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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Isn’t life too beautiful?

During my occasional visits to a chain store near my house, I used to meet this nice elderly white lady who used to sit at the checkout counter. Her heavily wrinkled face revealed her age as at least late eighties. I always wondered what forced this lady to work in a store at that age!
One afternoon, while I was checking out my things, we observed a small crowd gathering in front of a high-rise building just outside the store, across the road. A person who just entered the store at that time told us that someone jumped from the top floor of that building and committed suicide.
I could see the old lady’s face paling out with the shock. With tears in her eyes, she softly exclaimed – “honey, isn’t life too beautiful to end like that? What’s happening to this world!”

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

New paperback book released

I just released paperback version of Figure carving - the ethnic style : Amazing world of possibilities (Economy Ed.). This paperback is available from amazon, Barnes and noble, and many other online as well as offline bookstores soon.

ISBN  978-1519502087

For a preview on amazon click

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Figure Carving - Ethnic style is going to be available on 19 Nov 2015

My new book titled Figure Carving - The Ethnic Style : Amazing world of possibilities, will be simultaneously released on 19th Nov 2015 by most retailers (Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, among others) all over the world.

A fantastic book detailing a completely alternate way of carving human figures that has been followed for thousands of years in the Indian subcontinent from Afghanistan to Cambodia, from Himalayas to Indonesia.

Provides detailed illustrations and lots and lots of examples.
For a preview click your favorite store below
 Amazon     iTunes     Barnes and Noble    Kobo  

Hurry and place a pre-order immediately to avail of the low priced early bird offer in your favorite shop.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The way to be peaceful

This is one relief carving (3’ X 3’ X 5”) I did three years ago and this still happens to be my best. I liked it because of the symbolism.

At the center you see a Buddha like face that symbolizes enlightenment and peace. The top folded palms denote respect for all or surrender to God (if you are a believer). Still lower are two palms in Abhaya mudra symbolizing fearlessness or assurance of non violence to others. Just below them are palms in Vairagya mudra indicating detachment. The lowest set of palms is obviously in Dhyäna mudra denoting meditation. 

The message is – if you respect all, mean no harm to any one, not indulge in over attachment to worldly things, and mediate, you are sure to find everlasting peace. This in essence is what Yoga is all about.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

World is one big family (Vasudhaiva kutumbakam)

The petty minded persons differentiate between “my people” and “other people”. But a person with noble character always considers the entire world as one big family.

-- old Sanskrit saying

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Role models

When I was small, I studied in a school run by a church. Every morning we were made to assemble in the prayer hall. Before the prayers started, one of the teachers narrated a story from Bible. Though the primary purpose was religious, I am sure there was a hidden infusion of moral values in these stories. Since the stories repeated every year, we did not pay much attention to them after sometime.
Just a generation ago, I guess such practice did exist in every other community. A Hindu is probably told stories from one of their great epics, a Buddhist from Jataka stories and so on. But today these seem to have vanished and are replaced by cartoon shows and comics which are predominantly entertainment oriented.

I always wondered whether this new trend has created some void! Were those stories with underlying moral values, those idealistic role models, essential for shaping the young minds and making them better human beings?

Friday, September 25, 2015

My new book on Figure Carving

Carving has been one of my pet pastimes for several years. I mostly do figure carving. I have carved figures based on ancient sculptures, scenes from well known historical events, caricatures, theme based collages, and so on.
My recent visit to a remote Indian “carvers’ village” prompted me to write this book. I found that traditional carvers in that village still follow some ancient style of figure carving that had been in vogue for several centuries in and around India, from Afghanistan to Cambodia, from Himalayas to Indonesia with today’s India forming the heartland. And amazingly, it is still followed in southern India!

In a completely different approach to figure carving, this tradition has some interesting features not to mention the variety and unlimited number of possibilities. In this book, I give an overview of this ancient art form based on ancient carving manuals that are still meticulously followed. I also showcase lots and lots of examples of figures carved in this style to motivate anyone interested.

Try it to expand your figure carving options and foray into a new magical world. This book is currently available for preorder through all major retailers (Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords and so on) except Amazon (amazon does not allow long preorders). Please do place your order to indicate your interest. You can also give me suggestions through this blog so that I can update the book keeping them in view. Click the following links to see the product page on some of your favorite retailers.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Unlimited vision

One of my readers recently asked me whether one can perceive “everything” in the world in a state of samädhi (meditation). He felt that such a thing is impossible since there are simply infinitely many things and events that keep happening at any given instant of time, not to mention those that have happened in the past.
A very interesting question indeed! Probably, this reader is prompted by such claims made by some books and authors (e.g. In “The Autobiography of a Yogi”, the author Paramahamsa Yogananda talks of such experiences).

Long long ago (almost 2000 years ago), there have been serious debates in ancient India on this issue between those who claim such a possibility and those who deny such a possibility. Buddhists claim that Buddha was omniscient who could perceive everything. But the Mimamsakas (a strong group of Vedic philosophers and staunch opponents of Buddhists) tried to show in a highly dialectical way that no one can ever reach such a state. Their arguments were quite interesting. Some of these included 

1. A person with limited perceptible capabilities can never perceive unlimited number of things.
2. Even if it is claimed that the information is perceived in a “supersensory state” like samädhi, there is no way such a person could have said that in such a state since in that state a person cannot express himself.
3. And once he comes out of samädhi, whatever he says is colored by his subjective opinions and limitations.
4. A person claiming himself to be omniscient cannot be relied upon since his knowledge that he is omniscient has a cyclical dependency.

Having said all this, I have my reasons to believe that a person on the “threshold” of samädhi can get a glimpse of “everything” if he wishes. But most often than not, such a person is least interested in knowing any such thing. Regarding the impossibility of perceiving “everything” merely because there are infinite things – it is quite elementary knowledge that we can view a TV program from a particular channel even though there are thousands of Radio waves lingering around in the air from thousands of other channels. We merely have to tune our TV to the channel we want and the presence of other waves doesn’t really matter. But the important question is – “will the desire to tune in really remain in such a state?” Most probably not.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Do we need to redefine science? (continued 6)

Openness is one of the cornerstones of scientific approach. The old Newtonian laws that had been taken as correct for long, were revised, with no hesitation, in the light of new findings by Einstein There are many cases in the history of science where we have openly discarded old theories and accepted new ones that survived the test of scientific validity. 
But in the case of several mysterious practices, this openness is a taboo. The propagators of such practices claim them to be eternally true and unquestionable. Though none of them stand the test of science, can we at least glean whatever is worth from these theories and practices by relaxing some of the stringent yardsticks of science? How do we do that?

I have suggested one way in my book Important missing dimensions in our current understanding of the Mind. In that book I have considered a range of ancient philosophies that deal with Mind and reality, to see what we can learn from them. The criteria I have laid down for this purpose are the following.

We need to check whether
  • The theory is self consistent: i.e. it has no internal conflicts. If the theory or practice is proposed in a book, then no part of the book should contradict any other part of the same book. Sometimes, there may be several books dealing with similar ideas and related to each other. In that case also they have to be consistent across.If someone talks about a theory claiming it to be based on some book or sage, and if the said book or the words of the sage don’t support that view or contradict that view, then also there is an internal conflict.
  • The theory is unambiguous:  i.e. it has clearly defined concepts. Most of the times, mysterious theories are defined in terms of ambiguous terms. They could also be vague statements immersed in several obviously true statements that have no relation to the statement being made. Such suggestive implications often pass off as logically arrived conclusions.
  • The theory is conflict free: i.e. it does not seriously conflict with well known scientific results. There are many scientific facts that have remained unchallenged for long. If some mysterious theory challenges such facts, then it better have very strong evidence. Or else it is likely to be false or fraudulent.
  • The theory is useful: i.e. it provides additional insights beyond what science can, as of today, and may provide answers to some of the unanswered questions as well. Usefulness does not make the theory right. But it could be accepted as ‘to be verified’ theory/practice as long as it is not harmful. Many of our faiths and beliefs fall in this category. They are not proven valid, but may be useful and not known to be harmful.
Now, subject each of the things I discussed in my earlier posts – Homeopathy, Kundalini explanation to Yoga, Mantra, Mudra – to the above criteria and see how many of these survive the test? 

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