Happy New Year 2015


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Letters-2: A Letter from Srimat Swami Turiyanandaji Maharaj(Excerpt)

Dear Sridhar,

....It is avidya, or ignorance, which is the field of lust and anger. Patanjali defines avidya as follows: "To regard the non-eternal as eternal, the impure as pure, the painful as pleasant, and the non-Atman as the Atman - this is ignorance."

In other words, it is ignorance which makes one perceive the unreal world as real, the impure body as pure, happiness in painful sense enjoyments, and to consider wife and children - none whom is really one's own - as one's own. These false perceptions are caused by ignorance. This avidya is without beginning: there is no way of ascertaining when it originated. It is also without end in the sense that until one attains illumination by the grace of God, it remains and is not destroyed. This ignorance does not allow us to move towards God. So Krishna said in the Gita, "Those who take refuge in me alone shall cross over this maya." Our duty is take refuge in Him and lead a God-centred life.

What Swami Vivekananda said is true: "Devotion to God is dormant in everyone. It manifests itself when the veil of lust and gold is removed." The attempt to remove that veil is called sadhana, or spiritual disciplines; and when this veil disappears, the kundalini awakens. Nothing will be achieved if you scatter your mind in all sorts of things. Hold on firmly to your chosen path and resolve that you will attain liberation and devotion through it; then only will you succeed.

I wrote to you more than once: "He who is full of faith and zeal and has subdued his senses obtains knowledge; having obtained knowledge, he soon attains the supreme peace." (Gita, IV.39). But "The man who is ignorant and without faith and always doubting goes to ruin. Not this world nor the world beyond nor happiness is for the doubting soul." (Ibid, IV.40) - These are the words of God. Now, do as you please.

With love and best wishes

Swami Turiyananda
(a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and a brother-disciple of Swami Vivekananda)(Excerpt)

A Thought for Today-125: October 27, 2007

Cruel and cut-throat competition is the nature to be found in the lower order. To be cooperative with fellow beings is of mediocre order. To dedicate oneself for the welfare of fellow beings is of the high order - Prof.K.Subrahmanyam (Values in Education)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Self-Improvement-6: "A to Z Tips for Success"

Arrive a little early for every date or appointment.
Be enthusiastic in everything you do.
Complete every assigned task.
Do a little more than is required.
Express yourself after you know the facts.
Feel comfortable in every situation by acting yourself.
Go all out to please your friends.
Help others as you would have them help you.
Identify yourself by accomplishments rather than words.
Join in and help when you are needed.
Keep a level head.
Listen more, speak less.
Make the most of what you have.
Never say never.
Open your heart to those less fortunate than you.
Please yourself by pleasing others.
Quickly respond to an emergency.
Remember business plus quality equals profit.
Study, study, study to excel.
Take advantage of any opportunity.
Use your spare time intelligently.
Value your health.
Work at your work.
Xit any quality leading to failure.
You are your most important asset.
Zestfully meet any challenge.

- Abhishek (Details not available)

Lessons in Shaving

Your daily morning facelift could be more lasting if you follow Dr.T.A.Lincoln's advice. Dr.Lincoln of the Oak Ridge National Lab, USA, has made a study of the general shaving habits and has come to the conclusion that they are not very efficient.

First of all, time element is important. Just when you arise in the morning is not a good time. The facial skin is the thickest after the night's sleep due to accumulation of water. The expended skin draws in a part of the follicles. These show up again after the water drains off. DR.Lincoln's advice: Wait at least for an hour after you wake up. Second, hot water creates the same problem: It swells the skin and draws in the hair. Dr.Lincoln suggests the use of salt water instead. This draws out the facial moisture.

Considering that the beard grows about half a millimeter a day, Dr.Lincoln claims you can increase the efficiency of shaving by 40% if you follow his procedure.

Courtesy: Science Today, August 1973

A Thought for Today-124: October 26, 2007

I am just an ordinary man without any special ability in any direction, except perhaps this one thing. I do things I believe ought to be done. And when I make up my mind, I act - Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of USA
(Biography of Theodore Roosevelt :

A Thought for Today-123: October 25, 2007

Every man must prove himself in his own way. Once is never enough. You must always risk a second time, a third, a fourth, no matter what it is you want to achieve - Aldo Donati in Daphne du Maurier's 'The Flight of the Falcon'

A Thought for Today-122: October 24, 2007

When politicians become insensitive to criticism and the society no longer responds to traditional forms of protest, the angry dissenters tend to switch over from verbal denunciation to physical violence - G.K.Reddy, The Hindu of August 15, 1974

A Thought for Today-121: October 23, 2007

Extensive knowledge only gets in the way. One must know only what is required. That is what is most difficult of all, and it is where the whole secret lies - Lev Landau, eminent Russian Physicist in Evgeny Gabrilovich's, "The Fifth Quarter"

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Thought for Today-120: October 22, 2007

Intellect is like a creeper, which can grow and blossom if fostered on unselfish lines. It can be crooked and cankerous, if fed with selfishness and lust. And it may remain useless, if it is not put to use due to laziness and lethargy. Blessed are the people who can make use of the intellect for their own fulfilment and for the betterment of society. Fools are they who keep the gift of reason unused. Mediocre are they who use it only for the day's needs. Intelligent are they who use it for elevating themselves. Wise are they who use reason for seeing good in all. It is after all everybody's responsibility to see that the intellect is put to full use - Professor K.Subrahmanyam (Values in Education)

A Thought for Today-119: October 21, 2007

Every moment is full of possibilities. It only requires your keen appreciation and best use of it to prove them to the world - Tondaradipodi Alwar

Saturday, October 20, 2007

An African Old Saying

Every morning in Africa,
a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must outrun
the fastest lion
Or it will be killed.
Every morning in Africa,
a lion wakes up.
It knows it must run
faster than the slowest gazelle
Or it will starve.
It does not matter whether
You are a lion or a gazelle.
When the sun comes up,
you would better be running.

Wit and Wisdom-1:

* People who live very close to office arrive late for work.
* Those who arrive late also tend to leave early.
* There is a strange virus that seems to make people fall ill the day before or after a holiday.
* Most bad rumours come true. Most good ones don't.
* If we know what to do, we do it. If we don't know what to do, we talk about it.
If we don't know how to talk about it, we write a report about it.
* The boss is not always right but the boss is always the boss.
* One percent of something is better than ten percent of nothing.
* Victory has a thousand fathers, defeat is an orphan.
* You get help in proportion to the help you give, but not from the same people.
* Generally, those who never make mistakes, never make anything.
* If you succeed, you will be called lucky. If you don't, you will be called stupid.
- William Deanley

Self-Improvement-5: "Tips for Better Human Relations"

1. Speak to people. There is nothing as nice as a a cheerful
word of greeting.
2. Smile at people. It takes 72 muscles to frown; only 14 to
3. Call people by name. The sweetest music to any one's ears is
the sound of his own name.
4. Be friendly and helpful. If you should have friends, be
5. Be cordial. Speak and act as if everything you do is a genuine
6. Be genuinely interested in people. You can like everybody if
you try.
7. Be generous with praise, cautious with criticism.
8. Be considerate of the feelings of others. There are three
sides of a controversy - yours, the other fellow's and the
right one.
9. Be alert to give service. What counts most in life is what we
do for others.
Courtesy: Children's Digest, April 1998

A Thought for Today-118: October 20, 2007

Wealth is not power; Strength is not power; Knowledge is not power; Abilities and accomplishments are not power; CHARACTER IS POWER. Character is power when it is charged with ethical purity and spiritual serenity - Prof.K.Subrahmanyam (Values in Education).
Grateful thanks to Professor K.Subrahmanyam.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Self-Improvement-4: What makes you Happy in Life? - Fr Jose Panthaplamthottiyil, Chief Editor, Children’s Digest

“What makes you happy in life?” My question was not pre-meditated or well-planned. As I saw angelic face bubbling with joy and enthusiasm, the question popped out of my mouth even before I knew it. He paused. Then with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eyes, he said: “I am happy when I do the right things in life.”

“Excellent!” My response was spontaneous. Then I realized that there was a tear in my eyes. For a brief moment I was choked with emotion by listening to the wisdom of an eleven-year-old boy! A few months later, as I walked into Christ College, as a lecturer in 1991, I was curious to find out how our first-year Pre-University students would respond to my question. In some of the classes I went to, I asked the students to write down three most important things that make them happy in their life.

Their answers were diverse and numerous. However, some of them were common and identical. Most students wrote their family makes them happy. The second most common answer was that their friends make them happy. Here are a few other things they thought would really make them happy in their life: good marks, sports, movies, good jobs, helping others and being loved.

As I scanned through their answers I was pleasantly surprised in several respects. Is it not a familiar saying that ‘getting things and having things’ really make us all happy? Then how is it that most students chose family and friends as what really make them happy? Another thing that surprised me was the near absence of the mention of money in their answers. Am I to believe that they know better when the whole world seemingly is going after money as if nothing matters in this life? Anyway, they seemed to think that money is something that can buy everything in this world except happiness.

Also, they did not think of food and drink either when they searched for answers to my question. It is like they have already learned at this young age that the pleasure derived from food and drink is transient while happiness is something that really runs deep in our lives.

Our young students seem to find happiness at home with parents who care and with brothers and sisters who share their love. They find happiness when they are with their true friends. They also find happiness when they help others. Their happiness is real. No doubt about it. If they can find happiness in so many different ways, why is it that some of the adults among us think that true happiness is like a butterfly that is always beyond our grasp?

As I walked back to my residence, the words of Jesus came to my mind: “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, to you I offer praise; for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children.”

Yet, I sadly remembered that some of these very same students will probably lose their innocence very fast as they begin to grow up in our confused world. That made me wonder whether the grown-ups could do anything to make this world a better place to grow up for our students. Then I heard the eleven-year-old boy saying with a chuckle: “By doing the right things in life!”
Courtesy: Children's Digest (Date not known).
Grateful thanks to The Children's Digest.

Self-Improvement-3: Virtues which helped Benjamin Franklin achieve greatness

* Temperance
* Silence
* Order
* Resoluteness
* Frugality
* Industry
* Sincerity
* Justice
* Moderation
* Cleanliness
* Tranquillity
* Chastity
* Humility

Eyecatchers-40 : Plants may walk in the next century - Energy Era

The next century may see plants that can walk or animals that can photosynthesise, according to scientists.

At the same time, the distinction between computer and living beings would be blurred and computing would be so advanced that flawless future prediction would be a routine affair. US scientist Charles R.Canter told the final session of the 13th International Biophysics Congress in New Delhi recently.

With the advancement of modern biology, computer science and genetic engineering, the possibility of such “blue sky” events to become a reality is increasing day by day.

“Evolutionary methods can be extended to produce novel organisms such as walking plants or an animal capable of producing its own food using sunlight and some chemicals (photosynthesis),” Cantor, one of the pioneers of human genome project (a world-wide project to map human genome completely) and currently chief scientific officer of Sequenom Inc, California, USA, said.

However, the scientists said a wide gap between theory and practice still exists. Cantor said very soon there would a direct computer human interface which would enable humans to communicate with computers directly.

Already scientists in Caltech, US, have made an artificial nose that can smell like a human being.

Recently a group of German scientists from Munich has discovered that there is a strong possibility of crosstalk between a brain cell and a silicon chip, Nobel Laureate Erwin Nehrer said.

“Such discoveries would help achieve a human-computer interface where both sides can communicate with each other directly.”

Courtesy: Energy Era, Guwahati, October 1, 1999.

Grateful thanks to Energy Era.

A Thought for Today-117: October 19, 2007

A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him - Unknown

A Thought for Today-116: October 18, 2007

Cleverness is when you believe only a half of what you hear. Brilliance is when you know which half to believe - Unknown

A Thought for Today-115: October 17, 2007

Crises and deadlocks when they occur have at least this advantage - they force us to THINK - Unknown

A Thought for Today-114: October 16, 2007

Pay attention to your future, because you are going to spend a lot of time there - Unknown

A Thought for Today-113: October 15, 2007

There is no religion higher than truth - Unknown

A Thought for Today-112: October 14, 2007

If there is success without hard work or without trying, it is hardly worth anything. Only that success carries respectability which is achieved through hard work. The most desirable success is always the most difficult one - Unknown

A Thought for Today-111: October 13, 2007

Good and Evil have an equal share in moulding character, and in some instances, misery is a great teacher than happiness - Swami Vivekananda

A Thought for Today-110: October 12, 2007

Both pleasure and pain are great teachers and man learns as much from evil as from good.... The result of these combined impressions is what is called man's character - Swami Vivekananda

A Thought for Today-109: October 11, 2007

All the great systems of ethics preach ABSOLUTE UNSELFISHNESS as the goal - Swami Vivekananda.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

'Self-Improvement-2: "Why We All Need a Personality Prop' by J.J.Dorairaj in The Mirror

Various are the methods adopted by human beings to infuse pep into their personality. Some adorn the walls of their dwellings with choice quotations taken from the holy scriptures or lines composed by their pet poets. Looking at these from time to time, their falling spirits have a chance to renew their strength.

This technique is by no means a novel one. In fact, it is followed by almost all religious people in the world. Through this, countless people have obtained victory in their lives.

Every great man has had his own favourite formula, motto or prop to help him rise higher up on the ladder of life.

Gladstone was the son of a merchant. He steadily rose to the position of the Prime Minister of England. His activities were so many and of such a varied nature that the people wondered how he could possibly cope with them. The secret was in his bed-room. There, on the wall right against his eyes as he lay on his bed, were found framed the following words: "underneath are the everlasting arms of God". During his strenuous career, he often went to bed in the small hours of the night, but as his eyes closed in slumber, he did not fail to read these memorable words, and as he awoke in the morning, they were the first words that he noticed. And this gave him the courage and the confidence to live another day.

One of the protestant leaders of England, John Wesley, began his career as a staunch Church of England man. After his conversion on May 24th 1730, he became an ardent evangelist. He traveled on horseback throughout the length and breadth of England, and stirred the people to a type of religion founded on real sincerity and not upon cant and hypocrisy. He is said to have traveled a total distance of 850,000 miles and preached more than 40,000 sermons!

At the same time, his literary output was prodigious. To guide him throughout his days, John Wesley kept a fly-leaf in his Bible which he never failed to read. On this fly-leaf were written the simple words. "Live today"; this inspired him to make every day a perfect day.

Mahatma Gandhi kept in his study room three porcelain dolls representing three monkeys in action. They reminded him to be ever careful of what he saw, heard and spoke.

The society that is responsible for redeeming addicts from alcohol asks its clients to keep on their office desk, dressing table or window sill some choice sentence to remind them of the evils of drink, chosen for them from famous writers. Perhaps we are not addicted to drink, but still we need personality props. Have you chosen the right one for yourself?

Excerpt from ‘WHY WE ALL NEED A PERSONALITY PROP’ by J.J.Dorairaj published in January 1974 issue of The Mirror.
Grateful thanks to Mr J J Dorairaj and The Mirror.

Facts and Figures-10: New Gandhiji Stamps, The Week, Oct.14, 2007

Four new 5-rupee stamps commemorating Mahatma Gandhi was released on October 2, 2007, his 138th birthday.
Courtesy: The Week, October 14, 2007.
Grateful thanks to The Week.

A Thought for Today-108: October 11, 2007

If you start judging people, you will not have time to love them - Mother Teresa

A Thought for Today-107: October 10, 2007

Never break four things in your life: TRUST, PROMISE, RELATIONSHIP and HEART. Because when they break, they don't make any noise but pain a lot - Unknown

A Thought for Today-106: October 9, 2007

If someone feels that they had never done any mistake in their life, then it means they had never tried anything new in their life - Albert Einstein

A Thought for Today-105: October 8, 2007

Believing nobody is dangerous; believing everybody is very dangerous - Abraham Lincoln

A Thought for Today-104: October 7, 2007

Everyone thinks of changing the world but nobody thinks of changing himself - Leo Tolstoy

A Thought for Today-103: October 6, 2007

I will not say I failed 1000 times; I will say that I discovered that there are 1000 ways that can cause failure - Thomas Alva Edison

A Thought for Today-102: October 5, 2007

Winning does not always mean being first; winning means you are doing better than you have done before - Bonnie Blair

A Thought for Today-101: October 4, 2007

If we cannot love the person whom we see, how can we love god whom we can't see - Mother Teresa

A Thought for Today-100: October 3, 2007

Don't compare yourself with anyone in this world. If you do so, you are insulting yourself - Allen Strike

A Thought for Today-99: October 2, 2007

The hands that serve are holier than the lips that pray - Mahatma Gandhi

A Thought for Today-98: October 1, 2007

Three sentences for getting success: (1) Know more than the other; (2) Work more than the other; and (3) Expect less than the other - William Shakespeare

A Thought for Today-97: September 30, 2007

In a day, when you don't come across any problem, you can be sure that you are travelling on a wrong path - Swami Vivekananda

Eyecatchers-39 : Solar Cells 200 Hundred Times Thinner than Hair - AFP

Scientists have developed solar cells 200 hundred times thinner than a human hair that they believe will power the nanoscale gadgetry of tomorrow.

From customer devices to bioterrorism monitors to in-body diagnostics, this ultra-microscopic technology is poised to take centre stage in less than a decade from now. But finding the sources to power it has become a headache.

Charles Leiber and colleagues at Harvard University said silicon nanowire they devised that can convert light into electrical energy. Virtually invisible to the naked eye, a single strand can crank out up to 200 picowatts.

Two hundred billionth of a watt may not seem much, but at nanoscale it is enough to provide a steady output of electricity to run ultralow power electronics, including some that could be worn on, or even inside the body. It is also clean, highly efficient and renewable.

"An individual nanoelectronic device will indeed consume very little power, but to do something interesting will require many interconnected devices and thus the power requirement, even for nanosystems, can be a challenge," Leiber explained in an email.

Monitoring bioterrorism threats, for example, would require an entire array of nanosensors, nanoprocessors to analyse the signals received, and nano-transmitters to relay information to a centralised facility, he said.

Conventional sources, he added are "bulky, non-renewable and expensive" by comparison - AFP
Courtesy: The New Indian Express, Madurai, Oct.18, 2007.
Grateful thanks to AFP and The New Indian Express.

Eyecatchers-38 : Biggest Black Hole

Astronomers have found the biggest stellar black hole so far, a monster with a mass 15.65 times that of our sun, lurking in a nearby spiral-shaped galaxy.

The find, located in a galaxy called Messier 33, has an even bigger companion - a close-orbiting star that is 70 times the mass of the sun, according to an investigation led by Jerome Orosz of San Diego University, California, USA - Agencies

Courtesy: 'World Vignettes', The New Indian Express, Madurai, Oct.18, 2007.
Grateful thanks to The New Indian Express.

Eyecatchers-37 : Anne Enright Wins Man Booker Prize

Rank outsider, Irish author, Anne Enright has won the 50,000 pounds Mann Booker Prize for what the judges called a "powerful, uncomfortable and even at times angry book", The Gathering - PTI.
Courtesy: The New Indian Express, Madurai, Oct.18, 2007.
Grateful thanks to PTI and The New Indian Express.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Self-Improvement: Who needs PERFECT people? - Uma Venkataraman

Demanding perfection from yourself can be dangerous to your health.

Perfect people, managers or employees exist only in training films and textbooks. It is the struggle towards perfection that counts and your approach towards that should be step by step. There is no other way of achieving your objectives. Set realistic short-term goals and focus on them. It does not matter even if you fail as long as you give it your best shot and stay in the game. If you quit, there is no way of winning. The real winner is the one who stays in the game, learns to play well and knows that perfection is only a fantasy.

Watch a child learning to walk. He stumbles as he tries but he picks himself up and tries again and again till he achieves that final successful step.

Never fear the consequences of missing a shot or a step. Because when you fear failure, you limit your potential. Remember while deciding to do something, it is better to be almost right than totally wrong.

You can still be considered one of the best and a success if you give your best, even though you may not be perfect.
Courtesy: M/s.Covansys, MEPZ, Chennai.
Grateful thanks to M/s.Covansys.

Self-Improvement: Twelve Things to Remember

The Value of Time.
The Success of Perseverance.
The Pleasure of Working.
The Dignity of Simplicity.
The Worth of Character.
The Power of Kindness.
The Influence of Example.
The Wisdom of Economy.
The Virtue of Patience.
The Improvement of Talent.
The Joy of Originating.
Compiled by: Prabhu Dakshina Moorthy
Courtesy: The Mirror, January 1976

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Self-Improvement: Small is Beautiful

When we light a small earthen lamp, without a question and with least hesitation it sheds its humble light. It does not look around to watch if any other lamp is shedding its lustre. It is not dismayed also if no other light is burning in the vicinity.

It is content to be given to shed its own little light. It is not worried how much more darkness need to be removed from over the world. Is it a small privilege to be given to remove even a jot of darkness?

The small is beautiful. Have you not seen a tiny grass flower? Nature needed to exercise all its talents to create that tiny flower, complete in its own size of glory. If little things had no meaning they would not be there. Scientists have by now told us how much power, mystery and glory are there in the tiny atom.

Let us not be nervous about our smallness. For, without grains of sands, even the loftiest monuments could not be built. In fact, the ultimate brick of the greatest monuments is the sand particle.

There are people who think too highly of themselves. They have what is called a superiority complex. That abominable thing is too bad for themselves, and not good for others.
There are, again, those who think too lowly of themselves. They have an inferiority complex. This is worse than the superiority complex. They think that they are good for nothing. By continuously thinking that way, they really become so.

Such people can never become good citizens. When we discuss momentous issues concerning mankind, and the responsibility of doing our mite, they throw up their hands and dogmatically declare that small persons like them can do nothing about these great problems.

So they shy away even from discussing these problems. Taking shelter behind their so-called or supposed smallness they take an inverse pride in declaring that they have nothing to do with the ambitious scheme of solving world problems.

We should clearly understand that even a small lamp has the capacity and the privilege to give light. Often enough, these days, thanks to frequent power shortages, we are given the opportunity to appreciate the usefulness of the good old, humble candles. When proud powerhouses fail, humble candles give light. Even today the basic measure of all magnificent light is the candle power!

If thousand suns do not suddenly burst forth in our horizon, there is no reason to be disheartened. In fact, that would be too tragic for our planet. Let us light thousand small lights.
Enlightened citizenship is every individual's responsibility. That is the spirit of the times. That is the basic assumption of democracy. This is also the teaching of the Vedanta. You are, whoever you may be, the centre of light, you are verily that! Tat Tvamasi! True enlightened citizenship cannot be worked for in lesser terms. We can gain nothing by letting go our grip on the highest truth, whereas by remaining anchored in the highest truth we can eventually enlighten ourselves and others.
Swami Vivekananda teaches: "You are part of the Infinite. This is your nature. Hence you are your brother's keeper. Not one can be happy until all are happy. When you hurt anyone, you hurt yourself, for you and your brother are one....Each is responsible for the evil anywhere in the world. He is indeed a yogi who sees himself in the whole universe and the universe within himself.

Enlightened citizenship is very much a homegrown affair, in the sense that your home can become a lighthouse. The light that is within you, when that shines without also, that is enlightened citizenship.

The greatest legacy that Gandhiji has left to mankind is to have shown by his own example that each human being has a direct responsibility to world peace by the progressive day-to-day transformation of the individual soul. In fact, for all practical purposes, enlightened citizenship is a spiritual adventure.

Courtesy: 'ENLIGHTENED CITIZENSHIP', A Ramakrishna Math, Delhi, publication

Self-Improvement: Right Beginnings (from James Allen's 'Byways of Blessedness'

1. Life is full of beginnings. They are presented every day and every hour to every person. Most beginnings are small, and appear trivial and insignificant, but in reality they are the most important things in life.
2. When a man begins the day by rising early, he will find that the silent early hours is conducive to clearness of mind and calmness of thought. It will enable him to meet any and every difficulty with wisdom and calm strength.
3. Begin today aright, and, aided by the accumulated experiences of all your past days, live it better than any of your previous days. The character of the whole day depends upon the way it is begun.
4. Another beginning which is of great importance is the beginning of any particular and responsible undertaking. The right beginning and first essential is a definite mental plan on which to build.
5. Your whole life is a series of effects having their cause in thought - in your own thought. All conduct is made and moulded by thought: all deeds, good or bad, are thoughts made visible.
6. The man who patiently studies have to put into his mind the seeds of wholesome and charitable thoughts, will obtain the best results in life. The greatest blessedness comes to him, who infuses into his mind the purest and noblest thoughts.
Courtesy: Professor S.Raghunathan

Letters-1: Satisfying Success Needed

The hallmark of a sane society is its capacity to view things as a whole, for a number of factors go into the making of a healthy national community. It is not possible to be proud of material prosperity which is more apparent than real. This is so when it goes with lopsided development and the presence of pockets of the depressed areas. More particularly, the disparity between urban and rural areas has to be reckoned with more earnestly.

It is not enough to be motivated with a sense of purpose and progress. What is wanted is not just success but a success that satisfies. This is not possible with inequitable distribution of income and the pronounced existence of a poverty line. The widespread corruption is a telltale sign of unpardonable malaise that goes with it.

Unemployment refers to the divorce of knowledge and the power to do things. Educated youth is an impotent force so long as avenues of employment remain closed. The hierarchical order is a necessary accompaniment of an organized society. But illegal exploitation and misuse of executive power is a rampant evil to be held in check.

This is the need of the hour in India today.

Letter to the Editor, The New Indian Express from Mr.B.Gnanadoss, Madurai.
Grateful thanks to Mr.B.Gnanadoss and The New Indian Express.

A Thought for Today-96: September 29, 2007

By seeking goodness, being good, and affirming good, you see this world as a garden of beauty - Sri Sri Paramahamsa Yogananda, Excerpt from 'The Divine Romance'

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Eyecatchers-36 : The Latest French Revolution by Manisha Gutman

After creating the world's fastest mode of transport, the TGV, the French are now returning to something much more simple - the bicycle (velo in French). Only July 15, 2007, ten thousand public bicycles were made available to the residents of Paris, in a new experiment on urban transport.

The basic principle is nobody owns the Velib, but everybody can borrow one. For €29 and a deposit of €150, one can subscribe to a year’s access to the cycles. Velib points have been created outside every metro station in the city. With a magnetic card in hand, one can simply help oneself to a cycle, use it to ride up to one’s destination and park it at the nearest Velib point.

It took three years of negotiations before the experiment was put into place but one week before the launch, nearly 8000 Parisians had signed up for a subscription. The city expects to have nearly 2,00,000 by the end of the year. In the last seven years, Paris has doubled its cycle tracks to 371 km at present.

The emerging new trend has quite a serious impact on urban planning, as rules are changed to suit a growing population of cyclists. Instead of the motorcar, in some places the cyclists have priority, allowing them to use one-way streets and even ignore traffic lights.

Finally, it comes down to a personal choice that the French are making. Cycling is good for one’s health; according to some studies half an hour of cycling per day can significantly elongate one’s lifespan, reducing stress and hypertension. It is also an efficient tool of weight control. On the other hand, a cycle is a non-polluting form of transport, using no fuel and creating no emissions. Until a few years ago, only 1.5 per cent of Parisians used cycles on a regular basis. Now more of urban French population is turning to a mode of transport very common in rural France.

The region of Arcachon, on the southwest coast of France offers several landmarks for tourists but, most of all, it offers an excellent network of cycle routes. These routes, which run along the sea for almost the entire circumference of the basin, originally formed a raid road track used by Germans during World War to transport soldiers and men. However, after the war, the railroad served little purpose and the path was converted into cycle tracks.

The cycle track that circles the basin is inaccessible to any motor vehicle, however small it may be. It covers a length of nearly 75 to 80 km, on a sunny day, one can see people of all ages cycling.

Cycles are available in most towns on rent for as little as €2 an hour. A variety of cycles, tandem bicycles, three-wheelers and cycles with baby carriages, makes it possible for older citizens, mothers with babies and even the physically challenged to cycle. To make it easier for tourists, cycles rented in one town can be returned in another to the same chain of stores.

The enthusiasm to return to the cycle as a form of transport as well as a hobby is not limited to Arcachon, Gironde, the department to which Arcachon belongs, boasts of a network of nearly 600 km of cycle tracks. Bordeaux, the capital of Gironde, is a university town that gives all students free use of bicycles that belong to the town. Further north, Nantes offers free raincoats and backpacks to state employees who cycle to work.

The bicycle is bringing revolutionary change to French society. It represents a growing social consciousness, as well as a willingness to make environmentally and socially sensitive choices.

Excerpt from ‘The Latest French Revolution’ by Manisha Gutman in Magazine, supplement to the Sunday edition of The Hindu of Sep.9, 2007.

Grateful thanks to Ms Manisha Gutman and The Hindu.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Facts and Figures-9: The Week, Oct.7, 2007

The rock band 'Rolling Stones' earned 88 million dollars in 2006-07!
Courtesy: Facts & Figures, The Week, Oct.7, 2007

Eyecatchers-35 : Doris Lessing wins Nobel Prize for Literature - AP

British writer Doris Lessing has won the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature. Lessing, 87, born to British parents who were living in what is now Iran, made her debut with "The Grass is Singing"(1950). Her other works include the semi-autobiographical "Children of Violence" series, largely set in Africa. Her breakthrough was the 1962 "Golden Notebook". "The burgeoning feminist movement saw it as a pioneering work and it belongs to the handful of books that inform the 20th century view of the male-female relationship," the Swedish Academy said in its citation announcing the prize.

Lessing's other important novels include, "The Summer Before Dark" (1973), "The Fifth Child"(1988), "Mara and Dann(1999), "The Story of General Dann and Mara's Daughter, Griot and the Snow Dog(2005).

Lessing is the second British writer to win the Nobel Prize in three years. In 2005, Harold Pinter received the award. (AP)

Excerpt from The New Indian Express, Madurai, October 12, 2007

Further study:
http://wiredforbooks.org/dorislessing/ (Audio Interviews with Doris Lessing)
http://jco.usfca.edu/lessing.html (Joyce Carol Oates on Lessing)

A Thought for Today-95: September 28, 2007

He who submits to wrong is also a wrong-doer, for it is he who is the cause of all evil in the world - Rabindranath Tagore

A Thought for Today-94: September 27, 2007

One puts a premium on evil by suffering it without protest. The proper remedy for evil is to fight against it - Rabindranath Tagore

Self-Improvement-1: For Achieving Excellence

* Be systematic.
* Develop the right attitude.
* Be enthusiastic all the time.
* Maintain a diary to note down things to be done to serve as useful reminders.
* Maintain a happy state of mind so that you are positive in your approach and
outlook all the time.
* What you think you become. If you think you are beaten, you are! If you think
you will lose, you have already lost. It is all in the state of mind.
* Never bother about setbacks/threats/short-comings/difficulties in life.
Difficulties sharpen the intellect and strengthen the mind.

Courtesy: Excerpt from 'Achieving Excellence' by N.Ramachandran, Published in IBA Bulletin, Jan.1999.

Grateful thanks to Mr N Ramachandran and IBA Bulletin.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Thought for Today-93: September 26, 2007

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles but to LIVE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT wisely and earnestly – Buddha

Facts and Figures-8: India Today, Oct.1, 2007

The number of radio stations All India Radio had in 1947 was six. Now, the number is 223.

$ 38.4 billion was spent on pet animals in the US during 2006.

More than 4 lac students apply to the IITs every year and only 3000 get through.

There are 262 medical colleges in India which produce 29,172 doctors every year.

2.87 million trucks run across Indian roads.

100 crore rupees is the estimated value of India’s current Ayurvedic production.

6 lac villages where nearly two-thirds of the total Indian population lives, form the future market for the telecom industry. The current 150 million subscriber base translates into only 13% penetration.

Rs.16,200 crore is the value of the online tutoring market in the US.

$ 1 trillion is the combined wealth of the 20-million NRI community, which is more than the size of the $850-billion Indian economy.

20% is the rise in people drinking wine in India from 2006.
Courtesy: India Today, Oct.1, 2007.
Grateful thanks to India Today.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Thought for Today-92: September 25, 2007

It is perhaps safe to say that every man, however brilliant he might be, uses during his life no more than one billionth fraction of the potential of his brain - N.Dubinin ('Realize Your Potential' by V.Pekelis)

Eyecatchers-34 : Plastic as strong as Steel - AFP

Scientists have developed a transparent new plastic as strong as steel and as thin as a sheet of paper, according to a study by Science magazine.

Made out of clay and a non-toxic glue similar to that used in school classrooms, the composite plastic is biodegradable and requires very little energy to produce, lead researcher Nicholas Kotov, University of Michigan, US, said.

Excerpt from 'World', The New Indian Express, Madurai, October 6, 2007 (AFP).
Grateful thanks to AFP and The New Indian Express.

Eyecatchers-33 : Perfect Practitioner

Hundreds of patients in Britain feel that the perfect general practitioner, that is family doctor to you and me, is young, female, and Asian.
- Newscape, The Hindu, Madurai, July 11, 2005.
Grateful thanks to The Hindu.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Facts and Figures-7: The Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP)-1:

* The 167-km-long shipping channel is meant to link the west coast of India to the eastern ports at a cost of Rs.2,427 crore.

* It would reduce the steaming distance by 780 km and save 30 hours of sailing time as currently ships have to go around Sri Lanka.

Courtesy: 'The Evidence about Ram' by Raj Chengappa, India Today, October 1, 2007.
Grateful thanks to Mr Raj Chengappa and India Today.

Eyecatchers-32 : Earth-like Planet Forming Elsewhere! - AFP

Chicago, Oct.4, 2007: Snuggled into a huge belt of warm dust, an earth-like planet appears to be forming some 424 light years away, scientists said.

At somewhere between 10 and 16 million years old, the planet’s solar system is still in its “very young adolescence,” but is at the perfect age for forming earth-like planets, said lead researcher Carey Lisse of Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Department.

The massive dust ring surrounding one of system’s two stars is smack in the middle of the system’s ‘habitable zone’ where water could one day exist on a rocky planet.

These type of dust belts rare form around sun-like stars and the presence of an outer ice belt makes it all the more likely that water, and subsequently life, could one day reach the planet’s surface.

And this belt is made up of rocky compounds similar to those which form our Earth’s crust and metal sulfides similar to the material found in the Earth’s core.

“It is just right stuff to be making an Earth,” Lisse said in a telephone interview. “It is exciting to think that this is happening.” Not that Lisse will be around to see much of it.

The images captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope are about 424 years old, but that is barely a blink in the eye of the young planet.

It will likely be about 100 million years before the planet is fully formed and – if our planet is anything to go by – about a billion years before the first signs of life such as algae appear, Lisse said.

The evolution of complex organisms such as dinosaurs will probably take another couple of billion years if the new planet follows a pattern similar to ours, he added.

But the images captured have helped Lisse and colleagues understand a lot about how an Earth-like planet could form.

While mathematical models can be created to extrapolate what will happen to this particular system, even more can be learned if astronomers continue to probe the universe for other Earth-like planets at various stages of development.

Right now, the planet in the system known as HD113766 is growing as dust grains clump together to form rocks and these rocks collide to form larger bodies, some as big as our own moon. AFP
Courtesy: The New Indian Express, Madurai, Oct.5, 2007.
Grateful thanks to AFP and The New Indian Express.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Facts and Figures-6: "India has Largest Diabetic Population" by Dr.Gita Mathai

According to World Health Organisation and National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse statistics, 31.8% of diabetics are Indians. India leads this list. China occupies the second place with 20.8%; and USA, third place, with 17.7%.
Source: 'Managing Diabetes' by Dr Gita Mathai, Health, Supplement to The New Indian Express, Madurai, Sep.25, 2007.
Grateful thanks to Dr.Gita Mathai and The New Indian Express.

Facts and Figures-5: "Fountain Pens and Ballpens"

Man yearned to express himself even before he learned to talk. Initially he used sharp objects to etch on cave walls or boulders and then infused them with colour extracts from flowers and vegetables.

The first pen was invented more than 2500 years ago by the Greeks. It was made out of a reed. During the middle ages, the quill pen was introduced and for more than a thousand years it prevailed. Feathers of the goose were most commonly used but swan feathers would be used for premium grade pens. Each quill pen lasted only a week.

In the 18th and 19th century, several designs of pens were patented in Europe and America. The idea was to create a pen which would carry more ink than quills in its own reservoir. While this hurdle was easily crossed, it was many more years before problems like ink spills, hardening and thinning of inks could be tackled. The first self ink-filling pen was patented in 1831 by John Parker. Fifty years later, Lewis Waterman patented his creation on which the modern fountain pens are based.

The smallest fountain pen in the world has a tip which is so tiny that the lines drawn by it cannot be seen with the naked eye. The lines are just a few molecules wide - thinner than even the red blood cells in our body! This pen is attached to a microscope and used by scientists while drawing or marking on minuscule objects.

The most expensive pen priced at US $ 265,000 (more than Rupees One Crore) was sold in Harrods. Made of silver with an 18-carat gold nib, this glittering wonder was studded with more than 5000 diamonds and 96 rubies. Not far behind is the pen used by Prince Shamsher of Bangladesh. Costing US $ 260,000 it was made of solid 24-carat gold and embedded with diamonds.

Angelika Unverhau of Germany has the largest collection of ballpoint pens in the world - approximately 220,000 different types. On an average, she adds 30,000 pens to her collection every year.

In 2005, BIC sold its hundred billionth ballpoint pen!

A special pen, which can be used in space, has been invented by Fisher. This pen can write under any condition - zero gravity, under water, at any angle - even upside down. Its ink is not affected under extreme temperatures. This pen is used by American as well as Russian astronauts.

BIC reports sales of 14,000,000 pens daily.

Former US President Thomas Jefferson bred a flock of geese to ensure a steady supply of quill pens!

Courtesy: School Magazine, Supplement to The New Indian Express, Madurai, October 3, 2007.

Grateful thanks to The New Indian Express.

Gandhiana-4: "Gandhiji's View on Women"

"I would boycott that legislature which will not have a proper share of women members." So, declared Mahatma Gandhi unequivocally over 76 years ago at the Second Round Table Conference convened in London by the British Government in September 1931 to consider framing a new constitution for India. Gandhi was a votary of women's education and believed in giving equal representation to women in politics.

Gandhiana-3: "International Day of Non-Violence"

United Nations Organization (UNO) has honoured Gandhiji's ideals by declaring Gandhiji's birthday, October 2, as International Day of Non-Violence.

Let us rededicate ourselves to the path shown by the Mahatma.

Gandhiana-2: "India of My Dreams" by Mahatma Gandhi

I shall work for an India in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country, in whose making they have an effective voice, an India in which there shall be no high class and low class of people; an India in which all communities shall live in perfect harmony. There can be no room in such an India for the curse of untouchability, or the curse of intoxicating drinks and drugs. Women will enjoy the same rights as men. We shall be at peace with all the rest of the world. This is the India of my dreams.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A Thought for Today-91: September 24, 2007

When we are unable to love and appreciate ourselves and our efforts, we run away from our mistakes and failures, rather than learning from them - Meredith L. Young-Sowers

A Thought for Today-90: September 23, 2007

Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary - Reinhold Niebuhr

A Thought for Today-89: September 22, 2007

The few who do are the envy of the many who only watch – Jim Rohn

A Thought for Today-88: September 21, 2007

The key that unlocks energy is desire. It's also the key to a long and interesting life. If we expect to create any drive, any real force within ourselves, we have to get excited - Earl Nightingale

A Thought for Today-87: September 20, 2007

Television has changed the American child from an irresistible force into an immovable object — Laurence J. Peter

A Thought for Today-86: September 19, 2007

Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you
Keep straight the path of your feet,
and all your ways will be sure.
- Proverbs 4:25-26

A Thought for Today-85: September 18, 2007

A "No" uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a "Yes" merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble - Mahatma Gandhi

A Thought for Today-84: September 17, 2007

Whether or not we realize it each of us has within us the ability to set some kind of example for people. Knowing this would you rather be the one known for being the one who encouraged others, or the one who inadvertently discouraged those around you? - Josh Hinds

A Thought for Today-83: September 16, 2007

Money never starts an idea; it is the idea that starts the money - W. J. Cameron

A Thought for Today-82: September 15, 2007

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle -Albert Einstein

A Thought for Today-81: September 14, 2007

Give more than you take. Do your best to leave every situation better than you found it. Seek beauty in all its forms. Chase dreams. Watch sunsets. Endeavor to use more than 10 percent of your brain. Don’t stifle your deep-from-the-gut, cleansing laughter. Take a moment to ponder the enormity of the universe, then admit to yourself that you can’t possibly be the center. Breathe deeply. Swim into the dark water. Let yourself cry when your body tells you to. Love more. Delight in silliness. Don’t be bitter. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive -Katy Rhodes

A Thought for Today-80: September 13, 2007

We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action - Frank Tibolt

A Thought for Today-79: September 12, 2007

There is no such thing as a "self-made" person. We are all interdependent on one another and we all need each other's help from time to time - Chris Widener

Websites to Watch-5 : Website on Higher Studies – Edex, The New Indian Express

A new portal, www.uniguru.com, has been launched to help students aspiring to study abroad.

Launched by Hotcourses, a UK-based publisher of education guides, the portal promise to reveal the real issues about the universities, which were not covered in the prospectus.

Primarily a website for Indian students, it would have information about management, engineering and medical courses offered by institutions in the USA, the UK, Singapore and Australia.

The site, which contains reviews from students already pursuing courses at various universities around the world, had allowed existing students to post their reviews, including video diaries and photographs.

The review postings includes details about accommodation, the quality of a course, the weather, city life, getting a visa, working in the UK and the cost of living.

The website offers peer-to-peer advice on over 100,000 courses at 808 institutions in UK, US, Singapore and Australia. The company also plans to launch a similar site for domestic universities in India next year.

Excerpt from Education Express, Supplement to The New Indian Express, Madurai, Sep.28, 2007

Self-Improvement- :: Meaning and Purpose of Life

What could be, in a nutshell, the meaning and purpose of life? What could be that philosophy which when lived can take man from manhood to supermanhood and to Godhood?

In simple terms, it may be said that by enhancing the ‘unifying’ and ‘universalising’ forces in his life, man can move from imperfection to perfection. The former is the ultimate goal of all disciplines, austerities, sadhanas or yoga, that is, centralizing and focusing the vital energies in us bringing them under control and thus strengthening and ennobling and integrating one’s personality. It is only then that the inner potentialities can be brought to manifest. The second is to channelise the energy thus accumulated for expansion, fulfillment and growth, directed towards serving everything in the universe.

Swami Vivekananda puts it as “involution followed by evolution”. In his own inimitable way he related it to human life as “internal contemplation followed by external service.” Again, this principle forms the backbone of the ideal of “renunciation and service”.

To a person in whom these two forces have been harmonized, the whole creation is nothing but a grand display of these forces of unification and universalisation. This is the very secret of Nature; this is the science of sciences. This cosmic force operates from the gigantic galaxies to the invisible atom – from ant to Brahma – as they put it in our scriptures. This cycle of matter to energy conversion goes on eternally.

What could be the role of man in this great universal drama? To understand that, he has only to look around again to Nature and her working.

There is the great sun illuminating the entire world and filling it up with its light energy. It must have taken millions of years of condensation and concentration to create the dense matter within it before it turn out to be an almost infinite source of energy burning itself off – sacrificing itself to serve the creation for centuries to come. Look at the trees around. What are they for? The pigments in the plant world only can capture effectively the immense amount of light energy falling on the earth and convert it into all these forms of energy, food, fuel, and so on, by which man can make his life beautiful.

So much man realize his place and role in this vast creation. As a potential source of divinity, he has to convert himself to be an instrument to capture the divine energy, condense, concentrate, focus and centralize unto himself as much as of these positive cosmic divine forces and through him route them back into the universe, to complete the cycle. In short, he must learn to make himself an instrument in the divine play.

How can man attract this supra-human forces unto himself? Just as one pure tiny crystal can attract to itself like molecules in a saturated solution, grow and expand, so can man expand his speck of divinity and make it operative as a divine force. Through renunciation of all the unwanted dissipating forces within him, through the power of his self-will, sadhana and surrender, he can in this very life manifest divinity.

Excerpt from the Chapter “Mother, upon thee I meditate” in the book “Snake and Ladder” (A Few Drops from the Nectar of Bhagavad Gita) by Dr.M.Lakshmi Kumari, President, Vivekananda Kendra.
Grateful thanks t0 Dr M.Lakshmi Kumari and Vivekananda Kendra.

Facts and Figures-4: "Super Crunching"

What is Super Crunching?

It is statistical analysis that impacts real-world decisions. Super Crunching decisions usually bring together some combination of size, speed, and scale. The sizes of the data set are really big – both in the number of observations and in the number of variables. The speed of the analysis is increasing…. Increasingly, business and government datasets are being measured not in mega- or giga-bytes but in tera- and even peta-bytes of text… Google has about four petabytes of storage which it is constantly crunching.

Courtesy: “Super Crunchers: How anything can be predicted” by Ian Ayres & Books Page of The New Indian Express, Madurai, Sep.16, 200
Grateful thanks to Ian Ayres and The New Indian Express.