All posts filed under: Perspective

DhYana – Part 2

We are all aware about Yogacharya T.Krishnamacharya being a pioneer in using yoga (specifically asana and pranayama) for therapy and well-being. But little did we know that he was a great scholar of our sacred knowledge and traditions. One of his long-standing students Raghu Ananthanarayanan has put together an interesting note about what is dhyAna and the interconnected nuances around it. He has used the device of an innocent conversation between a young, curious child, Chiku who is Gayatri Iyer, and an elderly teacher Rita, just like the dialogues that used to take place between student and teachers at ashrams. In resuming my discussions with Raghu who is Rita in the writings, I continue my exploration of “what is dhyAna?” and through that try and disperse the misinterpretations of symbols and rituals of our Hindu culture. Chiku: How is nidhIdhyAsana different from dhyAna, is it closer to dhAraNA ? Rita: nidhIdhyAsana is doing dhAraNA on understanding the words that are being told to you by somebody. So, it starts with shravaNam, mananam and nidhidhyAsitavyam. So, shravaNam …

Lessons From Mahabharata – Reclaiming The Epic For The 21st Century

As India continues on its journey from a $3 trillion to $10 trillion economy, as it reorients its political pendulum from permissions and entitlements to development and prosperity, as it resets its strategic stance from apologetic-defensive to confident-expansive, and redefines its cultural arc from being moored in a timid crust to one that carries international hues, it needs not merely the modern tools of engagement and technology to negotiate the world’s constantly-changing landscape but a stronger civilisational base upon which it can stand with knowledge, dynamism, force and stability; it needs to re-imagine itself and re-identify with its own ethos and its own experiences. Amongst its experiential kaleidoscope evolved over millennia, there are four important civilisational legs that have sustained India for more than five millenniums – the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Puranas and the Epics (the Ramayana and the Mahabharata). The Vedas captured the insights of rishis and eternalised them into words and three notes, a combination of language and sounds that resonates with our deepest parts even today as truth, a living entity …

Devgiri Fort – A Microcosm Of Indian History

During one of our respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji’s public contact program “Pariksha pe charcha” one mother shared her worries with the Prime Minister. The lady said that her son is hooked on to computer and internet games, which is adversely affecting his studies. And the Prime Minister’s response, which has since become viral on social media, was “ये PUBG वाला है क्या?” This is the age of computer, internet and mobile games. Youngsters are hooked on to these games. In some of these arcade games are mazes (in which one gets lost) with trap doors, dark alleys, tunnels and secret passages. The player’s computer-avatar has to successfully cross this maze. There are difficulties and dangers at every step. One mistake and you are out! In computer games your avatar may get two life-lines, but the third time, “The game is over!” There is a lot of excitement about these games amongst youngsters. But in real-life you only get one chance. Only a brave person will take on such challenges. Is there such a …

DhyAna – Part 1

We are all aware about Yogacharya T.Krishnamacharya being a pioneer in using yoga (specifically asana and pranayama) for therapy and well-being. But little did we know that he was a great scholar of our sacred knowledge and traditions. One of his long-standing students Raghu Ananthanarayanan has put together an interesting note about what is dhyAna and the interconnected nuances around it. He has used the device of an innocent conversation between a young, curious child, Chiku who is Gayatri Iyer, and an elderly teacher Rita, just like the dialogues that used to take place between student and teachers at ashrams. In my discussions with Raghu who is Rita in the writings, I learnt how symbols and rituals of our Hindu culture have been misinterpreted for long and once you know the real meaning, you can only marvel at the profundity of the entire meaning and how it is part of the larger divine order. The number of wellness and meditation camps or retreats going on these days is quite mind boggling. Each of them talks …

Sastra Sabha And The Tenali Exams – A Report

“If ‘aham brahmhasmi’ is written in fire, you will experience it.” Anjaneya Sharma Garu, or Guru Garu to his devoted students and followers, is explaining Chitta Samskara to me, in front of his house Sreevari Sannidhi, in Tenali, Andhra Pradesh. Loosely, Chitta is the subconscious mind, and Samskaras are the impressions that form on it, both positive and negative – the terms are familiar to students of yoga the world over. But the discussion we are having is about the value of the Karma Kanda of the Veda, the portions that precede the Upanishads or the Jnana Kanda. Also known as the Purva Mimamsa, often just Mimamsa for short, the knowledge of its contents, especially the shroutha yagnyas and allied procedures, is restricted to a dwindling few. As Guru Garu speaks, you can hear the chewing of the pure-bred Punganur cows in their sheds, and the occasional low moo. His hands make a motion as if he is writing in the air. An octogenarian, with a strong resonant voice, he gives the impression of a …

Fulfillment through Yoga

We are all aware about Yogacharya T.Krishnamacharya being a pioneer in using yoga (specifically asana and pranayama) for therapy and well-being. But little did we know that he was a great scholar of our sacred knowledge and traditions. One of his long-standing students Raghu Ananthanarayanan has put together an interesting note about how can one use yoga as a tool for deeper fulfillment and meaning in life? He has used the device of an innocent conversation between a young, curious child, Chiku who is Gayatri Iyer, and an elderly teacher Rita, just like the dialogues that used to take place between student and teachers at ashrams. In my discussions with Raghu who is Rita in the writings, I learnt how symbols and rituals of our Hindu culture have been misinterpreted for long and once you know the real meaning, you can only marvel at the profundity of the entire meaning and how it is part of the larger divine order. ChiKu: I am very confused Rita. I read a lot of posts about the health …

A Very Brief History of Indian Science

The annual Indian Science Congress, which just concluded, had its usual share of controversies about history of Indian science and I have been asked to weigh in. It so turns out that I did precisely that in a brief account titled “Science” for Stanley Wolpert’s Encyclopedia of India(2005) and since that is freely available online, I shall be more selective of themes in this revision of the previous essay. This account does not include the modern period for which many excellent histories exist. Indian archaeology and literature provide considerable layered evidence related to the development of science. The chronological time frame for this history is provided by the archaeological record that has been traced, in an unbroken tradition, to about 8000 BCE. Prior to this date, there are records of rock paintings that are considerably older. The earliest textual source is the Ṛgveda, which is a compilation of very ancient material. The astronomical references in the Vedic books recall events of the third or the fourth millennium BCE and earlier. The discovery that Sarasvati, the preeminent river of the …

What Would General Bhishma Tell Prime Minister Narendra Modi Today?

Five millenniums ago, after the Great War fought on battleground Kurukshetra between all but two warriors of Aryavarta, when King Yudhishthira asked Ved Vyasa about how he should go about rebuilding his kingdom, Vyasa told him to seek the advice of General Bhishma. Son of Ganga and King Shantanu, pupil of Guru Parashurama, administrator-warrior-thinker-strategist par excellence, this monument of a man lay on a bed of arrows on the battleground, consciously waiting for the opportune time to let his soul leave his body. With his death would go all wisdom, all knowledge, all perspectives about dharma, statecraft, kingly duties. And war. The ensuing discourse between Bhishma and Yudhishthira comprises the largest of 18 parvas, books, in the Mahabharata. At 12,890 verses the Shanti Parva holds little more than one-sixth of the entire 73,640-verse text of the Critical Edition. Broadly, this parva is divided into three parts, Rajadharma parva (law of statecraft, governance), Apaddharma parva (laws of emergencies, calamities) and Mokshadharma parva (law of salvation, metaphysics), although each influences the other, in a seamless blending, with …

Narendra Modi Must Use Balakot To Consolidate India’s Rajasic Transformation

Pakistan wanted to “bleed India with a thousand cuts”. Question: is Pulwama, where 40 jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force lost their lives in a suicide attack on 14 February, the thousandth cut? “The sacrifices of our brave security personnel shall not go in vain,” promised Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Question: is 14 February Pakistan’s Shishupala moment? Three years ago, former Research and Analysis Wing chief Vikram Sood had advocated that India should stop being the “good boy” of international affairs. Question: does 14 February mark the end of the idea that India is a peace-loving, peace-spewing nation ready to be trampled, humiliated, killed? Across planes of time, space and beyond, on battlefield Kurukshetra, Sri Krishna, after several rounds of attempting to deliver peace, each of which was destined to fail, had advised the reluctant warrior Arjuna, fraught with tamas, to go and fight. Question: is this India’s rajas moment, a moment when the collective consciousness of a nation comes together and sheds its tamasic mode and embraces the rajasic spirit? Is the new …

Vaastu Shastra: Dispelling Popular Myths

Sashikala Ananth, a renowned architect and expert on Vaastu Shastra, and has been instrumental in bringing the ancient Indian tradition to an entire generation of architects and designers. Following is a reprint of a speech that she gave many years ago at a convention, the theme of which remains quite relevant even today. What is Vaastu? Is it relevant to modern living? This is an oft repeated question says Sashikala ji.  The answers are many.  When she began her journey into the rediscovery of our traditional roots over 30 years ago, the thought that used to recur in her mind was: why does something that is vibrant and alive need to be rediscovered at all? Shouldn’t it only be a process of reinterpretation? Today she sees that this was a redundant question.  When a culture and a civilization are ravaged by the beliefs and assumptions of one or more alien races, then the path of rediscovery is an unavoidable one.  The nature of the traditional way of life would be either distorted or destroyed. Respecting …