Of Mind, Matter And Brahmn

The Times Of India Delhi;     Date: Mar 28, 2012;     Section: Editorial;     Page: 22

THE SPEAKING TREE Of Mind, Matter And Brahmn  Soma Charavertty

Science and technology can only study and reveal how the brain functions; it is yet to find a way to plumb completely the mind that propels the thinking process.

There can be no mind without body although mind does not have a physical form. Mind in a way is affected by external situations and circumstances like living conditions, the food one consumes, susceptibility to body’s demands like hunger, thirst, sleep and other physical needs like sexual urges. But the fact remains that the evolved mind can handle these demands or urges well.

Immensity of this subtle, invisible, intangible force cannot be measured. Since mind does not have a gross or physical form, its run cannot be obstructed or restrained. It is said mind travels faster than light. Mind needs to be cultivated or charged to reach its potential power. Buddha said, “The mind is everything. What you think, you become.”

The mind can open up a spectrum of possibilities including inner wisdom, heighten awareness of being and relate to universal cosmic energy. But the same mind, by falling prey to substance abuse, lust and anger, could not only rob itself of its power of reasoning but also cause havoc with physical health. The mind could get trapped in the web of past and future, hardly ever stopping for the present. To become fully alive to the present moment and enter into an elevated state of awareness, the mind has to calm down as it is the seat of perception and interpretation.

One’s state of mind can be divided into pure and impure. When engrossed in worldly ways of material trappings and sexual desires, the mind could adversely affect the journey of life. Mind alone is the cause of liberation and bondage. According to Thakur Sri Ramakrishna, “By mind one is bound, by mind one is freed.’’

Mind has three dimensions: the subconscious, conscious and superconscious mind. When the conscious state of mind is regulated and undergoes upward evolution, one begins to tread the path towards the superconscious state. Abilities like Extra Sensory Perception, clairvoyance, and telepathy all arise out of sheer mind power. Hyper linking the conscious mind to the superconscious state of liberation leads one to freedom from all bondage, thereby making attainment of the life of a jivan mukta possible.

The Supreme has co-opted humankind as co-creator by giving the human being a highly developed mind, which distinguishes the species from those of any other living entity of this world, whose mind and instincts function only for the basic need and survival.

A mind tuned finely with the melody of the universal mind can alter and better the course of life. A mind that is full of positive thoughts will not give space for impure trends. This has to be a constant endeavour even for a mind that has tasted the essence of being because, deluded by objects of senses, it starts seeking illusory sensual pleasures and gets entrapped in the world of maya.

Mind motivated by matter is avidya or ignorance. Controlling the mind is a lifelong process. The best way is to make your mind your sakha, your best friend, so that you are able to work in tandem to discover the Self ’s own natural state, which is one with Brahmn. Sages have stated in the Chandogya Upanishad that one should meditate on the mind as Brahmn, for all objects are perceived by manas or mind.

Published in: on March 28, 2012 at 12:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

World Scripture


        Knowledge of spiritual and religious truth is often best imparted
by a teacher.  The personal relationship between a worthy teacher and his
disciple allows a level of guidance and intimate communication of truth
beyond what may be attained by the private study of scripture or through
personal prayer and meditation.  The teacher should have a mature faith,
rich experience, and accomplishment by which he can set an example for his
students and convey to them the insights born of his experience and
mastery.  The students, for their part, should be obedient to the teacher
and willing to receive discipline.

        In some Eastern religions, where the teacher is the embodiment of
truth through his own self-realization, he is regarded as the ultimate
authority.  In Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, on the other hand, the
teacher is not to be trusted by virtue of his own personal spiritual or
intellectual prowess.  He is but a servant of God, and he must be true to
the traditions and doctrinal foundations established by the founder,
passed on by the elders, and laid down in scripture.

        Discipleship in many religions can also refer to following
directly the example of the founder, who is the supreme teacher.  The
disciple not only heeds the words of the founder, who is the Revealer of
Truth, pp. 628-35; he also follows in the founder's footsteps by imitating
his example, life-style, and attitude of heart.  Furthermore, in many
religions the succession of disciples extending from the living teacher
back to the founder establishes the Apostolic Succession, the proper chain
of authority for teaching and administration.

        Finally, discipleship is a call to help and support the founder in
his mission.  The disciples of Jesus and the Companions of Muhammad were
willing to die for their lord in service of the cause of God.  The
disciple proclaims the founder's message to the world; he shares in his
persecution and sufferings; for "a servant is not above his master."  This
discipleship has its cost, but it also brings with it the honor of being a
co-worker with God.

One not knowing a land asks of one who knows it,
        he goes forward instructed by the knowing one.
Such, indeed, is the blessing of instruction,
        one finds a path that leads him straight onward.

                       Hinduism.  Rig Veda 10.32.7

Let thy house be a place of meeting for the wise, and dust thyself with
the dust of their feet, and drink their words with thirst.

                       Judaism.  Mishnah, Abot 1.4

Just as cold disappears by sitting near the fire,
So are sins destroyed in the congregation of saints.

           Sikhism.  Adi Granth, Ramkali Ashtpadi, M.5, p. 914

One fakih (scholar in religion) is more annoying to Satan than a thousand
of the faithful who perform only their ceremonial duties.

                        Islam.  Hadith of Tirmidhi

Approach someone who has realized the purpose of life and question him
with reverence and devotion; he will instruct you in this wisdom.  Once
you attain it, you will never be deluded.  You will see all creatures in
the Self, and all in Me.

                     Hinduism.  Bhagavad Gita 4.34-35

Should one see a wise man, who, like a revealer of treasure, points out
faults and reproves; let one associate with such a wise person; it will be
better, not worse, for him who associates with such a one.

Let him advise, instruct, and dissuade one from evil; truly pleasing is he
to the good, displeasing is he to the bad.

                       Buddhism.  Dhammapada 76-77

Rig Veda 10.32.7: Cf. Katha Upanishad 1.3.14, p. 672. In Jainism, respect for teachers who have attained liberation is expressed in the Namokar Mantra, pp. 54-55.
Stand in the assembly of the elders. Who is wise? Cleave to him. Be ready to listen to every narrative, do not let wise proverbs escape you. If you see an intelligent man, visit him early; let your foot wear out his doorstep. Christianity. Sirach 6.34-36 He who sees through the eye tells proverbs. African Traditional Religions. Igala Proverb (Nigeria) To many it is not given to hear of the Self. Many, though they hear of it, do not understand it. Wonderful is he who speaks of it. Intelligent is he who learns of it. Blessed is he who, taught by a good teacher, is able to understand it. The truth of the Self cannot be fully understood when taught by an ignorant man, for opinions regarding it, not founded in knowledge, vary one from another. Subtler than the subtlest is this Self, and beyond all logic. Taught by a teacher who knows the Self and Brahman as one, a man leaves vain theory behind and attains to truth. The awakening which you have known does not come through the intellect, but rather, in fullest measure, from the lips of the wise.... Words cannot reveal him. Mind cannot reach him. Eyes do not see him. How then can he be comprehended, save when taught by those seers who indeed have known him? Hinduism. Katha Upanishad 1.2.7-9; 2.6.12 Whoever does not have a guide, Satan is his guide. Islam. Hadith
Igala Proverb: Only one with much life experience, who sees with the eye of wisdom, is qualified to instruct others. Hadith: This tradition is from Sufi circles. The role of the teacher is particularly important in the Sufi orders, for it is the teacher who preserves and conveys the esoteric wisdom essential to spiritual advancement on the Path.
It is very important for a person who wishes to "lament" to receive aid and advice from a wichasha wakan (holy man), so that everything is done correctly, for if things are not done in the right way, something very bad can happen, and even a serpent could come and wrap itself around the lamenter." Native American Religions. Black Elk, Sioux Tradition The teacher, brethren, should regard the pupil as his son. The pupil should regard the teacher as his father. Thus these two, by mutual reverence and deference joined, dwelling in community of life, will win increase, growth, progress in this Norm-discipline. Buddhism. Vinaya Pitaka, Mahavagga 3.1 As in the sky flies the white-clothed crane, Keeping its mind behind, In its heart continually remembering its young ones; So the true Guru keeps the disciple absorbed in the love of God, And also keeps him in his heart. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gauri, M.4 Set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Till I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you. Practice these duties, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Take heed to yourself and to your teaching; hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. Christianity. 1 Timothy 4.12-16 The sage always excels in saving people, and so abandons no one; Always excels in saving things, and so abandons nothing. This is called following one's discernment. Hence the good man is the teacher the bad learns from; And the bad man is the material the good works on. Not to value the teacher Nor to love the material Though it seems clever, betrays great bewilderment. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 27
Black Elk: To 'lament' means to enter a place of total isolation and cry for a vision; see Sioux Vision Quest, pp. 847ff. 1 Timothy 4.12-16: The teaching positions in the church: bishop, priest, and deacon, are endowed in a ceremony of the laying of hands. Thus the gift of apostolic authority, first given to Peter (see Matthew 16.15-19, p. 286), is passed on. Tao Te Ching 27: Cf. Chuang Tzu 14, p. 718.
Much Torah have I learned from my teachers, more from my colleagues, but from my students most of all. Judaism. Talmud, Taanit 7a The Master said, "Even when walking in a party of no more than three I can always be certain of learning from those I am with. There will be good qualities that I can select for imitation and bad ones that will teach me what requires correction in myself." Confucianism. Analects 7.28 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Christianity. 1 Corinthians 3.5-11 The guru, it is declared, is the very Lord himself. To approach the guru, to worship the guru, is to approach the Lord, worship the Lord. Why should the Lord choose to manifest through the guru, why should he not act directly? Shiva is really all-pervading, above the mind, without features, imperishable... infinite; how can such a one be worshipped? That is why, out of compassion for his creatures, He takes the form of the guru and, when so worshipped in devotion, grants liberation and fulfillment. Shiva has no binding form, Shiva is not perceivable by the human eye; therefore He protects the disciple conforming to Dharma in the form of the guru. The guru is none other than the supreme Shiva enclosed in human skin; he walks the earth, concealed, for bestowing grace on the good disciples.... To him who is loaded with sinful karma, the guru appears to be human; but to him whose karma is auspicious, meritful, the guru appears as Shiva. Hinduism. Kularnava Tantra 13
1 Corinthians 3.5-11: Paul is writing to a community in which disputes have arisen over the doctrines of different teachers. Paul reminds them that a teacher is no more than a servant of God and Christ, and that all true teaching is built on Christ's foundation, not the constructions of human reason. Kularnava Tantra 13: On the teacher as avatar or infused by God, see Bhagavad Gita 4.7-8, p. 1106n; Rig Veda 4.26.1, p. 652; Asa Chhant, M.4, p. 651; Swaiyya Guru, Kala, p. 663. Only the student with a sincere mind sees God in his teacher; cf. Bhagavad Gita 11.41-42, p. 653; Garland Sutra 10, p. 725. This Tantra also addresses the problem of hypocritical teachers; see p. 493.
The disciple that takes abode in the Master's home to receive guidance Should with his heart the Master's guidance accept. He should nowise show off his ego; He should ever in his heart meditate on the Name Divine. The disciple that has abandoned himself to the Master-- All his objectives shall be fulfilled. One that serves and seeks no recompense, Finds union with the Lord. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gauri Sukhmani 18, M.5, p. 285 After having taught the Veda, a teacher instructs the pupil, "Say what is true! Do thy your! Do not neglect the study of the Veda! After having brought to your teacher his proper reward, do not cut off the line of children! Do not swerve from the truth! Do not swerve from duty! Do not neglect what is useful! Do not neglect greatness! Do not neglect the learning and teaching of the Veda! "Do not neglect the [sacrificial] works due to the gods and the fathers! Let your mother be to you like unto a god! Let your father be to you like unto a god! Let your teacher be to you like unto a god! Let your guest be to you like unto a god! Whatever good works have been performed by us, those should be observed by you." Hinduism. Taittiriyaka Upanishad 1.11.1-2 During many kalpas I was long a king and vowed to seek the Supreme Wisdom, my mind never relenting.... For the sake of the Law, I gave up the throne of my domain, deputed my government to the prince-royal, and with beating drum and open proclamation, sought everywhere for the truth, promising, "Whoever is able to tell me of a Great Vehicle, him I will all my life provide for, and be his footman." At that time a certain hermit came to me, the king, and said, "I have a Great Vehicle, named Wonderful Law-flower Sutra. If you will not disobey me, I will explain it to you." I, the king, hearing what the hermit said, became ecstatic with joy and instantly followed, providing for his needs, gathering fruit, drawing water, collecting fuel, laying his food, even of my body making his seat and bed, yet never feeling fatigue of body or mind. While I thus served, a millennium passed, and for the sake of the Law, I zealously waited on him that he should lack nothing. Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 12 Verily in the Messenger of God you have a good example for him who looks unto God and the Last Day, and remembers God much. Islam. Qur'an 33.21 Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were digged. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for when he was but one I called him, and I blessed him and made him many. Judaism and Christianity. Isaiah 55.1-2
Taittiriyaka Upanishad 1.11.1-2: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 13.7, p. 911; Qur'an 31.17, p. 245; Oracle of Temmangu, p. 246. Lotus Sutra 12: The Buddha recounts a story of one of his previous lives, where as a bodhisattva in training he served his teacher to obtain the teaching of the Lotus Sutra. This episode inspired Gyoki (668-749
I will follow the examples of the Buddhas from thought to thought. Even though the void of space has end, and the worlds of beings, the karmas of beings, the sorrows of beings all have end, yet my practice and following the examples of the Buddhas will not be ended. Thought succeeds thought without interruption, and in deeds of body, speech, and mind, without weariness. Buddhism. Gandavyuha Sutra, Vows of Samantabhadra Yen Hui said with a deep sigh, "The more I strain my gaze up towards it, the higher it soars. The deeper I bore down into it, the harder it becomes. I see it in front; but suddenly it is behind. Step by step the Master skillfully lures one on. He has broadened me with culture, restrained me with ritual. Even if I wanted to stop, I could not. Just when I feel that I have exhausted every resource, something seems to rise up, standing out sharp and clear. Yet though I long to pursue it, I can find no way of getting to it at all." Confucianism. Analects 9.10 When [Jesus] had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them." Christianity. John 13.12-17 When Shakyamuni Buddha was at Mount Grdhrakuta, he held out a flower to his listeners. Everyone was silent. Only Kashyapa the Great broke into a broad smile. The Buddha said, "I have the True Dharma Eye, the Marvelous Mind of Nirvana, the True Form of the Formless, and the Subtle Dharma Gate, independent of words and transmitted beyond doctrine. This I have entrusted to Kashyapa the Great." Buddhism. Mumonkan 6
Analects 9.10: Yen Hui was Confucius' favorite disciple, and he excelled all the others. Yet he, above all, was aware of how far away he was from the standard of his master. Other passages on Hui are Analects 6.9, p. 938, and Shih Chi 47, pp. 607f. John 13.12-17: The essence of discipleship to Jesus is to love and serve others, and to witness for the Gospel; see Matthew 28.18-20, p. 1027. Mumonkan 6: Successful discipleship in Zen requires the wordless communication of enlightenment; cf. Lankavatara Sutra 61, pp. 634f; Diamond Sutra 21, p. 800. The lineage of Zen masters runs from Shakyamuni Buddha to his disciple Kashyapa, then through Bodhidharma, the First Patriarch of Chinese Buddhism, and Hui Neng (Jap. En-o), the Sixth Patriarch. Thence the teaching proliferated into many schools of Zen in Japan and China.
Moses received the Torah on Sinai, and delivered it to Joshua, and Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets delivered it to the men of the Great Synagogue. These said three things: Be deliberate in judging, and raise up many disciples, and make a hedge for the Torah. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 1.1 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Christianity. John 14.12 A Zen proverb says, "When your view is the same as your teacher's, you destroy half your teacher's merit; when your view surpasses your teacher's, you are worthy to succeed him." Buddhism. Mumonkan 17 And with how many a prophet have there been a number of devoted men who fought [beside him]. They quailed not for whatever befell them in the way of God, nor did they weaken, nor were they brought low. God loves the steadfast. Their cry was only, "Our Lord! Forgive us for our sins and wasted efforts, make our foothold sure, and give us victory over the disbelieving folk." Islam. Qur'an 3.145-147 Then the Exalted One said to the brethren, "I am released, brethren, from all bonds, those that are divine and those that are human. You also, brethren, are released from all bonds, those that are divine and those that are human. Go you forth, brethren, on your journey, for the profit of the many, for the bliss of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the profit, the bliss of devas and mankind! Go not any two together. Proclaim, brethren, the Norm, goodly in its beginning, goodly in its middle, goodly in its ending. Both in the spirit and in the letter make known the all-perfected, utterly pure righteous life. There are beings with but little dust of passion on their eyes. They are perishing through not hearing the Norm. There will be some who will understand. Buddhism. Vinaya i.21
Abot 1.1: The essence of discipleship to Moses is to study Torah, according to Sifre Deuteronomy, p. 632. Rabbinic Judaism, which emphasizes the study of Torah above all else, began with Great Synagogue, a council of elders which existed from the time of Ezra (c. 428
And [Jesus] called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholemew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of Heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay. Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay with him until you depart. As you enter the house, salute it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of yur father speaking through you.... "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; it is enough for a disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household." Christianity. Matthew 10.1-25
Matthew 10.1-25: Cf. Matthew 16.24-25, p. 875; 28.18-20, p. 1027; Mark 6.7-9, p. 938; Romans 8.35-39, p. 880; 2 Corinthians 5.20-6.13, p. 1028.
Published in: on July 24, 2010 at 11:46 am  Leave a Comment  

Just for kicks

Times Of India Delhi   Oct 16, 2009


Just for kicks Jug Suraiya

My friend Reva – editor and publisher of Sommelier India, the country’s first and, so far only, wine magazine – is puzzled. So, presumably, is Sharad Pawar who, according to popular report, owns acres and acres of grape-producing vineyards in the Nashik region. And so would have been Thomas Jefferson, who remarked that no people who drank wine and beer in preference to hard liquor would ever find themselves in dire need of applying en masse for membership to Alcoholics Anonymous. All these very different people are – or in Jefferson’s case, were – advocates of the civilised practice of enjoying the occasional glass of wine. To them, and many others like them, wine does not represent the demon drink. Far from it. Wine is a lyric in liquid form, music turned into moisture, a rhapsody played on the palate. So, how come, they ask, don’t more Indians drink wine? Dry days, punitive excise duties and economic downturns notwithstanding, the sales of whisky, rum, vodka, gin and brandy show no signs of decline. On the contrary, they get higher and higher, as presumably do the customers of these products. But, by and large, wine remains a no-no among India’s drinking glasses.

And the reason for this is simple: the idiom of wine is all wrong. When asked to ‘nose’ a wine you aren’t meant to snort the stuff up your nostril, like snuff, but rather to inhale its ‘bouquet’, or the smell it gives off. Or when your host urges you admire the ‘legs’, don’t gawp around looking for the young female in the micro-mini; the ‘legs’ are the streaks of wine which adhere to the side of the glass when you tilt it. A wine said to have an ‘excellent finish’ is not an invitation to grab the bottle by the neck and swig it down till empty in record time; ‘finish’ denotes the lingering aftertaste that the wine leaves in your mouth. ‘Well-structured tannins’ don’t refer to generously endowed bikini-clad sunbathers bronzing themselves on a beach but to the acidic elements, which add complexity to the wine. And no, a ‘complex vintage’ is not a senior citizen in need of psychiatric care but a wine which has matured and gained subtle nuances of taste with age.

In short, wine talks too much. Or rather, people talk too much about it. This was brought home to me succinctly some years ago at a Haryana liquor vend when i was buying a bottle of Bosca (which in Haryanvi is pronounced ‘Bose-ka’). In those days Bose-ka was the only Indian wine available, and which, as a wine, made for an admirable varnish remover. A fellow customer buying an Auntie Kooty (not a female relative but a brand of local whisky, namely Antiquity, the second most preferred drink in Haryana after Arkoolis rum, known to the outside world as Hercules rum) looked at my bottle of Bose-ka and asked ‘Usme kick-shick hai?’ (Does it have kick-shick?)

In a single sentence that unsung Haryanvi had summed up the fatal flaw in the wine marketing strategy in India: never mind your noses, and legs, and fruity bouquets and rare vintages. Where was the kick-shick quotient? If Reva, and Sharadji, and others, are serious about popularising wine culture in India, they have to address the issue of the kick-shick, which is the main – some would say the only – reason why people drink in India, or at least in Haryana, where men are men, and don’t care who knows it. Tanninsshannins. Show us the kick-shick.

To be a success, in Haryana anyway, wines should be rated by the kick they provide. A mild, low-kick wine should be given a ‘One Mule’ rating, a stronger wine be given a ‘Two Mule’ grade, and a real pehalwan super-strong wine be accorded a ‘Three Mule’ status. And an appropriate name for them? What else but Chauteau di Khachchar ki Laat?




Published in: on October 16, 2009 at 4:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Pokes And Tweets

Pokes And Tweets

K V Krishnan

Sitting at the table in this plush Italian restaurant, my fingers twitched with the omniscient cellphone. Should one blog, digg, tweet or poke – such was my conundrum. I was thinking of all my cyber-followers waiting in the wings to get my thoughts on that mouthwatering carciofo al forno while waiting for my three-course meal. I hope they picked up my tweet a few minutes ago about my struggle finding a parking spot on this street. I noticed that Tarzan TheApeMan was now following me on Twitter, between mouthfuls of delectable fare. As my blinking-beeping gadget reminds me, there are far too many things in my world to worry about these days – and a prolonged dinner in a fashionable Italian outfit is not one of them. Was that the pet supply store alerting me that their special flea-comb for ferrets is back on their shelves? Was the privacy option on those not-so-flattering pictures recently posted on Flickr enabled? I couldn’t have accidentally accepted that curious cousin as a Facebook friend, surely?

If you wake up on a sunny Sunday morning like me, wallowing in the vast cyberspace and surrounding blogosphere, chances are that you are hopeless socially. I pick up my handheld as the fingers itch for something to do and caress it like a baby seeking out a soggy thumb. I seem to always be in a state of nail-biting anticipation at social gatherings, waiting for that electronic nudge in my pocket that sends me packing to the most private corner. Forget the neighbour’s personal matters those people were discussing. I just got an instant message from that passenger seated by me last week informing us that he was sitting at a bar in the neighbourhood and now was contemplating hitting the restroom. My digital assistant seems to catch me at the most awkward of moments – the wife tells me that these days it often takes me an hour changing the light bulb between Orkut interruptions and Bebo blah-blahs. Shrinks argue that social networking sites have paradoxically bloated our space bubble, inducing isolationist tendencies. An acquaintance stealthily recently called my work number early Saturday morning and sounded both surprised and offended when one actually picked up the phone. I quickly excused myself by pretending an interruption, promising to contact him soon. Electronically, of course. I seem to prefer a poke to a handshake, just like everyone else these days.

Published in: on October 14, 2009 at 3:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

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What price fame? Pritish Nandy

Iquite like Barack Obama. I must confess though that his
predecessor, the much disliked George W Bush was infinitely friendlier
towards India. I am surprised Indians dislike Bush so much even though
he stuck his neck out to do things for India that no American
president had ever done, including the much loved Bill Clinton. Obama
is like Clinton: very friendly, very charming, but never quite with
us. So Pakistan is back to getting billions of dollars worth of aid,
and the latest weapons, while India struggles to be heard on Capitol
Hill even though Manmohan Singh risked his government to see the
nuclear deal go through.

No, this is not about Obama and the politics of this subcontinent.
It’s about his amazing qualities, largely undiscovered as yet, that
have just won him the Nobel Peace Prize within 37 weeks of becoming
the president of the US. Nominations for the Nobel closed within a
week of his entering the White House and unless the wonderful people
in the jury were so prescient that they could anticipate Obama would
one day make history, i simply can’t figure out how they chose him,
and why. In fact, the poor guy has still done nothing to deserve the

You must also realise that the guys in Oslo are very picky. They
didn’t think Gandhi was good enough for the Nobel Peace Prize even
though he was acclaimed as the last century’s most powerful apostle of
peace. What’s more, he actually did a few interesting things like
using non-violence as a weapon in our freedom struggle, a struggle he
so successfully concluded. Since he wasn’t considered adequate, i
assume the committee’s standards are very exacting.

This leads me to a question that has often bothered me. What
constitutes fame? Why are people famous? What are their achievements
that inspire us to remember them? After all, there are many good men
and women who we have so easily forgotten despite their not
inconsiderable successes.

There are people who do great things and become famous. There are
others who gain notoriety and become famous. There is the third kind
who do nothing at all and become famous. They are like Paris Hilton,
famous for the sake of being famous. Fame, in our time, has acquired a
strange fleeting quality. Last week’s famous person is in this week’s
kachra bin.

Part of it is due to our attention deficit syndrome. No one has
the patience any more to remember anything. Part of it is also due to
the fact that people are no longer famous for their actual
achievements. They are famous because they have hired the right
specialists to manage their public image. Some successes are now even
buyable. Honorary doctorates can be acquired today from some of the
most prestigious institutions. All you have to do is tap into the
right connection, make a donation, and it’s yours. Can you blame
people for being cynical? Anything can be fixed today. Reviews,
ratings, awards, prizes, honours.

Even deserving people have to work much harder at being famous. I
know amazing people who are hungry for recognition and will do
anything for it. I don’t blame them. There’s so much clutter that
unless they are noticed, their accomplishments, however remarkable, go
unsung. So images are constantly airbrushed. Faces are botoxed. Bodies
are cosmetically redesigned every few days. Writers, musicians,
philosophers, TV anchors, yoga gurus, singers, painters, businessmen,
spiritual leaders are all being sold on the same premise as we sell
movie stars, cricketers, soccer heroes, tattoo artists and
hairstylists. So it’s not surprising that we have stopped taking fame
seriously. Yet the funny thing is that we can’t live without it
either. Imagine how boring the world would be without famous people
and their infamous quirks!

As for Obama, poor guy, he must be seriously embarrassed. Someone
down the line must have worked a little too hard on the Nobel Prize

The writer is a media entrepreneur.

Times Of India Delhi    Oct 13, 2009  Page: 16

Published in: on September 21, 2009 at 12:10 am  Comments (1)  
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