Sunday, May 23, 2004

Means and Ends

I am a big fan of the comedy show 'The Simpsons'. Though it is a comedy show intended to make you laugh, sometimes the antics of Bart and the stupidity of Homer evoke some pretty serious thoughts in me. This is one such instance.

When Moe persuades an inexperienced H. to fight the heavyweight champion Dederick Tatum in a boxing match, he (Moe) says to H. "Look, Homer, you can win, all you have gotta do is visualise". Homer visualizes alright, not the fighting techniques, but the picture where he has defeated Tatum and is receiving the prize! Of course, that is the typical Homer Simpson. What scared me, was that I could see that I was also like him ! I am working on my Master's thesis right now. I am at the fag-end of the work. When I say to myself that I have to visualize and plan, the picture that comes to my mind is that of me submitting my completed thesis, getting a "Good work" certificate from my professor, telling all my relatives and friends about my work, etc. Rarely have I visualized working my butt off, though I think I do that!

Monday, May 17, 2004

gridhrasaras and pArijAta

Once, when I went to our AcArya, He told us this story:
When Rama came to pa~NcavaTI for the first time, he met jaTAyu, a bird belonging to the gridhra species. On exchanging words, jaTAyu came to know that rAma was his friend dasharatha's son. He came to love the family very much, though he was unaware of their divine origin. And what is bhakti, but pure love? Pure love for someone who is dependent on us (say, a child who is dependent on its mother, or people who are dependent on their king) manifests itself as vAtsalya. Pure love for someone we consider higher than ourselves manifests itself as bhakti.

Coming back to the story. We all know that jaTAyu fought rAvaNa courageously to rescue sItA from him. However courageously jaTAyu fought, he was no match to rAvaNa. jaTAyu was severely wounded, and he fell to the ground. rAvaNa successfully kidnapped sItA.

After rAma and lakShmaNa returned from killing mArIca, they discovered that sIta was nowhere in the hut, and they started searching for Her. They met jaTAyu, who told them that sItA was abducted by a rAkShasa. jaTAyu died at the feet of rAma, and rAma gave him sadgati. Later, rAma found sItA with the help of vAnaras, and They were united.

We all know this much from the rAmAyaNa. There is another little-known story. At the place where jaTAyu died and obtained paramapadam, a small pArijAta tree sprang. It is on the shore of a lake named gridhrasaras, after jaTAyu. The following shloka is said about the lake and the pArijAta tree.

shrImad-gR^idhrasarastIre pArijAtamupAsmahe
yatra tu~Ngairatu~Ggaishcha praNatairgR^ihyate phalam

ये जनाः संस्कृतं पठितुं शक्नुवन्ति, तेषां कृते संस्कृतेन एव लिखामि ।

श्रीमद्गृध्रसरस्तीरे पारिजातमुपास्महे।
यत्र तुङ्गैरतुङ्गैश्च प्रणतैर्गृह्यते फलम्॥

This place has been on my to-visit list for a very long time.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

What went wrong? What might happen?

It's all over, the election results are out. Cong is in, NDA is out.

What could the BJP have done to retain power? I mean, just good governance is not enough in politics. I, for one, feel that the BJP lost because the people did not see any difference between BJP and Congress. As the RSS put it, the Beej diluted its ideology. Corrupt party-hoppers like Bangarappa joined the BJP. There was no mention of Article 370 and UCC in its manifesto. The BJP also tried to secure Muslim votes by (idiotic?) gestures such as increasing Haj subsidy and trying to be endorsed by none other than Imam Bukhari. Instead, they could have tried to educate the Muslims and make them think for themselves. I am of the opinion that any right-thinking patriotic Indian would never agree to have a Congress govt. and an inexperienced foreigner Sonia as the PM. Cong will be supported by the left, which makes the situation even more disgusting.

Picture this scenario. Sonia the PM, Laloo the HRD, Mulayam Defence minister.. For Heaven's sake, the woman (I mean SG) goes to UK and criticizes the Hindus of India! She cannot string two sentences in Hindi, the national language. She did not take Indian Citizenship until 1983. She and her husband took refuge in Italy when emergency was declared. Can it get any worse than this? I hope someone powerful has the sanity to suggest MM Singh's name for the PM-ship, or at least the FM-ship. Otherwise we will just go back to being another poor third-world country.

There were two articles on rediff that made me almost puke. Italy and Pakistan were celebrating the Congress's win! An Italian remarked that she would not be comfortable voting for a person of Indian origin (naturally!). But, happiness that Sonia was in this position was obvious from her talk (again, naturally!) Do we need more proof of our imbecility? I think India is just the right example for democracy's best and worst.

Somebody on a forum was remarking that he would leave India for good if Cong came to power. I love my country too much to even consider that a possibility. Here, Indians, welcome back to the days of Nehruvian Socialism, religious strife, reservation and unemployment. From our History books, we will start learning how Aryans were fiends who conquered India, and how Aurangzeb was the benevolent ruler who introduced the concept of religious equality to us uncivilized Indians. These are topsy-turvy times, indeed!

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Importance of pronunciation and sAhitya in Classical Music

I am learning Carnatic Classical Music (well, I used to learn for a long time, and will restart learning in the near future), and for me, Music is something that links human with God. Almost all the kritis and varNas sung are known both for their sangIta aspect and the sAhitya aspect. Then, why pray, are they sung with such a horrible accents that one cannot even figure out the lyrics, let alone enjoy them? With the exception of a few, musicians do not even *try* to pronounce words properly. For some time, I had completely stopped listening to vocalists because their mistakes were so glaring that I could not even appreciate the good parts in their music!

An example- an old CD of GNB's recordings had this in its index "Manasulonima" ... ! Is it so hard to figure out that it 'manasulOni' and 'marmamu' are two different words? I have heard a musician pronounce 'nArada bhayahara' as 'nArada bayagara'. 'One who dispelled the fears of nArada' became, to my Tamil-untrained ear 'One who created fear in nArada'!

I had once attended a concert of T.N. Seshagopalan, one of my favourite musicians. He sang a romantic aShTapadi in - tODi! The rAga tODi is good for dainyarasa, and certainly anything but romantic! His Todi is impeccable; I have not listened to any tODi better than his. But it would have been much more enjoyable if he had chosen a different composition, or sang the same aShTapadi in a different raaga like kAmavardhini!

A course in saahitya must be made mandatory for musicians. This will help them put more emotion or bhAva into their singing. For example, lines like "kaantamagu pEru ponditivi" in "paalinchu kaamaakShi" are filled with love and devotion for the Mother. The neraval should bring out this devotion and love. It is of no use otherwise. I have heard some 'good' musicians sing 'nagumOmu ganalEni' with an enthusiasm that puts an child high on espresso to shame ! The meaning of the pallavi of this kriti is 'Rama, how can you have a smiling face when you know about my suffering?' See what happens when the musician does not understand the lyrics? It is the confluence of sAhitya and sangIta that makes Carnatic music so beautiful. Unless musicians understand this, they cannot do justice to their music.


This is just a test blog. My interests vary from Electrical Engineering and Physics and Philosophy to Politics and Music and movies, with a whole lot of subjects in between. Right now I am reading some stuff about how one can maintain an ecologically sound home. I am thinking of experimenting with solar cells but have not got much information to start working on them.