Mind

Book Review: Ramayana-The Game of Life : Shattered Dreams by Shubha Vilas

RamayanaWhat happens to an epic such as Ramayana in the age of globalization and technology? We know well by now of the new lease of life that the epic received with its televised avatar in the 1980s. Shubha Vilas the author of this new series on the same epic seems as fascinated by the tale of Rama as so many other writers and artists. His project reminds me of the great works of Hindi novelists such as Narendra Kohli and of Amrit Lal Nagar. Going by the blurb of the book under review, the narration is that of the ‘riveting drama of Rama’s exile‘ and is aimed at teaching us ‘how to handle reversals positively‘. The book is a sequel and is the second part of a series that the author wishes to complete. The nine chapters of the book are organized according to the sequence of events as outlined in Valmiki’s Ramayana and other regionally popular versions such as Tulsidas’s Ramcharitmanas and the Kamba Ramayana.

The book makes for a not so smooth reading. Vilas writes while facing obvious difficulties of translation. His language in the book is colloquial and at times quite informal. Vilas seems to be in a hurry to address a modern audience that in his view does not care so much for the poetics and details of presentation as much it cares for the ultimate product that can be quickly read and done away with. Take for instance the scene from the first chapter where Dasaratha has had a bad dream. Vilas calls it a nightmare

Between his delusions and his consciousness, Dasaratha realized that he was in fact fighting two monsters- the monster within and the monster outside, Everything had become a big blur. Which of these two monsters was he fleeing from?“(p.2)

Another instance from the book dealing with the Kaikeyi-Manthara episode where he writes:

Kaikeyi was disturbed by Manthara’s constant babbling. She said “Don’t go in circles or mince any words; just speak clearly, without fear. What’s on your mind?” (p. 86)

It is not that one gets merely a sense of ‘loss’ in this translation, one also gets a sense of an imposed contemporaneity as far as an attempt at adapting the text for a new age audience is concerned. It ends up sounding like a desperate bid to make the epic sound fashionable and hence marketable. Instances abound where the flow of sentences is interrupted by words and terms (read expletives) written in ‘quotes’ which do not add to the quality of the tone and tenor. Despite these weaknesses, the innocence and the personal attachment and admiration of the author for the epic is amply visible throughout the text. It would have turned out to be a much more enjoyable read had the author spent some more time reflecting on the readership that he wishes to generate. Ramayana in my opinion cannot merely be a new age self-help book bereft of its music. It has to necessarily have a magical rendition to it for there lies its real character. Reversals of fortune and ensuing problems in life may well be addressed by reading about monks who sell and do not sell their Ferraris. I don’t really know much about those things. Coming back to the question that I ask in the beginning I have this to say- what we have come to call the era of globalisation and of new technology, is an era where frivolity goes unnoticed. The epic is bound to lose out substantially on its aura and beauty!

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

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Mind

How Does It Matter?

As beings lacerated in thought, throwing up our judgments of the world at it, we can’t help 701socratesseeming pitifully ridiculous. Our predecessors were content with a handful of what we have in gazillions. Intellectual achievements today are too many to be even bothered about. A Socrates grins in eternal sleep at the contagion he unleashed. It bites into the discontented soul and induces ugly utterances-the hyperbole as we shamelessly tag it today for matters of favour and convenience. I waste my acumen being ecumenical in ideas and belief. To my mind, life isn’t one truly lived if it does not aspire for the universe in its undecipherable oneness. To surrender to its easily graspable diversity is plain mediocrity. And that is to be merely very kind of me. Loathsome putrefaction of integral analysis may be checked for the universe to be regained. Quite a bit of it has been silently slipping away while we relax relieved of the burdensome reason that philosopher smiles about!

Mind

Book Review: Business Sutra- A Very Indian Approach to Management by Devdutt Pattanaik

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Devdutt Pattanaik is currently the Chief Belief Officer at the Future Group. His website introduces him as an author, speaker, illustrator and a mythologist which to me sounds like the coming together of an extremely interesting set of professional skills. His latest book is a most welcome contribution to the exposition of issues that ail the modern discipline of Management. Business Sutra involves a very serious and  painstaking effort on the author’s part to bring to light the differences in the approaches to  business and its management across cultures and belief systems. Pattanaik considers the mythology of a people to be the central axis around which their beliefs, behaviour and consequently their ways of doing business revolve. The primary argument he seems to put forth is that in order to make sense of the metaphysical as well as the practical worlds of a people, one needs to be careful of the mythological background  that nurtures these worlds. In order for the discipline of Management to be truly what is aspires to be, such approach is indeed beneficial. By a ‘Very Indian Approach to Management’, Pattanaik aims to trace ‘Western ideas’ to ‘Indian vocabulary’ so as to present an altogether different context to situate the relevance and the applicability of those ideas.

The book has three main sections. The first of these deals with connecting belief to business. In this part the author quite convincingly tries to lay to rest the many debates that the very title of the book is likely to engender. The second section is titled “From Goal To Gaze” where he brings together the Western, Chinese and the Indian historico-philosophical systems of thought to conclude that:

“Indian thought yearns not for an efficient way like Western thought, or a more orderly way like Chinese thought, but an accomodative and inclusive way”.

While discussing the mythology that informs the Indian way of life,  the author does not restrict himself to the Hindu scriptures but gives due attention to Buddhist and Jain sources where classical scriptural sources from Sikhism and Islam (most importantly Sufism) are left out. The Indian way to do business is not to chase wealth but to let it come to you thanks to the Indian’s unique relationship with Lakshmi- the Goddess of wealth. The Indian mind according to him is not obsessed with making sense of prevailing chaos and ordering ones’ life to achieve harmony with nature. Instead the Indian mind is comfortable with this chaos and does not consider one point of view to be the only point of view or the truth.

The third and the largest section of the book details the Business Sutra where the author discusses the topic along five sub chapters i.e. Kama’s vision statement, Drishti- observing objective reality, Divya Drishti- observing subjective reality, Darshan- observing the subject and finally Yama’s balance sheet.

The book relies on a substantial review of literature ranging from Sociology of India,  Anthropology, History and other Social Sciences. Management in his view is a western science is and is deeply rooted in Greek and Biblical sources. Pattanaik seems well aware of developments and debates in sociology and social theory and introduces the ideas and tenets of Positivism, Weberian modernism, Structuralism, Orientalism and Post colonial thought in very subtle and lucid ways. On that account the book is to be rated very highly as it touches upon crucial debates on the ways and the categories through which Indian society has been hitherto understood both by the Orientalists and Indians themselves. The book is written very simply and the numerous lovely sketches produced throughout the text aid in summarizing the key points presented.

Pattanaik’s discussion of mythological characters remains largely restricted to Sanskrit-North Indian- Brahmanic-Scriptural sources. There is little evidence in the book to suggest his understanding and appreciation for the oral narratives, for the folklore and mythologies from other parts of the country. Epics like the Silappatikaram, Thirukkural and characters like Kannagi and other local, classical or vernacular traditions remain untouched. This lacunae however should be taken more as a limitation than a drawback of this impressive contribution. Readers interested in Indian mythology and the historical development of the discipline of management in the west as well as in its fate in the Indian subcontinent will find the book very interesting.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers.Participate now to get free books!

Heart

Work

 

band-party-BX69_lIt is 11 a.m. Woke up to a pale sunny morning which was to soon lose its innocence to the maturity and the haughtiness of the noon. What sounded like a marriage procession in the street (at this time of the year??) was the prominent trigger to the whisking away of  lethargy that kept me cuddled to myself all through the dawn and the wee hours. The band procession goes away. The images of the bright red dress and the flashy turbans of men in the band linger for a bit longer. I have wondered about these professions and professionals. I once again think of the ways in which these men explain to their near and dear ones about what they do for a living. The question seems quaint. However, it keeps coming back to me. It also comes uninvited to me when watching a mythological series on the television where actors put on the demonic make ups-unreal eyes, crumbled hairdo, protruding teeth and made to act out those horrifying and yet endearing laughter sequences. The ‘hoohaahaha’ and the costumes make me think of the lives of these actors as it would unfold beyond the stage and the set. Do these professionals carry their ‘jobs’ back home to their kids and spouses? In what ways are the intricacies of such engagement articulated in speech? I know of my friends employed by multinational giants, some businessmen and others who call themselves ‘artists’ for whom ‘work’ is all about being respectably tired. How is fatigue talked about by the others who in a way remain oblivious to the social eye because of the ephemeral effect and the obsolete occasional needs that they are called on for fulfilling. Play a tune for an hour, beat the drums, blow into the trumpet and then vanish with the ‘payment’ only to adorn another gathering in another locality with the music that is surely more strenuous than the one that is played in a studio orchestra with a ‘in demand’ playback singer lending her voice to it!

In the street is the work for a new building in progress. Marble tiles are being cut to squares. The grilling noise reaches my ears and I visualise the stream of beautiful sparks landing on the fabric of my shirt. The men who work with the tiles sit too close to the machine as it cuts into the substance. The sparks leave holes on their shirts. I haven’t seen any of them ever using a bib. I look at my shirt, find it safe. The floor in my room looks dirty as ever, the commode needs a dose of disinfectant and the bed sheet has already begun reeking of dust and endocrinal exudates. The broom is nowhere in sight. The clothes are in disarray and badly need some hot iron pressing over their crushes. With respect to the kinds of work people do for a living, all that I have to do today, if I am able to, I heave a sigh of relief. I will be doing all this for myself and not because I will be paid for it, not because if I don’t pay attention to these chores the chances of my evening bread shall suffer. Not because these chores involve my limbs and my senses in positions they would surely not want to be in. Alienation from what one has to do sends me pondering.

Believe me, a cup of hot coffee and some pretentious reflection over a blog post are best ways to make oneself forget the strangeness of lives we have all come to lead. It obviously does not matter if we have time to think of things going on around us. Thinking about it and reflecting on it is just a choice that one has to make. There are no penalties for not doing so. Honestly speaking, there are other more important things to do. Watch a film on a pleasant Sunday afternoon and go to sleep while it is half over. Relax…that’s life!

Heart

With

A Sadhu in Varanasi, India. Français : Un Sâdh...

 

With

A Potter man’s hands

And with a Watch repairer’s eyes

I wish to hold and see

 

With

A Professor’s pen

And with a Doctor’s Needle

I wish to write and pinch

 

With

A Manual Scavenger’s Head

And with a Banker’s Calculator

I wish to ferry and count

 

With

A Priest’s Cloak

And with a Chef’s Nose

I wish to cover and sniff

 

With

A Wanderer’s Legs

And with a Sadhu’s hair

I wish to traverse and knot

 

Your silhouette, your giggles

Your mass, your fragrance

Your territory, your being!

Mind

Missions

Trobriand_village

‘Leave me alone’ she said with a smile

Thinking of a trip to the Amazon and the Nile.

Away he walked in some relief

Made his way to the coral reef.

She rode on boats of waves and rains

He walked alone in mounts and plains.

Further as she touched the banks

To many more suitors she said “No Thanks”.

He befriended men on distant lands

Clicked naked women wearing flowery bands.

As affairs blossomed, she grew in repute

As wisdom dawned, he allayed dispute.

These journeys brought them together in the rain

They promised to each other “No quest again”.

They lived and loved in the city forever

Lost in the crowds very high on fever.

Till one day when arose disbelief

Knowledge or bliss was the contention chief.

He knew of nothing he had ever felt

She had no feeling of all that belt.

Leaving the world they landed in space

Dwelt thinking and feeling of love and race.

The oxygen depleted and she had no clue

His hope had died long before he knew.

Breathless they ran and hugged in the dark

No flowers bloomed and sang no lark!

Mind

Novelty

 

A Castle crumbles down,

amidst urban space.

Pointed domes hit the ground,

disfiguring earth’s face.

 

Debris piled up in the mart,

commotion ensues.

Traffic no more is art,

genius and idiocy fuse.

 

In comes someone to rage,

the plunder abounds.

Shattered artifacts the craze,

the lunacy astounds.

 

The roads clogged forever,

and cities sleep.

Those swimmers in the river,

are the ones who ever peep.

 

The castle now stands high,

in the ugly landscape.

Its chandeliers to each other sigh,

and the blind men rape!