Soul Searching

Where are those lights?

Diwali

Diwali

Today being Diwali, the most cherished and jubilant festival of India has always left good memories to me. When I was in India, I joined everyone in the relentless wait of celebrating Diwali with great zeal and utmost joy. Of all the festivals, probably Diwali is the only festival that truly fills light in everyone’s lives. Fondly called ‘festival of lights’ by the west, India celebrates yet another with the same fervor and enthusiasm. And, sitting thousands of miles apart, as usual, I just cherish on my memories and keep almost quite today.

As a nation who normally doesn’t know that festivals does happen during week-days, I am among the thousands who’ve lost the feeling of what really a week-day can bring to our lives, especially when it is a festival. Days and years are lost in the mindless rush of day-to-day lives and I sit here alone in my heart chewing on my past and satisfying my selfish ego. But sometimes, things were brighter. We did celebrate few Diwalis with semi-Indian ecstasy and replace those oil lamps with Chinese made garland lights. Of course, being autumn, we are assured of not blowing off those lights, to our happiness. This year is a dampener, I did not even took a traditional head-bath and I often blame it always on the never complaining ‘time’.

I guess its totally personal. One can relish on whatever they’ve got and one always wants more. I fell to to the later and I regret it more than ever. Diwali was not just about those crackers (we eat them here and we light them in India) but, its about bringing everyone together, looking at each other across the streets, greeting peeple with joy, eat happily and fill the sky with light. It’s human’s ever lasting fight against the darkness that for one day will kneel down before him and pay tributes.

I miss all those treats and sweets that my mom used to make and the friends used to bring to us. The fragrance of new clothes and the scent of the burning oil.

May this Diwali bring everyone the light they are waiting for and the happiness they wish. The festival of lights shall never be gone from my heart and God shall help me find the same joy here in my new home, America.

I wish you all a very happy Diwali.

… and I said

When freedom personifies an action, it yields ‘words’. God gave the gift of expression and I catalog it…blessed I am.

There is nothing under the sky not to know and understand and, in my quest of that journey, I have learnt and learning. This blog is my ‘freedom’ than anything else. I can be wicked and wiz, dumb and dormant, express and elate and yet be ‘free’.

Welcome to my freeeeeeeeeeeeeedom.


Now reading

Yoga Vasistam
by Sage Valmiki

Where are the books?

I am writing this to motivate myself, I am writing this to blame myself and I am writing this to be read by myself. I cannot put the onus on anything other than me, to have shed the habit of reading books, such a shame! An avid reader once, I wonder where had that Kishore gone? Lost in the life?

I remember those days when me and my mom used to read so many books that the librarian had to curse us. He was so delirious of being a librarian just because of us. Sometimes we had to wait for a day to see new books coming in. We just didn’t read books, we read the library.

Today I find solace in incriminating the time, which I know is such a farce. I was a believer, admirer and often found peace in books, but now its all changed. I do not know the reason why, but since I started writing I felt bad. Bad because I lost that part of my brain which I loved, bad because I stopped from entertaining myself, bad because I stopped learning.

Now, I wanted to get back, back to myself and start reading again.

The soul searching stops here…

Ātma

I am privileged that at least my blog name has its place in a great soul, which I am ever fascinated with called Mahatma Gandhi. On the eve of his birthday, the 2nd of October 2008, it gives me immense pleasure to remember him once again dwelling his enormous and spectacular personality, politely referred as the ‘Father of the Nation’.

He left us with a religion, which is probably the simplest on the planet to adhere to, but would require the greatest hard-work a human can adopt to, Gandhi-ism. Gandhi followed the path no one could ever follow after him and yet we see billions of people who wish to walk, he preached those principles that are of absolute truth which is ever shadowed with today’s lies and yet we see millions of humans try to do; he gave the enchanting legacy of Satyagraha, maligned by selfishness of societies and yet deemed as the most powerful gesture and he told us to follow the Truth marred by today’s lies and yet spoken by a few.

From billions to few, Gandhi-ism has become an integral part of human life with ever changing needs with the same fundamentals he showed us, standing the time and test of our multi-facet generations.

The world was fortunate enough to look into his soul and search within, every single day, in and out. As Einstein quotes “Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth”. True to the statement, I am amazed even today, if such a man was really born.

Gandhi followed what he believed, he en lived what he said and only those are called ‘Mahan Atmas’.

Thanks for being such a wonderful person, you are.. thanks for letting us know that we are still part of humanity. Long live Gandhi and his ism.

Making of Mahatma

You could never do wrong, if you sit in a dark room, ALONE! But that is escapism, isn’t it?

In a day-to-day life of a person, it is indeed hard not to do ‘any’ wrong. But of course, there are many, who tried not to, and there are few, who succeeded, and there are handsome, who almost did, and there is one, who mastered. I am talking about a Mahaan Atma, we fondly call, Mahatma Gandhi.

We can read thousands of pages about that great soul, or watch numerous documentaries or even discuss with friends, or do a very simple thing, entertainingly simple, watch ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai‘.

Felling in love with a movie is not that simple. Either it has to cast your favorite starts, or you relate to it, closely. This movie has neither. It has thought, it has inspiration, it has life and it has a message. A sedation that goes un-noticed, a feeling which is inhaled and a thought that you you can visualize. I am a big fan of Mahatma (a fan is a very ruthless word, when it is mentioned with respect to Mahatma, but its more natural and affirmative) and always wanted to imitate him, but failed every time, and stopped trying. To believe and to practise are two different things and getting things to work Gandhian way is extremely tough job.

Truth is a qualitatively relative term and understandably arguing. But it has a unique quality that none others has, it prevails. If you know something and you convey something, its classified as ‘lies’ by normal people. Some more go ahead and hide facts, basically a truth, from the other fearing the consequences, which is in one way not telling the truth (See how difficult truth became!). If a person shoots a question at you and you don’t give him an answer (which is truth), you might think yourself that you did not lie, but you didn’t tell the truth either, right? Gandhian way is much more touch. You tell a person the exact and perfect truth, when they come to you. You don’t hide a fact fearing consequence, you don’t mis-lead fearing outburst, you don’t twist your answer fearing sorrow, this is difficult stuff.

Gandhiji’s principles are based on that universal truth. A normal even a powerful human being will refrain from it, one for one reason, consequence. One who practises it are called ‘Mahanatmas, who are rare.

One thing though, the movie changed me somewhat, I am trying to reach a stage where I’ll hide the truth, but not tell a lie. Few more steps forward, I think I can reach there. No matter what I do, I will not be called ‘Mahatma’, never; but I found the very soul and might well just discovered my ‘atma‘.

I have seen great movies all through my life, Oscar winning performances, outstanding drama and emotional art. Those who did them and mastered them are artists who ‘performed’, far beyond expectations, way beyond others, and stole the hearts of millions. But this movies has little more than performance, and I think I haven’t seen that in any. It is honesty. Honesty towards the objective, honesty towards the essence of the movie and honesty in performance. It is a rare feet not delivered till today (at least in my view) and will for ever remain in my heart, sorry, in my soul.

My sincere thanks to everyone involved in ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai‘. An exemplary work of art, conveying one simple thing, which was not attained by any human being after Gandhiji called TRUTH.

Syndrome

In medicine, the term syndrome is the association of several clinically recognizable features, signs, symptoms, phenomena or characteristics which often occur together, so that the presence of one feature alerts the physician to the presence of the others. In recent decades the term has been used outside of medicine to refer to a combination of phenomena seen in association. (courtesy: Wikepedia) Wait a second, this is not about definitions! is’t it? Lets get down to business.. Living in US for the past 8 years (little more actually!), I developed a strange syndrome called ‘patriotism’. A term which can only be felt but not experienced, a feeling which can only be expressed but not conveyed. Sounds strange? for me too, indeed. All these years, an irritating question that pops in my mind quite often is, “Who am I ?”, a very simple question to answer; human being, not that simple though; a male chauvinist tyring to make most of dollars that’s possible and live happily ever after in Bahamas, no, not that complicated even. Simply put, a ‘permanent resident alien’ (thanks to the green card I’ve got, which is yellow) for the citizens of USA, and an ‘filthy rich NRI’ (I have a townhome in Northern Virginia, which makes me filty rich with more than half a million in debt) for my friends back home in India. In reality I am a suspended material between the idealogies of US and India. You think of a thing, when you are most distant, like me thinking about India staying thousands of miles away. Things change though! good or bad, we accept them with refute. Addendum, my torpid imagination about India, make me look like a big fool. Changing times doesn’t get to me easily, specially when it come to the subject of India. You are a real patriotic, when you start feeling proud of what your country is and your services are offered to the country and the poeple with pure ecstacy and selflessness. Probaby I did some of those things in the past in India, but not without selfishness, and definitely not without the expectations of fame. Now I feel possessed about India, I enjoy its success and love to send money for causes like Kargil fiasco. I started noticing this syndrome called patriotism, very recently. When we gather around for parties and occassions, our discussions circle around India. How successful the BPO sector is (of course, we would love to bite a pie of it), how strong the GDP growth is, how good the Delhi Metro is, etc. These things don’t come up from thin air, there is something in our left part of the brain (for me), which constantly reminds us who we are, and where we came from. Having difficulties in ‘assuming’ that we have blended in American culture and living, we are caught in our sleep, reminding us that we have suspended thoughts, un-related ideas and non-coexisting philosopies. We debate on what’s bad in India, bribing, irregularity, uncleanliness, diseases, poverty, blah, blah and blah and end up giving accolades to its achievements, to sides of the coin, you know. We ‘decide’ what is good for it and what is not. All from where? 7000 miles away, wasting our time chatting in the clubhouse rooms and corridors of parties. This is definitely a syndrome, isn’t it. I once went to a local community fiesta, and the dias was decorated with personalities from various parts of North America. If one was a doctor, the other was a scientist. Nothing special! I was told by my friend sitting beside me that there is one doctor from canada, who is a good philanthropist. He sheds money like lint and uses them for good cause. No one remembers his name, no one. He came on to the dias, he did not introduce himself, but he introduced his wife, who incidentally is also a doctor. They both have crossed their late 50’s. He then announced that he will be donating $25,000 to a non-profit health agency in India, who operates on poor for FREE. I said, what the heck? Twenty Five grand, and just in a snap. He must have the heart of gold and soul of God. Some people clapped, while others witnessed with awe, some others were thinking and few more raised their eyebrows. I was jealous! YES! I thought that had God given me some riches I would easily shred Thirty grand (how foolish). Its un-intensional and ivoluntary, what? its my jealousy. To moist my thirst, I added more water to it, what? my jealousy, again. I thought, he had money, and he is giving it, what’s the big deal? He then left the microphone and braced his chair on the dias. Then came a spokesman and almost said with great respect, “the person (alogn with his wife) who just donated 25 grand spends 60 days of each year in India, spending his own sweat and heart to help people personally, who are poor and lend his support to numorous. I was shocked? Its is not that simple task for a naturalized Canadian, spending his daily life in luxuries un-imaginable, who is respected every single minute of his life in the hospital for his dedication and service, to go to the country side of India and spend time. My jealousy was whipped with the kind air that sensed that man’s breath. My jealousy faded, with the clapping resonance in the auditorium, my jealousy died listening to that kind man’s heart beat. Many thanks to that person, who made me realize that my syndrome is not ‘patriotism’. It is just a state of mind that people call un-necessary possessiveness.

1,2,3,4..

1996, December the 7th.
Place: On the dias of SriKrishnadevaraya Andhara Bhashaa Nilayam

What is 2 power 103?

The answer was 32 digits long, and he took no time to answer.

If you number the alphabet ‘Ka’ to ‘Ksha’ (telugu alphabet) serially like 1, 2, 3 etc., what is the product of ‘Sa’, ‘Re’, ‘Ga’, ‘Ma’, ‘Pa’, ‘Da’, ‘Ni’?

The answer came in a zip….80 Crores, 5 lakhs and 6 thousand.

Poeple might take hours to solve these puzzles with the help of a pen and a paper, but he takes no time and answers them with enormous ease.

Is he educated? NO.

Can he see and read texts with his own eyes? Unfortunately, NO. He is blind by birth.

Hundreds of questions were shooted at him that day. Perspicacious were his answers, sagacious were his instints and astute was his brilliance. Other mathematicians took hours to solve them.

The man in debate is the Mathematical Genius Lakkoju Sanjeevaraya Sarma. He is a ‘new moon’ decorating the Universe of Mathematics. The man, who performed more than 6,000 mathematical shows, displaying his acumen and shrewed undestanding of mathematics, across various states in India.

Remember the old ‘rice grains’ puzzle? As a reward for defeating the king in a chess game, the winner asks the king to put 1 rice grain in the first square of the chess board and then double it to 2 and keep it in the 2nd square, then 4 in 3rd and 8 in 4th, and similarly untill all the 64 squares are filled up. To sum up all those rice grains is no unpretentious task. But Sarma gave the answer without any hesitation. “1,84,46,74,40,73,70,95,51,615” (1 Crore 84 lakh 46 thousands of 74 Crores 40 lakhs and 73 thousands of 70 Crores and 95 lakhs and 51 thousand and 615), Sarma’s voice resonated from the dias, swiftly.

(Author: Just to make things more interesting….
If a square meter of rice bag can hold 1 crore 50 lakh grains, it would require 1 crore 20 lakh crore square meters of rice bags to hold all the grains on the chess board. If you fill these grains in a 4 meter high and a 10 meter wide tube, you would require 300 crore kilometers of tube, which is twice the distance from Earth to Sun.)

This sounds gargantuan of a task, but for Sarma, it is as simple as 1+2 for us. Sarma was born in Kallur village in Proddutur Taluk of Cudapah district in Andhra Pradesh in the year 1907 on November the 22nd. His mother was Nagamamba and the father, Peda Pullaiah. The home nurse adviced the parents to kill the baby and bury him, as he was blind by birth. Some relatives went far ahead and threw rice grains in his throat, to kill him. But death was not ready to pick up Sarma at that time.

Braille was not invented by that time, and Sarma doesn’t had any aided schools or organizations for blind to get trained. He just used to learn from other pupils when they read the lessons out loud for him. He followed small calculations that he used to hear from his parents and nurtured his skill on to became the ‘genius’ without knowing how 1,2,3s actaully look like. He was raised mostly by his mother as his father died when he was very young. His help to the local farmers with their calculations on their crop, got him some perks to live on. He was also attracted to classical music and started learning violin, while pioneering in math.

The first stage performance was held in 1928 and the saga continued till 1995, gaining high accolades and respects from various intellectual communities across India and eventually around the globe. He was the main attraction at the All India Congress Convention in Nandyal in 1928, held on November 15th. Many awards were won, many records were broken as time passed by. Nehru and prominent national politicians were impressed by his sheer genius, and he was soon recognized as a ‘National property’. He was the first person to design a calendar that fits in our palm and covers 4,000 years. The then president of India ‘Dr.Rajendra Prasad’ was so flattered by this genius, that he mailed his salary to Sarma as a kind gesture. He was an inspiration to the youth at colleges and Universities; many followed his footsteps and generated lots of interest in Mathematics. He was honoured with various gold medals from different institutions and presented with thousands of certificates. It is his back luck, actually more of ours, that his 14 gold medals were stollen in an railway compartment on October 1oth, 1964.

He was invited to US in 1993 by some local Telugu commities, but due to Visa delays, he couldn’t not attend the convention there. The Indian origins in US were not blessed enough to have glimpses of the genius.

John Milton, Braille inventor Louis Braille, Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu are some of the most respected blind people in the world. You know what, they were not blind by birth, they became blind in their later age. Indian mathematical prodigies like Bhaskaracharya, Srinivasa Ramanujam and Shakuntala Devi were well educated and trained unlike Sarma, who doesn’t have any education, and never saw any alphabet or letters. He cultivated his sheer brilliance just from listening to others. Sarma is one amongst the world renouned 6 mathematics poineers.

One of the Governer Generals of British time gave a statement in press, “We would unveil a statue of Sarma, in the middle of London and offer prayers each day, had he been born in England”. Sarma never lived in riches, his life was poor and he lived poorly. We Indians couldn’t preserve the legends like Srinivasa Ramanujam, let alone people like Sarma. December the 2nd, year 1997 witnessed his last breaths. He spent his last days reciting to his violin in the holy feet of Lord Siva in Sri-Kala-Hasti.

Nobel prizes, Magsaysays, Gyaan Peeths seem to be very small now…!?!

(Author: This is an as-is excerpt from an article in a local news paper, translated. I would like to thank the publisher and the writer for letting us know that there was person of heavenly genius in our country who pioneered the art of Mathematics. Many respects for a wonderful human like Sarma. I am proud to be an Indian.)

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