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Showing posts from December, 2010

Arabian Nights, Ananda Mimamsa and Happiness

I know an executive whose income runs into several lakhs per month and yet rarely have I seen him smiling.

In contrast, one of the happiest faces I have seen is that of my milkman Ketan. It may be peak winter, as it is now, or it may be raining torrentially as it was a couple of months ago – but he invariably greets me with a cheery good morning as he comes to deliver milk packets every day without fail. In the rainy season he wears a rain coat and goes from house to house to deliver the milk, stopping his bicycle in front of each house and getting down to walk to the front door. His clothes will be drenched in spite of the raincoat and inside the clothes, his body will be drenched. In winter, he would be shivering inside the old windcheater he wears. But that does not reduce his smile or the cheerfulness in his voice.

I made a social visit to a doctor sometime last year. We were friends, sort of. He is on the staff of a large hospital as a fulltime senior doctor, and saw patients at h…

The Moth and the Candle: A Sufi Fable

“One night the moths gathered together, tormented by the desire to unite themselves with the candle. All of them said: ‘We must find one who can give us some news of that for which we seek so earnestly.’

“One of the moths went to a candle afar off and saw within the light of a candle. He came back and told the others what he had seen, and began to describe the candle as intelligently as he was able to do. But the wise moth, who was chief of their assembly, observed: ‘He has no real information to give us of the candle.’

“Another moth visited the candle. He passed close to the light and drew near to it. With his wings, he touched the flames of that which he desired; the heat of the candle drove him back and he was vanquished. He also returned, and revealed something of the mystery, in explaining a little of what union with the candle meant, but the wise moth said to him: ‘Thine explanation is of no more real worth than that of thy comrade.’

“A third moth rose up, intoxicated with love, t…

Nalayani: the Past Life of Draupadi

[Translated from the original Sanskrit]

[The Kumbhakonam Edition of the Mahabharata gives us several details that are not available in the KM Ganguli translation of the epic or in the Gita Press edition. The following is one such instance. I believe there is no other English translation of this available at the moment. The passage below constitutes Chapter 212 and 213 of the Adi Parva of the epic in the Kumbhakonam Edition, 1906. In the narrative sequence, these chapters come after Arjuna has won Draupadi, and immediately before all the five Pandava brothers wed her.]

Vyasa Said: Oh king, do not grieve over your daughter becoming wife to all five Pandavas. Her mother had earlier prayed that Draupadi should become the wife of five men. Yaja and Upayaja, constantly engaged in dharma, made it possible through their tapas that she should have five husbands and that is how Draupadi was attained by the five Pandavas as their wife.

It is now time for your whole family to celebrate. For in …