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Tale One – Inspiration

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

One day, Kuber, came to see his parents boarded on his aircraft- Pushpak Viman. After he returned to Lanka, Ravan, who was very much impressed by Kuber’s royal appearance asked his mother, Kaikasi, who was this person and from where has he acquired such an amazing aircraft? Kaikasi revealed to Ravan that the guest was none other than his step-brother Kuber, the son of his step mother – Mandakini.  Kuber had made his mother proud by his conduct, but she herself was ashamed of her son, Ravan because of his inconsequential existence. He was no better than a worm.

Ravan decided to prove his mother wrong by acquiring insurmountable power and authority. Ravan went to the forest and performed an austere penance for ten thousand years by standing on one foot. He fixed his gaze at the sun and never for a moment did he remove his gaze from it. At last, Lord Brahma was pleased and blessed Ravan with a vast kingdom.

Read Tale Two tomorrow

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

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Talk to yourself

No other sector has experienced the same explosive growth as the computer and video game industry.

The animation and gaming industry has shown resilience in the face of the current economic downturn, growing by over 20 per cent during 2008. According to a forecast by Gartner, mobile games are the fastest-growing segment in the global markets, with revenue set to nearly double between 2013 and 2015 from USD 13.2 Bn to USD 22 Bn. In India too, a few months back, the research conducted by KPMG-FICCI has also predicted that from the current INR 560 crore, the mobile gaming segment size will become more than triple to INR 1,800 crore by 2017.

But, what begs attention is the reason for the growth. Has this gaming caught the fancy of people, have they albeit late discovered a latent talent which is now finding a way out to express itself.

I feel, it is more to do with boredom. Boredom from the events, the surroundings, the people, and above all, themselves.

Before the advent of devices that allow you to fiddle with them instead of twiddling your thumbs, people faced similar situations of finding themselves all by themselves. Some grudgingly, some silently, and some enthusiastically found ways of ‘passing time’ in such situations when you have to be by your lonely self.

This tolerance has gradually seen a downward spiral and has reached a point of desperation. Today a moment to yourself seems like a severe punishment of solitary confinement rather than a golden opportunity of spending time with yourself.

A familiar sight is people calling colleagues and friends on reaching the destination ahead of others. ‘Where are you? How long will you take? But I am on course. But don’t you realize I have reached before you and I am all alone. What do I do?

In situations like waiting at a doctor’s clinic or to emplane at the airport, it is interesting to see the emotions of people. Some are edgy, to a point of visible discomfort, waiting impatiently to be released from this discomfort jail, some are reconciled to the situation, trying to find ways to pass their jail time.

And there are others who relish the opportunity to spend time with themselves.

My father used to tell me, that a person who is bored in his own company cannot be an interesting companion. Talking to the creative, the successful and the intellectual, I have found they find their best ideas while talking. Talking to no one, but themselves. They cherish these opportunities as they have a reservoir of thoughts, ideas, and work-in-progress concepts that need these times to take them forward.

Technological advancements notwithstanding, there will always be situations when you will have to wait, bide your time, or pause between activities. And these situations can be whiled away or put to good use. But the use is not what is the concern, it is the lack of the bundle inside which encourages you to open, unravel and explore.

There will never be a time when one will not be left alone. There will be times you will be alone even in the company of people. There will be times when you will feel the stark loneliness of life, which reminds you that eventually, you are all by yourself, and fight your own battle.

Rather than complain, brood, or while away, talk to a companion who has your interest at the bottom of the heart. And will never desert you.

Talk to yourself.

Posted in: Entrepreneur, Focus on Solutions, Motivational, Work Culture

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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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To Give or To Get

“Congratulations on your elevation. The cream always rises to the top.” – A few years ago, this was the message received by an officer from a well-wisher.

He responded, “Thanks for the wishes. As far as being the cream, I’d rather be the sugar instead.”

What would you like to be?

According to an interesting but apocryphal legend, in the 7th century a fleet of ships carrying people who had fled Persia due to the change of regime, arrived on the western shores of India. They were looking for a place to settle and make their new home.

Since they spoke a different language, the king of a small state sent his emissary with a glass of milk filled to the brim to communicate to the visitors that he had no space in his kingdom for more people.

The head of the fleet poured a spoon full of sugar in the glass of milk and sent it back to the king of the Indian state. The king was first amused at the returned glass of milk but then he tasted it. His face lit up realizing that the message from the visitors was, “We will mix with your people and integrate into your community just like sugar mixes in milk and makes it sweeter.”

And how true were they to their word? The Zoroastrians or Parsis as they are known in India, is a community of 100,000 in a country of one billion people. Their contributions to industry, art, science and literature are disproportionately tremendous. Just to mention a few Parsis: Zubin Mehta world famous conductor, The Tata family- founded many industries and Air India, Homi Bhabha the founder of India’s Nuclear Program, Dadabhoy Navroji- a co-founder of modern India in Gandhi’s team, Members of the Godrej family- industrialists, and so many more…

I guess it takes only a small amount of sugar (0.01% of the population) to add a lot of sweetness to the large pot of milk.

Addressing a group of exchange students who were to spend a year abroad with foreign families, I found most of them had great plans on what they were going to get out of the experience, but hardly anyone mentioned what they were going to offer as part of this exercise.

Each of us will be remembered for not what we take, but what we give.

We fondly recollect our associations with people, groups and organizations from whom we have received and they too will remember us for what we have contributed. The trigger may be to receive but you can’t receive till you give and whoever sweetens the cup rises to be the cream.

Posted in: Celebrations, Festival, Festivals, India

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Transform through form

In Hindu mythology Vishnu took ten avatars on earth. Each birth had a purpose and role to fulfill, and it was the ninth avatar that left an indelible mark on mankind. Krishna.

Rarely has any person – natural or super natural ever been remembered for touching and transforming lives in so many ways as Krishna did.

Super Natural: I recollect a learned person pointing out that Krishna is the only one who is worshipped even in the child form. Krishna showed very early signs of being super natural and his feats became the talk of the town. His first mission was to get rid of his maternal uncle who was responsible for slaying seven of his siblings. Through his mischievous escapades and his childish manoeuvres to quench his insatiable love for butter, he exposed his human weakness that made him endearing to all.

Eternal Lover: To account tales of romance of Gods is virtually taboo but Krishna’s romanticism is revealed through the countless tales where he enchants the village gopis with his flute and the eternal bond of love with Radha has been an inspiration to many. Once again we witness his natural human traits which he makes no attempt to supress. He showed you can rise in love too.

Friends Forever: That he understood the meaning of friendship and didn’t let time or wealth dilute it over the passage of time is revealed in the Sudama episode. Rushing to welcome him personally on learning of his arrival, guessing his discomfort of revealing the real reason behind his visit, he quietly makes sure his friend’s visit is fruitful. True friends understand even when their friend hasn’t spoken and their actions are remembered, not words.

Statesman and Strategist: Through his life Krishna showed his prowess as a master strategist as he plotted his moves and moved the pieces to his advantage. Never using force or authority he cajoled people to do what would get him to the results he wanted. One instance was asking Duryodhan whether it would be appropriate to wear a loin cloth rather than go fully nude in front of his mother ensured the vulnerability that he was looking for. You can win people over without getting under.

Right Side: If you decide that you will be on the right side there’s nothing left to ponder about. Krishna always chose to be on the right side of truth irrespective of his relations and affiliations. Though he was equally related to the Kauravas he chose to side with the Pandavas because he believed they were right. His brother Balrama was inclined to be with the opposition but he tactfully kept him disengaged during the war. Backing your convictions and beliefs will always keep you on the right side, rather than taking sides.

Protector: While Krishna slayed many demons and cleansed the world of people with evil designs he is remembered to come to the rescue in times of absolute need. Answering the prayers of Draupadi he saved her when she was being humiliated by being disrobed publicly. When Krishna’s antidote to Ashwathama’s brahmshastra posed a challenge to the child in the womb of Uttara, he protected his life. He taught us to be rock solid behind people who we care for.

While there are countless reasons to remember Krishna, there are three that top my mind.

At the break of war two cousins approached him for his help. To them he offered two options – they could either choose his army, weaponry and resources, or him. And as they say, the rest is history. That a single individual can indeed make such a huge difference and impact the outcome is unparalleled in the annals of history. Each human being has an unlimited potential packed at time of manufacture. After it leaves the factory, it is up to the user to make the best of it.

Whenever I see the pyramids of people celebrating Dahi Handi on his birthday, I am overwhelmed by the simplicity with which it teaches people, teamwork. Aiming higher is always on everyone’s mind but only with the right talent; in the right formation and working together can you achieve it. Did Krishna anticipate this practice would live for so many years? With his envious record of anticipation, it is difficult to rule it out. Having a common purpose is the key rather than working at cross purposes.

If mankind has to live by the leaves of a single book, they have not to look beyond the Bhagwad Gita. It is a book that doesn’t teach business or personal life but offers lessons on life. Every page in the book is a condensed lesson which a single life cannot comprehend. And this humble preaching to Arjun has become the bedrock of motivation and guidance for humans to lead their lives.

The beauty of Krishna’s life was that despite being super human he lived his life humanly. His various forms touched people and transformed them. Each one loved a different Krishna. To some he was the prankster in his childhood and to some the lover.  To friends he was a saviour in need, and someone to count on, in a crisis. To the world he showed the path, guided people, and motivated them to move their chariot of life. Through his various forms he transformed lives.

Posted in: Festival, Festivals, India

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Tiranga

Are you proud to be an Indian?

World History – Facts about India

1. India never invaded any country in her last 1000 years of history.

2. India invented the Number system. Zero was invented by Aryabhatta.

3. The world’s first University was established in Takshila in 700BC. More than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than 60 subjects. The University of Nalanda built in the 4th century BC was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India in the field of education.

4. According to the Forbes magazine, Sanskrit is the most suitable language for computer software.

5. Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to humans.

6. Although western media portray modern images of India as poverty struck and underdeveloped through political corruption, India was once the richest empire on earth.

7. The art of navigation was born in the river Sindh 5000 years ago. The very word “Navigation” is derived from the Sanskrit word NAVGATIH.

8. The value of pi was first calculated by Budhayana, and he explained the concept of what is now known as the Pythagorean Theorem. British scholars have last year (1999) officially published that Budhayan’s works dates to the 6th Century which is long before the European mathematicians.

9. Algebra, trigonometry and calculus came from India. Quadratic equations were by Sridharacharya in the 11th Century; the largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were 106 whereas Indians used numbers as big as 10 53.

10. According to the Gemological Institute of America, up until 1896, India was the only source of diamonds to the world.

11. USA based IEEE has proved what has been a century-old suspicion amongst academics that the pioneer of wireless communication was Professor Jagdeesh Bose and not Marconi.

12. The earliest reservoir and dam for irrigation was built in Saurashtra.

13. Chess was invented in India.

14. Sushruta is the father of surgery. 2600 years ago he and health scientists of his time conducted surgeries like cesareans, cataract, fractures and urinary stones. Usage of anesthesia was well known in ancient India.

15. When many cultures in the world were only nomadic forest dwellers over 5000 years ago, Indians established Harappan culture in Sindhu Valley (Indus Valley Civilization).

16. The place value system, the decimal system was developed in India in 100 BC.

Indians in USA

Indians are the wealthiest among all ethnic groups in America, even faring better than the whites and the natives.

There are 3.22 millions of Indians in USA (1.5% of population) YET,

• 38% of doctors in USA are Indians.

• 12% scientists in USA are Indians.

• 36% of NASA scientists are Indians.

• 34% of Microsoft employees are Indians.

• 28% of IBM employees are Indians.

• 17% of INTEL scientists are Indians. .

• 13% of XEROX employees are Indians.

Indians around the Globe

Q. Who is the GM of Hewlett Packard?

A. Rajiv Gupta

Q. Who is the creator of Pentium chip (needs no introduction as 90% of the today’s computers run on it)?

A. Vinod Dahm

Q. Who is the third richest man on the world?

A. According to the latest report on Fortune Magazine, it is Azim Premji, CEO of Wipro Industries. The Sultan of Brunei is at 6th position now.

Q. Who is the founder and creator of Hotmail (world’s No.1 web based email program)?

A. Sabeer Bhatia

Q. Who is the president of AT & T-Bell Labs (AT & T-Bell Labs is the creator of program languages such as C, C++, Unix to name a few)?

A. Arun Netravalli

Q. Who is the new MTD (Microsoft Testing Director) of Windows 2000, responsible to iron out all initial problems?

A. Sanjay Tejwrika

Q. Who are the Chief Executives of Citibank, Mc Kinsey & Stanchart?

A. Victor Menezes, Rajat Gupta, and Rana Talwar

Posted in: Celebrations, Festival, Festivals, India

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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.

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True Guru

Are you wandering in search of your Guru, or are they wandering in search of you.

The word “Guru” means one who dispels darkness or enlightens. “Gu” means darkness or lack of knowledge and “ru” means one who throws light and dispels the darkness. In simple words, a guru is a teacher; someone who guides an individual to learn something. The learning could be about music, painting, writing or simple values of life. Therefore, an individual would have many gurus during the course of a lifetime and the gurus themselves may come in many forms.

The English word, teacher is not adequate to define a guru. It is important for us to note the distinction between a guru and a teacher. Anyone with adequate training (e.g. in music or painting) can be a teacher. A guru, on the contrary, goes beyond the subject knowledge and becomes a mentor and a spiritual guide, leading the shishya (disciple). To lead and to be led, both the guru and the shishya need sincerity and a dedication to each other. Because you pay someone Rs.1000 per hour to give you piano lessons for one hour does not make for guru-shishya relationship. In a guru-shishya relationship, a disciple (the word originated from discipline) dedicates himself to the guru because of an inner desire to be led. The guru, in turn, takes the shishya as a sesha (an integral person in his life) and considers the mentoring of the shishya as his sacred duty. Only such mutual dedication and attachment makes for a guru-shishya relationship.

The guru and shishya relationship is unique to India and has been cultivated over 2,500 years of Indian heritage. Upanishads form a sacred part of our heritage. The word Upanishad comes from two words – upa and nishad. Upa means sitting nearby and nishad means to listen and learn; literally translated, Upanishad then refers to a dedicated shishya sitting near a guru and listening and learning from the spiritual experiences of a great master. In this relationship, the shishya considers the guru to be God himself and has absolute faith in the teachings and guidance of the guru. For his part, the guru dedicates himself to the guidance of the shishya. There is no competition in this relationship – just mutual respect. Nothing in this world is more satisfying to the guru than the accomplishments of his shishya. Such is the greatness of this relationship. However, for both the guru and the shishya, finding this relationship is as much about chance as it is about one’s own willingness to find knowledge wherever it may reside.

A King was passing through a forest followed by his entourage of soldiers carrying arms and his servants carrying jewelry and other ornaments. Suddenly they came upon an old man lying in the middle of the forest, clad only in a loincloth, laughing merrily and appearing enormously happy. The old man had no possessions and yet seemed quite content with life. The King, despite all his possessions, had never been this happy and was curious to learn the secret of the old man’s happiness.

The King got out of his chariot and approached the old man lying on the forest floor. The old man took no notice of the King or his entourage. The King, however, did not take the elder man ignoring his presence as an insult. Instead, the king approached the elderly man with respect and asked him, “Why are you so happy? You have no possessions or a comfortable place to live and yet, you seem to be content and satisfied. What is the secret of your happiness? Revered Sir! Would you let me know who your guru is so that I can also receive guidance from him on the secret to happiness.”

The old man turned to the King and said, “Oh King! I have had 20 gurus. My gurus include this body, this earth, the birds, the animals, and the trees. Everything in the world has taught me something. The good things of the world taught me what to see and how to be good and the bad things taught me what I must avoid.” The King saw the wisdom in the old man’s words, bowed to him and continued with his journey.

True Gurus are everywhere. They are waiting for their shishyas. Dedicate yourself as a true shishya, look around, and you will find one.

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