A blast of freshness

A blast of freshness

Sunday, August 1, 2010

“Our Saint , the divine intervener –@ Puri”

Our Saint , the divine interven er! –@ Puri”

It s been almost over a semester that I have not updated my blog .. yeah I suffer from a unique condition – the short interest span disease .. But suddenly something happened yesterday that made me feel that I should perhaps re start bugging the world with my inept vocabulary .

Not that there are any followers to this stale piece of web page in some corner of the Web world ,but ,just that one of my college friends whom I was chatting with actually mentioned that she loved reading my blog !!! she must have been madly sloshed ,and high on marijuana (legal grass- she s in Amsterdam) to have said something like that .. but hey that was inspiration enough for this Bard cocophonix to pen his experiences again J So Sorry World .. The culprit is a joint!!

This happened when I reluctantly agreed to go on a trip with my Parent to Puri and Jagannath Temple- yeah , the very scary Tirth Yatra !! Not that I detest temples or dislike traveling , but because it was my vacation after a long time ( I was in my third semester of MBA) ,and I wanted to be home , in Bhutan ,enjoying the small luxuries of a wonderful ,pleasant weather , nice hills and awesome home food and most of all the luxury of sleeping forever and confusing my body clock thoroughly . BUT.. It was not to be .. when your mom starts saying desperate stuff like – we ll go to the beach there , Chilka lake and cites locations that you know for sure that she is not even remotely interested in .. you start feeling guilty and ashamed that she has to helplessly lure you into the trip !! So .. I agreed ,and I guess as they say –“Life teaches you lessons at every step” this trip would soon turn out to be some experience .. lessons in sales that I never even got close to learning in the three sems of MBA in Marketing !!

It was a warm evening , actually around early dusk , when the flight landed on the soils of the Kalinga – The bhubaneshwar airport ( Birju patel) and the excitement begun right away .. Just as I disembarked from the tiny plane ,I saw my co passengers so coolly walking across through the runway to the Airport , least bothered to wait for the Air taxi!! Man what a place!! , here was the first time I set foot on the run way.. literally walking on it in RDB style .. Welcome to Bhubaneshwar read the big red colored board with Puri and Jagannath idols on each edge .

Just as I came out of the small, but so chic looking airport , feeling the damp evening air ,I saw someone wave at me from a distance – Yes.. It was my college friend Soumitro ..a resident of Bhubaneshwar who along with his dad helped me decide on where to stay in Puri and went Hotel hunting with me at bhubaneshwar , before taking me to his place where I had the most sumptuous food in a verry long time .. Just as I was struggling hard to push in the last huge rasagolah ( ok I need to stop here and explain that huge is an understatement – it wass humungous , the size of a watermelon !!well now that’s an exaggeration , but the rasagolah was certainly the largest thing I d seen ,almost as large as an apple), Soumitro s dad told me that it would be a good idea to stay in Puri as my parent would want to visit the temple a multiple times .. rightly so , as though they were keen to look at the dolphins in the Bay of Bengal, who was I kidding!!

So, finally when my parents landed the next morning , we set towards Puri after a brief halt and ever so refreshing break fast that Soumitro s mom had cooked for us. In about an hour s time , we set out ,in a blue colored ambassador taxi ,which took us through the wonderful damp and lush countryside of bhubaneshwar ,towards the very pious destination called Puri ,Jannanath..!!

The moment we went there , began the Herculean task of looking for an appropriate hotel , well I was asked to do a little research on the possible hotels that we could halt at while we were there ,and research I did , religiously opening up the Google tool bar and typing in everything and pulling out un related , worthless data !! So finally ,when we were not convinced that my research could be relied on , my mom pulled out the address of a Hotel that her friend had suggested ..I knew it ,how could she trust me upon such an important task- it was merely to make me feel important and busy!!, so we managed to reach the place , which was very nice ,cosy and modern ,located just in front of the shore to my surprise..and yeah ,Of course.. It was Vegetarian.

After dis-embarking and unloading the luggage ,we booked a taxi for our first visit to the ever so revered and pious shrine of “Shri Jagannath Ji”.

One thing that comes with visiting so many holy shrines in India is the experience and knowledge of what was in store for us.There were some strict rules that were to be adhered to , which my Dad meticulously drew from his experience of visiting a plethora of Indian religious sites.

Rule number 1 said : Don’t ever entertain a panda/Pandit ,who will very tactfully extract money out of you and also make you feel good about it eventually. (This is a lesson that was derived out of the visits to the Kolkatta Kali Mandir..).

Rule number 2 said : It is wiser to visit the temple at not so auspicious hours ,when the crowd would be less and one can manage to see at least some parts of the main idol in the shrine.

Rule number 3 said : No matter what happens , do not talk to the pandits who are inside the shrine .

These three mantras in place , my dad and myself thought that we were well equipped to go in, worship and come out ,un extracted, un cheated .but , God had other plans that day and we turned up feeling like village bumpkins who get taken for a ride ,yet again !! Holy God – your ways of teaching are un remarkably exciting and funny!!

That day ,we managed to end up breaking all three of the precious rules !! and as always,the smart pandas got the better of us. J and how smartly planned and executed, I would confess !!

The moment we put our footware at the stall , we were being noticed and carefully profiled.The moment we entered the queue ,we were being studied carefully and meticulously without our knowledge.The moment we went the wrong way , in pursuit of the special queue , we stepped into the trap!! A man , immaculately draped in orange ,speaking impeccable English, and a face as serene as the moon, realised that we were a south Indian family ,and addressed my dad in tamil saying that he had come just a week ago and works with the ISKON here .. one “Vannakamin Tamil was enough to blow away the rule number 1 – so there we were intently listening to this man who looked like a saint who had just attained nirvana and had come back from his heavenly state just in order to help us!! Oh how gullible can we get ..

So there he stood , cleverly guiding us , saying that he will take us with him into the main shrine without hassle ,and warning us to beware of the pandas!! Smart and unassuming – in Marketing parlance ,we call it “profiling and addressing the customer’s anxieties before he spells them out”

So ,the moment he said “Beware of pandas, he was clearly differentiating him self from the cluttered market ,cleverly positioning himself as our guardian , winning our trust!!”

Faith is one thing that is very confusing at times, the moment he said , “I ll take you to the inner shrine hassle free”- The Greed of being able to accomplish what most other devotees were standing in the huge queue for gripped us !! He hit the nail on the head ,or so I would say ,as my mother increasingly started looking at this as a mega God Sent opportunity to be close and inside the shrine , and stand next to God.Not that she thinks that God has Myopia (“short sightedness”), it s just that for a moment , faith triumphs over all logic and the very fact of being close to the one that millions of others have come to see, gains supreme importance.

So like a pied piper ,he lead us through the gateway of heaven , smiling at the guard who was supposed to stop us from getting in without a special ticket . all of this felt like devine intervention –well divinity it sure was , divinely executed as well...!!

So within moments ,we stood there ,right in front of the three huge idols , of Balram , Krishna and Subadra ,wonderfully sculpted and massive- massive enough to blow any devotee s mind over.

And in all the clutter and hails of lord Krishna s name ,and the aura of inscence gripping us , he took us aside to bow our head right in front of the massive idols . This was the defining moment , My mom felt the nerve in her head reach a state of high , and the moment the priest said –“Kuch dalo hundi mein – bhala hoga and blessed her”; currency notes neatly flowed out of her purse that she was so firmly grasping up till now into the coffers of the saint priest smoothly. Soon it was my dad s turn , and he was just as enchanted and in a state of high as his better half and again , effortlessly donations were made and blessings sought. I was just standing there , spellbound and watching it , unable to grasp whether to call it divine intervention or marketing pull.. but whatever it was , it surely was an experience of sorts, a heavenly state where the divine and mortal interlude and a new feeling emerges, a feeling of detachment and a feeling of bliss – but the next moment , the crowd that roars behind you shakes away all the emotions and you are thrown with a thud into the ever so materialistic earth – the earth that I love for being so menial and straight forwardly materialistic.

Having said so , this was not all !! The best part of the story is yet to come. From the main shrine , our saintly divine company clad in orange ,face as calm as the deep sea guided us into the adjacent shrine – which was of Goddess Lakshmi – “the goddess of wealth” . By now , me and my dad were in a state of conscious awareness and so , the moment we saw the priest inside ,inviting us to get in , we quicky ran out , saying to ourselves that “door sey darshan kareingey!!” Little did we realize that my mom had managed to get in ,up close and was in side the protected area again !This time ,the priest was trying to make a sale – He had a beautiful small image of Goddess Lakshmi and he cleverly figured out who his target customer would be- “My emotional Mom!”

But this time , it was tougher than the priest had thought ,because I could hear my mom say that the money was with those two guys standing outside ,pointing at us.

This is where I must say experience comes in handy , The priest was certain that if my mom left the area and came to us to get the money , he would lose his client – influenced by bad peer pressure (that was us!!) So he cleverly indicated to our so called guide , who looked at us , pulled us in a hurry and said “Go and ask madam to come out ,don’t ask her to buy it” saying so , he cleverly walked us in – towards my mom and the priest .Once inside , we had to respect the sanctity of the place . Just when I tried to pull my mom out , saying that “he was just trying to extract money “ came the one dialogue from him ,that made me stand there astounded and in admiration of his perseverance and tact.

He said “ Ma ji .. dekhiye – aap ghar ki lakshmi ho !! yeh jo saath din tak pooja mein rakha hua tha , sab ko nasseb nei hoti, wo tho mujhe aapmey woh lakshmi ka roop dikha ,aur mata bhi chahti hai ki aapke ghar mein basein ! Is liye jho decision leni hai , who aapko leni hai , kyunki aap ghar ki lakshmi ho !!”

Brilliant I thought – just brilliant – In one sentence –he created exclusivity for the product as well as crafted a niche for it . He so cleverly pushed aside my decision and dragged her in ,by adding value to the product by saying that “This idol was not meant to be given to everyone , It is very precious and I am giving it to you just because , I have received a divine message from the goddess herself that she wants to go to your abode!!” Now who can dare say no to such a sales pitch, which had the backing of the superior power itself,so to say.!! So we silently took the image , paid for it and left the place.. Me feeling confused , and my mom feeling utterly satisfied and happy that Goddess her herself given her this opportunity to possess the image and my dad feeling relieved that it was over..

And just as we were heading out of the place , where similar images of goddess lakshmi were being sold for a mere 20 bucks on the platform , I turned around to see where our saint, who took us though this enriching tour had vanished , and there he was – “Silently chatting up a new family which had just arrived to the shrine and guiding them gracefully towards the main shrine’s special entrance path!!”

India I say –is just gloriously brilliant at educating people , I left the place very much confused of whether it was a well planned out business model or a true divine intervention . I would like to believe that it is definitely the latter though..

Whatever it be , it was a truly enriching experience .

“Hare Krishna Hare Krishna , Krishna Krishna Hare hare!!”

Friday, July 24, 2009

There s a devil waiting outside your doors!!


“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need.” ~From the movie Fight Club, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk. These lines, delivered by Brad Pitt are legendary !!

Contemplating a little , one clearly understands the extent to which marketers hold the world at ransom. The Devil of Indulgence , they exort the savings from the poor man who toils day in and day out ,sweating it out so that he can afford the new designer suit from Armani , his son gets the Nike he craves for and his daughter can show off the latest killer jeans , while his wife can boast of her new Louis vuitton hand bag to her friends while gulping down Coke and KFC’s finger licking good munchies.. Man o Man – Feels like Brands have totally taken over !

Ah, so the devil in me will show his face through my profession, wow what a sense of fulfillment! .. feels like having gulped down a keg of German beer at October fest for free!!

The more I think about Demand side economics ,the perverse Keynes model, the more satisfaction I feel about being into marketing .A strange kind of divine feeling ,a feeling that somewhere in the midst of all these economists, who make monetary policies, fight about inflation and unemployment – I am their God.. Oops Devil!!.!! Yeah , I m not exaggerating –alright maybe a little exaggeration – after all I m into marketing! Coming to think of it , the single most important thing that has been sustaining India’s growth at almost 8% in the recent times is CONSUMPTION. About 60% of the GDP is contributed to by Consumption. The economic reasoning is that consumption creates Aggregate demand which in turn causes the invisible hand to work towards generating more output – i.e ,more investments or in Solow’s terms ,more growth. The responsibility of luring people into consumption ,in being the Satan in luring people into indulgence – yeah that’s my job , the devil in me is actually responsible for the recent growths that India has witnessed ,Not that I want to snatch the credits out of RBI ,the numerous economists struggling between Monetary and Fiscal policies, but hey no one can underplay my role.

Not that I want to undermine the blessings bestowed by the 100 million Gods in India , but for now , as they say .. Let us give the devil his due- Credit for propelling the growth.

The Money supply in India has risen dramatically. With more M1 comes more spending power according to the theory that the aggregate demand for money remains constant over time.More spending for consumption means ,that more services to cater to and more needs to serve- It is me who recognizes avenues where you can spend the excess M1 that the growth of output and the central bank keeps showering on us from time to time .It is me who tempts you into reducing the real demand to hold money L(I,Y) , by lowering interest rates citing competition !! (Price lowering strategy!).

Yeah, I channelize money that could otherwise be wasted as savings, into consumption, thus propping up output and hence incomes. I make you put a higher value on the present value of money- and enhance your choices in spending it.

But hey – hold on I m the devil!! Just as I lured poor Adam into eating the apple ,so I lure you into corrupt financial practices as some desperate finance specialists argue-But amazing how much power I wield ,even in terms of accumulating investments for Capital production , that I advertise ,compete and offer lucrative loans at sharp interest rates .Now little did people realize that high returns means high risks. And lo! While I projected growth in the banks business in terms of market shares and profit margins(after all that is what creates sales revenues),and as I kept employing more salesmen to bug you to buy innovative products and showered more credit all over you to get you to indulge into consumption.. the bank kept accumulating toxic loans ,which would soon go bust and take the whole economy with it , gulping the poor finance professionals with it , while I stand tall and argued that advertising spends need to increase now ,because what the economy needs again is higher consumption !!! The devil rules!!

Yeah , maybe I do not possess the power to enrich your souls , But I can certainly lure you into indulgence and materialism and lead to economic growth.

So beware ,cause “ There s a devil waiting outside your door..”- Metallica

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Some days, it just does not happen right !! or might I say , everything works out so perfectly wrong! ,yesterday was one such day .. I had gone to my cousin ‘s house at Nerul, some three stations away in a zest to watch the Champions league Final. Not that I am an avid football freak , but of late ,I had been developing some interest in the sport , the effect of FIFA 2009 Game fiasco I reckon. The Night’s game was not very refreshing though – ManU, the team I supported lost 2-0 to Bacelona!! And staying awake till 2.00 in the morning and watching E’to and Messi hammer Sir Alex Ferguson’s hopes was not at all helping my spirits and worse, I had to go to work the next day , which meant that I had to be up by 6:30 at least to leisurely get to the station by 7.30 . So the next morning after struggling hard to keep my mobile alarm silent ,I woke up and rushed through the daily chores and made it to the station to experience the most vivid and vibrant part of my stay at mumbai “the Mumbai Locals” – as Will Smith would have said – This part of my life is called surviving the journey!!
So, summoning all the Supernatural powers in the Universe, I made let’s say the first mistake of my life –eh ! well not as dramatic as Mr. Five Point someone’s Chatan Sharma would put it , it was a small mis judgment which cost me heavy – ha ha absolutely dramatic I am making it.
I reached the station at 7:30 ,perfect! I had stayed in Mumbai and traveled by the local train for a month now, I was no novice, in fact my ego got the better of me , For a split moment I started considering myself a pro in the business..
This traveling by train business here has a well defined set of rules , or so I thought , all the players in this game adhered to two theories- Von Neumann’s “ Game Theory” where they played a Zero Sum game and tried to increase their utility function ,always having a dominant strategy to play- Experience I must confess..OR they would play by the simple game that Darwin proposed several generations ago- “Survival of the fittest..” The Book Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins would make more sense than ever if you ever got to travel by a Mumbai local!!lol
Anyway I decided to follow the Mumbai game rule- “Go Back and run ahead”.. ha ha not an easy concept to follow , but that s how travel in Mumbai Works “If you want to go to panvel from CST , then even though the train starts from CST , One needs to take the train to the next station and travel backwards in order to get a comfortable seat to panvel”- a crisp and clean logic and amazingly simple way it seems to travel ! But hey, the catch here is Asymmetry of Information , not every one knows which train that comes back goes to their destination – Kenneth Arrow would not have thought of this impossibility frontier when he proposed the arrow-debreu markets model.. Anyway , so as I was in a state of illusion and pride ,I decided that I had grown into a mumbaikar , and so I decided to go from my station back three stations and board a straight train from there to CST – Greed .. the devil got the better of me .

I reached the station from where the straight train starts – triumph I thought as I had made it just before time , wasting about 15 minutes in the process. I merrily decided to stand and wait for the train in the usual place ,but man- o-man ,the devil in me was invoked again , this time in the form of temptation.. There was this huge Fan ,in front of the stairs where the crowd was gallantly braving the sweat. I decided to take a plunge into this sacred place ,blessed with breeze from a huge ,roaring ,old, faithful fan.Just as I stood there thinking of how gloriously I had assumed the status of a Mumbaikar, completely blending in , I could see the train – My 1 and a half hour ride to my workplace arriving at the distance. My face lit up with pride and accomplishment . . But alas , it doesn’t take much time for the situation to completely change. Just when the train screeched past me to a halt , I realised my folly , the place I was happily enjoying the breeze was in front of the compartment reserved for the ladies!!I looked around to see what the other men were going to do and surprise!! There were only women around who comfortably made it to their compartment- It seems that the men –true mumbaikars had silently and deftly slithered away to the general compartment on seeing the train arrive while I was in a different world living my ostentious glory!
The rest of the journey is a sad story- standing on the foot board , getting pushed to one corner , sweating it out with the rest of the junta and finally getting pushed out at Kurla (half and hour before my destination) and then barely managing to cling on and finally reaching my destiny!! Poof –So much trouble for so small a mistake – I surely can label it as one of the mistakes of my life when I write my three mistakes of my life – lOl Kidding.

But coming to think of it – Have you ll heard of the butterfly effect? The chaos theory?? It talks about how a small flutter of the butterfly in the atlantic can cause a storm, damaging millions of life in the Pacific!
This is how I felt – If I had not gone to watch the silly match where MANU was crushed to defeat , I would have got into my usual train and made a usual journey- but No! I had to make the stupid decision of playing a pro , standing at the wrong place in the train and facing all the trauma.. and all because of a silly game of FIFA!!which got me interested in the first place-everything follows a sequence adding up to the effect - Go Chaos –GO!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

A mere geographica expression ?!!


When one thinks about India , there is no more the image of the snake charmers or the Mystic sages , The India of today is a super Power in it s own terms, a nation of over a hundred billion people,growing at the rate of 1.6 percent , adding an Australia to it s booty annually! A nation which by 2030 will have 18% of the world s population –pooh . Now that s some number to reckon with, But are we only about sheer size and magnitude? Or do we possess something innate that makes us stand out and shout our identity in the shrinking world?

India is a unique land, very unique –right from it s make up in terms of the hundereds of accents spoken here to the plethora of God s we worship,everything about us is unique and trademarked as Indian! Be it the sudden high paced Hindu growth rate or launch of the world s most economical moon project-we are a class apart .We are most unpredictable and as they say-IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA!! .

So from the consumer s perspective ,we are a huge force –a tremendously massive body of aspiring people –with aspirations come desires and with desires sometimes rise a sinister motive – A motive of survival is the name of the game and people go to any extent to climb the wrungs of the ladder as the man booker price winner –Arvind Adiga has very succinctly put forth in his book. This instinct of survival in itself is a strong fabric of our nation, this ardent urge to raise above the rest ,to prove a point to the world is what drives and motivates the 300 million people living in abject poverty to fight the challenges of life and create something that leaves behind a legacy.One more thing about us Indians is that we are among the most optimistic race on earth –so optimistic that even when we have a population of three times the size of Nigeria living at BPL conditions, Even when we are ranked poorly in corruption ratings, although we still have just a small fraction of the world s GDP(1.2%) we are still proud of the fact that we are a miracle generation- a coutry with over 40% of the population below 21 years of age, who will steer the ship to glory a country with a well established Silicon valley.

We are believers , we are thrivers . The delicate fabric of our nation is entrusted upon and revolves around one word- Truth – “SATYAMEVA JAYATHE” , but this could be so misleading in India ,as India as Winston Churchill once said :

India is but a mere geographical entity , it is only as unified as the equator!”There is no single truth in India – One person s truth may be another s fantacy and yet another s dream or Nightmare. India is a country of as many truths as there are people, to each Indian exists a different India –One India is that of an elite club of people who play golf and dine with wine.. Yet another India watches Cricket and shares a beer – Another India has to fill it s hungry stomach with tap water and play gullidanda on the puddle streets.

Not only are we unique , we are also CRAZY – yes we are crazy because , what may be the observed pattern in the rest of the world may be just impossible here,and what may be a head breaker elsewhere happens with damn obviousness here!!

I was awestruck when I came across an article which said that India has more color TV s than Toilets and more cell phones than bank accounts –Man we truly are a crazy race.

It s only here in India that a day after a bomb blast in one of the most crowded rail junctions , life again gets back to normalcy. It is only here in India that inspite of Mac Donalds and Pizza huts the local hawker gets his share to survive and flourish.

We sure are eccentric.

SATYAM- Jayatey ?

The Paradox called Truth

“SATYAMEVA JAYATHEY”- two words on which the whole of our constitution, our Economy , our Social fabric proudly rests– These two words are more than mere expressions of our strong faith in truth ,in it s manifestations and in it’s deapth.As a nation we truly believe that truth triumphs , and yes it does, be it the Mahabharatha or a Bollywood Movie, the Dharma always reins over the Adharma!!. I have no qualms in our faith in the Universal triumph of the truth , But Ironically and Paradoxically, in a country such as India, where we have over 260 million Gods to show us the path to the true salvation, A place where each language speaks a different truth the very word truth has a million meanings and a ten million manifestations.

What is truth to one India makes no sense to another part of it . As Winston Churchill once put it , “India is a mere geographical expression , it is no more united than the equator”. What is “Satyam” to many may be a scoundrel company fudging the balance sheets and bribing world bank !

Picture this:

A business tycoon who has invested crores in the liquor sees the golden liquid as his dreams to possess a Porsche Carrera, elsewhere in youthful exhuberance, a rich man’s son finds in it the truth to satisfy his carnal desires. The same liquid magically seems to let a tired accountant relieve his nerves after a hard day of work while a group of college students hang out and in the liquid find the means to celebrations..but in one of the dark corners of India , the same liquor turs a night mare to a family of street dwellers whose only 12 year old son is run down by a drunk rich guy in the prosche cayenne and yet elsewhere there is the same liquor which makes a violent monster to erupt out of a otherwise loving husband who insults and beats his wife in the modest hutment..

What is one man’s pleasure is another’s woe.

Truth is anything but absolute- Nothing is perhaps, and Einstein is the actual representation of the world when he talks about the relativity.

Truth is relative- It is Relative to the situation,relative to the place, relative to the person and most of all relative to wealth possessed which is so widely spread in India.

So whom are we fooling when we say that miragical two words which seems to be teaching us to lead our lives??

So what is the truth ? Is sincerity the virtue , or is being truthful itself the virtue?

What happens when a father of two starving children , from a family where most of the times the dinner is plain water that the mother fetches from a nearby almost drying pond finds a 50 Rupee note left behind by a potbellied tax evading ,cunning business man?

What should he do with it > return it thinking that truthfulness will feed his family of Karma will tae care of itself or buy his starving poor sons who are on the verge of collapsing,who have not smelled food in three days some food?where does he haver a strnger bound of duty – towards saving two beautiful lives that he brought into the world or in “Satyameva Jayathey”-this is how relative truth actually is- feeding his children is the ultimate truth in his life- the truth is that if he does not compromise by taking the money, he would be responsible for the death of two innocent lives. If he returns the money to the fat moron who trades in black ,he will be solely accountable for strangling his kids to death.

So Truth in India is very relative- It is a paradox.

We live in a nation where there are more color TVs than toilets and more cell phones than Bank accounts! What the rest of the world finds as indispensable, we forgo them with considerable ease.

Saturday, December 6, 2008



Not that I am wise enough to write about a topic as vast ,as sacred , and as deep as Hinduism ,but hey it s an era where the democratic India has offered me with the liberty of freedom of speech. So ,I will write to content my crazy , petty heart . Hinduism …mmm it s one of the most talked about and revered religions ,partly because of it s ancient aura and mystic ways and to an extent thanks to the publicity created by a few political groups!! Whatever it be , it is one religion that has a high position in my heart and I believe that it is one of the most grossly misunderstood and misinterpreted religions. Having said this I have created enough credibility and space for myself to deal with the subject and yet create leeway for any mistakes I make in dealing with it.:-) .

To begin ,it is necessary to create an understanding on what is this religion ? Where did it s need arise ? Not that I am an atheist ( I am a strong believer ) ,but on some primitive research , there is enough evidence to show that all religions are but manifestations of the Nature ,The Sun (Supreme source of energy ) in particular and all the rites and rituals involve around astronomical observations. No wonder then that all the contemporary religions have so much in common .So can we say that religion is ,but a set of rules that was set forth by our very wise ancestors, based on astronomical observations ,which bring about a cultivated lifestyle ? Maybe yes , maybe No .. What is explainable through science is but just a drop in the Ocean ..There still exists so much of darkness that we need a bacon of torch to lead us through ,and this comes in the form of religion – in the form of faith in a religion.

Now coming back to our favorite topic , Hinduism – It pains me sometimes to listen to people who proudly acclaim to have understood Hinduism and abuse it citing their ostensibly superior reasoning capabilities. For instance I recently heard a person I admire say that our religion is not very apt because the great epics of Mahabharat portrays lot of guise , and tricks and cheating that Lord Krishna does in the name of Dharma ! I am unable to comprehend the inferiority in these great epics ,the illusion lies in us- not the epic . What we fail to understand is that –HINDUISM is a way of life , It is Sanathana Dharma – A set of rules by which if the whole world lives , there would be bliss and happiness .

The epics are not absolute truth – they are just means of educating people on ways to lead life . The main theme of Mahabharat is of Good triumphing over the evil inspite of all odds against them. Krishna is a symbol , a symbol of our purity and conscience ,which when followed undeterred will lead us to success . The Gita or the Vedas describe the existence of four genres of human beings – One “ Passively good- like the pandavas” , other”Actively good like Lord Krishna” and ones who are “actively Bad- like the Kauravas” . Now one might argue as to why Kauravas are actively bad when they too possessed positive traits like compassion and generosity ( Karna and Dhuryodhan s story) .. This is where the symbolism comes into place – It teaches us that the avarice , and anger are so strongly negative that they are single handedly capable of ruining the empire inspite of some humane traits . It teaches us to stay away from greed , anger and bad company .

Coming to the part where the ever righteous King Yudhistra gambles away his kigdom and wife- Many might argue that how could a king who was considered so righteous do such a thing ? Here again is the lapse in understanding – the lesson actually that is to be sought that no matter how good you are ,if you indulge in gambling and bad habits,you will have to suffer the consequence as the pandavas had to do .Here lies the beauty of the great epic s symbolism- that the laws of Nature are equally poised .

But one of the best part in the Mahabharat I believe is the Bhagvad Gita.One of the non subscribers argued that it was but rubbish as it denied individuality –It made arjuna the slave of Krishna .. Lamely seeing , maybe this would be the impression one gets , but again ,on deeper inspection into the symbolism- Lord Krishna is the charioteer who controls the horses and reins them –He is the symbol of our mind ,and the horses our body – the body does what the mind wants it to do . This is where Krishna (our mind) shows the “Vishva Roopam” and portrays that our Mind is all powerful and that when we have a controlled and clever mind , we can win every battle in life .And the deaths of the mighty warriors of the kauravas is nothing but the triumph of virtues over vices .(the kaurav army is a symbol of Adharma – the vices in all of us)

The epics are full of teachings if we are ready to follow them – They are full of examples on how to lead our lives in unison with ourselves. It shows to respect women( Draupadi vastra haran) ,but again the paradox is that some people see it as ill treating women ,which they proudly proclaim has been coming along since eons ,deftly misunderstanding the actual meaning of the episode! This is the lameness to which we can go !

The strength of symbolism in Hinduism is amazing .. The Shiv Ling symbolizes the confluence of the two sexes.. Our very famous and favorite God –Lord Ganesha is a confluence of all the virtues that one must possess to attain heights – His large ears symbolize that one must listen more and talk less .. His one side broken tusk ,and snake belted to the stomach symbolize control over desires and emotions. Hanuman symbolizes how in spite of being strong and powerful one needs to be faithful and humble..

The PETA sympathizers would be pleased to know that Hinduism ,by assigning several animals as mascots of the 3600000 gods talks about the protection of the varied wild life.

Right from snakes to cows are all considered sacred .. even trees are protected ..such is the fabric of this religion.

It is insane to talk about this indisputably great way of life without properly understanding it .

I would like to narrate a small story that happened when Swami Vivekananda went to Chicago to the Congress of religions , where he took the whole world by storm .

In the hall filled with the top heads from all religions , there were peole who came ,who spoke about their religions and went – finally came the chance of our torch bearer ,Swami Vivekananda was called upon the stage to deliver his speech. When he reached the stage to collect the Gita (the religious text) , there was a roar of sneer ,looking at the small text ,that was placed somewhere below all the other fat, thick religious texts .. But Swami Vivekananda was undeterred – He carefully removed the GITA from the bottom of the pile and addressed the crowd thus: “Dear brothers and sisters of America- True that this text is small , but did you realize that all this while it was in the bottom , it was carrying the load of all the other religions? Do you realize that this was the Base (literally) for all the other books—such is the greatness of our religion that it can tolerate the rest of the religions-in tolerance lies the greatness of Hinduism” .. the overwhelmed crowd gave him a standing ovation and rest is history .