Category Archives: Spirituality

Ganesh by Subhadra Sen Gupta #bookreview

Ganesh

Welcome to the land of stories, the land which presented the Mahabharata the longest epic ever written. It has so many stories that we know of and so many stories that we don’t know of. Quite incidentally the book that we now are reviewing is of Ganesh.

Ganesh the son of Shiva and Parvathy is the celebrated God in Indian mythology and has expressions in being the remover of all obstacles and we know how grand is the celebration of Ganesh in Maharashtra which has come to symbolise the way Ganesh is celebrated.

The best facet of our Indian storytelling is you could have many an interpretation and many a twist and take in the way the story is presented. That’s the reason we have so many interpretations of Ramayana and Mahabharata.

In this book the story of how Ganesh lost his head is an endearing one. In south it was believed that Shiva was not allowed entry to see Parvathy by Ganesh since he was keeping a watch firmly doing what his mother told him to do. Never let anyone inside till I am done with my bath. Ganesh took this seriously and Shiva has no inkling that the child was Parvathy’s making and he when obstructed to see his own wife, cuts the lad’s head off in anger, only to be told by Parvathy that it her kid and he has done total injustice to the boy.

Now the elephant with its head towards the north was the alternative that we have as common. In this narrative we do have a big ceremony to celebrate and then there is the Shani coming and looking at Ganesh and he gets the head burnt. Therein lies the interpretation of Shani being a part of the story.

A classical story for night read for the kids and the way its has been illustrated makes for interesting read aloud stuff for the kids.

A new story and a new interpretation is always welcome. The kids I am sure will relish this illustrations and storytelling through the pictures.

Each of the four stories are embedded with nice instances that are easily assimilated by the young audience. The illustrations deserve a great appreciation that has the comic effect and also a story telling way.

The story of Mahabharata is also a nice one wherein Ganesh decides to pull off his tusk to keep writing on the palm leaves.

The illustration by Tapas Gupta add a very nice touch to the already fascinating story of Ganesh.

I enjoyed this book for kids and i tried keeping this book around kids and saw they were pretty involved because of the format.

The author and the illustrator deserve every praise for the work that they have done and it sure will be a great way to introduce them to Ganesh with stories that make for fun reading.

Ramayana The Game of Life – Stolen Hope by Shubha Vilas #bookreview

cover page with back page_stolen hope

 

Publisher Jaico Books
ISBN-10 8184958242
Edition 1
Publication Year 2016
Language English
ISBN-13 9788184958249
Binding Paperback

This is indeed a great pleasure personally for me to be reviewing the book. As usual the book is replete with lot of insights in ways of stories from all the versions and make for a great read.

The best part is we get to see a lot of folk tales also very well embedded and weaved in to the story and the rhythm of the story goes one step notch more with those inclusions.

On the other side its reflection of our way of getting our life organised in a way that is harmonic with ourselves, the family , the society and more so the nature around us.

This is the third in the series of Ramayana – Game of Life by Shubha Vilas, a retelling of the epic with life lessons that it gives in every page that you read through. Continuing his work of getting the meaning out of the words to get them close to reality, the author gives an insight into how the epics actually gives a taste of the real life.

The reading of this Series had evoked a great interest into the original works of Ramayana – Valmiki Ramayan, Tulsi Ramayana, the tamil original Kamba Ramayana etc. The gathering of stories and the life lessons that it offers to us in real time is what Shubha Vilas brings to the table in a easy to underst

and and appreciate format with references in case you want to look up.

In fact on a personal level I have been lucky to be reviewing these books and I am sure this is a part of the design if I may call it that. This is a must read and I am sure this will help us understand life and its mystical nature and also make us more proactive individual than a reactive individual that we are.

Stories can be just stories just that, but here the author elevates the story to a life transformation mode for those who seek it, and Ramayana and the story of Lord Ram is in full glow and the way his relationship to Lakshmana, Sita and his brothers are all so beautifully  engraved in words for us to enjoy.

The world out there is a bit of deception the maya at work. The way we look at it and how we react makes our life success or failure. Life is about relationships, those relationships that are sometimes ephemeral to the core and yet we need to preserve the aura and work to keep it live.

Even in business relationship we tend to have the loyalties and ethics close to the heart and work it accordingly. It is also a test of managing our conflicts within and come to solutions.

Inner Peace is guaranteed for sure. Pick this up and unravel the Ramayana in a new way, the easy to digest way and also help yourself with some tips to implement the learnings on the go.

Thanks to the author for sending me a nice autographed copy with a message. Will cherish them Shubha ji.

Go here to order this book : Flipkart | Amazon

Senthilkumar

On Wordsworth’s ‘To The Cuckoo’

Dideric-Cuckoo-0010

That’s his name Wordsworth;
Each line of his – gold in worth.
Every reader will rejoice,
At this simple natural choice!

It is his greatness of course;
To make a poetic source,
Of a cuckoo – a common bird,
In its sublimes I have ever heard.

His profound love for nature;
The poetic definition of its stature,
All mixed perfectly in a blend,
To celebrate it would never end.

To me it opened the door,
To a new world a floor,
That a cuckoo – the spring singer,
Can be a subject to linger.

For me seeing the nature so keen,
To laud the creator to be seen,
Those lines of his proved that
A poem can be written on a black cat.

Yet to see, what other cant;
And  try if you want.
That’s the secret of the great poet
William Wordsworth!

Senthilkumar

(Circa – 1995 post reading the poem To the Cuckoo )

Stone or Statue

A stone lay there on the roadside,
None would care to look,
Nor was there any sculptor who took;
It to his imagined world aside.

It lay still for days unseen,
A burden for the earth it had been.
For all who saw it black and hard,
Had never tried to become a bard.

Time did pass, till one day a man;
Saw this large stone as everyone can.
But he saw something more in,
That into his dream world he took the stone in.

Then day and night he worked on,
Till he felt tired and torn.
And for days did he toil,
Like a farmer who does for his soil.

He carved and carved till,
It did his picture fill.
Then, one fine day when he finished-
The people gathered there were astonished.

All gazed and gazed, yet one
Curious, and worthy of none,
Asked the sculptor how he had been,
Able to see the form in the rock hardly seen.

Answered the humble sculptor “I see,
Also the Almighty Lord in thee”.

Senthilkumar R

(Based on stories – Circa 1993)

Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert #bookreview

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Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing (IN)
ISBN-10 9384898996
Imprint Bloomsbury India
Language English
ISBN-13 9789384898991
Binding Hardcover

This is a beautiful book which makes you relevant for what you are. Quite a engrossing read, and contrary to make you feel flamboyant, it makes you confident about who you are and how you can be yourself create a magic in your life and then spread it out.

This book is classical read, making you better at what you are good at. Though the book has been divided into parts, its an easy read from any page and you will have a match of frequency if may call that when you read. You will feel the words for what they are especially because they are true and infact workable things unlike being sold off as aspirational in a way.

The books is divided into parts – Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, Divinity. In each of these parts, the author takes us through personal experiences and stories of the well known and some of those who didn’t want to be well known and gives us a picture of what lie in us, its not that fame or coveted status that the inner urge is looking for. It could be the overcoming of the fear and persist with courage on doing what you want to do without any fear and enjoy doing that.

A very engaging read and you can take time to enjoy the stories and go back to the book at your pace. I think that is an essential trait for a self development or a motivational book. If they can achieve that sense in you that you want to re-read and grasp it for the better the book has achieved its objective. And who doesnt love stories, and for those from the land of story telling, its just a bonus.

Filled with inspirational anecdotes and slice of life incidents it makes you sit up and think afterall it could be possible, well that would be the first step to shedding the fears what ever that could be.

I am sure you will enjoy the read and I must mention that this is the first time I am reading Elizabeth Gilbert and I can see how the other titles must have impacted a lot of people.

I will be failing in my duty if  I dont thank Flipkart for the book and in case you want to check out on a copy for yourself please click here: Big Magic

Senthilkumar

A president who set a precedent! (A day with Dr. Kalam)

abdul_kalam

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, these words are an inspiration as far as the younger lot is concerned. The name evokes a certain enigma which defies conventional apathy to politicians and the attitude people have come to expect of people in high places. This man is really supernatural.

One thing unseemingly, Mulayam Singh Yadav did was propose his name and make him the First citizen of this country. Of all things I like about politicians (though I hate them as a class they are,) this was the best thing they did to their country. Making Dr. APJ aka Kalam the president of the country.

This man is really a superhuman being. We are just out of the euphoria of having had him at our city for a full day. Literally, the president spent his full day talking to all the cross sections of the society and most importantly the children – on whom he has great faith that they will make the country the superpower he intends it to be.

(I have had the opportunity of watching him in close quarters years back because of my responsibility for the press. it was before he became the first citizen. he was the principal scientific adviser and donned himself the mantle of touring the country and meeting the children and talk with them. it is said if you have an agenda with children then you can easily get dr. Kalam to visit you. if it happened to be an academic institution, he would make it more easy.

The crowd was overflowing to see the man, who had already become an icon. He started talking in English and then when he wanted to quote Bharathiar, the Tamil poet he was all eloquence, and it flowed out of him so easily and it was form the heart. Earlier when he started the speech, one of the press corps friends of mine said, I think he is going to repeat what he did today morning (our event was slated for the evening) and he did start that way but he did make a real presentation. He had statistics with him he operates with a PowerPoint presentation. The more he wants to express the deeper the sincerity and warmth of expression. When he burst into pure classical Tamil, there was a round of applause to see him so easily recite the Kural and the Gita with elan, that everybody would be inspired to make something out of his/ her career.)

Not many would have tread a path Dr. Kalam chose, even with his career and they way he manages science and technology even today, I think it means a lot of hope for the scientific community at large. Watch him at SHAR and then watch him at a concert, this man is real god.

His presidency was something which gave every young Indian a dream to think about his country.

Now to the city visit.

The whole day he made it a point to be busy. We doubt if any political leader his age would really give appointments like Dr. Kalam does. Starting the day with an academic institution and ending the day with one of course he had time for one of his former classmates. How often do you think people in high places can make time for friends, and when you are a president? Lucky Mr. Sampath Kumar.

Everywhere people throng to meet him – have a glimpse of their idol.

“He has a soft corner for our city I suppose he has been regular” said one of the onlookers.

“It is just sheer inspiration watching him drives by.”

“I will tell my classmates that I saw the President.” of course who else a class 6 student.

Lot of reactions like this from the onlookers who are mostly students and youngsters in colleges.

He travelled almost 140 km inside our city limits that’s too much to ask of a nations’ president. I travel just 40 km in two instances of 20 each and I know how tough it is but only Dr. Kalam can make it, he is no ordinary man.

Our city limits can extend to maximum say 22 kms and talk of 140 km inside city limits.

He launches a Village resource centre under the auspices of the Amrita Deemed University, and a joint venture with ISRO of his yesteryears. He makes an impact with students out there and makes them pledge they will work and they will dream.

He even wanted them to repeat, when that wasn’t loud enough he asked if they all had their breakfast sending peals of laughter. (You need to laugh and it makes your day and others too) and no reading the paper business, though he comes prepared with one.

“For preparing the future generations for a knowledge based society, that lies ahead of them educational institutions should focus on capacity building, with a view to equip students with creativity and innovative skills, which would be relevant to the society.” he said.

Then he travels down to another far end of the city to inaugurate an international industrial exhibition. The best part is he knows what they are taking about be it engineering or technology. The man is full of ears to listen and to assimilate so that he can include in his vision.

He didn’t disappoint because he gave them a mission to accomplish:
• design and develop products for the world markets
• design is crucial for cost effectiveness
• focus on textile and healthcare
• be self reliant in critical technologies
• revive small scale industries
• buy component form local cottage industries

Then he is there back with student at another college. Interaction is the key and our president simply loves talking to students.

He meets up with an NGO Green Valley revolution and wishes them all the best when he is back at the circuit house for lunch.

He meets with the talk of the town NGO Siruthuli which has changed the ecological map of Coimbatore. It has also been a case study for corporate social responsibility.

He wanted this siruthuli to become a flood (Siruthuli in Tamil means a drop of water)

At 3.45 pm he hits the road this time at a hospital Ramakrishna Hospital. He dedicates the oncology institute to the nation with a resolve to network cancer hospitals across the country. Only this man can have a vision and mission so sacred.

4.45 pm he is at convocation at the centennial celebrating Tamil Nadu Agri University. His own playground i.e., convocation ceremonies, I mean.

The mantra for the second green revolution:

He outlined “soil to seed; seed to grain; grain to food and food to marketing” also stressing integrated development of agriculture.

Sure he is gone one up than Philip Kotler.

He crosses time barriers and then goes to another university. This one is named after his favourite poet Bharathiar.

Here he inaugurates the centre for Life sciences a joint venture by DRDO and the university.

All the while wherever he traveled the road is filled with the common man trying to have a glimpse of their people’ president.
Would you believe those people who hate waiting to see the politicians go by actually waited hours together in the night to have a glimpse of him? It happened when he went to see his friend. Though cordoned off they didn’t lose heart he perched on every inch of space to get a glimpse of their role model. Over 5000 people in a single colony road.

He didn’t disappoint either. He walked a few yards to greet everybody. Left to himself he would sign autograph. Maybe he would have thought let me join everybody, but he can’t since the protocols don’t allow him. still he does that quite often – breaking protocols, calls children and hugs them on stage and slows his car to wave his hands… and lot of other things to add.

Last news, he left the city at almost 10.00 pm. the schedule was at 7.25 pm

We love you Dr. Kalam. It has been a great day at Coimbatore.

We hope we will rise to your expectations and we are eager to see you around the next earliest opportunity.

We salute you Dr. Kalam. A son of the great land and a true citizen living a sainthood life.

One of a man kind, one in a billion, you are of course, our people’s President, who sets a precedent….

(PS: I wrote this on July 08, 2005 during his trip to Coimbatore. )

Ramayana – The Game of Life : Shattered Dreams – a book review

Ramayana – The Game of Life -Shattered Dreams

I think we are a nation built on mythology going by what you see today on twitter and slang matching happening online. But before these internet rage took centerstage, Doordarshan in early days of 80s had the nation in charms with the two worlds greatest epic on screen, the Ramayana and Mahabharath! Those days it meant Sundays were meant for Ramayana and Mahabharath. The charm wore on with the whole generation so much so, some of the character actors made their presence to the parliament.

As regards retelling of the epics, its been happening for long and this century is not an exception.

The book in review is an excellent series if you ask me and what a debut it was by the author Shubha Vilas. Rooted in the treatment of the epic for what it matters most, the interpretation of the same to add values to the life around us is perhaps the significant take away from this book or series.

Continuing from the last epic of the childhood days of the Rama, this one is the retelling of the Dasaratha’s shattered dreams. You might also take a literal working of getting your boon claimed, unlike the words and gift vouchers which come in with a expiry. The boon that was given by Dasaratha in a war time long long years ago is revived by Kaikeyi, aided by his maid to make Bharatha the King just hours before the coronation of the Prince Rama. Not that Rama is not the apple of all the three mothers, but this is the way it got to be.

If you thought there was any way modern day classic writers could come close to the twist in the tale, well sorry this was greatly done right from the Valmiki days and Shubha Vilas captures the moments especially the way anxious Dasaratha is portrayed is unparalleled. The teaching impact of those moments are a treat to read as always.

So if you love to really watch the Ramayana happen in front of you especially going through the minds of the characters and then stop over to think and digest what those tales and moments in the tales means for you in life, then this is the book you need to read. I was transported to Dasaratha’s kingdom with pomp and the cries of the whole kingdom when King makes an announcement and also walk alongside Rama if you want.

The nuggets of side stories make for an excellent read and keeps you gripped to the happenings and is almost like the  mind reading of the characters that you are reading about.

If you thought that your life’s problems are big, imagine a prince who would be king tomorrow morning and then you see a email saying you are fired and then not just that you got to go into exile. How do you maintain your poise that you are known for. Rama is that character who will tell you how to react or sometimes how not to react.

I am sure you will experience the words crafted beautifully and the retelling has the impact of Valmiki and the rendering of Kambar making it a delight to read.

I am waiting for the next in the series and see how the story unfolds especially with some of the nuggets that we don’t know or not exposed to and ofcourse how we should apply these to our everyday lives.

A word of gratitude to both the author – a revered friend now and folks at blogadda.com for the book.

Senthilkumar

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Just the moments of togetherness #together

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I am an eternal optimist and know that I will pull it off. Its only a matter of time before things fall in place. During those moments when you feel that you are on the thin ice not necessarily true to the literal sense, still think you need some one who can say ‘yes that’s the way and don’t worry everything is gonna be alright’. That’s the time.  Those are life changing moments in small measure not so drastic for the world to see,  still needs someone who can say what you want to hear and boost your morale.

I know I can look upto him, my friend. Not much is in common with our careers and personal life. Never the less there seems to be the meeting of minds when we need to discuss and take a decision for good. This is when it matters the most. But we have had our time managed to meet at regular intervals at our favourite places.

At times there would be no talks and at times heated discussions, it all boils down to having to understand the others point of view. But more than that its the belief that there is someone behind you to back up your plan, your thoughts and someone to vet it for you in terms that you never fathomed it.

At times its just the meeting that makes it all worthwhile. Being together and sharing the things would make it easy. That’s kinda I know I can get myself assured feeling and moment.

The best part is this, sometimes its a monologue from my side at a stretch. It could be that we needed someone to listen. Infact helps to be listened to may be. Makes a lot of difference in the way we approach it after someone has heard us and decision is made. It also feels like its being more independent after such a meeting of togetherness.

The other side of it is he is not near these days. His presence is felt when I go to the places where we have been and have had our talks. That those places still seem to buzz on activities make it a nostalgic even today.

And there are times I take a walk all alone at night and then come back refreshed with an answer that has been prodding me. A lone walk with melodious music from the playlist of my mobile will add to the calming effect that is needed for you. There is a talk between one self and it makes you very clear on what the next step should be.

Senthillkumar

These online activities of Housing.com has certainly opened up a great way to interact with the online community of bloggers. Thanks Housing.com!

Blog for compassion #1000speaks

I have been seeing a lot of my friends on this Blog for compassion mission. I thought I should chip in with just a simple video… though this a Coca Cola commercial it fits in well with what we are talking about…

and one more like that of Dr. Roshan’s pictures in a video…

The world is a beautiful place by default… lets not give in to those negative tendencies and make them larger than life…

If the sun rises and the river flows its just because of people who are there doing what is human, compassionate and true…

Senthilkumar

Akshaya Patra : The food as charity!

I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.

There is a beautiful anecdote involving the former Chief Minister of TamilNadu and King Maker of those times, Kamaraj. Once he saw a young lad working near a construction site and he went and asked him why he was working here instead of being at school?

The young lad answered with a query, who will give me food if I go and study.

This incident made an impact on the politician who later made it mandatory for schools to have mid day meals.

It is a psychology in a way and more so because even Swami VIvekananda in one of his speeches said:  “So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every person a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them!”

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So when Blogadda announced a blog fest to feed a child for a year it was one of the noble attempts that could happen when you are fast keying in the message on your key board.

The basic fact about the world remains that the there is enough for everyone’s need but not enough for their greed. The other side of it is the rotting of grains in the state ware houses than being used for feeding the poor. Why not we make it mandatory to share the grains to the poor and get it done away with than saving it for posterity and then rains and rats will eat them away.

The name Akshaya Patra has a reference in Mahabharatha, wherein Yudhishtra gets the Vessel called Akshaya Patra never ending (inexhaustible) in a sense, you keep asking the vessel for food it keeps giving.  Only thing is that if Draupadi cleans it up then the food session if you may call it is over. 

As for this modern world, it’s the attitude that will make it happen. Subramania Bharathi once vowed we should destroy the world if there are people begging for food. A disparity being created because of men and their actions has led to people going without food.

The easiest way is to allot a part of our grains to feed the poor, donate a part of our earnings to an active working ngo on this front. You know what you could even get the 80G on that on your taxes.

Take some time to visit places where they serve food to the needy. May be a temple or a church or a mosque. You will feel the elevating experience for sure.

The best way now is to write a blog and see a wonderful service of feeding a child for a year. The power of words on your keyboard has the ability to feed a child for one full year as much as this blog.

Promise yourself that when you are out, please dont waste food and also make it a point to buy food for the needy than give money. It will have a lasting impact on them.

I know we cannot take policy level decision but I believe charity begins at home and more so change begins at home.

If each one of us take it upon ourselves to set aside some time and money I am sure this will go a long way in making this world hunger free!

So if you are reading this and think you can make a difference wield your pen, well start typing away and that would be a nice little start we would have made! 

Just in case you want to know the T&C and more about this please check here : http://blog.blogadda.com/2014/11/11/blog-to-feed-a-child-akshaya-patra-blogadda