Sunday, September 30, 2012

Book review: 7 secrets of Shiva

7 Secrets of Shiva

With the festive season of Shravana maasa seeing an end with the eventful Anantha chaturdashi at home yesterday, there is no better time to write a review on 7 secrets of Shiva by Devdutt Pattanaik. The author is a renowned doctor-turned-writer whose writings mainly portray mythological content. This book was to be my introduction to his world of mythology.


"Smeared with ash, draped in animal hide, he sits atop the snow-capped mountain, skull in hand, withdrawn, with dogs for company, destroying the world with his indifference. He is God who the Goddess shall awaken. His name is Shiva. Locked in his stories, symbols and rituals are the secrets of our ancestors. This book attempts to unlock seven."

With much talked about series of "7 secrets" by Devdutt I too forayed into following the trend. As soon as I first skimmed through the contents of the books I realized I am not the proper audience to this revered book. Nevertheless with my obsessive habit of completing any book that I take up for reading, I decided to give it a try. The book deals with 5 prominent names of Lord Shiva: Lingeshwara, Bhairava, Shankara, Bholenath and Nataraja. There are 2 chapters dedicated to his sons, Ganesha and Murugan. While my comfort zone involves reading about mythological characters in the form of stories or fiction, this book stared at me with plain facts. It took me a rather long time to finish this otherwise small book with 200 pages of big font text having a pictorial illustration in every alternate page.

There are many interesting views from the author to describe the common fables surrounding the great Lord. From the description of Shiva linga as the erected phallus of the Lord to the picturing of his warrior son Murugan, every chapter gives a different angle to one's thought process. The author has described the subtle meanings behind the exhaustive symbolism associated with Lord Shiva and his cosmic better half Shakti.  The reader gets to know the significance of Nandi the bull, rattle in Lord's hand, His trishul, the poses of Nataraja, the stories of Andhaka, Kamadeva, Daksha and many other famous characters. The story which stuck me was that of demon king Ravana and how it was his veins that made up the strings of first Rudra Veena the world had to see. As any discussion on Shiva doesn't get completed without reserving a fair attention to Shakti, so does Devdutt's book. Devdutt has gone to describe how Parvati gives the world a gift of Shiva's involvement in worldly matters. It is interesting to read chapters on this aspect. 

I would recommend this book to those who like to read a mythological work with a non-priestly tone and an objective outlook and definitely not to those who like their books to throw in mythological characters as heroes of fiction. Well that is what books like Shiva trilogy by Amish Tripathi and Krishna Key from Ashwin Sanghi are for! 

Further reading:
Jaya: An illustrated retelling of Mahabharata
This book by Devdutt Pattanaik gives reader  insights into the Mahabharata. I am looking forward to read this book as the reviews are promising that Devdutt keeps up the story-telling fiction mood of the book. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Help a child to study

Activity: Help A Child to Study sponsors the higher education of meritorious underprivileged students, supporting them to achieve dreams of a better future. We sponsor all formal courses above 10th, including 11th and 12th, diploma courses, degree courses, B.E., M.B.B.S. and Postgrad. Through education our students are able to escape the cycle of poverty through their own talents.

Details: We are very proud of our students - who are the children of labourers, small scale farmers, weavers and other families with low incomes. These students have enormous potential to succeed and only need financial support to do so. We are thrilled that today some of our graduates are placed with large companies such as Mahindra Tech, L&T, and TATA Consultancy Services.

Support: Education, higher education, sponsorship of students.

Note: We are looking for financial donations to support the higher education of our students, most of whom live in rural areas of Maharashtra and Karnataka.

This post is a part of BlogAdda's Bloggers Social Responsibility (BSR) initiative. I am exercising my BSR. You can too with three simple steps. Visit and support the NGO's.

Book Review: The Legend Of Amrapali

Throw in a confederacy of kingdoms with a selfish king who places his personal political success ahead of the welfare of his people and add a demure, learned, skillful dancer yet a valiant political influencer - voila you have yourself a commercial bollywood historical movie. Only here the difference is that Anurag Anand has used the formula to create a historical fiction novel centered around the well known city bride Amrapali who was a contemporary of Lord Buddha. I had two reasons to pick up this book for reading:
1. During the book launch Shashi Tharoor claimed that this book is in the likes of Shiva Trilogy and Chanakya's chant.
2. My favourite danseuse and columnist Mallika Sarabhai gracefully adorns the cover page of the book.

The book was nowhere near the expectations I had from it. It had grip over the story only at few places and loosely woven around the rest of the plot. The writer looses finesse when it comes to build the thriller and anticipatory angle of the narration. I am a kind of reader who likes almost whatever she reads. This book failed to impress me either in the plot or narration or the language. The plot is too predictable, the twists are expected and the language is laden with grammatical and spelling mistakes (which in the foreword, the author attributes to not listening to his wife). Having read both the Shiva Trilogy and Chanakya's, I can dare say Mr.Tharoor falsely claimed that Legend of Amrapali is on par with the brilliance of the other two books. 

The story begins with the escape of a young man Pushkumar, from the royal prison and proceeds to take the readers to a flashback of almost 18 years. Amrapali was found under a mango tree in Vaishali by a couple who lovingly raise her with care and affection. Being a doting father, Somdutt makes sure his daughter Amrapali gets education from a rajguru Narhari. She learns all forms of vidyas including kootnitti, rannnitti along with various other feminine art. Amrapali becomes an expert in dance and entices every soul in Vaishali. She starts falling in love with her childhood friend Pushpkumar oblivious to the fact that Manudeva, the lustful king of Vaishali is plotting a deadly plan to get her at any cost. How fate deceives Amrapali by separating her from Pushp, how all her loved ones fall prey to the cruelty of Manudeva, how she becomes a nagarvadhu and finally how this divine beauty becomes successful in spear heading the smartest political coup of Vajji confederacy is the rest of the story. Without a strong explanation by the author, readers are left to wonder how a nagarvadhu can shake the stability of the highest democracy of her times.

Whatever the loose ends of his narration, Anurag Anand has succeeded in giving a wonderful picture of Amrapali's character. She is the innocent child, embodiment of celestial beauty, richest in purity of heart, undisputed queen of dancing, a tender lover,a sensual nagaravadhu, a vengeful politician, a magnanimous social worker, a great friend, and many more. One cannot help feeling a liking towards the central character of the plot.  The narration is also interspersed with few beautiful quotes such as this one: "The ache of losing someone or something when you are so close to making it your own that you can reach out and touch it, is far overbearing than that of losing something you always had or contrastingly had never dreamt of having."

This book is a breezy read and it takes a maximum of 3 hours to get it over with. I suggest the book to only those who do not take their reading seriously or who want to read a book just to get a topic for discussion over coffee table. It is not to be read by those who are looking for an intellectually appeasing work with great plot, gripping narration, good language and something to carry back to life. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Book review: Memoirs of a geisha

“He was like a song I'd heard once in fragments but had been singing in my mind ever since.”

Having read such a romantically intense quote one would expect this book  to be a deep love story. The book is all but a love story. The highest honor and happiness the protagonist Nitta Sayuri receives is to be the mistress of a man she loved. To quote Sayuri "You cannot say to the sun, "More sun." Or to the rain, "Less rain." To a man, geisha can only be half a wife. We are the wives of nightfall. And yet, to learn kindness after so much unkindness, to understand that a little girl with more courage than she knew, would find her prayers were answered, can that not be called happiness? After all these are not the memoirs of an empress, nor of a queen. These are memoirs of another kind." These are memoirs of a geisha.

The 448 pages of emotional upheaval is a narration of her past life from the protagonist Nitta Sayuri. The mood of the book is not melancholy but hopeful. Readers are introduced to Sakamoto Chiyo in her impoverished childhood in a small fishing town of Japan. After her mother's deathbed, much to little Chiyo's shock, she as well as her sister is sold off to a stranger by her father. Little Chiyo's scary journey to become a Geisha thereafter hold's the reader's breath. A geisha is not a prostitute but an artist in her own way.The most literal translation of geisha into English would be "performing artist". While Japan's tradition expected women to be confined only to the walls of her kitchen, geisha were the women who accompanied men in social gatherings and entertained them with their dance, music and games. It was traditional in the past for established geisha to take a danna, or patron. A danna was typically a wealthy man, sometimes married, who had the means to support the very large expenses related to a geisha's traditional training and other costs. The geisha who worked within pleasure quarters were essentially imprisoned and strictly forbidden to sell sex in order to protect the business of the okiya (traditional geisha house).

Chiyo much desired for her loving face with the tender and piercing blue green eyes, missed her chance of getting art training to become a geisha when she bears the angst of mistress of okiya while fruitlessly trying to escape. On a chance meeting with a man she calls chairman throughout, young Chiyo's life is changed forever. She is awarded the generous apprenticeship with a magnanimous tutor Mameha and learns dance, singing and many other art forms as a Maiko (a geisha in training). Rechristened as Sayuri she is made to sell her virginity to the highest bid of 15000 yen. 

On her journey to becoming the most successful Geisha in the pleasure town of Gion, Sayuri earns a lot of friends and also a ruthless enemy Harsumomo. Every step she takes after that meeting with chairman is to get closer to him. But fate holds other plans for her. Chairman expects her to reserve her attention and care to Nobu, chairman's friend. The world war 2 pushes Japan into a fearful state and leaves Sayuri to sweat it out hard in a Kimono maker's home. After 2 years of gruesome work, Sayuri comes back home only to see her it having lost all the grandeur and to witness geisha culture severely challenged among American soldier troops. How Sayuri brings back the traditional standards of a geisha, how she keeps alive the geisha manners among lustful American soldiers and how she ever gets closer to chairman is best appreciated when one reads the book himself/herself.

Arthur Golden, the author has entwined the delicate controversial story of a geisha in powerful words. A reader is not disgusted when she reads that Sayuri's mizuage (virginity loss) is sold; instead one cannot help but pray that Sayuri gets the highest bid so that she can repay the amount to okiya for which she was sold and liberate herself to become independent geisha. The author compels you to shed tears when Sayuri finally gets her first kiss from chairman. Though the form of narration is prose I felt it is no lesser than a wonderful poem. Sayuri is pictured as a strong woman fighting against many odds; yet she is that delicate vulnerable girl whom anybody would love to protect. At once Sayuri looks like she is the unfortunate girl who deserves better, but the very next moment she is a happy soul to get the best out of her world. 

I wanted to put down the book after reading the first few pages but once the book got into my skin I felt pulled towards the characters. Though it is about a culture I was not aware of, people whom I could not relate to, hardships I never had or  will endure; I could still feel the pain of Sayuri's journey, the purity of Mameha's secret love to her patron,the intensity of Hatsumomo's genuine jealousy and the kindness of Chairman. 

“Perhaps it seems odd that a casual meeting on the street could have brought about such change. But sometimes life is like that isn't it” 

Yes Sayuri. Life is all that unpredictable yet promising. This character of Sayuri is one which will continue to remain in my heart for a long time. While there are many trivial things to complain about in life, women like Sayuri show to the world that an unflinching desire in heart is all that's required to get to the destination what come may. Kudos to the lion heart in a geisha body confined by many chains of oppression, social norms and restrictions. Hats off to the kindness, hope and faith life never fails to provide even after many blows. 

To treat yourself with beautiful quotes from the book:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sudha Ajji

The name of the person who has been bedrock all through my life and to whom I owe all my small and big happiness is my mom Sudha. Recently when my confidence was seriously challenged by manager's feedback on my work at the company, my mother sat me down and without bothering with the heavy headed philosophy, she told me a story about Thomas Alva Edison and his mother.

When Edison was a small kid and went to school one fine day he came home to painfully ask his mom what 'rotten' meant. On inquiring further she came to know that a teacher had called little Edison's brain rotten. The mother nevertheless explained what the word meant and told him to not believe in the remark made on him by the teacher. Next day she went to school and reprimanded the teacher by telling "I don't believe my son's brain is rotten. When you and your school have perished my son's name will be a household name in the entire world. He will light the world with his intelligence."

After narrating this story my mom simply reckoned that I must believe in my capabilities no matter what the so-called 'superiors' say and she was very proud of my caliber and hard work. This simple incident magnified my confidence and I was in tears (though the proud me didn't allow them to surface in front of my mother)for my mother's support and confidence. My entire life has been filled with stories from my mom- stories about Mahabharatha, Ramayana, Indian history, Kannada novels/magazines, Shakespeare, Kannada classics and another great book -her life. She never runs out of proverbs, poems and anecdotes from her life. She loves to pass on this privilege of story telling as a grandma (ajji)to my niece, her grand daughter as well. I just finished reading works of one more Sudha Ajji that is Sudha Murty best known as the chairperson of Infosys Foundation.

Sudha Murty doesn't need an introduction to Indians. Though her personal glory is hidden behind that of Infosys' success, a fair justice to know her can be done by reading more about her here. Of all her works I have read 3 till date. They are:
1. Grandma's bag of stories

2. The bird with golden wings - Stories of wit and magic

3. How I taught my grandmother to read and other stories

While the first two books are a collection of various stories from Sudha Murty's imagination, the third is a collection of incidents from her own life narrated with great skills of a story teller. In all these books Sudha Murty takes grandmother like role in weaving the stories. The writing is simple yet powerful spanning through various castes, places and times. These books can be enjoyed by children and more by adults since they can analyse and evaluate the grand morals of life discussed in the stories. Sudha Murty fondly speaks of her humble upbringing, loving grandparents, major events of her life and never once does she make readers feel its the same seed investor of Infosys with a 30 year annual return of 78%). She is one of the most successful institutional investment managers in the world – surpassing Warren Buffett's 36-year Berkshire Hathaway annual return of 22%.

Read the books to see what happens when Sudha Murty writes an angry letter to JRD Tata, when APJ Abdul Kalam calls her on telephone, how the initial investment of Infosys was amassed and various other life changing stories. On a lighter note, for the story hungry child in you read to know what happens to the greedy Lakshmi when she becomes lazy and depends on a wish fulling fish's blessings, how a payasam hungry bear loses his temper and many things that happen in the lives of interesting people.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Autobiography of a sex worker

The autobiography of a sex worker: Nalini Jameela
Translated by: J.Devika

This book is a revolutionary memoir of a sex worker from Thrissur. Nalini details how her unfortunate fate pushed her into sex work just to earn Rs.5 per day. I hope to read this work sometime to know about the lady who has grown to share literary space with many elites.

More about this book:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Book review : Aavarana

There are two kinds of history - one which collects, analyses and presents the truth about events and the other which masks the truth in opaque veils and presents it in a form deemed suitable for the existing socio-political sentiments. I now write about the book standing under first category of the two types of history mentioned. It is a work which created quite a stir in the world of intellectuals and which proved to be one of the biggest controversies of it's time, Aavarana by S.L.Bhyrappa. Aavarana saw 10 prints in the first 5 months of release, a big proof for its relevance and popularity.

I am fortunate enough to have read two of Bhyrappa's works. He is a no nonsense scholar with a brilliant grasp on the writing and the research he does.  Aavarana is based on the most sensitive topic of medieval Muslim influence on India; a topic all secular individuals love to hate but cannot ignore. Bhyrappa has taken the courage to speak out truth in a politically charged country which denounces anything secular that tries to demand proof. Being used to read only about the architectural or administrative influences of Mughals, I was gripped by this book which so intrepidly chided the wrong doings of Muslim rulers on the Hindu culture. Bhyrappa substantiated the naked truth of Islamic intolerance towards Hindus with accurate proofs and references. Any sensible unbiased Indian (irrespective of whether a Hindu or a Muslim) burns with rage on reading about the atrocity committed on humanity during the reign of Aurangzeb (1658-1707).

Bhyrappa has given heart wrenching description of Aurangzeb's inhuman attitude towards anything that is non-Islamic. A land where there are crores of Gods and where people give excess importance to the artistic expression of the forms of God had to naturally see the wrath of a Muslim ruler who simply couldn't comprehend the concept of more than one supreme God. Bhyrappa has adopted a play-within-play technique. The protagonist of the novel is a converted Muslim, Razia. The story begins when Razia goes along with her husband, Ameer to Hampi. Razia has to write a script to the documentary film her husband is directing signifying Hampi as the place of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood . But her intuition and  research doesn't let her to commit that folly. Husband and wife get into altercations because of this difference in opinion. When Razia is constantly compelled by her husband to write a script as he wishes, she learns that her father with whom she had broken all ties after the wedding had passed away. When she goes to visit her home near Hassan she comes across a treasure of books and research her father owned. There begins the second plot of Aavarana.

Razia aka Lakshmi's father Narasimha Gowda had left behind intensive notes in every book of the library on Muslim influence in medieval India. Lakshmi immerses herself in the study and starts living away from her problematic marriage. Thus takes the birth of her novel and it's hero Khwaja Jahan. The hero is a proud Rajput prince happily married and the heir for his father's throne but the one who looses all dignity when his kingdom gets defeated and crushed under Aurangzeb's army. The valiant prince falls prey to the homosexual army general's lust, slave trade and later castration. The story goes on to describe prince turned eunuch's journey thereafter, Aurangzeb's temple-destruction scheme, Khwaja Jahan's ironical privilege of watching Kashi Vishwanath temple destruction and his efforts to escape the ill fate.

I was angry when Lakshmi was intelligently made to convert her religion though her husband pretended his love is beyond caste, religion and tradition. I was disgusted when Razia was made to eat beef much against her birth religion beliefs. My heart went out to her when she had to prove her dedication to Islam time and again. A woman can bare only so much victimization. But my spirits sored high when she continued her intellectual pursuits, when she strived to maintain her dignity and choices. I couldn't help but show pity to the prince when he was used by different men for their pleasure. My heart cried for his pain when he got castrated. I earnestly hoped he would get a chance to run away with his wife (also subjected to trade and conversion) when he found her mothering children of some other Muslim powerful man. The roller coaster of emotions could only be felt by reading the novel.

The four figure count of temples destroyed by Aurangzeb, the fate of war torn men and women, the rigidity to which Muslim converts are subjected, the various other heart wrenching facts substantiated with evidence from Quran, Hadiths (reports of statements or actions of Muhammad) and Sira (traditional name for biographies of Mohammad) can be found in this brilliant piece of historical fiction. To quote Bhyrappa "the deceptive act of hiding the truth is Aavarana". Read this much cussed and discussed novel to find out the distorted and hidden truths.

I write here a plain analysis of a novel without holding ill feelings for any religion. I am just against the horrible immoral deeds which the author has described in the book.

Further reads :

Monday, September 17, 2012

Book review : The Guide

I start a blog on my favourite reads and not mention 'The Guide' by R.K.Narayan! Impossible. This book is always dear to my heart because not only its the work of a great Indian writer, or has the scenic drop of my favourite Malgudi town but also it is the novel that marked the beginning of my book world. Although my ever thoughtful persuasive mother loaded me with children books during my primary schooling, I rarely had the mood to indulge in them. Primary schooling for me was the blissful monkey period where playing 24*7 on the street, with my buddies was all that mattered to me. As I grew up, in the middle of ninth standard I came across 'The Guide' in our school library (gosh!! library was a place me and my friends never stepped into and our actions were somehow justified for the library lay in the lowest basement level of our school).

The protagonist of the book is a highly corrupt and shrewd guide Raju, who makes money through selling outrageous lies about his hometown Malgudi to the tourists. One fine day Railway Raju as he was fondly known, comes across a tourist couple that would change his life forever. The husband Marco, an archaeologist is immensely dedicated to his work and has little or no concern towards his demure, sensual and talented dancer wife Rosie/Nalini. Raju gets flown away by his lust for this love deprived woman and takes her under his wing with alluring promises of a love filled life and of a bright dance career for Rosie. Raju becomes Rosie's stage manager and propels her dancing career to great heights. The tragedy sets in when Raju's lack of education and genuine appreciation for art takes a toll on his lover. Rosie begins to grow more and more focussed on dancing and spends time with her artist friends which leads to irritation, depression and anger in Raju.

The story takes an unexpected turn when Raju is imprisoned for two years in a forgery case. Rosie being absorbed in her art fails to lend her support and love to Raju at this stage of his life. On release form the jail, ashamed to return to Malgudi with the disgrace, Raju enters another village where he is mistaken for a Sadhu. Life was never the same for Raju after that. His reputation of a great Sadhu reaches a large number of people and he ends up holding a much publicized fast to please the rain god and relieve the village of long stretched drought.

The last line of the novel is 'Raju said "Velan, its raining up the hills, I can feel it under my feet." And with this he saged down'. With my limited knowledge at that age to decipher philosophical meanings I failed to understand this line. I was left to imagine what happened to Raju with a prolonged fast - did he die? was the village blessed with rain? did he survive and continue to live a life of hermit? If suppose he was successful at pleasing the rain god did he return to his love? did he attain the divine knowledge and determination of a sage? what happened to Rosie? I never had the luxury of internet at that age of my life. I thought about the book, characters, scenes and meanings for a long time with many questions that my immature mind couldn't answer or understand. I don't intend to maim the thoughts of my first book by a reread. No, those thoughts are better left how they are - unclear, want for better explanations, incomplete understanding of the characters, puzzled philosophy, strange murky vocabulary. I will cherish my first book for some more time with memories just as how they are. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Book review : Chanakya's Chant

The high I get by reading an Indian novel written for Indian audience is very satisfying. When I read such a work my reactions are very touchy in that I instantly connect with whatever the author discusses; I don a genuine Indian mask of emotions. The historical fiction Chanakya's chant by Ashwin Sanghi is one such novel that portrayed the Indian politics with an unflinching honesty and absence of sugar coating. The blatant opinions were not dialed down to sound politically correct and neither has the author made an effort to hide the ruthless politics behind a veil of hypocrisy. Call a spade a spade is the general tone of the novel.

The story intelligently alternates between post Mauryan India and the modern India. The plot revolves around two king-making brahmins of their respective times- Chanakya and Gangasagar Mishra both being similar to each other in cold,calculating and merciless tactics. The hunted brahmin Chanakya exiles to study in the then world's best university Takshashila and conspires against the Magadha king to establish Chandragupta Maurya as the sole ruler of unified India. While history repeats itself after 2 millenia, Chandni Gupta under the tutelage of Gangasagar Mishra wins to become the prime minister of India defeating(in most cases ruthlessly eliminating any opponent by sheer violence and blackmail).

Ashwin Sanghi has made readers realize that politics has remained to be the same in all times. The factors such as vote bank politics, caste demarcation, violence, bribe, sex and drugs were as prevalent 2 millenia ago as they are now. While it pained me to read the brutality of past and present politics, I felt fortunate to know politics in its true light. I was filled with a sense of disgust and awe at the same time- awe for the intelligence of Chanakya and Gangasagar and disgust for the violence they inflicted upon others.

The only problem with this book was I just couldn't put it down. I could hardly think of anything else while this thriller unfolded its many twists and turns in a pleasing pace. I would recommend this to everyone for they should know the intelligence of an Indian author and the greatness of Indian politicians.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Review : Bawa and his simplicity

After much persuasion from a friend I watched a video which I was pretty sure would be boring and disappointing. But much to my delight I was proved wrong. The video 'Technology of Spirituality' by Khurshed Batliwala (fondly known as 'Bawa') was an eye opener-a firm stepping stone in a rather uncertain ground of thoughts. I call Bawa simple because he doesn't twist the esoteric knowledge and present it in an obsolete scholarly manner. Instead he is so much like an enthusiastic youngster cracking jokes with his friends. He is not a hermit living in Himalayas to whom you cannot connect. A post-graduate in mathematics from IIT Bombay he is a gizmo freak like any of us so it makes it effortless to believe and ponder over his words.

Even with an excruciatingly slow internet I choose to put this video on buffer and my interest was captivated right from the beginning, when a man in simple kurta but profound confidence started speaking with a heavy Parsi accented English. Bawa is the director of World Alliance for Youth Empowerment (WAYE) and a faculty for almost 2 decades in the Art of Living foundation.

Watching the video left me in awe for it had so many facts about Indian ancient scientific contributions. I was shocked beyond belief when he showed with proofs that Vasco da Gama found the sea route to India from Cape of Good Hope only with the help of an Indian called Kanha. It is only logical to now say that Vasco da Gama did not "discover" sea route to India but was only led to India by a fellow Indian seaman. I was pained to see many proofs that we are now studying only the maimed and tarnished Indian history while the original historical facts of Indian greatness are intelligently wiped off from the history books. Bawa speaks of Indian contribution to the world in fields as diverse as metallurgy, navigation, construction technology, trade, mathematics, astronomy and physics. The video showed me the logical sense behind a mythological fact that I have known since childhood. I was aware of the Varaha avatar - third incarnation of Lord Vishnu and how he saved earth from getting drowned in cosmic ocean. But never had I given importance to the fact that the earth shape was round in the images where Varaha upholds earth between his tusks. This tells us that Indians knew about the spherical earth millenia before Ferdinand Magellan had to prove it by a heavily applauded voyage around the earth. I wish not to give away all the goodies of the video here, they are truly appreciated better when heard through Bawa's talk.

The video provided proofs for many notions which we Indians believe are true but never been able to justify substantially. I can now dare challenge anybody who speaks ill of Indian contribution to society or who over glorifies western thoughts over their own Indian culture. India has come out of the 2 century oppression in the past 66 years of independence and crawling its way towards becoming a self sustained developed nation. Its high time for all of us to know our roots clearly and to learn our history better. Given the melting distance between cultures and countries in present days, its imperative that we know the true significance of our culture.Only then we will be better able to appreciate other cultures and assimilate positive aspects of those. I now view meditation as a logical, scientific and essential way of life. What I was trying to learn through western literature can be learnt just by turning my ears more attentively to our elders' and teachers' suggestion of dhyana. My respect for all that is ancient Indian has grown more.

Under the thrust of intriguing facts I went ahead to see more mathematical and funny videos from Bawa and here is a list of hilarious must watch videos:

  • (a+b)^2 = a^2 + b^2 + 2ab - But why?

  • Proof of Pythagoras theorem   

  • Alternatives of boozing

I chanced to come across the following two very interesting reads following on the lines of Bawa's speech:
I am indebted to my friend who made me watch this video. It has truly been a jerk on the shoulder to wake up and see what my country is and how much more knowledge is left to grab.

Further reads:
  • The Case for India - Will Durant: 
          The book pictures the gradual, planned and intelligent murder of Indian economy, of Indian culture                 and values by British rule over 2 centuries.

  • Scientific Edge - Jayanth.V Narlikar
          The book outlines development of science in the ancient, medieval and modern India. 


'Harsha' or happiness is the aim of every being on earth; it is the pursuit of life, a means and the destination by itself. All great men in history have tried to define it in epics, philosophies, stories, songs and various other forms of expression. Men, great and mundane have tried to find it- some through love and some through wars. The elusive happiness intrigues every other possible stage of human life with its promising sense of peace.The word 'harsha' is the first name for my blog that crossed my mind. It is all but natural that I could call my blog by no other name.

There are three important reasons why naming the blog 'Harsha' is apt for me. The most influential person in my life right now is called Harshith-the joyful one, rightfully named so for he always brings joy and happiness to me. Lately since I expanded my reading habits to include more number of non-fictional books and videos, I have subconsciously concentrated to read and grasp matters on the concept of happiness. I have grown to realize that every action I do is centered around achieving happiness. The last reason for the name is that I connect instantly to books I read - immersing in the topics discussed, pondering over the opinions mentioned and trying to adopt the values into my own life in one way or the other. I seem to derive happiness out of every book I read. Books are my happiness agents in that they make me feel right in reading them and befriending them.

The blog will be a collection of my views on things I read which affect me. I hope to preserve the thoughts which come to me when I finish reading something. The blog would serve as an archive of the influences books have on me.