and caution is called for.

Pickles are mostly made from citrus-containing fruits such as young mango, lemon, ginger, etc. Acidic substances tend to interact with plastics. Low quality plastics, after a time period, start leaking a substance called phthalates (compound of phthalic acid) into the food. Phthalates are being investigated for several health issues, including infertility. Young children today start on plastic bottled drinks and water very early in age. There is no saying what the effects will be - perhaps we will see it in years to come. THE EFFECTS ARE STILL BEING STUDIED BY SEVERAL RESEARCH AGENCIES, AMONG THEM THE FDA OF THE US. Harvard Medical journals say the FDA has not found any phthalates in plastic bottles since the 1980s. However, a lot of the plastic bottles thrown in the developed world have been making their way through the "recycling" program to third world countries.

Please read the attachments here for more information from the internet on phthalates. Not to mention the harmful environment effects such as the Pacific Garbage patch.

Don't just save yourselves and your children, but save the environment too. Use "jhaadis" or "bharanis" or "kachhattis" or steel or glass or ceramics in the house. Feed young babies with "kokurnams". Avoid plastic spoons in liquids. Use steel, just like our earlier generation did. buy the more expensive steel bottles for water in the fridge. Or use glass bottles. (You will notice that the water is in fact tastier! Test it for yourself.)

If you have to use plastic, use it for dry storage, and avoid microwaving in them to be safer.

Say NO to plastics of all kinds if you want to be more cautious and health-conscious. Set a tradition now!

2 of 2 File(s)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Europe in economic crisis?

Europe in economic crisis? Iceland was right, we were wrong -- The IMF.

This is a lesson for India too which together with China accounted for 50% of the world GDP in 1700. To redeem the 1700 status, India should refuse to follow the IMF diktats of impoverishing the poor and encouraging the Participatory Note holders, hawala traders and holders of black money. Ensure restitution of illicit wealth held in banks abroad (tax havens), encourage family bonds to take care of school loans, social security pensions and health care costs. Get the government off the backs of the people.

Iceland Was Right, We Were Wrong: The IMF

Jeff Nielson
08/15/12 - 03:14 PM EDT

VANCOUVER (Silver Gold Bull) -- For approximately three years, our governments, the banking cabal, and the Corporate Media have assured us that they knew the appropriate approach for fixing the economies that they had previously crippled with their own mismanagement. We were told that the key was to stomp on the Little People with "austerity" in order to continue making full interest payments to the Bond Parasites -- at any/all costs.

Following three years of this continuous, uninterrupted failure, Greece has already defaulted on 75% of its debts, and its economy is totally destroyed. The UK, Spain and Italy are all plummeting downward in suicide-spirals, where the more austerity these sadistic governments inflict upon their own people the worse their debt/deficit problems get. Ireland and Portugal are nearly in the same position.

Now in what may be the greatest economic "mea culpa" in history, we have the media admitting that this government/banking/propaganda-machine troika has been wrong all along. They have been forced to acknowledge that Iceland's approach to economic triage was the correct approach right from the beginning.

What was Iceland's approach? To do the exact opposite of everything the bankers running our own economies told us to do. The bankers (naturally) told us that we needed to bail out the criminal Big Banks, at taxpayer expense (they were Too Big To Fail). Iceland gave the banksters nothing.

The bankers told us that no amount of suffering (for the Little People) was too great in order to make sure that the Bond Parasites got paid at 100 cents on the dollar. Iceland told the Bond Parasites they would get what was left over, after the people had been taken care of (by their own government).

The bankers told us that our governments could no longer afford the same education, health care and pension systems which our parents had taken for granted. Iceland told the bankers that what the country could no longer afford was to continue to be blood-sucked by the worst financial criminals in the history of our species. Now, after three-plus years of this absolute dichotomy in economic policymaking, a clear picture has emerged (despite the best efforts of the propaganda machine to hide the truth).

In typical fashion, the moment that the Corporate Media is forced to admit that it has been serially misinforming us for the past several years; the Revisionists are immediately deployed to rewrite history, as shown in this Bloomberg Businessweekexcerpt:

...the island's approach to its rescue led to a "surprisingly" strong recovery, the International Monetary Fund's mission chief to the country said.
In fact, from the moment the Crash of '08 was orchestrated and our morally bankrupt governments began executing the plans of the bankers, I have written that the only rational strategy was to put People before Parasites. While I wouldn't expect national policymakers to take their cues from my writing, when I wrote out my economic prescriptions for our economies I didn't base my views on compassion, or simply "doing the right thing."

Rather, I have consistently argued that it was a matter of simple arithmetic and the most-elementary principles of economics that "the Iceland approach" was the only strategy which could possibly succeed. When Plutarch wrote 2,000 years ago "an imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all Republics," he was not parroting socialist dogma (1,500 years before the birth of Socialism).

Plutarch was simply expressing the First Principle of economics; something on which all of the modern capitalist economists who followed in his footsteps have based their own theories. When modern economists produce their own jargon, such as the Marginal Propensity to Consume; it is squarely based on the wisdom of Plutarch: that an economy will always be healthierwith its wealth in the hands of the poor and the Middle Class instead of being hoarded by rich misers (and gamblers).

So when the Bloomberg Revisionists attempt to convince us that Iceland's strong (and real) economic recovery was a "surprise"; this could only be true if none of our governments, none of the bankers and none of the media's precious "experts" understood the most-elementary principles of arithmetic and economics. Is this the message the media wants to convey?

What is even more disingenuous here is the congratulatory tone in this exercise in Revisionism, since nothing could be further from the truth. As I detailed in a four-part series one year ago, the campaign of "economic rape" perpetrated against the governments of Europe over the past two and half years (in particular) has been expressly designed to take away "the Iceland option" for Europe's other governments.

One of the reasons for Iceland being able to escape the choke-hold of the Western banking cabal is that its economy (and its people) still retained enough residual prosperity to tough it out -- as the banking cabal tried to strangle Iceland's economy as retribution for rejecting their Debt Slavery.

Thus, austerity has been nothing less than a deliberate campaign to destroy these European economies so that the Slaves would be too economically weak to be able to sever their own choke-holds. Mission accomplished!

One can only assume that neither the Corporate Media nor their Banker Masters would have allowed this clear acknowledgment that Iceland was right and we were wrong to appear within its own pages, unless it felt secure in the knowledge that all the remaining Debt Slaves had been crippled beyond their capacity to ever escape this economic oppression.

Indeed, for evidence of this we need only look to Greece: the one other European nation where there had been "rumblings" (i.e. riots) aimed at toppling the Traitor Government that served the banking cabal. After two elections, the combination of fear and propaganda bullied the long-suffering Greek people into choosing another Traitor Government -- which had expressly pledged itself to reinforcing the bonds of economic slavery. When the Slaves vote for slavery, the Slave Masters can afford to gloat.

Here, the purpose of this Bloomberg propaganda was not to praise Iceland's government (when both the bankers and Corporate Media despise Iceland with all of their considerable malice). Rather, the goal of this disinformation was to manufacture a new Big Lie.

Instead of the Truth: that from Day 1 Iceland's approach was the only possible strategy which could have succeeded, while our own governments chose a strategy intended to fail; we get the Big Lie. Our Traitor Governments were acting honestly and honourably; and Iceland's success and our failure was yet another "surprise which no one could have predicted."

We saw precisely the same Revisionism following the Crash of '08 itself, where the mainstream media trotted out all their expert-shills to tell us they had been "surprised" by this economic event; while those within the precious metals sector had been predicting precisely such a cataclysm, in ever more-assertive terms, for several years.

The real message here for readers is that when an economic strategy of People before Parasites succeeds that there is nothing the least-bit "surprising" about this. As with all the remainder of the world around us, promoting the health of Parasites is only good for the Parasites themselves.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.



Every organization, especially big corporate houses function with not only many individuals with different academic and other skill sets, from a wide variety of socio cultural backgrounds etc but also multiple factors which operate and which need to be operative to ensure smooth functioning and successful growth. All these factors come into play at different points of time, they have their own impact however minimal and all they have to be acknowledged as inevitable, if not vital part of an organization.

If we choose to ignore them they will be the irritant pop up screens which will hamper overall vision of growth. Therefore, the only option we have is to juggle with all these factors based on the contextual and situational exigencies by emphasizing the preference, priority and precedence of certain factors over the rest in that particular context more in the interests of the organization rather than that of the individual’s interest either that of  the employer or employee.
We are not discussing any cadre and class as this applies to all, be it a promoter, owner, shareholder, boss, worker, watch man etc.

Let us see now what these many factors are? How they are factored in? How important each one of them is?

We are not going to discuss their actual impact as it varies from case to case.

Let us not churn out complicated theories or cram our ears with jargon laden treatises. Instead to enable everyone to remember all these factors let us come out with acronymic prose which would enable us to remember easily as a mnemonic. It is a one sentence Mantra
                                    PEACEFUL WORK PAYS TO PROMOTE GROWTH

P sychological and physical factors of every one,
E mployee Privileges,
A bilities of every one,
C onventions followed culturally and socially,
E xchanges between and among all staff,
F unctional Practices in prevalence,
U tility value of each person,
L aid down Rules and regulations,

W orkable and worthy goals,
O pportunities,
R esponsibilities of every one,
Kindness in the form of encouragement and incentives,

P rocedures and norms and
A ll these together
Y oke Duties
S uccessfully

T owards
O verall targets to

P erform
R esourcefully
O perating with
M anagement and all other staff
O ffering
T o
E nhance

G rowth either with or without group discussions and conferences
R evenue
O verall profitability
W ith
T otal team work within a perfect
H ospitable environment.

Saturday, August 18, 2012



1] Everything is a matter of context/situations.

2] We can follow all traditions in all areas of life and sometimes the rituals too but they definitely do not contain any intrinsic value nor can they always produce good, positive or even desired results. This applies to all traditions and rituals all over the world of all religions and regions.

3] We may however do it out of sympathy for satisfying the sentiments of others in society or family, or out of our own addiction to such activities or sometimes out of sheer hypocrisy and so on.

4] I can give valid examples in all areas of life to prove that these are not at all necessary starting from individual life to sports.

5] You can only squeeze your balls with traditional field placements and traditional batting styles in present day cricket for example.

6] Everything in all the universes evolves and grows only out of change or at least modifications and not by mere following of any rituals.

7] I have written a lot about these in as many subjects in my blogs, articles and ppts a small sample from one of blog write ups on Sanathan dharma

 "Everything in any process of growth is just a step, important and inevitable, but not a stop. It is so with mother’s milk [our biological aspect of life]; it is so with learning of alphabets, words and numbers [our intellectual aspect of life]; it is so with hugging, kissing and cajoling as babies [our emotional aspect of life]; it is so with our learning and understanding of different concepts [ our philosophical aspect of life]; it is so with all forms of worship, devotion and all its concomitant rituals and religious practices [ our spiritual life] and so on. This is the inherent wisdom. A normal human being has to go through a process to grow in everything or into something. There may be exceptions like a Adi shankara, or a Bhagawan Ramanamaharishi.

We can neither avoid the steps nor get struck to them. That’s why I cannot accept the snobbism of so called intellectuals parroting pet slogans like religion without rituals, god without religion or religion without gods, spiritualism without god or religion etc. In fact I have books titled in each part of the slogan." These may appeal to youth so strongly that they may end up not trying or learning anything. You must go through everything and throw away everything gradually.
8] Especially when we encounter certain situations in life either of our own making or due to some unknown or unforeseen factors causing some difficulties which we do not know to tackle with our existing stock of knowledge, experience etc then at such time as the Tamil proverb says, ‘EDAI THINNAL PITHAM THELIUM’ we seek out for all possible avenues to give us a solution or remedy. At such times certain things fall into place, due to the grace of supreme power, which is part of us and of which we are part and which operates irrespective of any or all your following of rituals etc
9] You may find the same underlying ideas in these PPTs especially in second one read from slide 84 to 91 and slide 98. The very first slide states certain things and then I go about elaborating philosophically on that.
10] You may all download and read   the following ppts and  pass on your comments there or to or at speakingtree fb page

4] Swami Vivekananda
 Finally either for or against we are all specializing in rationalizing rather than being rational. 


Let me make it very clear at the outset I am just placing my observations not judgments or criticisms.
1] First we need to be clear whether we want to celebrate festivals purely as social entertainments and/or as social entertainments rationalized and justified by religious, traditional, cultural or some other ethnocentric vindication. If this is the case then we can celebrate anything on any day.
2] If we are running a commercial enterprise selling some items then we can always discover and assign some significance which has an appealing USP and could be easily marketed.
3] This is where this AADI or AUDI month significance comes in where in the women folk want a long holiday from sex and also engage in nostalgic reunion with their parents. It is fine and there is nothing wrong in that but why to cut off so many healthy Neem tree branches and make life very noisy in and around all Amman Temples
4] If they are based on some astronomical phenomenon or astrological significance or astrophysical factors then we need to be very seriously working on all these factors to perfection.
5] As everything in nature these too have undergone a sea change and also we as human beings have discovered scientifically some hitherto unknown facts or unraveled mysteries. These are the inevitable positive elements of growth based on observation, enquiry, exploration etc.
6] We all know that the earth’s magnetic pole reversals though it is neither a daily nor a frequent occurrence but a gradual variations, though  probably minuscule but can have their own impacts refer and
7] In the recently conducted  Space Festival jointly conducted by NASA, ISRO, DRDO, TATA  ATOMIC RESEARCH CENTER etc  at Coimbatore  which attended along with my daughter last week, we attended two interesting and informative lectures by scientists from NASA as to a] Why we spend so much of money and time on Space Travels and space research and b] The Sun and us wherein he gave they spoke about the impact and importance of  changes in Solar magnetic fields every 11 years causing cycles of extreme drought and floods . In fact this as well as greater number of air accidents have been observed , attributed and  documented with astrological justifications to the Jupiter’s transition  to a particular  Zodiac sign .

8] In fact, our traditional knowledge of astrology is something much deeper and more reasonable than traditionally promoted rituals where the importance is more towards marketing and maintaining priesthood as a profession. This may be a bit harsh but inevitable survival fact, otherwise how else can anyone explain all of a sudden one particular year Jayendra Saraswathi swamy says that if women wear green colored dress that year they will be prosperous and the green sarees and churidhars sold in that year outnumbered  the total of  the same two dresses of all other colors put together.
9] This is why the celebration of Shankaranthi is important and excellent and there is nothing religious about it
10] Everything done with complete seriousness and sincerity with the rider that all the concomitant factors  both internal and external are also in tune then the desired impact can or may be expected as per the situation, context or circumstance otherwise any festival is just a celebration of some local tradition , ritual etc without any sound reason and therefore likely to fade in its importance as it has happened with our poonal and its associated activities. Former  director  of cotton research institute and internationally renowned  entomologist [ not a brahmin] once  explained  how great and good is just wearing the poonal made of a particular  cotton  with a small piece of dead deer skin held tightly near the heart and ashes made of burnt cow dung and some other materials applied as vibhuthi and standing in the sunlight at dawn and dusk, these as they are without any dilution in the process or quality of any of these along with serene and unpolluted atmosphere  accompanied by calmed mind. Are all these possible then , naturally you will not get proper result , it is like preparing veg biriyani without onion and garlic , it can at best be rice mixed with some vegetable you cannot call it veg biriyani. Besides the very important and interesting aspect of Sanathana Dharma [otherwise labeled as Hinduism] is the higher level of freedom and priority given to individual importance rather than collective folly.

11] Let us not blindly follow anyone or any authority however great or good it may be because that would be  doing a disservice to Sanathana Dharma instead  let us these in  whatever we do . There must be intrinsically important value addition to either the physical body like yoga and many other rituals.
Intrinsic value for the human mind like the philosophical and esoteric concepts available aplenty in VEDAS, UPANISHEDS, BHAGAWATH GEETHA etc some of the most popular and known text there are many more in HINDUISM, there must be intrinsic value addition to the spiritual aspect of the human being especially its soul and the many methods to realize and relink it ,i.e.relink the ATMA with the PARAMATMA [ in fact this is what the meaning of the word RELIGION itself etymologically, it is from the LATIN ‘re+ligere’ , where're' as a prefix always means ‘again’ as in redo ,return, re pair etc and 'ligère' means 'to link'] through multiple means depending on the level of perception, inspiration, inclination, impulse, interest and/or capabilities, conviction and so on.
Sanathana dharma as it is a science evolved through experiences of observations made with total intensity and intense totality by many souls it has taken into account the various frequencies at which the same thing can appeal, appear or perceived differently by different people. So it has incorporated the various methods like Manthras, Bhakthi[ manifested in various ways like songs, dances ,pujas etc] philosophical enquiry, doubting the scriptures and even denouncing the scripture or even atheistic approaches to enlighten the soul and spirit. So there are multiple forms of worships and multiple gods because all souls are not alike nor can they be assumed or treated to be alike but every soul has a right to make its spiritual journey the way it wants [It is not often our perception but the scale of observation and frames of reference which creates the phenomenon. The scale of observation depends on man; it is he who creates it. In nature, different scales of observation do not exist. There is only one immense, harmonious phenomenon on a scale which, in general, escapes man. The structure of man's brain necessitates dividing into arbitrary compartments and cutting up into isolated pieces. With the aid of several instruments science creates more phantasmagoria: "on our scale of human observation, as pointed out before, the edge of a razor-blade is a continuous line. On the microscopic scale, it is a broken but solid line. On the chemic scale we have atoms of iron and carbon. On the sub-atomic scale we have electrons in perpetual motion which travel at the rate of several thousand miles per second. All these phenomena are in reality the manifestations of the same basic phenomenon, the motions of the electrons. The only difference which exists between them is the scale of observation" [Human Destiny, Lecomte du Nuoy- a marvelous book that everyone must read – if I remember correctly this comes in 34th page I have read that book at least 8 times-

12] There must be intrinsic value addition to the environment as is manifested in not only the care and concern of all the elements but worship of all forms lives like worshiping animals and trees etc and conducting festivals to welcome the oncoming of different seasons and celebrating thanking nature as in the celebration of PONGAL There must be intrinsic value addition to social well being and social interaction with joy, greeting and kindness as is manifested in the form of many festivals and sathsanga [ gathering of individuals from various walks of life for a common prayer].
13] There must be inherent freedom for individual improvisation and aesthetic appeal in whatever you do be it art, architecture, music, dance etc. That’s why our classical music the same song can be rendered differently by different artist with multiple ways of rendering the raga alapana, kalpana swaras , sangathies etc.
So, in brief the very essence of Sanathan Dharma is humane life style with concern for all others, the environment and nature leading to a smooth, pleasant and enjoyable journey of the soul [atma] to seek its ultimate goal of spiritual enlightenment [reaching the paramathma].

14] Therefore, Sanathana dhama teaches us to lead life looking for intrinsic value in whatever we do; it teaches us to see the underlying concepts beneath every ritual; it wants us to grasp and give out substance and not gas and superficiality; it helps us to seek essence in whatever we do rather than the extraneous paraphernalia; it wants us to take cognizance of facts, however unpleasant they may be , rather than pander to hypocritical preaching of social moralistic theories or performing mumbo jumbos; it wants us to incorporate noble, important and laudable humane value like LOVE, FORGIVENESS, THANKSGIVING etc in our daily lives rather than making them into commercial shows of Calendared rituals like Forgiveness weeks, Lovers day or Thanksgiving day etc.


This was an article I wrote in THE INDIAN EXPRESS dated 26 october 1996 on Agnihotra
The article was titled ‘Was it right?’
The article ‘The importance of being in the dark’ by DR.T.Jagateesan [oct6] was interesting and informative. But I would like to share some more information about melatonin. It is produced by an enzyme on a chemical called serotonin. This serotonin has something to do with the evolution of species because primates, men and apes have more of it than other species.

Another interesting fact is that the bo-tree, the tree under which Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment, produced figs[called ficus religiosa in honour of Guathama]with serotonin content.

Schizophrenic patients are known  to have very low level of serotonin.
The two  important transitional rhythms, sunrise and sunset, which alter melatonin secretion, were probably countered by the ancient Vedic practice of Agnihotra, which involved manipulating  and managing atmosphere by injecting medicinal, mineral and nutritional ingredients through fire. Agnihotra was usually performed in a pit with copper plate or in a copper pot of an inverted semi-pyramid shape. Incidentally copper molecules are pyramid shaped. The word pyramid comes from pyre [fire] amid[the centre].

Probable some scientist can explain the scientific significance of Agnihotra, namely its ability to influence the melatonin content of the pineal glands.
In Agnihotra besides copper we have normally cowdung [which has ammonia, phenol, indol, formalin]ghee from cow’s milk[which has 18 amino acids, five vitamins, eight enzymes,25 minerals, four to five phosphorous compounds, and several nitrogenous substances] and when unbroken rice grains smeared with this ghee are poured into fire, they produce ethylene oxide, propylene oxide, formaldehyde and butapropiolactone.
Does the smoke inhaled manage to get to the pineal gland and effect any change in the melatonin secretion or does it effect any change by destroying the serotonin molecules as do LSD and mescaline.
You may also read now more advanced information on agnihotra

Friday, August 17, 2012

Carnatic music too must reinvent itself in a new Avatar

Classical Carnatic music too must reinvent itself in a new Avatar

I feel that the entire set up of caranatic music arena  needs to effect the necessary changes for better chances.


For its richness of ragas [very scientific and aesthetic sound structures] its reach is very limited.
WHO or WHAT IS TO BE BLAMED? I would say it is sticking on to tradition blindly.

 In reality carnatic music has become a December industry except for well established artists making some living at the mercy of NRIs but I doubt whether the next generation of NRIs will have either time or taste for continuing to sponsor our artists. Repetition is becoming rather too trite in Carnatic music.

Long back I wrote for a magazine saying that Sabhas have become like BCCI and the artists are at the mercy of Sabha secretaries and in the process proximity, contacts , recommendations etc rule over real merit very often. It is so unfortunate.

This great carnatic music is imbued with some intrinsic aspects and essences like the Bhakthi Oriented or Devotion based Lyrical splendor, the entire gamut of excellent ragas which stimulate not only our physical and mental aspects but even our soul's longing and takes us into a complete trance, gives adequate space for manodharma of the performer which can be vaguely translated as individual improvisation based on the artist’s imagination within the parameters of raga’s basic grammatical structure and many more such intrinsic aspects.

However, predominantly it is Bhakthi Orientation and/ or Devotion based. Whether we like it or not, unfortunately that aspect, namely Bhakthi or unqualified devotion is, if not absolutely but to a very great extent, is waning or has disappeared.

In this scenario, like many other art forms all over the world have made the leap in some cases; made the gradual transition or transformation in some cases; in some cases effected the necessary change either moderately or totally as a matter of evolution to adjust to changing situations, contexts, circumstances of life and its constantly changing demands and tastes. I think classical carnatic music too, must reinvent itself in a new avatar with more themes which are much closely and easily perceived and passionately followed by many rather than only sticking on to emphasizing on Bhakthi alone. 

I know that Carnatic music is primarily one of the best tools for devotion and deeper meditation rather than a mere entertainment based art form. That’s why when there is even a slight deficit or deterioration in its pristine quality it lacks the impact that it ought to effect on a rasika’s soul, a total perfection seeking academicians criticism, the overall spiritual and soulful impact that would stop all one’s noisy thought process and so on. This happens because artists too are after all  human beings and they too need enough money, freedom, free time etc to enjoy to their souls’ content the music that they render first and  then proceed on to share with the rest of the world their joy and communion with a higher realms of spirit. 

When the necessary attention and monetary incentives are not there, they naturally resort to venture into a totally different territory or domain, I am not saying it is right or wrong, namely the entertainment industry, whose requirements and demands are totally different from aesthetic appeal or deeper and devotional splendor or classical correctness etc.

So, once you are into entertainment industry channel then you need to adjust to that frequency by resorting to all sorts of themes, more variety which have an instant and immediate appeal, not necessarily long lasting value, and no one in the industry is bothered about such elements either.

The greatness of epics, scriptures, divine compositions, ancient architecture all over the world have their continued value for human race, they would always be the sources of inspiration, bench marks, reference manuals and much more there are like the Sun or many other stars in our galaxy and the far away galaxies always shedding light for life’s sustenance but life is also made of many passing clouds which too have their own role to play in the overall scheme of things. It all depends on what you want the Sun or the stars or passing clouds. Normal views of the eyes easily see the passing clouds but you need specially made telescopes and enhanced vision to see the Sun and spot the stars.

So if you want to plunge into entertainment industry and compete with the passing clouds, there is nothing wrong in that, then you cannot afford to be the constant ever shining Sun.

 The problem arises when, instead of making the inevitable adjustments, necessary modifications, in all aspects of the art form in its totality, you merely dilute the quality of raga, change of language, superfluous rendering without your soul and entire spirit in it, merely rendering it for your presumed market combined with poor audience concentration etc  many artists are more interested in exhibiting  skills which in fact kills carantic music of its Bhava, then you pander to superficiality using  a tool with enormous substance and sap like carnatic music [ it is like facing trying to hit a Bret Lee’s delivery with single straw] then there would be only uneasiness and unpleasantness instead of either complete and chaste devotion or consummate entertainment.

Do not be a cat on the wall, make your choice, there is nothing wrong, choose with your heart and soul either the entertainment channel or the enlightening course. It is so with all art forms, let me make a small comparison as a great monument a MAHAPALIPRAM, TANJORE TEMPLE, or an Akshradham temple will always remain as great master pieces of unchallengeable architectural splendors  which had , has and will always inspire , attract many to visit and look in awe and admiration but they cannot act as abode to live or sources of livelihood unless we happen to be a caretaker, cleaner or any other form of worker involved in up keep of the monument. While modern architecture provides us all the comfort to live and carry on our commercial activities. We do not visit an office building however great and good it may be as a tourist and look at the building in awe, get to know its historical importance or get enchanted by its architecture though it may be good. While many spend in millions on modern sky scrapers to house commercial complexes no one willingly gives even the entry fee for monuments if there happen to be any such thing. What we can do at best to make these monuments more visible is to provide proper roads around, enough hotels to eat and stay and other tourist attraction related facilities so that tourists are able to come and visit easily. These monuments have had, still have and shall continue to have their significance without even an iota of reduction in their significance for many centuries with or without any facilities for accessibility. Similarly the greatness of the compositions of the Carnatic music’s Trinity and the many other great composers survived, survive and shall survive irrespective of whether Aryakudi Ramanuja Iyengar sang it or Aruna Sairam sang it in any concert. 

The great composers of the past and their compositions do not need our anaclitic choice [choose something based on some nostalgic and protective attachment] to continue their existence.

As I have mentioned earlier that we must make the inevitable adjustments, necessary modifications, in all aspects of the art form in its totality. In the context of carnatic music one important further improvisation could be composing songs with proper structure of ragas and swaras in different themes and in as many languages like something about thinking, knowledge, love, youth, society, environment, oneness of all life forms, biodiversity, animal welfare etc .

 Imagine the popularity and takers for Carnatic music if we had compositions  rendered in English on various themes.
Reading the scriptures will enhance and enlighten our life’s journey but to get a job or employment, of course other than that of a religious priest, we need to read, learn and acquire the skills from many other relevant books in each subject.

So what is of importance is to first distinguish between the two major aspects of life, namely, survival aspect of life and living aspect of life. Then choose different things for these two different aspects of life and depending on the situation, context or circumstance give priority for one over the other and carry on without complaining about lack of reception for what we do. Or if we decide to do only what is close to our heart, well, we must never grumble, just do that and everything else will be taken care of.

What is of greater importance to do what we love and love what we do then the concomitant factors necessary to make life happy and peaceful would automatically fall in place.

What is more pathetic is not lack of respect for tradition and traditional culture or even the indifference towards them but trying to put a price tag on them rather than value them for what they are. 

This has happened in every culture where the economic welfare has not accompanied the rich culture and tradition and therefore the survival aspect of life has taken a precedence over living aspect of life and tradition instead of being a part of life has become something to be acquired outside from some expert and once someone becomes an expert then prices are fixed for exhibiting that expertise.

All women used to adorn the entrances to their houses with Kolams now there are Rangoli classes and competitions with price money. All mothers cooked variety of eatables now we have Idly shops and Dosa shops and readymade Idly and Dosa dough, readymade chapattis too. Similarly everyone was singing Carnatic songs, some nicely others not so nicely it was not the preserve of the select of few. 

As long as traditions permeate life they remain rich but when it is alienated then they degrade into professions of livelihood where only some practioners of tradition become rich and not the tradition.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What is knowledge? What is life? The pundits do not agree on a definition that is work-in-progress yet.

What is knowledge? What is life? The pundits do not agree on a definition that is work-in-progress yet.

For 30,000 years at least, since the emergence of our species on earth, man has struggled to understand truth. The self is the agent of experience and action says Nayaya, one of six systems of Indian thought that has engaged with the question. It is the knower, enjoyer, and actor. Its body is the organ of knowledge feeling and action.
What is knowledge? What is life? The pundits do not agree on a definition that is work-in-progress yet.
The vaisesika [of the six knowledge systems] regards life as a particular kind of effort or voilition of self (jivanayonipriyatna). Inhalation, exhalation and the like are its actions. They are due to the vital efforts of the self.
There is no permanent self says the Buddhist. A person is a mind body complex, an aggregate of thirty two kinds of organic matter and five constituent elements of being, outward form (rupa), feelings (vedana), ideas (samjana), dispositions (samskara) and consciousness (vijnana). There is no permanent ego or self. The self here is equated with ego.
The samkhya [knowledge system] regards the body, the sense organs, mind (manas), intellect (buddhi), and egoism (ahamkar) as the evolutes of prakriti constituted of sattava, rajas and tamas.  There is interaction  between mind and body in perception and volition but there is no interaction between self and body or mind. The self is conscious. The mind is unconscious.
According to Jaina the self (jiva) and the not-self (ajiva) are two entirely different substances. The former is conscious, incorporeal and immaterial, while the latter is unconscious, copereal and material. Matter (pudgala) is not-self. Every embodied self (samsara jiva) has a soul and body.
The advaita Vedanta [knowledge system] regards the gross body as composed of of five elements. It  is the instrument of waking experience. The five external sense organs are produced by the five quintipuled elements. The auditory organ is produced by ether, the tactual organ by air, the visual organ by light, the gustatory organ by water, and the olfactory organ by earth. The four internal organs mind (manas) intellect (buddhi) egoism (ahamakara) and memory (citta) are produced by the five elements collectively with a predominance of sattava.
The five motor organs – the vocal organ, the prehensive organ, the locomotive organ, the excretory organ, and the generative organ – are produced by the five elements with a predominance of rajas. The organs themselves are insentient, producing their effect under the guidance of the conscious self.
The five vital airs – prana, apana, vyana, udana and samana are produced by the five elements collectively with a predominance of rajas.
According to sankhya, life is not physical (bhautika) force but the common function of all sense organs. It is sustained by the powers of the sense organs.  The five kinds of vital forces – prana, apana, udhana,  samana and vyana – are the modes of internal organs [ manas, buddhi, ahamkara]. They are airs because of their motions. The five vital forces are the common functions of the sense organs.
Samkara considers the five vital forces to be the different modes of one common life.  Prana is the air that is inhaled.  Apana is the air that is exhaled. Vyana is the air that pervades the body. Udana resides in the throat. It is the air that is belched out. Samana is the air that resides in the intestines and digests food and drink.
The Advaita Vedanta gives a materialistic view of the nature and origin of life. The Samkhya gives an idealistic view tending towards the materialistic because it regards the external and internal organs as evolutes of prakriti or primal matter.  The Vaisesika takes an idealist view as it traces life to a voilition of self.
The Prapariscara Tantra [knowledge system] describes ten vital forces. Prana courses upward. Apansa courses downward. Samana assimilatesfood. Vyana distributes the chyle (rasa) all over the body. Udana accompanies prana (life) and and produces movement of the eyes. Naga is the cause of belching. Kurma is the cause of opening the eyes.Krkara is the cause of hunger. Devdatta is the cause of yawining. Dhananjaya causes various sounds.
As we can see knowledge is a variable across knowledge systems, none of which can seemingly claim infaliability. Sri Aurobindo however points out, “All knowledge lies within”.  It can be accessed by anyone who has purified the lower modes of knowing of all its grossness through the yogic discipline.
[Excerpted from Indian Psychology Vol-II pages 13-21 by Jadunath Sinha, Motilal Banarsidas, New Delhi] 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Spectacular tricks to teach your body

 15 Spectacular tricks to teach your body

1.) If you've got an itch in your throat, scratch your ear. When the nerves in the ear get stimulated, they create a reflex in the throat that causes a muscle spasm, which cures the itch.

2.) Having trouble hearing someone at a party or on the phone? Use your right ear…it's better at picking up rapid speech..  But, the left is better at picking up music tones.

3.) If you need to relieve yourself BADLY, but you're not anywhere near a bathroom, fantasize about RELATIONS.  That preoccupies your brain and distracts it..

4.) Next time the doctor's going to give you an injection, COUGH as the needle is going in. The cough raises the level of pressure in your spinal canal, which limits the pain sensation as it tries to travel to your brain..

5.) Clear a stuffed nose or relieve sinus pressure by pushing your
Tongue against the roof of your mouth…then pressing a finger between your eyebrows. Repeat that for 20 seconds…it causes the vomer bone to rock, which loosens your congestion and clears you up.

6.) If you ate a big meal and you're feeling full as you go to sleep, lay on your left side.  That'll keep you from suffering from acid reflux…it keeps your stomach lower than your esophagus, which will help keep stomach acid from sliding up your throat.

7.) You can stop a toothache by rubbing ice on the back of your hand, on the webbed area between your thumb and index finger.  The nerve pathways there stimulate a part of the brain that blocks pain signals from your mouth.

8.) If you get all messed up on liquor, and the room starts spinning, put your hand on something stable.  The reason: Alcohol dilutes the blood in the part of your ear called the cupula, which regulates balance. Putting your hand on something stable gives your brain another reference point, which will help make the world stop spinning.

9.) Stop a nose bleed by putting some cotton on your upper gums…right behind the small dent below your nose…and press against it hard.  Most of the bleeding comes from the cartilage wall that divides the nose, so pressing there helps get it to stop.

10.) Nervous?  Slow your heart rate down by blowing on your thumb. The vagus nerve controls your heart rate, and you can calm it down by breathing.

11.) Need to breathe underwater for a while???  Instead of taking a huge breath, HYPERVENTILATE before you go under, by taking a bunch of short breaths. That'll trick your brain into thinking it has more oxygen, and buy you about 10 extra seconds.

12.) You can prevent BRAIN FREEZE by pressing your tongue flat against the roof of your mouth, covering as much surface area as possible. Brain freeze happens because the nerves in the roof of your mouth get extremely cold, so your brain thinks your whole body is cold. It compensates by overheating…which causes your head to hurt. By warming up the roof of your mouth, you'll chill your brain and feel better.

13.)  If your hand falls asleep, rock your head from side to side.
That'll wake your hand or arm up in less than a minute.  Your hand falls asleep because of the nerves in your neck compressing…so loosening your neck is the cure.  If your foot falls asleep, that's governed by nerves lower in the body, so you need to stand up and walk around.

14.) Finally, this one's totally USELESS, but a nice trick.  Have
Someone stick their arm out to the side, straight, palm down. Press down on his wrist with two fingers.  He'll resist, and his arm will stay horizontal.  Then, have him put his foot on a surface that's half an inch off the ground, like a stack of magazines, and do the trick 
again. Because his spine position is thrown off, his arm will fall right to his side, no matter how much he tries to resist.
15.)  Got the hiccups?  Press thumb and second finger over you
r eyebrows until the hiccups are over usually shortly