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Showing posts with the label Philosophy

Sense, Sensitivities and Sensibility

It's easy nowadays to get offended - and it's also easy to offend someone. So when I read the news about some politician having made an 'indecent' remark about a Hindu goddess, I simply ignored it to be a political slugfest of trying to win the votes of one audience, by offending the other. It probably is indeed so - I honestly do not know.  However, as the news unravelled I came to know that the source was not this politician from the opposition parties but an Indian-origin film-maker based in Canada who apparently made a movie on Maa Kali and a poster of her film which created the waves. Apparently, the poster showed Kali smoking cigarettes - the filmmaker wanted to showcase Maa Kali as a badass hero and smoking was the way to show off the adjective! As I pondered over this, several thoughts ran into my mind - which the title of this post represents. But the very first image which flew across my mental retina was that of Gajanan Maharaj - a saint from the 19th centur

True Freedom

As humans we have a tendency to categorise things, we like to organise our houses, offices, cities etc. We like to put things in cabinets or drawers or shelves. But this habit transcends physical space to people - we like to categorise people; into Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews ... Into Leftists, Liberals, Rightists, Fascists, Apologists, Colonialists, Rascist ... Into Indians, Russians, Americans (whatever race they represent!), Blacks, Whites, Caucasians, Asians ... Well even men, women and others! And then, we categorise ourselves also - even if we don't like what we think we are - we'd like to think of ourselves also as belonging to one tribe or sect or thought. But the facts stare us in the face - biologicaly you are not the same person you were a moment ago, cells in your body are constantly changing, thoughts in your mind are constantly evolving, your beliefs are constantly changing! People too cannot be categorised - someone who is liberal about political

Socialism, Communism, Open Source and Browsers

I love Firefox and the Mozilla foundation - it was the beacon of innovation when Microsoft tried to kill it with repeated versions of its buggy Internet Explorer! If you were involved in software development or managing online products circa 2005-2008 , you would know the nightmare it was to develop a website compatible with IE and its myriad of versions (IE6 was especially notorious)! At that time, Firefox was our ray of hope, and I would have tried to evangelise almost every friend, family or client to ditch IE and embrace FF. With clients, however, the big problem was, Firefox was an Open Source software and the corporate world has a certain amount of scepticism towards this species of software. [Ironical because most of the largest software services in the world run on Operating Systems which are clones of Linux and most of the web's websites run on Apache - these two being probably the largest Open Source projects in the world!] Source:  Netcraft Webserver survey 2017


Flickr image by  sayan51 I was listening to my grandma and my uncle talk about the nonsense they show on TV nowadays, about how Children in TV are shown to be arrogant or uttering things which do not suit their age, and then the topic turned to how there is too much 'freedom' given to today's youth, the fact that they are not bound by cultural ethos is making them directionless achievers; and as the discussion got accented, there was a hint that the world needs a dictatorial order - how youth need to be disciplined and made to act within the 'bounds' of our culture, how this will result in a more fruitful generation. This, I am sure, is a common debate in many households in India and even elsewhere; the conclusion of course is very typical of the rightist philosophy bordering on, though not absolutely, vigilante approach. I agree and disagree. Yes, freedom is a double edged sword, but absolute freedom does not have an alternative irrespective of its blemish

Arrogance, NaMo, Humility, Sachin, Society and self

Increasingly we see more arrogance than humility - whether its the traffic queue or the mall or in a workplace. Many people today thrive on being arrogant (often termed as 'dynamic and demanding' in the workplace). And the emergence of Narendra Modi is also a part of the same culture we are promoting. While from the same political party - the biggest chasm that separates Atalji from Modi was his humility. And Sachin, the maestro belonged to Atalji's category. His strength and wisdom, apart from his cricket genius is in his humility. Many of last decades' titans - from ICICI's Kamath to Infosys's Murthy are known for their humility as much as they are for their business acumen. It is, hence, worth pondering if - as a nation, as colleages, as companies, as a society, and mostly as individuals - we want to promote arrogance as a way of working or as a bevahiour which is encouraged.

Lessons from an evening in Ladakh

I visited Ladakh close to two years ago with my parents; since we went there close to beginning of winters, we had to keep our trip short and that left us with less time to acclimatize ourselves to the weather. Out of the 4 days we planned to spend, my parents felt a little sick on the second day and could not join us for the sightseeing. On that day, we had planned to visit places around Leh which included the visiting the Thiksey Gompa (Monastery). I liked the place so much that I wanted my parents to visit the place - so on the next day, after we finished our day long itinerary, I insisted we take a shot at visiting Thiksey again. As luck would have it, we reached the monastery just when it started getting dark (after which usually the doors are closed to visitors), but chanced to get entry into the main gate. However, to my disappointment, the doors of the main temple were closed by the time we climbed up. We were about to turn back when my brother spotted a young lama, in h

Liberating religion from confines of social restrictions

Even though it might have become quite a personal statement in the West, religious conversion is still a topic of taboo in India - considered sensitive both by the communal and secular forces, given the treatment quite akin to that given to the subject of sex. Indeed, where religion itself is a political weapon used by both the right and the middle (thankfully, the left in India is intellectually inclined and hence does not debate religion), religious conversion is a topic more vitriolic than religion itself. But when we do observe the pattern of religious conversion, we will realize that barring some celebrities, people (even celebrities) do not change religion for matters of "faith in a given (form of) god(s) or traditions/ beliefs of a given religion", but more for the social treatment meted out to and by the followers of the religion to fellow believers. Whether it was Babasaheb Ambedkar embracing Buddhism after being ostracized for being a "low-caste" Hi

Inspired Living

Edison's Menlo Park Lab; flickr photo by roger4336 In the whole din of work-life balance which surrounds the corporate world today, professionals - especially young professionals - often loose the sense of real achievement. We often get confused about what exactly does success and achievement mean - is rising faster in the corporate ladder success, or is it doing meaningful work, or even more fundamentally is it about doing work enough to earn you a good "life"? The MBAish answer would be - it depends - depends on the kind of person you are, the kind of goals that satisfy your internal compass, the kind of success that matters to you most, your value system etc. But this answer is as good as the fact that ' the total universe is still finite '! A professional's moral compass or measure of success depends on the very system in which they live - if your company's leaders spend their night thinking about business and treat anyone who does not as &#

Jobs and more ...

Whether the topic is technology , entrepreneurship or corporate leadership - Steve Jobs is definitely a case study worth researching. His iconic leadership style , his resounding success with technology lifestyle products as well as animation movie world and his valiant turnaround of Apple - a company which he co-founded but was kicked out from. However, Steve is also a case study for those of us interested in philosophy, self help, and spirituality. Jobs started as an arrogant, over-the-top young prodigy CEO. Everything about him was perfect from his cute boy looks to the elegant ideas he had. In those days, he looked no less than Tom Cruise. But he soon found trouble at his doors when both his personal and professional life tanked. He was officially ousted from working on his pet project - the Mac, and was later relieved of his position as the chairman of Apple forcing him to quit Apple altogether. In personal life, his history of of LSD and hippy lifestyle, his failure to acknowle

How Tolstoy inspired Gandhi's method of non-violence

Here are quotes from Leo Tolstoy's " Letter to a Hindu " written to Mahatma Gandhi: If the English have enslaved the people of India it is just because the latter recognized, and still recognize, force as the fundamental principle of the social order. In accord with that principle they submitted to their little rajahs, and on their behalf struggled against one another, fought the Europeans, the English, and are now trying to fight with them again. A commercial company enslaved a nation comprising two hundred millions. Tell this to a man free from superstition and he will fail to grasp what these words mean. What does it mean that thirty thousand men, not athletes but rather weak and ordinary people, have subdued two hundred million vigorous, clever, capable, and freedom-loving people? Do not the figures make it clear that it is not the English who have enslaved the Indians, but the Indians who have enslaved themselves? When the Indians complain that the English have ensla

Making Peace!

The thought of death sparks a slew of emotions in one’s mind – grief, anxiety and sometimes anger - with me it also sparks a reflective mood. The thought of death makes you humble. Everyday we keep running to build our lives – achieve professional success, set up a home, innovate, change the world – Chasing Daylight. But death reminds you that none of this matters at the final hour – not the money you’ve earned or the number of people who know you (who would mourn you), or even what you leave the world as! Once you are gone – its all over, in one quick shot, its gone! Its too early for me to contemplate what one will be looking at when the final hour nears. All I can contemplate today is what if the final hour was to arrive now? Would I be happy? May be not. Would I be satisfied – may be ... yes. A book that I read a couple of days back – Chasing Daylight – made me realize even more that in our daily rigmarole to build our lives, its important to stop and take stock. The book was writ

Who Moved My Cheese vs. The Gita

I wrote this text circa January 2003, when I had read the book - " Who Moved My Cheese ". The text compared the Gita to the principles set in the book. I recently read a book – ‘Who moved my cheese?’ by Dr. John Spencer. It is basically a story of 4 characters -2 mice and 2 ‘little-people’. All four are fond of cheese. Once they discover a large store of cheese but after some time the store exhausts. The mice driven by living instinct move in search of new cheese while ‘little-people’ , unable to accept change were reluctant to move from the old cheese store. Finally one of them moves out in search of cheese and finds a new store of cheese and in the process of finding new cheese he discloses some rules which are Golden rules for managers to deal with change. What startled to me was the close the resemblance these rules have with the message of the Gita. I present here a brief description of those rules and there equivalent verses from the Gita. 1. Having Cheese makes you ha

To be free or not?

Note (Click to expand) This is an old blog post, I first wrote typed in 2005. 3 years later while cleaning my old Hard disk, I found it. Blogging was still a fairly new pursuit to me then and I was not sure if this post would be well received, hence did not post it. I know better now, that it is better to post than shove it away, so here it is. The question is not whether we will live or die - the question is whether we will be free or not - Subhash Chandra Bose I have been debating with myself whether to make this post or not for the past 15-20 days and finally decided in its favour. If it offends anyone in any way, I apologise beforehand. Think of all the activities that give you emotional or physical pleasures - love, food, sex, self-praise, anger and above all physical inactivity ( आलस ). Of course all of us would differ in the level of pleasure these activities give us, nevertheless it cannot be denied that all the above do give us pleasure to some extent. Notice the similarity

The Law of the Garbage Truck

I got a nice forward today from Sabya ... the essence is something like this Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you. When someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally. You just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. You’ll be happy you did. I guarantee it. If you want to read it in full, you can read it here.

Unpredictable and Unconquerable

न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचिन नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूयः अजो नित्यः शाश्वतोsयं पुराणो न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे “What dies is the body, the soul is neither born nor dead” - The Bhagwat Gita This line from the Gita provides succour to many of those who loose their loved ones. One likes to believe the theory – more so because it is from the Gita – the epitome of human experience from over the centuries. But there are times when one wonders about its authenticity – if the soul is indeed all powerful, why does it succumb to the illness of the body? So many physically challenged people find their self-confidence diminished throughout their lives. There are some who are mentally strong - but (1) they are more exceptions than a rule (2) most of them have had to go through rough times before they (re)gain their confidence. One feels even more compelled to question this belief when death comes by. Death – a biological phenomenon; manifestation of the simple fact that just like any other machine, org

What makes you Happy?

Shubham has posted a philosophical musing titled " Living with purpose ". I myself have reflected on this topic earlier [ 1 ][ 2 ]. However, a very related question is 'What makes you Happy?'. I have pondered peripherally albeit in a different context on this one as well [ 3 ]. At this stage of life where most of my friends are getting settled in life - I am confused. On one side are the tall dreams and ambitions set in childhood and adolescence, on the other are practical aspirations which arise more out of peer interactions than individual thought and on the third side are expectations others have from you. Looking back, till now I have mostly done what pleased my heart whether it was in school, college or MBA. Even in my job I have been fortunate to have got interesting opportunities (though not always :-P). But will following the same path keep me happy - what of expectations of loved ones are not fulfilled? They won't be happy then - in turn I would not be ha

The Commoner’s Celebrity Antics

Nowadays the whole society is taken over by the same antics which earlier were limited to celebrities. Whether it is people dancing on the street or public booing the ‘Nach Baliye’ dancers in the TV show – all the emotions, actions, sounds and gestures are cosmetic. One feels the artificiality overwhelming on occasions like the New Year’s. I am not against people going to parties or discs on the New Year’s Eve (even though I myself don’t have a preference for that). But what I find objectionable is the some people partaking such activities not because they enjoy them, but just out of peer pressure – the very next day they would end up sick, tired (and not having enjoyed themselves) sullen, sometimes even backbiting about how dull the party was or how awful the dinner was. It is even more troublesome when they choose you as the agony aunt. I am the last person who could have any solution to these problems. But, the most frustrating part is that they do not even expect you to suggest any

Limiting Dreams??

Its been more than 8 months in KPMG and life is going good .. lots to learn .. lots to do ... lots of people to meet. But I feel trapped . . . . life is suddenly so structured! No ideas, no struggles to achieve them, no milestones (except those planned in a structured goal setting exercise) ... life's good but it is unlike the heady days of being a self-motivated individual when there was a constant thought of creating something new, changing things around, doing something unique. Life has suddenly become very planned - your manager would set targets for you to achieve, and project after another would flow in. No more brainstorming for setting your own standards, and strategizing to achieve them, no more discussions for coming up with that unique offering that would lure your audience, no more nightouts just talking about that one-idea only to reject the one you discussed last night. No more MastishK , no more Arbit , no more Khoj , no more Entreplayer , no more Ethics Portal , no

Mixture or Compound?

It’s a mystery to me as to what we are supposed to do in life and as usual I was brooding over this subject when I thought over an analogy. Life can be supposed to have Work, Enjoyment and Satisfaction as its ingredients [one can add more to the list but those would fall under one of these 3 or a combination]. Then the next question arises – Is life a mixture or a compound? If it is a mixture then we can safely assume that life should contain both work and leisure – thus suggesting the work-life balance that most HR personnel recommend. Since the components of a mixture retain their own properties; work and life too would run on separate lines, at different times and for different purposes. But it could be a compound – right! In which case work and leisure would combine and form one substance. One substance – life. For example, for a musician, work and leisure are the same – music; for an actor, work and leisure would be the same – acting. Finally, for an entrepreneur Work, Leisure and

Because I choose to !

Agent Smith: Why, Mr. Anderson? Why? Why do you do it? Why? Why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you're fighting for something? Something more than your survival? Can you tell me what it is? Do you even know? Is it freedom or truth? Perhaps peace? Could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Anderson. Temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence without meaning or purpose. And all as artificial as the Matrix itself, although, only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love. You must be able to see it Mr. Anderson. You must know it by now. You can't win. There's no point in fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson? Why? Why do you persist? Neo: Because I choose to. The Matrix and its power to relate to and thus help in solving philosophical and spiritual issues never stops surprizing me. Those who have read 'The Foutainhead' by Ayn Rand, will remember Howark Roark's statement - "the worst second-hander of all-