Posted in Food For Soul

World Peace Day.

Today is International Peace Day. May be a bit late to write on this. Attended a demo session of Heartfulness meditation at ICC Doha (that we do every year). On and off I do the heartfulness kind of meditation wherein we say we meditate from our heart. This kind of meditation is different from other typical Hindu meditation techniques that focus on progression of the seven Chakras. Meditation is essentially Om Mantra vibration for me which is why I am unable to come to terms with Heartfulness. Also, there is always a conscious attempt by many groups, in my opinion, to delink anything basically and intrinsically Hindu and make it universal. Yoga is compromised and even in the Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) Om mantra is eliminated. But if you eliminate the Om, how can it continue to be the authentic Surya Namaskar. In any case, most Yoga stretches are patented by Americans who have had nothing to do with Yoga or Meditation. There are two kinds of existence as per Hindu Dharma: Yoga and Bhoga. Yoga is renunciation essentially for both Hindus and Buddhists (and Jains) which means detachment to prepare yourself for the ultimate Enlightenment or Nirvana (self consciousness or self awareness). Bhoga is voraciously materialistic. The American or western practice of Yoga is without a soul that way – because they have killed the Yogic aspect of the fitness regime where body and soul merge with discipline. Yogic exercises in the west are mostly bhogic that they even have beer Yoga, Yoga with goats etc – which shows how least they grasp the elements of Yoga and how ignorant and disrespectful they are about something that is too very profound and disciplined way of life. Meditation is the other branch of Yoga like the Mudras. Now we have even the Transcendental mediation and Kundalini awakening selling like hotcakes; there are crash courses on Chakra progression and on Kundalini for sale. Which is why I have developed such a distaste for any kind of meditation that disassociates itself consciously, purposely from Hindu Dharma. Is that want you need to market a philosophy to worldwide seekers?

Meditation was mentioned as a tool to achieve peace both internal and external. Someone who spoke said what gave him peace was social service to the community. To those like my husband, work is worship as a friend stated the obvious truth. Peace to this kind comes from discharging their responsibility to such an impeccable perfection and contributing to realizable productivity.

As for as I am concerned, we all have our schools of thought that we adhere to. Hindu dharma has six clear cut philosophies to achieve the internal peace and I am for pursuing one of the six folded path. Sorry, I have no appetite for meditation, and if it does have to be, it will be the Om Mantra chanting for meditation for me. Now, that is the original meditation. No harm in entertaining, contemplating the various options but I guess, Hindus must eschew meditation techniques and yogic methods that try to misinterpret the Hindu practices and try to make them non communal. It is true yoga need not have to be communal, meditation need not have to be communal, but neither then must they be sold commercial. If you have to pay for them, then they may as well be patented. Yoga is not about the mere body. It is that which unites the body with the soul and takes you to the the next step of self awareness. It gives you mind control. Indian govt missed patenting yoga through decades since independence. Too late, but won the patent for Surya namaskar finally! However in the meantime the west came out with their own Pilates that is blatant takeover from yoga. Zumba, Taekwondo, Kungfu, Karate everything is patented by the respective origin countries. But then the greatest weakness of a Hindu is, you do not want to charge for the universal goodness that you give the world. What the heck. its not a question of charges. Its about preserving the essence of the tools of our Sanathana Dharam without dilution.

We spend years on deciding which route to take to the top of the pyramid. I did. Its worth testing every tool. With trial and error we can eliminate what won’t apply to us. Heartfulness is okay but I resent the delinking of Hindu aspect from this form of meditation. I don’t think this will give me peace at all! But practitioners of Heartfulness vouch for the peace and harmony in their lives. That stillness of the heart – i guess I can still have with the quiet Om vibration from the base of the Mooladhara chakra and then go on working up.

Before I close I cannot help emphasizing on peace at home before we go seek solace in the outside world as almost all the speakers underscored. That was the takeaway for me from the evening.

Posted in Environment

Welcome back Cheetah!

the fastest land animal Cheetah back in India after a 75 year hiatus.

On his birthday (today), PM Shri Narendra Modi ji presented India with a gift like none other: the fastest land animal CHEETAH, long lost to the country for over 75 years now. Driven to extinction thanks to relentless hunting by the British in team with the princely state Maharajahs of pre-independent India, the Cheetah’s exit has been lamented unanimously by the wildlife lovers across the nation.

the native Indian Cheetah hunted down to extinction in the Raj

Govt of India has reintroduced the African Cheetah back in India, as eight of them have been procured from Namibia after due quarantine and bureaucratic formalities. PM Modi released the radio-collared cheetahs this morning into the Kuna National Park, Madhya Pradash that will serve as the new home (range) of the felines. India is home to other big cats such as the (Gir) Lions, the Bengal tiger and the leopard. The cheetah has been sorely missed. India is also home to the Asian/Indian Elephant (Elepha Maximus) and other exotic wild(life) flora and fauna species. The world has very few bio-diversity spheres of staggering range like we have here in India. It is all the more our responsibility to see to that the wildlife are conserved well in our country so that we need not have to show our children tiger and elephant in science text books or zoos. May generations of Indians go on jeep safaris in our national parks to savour the natural sightings of our wildlife species. That’s an unparalleled life experience – an adrenaline rush that cannot be put into words. As someone who has sighted wild elephants although in the shoulder areas adjoining our wildlife sanctuaries rather than within the contours of our national parks, I can relate to what the cheetah means for India and our wildlife enthusiasts around the country. There are park aficionados among us and committed wildlife photographers devoted to their passionate hobby whose entire annual vacations are reserved for safaris in India and Africa. There are religious wildlife wardens who take their official duties rather seriously because of whose tremendous efforts, conservation is on track. And then there are those like me! Expressing my heartfelt gratitude to PM Modi for giving us Indians back the cheetahs, and sending him my birthday wishes. Our Forest department will take the best care of the cheetahs that have come home to us. Let us wait for them to settle down in their new natural environs where they will be sharing their range with lions and tigers and elephants and leopards of India. I wonder with their bullet train speed, how many states of India will they be setting their foot in through connecting wildlife corridors. Over 50 cheetahs to be introduced to Indian wildlife sanctuaries in phased manner the first leg of which was flagged off at Kuna this morning. Welcome back home CHEETAH!

Posted in Indian Art Culture Music

Mood changer: Some fatfriend songs :D

Fat people or nice. They have no ‘vanjam’ in their heart. They eat to their heart’s content doing justice to their taste buds and appetite. Mostly people who are obese are sweet and without malice. I have some songs on this subject.

My first fave is ‘kathirikka kathirikka gundu kathirikka, endha kadaiyila nee arisi vaangura? ‘ ((hey) eggplant eggplant motu eggplant! in which shop do you buy rice??’

Luv this one from the 70s ‘nitham nitham nellu soru’ (daily daily grain (of) rice). This is my top karaoke favourite.

From an old type kitchen from the ’80s:

Personal favourite: Am I the salt or sugar in your kitchen. Am I the eyes or the book in your reading room.

Finally the legend from the ’50s from ‘Maya bazar’ (a story from Mahabharat). Kadodhgaja, son of Bheem is a very popular Hindu epic hero for his insatiable appetite. Its Hollywood inspired although I am not familiar with the original. Originally a b&w picture now colour.

Posted in History-Culture

Taj Mahal to India is what Hitler is to Jews.

What a dance that was: the Cosmic dance of Shiva: the dancing Shiva, Nataraja, at the world’s most renowned physics lab at CERN, Switzerland. That must shed light on the scientific Hindu Dharma and our Enlightenment or Nirvana or Moksha concept. Shiva in the form of Nataraja in cosmic dance is at Chidambaram, four hour drive from Chennai where satellites go inactive until today on passing over the spot.

Its ironic that the Taj is promoted and projected as India’s cultural symbol. The British went on to venerate the Taj because it was what they could understand and identify with. The eastern religions were unimaginable to the western mind until the turn of last century. The British could not believe the architectural splendour or the scientific genius of the Hindu that they went to the extent of proclaiming that the Kailasa temples of India were the work of extra terrestrials because they did not want to give the credit for the structure to the native Hindus. Remarkably, the Kailasa complex has stone markings as if for a helicopter landing which they could not agree with. This to us points to an advanced civilization that was lost to India through perhaps a catastrophe or what you may call an apocalypse. Aurangzeb tried to pull down Kailasa unsuccessfully. The Moguls who razed Hindu temples will NEVER be our heroes. They were our invaders, looters and marauders who were barbaric. They ransacked and burnt down the Nalanda university that was topnotch in the world at that point of time. I see a one or two dimensional image of India in other parts of the world especially Pakistan where even our music is reduced to mere Bollywood which is like the pickle you serve with a heavy meal. As far Hindus are concerned, this is a very conservative race not to be misled by the superficialities such as our modern urban society. As someone who has lived in Islamic nations as well as the Hindu majority India where I am from, I know how we different we are inherently in many ways from rest of the world which is monotonously Abrahamic. From food and clothes to having our own native gods we are individualistic. There may have been invasions and foreign rule in the past, but nothing could break the chain of continuity of the ancient Hindu civilization for over 10,000 years. We are the only surviving one to this day beating all odds. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, the Mayan all vanished without a trace. We try to fit in in the Abrahamic world but we cannot in many ways. I can only request interested neighbours/parties to apply for Indian tourist visas and cover the architectural historic sites of India – we in Tamil Nadu have temples easily over 2000 years old, each an acre or sometimes upto even 100 acres. You have to see the granite hanging pillars that do not touch the ground, the stone pillars that can resonate with the ‘sapta swaras’ sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ne which still managed escaping the brutal onslaught by our invaders. Just to name a few. Numerous texts in Sanskrit and Thamizh have survived for 4000 years plus. My Thamizh grammar was a structured language by 3 BCE when we had women poets in king’s court and when our Thamizh king was busy building a dam over the Kaveri river. We have had maritime fleets. In spite of the invasions, Hindu culture flourished even if it stayed muted and low key. Those who left lured or forced by conversion could not get back – that was our sore point. Hindu Dharma was a one way street. It required you to be born a Hindu until very recently. Conversion was disallowed. So when something can be acquired by birth alone, you can imagine how pedigree is prioritized. To maintain that unbroken chain remained a challenge. A ten year visa will not prove enough to explore the enigmatic ocean called India which is why tourists return every year. Our daily prayers are two millennia old, older than the Bible by thousands of years. The antiquity of my nation and culture don’t get mentioned because they are not European by origin. Our own brothers and sisters have adopted the middle eastern spiritual ways. Only Hindus worship the sons of the soil: Shiva, Rama and Krishna. And daughters of the soil: Parvathi.

Pics: the thousand year plus Chozha architecture Brahadeshwara (Shiva) temple at Tanjore, Tamil Nadu and the Kailasha temple at Ellora carved from top to below. The Brahadeshwara raised by Raja Raja Chola has a circular base/foundation to make it earthquake proof structure. Raja Raja went on to popularize the Tanjore doll with circular base to represent the shifty or rocking nature of the temple foundations to adjust to faults in the earth’s surface. Cholas ruled the south for a 1000 years. Kailasha has something marked curiously like a helipad fit for landing by an aircraft. It has Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu temples within the complex. But NO HINDU KING EVER BUILT A MOUSOLEUM the way the Moguls did. No graves earmarked these greatest emperors of India. No grave for Chandragupta Maurya to my knowledge. Or for Chatrapathi Shivaji. But the same Shivaji museum is in Tanjore where you can find agricultural implements of his times, the granary urns etc. Cholas were seafaring kings who went upto Malaysia and Bali. Bali is Hindu even today thanks to them. Japan and Thailand worship Lord Ganesh thanks to them. Hindu Dharma spread without the sword.

So it always gets under our skin that India must be represented by the Taj Mahal which we believe was also raised over a desecrated Tejo Mahalaya, the Shiva temple. History has precedence. Every single mogul structure in India was raised over razed Hindu temples only retaining the original foundations. This is best visible in the Qutub Minar that still has supporting pillars of the Hindu temple with Sanskrit inscriptions.

The Taj is underplayed nowadays as awareness kicks in. India has a million other cultural symbols to represent the glorious Hindu civilization that is the mother and cradle of the world civilizations. We don’t need the Taj to represent us, not even from the diversity angle. The British underplayed everything Hindu because for them, coming to terms with the supreme Hindu brainpower was difficult. In Hindus, the British found their intellectual match. The one greatest weakness of the Hindus is that, even if we have had the Kshatriyahs among us, we are still NOT the warrior race. But all that is set to change. There is more information coming out of India as old notions get replaced with better knowledge.

MAY NOT INDIA BE REDUCED TO BOLLYWOOD AND TAJ MAHAL. These are Indian too but these are like our toe nails. Extra fittings that we can do without. The essence of India has nothing to do with these two.

The Goan Christians were the persecuted lot who were force converted by the Portuguese. Those who resisted conversion were lynched in public, burnt at stake by the invaders. Thousands fled to Karnataka etc., refusing to convert. Today the descendants of the Goan Hindu ancestors who stubbornly laid down their lives take pride in their Portuguese connection and ethnic diversity in India. This is the irony of India. The Goan Christians have their allies in Kerala where Tipu Sultan went on similar mad conversion spree. The invaders left, from the Moguls to the British. But they planted their agents in the converted lot of India who do their dirty work for them today.

Posted in Women & Family


Fecundity: very much in media these days that I have missed all these years. Having not heard of the word, we women may still be already familiar with what it tries to convey. Fecundity is the ability of a woman to reproduce. It is the number of cycles she could take to conceive for instance. She need not have to carry on with the pregnancy. This reproductive ability was assessed by the shape of a woman’s hips etc., in ancient times. A woman’s childbearing capacity rested on her wide hips among other things. In our times, if I may, average Indian women who were in their twenties in the 90s, had the kind of fecundity that they could conceive in two cycles upon marriage (goes without saying that both the boy and the girl remained chaste until they wedded). This was the standard unwritten BIOLOGICAL norm in my generation. Hyper or Hypo thyroid, Polycystic Ovaries (PCO), Fibroids in Uterus etc., were unheard of. That happened to one in a million. We girls mostly attained puberty from our 12th to 14th year. Our menopause happens between our 48th to 54th years. We have had the longest fertility span. Mostly married in the 90s, from 10 to 12 months upon marriage the first child was born to my generation women depending on the women’s cycles. So that, almost all of us celebrated our first wedding anniversary with our newborn. Now this fecundity is what is waning in Indian women. Fertility has taken a big hit. Invitro Fertilization (IVF) is omniprevalent. India also is global hotspot for surrogacy. In fact now we have since the next level of IVF in our fertility centers. Just like our crops do not show yield without the spray of chemical fertilizer, the present generation women are unable to reproduce without external help. A good majority of India’s children are now conceived on petri dishes. How strange but what a sad truth. Our younger women are having menarche too early by their 9th or 10th year. Fertility runs a very short course is over once they are into their forties. In my mother’s generation, fecundity was one cycle mostly. In our generation we were already working women with a bit of stress as we had to juggle family life with a career. Plus we were the last gen joint family couples. Two cycles of fecundity is understandable. But our work stress was never unmanageable as that of today’s youngsters. We women of ’90s worked for banks or schools. India was not yet the world’s back office. Our software boom was still in the horizon. The IT industry to my knowledge, with its sedentary lifestyle and work culture promotion, did the present generation in. Fertility in India DROPPED big time like never before. The government need not have to be worried about family planning any more or population control. Stress is underscored to be the major contributing factor. Whatever. I have one more thing to say about today’s younger people. In their material pursuits, they don’t take better care of themselves. Those in their 20s sometimes look listless, tired and older to us aunties in our 50s. We are fitter, agile, emotionally mature and competent than our children even if our children could be making loads and tons of USELESS money. Finally what is this money for. When you miss the marriageable age, the reproductive age, earn in lakhs in your twenties that you can spend ten lakhs per cycle at the IVF center, what is the point. There are couples who have spent for at least 3 to 4 cycles which means they had to shell out thirty to forty lakhs to conceive a baby. Of course, even this fertility treatment is commercialized in India that we have now have low cost IVF centers to cater to the lower middle class budget. Their authenticity and reliability could remain unverified. Thirty years back, none of us women thought that we were having a gift and we could be the last generation when a majority of us women could be conceiving naturally without medical assistance. In our generation, our headache was always unwanted pregnancy which kept us on our toes. Change in dietary habits also stated to be a reason for decline in fecundity in women.

PS: This post on fecundity is about women’s ability to reproduce. There is also a male factor responsible that I have not dealt with as it is out of scope of this post.