Which name of God is greater?

Ever since organized religion has existed in the world, people in different parts of the world have tried to establish the name by which they call God as greater than any other name used to call God. Those who use the same name as theirs come within the ‘We or Us’ circle. Those who use a different name are addressed as ‘They or Them’ and fall outside the ‘We’ circle.

Some say “Krishna is the greatest”, some say “Shiva is the greatest”, some say, “There is no God but Allah”, some say “Christ is the greatest”…

Those who call God by the names of Rama/Krishna/Vishnu, they call themselves Vaishnavas or Gaudya Vaishnavas (represented in ISKCON or Hare Krishna movement today that establishes Lord Krishna as supreme). Those who call God by the name of Shiva call themselves Shaivas. In India, if you go to Maharashtra, you’ll see people remembering God by the name of Ganesh. If you go to West Bengal, you will find people chanting the names Durga or Kali. In India and in other parts of the world, those who know the son of God by the name of Jesus Christ call themselves Christians (or Roman Catholics or Protestants, etc. when they disagree over various aspects). Similarly, those who do not recognize any other name for God apart from Allah call themselves Muslims (or Shias or Sunnis, a distinction established after the death of Prophet Mohammad when his followers couldn’t agree on whether the leadership after the great Prophet should be based on lineage or capability).

Remember God by any name (including those of Energy, Time, Consciousness, etc.), and He (or She if you see God in the female form) will manifest within you in that particular form [जाकी रही भावना जैसी प्रभु मूरत देखहिं तिन तैसी Jaaki rahi bhawna jaisi, Prabhu murat dekhi tin taisi “One sees God as per his/her feelings”, or “the form of God you see is a reflection of your thought process”, says Tulsidas in Ram Charit Manas]. Call God by any name you wish, s/he’ll present himself/herself in the image, form, symbol (or lack thereof) you wish to see.

In this beautiful video from the new Ramayan made by Sagar Arts and presented in the Indian channel ‘NDTV Imagine’, Lord Ram establishes that He is a bhakta or devotee of Lord Shiva (thus, He’s a Shaiva). On the other hand, Lord Shiva establishes that He is a devotee of Lord Rama (thus, He’s a Vaishnava). Thus, Lord Rama sings and plays the instrument in devotion of Lord Shiva. On the other hand, Lord Shiva dances in devotion of Lord Ram. Each is trying to please his Lord. Each is the devotee of the other. Each is the Lord of the other.

In Hindu scriptures, there are 18 puranas – each dedicated to a particular name for God – and each establishing that name as supreme. The Shiva purana establishes Lord Shiva as the greatest. The Vishnu purana establishes Lord Vishnu as the greatest. The Shrimad Bhagvad Purana establishes Lord Krishna as the greatest. Do you see a contradiction? There is a welcome contradiction. It has been done purposely so that the devotee can be free to choose the name/form of God s/he is most comfortable with, and also be assured that the name s/he is chanting is the greatest. Similarly, there is nothing wrong when we, as Christians, recognize the name Jesus Christ as the greatest or when we, as Muslims, recognize the name Allah as the greatest.

However, we should understand that while we have the right to call the name we know for God as greatest, other fellow human beings have the right to call the name they know for God as greatest. This essentially means that call Him (or Her, if you’re a feminist) by any name, we are all reaching out to the same God within us and outside us and all around us. Instead of fighting over which name is greater, devote yourself in realizing the name/form/words of the God you worship deep within you. If you’re a Hindu, be a good Hindu. If you’re a Muslim, be a good Muslim. If you’re a Christian, be a good Christian.

While it is perfectly fine to have your favorite name for God, don’t give your faiths a bad name by looking down at those in other faiths who address God by their own favorite name(s), or by having the misconception that those who address God by different names or try to reach him through different paths will go to hell. Observe the other path(s), go for a trek using the other path(s), meet and speak to people who’ve taken that way, read the guidebooks detailing those path(s) and you’ll find that it may be better or worse laid out, there might be more people treading them or less people treading them, but they too lead to the same peak up there! We are giving ourselves too much of credit when we think that there is only one superhighway leading to God and that anybody who is not on it will land up nowhere and that it is our moral duty to coerce them, beg them, pull them into the highway – even if the person was already on a well-paved road leading to the peak. If you really want to help the person, show him how to be a better driver or trekker on the road s/he already is, instead of trying to change his/her road to the peak.

When the missionary E. Stanley Jones had met with Mahatma Gandhi, he had asked him, “Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?” Gandhi had replied, “Oh, I don’t reject Christ. I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.” “If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today,” he added (Dibin Samuel, 14 Aug 2008, Mahatma Gandhi and Christianity, Christian Today).

On quest for conversion to Christianity, Gandhi’s message was that instead of preaching Christianity, if a Christian Missionary was to live his life in service as exemplified by Christ, the message would be better received…”live the life according to the light…. If, therefore, you go on serving people and ask them also to serve, they would understand. But you quote instead John 3:16 and ask them to believe it and that has no appeal to me, and I am sure people will not understand it.” “A rose does not need to preach. It simply spreads its fragrance. The fragrance is its own sermon; the fragrance of religious and spiritual life is much finer and subtler than that of the rose.” (Dibin Samuel, 14 Aug 2008, Mahatma Gandhi and Christianity, Christian Today).

For Martin Luther King: “Mahatma Gandhi was the first person in human history to lift the ethic of love of Jesus Christ, above mere interaction between individuals and make it into a powerful and effective social force on a large scale. If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. We may ignore him at our own peril”. When an American churchman upbraided him for this he replied “It is ironic yet inescapably true that the greatest Christian of the modern world was a man who never embraced Christianity.” (Ambassador (Retd) Alan Nazareth, Gandhi and Christianity, mkgandhi.org)

“Ekam sat vipra bahauda vadanti” (There is but one REALITY, though the wise speak of it in many ways), declared the Rig Veda [I.164.46 ], the oldest scripture of the oldest living religion in the world. In the few millenniums since the Rig Veda, the human race is still struggling to understand this simple truth.

Thus, instead of trying to establish the supremacy of Krishna or Rama or Shiva or Allah or Christ, we should recognize that they are different ways to address the same God (who is all pervading and within each one of us and all around us). Our quest should be to realize this God within us – to remove the layer of dust that is covering our inner soul. As a Hindu and as an Indian, I can safely say that this is the essence of Hinduism. This is the essence of India!

हर मानव में छिपी हुई है दिव्य गुणों की आग – Har maanav mein chipi hui hai divya gunon ki aag
दिल से मर्म शिखा बस छू दो तुरंत उठेगी जाग – Dil se marm shikhaa bas choo do, turant uthegi jaag

“Inside every human is hidden a fire of divine qualities
Simply touch the molten tip with all your heart, and it will immediately set ablaze”

So forget about establishing which name of God is the greatest! Go seek out the God inside you. Once you know that there is God within you, and that God can do anything, you’ll see that nothing is impossible! Go, outshine the stars!!

The passing of R Venkatraman

I read of passing of former Indian President R Venkatraman somewhere hidden inside Rediff news on the second tab. Perhaps he wasn’t celebrity enough.

I have two personal memories of him:

One, when he passed by in a closed government car in the ‘hospital daara’ (area in front of STNM hospital) of Gangtok, Sikkim in 1987 as we, as children, stood watching, most with a little paper Tricolor in our hands.

Second, when he walked past us in December 2001, wearing a traditional white shirt and weshti, and a red shawl over his shoulders, at the Kalahasti temple near Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. I was on a temple tour of South India taking my parents and elder sister on a pilgrimage right after their surgeries. Sri Kalahasti is one of the five temples celebrating Lord Shiva as the embodiment of the 5 elements – with ‘air’ being the element under worship here, thus referred to as ‘Vayu Lingam’.

Ramaswamy Venkatraman passed away at the age of 98.

Walk Alone একলা চলো রে Ekla Chalo Re

[youtube ErbH7dT8prk 600]

When I watched this beautiful video, was reminded of the great Rabindranath Tagore’s message through his song penned in 1905 when Bengal was to be partitioned:

Have tried to translate it in English with the help of Tagore’s English version and Nikhil Kulkarni’s blog, and the Hindi translation from the English one arrived at). Here’s the song in Kishore Kumar’s voice. [Update Jan 7, 2013: Other versions by Shreya Ghoshal and by Amitabh Bachchan in the movie Kahaani] :

যদি তোর ডাক শুনে কেউ না আসে তবে একলা চলো রে। (2)
Jodi tor đak shune keu na ashe tôbe êkla chôlo re, (2)
जोदी तोर डाक शुने केउ ना आशे तॉबे एख्ला चॉलो रे (2)
(यदि तोरी डाक सुनके कोई ना आए तब अकेले चलो रे
If they answer not to your call walk alone)

তবে একলা চলো, একলা চলো, একলা চলো, একলা চলো রে॥ (2)
tôbe Êkla chôlo, êkla chôlo, êkla chôlo, êkla chôlo re. (2)
तॉबे एख्ला चॉलो, एख्ला चॉलो, एख्ला चॉलो, एख्ला चॉलो रे (2)
(अकेले चलो, अकेले चलो, अकेले चलो, अकेले चलो रे
walk alone, walk alone, walk alone, O walk alone)

যদি তোর ডাক শুনে কেউ না আসে তবে একলা চলো রে।
Jodi tor đak shune keu na ashe tôbe êkla chôlo re,
जोदी तोर डाक शुने केउ ना आशे तॉबे एख्ला चॉलो रे
(यदि तोरी डाक सुनके कोई ना आए तब अकेले चलो रे
If they answer not to your call walk alone)

যদি কেউ কথা না কয়, ওরে ওরে ও অভাগা,
Jodi keu kôtha na kôe, ore ore o ôbhaga,
जोदी केउ कॉथा ना कोए, ओरे ओरे ओ अभागा
(यदि कोई बात ना करे, अरे अरे ओ अभागा
if no one speaks to you, O you unlucky one)

যদি সবাই থাকে মুখ ফিরায়ে সবাই করে ভয়—
Jodi shôbai thake mukh firaee shôbai kôre bhôe—
जोदी शॉबाय थाके मूख फिराए शॉबाय कोरे भॉय (2)
(यदि सभी तोसे मुह फिराए सबको हो भय
if they are afraid and cower mutely facing the wall,)

তবে পরান খুলে
Tôbe pôran khule
तॉबे पॉरान खूले
(तब पूरे मन से
then wholeheartedly)

ও তুই মুখ ফুটে তোর মনের কথা একলা বলো রে॥
O tui mukh fuţe tor moner kôtha êkla bôlo re.
ओ तूई मूख़ फूटे तोर मोनेर कॉथा एख्ला बॉलो रे (2)
(ओ तू मुह खोल के तेरे मन की गाथा अकेले बोल रे
open what’s in your mind and speak up alone.)

যদি তোর ডাক শুনে কেউ না আসে তবে একলা চলো রে।
Jodi tor đak shune keu na ashe tôbe êkla chôlo re,
जोदी तोर डाक शुने केउ ना आशे तॉबे एख्ला चॉलो रे
(यदि तोरी डाक सुनके कोई ना आए तब अकेले चलो रे
If they answer not to your call walk alone)

যদি সবাই ফিরে যায়, ওরে ওরে ও অভাগা,
Jodi shôbai fire jae, ore ore o ôbhaga,
जोदी शॉबाय फिरे जाय, ओरे ओरे ओ अभागा
(यदि सब फ़िर जाएँ, अरे अरे ओ अभागा
if everyone turns away, O you unlucky one)

যদি গহন পথে যাবার কালে কেউ ফিরে না চায়—
Jodi gôhon pôthe jabar kale keu fire na chae—
जोदी गॉहोन पॉथे जबॉर काले केउ फिरे ना चाए (2)
(यदि गहन पथ में तेरे साथ कोई फिरना न चाहे 
If they turn away, and desert you when crossing the wilderness)

তবে পথের কাঁটা
Tôbe pôther kãţa
तॉबे पॉथेर काँटा
(तब पथ के कांटे
then the thorns on your path)

ও তুই রক্তমাখা চরণতলে একলা দলো রে॥
O tui rôktomakha chôrontôle êkla dôlo re.
ओ तूई रॉक्तोमाखा चॉरोनतॉले एख्ला डॉलो रे (2)
(ओ तू रक्त सने चरण तले दे के अकेले डोल रे
O you trample them under your feet and travel alone with your blood-soaked feet)

যদি তোর ডাক শুনে কেউ না আসে তবে একলা চলো রে।
Jodi tor đak shune keu na ashe tôbe êkla chôlo re,
जोदी तोर डाक शुने केउ ना आशे तॉबे एख्ला चॉलो रे
(यदि तोरी डाक सुनके कोई ना आए तब अकेले चलो रे
If they answer not to your call walk alone)

যদি আলো না ধরে, ওরে ওরে ও অভাগা,
Jodi alo na dhôre, ore ore o ôbhaga,
जोदी आलो ना धॉरे, ओरे ओरे ओ अभागा
(यदि दिया न जलाये, अरे अरे ओ अभागा
If they do not hold up the light, O you unlucky one)

যদি ঝড়-বাদলে আঁধার রাতে দুয়ার দেয় ঘরে—
Jodi jhôŗ-badole ãdhar rate duar dêe ghôre—
जोदी झॉड़-बादोले आधार राते दुआर दऐई घॉरे (2)
(यदि घोर बादल में आधी रात में रौशनी दूर हो घर की
When its the middle of the night with stormy winds and clouds, and the light of your house is far)

তবে বজ্রানলে 
Tôbe bojranôle
तॉबे बोज्रनॉले
(तब दुःख की वज्र ज्योति से
then with the thunder flame of pain)

আপন বুকের পাঁজর জ্বালিয়ে নিয়ে একলা জ্বলো রে॥
Apon buker pãjor jalie nie êkla jôlo re.
आपोन बुकेर पाजोर जालीये नीये एख्ला जॉलो रे (2)
(अपने मन में ज्योत जला के अकेले जलो रे
ignite your own heart and let it burn alone)

যদি তোর ডাক শুনে কেউ না আসে তবে একলা চলো রে।
Jodi tor đak shune keu na ashe tôbe êkla chôlo re,
जोदी तोर डाक शुने केउ ना आशे तॉबे एख्ला चॉलो रे
(यदि तोरी डाक सुनके कोई ना आए तब अकेले चलो रे
If they answer not to your call walk alone)

The mouth-organ piece with the soul of the song well preserved:

[youtube tuP7ai0DFuc 600]

Making ourselves useful to others as we live

In Day 36 of his blog, Amitabh Bachchan acknowledged a poem written by the grandfather (Shri Krishna Mittra) of one of the 494 commentators on his previous day entry (where Amitabh had described the person his father, the well-known poet, Mr Harivanshrai Bachchan was).

The poem by Shree Krishna Mitra is indeed beautiful. I believe it brings forth the purpose of our lives and can serve as an inspiration, as it was to his granddaughter Vibhuti.

श्रीकृष्ण मित्रा द्वारा लिखी गई कविता
(उनकी पोती ‘vibhuti love’ ने अमिताभ बच्चन के Day 35 ब्लॉग के comments में post किया)

आँख जिनकी नहीं उनकी आंखें बनो aankh jinki nahin unki aankhein bano (those who don’t have eyes, become their eyes)
पंख बिन कुछ परिंदों की पंखें बनो pankh bin kuch parindo ki pankh bano (become wings of those birds who are without wings)
जिनको चलने में होती हैं कठिनाईयाँ jinko chalne mein hoti hai kathinaayeian (those who have difficulty walking)
बन सको तो बनो उनकी परछाईयाँ ban sako to bano unki parchaiyaan (if you can, become their shadows)
जिनके बाजू को थोड़ा सा बल चाहिए jinke bazoo ko thoda sa bal chahiye
(those whose arm requires a little strength)
या जिन्हें ज़िंदगी में पहल चाहिए ya jinhein zindagi mein pehal chahiye (or those who need to get ahead in life)
उनके हर काम में तुम सहारे बनो unke har kaam mein tum sahaare bano (become their support in whatever they do)
रौशनी के लिए चाँद तारे बनो roushni ke liye chaand taare bano (to spread the light, become the moon and the stars) 

In the same vein, I’m reminded of the lines of the song of a Hindi movie I watched years ago on Doordarshan as a kid…(which incidentally I listened today after all these years. I remember Ashok Kumar singing to a group of kids.

[youtube 0vcZxELBvZ0 600]

Somewhere, I’ve been affected by the beautiful lines. Looks like its from the movie ‘Anurodh’ and sung by Manna Dey (the 89-year old legend lives in Bengaluru) and chorus. The lyrics (by Anand Bakshi) speak for themselves:

तुम बेसहारा हो तो किसी का सहारा बनो (२) tum besahaara ho to kisi ka sahaara bano (2) (if you are helpless, become somebody’s support)
तुमको अपने आप ही सहारा मिल जायेगा tumko apne aap hi sahaara mil jaayega (you will automatically get help and support)
कश्ती कोई डूबती पहुँचा दो किनारे पे kashti koi doobti pahunch do kinaare pe (take a drowning boat to the shore)
तुमको अपने आप ही किनारा मिल जायेगा tumko apne aap hi kinaara mil jaayega (you will automatically find the shore)
तुम बेसहारा हो तो किसी का सहारा बनो tum besahaara ho to kisi ka sahaara bano (if you are helpless, become somebody’s support)
तुम बेसहारा हो तो tum besahaara ho to (if you are helpless…)

हंस कर ज़िंदा रहना पड़ता है hans kar zinda rehna padta hai (we have to smile and live/survive)
अपना दुःख ख़ुद सहना पड़ता है apna dukh khud sehna padta hai (we have to bear our pain/difficulties ourselves)
रस्ता चाहे कितना लंबा हो rastaa chahe kinta lamba ho (howsoever long the path might be)
दरिया को तो बहना पड़ता है dariya ko to behna padta hai (the stream has to keep flowing)

हो ho
तुम हो एक अकेले तो tum ho ek akele to (if you are all alone)
रुक मत जाओ चल निकलो ruk mat jaao chal niklo (don’t stop, come on, get up)
रस्ते में कोई साथी तुम्हारा मिल जायेगा raste mein koi saathi tumhara mil jaayega (along the way, you’ll meet some friend/companion)
तुम बेसहारा हो तो किसी का सहारा बनो tum besahaara ho to kisi ka sahaara bano (if you are helpless, become somebody’s support)
तुम बेसहारा हो तो tum besahaara ho to (if you are helpless…)

ला ल ल ल ला (२) laa la la la laa (2)
ल ल ला (२) ला la la laa (2) laa
ल ला (३) la laa (3)

जीवन तो एक जैसा होता है jeewan to ek jaisa hota hai (life is the same)
कोई हँसता कोई रोता है koi hansta koi rota hai (someone laughs/smiles someone cries)
सब्र से जीना आसान होता है sabra se jeena aasaan hota hai (to live with patience/perseverence is easier)
फिक्र से जीना मुश्किल होता है fikra se jeena mushkil hota hai (to live with worry is difficult)

हो ho
थोड़े फूल और कांटे हैं thode phool aur kaante hain (there are a few flowers and a few thorns)
जो तकदीर ने बांटे हैं jo takdeer ne baante hain (that destiny has distrubuted)
हमको इनमें से हिस्सा हमारा मिल जायेगा humko inmein se hissa hamaara mil jaayega (we will get our share from these)
तुम बेसहारा हो तो किसी का सहारा बनो tum besahaara ho to kisi ka sahaara bano (if you are helpless, become somebody’s support)
तुम बेसहारा हो तो tum besaaraa ho to (if you are helpless…)

The sad version has an additional paragraph:

ना बस्ती में ना वीरानों में na basti mein na veeranon mein (not in the village, not in the wilderness)
ना खेतों में न खलियानों में na kheton mein na khaliyaanon mein (not in the fields)
ना मिलता है प्यार बजारों में na milta hai pyar bazaaron mein (neither can you find love in the markets)
न बिकता हैं चैन दुकानों में na bikta hai chain dukanon mein (nor is peace of mind sold in shops)
ढूँढ रहे हो तुम जिसको dhoond rahe ho tum jisko (the one you’re looking for)
उसको बाहर मत ढूंढो usko baahar mat dhoondo (don’t search outside)
मन के अन्दर ढूंढो प्रीतम प्यारा मिल जायेगा man ke andar dhoondo preetam pyara mil jaayega (search within your mind, you’ll find your dearmost lover)
तुम बेसहारा हो तो किसी का सहारा बनो tum besahaara ho to kisi ka sahaara bano (if you are helpless, become somebody’s support)
तुम बेसहारा हो तो tum besahaara ho to (if you are helpless…)

My poem ‘A passage to dreams‘ has similar sentiment.

Polytheism, Pantheism, Idol Worship in Hinduism

This piece is for all those who wonder about the idol worship is Hinduism. Do Hindus practice polytheism and pantheism? Listen to part of the speech by Swami Vivekananda’s on his Paper on Hinduism, delivered at the World Parliament on Religions, Chicago, 1893. As ‘ramnirmal’, a YouTube user puts it, "Swami Vivekananda clarifies the misconceptions of Hinduism. He explains the reason behind Idol worship. According to Hinduism, Idol worship is for the beginners, and for the experienced it is not mandatory. [It] is the starting step of the search, to recognize that the God is omnipresent."

2006 – the year that was for me

First of all, a Merry Christmas to one and all! And a Happy New Year 2007!! For five years (1990 to 1994), Class VIII to XII in school, I maintained a daily diary. It was something I liked doing, and was a good habit I think. For some reason, it got discontinued once I came to Singapore, though there are a few odd days documented here and there. December end was a time when I used to sit for 2-3 days each year and send New Year cards to all my friends – that’s how one of it landed at Archana’s grandfather’s address one year (after our very first meeting in 1993), and created a furore as to who was the card from :) Since coming to Singapore, I started sending year-end emails/e-cards to all my friends and contacts – a way of saying that I haven’t forgotten you. Over the last 2-3 years, I haven’t done that. This year, I’ve decided I’ll send New Year greetings to all my friends. Before I do that, I’d also like to reflect on the year that is slipping down the hourglass. Below are some of the major events in my life this year:

  • Parents in Singapore: After 10 years in Singapore, my parents finally came to Singapore and spent about a month here. Last New Year, we watched the fireworks over Esplanade together.

  • Archana: She passed her USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge Exam (91 percentile), went to Los Angeles and gave/passed her USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills Exam, applied for US residency, went to the US island of Guam (a dot in the Pacific) and did a 1-month externship and travelled through US cities (Baltimore, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Tucson and New York) for her interviews. She also passed the MRCP-UK part 1 exam, did research at SNEC and was offered the position of Honorary Fellow in Emergency Medicine at NUH and temporary registration with the Singapore Medical Council. She made a large pencil sketch of roses.

  • Bond completed: I got the bond-relieving letter from Ministry of Education. All the talk about serving a 6-year bond working for a Singapore-registered company finally came to an end.

  • Modules done: Got A’s in both the Level 6000 modules I took this year, thus completing all required modules for PhD with a GPA of 5.0/5.0 (A+ in 5 modules, A in 3 modules)

  • PhD candidature: I passed the Qualifying Exam/Graduate Research Paper and was transferred from Graduate Program to PhD candidature.

  • Publications: Two top-ranked paper acceptances (a Rank-1 journal and a Rank-1 conference in Beijing, China in July 2007); acceptance of a 35-page chapter in a book; one Rank-2 conference paper acceptance (May 2007, Vancouver, Canada). Other included APSEC 2006, Bangalore, India and InSciT 2006, Merida, Spain.

  • Conferences: Attended the IEEE EDM Workshop (presented a paper) and the EDOC Conference in Hong Kong. Also presented a paper at the weeklong APRU (Asia Pacific Rim Universities) DSC (Doctoral Students’ Conference) at NUS.

  • Extra-curricular activities: Got elected as Director, Academic, Research and Cultural Affairs, NUS Graduate Students’ Society and as Board Member, APRU Doctoral Students’ Network – one of the two members elected from Singapore. Also reviewed a number of papers.

  • Art/Painting: I had my first Solo Exhibition (13 paintings), “Expressions in Watercolor & Oil”, at ArtsBuzz, the NUS Central Library. Made a watercolor of a Rajasthani flute player.

  • Acting/Modeling: Acted in True Files Season 4 for Singapore Television (Channel 5) and appeared on TV twice this year.

  • Public speaking: I won the first prize in the ‘Rang de Basanti’ movie critique competition.

  • Spirituality/religion: Completed the 9th volume of Swami Vivekananda’s works. Attended and greatly enjoyed a weeklong Srimad Bhagwatam (Bhaagavat) discourse by Girishanandji of Vrindavan. I’m currently reading the first chapter of the Bhagvat Gita – a verse each day.

  • Personalities: Attended the talk by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the President of India and a lecture by Claude Nicollier, Switzerland’s first and only astronaut in Space. The 82-year old Basant Kumar Birla (BK Birla, grandfather of Kumar Mangalam Birla) and his wife Sarla Birla attended the last 2-3 days of the Bhaagavat in Singapore.

  • Friends: Sanjog and Leona got married; Prateek became a father. Pavneet got married yesterday

  • Visits: Shekhar bhaiya, bhabhi and Ishaan visited from Bahrain. Sharad Gurung from TNA was also here. Met Naresh Subba as well.

  • Deaths: Mahabir dadaji died in Gangtok. Dadi in Patna passed away too. With the two went the last of my great-grandfather’s sons and their wives. The husband of Bidya Mousi (she’s the sixth among eight sisters) died in Jalpaiguri. Mr Manas of TNA also passed away.

  • Health: The lumps on eyelids returned on both eyelids, had to be operated upon (twice), but haven’t gone completely. Acne appeared on the face as well, but is almost gone now.

  • This New Year’s: I plan to spend a quiet New Year’s eve this year- probably sit at home and watch TV or work. Archana will be in New York or may have to travel to Pittsburgh by 31st or 1st. I was interviewed for and offered the position of Teaching Assistant (Research assistantship coming to an end). I begin from January.
  • Tere Bin त??‡र??‡ िबन?€?(Without you)

    दम दारा दम दारा म्स्त म्स्त Dum dara dum dara mast mast दारा दम दारा दम दारा म्स्त म्स्त Dara dum dara dum dara mast mast दारा दम दारा दम दम Dara dum dara dum dum ??” हमदम िबन त??‡र??‡ ??•्या ??œ??€ना (२) Oh humdum bin tere kya jeena (2) Oh my love, what’s living without you Its one piece of music one hears and gets instantly mesmerized by. This piece by AR Rehman is, as a blogger wrote somewhere, ‘divine’. Listen to the song below:

    Watch a short video version below:The lyrics (by Gulzar), can be found here Rehman is said to have been inspired by a rendition by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan ‘सान??‚ ??‡??• पल ??š??ˆन न ??†व??‡, स??œणा त??‡र??‡ िबना’ (I’m not at ease even for a moment without you my love) when composing this song. The inspiration here is not in the sense of copying. The final version is a masterpiece in its own right. The NFAK piece is simple and beautiful. I used to love the Tabla piece in the beginning. Listen to स??œणा त??‡र??‡ िबना below: