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Monday, May 18, 2009

The spoken word

All of us have studied about the indestructible nature of matter as well as energy. Sound is a form of energy and therefore does not render itself to extinction. At best it can only get dissipated. The spoken word is therefore bound to exist forever, though at a very rapidly depleting energy level. But each packet of such energy has to survive forever. It may therefore be possible at some stage in the future to cull out all spoken words of the past, words that are floating in the sky in the form of rapidly depleting packets of energy and actually hear them. Theoretically it may be possible at some stage in the future to actually listen to the “Gita” being recited by lord Krishna. It is just a matter of the right technology for the same to be put in place. But God cannot be bound by the realms of technology and therefore if he exists, all spoken words of the past are accessible to him and that perhaps is going to be the sole criterion on which we are going to be judged by him. The perpetual affect of the spoken therefore needs better appreciation.

Clean up hindu religious places

Is it really necessary for hindu religious places to be generally filthy, unkempt and disorganized? With the rare exception of perhaps the shrines at Tirupati and Vaishno Devi, all hindu religious places have filthiness as their hallmark. Whether it is the Kamakhya temple at Guwahati, the Kashi Vishwanath temple at Varanasi or the temple at other religious sites in the country, generally they are unkempt, filthy, disorganized and do not by any stretch of imagination appear to believe in the philosophy of “Cleanliness is Godliness”. The presence of a group of touts disguised as the agents of God trying to fleece the devout of his hard earned money, adds to the disgust. I therefore find it almost impossible to visualize the presence of the almighty at such places. It is therefore strange that thousands and millions of people from all over the country regularly visit these shrines, get fleeced, physically engage with the densely packed and often unruly crowd in their attempt to enter the sanctorum and yet go back home satisfied that they have done their duty to the almighty who will now bestow his favors on them, their family and near ones. It defies conventional as well as scientific logic, yet it happens day in and day out. This untiring belief in the almighty and the calm acceptance of the dismal situation as his gift is what is keeping the wheels of the hindu religion and the nation moving.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Big Men

Is it necessary for people, especially those who live under the impression that they are god’s gift to mankind, to throw their weight around, just to show that they are important or big? This trait that is so unique to the Indian society needs to be eradicated for the nation to grow.

Is bigness characterized only by position or wealth? Is it not a sign of immaturity or lack of understanding of the bigger picture that leads us to classify mankind on the basis of not spiritual greatness but wealth and the position in society based on official rank, hierarchy or status.

Is it not likely that the peon sitting on a stool outside the chamber of a “burra sahib” may be a bigger human being in the eyes of God than the “burra sahib” himself. We are indeed lucky that God judges by deeds or “karma, and not on the basis of position, power or wealth. In our system, one vies for an important position of a bureaucrat or a minister, not because he or she wishes to serve the society, as they all profess, but to serve himself, his family, friends and relations. This falsehood is difficult to bear, especially for those who tread the path of truth and humility.

Being Happy

I wonder what makes one happy. If it was money, then Mukesh Ambani, our homegrown Indian tycoon should be the happiest person on earth and if it was power or position, then George Bush should be the happiest person on planet earth and Manmohan Singh in India. Well it would require considerable time, money and energy to test this theory, something that I can ill afford, and so I have decided to accept this, my own theory at face value. Well if neither money, nor power is the key to happiness, then what is? Fortunately for us, happiness lies within one’s own self and no external agency or circumstances can give it to us. Happiness is linked with inner peace, with being at peace with ourselves and the sooner in life we realize it, the better it is for us and the society.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Making a mockery of awards and selections

Except perhaps for the Civil services selections made by the Union Public Service Commission, a selection that is still regarded as fair, a mockery is being made of various other selections in the entire governmental systems in the country. Various service commissions, selection boards, recruitment boards and search committees either act to satiate the vested interest of one of its members or act as stooges of the concerned minister of the union, for whose territory the selection is to be conducted. The most common practice, especially in the central public sector undertakings and also in the central staffing scheme is to first identify the candidate who is to be selected and then go through the motions of selection.

Is such a mockery of a large number of institutions and organizations that are meant to be fair and just in what they are supposed to do, the right thing. Why do the members of such high institutions allow themselves to be manipulated and treated like a stooge of high government functionaries? Possibly the answer lies in the fact that most of the members and chairman are bureaucrats who have managed or manipulated to find a sound post retirement sinecure. Content they are with sitting on such high sounding posts and kowtowing to powers that matter, all for petty personal gains. That the selection of the right candidate strictly on merit is what these bodies are meant for is a philosophy that has gone to seed.

The rot in the system of selection has not left untouched even the Padma awards, the highest awards of the country, conferred by none other than the President of the republic. How else can one justify the inclusion of bollywood actresses in this prestigious list, actresses who are known more for their beauty and titillating postures rather than any contribution to the country. These awards that should be given only to outstanding individuals who have made a visible contribution to the nation have now been restricted only for people with a clout, mediocres with connections to powerful people, svelte dancers and to people from the glamour world for reasons best known to the selectors. Yes there are exceptions, but these exceptions are kept primarily as a front to retain some semblance of respect for these awards. The selectors in any case do not believe in other modes of contribution to the country.

It is unfortunate that no holy cows now exist, even in the matter of selections and awards in our country?

Vegetarianism - Wrong interpretations

I have always been an absolutely pure vegetarian, one who does not partake of even cakes or cookies or anything that may have even a trace of eggs. This streak of vegetarianism is not because of any spiritual or religious thought process, but because of a personal dislike for any foodstuff other than the vegetarian variety. But contrary to the “Ambumani Ramdoss” thought process, this streak has not led to my imposing vegetarianism on my wife and daughters, instead my daughters have always been encouraged to partake of non vegetarian food so that they do not face any dietary constraints especially while travelling.

I remember isolated incidents from my childhood of my mother puking after seeing raw flesh. I also feel the same way when faced with flesh, raw or cooked, but not as violently as my mother. The feeling is borne out of the inability to accept the fact that a living creature can be just a meal for another living creature. But that is the way the world made by God is, for almost all creatures including mankind. My inability therefore appears irrational and illogical, yet I would remain a grass eater, as they say, in this life at-least.
Being vegetarian, by no stretch of imagination makes one closer to the gods than the flesh eaters? Sadly our Indian society, especially the Hindu majority lays a very high premium on vegetarianism despite the majority being non vegetarians. On a similar vein one is tempted to add that even most of the boozers regard a tee-toteller with reverence and most of the smokers respect a non-smoker as if not partaking of alcohol or tobacco brings one closer to God and hence makes one a godly person. Unfortunately right from the cradle to the ashes, hardly any emphasis is laid on the necessity of being a good human being, with the stress being on inconsequential things like smoking, vegetarianism and alcoholism. How would then the almighty be viewing such a scenario? Would he be judging mankind on the basis of who eats flesh or not or who partakes of alcoholic drinks and tobacco or not? The answer is a definite “No”. Flesh, alcohol and tobacco are personal choices that may be good or bad for the health, but have no bearing whatsoever on the goodness or otherwise of the human beings. What is actually bad is being a bad human being and what is actually good is being a good human being. Fortunately in our society, we don’t actually have to become a good human being to be regarded as “good”, there are other peripheral factors that do the job.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Being Reborn

I often wonder what shape I shall take in my next life. Whether one is reborn as a pig, dog, cat, snake, spider, mosquito, fly, monkey or a cow is difficult to predict. However seeing the large number, eighty four millions as per hindu mythology, of life species on planet earth, and also considering the law of probabilities, it appears highly unlikely that I shall again be born as a member of the human race and this is a frightening prospect. But does it really matter. After all, all species are a part of the almighty, who being what he is, cannot and also shall not differentiate between his own creations. But his righteousness would definitely force him to favor some of his own, on the basis of “karma”. And this thought alone propels me to be good, both in acts and words, even though with a selfish motive of again being born as a member of the human race.

Sycophant Prayers

Why do people pray? The mighty and the weak, the corrupt and the honest, the powerful and the powerless, the rich and the poor, almost all of them say their prayers regularly and I wonder why? It is not that I am an atheist, I firmly believe in God and also in the philosophy that all that is happening on planet earth is his bidding.

I witness bureaucrats cringing before senior bureaucrats, senior bureaucrats cringing before ministers and politicians, the poor before the rich, the rich before the men in power and the super rich before the super powers. And all this cringing and placating is almost in the form of a prayer, though not from the heart. It is for gains, personal in nature like a favor, position, materialistic gains or power. Basically we are all trying to curry favors by praying to others.

Carrying the same argument forward, I often wonder, whether our daily prayers to the almighty also fall in the same category – an attempt to please by cringing and placating. I always believed that what the almighty expects from us is compassion, love for the life species and to be a genuine human being. If God could be moved by the cringing and placating in the form of a prayer and then if he bestows what is desired by the applicant, then he cannot be God; he has to be a human being. If he is really God after all, then all the cringing and placating in the form of prayer or other rituals would not have any effect and blessings would be bestowed by him on only one criterion, the “Karma” of the applicant.

I have since stopped praying, except for a weekly darshan of Hanumanji and now the only attempt and desire is to be a good human being.