Today is the birth anniversary of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa (18 February 1836 — 16 August 1886). Although I had heard about him since my childhood, I didn’t know much about him. I always thought him to be similar to several other saints and divine personalities that this land has produced. I became more and more interested in him after reading Swami Vivekananda literature, who used to refer to his Master time and again. I got one small book containing compilation of quotes by Sri Ramakrishna, and was immediately touched and moved by the utter simplicity of his words and thoughts. It is remarkable to even think that such complex ideas of Indian philosophy and spirituality could be explained and elaborated in such simple words.Continue reading
I noted in an earlier post that the personality of any individual is made up of body, mind and soul. I stressed that the development of any individual should be harmonious and include growth on all three planes. As I pondered over that point, I realised that the subject is not so simple as it seems. In this post I mention two such additional aspects of the harmony of the three planes. At the same time, I encourage you to think over it and share your own insights on this subject.Continue reading
“खन्ना का असली नाम खन्ना था। वैसे ही, जैसे तिलक, पटेल, गाँधी, नेहरू आदि हमारे यहाँ जाति के नहीं, बल्कि व्यक्ति के नाम हैं। इस देश में जाति-प्रथा को दूर करने की यही एक सीधी-सी तरकीब है। जाति से उसका नाम छीनकर उसे किसी आदमी का नाम बना देने से जाति के पास और कुछ नहीं रह जाता। वह अपने-आप ख़त्म हो जाती है।” (श्रीलाल शुक्ल, राग दरबारी)
[Translation: “Khanna’s real name was Khanna. Just as in our country Tilak, Patel, Gandhi, Nehru etc are not names of castes, rather of person. This only is the simplest way to get rid of casteism in this country. By taking away the name from any caste and making it the name of any individual, nothing is left with the caste. It disappears on its own.” (Srilal Shukla, Raag Darbari)]Continue reading
Once I sent my drawings to a friend; she liked them and from then on she started asking regularly whether I have made any new art work or not. On the other hand, I am not able to produce artworks on a regular basis, however hard I try. So the next time this girl asked me for any new painting, I didn’t have anything to show. I was also afraid that she would start giving me sermons on the need of a more disciplined life and to be regular in art — all that stuff which I had heard several times from her and others. So in order to escape from rebuke, I searched my hard disk and sent the photograph of a very old painting which I had made long back. She replied, “Wow this is very nice work! I should say your painting skills have improved a lot! Great work!“ This was the first instance of fake appreciation for me. She was trying to tell me that I had made great progress in art but her facts were incorrect. I immediately understood that she was simply passing superficial comments and perfunctory appreciation.Continue reading
Once question keeps popping up in my mind every now and then. Let me put it in this way. Everyone of us is educated, enters into some profession and earns a living. The rest of life is spent working hard, earning money which soon transforms into accumulating wealth, and then it all ends when we are old or retired, or both. Whenever someone asks why we undertake so much hardship, our quick answer is — financial security, our family responsibility, and above all, happiness. In a way, all reasons are related to each other and imply the same thing — happiness. My question is, instead of working so hard on something which we do not enjoy in order to earn a living so that we could be happy, why not start with happiness itself, i.e., do things that we enjoy and turn it into profession? That way life indeed would become fun and work would no longer be a labour. In fact, most of the time when we say we are tired, we actually mean that we are bored.Continue reading
Wish you a very happy Makar Sankranti!
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Good Bye, Phone Hello World: 60 Ways to Disconnect from Tech and Reconnect to Joy by Paul Greenberg was the last book I read in 2020 and the first one that I am reviewing in 2021. In my opinion it is an important and an urgently needed book. That is the reason that I decided to start the book reviews this year with this book.
Good Bye Phone is about how we are losing out on our lives, our own interests, in small small bits and pieces, for the sake of something which is not even worth it. The focus of the whole book is to convey the urgency to get rid of smartphone addiction. In the first few pages of the book, the writer highlights the various ways in which smartphone is robbing you of your life. And remember that he is not just talking about the effect on your health or effect on your relationships. He tells you how seriously it is affecting your whole life and how you are being deprived of the various beautiful things which really mean to you.Continue reading
In my previous post I wrote about acquiring a language while living among its native speakers. Another opportunity for learning a language is presented by demands of workplace. This is particularly the case with English. You might recall that earlier German was the language of science communication, as also was French. Slowly English took over due to several ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’ causes. Perhaps you are involved in scientific research, and your work demands reading, writing, collaborating, exchanging emails, giving seminars and presentations, communicating manuscripts and so on. Consequently, during your PhD you get ample opportunity to practise and hone up your English language skills. However, unlike the previous case, here it is not optional, as your bread and butter, and to a certain extent, your academic survival depends on how comfortable are you with this language. You are not supposed to win a Nobel Prize in literature, nor will you be asked to write a masterpiece like Shakespeare or Milton. Writing a paper or giving a talk which your readers or audience may easily understand and enjoy is all that is expected from you.Continue reading
One of the difficulties with language learning is to keep practising the language(s) you have learnt. In fact, you have been unconsciously doing the same thing with your mother tongue — even though you are not revising the grammar, you are talking to people, listening to them, reading and writing for several hours each day. And that is how you procured and retained the language you speak. With other languages also it is the same. Sometimes it is quite easy, e.g., if you are living in the country or state or city where it is the native language of the locals. For example, while pursuing my PhD and for another two years after that, I lived in Gujarat and got to have a first hand experience of the language and customs of that state. Several of my seniors, juniors, colleagues were Gujarati and of course, the institute staff. Going around the city on weekends I got even more exposure to the language from road signs, billboards and hoardings. People were in general willing to talk, and while starting the conversation they first talked in their mother tongue. Only after they were made to understand that I was not native, did they continue with the common language, Hindi in my case. It is funny and annoying how I wasted more than 6 years — time when I could have effortlessly learnt Gujarati. After all, all my Gujarati friends were all too willing and eager to help me learn their language. Only one year before leaving Ahmedabad, did I took to learning Gujarati. The main reason was the fear of looking stupid in case someone remarks, ”Oh! You had been in Ahmedabad for 8 years! You must be fluent in Gujarati of course!” In fact, had I taken even a superficial interest, I could have made enormous progress there. I didn’t need to read books or understand the grammar. I could have simply picked up from the conversation going on around me. The wound is easier to forget or assuage considering that Gujarati is easier for Hindi-speakers than several other languages. Had it been Tamil, I would have been frustrated at my blunder. When people ask me the languages I have learnt or know, I do not mention Gujarati and Marathi, as I am still not very fluent and comfortable with them. But the scene could have been much different. I may come back to them after settling my issues with French, but that is still far off in future. So my advice to you — whether you are interested in learning languages or not — is puncture your ego, be less arrogant and ignorant, and learn the language of the natives. You will reap greater dividends than you imagine. The point that I am trying to emphasise here is that several times it would not even require much physical or mental investment from your side. For example, for Hindi speakers, Urdu (spoken), Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali may come easier, the last one with some effort. And learning Bengali would in turn open doors to learning Oriya and Assamese.
Every other day I am pulled into conversation and someone or other solicits my comments or opinion on any topic of current affairs or politics. I try my best to avoid it, simply because I do not have any facts with me. I tell them that I do not possess the basic information or knowledge or expertise on this topic, so I am not the appropriate person to be asked this question. But what shocks me is that my requests as a rule fall on deaf ears as they keep on pressing me for an opinion. Most of the time there is no escape route, i.e., I cannot leave the place or the situation. Then I have to surrender. It is so embarrassing and disgusting. It certainly leaves a bad taste in mouth as I am filled with a deep sense of guilt of committing something which I was not supposed to do. But irrespective of my comment — either in favour or opposition to the proposition — they do not seem to mind my lack of expertise. Nobody seems to mind lack of knowledge or expertise to be a serious issue any more.Continue reading