Every man has but one destiny. Neither him nor the world can restrain him from it

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Inspired again

A cool poem coming soon...till then enjoy the trailor

When the end is near, a power shall rise
He will look like the devil, but will be a god in disguise
He will speak in riddles & mesmarize with his eyes
He is your redemption, he is your foe, your lord, your christ.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Free Will vs Destiny

Take your pick. Every philosopher worth his salt has tried to resolve this question. Every scientist capable of spelling science has given his views on it.What do you think?

Why are you reading this blog? Is it free will or is it your destiny that you have to read it. Whichever you choose the opposite can be argued! Hen or the Egg?

Every religon has something to offer on this question but very conveniently seeking refuge with the divine somehow seems to be the answer to this question. How it is the answer, I do not know... But people seem to find it very comforting.

If we argue life is free will then life is scary and is like traversing through a jungle armed with nothing. Imagine this if you reading this blog is sheer free will and you meeting me was sheer co-incidence, then this universe is in deep and utter chaoes. Which means that your life is a set of co-incidences and is based on the whims and fancies of all other animate and inanimate thing. Essentially your free will is the residual after adjusting for a quillions of free wills which have been excercised. In sum, your free will is reactive and you are living in chaos where things happen outside of your control and your reactive free will is messing up a million other lives and so on.

If we argue life is destiny, then it is scarier. Whatever you do, you will always do what you are supposed to do. So why do? Maybe you are supposed not to do. Either way whatever you do or do not do, you were supposed to do or not do. Stupid isnt it, then why live?

I have become quite fascinated by this question and have started reading science and philisophy yet again. Chaos theory, heisenberg principle , these used to be the mantra of my good friend Arka. Maybe there lies the answer. Maybe Narada sutra will answer this or one of the sufi thoughts would have a clue. I am going to blog on these quite soon. Watch out.

You are going to read these posts. Whether you choose to or not:)

Back into posting blogs... Grieve not my readers.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Return of the King

The king has returned... I will be in India for the next month and a half relaxing and taking it easy...All of which means I can write some more...So keep watching out for this space...All my friends get in touch with me by mail or my old mobile no.ciao

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Dilemma of Justice

Before I begin this blog. A clarification about my previous post “An elegy for a dream”. I have been asked by many of you, whether it is relating to something personal that happened to me lately. Much that it would disappoint a select few, it is nothing to do with any personal event that happened to. This was an extract from a novella that I had attempted writing a few years back while I was in Pune. Never got around to finishing it, but there were bits of it that I thought were good. Anyways, I have removed it now but will possibly publish more extracts from it at some point.

Alright, to this post now.

I passed my driving test and now hold a British licence. For all you souls, who think this is a mean achievement, wake up and smell the coffee. Britain is no India where a good crisp 500 bucks note would have done the trick. My test involved driving safely following all instructions for 40 minutes. Not only that but a bonnet check, three manovoeres including reverse parking, three point turn and an emergency stop. This post if following something that hit me and hit me hard yesterday just after the test. The lady who was the examiner has the discretion to pass or fail me if I make a major mistake (hitting the kerb, driving without due care, etc.) or sixteen minor mistake (improper indication, Observation, etc). Now the examiner usually expects you to follow the directions given and drive in a set route, but the problem that I have with authority manifested itself when I started following my own route. She says left, I indicate right, and take a perfect right. Now the deal is she cant fail me for not following her directions, she can fail me for not driving properly. But she has a right to get irritated and fail me citing some other flimsy excuse. In the end irritated she was, angry she was, but all she said was ‘Mr. Narasimhan I cant fail you for not following my directions, but it would have made my job hell of a lot easier if you heard me speaking, anyways congratulations, you have passed’.

I was surprised, not because she passed me, not because I drove badly, I was surprised because being an Indian I have always met people in authority making decisions based on prejudices, personal feelings and emotions, positive or negative. To see someone being absolutely fair was a surprise. It surprised me that I was surprised by fairness. 21 years in India had done that to me. Isn’t India a democracy? The national emblem says, “Only Truth shall Prevail”, shouldn’t such a land be just? Isn’t every hero in every Indian epic, fair and just, whatever the other faults. Ravana doesn’t molest Sita even though he could have. He kidnaps her but asks her permission to wed her! The Kauravas use every hook and crook to get even with the Pandavas, but read the Mahabharata carefully, Duroyodhana was a just and a fair king, his only fault was jealousy. In contemporary India, Gandhi is an example; our country came into being cloaked in the shawl of honesty, justice and truth. Fifty years since, a young man in an alien land feels surprised on meeting a just person in authority!!!

Where did we go wrong??? Did we go wrong? We did somewhere for sure. The parasite has infected so deep that all of us are unfair when given even an iota of power. When I led various teams in India a lot of my decisions were based on my likes and dislikes. I didn’t think that was unfair. I do now. The Captain of the Indian National Cricket Team follows his heart and is a successful captain, he backs players he likes. The point is “he likes”. Shouldn’t it be the players he thinks are “best suited” to fulfil the team’s goals? The examples are countless.

The test is simple, Narasimhan’s driving test. Did any man in authority take a decision fairly in favour or against with no prejudice? How many times would the answer to this question be yes in India? How bad is it that it won’t be the case too often??? When does this change to yes? I don’t have the answers, but atleast I am wise enough to ask the question. I am now prepared to find the answers.

P.S Apologies if the post is abrupt, incoherent and rough. I am stunned from yesterdays incident and have let my emotion rule again. Will give a fair account soon:)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The paradox of Dreams

What is the greatest fear a potentially great man could have than the fear that he may yet remain ordinary at the end of his life. When he lies in his deadbed and fragments of his pasts flash through the grey remains of his brain, he sees all that he could have been? Is there a more tragic end to a man’s life? An ordinary man would not mind an ordinary life (and death). A spiritual man who has realised the futility of the cycle of life and death will not bother. A great man who achieved more than what he was worth would die with pride. But the man who could have been great, who should have been great, but for his lack of enterprise or by coincidence and fate would die a slow and a painful death.

Dreams, the stuff that differentiates the great from the “also-lived”. Following the dreams staunchly and to the end, the quality that differentiates the great from the “futily lived”. The above two reflects the three classes of people that walk this planet. There is one another but I will not talk of that class in the context of dreams.
Coming back to the three classes of people:

1) Ordinary
2) Futily lived
3) Great

The ordinary man neither dreams nor has the power to put the dream in to the machine of labour, courage and guts to churn out reality. In a lot of ways he is the nearest to the spiritual the fourth class of which I wont elaborate, the only difference being that the Spiritual doesn’t bother nor feels jealous whereas the ordinary man does and more of another man’s success.

There is however a huge gulf between the Ordinary and the other two classes. The line demarcating the second class and the third is thin and in a lot of ways public adulation. There is a great quote from a great man, “The thin line between a genius and an eccentric is success”. Both the classes have the power to dream. But the difference lies in implementing it. The combination of tenacity, confidence and luck is the critical component that marks the thin line. The second class may often have bigger and better dreams and the third class may have modest ambitions but the combination of tenacity, confidence and luck have the innate ability to transform modest dreams into great achievements.

In the rather straightforward parameters set above, tenacity and confidence is a rational way of determining success. But what about luck, it is not tangible? Is it unfair that circumstances and issues beyond ones control determines success? How can Bush Jr. sit in the same Oval Office as Lincoln when many other great men notably Martin Luther King Jr, etc have failed?

The answer to this abnormality lies in a small intangible quality which sportsman and more specifically boxers may identify with, “Guts”. The ability to rise after every fall, to take every punch and force the body beyond any natural explanation to last another round and another and another, till you win. This quality rises over all else, injustice, ill luck, and lack of ability. And every man who dreams knows that a gut is what will last him the distance. Hence, a potential great man writhes in pain when he sees his life flash past him and he sees that he has failed not because he couldn’t dream, nor because he didn’t have the ability, but because he didn’t have the guts. He allowed his body to rule his mind and quit when he shouldn’t have. That hurts. The lack of guts hurts. But hey, having guts brings more pain, only that in the end the pain is justified by success.

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Philosophy of Death

India and Indians have always been fascinated by the philosophy of death and the objective of life. Almost every ancient scripture to modern bollywood movies, death and the purpose of life is analysed consciously or sub-consciously. This fascination reflects the inquisitive nature of Indians and Indian philosophy, which is otherwise loosely termed as Hinduism. A separate blog is required to discuss the nature of Hinduism as a philosophy (or a way of life) rather than a religion. What I strive to discuss in this post is an ancient scripture called Katha Upanishad which in a beautiful story discusses death. Of the most profound philosophical works in Indian history, Vedas and Vedantas are the most ancient, most lucid and certainly the most authentic. Having strong religious basis, the philosophical under currents are of great interest to those uninterested in the religion. The Upanishads are the most developed of the Vedantas and is a sublime commentary on the Vedas engaging in philosophical speculation about the implications of the ancient invocations, mantras and rituals recorded in the Vedas. Initially there were over two hundred Upanishads, but the philosopher Shankara only considered fifteen or so to be primary. Of the fifteen, Katha Upanishad is the one that deals exclusively on the subject of Death. Presented as a conversation between a boy by the name of Naciketas and Yama, the god of death, much concerning the Inner Nature of Man and the secret of death is elaborated.

Nachiketa hassles his father on a particularly tiring day when his father has just completed a sacrifice and presented gifts to all. Nachiketa is curious as to whom his father will give him away as he has given away everything else. On being continually harassed by his son, the father (Gautama) says to Nachiketa in anger, “ To Death I give you”. The steadfast son that he is, he immediately embarks on a trip to meet Yama (the lord of death). Yama is not at his abode when Nachiketa arrives. The young boy spends three days and three nights at Yama’s doorstep without food or water. When Yama comes back, he sees a young Brahmin boy asleep at his footsteps and immediately envisions his dedication and resolve. Pleased Yama addresses the boy:

"Since you have stayed in my house as a sacred guestfor three nights without food, I salute you, priest.May it be well with me.Therefore in return choose three gifts."

A story has been set in the background as is the case in many Indian scriptures and it is time now for the philosophical discussion. Nachiketa’s first two gifts are relatively irrelevant to our discussion here. But it is his third wish that reflects the advanced philosophical thinking at around 1500 BC when the Upanishads was presumably written. As his third gift Nachiketa asks the following question:

"There is doubt concerning people who are deceased.Some say they exist, and others say they do not exist.Being taught by you, I would know this.Of the gifts, this is the third gift."

This jolts Yama, who does not expect a young boy to be interested in the meaning of Death which in Yama’s own words:

"Even the gods of old had doubt as to this.It is not easy to understand, so subtle is this law.Choose another gift, Nachiketas.Do not press me; release me from this one."

But Nachiketa is adamant. Yama tests the boy’s resolve by tempting him with

"Choose sons and grandsons who shall live a century,many cattle, elephants, gold, and horses.Choose a great estate of landand live as many years as you want.If you think this is an equal gift,choose wealth and long life.Nachiketas, be the ruler of a great country;I will make you the enjoyer of your desires.Whatever desires are hard to get in the mortal world,request all those desires at your pleasure.Here are lovely maidens with chariots and music;these are not to be attained by anyone.Be served by these whom I give you.Nachiketas, do not ask about death."

But Nachiketa refuses all the above with a profound logic confounding us today on how the author in 1500 BC could have such a sublime way of thought:

"Transient are the things of mortals, Ender,wearing away all the vigor of their senses.Even a full life is short.Yours be the chariots; yours be the dance and song.A person cannot be satisfied with wealth.Shall we enjoy wealth when we have seen you?Shall we live so long as you are in power?This is the gift to be chosen by me.Having approached undecaying immortality,what decaying mortal on this earth below that understands,that contemplates the pleasures of beauty and enjoyment,would delight in an over-long life?This about which they doubt, Death,what there is in the great passing-on---tell us that.This gift that penetrates the mystery,no other than that does Nachiketas choose."

Herein begins the conversation between Nachiketa and Yama. I would not delve deeper into the conversation for each man’s interpretation of the conversation would be different wherein lies the beauty of this scripture. Rather than saying that this is gods will, the Katha Upanishad goes on a complex logical route to explain the transient nature of everyday human happiness and desires and the permanence of human knowledge. It is for each of you to read and realise what I have from this great scripture. It is easy to dismiss this scripture as an ancient rambling on religion, but it is so much more than that. If we could ignore all that is irrelevant and pick the true words of wisdom we would realise the subtlety of ancient Indian philosophical works. It is essentially meant to be cloaked or disguised and left open to logical analysis. It is for each of us to find the answer and that’s what makes Indian writing and the religion (I would call it philosophy) so different. There is no one answer, one destination. There are however a few paths for us to choose. Whichever we choose it is imperitive that we travel well…

When I think of it, from time to time, you could find a new path for yourself as long as it is righteous…That’s the beauty of Indian philosophy and Katha Upanishad is a shining example of that beauty.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Love in the time of...

I am not as big a fan of Senor Marquez as Narayan or Rand’s and although I do like his 100 years of solitude and agree that it is a more difficult book to write than any other, I would rather stretch myself with a Guide or a Fountainhead. There is however one book by Senor Marquez that completely floors me- Love in the time of cholera.

I am a die hard romantic, but not in the conventional sense. While, I may not get a woman cuddly toys or fresh flowers I would most certainly walk holding hands into the sunset lost in a conversation or wait for the one I love all my life. Anyways, this is not to self-examine my romanticism nor to justify the flaws in it, this is to write about a book that I hold very dear, which I believe to be one of the most romantic books ever written and in the characters of which I can see all that is right…and wrong.

Love in the time of Cholera has a very simple storyline and some may very validly call it an old fashioned melodrama. It is all this and much more. Often in the greatest work of literature, it is the inherent simplicity of human emotions that makes a simple story immortal. Narayan had the gift and in this book Senor Marquez proves that it is possible to write an immortal book on a very simple premise.

As a young woman, Fermina Daza kept a lengthy and passionate correspondence with Florentino Ariza, who was socially her inferior, but was desperately in love with her. They became engaged through their letters, exchanged through hiding places and telegrams in code.
But one day, when Fermina Daza comes close to Florentino Ariza in the market, she feels suddenly ill and tells him it was all a mistake. Instead, she marries Dr. Juvenal Urbino, a European-educated perfectionist, who falls in love with her on a medical visit. Their tumultuous but affectionate marriage lasts over fifty years, through a civil war, cholera outbreaks and the Doctor's brief affair with a patient. Juvenal Urbino distinguishes himself by instituting policies to combat cholera. He dies, falling from a tree as he attempts to catch his pet parrot.
Florentino Ariza comes to the wake. He is now about seventy and controls a wealthy shipping operation. After the other guests leave, he approaches Fermina Daza, saying, "I have waited for this opportunity for more than half a century, to repeat to you once again my vow of eternal fidelity and ever-lasting love."

She throws him out of the house, but continues to think of him. He becomes a regular visitor. Finally, they take a boat ride together, down the rivers that are being slowly drained and poisoned, listening for the cries of the manatees. They do not return, but prepare to sail on forever.

This novel has an epic air to it and the conversations between Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza in their old age is amazing and mature. A novel that moves across almost a lifetime reflects patience and wisdom not to mention immortal love of Florentino Ariza.

Young Florentino Ariza loves Fermina and talks of immortal love when death and age is alien to him, the fact that he honours it when he sees death all around him and is face to face with mortality reflects the illogical and inexplicable nature of love and human happiness. The fact that vows of immortal love made when young which may sound absolutely idiotic and stupid to some- may yet be honoured, much later in life when we ought to know better, in the face of the undeniable fascinates me. The superb interplay between love of the protagonists (or antagonists as you see it) and cholera is brilliant.

Each time I read Love in the time of cholera, I recognise something that we all know-The only distinction between being madly in love and mad is in the love.