Saturday, 11 November 2017


Man is said to be a 'Social animal', so are elephant, deer, monkey etc. Birds of a feather also fly together. Ants and honeybees make huge communities. Thus living in groups appears to be a natural choice for many species including human beings. However, we also know that self-interest is a strong instinct. Might is right being the nature's law of the jungle, the stronger wants to snatch whatever he wants from the weaker and generally is able to do so. Then why do they still live together? It is because the strong are also seen taking care of the weak and protecting them. Some people think it is indicative of presence of the God in their heart, while some other people think it is the result of insecurity. Others attribute it to destiny, Karma etc. or do not think at all. The interaction between an individual and the community is an interesting topic, so also the evolution of a community in relation to its surroundings.

Shri Revindra Apte is a brilliant engineer by education and training. He cultivated his interest in trekking and went beyond the common perception of trekking as a mode of strenuous physical exercise and spirit of adventure. He closely observed the fauna and flora of the terrain he covered and also the living of local inhabitants. Then he went to live with tribal people in deep forests infested with Naxalites, Maoists, seperatists etc. and share their style of living. He helped the NGOs working for upliftment of these tribals by educating them and imparting them some modern skills.

He recently visited Madagasker, a large island off the shores of Africa, where different plants and animals not found elsewhere, were evolved because of its isolation from the mainland. He went there mainly to study the life of Lemurs, a species of monkeys closest to the primates from whom the humans evolved. Then he visited Kenya and looked at the tribal villagers living a peaceful life in their villages and a disturbed life in the city of Nairobi.

He has given his observations and tried to extrapolate them to the virtual communities on social media where people often hide behind various masks and some times they do not even exist in reality. Finally he has tried to relate them to an e mail group, where people are real and though they do not live together, they are close to each other as they freely communicate on internet.  

An interesting discussion followed.   

Madagascar is also habitat of some special varieties ob birds and chameleons. Beautiful videos on these creatures are added to this blog. The Videos on these expeditions are really absorbing. Their links are given below for convinience of the readers.

African Safari     (32 minutes)

  Lemurs of Madagascar    (26:30 minutes)

Ravindra Apte, Nov 2 at 5:08 PM


Recently, Aug – Sept, I visited Madagascar. I was attracted by the famed biodiversity of Madagascar and especially the Lemurs, the closest living relative of the ancestral primates from whom the Humans evolved. The sever loss of habitat has endangered the many species of lemurs.  It was an experience to trek in the jungle trying to spot the lemurs. The Andabise National Park is the last wild habitat of Indri Indri lemurs. There were two groups of Indri Indri consisting of 6 to 8 members. They were territorial and proclaimed their areas by loud calls. With no predator except for the fossa, a civet or mongoose like mammal, the lemurs have diversified into 59 living species as a response to scares resources. Some feeding on top canopy of trees, some near ground, some specializing on insect hunting and some becoming nocturnal in the process of occupying niches in the environment and forming their own small flourishing communities. Is it a process of forming clans and tribes in humans to occupy and guard the niches in the environment?

In the same trip I visited Kenya. In the riparian habitat of River Ewaso, the Sambaru National Park, we visited the Sambaru tribal village of Namaiyiana. There were few huts with traditional design but modern material of discarded card board and plastic sheets and could easily pass for the shanties in Nairobi. The villagers though poor and deprived of many modern amenities were still cheerful and displayed integrity and pride. When I was in Nairobi I was struck by the vacant looks in the eyes of the homeless drifting people and there are hoards of them. Up rooted from their clan and tribe they look desperate and melancholy. It was a period just after the presidential election. The election of Uhuru Kenyata was challenged by Raila Odinga and the case was in court. Our driver and guide informed us that when the election campaign was on most of the people preferred to be with their own tribe and their home towns. This was in anticipation of any post-election violence. The residential schools were closed and the students back in their own tribal home land. (Which explained the deserted schools, both government and of mission, in our travel across Kenya) The history of tribal violence is that of short of genocide, be it in Rwanda, Sudan or Congo. Apart from providing the cultural and emotional mooring the community is expected to provide the strength and safety in numbers.

The idea of various online groups (virtual communities?), like our retiree group is interesting to explore. Apart from the age old communities bound together by the idea of a nation, religion, caste and sub caste, ethnicity and language we had the communities bound by interest like the fan clubs of football clubs and the super stars. The virtual communities are of recent origin. It can be mobbed by faceless individuals with feigned common interests or identity. Leaving aside the danger of falsehood in it for a moment, what purpose the group serves to the individual and the larger community?

Does our group of retiree, I am hesitant to call it virtual community; a better word would be a Distant Community, is just for time pass or for distribution of Gyaan or safe guard the pension or something more? What is there for individuals who are silent for most of the periods (and they are in good numbers)?  Why do I feel writing in this group once in a while?


Padmakar Puntambekar, Nov 2 at 5:43 PM

Dear Ravi
Your post are very much interesting to read and it increases our gyan. Please post few photos of your tour. 
In response to your last para , our group is of  retirees. We have different hobbies intrest still we  have enough time now to read and enjoy our colleagues post on various typics. Already there is lot of bombarding of mails from group members,  so silent members are also contributing to maintain group decipline. 
Thottappilly Premachandran, Nov 2 at 5:57 PM

Dear Sri Apteji,
Your mail gave me lot of insight on unexplored regions where many of us dare to visit. Nicely narrated. 

Thanks for your enlightenment of a new world.


Ravindra Apte - Nov 3 at 5:37 PM

It seems my African Journey has created some interest.

Actually the trigger to write the piece was the article in Indian Express (2nd Nov) The Dangers of a Flawed Poll.  It is about the Kenya's fresh Presidential election and the mess associated with it and the atmosphere of intimidation. I was in Kenya after the Aug elections and heard and seen the disruption it had caused, the schools shuttered and people withdrawing to ghettos. That thought lead to reflections on societies and communities and the roles they play. Reference to my travel was incidental. 

My journeys are not that adventurous or courting danger, just they are off the usual destinations. That is possible because with like minded friends, I am able to plan destinations on our own of our interest. I carry a video camera and taken a few stills. My videos on the trip are ready but they are too long, half an hour each and so I am hesitant to forward the links. But I will do it one of these days. In the meanwhile here are some stills, which I had shared on WhatsApp group (another Distant Community) 

I enjoy sunrise and sunset tremendously and invariable end up clicking them.

Ashok Malhotra : Nov 3 at 8:49 PM

Apteji welcome back after a long long break with recharged batteries from your diverse travelogs. Medagaskar and Kenya are both exciting, unique as well diverse places and we would love to hear your entire stories. The unique rock formations of Medagaskar are world famous. Association of Kenya to India is also very old and its culture and cities have been evoked in the good old films n songs. I still like to hear the good old song "Mombassa-Mombassa". The Kenyan names of Zanzibar, Masai mara also cross the memory. Please go ahead with your travelogs. Thanks
Thottappilly Premachandran : Nov 3 at 9:05 PM

I know that ur trips involves bit of trekking also. In case you permit outsiders of your group,  some from this group may like to join next planned trip where  there is only a limited trekking is involved.

Apart from this we, in AEPWF was also thinking of some trips of our group members . I am told DAE retirees in Kerala regularly meet and undertake local trips. Dear Apteji, can you suggest and take some lead.

Ravindra Apte : Nov 3 at 10:50 PM

Regarding involvement in planning fun trips, my experience is trekkers are misfit for planning it. They simply have different understanding of feasibility, hardship and fun.

Here are the links to pictures again, hopefully they would work. 
Shah Nawaz Ahmad : Nov 3 at 11:41 PM

Mirza ki taraf se ek aur, unke liye jo khil na sakey:----

sab kahan kuch lala-o-gul mein numayan ho gaien
khak mein kya suratein hongi k pinhan ho gaien

Not all, only a few are destined to  bloom and grow
How many flowers lie crushed in dust, none may e’er know
Ravindra Apte : Nov 4 at 12:28 AM

You are quite right on Indian connection with Kenya. The trade is still in the hands of those Indians, migrated years back. They are there more than three generations. The hundreds of acres of rose green houses in Naiwasha were owned by an Indian. Surprisingly when our guide gave this info, he said after three generations and Kenyan citizenship the person is Kenyan only. 
In the hotels one could get chapati and all Kenyan know what it is chapati, only they don't know how to make it in right way. We had chapati made like a pancake and cut like a pizza. 

You are right about the famous rock formation of Madagascar, they are in the south region. Our interest was with the Lemurs in the wild and since we had limited days we were in the eastern region of M. We missed out on the rocks as well as the baobab avenue. But the visit to Andasibe made for the loss. The other parts of Madagascar are exploited for mineral. France devastated the country for chromium and looted the forest for mahogany and rosewood. Today most of the mines are passed their peak production. Canada has interest in mines, especially that of zirconium.    

It is strange how the communities adopt certain customs and rituals. Madagacy  society has very strange custom of honoring their ancestors. This came to our knowledge when we visited the Ambohimanga, the spiritual center and old residence of kings. The guide showed the royal tomb and explained how it is generally laid out. It is a long deep trench and on both sides there are bunks on which the remains of the ancestors are placed, rapped in fine cloths. Every seven years they grave is opened and the remains are taken out, re-rapped  in fine cloth and re-buried. There is a big feast and presents are exchanged. I thought this old custom might be a history, but it is not. Our guide said just last year he has shown the great grand parents to his son. 

All communities have their own versions of after life and they way to remember the departed. They pyramids stacked with gold and  other items and mummies, the Chinese emperors tombs are famous examples. Even the Nabataean nomads of Jordan had the City of Dead, Petra. In Petra I saw the three halls for the great feast lasting of a week, which occurred once in a year. (similar to our पक्ष / पितृ पक्ष )  There are no remains of the dead as they practiced keeping the bodies on a rock pillars for the birds like the Parsi. But the dwellings of the dead are a remarkable work of rock cutting. There are hundreds of such places both great and simple. Closer home we have the samadhi, chattri (छत्री), विरगळ, सती हात to honour  the departed and keep their memory strong. Some times the desire to honour and remember the departed may take the shape of beautiful Taj Mahal. Since we are closely associated with these practices we don't find them odd. 

Even in today's world the idea of after life is carried to a ridiculous level. In North East I have seen a Maruti 800 car being buried along with the departed Naga chief. The story goes that periodically money is buried in the grave, you see to run the car the Chief will have to buy the petrol and the prices being riding rocket the money must be used fast. The grave vandals had reduced the car to a skeleton and robbed the money. Hard luck for the Chief.  

Dear Ahmad Sahab, Good you thoughtfully translated the couplets. 

But Sahab, what about those flowers which bloomed and whose fragrance wafted on the gentle westerly wind and they were never aware of it. 

Ravindra Apte  
Ashok Malhotra : Nov 4 at 7:32 AM

    Perhaps another way to look at the "flowers that did not bloom" is.. "those having a selfish motive of not to share n spread their fragrance".
  Apteji, thanks. You are not only lucky to see all the exotic places in this world but also having the God's gift of the prose. Reading your mails leaves a strange mix of melancholy and envy b'cause it matches with my partially fulfilled ambitions. I am also reminded of the reading of "Gulliver's travels".
   Is Petra derived from pitr? 

Ravindra Apte  : Nov 4 at 12:45 PM

The name Petra is not derived from pitr (पित्र / पितर). It is derived from Greek word for rock.
K.Natarajan : Nov 8 at 6:26 AM

Virtual communities! 

The materialistic aspect of travelogue apart, the philosophical thought of  virtual communities and the introspective ‘why am I tempted to put in a mail to this group once in a while?’  of Shri R yay Apte
  geared me down to this belated response.

Like the determined existence of lemurs, close to extinction, but still steadfastly fighting nature to survive by organizing themselves into different ‘groups’,  the retirees from a unique and purposeful organisation of a sensitive technology, suddenly find themselves without a mooring, and, refusing to settle down to the dull retirement, place themselves in a matrix of different rows and columns  of their creation for a virtual survival and respond from the virtual group of a row or column, as they deem fit.
The motive force is not safeguarding mundane interests like pension etc, or even timepassing,   but , I believe, to preserve the link with our past !

The mass of the virtual group of any row or column creates its own virtual gravitational force to pull the element to respond(or to create) . An element may occasionally feel detached, apparently away from the field of influence, but the ebb and flow of gravitational waves  is sure to pull the element into its fold , sooner or later!

Shri RY Apte’s ‘virtual communities’  and the rhetoric question posed, are  nice thoughts!

anand ghare : Nov 8 at 9:40 AM

I had read an article long long ago titled "Tourists are not travelers".
I might have made more than a hundred official tours  and almost equal number of journeys to various different places in my personal life. Though I was keen to see the places of interest, natural as well as man made and tried to taste locally made food,  wherever I went, it was still only as a slightly more interested tourist.  I am understanding the difference between a tourist and a traveler after reading the accounts given by Shri Apte and talking to him, rather listening to him speaking passionately about the people he met whether in North East India or Africa and now Lemurs, a species I had not even heard of.
He has asked some questions at the end of his first mail. I was hesitant to respond because I do not think to be competent enough to address those questions. I can probably only say पिंडे पिंडे रुचिर्भिन्ना कुंडे कुंडे नवम् पयः।, (meaning every person has a different taste and every pond has different water). So I will not hazard a guess about our virtual or Distant community. It is certainly not homogenous.

Anand Ghare

Ravindra Apte : Nov 8 at 5:38 PM

The Communities

Shri K Natarajan has explained the operational mechanism / principle of virtual / distant communities. I think it has other dimensions as well.

The virtual communities / groups are attractive as they provide a degree of anonymity. You could express your, not so savoury opinion and get away. But in our group there is hardly any anonymity and still I came to know the many shades of personality of the members of the group, which were not revealed when we were interacting on daily basis. One reason could be we were interacting strictly on need based, in the sanitized atmosphere of office and office procedures. It revealed only our competence or lack of it in technical issues or procedural maze or ability to negotiate hurdles in a meeting or being a team member. But as a person you were unknown to many with whom you interacted.

As for you Sir KN, I worked with you for many years and thought I knew you well enough. As a boss you gave an impression that you have no life beyond office, so immersed you were in the technical details and matters of office. (You still show those traits!) Yes I was aware of your deep roots in logical and rational thinking and your rare ability to call a spade a spade without malice. But only in this group I came to know about your breadth of reading and interests from scriptures, philosophy to classical music. It was you who introduced me to T M Krishna’s music and his personality; I had only attended his lecture on freedom in creativity.

Another person is Shri. R. Rustagi. I came to know him before I joined PPED, you see he had visited the training school along with Shri Mahadev Rao to woo fresh trainees to join PPED. He was successful in his mission, some 20 of joined PPED. Later I interacted with him in matters related to the instrumentation of reactivity mechanism and later for the Secondary Shut down System for NAPP. When he left for greener pastures of US and came back to sell the valves, I was still there. I had never suspected his interest in Tulsi Ramayan, his exposure to scriptures and philosophy, his deep veneration for Indian culture and tradition (even though I know the NRIs are more Indian than we Indians). And how gravitates all things to yoga.

I never knew, Anand Ghare writes so lucidly on diverse topics. That is because even though we met, it was in the confines of office, which discouraged informal chats. And that’s why there were many groups for informal interactions. There were those tea groups, lunch groups or buddies, the after lunch stroller’s group, the bridge players group and yes we had that trekker’s group. These groups were rather exclusive, the criteria may be any,  of batch mate, of the same section etc. Rarely one engaged in informal chat outside their group. I remember Mago used to engage is such chats when he was learning Marathi and wished to try it out. He had seen the Hindi version of the controversial Marathi play Sakharam Binder. He wished to know how the Marathi audience has received it. Once by chance I met him and S N Ahmad, after the film show at Metro. The film was that Govind Nihalani classic, आक्रोश. We ended up in the nearby Irani restaurant dissecting the powerful film. I remember the comments of Ahmad when we were discussing the characters, played out by Amrish Puri and Naseeruddin Shah. He said the character of Amrish Puri had made peace with the system. I think many a time this insight helps in knowing how the system functions and why people act the way they act. Such interactions were rare outside the groups.  

The retiree group is a first group which has brought us all together and provided a common platform to interact. Yes it has provided a degree of anonymity, I am sure, for some I am just a name; the way I find it difficult to give a face to a familiar name. There is a transparency in the writing style of members. At times it uncovers the deep seated beliefs and preferences and political opinions bordering on the reason and rationality. We are known to each other for so long that we don’t mind presenting the way we are. And how many times we are going to meet face to face? There is an escape hatch as well, of simply vanishing, when the things being too hot for our liking and still we can keep tabs on what is going around.

As KN has put it the motive force for the group is to preserve the links to our past. Yes it is very true, where would I share my memories from my office days, other than this group?

Ravindra Apte



Ravindra Apte : Nov 11 at 6:31 PM

In Aug - Sept I traveled through Kenya and Madagascar. Here is a brief video account of the same.  

For planning the tour of Kenya the prime attraction was the yearly migration of wildebeests and zebras. Of course the wild life attraction was there, but then we had the idea of a safari in our trip to Tanzania in Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater. That was more than 10 years back. For this trip, we decided to visit different habitats and in that process chose five national parks / reserves. It gave an opportunity to understand how animals adapt to the habitats. But it also required long, on an average 250 km, drives between two parks / habitats and with the conditions of roads it meant 6 to 8 hours of drive. We traveled from north to south south-east and through the geological marvel of Rift Valley, running from Red Sea to Mozambique a length of 6000 Km. 
All of us have seen, myself a number of times, the excellent coverage in documentaries of Discovery / NG TV channels, of the great migration from Serengeti to Masai Mara of the wildebeests daring the river crossing, saving themselves from the jaws of crocodiles. We were lucky to witness the migration. We have to jockey our vehicle, one in a crowd of 50, to the spot and struggle for the best possible angle and film and at the same time marvel at the scene. Yes, my video coverage is no comparison to the professional job, but to tell the truth the most professional documentaries fail to give the real feel. For that you have to see the live action yourself. 

Our Madagascar trip happened because I could not avoid the temptation to visit it when we were so close to it from Kenya. A biodiversity hot spot being reduced to a desert. It is a fairly large country and the interesting spots are dispersed, with the poor connectivity one has to spend days to cover all the interesting places. We had limited days and budget (yes Madagascar is expensive) and so we concentrated on our main interest The Lemurs.  

On the net there is a reference of a 1932 talk by Shankaracharya of Kanchi, in which he shows the connection between Madagascar and India comparing the names. Yes many of the names sound to have roots in Indian names. But in the local language they may not have the same meaning. But no doubt there is Indian connection. As in rest of East Africa the trade, especially of gold, is controlled by the descendants of the brave and enterprising Bohara and Marwadi traders who migrated years back. Madagacy people believe in astrology, the good time and the concept of Rahu Kal. Our guide informed us the Indian astrologers are the best and in great demand. 

Here are  links to two videos  

        African Safari     (32 minutes)

        Lemurs of Madagascar    (26:30 minutes)

Ravindra Apte   

Ravindra Apte <>
Nov 12 at 1:22 PM


Kenya is not well known for birding destination. But on our Safari we saw many birds, thanks to our guide and driver, Anthony, who was a bird enthusiast and never complained for halting vehicle for bird observation. Some of you may enjoy the video. Here is the link to video, Birds of Kenya about 30 minutes. 

Ravindra Apte


Ravindra Apte <>
Nov 12 at 10:28 PM

Dear Anand Ghare,

This is the last video from my Madagascar trip, may be you would like it to be included  in your blog.

Chameleons are interesting creatures. Their ability to change the body skin color to match the surrounding background is amazing. I am fascinated and wonder how the feed back mechanism must be functioning to have a perfect match. It is a ripe subject for a PhD and many have actually worked on it.

Ravindra Apte 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Am I free? - An inquiry by a singer

It is said "every man (or woman) is born FREE". The new born child is free to do whatever it can, though it can do very little. It is also totally dependent on others, mainly mother, for its basic needs, protection and perhaps even survival. The dependence of the child on others gradually reduces as it grows in to adulthood, but simultaneously its freedom gets curtailed as several restrictions are put by the other members of the family, the society, the state, etc., the lawmakers in general. There has been an on going tussle between the people who make rules, those who want to abide by the rules and those who want 'freedom' from the rules that appear tyrannical, inconvenient or just needless. The rules, regulations, conventions, laws etc. also get changed over time and are replaced with new set of rules.  It is a dynamic situation.

There was an interesting discussion on the freedom of an artiste. It has nothing to do with the society or the state or their rules and regulations, law and order etc. but all within the domain of art, of giving expression to ones urge or feelings in the form of his art. A very fine point indeed.  

To start with the fundamentals, whether an artistes has any specific purpose in his mind? Has set some goals in his life? Or he has just an urge to express! Whether he is working only for his own satisfaction or wants an applause from others? whether from the connoisseur or the average or large audiences. He has to choose his priority. Again the question is, if he produces something that people do not like, he may not get the platform to exhibit his works. The artiste in this discussion wants to remain with in the Carnatic classical music and wants it to take to the masses in slums, but the usual audience wants him to sing the classical music as they are used to listen and appreciate. So he chooses to please the audience or at least the organizers and also cry for freedom, complaining about restrictions. His dilemma appears to be he is not able to connect with right people. The people whom he wants to connect do not understand or appreciate his skills or his form of music and he feels restricted while playing for the gallery. However, a very famous artiste is able to exhibit what common viewers may feel trash as great pieces of art and gets away with it, perhaps the viewers have a different perception of art.  

I think the contradiction or confusion is with in the mind of the artiste or the viewer or the audience, about expectation versus actual.

Interesting discussion on this blog led to further insight in the life of Mr. T N Krishna, the notable Carnatic classical singer, impact of technical progress on art and the different view points of different listeners.

"Ravindra Apte"  wrote on On Jul 16, 2017 7:05 PM
From Ravindra Apte

Pune is having an excellent commendable tradition of having memorial lectures. One such lecture is in the memory of Prof. Ram Bapat. Which I have attended for last few years. Another not to miss lecture is in the memory of late music director and teacher  Bhaskar Chandawarkar.  The topics chosen are truly from liberal arts. 

On 15th July there was the Ram Bapat memorial lecture by Carnatic singer T M Krishna. The title of the lecture being " Am I free? - An inquiry by a singer". I had no idea of what he may speak, but generally I thought it could be on present atmosphere of tolerance / intolerance and freedom of speech and expression.  The fresh clue being the order by the film certification board,  of beeping out the words "gou" "Gourakskak" , "Modi" and "Gujarat " from the documentary on Amrtya Sen.  Well, the singer's inquiry was far beyond it. 

I don't have much knowledge of music as such and far less of Carnatic music. But I do recognise  a good music and no doubt enjoy it. I know there are a few connoisseur of Carnatic music in our group and hope some one may illuminate the topic further. 

The lecture was preceded  by a video clip of T M Krishna's "Chennai Poromboke Paadal ft". Here is a link to it. 

       Chennai Poromboke Paadat
( In the course of lecture Krishna said use of the Chennai Tamil in pure classical Raaga itself is considered scandalous. )

Krishna said though both the Hindustani and Carnatic musicians claim they have got more freedom than the other school, in reality the music itself is bounded in different frames of socio-political, cultural and aesthetic. Music is intangible it has to be only felt and so each individual perceives it differently. This individual perception is true in other forms of art such as painting and theater. But the adjectives of pure or divine  are used with only music. Once the concept of purity comes there will be a  polluter also.  Who is he / she? The association with divinity brings in its own restrictions. In fact right from the initiation in music one is put in a atmosphere which conditions you in a system without your knowledge. Carnatic music is pure brahmanical  manifestation embedded in divine bhakti expecting certain bhava to be present in the kriti. The artist knows in  which particular way of presentation,  the audience will feel the bhava and he simply manipulates as if he is pressing certain buttons. He may fail on certain times to press the buttons in proper sequence and that is the bungled up concert.  The artist's desire to listen to the applause of the audience controls the presentation. There are gender and cast biases in musicians.  

One way of getting freedom will be to abandon the classical music, but how one can experience it staying within the system of classical music? In the process of seeking freedom one will shake the very foundation and that is dangerous.  Few persons have capacity to change the system, but the new system also slowly evolves its norms and conventions ultimately resulting in taboos. Essentially an artist's quest for freedom keeps him away from becoming a performing machine. 

At the end there was a delightful dialogue with Sadanand Menon, well known critique. The program ended with Krishna singing a Tamil kriti invoking praise of Allha. 

I found the lecture interesting. Considering other art forms such as the western paintings it was restricted for a long time to decorative biblical art form of churches. The Greek and Roman sculptures had no place for common man not having the ideal physique or an old or disabled person. No doubt the art was great and till today treated as master pieces. Did the artists of that time felt their freedom is restricted? It took the age of renaissance to liberate the art from the shadow of church. The impressionism movement really brought in fresh air of colours and subjects. It was followed in quick succession by cubism and abstract art forms. Was it not the quest for freedom? I think freedom is dynamic it has to explore and experiment and to feel the freedom every generation, every artist every person has to come out of the frame which denies it. 

Ravindra Apte 

 Ashok Malhotra   On 16 July 2017 at 23:17    
Sh Apte's small treatise on divine classical  music and some of its connotations with other art forms shows another of his veritable talents, in this case inspired by the presentation of TM Krishna on Carnatak Music. 
   His attempt to define freedom of expression within the tight boundaries and limits of the classical music was not very much unlike the Ghandhiji's "Experiments with Truth". 
   Though I felt a few contradictions in his paragraph "Music is intangible, it has to be only felt and so each individual perceives it differently. This individual perception is true in other forms of art such as painting and theater. But the adjectives of pure or divine  are used only with music." 
    So, if there are individual perceptions possible, the freedom is inbuilt.
    Moreover, though I am familiar with the "fine art forms" expressions like "pure music" is rarely heard. 
   Leaving aside the popular folk music or the Lok Sangeet, that in itself is boundless and timeless, the Indian Classical music system is considered one of the most advanced n developed in the World. The forms n themes of the Western Classic Music are also much more complex and expansive, that have their own Church music, Operas,  the Concerto, Symphony, Sonata the mixed Vocal and Instrumental styles etc. but, so far as I know, the freedom of styles in any music form, without distorting it's characters are always encouraged. Modern composers in fact lay down their own standards. Thanks
Ashok Malhotra
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 "Ravindra Apte" wrote On Jul 17, 2017 12:12 PM
Dear Ashok Malhotra,

I agree with you that the folk music is boundless. In fact all forms of classical music be it Hindustani, Carnatic or Western are distilled from the folk music. Intentional sophistication is introduced to cater for the so called aesthetic views of the privileged class. In fact the present style of Carnatic classical is evolved from Harikatha style from Tanjavur. 

When I mentioned adjectives of " pure and divine" for music, I was referring to the purity of raaga, which is sacrosanct in classical performance. You say " if there are individual perceptions  possible, the freedom is inbuilt." But this freedom is of the audience and not of the singer or performer.  Would the desire of the audience to perceive the music in a certain way only put restrains on the artist? This can happen in other forms of arts. I think that is what happened with M F Hussain when certain section of viewer desired to perceive certain forms in a particular style only. This perception about an artist or an art form make result in a peculiar situation. It happened with Hussain only. Let me tell about it. 

It happened donkeys years back. There was a well advertised exhibition opening in Jahangir Art Gallery. It was of M F Hussain. I admire Hussain for the poster style layout of this painting, the evocative bold brush strokes and his explosive color combination. Naturally I planned a visit to the gallery. The exhibition was titled " Abundance of White". It was occupying both halls of the Gallery. Those of us who visited would never forget  the exhibition. 

When I entered the hall, I got the impression that I have come on wrong day, may be one day earlier of opening day. The hall was littered with old news papers, packing straws and long lengths of white  cloth was hanging haphazardly, some of the cloth was folded on the ground also. When I inquired, I was told, the exhibition is open and what I am seeing is the exhibition. Same story was true in the second hall also. One had to thread his path through the dumped items. I tried to decode the presentation but in vain. Other spectators were also confused and trying to make sense. I found one lady reading the scattered news papers to find some clue some where. Then I realised I am taken for a ride, there is nothing mysterious about the exhibit. I was furious for a while. Then I reflected on what I am furious for. I came with a mirage of perception of an art form and when the mirage is shattered I find my sensitivities attacked? What right do I have to hold on to a mirage in the first place?  

There was a gentleman who was literately fuming and needed to vent. He struck a conversation with me. He said he came all the way from Dombivili to see this heap of rubbish? We cursed and abused Hussain. After a while we reflected Hussain enjoyed his freedom of expression, the art gallery enjoyed its freedom to allow its halls to be used as dumping ground and we enjoyed our freedom to curse and abuse the artist. What we are complaining of? Actually we should thank Hussain from bringing us out in the vibrant environment of art gallery, else we would have spent the afternoon lazing on a couch.  We had a hearty laugh and proceeded to enjoy a nice cup of coffee.   

Ravindra Apte 
Ashok Malhotra  Jul 17 at 12:52 PM
Apte ji,
  Thanks. I knew the half chink in my argument but hoped it will escape the scrutiny. (un)Fortunately it didn't.
   In the Art world the Artist-listener-critic is one entity, intertwined. Shakespeare, Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci or MF Hussain, in fact all artists are still being interpreted in as many ways as the critics as to what is their creation about. That's the only degree of freedom available to any artist. No art form can survive without the freedom of expressions. China's artists e.g. Li Weiwei had to suffer extreme ignomity n leave his nation at the expense of his freedom. Salman Rushdie had to explain his isolation pains in his book "Joseph Anton". There are many more cases n history is full of them.
   I would conclude by saying that at least in India the Artists enjoy as much professional freedom as available any where in the world or as they can afford, amply visible in their yearly jumbhirees at the cultural festivals. Thanks.
Ashok Malhotra

Anand Ghare   Jul 17 at 5:41 AM
Ravindra has asked a question "how one can experience freedom while staying within the classical music system?"
I think the answer lies in perception of the word 'freedom'. I personally enjoy living with certain amount of discipline, while others feel otherwise. Similarly musicians enjoy singing within the rules of Sur, Taal and Laya (सुर,ताल,लय) and the listeners like the enchanting classical music it produces. There is still abundant amount of freedom available to the artiste, as we can hear the same Raga sung or played on instrument by different artistes in innumerable ways, within the framework of classical music.
Anand Ghare

Asim Ghosh  Jul 17 at 7:50 AM
The term "KHAYAL"(Drut as well as Vilambit) in Hindustani Classical, implies the full freedom of the performer, keeping  a few boundary conditions viz:particular notes (out of 7 + 5=12) to be /not to be used,. ascending/descending style, at the back of mind.
Rest everything is in the domain of the render , his /her lineage, own style, invention/discovery,etc.etc.
Hence the term -KHAYAL.

-Asim Ghosh.

Ravindra Apte : Jul 17 at 10:27 AM
Dear Anand Ghare and Asim Ghosh,

I think Krishna has no issues with the confines of Sur, Taal and Laya of classical music. That is why he is perfectly within the structure when he renders the composition on environmental issue in Chennai Poromboke. Normally such issues are rendered in ballad style by activists in a demonstration or a street corner meeting. Krishna wants it to bring it in the sophisticated confines of a concert hall of privileged audience. His problem is in his desire to connect the Carnatic classical music not only to devotional aspect of human nature but to the other issues which directly affect the humanity. Apparently Krishna finds he is restrained in doing so.   

As for the much talked about the freedom of singer to develop the raaga in his own free flowing style, Krishna had a different perception. He said as a musician I can tell with full confidence that there is nothing spontaneous in a concert. All the moves are rehearsed again and again, in fact he said the musician listens to the expected applause in his head while rehearsing, which spurs him on and on. So where is the freedom? 

I think, Krishna is seeking freedom from such confines and not from the strict discipline of Carnatic classical music.   

Ravindra Apte 
Asim Ghosh - Jul 17 at 11:56 AM

"...........Nothing spontaneous in the concert .All the moves are rehearsed............."

Just a second opinion:

Rehearsal/practice {sadhna}is the only way( marg )for any "To be acquired" skill, & there cannot be any short cut for that.

The saying goes -- Stage performance {showroom} always remains 60 to70% of rehearsal (workshops) for even apt performers too.

Surely, for beginners ,it is definitely 100% mugging or "Ratta".

The way any student for any subject viz:Science(Physics, Chemistry,Biology),Maths, Literature, has to practice (rehearse) continuously to acquire the mastery/confidence so  that any unseen problem/question can be tackled with previously learnt formulae or technique,within the stipulated time, to come out of exam hall will flying colors.

The same way in pure  Classical performance ,in time {"SOM"} has to be returned /honoured.In between, some rehearsed some extempore nuances are supposed to come.
The more the mastery ,more of latter variety is bound to come ,provided inner quality is in abundance in  the performer.

Just my thoughts,
No compulsion to agree/disagree.

-Asim Ghosh.
K.Natarajan <>
To Jul 17 at 11:09 AM
AM I FREE  is a profound philosophic topic, definitely not confined to traditional music alone.
T M Krishna's qualms about carnatic music being confined to a particular community, in the name of preserving purity, though himself coming from the same elite community,, and kept within the narrow bounds of Bhakthi as the sole purpose and within very strict grammar discipline, are well known.
The award of international honour to him was also viewed with suspicion of  some hidden agenda  by the purists!

While dealing with a topic, already dealt with in our group, some reference to the old will be helpful for continuity and reassurance to the sender that it was read!

In the midst of the flood of topics, I recall , and give below, a

quote from mail dated Feb 4
" In this context of award winners,
sometimes international awards are given with some political axe to grind.
The Magseyse  award given to  T M Krishna, a celebrated carnatic musician from South India, did kindle some murmurs amongst the traditionalist upper class.

He comes from an orthodox brahmin family, still resented the great art of Carnatic music  being a sort of  legacy  amongst that group only. He tried to carry the great Carnatic music to the slums of Chennai, bordering on blasphemy!

An extremely talented artist, with also some strong anti conventional views intendering carnatic music, the latest is his giving a full performance in a Chennai city bus!

I am giving the link below for your enjoyment of this satire on tradition!
With warm regards,
K.Natarajan Chennaites/videos/ 1217723084986417/   "  unquote

 views may differ on perception of the word 'freedom'. vs  'living with certain amount of discipline',  opens up a fresh vista for discussion!

With warm regards,

Ravindra Apte - Jul 17 at 12:47 PM
Dear Shri K Natarajan,

I was not exposed to the music of T M Krishna. Yes his Magseyse award was mentioned in his introduction. During the lecture Krishna himself informed that he comes from a privileged family background and he has seen success early in his musical  career and that too with much ease. 

Many creative artists suffer from this syndrome of lack of freedom. I think it is a question of channelising the creative urge.

Ravindra Apte   

C. V. S. Sudhir Babu : Jul 18 at 8:33 PM
Only mother nature has total freedom of expression, nothing else, in her creation. Only human beings are given more degrees of freedom. Civilizations and cultures develope with an agreed common ristrictions on degrees of freedom.
If one person says his work is freedom of expression, the other towards whom it is aimed also has the same right.
Ravindra Apte : Jul 20 at 9:31 PM
Dear Anand Ghare,

Interesting to take the topic to a blog. I would like to add on the following.

Further on T M Krishna and the issue of artistic freedom.

On accidentally stumbling on the artistic achievement of Krishna, I searched and listened to his music. I listened to the rendering of "Krishna nee begane baro ..." the Kannada composition. I have listened it from different singers, all are charming. But in Krishna's singing there is deep pathos and yearning which is palpable. My admiration of his art increased. Then came his kind of an interview in of all the magazines " National Geographic - Traveller (India)". (For those who are not in the know - National Geographic the well known, more than 125 years old magazine, a perpetual delight to read any time any issue,(incidentally I am subscriber for last 40 years), started a sister publication Traveller. Its India specific version started some 5 years back. I am subscribing it for last four years.)  The magazine has destinations in India which you have not even heard of, along with the other popular destinations and how to organise your trip to those destinations etc. Of course it has other international travel articles and destinations.

The July 2017 issue of NG Traveller is a special one, its 5th anniversary issue and the theme is " I Travel Therefore I Am". (A tongue in cheek parody on the philosophical question). There are many interviews of not so well known travelers and travel writer. T M Krishna is one of them.

In 2010 on a trek in Milam glacier in Himalaya's he was hooked on to climbing. He found a climbing partner in Badri Vijayaraghavan and his journey to high mountains began. He first climbed Stok Kangri (20187 ft) in Ladakh. Then a 20000 ft peak Huayna Potosi in Bolivia, Mount Elbrus in Russia and planning to climb Cotopaxi in Ecuador this season. All these peaks are popular in non professional climbers. They are well guided and well arranged. They are exotic and pricey destinations. The point is he chose to spend his fortune earned in singing to get the high on a mountain summit.

On climbing he says " I think climbing is both a science and art. The art aspect is in the very act of climbing; mentally it requires clarity, discipline, acute awareness and copious endurance to deal with the fatigue that almost always seeps in. And then of course, there  is the technique of climbing - how you walk, how you rest - which is the science of it". What he does when he reaches the mountain top? He does what he knows best SINGS.

To whom or for whom he is singing? How do you compare his singing on the mountain top to his singing in Chennai bus? All artists crave for appreciation, to be always in limelight and for that echo "You are great". They are tormented by the thought of loosing the top notch position if they have one or how to get it by any means if they don't. This pressure is so huge for some of them that they fall for additions and substance abuse and squander the gift they have. Is Krishna singing on the mountain top to these disturbing demons of his to lull them or to the mother nature or to himself telling the glory of music?

I myself have reached some of the mountain summits. As the first wave of exhilaration of achievement passes, I become aware of the business of climbing down. It is more likely to fall into stupor after the exhaustive climb. I try to keep my other companions active and persuade them to start climbing down after a reasonable time. To keep a normal breathing pattern is hard at 20000 ft. How does Krishna manages to sing? Does he have the same control on his aalap and taan? I think it does not matter to Krishna, he is in fact  listening to the perfect ideal music, draped in glowing bhava and dancing in divine rhythm in his own voice.

I am impressed by his mature thoughts on climbing and I quote " I'm also always intrigued by what is perhaps the most interesting thing about the process of climbing - you don't run while climbing; you take short steady steps and never stop. Nobody is ever in hurry; climbing reinforces the idea of slowness. It's about focusing on every step, every moment. It's about being measured and consistent. It's a lot like life; you just have to keep going and as long as you do that, the summit will come." With this sort of frame of mind I am sure Krishna will seek what ever freedom he is seeking, I wish him that.

Ravindra Apte      
Ashok Malhotra : Jul 20 at 10:09 PM
   Amazing story about Sh T M Krishna, in the wonderful words of Sh Apte. Today I feel even more honoured to be in this group n come across such real life persons and their passions.
    Mountains have a magic of their own and once you are trapped in that, it assumes the form of a life long passion. आप्टे जी, यह दिल मांगे मोर Thanks
Ashok Malhotra
Ravindra Apte <>
To Jul 21 at 4:05 PM
From Ravindra Apte,

Dear All,

I think, I am really getting snared in this thing of Artist's Freedom. The only way to get freedom from it is to write about it. Fortunately Anand has provided a perfect getaway vehicle of his Blog and there are friends like Ashok and Kishore to encourage me to use it. I am going to cut the threads of this snare one at a time.

Technology and innovation

Remember the era of gramophone? When it first appeared on scene many were excited that now the music of the maestro is going to be stored for posterity. Only hitch was they have to perform within three minutes. Many of the masters of Hindustani music refused to subject to this tyranny. Their style was different could not be exhibited in the ubiquitous three minutes record. May be they were not convinced of the fidelity of the records to reproduced their music. Still many of them were lured to the tyranny of three minutes, may be for the money associated with it, may be secretly they wished to leave their permanent mark in the court yard of the musical  heritage.

But do you really think the three minutes record really show case the music of the maestros of the begone era? My uncle, who was an ardent fan of Balgandharv, the legendary singer and stage actor of Marathi theater, refused to listen to the records. Agreed the records were recorded when Balgandharv was in his declining period. But that was not the point. My uncle's objection was that the three minutes music, contaminates his memory of the all night legendary performance and the music that he still listens in his head. So were not the legendary maestros right in declining to record their music? Did we compromised their freedom of choice by alluring them?  And as for the fidelity of music have you never heard how the hand cranked gramophone sounds when not running at the speed at which it should? In my childhood I have played with it and got scolded, Was it an urge to experiment or mutilate? To day I do the same thing with my Sony Sound Forge  software, in this era of digital hifi music. Not only me in my crude way, but the top rated music studios are doing the same thing in the name of creativity or enhancement of the musical quality.

The freedom is never free. It has to be earned and guarded may be some times with denial of the choices or some sacrifice. I remember my first encounter with the baul music of Bengal. I was travelling in a train in the sleeper compartment to Guwahati. As usual the compartment was full and crowded. It was approaching evening and the tired passengers were engaged in listless conversations. A white dhoti clad baul singer entered the compartment with his ek tara. Soon with his melodious voice he transported the listless passengers to a different level. The simplicity of his music was elevating his devotion and yearning. I was spellbound. At the end of the song, one of my co-passenger, a Bengali Babu exposed to the baul music, requested for a particular song to be sung. Though the baul singer was singing for alms, he politely declined saying that the song is not suitable at this time in this environment. For him his freedom of choice was more important and he guarded it with a painful sacrifice.  

Ravindra Apte
Ashok Malhotra <>
To Retirees Association Jul 21 at 8:32 PM
Privacy and Freedom in the new age:
   An excellent comparison to drive home your point on limitations of freedom Apteji, illustrating the snaring and shackling of Balgandharv vs the wanton n abound freedom enjoyed by the baul singer.
   Yes, there is nothing like absolute freedom. Mostly we sneer at the man made shackles on our freedom, that are well understood as explained to us by the legislations n the society.
    But there are also natural shackles as well as Godly ones. One may say where's the boundary between the two. As I understand the natural ones are those that normally won't happen being against the scientific laws how so hard you may try or wish for. The Godly ones are those that may or may not happen inspire of us and their understanding are beyond our present comprehension.
   There is an excellent ongoing debate  in the SC on "whether our right to privacy is fundamental or not".
    Invasion of one's Privacy, that was never doubted in our days, has come to the forefront of our "basic freedom rights" since the new age of "social media" that is run by the big US conglomerates on central platforms. The sharing of personal info by one's choice is not the infringement per se as of now, but the chance of its being misused by the unscrupulous ones increases many fold n the responsibility of the organisers in protecting you in such instances needs to be legislated. It is a basic tenet that what you ask for and possess also entails a responsibility and accountability factor on you.
   The courts seem to be wearing round to the idea that each purpose for each private info you ask for, needs to be stated and it's use beyond that purpose will tantamount to an infringement of privacy. But there is one form of life style that our scriptures define as enjoying maximum freedom and that is the life of a Yogi. But now we have a Yogi as a CM n Sadhvis as MPs. Brave New World sir. Thanks
Ashok Malhotra
Anand Ghare <>
To Jul 21 at 10:13 PM
I read a line in a modern school textbook. It said 'displacement' is a relative distance between two points. So are velocity and acceleration. They are meaningless unless there is an 'observer.' Each observer may have a different view from his point of view. Simplified relativity!
Similarly, freedom or privacy are relative matters. A classical musician, a listener who attends his live concert sitting at his feet, someone who cannot do that but is interested in listening at least recorded voice, some one who wants to listen it repeatedly, some one who was born after the singer stopped singing and so on. Each one will have different perceptions about quality of their joy derived out of the same music. The singer may frown on the recording as being too poor and far below his class, where as some listener may call it Devine in the circumstances when the better is not available to him at all. The person who attends concerts looks down up on people who listen to music in the comfort of their home as they are missing the real thing and is also angry on they getting to hear the music with out taking the trouble of going to the concert.

So it is relative and not absolute!

Anand Ghare

Ravindra Apte :22/07/2017 at 7:36 AM
Anand points out the necessity of an observer for evaluation of a phenomena. All performing arts expect an audience / spectator. While in the stage of learning you need a guru to point out your mistakes and show a way to improve upon. But then there comes a stage in the artists career when he knows in his heart what are his / her limitations and strives to broaden those limits to gain a larger space for his performance.

Does it necessary that the audience has to be judgmental responding to the performance? True in the tradition of performing arts the great poet saints like Tyagaraja and Purandar Vithalla sang to an audience. They sang for the God. Their audience accepted whatever music in whatever form in whats so ever quality. The other judgmental mortals just happened to be there.

Was Krishna following the same tradition when he sang on the mountain summit?

Ravindra Apte  
anand ghare : at 6:08 PM
I had pointed out that different observers view a phenomenon in different lights, giving the example of different listeners  a classical music concert and its recorded versions. They may form their own opinions or just enjoy the music to a in different degrees. They need not necessarily be judgmental.
 One may call it being judgmental to an extent, but each one of us is by the very nature. Even a one year old child expresses consent or descent based on the judgement he makes.

Whether the audience should be judgmental on the quality of a musician and whether that should curtail his FREEDOM is the topic of this discussion. Well, the audience also loves its freedom. If it is rowdy, it will heckle a bad singer whom it does not like, if it is civilized, it will sit yawning or leave and not return.

Why did Mr.Krishna sing in the solitude on top of a mountain peak? Obviously for his own satisfaction! He would not have a Mrudungam player to give him beats (Taala). So his singing will not fit in to traditional Carnatic style. He had his full freedom!

On the lighter side, I too enjoy FREE Style singing in bathroom.

Anand Ghare


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Hinduism : A Religion .. or A Way of Life ?

It was reported in newspapers that while delivering the judgement about a particular case related to the management of a temple in Kerala, the Supreme Court had ruled, "Hinduism is a way of life".... "The word Hindu is not defined." ... "A Hindu has the right to choose his own method of worship. He may or may not visit a temple. " ... "Idol worship, rituals and ceremonials may not be practiced by a person although he may profess Hindu religion." These are some of the quotations from the press report of the lengthy judgement. 

Though any criticism of a judgement by a court is not legally permitted, people have freedom to air their views on general matters regarding religion or way of life, as long it does not hurt anybody's feelings. There were some articles and discussions in media on this topic. An article showing the wide spectrum of Hinduism was being circulated on Whats App. It is not clear whether it is to be considered humorous or serious. Any way, that piece evoked enormous response.
Revised on 15/08/2016

R S Vaghasiya : Aug 1 at 7:13 PM
A good message on whats app. Reproduced
What is a thing about being a Hindu (Sanatan Dharma)
1) Believe in god! - you're accepted - Aastik
2) Don't believe in god! - You're accepted - Nastik
3) You want to worship idols , please go ahead. You are a murti pujak.
4) You dont want to worship idols, please go a ahead. You can focus on Nirguna Brahman.
5) You want to criticise something in our religion. Come forward. We are logical. You will be Hindu. Nyaya, Tarka etc. are core Hindu schools.
6) You want to accept as it is. Please go ahead with it.
7) You want to start your journey by reading Bhagvad Gita - Go ahead
8) You want to start your journey by reading Upanishads - Go ahead.
9) You want to start your journey by reading Purana - Go ahead.
10) You just don't like reading. No problem. Go by Bhakti tradition . ( bhakti- devotion)
11) You don't like idea of Bhakti! No problem, dude. Do your Karma.
12) You want to enjoy life. Very good. Go ahead. No problem at all. Charvaka Philosophy
13) You want to abstain from all the enjoyment of life & find god. Wow! Be a Sadhu!
14) You don't like the concept of God. You believe in Nature only. - Welcome. "vrukshavalli amha soyare" (Trees are our friends)
15) You believe in one god or supreme energy. Superb! Follow Advaita philosophy
16) You want a Guru. Go ahead.
17) You don't want a Guru. Go ahead.
18) You believe in Female energy. Welcome! Shaktiism form of Hinduism.
19) You believe every human is the same. Yeah! You're awesome, come let's celebrate Hinduism! "Vasudhaiva kutumbakam" (the world is a family)
20) You don't have anything to do. Don't worry. One more festival is coming! There are multiple festivals every single day of the year.
21) You are a working person. Don't have time for religion. Its okay. You will be a Hindu.
22) You like to go to temples. Please go ahead
23) You don't like to go to temples, no problem. You are still a Hindu!
24) You know that your religion is a way of life. With freedom.
25) You believe that everything have God in them. So you worship your mother, father, guru, tree, River, Prani-matra, Earth, Universe!
26) And If you don't believe that everything have God in them- No problems. Respect your viewpoint.
27) "Sarve sukhin santu" (May all live happy.) "Sarve bhavantusukhinah" (May all llve happy) You represent this!
Being a a Hindu is being free...
You're free to choose!

Ravi Rustagi  Aug 2 at 2:22 AM
Your summing up ‘Being Hindu' is appreciated.
There are freedom choices in life of a Hindu, but there are responsibilities and restraints too -
28) You will not impose your Faith on others.
29) You will defend your Faith by democratic and non-terrorist means, as preached in the great epics and Vedic scriptures of Hindus. And You will believe in ‘mutual' Tolerance. Not Blind follower of Let Live
30) You will believe that There is One Supreme God, in myriad manifestations to suit your individual swabhav
31) You will believe in re-incarnation and karmic laws
32) You will believe that Truth Alone Triumphs.

Mohan Rao : Aug 2 at 7:26 AM
Thanks for the exposition of what it is to be a Hindu. As we all know, Hinduism originated as a way of life in the valley of river Sindhu, known in history books as Indus Valley civilization (IVC),  described by the Vedic era, followed by spread of civilization in Indo-Gangetic plains and rest of India which hosted two epic eras, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, and a host of rishis who shaped our thinking about life for millennia and spread over the subcontinent and of late in the various parts of the world through immigration and travel. The slew of options you talked about reflects the history and extant of this evolution and the foundation of freedom that is the cornerstone of this journey.

In Hinduism, we have inherited the culture and freedom to project ourselves from our own consciousness in a non-subjective, non-dual manner in the larger universe, and in this journey, our Self becomes our point of this projection, we call atman. What the Self sees is our reality, and in its entirety,  ultimate reality we call God. In realizing Self, we in fact realize God. Such a realization gives us a powerful vantage point, free of ego, to perceive truth of reality. As a result of this realization, we may live out a life of maya or illusion. But self-realization gives us the power to see through the veil of illusion and identify ourselves apart from mere existence, as part of the larger being, the universe. Tatwam Asi (Thou art It) summarizes this notion.

I enjoyed reading through your list of choices in conducting our journey. Any choice you make in the fullness of heart is a good choice. It is the honesty, the intent, and the sincereness on one's part that puts us in the path of God, truth and service of humanity.

K.Natarajan: Aug 2 at 2:21 PM
The Whats app quote on Being a Hindu is an in-depth summary of Hinduism, eminently readable.
Quite sometime ago, I compared Hinduism of ancient days, to the Congress party at the time of independence.
The Party meant the Congress party, as there was no other party.
Any new policy or ideal , which would threaten to evolve as a  party would immediately be absorbed by Congress, nipping it in the bud. Thus Lohia's Socialism, Ashok Mehta's brand of Socialism, JP Narayan's Democratic Socialism , Rajagi's Swatantra ideals all became congress policy. Thus the other parties had to take time to cross the ever increasing threshold to get stabilised on own legs, some died.
Hinduism reigned supreme for millennia without competition and thus was more a way of living than a religion.
Even when diverse views were expressed, like the Meemamsikas, they were all governed by the broad family, Hindu.
Even when the same scriptures, Upanishads, were given mutually opposing interpretations, as were done by Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhwa Acharyas, still they would only deviate under the all encompassing Hinduism ,to separate sub-sects only.
This continued till the beginning of CE, only when other religions like Buddhism, Jainism weakly started,  quickly exported and Islam and Christianity coming very much later., imported.
Sankaracharya used to emphasise that when the ancient literature, including scriptures, refer to religion, they do not say which and what, as there was only one.

Now,  in a lighter vein, the list of Whatsup could be further extended with later history of Hinduism, with more 'saints' evolving in modern days.
Open attitude towards human sexuality, follow Rajneesh,
Strict with one man one wife dictum, there is Ramayana,
You want to elevate exercises to godly level. Yogi Ramdev for you.
You want to develop arguments to confuse people, have a session with the great JK.
You want to develop intimate bonds by hugging, Mata Amritanandmayi shows the way.
You want some authority on human sacrifice in Hinduism, there was a movement in ancient times, Kapalika tradition, strong shaivites indulged in this practice to propitiate Hindu goddesses.
You do not want to hurt a fly and move about by gently sweeping the floors, lest you may tread on some insects, Mahavir  Vardhamana of Jainism, an offshoot of Hinduism, was the founder.

Imperative commands like ' YOU WILL' and 'YOU WILL NOT' to qualify for being a Hindu by devout followers are also taken in our strides without question!

The all encompassing HINDUISM is more a WAY OF LIFE than a dogmatic religion.!

Ashok Malhotra : Aug 2 at 5:06 PM
     I think we are making a short shrift of a very serious subject, may be presently being light hearted in an other wise worrying daily lives has also become "a way of life". But, to my mind, and I am sure to many others here, it is not all in the sense of euphemism, as is appearing here by 30 odd edicts, mostly contradicting each other.
   ............ All Religions were supposedly formulated as  common code of conduct for a populace. The negative connotations arose subsequently when the questions like superiority or superposions arose during intermingling of populations.
         To an extent Hinduism has an amorphous constitution. But that may render it strength rather than weakness. Why? Basically by its very nature humans, or for that matter all living beings, like to protect their Private Space at all costs. The larger that space, the larger its growth, not even normally permitted to be compromised by Religion.  No other religion, except Hinduism, allow one such a wide berth. I feel proud of it. Lets not give it the sense of standing "On Quick Sand".

Ravi Rustagi : Aug 3 at 2:02 AM
Dear All Friends- Hindus as well as non-Hindus
The making of an Executive Summary of a vast subject is always a tough attempt. Therefore, I would use the 30-odd edicts for taking a quick stand, without which, we tend to stand on ‘quick sand’.
We have no time or patience to read the 30- volume Encyclopedia on Hinduism published a year or two ago by Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji of Rishikesh.
Some more interesting comments have arisen, ... May I express my views too -
i) Why Hinduism is labeled a way of life?
Firstly no one disputes it; the Supreme Court of India merely stamped its nod, they were wise men.
The Hindu word came up more recently, the description since the beginning has been Sanatan Dharma.
Sanatan connotes the set of natural or eternal laws, which are beginningless(Anadi), endless(Anant), and everlastingly blissful(Sat-Chit-Anand), providing its followers with an entire world view, and a code of conduct and with a coherently rational view of reality. These are the true experiences (not mere beliefs) of several ancient Rishis of India, some of these were women too, which were revealed to them in deep contemplation, many thousand years ago.  These are like the very principles for a healthy and beneficial life. It is quite apt therefore, to call Hinduism - a way of life.

ii) The Origin? There is no one founder or the established date of its origin. The Dharma word in Sanskrit has its roots in Dhri, which means to hold together or to sustain life in all living creatures.  Sanatan-dharma is also called- a set of rules of 'universal righteousness’, ultimately leading to the cherished goal of knowledge, liberation and enlightenment. These philosophical principles are enshrined in the many Vedic scriptures. Accordingly, Sanatan Dharma is also called Vedic Dharma.

iii) Religion on the other hand connotes a set of beliefs and rituals, designed to bind its followers;  these were enumerated by the founder.
Ashok Malhotra : Aug 3 at 4:55 AM
   Do you really mean to say "we Hindus have no religion, that Sanatan Dharma denotes only a way of life, no Dharma or Religion in it" I am truly taken aback by these short shrift remarks !!??

Ravi Rustagi : Aug 3 at 5:55 AM
Dear Malhotraji, Thanks for your penetrating remarks, which I appreciate.
I re-read my notes, and couldn’t find the exact statement "we Hindus have no religion”
Surely, Hindus have a religion, and in many forms, Hindus worship thousands and crores devi-devatas which are widely covered by the umbrella of Hinduism.
I tried to explain how these various forms of Hinduism evolved from the ancient Sanatan Dharma, which was then more of spiritual practice, leading to self-realization, and was widely acknowledged as the way of life. And the traditional explanation continues, in spite of myriad connotations.

I sincerely believe, that without religion, we are lame; but a religion has to be a way of life, not just a few minutes of pooja in the morning, and the goal is to be set in the right and positive direction. Decrying your or any other religion in a negative sense should not be the goal in life.

In the limited knowledge and time at my disposal, I enjoy the new paradigm to positivity. As charity begins at home, I try not to cause harm to my own self- my body, my mind, my intellect, my heart, my spirit. Like the mutual fund investing, benefits of positivity spread to unknown places and people.
Long ago, as a student or as a young competing engineer I had the notion - It is my body, my mind- I am free to deal with it the way I like. Time, aging and yoga practice has revealed how wrong I was. I read in BG, human being is gifted with 23 faculties. I consider these as my sacred co-workers, and I am the CEO. It is my responsibility that each faculty is well cared for- feeding healthy food for the physical body, healthy thinking for the mind, tapas, swadhyay, and healthy emotions for the spirit. By the same token- I try my best to eat no junk food, no junk reading, no anger etc. These are called Yamas & Niyamas- silently building a bridge with others in the family or members of society.

Ashok Malhotra: Aug 3 at 6:32 AM
 My initial mail itself questioned the nuances of "Religion" and "the ways of life" often used without clarity of their differences. The Supreme Court in its judgement, left the difference to be interpreted at your own end, n perhaps so it has manifested.
   I emphasized earlier that, initially all religions started as the ways of life and slowly the rituals n faiths were added on for the common men to follow without bothering for their deeper meanings. The "deep manifestation or revelation" theories are there in all religions, mainly for the common man to follow without questioning. A Religion comprises of both components, rituals for serving the soul and dogmas or ways of life for serving the physical self. It can not be complete by just one part- the ways for the physical self, leaving the soul.
   This is my understanding n belief as a Hindu, I may be off the tracks, as concepts do change over time.

Taswir Singh : Aug 3 at 10:35 AM
Respected Rastogi ji and Ashok ji
Discussion between you two on Hinduism had enlightened me a lot.
I am really greatful to both of you and others who took up this topic especially Shri Vaghasia ji.

Srinivasan G.R: Aug 3 at 11:08 AM
Dear commenters on this thread and all others,
  I read with interest the comments by many. Hinduism as described by many and in extracts are the ones embedded in yoga when one practices under a good Indian guru.
These were also mentioned in my comments on why yoga is becoming global. Our culture and traditions are fantastic. One example much less divorces in India (Unfortunately many Indians are copying western culture when the west are copying ours. Hope we will avoid the same cycle). When Canadians were in Rawathbhata, two of the wives used to say very frequently, “chini my husband does not love me anymore, hope he won’t leave me.” I could feel their continuous agony and tension. Our wives are so sure!! Divorce is just one example. Hope we remain what we are. This is not to say we must not replace a few bad ones which we must do to improve.

P C  Dixit :  03-Aug-2016, at 14:25
Shri Natarajan  saheb,
A person' s  religion  is  determined, primarily, by the God  or  Gods  he  worships. Religion  is  the  greatest  divisor  of  humanity. Even at the time Lord  Krishna explained to Arjuna why he should kill his close relatives, there  were many  religions (dharm)  in existence. The Lord says,
' Dieing  in one's  own  religion is  better  than  in others'  religion  even if one's religion  is  inferior'.
B. Geeta  Chapter 3. Shloka 35

 K.Natarajan: On Aug 3, 2016, at 12:08 PM,
 Dear Shri P C Dixit, Could  by chance, you have mistaken  Dharma as religion?
Though this word is used in the slokha quoted, perhaps dharma here implies the Varnashram.
The  swadharma may mean the Varna to which the person 'belongs', that is one of the four categories of Varnashram, and not  religion as a whole.
In Ch 4,slokha13, Krishna describes the origin of divisions ." I have created the four Varnas and assigned to each to follow. Every man can attain salvation by following his assigned karma, with a detached spirit',  clearly not permitting jumping from one ( considered lower) to another(considered higher).
Present day English has richly grown to have synonyms, many words to describe the same sense, but, as Bernard Shaw claimed, not exactly the same, varying slightly in shades, for precise description.
In Vedic days, could there have been paucity of words? We see the same word used with different connotations, throughout Upanishads, which, again, are at variance with present day usage, tempting me to repeatedly stress the need for a glossary! The dharma in Sanatana Dharma could mean the Hindu religion as a whole, but in this slokha, it appears to me to mean only the caste (or Varna, there being lots of arguments that caste and Varna are not the same)

What is meant in this slokha is that one should follow the duties pertaining to the Varna classification and should not try to do the prescribed actions of another Varna, he does not belong to.

This might have been necessary in those formative days to maintain discipline amongst people with lesser developed  intellect, but questionable at our present stage.

This classification is a weak point now of the great religion and various thoughts are put forward to make that acceptable, mostly weak arguments.

The pandits tending to defend the Varnashram, take pains to explain that the Varna is assigned based on the innate abilities and swabhav of the individual and not by birth., obviously untenable, as the Varna is stamped right after birth and not after a long period of development of the personality and decision taken thereafter. Again who takes the authority of  assessing and allotting the Varna? Such questions are generally not asked. Besides the original classification pales into insignificance with the myriad forms of castes and sub castes we have developed later on, pushing us into an impossible abyss.

I agree with your bold assertion that Religion has only become a divisive force .
Karl Marx said that the State, a necessary evil, will wither away, once true communism is established.
Similar to that, may be Religion will wither away once it helps establishing a true Ramarajya!

I am not quite sure whether Shri Malhotra takes the comment 'a way of life and not religion' as appreciative or offensive.
I would take that as the first. After all if the choice is between living a GOOD life and RELIGIOUS life, what will we choose?


 Mohan Rao : 3 August 2016 at 22:35,
Modern Astronomy started with Copernicus perhaps who said that earth is not the centre of the universe.
 Since those days, the theory of the universe has advanced in many ways. We now have the Quantum Mechanics, which can define the probable movement of an electron around a room. Together with the Theory of Relativity, we now have modern theory of the universe that says that the universes can create themselves out of nothing.
 Stephen Hawking says that there is such a thing called gravity, universe can create itself, making it possible for us to exist as well. There is no need to invoke God to set the universe going.
 The M-theory predicts that countless number of galaxies exist and in fact, countless universes and we are sited in one of them. The current understanding that humans may exist on some of these universes owes itself to oddest of things, pure chance.
 “One can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, but science makes God unnecessary” says Hawking (ABC News, 2015). On being further pressed, he adds that he does not believe in a personal God.
 As I see it, God is an item of human consciousness, a flash that can guide us through life, if we so choose.
 Universe is what it is to us because of us (Anthropic Principle). We are the conscious and sapient life which observes it.
 Universe was made for us. Each one of us creates a universe for oneself the way we see it. We are the designers of this Grandest of Designs.
As Upanishads say: Tatwam Asi (We are It).
Awesome thoughts from the scientists of our age.


 Nandkishore Agarwal : 04 August 2016 16:24
Dear Mohan Rao,
Just a stupid question which may be laughed off:
“One can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, but science makes God unnecessary” says Hawking (ABC News, 2015). On being further pressed, he adds that he does not believe in a personal God.
I read with interest the above statement. I am never able to understand, if we do not have to believe in God, why is it when we are in distress, we always remember " Oh God, please help me"? Or He Ram or something similar.
May be you would like to make some observations on the above.


Taswir Singh : August 4, 2016 8:01 PM,
As existence of God can not be proved ( it is just a belief system )  at least for many years to come, may be till eternity for all time to come, common sense dictates better to believe in the existence of His. It simplify the difficult situation of common man and act to pacify him in the face of insurmountable problems.

Srinivasan G.R.: 4 August 2016,
I pray to God every day in the morning and evening. In my small temple I have Hindu idols, Infant Jesus, Christ, Mecca masjid, Saibaba, Sikh granth picture etc. Bur core technical mind-set in me is not able to prove that God or any supernatural power exists. Unfortunately we are so much used to validation. I won’t give up. Everything that happens is created by us only. There is complete chaos but the show goes on. We are like diesel engine. Few parts can be replaced but indefinite life extension is not possible. There is nothing like soul. Once dead decommissioning starts. How to get out of this? Luckily my habit of not suffering due to any reason is saving me.

P C  Dixit: 5 Aug 2016 12:05 pm,
Resp. Shri  Natrajan saheb,
With yr profound knowledge about our  scriptutes.  and  application  of your  high intelligence  you have clarified  the  diiference  between  dharma  and  religion. I am thankful to you v. much.


Srinivasan G.R: 6 Aug 2016 10:00,
      I believe in bhoomi, fire etc as I can see them. Sorry my common sense, on the balance, does not tell me to believe in God. Each time I think of believing, I do not want anti-belief thoughts to come. Not only I cannot prevent their coming but I also helplessly watch their victory. But I believe that each of us work out our destiny. I believe you will suffer for each bad thing you do. This is dictating each activity that happens in the world and not anything else. That is why I do not want to hurt anybody (Rather selfishly). I am not an atheist and want desperately to believe in existence of God or some supernatural power.


Taswir Singh: 06-Aug-2016, at 10:51
Very very right you are respected Shri GRS ji.
Almost I am also sailing in the same boat.
However, much I may try I fail to accept the existance of God in the form of some living entity.
Therefore, some great Punjabi writer has said.
Rub ik gunjalldhar buzhharat
Rub ik gorakhdhandha
Kholan lagiyana paech
Is dae ho jayae pagal banda.
God is complex and complicated quiz.
While trying to open its secrets man will become mad.
Therefore instead of becoming mad let the man  believe this concept of God
It simplifies his life and give him psychological advantage in facing unsolvable and unsurmountable problems.
Again I agree with you very very difficult for a person of scientific bent of mind to accept the existance of God.

Anand Ghare : Aug 6 at 1:15 PM
I do not know who is the originator of the list of 'Being Hindu' given in the 'original' whats app forwarded message.  It is written in first four points that whether you believe in God or not and whether you worship him or not, you can still be 'Hindu'. So no need to prove or disprove existence of The God for the limited purpose of deciding about who is Hindu.

I have heard some religions or sects also do not ask their followers to worship The God. I have seen in some very famous and beautiful temples that a मूर्ती of a Swami occupies central place. I heard that the followers worship only their Swami.  

It has been told that 'Hindu Dharma' is a 'way of life'. Still any discussion on religion always drifts towards 'God'. Stephen Hawkins has said that existence of The God is not necessary for the creation and running this universe. Perhaps it is not necessary that every religion must be always connected with one God or more.

We are able to express this kind of opinions in a free world, but unfortunately some of our own ancestors used to think otherwise. They did not accept followers of  Gautam Buddha, Mahavir or Guru Nanakdev, though they also followed almost the same way of life.  On the other hand some of the ancestors believed that 'Hindu Dharma' is a 'way of life' interpreted in  their peculiar understanding and expelled anybody who simply ate a piece of meat or bread or any food item cooked by a Muslim or Christian. Most of the conversions done by Portuguese rulers in Goa were done in this fashion. I have heard a story that the famous singer Tansen was expelled from Hinduism because he ate a पान offered to him by a Muslim Ustad as appreciation of his musical talent.

So 'Being Hindu' is a subjective issue. First the person should feel that he is Hindu and the society in which he lives should accept him, irrespective of whether he believes in The God or follows some way of life or not.  
Mohan Rao : Aug 7 at 4:54 AM
One of the major tenets of Hindu philosophy has been the notion of Samsara, simply put, cycle of birth, life and death, in a perpetual mode. It naturally jived well with my notion of  existence, the continuity of the universe, and it's ability to recycle generations one following the other, meeting all other notions such as karma, evolution, progress etc. Once the primary reason of life is completed, i.e. procreation and care-taking of the young until they grow up and are on their own, there is little reason to hang around for ever, and nature took care of it by aging us and terminating life.

Now scientists seem to think that aging is the biggest risk factor for diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's, and Type 2 diabetes and want to slow down the aging process. They have been at it for a century now, and the human lifespan has doubled from about 40 to about 80 in about a century. They have tried a drug called rapamycin on mice and find these critters live 10 to 30 percent longer (equivalent to adding up to 25 more years to our lifetime). These mice lived a healthier life as well after being treated with the drug.
Scientists are trying to start clinical trials on humans to see if they can replicate the results with a drug called metformin in humans. This is the quest for the Holy Grail in the battle against aging. If successful, there will soon be miracle drugs for cancer, diabetes etc. that may cure the old age illnesses and substantially increase our lifespan. Then there are anti-aging formula drugs that could turn back the clock, build muscles and increase strength and stamina and even reduce wrinkles.

If scientists succeed in their trials to find drugs to cure old-age diseases, to create anti- aging drugs to help people live long and reasonably healthy lives, and show us that they can make us live several decades longer, the next question would be, what do we with the time tossed at us by science? And the problems that this will create in society that is used to end of life much earlier than what it could be with the new drugs?

   K.Natarajan : Aug 9 at 1:33 AM

This thread has caught up like forest fire!
GRS is not alone in the  helplessness of a rationalist in comprehending the  genesis and influence of God. But he is alone in making a very nice summary "Each time I think of believing, I do not want anti-belief thoughts to come. Not only I cannot prevent their coming but I also helplessly watch their victory." Fantastic summary of the rationalist's struggle and the gene's ( or the ingrained DNA in man) victory!

It is slightly odd how lightly  Shri Ashok Malhotra finds a controversy in man not being able to control his mind, for this is the quest of all seers, what religion is all about, considered as most difficult to achieve, stillness of mind or controlling the mind!

Let us look at this highly talked about Belief System, a little more dispassionately.

Scientific beliefs  start as possibilities  in the advancement of science. They are stepping stones for the thinking processes (often dubbed as theory or hypothesis) and at some stage are discorded  or  superseded.
In the metaphysical area, there is no way of establishing  the beliefs as facts, to  be superseded or killed and hence, they stay, getting dogmatic with the passage of time. Very soon they find their soul mates, religion, and can no longer be taken lightly.
For, religion, as a philosopher said, is the opium of mankind. With a few twists and turns, the opium soon found its bedrock, God.

Beliefs lead to prayers, raising the age old question on the Why and How of prayers.

Is there any man who, at some time or other, does not pray?
A time will come when, the most rationalist amongst us, kneels down as a LAST RESORT, utterly helpless and nothing else to resort to (ignoring the mocking smile of rationalism in him!)
Does it work, if yes, how?
One simple answer is, yes, not by granting physically what one wants,  but by conditioning one's mind, creating an equanimity to take what comes, driving away the forlorn feeling of depression and frustration.
Similar to meditation., SUBJECTIVE PROCESS.

Did not the doctors attribute sickness to mind?
Did not Beauty, get transferred from the object, par se, to the mind of the person seeing, as 'a state of mind, a quality of thought' by wise thinkers?
The human mind is a wonderful creation, the seat of origin and support, being able to CONTROL THE PHYSICAL STATE of man, too.

The process, to a man with FAITH,  goes farther,  from this subjective explanation, reaches out to things external to Self and MAKE things happen ! OBJECTIVELY. It is this deeper sense of prayer that is a baffle to the rational minded, a point of debate.

Rationalists argue that the reward of prayer, we are here talking of what goes beyond that of meditation, if there is, defies the means of action, even admitting, at a distance.

How can  this happen?
Some chance happening, interpreted as a consequence, adds strength to  fortify faith?!

PRAYER is open to everybody, the sinner as well as the devout.
The sinner prays for the success of his sinful venture.
The devout prays, for some benefits for him, be it happiness, wealth, or getting out of a tough predicament.
Both make some kinds of offerings, expecting fulfilment.
There is some smell of commerce in BOTH.

Let us assume that the person is not taking prayer as a commercial transaction, offering God something to get relief in return.
Let us assume that the person is a morally right person, faced with an acute situation, not out of any immoral thing, consciously done, then...
Humility is the key, accepting that the problem is beyond him, that to the best of his comprehension the imposition of the problem is unjust and only Devine intervention could free him from the problem.

May sound right, but Rationalists interpret that even this is unacceptable as selfless humility, for there is a trait of accusation, wounded hurt, that this situation is UNJUST, questioning the Supreme's Order, and asking CORRECTION.
Does not prayer, then, become some defiance, questioning the Order?

Bhagwat Geta postulates Sthitappragyna -  freedom from the effects of all gunas,
Acceptance of whatever comes with equanimity,
One who believes in this and stays put like a rock,
His acts of prayer are more out of ENJOYMENT and GRATITUDE., and NOTHING sought in return ( including 'salvation')

Be what may,

It is undeniable that in the life of every man, atheistic or agnostic or devout, there comes a moment, there are moments, when he turns to PRAYER, as the last resort and equally undeniable that it is fulfilled, materially (good!) or metaphysically, by tuning the mind to face or reconcile with what will be (still good).

and then, Rationalism becomes irrelevant!

Some Offbeat side rhythm:

 वो अफसाना जिसे अंजाम तक लाना न हो मुमकिन,
    उसे इक खूबसूरत मोड़ देकर छोड़ना अच्छा,
  चलो इक बार फिर से अजनबी बन जांये हम दोनो,
You have chosen a nice song to drive home your point beautifully.
However , I feel that we should follow only the FIRST TWO  lines and not act
as dictated in the LAST line.
धन्यवाद । खेत किसीका, कपास किसीकी, चर्खा किसीका, पर चुनरी मेरी ।
There is no question of Chunri being  MERI or TERI. All I was trying to stress  was that despite having difference of opinion on certain matter(s) and  having agreed to abandon further discussions on that specific topic. THERE IS NO NEED TO BECOME STRANGERS.
Ravi Rustagi : Aug 6 at 9:07 PM
You two are my hero, as you’ve created an amazingly complex learning in this single line tale.

Khet, kapas, charkha represent the tools of work, similar to water, air, land etc; humans use these to do the assigned duty, but have no ownership rights. Sort of lease-use, you leave them behind as you depart from the planet earth.

Chunri represents your actions, your doings, your performance, your karma- these accumulate as Sanchit karma, and travel with you till they are ready to sprout forth as prarabdha, at the right time in this life or life hereafter.
Ignorant people call this as Fate, because humans tend to forget their acts, but the Lord of life Chitragupta keeps track. We should be careful how we make the chunri.

Saint Kabirdasji was a weaver, who sang the melodious bhajan- दास कबीर ने जतन से बीनी……. चदरिया झीनी रे झीनी
Ashok Malhotra:  Aug 6 at 10:08 PM
   Out of the 45 mails till now in this chain, the last 1/3 has been a complete turn around from finding the areas of disagreement to the areas of agreement, and what a pleasurable feeling it gives to reach equanimity on a complex issue, but deeply enshrined in our psyche since time immemorial. I am sure many others still have pertinent points, but refrain from sharing considering it a very private matter not to be imposed on others, n rightly so.
   Lastly the song of '63 film दिल ही तो है sung by Mannade n the Kabirji Bhajan  is my favourite. Let me complete it's most impacting para:
  "कोरी चुनरिया आत्मा मोरी, मैल है माया जाल,
    वो दुनिया मोरे बाबुल का घर  ये दुनिया ससुराल,
  जाके बाबुल से नज़रें मिलाऊ कैसे, घर जाऊं कैसे,
      लागा चुनरी में दाग.....

K.Natarajan : Aug 7 at 10:53 AM
A  FORWARD  which may jell well with the topic under discussion.

Things were going exactly as Srinivasan had feared, his Mother would come in from India and crush his American way of life under her strong South Indian influence. For a genetic scientist like Vasu, as Srinivasan was called by his friends, the only kind of order was disorder. So consumed he was by his research that the world and it's affairs mattered little to him. When his last girlfriend walked out on him, "Find a girl on planet Srinivasan," she had screamed as she stomped out.

Now Vasu's Mother had taken over the administration of the planet. It irritated him, this milk at night and chywanprash every morning. "Have you been wearing the same pair of Jeans for the past three days?" Mother was beginning her morning interrogation.

Vasu stared at the hot idlis in front of him, the chywanprash to follow and the wardrobe interrogation that had begun. Something snapped in his mind. "Mom I love you and I love that you come all the way from India to take care of me but plesse don't fuss over me! It irritates me!  And then I cannot work!"

His Mother did not really care if Vasu was upset, "The idlis are getting cold," was her matter of fact response.

"You don't really care, do you Mom?"

"I care about you Vasu. The work you do is alright. If you don't do it, someone else will do it."

"Mom, I am genetic scientist. I am working on the evolution of man. Theory of evolution, Charles Darwin, have you heard of him? "

Vasu was exasperated with her unwillingness to understand.

His Mother sat down next to him and smiled, "I know Darwin, Vasu. I also know that what you think he discovered was old news in India."

" Yeah sure Mom!" Vasu said with sarcasm.

"Well if you are too smart then listen to this, " his Mother countered." Have you heard of Dashavatar? The ten avatars of Vishnu?" Vasu nodded. "Then let me tell you what you and Mr. Darwin don't know. The first avatar was the Matsya avatar, it means the fish. That is because life began in the water. Is that not right?"

Vasu began to listen with a little more attention.

"Then came the Kurma Avatar, which means the tortoise, cause life moved from the water to the land. The amphibian. So the Tortoise denoted the evolution from sea to land. Third was the Varaha, the wild boar, which meant the wild animals with not much intellect, you call them the Dinosaurs, correct? "

Vasu nodded wide eyed.

"The fourth avatar was the Narasimha avatar, half man and half animal, the evolution from wild animals to intelligent beings. Fifth the Vaman avatar, the midget or dwarf, who could grow really tall. Do you know why that is? Cause there were two kinds of humans, Homo Erectus and the Homo Sapiens and Homo Sapiens won that battle."

Vasu could see that his Mother was in full flow and he was stupefied.

"The Sixth avatar was Parshuram, the man who wielded the axe, the man who was a cave and forest dweller. Angry, and not social but the seventh avatar  was Ram, the first thinking social being, who laid out the laws of society and the basis of all relationships. The eight avatar was Krishna, the statesman, the politician, the lover who played the game of society and taught how to live and thrive in the social structure. The Ninth avatar, the Buddha, the man who rose from Narasimha and found man's true nature. The nature of Buddha, he identified man's final quest of enlightenment. And finally, my boy, will come Kalki, the man you are working on. The man who will be genetically supreme."

Vasu looked at his Mother speechless. "This is amazing Mom, how did you.. This makes sense!"

"Yes it does Vasu! Now have your chywanprash! "