Sunday, May 24, 2020

MIGRANT LABOUR CRISIS: COVID 19: REALITY CHECK

There is a lot of noise on the news channels these days about the state of our migrant brethren moving on foot from one state to another, walking thousands of miles to home. Journalists, politicians from various opposition parties, and certain so called liberals are claiming that the migrants have been left to their fate & to fend for themselves in this rough and challenging ordeal. This is not the full picture; this has been an unprecedented situation in which, roughly 20 to 50 million people are stuck under lockdown conditions, away from home without a job and with nothing to do. They decided to find their way home. 

The Central/ State govts started the Shramik trains/ buses to ferry people across but it seems that people decided to take matters in their own hands and not wait for the formal procedures to be put in place. The number of people to be moved, with safety precautions applicable for the pandemic, is larger than the population of many smaller countries. 


Brigadier Amul Asthana (Retd) and Col Ashok Binjolkar (Retd) decided to do a reality check on a highway close to their homes. This is their report, as received on whatsapp.

Homebound Labour on the Roads – A Reality Check


Today I thank God that I live in such a wonderful country, India.  Today (22 May 2020) I saw for myself how our citizens, rich-poor-government servants and non-government alike are making most spirited and very well directed efforts to overcome the unimaginable scale and complexity of the homeward bound labour situation. This note is a long narrative, but I urge all to kindly read on and get a ‘real insight’ into the state of affairs. With great apprehension and carrying the burden of huge negative news about the migrant labour crisis, I ventured out for an ‘on ground reality check’. (I prefer to call them Indian Labour)


I teamed up with my colleague Col Ashok Binjolkar (Retd). We decided to reach out towards the Palwal-Mathura(UP) highway.  Right at the Palwal-KMP highway we came across a group of ‘loaded’ families on foot, and they were just entering a tented way-point, which was offering water, juices and food! As we moved on we found two state transport buses parked at a dhaba, and people were reaching out to feed them water and snacks. Further, we found a group of young walking migrants heading to Bihar.  Starting from Rewari that morning they had walked & hitch-hiked the 80 odd kilometres by 3 PM.


The shakar-paras we gave to a group of walking families were well received, with dignity. Despite the scorching 45 degrees heat at about 3PM, they were walking surprisingly fast even though they carried head and shoulder loads and tagged along young children perhaps just over 6 years.  Asked as to how they could reach Bihar like this, “we will keep going, people help us, ‘sarkar’ will help us. We will reach”.  This was the confident reply of this mother, though, just like us, she too did not know what lay ahead along the road.
About 30 Km down the route from the Palwal Crossing we found the next ‘food and drink’ shamiana at a local school gate. There were groups of ‘Indians’ in tempos, autos, and even passing by cars who were keen to give a lift! (Despite Covid scare, mind you). 


At a UP border police post, we were told by a lively constable, that they gather the walking or crossing Indian labour here and then send them to Kosi Kalan by buses for onward dispatch to their destinations across India!  This sounded so good.
We were already recovering from the ‘Bad News Only’ syndrome and were getting late.  But now Kosi Kalan (7 Km) beckoned and demanded a reality check.  At Kosi Kalan we found a rather well organised shamiana manned by volunteers in whites at the entrance to the Anaj Mandi where there was a Shramik Kendra.


This was a busy mandi handling hundreds of tons of wheat, and it had large sheds.  The wheat trucks crowd the Mandi mostly in the night and by arrangement, the Shramik Passenger buses occupy the same space up to the afternoon.  The Indian labour that trickles in whole day long, is dispatched by noon and the numbers again build up by next morning.  The railway and bus staff here, meticulously register every passenger on arrival and give him a ‘token’. “If they arrive by Haryana State Buses they come with a Manifest and all details are mentioned, and if they come on their own, we record the particulars ourselves” said one of the staff.  The crowd is informed on loud hailers, and each group appoints a leader to take the next instructions.  We came across several groups huddled in the Anaj Mandi sheds.  Each shed is provided with carpets and durries, and we found the bus stand staff and volunteers cleaning the shed and re-laying the durries for the next groups which were already building up. Water tankers were conveniently placed for drinking as well as washing. Number of toilets were there as well. We found the ‘cook house’ busy preparing dinner.  The menu for lunch was Karhi-chawal and halwa! They said that the CM has given strict orders that a ‘sweet’ must be part of every meal. In fact, I felt that they all treated the Indian Labour with dignity and respect. 


We found that the railway and state officials draw up a destination wise passenger manifest. A ‘Temperature and Health’ check is conducted and endorsed for every passenger. Early morning, first the buses carry the train passengers to the Kosi Kalan Railway station, and then the same buses load up for respective bus destinations.  ‘Local’ buses to nearby destinations like Mathura, Agra etc run on 24 hours basis.


“Each bus passenger is given a *packed meal* and a bottle of water for the journey. A bus carries only 32 passengers (out of a capacity of 50 or so).  16 buses for Jhansi, and several buses for Damoh, Chandori, Mahoba, Hardoi etc totalling to over hundred buses had been sent that morning and would return in the night, for the next day’s loads” said Mr Mool Chand, who is a conductor with one of the buses. We were informed that trains are sent for more distant destinations and across state boundaries. Buses, however, could be sent only to similar such Shramik Kendras bus stations  along the UP border. From these border Kendras, they would be re-shipped to their respective states. And, all this transportation, food and ‘stay’ is 100% free, we found.    They said they all had learnt a lot in these last twelve odd days that they had been running this facility. It emerged that they could well send buses direct to destinations in Bihar or MP too, if the respective states could coordinate. 


We had introduced ourselves as retired ‘faujis’, and all of them were very happy to share every detail with us and show us around. Overall the entire staff was very involved, up-beat and forthcoming, proud to be doing good work, despite the long hours and despite the lurking danger of Corona. I must say, hats off to the civil administration and the multitude of Indians who are reaching out to help in these challenging times.


Indeed, their enthusiasm and energy rubbed off on us too, and we set course for Delhi, satisfied to have overcome the undue weight of pessimism that had built up due to the intense ambience of negative news and social media views. All of us realise that there will be some unpleasant incidents, but the bigger picture of India that I saw is heartening.


Disclaimer : I do not belong to or owe allegiance to any political party or group*.
Brigadier Amul Asthana(Retd) & Col Ashok Binjolkar (Retd)

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Reality & Perceptions


The Rigveda, composed between 1500 and 1200 BCE, states, "Reality is one, though wise men speak of it variously."

In our childhood we had read this story of an elephant and some blind men who had never been exposed to an elephant. Excerpts below, from Wikipedia.
  • A group of blind men heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they said: "We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable". So, they sought it out, and when they found it they groped about it. In the case of the first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said "This being is like a thick snake". For another one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, the elephant is a pillar like a tree-trunk. The blind man who placed his hand upon its side said the elephant, "is a wall". Another who felt its tail, described it as a rope. The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is that which is hard, smooth and like a spear. Each one feels convinced that he is right, & the other is trying to mislead him.
 Blind men describing the Elephant
Image Courtesy: Google Images

 Shortly thereafter, a sighted man enters, and describes the entire elephant from various perspectives, the blind men then learn that they were all partially correct and partially wrong. While one's subjective experience is true, it may not be the totality of truth.

Well this was a fable from ancient India, which was very popular with the kids, but modern science is coming to a similar view after studying the human brain in general and human information processing and storage systems in particular, and has coined various phrases like sense organs, reality, perception, memory, etc to explain the same.
  • Sense organs are organs that contribute to our five senses of sight, hearing, taste, feel and smell.
  • Reality is the state of things as they actually exist.
  • Perception is the way in which something is regarded, understood or interpreted.
  • Memory is the faculty by which our mind stores and remembers information.
Here we are not going to go into the parts of the brain per se, but merely look at how we human beings process the information that we receive from the external world, through our five senses, right up to the stage of taking action, its feedback to the brain, and further processing. The schematic model, image below, would help us in understanding as to how the information is processed by us human beings.

Information Processing Model

Image Courtesy: Google Images.
It is interesting to note that we enter this universe as human beings with a clean slate - an empty memory. As we develop from a single cell, we are exposed to multiple experiences. Our mind stores all our 'experiences', as also our 'learning', in to this memory through a process of 'Information Processing'. The process starts with our sense organs, which senses the object. This information is stored for a very short duration by our sense organs and is lost if our attention mechanism does not pay attention to it. The information is then processed by our central decision maker, which interacts with our memory system to make sense of the information, as also to decide on the course of action. It is of interest to note that this processing is single channel, & is based on what already exists in our memory system. New and complex information leaves our central decision maker at a loss. Also, at any given time we may not have all the information to take a decision. Our brain makes a model based on the available information with our sensory organs and our memory and takes a decision; action follows, which is fed back to our sensory organs once again with the loop continuing.

From all of the above it is evident that two people witnessing the same information, may not have the same perception of the situation, as their memory system and their attention mechanism may have been exposed to different experiences, and learning. Our reality is governed by our perception of any event, situation or task. Thus two people will visualise a totally different reality, which is based on their individual perceptions. I had never been conscious of the widespread prevalence of cancer, until one of my close ones was diagnosed with it. Human information processing systems have limited resources and pay attention to only the stimuli that directly concerns them in the present/ past.

What does it all imply? It implies that in a novel or complex situation, every person will have a different perception of what is important; what is happening, and what actions need to be taken. Thus the same situation will present multiple realities to multiple people, and like the elephant story above, nearly each one of these realities would be partially correct, and partially wrong. How then do we proceed further, especially in complex/ novel situations, like the COVID 19. Since every one's perception, & thus subjective reality, would be partially correct, it is best to resort to discussion, rather than argumentation.

In any discussion, 'what' is right is the important thing, whereas in an argument, it becomes more of 'who' is right. Since in such cases every one is partially correct, it is important to discuss. so as to reach from our subjective reality, to the objective reality. Understanding the simple childhood fable of the 'Elephant and the Blind men' is key to maturity, as well as for moving from our subjective truth towards the absolute truth; absolute truth however may never be known to us mortals.

Different approaches by different peoples across the globe in response to the COVID 19 is a result of this. Once the best approach is studied, after the event, it would lead to better and more informed decisions in the future, as the lessons/ experiences of this occurrence would be now stored in our memory system.

Any one interested in the subject can access my previous blog here.




Friday, April 10, 2020

The Post Corona World


Poonam and I were married on 22 June 1978, and started our roller coaster ride that has lasted well over 41 years. Our roller coaster has been through dramatic generational changes; we got married in an era in which the norm was that the man earned and the better half was a housewife. In line with tradition we both happily agreed that I would do everything outside the front door and everything inside the home was her responsibility. She did have domestic help to help her with the mundane. Means were limited but life was good as a young married couple in the IAF. We were blessed with two kids – a daughter and a son, and our family was complete, with an additional annual increment of Rs 50/- in the pay cheque.

1985 - We were posted in Gorakhpur now and Poonam felt inadequate, and suffered a self esteem issue, being a mere housewife. She mentioned this to some ladies during a ladies club meet. Fortunately for her, a wise lady told her that she should not look at herself as a mere housewife, but as a home maker, and rightly so, because most husbands at that stage of our careers were mostly not available to be of any help at home, even when they were locally available, leave alone detachments, night, dawn, dusk flying etc. This advice and a change of perspective changed how she viewed herself now; it did wonders to her self esteem. She did all that it took to make/ keep the home, even with all the frequent temporary/ permanent moves, as well as homes, and two growing kids. She shouldered all the responsibilities in the home that most of us men folk do not even comprehend, well generally, up until now, when the Corona lockdown hit us in March 2020.

Picture Courtesy: Google Images
Corona Virus  
 
The domestic help was not available from around mid March, and the workload of the entire household fell on her shoulders, from cleaning, mopping, dusting, dishes, cooking, etc. I volunteered to help in whichever way possible to ease her workload as she too had turned 60 in February. She refused my help initially, but finally gave in and we agreed that I do whatever she felt was needed on a daily basis. The vacuum cleaner was dusted and pulled out of its original box, where it had been gathering dust for over 5 years. So, one day I was allotted the duty to vacuum the whole home.  She is not very happy with my skills and prefers me to do the dusting/ cleaning bathrooms and balconies. I realised that Poonam is a ‘dusting’ freak. I remember her walking barefoot to feel the dust/ sitting on the floor, inspecting the vitrified tiles against the light, to look for any sign of dust. Over the past 2 weeks, day 17 today, I have learnt not to miss any areas, as she knows every nook and corner of the home. She has caught me every time I complete the dusting, with me confessing, ‘yaa, I missed that today’.  I did an absolutely perfect job today, I thought, and proudly proclaimed the same to her, only to be told, ‘did you dust the balcony doors from outside?’ Mind you, she knew as she was in the balcony. The answer was ‘No, tomorrow’. You can never beat these dust freaks; I remember this from our cabin cupboard inspection days in NDA, 1969.

This was a dreaded drill in which our rooms, beds, cupboards, etc were inspected for being made as per set standards. Every item had a place and every item had to be in its place, properly cleaned, with no dust anywhere. Punishments were normal after every inspection, because even when everything was in place, the person inspecting would find some dust particle over the mirror, under the table/ chair, etc. After a few inspections, I thought that I had mastered the art and was confident that I would be able to avoid a punishment. The inspection started and the person was visibly impressed as he could not find any dust anywhere in the usual places. Lo and behold, he picks up one of my drill boots, with 13 nails in each shoe sole, with a metal toe guard and a horse shoe at the heel.  He smiles, turns around and shows me a speck of dust underneath one of the nails in the boot. Lesson learnt – you can never win! 
Picture Courtesy: Google Images
A Representative Drill Boot used at NDA during our times

This lesson now comes in handy when Poonam confronts me with her sharpened home maker skills. Jokes apart, these 17 days have taught me a number of new skills, like sweeping, dusting, cleaning, chopping, maintaining the balcony garden, making home fertiliser, segregating garbage, etc. Each one of these tasks involves physical work, which exercises every muscle that I can confess has never been used during the 67 years of my existence. From nothing inside the home, I have come to willingly share, as also appreciate, the heavy physical, mundane, & ‘brain dead’ jobs, as Poonam calls them. I always appreciated the work done by our domestic helps over the years, in keeping our homes liveable, but I am now humbled by their dedication to keeping our homes clean, tidy and functional. My heart goes out to them for their contributions, and my head bows to them in gratitude, as also to my dear Poonam for all that she has done smilingly as our home maker. It took a Corona virus in our lives to put things in perspective. I am sure mankind will be able to surmount this deadly virus in due course, but not before this invisible and deadly virus teaches each one of us some very valuable lessons, from the fragility of our existence, to the things that are of value in life, but the most important of all will be, I believe, to live in gratitude.  

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Secularism has a new definition in India

Misleading people in the name of secularism.

Secularism continues to be defined in a perverted manner in India.

Chandrababu Naidu promises to pay for pastors' homes, fund building of churches, give SC status to Christians. He also claims that AP has no money!

My take:


Secularism as understood by most opposition political parties is no more about 'equal citizenship' and 'uniform application of rule of law', but more about 'vote bank' politics to retain/ come to power. This is highly amenable with 'enbloc' voters of minority communities, where the clergy holds tremendous advisory power/ role.



Saturday, March 30, 2019

IS WORK WORSHIP, OR THE OBSERVANCE OF RITUALS?


June 1985 - I was stationed at Gorakhpur, and had come on leave to Chandigarh to pick up my family – wife, 5 years old daughter, one month old son, and our dog, Tootsie. During this leave I purchased my first car - the good old Ambassador. We had planned to drive down from Chandigarh to Gorakhpur via Delhi. The summer was at its peak and our car had no air conditioning. So we decided to travel early mornings. Chandigarh to Delhi was a short trip and was thus no problem.

My sister in law joined us for the trip ex Delhi and volunteered to help us with the settling in at Gorakhpur. We left Delhi early in the morning with our luggage loaded in the boot, and also on the roof top carrier. The leftover flexible luggage was adjusted in between the seats inside the car, along with the three adults, two children and one dog. The journey in the overloaded car from Delhi to Kanpur was uneventful. A little after leaving Kanpur, we hit a pothole and the right leaf spring of our heavily laden car gave way. We somehow managed to reach Lucknow, sometime in the afternoon, and stopped at the first mechanic we found who could do the job. I requested the mechanic to please expedite the repairs as we had a one month old baby, and wanted to reach Gorakhpur before dark. Chaitanya, our little baby, was crying nonstop, as we were having problems with his milk, water, and the heat, of course. The mechanic assured me that he would do his best and help us leave at the earliest. He immediately started his work and was straightening the leaf spring, when it came time for the afternoon namaaz. All the neighbouring shops were promptly shut down and the people started leaving for namaaz.

A number of people, on seeing this gentleman still at work, would stop and tell him 'namaaz ka time ho gaya'. He would hear them, and continue with his work. Finally one gentleman stopped and said to him, 'kya paison ke liye namaaz bhi bhool gaya' (Have you forgotten namaaz for money). He replied, 'yeh bhi to namaaz hi hai, inka chhota baccha roye ja raha hai aur inko Gorakhpur raat se pehle pahunchana hai' (This is also namaaz; their little baby is crying nonstop and they have to reach Gorakhpur before nightfall). This angered the other gentleman and he said something which upset the mechanic. He got up and left for namaaz. We were delayed for about half an hour, the time it took him to come back after namaaz. He apologised and completed the job at his earliest, to our satisfaction. On my asking him, he assured me that the car would not give me any trouble till Gorakhpur. I paid him and left after thanking him.

This illiterate mechanic had understood what most of us never seem to fathom. But look at the irony, even after having understood this final truth, he had to bow to lesser mortals for fear of being declared an outcast by his own friends. We finally need friends and relatives to survive in this world, unless you are willing to renounce all.

This incident has stayed with me ever since. Who was right? The mechanic who understood our predicament and who could empathise with us, and knew that Allah would also have wanted him to offer namaaz in this fashion on that day, at that time OR the others who were the custodian of everyone else's faith? God only knows!!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Asato Ma Sadgamaya, Tamso Ma Jyotirgamaya, Mrityor Ma Amritamgamaya

What are we coming to as a nation. A person who does not even understand what is meant by this mantra, where it came from, etc., has filed a petition in the highest court of the land challenging the recitation of this mantra in Kendriya Vidyalaya morning prayer meetings as being unsecular and unconstitutional.

How can a generic prayer that is every humans wont, irrespective of personal beliefs; a wont of wanting to know the truth, to have knowledge and to free oneself from this cycle of mortality to immortality, be considered religious. At best it can be termed as the highest spiritual/ philosophical yearning of every human being.

The worst is that the SC has accepted this petition, and wants a bigger bench to adjudicate on this petition. 

This negates the very basis of our original constitution that has 'Satyameva Jayate' on its cover. The Constitution is illustrated using depictions from gurukuls, Ramayana, Mahabharata, etc, covering the entire known period of unbroken ancient civilisation that we have been, and right up to the envisioning of a Bharat to flourish as a modern and model nation state in the future. 

Our founding fathers designed our Constitution to be the link between what we were, what we are, and where we need to go, going forward. It thus stands solidly on the foundation of our ancient heritage, a worthy & desirable past, but is critical of our shortcomings and is designed to show us the  way forward that would bring glory to India and all its citizens. For more details on our original constitution, please read my blog at Original Constitution of India, and Us

An understanding of what this prayer is all about is important before coming to any conclusions on the subject. I have done a google search and have tried to put the easiest transliteration of the lyrics and meanings of words for the benefit of every one. As copied from the google search.......

Asatoma Sadgamaya is a Shanti Mantra (Mantra of peace), it is taken from Brihadaranyaka Upanishads (1.3.28). It is used as a prayer in Indian schools, during spiritual/ religious gatherings , social events and other times; it is believed that the recitation of these verses bring peace. 

Sanskrit Lyrics

Lyrics transliterated in english

Meaning in English

असतोमा सद्गमय ।
तमसोमा ज्योतिर् गमय ।
मृत्योर्मामृतं गमय ॥
ॐ शान्ति शान्ति शान्तिः ।।
asato mā sadgamaya
tamasomā jyotir gamaya
mrityormāamritam gamaya
Oṁ śhānti śhānti śhāntiḥ
From ignorance, lead me to truth;
From darkness, lead me to light;
From death, lead me to immortality
Om peace, peace, peace

Words and their meanings

WordMeaning
AsatUnreal, non-existence, untruth, ignorance
Mame
Sat (sad)Reality, truth, 
Gamayagam means movement, gamaya means move or lead
Tam (tamas)darkness, ignorance
Jyoti (jyotir)Light, clarity, purity
Mrityu (mrityor)Death
Amrita (amritam)Deathlessness, ambrosia
Omholy ghost as in Christian trinity, holy word, word of creation, holy vibration, god
Shantipeace

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Is Life Actually This Simple?


Vince was all excited after he came back from Rishikesh on one weekend. He showed me some photographs of himself along with a sadhu who had long matted hair and was wearing only a loin cloth, and a liberal amount of ash. Vince told me that the sadhu could speak fluent English and had been a professor in a college; he had now renounced everything worldly and retired to Rishikesh. He continued that this sadhu had built a small hut for himself on the banks of Ganges River, and was living in that.Vince confided that on many occasions, he had long conversations with this sadhu, and with many others like him, during his numerous visits to Rishikesh during the four months that we were together until then.

Vince, an American, had come to India to do the IBM certificated e-business course, Jan – May 2000. We had met as co-students on the first day of the course, in January 2000. Most students doing the course were in their twenties, with Vince being the only foreigner. They were excited to meet a ‘gora’ & bombarded him with personal questions on the first day itself; he took an instant dislike to them and thereafter he generally kept aloof. I never asked him anything personal, as I had learnt that it is taboo to ask an American about his personal life, unless of course he knows you well enough and is willing to share information with you.
Over a period of time he developed a rapport with me and started sharing his ideas, thoughts and views with me. One day, Vince confided to me about his dream of starting a software company with an aim of earning money. He further said that he wanted to earn a million dollars so that he could buy a cottage on the beach in Virginia, his home town. Dreamily he continued that the cottage would have a private beach in which he would sit in his easy chair and relax, doing nothing. Over a period of time, he was willing to share more with me, without my asking.

I had noticed that Vince would vanish on Friday evening's and would appear back in class on Monday. This happened on most weekends. After about three months, we were friendly enough for me to invite Vince to my place for a meal, over the weekend. He declined the invitation saying that all his weekends were booked in Rishikesh. He confided that he had rented a room on the banks of the Ganges, at Rs 300 per day for all his remaining weekends in India. He further told me that the view of the Ganges emerging from the hills was very beautiful, and that he really enjoyed the serenity and peace during his stay there, especially the sun rising from behind the hills. Every weekend was full of excitement for him, on many counts. What we Indians take for granted and tend to ignore as ignorance, superstitions, etc had a new meaning. His interactions with the knowledgeable seer were giving him new insights into our Indic thought, and I realised it was just because he had an open mind, unlike us Indian ‘western educated prejudiced’ minds. His weekend visits continued, and he had many things to share.

After one such weekend visit, he told me that his Indian sojourn had given rise to a dilemma in his mind. He went on to mention his ‘dream’ once again. With a dreamy look thereafter, he philosophically observed that, I want to earn one million dollars so as to relax on the beach, doing nothing, and here is this sadhu who has nothing except a loin cloth and a few other belongings doing exactly what I want to do, after all this struggle. He ran out of words thereafter, and I too was totally dumb struck. We both looked at each other in silence. We were too busy trying to comprehend the enormity of this realisation. I still wonder at times about this incident…….

Is life actually this simple?

Thursday, July 5, 2018

LIFE IS A KALEIDOSCOPE OF _______________________


Life is kaleidoscope of _____________


This photograph taken a few of days ago, on the banks of the mighty Mekong river in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand set my mind thinking at the gorgeous colours and a mulitude of other things that  life throws at us every day; most of us do not seem to notice/ have the desire to notice/ or are too busy notice and so life just passes us by, one breath at a time, until our last breath, over which we have no control. We only have control on that one breath that is inside of us and that too for not very long, and yet we pretend and behave as if we are going to be here forever! Human mind, its design, the 'maaya jaal' (illusions) of our senses have us believe that every thing around is real. 

The spiritual being that has descended suddenly transforms from a 'spiritual being in human form' to a human body with attributes like name, handsome, tall, dark, etc etc; vanity, ego and every other form of vice enters the person and one thinks that that is what one is. We forget that we are human beings, not human bodies; the lure of the maaya jaal is so strong; our minds can convince us of anything.

So, I decided to do a short one word survey, by sending out this one photograph with the question, like above on my whatsapp contact list. The answers are as follows: -


  1. Opportunities
  2. Kaleidoscope
  3. Good
  4. Exquisite
  5. Probabilities
  6. Colours
  7. Patterns
  8. Colours
  9. Beautiful
  10. Blessings
  11. Nature
  12. Emotions
  13. Beauty
  14. Wow
  15. Experiences
  16. Experiences
  17. Experiences
  18. Emotions
  19. Challenges
  20. Blessedness
  21. Sat Naam (True Sound/ Name)
  22. Wonder
  23. Emotions
  24. Surprises
  25. Lifetimes
  26. Karma
  27. Experiences
  28. Opportunities
  29. Experiences
  30. Selfie
  31. Possibilities.
A total of 31 responses, all varied and true; maybe it is what we are going through within ourselves at this point of our history and geography; may change with more newer experiences & learning - both being building blocks of our long term memory system in the brain, scientifically speaking.

My daughter was quick to point out on the family group that, "All these answers are simple in their positivity". Couldn't help but agree with her, but my response to her was that, "True! And that is the tragic part of life. We blow the negatives too much & forget that life is just to be lived until the last breath, one breath at a time."

So, live life positively, the way you came in to this world as a spiritual being, the accumulation of the five elements in your body and brains happened here, and will vanish here only. What will go with you is the being again, pure but layered & burdened with all you carry from here, your bad as well good karmas, creating your next destiny. Nil debit/ credit is the only way out from here to 'being' or mukti from this cycle of birth and death.







Sunday, July 1, 2018

LOFTIEST INDIAN THOUGHT - VASUDAIVA KUTUMBAKAM


#ObservingLife

Sun Water Earth Air Ether for All, all five vital ingredients of life, irrespective of different shapes/ sizes/ make/ model/ composition

Think

Life evolved; lower level animals evolve; staked claim to territories for survival; still do

Further evolution, humans evolved, with better brains

Initially only one belief system, staked claims to territory; survival instinct was pre-dominant, like animals

Evolve further - only one faith; multiple beliefs now stake claim to territory

Evolve further; multiple faiths & beliefs start to live together

Human brain is a human mental construct, after birth, by design

Humans are not a separate entity; they are part of this 'grand cosmos' - design of the Creator

Indian thought had already reached this, since millennia

Acceptance, not only tolerance, of ALL was our ideal

Propounded millennia ago as a mantra, "#VasudaivaKutumbakkam"

The entire cosmos is one big family

The ancient Bharatiya lifestyle - to live in harmony with everything around

Trees, rivers, snakes, cats, dogs were accepted as part of the grand design

Proud to be part of this grand heritage #India

No wonder this was considered a weird land by all

The ideal is too lofty for less evolved minds

All it requires is to Observe, Inquire, Contemplate, Meditate, Connect with the Super Consciousness/ Divine/ God/ Creator, or whatever else you think or don't think created this finely balanced cosmos, where the earth goes around its own axis in 24 hours; the earth goes around the Sun in 365 days, 6 hours, some minutes and seconds

If all the bees in the world were to go extinct today; plant, animal and human life will cease too! 

Think of our interconnections with everything around us.

Could we be sitting on a spinning planet without the planet holding on to us through gravity?

No religious teacher/ Pandit/ Maulvi/ Granthi/ Priest can lead you to the answer. They merely indulge you in rituals and mythology; it is their profession.

The grand philosophy is yours to "observe, inquire, contemplate, meditate, connect &; understand". 

It is all within you!


Why was I born to my parents, in to their religion, in to this land? Any answers? Did you control any of them? Did you have any say in your language, race, nationality, religion or for that any thing else that defines you today? Are you a spiritual being in a human body or a human body?

Do different people from different belief systems have different blood, or is human blood universal? Do we drink the same water, breathe the same air, eat the bounty of this earth, etc? Then how can we be so different as to kill each other for our distorted beliefs?

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

ANCIENT INDIAN CIVILISATIONAL HERITAGE - KARMA, COSMOS, REBIRTH, EVOLUTION

I was a young boy, maybe about 7 - 8 years old when we had gone to our village for the first time to spend our summer vacations with my paternal grand mother in a relatively remote village in Himachal Pradesh located on the banks of river Beas. It was a great vacation. Every night we, my younger siblings & I, would lie down in our beds under the open skies in the court yard in one line and pester our grand mother to tell us some stories or anecdotes. She always had something new to add to our young minds, which had spent most of their lives in the city. She was very wise but totally illiterate by modern standards, maybe she had studied up the 3rd class, as she came from a Brahmin household that always valued education and wanted every one to know at least how to add/ subtract, and write their names.

One day she told us about how fortunate we were to be born as human beings. She further elaborated on the Hindu wisdom/ folklore of the evolution of species; which as per her was to have to live through 8.4 million births in different species before one got to the human birth, and thus how it was important for each one of us to strive to do good karmas, so as to end this cycle of birth and death, and achieve 'mukti' or liberation. After a few minutes we were fast asleep. But, I remember that it left a deep impact on me, although I did not understand karma, rebirth, species, or any thing else connected with life on this cosmos.

We were up the next morning, and trudged our way of about 2 - 3 kms to the river Beas to do our morning ablutions, have a massage on the banks and have a dip/ swim in the river, before returning home for a sumptuous 'aloo porathas', pickles and curd. On the way there were always peacocks in the jungle at 2 places, performing their beautiful dances every morning. We always looked forward to witnessing the tantalising beauty performing the dance with loud squeals to attract the peahen's attention; not that we understood any thing at that stage of life.

After finishing our massage, given by the expert hands of my father, we would take flat stones and skip them off the river, while cooling off our warmed up bodies before entering the relatively cold waters of the Beas. On this particular day, I picked up two stones that I thought would help me do what I had in mind, after I returned home. These were then deposited in the pocket of my shorts. We returned, finished breakfast and I was off to my mission now.

There was an ant hill in the small kitchen garden on one side, and every morning the big black ants would trudge out of that and form a queue going out looking for food. I took up my position on one side of this queued up ants. I placed one my stones on the ground and held the other in my right hand. I would pick up an ant, being very careful not to expose my two fingers to the deadly claws of the ant. I would then place it on the stone on the ground and with other one would try and kill it, before it scrambled away. Initially it was tough as the ant would invariably get away much before the second stone came down. I finally got the hang of it, and managed my first 'kill'. I was now getting excited that I had learnt something new to do my job successfully without getting hurt or bitten.

At that instant my grandmother came out and confronted me, "what are you doing". So, I told her that I am helping these ants overcome one of their 8.4 million lives so that they can reach the human form earlier. She was aghast, and asked me, "Is that your karma? What happens to your karma? Who are you? You are only required to do your own karma. The ant is not dependent on you for his evolution. You have no right to take more than what you 'need' from this existence, as every thing has a role in this grand design." She was visibly upset and I too was after this bitter rebuke from my grand mother. I never understood what she meant but did understand one thing very clearly and that I was just another small cog in this big universe, which included stones, rivers, trees, animals, stars, sun, moon, galaxies and the vast nothingness of our skies.

Observation, inquiry, life, thought, contemplation have brought me to the same conclusions that my very wise but illiterate grand mother knew because of our great traditional civilisational heritage, where the 'varna' system ensured that the most evolved souls contemplated and passed on truths about our great cosmos to lesser mortals as beliefs. The system got corrupted many times, but every time an evolved soul came about and brought about reformation. All religions born on this sacred soil, from Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, have imbibed most of the salient features of this these basic truths of life, existence, and God. These thoughts celebrate the diversity of the Creator and is happy to 'accept' what is and work only to evolve oneself from within. Acceptance & gratitude comes naturally to all diverse ways of living, belief, etc.

There is no one 'right way' is the final thought and 'every one is right' in their own way is guiding spirit because every one has a different journey through this cycle of births and rebirths, where one evolves as per one's own karma. Only thing needed in 'Observation, Inquiry, & the use of intellect to understand our role in this whole cosmos.

A small thought for the thinking minds:


10 Things That Would Happen if Bees Died Out




Please try and think. In case you do not want to then, one can only agree with the logic given by the writer at the link https://www.toptenz.net/10-things-happen-bees-died.php

Eventually we will all cease to exist. 

Every thing in this world is interconnected by grand design.

We appear stationary, but are hurtling through space at 1500 kmph on the equator, once every 24 hours, AND for millinea now.

We appear stationary, but are hurtling around the sun at many times the speed of sound, once every 365 days 6 hours and some minutes/ seconds.

We are just a cog in the wheel in the great and grand cosmos, sticking with some beliefs that some lesser qualified society/ priest/ pandit/ mullah/ granthi or what have you try to tell you.

So, OBSERVE, INQUIRE, CONNECT WITH THE SUPER CONSCIOUSNESS THROUGH CONTEMPLATION AND MEDITATION ON THE BIG PICTURE OF OUR ROLE/ PLACE IN THIS COSMOS



Thursday, June 21, 2018

International Yoga Day, 21 June 2018

Happy International Yoga Day to all.

Let's make ourselves, our societies, our cities, our country's, our earth, our Universe, our Cosmos better.

We have the power to do it, just by making ourselves better!

Look for beauty; create beauty if you can't see it around;



Explore it if you find it;



Admire it when you notice it;



Appreciate it for its worth


It is all around us; it could be in human relationships, things, sky, sun, nature, feelings, emotions, or any thing else around us.


Did you find any thing worth admiring today? 

Find more every day! 

Good luck; the world will become a better place one day, if we all only try.   

Monday, June 11, 2018

WHO AM I? - ABOUT LIFE, EGO AND INTELLECT

Humans born with no ego & amazing intellectual powers Learning & growth happens every instant of life, from birth

Values & beliefs are picked up at a very innocent young age

Most human children are taught that these are not to be questioned; intellect dies a little

Many never do, and carry the baggage of beliefs that go contrary to life, as it happens

One goes to school/ college, which helps one to expand on their power of discernment and reasoning

Ego starts to grow, as one starts to understand things better As one grows, physically and mentally, ego grows even more... As ego grows, Learning from life starts to slow down

A stage comes in life when you start using your education to do things that you have mastered

You excel, and the system starts promoting you, and your ideas

You initially feel humbled......

The trap is now laid, because you now start to forget that the entire universe has collaborated to get you there

The ego starts to go from 'we' and 'us' to 'I' and 'me'

Suddenly one day ..... The ego becomes bigger than intellect Hardly any learning from life now seems to enter the conscious mind

Growth as a human being now starts to slow .... Human reaches the 'I know' stage in life where he has answers to every thing

Life continues to unfold ....

Life throws multiple lessons, again and again

Inquiry, rational debate and observation, so vital for learning and growth seem to have been replaced with 'been there, done that'

One does not notice the change happening around, being too self absorbed

Relies only on past experiences and learning, stored in the human memory, which does not fit the new experience

One tries the handle the new situation in life with old tested, tried & successful methods

Doesn't work

Disappointment sets in against every thing around, and the universe

One stops living life, as it is unfolding

One doesn't realise the changes that every instant of life brings along

Some of these changes are subtle, and some not so subtle

Life keeps changing as this existence knows 'change is the only constant'

Day is followed by night, and so on

So, keep learning and growing every day

Use your God given gift of intellect to go beyond intellect and perceive the essence of life





Who am I?