Happy New Year 2015


Friday, January 30, 2009

Letters-67: "Sri Lankan Issue"

1. The long-drawn war between the security forces and the LTTE in Sri Lanka has almost come to an end. It is Colombo's responsibility to ensure the safety of around 200,000 Tamils being held hostage by the Tigers. In the past two decades, the Tamils under the LTTE have been subjected to untold suffering and torture. President Mahinda Rajapaksa deserves praise for decisively beating the Tigers in the civil war. He should now draw plans for a smooth transition of power to establish normality. - Nemani Girija, Hyderabad.

2. LTTE leader V.Prabhakaran's uncompromising attitude forced the Sri Lankan government to press for a military solution to the ethnic issue. This has caused immense damage to the minorities' cause in Sri Lanka. The leaders of Tamil Nadu, particularly, Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi, should respond positively to Mr.Rajapaksa's call to persuade the LTTE leaders to spare the lives of civilians being used as a shield against the army. It is also an opportunity for Mr.Rajapaksa to show his statesmanship by being generous in victory. - Comdt.G.V.Mathew(retd), Thiruvananthapuram.

3. Colombo should not negotiate with the LTTE at this stage. It should insist on the Tigers' surrender and the release of civilians. It should try the LTTE cadres for the atrocities they have committed. At the same time, the government can engage in a dialogue with the Tamil groups. It can involve Mr.Karunanidhi and Ms.Jayalalitha too in the process. - M.D.Ravikanth, Chennai.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, January 29, 2009 ("Letters to the Editor")

Grateful thanks to M/s.Nemani Girija, G.V.Mathew, M.D.Ravikanth and The Hindu.

Eyecatchers-143: "President Obama criticizes Financial Corporations"

The official Whitehouse blog reports of President Obama criticizing financial corporations for doling out $ 18 billion in bonus to their employees in a year when many banks shed jobs and turn to government for funds.

Grateful thanks to the official Whitehouse blog, www.whitehouse.gov/blog.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Eyecatchers-142: "President Obama's First Steps"

Upon taking office, Obama ordered all secret U.S. prisons closed immediately, and the detention center at Guantanamo Bay closed within a year; he stopped the torture of American prisoners; granted access to all U.S. detainees to the International Red Cross; ended the practice by which detainees could be sent to countries where they might be tortured; froze the salaries of all White House officials making more than $100,000; ordered all government agencies to "adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure" regarding Freedom of Information Act requests; ordered all administration appointees to take an ethics pledge; ended a government ban on funding for groups that provide abortion services or counseling abroad; and revoked Executive Order 13233, which placed limits on public access to the records of former presidents.

Courtesy: Theodore Ross, HARPER'S WEEKLY, January 27, 2009

Grateful thanks to Mr.Theodore Ross and Harper's Weekly.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Letters-66: "Well done, Obama!"

1. As a follow up to his speeches during the election campaign, President Barack Obama has halted the trials in the Guantanamo Bay and put Pakistan on notice. His strong message to Pakistan linking non-military aid to it to its performance in the war on terror is welcome. His approach is pleasantly different from that of the Bush administration, which knew Pakistan's double standards on terror but failed to rein it in. - Capt.T.Raju (retd), Secunderabad.

2. Mr.Obama's action to halt the infamous Guantanamo trials is welcome. It will help to restore the credibility of the U.S. in the eyes of the world. If he can also set a target for pulling the American troops out of Iraq, as he promised during his election campaign, the road to peace and stability in the Middle East will become visible. - Rajaram Santhanam, Mumbai.

3. Mr.Obama's order to prosecutors at the military tribunals in Guantanamo Bay to suspend the trial shows his respect for humanity. With the change in the U.S. leadership, the world is optimistic of a global change for the better. - A.Samshath, Chennai.

4. It was heartening to see Mr.Obama beginning to deliver on his campaign promises within hours of assuming office as President. The suspension of the trial proceedings against the Guantanamo detainees for 120 days is a positive step. Mr.Obama has initiated action to remove one of the ugliest legacies of the Bush era. Hopefully, the illegal detention centre will be shut down soon. - Shahabuddin Nadeem, Bangalore.

5. Mr.Obama's order to suspend trials at the Guantanamo Bay shows that he means business. His initiative to resolve the Middle East issue, too, deserve praise. - Y.S.Kadakshamani, Madurai.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, January 26, 2009.

Grateful thanks to Capt.T.Raju (retd), M/s.Rajaram Santhanam, A.Samshath, Shahabuddin Nadeem, Y.S.Kadakshamani and The Hindu.

Friday, January 23, 2009

S&T Watch-51: "Discovery of Magnetosphere"

Scientists discovered the "MAGNETOSPHERE", a layer of ions and electrons, surrounding the earth describe by one physicist as a "Warm Plasma Cloak".

Courtesy: Christopher R.Beha, Harper's Weekly, January 13, 2009.

Detailed Wikipedia article on "MAGNETOSPHERE":

Grateful thanks to Christopher R.Beha and Harper's Weekly.

Self-Improvement-44: "Right Beginnings"

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.

See how in the material world everything proceeds from small beginnings. The mightiest river is at first a rivulet over which the grasshopper could leap; the great flood commences with a few drops of rain; the sturdy oak, which has endured the storms of a thousand winters, was once an acorn; and the smouldering match, carelessly dropped, may be the means of devastating a whole town by fire.

Consider, also, how in the spiritual world the greatest things proceed from smallest beginnings. A light fancy may be the inception of a wonderful invention or an immortal work of art; a spoken sentence may turn the tide of history; a pure thought entertained may lead to the exercise of a world-wide regenerative power; and a momentary animal may lead to the darkest crime.

You can, by careful thought, avoid wrong beginnings and make right beginnings, and so escape evil results and enjoy good results.

Direct your energies and attention to those beginnings over which you have complete control and authority, and which bring about the complicated web of results which compose your life. These beginnings are to be found in the realm of your own thoughts and actions.

How do you begin each day? At what hour do you rise? How do you commence your duties? In what frame of mind do you enter upon the sacred life of a new day? What answer can you give your heart to these important questions? You will find that much happiness or unhappiness follows upon the right or wrong beginning of the day, and that, when every day is wisely begun, happy and harmonious sequences will mark its course, and life in its totality will not fall far short of the ideal blessedness.

It is a right and strong beginning to the day to rise at an early hour. Begin the day strongly by shaking off indolence. How are you to develop strength of will and mind and body if you begin every day by yielding to weakness? Self-indulgence is always followed by unhappiness. Men and women are totally unaware of the great losses which they entail by this common indulgence: loss of strength of mind and body, loss of prosperity, loss of knowledge, and loss of happiness.

Begin the day, then, by rising early. If you have no object in doing so, never mind; get up, and go out for a gentle walk among the beauties of nature, and you will experience a buoyancy, a freshness, and a delight, not to say a peace of mind, which will amply reward you for your effort. One good effort is followed by another; and when a man begins the day by rising early, even though with no other purpose in view, he will find that the silent early hour is conducive to clearness of mind and calmness of thought, and that his early morning walk is enabling him to become a consecutive thinker, and so to see life and its problems, as well as himself and his affairs, in a clearer light; and so in time he will rise early with the express purpose of preparing and harmonising his mind to meet any and every difficulty with wisdom and calm strength.

There is, indeed, a spiritual influence in the early morning hour, a divine silence and an inexpressible repose, and he who, purposeful and strong, throws off the mantle of ease and climbs the hills to greet the morning sun will thereby climb no inconsiderable distance up the hills of blessedness and truth.

Excerpts from the the first chapter, "Right Beginnings" of "BYWAYS TO BLESSEDNESS" by James Allen.

Eyecatchers-141: "Quote from Inaugural Speech"

"On this day, we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. We come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises."

- Excerpt from the Inaugural Speech of Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States of America

Courtesy: The New Indian Express, Tiruchy, January 22, 2009.

Detailed Wikipedia articles on "BARACK OBAMA" and "BARACK OBAMA - THE BLACK KENNEDY (The bestselling biography of Barack Obama): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obama http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama_-_Der_schwarze_Kennedy

Inaugural Address of Barack Obama from WashingtonPost.com: http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/documents/Obama_Inaugural_Address_012009.html

Grateful thanks to The New Indian Express, Washington Post and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

S&T Watch-50: "Invisibility Shield"

US and Chinese researchers are a step closer to creating an invisibility shield. They have created 'metamaterials' which can guide electromagnetic waves around an object, and have them emerge on the other side.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, January 23, 2009 ("Snapshots - Science & Technology page).

Detailed Wikipedia article on "METAMATERIALS":

Grateful thanks to The Hindu and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Health News-17: "Railways gesture to Cancer Patients"

The Railway Ministry will provide confirmed accommodation to cancer patients going to hospital for check-up. Accommodation will be provided in trains to the patient and an attendant travelling on tickets issued against a concession certificate. They can also avail themselves of the facility on their return journey. - PTI.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, January 22, 2009.

Grateful thanks to PTI and The Hindu.

Letters-65: "Satyam Scam"

1. This refers to the article "Satyam not an isolated instance" (The Hindu, Jan.22, 2009). The risk of many more Satyams cropping will remain as long as the auditors of companies are overpaid and government regulators underpaid. This practice reinforces the 'yes boss' and 'yes sir' culture. Self-regulation just cannot work in a system where the mice do everything possible to drive the cat away so that they can play. Self-discipline and integrity should taught in primary schools as business schools consider teaching them a complete waste of time. One can find many ways to circumvent the best security system but not his conscience. - Berry J.Vethakkan, Chennai.

2. The Satyam episode has tarnished the image of not only one company but also the entire corporate sector. How far a shareholder can trust a company's 'audited' statement of accounts is now a moot question. Normally, a company's health should determine the market price of its shares. But over the years we find that the market price has nothing to do with the functioning of a company. The stock market seems to have become a gambler's den where gullible investors are taken for a ride. - S.S.Rajagopalan.

3. The vested interests have created the image that the stock market is a provider of enormous returns. All vital players - promoters, shareholders and investors - are in the market with unflinching greed for more and more profits. All kinds of manipulations, therefore, take place to ensure that all these players get more returns on their investment. - N.Sekar, Salem.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, January 23, 2009 ("Letters to the Editor")

Grateful thanks to M/s.Berry J.Vethakkan, S.S.Rajagopalan, N.Sekar and The Hindu.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Health News-32: New Medicine for Growing Eyelashes"

Harper's Weekly reports of Allergan, the drug company that developed Botox, is releasing Lattisse, a new prescription medication for growing longer, thicker eyelashes.
Courtesy: Gemma Sieff, Harper's Weekly, January 20, 2009.
Grateful thanks to Gemma Sieff and Harper's Weekly.

Environment-15: "Google Search and Boiling Kettle"

Harper's Weekly reports that according to environmental researchers performing two Google searches generates the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle.

Courtesy: Gemma Sieff, Harper's Weekly, January 20, 2009.

Grateful thanks to Gemma Sieff and Harper's Weekly.

Health Warning-7: "Vicks VapoRub and Children"

Harper's Weekly reports quoting a study that Vicks VapoRub may cause bronchial inflammation and suffocation if used on children younger than two years.

Courtesy: Gemma Sieff, Harper's Weekly, January 20, 2009.

Grateful thanks to Gemma Sieff and Harper's Weekly.

Letters-64: "Ban Jallikattu"

1. Four persons lost their lives and many sustained injuries in jallikattu (bull-taming sport) held during Pongal in Tamil Nadu. One fails to understand the craze for such a sport among some sections. Every year, participants and bystanders are gored by the bulls. Compared with the bullfight in countries such as Spain and Mexico, jallikattu is disorganized. It is time jallikattu was banned. - K.Venkataraman, Mumbai.

2. The so-called sport called jallikattu involves neither bravery nor sporting skills. The argument that it forms part of the Tamil tradition does not hold water as we have discarded many other traditional practices in the name of rationalism. In any case, none of our matrimonial advertisements these days seeks bridegrooms with skills to tame bulls. - Rettavayal S.Krishnaswamy, Chennai.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, January 20, 2009 ("Letters to the Editor").

Grateful thanks to M/s.K.Venkataraman, Rettavayal S.Krishnaswamy and The Hindu.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

S&T Watch-49: "Light Squeezed to Quantum Limit"

University of Toronto physicists have found a technique to squeeze light to the quantum limit. This may lead to high-precision measurement, next generation atomic clocks and novel quantum computing.
Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, January 8, 2009 ("Science & Technology Page: Snapshots").
Grateful thanks to The Hindu.

My Photo Album-34: "The Pongal Greetings I received"

Pongal was indeed a happy day. From the morning, friends and relatives kept calling and greeting. There were SMS also. But the only one hard copy I received was from Aravind. If you are familiar with this blog, then you already know him. Otherwise, he is my little nephew, doing 5th standard. His hand-made greetings was unique and enjoyable, which I would like to post in my blog.

Monday, January 19, 2009

S&T Watch-48: "Tungsten Bulbs to be phased out in the EU"

By 2016, the incandescent light bulb will be passe in the EU. This month, 75W and 100W bulbs begin to disappear in the EU due to the switch to the eco-friendly, but dimmer, often expensive bulbs.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, January 8, 2009 ("Snapshots").

Detailed Wikipedia article on "Incandescent Light Bulb":
Grateful thanks to The Hindu and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Health News-31: "Sadness and Health"

An American study suggests that sadness is good for human health; it serves an evolutionary purpose and helps us learn from mistakes.
Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, January 16, 2009 ("Snapshots").
Grateful thanks to The Hindu.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Happy Pongal!

comodo pongal

Photo courtesy:


Tamilians all over the world celebrate 'Pongal', the Harvest Festival tomorrow. Also known as the 'Festival of Tamils'. It is more than 1000 years old. It is a thansgiving day - thanking the Sun god, Rain god and the farm animals.

More on this, in a day or two.

Health News-30: "Secret of Longevity"

A study has found that people who are ambitious, organized and conscientious live longer than those who are impulsive, Health Psychology reports.
Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, January 6, 2009 ('Newscape")
Grateful thanks to The Hindu.

Eyecatchers-140: "Milky Way heading for a Crash"

Astronomers have sounded an alarm that Milky Way or simply called, Galaxy, is heading for a crash. Don't worry. This cataclysmic collision may take place after 7 billion years!
Source: The Hindu, Madurai, January 7, 2009.
Detailed Wikipedia article on "Milky Way":
Grateful thanks to The Hindu and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Random Thoughts-22: "More on Hanumanji"

After going through my post on 'Hanumath Jayanthi', my friend, Mr.Kannan, felt that I could have highlighted the strengths of Hanumanji and his relevance to the youth. He was right; further, I felt I could have included a few pages from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by Mahendra Nath Gupta or 'M' as he preferred to be known. Hence this addendum.

Hanumanji is a great of courage, confidence, concentration, strength, faith, devotion, celibacy and many more sterling virtues, which mould one's character and equip one to face whatever comes in life with courage and confidence. So the inculcation of the worship of Hanumanji in the formative years has special significance.

In ancient India, life was divided into four stages, the first of which being 'BRAHMACHARYA' - the period from childhood to entering adulthood. This is the period one devotes to acquiring knowledge, developing self-discipline and all the other virtues that mould one's character. With the knowledge or the skill acquired, one enters a profession; then only comes the second stage, 'GRUHASTHA' : getting married and raising a family of one's own. So the first stage is a very important one, the foundation on which the remaining three stages are built up. Distractions during this first stage could seriously hamper one's growth and development.

Unfortunately, there is every kindly deadly and dastardly distraction today; they corrupt the young minds and lead them astray. In the movies you see nothing the love of the other sex, right from the nursery school stage. What is meant for the second stage is needlessly and crudely thrust on the young when they are not yet ready for such things. Further, rowdyism and goondaism pass for heroism. Most of the evils in society are due to this. Hence it becomes the duty of the parents, teachers and other elders to introduce and inculcate the worship of Hanumanji, highlighting his sterling qualities and advise them to take Hanumanji as their role-model rather some movie star.

As a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna, to me 'The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna' is the Bible. Sri Ramakrishna greatly admired Hanumanji. He would try the different paths like Christianity, Islam, Tantrik and advaita and realize the Supreme through every one of them. He also practised 'sadhana' dressing and behaving like Hanumanji, identifying himself so completely with Hanumanji that he almost became another 'Hanuman'. Within a few days, he realized the Supreme. After that he said with the authority of one who has tried many paths, "whatever path one chooses, one reaches the same goal."

One comes across many passages in The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, where Sri Ramakrishna refers to Hanumanji on several occasions. I am fond of a few of them, which I am reproducing below:

'Rama asked Hanuman, "Hanuman what attitude do you cherish toward Me when you worship Me?" 'Hanuman answered: 'Sometimes I see that You are the whole and I am a part; sometimes I see that You are the Master and I am thy servant. But Rama, when I have knowledge of Reality, then I find that You are I and I am You."

"...It was through the power of his mind that Hanuman leapt over the sea. 'I am the servant of Rama; I have repeated the holy name of Rama. Is there anything impossible for me?" - that was Hanuman's faith.

"Once a man asked Hanuman which day of the fortnight it was. "Brother," said Hanuman, "I don't know anything about the day of the week or the fortnight, or the position of the stars. I think of Rama alone." (All the three passages are from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by Mahendra Nath Gupta - Translated into English by Swami Nikhilananda and published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai).

Monday, January 12, 2009

Random Thoughts-21: "Swami Vivekananda's Birthday"

Swami Vivekananda was born on January 12, 1863. The devotees of Swami Vivekananda world over celebrate it as "Swamiji Jayanthi". Swami Vivekananda's ideas have had a great influence on the Indian youth and still has a lot of relevance to them. Hence, the Govt of India has declared January 12, the birthday of Swami Vivekananda, to be National Youth Day. In schools and colleges all over India, Youth Day is being celebrated today.

"Swamiji" as Swami Vivekananda is fondly referred to by his devotees, was a great teacher of mankind. His address at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, USA, captivated not only the audience but the entire world and he became well known thenceforth. He restored a sense of pride in the hearts of the people of India. His teachings influenced the thinking of national and international leaders, politicians, men of science and philosophers, like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subash Chandra Bose, Aurobindo Ghosh, Tagore, Rajaji, Radhakrishnan, Nikola Tesla, Jamshedji Tata and many others.

He founded the Sri Ramakrishna Math and Mission on the principle, “for one's own salvation and for the welfare of the World”. He advised his followers to be holy, unselfish and have faith in themselves.

He is the maker of modern India and is widely considered to have inspired India's freedom struggle movement.

During my bachelor days, Dr Janakiraman would convene weekly meetings at his residence under the banner "Vivekananda Study Circle" and we used read a few pages from the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. After that we used to pray/meditate and Dr Janakiraman would distribute "kalkandu" as "prasad". He used to present me Sri Ramakrishna-Vivekananda literature at every opportunity and thus my acquaintance with Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda grew. He took me to the Ramakrishna Tapovan at Tirupparaithurai thrice, which was the nearest Math to us in those days. We used to worship in the shrine there and then seek the blessings of the monks there. Srimat Swami Chidbhavanandaji Maharaj, the founder of the Tapovan, was alive then. We would go and prostrate before him and he would enquire about us and bless us.

When the Madurai branch of the Ramakrishna Math came up, Dr Janakiraman used to frequent it. Once or twice I went there with him. He used to collect donations for the Madurai Math and when he left Karaikudi, he entrusted it to me. Then slowly I started visiting the Madurai Math. After a time, it became a regular monthly visit as the monks there were very kind to me and I caught got in their love, to borrow an adjective from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, "unreasonable" love i.e. love without any reason.

I read all the nine volumes of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, The Eternal Companion, Sri Ramakrishna, the Great Master and then everything published by the Ramakrishna Order that I could lay my hands on.

During my FASOHD days, we used to organize seminars to commemorate the National Youth Day at different colleges. We used to distribute a booklet containing the essence of the thoughts of Swami Vivekananda called “Swami Vivekananda: His Call to the Nation” to the students. This booklet was priced at less than Rupees Two.

I shall take up only one fascinating quote of his for this post: "Strength is Life, Weakness is Death; Expansion is Life, Contraction is Death; Love is Life; Hatred is Death." Though there are numerous wonderful and beautiful quotations of Swamiji, this quote has fascinates me. There are numerous quotations on Life and Death which you can find in Books of Quotations. But, to me, nobody has so precisely and comprehensively have described Life and Death like Swamiji. Its positive note, its universal relevance and enormity of its implications are incomparable.

For example, let us take a single word from the above quote, viz., "expansion" and proceed. I started as a dot; as I embrace my parents, the dot grows into a small circle. This circle goes on expanding as I include my brothers and sisters and later on other relatives and friends. Thus this circle should go on expanding, finally becoming all encompassing - encompassing the whole universe - breaking all barriers; ultimately I become one with the universe. That is the fulfillment of life. When I get stuck up in between somewhere, it is a pity. I should keep on striving and get moving. This is what I infer from that word “expansion”. I have taken just only one word from that quote; like this, one could take up every word and focus one's mind on it, try to visualize the great message contained in it.

I shall conclude this post with a quote on Swamiji by Netaji Subash Chandra Bose: “I cannot write about Vivekananda without going into raptures…. His personality was rich, profound and complex... Reckless in his sacrifice, unceasing in his activity, boundless in his love, profound and versatile in his wisdom, exuberant in his emotions, merciless in his attacks but yet simple as a child, he was a rare personality in this world of ours.”

Detailed Wikipedia article on "SWAMI VIVEKANANDA": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swami_Vivekananda

Friday, January 02, 2009

Eyecatchers-139: "2009: VISIT INDIA YEAR"

The Govt of India has declared 2009 to be Visit India Year and will be aggressively promoting tourism nationally and internationally. To woo travellers, the Tourism Ministry will be offering incentives so as the leading Hotels in India.
Source: The Times of India, Mumbai, Dec.17, 2008.
Grateful thanks to The Times of India.

Health Warning-6: "Chlorine Intake and Cancer"

Swimming regularly in chlorinated pools is not a good idea because you absorb more chlorine in one swimming session than by drinking chlorinated water for a whole week. Chlorine intake has been linked to cancer, birth defects, miscarriages and asthma.

Courtesy: Chennai Times, Supplement to The Times of India, Chennai, November 22, 2008.

Detailed Wikipedia article on "CHLORINATION":

Grateful thanks to The Times of India and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

S&T Watch-47: "Creating Artificial Life"

Scientists have discovered a more efficient way to build a synthetic genome that could one day enable them to create artificial life, according to a new study.

The method is already being used to help develop next generation biofuels and biochemicals in the laboratories of controversial American scientist Craig Venter.

Artificially engineered life is a Holy Grail of science, but also stirs deep fears as foreseen in Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel, Brave New World, in which natural human reproduction is eschewed in favour of babies grown in laboratories.

Excerpt from "Scientists get closer to Creating Artificial Life" in The Hindu, Madurai, December 6, 2008.

Detailed Wikipedia articles on "SYNTHETIC GENOMICS" and "SYNTHETIC LIFE":

Grateful thanks to The Hindu and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Environment-14: "Green Sunsets and Blue Moon!"

In 1883, the explosion of the volcano Krakatoa released so much dust into the earth's atmosphere that sunsets appeared green and the moon appeared blue for almost two years!

Courtesy: Chennai Times, Supplement to The Times of India, Chennai, November 22, 2008.

Detailed Wikipedia article on "KRAKATOA":

Grateful thanks to The Times of India and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Letters-63: "The Message of Bangladesh People"

1. The message of Bangladesh voters is loud and clear: their aversion to fundamentalism. A stable and democratic Bangladesh where secular forces are at the helm of affairs brings fresh hopes to India too at the dawn of the new year - D.V.G.Sankararao, Nellimarla.

2. The stupendous victory of Ms Hasina is welcome news especially for India with which she wanted to have friendly relations. Democracy in Bangladesh was till now a pawn in the hands of the military regime. - R.Sekar, Visakhapatnam.

3. The coming to power of Ms Hasina's secular dispensation augurs well for the country's relations with the world's largest democracy, India. On our part, we should engage with the new regime through well calculated diplomacy. India should also help its eastern neighbour institutionalise democracy in letter and in spirit. India should render all possible help for the emergence of a stable Bangladesh. It would be of immense significance for its Look East Policy. - Pranav Mahajan, Jammu.

4. The thumping victory of the Awami League and the Grand Alliance is noteworthy. Whenever free and fair elections were held in the subcontinent in the recent past, voters strongly disapproved of extremist elements and political parties courting extremist elements. One witnessed this trend earlier this year in Pakistan and, now in Jammu and Kashmir. Such encouragement and support from the electorate to the democratic forces would go a long way in isolating all kinds of extremism, in region. - P.Prasand Thampy, Thiruvalla.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, January 1, 2009.
Wikiepdia articles on "BANGLADESH" and "SHEIKH HASINA":

Grateful thanks to M/s. D.V.G.Sankararao, R.Sekar, Pranav Mahajan, P.Prasand Thampy, The Hindu and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

S&T Watch-46: "Moods are Contagious"

Moods are contagious and spread like ripples through friends, according to new research. An international team has carried out the research and found that people's moods are determined not only by the sate of mind of those closest to them but also by friends of their friends whom they have never met. Even habits such as drinking, smoking and even obesity can spread in a similar manner, the study that appeared in 'New Scientist' magazine says. - PTI.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, January 1, 2009.

Detailed Wikipedia article on "MOOD": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mood_(psychology)

Grateful thanks to PTI, The Hindu and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Random Thoughts-20: "Decluttering the Mind"

After reading the article in my blog on "Cluttering, Uncluttering and Decluttering", a friend of mine asked me: "Hey Suri! What about decluttering the mind?". Good question. As some work came yo, the question slipped into my mind and rested there. Then on one of my sleepless nights, as I was rolling in bed restlessly for want of anything to do, it surfaced and I had to face it.

Mind has always been a fascinating subject not only to seers, sages, mystics, philosophers, Freuds, Jungs and Adlers but also ordinary mortals like me. As I have been surfing through life for nearly 60 years, I have picked up many interesting facts about mind from books, people and personal experience.

First, the limitations of space does not apply to mind. Decluttering your room or house has the compelling reason of space behind it. But you can put any amount info and thoughts into your mind. I was taught beautifully and convincingly of this truth in a Sahaja Sthithi Yoga class.

Second, people who talk about mind-control do not know what they are talking about. For mind can never be controlled. As those, especially the ones, who tried control it by force. With redoubled force, it challenges you and makes fun of you. What to do then? Vedathri Mahrishi comes up with a wonderful suggestion: MIND WATCH. (மனதை அடக்க நினைத்தால் மதம் பிடித்த யானை போல் வெறிகொண்டு திமிரும். மனதை அறிய நினைத்தால், அடங்கும் - வேதாத்திரி மஹரிஷி) This practice of focusing mind on the mind seems to produce miraculous results. During mind-watch, the mind settles down and behaves itself like a thief who knows that he is being watching by the police surreptitiously from every nook and corner. So it behaves like an innocent child.

Third, to me, the greatest discovery of our ancient saints and sages is the close connection between MIND and BREATH. When your mind is agitated, your breathe fast and when you are totally absorbed in some good music, or natural scenery or anything that has the capacity to absorb you completely, your breathing becomes even and almost imperceptible. From this discovery, came the inference that by regulating your breath, you can regulate your mind. This is how PRANAYAMA, JAPA, MEDITATION and many other spiritual practices came to be designed.

Fourth, once a thought enters your mind, you can never erase it. This is the most dangerous part. So watch out and beware of your thoughts. Don't let bad, evil or disturbing thoughts to enter your mind. Prevention is the only remedy. Once a bad thought enters your mind, it hides itself somewhere in the subconscious mind and surfaces at the most inconvenient time and cause endless embarrassment or make you thoroughly miserable.

Fifth, mind and thoughts are like and its power to burn, inseparable. As long as you have a mind, there will be thoughts. Going still further, you know that even after death, your thoughts live encoded in the genes of your off-spring.

Sixth, It is exhorted to destroy or annihilate the mind. OK, what is mind? Mind is the objective form of life-force.('உயிரின் படர்க்கை நிலை மனம் - வேதாத்ரி மஹரிஷி). So as long as you live, you will have a mind and as long as you have a mind, you will have thoughts.

Seventh, is there a thougtless stage? Rishis speak of 'samadhi' (samam + adhi = reaching the original stage i.e. merging with the cosmic mind from which your individual mind came about. But this is for great sages and rishis and not for ordinary mortals like us.

Finally, it all boils down to the fact that you could declutter your room or home and tidy it up. But decluttering the mind is a very serious and entirely different matter. Practice breath-watch, pranayama, japa, meditation, silence or do something that totally absorbs you like listening to the music you love, watching the beauty of nature, paintings or even a movie that you love. Consciously think of good and godly thoughts. That is all I could think of for the present. If you can think of anything better, please tell me, I am all ears. Thank you, thank you very much for your patience and interest.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Random Thoughts-19: "On the New Year"


The New Year always brings hopes and expectations, thus making almost everyone an optimist. Even those who had a turbulent or miserable life look forward to the New Year in the hope that it would bring an end to all their sufferings and things turn out to be all right. That is why we celebrate the New Year's day.

Let us hope the New Year will bring the very best in our personal lives. Let me borrow the prayer of my little nephew Aravind: "Let there be no bomb blast anywhere in the world! Let there be no Tsunami anywhere in the world! Let me live happily! Let all the people live happily!" That was a prayer Aravind offered at the Kollan Kali Amman Temple, Karaikudi, when he was just seven or maybe eight years old. I am slightly modifying the prayer: "Let hatred and violence disappear from the face of the world. Let nature be kind to all of us and let there be no disasters. Let all that happens to me in the New Year be the very best. Let everyone on the globe find peace, harmony and happiness.

Saw a very old cartoon (of 1920s) in the public domain, depicting a child (the New Year) chasing an old man(the old year) into the history book and closing it tight. Yes, the past is for history and let us live in the present and make the most of it; naturally, the future will take care of itself.

Making resolutions on the New Year's day has become almost a ritual with some of us. Whether we follow them through is a different matter. However, it proves that there is still a streak of optimism in us and of course, reveals lack of perseverance. Let us hope that we could add perseverance to our enthusiasm and realize our dreams and fulfill our promises.

Wishing you a Happy, Prosperous and Purposeful New Year!

Grateful thanks to Vinod for providing the photo for this post.

Random Thoughts-18: "Hanumath Jayanthi"

On December 27, 2008, ‘Hanumath Jayanthi’, the birthday of Lord Anjaneya was celebrated by his devotees all over the world. As a devotee of Lord Anjaneya, I went to the 'Sri Veera Sanjeevi Anjaneya Temple' in our office premises and then on reaching home, starting writing this. Due to indifferent health, I had to stop it midway and could continue only now.

Hanumanji has many names: Anjaneya, Maruti to name a few. Lord Anjaneya is a source of great inspiration and hope to his devotees. To me, he is the embodiment of unsurpassable devotion and supreme courage and strength, all of which I lack. I have been taught that he becomes ecstatic on hearing or thinking about Sri Rama. 'Ram' is the only mantra for him. He bestows his benevolence on all those who repeat the holy name of Rama.

During my bachelor days, Dr Janakiraman, a dearest friend of mine (meeting whom was a great turning point in my life and I owe much to him for my spiritual development and breadth of mind, God bless him!), used to take me to the 'upanyas' of Valmiki Ramayana by Sri Thuppul Lakshminarasimhan organized by Sri Rama Navami Celebrations Committee, Karaikudi.

Sri Thuppul Lakshminarasimhan always commenced his 'upanyas' with the recital of a Sanskrit 'sloka'. I got fascinated by the sloka. Dr J explained to me that it was from the ‘Sundara Kandam’ of Valmiki Ramayana and reciting/reading the Sundara Kandam amounts to reading the entire Ramayana and this particular sloka is heart of Sundara Kandam and reciting this equals to reciting the entire Sundara Kandam. (Probably, knowing the laziness of people like, our elders must have found this sort of shortcuts.) On my request, Dr J wrote it down for me and explained its meaning. I used to recite it whenever I was in good mood, which was infrequent. However, for the past few years, I have been reciting it more often, thanks to Vinod. It goes like this:

"Anjana Nandanam Veeram Janaki Shok Naashanam
Kapeesam Aksha Hanthaaram Vandhe Lanka Bhayankaram
Aanjaney Mati Paatal Aananam
Kaanchanaadri Kamaneey Vigraham
Paarijaath Tharu Mool Vaasinam
Bhaavayaami Pavamaan Nandanam
Yatra-yatra Raghunath Keerthanam
Tatra-tatra Kratmastha Kaanjalim
Bhasbhavaari Paripoorn Lochanam
Marutim Namat Raakshas Aantakam
Manojavam Marut Tulya Vegam
Jitendriyam Buddhimathaam Varishtham
Vaataatmajam Vaanar Yooth Mukhyam
Sri Ram Dootham Shirasa Namami.

The lines starting with "Yatra-yatra" have a retained a special place in my memory. I still remember their meaning: "Wherever the holy name of Raghunatha i.e. Ram is uttered, there appears Lord Anjaneya with ecstatic tears in his eyes." Remembering it always moves me greatly and draws me more and more close to Lord Anjaneya.

Perhaps I am too old to change my ways and maybe at best I could salvage something out of my life, which sometimes I feel looks like wreckage. So I beseech Lord Anjaneya to shower His blessings on the younger generation so that the divine spark in them awakens and uplifts, elevates and ennobles them, for the future of the world depends on them.

I shall be immensely happy if more and more of the younger generation wakes up to the greatness of Lord Anjaneya and takes up to His worship.

"Sri Ram Jaya Ram, Jaya Jaya Sri Ram".

Grateful thanks to Sanket and Picasa for permitting free downloading and posting of the image of Lord Anjaneya in this post.