Friday, November 10, 2006

'Om Tat Sat'


Ever tried to fathom into the expansive knowledge of the Vedic literature ??
The word 'veda' is derived from the root 'vid' meaning 'know' in Sanskrit. Vedic literature was compiled by sage Ved Vyas 5000 yrs. ago. The vedas are a compendium of knowledge on philosophy, science, religion & myriad other subjects. The goal of human life is to understand this wisdom.
The chart below shows the expanse of the Vedic Literature:
Srutis are eternal truths & Smritis are worldly wisdom.

The four primary vedas are - Rig, Yajur, Sama & Ahtharva. Additional details to these are given in the Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas & Upnishads.
Additionally there are Upa-vedas: the Ayurveda, medical science taught by lord Dhanvantri; the Dhanur-veda, the military science taught by Lord Bhrigu; the Gandharva-veda, drama taught by Muni Bharata; the the Vriksh-ayurveda, the science of plant life by Surapala etc.

The six Angas or subsidiary are Kalpa or ritual, Siksha or pronunciation, Vyakarna or grammar, Nirukti or etymology, Chandas or metre & Jyotish or astronomy.
Sutras are the supplements. Shrauta-sutras, the rituals; Grihya-sutras, the social traditions; Dharma-sutras, the duties e.g. Manu-samhit - the law book. Shulba-sutras contains the Vedic mathematics further established by Brahmagupta, Mahavira & Bhaskara. The Pythagorean Theorem already existed here much before he discovered it. Artha-sastram was established by Brihaspati & written by Kautilya in the 4th century B.C. for Chandragupta Maurya. Sutras contain additional topics such as alchemy, architecture, erotics (Kama-sutra) etc.

The Tantras are verses of Lord Shiva describing 'tamsic' the lower nature, 'rajasic' the mode of action & 'satvic' the mode of purity.
Pancaratas glorify Vaisnavism or monotheism i.e. regard Sri Krishna as the Supreme Being.

The Puranas contain many stories e.g. the popular Narada-purana.
The Itihaas are the histories of the Universe. It includes Ramayana written by Valmiki; Mahabharata written by Vyasadev - it contains Bhagavad-Gita which is considered the essence of all vedic knowledge. Srimad-Bhagavatam or the Bhagavata-Purana is considered to be the post-graduate study of the Bhagvada-Gita.
Finally the Darshanas contain Vedanta or the theology of Upanishads founded by Badarayana, explained by Ved Vyas & Adi Sankara; Mimamsa or critical examination expounded by Jaimini, Nyaya or logic established by sage Gautama, Vaisheshika or atomic philosophy by Kanada; Yoga or meditation founded by Hiranyagarbha and explained by Patanjali; Sankhya or metaphysics explained by Lord Kapila that acknowledges matter & spirit as two separate entities of reality.

The Vedic process involves the 3 S system - 'saintly devotees', 'shastras' ( Vedic texts) & 'spiritual master'. E.g. of prominent philosophers are Sankara, who established the 4 'mathas' or schools of study at Dwaraka, Jagannatha Puri, Badrinatha & Shringeri; Ramanuja, who professed Vaishnavism; Madhvacharya, one of the founders of the Bhakti Movement in South India; Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, whose philosophy is taught by ISKONs ( International Society for Krishna Consciousness) better known as the Hare Krishna Movement.

The Vedic technology effectively establishes the relation between the objective approach of modern science & the subjective approach of the Vedic science.
1) Research in developmental neurophysiology has established the fact that during meditation the sensory components of the brain's response to somato-sensory stimuli are more widely distributed across the cortex indicating that the latent reserves of the brain are functioning.
2) A study by Maharishi Vedic School showed that long-term Trans-Meditation program participants, for more than 5 yrs, were physiologically/biologically 12 yrs younger than their chronological age, measured by lower blood pressure, better near point vision and better auditory discrimination. Short-term TM program participants were 5 yrs younger.
3) The fundamental quantum-mechanical level of nature, enables to apply the concepts in the real world. Like in an ordinary electrical conductor where the incoherent disordered electrons allow penetration by an external magnetic field, but in a superconductor where coherent collective functioning of the electrons spontaneously exclude an external magnetic field and maintain its impenetrable status; so will coherence & harmony within a nation defend it against external disturbing influences.
Several such examples can be cited to demonstrate the beauty of Vedic science.
The advanced concepts of Vedic philosophy can be difficult even for the greatest scholars to fathom. So just try to delve into the mystique of the Vedic literature !

“Whence all creation had its origin,

He, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not,
He, who surveys it all from highest heaven,
He knows or maybe even he does not know.”
(Creation Hymn from the Rig Veda 10.129)


(For BISCOM Presentation)

PS: Picture courtesy Google. 

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Debate on 'Is it necessary for an educated women to take up a career'

The Women Rights Activist inside me wake up :)

Woman all over the world is undergoing tremendous transformation. She is no longer the doormat she had been for centuries, only raising her family, feeding and clothing them. In the words of Confucius -"The essence of knowledge in having it, is to apply it, not just having it to sit idle!"

But still, at many places parents don't encourage their daughters to take up big careers as they feel that their daughters ought to be good home-makers than good office-goers. But these people don't understand that it is very necessary for a home-maker to take up a career; because it is the woman who makes home, a home! And even if the woman is employed, she has to bow to her husband's wishes by burning her own wishes and make her children skilled by wasting her own abilities. Why should only she make all the compromise in life ? Just because she is a woman! Do you call this justice ? Why should an educated housewife waste her time and talent gossiping in kitty-parties, when she has the capacity to  work and  earn herself small but morale boosting income ? But due to the dis-satisfied attitude of her family her aim of having a successful career is crushed and finally she is back to the kitchen - cooking her degrees along with the food and washing away her marks along with the dishes!

My able opponents may proudly announce that these women have sacrificed their whole life for the sake of their children. But isn't that what all parents, even birds and animals do for their younger ones ? Yes, it is necessary that mothers care for their children, but with slight understanding it is possible to manage both the family and the career. A lot has to be done to make people come out of this despondent feeling that all a girl needs to know is cooking, cleaning and sewing! 

It is almost unavoidable to run into the success stories of individuals who have made a notable impact in the public sphere like Aruna Asaf Ali, Mahadevi Varma, Mahasweta Devi, Mother Teresa, Kalpana Chawla, Kiran Bedi, Lata Mangeskar, PT Usha, Shahnaz Hussain, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Indra Nooyi, etc etc... The character sketch of a modern woman that emerges is of a woman who seeks economic independence. Please give an ear to this - every time you make a career move, you get an opportunity to grow beyond the ordinary. So, unbridled ambition combined with relevant opportunity has metamorphosed the modern woman into a confident person, who not only has her own identity but also creates avenues for modest income. By using her energy in the right perspective, she gets a chance to create and learn. In the process, she chips in some savings to keep up with the ever increasing cost of living and by and large helping improve the status of the women.

The growing number of highly educated women provides a hitherto insufficiently exploited source of skill and innovative capacity, which must be developed and used more intensively. Not surprising that many countries and corporations are now-a-days taking a resolution on 'equal participation by women in an employment intensive economic growth strategy.' If women are to make themselves ready to meet future challenges and develop their full potential, it is necessary that they become more involved in all spheres of society, politics, high ranking business, policy and decision making. The Amul Story is a shining example of how rural women put their skills to good use, while paving the way for their economic independence.

To conclude, women can make a big contribution to the national development by putting their education to good use. Sticking to fundamentals duties and working hard would propel the women to new heights. Beyond that there is no telling what can happen when determination and inspiration collide! Ladies, we need to really know, understand and abide in our callings. Rise up above the average woman of yesteryear, and seeks to be different rather than just molding yourself in the old system. It's indeed noble about a career woman who doesn't merely survive in life, but competes with the world. As the proverb from the scriptures so beautifully states and so does my heart believe that - "Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who has talent and utilizes it, she shall be praised!"
(For the motion: It is necessary for an educated women to take up a career) 

PS: Picture courtesy Google.  

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Debate on 'Man is the maker of his own destiny'

This is the need of the times we live in. Many a misfortune can be averted through understanding. Life can be a better proposition, and living, indeed a pleasure!

Life is an art,
A mountain of troubles,
In your troubles, don't cry,
You should only try and try,
Conquer the heaven, and repulse the hell,
With your skill,
And power of will!

Life is an incessant struggle where weak men wait for circumstances, but strong men make them. History bears witness that most of the great men began life with next to nothing. Abraham Lincoln couldn't afford a lamp to read, but rose to become the President! Kaidasa was illiterate and Valmiki was a decoit, before they became popular literary figures! Japan was a devastated nation after the World War, but has risen from ashes to riches by the never-say-die attitude of its people! Does anyone still doubt that man can make a heaven of hell ?

Just like herbs give their sweet fragrance when crushed, so a man of virtue shines brighter when pressed with difficulties. Face life with enthusiasm, optimism, courage and patience. Then the mountains of difficulty will disappear like the fog before the rising sun. True merit is rewarded by heaven and earth alike.

It is well said, "Strength lies in the mind, not in the body!" Isn't it amazing that Sudha Chandran was handicapped, but became an accomplished dancer! Demosthenes used to stammer, but became a great orator! Monika Seles was stabbed by a fan, but made a come back in tennis! Wilma Rudolph was crippled for one third of her life, but created Olympic history in athletics! When Augustus came to power, Rome consisted of a few huts here and there; but he transformed it into the most beautiful city on earth! China was steeped in illiteracy and was over-populated, but within years of its independence it became prosperous! Nelson Mandela spent years in prison, before he could abolish Apartheid! Napolean conquered Alps, in the face of heavy odds! Eklavya mastered the art of archery, with the mere statue of his Guru! The list is unending...

Swami Vivekananda has rightly said, "You can do anything and everything. Faith, faith in yourself, and faith in God. This is the secret of greatness!" Most of us fail in our aim because after a few half hearted attempts, we lie prostrate. One must remember the message of the Upnishad, "Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is achieved!"

The timid man goes on calculating, doesn't learn from his mistakes, and ultimately ruins his happy life. George Villliars, the Duke of Buckingham, was a spendthrift. He died miserably as a pauper! Even to this day, men like Hitler, Nero, Changez Khan, are condemned; as they inflicted gross crime against humanity! Kabul was once a Westernized city. With the rule of steel and fear, the Talibans made it a virtual hell!

Thus, Will is the force behind all good and evil. But it seems that opponents of this theory believe that 'what has been fated, can't be blotted!' and 'he, who never climbs, never falls!' They should know that misfortune are like knives: If you hold them by the blade, they cut you; but if you hold them by the handle, they serve you! Here, I would repeat, what G.B. Shaw once remarked - "People always blame circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The men who get on this world, are the men who look out for circumstances they want. And, if they can't find them, they make them!"

One must remember that God helps those who help themselves. The Goddess of Fortune shines on those whose hands have been coarsened with labor and not on those who only lay their soft hands for prayers. Thus, man's duty is to maintain an un-shaking will and forgo all temptations to achieve the impossible. After all, 'kites fly against, and not with the winds' and 'success never comes before work, except in a dictionary.'

To conclude, life is what you make it. Life's battles do not always got o the mightiest. But sooner or later, the man who wins, is the man who thinks he can.To end, I'll quote a line from Panchtantra -
"Disaster doesn't threaten a man of sterling worth,
Who offers helpful counsel, in heaven or on earth!" 
( For the Motion: The man in his own place and himself can make a hell of heaven, a heaven of hell)

PS: Picture courtesy Google.