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Showing posts from 2009

Daivi Leadership

The Daivi Leadership model is based on the daivi sampad discussed in the sixteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. It is also based on the life of Krishna as a leader and on his teachings. Besides these, in developing the Daivi model of leadership, I have used insights from the wisdom of the Vedas and the Upanishads as well as from Indian leadership philosophy as discussed in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the Arthashastra, Tirukkural and other ancient Indian literary works. The Daivi model of leadership is a contrast to the Asuri model of leadership, which I have developed from the asuri sampad as discussed by the Bhagavad Gita and leadership thoughts in the texts mentioned above. These two twin leadership models form the extreme ends of a continuum, the Daivi Leadership being the best and the Asuri Leadership being the worst. In the ultimate analysis, Daivi Leadership focuses on light that ennobles the life of all people involved, whereas Asuri Leadership focuses on power for its p…


I was reading Romain Rolland’s Life of Sri Ramakrishna this morning when I came across this fascinating incident from the life of the great master. The incident involves Sri Ramakrishna’s guru Tota Puri coming under the influence of Maya and the the sage of Dakshineshwar, the disciple, laughing at it with the merriment of a child.

Tota Puri, the naked saint, as everyone familiar with the life of Sri Ramakrishna knows, is one of the two teachers of the saint of Dakhineshwar, the other being Bhairavi Brahmani. While the Brahmani’s instructions to Sri Ramakrishna were mostly in tantric spiritual practices, Tota Puri was the master’s teacher in Advaita.

Speaking about Tota Puri, Ramain Rolland says: “Towards the end of 1864 just at the moment when Ramakrishna had achieved his conquest of the personal God, the messenger of the impersonal God, ignorant as yet of his mission, arrived at Dakshineshwar. This was Tota Puri – an extraordinary Vedantic ascetic, a wandering monk, who had reached t…

Romain Rolland: The Way of the East, The Way of the West

Reading The Life of Ramakrishna by Romain Rolland this morning, I came across a beautiful passage which I felt I should share with my readers. For those who are not familiar with Romain Rolland, he is a Frenchman and a Nobel Prize winner for literature, whose magnum opus is the giant Jean Christophe, acknowledged as one of the greatest works of modern literature. Rolland’s original book on Sri Ramakrishna is in French and what is given below is from an English translation by E. F. Malcolm-Smith, Ph.D.


“The age-long history of the spirit of India is the history of a countless throng marching ever to the conquest of supreme Reality. All the great peoples of the world, wittingly or unwittingly, have the same fundamental aim; they belong to the conquerors, who age by age go up to assault the Reality of which they form a part, and which lures them on the strive and climb; sometimes they fall out exhausted, then with recovered breath they mount undaunted until they have conquered or been …

Weakness and Strength

Sometimes your biggest weakness can become your biggest strength. Take, for example, the story of one 10-year-old boy who decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident.

The boy began lessons with an old Japanese judo master. The boy was doing well, so he couldn’t understand why, after three months of training the master had taught him only one move. “Sensei,” the boy finally said, “Shouldn’t I be learning more moves?” “This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you’ll ever need to know,” the sensei replied.
Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training.

Several months later, the sensei took the boy to his first tournament. Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match. Still amazed by his success, the boy was now in …

One Glass of Milk

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house.

However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, “How much do I owe you?” “You don’t owe me anything,” she replied. “Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness.” He said...”Then I thank you from my heart.”

As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Years later that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease. Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard t…


An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had singed her small body, the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings had lived.


Here is a story by an unknown author that I have loved dearly ever since I first read it some years ago.


As I walked home one freezing day, I stumbled on a wallet someone had lost in the street. I picked it up and looked inside to find some identification so I could call the owner. But the wallet contained only three dollars and a crumpled letter that looked as if it had been in there for years.

The envelope was worn and the only thing that was legible on it was the return address. I started to open the letter, hoping to find some clue. Then I saw the dateline--1924. The letter had been written almost sixty years ago. It was written in a beautiful feminine handwriting on powder blue stationery with a little flower in the left-hand corner. It was a "Dear John" letter that told the recipient, whose name appeared to be Michael, that the writer could not see him anymore because her mother forbade it. Even so, she wrote that she would always love him. It was signed, Hannah. It…

The Power of Belief: 2

In his book Timeless Healing: the Power and Biology of Belief, Dr Herbert Benson, M.D., talks about a study made by Dr Stewart Wolf in 1950. The subjects of Dr Wolf’s study were women who experienced persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. These women were administered a medicine and were told that the medicine would stop their vomiting. The medicine given to them was the syrup of ipecac, a substance that actually causes vomiting. It is a drug that is commonly used for inducing vomiting in case of food poisoning and so on. As a result of the medication, however, the women’s nausea and vomiting ceased. Because the women believed they were getting anti-nausea medicines, they reversed the powerful medicine. “Even though many of us stock our medicine cabinets and first aid kits with ipecac to bring about vomiting in case of poisoning,” says Dr Benson, “these pregnant women with documented stomach distress thwarted the action of a drug that should have made them even sicker. With …

A Simple Touch

She was a young mother of three children, aged fourteen, twelve and three, and she was herself attending college. In her Sociology class, her professor gave the class an assignment – the last project of the term, a project called smile. The class was asked to go out and ‘smile’ at three people and document their reactions.

She herself was a very friendly person and always smiled at everyone and said hello. So she thought the project would be easy.

Soon after the project was assigned, she went to McDonald’s one crisp March morning along with her husband and her youngest son. That was an occasion for them to share special time with their son.

They were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away. Even her husband did. Overwhelmed by a feeling of panic, she turned to see why they had moved.

As she turned around, she smelled a horrible 'dirty body' smell. There, standing behind her, were two poor homeless men. As she looked do…

How to Stop the Mad Mind

Here is something beautiful from Osho.

Osho: There is a Sufi story...

Junaid was going through the market-place of the town with his disciples. And it was his way to take any situation and use it. A man was dragging his cow by a rope, and Junaid said ’Wait’ to the man, and told his disciples ’Surround this man and the cow. I am going to teach you something.’

The man stopped – Junaid was a famous mystic – and he was also interested in what he was going to teach these disciples and how he was going to use him and the cow. And Junaid asked his disciples ’I ask you one thing: who is bound to whom? Is the cow bound to this man or is this man bound to this cow?’ Of course, the disciples said ’The cow is bound to the man. The man is the master, he is holding the rope, the cow has to follow him wherever he goes. He is the master and the cow is the slave.’

And Junaid said ’Now, see.’ He took out his scissors and cut the rope – and the cow escaped.

The man ran after the cow, and Junaid said ’Now lo…

Maybe Yes, Maybe No

There is a story of a farmer whose only horse ran away. That evening the neighbors gathered to commiserate with him since this was such bad luck. "Your farm will suffer, and you cannot plow," they said. "Surely this is a terrible thing to have happened to you."

He said, "Maybe yes, maybe no."

The next day the horse returned but brought with it six wild horses, and the neighbors came to congratulate him and exclaim at his good fortune. "You are richer than you were before!" they said. "Surely this has turned out to be a good thing for you, after all."

He said, "Maybe yes, maybe no."

And then, the following day, his son tried to saddle and ride one of the wild horses. He was thrown and broke his leg, and he couldn't work on the farm. Again the neighbors came to offer their sympathy for the incident. "There is more work than only you can handle, and you may be driven poor," they said. "Surely this is a terrible mi…

The Power of Belief

It was on 4th July, 1991, while the U.S. was celebrating Independence Day, that Chittiravel, a Tamil speaking Sri Lankan, was arrested as a suspected LTTE supporter in his hometown and taken away by the Sri Lankan police.

When he was first taken to the camp, he was forced to enter a large water tank, in which he was questioned and repeatedly dunked under water throughout the night. Finally he was stabbed in the thigh and removed from the tank. Then his torturers packed the large knife wound with salt and chilli powder and tied his thigh tightly. He was hung from a beam during continuing interrogation while his torturers burned the skin of his legs in many places with cigarettes. They had been drinking and repeatedly demanded, ‘You tell the names of the Tigers.’ Later, while his legs and arms were chained, one of the men knocked out four upper front teeth with a single blow of his fist. He also sustained a large wound on the left side of his skull.”

Chittiravel’s woes do not end here, b…

Attachment and The Tibetan Book of the Dead

One of the books I purchased while I was in Kerala recently was the just published Complete Short Stories of M Mukundan, a huge, nearly one-thousand-page volume of 157 short stories. I bought the book on a day I visited three book fairs in Thrissur: one inside the Sahitya Akademi premises, a second one in the Paramekkavu Devaswam hall, and a third one at the Thekkinkadu Grounds. Three book fairs, all within walking distance of one another! And all three fairs were crowded with visitors. It is not for nothing that beautiful Thrissur is called the cultural capital of the very educated Kerala!

This morning I read the first story in Mukundan’s collection, a story called Maunam. This is one of the nine stories in this volume that have not appeared in any previous collection. I am not a systematic reader, and love reading without much plan, but it so happened that this time I picked up the first story to begin with.

Now that I think of it, I wonder if my choice was unconsciously influenced…

Teacher as the Creator, Teacher as the Destroyer

I have been talking to teachers and teacher trainees for years now in the context of teaching and training, and during these talks, I have always loved telling them stories. While a few of these stories are born of my own personal encounters with life and people, many others are by authors from across the world. Here is a story I love deeply for its profound wisdom as well as for its immense power. A story like this works silently with us, transforming us with its magic. No one goes through the story – and allows the story to go through them, as my guru used to say – remains the same, so beautiful is it.


Jean Thompson stood in front of her fifth-grade class on the very first day of school in the fall and told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her pupils and said that she loved them all the same, that she would treat them all alike. And that was impossible because there in front of her, slumped in his seat on the third row, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard. …

How Stanford University Was Born

I do not know whose words these are. But when I read them, I knew I had to have the story on my blog so that I can share it with others. Initially I thought of adding a few words at the end, relating this to a few other similar stories, but then I thought, no, I’d just let the story speak for itself. Here is the story then, without any more words from me.


A lady in a faded gingham dress and her husband, dressed in a homespun threadbare suit, stepped off the train in Boston, and walked timidly without an appointment into the president of Harvard’s outer office. The secretary could tell in a moment that such backwoods, country hicks had no business at Harvard and probably didn’t even deserve to be in Cambridge. She frowned.

“We want to see the president,” the man said softly. “He’ll be busy all day,” the secretary snapped. “We’ll wait,” the lady replied. For hours, the secretary ignored them, hoping that the couple would finally become discouraged and go away. They didn’t. And the …

Masters Who Wear Masks: 3. Pakkanar, the Pariah

Stories about Pakkanar, the legendary pariah saint of Kerala, were among the most beautiful stories I grew up listening to. Like Lai-Khur [] and many other masters, Pakkanar too lived wearing a mask all his life: a mask of ordinariness, and at times a mask of stupidity and ignorance, a mask of being limited by the caste and class that society had ascribed to him. In spite of these, though, at times he allowed the world glimpses of his spiritual wisdom and powers, and the stories are mostly about these moments.

The birth of Pakkanar is a legend in itself, part of one of the most popular legends of Kerala which every one born in Kerala hears as a child. In my case, it was from my father that I first heard the story as a child and then subsequently I read it as a teenager in Kottarattil Sankunni’s Aitihyamala [Garland of Legends], the collection of myths and legends about Kerala.

Pakkanar, the legend t…