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Olympic Dreams

Olympic

Many events occur in our lives. Some come and pass by innocuously, some make their presence felt while they are around, and some leave an indelible imprint on our lives.

Once every four years comes an event which touches in many ways. It is not a symbol of competition, achievement, or even excellence. It embodies the spirit of human existence.

Yes, it’s Olympics time.

I must confess that in moments of introspection, I do sometimes think about the never-ending flurry of activity in the world, the madness so to say, of people seeking to achieve more, and wonder whether there’s any need for it.

Nature has devised a wonderful process of self-sufficiency. There’s enough for everybody. The flora and fauna has an unrushed pattern of growth. Birds live a contented life and sing happily. The animals have a cyclical journey and seem to enjoy their existence.

Then why do humans, who have an option to peacefully live their lives, choose to push themselves higher: towards bigger goals, towards greater heights and aspire better benchmarks.

Let’s face it: What material benefit will the world derive if someone betters the mark by a fraction of a second?; how will it affect the world if someone swims the laps a little faster than the others; how would the weightlifter add some weight to the purpose of the world?; how will a team’s win add to the victory cup of the world?

Events such as Olympics provide the answers.

Humans differ from other living organisms essentially in one area – the spirit of achievement.

Humans alone possess the indomitable spirit to challenge themselves to bigger goals. They have dreams and desires and can dedicate their lives towards this purpose.

In pursuit of their dreams and desires, these achievers experience a sense of fulfilment, and it is this contagious spirit that forms the edifice of human existence.

They manifest that human life is not about survival but conquering new heights.

Though events such as these come after long intervals, they serve only as a reminder to all of us to reach inside us.

Reach inside and dig into that spirit that will set our sights on higher goals and in turn inspire others to pursue their dreams.

Posted in: Celebrations, India, Uncategorized

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Hues of Holi

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India’s cultural diversity punctuates the calendar with a variety of festivals. Some of them are celebrated for the welcome break they provide without realizing its significance, and some celebrated with zest and vigour.

Come March, and the colours on the faces will reappear as they welcome the festival of colours: Holi.

This free-for-all carnival of colours has mixed reactions, as this festival provides a license for a little indulgence that may make some uncomfortable.

Like most festivals Holi too has some legends that lend colour to it.

There is a symbolic myth behind Holi and it is celebrated as a festival of love. The Hindu deity Krishna, as a baby, developed his characteristic dark blue hue because the she-demon Putana poisoned him with her breast milk. In his youth, the blue hued Krishna despaired whether the fair-skinned Radha and other girls would like him. Tired of his repeated questions, his mother asks him to approach Radha and colour her face in any colour he wanted. This he does, and Radha and Krishna became a couple. Ever since, the playful colouring of Radha’s face has been commemorated as Holi.

According to another legend, King Hiranyakashipu, the King of Multan had earned a boon that made him virtually indestructible. He grew arrogant, thought he was God, and demanded that everyone worship only him. Hiranyakashipu’s own son, Prahlada, however, disagreed and remained devoted to Lord Vishnu. The infuriated Hiranyakashipu thus subjected Prahlada to cruel punishments, none of which affected the boy or his resolve. Finally, Holika, Prahlada’s evil aunt, wearing a cloak that made her immune to injury from fire, tricked him into sitting on a pyre with her. As the tongues of fire soared upwards, the cloak flew from Holika and encased Prahlada. Holika burned, and Prahlada survived. Hiranyakashipu was furious.  Unable to control his anger, he swung his mace which smashed a pillar. There was a tumultuous sound, and Lord Vishnu appeared as Lord Narasimha and killed Hiranyakashipu. The bonfire is a reminder of the symbolic victory of good over evil, of Prahlada over Hiranyakashipu, and of the fire that burned Holika.

The Holi festival, Phalgun, has further cultural significance, most prominently, it celebrates the beginning of spring. In 17th century literature it was identified as a festival that celebrated agriculture, commemorated good spring harvests, and the fertile land. People believed it was a time to enjoy spring’s abundant colours as they bid farewell to winter.

It is also a festive day to cleanse oneself: to end and rid oneself of past errors, to end conflicts by meeting others, a day to forget and forgive. People reset and renew ruptured relationships, end conflicts and rid themselves of the accumulated emotional impurities from the past.

Holi also marks the start of spring, and for many the start of the New Year.

Posted in: Brand News, Branding, Celebrations, Festival, Festivals, India

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Kindle the Spark within

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Most Indian festivals are a spectacle of lights. They exhibit brightness, vigour and celebration.

For ages the lighting of a lamp has been a sacred symbol. A symbol to connect with the light within. The spark that keeps us lively, bright and healthy.

Darkness, on the other hand symbolizes depression, dullness, and decay.

So is life about stark light and dark, or the shades in-between?

Does light switch off one day to bring complete darkness and switch on another day to bring total brightness suddenly?

The distance between one end of brightness and darkness can be a lifetime, or a fraction of a second.

You may gradually achieve what you set out for and feel accomplished only towards your advanced years of life, or you could see your entire world crash to pieces in a matter of seconds.

So, what purpose do these festivals serve in our lives?

While it’s true, that each of us can find our happiness or sadness within, these festivals do create opportunities.

They provide an occasion to recharge, restart, or reboot.

While the external light provides the ray of hope, it doesn’t have the firepower to keep it burning till its next arrival.

The fire has to be kindled from the spark within.

Happy Diwali!

Posted in: Celebrations, Diwali, Festival, Festivals, India, Motivational, Personal Development

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Teacher Krishna!

Is it coincidental that Teacher’s Day and Janmashtmi have concurred this year?

Krishna is known in many ways, but the role that remains sublime is that of a Teacher.

An interesting episode during Mahabharta becomes a defining moment in history.

Many efforts from various peacemakers make the war inevitable and both the sides, the Kauravas and the Pandavas are canvassing for support for their respective factions.

Duryodhan from the Kauravas, and Arjuna from the Pandavas land almost simultaneously to solicit the support of Krishna.

He declares that he will not fight, but his army is available on one side, and he as a mentor to the other. Arjuna unhesitatingly opts for Krishna. But Krishna reminds him that he will not fight or even pick up a weapon. Arjuna reaffirms his choice, much to the delight of Duryodhan who can’t believe the folly of his stupid cousin.

History, however proves that the teacher alone is more valuable than the entire army and makes the defining difference to the outcome of the war.

Teachers are rarely beside you in your wars. You have to fight yourself. But what they profess, teach, and impart becomes an invaluable part of you.

Happy Students Day!

Posted in: Festival, Festivals, India, Motivational

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Tots, Teens, and Tycoons

Remember your childhood?

Pure, Innocent, and Energetic.

Full of beans, excited about life, waiting to conquer the world.

And then. You grew up.

What happened?

We begin life with a can of pure white paint. No opinions. No prejudices. No pre-conceived notions.

And then as we move along, we start tinting the pure positive white mind with the negativity that we gather from our experiences.

From hues, it takes on the shades of perceptions and prejudices. So much so that we are unable to recollect the colour we began with.

On this special day, rewind, recount, and revisit the glory of your childhood. The simplicity of life, the enthusiasm of making things happen, and the confidence of becoming what you had dreamt to be.

Don’t go through life. Grow through life.

Posted in: Celebrations, Children's Day, Festivals, India

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Tale Nine – Guru

The Navratri festival is probably the most vibrant festival of India. Spreading across the expanse of India it is celebrated in different hues in different parts of the country each imparting its own flavour.

This is the only festival that lasts nine days and culminates with Dushera. A celebration of the triumph of good over evil.

There are enough tales, plots and sub plots to keep an inquisitive reader engaged for months. Here is a selection of short stories. One story for each of these ten days, to learn more about what made this such an absorbing contest.

Tales of one who had ten heads, yet not a sound mind.

Tale One – Inspiration

Tale Two – Sita

Tale Three – Curse

Tale Four – Flamboyance

Tale Five – Lust

Tale Six – Antithesis

Tale Seven – Nostril

Tale Eight – Karma

Tale Nine – Guru

The story goes that after firing the fatal arrow on the battlefield of Lanka, Ram told his brother, Lakshman, “Go to Ravan quickly before he dies and request him to share whatever knowledge he can. A brute he may be, but he is also a great scholar.”  The obedient Lakshman rushed across the battlefield to Ravan’s side and whispered in his ears, “Demon-king, do not let your knowledge die with you. Share it with us and wash away your sins.”  Ravan responded by simply turning away.

An angry Lakshman went back to Ram, “He is as arrogant as he always was, too proud to share anything.” Ram comforted his brother and asked him softly, “Where did you stand while asking Ravan for knowledge?” “Next to his head so that I hear what he had to say clearly.” Ram smiled, placed his bow on the ground and walked to where Ravan lay. Lakshman watched in astonishment as his divine brother knelt at Ravan’s feet. With palms joined, with extreme humility, Ram said, “Lord of Lanka, you abducted my wife, a terrible crime for which I have been forced to punish you. Now, you are no more my enemy. I bow to you and request you to share your wisdom with me. Please do that for if you die without doing so, all your wisdom will be lost forever to the world.”

To Lakshman’s surprise, Ravan opened his eyes and raised his arms to salute Ram, “If only I had more time as your teacher than as your enemy. Standing at my feet as a student should, unlike your rude younger brother, you are a worthy recipient of my knowledge. I have very little time so I cannot share much but let me tell you one important lesson I have learnt in my life. Things that are bad for you seduce you easily; you run towards them impatiently. But things that are actually good for you fail to attract you; you shun them creatively, finding powerful excuses to justify your procrastination. That is why I was impatient to abduct Sita but avoided meeting you. This is the wisdom of my life, Ram. My last words. I give it to you.”

With these words, Ravan died.

Read Takeaway shortly

Posted in: Celebrations, Dussehra, Festival, Festivals, India, Motivational, Navratri

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Tale Eight – Karma

The Navratri festival is probably the most vibrant festival of India. Spreading across the expanse of India it is celebrated in different hues in different parts of the country each imparting its own flavour.

This is the only festival that lasts nine days and culminates with Dushera. A celebration of the triumph of good over evil.

There are enough tales, plots and sub plots to keep an inquisitive reader engaged for months. Here is a selection of short stories. One story for each of these ten days, to learn more about what made this such an absorbing contest.

Tales of one who had ten heads, yet not a sound mind.

Tale One – Inspiration

Tale Two – Sita

Tale Three – Curse

Tale Four – Flamboyance

Tale Five – Lust

Tale Six – Antithesis

Tale Seven – Nostril

Tale Eight – Karma

Ravan abducted Ram’s wife, a crime for which he was killed by Ram himself. So says the Ramayan. The epic makes Ravan the archetypical villain. And since Ram is God for most Hindus, Ravan’s actions make him the Devil incarnate. This justifies the annual burning of his effigy on the Gangetic plains during the festival of Dushera.

But on the hills of Rishikesh or in the temple of Rameshwaram, one hears the tale of how Ram atoned for the sin of killing Ravan. Why should God atone for killing a villain? One realizes that, like most things Hindu, the Ramayan is not as simplistic and pedestrian an epic as some are eager to believe.

After slaying Ravan, Ram was informed by Rishi Agastya that Ravan was only half-demon: his father Vaishrava, was a Brahmin whose father was Pulatsya, one of the seven mind-born primal sons of Brahma himself. Ram, though God incarnate, was born in the family of Kshatriyas. In the caste hierarchy, Ram was of lower rank. As Brahmin, he was custodian of Brahma-gyan (the knowledge of God). Killing him meant Brahma-hatya-paap, the sin of Brahminicide.

So after killing Ravan, before returning to Ayodhya, Ram went to the Himalayas to perform penance and purify himself of the sin of Brahma-hatya or killing of a Brahmin.

Read Tale Nine tomorrow

Posted in: Celebrations, Dussehra, Festival, Festivals, India, Motivational, Navratri

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Tale Seven – Nostril

The Navratri festival is probably the most vibrant festival of India. Spreading across the expanse of India it is celebrated in different hues in different parts of the country each imparting its own flavour.

This is the only festival that lasts nine days and culminates with Dushera. A celebration of the triumph of good over evil.

There are enough tales, plots and sub plots to keep an inquisitive reader engaged for months. Here is a selection of short stories. One story for each of these ten days, to learn more about what made this such an absorbing contest.

Tales of one who had ten heads, yet not a sound mind.

Tale One – Inspiration

Tale Two – Sita

Tale Three – Curse

Tale Four – Flamboyance

Tale Five – Lust

Tale Six – Antithesis

Tale Seven – Nostril

In the Rajasthani folk narratives of the Ramayana, we learn that in order to kill Ravan, Ram needed to liberate Ravan’s soul locked in the nostril of one of the horses that pulled the chariot of the sun-god. Only a celibate man could do this. Since Laxman was not married (the local version is ignorant of Laxman’s wife, Urmila, who he left behind when he followed Ram) he was able to shoot an arrow that struck the nostril of that horse which pulled the sun-god’s chariot. As a result, Ravan’s soul was no longer hidden and Ram was able to kill Ravan.

In some versions, it is Laxman, not Ram who kills Ravan showing the influence of Jains who believed Ram, being perfect, followed non-violence.

Read Tale Eight tomorrow

Posted in: Celebrations, Dussehra, Festival, Festivals, India, Motivational, Navratri

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Tale Five – Lust

The Navratri festival is probably the most vibrant festival of India. Spreading across the expanse of India it is celebrated in different hues in different parts of the country each imparting its own flavour.

This is the only festival that lasts nine days and culminates with Dushera. A celebration of the triumph of good over evil.

There are enough tales, plots and sub plots to keep an inquisitive reader engaged for months. Here is a selection of short stories. One story for each of these ten days, to learn more about what made this such an absorbing contest.

Tales of one who had ten heads, yet not a sound mind.

Tale One – Inspiration

Tale Two – Sita

Tale Three – Curse

Tale Four – Flamboyance

Tale Five – Lust

Ravan used to force himself upon the women who prevented his advances. There are two stories regarding it.

Vedavati was a beautiful lady who was performing penance with the intention of having Lord Vishnu as her husband. Her beauty enchanted Ravan. Vedavati resisted Ravan’s advances but Ravan did not stop. Vedavati foretold that she would return to the mortal world as the cause of death of Ravan. After that she sacrificed her life in a funeral pyre. She was then born as Ravan and Mandodari’s first child. Ravan was told before his marriage that their first child would cause his death. So after his first child was born, he sent Subahu to kill the child. Subahu was unable to kill the beautiful baby girl and lied to Ravan that he has killed her. The baby was found by King Janaka, who raised her. She was married to Rama, Vishnu’s incarnation and was the cause of Ravan’s death.

The second story is about Ravan’s encounter with Apsara, Rambha. He tried to capture Rambha who was engaged to Kuber’s son. She pleaded with Ravan that she was like his daughter, but Ravan was not discouraged. Kuber’s son was so angered that he cursed him stating that if he forced himself upon any woman, his ten heads would fall off immediately. This curse helped to protect Sita’s chastity when she was Ravan’s captive for about a year.

Read Tale Six tomorrow

Posted in: Celebrations, Dussehra, Festival, Festivals, India, Motivational, Navratri

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Tale Four – Flamboyance

The Navratri festival is probably the most vibrant festival of India. Spreading across the expanse of India it is celebrated in different hues in different parts of the country each imparting its own flavour.

This is the only festival that lasts nine days and culminates with Dushera. A celebration of the triumph of good over evil.

There are enough tales, plots and sub plots to keep an inquisitive reader engaged for months. Here is a selection of short stories. One story for each of these ten days, to learn more about what made this such an absorbing contest.

Tales of one who had ten heads, yet not a sound mind.

Tale One – Inspiration

Tale Two – Sita

Tale Three – Curse

Tale Four – Flamboyance

With ten heads, twenty arms, a flying chariot and a city of gold, the mighty Ravan is without doubt a flamboyant villain. His sexual prowess was legendary. When Hanuman entered Lanka, in search of Sita, he found the demon-lord lying in bed surrounded by a bevy of beauties, women who had willingly abandoned their husbands.

Ram, by comparison, seems boring – a rule-upholder who never does anything spontaneous or dramatic. He is the obedient son, always doing the right thing, never displaying a roving eye or a winsome smile. It is not difficult therefore to be a fan of Ravan, to be seduced by his power, to be enchanted by his glamour, and to find arguments that justify his actions.

One can’t help but wonder: why does the poet, Valmiki, go out of his way to make his villain so admirable, so seductive, so enchanting?

Read Tale Five tomorrow

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