Sunday, May 27, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Effective public speaking is not something that can be mastered in 15 days by reading a book like “How to become a public speaker”. Unless there is honest and conviction in what you speak, no amount of self help books, will make you a good one. And remember it is not necessary, that your first speech has to be a big success. Benjamin Disraeli, was mocked at in the British parliament, when he first spoke, later he was acknowledged as one of the greatest orators of all times. Mind you unless you are fully convinced of what you are speaking, your words will carry no weight. Too often we assume, that just because we won some prizes in elocution and debate competitions, we are good speakers. No way, those competitions, only teach you how to speak, but unless you are true and honest to whatever you preach, your speech will be meaningless fury and nothing else. Remember the best speeches don’t come from the speechwriter, they come from within the heart .
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
But the reality is something different. Currently not many opt for pure sciences stream, as IT-BPO pays more. No issues with that. And we cant blame the students also. The science departments in a majority of our universities suffer from incompetence, outdated syllabi, and nepotism. Ph.D.’s are copied outright, and if you can suck up to your mentor, you would get a good rating. New ideas are rarely encouraged, and what happens in most of these science departments is group politics.
Take a scenario . A young researcher comes up with a new idea, and presents it to his professor. Now the professor’s ego comes into picture, he can’t let his protégé appear brighter than him. So the young person, is subjected to a cycle of red tapism, and by the time the report appears, he would have lost all interest in it. In such an environment, is it any wonder that the best of Indian minds wouldn’t want to go into research. They would migrate to the West, where universities offer a much better environment for research.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Saturday, May 12, 2007
“Karmanye vadhikarasthe ma phaleshu kadachana
Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangotsava Akarmani”
“You have a right to perform your prescribed action, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your action, Never consider yourself the cause of your results your activities, and never be associated to not doing your duty”
Now while I had been reading the book from the age of 17, some how this verse was always contentious to me. If we are not entitled to the fruits of our actions, then why perform the action in the first place. We are asked not to shirk from our duty, but yet at the same time, we are not asked to bother about results. Was this not a way of saying I am not accountable? I read as many books as possible on this, consulted with scholars, and even would discuss this with my friends, but somehow the contention was always there. Was not the concept of Karma, responsible for the fatalistic attitude of Indians? But yet what was there in that single verse, which has made it way into the hearts and minds of people.
What was there in this book, that so inspired Robert Oppenheimer, that when he saw the first nuclear explosion, he quoted
“ Kalo asmi loka-ksaya-krit pravardho,
lokan samartum iha pravattah”
English translation: “Now I am become death
The destroyer of the worlds, come to annihilate everyone”
What power was there in this scripture, that it inspired Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak in the fight for freedom? What is the moral authority of this book, that every one in court has to take an oath on this to tell the truth? Why did men like Adi Shankara, Madhavacharya, Ramanuja Charya write entire commentaries on the book? What made modern day philosophers like Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda and S.Radhakrishnan derive their ideals from this book? Questions which haunted me always.
It was Chennai, 2001. Like many other people at that time, I was preparing to leave for the US, my H1 visa stamped, all my papers in order, and my tickets booked. I had prepared for years for this dream of mine, working hard, planning every inch towards it. At last my dream would come true. And then at the last moment, the project was cancelled, and all my dreams just vanished in front of my eyes. I was shattered. I had spent a harrowing day at the US consulate, to get the visa, and now what all I had built up was crumbling. And worse was to follow, as a couple of months later, I was laid off the job. I had to join a job, for a far lesser salary, and for a year and a half, it was sheer struggle for me. But yet I never gave up hope, kept trying, kept on improving my skills, and then at end of 2002, came the break I was looking for. Life from then on has never been the same for me.
It was then the full meaning of the first mentioned verse that hit me. When Lord Krishna advised not to worry about the results of our actions, he was not advocating that we are not accountable. The gist is that at the end of the day, we might plan something, we might think a lot about it, but there is something called as fate. We are responsible for the consequences of our actions, but only to a certain extent. There are factors we cannot control, and when such factors derail our plans, we have to take it as it comes. Not a very easy thing to do, but that is the best option. And that’s when the full value of the Bhagavad Gita revealed itself to me. It was a book complex in it’s delineation of the truth, yet simple enough in it’s thoughts. A book of immense religious depth, and beautiful verses, it presents the facts of life in a manner, which could be understood by a layman.
The Gita basically starts off with Krishna, asking Arjuna to rise above his fears before the Battle of the Mahabharat. In course he explains to Arjuna the basic truths about Ishvara, the supreme God. And then comes the vital discussion on the Jiva or the soul, where he contrasts the permanent nature of the soul against the temporary state of the body.
Prakrti or the basic matter of the Universe, is what Krishna dwells upon next. And that’s where he differentiates between Tamas Guna( Ignorance), Rajas Guna( passion) and Sattva( Goodness).And the most important being Karma or action. The Gita in a way is significant in that Krishna advises Arjuna to perform his duty as a Kshatriya, that is to fight a battle. The book emphasizes that every individual has a role and a duty to perform, and escaping from duty, would only result in cosmic disorder. In a closer way, if we relate it to management, every member of the team has a responsibility to perform, a slack performance by even a single person, could upset the balance.
Yoga is one of the foremost concepts explained by the Gita. Yoga here refers not to the physical exercises, but here it describes a unified outlook a sort of balance between sense and intuition of cosmic order. Self discipline and engaging one a higher plane, is what makes a yoga. However the Gita is equally critical of abstinence from action. Abstinence here is not be confused with inactivity, but rather equanimity, the ability to handle success and failure, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain on equal terms. A true yogi is neither carried away by success nor weighed down by failure. The 3 main kinds of Yoga explained here are Bhakti( devotion), Karma( Selfless Action) and Jnana( Knowledge).
Karma Yoga is to do one’s duties in life as per dharma, without concern of results. Bhakti Yoga states that mere knowledge of scriptures does not lead to salvation, devotion, meditation and worship are essential. Jnana Yoga, the highest form, learns to discriminate between real and unreal. The Gita is a work beyond the scope of reviews, ratings and comments. What I have presented here are only drops in an ocean.