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Teachers Everywhere

When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Festivals come once in a year but festivities are round the year.

Teachers Day comes once a year but teachers are with you, throughout the year.

Is learning the essence of life?

Not to everyone.

There are some who believe, and rightly so, that action is all that matters. Learning is the fuel, action is what puts it into motion.

There are others who have a cordial relationship with learning. They open their doors to learning once in a while- to let in some guests who are otherwise unwelcome generally.

And there are others who consider learning as an intruder and keep their senses on full alert to thwart any attempts from this unwanted intrusion in their zone of comfort.

To each his own. And we can rarely find fault with the different approaches. After all each of us has a right to decide how we wish to lead our lives, our priorities, our interests, grow, or evolve.

Gautam Buddha too was living in a blissful state of ignorance, in the lap of luxury, till he decided to explore and discover himself. This reveals two things – one, you can change course in life at any time, and two, it’s never too late.

Is learning self-realisation? Is it education? Is it discovery?

Does learning happen, or is it delivered by a teacher?

Can one learn without a teacher?

What role does a teacher have?

Teachers are not labelled. They may not necessarily be human. They may not be physically present. You can learn from a story, an anecdote, an observation, a thought.

You can stay untouched though surrounded by teachers, and you can learn despite the absence of teachers. The essence of learning is not what is being taught, but what is being learnt. And for that it is not the teacher in front of you, but the learner in you that seeks the teacher.

For those who seek teachers, they keep looking. For those who seek learning – teachers are everywhere.

Posted in: Celebrations, Festival, Festivals, India, Motivational, Work Culture

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Threads of Bonding

ThreadRituals and practices are followed and passed on to generations. But many a times, what is not passed on, are the reasons, the significance and their meaning. Some rituals carry on, some don’t and gradually they either remain symbolic or lose their significance.

In a few days, most of India will celebrate the annual festival, Raksha Bandhan. It is one of those festivals that has no complexity about it. The sister tying a thread on the brother’s wrist as an expression of solidarity between them.

Do we need these festivals to remind us of these relationships? Do such symbolic exercises have any relevance in the modern world?

Most festivals or customs have their roots in an incident or practice and Raksha Bandhan is no exception. It is to its credit that fresh inspirations in various forms have kept this festival alive and fresh hues keep getting added to its colourful past.

More than the sibling relationships, what has contributed to its stature and popularity has been the thread of relationships this practice has been able to bind with others in the same spirit.

I am taken aback reading a legend that in 326 BC, when Alexander the Great invaded India, Roxana, his wife sent a sacred thread to Porus, the king of India, asking him not to harm Alexander in battle. On the battlefield, when Porus was about to deliver the final blow to Alexander, he was reminded by the thread on his wrist and respected her wish by refraining from attacking him personally.

So can such symbols of relationship be alive in today’s virtual world. Yes and no.

Yes, festivals and customs do serve as a healthy reminder of our culture, our customs, our responsibilities, and help us recollect the glorious past, and refresh our relationships. They offer opportunities to repair strained relationships, and a ready excuse to those looking to rebuild relations.

No, it is of no use if festivals are used as a once-a-year ritual which one recollects at a particular time of the year and slips back to the comfort of complacency after the passing of the festival.

Most festivals make only an annual appearance. They come for a purpose – to remind, repair, refresh and rejuvenate their significance. But they will serve their purpose only when these threads get woven into the fabric of our lives.

The threads that bond are those that will remain strong and carry the weight of relationships. And it is these relationships, you realize, is what bond you to life.

Posted in: Festival, Festivals

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True Colours

Celebrating the ‘Festival of Colours’ and a few introspections

Celebrations begin with lighting of a bonfire on the eve of Holi. Legends and stories associated with Holi make the festival exuberant and vivid.

Holi, the festival of colours is unique in a way. You cannot stay aloof from this festival. Even if you don’t want to participate, you can’t pass it. You have to dodge it. It provides others the right to invade your private space, take liberties and most of it is done in good spirit. Are you an active or a reluctant participant, or are you a dodger? This says a lot about your true colours.

The Legend

Hiranyakashyap was a demon king who had won over the kingdom of earth. He was so egoistic that he commanded everybody in his kingdom to worship only him. But to his great disappointment, his son, Prahlad became an ardent devotee of Lord Naarayana and refused to worship his father.

Hiranyakashyap tried several ways to kill his son Prahlad but each time Lord Vishnu saved him. Finally, he asked his sister, Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap. For, Hiranyakashyap knew that Holika had a boon, whereby, she could enter the fire unscathed.

Treacherously, Holika coaxed young Prahlad to sit in her lap and she herself took her seat in a blazing fire. Legend has it that Holika had to pay for her sinister act with her life. Holika was not aware that the boon worked only when she entered the fire alone. Prahlad, who kept chanting the name of Lord Naarayana all this while, came out unharmed, as the Lord blessed him for his deep devotion.

Thus, Holi derives its name from Holika and is celebrated as a festival of victory of good over evil.

There is also a tradition of people rendering their gratitude to Agni, the god of fire by offering gram and stalks from the harvest with all humility. Further, it is customary on the last day of Holi for  people take a little of the bonfire to their homes. It is believed that the fire would purify their homes and their bodies will be free from disease.

The Other Legend

Young Krishna is known to be very playful and mischievous. As a child, Krishna was extremely jealous of Radha’s fair complexion since he was very dark. One day, Krishna complained to his mother Yashoda about this injustice of nature. To pacify the crying young Krishna, the doting mother asked him to go and colour Radha’s face with whichever colour he wanted.  In a mischievous mood, naughty Krishna heeded the advice of mother Yashoda and applied colour on Radha’s face; making her one like himself. Well! Did he?

Can you change someone’s true colours just by painting their face differently?

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