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Showing posts from June, 2009

Barso Re Megha

At lunchtime today I switched on the TV again, as I usually do, and there was Aishwarya Rai singing and dancing in the rain: Barso Re, Megha Megha Barso Re Megha Megha Barso Re, Megha Barso….

Aishwarya’s performance is scintillating in that dance – one of her best ever. What amazing flexibility, as though there are no bones in her body and she is all made of the most pliable stuff. And she abandons herself totally to the rhythms of the song, becomes one with it. As though she is not dancing, but the dancing is happening through her, as though the song itself is dancing through her.

Aishwarya is a gaon ki gori in that part of the movie and has all the spontaneity and innocence of the pure village belle. True, it is not the rural India of today that comes to your mind as you watch her in that song, but an India of bygone times – perhaps the India that Kalidasa describes in his Meghaduta, which by the way is my favourite among all his works, Kumara Sambhava coming as a close second. The f…

Leadership Excellence and the Dancing God

Earlier this week when I introduced my course in Indian Philosophy for Leadership Excellence to a new batch of students at XLRI School of Business, I used a picture of the dancing Shiva in my Power Point presentation. One of the students asked me why I had used that picture in the presentation. I appreciated her question and told her that I had asked myself that question before deciding on the picture. I really had. It was after asking that question and some debating within my mind that I had chosen that picture.

Why did I choose that particular picture?

To me, as I explained to my student, the dancing Shiva symbolises the very essence of Indian culture and Indian thought. That image symbolises Indian philosophy, both of life and work, with amazing beauty and perfection. Few other symbols represent the core of Indian philosophy with the clarity with which this symbol represents it.

Everything in the dancing Shiva figure is symbolic, as in all other traditional representations of Shiva…

Reincarnation: The Persistence of Memory

Renuka Narayanan has a weekly column in the Hindustan Times. It is her column this week that drew my attention to this touching story. She had mentioned in her column that the story is available online and I looked it up. Renuka’s narration is a slightly edited version of the story as it is available online. Since the online version has a few more details than her narration, I am giving here the online version.

“There was a village of about 400 houses called Chaungyo, ten miles north-west of Taungdwingyi. Two young men of the village, Nga Nyo and Ba Saing, who were friends earned their living by going round villages selling betel leaves. Coming back one day from the rounds, Ba Saing went short of rice on the way. He borrowed a small measure of rice from Nga Nyo to cook his dinner. After dinner, while they made their way back to the village leisurely in the moonlit night, poor Ba Saing was bitten by a poisonous snake and met instant death. It was sometime between 1270 and 1280 B.E.…

Leadership and Resourcefulness

A woman and a man are involved in a car accident on a snowy, cold Monday morning. It is a bad one. Both their cars are totally demolished, but amazingly neither of them hurt. After they crawl out of their cars, the man starts yelling at the woman driver. Women are stupid, he says, and they should never be allowed to drive. The woman keeps her cool. She says, “All right, all right. You’re a man and I’m a woman, that’s the fact and neither of us can help it. But look at it this way. Our cars are finished, there is nothing left, but we’re unhurt. This
be a sign from God that we should be friends and live in peace for the rest of our days.”

The man takes a good look at the woman again. She is beautiful. He is flattered, but he still cannot forgive the woman. He says, “Oh yes. I agree completely. This must be a sign from God! But you’re still at fault…. Women should not be allowed to drive.”

The woman continues, “And look at this, here’s another miracle. My car is completely demolished, but …

Radha and the Flow of Consciousness

The Upanishads are incredible, unsurpassed. In wisdom, in beauty and in clarity. When it comes to understanding the nature of the human being, they have never been surpassed. Speaking of them, C Rajagopalachari said, “The spacious imagination, the majestic sweep of thought, and the almost reckless spirit of exploration with which, urged by the compelling thirst for truth, the Upanishad teachers and pupils dig into the ‘open secret’ of the universe, make this most ancient of the world’s holy books still the most modern and the most satisfying.”

Kathopanishad is one of the most poetic of Upanishads. It is the Upanishad on which so much of the Bhagavad Gita is based, including its frame image of Krishna and Arjuna in the chariot. Several verses of the Gita have been borrowed from the Katha Upanishad, or adapted. Speaking of human consciousness, the teacher of the Katha Upanishad says:

parānchi khāni vyatrnat svayambhūh
tasmād parāng paśyati nāntarātman.
kaścid dhīrah pratyagātmānam aikshad

Education and the Emperor’s Golden Bed

The little child had just come back from Kerala when Miss Pisces, her primary school teacher who taught her drawing, asked her class to paint a well.

Green is the permanent colour of Kerala – it is green round the year. But when the rains come, it becomes a mad riot of green. And Kerala gets incessant rains for months at a stretch. Listen to Arundhati Roy describing Kerala during those days of torrential rains: “… by early June the southwest monsoon breaks and there are three months of wind and water with short spells of sharp, glittering sunshine that thrilled children snatch to play with. The countryside turns an immodest green. Boundaries blur as tapioca fences take root and bloom. Brick walls turn moss green. Pepper vines snake up electric poles. Wild creepers burst through laterite banks and spill across flooded roads.”

This is the Kerala the little child had seen.

Most homes in Kerala have a well. Her home in Kerala too had one. A very deep one, which gave cool water round the y…

Creating Winners in the School

Good teachers create winners. Winners are authentic, fearless, independent, imaginative people who are proud of themselves, who love others and care for them. These are people who know how to touch others, how to give and how to take. They have the courage to make their own decisions and they make these decisions based on their own thinking. At the same time, they also know how to listen to others and have genuine respect for their views.

Winners have a powerful, positive self-image and are perseverant. They challenge themselves continuously, aspiring to climb to greater heights every day. They know how to forgive and forget, and to let bygones be bygones. They celebrate life and see beauty in the most ordinary things.

Here are twenty ways a teacher can create a winner out of every child:

1. Challenge each child to do her best.
2. Set a good example by your own practice.
3. Care for each individual child and her needs.
4. Don’t let her give up easily.
5. Make her work out most of her ow…

The Secret of a Teacher's Charisma

[From the author’s address to teachers at the end of a two-week workshop.]

I remember watching a movie recently. The politician’s son is a college student and he is in the question paper business. He sells university question papers a couple of days in advance of the exam for a prize. A professor of the college, reputed for his integrity and courage, catches him with a bunch of question papers and hands him over to the police along with the question papers. However, the local police officer is in a nexus with the politician and his son. He releases the criminal and instead arrests the professor. The moment the news reaches the college, students leave whatever they are doing and walk straight to the police station. As the angry students in their hundreds siege the station, the officer looks at them and realizes they would stop at nothing to save their professor. Alarmed, he releases the professor and takes the criminal student back into custody.

What is that that inspired the students t…

Education and Tracking Down A Trail of Ants

[Developed from the author’s talk to a group of 100 teachers at the end of a summer workshop]

“All your teaching is centred on what has no use,” said Hui Tzu to Chaung Tzu, the great Taoist master of ancient China.

Chaung Tzu replied: “If you have no appreciation for what has no use, you cannot begin to talk about what can be used. The earth for example, is broad and vast, but of all this expanse, a man uses only a few inches upon which he happens to be standing at the time. Now suppose you suddenly take away all that he actually is not using, so that all around his feet a gulf yawns, and he stands in the void with nowhere solid except under each foot, how long will he be able to use what he is using?”

“It would cease to serve any purpose.”

“This shows the absolute necessity of what is supposed to have no use,” said Chuang Tzu.


No river runs straight from its mountain source to the sea.

Canals run strait to their goals.

But no one writes poems about canals. Poetry is written about rivers.…