Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Catch Him if you can!

Apropos of my earlier post 'Thank God,I am an atheist', a friend of mine posed this question to me.'Can your God make so heavy a ball that no one can lift it?.There was a bit of taunt and also a lot of curiosity in his voice. He perhaps thought that if the ball made conforms correctly to his specification,then even God should not be able to lift it and in such a case, God can no more be called omnipotent.But if God is able to lift it, then it means that God could not just make a ball conforming to a given specification.Thus God fails to be omnipotent either way!
My reply to his question was that God can do it.
He being the creator of the universe and all the life therein, it's sustainer and also the one who can withdraw it, is called God by all, a term that makes him omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient.
I further told my friend(for the sake of technical substantiation)that a 'heavy' ball need not be made to prove the point. If the force of attraction of earth's gravity is increased for a while, then one will not be able to lift even his empty hand not to talk of lifting a ball! During the time that the gravitational force of earth is kept increased, the pulls on the other planets will of course have to be kept suitably altered to prevent interplanetary collisions. Can the God or the Shakti(force) that created and is sustaining the universe not do it?
By simple inference, the answer is 'He can'.
However, I advised him on the best course of action to clear his doubt; ie. to approach this Shakti whom we all refer to as God and take a test of it's omnipotence himself!
I sincerely wish him success in his search for God!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

...ma'ma' dehi karavalambam (give me a helping hand)

For an ordinary person like me who has still not graduated to the higher realms of worshiping the 'nirguna Brahman'; the atributeless and shapeless, 'saguna' worship is the other course available for experiencing peace. Visits to temples form part of such worship.
After all, if I start pouring out my tales of woe and suffering to another person, he or she will listen only for sometime and thereafter start narrating his or her own woes making me feel more woeful.
Visiting temples is the safe prescription for people like me.
Over many years, come the 1st. of January, I was visiting the famous temple on Simhachalam along with my family. Simhachalam is contiguous with the city of Visakhapatnam which is my native place. Varaha Narasimha is the presiding deity in the temple. For us the people of the north coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh and also the people of south coastal Orissa, this temple is the fountainhead of spiritual solace. There are many legends associated with this temple.
As for me, there are many pleasant memories and experiences that attach me emotionally to this sacred place. The gardens there are resplendent with the seasonal glory. The fruits and flowers seem to be greeting each piligrim by name! The chirping birds provide the music and it always appeared to me like a grand opera conducted by the Lord himself!
The waters of 'Akash Ganga' cool the body and calm the senses!
A darshan of the Lord in the sanctum sanctorum is sheer ecstasy!
The Moola Virat (main deity) appears like a 'shivalinga' because of the shroud of sandal paste applied yearlong over the idol of Narasimha - a manifestation of Vishnu. This form always reminded me of the truth that 'Shivasya hridayam Vishnur Vishnoscha hridayam shivah'.
The Lord appears to be hinting to the devotee 'Hey, look for me within'; within yourself!
This year, I could not visit Simhachalam on the 1st of Jan, as I am in USA along with my wife. The Lord perhaps ordained that I should sometimes practice 'nirguna' worship in which I indulged involuntarily chanting the verse 'Lakshmi Nrisimha mama dehi karavalambam'.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Dr.Rohanbabu is pacing the hall up and down. His hands are holding one another at his back! There is a frown on his face. He is in deep thought contemplating on some new project.
Dr.Babu suddenly stops pacing, picks up the phone and summons one of his aides by name Muthiah to discuss with him a concept that has just germinated in his 'fertile' brain.
As soon as Muthiah arrives, Dr.Babu gets to brass tacks. He declares to Muthiah that he intends to start an institute to teach management to aspiring students.
'Quality education?' queries Muthiah; himself an eminent educationist.
'Not necessarily. But it will be practical education' clarifies Dr.Babu.
Muthiah being a committed educationist immediately goes in to planning mode and innocently reminds that a vast area of land will be required to start a campus.
'We will manage it with the state. I have buddies both in the opposition as well as the ruling parties' says Dr.Babu.
I want to have it affiliated to IIM-A dictates Dr.Babu.
'That may not be possible' a shocked Muthiah blurts trying to hide the expression of shock on his face.
'Don't worry, we will manage it. I have friends in the centre' assures Dr.Babu.
'What about the faculty, sir?', Muthiah seeks enlightenment!
'Don't worry,we will manage it by drawing faculty from our existing institutes' reassures Dr.Babu.
'But we do not have faculty who can teach management subjects', a surprised Muthiah observes.
'Don't worry.Let them teach whatever they can teach. It is after all management. We will manage it', an axiomatic reply from Dr.Babu!
'What about the practical part that you have mentioned?' asks Muthiah.
'I will teach it myself' confirms Dr.Babu.
On this one idea, Muthiah looked convinced. He had seen 'Babu'manage successfully to become 'Dr.Babu'.
'What about student placement?' queries Muthiah.
'We will do some "Jugad" like...'
Before Dr.Babu unfolded his strategy, the alarm clock gave out the wake up ring and my dream ( nightmare) broke.
After all, it was a dream!. I heaved a sigh of relief...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thank God,I am an atheist!

I am a "part time atheist". When the going is good,I am an "atheist"and whenever the going gets tough,I become a "theist"! In all my 62 years of life,I have not met a full time atheist yet.
Recently I met a person who appeared and sounded like an atheist. I was very happy because for me an atheist is God himself!
I wanted to make sure. For this,I started narrating a story written by 'Binadevi' (a pen name) to this new friend. I read this story a long time back and it influenced my thinking greatly thereafter.
The story goes like this.
There was this doctor in charge of a rural health centre in some Indian village. One day, two patients were brought to his place; greviously injured in an accident and unconcious. One of the two was driving a bullock cart which was hit 'head on' by a limousine being driven by the second injured. The doctor did not know any of them from adam. Each of the injured needed to be operated upon forthwith for survival.
The doctor had to choose!
The doctor chose the car driver for surgery and the bullock cart driver got only first aid. In the very little time available for a decision and in the absence of any data, the lone doctor thought that death of the car driver will have a more severe impact on his immediate family eventhough death causes the same grief in all households.
As expected, the bullock cart man dies and the car owner survives.
Subsequently,the doctor gets to know that the car owner had developed suicidal tendencies for some time due to certain personal issues and is often getting involved in accidents. This accident is sixth in the order!
The bullock cart man is the lone breadwinner for his nonagenarian mother!
The doctor feels very sad at his decision.
Concluding the narrative,I exclaimed that 'God's ways are mysterious!'
My new friend objected to this and said 'where is God in this? It is only chance' .By saying so he failed my test . He is not an athiest. He is a believer.
What I call as 'God' is referred to as 'chance' by him.
My search for an atheist continues!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Snow white and the 'six' dwarfs

It all happened in the very early 50's of twentieth century while I was studying in the Infant class in a Roman Catholic school in Bhimli,a small seaside town in Southern India.Though a girl's school, it offered co-education up to 5th.class.
Every year,there used to be a gala function on Holy Mother's Day (I am not sure about this name).During the function,toppers in academics,sports,fine arts etc. used to be awarded.In addition,there used to be music,dance and drama performed by children of various classes.That year it was decided to stage a drama wherein children from the entry level can perform together with students from the higher classes.The story chosen was 'Snow White and the seven dwarfs';the story of a beautiful girl, Snow White who "takes refuge in the forest in the house of seven dwarfs to hide from her stepmother, the wicked Queen. The Queen is jealous because she wants to be known as "the fairest in the land," and Snow White's beauty surpasses her own. The dwarfs grow to love their unexpected visitor, who cleans their house and cooks their meals. But one day while the dwarfs are at their diamond mine, the Queen arrives at the cottage disguised as an old peddler woman and persuades Snow White to bite into a poisoned apple. The dwarfs, warned by the forest animals, rush home to chase the witch away, but they are too late to save Snow White from the poisoned apple. They place her in a glass coffin in the woods and mourn for her. The Prince, who has fallen in love with Snow White, happens by and awakens her from the wicked Queen's deathlike spell with "love's first kiss."
Sister Grace cast me as one of the seven dwarfs.Being the smallest of the seven,I was only to walk behind the other six as a tag.Each dwarf was to have long white beard.The costumes were made ready.Rehearsals were held.Everything was hunky dory.On the day of drama,we were all made up(Surgical cotton was used as beards for us.)and asked to walk on to the stage.As soon as I walked on to the stage,a small speck of cotton entered my nostril making me sneeze heavily resulting in my white beard getting blown off!.This scared me and I ran backstage crying.
The show however went on well and the audience applauded!
When the actors were being introduced to the audience at the end of the show,sister Grace called out my name also.I went on to the stage without my beard and with lot of tears in my eyes. Sister Grace gave me a hug that made me beam again!
There was a thunderous applause from the audience;an applause for the sister's Grace which is unforgettable!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Learnings on the Cricket field...

In a family of 10 children,I was the ninth; born 62 years ago in a sleepy little town on the eastern coast of peninsular India.
The world that I was born into was a lot different from what it is now in terms of the lifestyles of people.The present day conviniences and comforts were absent then. But 'comforting' I got in ample measure whenever I was in distress!
My mother as also the six brothers and two sisters who are elder to me, pampered me; pampered only up to certain limits permitted by the dictates of dicipline and restricted by the limitation on resources caused due to the sad and sudden demise of my father.
Their love for me was boundless!
At that point of time, giving good education to the younger brothers was of utmost concern for my older brothers. As a result of this, all of us got good education and could do very well in our lives.
In the large middle class families like ours all expenses were pre-budgeted and pocket money for children was unknown in those days. Given the conditions as they were, we the younger ones followed good financial dicipline.
It was fun growing up in such a big loving family!
Until I joined college where sporting facilities are available, I was happy practising only gully cricket for relaxation.
Most of the times I used to be fielding in the deep third man position. During practice, I rarely used to get a chance to bat and almost never a chance to bowl!
The field gear for playing consisted of four bamboo sticks. The bat belonged to one of the team members and he got it as a gift from his father! This was a very costly and rare gift in those days.
The owner of the bat was ipsofacto the captain of the team and he could call all the shots!
Pads, guards and gloves including the wicket keeper's were unaffordable. However the ball used for playing was a regular leather one bought on contributary basis; a rupee from each player.
Even when I could not pay my contribution, I used to still go to watch the others practising. As the wicket keeper was not provided with the required protective gear, most of the times he used to go through all the movements like in test matches only to let go the ball!
There used to be thus a need for a deep third man right on the boundary line to stop/retrieve the ball. The captain(who owns the bat) perforce used to ask me to take up that position and field.
Because of my great love for the game,I used to do this with the utmost dedication. My fielding skills got honed up in the process!
Perhaps to keep me motivated, the captain was once in a while allowing me to bat. I always made the best use of these chances to sharpen my batting skills. I soon realised that for one to become good at batting,one has to be fearless and should never take his eyes off the ball right from the time that it leaves the bowler's hand till it is dispatched properly for runs.
Also one should never leave the stumps and shuffle towards legside even when the bowler is throwing bodyline. Afterall there is a bat in hand!
The mantra is 'stay there! runs will come your way!'
Is it not equally true for our lives? Stay on and maintain the right poise. Everything that's due comes your way!
Whenever another team challenged ours for a weekend game, I always was in the playing eleven of our team because I could save a lot of runs fielding at deep third man position in addition to chipping in with a few runs myself.
Whatever is to be done is to be done with gusto!
Whenever I ruminate on these childhood happenings,the words of Bharat Ratna M.Visweswarayya ring in my ears- "If your job is to sweep,sweep it in the best possible way that none can excel you..."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Laaga Chunari mein daag!!

The other day I was baby sitting Shreyas, my grandson. My wife was doing some work in the kitchen. Gayatri and Kishore went to 'Babiesrus' to buy things for their son Shreyas.

The scene was 'picture perfect'! Sitting by the side of Shreyas, I was hearing to music on my laptop. Manna De was singing soulfully the song "Laaga Chunari mein daag" from the hindi film 'Dil hi to hai'.

Suddenly Shreyas started crying and I was at a loss to know what triggered this. I tried all known gimmicks to pacify him. His crying only became louder. It was then that my wife dashed an advice from the kitchen 'Laaga Chunari mein daag ani padutunnaadu kadandi, Diaper check cheyyandi(It is being sung that there is a patch, please check the diaper)'. Lo and Behold when I checked his diaper there was a blue patch on it -which appears when an infant pees!

What a telepathic prompt from my wife!

It is like Ammamma.com!

I always consider her as a SME(Subject Matter Expert) in such realms.This view of mine got further fortified after this incident.

After diaper change,Shreyas started playing.He looked enchanting and I tried to attract his attention by doing various antics.He seemed to be oblivious of my efforts and is dwelling in his own different world.Why this indifference?

I was trying to seek some enlightenment on this matter from my wife.

Just then Mannada started singing the last stanza of the song which is "woh duniya more babul ka ghar,yeh duniya sasural".This suddenly prompted an answer in my head.
If every child born in to this world is coming to his or her 'sasural',it is quite natural for it to feel a little shy initially.It is not indifference as I thought but shyness.
I got the enlightenment!