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Monday, 5 December 2016

An encomium to Jayalalitha Jayaram

It was during my college days in Chennai that the corruption case filed by Subrahmanian Swamy against Jayalalitha became a huge talk. Though I was interested in debates & politics and stayed at Cathedral Road very next to the ruling party and opposition party residence where I had chance to watch live political dramas, I never bothered about TamilNadu politics because I felt it was too dramatic to be reasonably analysed but Since this particular case became a debate of national importance. I decided to peep in.
One day I spoke about the details that my colleague at media had written on Puratchi Thalaivi to one of my police friend who in-turn gave me a different version where he described her love for material goods and her dire need for power, That was the first time I started listening to what the natives had to talk about their Chief minister. And it was later, when my mom happened to talk about her that I decided to criticize Jayalalitha for the first time, unlike the listener I used to be till then. My mom patiently listened to all that I mentioned and she asked me only one thing. "Laxmi, please read about her past and the path she had to travel to reach where she is now before you comment on her" and she hung up the phone silently.
I had a negative opinion on her maybe because I was used to watching her leave her residence every day with some 13 vehicles moving together and the SUV in which she travels having four men hanging on to the doors hailing her (I felt pity for those men and felt that she did too much of showoff). After all the stories I have heard about her, her daily luxury routines of saffron milk and rose-milk bath etc. There were plenty of interesting facts as well as gossips about her. Her chair that she carried along with her wherever she goes, which initially was a joke for me, The way men had to bow before her and should not look at her face while talking to her etc made me feel like she was a lady Hitler.

All these opinions changed once I learned more about her. I became a dire admirer of Madam Jayalalitha Jayaram. I have never addressed her as Amma but Jayalalitha always, Since I am not her blind follower but an ordinary woman who admires her skills and crtiticized her faults.

First Interview of Jayalalitha I watched was Rendezvous with Simigarewal (To watch the interview click here) where I imbibed the transformation of a very emotional human being to one of India's most powerful and inspirational woman! 
"Its been a tempestuous life" In Jayalalitha`s own words. Her journey from a film-star to a Chief Minister is worth reading, To my knowledge only one authentic biography of Jayalalitha is available online. (Click here)

The second Interview I watched among the very few she had given was the one with Karan Thapar where I was so glad to see the Devil`s advocate being royally slapped. (To watch the interview click here). I really became a fan of hers by the way she retorted his sarcastic remarks.
She is indeed remarkable. She has neither lost her temper nor she became emotional in public even when she was harassed a lot mercilessly. She encountered probably the highest documented insult that a woman has ever faced in a state Assembly when she was almost disrobed.This was in addition to being the recipient of lewd comments and hair pulling on the same day.
Yet she remained a Pheonix.
She was a charming, multi-faceted actor who was trained in various dance forms. But not so obviously, she was well read and witty, she was intelligent and she knew it. It was not merely her affair with MGR that drew her to politics, it was her prolific ability to speak in English & Hindi with an intellect that could match an economist.

Two months ago on my way back from NewDelhi, I happened to enter into a discussion with a fellow traveler who used a colloquial slang while referring to Jayalalitha (which offended my feelings) all because she was found guilty in a corruption case by a magistrate court. He spoke fiercely against her. I admit the fact that she was greedy about Luxury but that doesn't make her a bad person, In fact politics itself is a dirty game. All that matters to me is what she has done for her people. She has given 70% to people even if she stole the rest all for herself. At least she makes sure that the 70% reaches her people promptly. She was a highly skilled administrator.

 Since myself and my fellow traveler happened to be Keralites it was easy for me to ask him few questions about our own Kerala Government and the benefits he gained from our state government which I believe has lead him to realize the pity condition of our home State when compared to the neighboring state with far less resource than ours and a highly corrupted leader as he mentioned. To be honest I have never seen my state government reaching to the common class neither did I feel their presence in my daily life. Myself belonging to a middle class family, government is just a myth that existed in news channels throughout my student life. It was when I went to Chennai that I realized how effectively can a state government function.

I just asked him to mention 5 good things that Jayalalitha has done for her State before lifting his fingers against her and he was mute. I pity that the man who roared against the number of silk sarees she owned had no idea about her administration or her contributions to the development of TamilNadu.
 I think, a reasonable criteria to become a critique is that you should know both the sides before you take one stand. And its a common trend that people are amused to criticize politicians especially if she is a woman with power.

I conclude by paying respects to the politician who broke gender barriers.

RIP Jayalalitha Jayaram.



Sunday, 15 May 2016

Break or Bloom

"We always have choice to break or bloom." Says one
But remember someone said "The serpent beaten up at a young age can never widen its face again"
Born as a warrior, but beaten d hell out that it could never grow up to what it could have..

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Petrichor

The spectacle of Mother Nature,
Aprés several months.
Maybe an apt disposal,
To cleanse thy soul.

A soul perplexed,
Drenched in mystification.
A soul unceremoniously indicted,
Drubbed to anguish for times unknown.

Raindrops on the face,
Driblet on the leaves.
Smell of the earth
And the rhythm of Nature.

The first rain,
Imbibed by the five senses.
Washed out the wounds
Cast on the soul.

Vows to deliver peace
And the harmony endeared.
Reminding what its worth,
Takes leave as a slight rustle.

Leaving back a soul replenished,
Blessed for the endeavour ahead.
A smile on the face,
An impact on the soul.

-Medhavagmi

Monday, 2 May 2016

The Myth about Caste system in Hinduism



 I searched Hinduism on internet curious to see the results and was really agitated on seeing a definition of Hinduism on a British website ‘the free dictionary’. First line of the definition says “a body of religious and philosophical beliefs and cultural practices native to India and based on a caste system; ”

“Religious belief Based on Caste system?? “

I felt that there was an immediate need to write about the fact that caste system is not divinely inspired and was not mentioned in the Vedas. Hoping that it would help few to change their attitude towards Hinduism.


 In this write-up I will be speaking about the myth of 'caste system being mentioned in the Vedas'. I don't want to add Manusmriti into this discussion because I am not a follower of Manusmriti and I disagree with many points by Manu. 
Manusmriti is considered to be a law book that was used to enforce Caste system in the ancient days. Manusmriti was discoursed by Manu and Bhrigu on their own fancy to suite and aid the management of the situation back in the 3rd century. It was one of the first Sanskrit texts to be translated to English during the British Rule in India. So we could assume the rest, British knew what was good for them. What was supposed to be taken to Britain and what was to be imposed in India!

It is important for Hindus as well as non-Hindus to have a correct diagnosis on the social history of Caste system while the misconception on Vedic teachings is spreading like wild fire.


Introduction

Caste system has always been a problem ‘for’ India, a boon from The British I would say. Though we all know that nobody believes in division of men on illogical factors in this 21st century but we have to admit that few citizens still enjoy the superiority that they assume to have, due to the illusion from the past.

A recent caste survey found that one in four, among the Indians still believe in Caste system. India could actually change the mindset of rural and the urban with rural attitude by providing good education and creating development in their areas.  Andhra Pradesh being an epitomic example of prevailing caste based system has a recent example of the suicide of Rohit vemula which I don’t want to discuss in this article but point out that caste was misused and pointed at as more relevant by the Media than the actual malfunctioning of education system. Caste system is nothing but a political tool for vote banks and controversies, which is the part of a game.

Generally we go back till the Vedic age when we talk about the genesis of Caste system. But do we realize that the word ‘Caste’ is derived from a Portuguese word ‘Casta’ meaning ‘Race, Lineage or Breed’. There is a big misconception among the public that caste system in India is divinely inspired

What is said in the Vedas?

The most controversial line “Chathurvarnyam  Mahashreshtam” from ‘Purushasukta’ of the RigVeda is brought to debate under this topic but is intentionally quoted inappropriately  since the debaters leave out the very next line “Gunakarmam Vibhathara”.

It says; Brahmano mugha aseeth
            Baahu raajanya kritha
            Ooru thathasya thas Vaishya
           Papbhyaam Shudro achayatha

Explanation

First step towards understanding what is said in the Vedas is the ability to distinguish between ‘Varna’ and ‘Jati’.
Firstly, Caste refers to Jati not varna. Jatis are the thousands of indigenous social- occupational groups, while varna refers to the four individualized societal functions described in many texts.


Let us begin by translating the verse I had mentioned above (from the Purusha Sukta). The 90th Sukta of the 10th Mandala in the Rig Veda. Here the entire universe is described as the body of God (Purusha), and of all creation as emerging from Him.  Like in the book of Genesis from the word of God- The Bible
From his mouth came forth the Brahmins (mouth-Brahmins were engaged in chanting and other prayers)
And of his arms were Rajanya made 
(Arms- Kshatriya were engaged in wars and fights. they were the warriors)
From his thighs came the Vaishyas (Thighs- Vaishyas were engaged in works which required no movements, as in sitting. They were business men, accountants etc)
And his feet gave birth to Sudras. (Feet- Sudras were engaged in works requiring alot of travel, they were the messengers, peons etc)
At a literal reading, this indeed appears to define a hierarchical system of classes with the Brahmins occupying the most prestigious position and the Sudras being the most inferior as they emerge from the feet. And this has pretty much become the dominant understanding of the verse among academics.
The best way to demonstrate the silliness of this interpretation of the 90th Sukta, is to actually assume it to be correct and then see where that leads us in terms of understanding the rest of the hymn. Thus, if the above verse indicates a hierarchical system, then presumably the body parts of the God (Purusha) from which everything in creation emerges, or the order in which the names are mentioned, or both, ought to be indicative of its superiority or otherwise.
Let us test this understanding against translations of the next two verses from the 90th ‘Purusha Sukta’:
Of his mind, the Moon is born
Of his eyes, the shining Sun
from his mouth, Indra and Agni,
And of his life-breath, Vayu
Space unfolds from his navel
The sky well formed from his head
From His feet, the earth and His ears the Quarters
Thus they thought up all the worlds.
If our assumption above were true, then the moon ought to be superior to the sun because the mind is superior to the eyes, and also because the moon is mentioned first. Moreover, based on where they emerge from, Indra (the king of the Devas) ought to be inferior to both Chandra (moon) and Surya (sun) and on par with Agni (fire), which also is illogical.
A similarly absurd comparison of the space, sky, earth with the ‘four directions’ will arise from the second verse. If the earth comes from the God’s (Purusha) feet, is it then inferior to the moon which comes from the mind?
There is clearly no hierarchy intended, but only symbolic meanings.


In  way Chathurvarnyam was established as a part of planning and organizing for a better management of the economy. Say an example of a Court, not all can become the judge. We need Peon, Courtofficers, lawyers etc for functioning the court like wise a system and order existed. Hence occupations were charted and people were given options to chose what they want to do. For evidence let me quote Veda “I am a reciter of hymns, my father is a healer, my mother a grinder of corn. We desire to obtain wealth through various actions”-- Rig Veda 9.112.3. I guess this helps us understand that people had choice of career. Chathurvarnyam is not caste system but a proper management technique for a better functioning of the system.

Evidences from the Religion's History

There is only one varna in the ancient Indian society. Read the following passages and quotes from different Hindu texts and Scriptures.

The Brhadaranyaka Upanisad (1.4, 11-5, 1.31) says “We were all brahmins or all sudras,” Same is said in Mahabharata (12.188).

In The Bhagavad Gita, 4.13, Krishna says: “The fourfold varna has been created by Me according to the different ‘Gunas’ (Qualities)”. According to The Bhagavad Gita, ‘varna’ is conferred on the basis of the intrinsic nature of an individual, which is a combination of three ‘gunas’ (qualities): sattva, rajas, and tamas.

In the Mahabharata SantiParva, Yudhisthira defines a brahmin as one who is truthful, forgiving, and kind. He clearly points out that a brahmin is not a brahmin just because he is born in a brahmin family, nor is a sudra a sudra because his parents are sudras.

Apastamba Dharmasutra states that by birth every human being is a sudra. It is by education and upbringing that one becomes ‘twice born’, that is, a dvija.

Manu sums up the relative status and functions of the varnas in the following verse of Manu Smrti: “The brahmin acquires his status by his knowledge, the ksatriya by his martial vigor, the vaisya by wealth; and the sudra by birth alone.”

In Bhagavada Gita 18.41, Krsna states: “The devotees of the Lord are not sudras; sudras are they who have no faith in the Lord whichever be their varna.” Mahabharata says that a wise man should not slight even an outcaste if he is devoted to the Lord; he who looks down on him will fall into hell. SantiParva, Mahabharata also says that there is no superior varna. The universe is the work of the Immense Being. The beings created by him were only divided into varnas according to their aptitude.

Conclusion
This aspect of the caste system as it first existed has been acknowledged by even the most trenchant modern critic of the caste system.
 As Dr. B.R. Ambedkar wrote- “Particular attention has to be paid to the fact that this (the varna system) was essentially a class system, in which individuals, when qualified, could change their class, and therefore classes did change their personnel.” (Writings and Speeches, Vol. 1, P.18)

It has been a trend by the westerners to criticize the sacred teaching and misinterpret it into illogical writings. Not only Vedas but also they try to depict Sanskrit as a language of oppression. 

The beauty of Hinduism is its openess. Slokas like "loka samasthaa sughino bhavanthu"
"Adhiti devo bhava" etc shows us how welcoming and peaceful the religion is. Hinduism is an art of living and caste system is just one of the many factors that the invaders imposed on a Hindu nation which affected the culture and altered the teachings of Sanatana Dharma.




Friday, 29 April 2016

Travel- A means to aquaint with Nature

A hippie lifestyle was a trend long back but now I guess someone saying they wanna sit at home or have a quality time with family seems to be trending. Since when did the quaint of traveling start trending?
 If u ask a youth what they really wanna do in life? or their idea of happiness?
The answer is 'Travel'. 


Myself being a wanderlust I would love to spend my spare time and earnings on traveling. But tonight I was  wondering why do we love to travel? What is the hist of traveling?

Some of us travel for peace of mind or to seclude ourselves from our routine lives, few travel for purposes, and another section travels to explore new things. Ultimately Nature is the answer to the equation you create for the travel.
Traveling helps one to acquaint with nature more effusively. Nature is the best teacher and being a dedicated student can elevate you from being a mere mortal to a spiritual being. Every one has their own way to enjoy their travel. There is this friend of mine who go for long drives to talk to himself. It sounds funny but don't you think its the best way to deal with stress and deep in our heart we all talk to ourselves. 

Well my point is that, what we all need is a bonding with nature and travel is the means that we all use to acquaint with nature.
Travel helps u grow mentally. Somewhere traveling is a form of exercising one`s liberty!

Even when we travel across boundaries to study and explore different cultures or traditions,
that's again mother nature who is teaching us lessons we desire to learn. Isn't?

They say;
"Don't tell me how much u have learnt but tell me how much you have traveled"
"I would like to have a passport full of stamps than a house full of stuffs"



Vicky Christina Barcelona -Movie review

It was my junior who suggested me this movie. I knew it was something intense, But ohh my goodness never expected this much. The director Woody Allen might have taken immense efforts to bring out his brainchild at its best.

The Story is based on human psychology when you`re attracted to someone. It helps us to analyze ourselves what is love and what falls into the category of love. Infatuation, crush and one night stand when wrapped up with intense emotions keeps the audience on the cliff-edge.

Movie focuses on four characters mainly. Two friends, Vicky and Christina who travels to Barcelona for a summer and involves with a native to just discover themselves what they are and what they want out of love.

The movie did justice to me since Spain is one country I always want to visit especially to explore the traditions, festivals, culture and art.

 The Most highlighting element of the movie as well as my favorite among Allen`s creativity was the Character Maria Elena. The fact that the movie has a simple narration which kinda ease the audience when involved in such complex situations on screen, was really thoughtful.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

A warrior of light is never predictable



by Paulo Coelho on May 9, 2012

A warrior of light is never predictable.He might dance down the street on his way to work, gaze into the eyes of a complete stranger and speak of love at first sight, or else defend an apparently absurd idea.
Warriors of light allow themselves days like these. He is not afraid to weep over ancient sorrows or to feel joy at new discoveries.
When he feels that the moment has arrived, he drops everything and goes off on some long-dreamed-of adventure.
When he realises that he can do no more, he abandons the fight, but never blames himself for having committed a few unexpected acts of folly. A warrior does not spend his days trying to play the role that others have chosen for him.

The warrior of light does not worry that, to others, his behaviour might seem quite mad. He talks out loud to himself when he is alone. Someone told him that this is the best way of communicating with the angels, and so he takes a chance and tries to make contact.
At first, he finds this very difficult. He thinks that he has nothing to say, that he will just repeat the same meaningless twaddle.Even so, the warrior persists. He spends all day talking to his heart.
He says things with which he does not agree, he talks utter nonsense. One day, he notices a change in his voice.
He realises that he is acting as a channel for some higher wisdom.
The warrior may seem mad, but this is just a disguise.